Saturday, September 29, 2012


I love Burleigh crockery. I want it all. For now I only have a blue calico moustache mug but Asos is offering me an easy way in. The detail of the pattern is more Morris than chintz but the colours and effect are very Burleigh. And the shape is lovely. All very light and pretty and not particularly winter appropriate but something to think about. I'm sure someone could work it with some thick grey wool tights.

This is the kitschest post I've done in ages. It's nice to mix it up once in a while.

Chuck x

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Sunday Book: The Song of Achilles - Madeline Miller

The Orange Prize is a weird one. I think it is great to have a prize celebrating women's writing but I'm unconvinced by some of their choices. To be fair, I have only read three out of seventeen of their winners - Small Island, the Tiger's Wife and this year's winner, the Song of Achilles. I enjoyed all of these, I thought they were good books, but I didn't think they were great books. Two of my favourite prize winning books, Wolf Hall and Possession (the Man Booker), are by women and they are truly brilliant. Why didn't they win the Orange prize? Sure, Possession predates the prize but why no Mantel? Presumably there are some quite specific guidelines somewhere but it all seems a bit strange to me.

Anyway, this year's winner. I was intrigued by the Song of Achilles because on paper, in reviews, blurbs etc. it sounds a lot like Iliad fan fiction. Now, I'm a fan of fan fiction but it is rarely literary or award winning. I don't think there have been any successful fan fiction/published novel crossovers - feel free to challenge me on that one. Still, it worked as a hook; I saw classical history and mythology, romance and the suggestion of fan fiction and I bit. Those are a lot of my top things, in life and literature, so I bought the book and enjoyed it a lot. If you have similar interests you'll probably enjoy it too.

Seriously, such a trashy cover and quotes. *Sigh*

Post-reading I'm going to go out on a limb and say the book isn't fan fiction (apologies if this is a disappointment). It doesn't fit the profile in terms of content or style. It is censored/discreet and recognisably literary. It isn't sublime but it is serviceably well written and Homer's story is wonderful. Achilles and Patroclus' relationship has been debated forever and Madeline Miller is gunning for romance and I am right there with her. The book starts with Patroclus as a child being forced to bid for Helen's hand and pledge to protect her. It follows his exile to Achilles' father's island and their childhood and adolescence together. They grow up, falling in love and becoming inseperable before destiny strikes in the shape of the Trojan war. I would say 'Spoiler Alert' but you know what's going to happen. It is tragic and heart-breaking and I cried quite a lot.

I'm not a Classicist (Miller is - she has an MA from Brown and has spent the last nine years teaching) so I can't vouch for every single element of the novel being as per Homer but the fundamentals match and it felt genuine. I would guess that her interpretations are plausible - feel free to challenge me on that one too. [I'm throwing around a lot of sweeping statements that I can't back up today, my university tutors would be miffed.] One of the things I most enjoyed, aside from all the emotions and man lurve, was how smoothly she integrated the gods. They are everywhere, walking among men as lovers and parents, yet easy to anger and careless of modern morality. So interesting. The story is told from Patroclus' perspective, fleshing out a character who is often reduced to little more than a catalyst, but this is done at the cost of Achilles' characterisation. The best of the Greeks is a bit flat. Maybe that is right though, he is only half human?

All in all, I liked this book. It was romantic and cathartic - there were tummy flutters and tears which sometimes one (or, at least, this one) needs from a book. It was a good quality light read. It ticked a lot of my boxes subject wise. It isn't for everyone but you can probably tell from this if it is for you. If so, jump on it and we can chat Greek mythology and man love.

Chuck x

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Mango and Berries

Mango at ASOS

Mango have really got their shit together this season. Lots of great, simple pieces at very reasonable prices. Aside from looking like Elizabeth Olsen, my autumn daydreams are revolving around berry tones, khaki, navy and more grey (obviously, you can never have enough grey). Autumn is on my mind a lot at the moment - it seems to have hit instantly and hard in London. The rain is vaguely depressing but at least it is honest. After an especially grey and dreary summer at least it is being seasonal and there are few things more comforting than being wrapped in a duvet with a good book and bad tv and zealously buttered crumpets while it rains outside.

Chuck x

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Elizabeth Olson is Lovely

Elizabeth Olsen photographed by Andrew Yee for the Guardian
via FGR

I would like this make up / colour palette / face for autumn.

Chuck x

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Sunday Book: Bring Up the Bodies - Hilary Mantel

I'm not going to write a review because either you haven't read Wolf Hall, in which case what are you still doing here? Go, read it now. Or, you have read Wolf Hall, in which case you will have already read Bring Up the Bodies because you understand the glory of Hilary Mantel and her portrait of Thomas Cromwell. A beautiful, stunningly humane pair of books. Heart.

Chuck x

Friday, September 14, 2012

Go Graduates

Photography: Nikolay Biryukov / Make-up and hair: Marina Keri / Model: Laura O’Grady / Styling: Olga Kuryshchuk / Fashion assistant: Bella Catling
It's fashion time again. I'm not feeling particularly excited yet but perhaps this is because we've only had New York so far. I always find NYFW a bit of a snore. There are a couple of shows that I'll keep an eye on (Marc Jacobs, Proenza Schouler, Alexander Wang, Rodarte...) but, for the most part, I find it too beige and safe to be thrilling. That isn't to say that there aren't masses of nice, wearable clothes on the runways and in the showrooms of New York but there's not much that gets my blood racing. Possibly it's misplaced patriotism but London is where it is at as far as I'm concerned. Young talent and young brands doing creative and exciting things. Funding opportunities and a willingness to test boundaries and push taste forward. Being different. I am actively looking forward to next week's shows. 
Central Saint Martin's is really a flagship for young British talent and this photo shoot focuses on the work of current students and graduates. It's such a high quality shoot, the clothes and styling look great, the model is weird and beautiful - nothing about this says university production. An excellent way to get in the mood for LFW.
Chuck x 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Female Spaces

It's already hard to remember but three days ago the weather in London was fantastic. It was scorching hot and the skies were clear and blue. It was beautiful if rather uncomfortable on public transport or in garden-less flats. I found an escape though - a perfect way to spend our (probably) last day of summer. I swam in a pond.

To clarify, at a brilliantly clever friend's suggestion, I visited Highgate Ladies' Bathing Pond. People have been swimming in the Hampstead Heath ponds since at least the 1860s and I doubt much has changed. The ladies' pond idyllic, if rather difficult to find. we were sweaty and rather cross by the time we finally found it, after trekking up and down the poorly signposted Heath for over an hour. It was probably for the best though since the water was cold and, despite the weather, it was busy but not overcrowded.

A warning sign declared the water 'opaque, cold and untreated' and all of these things were, undoubtedly, true. Luckily you could climb or dive in without ever having to touch the bottom, which was my worry. No algae or duck poo either. It was bracing (what my family calls 'fresh') - deeply unpleasant at first but if you kept moving it quickly became bearable and even pleasant. The water washed away our accumulated London sweat and we slowly baked dry in a sunny opening in the trees afterwards. Bliss.

Photo via Liberty London Girl who is also a big fan

Or of things I found most interesting about the pond was that it was women only. We walked past the mixed pond and the men's pond on our way to the ladies' and the atmospheres were very different. The mixed pool was raucous and overcrowded with noisy youth showing off to each other; the men's pond was quieter but their was still a lot of posturing, flirting and assessment going on. There was no posing at the women's pond, just a lot people chilling out, chatting quietly, napping or reading books. There were women of all different ages and backgrounds peacefully sharing space. There was probably an above average amount of toplessness going on but no one was really interested. I was delightful and relaxing and I found it very relaxing.

I don't know if it is my life style but there aren't any female spaces in my life, I don't think. The office, pubs, restaurants - they're all mixed, as they probably should be. There are private spaces but that is different; the occasional changing room but they are transient. Maybe there are still female spaces with religions but I'm not religious. Perhaps I should discourage and disdain the division and gendering of space but it was so peaceful and lovely. I want more.

Do you inhabit or enjoy any female spaces? What do you think of the idea? Less philosophically, Londoners, have you been to the ponds? Do you want to share the love?

Chuck x

Thursday, September 6, 2012

In Store Surprises

I'm actually quite impressed by the latest crop of in store magazines. Sure, they're not going to be winning any Nobel prizes but they're very well designed, there are some good editorials and even the odd interesting article. And they're free. This is solid content and design for nothing. They are completely on brand and, I think, such a smart way to advertise and connect with your consumers.

Highlights of the latest COS and Topshop mags: the Inspiring Art of Collecting, Willy Vanderperre shot editorial, mood boards, make up tutorials, sneak peaks, an intriguing interview with the grandparents behind i-D. I haven't read an i-D in years, I clearly need to pick one up because Terry and Tricia Jones sound right up my street - sensible, thoughtful, enthusiastic people. Very interesting.

Do pick these up if you get a chance. The Monki magazine is cute too. I'm not sure who else is doing them - any recommendations?

Chuck x

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Leather Love

Photography / Zoey Grossman, Model / TKStyling / Ashley Glorioso of purse 'n' boots, Makeup / Stacey Tan

Love: butter soft leather, moto jackets, oxblood and murky hues, baseball caps, glossy hair, this model, this styling, this photography, these beautiful basics from Jackson clothing. I would like to wear all of this and move to Australia to lounge louchely, please.

Chuck x

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Three Words

I floated three inches off the ground for the week after I first said ‘I love you’ romantically. I had said the words before of course, to friends and family, to my dog and drunkenly to strangers at parties, but this was different. This time the words meant something new and special. They had been a hot, prickly weight in my chest for weeks before I had uttered them; speech loosed them and left me unanchored, free from gravitational constraints.

I wrote a mini piece for the Something Fine project. It's a lovely idea and you can browse the archive or read my submission in full here.

Chuck x