I’ve thought long and hard about how to mark this day and did think about doing a big old post about inspirational female authors, actors and literary characters. Which would be fine but honestly, when I think about true inspiration and influence I realise it’s all around me, all the time. In my everyday, at work, online. Anywhere and everywhere.
I couldn’t include everybody obvs but here are just a few of the women I interact with on the regs who make me want to fight, to be as strong and talented as they are – and to be all round better so I can make them proud too.
Here’s to the women we love, the women who inspire us, the women who raised us and all those who identify as female. I love you.
This edition of My Week in Pictures is sponsored by cake, and dedicated to one of my favourite people on the planet, Tatty of tattyfrankland.com who celebrates her 21st birthday on Sunday.
On Wednesday we celebrated her (fake) birthday in style with cake, crown and candles, before she jetted off to Sri Lanka yesterday. I am beside myself with jealousy and have been pining quietly (not that quietly) at my desk all day, while she frolics in the rain forest with the elephants.
Pictures, left to right, top to bottom:
(Fake) birthday #selfie with the Queen Bee
I’ve made a conscious effort to record my Outfits of the Day this week. I personally bloody love an #ootd and I think they can be great for recording the days you feel good about yourself, which I am. So, yey
My beautiful girl, Tatty
This amuh-zing table in Presuming Eds was sending me subliminal (yet somehow not that subtle) messages while I caught up with a work friend over coffee. As we supped our favourite caffeine treats, we made a pact to view each other’s CVs next week. Neither of us are exactly overjoyed about our working situations at the moment, and both need a change
Rocking polka dots for the obligatory bathroom #ootd
This great piece of bizarre and beautiful #brightongraffiti (is it still graffiti if it’s basically a big sticker?)
Tatty making a wish. I wished for cake, and I got it straight after this picture was taken #winning
You can’t really see the print or the colour in this image, but this is my favourite dress, given to me for my birthday by my sister-in-law #ootd
Do-nut criticise me for my love of baked treats, okay?
On the subject of photography, I have fallen hopelessly behind on my #photo101 assignments. But don’t worry. I’m going to try to use this weekend and next week to catch up!
Just under a year ago I claimed the blog title Two Girls One Book Club in a moment of absolute genius. I mean, you have to be a bit of a filth pot to get the thinly veiled reference but it’s classy as well, you know? Just like me.
The plan was to blog with another friend about books but it never came to fruition. Busy bees and all that.
Don’t weep for me just yet though, as there is a happy twist to this tale of how the #onewomanbookclub is well on her way to becoming one half of a perfect pair. It’s quite beautiful, actually, to have found a partner in literary crime. What? I’ve got dust in my eye.
A bit about my gorgeous reading buddy, S. Not long ago she sent me a lovely email asking for book recommendations. We’ve met only once in the flesh, through her boyfriend, who I’ve known for a good few years. In her message, S said she wanted to get into reading more and I bang on about books more than is strictly necessary because the printed word is my friend, so I guess I was a good bet. Not that I’m an expert obviously, I just know what I like.
I swiftly sent back a list of my favourites (and titles that I actually own), she shot back her own picks; which included some biographies, and a few that are right up my alleyway, genre-wise.
Luckily for us, our partners work together, which means we can send care parcels back and forth without much effort and this is always a great thing. But the best thing about #twogirlsonebookclub? Our emails. I love when I can talk frankly about my geeky obsessions and although this is something I can do in my own home, with my family and certain friends, it’s nice to find a girl after my own heart, not just when it comes to literature.
I don’t know where #twogirlsonebookclub will lead. I’m sure we’ll move on from emails to double dates (whether our boys like it or not), so we can talk books face to face. Maybe we’ll start an actual book club one day. Maybe we’ll take on new members.
Maybe the Two Girls One Book Club blog with become a thing, with actual posts on it. Maybe it won’t.
All I know for sure is that books are great and I’ve made a beautiful new friend because of them. We probably would have become real friends anyway, in some way or another, but books paved the way.
When I mentioned at the weekend that I would be having a look back at some vintage classics, starting with a couple of Judy Blume‘s best known works, my news feed came alive with nostalgic comments.
A lot of my friends remembered the books fondly and it made me feel even more excited about hunkering down with some familiar characters over a cup of tea.
I wanted to read Forever first but in the end decided to save it until after I’d revisited Margaret. I’m glad I did that, for reasons I will come back to in the Forever review (spoiler alert: it’s still quite saucy!).
But to this book. I love it still and the thing that stood out most for me is the fact that the writing is really good. I have to confess that I half expected to be taking the piss out of the books that I was so into as a kid/teenager but there wasn’t a trace of that as soon as I picked them both up.
AYTGIMM follows 11 year old Margaret Simon as she navigates her way through a new school, new friends, a secret club, periods, boobs and boys. Written from her point of view, we learn some of the secrets that she doesn’t care to share with her friends, such as her true feelings for Moose, the boy who cuts the grass, and how much she really wants to get her period.
Margaret’s core group comprises Nancy Wheeler, Gretchen Potter and Janie Loomis. Together they form the Four PTSs (Pre-teen Sensations) who meet every Monday to pore over their boy books, talk about periods and do their boob enhancing exercises.
All my life it seems I have been semi-aware of the “I must, I must, I must increase my bust” mantra and it comes from this book. It may have been a thing way before it was set to paper but this is where I picked it up. Yes, I did do it myself (and look at me now!). It was very pleasing to get the warm and fuzzies whilst remembering it.
Despite her intimate circle, every night Margaret chats with the one person (or entity) who will listen to her no matter what. But when she starts to question religion on a deeper level and it brings up issues she doesn’t like, their relationship becomes strained. Will Margaret continue to turn to G-O-D or with they grow apart forever?
I thought that the religion thing was actually quite inspired. Margaret is brought up in a similar way to how my brother and I were; encouraged to choose her own faith when she feels ready. Margaret’s father is Jewish, while her mother is Christian so Margaret decides to give each a fair crack before she commits to one of religion, if at all.
I won’t go into it too much, but it’s quite refreshing to think that this topic was approached head on and then handled in such a sensitive way. I’m impressed with the diplomatic way it raises questions but doesn’t veer in any one direction.
Margaret also shares a close relationship with her grandmother, Sylvia. Keen to convert her granddaughter to Judaism, Sylvia nicknames her “Jewish Girl” which just adds pressure to Margaret as she tries to work out which way she should turn, biblically (or Torah-ly).
Blume also addresses the subject of slut shaming, although I am confident that this was not a phrase back when I was 11, even if it was definitely a thing.
Poor Laura Denker is labelled a bit of a goer (my words) because she is tall and well-developed for her age. She is the subject of much bitching (but mostly envy) within the secret club, who have heard rumours about her getting felt up behind the bike sheds (or the US equivalent, the bleachers?) by Nancy’s brother, Evan and the aforementioned, Moose.
But the main topic on all the girls’ minds is of course, puberty. The girls do focus a lot of attention on boys, mainly Phillip Leroy, the class fitty but that’s nothing compared to the massive amount of time they all spend fretting about growing up, finally getting their periods and proving that they are normal.
I remember so vividly how I used to feel before the Big P came along, how much I wanted to get it and kick start womanhood. It’s nice to be reminded of the girl I used to be, who still pops up her head every now and again, who sometimes has the same worries she used to about the way she looks.
Ah, the simpler days.
(Incidentally, on the day I finally got my period, I was running indoors and banged my head, cutting it open. That day I bled from both ends, proof you should be careful what you wish for. Although, as compensation, we did get fish and chips for supper).
All in all, I adored my trip down Memory Lane. Judy Blume did so well because she understood, and was able to convey what it’s like to be this age. In 2010, Margaret was placed on Time magazines Top 100 fiction books written in English since 1923 list: ″Blume turned millions of pre-teens into readers. She did it by asking the right questions—and avoiding pat, easy answers.″ (via Wikipedia).
Which sums it up better than anything. She just gets it.
The question to answer, I suppose, is does the book hold up? I think so. I mean, I’m 25 years older than the main protagonist so the things I worry about now are somewhat different to then. However, from a nostalgic point of view, I can remember those feelings of inadequacy and pressure like they were yesterday.
I like to be reminded of who I was and of being that age. I also wonder if there is that much difference between being (nearly) 12 years old back when I was 12, or indeed back when AYTGIMM was first published in 1970 (over 40 years ago), and being 12 now. I would imagine, at the centre of it they have the same worries with a lot more besides.
I think my generation are lucky they didn’t have to grow up in the digital age. Nobody had a phone of their own until the very early naughties (or I definitely didn’t) and MySpace was just about the most exciting thing happening on the web, which was still dial-up and patchy at best.
I can only imagine what this book would be like if it were rewritten in today’s setting. A hell of a lot more slut shaming, a bit of internet trolling and a lot of distracted tweeting, rather than two minutes in the closet, I’d bet.
Now that I sit next to a bona fide fashion blogger (go check her out for yourself: tattyfrankland.com), I have started thinking more seriously about my own wardrobe.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I shoved on decade old jogging bottoms and neglected my overall appearance before (love sweats, nothing against them at all), it’s just that I had hit a bit of a wall, personal style wise.
Now I’ve been thinking a little more about breaking a few of the unwritten fashion rules I had set myself (and what are they for anyway, if not for annihilating completely?) and it’s been fun. I’m damn cute actually, when I want to be.
While this is definitely not a fashion blog, I love clothes and thought it might be fun to mix things up with a little What I’m Digging post. I have an ASOS wish list the length of my entire head, shoulders and body, so why not share eh?
I’ve broken them into handy sub sections: Sweet Treats (under £10), Think About It Splurges (under £25) and I Wish Wonders (the pricier end of the scale). Fun, eh?
NB: I actually succumbed and purchased two items from this list while writing my post. Last expenditure for a while, I promise.
These all look very ordinary to the un-trained eye, but I am pushing back against my own Grab a Skater Dress and Throw It Over Leggings styling. I’ve decided to love that look but style more bottoms (skinny jeans, joggers, skirts) and tops (the aforementioned slogan tee, cute knits) together. Also get the hang of smart layering.
I hope to report back on how that’s going soon, but until then, I’m just going to sit on my credit card and be sensible about future purchases.
Last Saturday was Blast from the Past Day, it seems as not only did I bump into an old friend I hadn’t seen for at least a decade, I then got a message from my college crush, who I haven’t seen for closer to twenty.
Seeing my friend was good, easy and a happy surprise. She has twins now. They’re sweet.
The college crush thing is a whole other kettle of fish. There’s a chance he might read this (if you do, E, I don’t mind you knowing all this stuff) and so might my husband, who hopefully is used to me telling my stories by now.
When I was 17 I went to sixth form college like most 17 year olds do. On day one, as I entered my new form room, I spotted E and was quickly smitten. He had long surfery hair, was wearing a band t-shirt (Carter USM, I recall) and the kind of smile you remember, 20 years on.
Miraculously (in my eyes), I had caught E’s eye too and even more miraculously, he was open about liking me, unlike other boys I had known up until this point.
I was very naive then. I had barely been kissed (but kissed enough), let alone handed over my virginity to anybody who would take it and was something of a hot mess. Hey, this was Bexhill-on-Sea, circa 1994, and there wasn’t a lot going on there, besides warm bottles of Merrydown in the park.
I spend all my time wondering if I would ever feel comfortable in my own skin so when I got this attention it was nice. I was still very awkward about talking to the opposite sex and so when I think back to this period I imagine myself as mute. I must have got some words out though because we managed to arrange a date.
I’m a romantic now but back then, before I had tasted a little bit of love (and the subsequent heartaches), I was much worse. I was probably galloping way ahead of date one, planning future weddings, children, life as childhood sweethearts (sort of).
We did have that date. We kissed for hours in his bedroom. He played the drums. We had dinner at his parents house (where he also resided, natch) and watched Top of the Pops (Naomi Campbell had a pop career then). When it was time, he walked me to the corner of his road where my mum picked me up.
While we waited, he asked me what I wanted and I said – damn my naivete! – a boyfriend. This is where he told me, nicely, that he wasn’t on the same page. The Saturday night after our date, I went to a disco and kissed someone else.