With the Covid restrictions allegedly pulling ever tighter (Am I the only one that thinks I can’t do any more than I’m doing which is just using plain, common sense? Back off Boris, you’re abusing my trust now; I shop locally, I haven’t been into central London, I rarely go out – I haven’t been to the cinema, the theatre, a sporting event – only the pub twice and an ice cream parlour. It’s not exactly living the high life, so pease put your threats of fines and the army away and just get track n trace and testing sorted. Pretty please. You’ve had 6 months. If you were an employee you’d have been sacked by now. So instead of hot air can I actually see the basics covered? You keep trying to fly when you can’t even walk. I’d prefer, at this point in time just to see a few, stable, confident steps, preferably ahead of the curve – but I know, with all your data that’s meant to give you such blinding insights, that’s asking a lot – because the thing with data, unless you’re prepared to follow what you don’t want to see, it actually has no use and is just a time suck away from what’s really important; I suspect you’re using it as a crutch – it helped you win Brexit, it helped you win the election – both things with a deadline. This is different. I wish you could see that. What’s needed now is clear and consistent. A bit like how a mother is with a toddler. Except I shouldn’t be feeling that you are the toddler as I watch you pick up things like toys – defence, the justice system, the civil service, the House of Lords, pull bits off them before discarding them again. What I am saying is you are destroying this country from the inside, the most valuable thing a society has is trust – what do you think makes money worth anything? What makes people stop at traffic lights, drive on the right side of the road, pay for goods and services, adhere to rules that are invisible? And yet because it is silent and can’t be seen, you don’t seem to be able to see it’s value. Shame on you. Please grow up. Quickly.) Rant over, deep breath, back to the start: With the Covid restrictions allegedly pulling ever tighter, here are some more of my favourite auditory escapes: This first one should be intravenously injected into number 10 – How to Fail by the gorgeous Elizabeth Day. Elizabeth has created a podcast that celebrates the things that haven’t gone right, because learning (shall I underline that word??) from your mistakes is ultimately what makes us stronger. A bit like Desert Island Discs, this is a treasure trove, dive in and discover interviews from people such as Gloria Steinem to Phoebe Waller Bridge to Alain de Bottom to Lean Sissay. Delicious.
The Stubborn Light of Things from Melissa Harrison is a calming, grounding reassuring presence, bringing the awe of nature to life. An antidote to anything toxic in your world. One to listen to at night, with the lights and sound turned low. A guaranteed good nights sleep.
Unlocking Us by Brene Brown is a multi-faceted joy. Brought to prominence by her famous Ted talk, Brene is an expert on shame and vulnerability. She covers the messiness and contradictions of what it is to be human. Listen for pearls of wisdom, listen for that Texas twang, listen to learn what it is to be brilliant and humble. Love her.
Enjoy and I’ll see you on the other side.
Laters, Kate x
Style icon and new guilty pleasure – I’ve recently discovered Karen Britchick aka Karen Blanchard on Youtube – walking the streets of New York she eyes up the fashion, asking people about their outfits. The pleasure is multi-layered – first, it’s sitting on her shoulder, being in unfiltered New York, where you can see the steam and smell the energy. Then it’s that she doesn’t go for commercial outfits – everything is unusual, a progression, pushing a boundary, an art form, something different, unusual, which makes it exciting. And finally its the idea that style isn’t an expensive brand, it’s about passion, expression and understanding how things fit together. In fact, the less commercial, the better.
Get me to an oversized unstructured 80s blazer now.
Laters, Kate x
I have a few creative projects on the go – This is the first one that’s come to fruition – and it starts with a lockdown story that began roughly eleven years ago……
A pregnant infertility survivor and a pro natural birth obstetrics consultant at a high risk pregnancy unit meet to discuss a birth plan. The infertility survivor would like a c-section; she now has a lack of trust in herself and wants to hand over responsibility to the doctors. The consultant wants to convince her to believe in herself and her innate capabilities. The infertility survivor hands over a print out of poems, describing the pain of her infertile years and the agony of her recurrent miscarriages. They talk. The consultant even uses two of the poems in a book she’s publishing. The infertility survivor has a successful c-section…..and my son Charlie is born.
Over a decade later, in lockdown, the Consultant, Dr Susan Bewley, finds my poems again and gets in contact. The poems are pulled out of a drawer and we agree that they are still as relevant today as they were all those years ago. So, with the help from Dr Bewley, they’ve been edited into a book….I took the decision that as they were poetry, they’d never get published down normal routes. So today, Songs For My Unborn Children has been self-published via Amazon and now they’re available to buy!
Doing it this way also means I get a say in all the art work, from the cover to the supporting instagram account.
So they’re out in the big wide world: Part memoir, all poetry, they cover the complete arc of infertility, from the pain of waiting, the grief of miscarriage to hospital visits, treatments, IVF, and finally the joy of a successful birth.
In the foreword, Dr Bewley writes:
‘Years ago, I was privileged to be given an early version of Songs to my Unborn Child from Kate during the course of her pregnancy, and to be allowed to use some for a book on Reproductive Ageing. She opened my eyes to the long, complex shadow that infertility, miscarriage and medicalised conception cast way beyond the immediate experiences. Doctors don’t bring ‘meaning’ to our everyday routines that clash with each patient’s exquisite vulnerability; it’s not a strong part of our skill set. But Kate provides another route to compassionate understanding. Few artists can paint pain, but this poetess succinctly describes the emotional roller coaster of suffering, endurance and recovery that will resonate for women who’ve experienced it, and induce empathy from those who haven’t. She gives voice to Everywoman’s shame and taboos. Even though she was one of the lucky ones for whom IVF did work, for most it does not. Every million cute IVF babies celebrated in the news and advertisements are accompanied by another several millions of futile cycles, chemical pregnancies, miscarriages and wounded souls. And emptier pockets. Although a proud mother now, Kate wears her scars. She doesn’t gloat or forget her trauma, or the ‘sisters in suffering’ who follow her. They might, or might not, take a similar journey to eventual peace but will recognize themselves. Read, cry, learn, repeat.’
Yep. It made me weep.
Songs is divided into five sections: Infertility, Miscarriage and IVF failure, Treatment, Afterwards and Pregnancy. It is ultimately a success story, but I hope the journey and the emotions will be recognised by all who have or who are walking this terrible path.
Please share, pass on to someone they might help, if you can’t buy – follow, anything to help get the word out, and I will be eternally grateful.
A big day.
Laters, Kate x
A little croque en bouche to get this season rolling, a tasty treat that ticks boxes both as a visual feast but also delights as a naughty peek behind the curtain at how the other half live: This is Kendall Jenner’s house in LA, as presented by Architectural Digest – and if you want to know more, I thoroughly recommend going to the website where there’s an accompanying film with Kendall leading a tour.
A serene oasis away from the madness. I rather love it.
Laters, Kate x
Yesterday I had a look at the Toast website; like stepping into an indulgent shop where you know your senses are going to be softly stroked and where your shoulders always drop. It’s not just the clothes, but the styling, the photographs, the rich vein of history and timelessness that runs through every piece, the pride and the quality. I always look at their magazine, see what tasty morsels there are and low, behold, there was this article about the Head chef of Moro Hackney, Marianna Leivaditaki and her childhood in Crete. It’s a beautiful piece and well worth a read, speaking an exotic language of freedom and hard work, of dreams and ambition.
(All pics Toast)
Marianna has a new cook book out, which after reading the article has found a place on my wish list (if there is one, slight criticism, its over the cover – all this rich history and the designers hand over a school text book? But maybe that’s just me) The book is full of stories, pictures and glorious recipes – and once again, there’s a sense of authenticity, the thread of time and a real beating heart.
For me, it’s a chance to taste and re-live the magical time we had in Greece this year. Something to cherish as the season changes.
Laters, Kate x
Pigeon holes, dividers, stereotypes all designed for easy short hand and sometimes lazy labels, because look further and who knows what you’ll find; this simply, but strikingly effective wallpaper comes from a heritage brand set up to promote what some would consider old fashioned chintz.
Mrs Henry Parish is considered to be one of the last of America’s grande dame decorators. Founded in 2000, Sister Parish is a homage brand whose aim is to bring back the prints and papers that Mrs Parish loved.
It’s timeless elegance on a hot day, blue skies, green grass, the distant sounds from a pool, and always a cool, gentle breeze.
Laters, Kate x
My Black Lives Matter post last week was weak; an expansive gesture hiding behind art and it’s many interpretations. Part of the reason is because for me to talk about racism is to hold extra large cartons of organic ducks eggs, one in each hand, whilst attempting to ride a unicycle for the first time; it’s bound to end in a privileged mess. Instead I have watched and listened, and it seems to me, the strongest way forward is through education, re-education, thinking, reading and more listening. Below is a list of available resources, the first three being personal to me – articles and documentaries that first opened my eyes.
Jane Elliott is an American schoolteacher, anti-racism activist, and educator. She is known for her “Blue eyes–Brown eyes” exercise. She first conducted this famous exercise for her class on April 5, 1968, the day after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated; she wanted her pupils to feel the pain of racism. I don’t know when I first watched this documentary – maybe it was shown in a social science class at my secondary school – I do know I have carried it with me ever since. It wasn’t just the shock of segregation along seemingly inconsequential lines, it was the shock that people (in this case children) would not only go along with it, but it would influence their behaviour outside the classroom. It was a brilliant and brutal showcase of human failing, exposing our ever constant need to conform to a perceived power source and the contagion of group think.
White Privilege, ‘Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack’ by Peggy McIntosh, first written in 1989, is an article I only read in the last couple of years. Again, it had a profound effect. Whilst’s Jane’s exercise was about conscious discrimination, this was about the unconscious discrimination we allow without thinking because we just don’t see it, because to notice has been conditioned out of us. She informed me, the word is not equal and there is no thing as meritocracy.
Notice anything about my education? White and female…
There’s not enough space to fill the books, words and videos of Maya Angelou. But with her brilliance, strength, wit and wonder, she remains a huge influence. My Grandmother gave me my first copy of a book by her – I know why the cages bird sings – and I can see it as I type this.
For the following list, I want to thank the High Low podcast, it is the result of their research combine with others such as the New York Times. Please refer back to this link if any of the links below don’t work:
Why I Am No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
I Am Not Your Baby Mother by Candice Brathwaite
White Fragility by Robin Diangelo
Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
How To Be Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi
The Good Immigrant compiled by Nikesh Shukla
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Women Race and Class by Angela Davis
White Rage by Carol Anderson
Brit-ish by Afua Hirsch
My Name Is Why by Lemn Sissay
Slay In Your Lane by Elizabeth Uviebinené & Yomi Adegoke
A Burst of Light by Audre Lorde
Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri
Taking Up Space: The Black Girls Manifesto For Change by Chelsea Kwakye & Ore Ogunbiyi
Me and White Supremacy by Layla F Saad
Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall
Natives: Race & Class in the Ruins of Empire by Akala
Aint I a Woman: Black Women & Feminism by bell hooks
Why You Need To Stop Saying “All Lives Matter” by Rachel Elizabeth Cargle for Harper’s Bazaar https://bit.ly/3gG8rgq
Ibram X. Kendi’s reading list for The New York Times https://nyti.ms/3gKL8lH
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Colour Purple by Alice Walker
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi-Adichie
Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Ordinary People by Diana Evans
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
On Beauty and White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Citizen: An American Life by Claudia Rankine
I know why the caged Bird sings by Maya Angelou
George Floyd’s Memorial Fund
Black Lives Matter
Black Protest Legal Support UK
Stop Hate UK
The Stephen Lawrence Trust
The Innocence Project
Show Racism The Red Card
Black Visions Collective
Girls Out Loud
Raising White Kids by Jennifer Harvey
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
Brad Meltzer’s Ordinary People Can Change The World series on Rosa Parks & Harriet Tubman
A Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Petition to update GCSE reading list https://bit.ly/2U6foOl
1619 podcast by The NY Times
With thoughts and positivity, Kate x
There was this post, about Sarah Harris, the Vogue editor who went grey at 16, who learnt to embrace her natural colour despite being called mad. And then grey became a thing. Peroxide’s been a thing for decades, you only have to think of Marilyn Monroe. But more often than not, it’s been associated with a polished, professional look and a fear of dark roots: Those that want to go blonde, want to convince they really are blondes – maybe they really do have more fun. There’s also issues with length – the unspoken rule that women of a certain age shouldn’t have long hair, like they don’t deserve it, that their hair no longer qualifies. But now there seems to be a change, a relaxing of stance, a recognition of merging grey with white, blonde with white, grey with blonde. And as for length…you only need to see the last pictures of Sarah Harris with her almost waist length, now almost white hair to know power in motion.
(All pics Pinterest)
Walls can be as wide as an ocean or a thin, permeable membrane. They’re a word, an action, a sign, a look, an atmosphere, a perception. And it’s for us to challenge them.
Laters, Kate x
I am obsessed by supermarkets. I watch them change, adapting to the demands of society. Their purpose is to fill a need and make a profit, but at what cost? Where does the truth lie? The cynic in me thinks they’re not changing because they have a conscience, but because it’s another tag line to peddle, another profit pocket to plunder, and so I watch with interest the bright, shiny, plastic packaging of their organic and vegan food, designed to appeal. Which means I sigh with pleasure when someone with real clout can dig deeper than green-washing headlines and cultivate, from their rich soil upwards, a brand embedded and held up by sustainable beliefs. But the shining joy of Stella McCartney is not just her glowing ethos, but her vision, because she points to a future away from obvious hippy, home spun stereotypes that says caring can be luxurious; she blurs boundaries, fuses opposites and visibly demonstrates that anything is possible, if we want it enough.
Bring it on.
Laters, Kate x
Maybe it started with knowing which kitchen you loved in Big Little Lies; for me, it was always Bonnie’s warm welcoming one…and so it started, because although Zoe Kravitz was just playing a part, part of her natural soul was on show too: the piercings, the tatts, an effortless grace. And then there was her singing the Elvis Presley cover of ‘Don’t’ in the final episode of season 1. I still have it saved to a play list on Spotify…
Authentic, honest and holding a space in the world that is all her own.
Laters, Kate x