I've been a bit busy.
Some stuff I've liked that you might too.
I didn’t manage a Substack last weekend because I was doing a lot of life-ing. It involved hanging out with my daughter and, as she’s 18, I’m not often allowed to be seen with her in public. So on the rare occasion she throws me a bone, I take it, I hope you understand.
This hybrid working life that I’ve written about a lot here is very fulfilling and varied in so many ways. It does often mean my weekends are spent working. And while I felt guilty not doing much work last weekend, I think I needed it. I saw some great things and met some inspiring people.
This weekend I will post my usual Sunday evening column on here but this one is extra because I just wanted to share with you some recommendations of things I’ve been seeing/doing that might be of interest to you.
Film: May December
I was lucky enough to score an invitation to a special Netflix screening of this new film starring Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman, directed by Todd Haynes. Gracie (Julieanne Moore) becomes national tabloid fodder when she seduces a 13-year-old boy, Joe (Charles Melton). The pair insist it’s love, Gracie gives birth to their twins in prison and the whole thing keeps the tabloids in copy sales for years. The film begins two decades after the tawdry scandal. Gracie and Joe are married, now with three kids, and are soon to be the subject of a film about their lives. Enter Elizabeth Berry (Natalie Portman), the famous actress who’s been cast to play Gracie and is now intent on a deep-dive researching of her character.
What starts as the family excitement about the celebrity in their midst quickly unravels as Elizabeth drills down into the darkness at the heart of the story that once gripped the country.
The frenemy vibes between Moore and Portman are wonderful - and often funny - and the story is a disorientating study of morality. I predict that you will, like me, wrestle with who’s good and who’s not til the very end of the film.
I was blown away by the writer, Samy Burch, who we got to meet after the screening. It’s her first screenplay to be made into a film and, I don’t know how old she is, but she is not old. This sharp and original film hints at a writing star in the making.
TV show: The Reckoning
To be honest, I didn’t really want to watch the drama about the hideous, seemingly endless crimes of Jimmy Savile. I’m uncomfortable, to say the least, about the BBC’s attempts at a public atonement - in the guise of entertainment - for sex offences that many senior executives were complicit in covering up for so long. But what can I say? Everyone I knew was talking about it and I was growing tired of being the only one in the office/at the bar who couldn’t join in.
I arrived in this country, from Australia, in 1992 with no knowledge whatsoever of Jimmy Savile. I’m not proud to say this, but I remember the very first time I was aware of him, thinking, ‘God, what a weird, creepy-looking guy.’ But the garish shellsuits, the peroxide hair and the gigantic cigars were all part of the deliberate challenge, don’t you think? A challenge to people like me who would judge him for looking a bit odd when the problem, I admonished myself into believing, was my own snobbery. Because here, apparently, was an altruistic saint walking amongst us, far better a human being than I could ever hope to be.
Well, it didn’t stop the sight and sound of him always making my flesh crawl and so I accepted that I am a terrible judgemental cow who would just always find him unsettling and unappealing. Then I watched Louis Theroux question him, in a 2000 documentary, about rumours of him sexually abusing children. That was the first time I’d ever heard such talk, and I wondered if it was just more people like me who found him a bit off and were quick to make up or believe lies. But this exchange between them chilled me:
Savile: 'We live in a very funny world. And it's easier for me, as a single man, to say 'I don't like children', because that puts a lot of salacious tabloid people off the hunt.’
Theroux: 'Is that basically so the tabloids don't pursue this whole is he or isn't he a paedophile line?'
Savile: 'Oh, aye. How do they know whether I am not? How does anybody know whether I am? Nobody knows whether I am or not. I know I'm not… That's my policy and it's worked a dream.'
That is, by any measure, a wholly unsatisfactory, totally fucked up response to being asked if you’re a paedophile. I never forgot it and I was not even slightly shocked when the truth finally surfaced.
So, this TV show: Steve Coogan is uncannily good. He had me hurtling back to that revulsion I felt any time I saw the real Savile on screen. And as has already been widely noted, the makers have been careful to not be sensationalist or insensitive towards Savile’s victims, some of whom appear in the show.
But is this any sort of reckoning? Really? When I read recently that, allegedly, producers of a big TV show suggested not hiring any women onto the crew so as to keep them safe from the ‘problematic’ host… frankly I just want to lie down and never get up again.
Back to nice things. You all know I shop a lot. It’s my biggest flaw/Olympic level talent. This brand, Seventy+Mochi is a new discovery for me and one that has love heart emojis shooting out of my eyes every time I visit their site for another cheeky look. Launched in 2020, it’s a female-led business, and their denim is designed to be seasonless, trendless, so you know whatever you buy you’ll be wearing for years.
I recently bought this dress:
But I think the next time payday rolls around this jumpsuit will be drafted in to upset the husband.
Book: Spread the Joy by Gaby Roslin
OK, full disclosure: Yes, Gaby Roslin is my friend so I’m heavily pro anything she does. If Gaby farted, I would tell her it smelled like Chanel No5. (But it would also be the truth anyway, I bet). As someone at her book launch said last night, Gaby is probably the only celebrity who people say is even nicer than she already always seems on the telly.
So, my love for Gaby is such that, if I didn’t genuinely think this book was ace, I’d just say nothing. It makes all the sense that Gaby, the human distillation of joy, has written this definitive new bible of beautiful, easy ways that we can all recalibrate our mindset and get more happiness out of every day. It’s not preaching perfection, or ignoring that most people have some degree of horrible shit to deal with. But like me, Gaby believes every day can find even a sliver of room for a bit more happiness, kindness and… well, joy. My favourite thing about it is it focuses heavily on things you can do for other people that will in turn make you feel better than you did two minutes earlier.
I’m going to buy it for friends because it feels like it’s going to be a useful reference on those days when you think actually, everyone and everything really does blow.
Substack: The Lucyverse
Someone else who really spreads the joy in my world is the writer Lucy Sweet. Her Monday morning Substack never fails to turn me into that loon on the train sitting by herself and collapsed with uncontrollable LOLing. Each week is Lucy’s review of random stuff, written with such brilliant wit. When’s YOUR book coming, Lucy?
Book and Instagram: Retro Sydney
@retrosydney is my favourite Instagram account although I have to say, it’s bittersweet. Nathan Mete curates historic photographs of my birth city, spanning the 1950s through to the 2010s. Complete with era-accurate soundtracks it gives me so many nostalgic feels. Often times I pinch and zoom in on the photographs of bustling Sydney streets just in case I spot myself or someone I know. It floods my head and my heart with memories and constantly makes me homesick, but I can never look away from these fantastic images. And now, in a counter-cultural move, the Insta account has gone analogue with the release of this beautiful, glossy coffee table book. I’m going to buy one for my parents too, I know they’ll love it.
Brand: Traffic People
I know this is not a new brand at all, but it is to me. I discovered via my friend Korinna and her delightful Insta account @isthistooyoungforme. And so I found this kitsch retro printed skirt and shirt.
It’s giving me 1970s kitchen curtains and I am here for it. If you’re as obsessed with colour and print as I am, check them out.
Lastly, a small couple of work plugs, I hope you will permit.
New Youtube series
It’s aimed at raising awareness of the issues facing children who have a cancer diagnosis and what charities like ours are doing for them. If you know anyone whose life is touched by childhood cancer, I would be so grateful if you would show them this. I’m hoping it opens up more conversations and grows understanding of the issues that are unique to child-specific cancers.
My podcast: Fame is back!
Series two has some brilliant people on to discuss what being famous has done to their heads include Dannii Minogue, David Gandy, Dawn O’Porter, Sophie Ellis Bextor and so many more, including some mega surprises. Oh and get in touch with me if you have a FameFail to share. Did you accidentally drop your handbag in front of Dermot O’Leary, and which resulted in him helping you pick up your mess of tampons and Windeze tablets? Oh that was just me, was it? You get the idea. Tell me your celeb stories!
So this was a slightly different kind of column from me. Let me know if it was any use/interest for you in the comments! See you on Sunday.
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