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Tag: Music (Page 2 of 3)

Cigarettes After Sex

“I am a respiratory registrar; my day job involves treating smoking-related lung diseases like emphysema and lung cancer but I still believe that in the right circumstances, smoking can be really fucking hot!” The Other Livvy

I’ve known for a while (about two years!) that I’d eventually get round to doing an album cover series. This Cigarettes After Sex cover has been on the list since the beginning. I don’t know much about the band but I was captivated by Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby during the first series Handmaid’s Tale and when I looked the tune up on Spotify I immediately approved of them using this Man Ray image for their cover art.

The title of the album also makes me hugely nostalgic for, well, cigarettes after sex. Cigarettes after sex go together like cheese and wine or strawberries and cream. Like all ex-smokers there’ll always be a part of me that romanticises cigarettes and misses them, even though I know they’re bad for us and ludicrously expensive and make us smell and taste bad. Part of me wishes we didn’t know so much and could all just bust like Marlene Dietrich.

When I was figuring out my February Photo Fest photos I put Livvy’s name against this photo because I knew she’d pull off the Man Ray look so wonderfully. It was only as I started reminiscing about all the excellent post fuck fags I’ve had in tents and fields and manky student bedrooms and lying on lawns of stately houses during May balls that I suddenly thought: “bloody hell, she’s a lung doctor, that’s a totally inappropriate caption for her photo.” Then I remembered the above quote from this post and laughed out loud. She’s right, in the right circumstances smoking can be really fucking hot. Or at least it was.

This spate of nostalgia has been heavily influenced by the re-run of This Life on BBC4 and iPlayer. If you are of a certain age and disposition and are similarly besotted with that programme may I recommend The Guyliner on why you are not and never will be Anna from This Life!

To say the programme influenced my early twenties would be an understatement. The first series broadcast during my last term at university and a few months later as six of us stumbled into a three storey town house in Camden with its primary colour walls and big windows and high ceilings one of us exclaimed: “it‘s just like the This Life house,” and we put the deposit down on the spot. We weren’t lawyers, we were all working in PR, fashion and travel, but we swanned around Camden feeling like we were the This Life gang. When the second series landed in spring 1997 we felt like we were watching ourselves. We had the washing up and stolen yoghurt arguments, we had a couple who at times were not dissimilar to Egg and Milly, we had a flatmate move in a dodgy partner, there were the money dramas, the job dramas and lots and lots of partying, booze and sex.

While we saw our London life and home and co-living dramas reflected back at us and we definitely allowed ourselves to be influenced by it, I didn’t think it had influenced the sex we had that much. I mean, we had a lot of it with a lot of different people, but we were 22 and box fresh graduates with disposable income arriving in Camden amidst the excitement of 1997. If we hadn’t been having a lot of sex we’d have been missing an open goal.

I say I didn’t think the show had influenced the sex we had.

For more than twenty years I’ve had a fantasy about fucking on stage at the Royal Albert Hall. I’ve had many orgasms to that fantasy over the years. The details change. Sometimes the audience are just watching, sometimes they are wanking as they watch. One time David Beckham was in the audience wanking. I always thought it was bizarre that I’d magicked this fantasy up before I’d ever visited the Royal Albert Hall. In recent years I’ve used the fantasy as an example of how I was clearly an exhibitionist even before I’d heard the word or read anything about it. But last week I’m watching This Life and Milly, Egg and Anna are watching porn. “How can people do that in front of a camera?” says Milly, to which Anna retorts: “I’d fuck on stage at the Royal Albert Hall if it meant I was getting some.” Ah!

Oh, I love my life now. I love my solo-living, clean and tidy, smoke-free flat in suburban south London. But fucking hell, if for one day I could just magic myself back to Camden of summer 1997 and be 22 with it all to come and lie in bed listening to the noise of the house and the street as I smoke a cigarette after sex…

February Photofest

Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked

Gold Against The Soul

On Tuesday 18th February 2014 I flew to Poland to visit Exhibit A. Six years ago today! I only realised this as I was drafting these posts last night (I’d originally intended this photo to close album cover week on Friday). That was only the second time he and I had ever met and in hindsight maybe it was a bit of a bonkers thing to do, but I was only six months into a new chapter and I was making up for a lot of lost time so when he suggested it I thought ‘fuck it’!

That first evening in Warsaw we discovered we had a shared love of the Manic Street Preachers. Anyone who pays even the slightest bit of attention to my Twitter or blog will know that the Manics occupy a special place in my affections and finding another fan always makes my heart sing. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen them since I paid £6.50 to see them at Warrington Parr Hall in October 1992 – closer to 40 than 30, I’d say – but the last few times have been with Exhibit A. They’ve definitely become one of our red threads.

This blog was started exactly one year later (five years ago this coming weekend!) and pretty much since day one I’ve wanted us to do a copy of this album cover. With those twisted limbs and roses near eyes it’s not really one you can quickly shoot on self-timer when there’s just two of you! Finally, during our group gathering a few weeks back there were enough extra hands for me to be able to tick it off my list.

A lot has changed in those intervening years – a fact that’s probably most neatly summed up by saying his wife took this photo while his one-year-old daughter was napping in my office! Back then I was in a ‘fuck it, I’ll try anything’ phase but not really having any structure to that part of my life or thinking too much about what really made me happy; now I’m in a much more settled place of knowing what combination of ‘partner light’ relationships and casual but valued play date arrangements work for me.

I think I can probably speak for both of us when I say that if someone had told us six years ago that we’d be taking this photo and in what circumstances, neither of us would have believed them. But I’m very happy that as both of our lives have evolved we’ve managed to maintain and grow our own connection. Here’s to many more Manics gigs, late night singalongs to Design for Life and, of course, photos!

February Photofest


I have lots of outtakes of this photo! It’s remarkably hard to get someone to clasp their chest and stare into the distance with an intense and tortured Prince expression on their face without them breaking into giggles.

February Photofest


“There’s a starman waiting in the sky/ He’d like to come and meet us/ But he thinks he’d blow our minds”
Starman, – The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars

Last night in a starlit (well, fairylights, actually) garden in south London, a diverse group of people from all corners of @19syllables’ universe danced and drank and ate and drank some more under the paper lantern planets. Aside from her, the thing that united all of us was Space. Just days before she (to quote her husband’s speech last night) left her own cramped capsule man had landed on the moon. Last night Captain Kirks, Redshirts, Doctor Whos, cyborg men, astronauts and aliens all mingled happily and there were no deaths. And there were a couple of Ziggys. Me and the other Ziggy wrapped our arms around each other and sang along to Starman. It was a perfect night!

Editors note: in the spirit of transparency you should all know that in reality this giant nylon babygro was in no way sexy. It was a hot and itchy and sweaty and Honey nicknamed it the menopause simulation suit!!

Sinful Sunday

Fat Bottomed Girls

“Fat bottomed girls you make the rockin’ world go round.” Queen

I’ve shamelessly copied Exhibit A’s #bankholidaybumday photo today and am channeling the cover of Queen’s Fat Bottomed Girls. With a little addition! I was gifted a Rocks Off vibrating plug by Tabitha Rayne at Eroticon. Thank you very much – it’s a very enjoyable addition to my toy drawer. Although it’s not actually spending much time in the drawer at the moment!

Sinful Sunday

If You Tolerate This…

“The future teaches you to be alone
The present to be afraid and cold”

If You Tolerate This Then Your Children Will Be Next
Manic Street Preachers

It’s been a hard and emotional week in UK politics. We must now find a way forward in a country almost half of us didn’t want. We must find our voices and our spirit and we must not believe tolerance and unity have been defeated.
We must not be silent. We must not be blind. We must not be restrained.
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If You Tolerate This Then Your Children Will Be Next
The future teaches you to be alone
The present to be afraid and cold
So if I can shoot rabbits
Then I can shoot fascists
Bullets for your brain today
But we’ll forget it all again
Monuments put from pen to paper
Turns me into a gutless wonder

And if you tolerate this
Then your children will be next
And if you tolerate this
Then your children will be next
Will be next
Will be next
Will be next

Gravity keeps my head down
Or is it maybe shame
At being so young and being so vain
Holes in your head today
But I’m a pacifist
I’ve walked La Ramblas
But not with real intent

And if you tolerate this
Then your children will be next
And if you tolerate this
Then your children will be next
Will be next
Will be next
Will be next
Will be next

And on the street tonight an old man plays
With newspaper cuttings of his glory days
And if you tolerate this
Then your children will be next
And if you tolerate this
Then your children will be next
Will be next
Will be next
Will be next
Sinful Sunday

“We Measure the Nostalgia”

Another heart has made the trade
Forget it, forget it, forget it
I don’t understand how a heart is a spade
But somehow the vital connection is made

Connection, Elastica

Monday afternoon, jetlagged and in need of distraction I started playing around in my garden, busting some rock goddess poses for my camera. The results definitely weren’t very goddess-like! Twenty two years ago I thought I had the Justine Frischmann scowl perfected, but in hindsight I suspect the look was less sexy smoulder and more petulant teenager.

Anyway, back around the same time I was girl crushing over Ms Frischmann and wearing her hair style I also had a questionable habit of living in coloured tights with fishnets over the top. That was me busting my Manic Street Preachers circa 1992 look. Next week I am off to see them (my favourite band!) with one of my favourite people. Ages ago I promised her I’d do a coloured tights and fishnets Sinful Sunday as a nod to our shared crazy tights past. ‘Mmm, they’re not really Sinful Sunday material’, I thought on Monday as I looked at the results. Five minutes later I spot that music is this week’s Wicked Wednesday prompt. Oh how I love a bit of serendipity. Off I went, tripping down memory lane…

I have written before about losing my virginity to Blue Moon Revisited by The Cowboy Junkies and Goth me reared her head in Fuck Me and Marry Me Young but this week I started thinking about how deeply music is meshed with the memories of men who have mattered to me and how some songs will always call to mind certain times, feelings, experiences.

Spring 1995: the chemistry between S and I has been growing for weeks but neither of us has done anything about it. It doesn’t occur to me to make a move; at 20 I still thought it was the man’s job, but I wanted to prompt action. He and I talk about music incessantly. We pour over NME every Wednesday. Wake Up Boo! By The Boo Radleys is top 10. We love it. I see they’re playing in London on a Saturday. I think about asking him to go, but play it differently and go alone. I want him to think I’m ballsy even though I’m not brave enough to make the first move. When he asks on Monday what I did at the weekend I tell him. His expression changes: ‘You went on your own? I would have come with you.’ We get together that night.

Now, you suck, suck it hard, go down, baby
You suck, lick it hard and move your tongue around

You Suck, The Yeastie Girls

Spring 1996: S and I have fallen by the wayside. Friends and I are regularly tearing it up at a student night, pogoing and shouting passionately to You Suck by The Yeastie Girls. Inspired by cider and angry and bruised by S, I rant at a stranger sitting in my friend’s living room about oral sex: “If a woman comes and you haven’t gone down on her first she’s FAKING”. I know I know, a bit mad. For a few weeks after that night a hot bloke started to say hi when we passed in the street. One night he’s at a student night. “You always smile at me. Do I know you?” I ask. “You gave me a lecture about oral sex,” he replies. We get together that night. He didn’t learn the oral sex lesson but I learnt not to be too vocal about not liking a man’s mother. Bluetones’ Expecting to Fly had been released the day before we got together and it’s my album of that spring. When I hear it I am taken right back to us squashed together in my single bed in my grotty student house.

Well it’s a most peculiar feeling, like sunburn in the evening
With dark clouds on their way
And you think it’s most unlikely life could ever shine as brightly
Once the sun has gone and the pressure’s on

Don’t Need the Sunshine, Catatonia

My mid-twenties: Pulp in Finsbury Park. I meet N, the friend of a friend. I think he is a bit of an idiot. Halfway the through the afternoon my stomach lurches. Everything changes. For that summer, that year, and probably my attitude to relationships forever more. A week later he’s the first man to make me come with his tongue. A week after that we fuck for the first time. In a tent at a music festival. The tent collapses. We watched Catatonia as the sun went down and saw them many more times over the next few years. They will always be the soundtrack to us.

Is music still so intertwined with my memories of love and sex? Not in such a visceral way; I think the raw emotional responses we have to music, love and sex have a particular characteristic in our teenage years and twenties. But it’s still there, albeit in a more tempered less all-consuming way.

My early thirties and a man presents me with a compilation CD at the end of our first date, custom printed with my online user name. Surprised, I blurt out, “Would you have given this to me if you thought I was an idiot?’. He raised his eyebrows. There was only one more date, but I still listen to the haunting songs on that CD and wonder if life worked out OK for him. The half-brother he told me about as he smoked all my cigarettes will be a teenager now. I wonder if his mother ever found out the child existed? I wonder if he is reconciled with his Dad? Kate Rusby makes me think of him.

My late thirties and I am visiting a new lover in a different city. Something isn’t right with the energy in the room. I am trying to ignore the hollow pit in my stomach and not let the feelings of vulnerability and desire for my own home translate into tears behind my eyes. I talk to try and force conversation, a connection. The wrong strategy for that man. But we stumble across a shared love of the same band and the energy in the room shifts as we rummage through You Tube. An hour later I no longer need to fill the silences and sink into my book. Six months later in a different city we geek out and decide to create our perfect live set list for that band.

Praying for the silence
When we look into a mirror
Stained so patient
We measure the nostalgia
Show Me The Wonder, Manic Street Preachers

And so it continues. This morning, I’ve been playing Landslide by Fleetwood Mac on repeat. The seeds of that story were sown last night. Whether today’s fantasy becomes tomorrow’s nostalgia remains to be seen, but regardless, I know what images hearing this song are likely to bring to mind for many years to come
Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked

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