Charles Saatchi lists his six favourite books and everyone is weirded out

Thanks to The Week magazine, I have given more thought to Charles Saatchi today than I’ve given him in the rest of my life put together.

“The advertising guru Charles Saatchi, founder of the Saatchi Gallery, picks his six favourite books.”

  1. The Famous Five series, Enid Blyton. “I very much wanted to join up and for it to become The Famous Six”.

We all did, Charles, but most of us tend to look back on it with an involuntary shudder. Remember Anne and how annoying she was, always playing with those damn dolls and needing rescuing from small enclosed spaces? Remember that patronising little shit Julian, always buying icecreams for everyone with his own money and acting so magnanimous about it?

Remember Dick?


2. Bleak House, Charles Dickens. “Dickens’ daunting indictment of the British legal system […] I have re-read many times over the years. The BBC television series, starring Gillian Anderson, was so very poor, thankfully very few people would have watched it.”

A few things on this:

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Teen heart-throbs I had the hots for in the 90s, in order of how much they give me the creeps now

I went through a phase…OK, maybe more than just a phase… of putting up the posters of teen heart-throbs, from the teen magazines I used to buy.

These man-children hung on my walls, pouted benignly over every waking moment of my utterly unremarkable and unattractive adolescence… until the blu-tack dried out, and they fell face-first into my plastic model ponies. (Always a sad day). I’m not sure what made me think of it today, but I was, and then I couldn’t stop thinking about them.

Disturbingly, it seems that in my teenage years, I swung from fancying guys who looked somewhat man-like, to those who don’t actually seem to have reached puberty. It’s weird to think that adult women and men collected up some of these pictures and marketed them to me as sex symbols. I mean, I was young enough to still be attracted to someone whose voice was not yet broken, and they knew about it. Bleurgh. Imagine that being your job. Presumably, someone still does this stuff now (although I can’t imagine with smartphones and all that new-fangled whatnot, that today’s teenage girls are putting up with the rubbish quality snaps and articles we used to get our kicks to- they’re probably all watching X-rated home sex videos of the dudes, or something).

So. Anyway. We’re rating the hotties for their creeps-giving qualities in reverse order, starting with the least creepy:

Callan Mulvey (“Drazic” in Heartbreak High)

DRAZIC-heartbreak-high-3175304-218-300To be honest, after googling Callan Mulvey for about ten minutes, I have come to the conclusion that I still would.

Putting this poster on my wall might be one of the least creepy things that I did at 13, in fact.

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Reviewing Bristol #2: Maintaining standards (except Amy)

This is what I do when I can’t bear to think about serious things, IE when the BBC is insisting on broadcasting constant propaganda round the clock about how we have to go into Syria and save the poor defenseless women and children from ISIS (what are you worried about, people? Look at all the other Middle Eastern democracies we’ve successfully built!).

Behold, Bristol’s finest Google reviewers, making life seem trivial again.

I’m not angry, just disappointed

Jesus, Amy. Start thinking seriously about the way you treat people, or you’re riding for a fall, lady. A serious fall.

I’d love to think he was trying to be funny, but I’ve got the sinking feeling that he’s deadly serious.

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10 things people have said to me on dates, that in retrospect, I should have treated as fair warning

Dear friends: if anyone you’re seeing says any of these things while on a date with you, you should: a) put down your drink and collect up your belongings, b) politely make your excuses and leave, c) block the other person on all social networking sites, d) toast your lucky escape with a freshly made mojito, on the beach, with your friends.

I promise it will save you lots of trouble (and possibly money) in the long run. Continue reading

A Brit experiences American customer service

Scene: Logging onto Citibank US website to try and find out how to close a checking account.

Backstory: As a Brit, she likes to spend a little time roaming around the help pages getting frustrated, clicking the back button with her lip quivering like an enraged matador, before calling a customer services centre somewhere in Sunderland and having an icy, venomous exchange with a woman called Holly which ends with her having a delivery sent to the wrong address. At the outset of these sorry trips down gritted-teeth lane (“British customer service”), she sometimes open up the online chat box, just for kicks; but she has never in her life had anyone on the other end come alive and respond to one. Usually they just sit there winking quietly, fueling her impotent rage. 

However, today, the Citibank chat box opens of its own accord. ‘Chat to us’. it says, in a mute American accent. ‘Chat to us’. So she does.

[After 2 second wait the screen goes BLEEP]: Agent has arrived.

Agent: Hi, I’m Michael! How can I help you today?

Me: I need help to close my checking account please. No longer living in USA so don’t need it.

[She is typing in shorthand, assuming it was a robot on the other end…How wrong, how foolish.]

Agent: Well, I am certainly very regretful to hear of your decision to leave us.

[Pause for effect]

Me: I know. It’s very sad.

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Onion Skins and the Paranormal (or: A Short Stint as an Ethical Cleaner)

Note: I found this piece of writing in my folders and was quite excited because I never got around to writing Part 2 when I started it about four years ago. So now I’ll finish it at some point, but it might not turn out the way I originally intended.


I was secretly pretty happy about the fact that I was doing a cleaning job, and a Masters at the same time. Though I did neither particularly well, I liked the fact that telling people about it – if I got the tone right- made me sound serious and conscientious; the type of person who ended up quietly damaging their health permanently through overwork, but of whom people said, “She’s just so….inspirational. She just gets on with it and never whinges or complains.” Since this is not and has never been the case (I complain loudly at any given opportunity) I didn’t really tell too many people about the cleaning job at first, waiting instead to fine tune the aura of saintliness. Launching in with it too soon probably also would have spilled the truth; that it was actually a whole lot of fun. This would have reconfirmed the absolutely correct impression people have of me that I will avoid anything looking like genuinely hard work.

The cleaning firm was run by a bright, extremely tall and angular woman called Nettie, who dressed as if on route to a Cath Kidston catalogue shoot and whose pert, pretty range of multiple children (I never quite worked out how many, there were loads of them distributed throughout the house at different times) had names like Jemima and Albie. Jemima wore designer corduroy trousers at the age of two, and her bedroom was bigger than mine was at the time.

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The children’s playpen of money management: how I grew up and learned to love budgets

This month, I did a budget, and I’d like to tell you all about what was for me a unique and ground-breaking experience.

A budget? What the heck has come over you, I hear you say? Well, this. Until recently, I was lucky enough to be living in New York, rent-and-bill free, with all my income basically coming under the heading ‘disposable’.

I KNOW. I can best sum up my attitude to money at that point with this picture:

me in new york

me in new york

Before that, I lived in a share house in Bristol, UK, which cost me the grand total of £400 a month, inclusive of all bills. Again, most of my income was disposable. And because my incomings monthly were never at risk of not covering my outgoings relatively comfortably (since I didn’t own a car, gamble, play the stock exchange, regularly secure the services of prostitutes, shop for Balenciaga handbags, fly to Dubai to attend diamond auctions, or do any of the other dubious things that can send single people with decent salaries into debt)… this basically was ok.

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