Archive for February, 2015|Monthly archive page

Seven Days of Positive – Day 119

In Diets, Food, Weight loss on February 12, 2015 at 9:45 pm


I’ve gone coco loco. As in mad for coconuts, coconut oil, in particular.

It came into my life a few months ago when I read about oil pulling. This is the Ayurvedic dental technique, where you put a spoonful of coconut oil – it’s solid at room temperature, so it feels weird until it melts – in your gob and swill it around for 20 minutes, sucking it through your teeth.

At the end you spit the now thin foamy liquid out into your bin, not your sink, because it will harden again, blocking your drains.

It’s meant to whiten teeth, soften plaque and remove bacteria from the mouth, which is good for all round health.

I started doing it because after taking so many heavy duty antibiotics my tongue had a really nasty coating and my mouth tasted funny.

I also feared I had death breath.

It has definitely helped and while I don’t do it every day religiously, I do it quite often. It’s surprising how quickly you get used to it. I admit I rather enjoy it now.

Even more so because my tongue is pink again and I do think I have less plaque on my back teeth.

So I’m a fan of oil pulling, although I don’t subscribe to the usual American hysterical reaction where there are now crazed blog posts all over the internet claiming that it can cure cancer and every other disease known to man.

That’s clearly bollocks.

I am normally very wary of superfood fads, because of that kind of carry on. It amuses me every time I go to New York to see what the latest food obsession is. There’s always something and immediately it’s everywhere.

I can only imagine how much extra virgin organic coconut oil there on Manhattan right now. It might sink under the weight.

But despite all that, coconut oil seems to be playing a bigger part in my life every day.

It’s a big part of Amelia Freer’s weight loss and health boosting regime. Amelia is a great believer in the health benefits of coconut oil, for its nutritional benefits – and she also subscribes to the increasingly accepted belief that it helps you lose weight.

I can’t be bothered to go into the science of this, so please read these excellent post by Sarah Wilson, which explains it all.

I cook with it whenever possible and if I decide to use olive oil because I don’t want the slight tropical flavour in my Italian style dinner, like Sarah, I’ll munch on a spoonful of coconut oil at the end of my meal. It’s very satiating, so you feel full for ages.

And when you only eat sugar once a week, as I have for the last four months, it tastes great.

So between oil pulling, frying and munching, coconut oil has become part of my daily life. Now it’s making inroads into my beauty routine.

I’m typing this with a load of it on my hair (zapped in the microwave to melt it), to see whether it’s as good an overnight moisturising hair mask as is widely claimed. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

I will also be trying it out as eye make up remover.

For more on all that read this by Lauren Conrad.

Celebrities are mad about it too. Gwynnie is oil pulling like mad (of course she is…), Angelina has it for breakfast, Jennifer fries her nachos in it and Miranda Kerr doesn’t go a day without it – and she’s looking good on it…


Are any of you going coco loco too?


Seven Days of Positive – Day 118

In Drag on February 9, 2015 at 11:19 pm

Asifa Lahore, drag queen

I was proud of my husband and daughter tonight when they saved a dear little wood mouse like this one below, which my evil murderous cat had brought in from the hill opposite our house, to provide his entertainment for the evening.

My role in the rescue was peeping round the door, wanting to help but being irrationally freaked out by rodent scuttling.


They released Minnie (we decided she was a girl without looking too hard) back into the wild, where I fear the tyrant Gonzo will just go and finish her off, but at least we won’t have to witness the slaughter.

The other good thing which happened today (which was otherwise almost entirely arse to chair, head to work) was reading this piece on the Guardian website (as posted by Caitlin Moran on Twitter) about gay Asian Muslim drag queens in London and Birmingham.

That’s the fabulous Asifa Lahore at the top there.

The short film is really worth watching. I was very touched by the story of Ali, a Pakistani man who has been granted asylum in this country, because his sexuality and drag identity put his life was in danger in Pakistan.

He said when he first went to a gaysian (gay Asian) drag club in London he couldn’t believe it.

‘It was like coming home,’ he said.

It made me very proud of my country, that we can offer him a life where – although he still gets agro from fuckwits on London streets – his freedom to express himself and just be himself is protected by law.

So yes, Ali, you are home. Come in, put your feet up, have a biscuit, you’re so very welcome here.

Seven Days of Positive – Day 117

In Actors, FIlms, Hot Men, Men on February 9, 2015 at 12:14 am


I did something absolutely brilliant today, but I can’t tell you about it yet, as it’s for an article to appear on, a website I contribute to. As soon as it’s up I’ll post the link (with added highlights).

In other news, I continued the mother/daughter film festival with Peggy. She chose Walking On Sunshine, which I wasn’t very excited to see – but boy did I have a nice surprise.

His name is Guilio Berruti.


I think he’s the most gorgeous man who has ever lived. Seriously, the most beautiful ever. He’s just perfect. That body, that face – and blue eyes?

He also has a very appealing on screen presence, not in any way lessened by him spending most of the film in swimwear. See here.

Mother and daughter fell in immediate love. It was hilarious. Every time he came on screen we clutched each other and squealed, probably entirely inappropriately, but it was great fun.

Here are some more pictures of him.


Here he is in some kind of doublet and hose feature.

imagesL9Q1EUEWAnd here, dead casual like, in jeans and a parka, getting a coffee, no doubt, like the Italian dude he is.


Working a pair of shades.


Looking adorable in a duffel coat.

images2Signor Darcy in a cravat arrangement.

nakedStruth! He’s naked!

Screen-Shot-2014-06-02-at-10_57_45And again. These shots were taken for for an Italian safe sex campaign (not a homoerotic calendar).

He was the big attraction of the film, but I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. There’s no denying it’s an unapologetic Mamma Mia copy, right down to the summer loving beach setting, but instead of the heinous music of ABBA (I looooooooooooooathe ABBA), it’s based around fabulous 1980s pop hits.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. If I Could Turn Back Time. Holiday. Wild Boys. Wake Me Up Before You Go Go. And the one and only Eternal Flame.

Every track that came on Peggy yelled ‘Oh, I love this song!’ and I had to stop myself saying some dopey old person thing like, ‘Ah, yes I remember this playing in every shop and bar in the East Village in 1983…this was my soundtrack to the summer of 1982…I danced to this with George Michael, when I interviewed him in 1984…

I thought I showed great restraint, but I held back because I wanted watching the film to be an experience for us to share in the here and now, not make it all about my memories of the olden days. I’m glad I did. I quietly enjoyed remembering those times, without having to bore her with it.

If you just want a couple of hours of completely undemanding, pure sugar entertainment – with a white hot lust object – this will hit the spot.

(As you will see in this clip, he even has alluring armpit hair.)

Seven Days of Positive – Day 116

In books, Friends, Medium on February 6, 2015 at 9:02 pm


I went up to town for the launch of my friend Catherine Mayer’s new biography of Prince Charles – Charles, Heart of a King.

The book has caused something of a stir, to put it mildly. Certainly it’s the first time I’ve heard any of my friend’s books mentioned at the top of every hourly news bulletin on Radio 4 for an entire day.

Go Catherine! She’s so clever and a very loyal pal.

My date for the night was my great friend Sebastian (the same one I went to the Donmar Warehouse with) and being at that kind of party with him – it was pulsating with the great, the good and the fabulously bad – reminded me of when we were hyper ambitious media weenies together in the mid-1980s, blagging our way into every launch we possibly could.

After we went to Polpetto, a favourite of mine in Soho’s Berwick Street, which serves small plates of Italian food, with a Venetian leaning, for dinner with two other pals, K and I.


We talked about our mutual friend Jessica Adams, the astrologer I wrote about at the start of the year ( Jessica is also a medium and K told an extraordinary story about something that happened after Jessica did a reading for her.

As she told it the hair stood up on all of our arms and I was reminded of the time years ago when Jessica read for me.

‘Your father’s here,’ was the first thing she said and went on to give me two details about him that she couldn’t possibly have known. I’ll never forget it.

She did exactly the same thing with another friend of mine, who she had only just met, coming straight out with a detail about her late father.

I stayed over at Sebastian’s house and on my way back to the station this morning I saw a young man sitting on the pavement trying to raise funds playing tunes on a traffic cone he was using as a giant kazoo.

He was getting a really great sound out of it and I stopped to listen, not sure I was hearing right – was he really playing Fly Me To The Moon?

It seemed such a surprising choice for someone his age. He looked about 23. It was one of my parents’ favourite songs, always played at their parties and it always makes me think of my dad in his dinner jacket, with his 1960s bow tie, like something Sammy Davis Jnr would have worn (I’ve still got it).

I gave the busker all my change.

You can hear him play here, seems he’s a bit of a local feature.

Seven Days of Positive – Day 115

In Friends, Love on February 3, 2015 at 11:29 pm

I want to play you one of my favourite songs. Forgive the cheesy photos and lyrics. I was hoping for a live version, but this was the best available, so just close your eyes and listen.

I love that song because like Emmylou Harris and Earl Thomas, I believe in happy endings too. I really do.

So far all my novels have had them (although I’m not making any promises about the new one… I might break my form, I’m saying nothing) although I hope it might not always be achieved in the way you might expect.

The reason I like them in books is because I’ve seen so many happy endings in real life.

Well, they’re happy beginnings really, aren’t they? When two lovely people find each other and look out towards the future, side by side, hand in hand.

My faith in this process has been greatly boosted over the past year or so as one after another of my reluctantly long-term single girlfriends has met a really great man. In each case when I met the chap in question I felt a sense of ‘Oh, there you are…’

I just heard today that one of these pairs is getting married in the summer. This news made me so happy I shed a tear. The moment I saw them together, I knew they were perfect for each other.

They look like they’ve been together for thirty years already.

There’s another wedding slated for later in the year and another in the planning. And one or two more I’m really really really hoping will be announced.

This leaves just one or two of my very favourite people still waiting for a mate who is good enough for them.

I really can’t understand why either of them is single, but when I say – as I did to one of them on the phone this evening – that I am completely sure that they will meet the right person, I’m not just blah, blah, blahing, to make them feel better.

I know it will happen.

He may not be anything like the person they think they have in mind and it won’t happen in any of the ways they can imagine, but they will meet him.

Their single lives will come to a happy ending and their happy beginning will unfold.


PS Just to add – prompted by a very good comment by Margot – that not everyone feels the need to have another person to create their happy future. I have many single friends who feel entirely realised without the need for a long-term partner, they’ve found their happy ending inside themselves. But all the people I’m referring to here very much wanted – or still want – someone else in their lives.

Seven Days of Positive – Day 114

In houses, Interiors, junk shopping on February 2, 2015 at 10:32 pm


Every year this makes me happy, the day the daffodils come into the shops.

I know they’re grown in polytunnels in Holland, but they’re coming out by the side of the road now too, such a cheerful sight.

I love the smell of them as well. There’s something so optimistic about it.

My dad always used to bring the first ones home for my mum and it reminds me of him to have them in jugs all around the house. And at £1 a bunch you can make a great splash for the price of one bunch of service station carnations.


I also particularly like this spot in my house, where I always put flowers. It’s at the top of the stairs in the hall, where they go down to the kitchen.

The lamp is one of a pair, a junk shop find when I first moved to Hastings. The cabinet is a post-war Utility furniture shoe cupboard, where we keep our scruff about shoes. Snow boots, trainers, Ugg boots, walking boots, that kind of thing. It cost £10.

The convex starburst mirror another treasure from the wonderful five-floor warehouse of premium junk which has now been made into flats. I furnished most of my house from it, including two velvet-covered Chesterfield sofas, £400 the pair. I will never stop missing that emporium of joy.

The heart-shaped pebbles are from Hastings beach, the Chinese gryphon (or whatever he is) is another junketeering trophy.

The paintings are particularly precious because they were given to me by Australian artist Pat Harry, who I wrote about here

Having those bits and bobs, nothing special or unique (apart from the paintings), just stuff I like, makes me happy every time I go past them.

But I’m not going down to the kitchen tonight again if I can possibly avoid it. I had to make the dinner wearing a puffa jacket and a hat – that’s how cold it is.

So the daffodils might be poking there brave little heads up, but we’ve got a lot more of winter to get through yet.

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