The coffee at the American Embassy in London is bloody awful. It somehow contrives to be burned, lukewarm too hot to comfortably hold all at the same time, while you’re sitting in a room with two hundred nervous people waiting for your number to come up.
Fortunately, this observation is not considered an impediment to cultural exchange. As a result, I am now in possession of a student visa for the Land of the Actually Quite Expensive. The forms are signed. It’s happening. In two months, I’ll be off for a year’s study at Harvard.
It’ll be a year in which I’m not allowed to write professionally, although there’ll be updates on this blog and book-related events. That;s going to be a challenge. So much of my work in the past five years has revolved around deadlines and constant availability, and while I’ve been incredibly lucky, it’s been knackering, too. Last week, for the first time in three years, I had a real week off. Not a week away from my main job to work on all the other things I was supposed to be doing. Not a week of frantic travel. Quality, focused goofing-off time. I made it six whole days before I cracked and started pitching articles on the London housing crisis, and I am proud of that.
On the subject of writing, I did an interview with Ideas Tap all about journalism, making trouble and paying rent. It’s designed as frank advice for young writers starting out and looking to make a career, and because I was huddled on a corner in the middle of Soho when I did the interview, it turned out ten percent snark than usual. You have been warned.
The other big thing I’m preparing for, of course, is the book coming out. Unspeakable Things hits the shops in three weeks and I’m terrifically nervous. It’s print. You can’t just go in and update. It’s out there in dead-tree format forever. Still, at least the cover is sexy.
Some other things I’ve been doing:
My piece on the Isla Vista killings and Misogynist Extremism went slightly viral.
Relatedly, I went on the NPR programme ‘All Things Considered’ to speak about misogynist extremism and the #Yesallwomen hashtag.
A panel on Democracy at the How The Light Gets In festival. (With Owen Jones, Michael Howard and a hard right New Zealander whose chief purpose was to somehow make Howard look reasonable by comparison). I had been up all night writing the Isla Vista piece, if you’re wondering why I look like I’ve been dragged through a hedge here.
An in-depth piece on New Media, journalism, race and gender.(New Statesman)
A column about the British Royal Family as the ultimate reality television franchise. Let it be known that I Wanna Marry Harry is almost certainly the worst thing to happen in the history of television.(New Statesman)
A piece on Trigger Warnings and why they’re a useful tool. (New Statesman)
A long feature on the European Elections, the rise of fascism and democratic collapse, for VICE USA. I challenged myself to write about something extremely dull but very important. It even has jokes.
There’s more, actually quite a lot more, including a lot of writing that’s just for me and not for sharing, and spending some time off the interwebs cooking for my nine housemates and slobbing out in front of Star Trek. I’d never seen the original series before. I now have a more profound understanding of the nerd culture that spawned me.