ta-ta for now

NFAN is asleep for a while. She’s been put to bed for a not-at-all-well-earned rest and will emerge when a handsome prince plants a minty, reviving kiss on her lazy lips.

I’m now blogging over at DAISYDUMAS.COM and also for the London Evening Standard at http://www.standard.co.uk/dumas.

I’m also taking commissions on all things Australia, food, geography and environment related, contact details are over on daisydumas.com.

Ta-ta for now, it’s been a right royal pleasure.

rip, milly

Along with buying greetings cards in advance of needing them, I thought that using a window wiper on the shower door was a sure and immovable sign of being a Grown Up.

They still are useful harbingers, I suppose, but I have re-advised my parameters of adulthood of late. The surest and starkest acolyte of maturing, is, I have come to realise, when your funeral count ups to a steady one or two a year.

There was a witheringly sad one on a biting March day and there is another this Friday, a farewell to an old friend who, wearied and weak, lost her life-draining struggle with Cystic Fibrosis last Wednesday. Milly Douglas-Pennant was the bravest girl I have ever met. The last time I saw her was when I was fourteen and even then, she struck everyone who met her as a special person. Forever on IV, drinking strengthening chocolate milkshakes and hot chocolate by the gallon, hating sports and loving art. I remember, crystal clear, bunking off from school, lying in her hammock and laughing at everything – until her mum got a call from a teacher and our bubble was unceremoniously burst.

Death is our society’s last taboo. Unlike sex – which is everywhere now, selling us things we don’t need – death is something we still fail to talk about openly and candidly much of the time. We only came to mourn and hold death in such sepulchred fear in the past 200 years or so – back when sex was unmentionable in certain circles, death was quotidien and matter-of-fact. Perhaps some more bestial, exhausting outpouring of emotion in the event of, and a frankness in the run up to losing a life would help us all approach the taboo in more human, real and fearless terms. As they do in India. Then again, we deal with things as best we can – and no matter how many funerals I find myself shuffling greyly to, they never get any easier.

In any case, I doubt that turning our consciences’ clocks back a couple of centuries and untabooing the facts would have made any difference to tearful eyes on that bitter day in March and to those this Friday ahead.

shiny new thing

Please make a click or two and take yourself to the tech-with-trainer-wheels-on world that is my infantile new site, DAISYDUMAS.COM.

It’s a bit of a tardis and contains quite a lot of borderline fascinating material – or will do when I get into the true swing of things – so please make yourself comfortable, brew a cup of the earl and sit back.

Iplayer’s only a few more clicks on, afterall.

take flight

Every journey, I suppose, begins with a step. A change, a leap, an about-face, a swing, a jump, a nod – hell, a raised eyebrow will do it. A tiny, physical manifestation that signals the first in a kaleidescopic set of unfurling consequences and the webbed threads they tweak, with effect, on so many levels.

Like every good story, the journey is bettered by some drama – some colour, a diving tail fin or the bang of a start gun. A dancing girl, a waving hankerchief. A speech bubble holding a heavy, bold, brash WHOAH! And if the journey can please include some tears, some hillarity and a puppy, so much the better.

If the story’s looking ugly from the outset and holds little promise of any, or all, of the above, lie. Tell them the journey will get better: it’s fate – bound, signed, sealed, delivered to lady luck, the reverser of fortunes, the harbinger of hope and a good night’s sleep. Tell them, like I recently was, that Goodfellas is ‘like a romantic comedy’. They’ll fall for it.

I booked a flight to Brisbane today. I leave in 34 days. I am turning my back on my job, family, friends, boyfriend-with-dog-attached, house, city of six years, pretty much everything that’s been a part of my life of late. Brisbane is, in case you wondered, 10,273 miles away from London. That’s a rather scary 1,652,313,485 centimeters, if you have time to hang around.

The first domino to fall in my little journey toppled many years ago – as I grew up, I knew that living in Sydney, where I was born, was always something I’d do. Momentum set in and now that the effect has brought me to my last few dominos – my final weeks in London, with my boyfriend, with my family – the trip is just beginning. But the journey – ah, the journey. The scary, sickening, sad, exciting, tiring, energising upheaval I’ve just begun – well, that’s just another wrinkle in the folds of it all. This is not the beginning.

some glastonbury love

Being me, and it being Glastonbury, there’ll be more to come. But for now, there are some lovely little shots from the sweaty, messy fields of Somerset posted over on my Evening Standard blog, bloop!

Pics thanks to David Yeo. And that big-hearted farmer, Mr Eavis.

I’m going to make ricotta now.

freelance and beyond

I’m officially unemployed. Or freelance. Either way, I’m jobless and it feels good.

I left the Evening Standard newsdesk on Thursday and am now preparing for my move to my motherland, Australia. Much to think about, get scared about and make me wonder what I am doing.

Anyway, tons coming up on the blog – including the wonders of Vicky Park elderflower cordial, west mersea kale, mini Hanbury street soundsystems and of course my Glastonbury breakdown – blow by blow pictures and words from the world’s biggest and bestest party, bar absolutely none.

Exciting times xxx

major hiatus

I’ve neglected this lately. For six weeks I’ve been trying to get a blog out but have failed in every way. I’ve seen so much I could have ummed and erred on about, too. Like why do they make white goods white and electric things like stereos black? I’ve been learning a bit about the fragility of sanity – and how much can change so very quickly when the strings holding our minds in their normal static solidity are compromised. And seeing the effects of elastic independence.

I’ve been picking elderflowers in Vicky Park, scrambling through banks of wild garlic in Wales, slurping oysters in West Mersea, sleeping late after long Dalston nights and all the while steeling myself for big changes ahead.

I’ve been frying some other fish and nfan has taken a back seat. See, I’m moving to Australia and I’ll be blogging my moves for the Evening Standard. The aim is to leap into the abyss and immerse myself in lonely terror, taste what it feels like to have excitement and fear coursing through me, meet things, see people, try stuff out and perhaps learn a little on the way. It’s scaring me throughout most of most days but it feels good to be doing something.

I am freelancing from the end of June and will be specialising in writing about food – in the same vein as my Independent articles – and of course keeping an eye on all things eco. Check out this month’s National Geographic Green magazine to see my latest article, Britain’s Greenest Festivals – which reminds me, reminds me good, that Glastonbury is just around the corner.

Here’s to my last British summer for a while and to the blossomy stink of the elderflower cordial that I have stewing away in the fridge.