London and I have a love/hate relationship.
Mainly it’s to do with the transport- not even in the most frustrating place I’ve ever lived, Rome- land of all that is e così va- do the buses decide to alter final stop seemingly at whim. Last week it was announced “The destination of this bus has changed” twice, and I ended up in Holburn instead of Oxford Street. Once, the bus decided to simply cease travelling any further into town at all. There are no words that make a group of strangers groan in united commuter frustration louder than “This bus terminates here.”
DEAR LONDON BUSES: I’M CALLING SHENNANIGANS.
On the other hand, though, this city just has so. much. stuff to do, that it’s easy to forgive any minor inconveniences. It’s truly incredible how, for example, a quiet Monday night can see an invitation land in my inbox to “pop in”, nobigdeal, to a networking event hosted by the European Marketing Manager of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
It’s cute how one time I lived in Derby and got invites to cool stuff OH, NEVER.
So I went to get free ice cream. And to hear three of the U.K.’s biggest and most successful female entrepreneurs talk about how they kick ass and take names on the daily. Oh, and watch slack-jawed and fast-of-breath as they were interviewed by one of my all-time favourite writers on the planet.
‘OHMYGOD THAT’S SOPHIE HEAWOOD!’ I not-so-calmly whispered to my colleague. People turned at me to stare. ‘I LOVE her!’
And I do. Sophie Heawood writes a sex column on VICE UK, and the things she says about rumpy-pumpy and relationships and being human resonate so deeply that I want to French Kiss my laptop in appreciation.
Sophie Heawood (this is awkward- we’ve met now; I want to just call her “Soph” but errr, I don’t think it works that way) has a daughter who she writes about, and I adore it because it’s a real, genuine, authentic narrative unpeppered by soft-focus Instagrams and other faves of the mommyblogger world. She gets a lot of shit for talking about the frustrations and complications of life, but everything she says simply… reassures me.
Reading her work is like being told by the really media-savvy, feminist aunt I never had that hey kid. You know what? Fuck this. Do it your way.
I’m a fan because she makes me feel with her stories the way I one day hope to make people feel with mine.
She also keeps incredibly cool company. I remember seeing a photo on Twitter of her at a party, stood next to Caitlin Moran, Grace Dent and India Knight. For the uninitiated, that’s basically London media’s Mean Girls cast, if Mean Girls were set on Feminist Fleet Street and involved copious gin, Marlboro Lights, and endless swooning over Benedict Cumberbatch. Seeing four such incredibly inspirational woman in one photo made me feel like the world should explode, for surely that level of awesome cannot be contained.
(At this point I feel it necessary to issue a consumer disclaimer notice that since then India Knight recommended my book club a tome that we all hated, and so I have to be honest. She’s lost points.)
SOPHIE HEAWOOD WAS BREATHING MY AIR! THE INTERVIEWS STOPPED! SHE WAS ALONE! I ACCOSTED HER!
I accosted her.
I had this moment of Laura, she doesn’t care, but my feet were already walking, and I was reaching out to tap her on the shoulder, and before my brain could register it I was saying, ‘Pardon me, but errrr, well. I just wanted to say: I’m a really big fan of what you do.’
‘Me?’ she said, suprised. ‘No! We’re here to talk about those other lovely ladies! Not me!’
I told her I didn’t realise she’d be interviewing them, and she was kind and lovely and engaged me in an actual conversation. I expected her to say, ‘Thank you. It’s nice to meet you,’ and to shake my hand and move on. But she didn’t. She chatted with me for ten good minutes, and I got to tell her everything I’ve just told you.
In passing she mentioned how she used to be a fangirl of India Knight and now they’re colleagues, peers, friends, and that what was made me think of the photo. She was so encouraging about my own writing and generous with her time that it had me wonder, Who will I be stood beside in a photo like that one day?
Meeting somebody you’re a fan of and them exceeding all your expectations to impart heartening wisdom and kindness is, I think, enough to have you believe it could, one day, maybe and with any hope and lots of hard work, be them.
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