Susie Boyt

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Full name: Susie Boyt

Area of interest: Shopping, reflections on consumer culture

Journals/Organisation: Financial Times

Email: susie@susieboyt.com

Personal website: http://www.susieboyt.com/

Website: http://www.ft.com/life-arts/susie-boyt

Blog:

Representation: representation & contacts (susieboyt.com)

Networks:

Biography:

About:

Education: St Catherine's College, Oxford: English; University College, London: MA Anglo-American Literary Relations

Career: Autobiography (susieboyt.com)

Current position/role: Columnist

  • also writes/has written for:

Other roles/Main role:

Other activities:

Disclosures:

Viewpoints/Insight: Between the lines, by Yvonne O’Hara

Broadcast media:

Video:

Controversy/Criticism:

Awards/Honours: Shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for The Last Hope of Girls

Scoops:

Other: Daughter of artist Lucian Freud

Books & Debate:

Susie Boyt Only Human.jpg

Latest work: The small hours OCLC 801605970 , Virago, November 2012. Susie Boyt: Scourge of the yummy mummy . Her new novel satirises the parenting styles of the well-off. She talks to Suzi Feay about odd domestic dynamics, and her own famous relative. The Independent on Sunday, 4th November 2012

Speaking/Appearances: upcoming events 2017 (susieboyt.com)

Current Debate:

Financial Times:

Column name:

Remit/Info: Attempts to "explore and explain all the varied meanings of buying and not buying things"

Section: FT Weekend - Consumer culture

Role: Columnist

Pen-name:

Email: susie.boyt@FT.com

Website: FT.Com / Susie Boyt

Commissioning editor:

Day published: Saturday

Regularity: Weekly

Column format:

Average length: 650 words

Articles: 2016

  • Measures for pleasure - In the happiness economy, four small jolly occurrences might affect you more than a large piece of good news - 19th March
  • Nesselrode pudding - Oysters Christian Dior, omelette Arnold Bennett: is there a better legacy than having a dish named after you? - 5th March
  • I have had a very jealous week - We all have our faults, certainly. But when we start to display new faults, it is worth asking why - 6th February
  • Holding the line - If someone doesn’t want to reach you, there are at least five different ways for them to make this known. That’s brutal - 30th January
  • Measures of rightness - When you go to sleep, instead of counting things that went wrong, why not count those that went right? - 23rd January

Articles: 2015

Articles: 2014

  • All I want is a room somewhere  - I could switch everything off for a few hours but it feels brutal to be one of those do-not-disturb writers - 20th December
  • Room for improvement - Ordinarily I love hotels, the privacy and indulgence. I love the way they make you the subject of the sentence - 13th December
  • Seasonal contradictions - If you can’t be merry at Christmas, there is something seriously wrong with you - 6th December
  • Glamour and grit behind the veil - Despite five layers of frills Ada Katz looked intrepid in her wedding gown, like a spy or a genius codebreaker - 29th November
  • Comforts of the space age - You could watch ‘The Philadelphia Story’ for the 47th time but if you do that now what will you have to look forward to in your old age? - 15th November
  • Rules and rudeness - Drawing attention to poor conduct, we surely make ourselves worse than the other fellow - 8th November
  • The hope inside a box of delights - I have started imagining people going through my things after I am no more - 1st November
  • Hold your hats and hallelujah - The attraction of a childhood whose natural end is not adulthood but stardom cannot be denied - 25th October
  • High on praise in the compliment zone - You only need six chocolate teaspoons on a nice plate for folk to think you’re really something - 18th October
  • A music-hall knees-up with an urban flavour - I don’t think of myself as a purist. I have even been known to put vanilla in a fruit cake - 11th October
  • Lessons for life, lyrically speaking - If you draw on the wry humour of song lyrics when the going gets tough, you’ll have a set of staunch companions for life - 4th October
  • Sweet swell of success - It is hubris, indeed, to think you might pick out something to please a wildly stylish citizen of 22 - 27th September
  • How to deal with the September issue - Has September joined that family of things I profess to love but can’t quite look in the eye any more? - 20th September
  • The problems with problems - Had the ambassador come to London expecting the streets to be paved with Ferrero Rochers? - 13th September
  • Nightmare scenarios - I did that idiotic thing that no Jane Austen heroine ever did: I plugged myself into the internet for comfort - 6th September
  • Spirals out of control - It’s been the summer of the ribbon – the vegetable ribbon, that is - 30th August
  • Deauville rendezvous - Is it bad to be drawn to things that were fashionable about 101 years ago? - 23rd August
  • When choice isn’t an option - ‘To live,’ remarked Kofi Annan, ‘is to choose.’ But apparently some of us are living too well - 16th August
  • Barbie as a role model - Barbie had notched up 150 careers by the age of 50, including dolphin trainer - 9th August
  • How to build a school - Teachers will be recruited from among our nearest and dearest - 2nd August
  • All in the tidy mind - The difficult thing about sorting through several thousand pieces of paper is having to decide what the definition of precious is - 26th July
  • The devil may care - Is that what the church is doing, rebranding the devil as a nasty whiff? - 19th July
  • What the Dickinson! - People try to make us smaller than we are, yet we do this to ourselves routinely because it seems polite or tactful - 5th July
  • Without fear of favours - You become obsessed with whether she is going to charge you or not - 28th June
  • One happy return - The dress zipped and buttoned, I looked up at myself in the mirror expecting Ingrid Bergman’s little sister - 21st June
  • If I were the King of Spain - As king, I would live modestly, employing pomp only when my subjects insisted - 14th June
  • Of tea and morality - Managing rations of my favourite tea makes for something low-key and soothing to worry about to put me in the holiday spirit - 7th June
  • A gift house - Could shrugging ‘I won it in a raffle’ mask a naked show of self-interest? - 31st May
  • Au revoir to the minibar - A good minibar ought to resemble a Christmas stocking, ripe with thoughtful treats - 24th May
  • Bright lights, dizzying city - Someone said I looked like a young mafia widow. I’ve heard worse - 17th May
  • The mothman cometh - These pests are actually considerate. When they took a chunk out of my best Prada cardigan it was from a section that doesn’t show at all - 10th May
  • Friendships fit for a princess - At the heart of many women’s friendships there lies a tacitly formed agreement: that one of the parties is the princess and the other the lady-in-waiting - 3rd May
  • This lacy veil of tears - How quickly success can fade to failure in the engine of the unquiet mind - 19th April
  • Artistic masterpizzas - I went back to the hotel and dreamt of a surrealist-style pizza - 12th April
  • Sweet dreams from humble pie - Sometimes some fine treatment is all it takes, a bit of gallantry, some simmered chicken chunks and spring vegetables in a handsome sauce encased in pastry - 5th April
  • Everyday story enjoys a heyday - Entertainment in your kitchen six nights a week. And yes, it has been Hardyesque - 29th March
  • Rhubarb puts me in the pink - I want the occasion not just to be enjoyable; I want it to be memorable, spectacular, historic - 22nd March
  • Imperfect harmonies - Connie Converse sings from the point of view of a burdened soul with a chaotic life that seems to baffle her - 15th March
  • Special guest appearances - You can import a bit of holiday feeling without having to leave your house - 8th March
  • In praise of our great poets - When the famous die, could we not just commission the best poets of the day to celebrate them? - 1st March
  • A swellegantly tall order - This morning I’ve spoken nine times with a most sympathetic florist - 22nd February
  • I live in worrying times - As you may know, there is nothing so unlikely that I haven’t fretted over it - 8th February
  • Bleeping lizards! - Spike the iguana and I were rather well matched as adversaries - 31st January
  • A feast for the eyes - The whole atmosphere in the shop was very much of a party about to happen - 25th January
  • When being wrong feels so right - When you realise you have been guilty of misplaced certainty, it’s an awful feeling, an ugly sensation - 11th January
  • Somewhere over the rainbow ... - My life is going to be a musical! One of the two main characters is me, the other Judy Garland - 4th January

Articles: 2013

  • The scarf that made Christmas - ‘That’s the best scarf I have ever seen,’ three people said to me on Charing Cross Road - 21st December
  • Cakes, cancer and compassion - Perhaps the best thing I’ve done all year is a cake that resembled a dressing table - 14th December
  • A timeless thermal classic - I finally hit upon a scenario in which the phrase ‘grandad nightie’ could work - 7th December
  • If I were a dress - It took a minute for it to sink in that the outfit I was trying on was exactly the same as the one I was wearing - 30th November
  • Spoonfuls of ambition - Do our childhood play-businesses have a bearing on our later careers? - 23rd November
  • A spot of misery and a pot of tea - Unwanted cheer is a dreadful social pollutant, second only to aggressive consolation - 16th November
  • With cake and a song in my heart - I had a feeling of distilled happiness, as though I were inside a poem by Keats - 9th November
  • The time taken to fill a bath - I had the most wonderful feeling, as though not only had I solved this problem, I had actually solved all the problems that there are - 2nd November
  • Identity in a biscuit tin - If I were to fill 646 biscuit tins with some personal archive, what would I include? - 19th October
  • Squeamish about cinema - The sweating in ‘Blue Jasmine’ was one of the saddest things in the film - 12th October
  • The portrait of a city - London had triumphed. I felt personally responsible, as though I had coached it - 5th October
  • Tortoises know a thing or two - Hibernation is one of nature’s greatest inventions. I think it’s often the best possible response to hard times - 28th September
  • Caught in an emotional fog - ‘London was very foggy, which gave it a looming Dickensian drear ... Gradually, charmless feelings descended on me, too’ - 21st September
  • My conscience is guilty no longer - If something is true once, it is a madness to assume it will always be true or that it is true for everyone or everywhere - 14th September
  • Escape to the country - Life has taught me not to put my happiness in other people’s hands - 7th September
  • What kind of cool am I? - Being square can go over surprisingly well. You’re a tiny bit fascinating - 31st August
  • At home with my homing instinct - My family takes staying at home very seriously. We go miles out of our way to avoid travelling - 24th August
  • Terrifying teenagers - About once a week I see kind, strong women cowering in the face of their children - 17th August
  • The rules of attraction - ‘Extremely attractive’ isn’t just the usual pleasing appearance and unique personal style but something deeper and eternal - 10th August
  • A lexicon of falling - Truth is, I could easily flop unabashedly all day long, but I am rather pleased with myself that I don’t - 3rd August
  • Pack up your holiday blues - Involving books, if one is abysmal at holiday-making, isn’t just soothing or pleasurable; it is medicinal - 27th July
  • Picnic-grief and its remedy - Competitive picnicking is like a bad neighbourhood in the middle of the night: you don’t want to go there - 20th July
  • Interior dialogues - Thoughts about the provenance of 18th-century furniture are joined by feelings of regret surrounding home-delivered cheese - 13th July
  • The tyranny of virtue - Being wholesome all the time grates and irritates like tweed against bare skin - 22nd June
  • The sweet scent of being adored - The delicate fragrance of adoration may be cloying to others, but on ourselves it smells gorgeous - 15th June
  • A volcanic enlightenment - All around me were so many metaphors for extreme human behaviour: things to do with utter destruction and powerlessness, but also beauty and survival - 8th June
  • My castle of anxiety - It is probable that worry paves the way for sensitive decision-making and high-calibre relationships - 1st June
  • Soup and free-range suits - The whole idea of being radically inclusive is a little troubling, for it implies your world view began in a place of extreme segregation - 25th May
  • Why I’m wild about the city - I am completely urban: I like traffic, litter, cafés, bus lanes, protest marches, caffeine and alcohol - 18th May
  • William Brown, my hero - More and more, it seems pointless to try to persuade people to believe what you believe - 11th May
  • A show fit for a good long run - My running friend tells me that the watch words these days are ‘interval training’ - 4th May
  • Sowing the sewing seeds - Home-made clothes used to be your choice if there was no choice. These days some 12-year-olds construct their own jeans and boast about it - 27th April
  • Buffet breakfast challenge - It is impossible not to approach the HBB as a metaphor, for surely the way we eat is the way we liveins - 20th April
  • Let's forget this Ding Dong over Thatcher and wake up to the cuts - Dancing on graves only disgraces the dancers – the time to celebrate Margaret Thatcher's demise was when she left office - 13th April
  • The right impression - It’s horrible to be summed up. It never feels good when someone says, ‘This is SO you’ - 13th April
  • Grown up too fast - You can’t just heap praise on people’s heads – there are rules about that sort of thing - 6th April
  • Never a bridesmaid - I wasn’t approached until my 30s and then, on the day, suffered from horrible flu and had to miss the whole thing - 30th March
  • First aid for my spirits - I was stumped. How do you walk tall when you feel squished? - 23rd March
  • Back to the lab for a dose of austerity - The chancellor’s wonder drug Austerity™, which he promoted as ‘economic Viagra’, has had a setback - 16th March
  • Groping for standards - Eccentrics are like that, we tried to tell ourselves. Important men will always bend the rules. Maybe we’ve just no sense of humour - 9th March
  • Rose-pink and Manet’s Morisot - To children, a person without favourites is a person without qualities - 2nd March
  • How not to make a mark - I have given up ! for Lent, so please insert if required - 23rd February
  • The bittersweet taste of cabaret - Good actors turn songs into episodes in the history of romance, deepening our understanding of human nature - 16th February
  • Let’s sing our children’s praises - It seems against the current fashion, but where’s the harm in lauding the young ones for their achievements? - 9th February
  • How to say sorry with style - Getting out of things stylishly isn’t easy to master and not all problems can be excused as a ‘domestic crisis’ - 2nd February
  • The charm of dirty food - It is what the young and gorgeous eat when painting the town, the dining equivalent of sticking two fingers up at the world - 26th January
  • The charm of dirty food - It is what the young and gorgeous eat when painting the town, the dining equivalent of sticking two fingers up at the world - 19th January
  • A teacup in a storm - A family’s startling bereavement practices show a different way of approaching grief - 12th January
  • At home with my demons - ‘The week felt so precious I didn’t want to use up a single second on any past-time that wasn’t first rate’ - 5th January

Articles: 2012

  • Christmas on an even keel - ‘I was wildly festive, fizzing with the season like a tree in a house with dodgy wiring’ - 22nd December
  • The elusive dress of my dreams - Shopping for knock-out Christmas outfit became even harder after seeing a white confection made from bubble bath foam - 15th December
  • Tremble, tremble, I am not a star - They might as well have introduced me by saying, ‘Put your hands together for the most uptight person in the room.’ - 8th December
  • I’m finding it hard to forgive Christmas - Is Christmas merely the name we give to a collection of symptoms including greed, sorrow, hope and heartburn? - 1st December
  • The vicious furniture cycle - Holding items have a certain gay abandon to them, they shrug, they are impervious. Yet they can have a vast appeal - 17th November
  • I terrify myself but nobody else - Did I make a great mistake in sanding down my rougher corners and sharper instincts early on in life? -10th November
  • Tales from the classroom - What makes school stories so special? Now that she’s written one herself, Susie Boyt delves into her childhood to trace its roots - 3rd November
  • The funny thing about clowns ... - There were things to be learnt even at the Cirque d’Hiver Bouglione in Paris - 27th October
  • Early roles can cast a giant shadow - What if the dramatic roles we are cast in at school affect us all our lives, hinting at our destinies and even shaping them in some spooky, predictive way - 20th October
  • The unruly trinity - Sometimes, I wonder if my inner chorus girl sets out deliberately to offend my inner grandma, who is altogether more sedate - 13th October
  • Contrite and correctified - Can you ever use a word figuratively while sidestepping its primary meaning? - 6th October
  • Wild about homework - Doing your assignment very well was a way of sending out love letters to the world - 29th September
  • No more teeth chatter - Can you muster a bit of status or create some intrigue about yourself with another human’s hands in your cake-hole? - 22nd September
  • Crumbs of comfort in cakeiquette - Don’t expect calm rational behaviour from people you know to be insane - 15th September
  • All the ward’s a stage - Hospitals are a parallel world of such intense otherness with entirely different power structures, rules and characters - 1st September
  • The luxury of loss - Our losses must be valued highly at all times - 25th August
  • That holiday feeling - ‘Just let yourself switch off,’ I thought, but forcing yourself to relax is very stressful - 18th August
  • Memories aren’t made this way - Do the things we remember all our lives all have the same quality? It seems unlikely - 11th August
  • Surprise! No time to party - Anything that requires a great deal of planning is always a bad idea - 4th August
  • A cheerful broken society - Does looking at the world through a veil of recovery and repair actually make the soul soar? - 28th July
  • Sleepless or sensible - Natural bounce-back-ability is a skill that can be learnt on a resilience course - 21st July
  • All too human experience - I have never got used to the notion that I might be counted among the grown-ups - 14th July
  • A lucky spell on the poop deck - Just when you feel defeated by an unpleasant remark from an adversary, Mother Nature can suddenly intervene - 7th July
  • My own knives are out for me - Am I searching for some - 30th Junething in cutlery that cutlery can never ever provide? I do go in for such nonsense
  • Seatmates and soul mates - I try to imagine what might be the seven most challenging days of one’s life - 23rd June
  • Don’t trifle with affections - The jubilee has brought on a spate of spooned up custard and cake and fruit and cream - 16th June
  • Turning the tables - I chewed over perhaps the best example of dairy-based tea-party status anxiety in the whole of English literature - 9th June
  • Without friends like these ... - The baton of friendship needs to be passed to and fro very regularly for the economy of sympathy to work correctly - 2nd June
  • Absinthe for elevenses, anyone? - Sometimes we want to do what isn’t expected of us, go against the grain of ourselves for a moment, perhaps even in poor taste - 19th May
  • 1:22am Is it a bird? Is it a plane? It’s Miss Kitty - A Taiwanese airline has created three Hello Kitty planes – it’s just about the best thing I have ever heard - 12th May
  • Aargh! They’ve pirated Queen Victoria - To accuse a former monarch of procuring rare breeds for her fine dining did not sit well with me - 5th May
  • There are times you need enemies - I don’t know who these people are, but how I wished they could have flocked to my side to witness a personal triumph - 28th April
  • Deathly duty in the afternoon - I ought to be enjoying myself in the West End, but this quasi-responsibility somehow invalidates all sense of spree - 21st April
  • Distinction in plane sight - Perhaps if you have six children you have to learn how to negotiate the world with calm and dignity - 14th April
  • Voyage of discovery - Old rocking chair got me when I was about six and a half, and I’ve just never discovered anywhere I like as much - 7th April
  • Impertinent inquisitors - Teachers like to tell us things, but they also take great pleasure in making us reveal embarrassing details of our lives - 31st March
  • Crunchy consolations - Taking cheer from the merest trifle however down the chips are, and cheering other people up along the way, are great skills - 24th March
  • There was a literary lady from Limerick - A festival honours the county’s most esteemed novelist and woman of ideas - 10th March
  • Sickening bravery - Due at a literary festival in Limerick to give a talk, I had 30 minutes to recover from an illness or to get myself out of it - 3rd March
  • A regard for human frailty - To pick on one of the most vulnerable and stigmatised groups in society – the unloved – is irresponsible and mean - 25th February
  • Whistle while you work out how to survive - A self-conflicting existence may be as authentic a way to live as any other if it’s what we routinely do - 18th February
  • Errors in judgment - Being judgmental has fallen out of fashion and with good reason, but we need our sympathetic ears pinned back sometimes - 4th February
  • Anxiety for two to take away - While her daughter was sitting the first exam of her life, Susie Boyt says she didn’t know what to do with herself - 28th January
  • What we can learn from Deanna Durbin - Appearing as a person in need deters people, but we can reinvent ourselves to become reacquainted on a better footing - 21st January
  • Lunch without a bitter taste - Laying the table for her guests, Susie Boyt tries to think of a few imperceptible slights for her pal’s new partner but a thought steals over her - 14th January
  • Me beside my bedside - Sometimes our surroundings express us so accurately it’s embarrassing. For Susie Boyt, the things on her nightstand show a mind at civil war - 7th January

Articles: 2011

  • Glimpses of grandiosity - A warning bell should sound when you start letting your little conviction swamp your brain and take over your life - 31st December
  • Pierced by gloom and wonder - Susie Boyt has let her girls have their ears done as a birthday treat. But the experience turned to be easier for them than her - 17th December
  • Time to sparkle - Christmas requires the best of us. Going to enormous lengths across the board is the norm and taking easy routes feels wrong - 10th December
  • Consider the gift of giving - Did Santa hail from a home of such plenty that he felt honour-bound to share his fortune? Or was he schooled in deprivation - 3rd December
  • ‘Anytime’ for an adjective? - In shops these days, it seems we are less being told what to think and more being told what and how to feel - 26th November
  • Don’t talk about my old house like that - The elastic of smug forgiveness that Susie Boyt generally extends to the discourtesies of friends and strangers has frayed and snapped - 19th November
  • Why I’m entitled to call you entitled - The insults we use say a great deal about our times, and none more so than a certain deadly adjective that is so popular now in London - 5th November
  • Clean and clear steps to happiness - What will make us happy is awfully hard to predict. So often in life it is the oddest things that bring us pleasure - 29th October
  • Tormented by soft furnishings - Susie Boyt listens to a friend talk about self-punishment and thinks it would be better if she put the thought right out of her mind - 22nd October
  • What the world needs now - There is something about the idea of handing out a can of Coke to every single inhabitant of the planet that thrills Susie Boyt - 15th October
  • If I were a Degas dancer - We are somehow more beautiful and human and valuable when we are ‘off’ than when we are ‘on’ - 8th October
  • My mum the classics swot - On a tour of a possible secondary school for her daughter, Susie Boyt is astounded at how her child sees her - 1st October
  • How many calories in humble pie? - Encouraging people not to overeat has nothing to do with listing food values but in finding new ways to soothe ourselves - 24th September
  • Indecision isn’t such a bad thing ... is it? - Just now it feels right to be cagey. Down well, however, this does not go – not with travel agents or sales assistants - 17th September
  • Jelly angst and jazzy jubilance - Susie Boyt sends her daughter to a musical theatre course and finds that it has its cosy nooks, but it can be more vicious than sharks - 10th September
  • The pleasures of a sofa safari - More than five million travellers have laid their heads on the kindness of strangers through the Coach Surfing scheme - 3rd September
  • Toxic encounters with the other me - Putting away her relentless rigged cheer, Susie Boyt turns her back on kindness and tolerance, and flings insults at the mildest provocation - 23rd July
  • The second time around - Can seeing Liza Minnelli perform twice in 48 hours be too much of a good thing - 16th July
  • Consolation surprise - Feeling sorry for her minor ailments, Susie Boyt finds encouragement from slogan T-shirts that she realises were meant for earthquake victims - 9th July
  • All dressed up: lady in red - Susie Boyt plays sugar auntie to a serious-minded niece for an afternoon and inspires cheer and gratitude with a knock-out purchase - 2nd July
  • A warm front on a cold day - Susie Boyt’s sudden popularity at an outside English country wedding makes her realise how much she is out of her element in the natural world - 25th June
  • A vision in tennis whites - There is something very rites of passage-ish about the first purchase of a tennis outfit. There is an atmosphere of hope - 11th June
  • Intervention and prevention - A restaurant Susie Boyt likes is reasonably efficient during the week but laughably inept at weekends. She wonders about telling the owners before they lose their business - 4th June
  • As you would be done by... - Instead of sending a rude letter to a rough and bullish doctor, Susie Boyt decides to forgive him instead – not because of the golden rule but because the act is worth it - 28th May
  • No room for improvement - Invited for tea to a wondrous New York mansion, Susie Boyt gets a glimpse of the perfect life and then reflects on what one has to give up to have it - 21st May
  • Geography and grands jetés - Susie Boyt hates the idea of being defined by anything, but in one respect, she declares to be a walking gender cliché: she has no sense of direction - 14th May
  • What price approval? - In this age of internet shopping, Susie Boyt prefers going to an actual store with genuine human assistants who smile that smile that hits you like the iridescent rays of the sun - 7th May
  • Luxuriating in lesser luxury - After a week in a five-star hotel in New York, Susie Boyt returns home and wonders if the trip to heaven spoiled her for this world - 30th April
  • An isle of joy where anything can happen - Susie Boyt is packing her bags with all the best things she owns and taking her 10-year-old daughter on a bracing spring jaunt to New York in search of who knows what delights - 23rd April
  • Friends picked for the A-team - Susie Boyt likes to be a bit of a fairy godmother in some of her friendships and enjoys inferring unspoken wishes, making them come true when she can - 16th April
  • Buoyed by my box set - The Morgensterns, characters in a 1970s sitcom, delight Susie Boyt with their candour and warmth, and almost feel like friends who keep her company when the chips are down - 9th April
  • In the mood for mediocrity - When hard times strike, how do you get through the days until things pick up? Susie Boyt suggests indulging in the second-rate, such as porridge, light grey clothes and bad movies - 2nd April
  • The benefits of being a Viagra salesman - Susie Boyt’s e-mail account accidentally sends out adverts to more than 1,400 people, but the experience proves oddly reviving for her social life - 26th March
  • An auction fit for a queen - Susie Boyt spends hours browsing thousands of knick-knacks and bibelots for sale from the estate of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands - 5th March
  • Trenchcoats and train rides - In need of a highly luxurious lift, Susie Boyt surveys her options and settles for a revitalising journey by rail to Newcastle to have lunch with a very dear friend - 26th February
  • Let’s party like it’s 1977 - Susie Boyt looks back on the Queen’s silver jubilee and considers a celebration in her street for the upcoming royal wedding - 19th February
  • My hidden shame in the attic - Sometimes, when you hire someone to put up shelves, they just don’t do it very well. It’s not terrible or dangerous, but they are in no way beautiful - 12th February
  • Can a leopard change her polka dots? - Susie Boyt does not like wearing vests, making her feel claustrophobic in the same way wearing nail varnish does, or waiting for people, or seatbelts, or Stephen Sondheim - 5th February
  • What I don’t want for my birthday - Things Susie Boyt will definitely not be treating herself to on her special day: watch an Audrey Hepburn film, have a massage, take a long walk in the country, browse antiques - 29th January
  • My big idea: champagne in cans - Susie Boyt attends a dinner hosted by an old friend and tries to hatch a few money-making schemes to rival the success of Facebook or even toast - 22nd January
  • Facebook’s unfriendly face - In extra need of support and community, Susie Boyt joins the social networking site and finds it very therapeutic. The honeymoon, however, ends after two weeks - 15th January
  • In a Jamesian purgatory - Susie Boyt forgets that she has agreed to speak for an hour about Henry James and does not have enough time to prepare. How can she escape from this obligation? - 8th January

Articles: 2010

  • Glamour is a state of mind - Susie Boyt says your best self is not about pampering, which makes a person feel pointless before half an hour is out, but that song-in-your-heart mood, which you have to work on - 31st December
  • Silk pyjamas or tiger stripes? - Susie Boyt says we all know what is meant by the dress code ‘birthday suit’, but wonders what clothes best suit Christmas day - 24th December
  • It’s a party, I’ll cry if I want to - Susie Boyt finds conversations at parties harrowing and the arguments brutal, which makes her wonder why people bother going to them at all - 18th December
  • A Christmas conjuror - Just as she was starting to feel that Christmas had forsaken her, Susie Boyt is suddenly hit by that vast seasonal cargo of emotion while watching her daughter’s nativity play - 11th December
  • Thank you for not laughing - Having entreated the services of a private ballet teacher, Susie Boyt finds herself so happy that she almost bursts into song - 4th December
  • Obsession as a way of life - Susie Boyt has found a Christmas present that will fit everyone she knows over 14 – a book called ‘True Friendship’ in whose sheer wholeheartedness she revels - 27th November
  • Written by relatives - Reading Ivana Lowell’s memoir – with the author’s life on the page, full of pain and full of love – disturbed and cheered Susie Boyt in the extreme - 20th November
  • So cautious I’m dangerous - It is a sad fact of life that being careful is never fashionable, but Susie Boyt reasons that staving off even one small hazard is much more important than having fun - 13th November
  • Scents and self-help - For people who are busy, getting things done presents no conundrum; it’s an automatic function. It’s stopping that takes gumption - 6th November
  • Faith in a fragile mouthful - No other cake has the faultless literary pedigree of the madeleine, and pairing it with Elizabeth David’s irreproachable prose style produces a heady mix - 30th October
  • Setting out the Susie stall - Displaying your traits to win people over can give you that same vulnerable feeling you get when you are behind a market stand, knowing your fortunes are at the whim of passers-by - 23rd October
  • The rules of achievement - A letter from school – which can easily provoke an existential crisis – prompts Susie Boyt to look at her definition of success and the outcome she really wants for her girls - 16th October
  • Come hell or high heels - When your floors are more stylish than your manners, something is probably wrong - 9th October
  • Perfection in a pawnshop - Finding the perfect birthday gift is no easy matter, especially if the celebrant does not offer a clue, but as Susie Boyt discovers, one can find it in unexpected places - 25th September
  • All ready for school. Can I go too, please? - A lunch with Barry Manilow sets off Susie Boyt into thinking about how much she loved doing her homework when she was young - 18th September
  • The etiquette of vinaigrette - A comment about her house leads Susie Boyt to recall two incidents with salad dressings that had stung her to the core - 11th September
  • Holidaying by house rules - Susie Boyt’s disappointment with the local recreation and amusement offered by a hotel catalogue while on vacation in France leads her to wonder what her own home might provide - 4th September
  • Better late ... don’t say it - A scene she witnessed in a bustling Piccadilly restaurant prompts Susie Boyt to ponder the dark art of tardiness - 28th August
  • Listen closely. You will hear it - Susie Boyt talks to her friend on the phone and realises that when you have known someone for years, you get to understand the register of their complaints - 21st August
  • Shrinks and thin skins - Susie Boyt finds herself in demand in her informal role as a friendly psychological district nurse, getting calls from anyone who is suffering - 14th August
  • Time to change the world. Or not - Alone in the house for two entire days on self-imposed exile, Susie Boyt ponders how to best use her time to produce some mighty heady results - 7th August
  • Holiday swimsuits and bathing hell - A wistful chat with fellow mums about swimwear brings on talk of self-consciousness, shame and covering up - 31st July
  • Answers in the affirmative - Susie Boyt steals her nine-year-old away for a romantic mother-daughter mini-break in Brighton and resolves to say ‘Yes!’ to everything she says for 24 hours - 24th July
  • How I learnt to forgive Larkin - The 25th anniversary of the poet’s death makes Susie Boyt think of him, or more specifically, of she and him, as they’ve been through quite a bit together - 17th July
  • All the world’s a sofa - After watching a play that had a mesmerising sofa on stage, Susie Boyt embarks on a search for one that would be glamorous and surprising but not downright lavish - 10th July
  • Do you have the Ox factor? - As she prepares for a talk before young applicants at her alma mater, Susie Boyt recalls her own experience preparing for entrance at Oxford university - 26th June
  • I may be down but I’m not out - With her morale shot in the wake of several disappointments, Susie Boyt decides a spot of self-reinvention was in order and enrols for a boxing lesson - 19th June
  • Travels away from ourselves - Susie Boyt visits the Dreamlands exhibition at the Pompidou and wonders if going to idealised versions of elsewhere is what we really want - 12th June
  • In defence of multitasking - Modern metropolitan life requires people to learn to do several things at once all the time - 5th June
  • Modesty ablaze - Susie Boyt thinks that people who deliberately play themselves down run the risk of being perceived as genuinely unpromising - 29th May
  • Proportional representations - Travelling from New York to Tokyo, Tyler Brûlé notes the extremes of things all-American in contrast to the peculiarities of Japan: from the size of vehicles to the level of service - 22nd May
  • A phantom proposition - After learning about the supposed engagement of her 22-year-old niece, 10 thoughts come to Susie Boyt’s mind all at once - 22nd May
  • Up close and distant - Susie Boyt assumed Julie Andrews would be emotional about performing in London for the first time in more than three decades, but what went on on stage proved otherwise - 15th May
  • The incredible shrink woman - Awake in the small hours, Susie Boyt gets up to check her e-mails and gives advice to a novelist friend who wants to dedicate her new book to her ex-shrink - 8th May
  • The coffee conundrum - With a cup of caffeinated drink, Susie Boyt can forget everything that isn’t important when she works and everything that is important too - 1st May
  • The poetry of trestle tables - Susie Boyt often dreams of catering equipment, so diving into a book on the subject was like having the plots of 30 novels in her hand - 24th April
  • Gardening? I get it now - Susie Boyt is not a fan of England’s favourite pastime but after getting a garden of her own for the first time, she finally sees what all the fuss is about - 16th April
  • Rough stones, hard places - As the ‘rough stone’ system is put in place in some schools, Susie Boyt wonders whether we all should be equipped with tokens to help us negotiate life - 10th April
  • Undies and a helping hand - As she ponders how to best offer assistance to a friend, Susie Boyt recalls her experiences with customer service while working at a ritzy lingerie shop and a catering equipment emporium - 3rd April
  • I practically live in the future - An e-mail from a reader comparing her to a Victorian spinster prompts Susie Boyt, who values showtunes, good manners and starched linens, to assess how old-fashioned she is - 27th March
  • Adventures in aunty-land - While helping her 18-year-old niece find a place to stay in New York, Susie Boyt discovers that as an aunt, she can be a sort of caricature of herself - 20th March
  • Novel gazing - Susie Boyt decides to disappear for 48 hours to finish the book she’s writing, but makes sure that because a disappearing act feels very self-indulgent, everything else must be super-austere - 13th March
  • A loves B but he loves C - A film about unrequited love brings Susie Boyt back to her childhood when it seemed to her that it was the only significant kind – so terribly dignified that one didn’t ask or expect anything - 6th March
  • A blight on the City of Light - Susie Boyt decides once and for all to prove to a charming Paris couple who always come to her aid that she is not a disaster - 27th February
  • Sincerely yours, honest - How does one arrange one’s words so they have the greatest chance of sounding true, when true they are - 20th February
  • The power of parsley - On some days Susie Boyt finds herself looking for life clues anywhere – including the herb aisle of the supermarket, where a package of curly parsely exhorts her to ‘Be Generous!’ - 13th February
  • Banish those ballet blues - Susie Boyt has promised not to put her daughters in the theatre, but a netball game shows that she still has the potential to become a nightmarish stage mother - 6th February
  • We don’t talk any more - Now that most of Susie Boyt’s meetings with friends involve small children, she has learned that it is best not to try for any intimacy in these situations - 31st January
  • Large salads and thin excuses - Susie Boyt advises a friend not to apologise to a romantic partner for her body weight, insisting that it would be insulting and mightily offensive - 23rd January
  • Me? Jump out of a cake? - A newish friend asks Susie Boyt to burst out of a cake and sing to her ‘Happy Birthday’, but instead settles for a really delicious dessert with no actual human element - 16th January
  • Start the party without me - Her friends always look forward to Susie Boyt’s birthday party. But this year she feels shy and pensive and does not feel like having one - 9th January
  • In search of my other self - At a party with three other Susies, Susie Boyt admits feeling that some essential component of who she is did not travel with her to the new place she moved to - 2nd Jenuary

Articles: 2009

  • A question of life and death - People are so afraid of others’ grief, afraid of the madness of grief where nothing else counts, as if it’s just too destabilising to society to be allowed - 19th December
  • In defence of Christmas - Saying you like Christmas is now almost regarded as an admission of simple-mindedness, says Susie Boyt, who wants to protect the holiday from those who are furious with it - 12th Decemnber
  • Tidings of joy and comfort -Christmas, says Susie Boyt, isn’t necessarily about religion or about buying stuff. It’s about turni ng life up to its brightest, most vital pitch for a fortnight - 28th November
  • Let the little children be - Susie Boyt thinks it’s a mistake when people decide that childhood is a preparatory state, for it’s a quarter or a fifth of life and must be regarded as the real thing - 21st November
  • Embarrassed by pelmets - Everything Susie Boyt chooses for her new home suddenly no longer exists at the very moment she chooses it, making her decorating life a little fraught - 14th November
  • Cupcakes and apple pie lies - A friend’s encounter at a cake shop prompts Susie Boyt to consider the false nostalgia surrounding the cupcake boom, which she believes is attempting to invent a version of life’s rites of passage - 7th November
  • What would Watson do? - Sitting in a waiting room in anticipation of a dental procedure, Susie Boyt grows crosser and crosser and longs for the tweedy languor of Sherlock Holmes’ sidekick - 31st October
  • I’ve learnt so much from TV - Susie Boyt says that she learned about the ins and outs of the British class system almost entirely from ‘Upstairs Downstairs’, a show she used to watch as a child - 24th October
  • The icing on the speech - Susie Boyt wonders if a good speech about a friend should reveal, startle or merely confirm. Does one give a rounded view of the person or a partial one? - 17th October
  • Moved to distraction - If your home is almost the fifth member of the family, can you separate from it reasonably and with good cheer? - 10th October
  • The Palladium with a song in my heart - Susie Boyt heads to the back entrance of the West End theatre to meet Michael Feinstein, the sincere and elegant interpreter of the Great American Songbook - 3rd October
  • Why I’ve gone back to nursery school - Settling a child into school is perhaps the most poignant thing one can do that does not involve a church or a hospital and Susie Boyt thinks she may not be handling things very well - 19th September
  • The magic carpet of the bedroom - While shopping for fabric for an upholstered headboard, Susie Boyt remembers a book that championed that little known marital aid, the bedspread, to the highest degree - 12th September
  • Expect guns, nuns and shipwreck - A novelists’ self-help manual ruins Susie Boyt’s holiday mood as she ends up questioning her writing style - 5th September
  • Pull of praise - Flicking through an American magazine, Susie Boyt contemplates her love of flattering remarks, the latest attribute to come under fierce scrutiny - 30th September
  • An odd sort of treat - Realising that a large reward for feats of good behaviour was overdue, Susie Boyt indulges in a morning of intelligent grief reading her favourite Tennyson poem - 22nd August
  • Sid’s Butt and Berryman - Feeling mildly dissatisfied and lacking in focus, Susie Boyt contemplates the idea of taking a PhD to find the answers to many questions in her life - 15th August
  • Holiday? Give me a break - Susie Boyt, who admits to being the world’s worst holidaymaker, takes a day off from a family vacation to be home alone in London and comes back in a better mood - 8th August
  • A woman of confidence - After the double christening of two delightful tots, a strange fellow breaks a happy scene by asking Susie Boyt a nosey question about her employ - 1st August
  • The hassle of castles - Dressed like a dodgy uncle in none-too-pristine tweed, Susie Boyt searches for the perfect fireplace with an odd French antiques dealer - 25th July
  • If only my fridge had all the answers - A couple Susie Boyt had only met once before asks her whether she thinks it would be a good idea for them to start a family - 18th July
  • Delphine, she is my queen - Susie Boyt discovers a decorator in a slightly oddly titled eight-kilo compendium and now knows more about her than a stranger should - 11th July
  • Me and my hat against the world - Susie Boyt dons a hat with a small dotted veil and is amazed at how much privacy, courage and confidence it gave her - 4th July
  • Insulting? No, just inelegant - What kinds of language do people use when the chips are down? Some useful, yet curiously unemotional, words come to Susie Boyt’s mind: ‘indefensible’, ‘unimaginative’, ‘unimpressive’ - 27th June
  • How I did New York with Debbie - Susie Boyt’s definition of ‘fabulous’: being in the audience at the Cafe Carlyle as Debbie Reynolds performs an impersonation of Barbra Streisand on a small slip of stage - 20th June
  • It’s no place like home - How to modernise without banishing the charm from your home – that is the question. Perhaps the answer is not to do it at all - 13th June
  • The experience of writing a biography - There is something embarrassing about writing someone’s life. It can be ardent, emotional and possessive, as Susie Boyt finds out from other authors and from her own work on Judy Garland - 6th June
  • Making plans for Seoul - The South Korean capital is on the verge of a total makeover as its mayor tries to embark on an overly ambitious masterplan to redesign the city - 30th May
  • Literary labour pains - Travelling to New York alone for the US publication of her memoir, Susie Boyt’s need for some kind of ‘birthing’ partner feels 10 times greater than it did before - 30th May
  • A truthful blonde - Can Susie Boyt live authentically with artfully streaked hair? Or would cynicism and a certain disgust for the natural world be painted on to her scalp and seep into her general outlook? - 23rd May
  • Love can break more than your heart - A chat with five romance authors, just an hour after sharing a train ride with a domestic abuse victim, enlightens Susie Boyt on how short happy endings hold even in fiction - 16th May
  • A syllabus for stilettos - Susie Boyt, who was once warned by a friend that she would wind up in a wheelchair by the age of 55 if she kept wearing high heels, takes lessons from an expert - 9th May
  • A cure for the Oxford blues - Having loathed Oxford when she was in university, Susie Boyt shuffles round the city centre 15 years later and wonders whether her low morale back then made her squander its obvious charms - 2nd May
  • An apple turnover in human form - There is something about being a godmother that calls for a complete lack of eccentricity. Not seeming the remotest bit odd, however, requires willpower - 25th April
  • My kind of home economics - Susie Boyt comes to the happy conclusion that five days spent ill in bed equals a lot of money saved, the sort of notion that is a central tenet of what is known in her house as ‘Susanomics’ - 18th April
  • Till death us do party - A conversation with a friend makes Susie Boyt realise that planning for one’s own funeral is really a life’s work - 11th April
  • Tragic desire for revenge - Susie Boyt turns to the wisdom of Francis Bacon, the philosopher, as she weighs between behaving well and getting back at her tormentor - 4th April
  • A romantic break for one - Since childhood, Susie Boyt liked the feeling of being the only person in the world doing what she is doing. She remains so to this day - 28th March
  • No problem too small - Susie Boyt frets about matters that seem minuscule compared to the concerns that others bravely bear - 21st March
  • Memory like a marshmallow - Although she has a very sharp memory, Susie Boyt has made an attempt to soften it, believing that a certain haziness about the details makes many aspects of human interaction easier - 14th March
  • A steak in British history - Good lineage apparently does not only apply to beef, as Susie Boyt soon discovered. She was surprised to find how the notion of traceability too has influenced the furniture trade - 7th march
  • Elegance is such a drag - While dressing for a party, femininity, when contrived, so easily tips over into caricature - 28th February
  • Reading and righting - A small masterpiece featuring an immaculate ugly heroine and a seedy criminal underworld makes Susie Boyt feel daring and helps her forget a perceived slight - 21st February
  • Good news, bad news - When making an announcement, Susie Boyt believes that one needs to give the listener a sense of the scale of what is coming - 14th February
  • My daydream wedding - After hearing about a couple who were to be married in August but could not find a venue, Susie Boyt starts making plans for a very stylish and spectacular wedding celebration - 7th February
  • Support the successful - Surprised at the amount of ambivalence people feel about success, Susie Boyt says friends in the throes of success need a great deal of support as anxieties bloom at every turn - 31st January
  • Mad about the dress - A frock that did not care, that did not seek to please a soul but would just make everyone grin, was what Susie Boyt wanted to wear on her birthday - 24th January
  • In praise of the selfish life - There’s so much talk of self-improvement, being faster, more satisfied and better rested, that the idea of celebrating what you are, right now, seems daring and radical - 17th January
  • Kitchen confidentiality - Susie Boyt is planning a new kitchen and is unsure whether her preference to cook in secret, in a tiny space with no onlookers and preferably in semi-darkness should influence its design - 10th January
  • More optimistic about cynics - Susie Boyt appears on a radio show to debate against someone who believes that disillusion and disappointment can have positive outcomes - 3rd January

Articles: 2008

  • Enough to make your heart jump - Susie Boyt thought of dancers as courageous and disciplined soldiers, but at a class of the Royal Ballet Company, she realises they are part of a work of art of the highest calibre - 27th December 2008
  • Paradise frost - As the world of Milton fanciers convene over tea and biscuits to celebrate the writer’s 400th birthday, Susie Boyt decides the milestone requires a ‘baking episode’ - 13th December 2008
  • A novel noel - Susie Boyt looks to her favourite literary characters for inspiration on the perfect Christmas gifts for her loved ones - 6th December 2008
  • A grown-up lady in waiting - on being mistaken for my niece’s childminder... and an experienced restaurateur - 29th November 2008
  • Cynicism takes a break - Susie Boyt is amazed that suddenly a great deal of talk is about hope and heroes and that even the most cautious and negative people she knows are exhilarated about the present - 22nd November 2008
  • Shall I compare thee to a shop? - Exhausted after a busy few weeks, with a free hour but virtually no spring in my step, I headed to my one-time home-from-home, Selfridges, to see if I could reboot... - 15th November 2008
  • Extreme teenagers - If the pressures of ordinary teenage life now are so immense, should parents just go the whole hog and enrol their girls at stage school forthwith, as a sort of double bluff - 8th November 2008
  • The carnal Knowledge - I'm not sure why taxi drivers discuss the ins and outs of love and marriage with me. Is it my sympathetic demeanour or prying novelist’s eye? - 1st November 2008
  • Being on TV is the most marvellous lark - During her appearance on Irish breakfast television, I'm actually more comfortable on the small screen than in real life - 25th October 2008
  • Sticks and stones ... - On the morning of her wedding anniversary, Susie Boyt wakes up to the first mean review of her new book. How should she cheer herself up? - 18th October 2008
  • Would you give up a super seat? - On a flight to New York Susie Boyt settles into a very good seat, but wonders if she should have given up the comfort for a woman who wanted to be seated near her husband - 11th October 2008
  • Double helping of couscous - I had lunch and dinner with a man who bought my book and found it uncanny that we think alike, appreciate the same things and have similar taste in food - 4th October 2008
  • The fabric of my life - the influence of clothes during my own formative years - 27th September 2008
  • Strangers on the brain - Susie Boyt wonders whether writing letters to people she does not know, like Saul Bellow’s anxious and sensitive hero in ‘Herzog’, is a sign of coming age - 20th September 2008
  • Sweet thought at the dentist’s - As she daydreams about a job fielding calls for a poetry library’s helpline, Susie Boyt decides that the best verses are those that reflect the poet’s own experiences - 13th September 2008
  • That’s my little sister. And me - Staring at a painting done by my father years ago when I was suffering the pain of sudden bereavement leaves me feeling nostalgic - 6th September 2008
  • End of the line for mystery - There are so many types of contact today, that it is no longer possible to feel someone wants you but isn’t quite able to reach you - 30th August 2008
  • Should a tiger come to tea - When, as an adult, you adore a novel and continually reread the book, you may develop a proprietorial sense towards it - 23rd August 2008
  • Remembrance of things pasty - A disappointing experience with innocent pastry crescents - 16th August 2008
  • The best kind of holiday - Sometimes, when I contemplate an actual holiday that’s looming, I think instead about how I would travel to London like a shot if I lived anywhere else - 9th August 2008
  • In the name of bad behaviour - My only experience of office life was not especially rosy. It was terrifying. I was holed up in a small, windowless Mayfair chamber with my boss, a fierce and beautiful woman of 24, who was so highly strung and paranoid that I soon learned only to speak if there was no alternative - 2nd August 2008
  • White lies to sweeten souls - We are sitting slumped on a sofa in Paris, on July 14, exhausted from the bal des pompiers held at the local fire station the night before, where my daughter was taught to waltz by a 100-year-old lady from Marseilles - 26th July 2008
  • The ex factor - In the relationships I see that flounder or flourish around me, a bone of contention between partners I often observe is whether it’s wise or right to stay in touch with exes - 19th July 2008
  • The Spare Room - 19th July 2008 (book review)
  • The sting of social niceties - Idon’t mean to blow my own trumpet, but people regularly apply to me for judgments over infractions of the social variety - 12th July 2008
  • Perchance to sleep - Oh, the curse of insomnia! Once you lose the knack of dropping off to sleep it’s almost impossible to believe you’ll ever discover it again - 5th July 2008
  • I saw the world in a new light - The morning was quite brutal. The night had passed slowly with not one drop of sleep. I’d watched the long hand, with a sort of deranged pride, mark every single minute on the clock’s face - 28th June 2008
  • I want to be alone - I have an idea for a novel that I don’t want to write myself, but perhaps a reader might like to take it off my hands as a jolly summer venture - 21st June 2008
  • Calmer chameleon - In New York recently, I was invited to brunch by a distinguished playwright and screenwriter in his 80s - 14th June 2008
  • A bluestocking for our times - Wandering round the Brilliant Women exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery with the children, I spied a very dapper American gent in a navy blazer and pink-and-white polka dot scarf carrying an orange Hermès Birkin bag - 7th June 2008
  • The art of complaining - “I don’t like chicken,” the angelic little girl sitting in my kitchen smiles at me sweetly. “The thing is,” she continues in a voice polite and firm,“I don’t like potatoes or broccoli or carrots either. And I won’t be eating them. Thank you very much though.” - 31st May 2008
  • In praise of the good old days - 24th May 2008
  • A man for all reasons - When times are especially hard, or when life’s ordinary hurdles seem insurmountable, are you the sort of person who asks friends and family for help, or do you pay for it? Is it right to call on your closest circle for assistance if you can afford to employ professionals? Is it right not to turn to those you love if they are happy and willing to help? - 17th May 2008
  • A dress named desire - At a birthday party recently where the guests were decked out in all sorts of elaborate and modish costumes – tangerine ruffle gowns, extravagant blue evening blouses, white lacy first-communion-style dresses lent sophistication by dark stockings – three women stood out by a mile - 10th May 2008
  • A midlife crisis of a handbag - I was chatting to the redoubtable head of governors following a school meeting. Some modest alterations to the structure of the classes had been proposed, nothing at all serious, only I do hate, loathe and abominate change - 3rd May 2008
  • Why mother knows best - I am sitting with some friends who are discussing what they wished they had been taught by their mothers - 28th April 2008
  • Pushchairs turn the tables - Travelling through snow-covered French fields on the Eurostar with the baby sleeping in her pushchair in the corridor, I bristled as the man next to us struck up an exceedingly loud conversation on his mobile phone - 21st April 2008
  • Break-ups and salad days - I was at the hairdresser’s when my neighbour’s conversation caught my attention. Her tone was dramatic, as was her appearance, for her locks had been arranged into little silver foil-covered snails that lent her a space-princess air. Her mobile telephone was glued to her ear - 14th April 2008
  • A hand towel named desire - Often when I try on extravagant outfits in Bond Street or its international equivalents and regard myself beadily through slitted eyes, arranging feathers or diamanté or asymmetric straps round my person, I say to the assistant – we both know there is not the remotest chance that I will buy anything – “Yes, but where would I wear such a beautiful piece?” - 7th April 2008
  • Meetings in remarkable frocks - One of the many delights of working from home is the highly flexible dress code. I can’t keep up morale in pyjamas or jeans or tracksuit trousers but a crisp summer dress under a dressing gown sometimes does the trick - 31st March 2008
  • Food and music of love - It is difficult to think of new things to cook day in, day out. You make the things you always make because you always make them, not because you are left shimmering by the compliments that come to the chef - 24th March 2008
  • La vie en rose' - Because I needed to say, “Sorry”, and, “Thank you”, and, “Chin up!” to three different people this week I have been speaking to several florists in London and New York. Florists’ hearts sink when they hear my voice. My first question, always, is, “What do you have in today that’s especially lovely?” - 24th March 2008
  • Hardly a trifling matter - It’s very rare for me to feel that my life is incomplete. I have an enormous supply of linen pillowcases starched and folded in a cupboard under the stairs and 800 Earl Grey tea bags in the kitchen cabinet. The family is well. The work/life balance could be a lot worse - 17th March 2008
  • Not just 'now' but verging on next season! - Getting ready to meet a friend for a girls’ night out on Monday, I pondered wearing my never-fails-me black lace dress. Yet when I slipped it on the dress looked tired, somehow, or I did, and it was very annoying because I had to take it off, hang it up, find another. And because I’d been up all night with baby, by this point I felt so exhausted that I rather lost the will to leave the house - 8th March 2008
  • The colours of happy - I am shopping for cheer in all its guises, items to keep the spirits up and the wheels of optimism turning. I often reach for things that are slightly bland for comfort: bread sauce, supersoft pale wool, books and films in which nothing ever quite happens. When in need of consolation, I like wandering into department stores, zooming up to the bed and bath department and exclaiming at the softness and the thickness of the towels - 1st March 2008
  • Shopping in Paris, resident-style - On the Eurostar last weekend, with both children miraculously sleeping, I read eight magazines and dreamed of a glamorous spring - 23rd February 2008
  • Better to give than to receive... - With the dreaded move no longer on the horizon but right round the corner, I have been making concerted efforts, like a dying man, to give as much as possible away. I have decided only to keep the things that I love. “Live Simply for Lent”, the banners outside the local church proclaim, and streamlining my things could be one way of doing this - 16th February 2008
  • Notes on a moving experience - I’m not adventurous. I don’t crave excitement and pastures new. Risk doesn’t thrill me. I like the odd bit of intrigue, a tight corner and a feeling of mild discomfort, but no more than the next person. Fun sometimes bores me. I like strong feelings and excessive people, puns, very high heels, tea, tweed and the poetry of the 1940s and 1950s - 9th February 2008
  • A frock for your inner seafarer - When I was single and occasionally contemplated the idea of getting married, I didn’t think about dresses and shoes. I certainly didn’t picture the groom with or without “a giant brain and a noble head”, as the young girl imagines her perfect beau in Showboat. I didn’t even muse on the cake. No, all I dimly thought was: “If I get married one day, I’d like it if people sang my favourite hymn: ‘For Those in Peril on the Sea’.” - 2nd February 2008
  • With trousers come responsibilities - Regular readers will know that I justify my splurges not on a pay-per-wear system but on a pay-per-compliment basis. If a garment doesn’t perform well for me in this way, I have no choice but to ditch it or, at least, retire it for a time. If I pay £100 for 29 compliments, it seems quite reasonable but £29 for 100 compliments is obviously better - 26th January 2008
  • OK coral - 1Is it a BIG birthday, people keep asking me? I would never pose such a question. Certainly not of the birthday girl herself. And no, it isn’t a big birthday – nowhere near! It doesn’t end with a five or a zero like a lucky tombola ticket, but it feels big because it is the last birthday I will have in this house where we have lived for 11 years - 9th January 2008
  • Last night I dreamt I went to Trago - Eight days in Devon and Cornwall, in the middle of nowhere, and I haven't bought a single thing. Not a sausage or a paper, let alone anything that might qualify as apparel - 12th January 2008
  • Dry clean dream - At a party once, as a child, I was most unimpressed to hear an elderly couple who had just arrived discussing the best way of getting themselves home – before they had even taken off their coats or had a drink. The lady scolded her husband mercilessly because he had not organised a getaway - 5th January 2008

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