Train by Sharlene Teo

 photo: ceren kilic  words: sharlene teo   

photo: ceren kilic

words: sharlene teo

 

"I relished the forward momentum, when I felt so stuck in my own bad habits, my anxieties and frustrations"

In 2012, I moved to Norwich for my Master’s degree in Creative Writing. My memories of that time are tempered with a mixture of joy and desperation. On one hand, I was ecstatic because I’d always dreamt of being a writer, and now I found my place and community. Yet I felt simultaneously grateful for and overwhelmed by this lifeline. 

I commuted back to London every weekend in an attempt to resuscitate my ailing relationship. The journey takes one hour and 50 minutes: long enough to sink into a book, short enough to be endurable. I always booked the early evening train out, as a thin blue patina settled over the steeple of Norwich Cathedral and the East Anglian countryside softened and blurred.  

I favoured the quiet carriage, typically Coach B. Front-facing window seat: I relished the sensation of forward momentum, when I felt so stuck in my own bad habits, my anxieties and frustrations. I fretted constantly about my irascible, enthralling boyfriend and my non-existent writing career, as well as what I’d do after my student visa ended. 

I read many interviews where successful writers mentioned getting their best writing done on trains. But I am too self-conscious and skittish to invent things in public. I typed and deleted, watched the blinking cursor questioning my veracity. 

When my thoughts got too loud I listened to music on my headphones. I only allowed a certain kind of music to soundtrack those grey hours in the Quiet Zone: ambient electronica, or some passionately discordant woman or sad-voiced American man, cooing refrains in my ear about time gone, gone, gone. 

I bought the same meal for these train rides: one messy baguette, a bag of crisps, a large black coffee, and sometimes something very sweet and small, like a Freddo.

That year I read Teju Cole, Yiyun Li, Anna Kavan, W.G. Sebald, Helen Oyeyemi and Deborah Levy, bending their paperback spines like a greedy monster trying to devour genius. I scattered crumbs and underlined achingly beautiful phrases. I chewed with bovine abandon, as I daydreamed impossible solutions for my doomed relationship. In every scenario either or both of us had the same faces, but were different people. Kinder, intrinsically happier, unrestricted by immigration law, more confident. 

The train rattled through Norfolk; and if I focused on the world outside, I’d see a rush of trees, cow fields, parks, laundry-lines. The overhead lights of the Quiet Zone flickered in synchrony to my anxious, crazy heartbeats. I felt a sullen resentment every time someone sat opposite me on a near-empty carriage, denying me of the opportunity to scoff the butt of my baguette in peace. 

All that year I felt wound up like a spring, fraught and withholding. I learnt the word “liminal” in a seminar and it fit my feelings with a certainty few other things seemed to hold. I was an in-between sick of other in-betweens. I was a migrant, about to get ejected from the UK; I was a writer, published career uncertain; I was a graduate student, further employment unknown; my boyfriend and I kept arguing and eventually broke up. I loved him so apocalyptically. We had no fight left in us. 

Then 2012 became 2013. New habit became routine. Travelling between two places I didn’t quite belong to, my heart sped up every time the train approached Stratford: the monolith ArcelorMittal tower maroon and desolate, a reminder of the gloriously sunny Olympic summer come and done. Pulling into the stark lights of Liverpool Street, I’d feel both a comfortable pain, and a temporary comfort. 

 

Sharlene Teo's debut novel Ponti is out now. 'Train' was published in our midwinter issue. You can read another story by Sharlene – 'Spring clean' – in our spring issue. Order your copy here

Tattoo Street Style

Wahoo, our editor wrote her first book!

Outside the world of Oh Comely, our editor, Alice Snape, has been busy trotting the globe – well eight super-cool cities to be precise – seeking out stylish tattooed folk to compile into her first book, Tattoo Street Style (published by Ebury Press). Really, it was just an excuse to stop and find out more about those people on the street that you just have to know who did that tattoo or where they got those jeans from… It features more than 400 original portraits in cities from London and Brighton to LA and NYC, and a directory of studios in each city, a guide to tattoo styles and a personal foreword from tattoo artist Cally-Jo.

Here's a sneak peek, it's out today in all good bookshops. Happy publication day, Alice Snape!

 Derryth Ridge, spotted in Brighton. Photo by Heather Shuker

Derryth Ridge, spotted in Brighton.
Photo by Heather Shuker

 Flora Amalie Pedersen spotted in Berlin. Photo by Lisa Jane

Flora Amalie Pedersen spotted in Berlin.
Photo by Lisa Jane

 Manni Kalsi, spotted in London. Photo by Heather Shuker

Manni Kalsi, spotted in London.
Photo by Heather Shuker

 Simone Thompson, spotted in New York. Photo by Elena Mudd

Simone Thompson, spotted in New York.
Photo by Elena Mudd

 Tessa Metcalfe, spotted at Brighton Tattoo Convention, tattoo by Emily Malice. Photo by Heather Shuker

Tessa Metcalfe, spotted at Brighton Tattoo Convention, tattoo by Emily Malice.
Photo by Heather Shuker

 Cally-Jo, spotted in Brighton. Photo by Heather Shuker

Cally-Jo, spotted in Brighton.
Photo by Heather Shuker

 Maisie Manning spotted in Brighton. Photo by Heather Shuker

Maisie Manning spotted in Brighton.
Photo by Heather Shuker

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Tattoo Street Style by Alice Snape is out now (published by Ebury Press) – available from all good bookstores and online, visit www.penguin.co.uk

What we're loving: The Writer at Almeida Theatre

 Romola Garai photographed by Clara Giaminardi

Romola Garai photographed by Clara Giaminardi

The Writer
By Ella Hickson
Directed by Blanche McIntyre
At Almeida Theatre 14 April – 26 May

“I want awe. I feel like I need blood. All the time. And anything less than that makes me feel desperate. It makes me feel like I want to die.”

An ambitious young writer challenges the status quo but discovers that creative gain comes at a personal cost. She wants to change the shape of the world. But a new way of thinking needs a new story...

In the wake of her successful 2016 run of Oil at the Almeida Theatre, Ella Hickson is back with her highly anticipated play, The Writer, which is directed by Blanche McIntyre.

Running from 14 April – 26 May. For more information and to book tickets, visit almeida.co.uk 

A letter to our readers

 Illustration by Rebecca Strickson 

Illustration by Rebecca Strickson 

Dear readers,

We love creating our print magazine for you, thank you so much for letting us into your lives.

We’re a small and dedicated team of writers and artists who work tirelessly to make Oh Comely a magazine that creates culture, speaks your stories, salutes sisterhood and makes you think and feel. We refuse to conform as we strive to abandon stereotypes and create a space for open and honest discussions. 

We appreciate you choosing to buy us. This is just a little note, to let you know our price has now increased from our Spring issue, as it’s no secret that it’s a struggle for print magazines to survive at the moment. Put simply, we want to continue creating a magazine that reflects what it means to be a woman in the world today. 

Thanks for enjoying the journey with us so far. 

We’d love you to:

• Introduce a friend to Oh Comely, buy them a copy as a surprise treat when you next meet. You can order from our shop at ohcomely.co.uk (postage in the UK is free) or pick up a copy in Sainsbury's

• Follow us @ohcomelymag on Instagram and Twitter, and like us on Facebook. Keep an eye out for our events, we love meeting you in person

• Share your love for Oh Comely on social and tag us so we can see it

We can’t wait for you to read our next issue, we’re working on some magic things for you. And we hope to bring you many more issues to come.

All our love

Alice, Frances, Cathy, Bre and Terri-Jane

The Oh Comely team

 Illustration by Rebecca Strickson

Illustration by Rebecca Strickson

Issue 42 playlist: the joy of spring

 Illustration:  Rachel Heavens

Illustration: Rachel Heavens

Spring is here – finally! Celebrate by plugging into our latest playlist – an ode to the season. We're dreaming of life amid Les Fleurs with Minnie Riperton or Grazing in the Grass with Hugh Maskela. And a shopping mall now covered in flowers a la Talking Heads? Yes please. You can take a listen – and get lost in a world of birds, bees and blossoms – here

Oh Comely issue 42 – spring – is out now. Order a copy here.

Cheap wine and sunshine

Limencello, hangovers, daily gelato and dips in the sea, a first holiday with
a best friend creates memories that bond you for life

Surrounded by sugar crystals from a bag of sweets and an empty bottle of Limoncello in the shape of Italy, my best friend Maddi and I woke up on our last morning in Florence with hangovers from somewhere deeper than hell and a train to catch in an hour. We had just spent the past two days walking around the city soaking in the sunshine on our vitamin D starved bodies, sourcing the city’s best pasta and trying to find old Prada in vintage stores. Before we’d set off on our two-week Italian adventure, we’d set a rule that every meal, including breakfast, must be finished with gelato – to make every day feel like our birthdays. 

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The whole point of this trip was to swim in the sea and to look out at the villages of Cinque Terre in Italy. I was writing my dissertation at university and utterly uninspired by life and Maddi – an actress – was just finishing a run on the West End, we were both so unsure of everything. All we knew is that we both needed to get out of London for a little bit. It was Cinque Terre’s five little towns scattered on the Ligurian coast that were the thing of dreams for us. It’s just an hour and a bit on the train from Florence but with our heads pounding and our pores sweating out all of that lemon scented liquor it could have been another planet. We made it to the train though, with much grunting between us. That right there is the joy of travelling with your best friend, nonverbal communication is essential. With very large salami sandwiches on our laps and little bottles of Orangina, our hangovers started to wear off as we glimpsed hints of sunlight on blue water out of the train windows. 

The air smells sweeter on the coast and as the train rattled alongside the cliffs it came to a halt at the first town in Cinque Terre: Riomaggiore. We’d booked a bedroom that looked okay enough on the internet, it was cheap, and well it was cheap, and that was our priority. What we didn’t factor in was where it was. Like all of the towns in Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore was precariously balanced on the sides of the cliff face, which means everything is a steep hike upwards. With our bodies battered by booze, we felt every single step up to the very top of the town, hauling our luggage and taking sanity breaks every five minutes. But the view from the top and the room that awaited us was worth every ‘please Maddi I can’t do this, leave me here to die’ comment I cried out. At the top of the town, there is the most stunning church built in 1340 and a view over the bay below that is the stuff of sonnets and songs. Our room was in a little apartment block and had a terrace covered in bougainvillea and jasmine that looked over the sea and the old train tracks. We decided the best way to stave off our permeating headaches was to go for a swim in the bay. 

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Our days for the next week had a real schedule: swim, breakfast, gelato, read, swim, lunch, gelato, read, swim, snack, swim, spritz, dinner, gelato, sleep and repeat. We’d wake up and stumble down the thousand steps on the cliff face to the shore to swim, then to the bakery for coffee and a pastry, then an obligatory gelato (we favoured fruit flavours in the morning) then we’d pack a bag and jump on the train to the next town in Cinque Terre to explore. We went in that order each day, first we got the train to Manarola where we found our favourite swimming spot. While I curled up on a hot rock that fitted the curve of my back, Maddi climbed the high rocks and jumped off with Italian teenage boys cheering her on. When we finally felt hungry we’d throw on something over our swimsuits and choose a tratoria to lunch in. Always huge plate of pasta each and always accompanied by a very cold bottle of cheap white wine. The Ligurian coast is famous for olive oil and with our free bread on the table we’d drench each piece in the greeny gold liquid. In between meals we’d snack on paper cones of fried seafood. Our fingers would get greasy with oil and lemon until we jumped back in the ocean to wash it all off and start again. 

To end our days, Maddi would braid my hair before we went to sleep (which back then was long and brown, and not the blonde bob which has become my failsafe) and we would talk about how we’d like to live our lives. We were just twenty then. But we felt so much older, spending our own money, planning our own days and not having to check in with anyone else but each other. It was the trip I think we really fell in love as friends.Realising that this is a person I can never live without. Travelling with someone lets you really see them and all the rhythms of who they are. 

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We’d left London stressed and unsure of everything but in the warm light of those Italian afternoons all we could really imagine of our future lives was perfection. We really had no idea what was to come and the things we’d both go through together and apart. At twenty, I don’t think we grasped what it meant to grow up. The ways in which you have to actually work and fight to keep the good people in your life around and supported. Looking at those photos now, I wish I could whisper some wisdom into our ears to help protect us from the heartbreaks, hardships and generally difficult days yet to come. We’ve both lost loved ones, lost love, lost jobs, homes and countries, but we’ve been there by every means of communication. But this trip was before it all, just at the start of our friendship, a little bit of blissful naivety. We were giddy with the excitement of getting to start everyday just how we wanted to.

It’s the same feeling we both still have even now on the days when we eat ice cream, kiss the men we love and giggle down the phone to each other. It’s about trusting that despite hard days, good things aren’t far away. Now that Maddi lives in Brooklyn and I’m in London when we chat and are in need of a bit of cheering up - we think of Enzo. 

It was our last day and we had found our favourite bar in the fourth village along, Vernazza. It’s a little wine bar right on the water where all the old Italian men drink and play cards. We’d come back every night just before sunset and drink icy white wine while we watched the sun go down. We made friends with the men there and speaking in broken Italian and English and hand gestures we talked. “Come meet me here tomorrow” said one of the best dressed men in the bar who we’d been chatting to all evening. “I have a boat, I’ll take you both to see the most beautiful thing in world”. “Tomorrow it is” said Maddi always more adventurous than me. 

 

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The next day we met Enzo by the bay and hopped into his little rickety row boat. As he tied a t-shirt around his head, started to smoke and started rowing. At almost seventy he rowed us out far along the coast line until we came to the opening of a cave. “It’s called La Luna” he said, “like the moon”. He told me to stand up at the end of the boat and with my hands pushing against the ceiling of the cave, we pulled the boat inside. In the dark, with just Enzo’s cigarette light and the faint glint of sunlight outside in the air, we could see what he meant by the moon. Everything inside the cave was twinkling with an otherworldly blue glow. The white sand at the bottom of the cave was bright and beamed up through the turquoise sea – it was breathtaking. “Thank you,” I said to Enzo but I think I was really saying it to Maddi. He rowed us around a while longer and we jumped off the boat and he told us stories of his life in Liguria. The day finished with negronis on his balcony and pesto made with bruised basil and thick olive oil. It really was as perfect as it seems, and while we might not find Enzo next time we go back, I know that I’ll always have the pasta, the sea and Maddi with me. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Support Oh Comely at Sainsbury's

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Exciting news – Oh Comely's spring issue will be available in Sainsbury's for one month, between 12 April and 9 May. This is a trial for us and we hope to be stocked in more Sainsbury's more regularly in the future hopefully both reaching a wider audience with what we do and making it easier for you to pick up copies of the magazine. To help us do this, please try to buy your Oh Comely from one of the Sainsbury's below this month. You should find us hanging out by the newspapers.

Thank you x

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  • THE BROADWAY SHOPPING CENTRE, STATION ROAD, EDGWARE HA8 7BQ
  • LIVERPOOL ROAD, ISLINGTON N1 0RW
  • 836-852 HIGH ROAD,  NORTH FINCHLEY N12 9RE
  • 28-48 NORTHUMBERLAND PARK, TOTTENHAM N17 0TX
  • HIGHLANDS VILLAGE, HIGHLANDS AVENUE,  WINCHMORE HILL  N21 1UJ

SOUTH

  • 147-151 BALHAM HIGH ROAD, BALHAM SW12 9AU
  • 1 MERTON HIGH STREET, COLLIERS WOOD SW19 1DD
  • 66 WESTOW ST, CRYSTAL PALACE SE19 3AF
  • 40 NEW KENT ROAD, ELEPHANT & CASTLE SE1 6TJ
  • 1A PHILIPOT PATH, ELTHAM SE9 5DL
  • 80 DOG KENNEL HILL,  EAST DULWICH SE22 8BB
  • 34-48 LONDON ROAD, FOREST HILL SE23 3HF
  • UNIT 17, FULHAM BROADWAY RETAIL CENTRE SW6 1BW
  • 27 TOWNMEAD ROAD, FULHAM SW6 2GD
  • 33-34 LONDON ROAD MORDEN SM4 5HT
  • 158-162 HIGH STREET, PENGE SE20 7QS
  • 122 WHITEHORSE LANE, SELHURST SE25 6RA
  • 158A CROMWELL ROAD, SOUTH KENSINGTON SW7 4EJ
  • 480 STREATHAM HIGH ROAD, STREATHAM SW16 3PY
  • HIGH STREET,  SUTTON SM1 1LB
  • SOUTHEND LANE, SYDENHAM, SE26 4PU
  • 99 WILTON ROAD, VICTORIA SW1V 1DT
  • 62 WANDSWORTH ROAD, WANDSWORTH SW8 2LF
  • 25 CALDERWOOD STREET, WOOLWICH SE18 6QW

WEST

  • 12 BARTERS WALK, PINNER HA5 5LU
  • LONG DRIVE, RUISLIP HA4 0HQ
  • MELBOURNE AVENUE, WEST EALING W13 9BZ

LONDONDERRY: 150 STRAND RD BT48 7TL

LOUGHBOROUGH: 135 GREEN CLOSE LANE LE11 5AS

LUTON: 34 DUNSTABLE ROAD, LUTON LU1 1DY

LYMM: RUSHGREEN ROAD WA13 9QP

LYTHAM ST. ANNES: ST ANDREWS ROAD NORTH, FY8 2DH

 

M

MACCLESFIELD: 61 CUNMBERLAND STREET, CHESHIRE SK10 1BJ

MAIDENHEAD: PROVIDENCE PLACE SL6 8AG

MAIDSTONE: ROMNEY PLACE  ME15 6SF

MANCHESTER

  • 347 WILMSLOW ROAD, FALLOWFIELD M14 6SX
  • OLDHAM STREET, DENTON M34 3SJ
  • 170 HEATON PARK RD, WEST HIGHER BLACKLEY M9 0QS
  • EDEN SQUARE SHOPPING CENTRE, GOLDEN WAY, URMSTON M41 0NA

MANSFIELD: MANSFIELD RETAIL PARK, NOTTINGHAM ROAD NG18 1BW

MARCH: MILL VIEW, CREEK ROAD PE15 8RE

MARKET HARBOROUGH: ST. MARYS PLACE LE16 7DR

MATLOCK: CAWDOR QUARRY DE4 3SP

MELKSHAM: BATH ROAD, SN12 6LL

MIDDLESBROUGH: 32 WILSON STREET TS1 1RP

MILTON KEYNES: 799 WITAN GATE MK9 2FW

 

N

NAIRN: BALMAKEITH RETAIL PARK, FORRES ROAD IV12 5QW

NEWBURY: KINGS ROAD RG14 5AB

NEWCASTLE

  • ELEVENTH AVENUE, TEAM VALLEY TRAD EST NE11 0JY
  • GOSFORTH SHOPPING CENTRE, GREAT NORTH ROAD, GOSFORTH NE3 1JZ
  • NEWBURN ROAD, THROCKLEY NE15 9AF

NEWCASTLE-UNDER-LYME: ASHFIELD NEW ROAD ST5 2AF

NEWPORT: FOXES ROAD PO30 5ZB

NEWQUAY: FORE STREET TR7 1NF

NEWRY: THEQUAYS, ALBERT BASIN BT35 8QS

NORTH WALSHAM: MUNDESLEY ROAD NR28 0DB

NORTHAMPTON: 15 PRINCESS WALK, GROSVENOR CENTRE NN1 2EW

NOTTINGHAM

  • PERRY ROAD NG5 1HH
  • MANSFIELD ROAD, ARNOLD NG5 6BN
  • GREENS LANE, KIMBERLEY NG16 2LY

NORWICH

  • POUND LANE NR7 0SR
  • WILLIAM FROST WAY NEW COSTESSEY NR5 0JS

NUNEATON: VICARIDGE STREET CV11 4XS

 

O

OADBY: GLEN ROAD LE2 4PE

OLDHAM: 60 UNION STREET OL1 1DJ

ORPINGTON

  • 5-7 THE WALNUTS, HOMEFIELD RISE BR6 0TW
  • 19 PALLANT WAY LOCKSBOTTOM BR6 8NZ

OTTERY ST MARY: HIGH STREET EX11 1ET

OXFORD

  • HEYFORD HILL OX4 4XR
  • 21 WESTGATE OX1 1NX
  • OXFORD ROAD, KIDLINGTON OX5 2PE

 

P

PENRITH: 1 COMMON GARDEN SQUARE CA11 7FG

PENZANCE: EASTERN GREEN TR18 3AP

PERTON: ANDERS SQUARE, COVERIDGE DRIVE WV6 7QE

PETERBOROUGH

  • FLAXLAND, BRETTON PE3 8DA
  • 112 OXNEY RD, EASTFIELD PE1 5NG

PLYMOUTH: 23 ARMADA WAY, MAYFLOWER STREET PL1 1LE

PONSHARDEN: OFF FALMOUTH ROAD TR11 2RZ

PONTYPRIDD: BROWN LENNOX RETAIL PARK, TNYSANGHARD ROAD CF37 4DA

POOLE

  • 4 ALDER PARK, ALDER ROAD  BH12 4BA
  • 11 PITWINES CLOSE BH15 1XU

PORTISHEAD: GORDANO GATE BUSINESS PARK, SERBERT CLOSE   BS20 7FS

PORTSMOUTH

  • 315 COMMERCIAL ROAD PO1 4BS
  • FITZHERBERT ROAD,  FARLINGTON PO6 1RR

POTTERS BAR: 7 SAINSBURY CENTRE, DARKES LANE EN6 1AZ

PRESTON: CUERDEN WAY, BAMBER BRIDGE PR5 6BJ

PULBOROUGH: STANE STREET, CODMORE HILL RH20 1BQ

 

R

RAMSGATE: WESTWOOD CROSS, DADSON WAY CT12 5FJ

READING: BATH ROAD RG31 7SA

REDDITCH: ALVECHURCH HIGHWAY, ABBEY TRADING ESTATE B97 6RF

RICHMOND: LOWER RICHMOND ROAD TW9 4LT

RINGWOOD: UNIT 2, MEETING HOUSE LANE BH24 1EY

RIPLEY: BUTTERLEY PARK, NOTTINGHAM ROAD DE5 3AS

RUGBY: 385 DUNCHURCH ROAD CV22 6HU

 

S

SALISBURY: 33 THE MALTINGS SP1 1BD

SCARBOROUGH: GALLOWS CLOSE, FALSGRAVE ROAD, YO12 5EA

SCUNTHORPE: DONCASTER ROAD, OLD SHOW GROUND DN15 7DE

SEDGEFIELD: SALTERS LANE TS21 3EE

SELBY: 18 ABBEY WALK  YO8 4DZ

SEVENOAKS: OTFORD ROAD, TN14 5EG

SHEFFIELD 

  • CLAYWHEELS LANE S6 1LY
  • ARCHER ROAD, MILLHOUSES S8 0TD
  • ECKINGTON WAY, CRYSTAL PEAKS S20 7PQ

SHREWSBURY: MEOLE BRACE RETAIL PARK, HEREFORD ROAD SY3 9NB

SLEAFORD: 3 SOUTHGATE SHOPPING CENTRE NG34 7PD

SLOUGH

  • 78 UXBRIDGE ROAD  SL1 1SU
  • 149-153 FARNHAM ROAD SL1 4XP

SOLIHULL: POPLAR WAY  B91 3BX

SOUTHAMPTON:

  • PORTSWOOD BUS DEPOT, PORTSWOOD ROAD SO17 2LB
  • SUPERSTORE 1, LORDSHILL DISTRICT CENTRE SO16 8HY
  • 412-414 BITTERNE ROAD, BITTERNE VILLAGE SO18 5RS
  • HEDGE END: TOLLBAR WAY, HEDGE END SO30 2UH

SOUTHEND-ON-SEA: 45 LONDON ROAD SS1 1PL

SOUTHPORT: ST. GEORGES PLACE, LORD STREET PR9 0AF

SPALDING: HOLLAND MARKET  PE11 1DA

STAFFORD: CHELL ROAD, STAFFORDSHIRE ST16 2TF

STAINES: THE CAUSEWAY TW18 3AP

ST ALBANS:

  • BARNET ROAD, COLNEY AL2 1BG
  • EVERHARD CLOSE AL1 2QU

STAMFORD: MARKHAM RETAIL PARK, RYHALL ROAD  PE9 1UG

STEVENAGE: COREYS MILL, HITCHIN ROAD SG1 4AE

ST LEONARDS-ON-SEA:  JOHN MACADAM WAY TN37 7SQ

STOCKPORT

  • WARREN STREET SK1 1UB
  • LONDON ROAD, HAZEL GROVE SK7 4AW

STOKE ON TRENT:ETRURIA ROAD, HANLEY ST1 5SA

STREET: Gravenchon Way BA16 0HS

STROUD: DUDBRIDGE ROAD GL5 3HG

SUDBURY: 66 CORNARD ROAD CO10 2XB

SUNDERLAND: RIVERSIDE ROAD, WESSINGTON WAY SR5 3JG

SUTTON COLDFIELD: MERE GREEN ROAD,  MERE GREEN  B75 5BT

SWINDON: OXFORD ROAD SN3 4EW

 

T

TADLEY: 30 MULFORDS HILL, TADLEY RG26 3JE

TAPLOW: LAKE END ROAD SL6 0QH

TAUNTON: HANKRIDGE WAY TA1 2LR

TELFORD: FORGE RETAIL PARK,  COLLIERS WAY TF3 4AG

TENBY: TENBY UPPER PARK ROAD,  UPPER PARK SA70 7LT

TORPOINT: ANTONY ROAD PL11 2JW

TROWBRIDGE: BRITISH ROW BA14 8GF

TRURO: TREYEW ROAD TR1 3XL

 

W

WAKEFIELD

  • TRINITY WALK MARSH WAY WF1 3LJ
  • 50 INGS ROAD WF1 1RS

WALTHAM CROSS: 72 SHOPPING PAVILLION, HIGH STREET EN8 7BZ

WALLINGTON: STAFFORD ROAD  SM6 9AA

WALTON: RICE LANE, CAVENDISH DRIVE L9 1HW

WANTAGE: LIMBOROUGH ROAD  OX12 9AJ

WARLEY: FREETH STREET, OLDBURY B69 3DB

WARRINGTON

  • 100 CHURCH STREET WA1 2TN
  • SANTA ROSA BLVD, GREAT SANKEY WA5 3AG

WASHINGTON: THE GALLERIES, TYNE AND WEAR NE38 7RU

WATERLOOVILLE: HAMMLEDON ROAD PO7 7UL

WELLINGBOROUGH: 260 NORTHAMPTON ROAD NN8 3GZ

WELWYN GARDEN CITY: 44 CHURCH ROAD AL8 6PS

WESTON-SUPER-MARE: NORTH WORLE SHOPPING CENTRE, QUEENSWAY  BS22 6BL

WEST WICKHAM: 163-164 WICKHAM HIGH STREET BR4 0LU

WHITSTABLE: REEVES WAY, OFF THANET WAY, CHESFIELD CT5 3QS

WHITBY: STAINSACRE LANE YO22 4PU

WHITCHURCH: LONDON ROAD SY13 1NJ

WHITLEY BAY: NEWSTEADS DRIVE, MONKSEATON NE25 9EX

WIGAN: WORTHINGTON WAY, MARUS BRIDGE WN3 6XA

WILMSLOWL 67 ALDERLEY ROAD SK9 1NX

WINCHESTER: BADGER FARM ROAD SO22 4QB

WIRRAL: BROOK STREET, NESTON CH64 9AR

WITNEY: WITTAN WAY OX28 4FF

WOKING: REDDING WAY KNAPHILL GU21 2QT

WOKINGHAM: WINNERSH CROSSROADS, READING ROAD RG41 5AR

WOLVERHAMPTON: HEATH MILL ROAD, WOMBOURNE WV5 8AQ

WORCESTER: WORCESTER ST JOHNS, SWANPOOL WALK WR2 4EL

WORKSOP: HIGHGROUNDS ROAD RHODESIA S80 3AT

WORTHING: DOWNLAND BUSINESS PARK, LYONS WAY BN14 9LA

 

Y

YARM: 88 HIGH STREET TS15 9AP

YORK

  • FOSS BANK, YO31 7JB
  • THE BALK, POCKLINGTON YO42 2GG

 

 

Sunday Reading: Thread

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words lydia higginson

photo janina fleckhaus

 

My inner seamstress has a way of putting the world to rights. Although I didn’t know it at the time, she was there, helping me carve out shapes and stitches as I sat in my freezing cold studio making a coat from heavy herringbone wool. It took me five days to cut and sew that coat and cover it in rich embellishment. In threads of forest green and maroon, shimmering ochre and gold, embroidery spans the length of my spine. At its centre is a golden cross. That cross marks the place behind my heart where fertile veins of creativity run deep. It also marks the point where the end of a gun was pressed up against my back during a brutal assault.

I made that coat in the depths of winter. Being stripped and sexually assaulted made me completely disconnect from my body – I wanted to re-dress myself. Over the cold days and nights, I created quilted jumpers, turquoise silk lingerie and jumpers from cashmere. When the spring came, I started making flowing skirts, denim jeans and softly tailored shirts. As spring turned to summer, I wanted to wear wild printed jumpsuits and sporty silk bomber jackets, so I made some of those too.

Then leaves started to fall and my sewing slowed down but never completely ground to a halt. I continued to create lace knickers, simple camisoles and wideleg culottes. As the year drew to a close and winter once again set in, I hunkered down in front of my sewing machine and made floral cords, a furry gilet, leggings printed with the beauty of the cosmos and another embroidered coat, this time with a dusty pink, cosy velvet hood. Over the year, my inner seamstress spent over 1,000 hours designing and creating the clothes I’ve always wanted to wear – over 60 garments. All the clothes I’d ever bought from shops have been given away and the only ones I wear are ones that I have made myself.

Making my own clothes was my way of feeling strong and alive again. It allowed my body to heal from five years of holding on to trauma. After being assaulted, I was desperately seeking a way to breathe colour, movement, texture and sensuality back in to my life and, when I wear garments that I have stitched from scratch, my body feels realigned on its natural creative compass. My healing armour made of silk and lace and cashmere.

Creating my wardrobe afresh – sleeves, collars, cuffs – wasn’t only a process of recovery. It was also one of discovery. Of my seamstress inside who had just been waiting to be given a needle and thread. Passionate, creative and tactile, I need my seamstress to face life. It feels like she has been stitching away since the beginning of time – I just drop into her rhythm for a while when I’m sat at my machine or have a thimble on my finger. She’s helped me to create beauty from brutality. When I’m in touch with my seamstress, I feel able to be the woman I want to be – dressed in a wardrobe I’ve stitched from energy, time and golden thread. 

 

Lydia has recently launched Threadworks in London – a space for fashion and textile artists in the week and a place to learn new sewing skills at the weekend. You can support their Crowdfunding project here. If you're a print designer, pattern cutter, embroiderer, weaver, seamstress, tailor, costume designer or small fashion brand that might be looking for space, get in touch via the Threadworks website

 

'Thread' was originally published in Oh Comely issue 37, featuring three more personal stories of touch. Pick up a copy here

Life without mum

Pregnant with her first baby, writer Victoria Watts Kennedy reflects on life without her mother

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“It’s thirty-three years since this photo of my mother was taken; and I’m now pregnant with my first. The books like to tell me this is a time when Mum and I will enjoy a new closeness as we bond over being mothers – words that make me throw the book, cry or simply sigh the unending grief of living without her.

“My Mum was a midwife, a job she loved and cherished. I remember when I was little, prized days were the ones when she would  come home from work with a Bounty pack, filled with coveted mum-to-be treats that I lavished upon my dolls. I got one of those packs last week, 30 years later, collected from a stranger in Boots, and the first time I really needed one.

“I want to ask Mum my first word, how long her labour lasted, did she get stretch marks, how did I sleep, what were her tricks? The questions rise every day. Family and friends give fragments, but the portrait has been lost. My Dad, the man behind the camera, has also left this life. He was 44, and Mum 51, when life slipped away. Alcoholism and MS: the greatest thieves from my story.

“Illness and loss cast shadows on my teens and twenties, but life when little was light and filled with memories that pregnancy likes to jog: the holidays we took, the jokes we made and the little trio the three of us formed. My parents were fun, kind and loving; the perfect recipe for grandparents.

“Grief is something that never goes away. It ebbs and flows from the bearable to the intense. Big days are hard – weddings, Christmas, anniversaries – but then there’s the little, unexpected moments – a gesture, a smell, a word – that cut down to the feeling’s rawness. Pregnancy has both – the bigness and the everyday – I yearn for my parents’ presence.

“But yearning and wishing can’t bring a person back. My baby will know my parents only through stories and the legacy of what they made me to be. Their absence in body is heartbreaking, and on days the solace is bitter. But when solace is the only option, there have to be days when you discover its sweetness. Not a day goes by when I don’t miss my parents, but equally, not a moment goes by when I don’t feel lucky to have had them. I see them in me, I feel them in me, I carry them forever with me. I have that same smile on my face as my Mum in the photo. And that’s how my baby will know his grandparents: through their imprints left on me.”

Victoria blogs at bridgesandballoons.com. Read the results from our Mothers' Day survey here.

How you feel about your mothers: your responses

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In our early spring issue, we explored our relationship with our mothers – and we invited you to respond to our survey. We were overwhelmed by your response, and the personal stories that you shared with us. 

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More than half of you said that your relationship with your mother couldn’t be better and 65% of you are in contact with your mum several times a week, with over a third in daily contact.

Only 7% felt your mums would be disappointed if you didn’t pursue a career, kids, marriage and owning a home. In fact, almost half of you said that your mother’s biggest expectation was having a career. However, a fifth said that you felt that your mothers expect you to dress and look a certain way.

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"I'm one of the lucky ones. My mum doesn't put pressure on me to live up to expectations."

"She is already disappointed."   

"I was never pressured to live a certain way but I think my mam is proud of how my life has turned out."

"I hope I make her proud. That is my goal in honouring her life!"

"She has no expectations, but would prefer me to stay single."

 

More than half of mums let boyfriends/girlfriends stay over, two thirds were allowed to drink at home, while 6% were allowed to try drugs. Less than a quarter were allowed to party without their parents around.

 

"I think I’ll do a lot of things differently, partly because I have a little boy. I want to give him a much better understanding of relationships and boundaries than I had."

"Mum was really easy going but because I was ill it didn't really affect me because I didn't really drink or party. When I got better I did and the impression I get even now is that she feels relieved when I talk about drinking and going out because she knows it means I'm well. I'm probably the only person who can say their mum reacted to me coming home drunk with "you look happy".

"My mum is in her 70s so it was a very different time for her as a young woman/mother. I am much more open minded and have experienced a lot more that I look forward to educating my little boy about"

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However there are some indications that there are certain subjects that mothers and daughters don’t talk about. More than a third’s mothers told them nothing about sex or periods, half never discussed sexism. 75% of those daughters felt this was a mistake.

 

"Sexism is a really important social issue and as a woman, I feel like it should have been addressed further."

"She just seemed to accept it, which I disagree with. It's something that should be confronted and fought."

"She saw my interest in feminism from a young age and fuelled it with literature."

 "She took it as just the way things were"

"Her opinions changed as I was growing up and experiencing it myself. Her attitude to catcalling turned from, 'it's harmless and best to ignore it' to anger at hearing the things that were shouted at me on the street. We grew our understanding together in a way."

"I've always been able to talk to my mum about anything. I've always been very grateful for that as I have friends who can't speak to their Mum like I can. Even at times when she didn't want to listen, I knew I could say it anyway. Ask her anything." 

 

Thank you for your honesty and thoughtfulness in sharing your thoughts and memories on this topic – they showed how close, complicated and ever-changing our relationships with our mothers can be. We hope to further explore the ideas and subjects raised in future issues of Oh Comely

 

"Whilst a strong capable women in many ways, she was crippingly shy and would not stand up for herself in work situations or with my dad. I never learnt how to defend myself in situations because I didn't know how. It's made me vunerable in my adult life, although finally I'm much better at standing up for myself now – but it's taken therapy to learn that."

"As my mom passed away so recently she has been on my mind. She had Alzheimer's and was in long term care for the past year. It is indeed a long goodbye. She is a precious treasure, my best friend, my biggest cheerleader and confidant. I will miss her every day."

"I think my mum treated my older brothers like 'adults' when they were 21, but she doesn't treat me the same. My body is her business, in way that theirs aren't. I love her, and she is simply a different generation but I find it so frustrating."

"I absolutely hope to be at least HALF the woman that my mother is. She is an amazing, courageous, smart woman, and I am so lucky to have her as my mother and my best friend & mentor <3"

"She's also the one person in my life who has consistently told me I don't have to have children if I don't want to. Whilst my boyfriends mum is so pushy about it. My Mum has given me the strength to say I'm not where I want to be in my career yet and even admit I'm not sure kids are in my future."

"My mother died in 2013 when the phone rings on a Sunday morning, when I'm still in bed, I still think it's her. We had a very close relationship and she was always there when I needed her. Although I miss her a lot I feel a part of me hadn't grown-up when she was around, maybe because I still lived locally. I do see her some days when I look in the mirror and occasionally when I'm with my boys I feel I'm channelling her, not always in a good way."

"My Mum is the most beautiful woman in world but has always worried about her weight.  This used to upset me as a child and still does.  To all the Mum's out there, you are beautiful."

"Not all mums are good at being mums, some are really abusive and neglectful. Mothers' Day means so many websites and magazines covering schmaltzy stories about how great mums are, how not just for once cover the stories of people who've grown up without a mum? Not all mums are great, mine wasn't and for that reason I work hard at being the best mum I can, I have that to thank her for."

"My mum is so tender and treats me like I am precious to her, even while she champions my independence and strength of character. I will never be as wonderful a person as her.

 

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For our press release about our Mother's Day survey, click here. Read Oh Comely writer's reflections on our relationships with our mums in our early spring issue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#feedme breastfeeding in public

#FEEDME is a photo series of women breastfeeding on the go, in public places across landmark locations in London – including the V&A, Portobello Market, Brick Lane and Tate. Over a hundred mothers volunteered to take part, to vocalise the positivity of public breastfeeding.

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#FEEDME was curated by online gallery avenirart.com (you can view the exhibition in its entirety on their website), portraits by Agatha A. Nitecka and Robert Appleton of RÅN studio and the exhibition is in aid of the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers.

Laura Dockrill's power fresh green pesto

 Portrait: Liz Seabrook

Portrait: Liz Seabrook

“Look at that! You get to pour your own chocolate in here.” Laura Dockrill is marvelling as she spirals her jug of warm, dark drinking chocolate into the awaiting mug of frothy milk. “It’s so good!” For a moment, it feels like we’re in Laura’s new young adult book, Big Bones, whose heroine, Bluebell, just loves her food: whether crumpets leaking with butter, salty caramel slathered millionaires shortbread or chips so vinegary that they make your nose hairs shrivel. 

In our early spring issue, we had the pleasure of speaking to writer Laura Dockrill. Her new book Big Bones – out today - celebrates the pleasure in eating. As Laura says, “There’s no such thing as a perfect body but there can be a perfect meal and you can enjoy that”. Needless to say, it made the entire team very hungry indeed. Laura was kind enough to share her favourite recipe for pesto. 

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Laura Dockrill's fresh green pesto recipe

Big Bones is not just a love letter to food and the body; it is also to show how rewarding it is to cook and eat. It doesn’t have to be hard or fussy or posh or embarrassing to cook. I want to inspire people, kids, to enjoy food. And so the recipe I’ve chosen to share is simple, quick, easy to make, fragrant, vibrant and versatile and can turn any cheap carby comforting canvas into a wholesome meal that looks and tastes impressive. It’s the way I like to cook. Messy and natural. And if you are able to grab, rip, squeeze, pinch and smush you can make this without even touching a flame or a knob of the oven!

I made this for my partner Hugo, after a lot of beer, smothered over pasta. He said, “oh my god, this is the best meal I’ve ever had.” (No, it was not the beer talking) and he is not one tincy bit interested in cooking, but this is something he can now whizz up himself in under a minute and saves the day every time.

It lasts and it’s so much better and tastier and cheaper and vividly GREENER than the jarred stuff.

FRESH GREEN PESTO

You will need:

one massive handful of basil stalks and everything (or I just use one of those whole bags you can buy individually from the supermarket)

big glug of olive oil the better the olive oil the better it will taste

parmesan the best thing about this is because the pesto gets smushed up you don’t have to fiddle around with the small fiddly bit of the grater!

juice of a whole lemon

sea salt and pepper

*optional toasted pine nuts

 

All you have to do is simply bring all of this together. Use a Nutri Bullet or blender if you have one for a 30 second smooth sauce or you could bash it up in the pestle and mortar or hand mix for something chunkier.

The thing I love about this is you can add as you go, more lemon for acidity, no pine nuts for pasta for something smoother, add nibs of toasted walnuts or pecans for a salad, a handful of spinach for extra green and goodness and chilli flakes work well too.

Then stir into hot pasta, smear over hot roast potatoes, drizzle over a green salad, slather over bread for a toasted cheese sandwich. A great invention are those Jus-Rol puff pastry sheets, you can smear this homemade wonder over a sheet of this stuff and accessorize with olives, sun dried tomato, artichoke, mozzarella for an impressive pizza/tart or roll into little swirls for a snack that makes you look SO FANCY! You could add to yoghurt or houmous for dipping (which is also super easy to make), top over roasted vegetables or just stuff it in the corner of a lunch box and visit with bread or whatever’s in there like a little pesto watering hole.

 

Big Bones by Laura Dockrill is published by Hot Key books and is out today. And pick up a copy of our early spring issue to read the full interview with Laura. 

 

 

 

What My Girlfriends Told Me

What My Girlfriends Told Me is a gorgeously illustrated book that celebrates female friendship, filled with laugh-out-loud anecdotes and totally relatable advice. Wisdom from women who have lived...  Compiled by artist Sonja Bajic who has spent her life collecting lovely little phrases, good stories, text messages and margin notes to create a treasure trove of words inspired by family, friends and women she has met along the way... 

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What My Girlfriends Told Me is full of relatable advice for times of heartache or uncertainty, long nights and new beginnings. It’s a joyful reminder that there’s nothing more powerful than a group of women sharing their wisdom, laughter and love with each other. 

You can order your copy from: septemberpublishing.org

Legally Black redesigns iconic film posters

Iconic film posters have been redesigned to feature an all-black cast and put up on south London streets by a campaign group called Legally Black... 

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Four "advocates of social justice" from south west London have joined forces to combat the way black people are portrayed in the media by forming their project Legally Black. The aim of Legally Black is to increase awareness about the lack of black representation in the media and create dialogue and discussion around inaccurate and harmful depictions.

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Their first visual campaign replaces characters from famous white dominant TV programmes with black people, with posters now dotted around south London. The campaign also features the tagline: “If you’re surprised, it means you don’t see enough black people in major roles,” encapsulating the meaning at the heart of project.

"Black kids can be wizards too" says Olivia, who is playing Hermione Granger in a Harry Potter poster in this BBC video.

You can find our more on their website: legallyblack.space

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How we feel about our mothers...

We've been exploring our relationships with our mothers, and we'd love to know about yours, too. Fill in our survey here (we'll pick one lucky winner who will be gifted a bundle of books).

To whet your appetite, here's an extract from our early spring issue, where Aimee-lee Abraham tells us how her appreciation of her mum is constantly evolving...

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“When I turned 24, I began to understand my mother more deeply. Her role became less hazy, less defined. I don’t see a caretaker anymore. I see a complex, hilarious, infuriating best friend with a history that far outstretches mine. 

“I always knew she was exceptionally young and beautiful, because she looked so exceptionally young and beautiful at the school gate, because boys would line the street to watch her take the bins out, because she let me binge-eat crisps whenever I wanted and rapped to the ping of the microwave and let me read Danielle Steel despite warnings from my God-fearing father. But I didn’t truly appreciate how young she was. Didn’t walk in her shoes. 

“She says she’d never have it any other way and I believe her. But if a series of coincidences had thrust me onto an identical path, I’d have a voracious eight-year-old, a curly headed cherub coming up to two and a divorce to settle – and a whole new life to pave out. It’s so far from my reality I just can’t fathom it.” 

In the run-up to Mothering Sunday on 11 March, we're inviting our readers to tell us about their own relationships with their mothers. Fill in our survey here, and we'll pick one lucky winner who will be gifted a bundle of books.

Women who work in the background – Camilla Naprous, horsemaster

In our early spring issue, we shine a spotlight on women who work in the background. And we discovered these women are definitely no shrinking violets... Meet horsemaster Camilla Naprous, who coordinates all the horsey stunts and tricks in Game of Thrones... 

 Portrait of Camilla by Aloha Bonser-shaw

Portrait of Camilla by Aloha Bonser-shaw

"I supply horses to the film industry. So any period movie or TV drama you watch that has a horse in it, I’m usually involved. I choreograph all the horse scenes, stunts and fight sequences. I also teach the actors how to ride – which can be interesting, some actors are in their fifties and have never even sat on a horse before. I recently got back into costume and performed as a stunt woman in the new Wonder Woman. But, these days, I prefer being part of the creative side. There’s so much risk involved in stunts and it takes me ages to recover now I’m in my thirties – the people get hurt way more than the horses. 

"The stunt and horse industry is usually ran by men – in fact, the film industry as a whole is very male dominated – so I’ve had hurdles to cross. It can work in my favour, though, especially when teaching a woman to ride – it’s an emotionally-charged experience and a woman may feel overpowered by a man. 

"The biggest TV show I work on is Game of Thrones, which has legendary horse-based episodes. Sometimes, we’ll have as many as 100 horses on set. And I’m in charge of them. I choreographed the Dothraki charge in season 7 – the directors told me I could create anything I wanted. It was the first time you see the Dothraki do something, so I designed the sequence to show off that they were accomplished horsemen. It has become iconic. And ‘Battle of the Bastards’, which features horses who are trained to fall over, was a great episode to work on – that’s one of my stand-out pieces of work. It has become critically-acclaimed in my world.

"However, our department is never truly recognised by the industry – we’re really sitting in the background, working creatively. I’m not a production, make-up or costume designer so my work can’t get recognised. The stunt world is ignored by the Oscars, the Emmys and the BAFTAs. Action is a huge part of some films, so I don’t understand why. Perhaps it might change soon. I don’t want my industry to remain hidden, I want to show the future generation of female horsemasters what they can achieve. I’m a big believer in women working together, rather than getting to the top by being very alpha. Some women stand on their own, not working together, and I don’t want to be like that. You’re only as good as the team around you. There’s no need to be a bitch, you can’t do everything on your own."

You can read about three more wonderful women doing brilliant things – a fashion designer, a ghostwriter and a supernumerary – in our early spring issue, available to purchase here

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Through the lens: meet our panellists

To celebrate International Women's Day, we're hosting Through the Lens: an evening of conversation with three interesting women on Friday 9 March, with our friends Bailey Nelson (more details here). The discussion will be chaired by our editor Alice Snape and commissioning editor Bre Graham.

We're delighted to introduce our panellists for the evening. These brilliant women have all featured on the pages of Oh Comely and will be discussing what being a woman in 2018 means to them.

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Melina (pronoun she/her) is a queer migrant woman. She has been doing sex work for the past five years – although she doesn't always like it, she is very passionate about sex workers’ rights. She is part of the Sex Workers’ Opera, a multimedia show made by at least 50% of sex workers, and X:talk, a migrant sex worker organisation. She helped with the Sex/Work Strike and she is trying to build an organisation to support sex workers in Portugal. She performs sometimes in different venues in London, rides her bike regularly, writes sporadically and procrastinates wildly.

Tahmina Begum is the Editor-in-Chief of XXY Magazine, a fashion, art and culture magazine, and platform seeking representation for emerging creatives. She is currently working on XXY's first-anniversary print issue and its upcoming podcast. Begum is also a freelance journalist and in addition to being a regular contributor to Oh Comely, she has also recently written for Dazed, HuffPost UK, Man Repeller, ScreenShot Magazine and gal-dem. Her work has a large focus on intersectional feminism and telling forgotten stories as well as the importance of a good, damn accessory.

Grace Campbell is a filmmaker, comedian, and activist. Themes of feminism run through all of Grace’s work, best displayed in Riot Girls, a C4 feminist hidden camera which Grace recently produced and acted in. Grace co-founded the Pink Protest, a platform created to bring feminist action together, both online and IRL, their most notable work so far has been on the #freeperiods campaign.

The event will start from 6.30pm on Friday 9 March, and your £15 ticket includes drinks. Profits from ticket sales will go to Bloody Good Period, which give menstrual supplies to asylum seekers, refugees and those who can't afford them. Buy tickets here. This is an intimate event of just 50 people, early booking is advisable. 

Oh Comely x Bailey Nelson – through the lens: a conversation with interesting women

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To celebrate International Women's Day, Oh Comely and Bailey Nelson are hosting an evening of conversation with interesting women who have featured on the pages of Oh Comely, more information to be announced soon...

Profits from ticket sales will go to Bloody Good Period, which give menstrual supplies to asylum seekers, refugees and those who can't afford them.

Hosted by Editor, Alice Snape and Commissioning Editor, Bre Graham

From 6.30pm on Friday 9 March, £15 includes drinks.

Buy tickets here

This is an intimate event of just 50 people. Watch this space for more information on our panel of guests. 

What we're eating: Pancakes with blueberries

 Photos: Sophie Davidson

Photos: Sophie Davidson

In our early spring issue, we asked three women who know a lot about food to share their cupboard comfort recipes. And, given that today is Shrove Tuesday, we thought you might especially enjoy Ravneet Gill's recipe for pancakes with blueberries...

"Every time I have a day off, my joy is making pancakes. It’s repetitive, it’s easy, and the process of making them is so calming after working as a chef in a busy kitchen. I always have the ingredients for pancakes stored away in my cupboard, and I always have tons of maple syrup ready to drench my pancakes in. I love eating them with blueberries that I just cook down with a little bit of sugar and lemon until they’re soft."

You will need: 

1 cup plain flour

2 tbsp caster sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp fine salt

2 large eggs

3/4 cup of whole milk

1 cup of yoghurt

50g butter, melted

1 tsp vanilla

 

Method

1 Place all dry ingredients into a bowl, stir to combine, crack the eggs into the middle and whisk in with splashes of the milk until a batter forms.

2 Whisk in the yoghurt, pour in the melted butter and vanilla.

3 Allow to sit for half an hour before spooning into a buttered pan and cooking on each side until golden. Serve with maple syrup, blueberries and dust with icing sugar.

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Ravneet Gill does magic things with sugar and flour. One of our favourite pastry chefs, she’s worked in some of the capital's finest kitchens. Now she creates incredible desserts at Llewelyn's in south London. 

See more cupboard companions in issue 41, the early spring issue of Oh Comely, available to buy now

Dolly Alderton on love

Dolly Alderton is the kind of woman we all wish we had in our lives for those nights when we need honest advice and a well-made martini. Her words are warm, witty and always relatable. A true triple threat, she's a writer, director and podcaster, as well as an expert on false eyelash application. We spent a cosy evening with Dolly chatting about growing up, relationships and her new book Everything I Know About Love... 

 Portrait of Dolly by Sophie Davidson&nbsp;

Portrait of Dolly by Sophie Davidson 

Everything I Know About Love is brilliant and deals with every aspect of love from friendships and family to the boyfriends of your twenties. What did writing about your real-life relationships reveal to you? "Writing a book affords you a great retrospective awareness of the patterns in your life. It’s definitely a movement and journey. I knew when I started writing that my friends were relationships that were incredibly important  to me but I hadn’t been aware that in my twenties they had been my great loves. It’s affirmed the strength and bond that we have for sure. Making myself vulnerable, writing a book is an act of total vulnerability. It was horrible to write certain bits of it. It felt like the next stage of becoming a women, before that it just felt like a lot of bravado and accommodating other people. There’s a world now in which who I am is okay, it’s great to be vulnerable."

Read our full interview with Dolly in issue 41, you can order a copy from our shop (postage is free). Dolly's book Everything I Know About Love is out now, too.