September story: 15 September 2004

   illustration  maggie chiang

 illustration maggie chiang

 words aimee-lee abraham


You were a child this morning. This morning is a world away.

You’re ten, and you’re in the cloakroom when it happens. Of course you’re in the cloakroom when it happens. I’m sorry to tell you that this kind of twisted inconvenience will become a hallmark. Better get used to it, kid.

Right now, though, you’re not used to it. Not one bit. That’s okay. How could you be? You’re ten, and you’re not even sure if you’ve crossed the line. No one else has crossed the line in your class, not that you know of.

All you have is an instinct, an inkling founded upon the sun-stained leaflets you’ve seen stacked up in the GP’s office, their pages full of clip-art girls, all of them clutching hot water bottles and chocolate bars. All you know is that you just felt a hot trickle, followed closely by cold shock. All you know is that you want your Mum. What now?

There’s excitement, dread, the kind of adrenaline you’ll experience only a handful of times since. It feels like a requited glance. It feels like the delicious unravelling that comes when you’re getting to truly know another person. It feels like jumping off a cliff. More of that later. Let’s deal with this one step at a time.

The walk home from school that day is no different to any other, not really. Except this time it’s less of a stroll, more of a casual run. There’s no time to stop for penny sweets.

As you half-jog, you try to be sympathetic about whatever melodrama unfolded at lunch, to fill all the right spaces with sighs, but every syllable that runs from Jennifer’s mouth is unintelligible, like she’s dribbling hot glue down her uniform. What does she know, anyway? She’s just a child. You were a child this morning. This morning is a world away.

Suddenly, you’re something else, something grey and in-between. A little woman. All you can hear is the rush of blood – to your head, and perhaps to the other place, too. You are melting, and so is Jennifer, and so is the pavement. Your soles are sinking like quicksand. Your limbs are dead weights. Your skirt is too tight; your collar is a Boa constrictor.

When you wave goodbye, you crumble and stumble up the garden path as fast as you can. You’ll see Jennifer tomorrow, if the sky can hold up until then, if you make it. Double maths and a spelling test, first thing. You’ll later call this pathetic fallacy. Right now you call it lame.

When you finally put the key in the door, you pretend not to hear your mother when she asks how your day has been, even though you want nothing more than to collapse into her, and plead for a bedtime story.

You retreat, run to the bathroom, lock the door. You see the stain, a suspicion confirmed in cloth. You recoil at the suddenness, at the sadness. This is a loss, as well as a gain.

No one told you about how complex this act would be, how loaded a bodily function could feel. It will represent so much over the years. You will bleed relief. You will bleed grief. You will panic when you bleed, and panic even harder when you don’t. Your ovaries will torment you, and cause you extreme pain. You’ll love them anyway, thank them for doing their job. It’s funny because nothing has changed yet, not really, but these four walls feel less solid, somehow. The ground: gelatinous. The relics of childhood are suddenly stark, inappropriate, out of context.

You thought you’d be happy about this transition, or at least less bothered. You’ve seen the moment play out countless times, in vanilla-scented advertisements where the women laugh over salad and cartwheel because they can. You’ve had 'The Talk'. You’ve read about it by torchlight, in Sugar and Mizz, in Danielle Steel novels stolen from your aunt’s shelf. You’re prepped, but that doesn’t mean you’re ready.

And so you steady yourself, lean against the cold plastic panelling of the tub your mother bathed you in, back when we were shiny and new. What use do you have for rubber ducks now, what use for the mermaid Barbie with her kaleidoscopic tail and Rapunzel hair, what use for the no-more-tears shampoo? They’re all designed for screaming children, not for you.

Tomorrow you’ll feign a different sickness, take three steps at once. When you borrow your mother’s razor without asking, you’ll seek out legs smooth as silk, and plan to go without tights. Instead, you’ll bleed even more. You’ll immediately take out a whole chunk of your ankle, and your skin will become effervescent, the wound fizzing like a soluble vitamin you’ll later drop into water when you’re hungover. It’ll scar, and you’ll look at it and laugh when you’re 23. It marks how far you've come. 

Aimee-lee Abraham is a London-based writer and editor who dreams of running back to the Welsh hills. Instagram @aimlee.abraham

Discover three more 'September stories' in issue 38 of Oh Comely, out now. 

Oh Comely loves... Erin M Riley's tapestry

  Erin M. Riley,  Self Portrait 1

 Erin M. Riley, Self Portrait 1


Tapestry: Here & Now on display now at The Holburne Museum, Bath until 1 October 2017.  This exhibition features innovative and contemporary approaches to tapestry.

"My practice is informed by imagery that is shared and transferred online, through text, email and temporary mediums. Flirtations and intimate dialogues are informed by candid moments of deep intimacy and trust via the shared image. I use my own body as a commitment to my work to stay vulnerable and open. Self Portrait 1 is from a series of imagery that was sent via text in the beginnings of a courtship, this series is woven differently than my typical works as it combines tapestry techniques and "skill" to delineate hierarchy of content," says Erin of her work.

You can view Erin's work as part of Tapestry: Here & Now, an ambitious survey of contemporary tapestry. It's on show at the Holburne Museum, Bath until 1 October 2017. 

Exhibited artists: Valerie Kirk, Barbara Heller, Aino Kajaniemi, Akayo Matsumura, Misao Watanabe, Yasuko Fujino, Ai Ito, Saori Sakai, Rolands Krutovs, Kristin Sæterdal, Tonje Høydahl Sørli, Caron Penney, Fiona Rutherford, Sara Brennan, Jilly Edwards, Fiona Hutchinson, Joan Baxter, Pat Taylor, Philip Sanderson and Erin M Riley. 



Mollie Clothier's 'Perplexity' Photography Project


We're delighted to share Mollie Clothier's 'Perplexity' photography project... Mollie is a fashion and fine art photographer whose work explores psychological matters. She's 22 and currently living in Dorset, having graduated from Falmouth University in July.

Describe what this photo series is about... "Perplexity proposes to tackle the apprehension that surrounds mental health, normalising its impulses to the viewer through the use of recognisable movements and objects. This physicality attempts to represent the intuitive gestures and sensory responses that occur as a result of an anxiety disorder." 

How was the idea for this project born? Was it down to personal experience? What do you hope others will gain from seeing these images? "My projects always seem to be focused around psychological themes surrounding mental health, interested by the way we not only perceive ourselves, but how we acknowledge each other. This project in particular has been based on my own experience with anxiety, due to the frustration that I so often felt when seeing very typical black and white moody images that are supposedly representing anxiety and depression. This isn't how I feel when experiencing a particularly bad patch of anxiety, so I was interested in averting this stigma into something that would catch people's attention and raise awareness about mental health at the same time." 



The images are so striking, did you pick the vibrant colours on purpose? Are the colour choices significant?  "Thank you! Yes, the choice of vibrant colours, with the fashion, props and borders were all chosen based on  information gained from art therapists and colour tests, combined with SS17 fashion at the time." 

Who is the model? How did you pick them? Did they gain something from the shoot too? "The model in this series was a close friend who has also suffered with anxiety. I made this decision as it meant that when trying to communicate such personal and sensory feelings, my intent could be achieved more accurately. Using somebody who understands these afflictions helped to create an honest and emotive portrayal without having to capture somebody curled up in a ball."  


What other projects do you have in the pipeline? "Having focused specifically on anxiety disorder here, I am interested in exploring other areas of mental health through the same fashion context, always interested in finding and listening to other people's stories." 


You can view Mollie's work on her website

Women Who Changed the World: Annette Kellerman

words: frances ambler

illustration: maria martini


Our cover girl for issue 38 is Annette Kellerman – the swimming star who challenged Victorian perceptions about women’s bodies by ditching pantaloons and skirts and daring to bare her flesh while swimming. It’s Annette who is responsible for the swimming costume as we know it today

Record-breaking swimmer, the highest paid women in vaudeville, a health and fitness pioneer, the first major actress to both appear nude and to wear a moveable mermaid costume on film – out of all of Annette Kellerman’s notable achievements, it was her own line of one piece costumes, the foundation of modern swimwear, of which she was most proud,for it helped liberate women, allowing them – for the first time – to really swim.

Born in Australia in 1887, Annette wore steel braces as a child and took swimming lessons to strengthen her weak legs. She took to the sport like the proverbial duck to water. To help her family's finances, she became a professional swimmer. As a record breaker, Annette travelled the world raising publicity, in London swimming in the polluted Thames; in Paris, racing men in the Seine. She was one of the first women to attempt to swim the Channel.

While for most of the western world, pantaloons, skirts, even corsets, were still the norm for women’s ‘bathing’, Annette wore a short legged, non-skirted costume to compete for Australia. Invited to perform for British royalty in 1905, she sewed a pair of black stockings onto her men's swimsuit, creating a full-length one-piece “figure suit”. “I can’t swim wearing more stuff than you hang on a clothesline,” she sniffed. Such an ensemble saw her being arrested on a beach in Massachusetts for indecency. From the subsequent publicity, she designed and sold her suits worldwide, one step towards liberating the female body.

Annette also challenged Victorian perceptions of women’s physicality. Her performances combined a kind of underwater ballet with high dives, her choreographed moves with her ‘Kellerman girls’ an early form of synchronised swimming. She starred in highly successful films too, appearing unashamedly nude in the 1916 film, A Daughter of the Gods.

“I insist that swimming is not only a splendid sport for women, but that it is the sport for women,” Annette said, benefits ranging from the physical to the psychological. “If more girls would swim and dance, instead of rushing into matrimony as the only joy in the world, there would be fewer divorces.” She encouraged women to throw aside their corsets and penned books on health and fitness. A lifelong vegetarian, she even opened her own health food shop.

Annette died in 1975, at 89, having swum well into her eighties. Her swimwear got a generation of women into the water for the first time, allowing them to experience what she described as this “clean, cool, beautiful, cheap thing we all from cats to kings can enjoy". 

Order a copy of issue 38 from our shop

Introducing our sparkly new editor Alice Snape

 Editor Alice Snape outside her London front door 

Editor Alice Snape outside her London front door 

Our latest issue is inspired by the idea of 'Passages', and it is also the issue in which we welcome our brand new editor, Alice Snape, to the team. 

Our photographer Liz Seabrook went to her south London home to have a chat and take some snaps, you can read more in issue 38. Here's a little snapshot about Alice's journey to her new home at Oh Comely.

What’s been your path to Oh Comely? "Growing up, I always had my head in a book – Judy Blume and Margaret Atwood had a profound influence on my life. As a teenager, my love for words turned into a passion for magazines. Over the years, I’ve written for lots of magazines and newspapers; until I launched my own tattoo magazine, Things & Ink, about five years ago, to provide a platform for female voices in a male dominated industry. Getting a tattoo is hugely empowering – you’re permanently altering your body – and I hate that tattooed females have historically been painted as sluts. Things & Ink, in its print form, came to a natural end a year ago, but it helped in changing how tattooed females are portrayed in the media. Things & Ink and Oh Comely have much in common, both seek to tell the stories of unknown people, stories that otherwise might be left untold..."

Find out more about Alice – including her most memorable journey and her favourite passage from literature – in the latest issue, available from our website.

#OhCoBookClub Eli Goldstone’s Strange Heart Beating


Did you know we have an #ohcobookclub? Each issue, we pick a novel and invite you to read along with us. Our current choice is Eli Goldstone's debut novel Strange Heart Beating. Why don't you read along with us?

Seb's beautiful, beloved wife Leda has been killed by a swan. With a name like that, with a bizarre family history like hers, it isn't really surprising. Seb has a grip on her story and its aesthetics; he knows how it should go. Except that he doesn't. Sorting through her belongings after her death, he comes across a packet of unopened letters from a man whom Leda has never mentioned. It is a loose detail in the thread of his narrative that, when pulled, unravels the whole story of his marriage. Who is this stranger who knew her so well? Why did she flee her home village in Latvia? What happened to her as a young woman in London? Who, Seb wonders, was his wife? Floundering professionally and sunk by grief, he decides to travel to Latvia to find her. He is met, instead, with the living ghosts of her past, all of whom knew a fragment of Leda - but none of whom are willing to share their secrets with him. A darkly funny and seductive novel that confronts the black undercurrent of possession inherent in love, and the impossibility of ever truly knowing even those dearest to us, Strange Heart Beating is a breathtaking debut from an author whose vision is both acerbic and tender.


Read an excerpt here.

In London, we’re also hosting a real-life bookclub, so pick up the novel, and come and chat to us about it on Wednesday 13th September. You can find all of the details here.

If you’re heading to the Good Life Festival, we’ll be hosting a mini-bookclub there too, and if you’re outside of London, email us if you’d like to set up your own #OhCoBookClub group.  As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the book, so don’t forget to tag @ohcomelymag and #OhCoBookClub on instagram, twitter, and facebook.

Falling cat problem

words: polly dickson

illustration: maggie chiang


A black cat traces the passage from balcony to ground. We hear her yowls before we see her. A cat, in German, is always she, die Katze. The word for a tomcat, Kater, is also the word for a hangover — a lexical coincidence, an accidental collision, but one that sticks. Her yowls throb. A cat falling from a height of greater than six stories is less likely to sustain serious injuries than a cat falling from a height of less than six stories. At the greater height, the cat, having righted herself by virtue of her lack of collarbone and flexible spine, reaches terminal velocity, after which she stops accelerating, spreads and relaxes her body. This means that there is an optimal height range from which a cat can fall and survive. A brief passage of time and air, bookended by balcony and ground.

The black cat in front of us lopes to a low window ledge, keeling, and curls herself onto it like a comma.

When I run, no matter what else I think about, I think, too, about the passing of time. Bookending the exertion with a start and finish — knowing how far or how long I have to go — can make the difference between finishing and turning back. Once, when running up a hill with C, feeling my legs giving out, he started counting down from ten and as he counted, in brief, half-conscious thoughts, I counted with him and felt the passage of time shorten, felt its horizon curve and dip to slowly let me over. I think of races, fasts, other travails of the mind and body made bearable by the knowledge of their limited duration, the knowledge of their ending. I think of books, too, the piquancy of the short story, the slow engulfment of the novel — narratives that make sense only when they’re over, and how any pleasure I feel in reading is tied together with my feeling that it will come, inevitably, to an end. I mark my way through books, leaving a path of folded corners, examining how many volumes, chapters, pages I have left. I note the bakery at one kilometre, smelling of butter, the bridge at the third, the water fountain at the sixth, then the turning point, then the fountain, the bridge, and the rich smell of butter again, on the home stretch.

A woman emerges flushed from the ground-floor apartment door and scoops a pile of black cat into her arms. Landing on her feet, of course, doesn’t mean she goes uninjured, and with her guttural yowls circling through my head, I can’t help but think she might be dying.

Something that never fails to astound me is the range of wild and lucid thoughts I can have when reading a paper aloud to an audience. Reading aloud, for a limited portion of time, things feel unendurable. My voice, unsteady, sounds like it could be someone else’s, my face flushes, my eyes barely register the blank faces in the audience as I dutifully read one word after another. But that’s the thing: one word inevitably folds into the next, and then into a stream of others, one paragraph into another paragraph as the writing propels itself forward into an inevitable conclusion. I’ll move on, in any case. Pick myself up. From passage to passage, thinking of falling cats and hangovers and running, I read, and wait for the ending, the conclusion, the final sentence, final clause, final words, and the unknown white space that comes afterward.


Polly Dickson is a writer and researcher based in Berlin. She tweets at @pollyletitia.

Falling cat problem was inspired by the theme of the latest issue – Passages. Order your copy here

Issue 38 playlist: Passages

illustration: ellie walker

words: marta bausells

It takes skill to accept the passage of time with grace. Perhaps it takes a lifetime. That invisible, abstract force we hear of but don’t fully grasp as kids. "Time” seems so elastic, huge and slow during childhood, but suddenly speeds up like a slingshot that’s suddenly let go, and it can and will catch you off guard.

The passage of time can mean ageing, or regret, wisdom or wonderment. It means Angel Olsen singing about memories, upon a love ending, wondering whether it was real at all or just a wildcard in waiting for something better. And it means the literal – but for that no less sublime – coming of age depicted in Boyhood, soundtracked so memorably by Family of the Year. The sitting inside, paralysed by your own thoughts, of Youth Lagoon. The existential Let the Mystery Be from the title credits for post-apocalyptic show The Leftovers (which we strongly recommend). The watching of someone's death, like in Death Cab’s classic I Will Follow You Into The Dark. Or, yet, asking a new city, or country, to be kind to us as we make changes and life shifts under our feet getting us ready for the new.

The playlist for issue 38 compiles artists talking about time passing in their own ways; and it is a good soundtrack, we hope, for time-passing on many a rosé-tinted summer evening.

Take your time over the playlist here.

Issue 38 of Oh Comely is on sale now! 

Sunday Reading: The Birthday

words: aimee keeble

photo: katie silvester

What an odd thing time is. Going through boxes in my parents’ garage in North Carolina the other day I found the pictures from our family holiday in Norfolk when I was 12. It’s my birthday and I am on a rise of dune, bent at the waist, grinning with eyes squinted shut, my dad’s mustard windbreaker draped over my small frame like a cloak. No trousers, no shoes. My face and body is thin with youth. My hair is patterned with thick, yellow tiger stripe highlights. There is a sign behind me alerting beachgoers to watch out for seals.

Nearly 20 years later and I am at the same beach for my 31st birthday, with friends who I’ve met in the three years I’ve spent living in Norwich. Two girls, three boys. I’m in love with one of them but he won’t know. It’s August and preciously hot for England. We pull at the tight stretch of our swimsuits, laughing when our bottom cheeks spring back from the fabric when we move, we blame chips and beer. We take photos of the boys doing handstands by the water. A group of seals pop their heads from the shallows, following us as we toss a ball back and forth. Further along the beach we come across the perfect dead body of a baby seal. Dappled and round it gently rolls with each push of the tide. The smell is shocking. That’s what they wanted! Not our ball. We debate pushing the body back into the water, to deliver it back to the sea, to the seal family. We are nervous and hot and someone suggests building sandcastles. Other people start to wander over to see what we are looking at.

Back by the towels, everyone tosses a ball except me. I lie on my back and nudge myself further into a gritty embrace of sand, scrunching it through my fingers and toes. And she didn’t know, the little me, that she would be here in the future, in love and lost, laughing at the skateboard and cheese she unwrapped earlier in her friend’s house before they all drove to the coast. If I had told her, she couldn’t have imagined it. She wouldn’t have wanted it. She wanted big hot pink lights of the West End and an urban walk and a voice hoarse from projecting Shakespeare on the banks of the Thames. Now all is quiet, country yellow and green and cobbled medieval grey. We’re drunk most nights, we hold each other’s hands a lot. And dance in kitchens, knocking over plastic chairs to get to each other’s waists. I roll cigarettes badly and shoot whiskey and worry about the length of my hair.

We go to a country pub after the beach and drank clear gold shandies that chase out the tang of salt and share bowls of chips and prawns. In the evening, back in the city, we dance at the top of a roof bar until 3am. The luminosity of strobe lights and voodoo blues songs turns us whirling as dervishes, as raging and as surefooted as mustangs. In the dark, outside in the cold that pricks my bare skin, I kiss him and laugh at him, slap his face gently and tell him never again and hold his chin and kiss him harder. The drunk bold of me; the soft tired exhaustion that booze can choke you slowly with show his eyes half blue, half there. Goodnight! We all say as we part to walk home in the electric black of pre-dawn. I support my friend, him stronger and smaller than me. We stumble over wet cobbles the size of watermelons, past graffiti loud tunnels and the slim greasy back roads to our house. Did you have a good birthday? I think of the strong taste of sea, always dark blue in my mouth, the slippery hard rush of sand against skin, my eyes closed to the wind that skitters off the North Sea. I’ll never forget it, is my reply, always. 

Aimée Keeble is currently completing her MLitt in Creative Writing from the University of Glasgow. Take a look at her website to read more of her work.

Win! Abel & Cole recipe boxes

We’ve teamed up with Abel & Cole to offer you the chance to win a delicious box of goodness delivered to your door every week for three months. Abel & Cole recipe boxes come with seasonal organic ingredients along with a handy step-by-step recipe card. Easy, seasonal and yummy.

Click here to enter

 Find the recipe for this delicious Pork Steaks with Plum Barbecue Sauce & Roast Spuds at

Find the recipe for this delicious Pork Steaks with Plum Barbecue Sauce & Roast Spuds at

Contribute your personal stories to issue 39

  illustration: Jisun Lee for issue 37

illustration: Jisun Lee for issue 37

We're looking for your contributions for issue 39, out in October.  

Writers, we have a challenge for you this issue. We're looking for original first person stories that take place within one room. 

We're intrigued by the possibilities and hope that you will be too. 

To be considered, email a 100-word outline of your idea to, along with two samples of your work by Friday 14 July. Please state 'Issue 39 contributions' in the subject header. 

Unfortunately we don't accept fiction or poetry samples. We do try and get back to everyone but we're a really small team so it might take us a while. 

We look forward to hearing your ideas! 

We're always interested in your personal writing. If you have a story that you'd like to share with us, regardless of theme, email us at the address above with your outline and samples. 

What life models think about

 Portrait: Liz Seabrook

Portrait: Liz Seabrook

Throughout art history, the figure of the model has been a consistent but anonymous presence – both a visual reference and an inspiration for the artist. For our latest issue, we photographed four women who work as life models in their favourite poses and spoke to them about their career, motivations and what they’re really thinking when they’re nude. This is Sophie Cleaver, 27, from Glasgow: 

"I walk into a room with strangers and take my clothes off, but I’m not body confident at all. People aren’t drawing me, they’re drawing some shapes. It’s performative, like dancing or acting. I’d slouch on a couch but when I’m posing, I sit up straight. There are thousands of images of me out there but I don’t see them as me.

My mum was a life model. When I turned 16 and needed to get a job, it seemed a good option. I’d grown up around it – when mum couldn’t get childcare, I’d sit in the corner with my crayons – so I wasn’t nervous. I joke that I’ve had 11 years of art classes – I find myself repeating bits back to people. I used to do it around lots of other things, but now I can’t. I have MS and it’s completely draining. Modelling is good for that – you can recline and have a rest! But I couldn’t do it every day.

One advantage is the thinking time. In other jobs, you wouldn’t get to sit and think for 45 minutes. When I was doing my A levels, I would do my coursework in my head while I was posing and write it all down when I got home – now it’s shopping lists or knitting.

If I’m posing for shorter periods of time, like a few seconds, I do things I couldn’t hold for longer, like going right onto the tips of my toes. I always try new poses. Even if it’s similar to one you’ve done 50 times, every pose is always slightly different.

Every situation is different too. When you’re modelling for A level students, there’s always one who’s nudging his mates. I’ll make eye contact with him for the entire class – it’s a sure-fire way of dealing with it. Quite often you’re in spaces that aren’t set up for modelling. There’s a lot of changing in toilets. I had this weird situation recently with a drone with a camera hovering outside the studio where I’d been posing. That was unique, but I sometimes swap notes with my mum – you know, like, “oh, I had one of those…”

Life modelling comes and goes with fashion. At the Glasgow School of Art, where I model, only 20 years ago they had about 18 full-time models with their own staff room. We’re all part-time now. But there are groups like All the Young Nudes in Scotland, putting on evenings set to music in clubs, making it cool again.

I’ve recently become much more proud of what I do. I’ve made it work as a viable job. I couldn’t support a house on it, but it’s enough for me, with the help of my boyfriend. I want to keep on doing it for as long as I can – to become Britain’s longest serving life model."

Pick up a copy of Oh Comely issue 37 to see our other three life models and to read about their experiences. 

Oh Comely loves... Cerith Wyn Evans

Cerith Wyn Evans: Forms in Space… by Light (in Time)

At Tate Britain, until 20 Aug 2017

Forms in Space…by Light (in Time) is the 2017 Tate Britain Commission in which a contemporary British artist is invited to respond to the Duveen Galleries, which sits in the heart of the building. The Duveen Galleries were the first public galleries in England, and designed specifically for the display of sculpture. 

Made from almost 2km of neon lighting, suspended from the ceiling and configured into straight lines, sweeping curves and spiralling forms, this installation by Cerith Wyn Evans is a spectacle best admired from beneath. A wonderful celebration of the space. We know where we're heading this weekend.

For more information, visit

Sponsored by Sotheby’s

Happy birthday One Good Thing!

 Selina Pearce

Selina Pearce

We're celebrating an anniversary today – a year of #onegoodthing. Every day, at 1pm, we tweet a small moment of pleasure – those fragments that bring joy, and can so easily be forgotten (you can read the full story behind #onegoodthing here). When the news appears relentlessly grim, there's some comfort to be found in celebrating the little splendid things in our lives – the way that sunblock smells exactly like summer, perhaps, or remembering that we've made a cup of tea, and finding that it's now at the perfect temperature.

One of the particular joys of this project is hearing other people's #onegoodthing. We were delighted to discover #onegoodthing had inspired an A-level project from one of our readers, Selina Pearce. Her beautiful work illustrates this piece and you can see more examples on her embroidery blog

Let us know your #onegoodthing, and don't forget to join us every day at 1pm on Twitter

Feminist late at National Army Museum

 Air Assault Brigade, Operation HERRICK, Helmand, by Sgt Rupert Frere, 2011, (c) Crown 

Air Assault Brigade, Operation HERRICK, Helmand, by Sgt Rupert Frere, 2011, (c) Crown 

This evening, 14 June, the National Army Museum, London, is holding a feminist-themed late. 

It's the first 'late' event held at the museum, which re-opened earlier this year following a three-year redevelopment

The late looks at the impact feminism has had in shaping women’s role within the army, with 2017 marking the centenary of women being able to enlist. This will also be the year when the first female soldiers finish their training and take up role in the infantry for the first time in the army’s history

Among the events will be a panel discussion with the writer Sarah Ditum, Sam Smethers (Chief Executive of The Fawcett Society), Lucy Noakes (senior lecturer at the University of Portsmouth & author) and the military historian Elisabeth Shipton. 

 West Indies Auxiliary Territorial Service, c.1943. (c) National Army Museum

West Indies Auxiliary Territorial Service, c.1943. (c) National Army Museum

There will also be a talk by the author Elizabeth Crawford, exploring the impact of the First World War on women winning the right to vote, as well as the chance to hear about the first-hand experiences from women in the army.

Find out more about the event at the National Army Museum site

 2nd Lt Hannah Bedford, aken by Cpl Mike Fletcher, 5 Apr 2006, (c) Crown

2nd Lt Hannah Bedford, aken by Cpl Mike Fletcher, 5 Apr 2006, (c) Crown



Issue 37 playlist: Touch

words: Marta Bausells

illustration: Jisun Lee


Quite a few of these tracks are songs of the effects of human touch on human skin – understandably a popular subject among songwriters – expressed in all styles and periods, from funk to electronic. From the brilliantly straightforward ode to self-love and pleasure in I Touch Myself to the invigorating Obedear, where Purity Ring sing of walking barefoot on mountains and the touch of the shale on the toes, we are in a sensual mood.

And, because it’s summer, we’re throwing in Tal Bachman’s “touch smell sight taste and sound” and songs of beaches and pools, though they aren’t always what they seem. It’s 2017 and even summer tunes have a bit of a dark side. Join us in celebrating touch – from that of a loved one, to that of the sky, the sun, or the water – as well as the absence of it (in Solange’s weary vindication) and the longing for it (we couldn’t help ourselves and we included Mariah). Have a great summer, full of all the right touches!

Take a listen to the playlist here

Oh Comely loves... Manchester International Festival

True Faith

 © Slater B. Bradley

© Slater B. Bradley

Curated by Matthew Higgs and Jon Savage

Johan Kugelberg Archivist


Bringing together work by some of the world’s most notable artists, True Faith explores the ongoing significance and legacy of New Order and Joy Division through the wealth of visual art their music has inspired.

Curated by Matthew Higgs and Jon Savage with archivist Johan KugelbergTrue Faith is centred on four decades’ worth of extraordinary contemporary works from artists such as Julian SchnabelJeremy DellerLiam GillickMark Leckey and Slater Bradley, all directly inspired by the two groups. 

Also featuring Peter Saville’s seminal cover designs, plus performance films, music videos and posters from the likes of John BaldessariBarbara KrugerLawrence WeinerJonathan DemmeRobert Longo and Kathryn BigelowTrue Faith provides a unique perspective on these two most iconic and influential Manchester bands.


Free exhibition - Manchester Art Gallery
Fri 30 June – Sun 16 July
Daily 10am–5pm, except Thur 10am–9pm
Exhibition continues after MIF17 until Sun 3 September   #truefaith



Image: Slater B. Bradley, Factory Icon, 2000/2017

Courtesy Slater Bradley Studio, Berlin and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo

© Slater B. Bradley

What We're Reading: Forever by Judy Blume

words: Terri-Jane Dow

When I was ten, my mother innocently bought me a copy of Judy Blume’s Forever. Voracious young reader that I was, I was working my way through Blume’s back catalogue, and it was one I didn’t have. In case you’ve never heard of it, Forever is Blume’s foray out of Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret and into what can only be described as soft erotica for the Young Adult market. I don’t think ten year olds were Judy’s target audience. It’s a coming-of-age novel about two 18 year olds, Katherine and Michael (and, let’s be honest, Michael’s penis, affectionately named “Ralph”, which might be the least sexy name ever).

With regard to the naughty parts, I obviously took it to school and read them aloud to wide-eyed girls in the playground. I’m certain that none of us had a clue what was actually going on, or why we just innately knew that we needed to keep it a secret. I then lent it to a friend who was already at secondary school, where it was confiscated after she sat at the back of the classroom and passed it around to all the other girls.  

As an adult — and as a woman who went to an all-girls’ school, and still finds teenage boys utterly terrifying — I have hilariously fond memories of that book. Re-reading it now, it’s far tamer than I remembered, and far cheesier, but I’m actually impressed at how little Blume shies away from. The issues the novel deals with – Katherine and Michael’s fumbling first sexual experiences, Katherine going on the Pill, their friend Artie’s depression and suicide attempt – are confronted head-on, evidenced by the fact that the book has seen varying levels of scrutiny from censorship advisors since its publication in 1975.

I’m still not sure if my mum knew what it was about, or if she was just super savvy in my sex education, and decided that Ralph was the least embarrassing way to go about it.


Terri-Jane is a publishing assistant and writer. She lives in London, where she alternates writing short stories and drinking gin. Follow her on Twitter


We explore more coming of age books in issue 36, Awake. Pick up your copy here

Contribute to our 'Passage' issue

 Photo: Liz Seabrook for  Oh Comely   issue 32 , showing the collection of Julia of  Choosing Keeping

Photo: Liz Seabrook for Oh Comely issue 32, showing the collection of Julia of Choosing Keeping

Issue 38 - out in August - will be themed 'Passage' and we're looking for your contributions. 

For this issue, we're especially interested in your first person tales of 'September stories' - although it’s a while since we’ve been in school yet September still seems to always mark major events and transitions in our lives.

Whether back to school, a new beginning, or another life-shifting event, we’d love to hear stories based on significant experiences in your life that just so happen to have taken place in September… 

To be considered, email a 100-word outline of your idea to, along with two samples of your work by Friday 26 May. Please state 'Issue 38 contributions' in the subject header. 

Unfortunately we don't accept fiction or poetry samples. We do try and get back to everyone but we're a really small team so it might take us a while. 

We look forward to hearing your ideas! 

Women who changed the world: Kathrine Switzer

 Illustration:  Will Jarvis

Illustration: Will Jarvis

“Running always made me feel powerful, free and fearless,” says Kathrine Switzer, a woman who has devoted her life to making other women feel the same. The first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon – a race that changed her life forever – defeated presumptions about the limits of female strength.

As anyone who has attempted it knows, the marathon tests will as much as endurance. For female runners in the 1960s, however, there was an additional challenge – it was generally believed they simply couldn’t run that far, that they would hurt themselves or become too ‘masculine’. So, when Kathrine entered the 1967 Boston Marathon (using her gender-neutral pen-name ‘K.W. Switzer’ on the form), she was breaking unwritten protocol, rather than anything in the official rules. Even her University coach had suggested that women were too ‘fragile’ to undertake that distance – she proved him wrong by running 31 miles in training.

However, rather than Kathrine finishing the Marathon, it was an infuriated official forcibly trying to remove her from the race that became the catalyst for change. With the intervention of her then boyfriend, Kathrine escaped and kept running. Captured on camera, the incident was circulated around the world, and later named one of Time-Life’s ‘100 Photos that Changed the World’. But the photograph alone didn’t change the world, it’s what Kathrine did next. Over her subsequent 24 miles, Kathrine realised she now had a mission. By the time she limped across the line at 4hrs 20, she had vowed to “become a better athlete” and to “create opportunities for other women in running”.

True to her vow, Kathrine created a circuit of women’s only races, spanning 27 countries and including over a million participants, debunking myths about running’s negative effect on women’s health. Thanks to her campaigning, the women’s marathon was finally introduced into the Olympics in 1984. To date, Kathrine has run 39 marathons – including, in 1972, the Boston Marathon, the first year women were officially admitted.

This year, 50 years after the event changed her life, Kathrine will be running it again, this time alongside women from her ‘261 Fearless’ project. Named after the bib number she wore that day, it promotes women’s running as a route to social change.

Today, that women can run alongside men, push our bodies, our will, feel the elation of crossing the finish line – but don’t have to fight simply to participate – is thanks, in part, to Kathrine. Little wonder that when she goes to the Boston marathon now, she describes how women approach her, crying: “They’re weeping for joy because running has changed their lives. They feel they can do anything”.


Further reading

Marathon Woman: Running the Race to Revolutionize Women’s Sports by Kathrine Switzer


We include a 'Woman who changed the world' in every issue of Oh Comely. Pick up your back issues here