Tuesday, 22 June 2010
There was a time when I didn't think this was a problem. A surplus of books? Jeepers, cry me a river, Oxbridge. I was a bibliophile and the people who scanned my many bookshelves, blinked and said 'Have you really read all of these?' just Didn't Get It. The point wasn't that I'd read them all but that I would eventually, once the perfect mood, the perfect infinitesimal requirements of readership fell into place. The point was that my library was there, always waiting for me.
Internet, this is bullshit. I work in the Book Industry. I can't tell you where because I'll get sacked (seriously, there was a whole meeting about it and everything) but the upshot is that over my nearly two years of employment, I have brought home hundreds of books to add to the hundreds of books I already owned.
I think a lot of people who love books live this way, this lovely aesthetic-based lie. The spines on the books we acculmulate tell the story of what we deem to be our best selves. It rarely mirrors our actual reading, which while voracious, is much more fly-by-night, spontaneous and pleasure-based. I've seen this a lot with people (like me) who come from non-reading families and are the first person in the entire family tree to go to university. We construct this insane collegiate persona where all reading is good reading and our fancy intellectual intentions count for as much as the act of reading itself.
Enough is enough. I am prepared to stop pretending I'm fucking Harold Bloom.
And you can punctuate that sentence any way you wish.
The problem is that Ebay isn't really the place for bibliophiles, or at least bibliophiles who want to make significant coin - I've blogged a little about the few books I've put up for sale and the truth is none of them, except for the signed Jackie Collins have sold. It's a little depressing. Added to this, I have stacks, mounds, mountains of proof copies that I can't (on aforementioned pain of job loss) sell on for profit. I have so many books that I liked the look of, or wanted desperately to be the kind of person that *would* read that kind of book, that I could construct a fairly decent and watertight fort.
I could take the proofs back to work - but I know they'd get instantly pulped and I know charity shops don't like to take them on account of your garden variety proof copy being a homely beast and non-too-sturdy, all of which makes them difficult to shift from a retail perspective. Tell me about it, Oxfam.
To that end, I have decided to offer them up to the teeny portion of the internet that reads this thing - Twitter too. I'm going to start small and offer a clean thirteen copies of various novels and non-fiction titles in proof copy form that I've either read, or frankly, am never going to read.
Here's a selection of what I'm offering, with links to Amazon for fuller plot synopses:
Midsummer Nights - Editor: Jeanette Winterson. Short stories based on opera plots from ace people like Jackie Kay, Andrew O'Hagan and Ali Smith - UNREAD. I love these authors but really? Opera plots? Really? The least interesting thing about opera? That's your book?
Generation A by Douglas Coupland - Limited edition numbered proof, as if that means anything close to jack - READ. Well curate's egg-y. Will review.
Love & Obstacles by Aleksandar Hemon. Novel from polyglot wunderkind of ilk that makes everyone sick with envy. UNREAD. BASTARD.
Newspeak in the 21st Century - Non Fiction. Essays on media culture. UNREAD. Because part of me stubbornly refuses to find the time to be informed.
Fordlandia - Non Fiction. Chosen primarily and shamefully for its exquisite cover, rendered super small on the front, which speaks of a beatific small-town tranquility that pushes all my David Lynch-y (and secretly unironic) cheese buttons. Have since acquired actual book and, of course, it remains UNREAD
Ablutions by Patrick Dewitt - Novel. UNREAD. Drunks. Despair. Lyricism. Cheap cheap paper.
Alien Hearts by Guy de Maupaussant - The kind of novel that I want to read in a park looking sexy, pseud-y and utterly unattainable but never will. I am also utterly attainable.
The Thoughtful Dresser by Linda Grant - READ and LOVED in parts. I obtained an actual published copy. This proof is battered like an old pro from surfing around in my handbag for weeks.
The Complete Cosmocomics by Italo Calvino. UNREAD. See also: 'Alien Hearts'. Calvino and I have never seen eye to eye, no matter how many rabbits he pulls.
Making An Elephant by Graham Swift. Essay. Mostly UNREAD. Books on the writer's craft are the procrastinator's porn. Still, Swift and I don't get on, so on it goes.
SO: if you want any of these books,you can and FOR FREE. All I ask is that if you're outside Norwich that you pay for postage so I don't go insanely broke.
Just e-mail me at rebecca_wigmore at the hotmail with the dot com. First come, first served. Points for reviews, witty conversation and general human interaction.
I await you,
Monday, 14 June 2010
I have become one of those people who isn't happy unless they have seventy eight projects on he go at all time. I think it's because I had of of those particularly instructive debilitating illness throughout my early to mid twenties where the most strenuous thing I cold do each day was snake my way down the stairs and fall into a pathetic pile on the sofa.
The fallout of this and the long recovery period that followed means that I want to DO EVERYTHING. Household mess reminds me of illness and must be irradicated, long leisurely downtime is tantamount to WASTING MY TIME. I wanted to be an artist who can support themselves - how was watching 6 hours of TV a day(as I had always done) going to do that? And lastly, and because, throughout my whole life, I've had a monstrous sweet tooth which was married to a drastically reduced amount of movement, I really got quite chubby - a good 20 pounds overweight. Once I became well enough to hold down a job and a boyfriend, my God, with the fire of a thousand suns, THE FLAB HAD TO GO.
Have you noticed the language creeping up to the apocalyptic? Yeah, it was getting to that level of intensity. I tried the classic, Qwick-Fix No-Carb diet, lost about a stone, came off it and immediately became enormous again. I also became the sugar-crazed diet bore that I had always despised. Good show, Wigmore. That's some primo mental health behaviour. I'm sure my boyfriend and friends enjoyed this delightful excursion into this most ubiquitous of sitcom lady cliches. I'm sure I was quite the delight.
Anyway, and boringly, I got quite a bit saner, lost 2 stone through slightly saner methods (diet and exercise underpinned by an intense pseudo-lesbian crush on Jillian Michaels) and I felt like the time had come to reward myself. I purchased these amazing Stella McCartney jeans for £6 on ebay. The seller was the victim of a classic mid-day listing which meant nobody could impulse snap them up and I got them for a song.
These were to be my fancy pants. The skinny jeans that announced my arrival as a slim, trim SUCCESS MACHINE. Plus, they had little metal tassels on the zips, like a classy stripper! Size 30 waist? Please. I could fit in that and with room to spare. Bring them to me, McCartney. I will shimmy in the manner of Beyonce.
This is why you always list hip measurements, blogosphere. They arrived in the post, I squealed with joy and ran downstairs to my basement bedroom to slip into them. You'll notice they're fully lined with cotton, in the pure white luxuriant thickness of a strait jacket:
This proved to be a startingly apt metaphor. The slopey white mounds of flesh poured from the jeans, as I leapt round the room like the hospital's latest inmate, clawing pulling at the zip that would go no further, screeching at housemate and boyfriend: waist 30! waist 30! They. Will. Do. Up.
Of course they wouldn't - hips don't lie. Shakira is entirely correct on this, those less so about that She-Wolf thing. The hips were 34" and in no way, in my wildest weight-loss/obsessive high achiever dreams, would I shrink to that size. After months of trying, I had failed, blogosphere.
Except not. Actually. That is mental high-achiever obsessive logic. And although I am still 44% mental, I think it's as well to reduce that shit down along with the personal possession thing. I'm not going to slim down to fit the trousers. I'm reselling them to some other person who's as in need of awesome stripper tassels as I was. I'm doing okay. I'm doing my art thing. I made a Jimmy Stewart robot in my image. I'm getting gigs. I'm getting there.
Wanna buy my fancy pants? Click here
Friday, 21 May 2010
Well, I've had a week of relatively low blogging/auctioneering achievement. In my after-day job I'm an artist and I'm preparing a performance show right now. It's got puppets, self-help, Jimmy Stewart, and it's a bloody nightmare.
Anyway, I've listed two things today because they continue our theme of dedications, memory and good ol' fashioned sexy motherlove. I doubt Adam Thirlwell and Jackie Collins have ever been paired off, but I think they make a cute couple. although I do suspect you could fit Adam Thirlwell within Jackie's mighty cleavage and maybe even have room for one of her small dogs:
That woman knows how to take an author photo, am I right? No Granta-esque passport shit for her: amp up the cleavage, sweep over the fringe and bung a pool in the background and you're done.
I won Ms Collins in a literary pub quiz at the Norwich Waterstones. It was a proud moment for all. I resisted my intital temptation to go for the film-tie Stieg Larsson apparel (absorbent!) and went straight for the gold. "Poor Little Bitch Girl" is also one of the best titles in the world - as a summation of tone and intent, you really can't touch it. The fact that Ms Collins has touched my own copy with her manicured hand is also a fruity little thrill. I love a signed copy, although I know from experience she was probably in a windowless Simon & Schuster back office pounding these out rather than poolside. (Though in my mental picture she has a daiquiri either scenario.) Sue me, I'm a sucker for a fine-tuned aesthetic and when your end papers are pink and branded to your intitals, you're going to get nothing less than my total respect, regardless of literary output.
Speaking of which, I'm also letting Adam Thirlwell's 'Politics' out into the internet ether. This one is inscribed too, but this time it's from my own beloved mother, who lives rather more on the Maeve Binchy side of romance. She likes Old Hollywood movies and happy endings. 'Politics' is a whole lotta lit porn - full of threesomes and archly explicit descriptions of who bunged what where.
My mother is a saint. I have a committee of Catholics and they're all in line on this.
You see, Ma's a conservative woman in a lot of ways but she always pushes her cultural boat out for me: she took me to see 'Eyes Wide Shut' and 'Fight Club' at the cinema when I was 17. She's sat through more pretentious plays and nipple-flecked cinema for me then I can even remember. She drove two hours and sat through one of my performance pieces involving hardcore nudity ON MOTHER'S DAY. To this day, I wonder at her.
When writing a book dedication or a card, she always writes the date in the bottom right corner. It's a little thing that I've always loved - mum naturally records, instinctively categorizes for posterity. I find her writing very soothing - I should do, it's a tamped down version of the Tooth Fairy's. And Santa too, for that matter. I asked for "Politics" because the author was super young when he wrote it and my "Young British Writer" curiosity/jealousy radar went off the charts. Part of me still wants to be literary Britney Spears, although I'm trying to calm that shit down, whack a little more substance over my style. That's why I'm selling Politics - it was a little too arch for me - it didn't move me nearly as much as my mum's silly two and a half line dedication.
Sunday, 16 May 2010
Welcome to all(!) the new readers. I heartily thank you choosing TMSIDN (that's my catchy acronym for the blog - try saying it, you'll spit like an ungodly camel). If you came from Fab Frocks, again, I salute your reading choices and thank you for your blog-based time.
Now, because I'm little else but a contrary bugger, the next wave of auctions to go up will be books, not fashion. I have a frightening amount of paper matter in my possession, not least because of my job in the publishing industry (not that I'm allowed to say any more then that on acount of their crazy big brother internet rules). Because of this job, I have an inordinate amount of proofs which I'm not allowed to sell, on pain of actual death. This death would be self-inflicted and excuted during a Loose Woman marathon because I would have lost my job and daytime TV would be my only recourse for human contact. If you get to a stage where Lynda Bellingham is all you've got, that's the point where oblivion is too good for you.
However, my personal and freely saleable book collection runs into the thousands. I want to talk about the psychology of compulsive book buying in another post but here's the thing, tiny readership and I'd really like your thoughts on this:
I have a lot of lovingly inscribed books which various friends and loved ones have given me. Is it ever okay to sell them on?
If the relationship with the person who gave you the book doesn't exist any more, does that give you right to profit from that book?
Or, to be succinct: there's letting go and there's being an arsehole. Column A? Column B?
Because of my appetite for micro narrative, I consider a second-hand book with a dedication to somebody else in it a huge boon. Throw in an enigmatic bookmark or old bus ticket and I'm in heaven. But there's the question of betrayal, as there is in the very existence of this blog. Is the physical manifestation of a memory more powerful than the telling of it? I have no idea, blogosphere. Zippo. Nada.
What do you think? Comments below...
Yours in much conflict,
Thursday, 13 May 2010
I had a weak moment. I blame early to mid-90s Vogue.
Let me explain. I have something of a fetish for magazines, especially the aforementioned V-word. I have a decade's worth of subscriber issues and plenty of back issues bought off the internet for, frankly extortionate prices. I have a particular love for the Vogues of the era where I started high school - everybody was unusually clean.
Don't ask me, it was a well-scrubbed era of fashion. There was minimal make-up, slicked back hair...all the models looked, how can I put this? Significantly less skagged out is probably the least elegant and most accurate way of describing the phenomenon. It was the era of toothy grins, elaborate fringes and a whole lotta pastels.
Blogosphere, I tried to get back there.
Blogosphere, I failed.
I 'd be lying if I said I didn't know what I was thinking. It was a Ghost blouse - sheer turquoise and dotted with exhuberant embroidered multicolour spots: blues! yellows! pinks! And can you see this woman's house? She has padded coathangers that tone even with her cast-off outfits- she's clearly got it together. There's something very comforting about all that blonde wood. I start visualising Agas and then I don't know where the day has gone.
Ghost is a great label: its top secret mysteriouso vicose-based fabric that's floaty, sheer, super expensive and can be bunged in the washing machine and come out ready to wear, no iron required. Utilitarian and see-through? Why, I was going to be a young Kate Moss for all the world to see.seaside-y and sheer, exemplifying the English eccentricity of a classic label.It was only £2.20 and gosh, didn't I deserve a treat after my ten successful sales? Didn't Ghost, a shadow of its former self, fashion credentials gone, now that it's a staple for disheartened bridesmaids across Surrey, didn't it deserve to live again in its glory years?
Buying things traps you where you are.
Buying things is lying on the floor in your own filth so you can get get a humorous picture for your blog.
It's going back on ebay, out into the ether, where it belongs. I am also selling the behemoth. that is my four foot high mountain of magazines. My sister asked me with wide eyes: "But who would want them, Beck?" Easy: fashion students, fashion nerds, it's a rich market. I just hope they don't mind the spider corpses. Because they're free.
I am going to die poor in a house made of back issues.
Monday, 10 May 2010
I love statistics. I love making up statistics. That old joke - 33.5% of all statistics are made up on the spot? That's just the kind of lolly-stick joke mentality I relate to. With that in mind:
Get me 100 women with a t-shirt fetish in a room and I guarantee 75 of them were chubby teenagers. That's science based on an opinion I just invented. Here's the dirty part: Part of me believes this.
Slogan and cartoon motif t-shirts, the curio across your chest, preferably predominately black and most definitely oversized, was my uniform until I was around 17. It makes perfect sense for the cerebral fat girl: don't look at me, don't look at my body, look at what I like. I had a panoply of allegiances: 'South Park' (season one, old skool, pre-libertarianism), vintage Ren & Stimpy, Beavis & Butthead...if it was a vaguely alternative 90s US cartoon then I guarantee you its principal cast camouflaged my breasts.
The idea, which barely surfaced from my unconscious most of the time, was to start conversations, to draw like-minded people to me, without doing any of the starter-socialising that is the terror of the painfully shy.
This need to be both invisible and constantly, intractably seen sort of mutated as I got older. I gradually broadened my outlook from TV nerd to fashion and film nerd. I embraced the Vogue, and my outfits got body conscious and, inevitably late-90s weird.
It was pretty much this down the college disco.
Rest assured, I was never the Isabella Rossellini figure.
That's why you'll see a lot of t-shirts being auctioned in the upcoming weeks. I have quite the prodigious collection, some of which are 100% cotton and 100% with me for the long haul - I have a decade-old Iron Giant grey marl tee that I sincerely hope to be buried in. But I have also been through a lot of changes recently - I've lost a lot of weight, become a bit bigger and braver and for the first time I'm beginning to actually become the person I wanted to be when I was at uni, and young and ill and scared. The wordplay of 'Fashion Of Terror, Terror Of Fashion' pretty much makes no sense to me now. In honesty, I'm surprised it ever did.
So the big Oprah sum-up for today is: I'm getting pretty good at speaking for myself - I'm ready to let my tits go silent for a while. Unless, y'know, I ever get the opportunity to be With Stupid or to the immediate left of Stupid.
I'm not made of stone.
Buy Becky's things
Thursday, 6 May 2010
I am a busy Wigmore this eve, what with doing my civic duty, packing my bags and binge eating raisins. Packing? Binge eating? If this doesn't telegraph that I'm going to see my faily this weekend that clearly I am not working hard enough on my signifiers. It's my beloved grandad's 80th birthday party and the whole family contingent coming variously from Norfolk, Suffolk, 10 minutes away and Philadelphia will be there. It will be odd and sort of delightful an sort of painful as it is the first time in a decade that everybody will be in the same room. The Wigmores are much like everyone else on this. Please see Tolstoy for details.
Tales of family strife and inadequate photoshopping lead me neatly and thematically into one of my auctions currently ongoing: the Marc Jacobs eccentric crisp white shirt. Here's the blurb from the listing:
White shirts are a bit of sartorial no-go for me. I'm a bit of a messy person - pretty certain that if I could be bothered to go and look in a mirror, I'd find my face smeared liberally with peanut butter. That's just who I am. So, it is with some sadness that I say goodbye to this fancy Marc Jacobs blouse, odd and delightful as it is.
The best way to describe this 100% cotton shirt is as office-cum-sportswear with mild Japanese influences. You've got your high neck collar and obi-style waist belt and then you've got all this trainer shoelace-style corsetry going on. Don't even get me started on the eyelet 'vents' in the armpit.
That said, with this eclectic detailing, this is also a shirt that will impress your boss and your mum. The cotton is very thin and very good quality. It is in used condition and will probably need to make friends with Mr Bleach to bring it back to optimum white-iness but at this price, who are to deny its severe and insane charms?
My relentlessly peppy upselling exhausts even me, small readership. The truth is, I've barely worn this shirt. It was exciting to own relatively inexpensive Marc Jacobs (the shirt was the victim of a poor photography/copy combo and I got it for a steal on ebay) but the white issue was a problem. So too is its history.
I don't know if you're familiar with the politics of the family photograph when the family in question is broken. Rest assured that if there has been any animosity, every printed image becomes pregnant, bloated with meaning and good ol' fashioned accusation. Do you see who we are? Do you see what you have left? My Marc Jacobs shirt, bleached by flash and cropping to appear much more respectable than it actually is, was the star of one such photo campaign, taken approximately five years ago this very month on the occasion of my father's birthday:
It is good quality. It's a delight. It's just not the skin for me. All I can see in these photos is how tired I look. It's odd but I think I look younger now - maybe I am ageing backwards. This weekend I will be wearing a Christopher Kane crocodile dress and seeing the best in everyone.
Skim my angst! Buy my stuff!
Tuesday, 4 May 2010
Well, as the spectacularly irritating saying goes, if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. Of course, what seems obvious now is what tickles the deity the most is whapping your ebay feedback rating with the first negative feedback you've ever had on the eve of your Inevitable Dominance Of New Media And Beyond.
It's rare, true enough, that the phrase 'oversized and dirty' leads to something positive but I confess I've not felt so mortified in quite some time. But there it was, verbatim and in my feedback column, the unambiguous thumbs down.
A small part of me feels wrathful and protective as a pageant mother: "Look at her -- she's beautiful!" It's best if you imagine this said in a intense whispered Kentuckian accent, tearful lacquered eyes, boring into you. I loved this dress, love it still, and the thought of someone unwrapping it and curling their lip makes me want to bury myself under a pile of wet coats.
Here's the original listing text, the starting price was £7.50:
This vintage hot pink Frank Usher wrap dress is ripe for all sorts of martini-quaffing and oil-baron slapping. I fondly imagine that the person who wears this is habitually pushed into swimming pools at glamorous parties whilst wearing jewels worth more than my house.
I bought this from ebay a few years ago. I don't doubt its authenticity though it has had a life before and there are a few faults, which I've tried to photograph: the pearls coming away slightly at the wrap tie and the slight orange staining at the base of the skirt. It's largely hidden by the folds and is fairly subtle but I've adjusted the price to reflect this.
Of course, the buyer probably has a point - the glory of Peptol Bismol pink has blinded me before. I geniunely tried to list its faults, but clearly I was looking at it with nostalgic eyes. This dress is Alexis Carrington to me, old school glamour shot through with Miss Havisham-esque ruin. It starred in my first and extraordinarily shitty art school film, the sole wardrobe of Miss Manners, a character in a fictional 1940s romantic comedy about the ghost of a Southern etiquette coach who helps the hapless Henry Fonda-esque hero get the girl.
The full horror and shakeycam is on youtube somewhere but criminy, I've suffered enough today and I refuse to link to it. All you need is this screenshot to know is that it was primarily about texture and purity. And I was twenty two. And also shut up.
I've sent the buyer a grovelling e-mail offering a full refund and to pay for her to post the item back to me. As well I might: A woman can't embark on a literary and aesthetic overall with soiled feedback. I believe Confucius said something very similar.
Also, and pathetically, I want my girl back. I feel like her southern honour has been impuned. I had no notion others would see her as bedraggled and unworthy of wear. Already and quite against the spirit of the project, I want my stuff back. It's about texture. And purity. And shame.
I heartily anticipate growing up tomorrow. Maybe we'll have one more night of cocktails. One More Night & Then Barnardos... that's a movie I'd watch.
If you are not heartily put off, buy my precious things.
Monday, 3 May 2010
"Only the individual taste, in the end, can truly create style or fashion, since it is not concerned with following in the wake of others. Hence whatever an individual taste may choose, be it a stepladder or a wicker basket, it must always be based on a deep personal choice, a spiritual need that truly assesses and gives value to that particular ladder or basket...It is on our selection, after all, that we betray our deepest selves, and the individualist can make us see the object of his choice with new eyes, with his eyes."
It's this kind of quote with its promise of superior selfhood through aesthetics and a love of beauty that has left me, at 26, living in a basement in Norwich, surrounded by in a crushing sinkhole of debt and for all my fancy degrees, little to show for my work except for a wide selection of really exceptional stepladders and wicker baskets.
No, really. You can have it. I want you to. For years I cherished my glorious clothes, my voluminous personal library (over 1,000 books and counting), my fantastic knick-knacks and personal doo-dads. There's a dedication in one of these books from one of my very good friends, Chris, who wrote the excellent Young Adult clone 'n' heartbreak novel Mark II, and it reads:
"Dear Becky, please do not sell this book on Ebay. Instead keep it with your precious things. Love, Chris."
Chris, you're safe. For now. Thing is, non-existent readership, is that the majority of my awesome stuff came from Ebay in the first place. I'm mildly obsessed with it and have been for over a decade. I rarely buy anymore as I can't afford to, but I realised recently that what I love about ebay in particular is the tiny narratives that are bundled into every auction: the language, the eccentricity, the chance to snoop around somebody's house from within the limits of their cameraphone.
Simply put, I am not addicted to stuff as I am addicted to the stories within the stuff.
This all works out very well as I am thousands of pounds in debt to HSBC and those people don't accept snappy autobiographical Sloane Crosley-esque copy as debt replacement.
Solution: sell the stuff, keep the narrative. This blog will be a repository of all the precious things I am letting go so that, by the time I'm 30 on 1st October 2013, I can be debt free with my life recorded and filed, and me filled to the brim with a zen-like readiness for the next big thing. Either that or writing wide-eyed articles in Grazia about how to execute home manicures whilst renegotiating your IVA and sobbing in your pyjamas.
Incidentally, and as side projects, I also plan to have won an Eric Gregory award, third prize in the Bridport and had Miranda July clasp my hands and meet my eye in a gesture of loving simpatico. If there's time, I'm also going to look into getting a pony.
"The more you have, the less you are." -- Karl Marx
"Beck, can I sit down? I think I wrenched my spine." -- my mother, moving my 10 year-old Vogue collection.
And so it begins: Buy My Precious Things