The thoughts of a life-long fan on Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life

The Stars Hollow we know and love is a place where nothing happens. Where Kirk breaks in and installs an alarm system, and nothing happens. Where half of a foreshortened table for the Festival of Living Pictures goes missing, and nothing happens. The plots revolve around two lives predominantly, four lives more broadly, and the living, breathing ins and outs of a small town, gently, and nothing happens. Birth happens, death happens – and yet, nothing happens. The Stars Hollow you grew up with, or were introduced to recently by way of Netflix, exists in an unshaken snow globe, where the seasons change but nothing in the way of global warming, or broken hips on slicks of ice, ever happens.

November came, and Amy Sherman-Palladino shook the snow globe.

She didn’t give Stars Hollow an alien invasion (with the exception of Kirk, who has been there so long that he has assimilated), or even a political upheaval. Instead, she did something pretty simple, and pretty unbearable: she removed the filter.

There is a harsh reality in coming back to the show some 9 years after it last aired. We, as viewers, have changed. You’re older, probably a bit uglier, maybe a bit ruder and nastier and more jaded. 2016 has poked you in the side and called you a moron, but more than that: you Google more. You know more. When you watched it the first time around, on television, with ads, you didn’t know their real names. You didn’t know that Luke used to be a professional baseball player, or that Alexis Bledel was a native Spanish speaker. You didn’t care.

You know everything now. That Melissa McCarthy didn’t want to come back. That Alexis Bledel had just had a baby. You know the backstories and you’re actively involved in popping the bubble. You jab more, you question more. You’re no rosy-cheeked kid: you’re an amateur investigative journalist, and a Daily Mail reader and an expert on Botox.

You’re different. But no one’s holding a camera up to you and asking that you look and act and feel exactly the same way you did nearly a decade ago (I was in my first year of university, drinking Smirnoff by the bottle and writing naïve essays on New Zealand judicial system, what were you doing?).

Luke looks older. He’s gone a bit grey and softened at the jaw. His chest has thickened and his brow has drawn down. He looks a bit like your least-favourite uncle, who drinks 5 beers on the trot and goes into the garage to chop things into smaller things just to get away from you and your cousins. You don’t sort-of-wonder what it would be like to have sex with him anymore. You wonder about his nipples, whether they’re drooping in that older-man way. The single bed above the diner isn’t cute. Why won’t he open a franchise? Is this really enough for him? It’s not enough for you.

Lorelai doesn’t look the same. She’s still beautiful, of course, but not in that disarming, charming, break-you-apart way that she had: in the denim shorts and the wrap-around dresses and the wholly impractical skinny-knit scarves. She frowns more. She looks like the you you see in the mirror, or the one you might see soon – tougher, braver and also colder. A little bit disappointed. A little bit disappointing.

And Rory? Well, that’s the thing about coming to fame as an apricot-faced teen: she still looks completely beautiful. She’s post-pregnancy, our Alexis, and that’s lent her a glow she might not otherwise have. It’s also given her breasts, but we can ignore those. Rory doesn’t have breasts. Rory has brains.

Or does she? It’s not just time doing the damage, or shaking the snow globe, if we want to keep going with the metaphor, which I do. There’s Amy, standing above, shaking her head. We, her viewers, these expectant millennials, are her greatest blessing and her ultimate burden. We made her a contender, but we weren’t enough – we didn’t convert to Bunheads and we stuck it out through that maligned seventh season, even if we didn’t like it much. We’re still asking, what about the campaign trail? Why didn’t Rory send stuff to Christiane Amanpour?

This is Amy’s snow globe. She has come back, and she is asking you to stick with her vision: a Stars Hollow in which the seventh series didn’t happen, in which we have to rewrite our memories, even the good ones. Luke never sewed together all those tents. That didn’t happen. Logan didn’t propose. The second heart attack has been re-written.

Ignore Amy for a little bit here. Here is what happened in my imaginary Gilmore Girls reboot, the one I put together from memory and hope and pure attachment: Rory is now a features editor for the New York Times. She lives in the city, she is still friends with Lucy and Olivia, she is celebrated and vaunted and successful. But she protests and pickets – she cares. She makes a difference. She gets trolled on the internet. She has been subject to death threats. She stands up for what she believes in. Her mother visits her on the weekends and they have heady expensive dinners, and go to the theatre. They don’t stand in lines. And she’s with Jess, of course, because feminism be damned: my favourite fictional romance will get its happy ending. She deserves it. I deserve it. They have lots of sex and eat Deliveroo in their underwear. And they’re happy. She’s the yo-pro dream; the Millenial ideal.

Lorelai and Luke are married and have babies. She has expanded the inn, then sold it, and is a consultant. She travels, sometimes with Suki, sometimes without. Her problems aren’t really problems, like expressing breast milk and a lowered libido, her problems are fake problems, like that Luke is still trying to serve her baked chips. She is happy. Luke is happy. I am happy.

The rest is less important, but still very much decided upon by me: Paris is gay, and a judge, and a surgeon. Lane has left Zac and is a good mother but also a successful person. She finished university. She achieved something. I don’t care what – she just got to experience something outside of the snow globe.

Emily? Amy got Emily right. I’ll keep that Emily, every bit of her. Emily is perfect. So is Kirk. And Petal.

It’s not just the plot-lines, which were not as I imagined, that I mourn: it’s the filter. It’s the glow. It’s the sense that nothing from the outside world can eke in and wreck it. Even the failures in the original series were rewritable: Rory lost out on an internship, but would still succeed. Luke and Lorelai split but could still have a glorious, impossible, infinite love-affair.

The reboot smacked me in the face with a 2016-branded realism.

Rory is a failed writer, and not only that, a crappy person. She whines, and cheats, and enables further cheating. She paws at the remnants of her mother’s privacy and independence to scrape together some vestige success. She relies heavily on old friendships, and the last bits of her wide-eyed beauty. She’s vain, and arrogant, and boring.

Lorelai is bored. “They want more, and this is all you are”, foretold Dean, and there it is: Lorelai is bored. But not only that, she’s also boring: abandoned by her bestie, trying to make a 2006 business succeed in 2016, holding back her friend, upsetting her partner, allowing her daughter to wander off-track.

Lane is a housewife. Zac is balding. Miss Kim is a caricature. Richard is dead.

I watched it (twice) with an open mind, and I get it: life is not filtered, personal journeys do not come with inbuilt blessings, no one is perfect, and it’s supposed to be soothing for me, in some way, to be shown that even Rory can fall, and fail. This is Amy turning around to her audience and saying: sorry, darlings, but this is where we’re at. You’ll never own a house. You’ll never know job security. Copper boom. You’re doing alright.

But that’s not why we watched it. I shouldn’t speak for you, but I’ll speak for me, and my sisters, and my friends now watching it for the first time, gripped by it, drawn in by the absolute deliciousness of nothing happening. No terror, no doubt, no fear – only banter and dogs and burgers and lazy crazy hazy days of summer. There are any number of shows about the perfect family in the perfect town that subvert that perfection, but few – so few – that let the perfection live on, uncorrupted, ever-perfect.

And now there’s one fewer.

I’m not mad about it, not really. The characters were true, and so were the storylines. I was delighted to have so many of the original cast back (though I missed you, TJ, Liz, Madeline, Louise, Lucy, Olivia, Richard), and I slipped back into it easily. The theme song, and the gazebo and the irritatingly empty coffee cups. The antique store, and the diner, and the inn. I liked the swearing. I liked the sex. I liked that Star’s Hollow had grown up, with me. We’re both a bit seedier, and older. I’m OK with that.

But I do miss the glow. I do miss the shine. I do miss the filter.

And I do think the reboot could have been done with a softer lens, a nod to the viewers who have had a hard few years, and perhaps didn’t need quite as many knocks. The stars could have been allowed to shine a little brighter, and the life lessons needn’t have been quite so hard. A bit less Trump, a bit more Obama. I wanted my Star’s Hollow a bit less empty.

A love letter to my black long-sleeved top(s)

It was first called to my attention in my first year of university, though I suspect the addiction started long before that. “You always wear that top,” the words of a man from Palmerston North, with bleached hair curling into his eyes, eating a pie sandwich. A pie sandwich, in case you were wondering, is a pie eaten between two pies, with tomato sauce for decoration. Not the kind of man, then, who one would expect to be making sartorial judgments, but this is university. A new world. He also liked to bet on grey hounds.

I did wear it a lot, this black striped long-sleeved top from Glassons, but not as much as he thought, because I owned three, identical and circulated. A bargain at two for $20 – which calls into question why I owned three, and I cannot answer – and the staples of my university wardrobe, partnered with jeans, and more jeans, and the one skirt I owned with screen-printings of Marilyn Monroe’s open mouth.

I’m not entirely sure what it is about the black long-sleeved top, except that it’s comfortable. It’s easy, and it suits me, covering the arms stippled with chicken skin and providing me with a comfortable camouflage for breasts that aren’t enormous, precisely, but big enough for me to notice when they draw focus from my hair, say, or my lipstick, or my sharp wit. Black suits my colouring, and it’s not a flattering thing so much as a familiarity thing. White makes me feel foreign and glaring, like stepping out into sun. Black is soft. Nicer, more interesting, people talk to me when I’m wearing black.

If pressed I could count them: the one from Zara that’s cropped with flared sleeves, and the other from Zara that’s a soft merino knit. The ASOS number with inside out sleeves and a V that gives things away. One from New Zealand, pilled with age, but with just the right neck, that balls to nothing in a bumbag or a front pocket. The body, with snaps at the crotch, that sits just right under a leather A-line skirt. The one with leather patches on the shoulder, another with leather sleeves. I like leather. The one emblazoned with Adele’s face (cheating, maybe, but it’s Adele, so we’ll allow it). The one I shrunk, but won’t throw out, in case it chooses to grow again, like one of those sponge dinosaurs in water.

There’s always a black top incorporated somewhere, under a romper or tied around a waist, stuffed in the bottom of a bag. And, of course, I can never find the one I want – the curse of owning at least 8 long-sleeved black tops, all of which serve a unique wardrobe purpose. My mother doesn’t understand. I don’t expect you to either.

It doesn’t stop with tops. It never does. I own at least 7 black dresses, and as many black skirts. Black singlets are mine in abundance – I think I have numerous pairs of black tights, but it’s summer and I can’t tell anymore, they’ve made love to each other and exist now in a Maniac Magee snarl. There’s no saving them, at least until October.

As I sit here in my long-sleeved black top, I wonder what will happen when I am a grown up, which is what will have happened when I don’t sleep in a garage or buy hard-boiled eggs because I don’t know how long to boil them for. Will my love affair with the black top end, brought to an abrupt cessation by a new capacity to buy blue silks and green chiffon? When I am an adult I will know what chiffon is, and how to say it. Like chignon. I will know about them too. And the UN.

The part of me that is already a grown-up (she sounds and looks like my mother; she spends a lot of time immersed in warm water with her toes controlling the taps) know that this is what will happen: I will buy just as many long sleeved black tops, but they will be softer, and lovelier, and blacker and the addiction will grow worse. In this ever-growing house of dreams, there is an entire wardrobe filled only with long-sleeved black tops, each catering to a different black top need.

And in this universe I will be equipped with the ability to put things on hangers, rather than shoving them by the fistful into drawers, so that when I need them, I can find them. The tights snake-nest, though, will still be there, growing and writhing and twisting, each day getting larger, incorporating more. You can only conquer the stocking nest by ripping it into separate pieces and setting each on fire, and who’d do that when each pair was a fiver?

In the writing of this piece, I have remembered why I only had three black long-sleeved tops at university, when four would have been the sensible number: I decided, on one shopping occasion, to branch out, and get the same style top in a different colour.

Coral. Fucking coral. Grown up Scarlett would never make that mistake.

73 questions I hope the Gilmore Girls reboot answers

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  1. IS THERE A MR KIM?

 

  1. When did Jackson stop being Town Selectman, and Taylor start again?

 

  1. Did Jason have to move in with the Enron boys?

 

  1. Did Luke and Lorelai have babies?

 

  1. Who owns the Twickem house?

 

  1. What did Kirk do with all his money?

 

  1. Did Madeline and Louise ever leave Spring Break?

 

  1. Did Barack ever find out about Rory’s criminal record?

 

  1. Did he…. notice that she doesn’t “have it”?

 

  1. Did her criminal record get expunged?

 

  1. Does she work for Hilary now?

 

  1. Are Steve and Qwan hot now? (sorry)

 

  1. Did Brian ever get with the Replacement Laine?

 

  1. Did Hep Alien ever make it?

 

  1. Has Laine realised she’s better than Zac?

 

  1. Does Miss Patty have another husband (apart from The Business We Call Show)?

 

  1. Is Dean still surly and hot?

 

  1. Did Lindsay remarry?

 

  1. Did Michelle get a new Chow puppy?

 

  1. Did Rory ever send her stuff to Christian Amanpour?

 

  1. Arguably the worst guest star Gilmore Girls ever had.

 

  1. Come on, you know it’s true.

 

  1. Did Jackson get a vasectomy?

 

  1. Did anything else catch on fire?

 

  1. Did anyone ever fix the bells?

 

  1. What is Al’s Pancake World serving now?

 

  1. Has he finally run out of napkins?

 

  1. Has Lorelai killed Paul Anka yet?

 

  1. How is Emily doing without Richard?

 

  1. Pauses to cry

 

  1. Pauses more

 

  1. Carries on

 

  1. Did she get a dog?

 

  1. Has she managed to keep a maid yet?

 

  1. Is she angry at him for dying, given that she demanded to go first?

 

  1. Cries more

 

  1. How is Penolin Lott?

 

  1. How on earth do you spell Penalyn Lot?

 

  1. Where are Tool living now?

 

  1. Did Roy ever go to Fez?

 

  1. Did she maybe go to Fez right after Richard’s funeral?

 

  1. Cries again

 

  1. What’s April up to these days?

 

  1. Is she studying science at Harvard?

 

  1. Does she still wear that helmet all the time?

 

  1. How many rock polishers does she currently own?

 

  1. Are we ever going to get to see her mother and Jess’ Dad’s partner in the same room?

 

  1. NO BECAUSE THEY’RE PLAYED BY THE SAME PERSON.

 

  1. What is Jess up to?

 

  1. Is he a famous author now?

 

  1. How many surly babies has he accidentally fathered?

 

  1. Did Anna Fairchild ever make it to Yale, or did she drop out and become an erotic dancer?

 

  1. Does Logan have an avocado tree?

 

  1. Does he work for Rupert Murdoch?

 

  1. Did he marry the girl with the gorilla mask?

 

  1. Or maybe Finn? #GAY

 

  1. I would marry Finn. #Australian

 

  1. Finn is probably dead.

 

  1. RIP Finn.

 

  1. Marty?

 

  1. How is Marty?

 

  1. Is he still a fucking miserable wet rag with good Snap-Crackle-Pop hair?

 

  1. LUCY AND OLIVIA?

 

  1. Maybe they could do a crossover where Olivia has scored a starring role in a Marvel Netflix spin off?

 

  1. Yes?

 

  1. Is Olivia still making things out of trash?

 

  1. Yes?

 

  1. Are Paris and Doyle still together or did she accidentally-on-purpose kill him during a Krav Magar training session?

 

  1. Has Gill cut his hair?

 

  1. How did Luke give everyone back all of their tents and raincoats after he sewed them all together? Did he unpick them all? What about the holes? Were they mad?

 

  1. Did Emily sneak out to the Dragonfly Inn and install a tennis court covered over with a bubble while Lorelai was sleeping?

 

  1. WHY ARE YOU ONLY MAKING FOUR EPISODES?

 

  1. WHAT WILL WE DO WHEN THEY’RE OVER?

 

 

 

 

Small, medium or large: why high street retailers continue to confuse us

When we go to a store and pick clothes from the rack, we know that the numbers on the label shouldn’t matter. What they should do, however, is guide us as to which garment to choose, in order to find the item that will fit us best. 10, 12, 14, whatever – we all think we know our number, or near enough. And yet, being forced to exit the changing room half dressed and grumpy when the zip won’t close on the medium you chose is a feeling we’ve all experienced far too often. All the time, actually.

It’s not just the inconvenience, of course – it’s the sudden doubt that you might not know your own body as well as you thought. Or that it might have changed, despite the fact that the person looking back from the mirror is the same as yesterday, and the day before.

“I’m in between sizes right now”. But are you – or does the fault lie with that leather skirt, those ripped jeans, the shirt that won’t even button down the front?

Inconsistency in sizing is a problem that women face regularly, and never more so than in this era of online shopping, where we’re often forced to resort to buying two identical items in order to be sure that one might fit. And one man hailing from Pennsylvania, US, took public umbrage against this very fact recently, taking to Facebook to air his anger over the classification of his girlfriend’s clothes.

Upon discovering that many of the items in her wardrobe were sized extra large, Benjamin Ashton Cooper donned them himself, illustrating with his slim build and deeply unimpressed face how very unreasonable he found the sizing.

“So I’m helping my girlfriend clean out her closet… and I noticed that a lot of what she was getting rid of was of the XL size,” he wrote.

“That didn’t look right to me, and here’s why: They fit me. I don’t say that to be silly or ironic. It p****s me off.

“I am not an extra large man, and, more importantly, a woman my size is not an extra large woman.”

He then went on to blame the misrepresentative sizing for the proliferation of eating disorders among women, as well as pointing the finger at our glorification of thinness as the reason why “even nominally curvy women” get verbally abused on the street.

Whether his anger stems from the classification of his or his girlfriend’s body, at least one point is salient, and one that every woman knows well – how are we supposed to dress ourselves when retailers’ conceptions of our bodies are so very different from our own – and vary so much?

White knight Ben might be US-based but sizing discrepancies are an issue we also face in the UK – and there’s no shortage of people complaining about it.

In a survey run by Which UK in 2010, 91% of women surveyed stated that they took different sizes into the changing room when shopping, due to a lack of certainty about their size. We’ve simply come to accept inaccuracy. So where do the sizings for most clothing on the high street actually come from?

Surprisingly, they’re largely sourced from one company – SizeUK, which runs a National Sizing Survey annually in order to analyse the core shape of the average UK shopper. According to Andrew Crawford, Director of SizeUK, this “enables retailers to understand the distribution and overall size and shape profile of their target customers, to improve the sizing and fit of their garments and maximise the percentage of their target customers that can fit their clothes.”

Despite having this information, the sizings used for hip, waist and bust by a range of high street retailers can vary by as much as 4 centimetres, as a quick analysis of their sizing charts illustrates. This is often explained away by “vanity sizing”, which sees brands inflating the measurements for standard sizes in order to flatter women into a purchase.

If this was the only problem then we suppose you could learn your measurements, and the correlating sizes across your favourite stores (a drag, sure, but not impossible) – but it’s not just the charts. Quick and inexpensive manufacturing processes frequently mean that the same size in the same shop might have completely different measurements.

There’s no shortage of recent research on the subject, either – market research firm Mintel ran a study in 2015 which found that one in three women are now resorting to having their clothes altered in order to find garments that properly fit.

All of this was so frustrating to one computer programmer (and frequent shopper) Anna Powell-Smith, that in 2012 she was moved to create a simple website, What Size Am I, which uses a graph to compare the measurements for all sizes across a range of high street brands in both the US and the UK. It’s useful, certainly, if you’re shopping online, know your measurements and need a quick answer – but it would be completely unnecessary if sizings were standardised.

The upshot of all of this? That Benjamin from Pennsylvania, standing pensively in his girlfriend’s bedroom clad in a purple lace top, might well have a point. His partner might not be a size extra large. She might be a small, or a medium, or something else altogether, while never changing in her measurements at all.

But for the time being she, as well as the rest of us, is going to have to continue the practice of trying on multiple garments in order to find her Cinderella slipper (or blouse, or jacket). Because although millions of women around the world are shouting their displeasure at a system that is frankly nonsensical, as long as we also continue to shop in the very outlets that are causing our angst, little is likely to change.

 

10 possible replies to men who comment on your makeup

The fact of makeup is that it’s on your face, and the fact of your face is that it’s usually the first thing the world sees, unless the world is looking at your breasts or your sweet new kicks. 

Makeup

The world, deluded and strange as it is, will often see fit to comment on what you choose to daub on your gob, and in that case the world will most often come in the form of a man, a confused man, a man who has never been subjected to the delights of Ruby Woo, and probably doesn’t deserve it.

You can keep your head down. You can walk on by. Or you can reply.

10. “You look so different without makeup!”

“My foundation costs £40! My mascara cost £21! I spend more money on makeup than I do on food! I would probably have enough money for a deposit on a house if I didn’t keep buying bloody NAKED palettes! If I looked the same I’d be gutted!”

9. “You’re probably single because men like natural girls”. 

“I’m single because I like men who are non-judgmental and interesting and funny and YOU SIR are none of these things and are also MAYBE an actual alien if you think I’m single for any other reason than those I’ve chosen, like wanting to draw on my eyebrows and watch Netflix for 48 hours straight instead of pandering to the whims of an IDIOT, GOOD DAY SIR.”

OR

*Stand really still and pretend to be a tree*

8. “I prefer less makeup”.

“So, wear less makeup. WTF does that have to do with me?”

7. “You know, I’d probably date you if you weren’t so high maintenance…” 

“I would probably date you, if you didn’t look like Donald Trump mated with a rat and ran his subsequent offspring through a blender, then stuck it back together with Prit Stick. Here, try some concealer. You might be surprised. You might. It’s makeup, it’s not f*cking magic”.

6. “Woah! Baby! Why all the makeup?!”

Lean in, whisper “Because of the voices”, lick his face, run away.

5. “Why do you always wear so much makeup?” 

“Because without it, I’ll die. Literally die. Men will stop noticing me on the street and trying to give me their number in bars, and when that happens, my sense of self will completely disappear, washed down the drain with my lipstick, and my mother will disown me for failing to win a man and society will offer me a cat and turn its back, and that is when I will waste away, reading Daily Mail articles and weeping, and eventually be eaten by that same cat. That is why.”

4. “When women wear makeup, they’re just lying to men”. 

“The whole world is a lie, David. Jet fuel can’t melt steel beams”.

3. “That’s a lot of face paint!”

“I’m a professional clown. If I don’t wear this much makeup, I’ll get fired from my job and cease contributing to the economy and then I’ll have to leave London because I won’t be able to afford rent and actually I can’t afford my rent as it IS, clowns are not very highly paid, DO YOU WANT A BALLON ANIMAL IT IS TEN POUNDS BUT YOU WILL LOVE IT LIKE A CHILD, STAND STILL WHILE I BLOW THIS UP WHERE ARE YOU GOING”.

2. “You’d be so much prettier without all of that on your face…”

*grab his shirt and slowly clean face, revealing engorged aspect of demonic creature, ready to feast on male flesh* “Thank you!”

  1. “Girls just wear makeup to impress men”. 

“F*** off”.

NB: The final response is adequate for all above questions. Alternatively, just fling a tampon and run away. That shit is like a GRENADE. 

The perfumes that remind me of people I’ve known

Your nose is physically very close to your brain, so it makes sense that your olfactory sense is closely linked to memory. That’s how I see it, anyway. Science. 

For me, the perfumes I’ve worn on my own skin have been interchangeable. I started out with Gucci Envy and now wear Black Opium; I have an attraction to rich and heady scents. But for me, perfumes have always been a dalliance and an enticement, rather than a commitment. I like to change and experiment, and while I envy those with signature scents, that’s not what works for me.

That said, in my life, there have been many people who wore very specific scents, to the exclusion of all else; people so close to me that when I walk by someone wearing the same, I’m transported back, and moved, and upset. How dare they?

My Choir Master – Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds

She was a large lady and a looming presence, a genius with a touch of the sadist, and her moods and choices dictated much of what I did for my five years of high school. She herself loathed false and sickly scents (she once threw a 14-year-old out of choir for putting on strawberry lipbalm) but moved everywhere in an almost-tangible cloud of White Diamonds. Years later, I worked in a kitchen where one of the dish-hands wore the same, and whenever I smelled it I stood up a bit straighter, arched my palette, felt a flutter of nerves. She was near, but not near.

My First Boyfriend – CK One 

There’s nothing quite like that first one, and even now when I smell CK One on a man, a tall man, a man with dark hair and white shirt, there is something that moves in my gut and sends heat racing forth. I was sixteen, seventeen, hormonally-savage, watching him from outside windows, and taking extra shifts in the restaurant to be a bit nearer, be a bit closer, convince him that the three-year age gap didn’t matter.

He brought his cologne to work and left it in the changing room, and when I saw it on the shelf, I sprayed it into my handbag, so I could smell him between shifts. OK, I was a giant creep. We dated for 11 months, and I broke up with him over the phone.

My University Friend – Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb

It’s a gut-punch of a perfume, one with the kind of sillage that stays in the room long after the wearer had left, and as someone who had never worn expensive perfume, I just thought it was her, something she did, her own warmth. Law school ties you together with long nights and long essays and doubt, and my law school, all wood and carpet and books, is laced together with that feverish floral waft. It’s a popular scent, it’s everywhere, and so I’m looking for her, almost everyday: on the tube, in the elevator, at a party.

My Mother – Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche

She’s worn it forever, as far as I know, constantly topped up by visitors passing through Duty Free from London to New Zealand, often accompanied with a nearly matched blue bottle of Bombay Sapphire. It’s a mellow, sweet scent, correctly named, and it is the smell of her neck in bed in the morning and her arms at night and everything she’s ever touched. Her wardrobe is full of it, lingering on collars and cuffs. This is one scent that I never smell anywhere else, maybe because it’s so entwined, in my mind, with her own body chemistry. Perfumes smell different on everyone, but it is only with Rive Gauche that I truly know this to be true.

I bought it for her myself this Christmas, for the first time ever, making my pilgrimage from London to New Zealand with the blue can that’s stood in her bathroom forever. I’ll go back again next year with the same.

A life in lipstick: From Snob to Black Cherry and beyond…

What was your first lipstick?

Not one you got in a babydoll palette for your seventh birthday; not one you snatched from a dressing table and smeared across your mouth; not even one applied to you before a ballet recital, too red, too sticky, too adult, still.

If you’re a lipstick lover then you’re bound to remember, because it’s caught up in so much more than purchase and progression: it’s growing up, it’s experimenting. It’s taking your look into your own hands, and it’s also trying something for you.

MAC Snob

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My first lipstick was Snob, because I loved the look that a chalky pout gave: coupled with bleached hair and black brows and eyeliner so thick it crowded out your eyes. Nevermind that I was a brunette with sparse brown brows and an investment in people not looking.

The first time I wore Snob I was walking up the stairs at lawschool. A girl I knew from years back stopped me, pointed at my mouth and loudly said “SNOB”. I thought she was insulting me. But she knew. Lipstick sisterhood, colour memory: it’s a real thing.

Revlon Fire And Ice

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I didn’t get bored of pink, exactly, but it didn’t show up in my smeary drunk snaps the way I wished it would, and so I looked for something a little more dazzling. Still a student, I couldn’t afford the MAC spectrum, and so I went hunting at the pharmacy.

I stole the idea of Fire And Ice from the Lovely Bones: it’s the lipstick that the rebellious grandmother puts on the granddaughter left behind before she goes to her sister’s funeral. I liked that it was in literary. I also liked that it was cheap. I still have that exact same tube (probably unsanitary). Lipstick goes a long way.

MAC Ruby Woo

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My end-of-year ball was masked, so my eye makeup couldn’t be the focus it usually was. I wanted a red that would glow beneath the gorgeous gold mask the girl I worked with at the coffee shop made me. My friend recommended Ruby Woo. “It works on everyone”.

I wasn’t sure that it worked on me, staring into the bright lights at the MAC counter, all chubby cheeks and cheap jacket. I bought it, though. Learned to love it. It’s still my favourite, and it’s still the one I trust to stay put through everything.

Revlon Black Cherry

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I was too old for a rebellious phase but I had one anyway, drawn out of me by men who told me I “didn’t need so much makeup”.

F*ck you, I thought, as I selected the darkest, vampiest shade and bought it without even trying it on. Men don’t approach me when I wear this shade, still. I wear it all the time.

LA Splash in Sirius

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This isn’t a lipstick you mess around with. A thick gloopy dark blue, gifted to me by a best friend who loves Harry Potter the same way I do. I’ve worn it out of the house once.

It gets on my teeth. I love it. I just wish I were braver.

Clinique in Sweet Pop

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It’s not a colour I would ever have chosen, but it was an expensive brand and it came free in a goody bag at a party where I was surrounded by the kind of people I wanted to be, so I wore it anyway.

Melon is not my colour. It makes me look very pink and pale and mottled. I gave it away, not that long ago, barely worn, at my little sister’s 22nd birthday party. All her friends are beautiful.

Limecrime in Cashmere

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This lipstick makes me look like I was murdered by my boyfriend and pushed off a pier, and floated up on the banks of the Thames two days later. Don’t be fooled by the pinky filter: it’s a grey-beige, a dead colour. It makes me feel like I might disappear.

There have been other lipsticks, obviously – a thousand MAC ones, a million Rimmel, others that have jumped out and stuck through colour or name or model or scent.

But that’s my timeline in lipstick. May it grow ever longer. What’s yours?

The five most embarrassing moments of my life so far: a memoir

At 28 years old, I’m well aware that this list is far from complete.

I’ve yet to defecate in public, for example, which I predict coinciding happily with my 79th birthday. But in the interests of posterity and public humiliation, both of which are the primary goals of both the millennial, and of the internet, here are the six most embarrassing things to have ever happened to me heretofore.

 When I stole pick ‘n mix sweets, and got caught

The Five Most Embarrassing Moments of My Life: A memoir

The supermarkets of New Zealand are blessed with sections wherein you can find all the variations of candy available in the universe. Most of these varietals cost the same per 100 grams. However, not all candy is created equal, and I was partial to dark chocolate covered strawberries, which cost nearly thrice as much as the other candy. Canny to the last, I filled a bag with cheap sweets, secreting 6 of the strawberries within the mass of colours. Surely, I thought, they won’t notice.

They noticed, and I was escorted back to the bin, where the checkout lady, burning holes in my jumper with her scorn, fished out every last strawberry and put them back in the appropriate bin, before leading me back to the counter and allowing me to leave, watched, and scarred forever.

Oh, and I was 21.

When the lady made me trim my own pubes before she would wax me

The Five Most Embarrassing Moments of My Life: A memoir

IT HAD BEEN A WHILE, OK? But when I lay down on the crackling table, she took one look and reared back, muttering in a thick accent “Wax won’t work”. Yes, really.

And then she handed me a pair of scissors and encouraged me to crouch over a bin, in order to cut away enough of the surplus that she might be able to get on with her job, while soothing whale noises played in the background.

When an 80 year old screamed at me in a Japanese supermarket

The Five Most Embarrassing Moments of My Life: A memoir

I was only 22 years old when I moved to Japan, naïve, nervous as shit and decidedly uno-lingual. My first foray into a Japanese supermarket was daunting, so I did what I believe most people in the same circumstances would do: I only bought what I recognized, which led to me exiting the supermarket with fried chicken, beer and Frosties. Yes, I did put on quite a lot of weight while I lived in Japan, thank you for asking.

I got through the check-out OK (why does everything happen in supermarkets?) but when I tried to exit, a lady the approximate height of my hip blocked my path, talking fast. I shook my head, and said “I don’t understand” in Japanese, but that didn’t deter her. Instead, she thrust her hand in my shopping bag and removed my Frosties, and commenced to yell up into my face, gesticulating wildly at the tiger on the front.

To this day, I have no idea what she was saying. I do know that I tried to run away, and that she chased me, and threw the cereal box at me. I also never bought Frosties again.

When I thought a woman was pregnant and she wasn’t

The Five Most Embarrassing Moments of My Life: A memoir

I was a waitress, and had been informed that of a table of 5 women, all gathered together for high tea, one was pregnant, and wanted to know which of the foods contained egg. I approached the table and, with my normal enthusiasm (shameless tip hunter) addressed one woman whom, without being informed, I’d picked out as the pregnant one.

IT WASN’T MY FAULT.

She was wearing one of those absurd tops that elasticate under the breasts and balloon out and she looked a good five months along. 40 seconds into my spiel, a slender and red-faced blonde interrupted me from the other side of the table, saying that she was 6 weeks pregnant and did I think she could eat cream cheese. I finished my conversation with her, slunk away, convinced someone else to take my table and spent the rest of their time in the restaurant pretending that their table didn’t exist, babies didn’t exist and empire waists didn’t exist.

When I pretended to have met Alice Cooper

The Five Most Embarrassing Moments of My Life: A memoir

Same restaurant. There was a big rock concert on that evening, and given the small size of my town, a number of the performing celebs had been spotted around the area where I worked. In fact, only 30 minutes before my shift started, one Alice Cooper, a headline act, had stopped by for coffee and a croissant. Everyone was very excited and I was gutted at having missed my opportunity to meet a real celebrity. We don’t get many of them in New Zealand, unless you count Dolly the cloned sheep.

Anyway, a couple dressed head to toe in black and silver sat down and I engaged them in chat about the concert, confiding that Alice Cooper had been at their very table only 20 minutes ago. They were very excited, and asked what it had been like.

“She was very nice,” I replied.

This list could have been so much longer than five items, but I will save them for another day, when I am not already cringing myself into non-existence because of the above memories.

But don’t let that stop you from listing your most embarrassing moments below…. *crosses fingers for public nudity*.

RE-WRITING TV: This is how Gilmore Girls should have ended

Feck off to your handmade tent in the rain. Feck off to that half-hearted snog. Feck off to Rory trotting along on Barack’s campaign tour. Feck off.

I love Gilmore Girls. I love it with the kind of single-minded passion that only someone who has watched it every morning for the last five years of their life can love something. I love it like Russell Brand loves eye contact. Like Londoners love a £12 burger eaten while standing in a car-park. I love it like Jess loves Rory.

And yes, actually – I do know the backstory. I know that Milo Ventimiglia refused to work with the producers for the final series, and that that’s why we never got the Rory/Jess union we so richly deserved and to that I say: feck off. Milo, you and your principles had no right to thwart the ending of the love story that I devoted way too many of my raging teenage hormones to. It wasn’t right. It isn’t good.

And so without further ado, here is how Gilmore Girls SHOULD have ended. Oi with the poodles already:

1. Luke proposing to Lorelai

Remember the episode when she proposed, and the whole town got angsty because women shouldn’t propose to men and Luke wasn’t a real man and all the rest of that small town crap? That was lame, and I loved the fact that Lorelai proposed to him, but the fact is that they subsequently arsed it all up, and that meant that the gate was wide open for Luke to “have his moment”.

And the ending of the show was where that moment should have been, with Luke taking charge like he did when he stormed Lorelai on her doorstep. Not with him fecking sewing all night and then getting a five-second snog that maybe suggested that maybe they would maybe be getting together only because Lorelai had a bunch more spare time now that Rory was off kissing Barrack’s ankles.

2. Jess coming for Rory

I am ALL FOR Rory having a career. Fab. Grand. Just because she had no follow-through when Mitchum told her she was shite does not mean that she wouldn’t have made a tenacious and fabulous journalist (actually it probably does but WHATEVER) and I understand that leaving Rory with a degree of independence and success was important, given that most of the series was premised around her being The Smartest Person Ever In The World With Blue Eyes.

But. But. We still absolutely, 100%, should have been given the promise that in the absence of snarky rich boy Logan, Jess and Rory would get another shot. It doesn’t have to be a happy ending. They don’t have to get married. She was only 21 when the series ended, we’re not suggesting that she settle down and spit out nine surly babies. But he wrote a freaking book for her, he fixed himself for her, he deserved her. And we deserved them. BRING BACK DODGER.

3. Emily and Lorelai reconciling as best they can

Actually, they did that perfectly. Moving on.

4. Success for Hepalien

If you don’t think Lane was the best character in the whole series then you’re wrong, unless you think it’s Kirk, in which case I’ll allow it. I didn’t hate the babies storyline and Zac and Lane’s marriage was done with just the right spark BUT how is it even slightly fair that Rory gets to go off and dazzle, Zac gets to go off and rock, and Lane has to stay at home holding the babies?

At the very least I wanted to see the band with a record deal. Or, alternatively, Dave coming back from California and giving Lane a good seeing-to. Hey, she’s married now, she’s allowed.

5. Logan getting hit by a car

It doesn’t have to be a car. It could be a baseball bat, or just a baseball, thrown quite hard. But he was a sulky petulant shite right until the end, when Rory’s refusal of his (overblown, idiotic) proposal resulted in him announcing that he would never see her again, and flouncing off like a debutante without a date.

Screw you, Logan. Turns out, you’re exactly like your lame father, just like we always suspected.

6. SOMETHING with Dean

What, he dumps Rory and then… evaporates? Did too-good-for-him Lindsey take him back? Did he go back to university? Or did he just continue to toss his silky fringe and build bookshelves until the end of his days? WE NEED TO KNOW.

7. ANYTHING but all of that ridiculous rain

I swear, it never rained in Stars Hollow until that final episode. We saw a lot of sun, and a lot of snow (conjured into being by Lorelai) but they opted to set the final episode in the middle of a monsoon? What, had they just run out of filming budget, and had to get it done that day, and reworked the script so the party could occur in a rainstorm.

Yes, it was a good way to get everyone together. Yes, it provided the impetus for Luke to prove how much he wanted Lorelai back. But we did not appreciate the drizzly coldness of it all, and we did not want to leave Stars Hollow all muddy and sad.

Got any more Gilmore Girls questions that were left unanswered? Let me have it in the comments below!