Being the irrational and chiefly unreasonable pessimist that I am there are but three things on this spherical whir of blue and green that I’ll candidly confess to adoring.
The first is Laura Marling. I’d classify this as a typically masochistic relationship. At two years my junior, as much as I love her, she also succeeds in making me feel thoroughly inadequate; not only for her astounding musical creativity and melodic prowess but principally for harbouring narrative devices that could rival Wilde, Proust, Tolstoy, Tolkien and Rowling combined, encapsulated within any four minute song. These words are no exaggeration. If you’re not already entirely immersed in Marling, what the hell have you been doing?
The second love of my life is tea. Tea is the one for me; tea will elevate me from the darkest depths of sorrow, sit with me in a lonely library and accompany me whilst I revel within my guiltiest pleasures. When I was a student, tea provided the ideal respite following the gruelling mission of typing an assignment title. Tea has also nursed me through hangovers. Only when you’ve been sprawled across your bed, slurping tea whilst simultaneously vomiting into a bucket and screaming, ‘WHY?’ over and over again will you know how great a comfort tea can be. Tea has heard filthy jokes exchanged between me and my friends, held my hand on the way to job interviews, kept me up until dawn, been my immediate go-to when avoiding awkward situations and tea has attempted to console me during the initial, surreal, sharp stabs of grief. Tea is a constant. Just in case I hadn’t made it perfectly clear: Tea and me are very happy together, thank you very much.
The third love of my life is Caitlin Moran. I’ve praised her bestselling book, ‘How to Be a Woman’ a lot, to the point where I feel like somewhat of a Caitlin pusher. I’m not here for that. Fine, she changed the perception of feminism for a 21st century audience. Sure, she prompted a whole generation to stand on chairs screaming ‘I’m a strident feminist’ but she also, as an experiment, once trapped a wasp under a jar and got it stoned. She also interviewed Lady Gaga in a German sex club, pointed out that David Cameron looks startlingly similar to, ‘a C3PO made of ham,’ made an inappropriately timed analogy to a Time Lord and once posted a picture of a squirrel’s enormous testicles on Twitter that subsequently made an international news story. She also noted with freakish accuracy how Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice sounds exactly akin to a jaguar in a cello, yelled ‘hoorah’ and slapped mega high fives whilst paying her income tax, championed MASSIVE hair and made it acceptable to type selected words in capitals to EMPHASISE A POINT. How do I know all this? Because I’ve read her new book, Moranthology – a collection of her articles.
A journalist at the age of 15 and a columnist for The Times by the age of 18, Moran has plenty of colourful, captivating and uproarious tales to tell. Her character is so tenaciously animated, her words bounce off pages with slapstick cartoonish vigour and her down to earth likeability influences you into reading her material with such an open mind that if she were to write a piece entitled, ‘I HATE TEA!’, I’d probably doubt my caffeinated companion, if only for a second.
However, love isn’t entirely blind. I can see flaws in Moranthology. The choice to include four articles on the BBC’s current adaption of Sherlock was perhaps a bit excessive. With my head hung in shame, I admit, the series has sort of passed me by. I am not what has come to be known as a ‘Cumberbitch’. However, I read her first review with intrigue, hoping her words would finally ensnare my geekiness to make itself at home within 221B Baker Street. By the second article I remained mildly entertained but by the third, I’ll be honest, I only continued reading for the Martin Freeman quotes because quite frankly, I fancy him and he is now Bilbo Baggins.
Other flaws? It annoyed me a bit that the articles weren’t dated. That’s about it and hey, the first ‘flaw’ doesn’t even count if you’re mad for a bit of Sherlock.
Although light-hearted and rib-achingly hilarious in parts, Moranthology chronicles so much more than celebrity chit chat and ‘mega lols’. Her discussions on benefit reform, drug abuse and library closures are wholeheartedly perceptive, frank and poignant and her obituaries of Elizabeth Taylor and Amy Winehouse don’t centre upon their celebrity, but more so on their iconic imagery, ‘Two lush-lipped, hard-drinking British women – broads made of eyeliner, grace and balls.’ She tenderly taps into how the image of Winehouse illustrated a stalwart figure in our eyes, how her brazen iconography rendered her immortal within our hearts, how her talent, forever lovingly stained upon our minds was ultimately not enough to save Winehouse from the demons inside hers.
Moran’s personal accounts are similarly moving. ‘Time Travel in The Same Four Places’ is delicately woven within nostalgic threads of time, as she lucidly recounts heartbreaking and idyllic moments shared within the mise-en-scène of her four most cherished places: Aberystwyth, Ullapool, Gower and Brighton. The characters featured alter between scenes, changing costumes, swapping masks, modifying with age; the only constant being those four places that cradle Moran throughout three acts; childhood, becoming a woman and the resolution of contentedly sharing these places with the three loves of her life: her husband and two children.
Moranthology is not only an exceptionally good read but it’s also thought provoking, mind nourishing, comforting and almost infuriatingly distracting. Told from a voice that is strong, sweet and perhaps a little addictive, Caitlin Moran proves once again why she’s just my cup of tea.