As I mentioned to someone on tinder the other day (what?!), I occasionally try to draw parallels between my excessive number of interests in an attempt to feel like a more coherent human being.
There’s the part of me that goes for days on end with no make up on, walking in muddy fields in floaty summer trousers and snow boots without a care in the world, feeling the perfect blend of free and indifferent (and as I mentioned to the lady in the post office as we contemplated the seasonally transcendent world outside its doors, who on earth knows how to dress for the weather at the moment?) and the part that enjoys the play and artistry of using colour, sheen & enhancement to feel a little more ‘put together’ or, ya know, somewhat goodlookin’-ish.
There’s the part of me that wants to experience life in every continent out there, and the part that just wants to nest and settle.
There’s the part that wants to explain to the girl I haven’t seen in years who asks me at the end of a tantra yoga class how I reconcile modelling nude for art with being a feminist, and the part that is so utterly bored by the misguided assumptions inherent in the question that I feel sad that this has to be explained.
There’s the part that thinks what I should really do is dedicate my life to researching metaphysics in order to better understand the way the world all hangs together (stars and strings and sound vibration and… seriously, why do we even waste our time learning about anything else?!), and the part that watches Made in Chelsea on catch up because I’m kinda invested and fascinated by the incestuous entanglements that can occur within one overly privileged, London-based friendship group, and I want to know how it all pans out. (Please don’t tell anyone this – it’s one of my more embarrassing secrets; still deciding how it ranks with the fact that I was brought up on Neighbours, and once sat on Harold’s lap.)
Since I was about 3 and wanted to be able to do everything my older brother was doing (cue some scars that boast of an enthusiasm for riding at great speed downhill on bicycles), I learned that one of the most potent ways to dive into different experiences is through books. Stories are all around us, always in our heads and always available to be plucked from another person’s imagination as well as born in our own and expressed outwardly. You can be anything if you read a book. And you can understand anything; you can feel what it’s like to feel the thoughts of someone you would never think to get close to, and you can leap into new places, feel new heat and zip through time (in either direction) hung by a thread of the ‘what if?’ – the premise of the story.
Great swathes of time should be dedicated to reading books, and even more so now that our attention spans are grabbed and grabbed at by a mad, unsimple world. To finish a book is to make a statement; to know that you can delve deeply, feel new things and create a pocket in your own life (a story you can curl up into, with its characters, real people in their own right) forever more. Like degrees, choice and power, no one can take the memory of a story away from you, once you’ve got it.
And extra-wonderfully, books are not made of plastic. Books are trees, talking to you.
…So it seems brilliantly fitting (and I’m kinda delighted) that my very first stockist is The Albion Beatnik bookshop in Jericho, Oxford. A must for any artistically-minded local or tourist in Oxford, it’s a rebellious, simultaneously forward and backward thinking place; also a ‘thinking place’, where interesting people drop in, lounge around and read to each other, and a music venue. It is chaotic, vibrant and utterly uninterested in being like any other place (which is lucky, since it isn’t) and, most crucially, there is a dedicated tea menu (I personally recommend the green chai, and from November onwards, the Leafology blends…).
Much of the Leafology range can now be found in the Albion Beatnik, and I am promised that the much-loved Frankincense & Tea Seed Magic Eye Serum with Sweet Almond & Chamomile (the last in current stock lingering daringly at the edge of the counter in the photos above, and referred to there as a ‘stick of dynamite’) has not yet fallen off the edge.
Photos by Tony Ornstien. Multitasking: being semi-nude, reading books AND believing in the empowerment and incredible worth of women. #readingissexy #butevenifitwasntIdstilldoit #becauseimafeministlikethat #hashtaghashtag