A great gift is often frivolous 🐙🎁🌷
Everything balmy and bookish that's tickled our fancy this week.
Paying lip service
Despite being very good at remembering things of absolutely no consequence – the Life Mechanics cult storyline in Neighbours, what we had for dinner on September 14th 2009, the landline number to a house we’ve not lived in for 22 years – we never remember events until it’s too late. This is why we miss out on Christmas at Kew every year, or optimistically search for gig tickets the night before our favourite band is playing. We’ve also never been lucky enough to nab one of Andrea Garland’s beautiful vintage lip balms.
Every year, Andrea Garland fills vintage pill boxes with a clear lip balm (you can opt for vegan). The unique collection is only available between October and December – they’re replenished regularly, but once they’re sold out, you’ll have to wait until next October. The first drop is at 3pm today, race you to the front of the queue.
In the archipelago of Palau sits a lake that’s over 12,000 years old. Jellyfish Lake is home to millions of Golden Jellyfish. This particular species has no natural predators, so they’ve evolved to become stingless – like the species that’s thrown out their Instant Pots, they simply have no need for them. You can take a swim in Jellyfish Lake if you’re in the area and fancy testing this theory.
The evolution of jellyfish has fascinated scientists for decades, because they can defy everything we know about the natural world. There’s even a species that’s technically immortal. When the Turritopsis dohrnii jellyfish senses danger, it absorbs its tentacles and basically reverts back to a younger version of itself. It can do this as many times as it likes, so in theory it could live forever. Or at least until Grey’s Anatomy ends.
They also make brilliant ceramic inspiration. This jellyfish air plant holder is made by Katie and the Jellyfish. Each one is a little different and the plant comes with your holder, presumably after a successful audition for “most tenacle-iness”. You can buy you own directly from Katie’s Etsy shop, or our friends at Cabinet of Colours.
Skirting the issue
We have entered our favourite season. Yes, yes, crunchy leaves, lattes with too much cinnamon, etc etc. But more pressingly, Sian and Laura are both autumn birthday girls. There is frequently cake, discarded wrapping paper, and the scent of a few dozen candles recently extinguished. It is also the season where we commit to the very serious tradition of buying ourselves a present.
The personal birthday gift takes a considerable amount of thought. It certainly doesn’t have to cost the earth (Sian’s previous gifts to herself have included a My Little Pony off eBay and a ceramic pear), but a great gift is often frivolous. We strongly encourage you to choose something impractical (by all means jump on that drill bit set you really want, but now isn’t the time for a new mop). And of course, like any good present, it needs to bring the recipient – you! – total joy. Sian’s choice this year is this pixelated skirt of dreams from German designer Ini Emme. It’s ticking all of these birthday boxes in one very extravagant swish.
The beginning of the cold season
Forough Farrokhzad was a trailblazing Iranian poet and film director whose work focused firmly on women. Often compared to Sylvia Plath, she dealt in feminine desire, in sensuality, in secrets and pain and hope, and she became one of the brightest stars in Iran’s literary galaxy after publishing her first poems as a teenager. The life of this remarkable, controversial, and rebellious poet was cut short in 1967, when she died in a car crash, aged 32. Her work, banned for more than a decade after the revolution of 1979, is just as bold, blistering and beloved today, and Let Us Believe in the Beginning of the Cold Season (translated by Elizabeth T. Gray, Jr.) is a great introduction to her poetry.
Four more Iranian and Kurdish women writers who should be on your shelves:
Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
A memoir in books, telling the story of an English literature professor and seven of her female students, who meet at her house once a week to discuss Western books.
Persepolis I and II by Marjane Satrapi
This renowned graphic memoir of growing up in Iran and then going away to Vienna was made into an award-winning film in 2007.
Daughters of Smoke and Fire by Ava Homa
A beautifully written coming-of-age tale that shines a light on the oppression and hardship faced by Kurdish people in Iran.
In Case of Emergency by Mahsa Mohebali (translated by Mariam Rahmani)
An earthquake in Tehran is no match for the turmoil and tenacity of a drug-addled mind in this satirical novel of modern Iranian life.
Pick up the check
Sometimes all it takes is a new mug to brighten our mornings and set us up for the hours of meetings, writing, and staring into space thinking about whether or not we should have fish fingers for tea (the answer is always yes) ahead. Gulping a gallon of lukewarm Nescafé from a chipped Sports Direct monstrosity might seem an innocuous enough way to start the day, but once you’ve savoured a lovingly brewed coffee served in a pretty hand-painted gingham mug with a tulip for a handle, you’ll never go back. Oh, you don’t have a pretty hand-painted gingham mug with a tulip for a handle? Don’t worry, you do now. And a cloud cup and saucer, too.
Read all about it:
Italy’s plan to stop Venice from sinking.
The line-up for London’s Month of the Dead Festival is really excellent. (Boffins in Coffins!)
Let’s Do Lunch looks like our sort of cookbook (today Laura had a bowl of Toppas for lunch, she needs inspiration).
Mallika Basu addresses the racism in The Great British Bake Off's Mexico episode.
Save the best to last: giving you a leg up | love this little monster collection | this stuff is really good | it’s well and truly pie season.
This weekend, Sian is going to see Herman Dune and Laura is exploring graveyards. Like what we do? Buy us a cuppa.
I bought a very frivolous hat as my birthday present to myself this year. It's modelled on the Beauxbatons hats from the Harry Potter movies, but black. No idea when I will wear it but owning it is the thing.