The Sunday Six 07/02/16

I have a friend who keeps nagging me to start vlogging, to the point where we’ve had an actual wine-driven argument about it.  Well, I say argument; my sole line of ‘debate’ was “but I don’t want to be a vlogger, James! I just don’t! I like writing!” And I repeated this, over and over, until we all got bored with the sound of my voice (myself included), and went home.

The BBC3 documentary ‘Rise of the Superstar Vloggers’, hosted by Jim Chapman (husband of Tanya Burr, brother of the Pixiwoo sisters and vlogger himself), opened up the lives of the likes of Zoella, Tyler Oakley, Alfie Deyes and Ingrid Nilsen. I don’t watch a lot of BBC3, but it does seem a shame that this month it becomes an online-only service – because it’s the only BBC channel that seems to give a stuff about specifically targeting the 16-34ish demographic. I digress. Vlogging looks like fun – especially if you’re a beauty vlogger and you’re trying new products and reviewing them and so on – but it’s also a full-time endeavour that requires daily planning and hard work. You’re never “off”. When you make it though – the levels of fandom can reach a fever pitch. It’s like the Beatles to the power of One Direction (it’s been a while since I did maths).

I was pleasantly surprised by Jim Chapman, too – not being particularly interested in him, Tanya or the Pixiwoo ladies, I wasn’t sure I was going to like him. I’m not quite sure why I didn’t expect to warm to him; he is, after all, a hugely successful YouTube star, so there must be something about him that’s attracted 2.5 million subscribers to his channel. And sure enough, he was a great host – genuine, very likable, funny and smart. It shouldn’t have been a surprise – human beings have many faults but ‘lacking a nose for authenticity’ isn’t up there in the top ten. I think it’s why my most personal blog posts – the ones on anxiety, beloved family members, or ill-timed flat moves – do better than any others. We all love to know what really goes on in people’s lives, heads, and living rooms, and it’s even better if people are being honest about things that are usually hard to talk about.

I’m not going to be filming my daily routines anytime soon, though. You wouldn’t be interested; it’s just a lot of typing, tea-drinking and cheese.

National Libraries Day. Yesterday (Saturday 6th Feb) was National Libraries Day. In the last five years, nearly 450 libraries have closed due to cuts to funding. This week, Swindon Borough Council put foward a proposal to relinquish responsibility for 14 of its 15 libraries – meaning those 14 libraries could be handed over to volunteers or local communities to ensure they stay open. The government’s refusal to guarantee funding for public libraries is, aside from anything else, achingly sad. I wouldn’t be the books-and-writing nerd I am now if my Granny hadn’t taken me to her local library on a weekly basis when I was 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. I ploughed through the children’s section and moved on to the young adult books far too soon, devouring books like a word-hungry Pac-Man.

I truly love both the Horsham and Jubilee libraries now – on a charity salary, a Waterstones habit is wildly impractical, and I can’t see that there are any legitimate arguments for closing libraries down. They are man-made miracles; places you can walk in and access all the knowledge you could ever want, they are free at the point of use and you don’t even need proof of address to join anymore (at least not in Brighton). We must fight tooth-and-nail to protect them.

Anna, Island. This is a lovely short film, by one of my favourite writers (Dolly Alderton) and Lauren Benstead. Once you get past the ever-so-slightly pretentious first minute or two, it really hits its stride. Sparky dialogue, awkward comedy and a cameo from Kirsty Young, it’s a genuine delight.

Nars All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation. This is a spendy foundation, not going to lie (sorry, Drummer Boy). Thing is, if it’s going on a lot of my face almost every day, I don’t mind putting a bit of money into it. I went into Space NK with every intention of trying the latest offering from Nars (Velvet Matte Skin Tint), as having read loads of reviews, it looked like it would suit me perfectly. But when I tested it, it came out far sheerer that I would have liked – I like a full face of slap – so I had to rethink. The slightly scary, no-nonsense lady in Space NK then tried to sell me a different brand at a price that almost triggered a panic attack. “Were you not looking to spend that much?” she asked,Narsregistering the horror in my eyes. “Not really,” I squeaked. Back to the Nars counter we went.

The All Day Luminous Weightless Et Cetera is really nice (it should be, for that money) – and they’re not lying when they say weightless. It’s oil-free, and water-and-silicone based, so needs a good shake before use. I may have splattered the bathroom with dots of beige after shaking too vigorously, but oh well. It feels like nothing on the skin, but gives surprisingly good coverage for such a thin liquid. The only drawback is that it does tend to stick to any dry bits, so you need to moisturise before you apply it.

This is a really strange, sad story. But it’s also a sterling piece of longform journalism on the Guardian’s part. I had no idea that their Long Read venture even existed – chances are I’ve read at least one of their longform pieces but just not noticed – so if you like good writing, it’s worth keeping an eye out.

The New Club. When my friend said she’d booked a table at the New Club for her birthday dinner, I got very excited. Firstly, because it’s right below our flat – when you’re dealing with February weather by the sea, “proximity to your own towels and radiators” is a key factor in deciding where to go for a night out. And secondly, because every time I walk past, it’s packed with Brighton hipster types, so naturally I was raring to try it. It did not disappoint. I had halloumi on a couscous and quinoa salad (obviously) with beetroot hummus. I’m going to pay for that tomorrow, as my two dearest colleagues are currently making a list of all the revoltingly middle-class things I say at work. Contenders for the top spot are “I love a man in cricket whites” – no, I really do – and “yeah, my Nespresso machine’s quite loud, too”.

Where were we? Oh yeah, dinner – DB had a burger that, when I tried a bit, triggered a severe pang of food envy and couscous regret, but the food was good, not extortionate given the vibe and the location, and I’ll definitely be going back.

Apparently I use the word “vibe” now, too.

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