It’s me, Suchandrika Chakrabarti!
I make Freelance Pod.
Also: obligatory link to the personal essays masterclass with London Writers’ Salon (please do share the link), now onto n o s t a l g i a - it’s been that kind of a week.
A very dear friend of mine (and loyal reader of this newsletter, hello!) dug out the photo below and whatsapped me a few days ago. It’s from the mid-00s, at a bar in Soho, London. We know this, and it was photographed, because it was my friend’s birthday.
(Did I steal my pal’s White Russian? Probably)
We didn’t take enough photos back then - we didn’t have cameras on our phones yet, and it was a hassle to keep your digital camera charged up and to take it out everywhere. The photo above was taken with a disposable camera - there was a period in the 00s when you’d find them on the bar at parties or on tables at weddings and the guests would go round getting drunker and taking pictures which the host(s) would later develop and laugh at. A great way to get candid shots of your event. Are people still doing this?
2000s nostalgia is definitely A Thing - and it already was by 2012, according to this piece from The Atlantic. On Instagram, 00s nostalgia accounts are often run by people who weren’t yet born in 2000, or who were too young then to really participate in popular culture. For me, though, this was the decade in which I entered my 20s.
I was very lucky that, after graduating and moving back home to London, I still had friends at university in London, mostly medics, whose degrees would carry on for another few years. I didn’t have to let go of being a student just yet (although I was working), and hanging out in Fitzrovia and Soho and Euston with my UCL friends made me feel as though London was our playground. Growing up in Zone 6, on the edge of the city, this feeling was all I’d ever wanted.
I’ve been writing about this time in my life a lot this year, fictionalised so that I can have more fun with it. Even though I can’t ever say that my 20s were the best time of my life, as I entered that decade parentless, I can now see that there was something so special about that time in my life, and in London. The world has changed, but then I’m sure everyone feels like that in their 30s, because we get nostalgic. Also, if we’re in a city, it’s true. It’s been changing while we were drinking and dancing and laughing from one hangover to the next.
So many of the bars and clubs we used to go to back then have closed down now. Sitting down for brunch at Granger & Co in Pancras Square the other day, we reflected on how new this area still was, and how it used to only come alive at night, thanks to the The Cross, The Key, Bagley’s… only Egg has survived from that time, and it’s struggling in the pandemic. We knew the King’s Cross of the 00s, when it was already gentrifying, and safer than the wilder, less developed place that our parents warned us about in the 90s.
Vice is covering the gentrification of London (and other cities) really well, and reading those articles also makes me feel nostalgic. I wish I’d taken more photos in the 00s and the 90s. We don’t know until the moment’s gone how it will never come back again. Some doors slam shut and lock silently behind us, and we don’t even notice until we eventually try the handle.
The attention I’ve been giving the relatively few pictures I do have of that time make me think of a favourite quote from Paul Bowles, author of The Sheltering Sky. He wrote: “The only thing that makes life worth living is the possibility of experiencing now and then a perfect moment. And perhaps even more than that, it's having the ability to recall such moments in their totality, to contemplate them like jewels.” It’s the jewels we want more of, yes, but really it’s the time to hold them and contemplate them, that’s what we can never get enough of.
p.s. Next year, it’ll be 10 years since Amy Winehouse died. 10 years!
Griefbacon is back! Every issue of Helena Fitzgerald’s newsletter is my favourite, but the one about Maps by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs is up there for me because it’s a vehicle for time travel; and don’t forget Things to Do in New York City and an anthem for a trash generation, they make me feel overwhelmed and joyously sick with 00s nostalgia
A brill idea for indie pod discovery from Sarah Myles, get involved:
RISE & SHINE @riseshineaudioAnnouncing the Cross promo podcasting club! Every week, one person will be selected at random from the club mailing list. Everyone else will have to promo them in some way (socials, a read, etc). Mailing list is up here so sign up and we can start in Jan https://t.co/LiYSgpWsdF
Trauma and its aftermath is the subject of so many of the books we write, the books we read, the poems and work that our students turn in. A bold note, an endless lake, bone / blooming in the desert / the parking lot. The impossible floral stench of reaching out / of our desire to speak / on something like our own terms. I think this is part of why / we try to do this / to write what is unspeakable / unquotable. A desire to try to insist on what an event or events cut out / from under us / the possibility of control, of memory, of time, of why. Writing about what happened to you / the happening of you / feels like giving each other / you and a ghost that is also you / fruit.
In the Morning, Before Anything Bad Happens
The sky is open
all the way.
Workers upright on the line
I know there is a river somewhere,
lit, fragrant, golden mist, all that,
whose irrepressible birds
can’t believe their luck this morning
and every morning.
I let them riot
in my mind a few minutes more
before the news comes.
Bringing the music to the latest The Week Unwrapped:
Reminiscing about how this Yeah Yeah Yeahs song soundtracked the Royal Wedding party I went to in 2011
(An occasion worthy of the digital camera)
I shared a print magazine (!) interview between two great writers, from the 1980s: Neil Gaiman x Douglas Adams
Thank you so much for reading!
If you enjoy my work & fancy buying me a virtual coffee, I’d be delighted (and will hopefully experience a virtual caffeine rush):
Suspicious Squirrel says bye-bye…