Articles - 3rd February 2020

Birthday Cake, the Best of a Year, and Gratitude

Words by Elinor Potts
Illustration by Oscar Price

For fifty-two Sundays, I’ve Googled everything from “CBD for Dogs” to “Brain Hemorrhage shots”. I’ve written about the Edinburgh Fringe, Punk, Robots, Pain, Prizes, Football, Education, Homelessness, Opera and Tote Bags. For fifty-two Sundays, I’ve bashed my fingers against an HP keyboard until I lose all sensation in my legs and hop-foot around my bedroom, or living room, or log cabin, until the blood rushes back. On this fifty-second Sunday, my soft office is still my preferred writing space for cultural columns, poetry, academic coursework and blogs for the forward-thinking flexible folks at Not9to5

To celebrate one year of cultural columning, I ventured beyond the confines of my front room to simmer this word-stew of cultural memories in a warm, silent, well-lit lofter of East London, in Clean Prose‘s co-working space. Founded last September by the American Academic Sharon Fulton (and her faithful accomplice Quill – a white pup in a smart-casual Harry Potter pullover), the Shoreditch space is London’s first co-working space for writers and is a  veritable haven for wordsmiths across the Capital. The space is spread across three floors with enough books, deskspace, stationary and filter coffee to fuel a small army of literary warriors. Whilst the idea of a members-only literary club may suggest prohibitive expense, Clean Prose have recently announced a series of writing workshops open to non-members, including creative non-fiction, fiction, playwriting and poetry at a bundle price of £30 (£3.75 per 2 hour workshop). If you’re a people-person looking to break free from homebound pajamaed practises, Clean Prose offers solace, professional support, creative feedback and inspiring talks/events to nudge you towards finishing that first draft. 



On this column’s first birthday, I’ve sharpened my knife and cut you a thick slice of virtual cake, lovingly baked on a slow heat and garnished with my top four cultural events over fifty-two Sundays, and as with all birthday cakes, a few specks of wax.

  1. House Party at the Houses of Parliament, Party through the Panic

Treading water and throwing back shots in the riptide of history, this cultural column was hardly the most nutritious of cultural ventures health-wise, although I did enough networking to fill my boots for the decade. Whilst the pre-Brexit political atmosphere was tensely uncertain, I was determined to make the most of the evening’s opportunities to drink on Tory MP Nigel Evans’ dime before casting critical tweets about it all into a millennial echochamber. Cottonheadedly walking into the background shot of a News broadcast which now lies in a dejected corner of the BBC archives, I hope to someday find the image in a crumpled CGP History textbook in my child’s bookbag. 


    2+3) The ABBA Museum and Midsommar in Sun, Sea and Stockholm City

This column which was born from a yearning to sample fresh strömming and an over-enthusiastic desire to compose an email to the ABBA museum’s PR team with grammar so appalling that my Swedish cousin screenshotted the message and collapsed with laughter. The ABBA Museum was so much fun that I’ll be making another trip on my return to Stockholm this March, with the added overhead baggage of Flygskam and none of the bilberry picking/ wild swimming which I enjoyed on my previous Summer trip.



4) Billie Eilish at Pryzm Kingston, Cultural Tribes

It took me 6-months to process the Billie Eilish concert I attended with my 17-year old Sister enough to build up the courage to write about it, and by the time I did, the teenager had blown-up beyond all expectations. I felt distinctly old, though I was far from immune to the infectious buzz of celebrity and the shrill ecstasy of collective screaming. My videos from the evening are shakily framed with a glowing pit of iPhones, and between the fan’s adoring purrs, you can make out the faintest, sweetest harmonised vocals between Eilish and brother Finneas, still humbly bewildered by their frenzied reception. 


That’s your lot. If I was more high-culturally minded I might have listed La Bohème or Benjamin Mosser’s biography of Susan Sontag, but they didn’t fill me with anywhere near as much glee as limb-flailing dancing or being told off for taking selfies inside Parliament. Thanks to everyone that has spoken with me over this year and has enriched the column with their expertise. Thanks to Emily and Jack for editing and for honestly telling me when my puns are too vulgar. Thanks to the exceptionally talented Oscar Price for receiving my abstractly nonsensical briefs and for producing beautiful art, without exception. And thanks to you


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