100 and 89.

This midwinter resurrection takes place in the Valley. Los Angeles, California, where I have been living for two months and a bit. In two days I fly home.

Until last week I lived in the office. Sometimes with colleagues – a rapper, an entrepreneur, a militantly disciplined former serviceman, an occasional photographer…the list goes on.

Then the CEO’s mother moved in. I fled the one bedroom apartment in Central Hollywood, where strange, fragmented, half-broken characters from across the States rolled in and out without much warning. While there, I became so convinced that I, as the only permanent fixture, was starring in a secret reality show I had someone check the place for cameras in my second fortnight. That episode-to-episode article retrospective will roll out in time.

The exotic, chaotic adventures that have punctuated this trip are first-class novel material. For now though, I am escaping the claustrophobic mania that goes with being boxed behind bars from dawn till dusk.  Live-work spaces are not the one.




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100 and 88.

It’s November and I have just published my first article with Disorder Magazine.


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100 and 87.

I have fled Mordor. The Middle Earth of the civilised world: Walsall, where bloated orcs and trolls and hobbited cross-breeds haunt the deserted high street looking for prey. It is bleak and grey and exhausted by its own contagious hopelessness. I spent last night in the Premier Inn watching table upon table of others like myself, alone with their computers and papers, scanning the dinner menu for a noose, in desolate silence. It sits uncomfortably; the last stop in a train tour of England’s industrial wastelands and forgotten villages. Lucky escape.

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100 and 85.

Mornings in Alabama begin with ritual insect murder: ants in the kitchen, cockroaches in the sitting room, cereal box infestations and window ledge lizard-catching. Then there is the waiting. This is our belated weekend; we worked through Saturday and Sunday, the end of our seven day roadtrip through Alabama, Georgia, West Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, Virginia and back. I celebrated turning 23 in four states. We wait until mid-afternoon to be remembered and collected; driven for wine and groceries and back again, to wait until the next day.

I am working for Time Warner, the world’s largest entertainment company, through Murphy Media, the firm contracted for the book we write and research on these trips. From crab-encrusted fried chicken with the aptly-named Tennessee Momma ‘Big Fatty’ to Millie’s, the dark Friday night Richmond drinking joint where I was trapped in a fridge and given a personal city-tour by the owner in a BMW, we are binge-eating our way across the South, adventure by adventure.

We live in a cottage on the woodland estate of a former Goldman Sachs CEO. It is a dog lover’s sordid fantasy; statues, cushions, photographs, calendars, and wax monuments to the cocker spaniel, adorn every surface. This house is a monument to the shaggiest breeds of the panting, wild-eyed and easy to please; fortunate, because we too are transforming into this unfamiliar species, as we worship ever-more at the altar of the Deep South deep fryer. Dangerous.

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100 and 84.

I have a blank criminal record; two degrees from top three universities; am in the States on an Oxford scholarship; I have a social security card to work legally in this country for fuck’s sake! Yet, here I am, again: the airport holding pen for blacks, Latinos, Muslims and mixed race me. I attended this country’s second oldest university, two years ago, but am barred from direct entry by the capital Confederacy. Welcome to the Land of the Free.

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100 and 83.

I am rarely speechless. Yesterday was a rare occasion.

Two months ago I attended a meeting about the Oxford University Internship Scheme to find out about an Indian village writing NGO. However, I left this meeting with a very different goal in mind: to become an intern for Murphy Media. It is the most competitive internship available, with over 200 applications from matriculated Oxford students every year. I started researching.

The two selected interns spend six weeks in the American South, writing, filming, researching and collaberating on an exciting food TV show and book series with a team of very charming Southern men. It is adventure in its meatiest, greasiest, most delicious form with the opportunity to learn as much as possible about how shows are made, and the difference between chicken and chicken fried steak.

And I got it! Absolutely speechless, still.

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