The Spike


June 2016

Sheer lip tint

If you’re not one for a heavy lipstick – and I’m really not – sheer lip tints are a big thing at the moment.

I’m always tempted just to drop loads of cash on lip products to cheer myself up but although I’m sure a Clinique Chubby stick or whatever else any megabucks cosmetic brand wants to sell you isn’t an actual rip-off, these two sheer lip tints + balms below do a very good job and are outstanding value. Both available at Boots.

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I’ve got the Baby Lips in Melon Mania, which looks terrifying in the tube but subtle on and doesn’t smell too revoltingly of melons.


Best blanket

I hugely approve of these blanket/throw things from Ian Mankin.

Ian Mankin was once the sole purveyor of very heavy, very expensive ticking and stripe material and not much else – but the material was exquisite. I used to rummage in the sale bin in their store in Primrose Hill and make cushion covers from the offcuts. Which on reflection was a bit mental.

Now the company has branched out into lots of other stuff, much of it very affordable and more accessible than solely striped sailcloth. It’s a lesson in retail diversification.

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Stepney Grey Throw, £69.50

This is quite a boring grey colour way but I like it because it is a jazzy pattern and MACHINE WASHABLE. So it is replacing the pilled monstrosity from Ikea on the living room sofa. More colour ways and patterns here.

I found a brown smudge on the Ikea monstrosity the other day that was not chocolate but actual SHIT. Actual faeces on the actual sofa – from Sam’s bottom no doubt as he’s so painfully shy about his loo-trip bum aftercare that he occasionally manages to scamper off with no knickers on AND not a completely thorough job having been done. So machine washability in a sofa blanket is a must in our house.

I know £70 is quite a lot for a blanket but I think for what it is, it’s really superb value.

Fortune’s Wheel

The philosophical concept of Fortune’s Wheel – (not to be confused with the Nicky Campbell-hosted ITV gameshow “Wheel of Fortune”) – was a huge deal if you were medieval.

It was a way of thinking that explained away that thing where sometimes your whole life is green-lit – every email goes “Yes!” “Would you like to…?” or “Here, have a £1,000.” and sometimes everything is no, sorry. Sorry, no. Apologies. I’m sorry to have to tell you that… Or, quite often, absolutely no response at all. Like you don’t exist.

Because the thing is that sometimes you are at the top of Fortune’s Wheel and sometimes you are at the bottom. Medieval and ancient minds envisaged it as a literal wheel where you were either at the top, going down, at the bottom, or going up. There are some hilarious illustrations available online, such as the one below:

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I am talking about this only because it is at times a useful concept to bear in mind to explain why everything is going so badly at any given time. Or, why everything is going well.

The modern way is to “make things happen” – we are all American now, we all make our own luck. Don’t we? Don’t we just Snapchat and Tweet and LinkedIn our way to certain success? How about reaching out to some influencers to collaborate on a digital app that will break the fourth wall of the taxi/fast food delivery? (It’s called Uberoo and it’s a taxi service that is also a mobile kitchen so you can eat a yumbun while being driven to your creative space. There’s WiFi so you can Instagram the shit out of your experience.)

If all fails why don’t you just sit in a corner with a copy of The Secret and cosmic order yourself some fulfilment and happiness, you non-inspired, lazy, non-modern douchebag?

But the thing is that sometimes even when you are trying to make your own luck, it doesn’t work. You’re shuddering with bad energy; you’re at the bottom of Fortune’s Wheel. You’re toxic.

This is where I am now. I seem to have a Teflon coating for anything positive. Every email is no, sorry. Or there is just deafening silence. (This is not some tacit admission that I voted Leave, by the way.)

I have reached the point where I feel like I’m in a Superhero movie, at the moment where the superhero looks about him with wide, horrified eyes as the reality of his new superpowers dawns (he has just blown up the TV by merely thinking about it, or flicked the fridge out of the window). The difference is that I am looking about me, wide-eyed and horrified at my new – temporary – power of turning everything to absolute shit.

I’m not sitting about feeling sorry for myself though. Well, not much. Because that’s the thing about Fortune’s Wheel – it comes back around eventually. The thing to do is to sit it out and wait and not despair. To fall to despair was a great thought crime in the middle ages, as it played havoc with social cohesion.

Consider the artist Clara Drummond, who submitted a portrait of the same person three times to the BP Portrait Award, which if you don’t know is like the Crufts or the Oscars of portrait painting. She submitted a portrait of the same sitter twice to the awards and was shown in the awards exhibition (this in itself is a great honour) but didn’t win. But she didn’t throw everything in the bin and stamp off to work in a shop – a thing I am sorely tempted to do – she just submitted a different portrait of the same person a third time, and this time she triumphed.

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It’s an uplifting modern example of Fortune’s Wheel. Well, that’s how I see it anyway.

Me? I am doing the  only sensible thing and have started reading emails from behind a cushion. I’ve also stopping sending any unsolicited emails at all and am doing a lot of elaborate catering. At the moment I am making a salmon en croute for eight people and and three-tiered birthday cake. It’s the only rational reaction!

How about you? Where are you on Fortune’s Wheel right now?

Grain sack cushions

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I know they’re kind of a cliche these days, but I do really love grain sack cushions – though the weird thing is I haven’t been able to find good ones anywhere.

Then I came across these from Love Struck Interiors. I like the fact that they are an actual grain sack, sourced and stitched together, which you then stuff with 3 60cm x 60cm cushions to make one long bolster – and bolsters are the thing that cool interior people are doing at the moment: regardez below, a detail from Soho Farmhouse.




The million dollar sofa

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I am on the hunt for a sofa. I usually go to Loaf for absolutely everything but I’m not actually that crazy about the Loaf sofa I have (the Bluebell, in grey – I am so predictable!): it’s too short in the seat.

But buying a sofa is a terrible job. It’s like choosing curtains. They are a big deal, a huge part of your life. You are going to be looking at them constantly. Get it wrong and not only are you thousands of pounds down, but you will also be a little bit annoyed every day until you get rid of it/them.

So I’ve been looking elsewhere but am constantly thwarted by indecision, option paralysis and cost.

There is hope, though. I recently came across a tiny workshop in Gloucestershire, called Upholstery Techniques, which makes sofas right there, on site: they supply to such upmarket shops at Conran. But they’re not snobby about it – they’ll make you a sofa, too.

I went this weekend and they are excellent, and for what they are, they are basically free (about £1,3oo  for a big one, not including fabric). I like these two:



I like a dark brown for the fabric: I think the tyranny of the grey sofa has to end at some point and I’m planning on leading the charge. Hey! Don’t go! Brown is a nice colour!?

The drawback is that Upholstery Techniques is a properly tiny outfit, you can’t just order online in a state of drunken high efficiency. Their website is a holding page with their postal address and phone number – there isn’t even an email address! When you ring you just have to leave a message on the answering machine and either Lovely Sam or Lovely Phil rings you back and you have a chat. It’s like if Bill Murray made sofas.

But listen to me: this is a really good recommendation. They are really good people, the sofas are great. If you live anywhere near the area, visit them.

If not, give them a call and ask if they can email you over some photos of their sofa styles. They can make anything, any size and they get great deals on fabric. They’ll even make corner sofas.

I haven’t asked, but I imagine they can probably copy a sofa you’ve seen that you fancy that is £10,000. Mentioning no names George Smith.


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Please vote today. I don’t mind how. But do please vote…

Shoe phobia

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The Novel Duffle; $84.99 – the website ships worldwide

I do love this Herschel duffle bag that comes with its own little compartment for your shoes, whether they are stinky gym shoes or you just don’t like getting any shoes mixed up with your clothes.

For me it solves another problem: so often when packing to go away I forget my party shoes and have more than once had to appear at dinner in my bare feet. No-one cares except me, of course, but with this bag I will never forget them again.

J Crew bangles

J Crew has a very good sale on at the moment and it’s right at the beginning of it, so your chances of finding something actually good for much less money than usual is quite high.

I found myself in there last week – as if in a daze – and there was a rack of hinged bracelets going for what seemed, with my maths, about half price. Actually it was 30% off.

Anyway I bought two, and this weekend the CEO of Net-a-Porter (long story) said she liked them. So I am having mine surgically attached on Thursday. Get yours now! Best to actually get to a store if you can so that you can have a good rummage for excellent colour combinations.

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Summer hold-all

If you haven’t get got your giant holdall/daybag for summer, I like this one from Indi & Cold. 

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Striped holdall, E72

I haven’t got one myself as I am still using a bag my sister gave me when Kitty was born to use as a general day tote for the summer from Miss Rose Sister Violet. It’s an American company who usually have a stall at the Country Living Spring Fair – but if you can’t wait that long, they ship internationally online.

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Garden Rose tote, $71.40

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