People I Love - Ben Brown

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

It's pissing down with rain by Old Street Station on a Thursday morning, I'm cold and edging dangerously close to furious.
"More late boys!" I rattle fists at no one but myself with a sad damp scarf draped over my head.
The miserable distance fades from unpromising to enthusiastic futures.
Louis, Ben and Steve pace with sure direction towards me, mob handed with point and shoot cameras and coffee cups.
This is the first time I meet Ben Brown.
I suffocate under his charm as we all trudge towards the Indian Embassy in the dregs of nowhere and I find a quickening smile echo throughout my cheeks slicing the stress of a five hour wait for visas.
A small encounter with potential to be nothing more than a work fuelled greet extended its arms into the embrace of the beginning of a very poignant and fulfilled friendship. 

Ben has seen me through a totally bizarre part of my adolescence. He met me when I was cocksure and loud and watched it melt and mould it's way into being a little bit lost and apologetically young. In the middle of last year we found ourselves in the endless and formless ocean sharing a kayak, a tactful ploy by me as alone I'd have been eaten alive even by the dullest wave and we paddled sun beaten and content. 

I continued once out of the boat to nip at his heels whenever distance allowed and ensured dinners and adventures and chats like the sea saddled speeches we'd had would always prevail. Since, he's picked me off bikes in the midst of panic attacks and listened to my monotonous drone of first world issues as though I really matter and I leave wanting to hit myself knowing I ever looked at him begrudgingly for leaving me in the rain that one East London morning.

Bens talent baffles me, I write with no intention of sounding as though I'm about to embark on a parody of one of his old school reports, but it truly does.
It follows him around like an excited nagging child, this thing that begs to be fed and answered to, to be challenged and paraded. Somehow, he manages to harness it in so many tangible ways that he transforms it modestly into gold medals and daily videos and stunning visuals beyond what I know.
Try as I might, I've still not been able to kidnap it.

It's not very often people happen to you, but Ben very much happened to me. 
He happened to be a voice I didn't know I needed and a hand I wanted to grip, he happened all at once and suddenly even from miles away to be someone I happen to have as a big brother forever. Relatively, whether he likes it or not.

Writing this almost feels like a premature wedding speech or a big birthday amorous announcement, but having had him home back in London where I can squish his face and steal his coat and ask him umpteen questions about nothing in particular over several sherbet dibdabs, I just feel like it's right to do it. 
He's filled my life with laughter, unwavering advice and introduced me to people like his beautiful girlfriend Nicole who I also admire and adore from across the pond.
There are few people I know who I could spend eight hours walking around a flower show and find some sort of ludicrous Pimm's fuelled adventure with.

I bloody love the stupid sod and I think if there's anything he's taught me so prolifically is that there is no time like this very second to do things. 
So I'm doing a thing, a public appreciation, a friendly awakening and a heartfelt shout to all those who have a Ben in their lives to say "hey man, you're pretty special." 
because if they put up with you as much as he does with me, inspire you furiously and make you feel worth something a little more than you are, they bloody well deserve it. 

Mindful Chef

Discussing my eating habits online is something that I err on the caution of in the same way I always feel a little strange about talking on the topic of beauty products. 
Whilst emotional and physical flavours roll off of my tongue with perhaps too much ease, they are although empirical to me something I feel are useful to relate to.
 I am overtly aware that the other two are very much tailored to both my own individual lifestyle and financial budget.

Eating healthily and cooking are things that I've always had a great interest in, but I'm not always as proactive with them as I like.
In short, cooking healthy, organic food is often incredibly expensive and time consuming to construct interesting.
One parade around Whole Foods and I'd struggle to find 3 conscious meals that don't cost more than the insurance of the bottom square of Taylor Swift's calf. 
I found Mindful Chef within their first week of business, two perfectly regular looking twenty somethings promising that they could deliver a box of enough fresh, organic ingredients and recipes to my front door for three meals in under £25.
I near close had a fit. I wanted in. 
I was tainted with a little scepticism, but I dropped them an email asking if I could see what the fuss was about and thank guacamole I was so far from disappointed I've been incredibly excited to share this discovery with you. 

It's not a new concept, but this foodie venture feels a lot more honest and the price is genuinely unbeatable.
Adrian is relatively adverse to the kitchen (sorry love!) so I armed myself with the box and headed to his to give it the proper idiot proof test.
Even he managed to follow one of the cards with not so much as a steam burn on his wrists.
Everything is already measured out for you, there is no waste or lonely avocado halves to leave in your fridge for past eternity and all of the packaging is sustainable. 
They also offer three sorts - Paleo, Vegan or Gluten Free. 
Having experienced an ill spell a few months back from introducing a vegan lifestyle into my own, I opted for GF. 

Mindful Chef for me is a huge game changer, I had no idea that it was possible to fill my body with all of the good stuff Gwyneth Paltrow style and not have a Gwyneth Paltrow style budget. 
It also felt so good to have control in the kitchen, know exactly what it was that I was fuelling myself with and feel excited about cooking up something more adventurous than a stir fry. 
Solid job guys, look at that smile. Bloody delicious.
You'll definitely be seeing my name on your orders list once a week.

Love Labels & Kentucky Fried Chicken

Sunday, 17 May 2015

The actor has been back in town and what a treat.
Spangled nights of outgrown hair and KFC family meal deals in the back of four AM Ubers, climbing statues in rowdy east London bars and thrown on Hunter boots for riverside retreats had returned for the last six weeks and the sudden nonchalance of not caring for labels has left me giddy with adolescence.
We are a strange breed, so desperate always to fulfil a charm with a name and often that is what strips it of its potential poetic nature of being young and dumb.

"You just do what you want, don't you?" He smiles half dazed, coyly on the arm of my sofa.
I twiddle my hair around fore and index finger and knock back my head giggling as though a super8 camera has been propped in the corner and this moment will one day be footage in a self indulgent montage of me feeling sexy.
I stop for a moment, clicking off the aesthetic pull of the character I am playing and relish in the idea that I am sat with greasy fingers and an awkward spot in the middle of my left eyebrow and feeling a sort of 'fuck-off' sexy I always assumed was only attainable for the Agent Provocateur wearing tanned late 20-somethings.
Here I am, with dry knees from acrylic Falke friction and a bitter fur of red wine on my front teeth, absolutely owning how I feel with no need nor want for the validation of a commitment.
Contented without conscience.
He uncurls his sleeping socks from under the sofa and wobbles around half-drunk in an attempt to put them back on (thank god, feet are gross) and I think back to how my six month ago self would've been so perturbed by this situation.
Is he in love with me? Is this a mistake? Am I going to get hurt? What the hell am I doing not coating this eyeball sized spot in my eyebrow with concealer?
These usual grievances squashed underfoot as he slams his down on the floor as he loses balance.

I see a friend for dinner the next week and listen to him gush about how in love he is, recalling sweet moments that he is so used to being met with my eyes souring into tiny creases and uncomfortable "That's nice, I'm really happy for you."'s (which is universal code for "Why can't I have that? You're so grown up and in love and I'm jealous and hate you.").
He asks about my current situation and as I swill the handle of my fork around as though I'm about to whack a hammer in court and say something vaguely poignant, I hear the echo of the actor in the forefront of my brain and grin -
"I'm just doing what I want and I didn't know I wanted it."
Whilst a part of my anal life scheduling wants to tally it down to another boy that didn't want to fall in love with me, I take solace in striking it forward as a new boy who made me love myself, and that, is a label I didn't know I could write.

I live for surprises. Throwing surprises, receiving surprises, I just want to be a bundle of unanticipated energy floating around forever.
My darling mum sits on the other end of the unpredictable spectrum and likes to know exactly what's what and where it sits and what it's called.
She's a boss at excel spreadsheets and tucked in bed sheets and for that reason we often lock horns.
I get it, ain't nobody got time for someone else's dirty socks (she sees a lot of mine, mostly peaking from under the sofa.) 
In the fluster of its irony, I felt like there was no one I knew who needed a surprise more so than her and whilst she'd have been just as chuffed with a bunch of petrol station daff's and a bar of Aero for Mothers Day, I wanted to do a little bit more.
Being the impulsive sod (loving daughter) that I am, I bloody well did.
Packing two small cases with day dresses and silk-lined blazers, I got her to meet me at Kings Cross station and placed her passport in her palms and as her eyes brimmed with elated tears she instantly screamed "Paris!!" which then quickly followed with "LET'S GET CHAMPAGNE!" 
(and I wonder where I get it from...)

We twirled and skipped through everything that was on offer, eating each moment with hungry eyes and giggling souls.
I was filled with the utmost childlike glee checking both of us in and out of a fancy hotel and signing for breakfast in the morning when for the last twenty years that's always been her job for me.
Suddenly I was a real life grown up with my own real life grown up best friend and it was wonderful.

The charm that has written years of Parisian poetry is intoxicating, with its architecture that articulates a time I feel London's busy song has almost forgotten we brushed off the chill and dived deep into the romanticism of a city that would no longer live between the pages of a book for us.
All we wished for was to get lost amidst it all and we did a pretty splendid job.
I at no point had a clue where I was.

I booked us into the W Opera, because whilst I wanted her to crave the same serendipitous spontaneity that I was running towards, I wanted to know at least two things were guaranteed - a bloody good cocktail and a beautiful bed to rest flurried feet in.
Bang on  breakfast and a feast of trinkets, we returned after a day of exploration to sit amongst the clean and the colour and give Pierre on the door a wink.
(He was genuinely called Pierre and how I wish he'd taken up my offer to come back to London with us../me.)
Drawing open the shutters we looked right onto L'Opera, if we really had wanted, we could have stayed put in our little Parisian paradise and still felt equally as acquainted and in love with the city.
My trust and love for W was settled alongside with the room service cheque the next morning and I felt like an overbearing girlfriend latching onto the big old door begging not to leave.
Leicester Square, your french sibling is now my new best friend.

Whilst I know she is always proud me, I really felt I could immerse her into one of the exciting parts of my job and treat her to something she wholly deserved.
The strongest woman I know with the most infuriating beauty grinned more so than I'd seen her in months and now every jovial "Bonjour! Comment allez vous?" exchanged on the phone is embroidered with beautiful memories.
I know the stories you often have to re read on my blog aren't usually favourable moments for you to look back on, so this one is for you to enjoy. Love you then, love you still, always have and always will. More. X


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