Monday, 27 July 2015


On Saturday, I got this beautiful issue of Structo, with my fiction on its pages. I read an excerpt of the story at The Society Club in London where the issue was launched, and met some of the other wonderful writers. There were softly lit lamps, good people and Hemingway Daiquiri. All things right.

To everyone who's asked, the issue is for sale from August 1, and you can pre-order your copy here (they ship worldwide, and you'll be supporting a wonderful, not-for-profit effort to produce good literature):

You can also pick up, or order, a copy from select shops in the UK. Or from shops in New York, Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam. The list of shops/stockists are here:

If you'd rather not make a purchase now, please wait a while - the online version will be available after three months, and is then free to read. I will post a link to my story here when that happens.

Thank you, always, for supporting, and reading, and following my work! I really appreciate it, you know.

Love, P xx

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

A year older


Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy's Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota
James Wright

Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly,
Asleep on the black trunk,
Blowing like a leaf in green shadow.
Down the ravine behind the empty house,
The cowbells follow one another
Into the distances of the afternoon.
To my right,
In a field of sunlight between two pines,
The droppings of last year's horses
Blaze up into golden stones.
I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on.
A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.

There's been much said about what James Wright meant by the last line. For some, it means what it says - a wasted life, a regret. But in my mind, there's never been any doubt that he meant quite the opposite. I can see him, lying in the hammock, his proverbial tongue in his proverbial cheek, gently laughing at those who rush and run. Laughing at those who think lying in a hammock at William Duffy's farm is a waste of time. Because James knew, even then, that they were all wrong. That life was in watching a bronze butterfly sleep, listening to cowbells, and seeing the chicken hawk float home. And so he laughed and changed not a damn thing; just swung on his hammock as day turned to dusk. 

When I was young, I would stare at the clouds for hours with my school books open in front of me; Ma Baba kept the curtians drawn before an exam. And now, as I get on with this business of being an adult, I still find time to waste. 

It's midnight now. July 22, 00:00 hours, the laptop tells me. Which means I've just turned a year older. Two sleepy voices, one big and one little, will sing me Happy Birthday in a few minutes. And there's one thing I know for certain: I've wasted my life well. 

If you're in London, and fancy joining me for a spot of time wasting, please drop by The Society Club in Soho on July 25 - I'll be there for the launch of Structo Magazine's new issue, and I'd love to meet you! Structo publishes a fantastic anthology of fiction and poetry, and I'm very proud to have my work in its new issue. I'll be doing a reading from my story 'Dancing in the Drawing Room', which is part of the anthology (available online and in bookstores post July 25).

Details for the launch and reading, here, if you can make it!

Have a happy, wasted week, everyone!


Tuesday, 7 July 2015

I can change my mind

I haven't written another post on Provence. I sat down to write it, not because I wanted to write it, because I told you I would. But my heart was not in my fingers, they hovered above the keyboard; seagulls over dry land. And then I remembered something I often forget: I can change my mind.

I can change my mind.

It's strange how we're wired to not see that option. How years of conditioning teaches us to plough on, keep our word, see things through, finish every bit of food on the plate. Of course, there's a fear that creates, and arches over, that absolutism. The fear that if we gave our children the freedom to change their mind, we would turn them into fickle creatures, quitters and drifters. We would teach them how to give up too easily. They could grow up wasting their time looking for utopia and other silliness, instead of setting up the tent called Real Life, which of course stands on a few 'essential' pegs - a career, a spouse, a child (ideally two), a house of one's own, and money in the bank.

A departure from those essentials puts parents in a difficult position. Of having to present the anomalous lives of their adult children to the rest of the world. They fumble if one or more of the essential pegs are missing: if a daughter is successful but single, if a forty-five-year-old son lives in a rented apartment, if their children decide to travel the world on odd jobs instead of a steady one, if their healthy, fertile, married daughter decides not to have children. Or, god help them, if their child decides that they're attracted to people of their own sex. The poor parents' post-retirement plan is sorted - to spend their days explaining these inconsistencies to friends and neighbours the best they can. And that, is the fear. That these drifters could be products of a freedom, which gave them the license to change their mind.

Why then do I always tell Chotto-ma that her mind is hers to change?

Because, you see, the other side of the coin is far scarier to me. That she might spend endless days doing something her heart is not into. That she might not listen to the voice that comes from her belly. That she would be too proud or worried or scared to say 'I was wrong, and I'd like to change my mind.' I've seen people waste years studying for the wrong degree and then working in the wrong job, because changing their mind would seem like giving up. I've seen people who knew a year into their marriage that they'd made the wrong choice, but stayed on for another decade, because once you've told your family you've found the love of your life, you don't change your mind.

Now, what if you drifted for a while? A physical drifting can actually tether you in wonderful ways. And what if you didn't take the pegs and put up that tent? What if you walked off the road and explored and got a little lost and found your way again? Feeling settled inside has nothing to do with being settled on the outside, of that I'm sure. Finding that still point in yourself - where you know you're in the right place, with the right people, in the right skin - has little to do with being still on the outside, having a permanent residence and a planned life. The older I get, the less time I spend doing things that don't feel right. Time feels precious - something to be reserved for people who matter, doing things that add to my day. I change my mind as soon as my belly asks me to, for rarely has that voice in my gut led me astray.

When I start writing a blog post, I never know where I'm going to go. The only way I seem to be able to write is by drifting. Drifting is the way I've found most good things; or the way they've found me.

This post was supposed to be a travel guide around Provence, and I couldn't have strayed farther away on the map. I also had no plans of sharing a recipe today, but I changed my mind.

Peach, Mozzarella & Black-Eyed Bean Salad

I wrote the post over this salad lunch. And the salad was very good, so I made another plate just to take pictures and share it with you. It tastes like summer.


2 peaches, sweet and ripe
100 gms fresh mozzarella
1/2 cup black-eyed beans, soaked overnight
Fresh basil
1tsp whole black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
Handful of cashew nuts, roasted in a pan till lightly browned (or almonds if you prefer)
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt

First, boil the beans with salt till soft. Keep aside to cool. (I usually have some boiled and stored in the fridge.)
The rest is all about assembly:

Slice the peach and lay it out on a plate. Tear chunks of mozzarella and dot them around. Next goes the basil. Sprinkle this layer with salt (optional) and the coarse pepper. Scatter in the beans. Top everything with the cashew nuts. Drizzle with olive oil. And voila!