Amy Winehouse: The Curse of 27

It was sad to hear the news this weekend that Amy Winehouse had died. Partly because her life was cut short so young and partly because the path she was on almost made the outcome almost inevitable.

It seemed the “curse of 27” had struck again and Amy Winehouse added her name to a long list of stars who lived hard and died young, all at the same age:

Kurt Cobain. Jimi Hendrix. Janis Joplin. Jim Morrison…

But 27 is a strange age for everyone, not just multi-million selling musicians. The fact that these musicians achieved so much before they even reached 27 makes ordinary people seem – well- even more ordinary.

Up until your mid-twenties your horizons are generally widening. You go to uni and you suddenly have the freedom from the restrictions of your parents. You get a job and you have your own money which you can spend recklessly and at will, without a hint of guilt. You have the freedom to flit around from job to job, location to location, trying different lives on for size.

But at 27 you suddenly realise that certain options are no longer available to you. Your options are narrowing. It’s time to decide what to do with your life.

UK Literary Agents – Some Help from the Writers’ Workshop

The great thing about the internet is that there is so much free content that can help writers and that is accessible to everyone. I wanted to share a great spreadsheet (I know what you’re thinking the words “great” and spreadsheet” aren’t a natural fit, but stay with me) that I found online today. The people at the Writers’ Workshop have put together a list of literary agents in the UK and beside each one have put the kind of submissions they are accepting and some notes. You can download the spreadsheet here. I actually have a very similar spreadsheet that I made myself about 2 years ago using the Writers and Artists’ Handbook. I’m very happy that this time round someone else has done it for me. Anyone can download the spreadsheet, save it to their computer and edit it as they please. So you can use it to keep track of the submissions you make.
Talking of “free things” (a rather tenuous link) Five Stop Story’s July short story competition is now in full swing – find out more on the website.

Top 5 things I love about life in Bangkok

I’ve been in Thailand a little while now, so I thought it might be time to share the top 5 things I love about day to day living in Bangkok.

1. The Food

The food is surely some of the best in the world: Pad Thai, loads of fresh seafood, noodles, fish cakes, massaman curry, morning glory…the list goes on. The price is good too; even in a restaurant a curry will only set you back about £2 and you can also get pretty much any kind of Western food for a lower price than in the UK. Plus you can order delivery from almost everywhere, including McDonalds!

2. Walking around in shorts and a t-shirt at night

In the evenings the temperature is perfect. I feel pleasantly warm in the evenings as I walk down the streets, I can eat outside without an outdoor heater and I don’t have to put on a coat, gloves and scarf before heading out in winter.

3. The national anthem at every opportunity

In the cinema everyone stands up at the sound of the first bars of the national anthem. At 6pm at sky-train stations across the city everyone stops what they are doing and stands still wherever they happen to be as the national anthem plays through the speakers. Even when we went to see the New York band the Drums playing live, we stood still for the national anthem before the gig started. Thai national anthem has become a regular part of my life and now its opening bars bring me to a standstill.

4. Table service drinks

No more queuing at the bar, waving notes and desperately trying to catch the barman’s eye. Drinks are almost served to your table. And at gigs bar staff come round with ice buckets of beer to sell to you. So no need to lose your place at the front to quench your thirst.

5. Friendly people

I’m not talking about the guy who tells you the tourist attractions are closed and then offers to take you to a gem shop in his tuk-tuk. I mean more the fact that wherever you go you’re always greeted with a smile, people are unfailingly polite and will do their best to help you out.