Category Archives: Gemma Burgess

On… Imposters

I started watching this show last week.

I try to watch one episode of everything. As long as it’s not terrible, I try to watch three.

I have watched eight episodes of the Imposters in four days. I LOVE IT SO MUCH.

This is the blurb: “Con artist Maddie is as beautiful as she is dangerous. Over the years, she has left a trail of unwitting victims who become tormented upon realizing that they have been used and robbed of everything — including their hearts. Her latest assignment threatens to be derailed, though, when she meets Patrick, a potential love interest. Further complicating Maddie’s work are three former targets — Ezra, Richard and Jules — who realize they have been scammed by the same woman and team up to track her down.”

Okay, that’s not the best copy in the world, it makes the show sound breathless and serious. But I swear to you: Imposters is fucking funny and fast and juicy, with great characters and seriously enjoyable dialogue. They are chewing through story so fast, I don’t know how they’re going to keep it up, but I have total confidence that they will. After years of shows as deliciously slow as Mad Men, there’s something very satisfying about a show that starts at 100 mph and doesn’t stop.


On… Trouble

About five years ago, magazines began banging on about skin scents. I don’t know why, it was super annoying. I guess it was the talking point on some snore press release and everyone copied each other, the way everyone always does. And then a bunch of supposed skin scents were released, and most of them smelled very nothing to me. A bit of almond, a bit of musk, a bit of low-power sandalwood and vanilla. They lasted about an hour and had no personality. They were pointless. Perfume for people who didn’t really like perfume.

Most people don’t like perfume, by the way. One of my first ever jobs was a perfume-spritzer, and we were instructed to say “you must experience this…” as we sprayed hapless passersby. It’s a terrible job, the perfume runs down your hands and strips off your nail polish and dries your cuticles, your feet hurt, and people are so rude to you. These days, I’m always super nice to perfume-spritzers. I look them right in the eye and say “oh! Yes, I’d love to! Thank you so much! That’s delicious! I’ll be sure to remember it!” And then I totally never remember it because it was probably something with a revolting champagne-muguet accord from Britney Spears, called ‘Disillusioned’ or ‘Shopworn’ or something.


I always thought that the best REAL skin scent was L’Eau de Rien. (Nuxe Prodigieuse le Parfum is a runner up, but it’s really only for beach vacations.)

I’m such a bore about L’Eau de Rien, I know. It’s the Miller Harris scent that is my favorite ever, because it smells like salty skin and clean hair and baby heads and all good warm human things like that. I feel like wearing L’EdR 60% of the time, the other 40% of the time I hop through my perfume collection like a happy little bunny. L’Heure Bleu, Le Dix, Santa Maria Novella Melograno, vintage Miss Dior, Fracas, Bois des Iles and so on and so forth wait wait don’t stop reading I promise to stop listing perfumes I know I’ve talked about them all before.

L’Eau de Rien has been defanged at some point over the last couple of years. I’m not sure how or why. Somehow, the best part of the scent – the part that made me purr – was taken out or tweaked. Maybe the oakmoss? I guess because it was made from something endangered or caused fits or something. Whatever. I sat Fox down on our bed and made him smell a spritz from the old bottle and the new bottle. “CAN YOU SMELL THE DIFFERENCE?” I yelled, shoving my wrists at his nose. “THIS IS A TOTALLY DIFFERENT SCENT. THIS IS A DISASTER.” “I don’t know,” he said, “Maybe? Why are you yelling at me? Is this really a disaster? There are 62 million refugees in the world right now.” I tracked down a few pre-change bottles, but I knew the time for L’Eau de Rien and I was nearing an end. Also that maybe my priorities are all wrong.

But! Good news. I found a possible substitute. I don’t know if it’s a year-round pleaser the way L’Eau de Rien is, because I only nabbed it from some eBay seller a few weeks ago. But I luuurve it.

It’s discontinued but easy to find, and was created an old perfume house, Boucheron.

It’s called Trouble.



Such a basic, almost tacky name, non? It reminds me of working in advertising in London. Whenever I needed to check something in the alcove where the graphic designers sat, one of the pseudo-cockney lads, probably called Ant or Andy or Simon, would be like ”’Allo, ‘ere comes trouble” as I walked in. All graphic designers in advertising in London are called Ant or Andy or Simon and talk in pseudo-cockney accents and try to flirt with copywriters. It’s just a fact.

Back to Trouble. I got the Eau de Parfum, and the notes are listed as citrus, jasmine, amber and sandalwood, but that combination creates a horrible screech in my brain. When I smell it, it’s more of a warm creamy ambery musk. Very sexy, but mellow-sleepy-naked-snuggles-sexy rather than Fracas-look-at-my-tits-and-take-off-my-knickers-with-your-teeth sexy. Sort of subtle and warm and yummy and not sweet. It just smells GOOD. It’s what I want the back of my neck to smell like when I lift up my hair, does that make sense? I want to dab it on all my scarves so they always waft this when I throw them on. (And given it is April and it snowed in NYC yesterday, I think it might just be scarf weather for a while here.) I think it will get a little honeyish on a hot summer’s day, but that might be a good thing. We’ll find out.

In the meantime, darlings, if you fancy trying something new, try a little Trouble.


On…. wrist pain

So, for about a year, my right wrist hurt. Not just my wrist. My thumb, my index and middle finger hurt, too. They’d ache and tingle and swell. I had pain in my elbow, sometimes up to my shoulder. But mostly, my wrist hurt.

I wondered if it was from overusing my iPhone, but I’m really not on it THAT much. Frankly, if I could still use one of those ancient Nokias that can’t save more than ten texts at a time, I would. I only text and email from my laptop, and I mostly use Instagram to scroll back look at adorable old photos of my own children. (Yes. I’m very self-involved.) So I figured, it’s not my iPhone.

Then I thought it was carpal tunnel and/or tendonitis from typing too much, but what could I do? I can’t just go and become a fucking shepherd or whatever. The only thing I know how to do is write. (And the only thing I know how to do well is spell.) So I went to my PT, I went to a Chinese medicine doctor, I wore a totally useless wrist splint, I stopped typing in bed (the writer’s secret shame) and only wrote at my desk with a proper monitor and keyboard and mouse. Didn’t make any difference. My wrist hurt. All. The. Time.

Then one day, after like 14 months of this bullshit pain, I thought, it REALLY hurts when I use my mouse. Let’s try something different.

So I bought this.


And this.


And YOU GUYS. Pain. Gone. Completely gone. Within about 24 hours. It’s been six weeks, it hasn’t come back.

So this is more of a PSA than an interesting post, I know, but for the three people out there who are experiencing severe wrist pain and can’t figure out why, HEY! Try this. Let me know if it works.

On… some books

Well darlings, I am writingwritingwriting (is it good? is it terrible? who can say, certainly not moi) and then at night I fall into bed with a book and bam, that’s it, game over. In case you’d like it, here’s a recent reading list. It’s not everything I’ve read – often when I dip my toe into recently released fiction I get very fucking bored and irritated immediately, like the grumpy old biddy that I am. The moment I read a female character who doesn’t feel real, I throw the book at the wall, so I throw books at walls frequently.

I did not throw these books.


Jane Fonda, My Life So Far.

Fascinating and thoughtful and wise and unflinchingly, almost painfully honest and self-aware. I adore her.


David Niven, The Moon’s A Balloon.

It’s not often that an autobiography will make me cry – that’s one of the reasons I read them; they’re safe, and I am SUCH a weeper. But this book made me sob. Such a lovely man.



Dreaming The Beatles, Rob Sheffield

Absolutely delicious book. This made me – genuinely – dream about the Beatles. (FYI, John, every time, always. I could have made him nice.)



The Beatles: The Biography, Bob Spitz

After the dreaming book, I read about six more Beatles books, because I am nothing if not excessive. This was the best of them.


Leonardo da Vinci, Walter Isaacson 

This wonderful book gives texture and life to a period and person I knew nothing about. So, so enjoyable.


The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell

Funny, smart, thoughtful and interesting. I loved this book.


Persuasion, Jane Austen

My absolute favorite, I read it once a year. I have tried to think, for years, how to retell Persuasion in modern times, without making Anne super passive and annoying or putting up with so many idiots telling her what to do, when she should be jumping into the sack with beautiful Wentworth at the first opportunity… It’s a tough one. Give me time.

More soon. What should I post about? Makeup? Makeup, right? Okay. I’ll write a makeup post next. Pinkie swear.




On… new writing and new music

Two cool new TV projects dropped in my lap in January, gang.

So obviouslah, I needed some new music to listen to while I’m playing make believe in my head. Writing, for me, starts with daydreaming. And then, if an idea comes, scribbling it – whatever it is; characters, plot ideas, dialogue – down as fast as I can, on paper, on my iPhone, on my hands, inside of book jackets in the middle of the night when I’m too asleep to get some actual paper but too scared of losing the idea, anywhere. Yes, it’s incredibly annoying for the people around me. Where was I? Yes. New music. (Or new old music.)

This is what I’m listening to:

Nana Adjoa – Late Bloomer


Gizzle – Get Loud For Me


The Beatles – It Won’t Be Long


Gin Wigmore – Kill Of The Night


Dum Dum Girls – Coming Down


Electric Six – I Buy The Drugs


The Cure – Close To Me


Gary Clark Jr – Come Together


The Romantics – What I Like About You


Iggy Pop – Candy


Harry Nilsson – One



On… bad news

Bad news, gang. ABC did not pick up Mavericks. It’s okay, shhhhh, it’s okay. Hug it out. Better? Okay. Yes. They picked up a bunch of cop shows and procedurals, and just one other sex-filled relationship soap so far – an Eva Longoria produced/starring show, set in a hotel in Miami. Who can blame them? I want to watch Eva Longoria in a sexy hotel soap in Miami, don’t you? Anyway, it’s disappointing, but it’s a pretty darn good script so it might find another home… I’ll keep you posted. x


On… smells like Hong Kong


Nippon Kodo Kayuragi Japanese Incense Sticks in Aloeswood. There are 40 sticks in this pack (and it comes with a little holder, too). Smells utterly delicious, lasts for hours and hours, and every time I walk into our apartment I think ‘omg that smells so damn good’. Not like the incense that the stoned girls used to have at college, all cumin and fake jasmine, ewwww. More like… I don’t know. Let me think.


Got it: it smells like Hong Kong. Not in a bad way. Not in the humid-cement-covered-in-urine-and-rotting-cabbage way (though I am genuinely quite partial to that smell, too). More in the walking-into-a-Hong-Kong-furniture-store way. It smells like sweet smoke and rice and shiny dark furniture. And I’m not sure what else. Aloeswood, clearly, whatever the fuh that is.

It just smells like I want my apartment to smell, forever.

It is my gift to everyone I know for the rest of the year. Having me to dinner? Have some incense. Helped me with a work thing? Voila. Invited me over and braided my hair while we watched Marvelous Mrs Maisel together? Light this on fire. You’ll thank me later.

On… L’Heure Bleue

I’m quite the little perfume slut. Truly. I like variety. To me, it makes perfect sense. I can’t wear the same perfumes in summer as I do in winter – one is too light for the other, or too sharp, or too heavy, or too sexy. I can’t wear the same perfume to a wild Christmas party and to a shopping morning in spring with my girlfriends. And that aside, wearing the same perfume every day is just too fucking boring. Whenever someone says ‘no, Chanel No 5 is my signature scent’ I think to myself, well you didn’t invent it darling.


And on a frosty, already endless January, when I’m writing every day and slightly bored but also know that I have to push through the boredom in order to write something halfway decent, I wear L’Heure Bleue.

So let’s talk about it. L’Heure Bleue – meaning ‘the blue hour’, i.e., dusk – was launched by Guerlain in 1912. It probably doesn’t smell quite the same now as it did then. Many of the old ingredients are illegal now; we don’t slaughter muskrats and civet cats and whales anymore for their yummy olfactory charms, and frankly the world is the poorer for it. But it still smells divine. It’s slightly sweet (not cloying), musky (in a cool way, rather than warm) and has a delicious slow roundness to it, with a tiny hint of play doh, which sounds weird but oh man, it’s so good. When I wear it I think of warm living rooms and thin sunshine and dust. And sex. But not bite-me-on-the-neck-and-ravage-me sex, more sleepy afternoon sex. The kind you have in between hangover naps. (Assuming you don’t have small children, because if you do, obviously sex won’t be happening, instead you put on Peppa Pig and pass out on the floor next to the Lego, but even doing that kind of smells like L’Heure Bleue.)

L’Heure Bleue is not overpowering, but it lasts forever on your skin. If it helps you to imagine-smell the scent in your brain, the notes are listed as anise, bergamot, orange blossom, heliotrope, tuberose, carnation, violet, jasmine, Bulgarian rose, tonka bean, orris, benzoin, vanilla, musk. To me, it’s something to wear on quiet days, with big oversize sweaters and clean hair. (Yes, there are perfumes for dirty hair days. This is not it.) In bold, bright summer, it somehow becomes too heavy, in sparkly crisp December, it’s too cool. But in January it’s juuuust right.

You can find L’Heure Bleu just about anywhere. All those slightly seedy online perfume stores and Amazon have it for less than $50 (I did a lot of research once about whether those cheapie cheap perfume sites are bargains or fake, and the answer was ‘*probably* not fake’ which is good enough for me, and at least on Amazon you can return it if it’s fake), or you can buy the guaranteed real thing in a department store for three times that price, or you can hop over to Etsy and get a vintage one, that might have been stored badly and now smells like pee OR might have sat untouched in some nice lady’s vanity for the last 30 years and be the best thing you’ve ever, ever smelled in your damn life. You can choose between the Eau de Toilette (lovely but won’t last as long), the Eau de Parfum (this is the one I have) or the Parfum (ridiculously expensive but probably orgasmic). Finding the right bottle for the right price will give you a joyous, slaying-a-woolly-mammoth euphoria, trust me. Happy hunting.