Category Archives: Gemma Burgess

On… some new music

Well, not new. New old music. Old music, mostly, that you probably haven’t listened to in a while, maybe ever, but you’ll totally love. Music! What I’m saying is, here’s some music for you. Handpicked by moi.

The Flaming Lips. Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots.

This is a weird, beautiful, quirky little song, unlike any other song.


Saint Motel. My Type.

I’m not sure if I love this, or really hate it. But I keep listening to it.


Blondie. Long Time.

Love Blondie. LOVE.


Cake. Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town.

I like to sing this very loudly to myself. It’s VERY dramatic. Stick to the very end to hear the ad-libs.


Dave Dobbyn. Slice Of Heaven.

This song was a SMASH HIT in New Zealand and Australia, and my cousins in Perth had it on cassette tape. We played it a lot when we visited them from HK for Christmas. Then we would sing it, acapella. Then we’d make up Nativity plays. My sister was Mary. I was the Donkey, but I like to think of myself as the writer/director BEHIND the Donkey.


Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Bellbottoms.

Obviouslah I’m a Baby Driver fan, I’ve got a working brain. But what made me fall in love with this song was an interview with Edgar Wright, when he said he used to listen to it in his car, like Baby does in the movie, and daydream and write in his head. And the movie grew out of this solitary daydreaming. This is exactly the kind of thing I do, and totally the way I think of ideas and write. I think and think and think until eventually, my head will explode if I don’t write it all out.

The clip is the movie clip, rather than the video, because, well, it’s better.

And if you’d like to see the clip while you read the script – and why wouldn’t you? – then take a look at this amazing Instagram account.


Lemon Jelly. Nice Weather For Ducks.

Another weird song. But kind of great.


Gizzle. Get Loud For Me.

I have a feeling I posted this song before, but tant pis, as they say. It’s one of my favorites right now.


There’s no video to this song. But just trust me. It’s Turin Brakes, Feeling Oblivion, and if you’re in just the right mood, it will make you burst into tears. But the kind of tears that make you feel better about everything. I promise.

On… the Anniversary photo, 2018 edition

We’ve been married eight years. EIGHT YEARS, PEOPLE. And we have the photo evidence to prove it.



Errol is six, Neddy is four.

I wish, in retrospect, that I wasn’t wearing a deeply crumpled old jacket, that I’d tried harder to get the boys to wear the FRANKLY ADORABLE little blazers that I bought for them for special occasions, and that we’d gotten our shit together and made it to City Hall before the sun was directly overhead. Oh well. Live and learn. You can also see that Fox has grown a lovely red beard, that Errol is extremely shy of the camera, and that I am clutching Ned’s hand rather than holding it, because he was hopping around like a bunny on the 7-ft-high podium and one of these years, he’s going to fall off.


Here we have 2017. Errol is five and Ned is three.


Here is 2016. Errol is four, Ned is two and REALLY into it.


Here is 2015. Ned is one, Errol is three. That dress is from Topshop. Where the hell did I put that dress.


Here is 2014. Errol is two and Ned is three months.


Here is 2013. Errol is one and a half.


Here is 2012. Errol is about eight months old.

anniversary 2010

Here is 2010, our wedding day.

As I said this time last year, we got married here in NYC, even though we were living in London at the time, because why not. And 2011 is missing as we were living in Zurich for the year for Fox’s job, and I was three months pregnant, so it would have been a photo of me puking and snarling at Fox.


On… a lipstick wardrobe

Let’s talk about four essential lipsticks that will see you through every single possible life event* and will suit everyone**.

Caveat, as ever: I know very little. About anything. At all. This is just my opinion, and I’m mostly winging my opinions. But everyone likes lipstick, and the world is a crazy place right now, and I’m tits-deep in deadlines, so a quick jaunt into the joyfully pointless world of maquillage can’t hurt, non?

Now. Before we get to the lipsticks, let’s talk about prep. Yes, the bare-face-just-lipstick look is divine, but bare doesn’t really mean BARE. You can’t simply bang lipstick on a squeaky clean face and think you’re going to look amazing. No one can. Everyone has discolorations – for me, the skin around my nostrils is pinkish, my chin is ruddy, etc. If I put on red lipstick, it sort of pulls those reddish bits out, and my whole face explodes.

Okay, that’s not precisely true. But it doesn’t look good.

So, first, get your canvas ready: put on La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid SPF 60 Antioxidant Sunscreen (actually I just started using EltaMD UV Facial Broad-Spectrum SPF 30+ for dry skin and I love it, too), let it soak in, and then a drop or two of squalene to magically smooth everything, followed by your concealer (Cle de Peau, or NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer) or a tiny blob of foundation (Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation or Clinique Beyond Perfecting) over those ruddy areas around your mouth and nose, and ON your eyelids to even out the skintone. Pat it in with your fingertips. (If you want to apply under-eye-concealer too, go for it, I tend to not on bare-face days, because I think the shadows are kind of cool. But whatever blows your skirt up.) Then dust over your favorite powder to set (I like Laura Mercier Translucent Setting Powder the most, I also like Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder for a soft glow).

Eyebrows, if that’s your jam, mascara if you insist, but no eyeliner or shadow, nothing too ‘done’.

Voila. The perfect blank canvas.

Next, MAC Prep and Prime. “Lip primer?” I hear you say. “Sounds like a waste o-” and I’m going to stop you right there and press my finger firmly on your lips and say “NO, DARLING. NO.”

MAC Prep and Prime is lipstick’s BFF. It makes your lips plumper and more hydrated, and hangs onto lipstick until the cows come home. Oh, cows. Those tardy little bastards. If you love lipstick, you’ll love MAC Prep and Prime.

Okay, enough silliness. Onto the lipsticks:

The Perfect Nude: Givenchy Beige Mousseline

I’ve written about good nudes before, because I’m the kind of person who tries everything, returns most things, and immediately wants to share my favorite discoveries with the world at large. This Burberry Nude which is indeed marvelous but sort of collapsed after four months the way Burberry lipsticks always do. The Dior Greige 1947 one that is so lovely, I gave it to each of my best friends to thank them for a birthday trip away last year, but it somehow started looking too peach on me a few months ago. The Rimmel Kate one that seemed gorgeous the first time then turned out to be disappointing, as cheap lipsticks so often do. (SIGH.)

Then just before Christmas I discovered Givenchy Rouge A Porter Beige Mousseline, and immediately fell deeply and passionately in love. I wear it almost every single day right now. The key to this nude is that it’s got a lot of yellow (not peach, not pink), doesn’t make you look jaundiced or yellow-toothed, and it’s shiny and sort of lip-plumping and yet stays for hours and hours. It’s, pardon my French, fucking divine.


Important note: it looks brown in that image. I searched high and low (well, I looked on Google for more than 30 seconds) for an image that was more accurate, couldn’t find one. So, this is the cosmetic equivalent of a trust fall, you guys, because I swear this isn’t brown lipstick. On your lips, it will be the perfect flattering shiny nude.

My favorite, buy-in-bulk, hand-out-like-party-favors lip pencil, Milani Nude, is NOT the match for this lipstick. Too pinky-brown. You actually don’t need a lip pencil with it at all, that’s the magic of the nude shine. But if you want to cheat your lips to look a little more full, and prolong the wear, then get NARS Precision Lipliner in Halong Bay. It’s a lovely pale nude with just the right amount of yellow, like the lipstick.

Now, we should talk about blush. With pale lipstick, you need some color or you’ll look corpse-y, but you don’t want too much color in your cheeks or else everything will look out of balance. Just a little hint-of-nothing flush to make your eyes sparkle. Try Face Stockholm Sunkissed. That’s the blush I wear when I don’t know what blush to wear.

The Perfect Bitten Pink: Bobbi Brown Crushed Lip Color in Baby 

I also wrote about this before (I am boringly predictable yet pleasingly consistent) but in case you didn’t give it a whirl yet: this is the lipstick to wear when you want to look like you just emerged from nine hours of passionate kissing. Without the stubble rash. It’s a sheer-yet-matte watercolor-type shade that sort of hydrates and plumps lips for that extra-bitten pouty look, and it’s absolutely gorgeous.


If you want to amplify the bitten look even more, dab a tiny tiny bit of dark matte red or red-pink lipstick/lipliner (NARS Luxembourg is good for this, so is MAC Ruby Woo) on the INSIDE part of your your lips, and then blend it into the Baby lipstick with your fingers. This adds a tiny bit of depth, looks like you’ve been sucking on a cherry-flavored popsicle (or ice lolly or icy pole or whatever it is called where you live). But for a clean, pure look, just use the Baby on its own. Doesn’t need a lipliner, either. Lipstick that is less precise around the edges looks more natural and kissable.

I would use Baby as a blush, too, just tap it on your fingertips or a brush like this and smush into your apples and blend blend blend for a soft virginal Snow White look. If you want a powder blush, try NARS Exhibit A, but tap your brush into it once and then tap the brush against a hard surface like four times before you apply. Exhibit A is strong. You will never run out.

The Perfect Red: Dior 999

I’ve had many long-term relationships with various very good bright red lipsticks – MAC Lady Danger, Givenchy Carmin Escarpin, YSL 201 Orange Imagine - but then I met Dior 999.

And reader, I married it.

Dior 999 is one of those lipsticks that everyone talks about, that you see in ‘cult fave’ lists from magazines (the same magazines are usually getting paid by the creators of said cult fave products to call them cult faves, so should mostly be ignored). But when something pops up over and over and over again, you can usually bet it’s pretty good. I’d read about Dior 999 for years and thought ‘I’m NOT bloody buying another red lipstick and that’s the end of it’. Then Sephora carried mini-size sample about eight or nine months ago and I was like ‘oh, go on then, let’s have a look at you’.


It’s the perfect red.

It’s not too orange, not too blue, not too pale, not too dark, not too thick, not too thin, not slippery, not drying, it doesn’t smudge, it doesn’t crack, it doesn’t make my teeth look off-color, it doesn’t swear, it doesn’t watch Fox News, it doesn’t leave the dishwasher improperly stacked. It’s perfect. PERFECT. It looks like effort, but like effortless effort, you picking up what I’m putting down? People stop me on the street to ask what it is. It’s such a good red that I usually don’t wear any blush with it, just a touch of bronzer – Shiseido Bronzer in Medium is good – or maybe a tiny tiny wash of beige-pink, like dear old Benefit Dandelion.

It’s a very good match for MAC Redd lip pencil, but this lipstick is such a perfect consistency that you don’t really need a lipliner. You just put it on and skip around town like the happy little bunny that you are.

The Perfect Grown-Up Rose Brown: Givenchy Boyish Rose

Here’s a wild card, you guys. I’ve been getting a lot of wear out of a shade we can call Grown-Up Rose Brown, though I’d privately call it Mother Lipstick, because it’s the color lipstick that my mother has worn, consistently, for two decades. I take her make-up shopping whenever we’re together (this is one of my prime filial duties, you won’t be surprised to hear) and as much as I might gently suggest/order her to try a pink or soft nude or anything else, she gravitates to a rose brown color. And she’s right: it’s a great color. It goes with everything. It looks as good at a breakfast meeting as it does at dinner. A truly grown-up lipstick, for true grown-ups.

Anyway, last time she was in NYC, she picked up Givenchy Boyish Rose. I tried it on for fun and decided I liked it so much, I’d get one, too. It’s shiny-satiny pink-rose-brown. It would feel 90s if it wasn’t so shiny and sophisticated. It just always looks right.

Okay, again: that image isn’t correct. It looks like hot pink: this is NOT hot pink. I swear. It is a rose brown. Is Givenchy having trouble accurately photographing their lipsticks? Should we hold an intervention?

It’s a tiny bit hard to apply, as you really need a lipliner (shiny lipsticks always do, unless they’re nude) and I haven’t found the right rose-brown shade yet. (Admittedly I haven’t looked very hard. I’m sure I’d find a good one if I actually applied myself. In general, by the way, the best lipliners are NYX and Milani and Rimmel and MAC, but you need to test them in person. There’s no reason to buy a high-end $40 lipliner, the cheap ones are marvelous.) I’ve been improvising and it seems to go pretty well, but not perfectly, with MAC Spice or Rimmel Spice. Don’t use the lipliner to go outside your lips – just use it as a base and follow your natural lip shape, before applying the lipstick over the top.

And that’s it, my loves, and I hope this has been helpful and inspiring: your four-strong essential lipstick wardrobe. (I could include a dark blood red, or a deep mulberry wine, but it’s finally FINALLY the end of winter in NYC, and that stuff can wait until October.) In the meantime, check out these four lovely shades, and email me with any questions or suggestions or complaints (but seriously please don’t complain).

*Probably not true.

**Also probably not true, you simply cannot tell with lipsticks until you put them on. Even my sister, who looks so much like me that people on the street stop each of us thinking we are the other one, can’t wear the same lipsticks – she has slightly pinky undertones, I am yellow AF. So when you really think about it, there is no point in ever taking anyone’s advice on what color lipstick to wear, you should just trust your own taste, because your face is yours and you know it best, you beautiful thing you.




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.