On… shopping

My new SheerLuxe blog is up! (Warning: The Maje Dress features… again. What can I say, I heart it.)

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On… a new dress

I think you should all know that I am in love.

You know when you find a dress you love? Like, really love? It happens rarely, for me. I very much like most of my clothes, only tolerate some of them, and outright hate a handful. But never mind all that, they are past flings, forgotten: I have found the one.

That’s right: I love this Maje dress so much that I can’t stop talking about it. It completes me. I am the man who will fight for its honour. Hold me closer, tiny Maje dress.

So I have to share it with you, even though it has nothing to do with writing or reading or uh, anything. I would write more but I have to go now and kiss it and see if it wants anything for lunch and then maybe wash its hem with my hair.

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I don’t post about books that often, for many reasons. There are much better book reviewers than me in the blogiverse, I read purely for pleasure and it would feel like a job if I reviewed them, and um, I’m lazy.

But sometimes I read a book that makes me want to lie in bed and gaze into its eyes lovingly. A soulmate of a book. A kindred spirit, a bosom friend, Diana to my Anne of Green Gables. (Okay enough with the analogies.)

The Best Of Everything by Rona Jaffe.

The basic premise: five women working in publishing in the 50s in New York, trying to figure out who they are and where they’re going. It’s like Sex And The City meets Mad Men (I know, I hate those ‘x’ meets ‘x’ comparisons too, but they do save time). It was written in the late 50s, expressly to become a film, but as a book it’s standalone awesome.

It was a bit like being in love. When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it, and when I was reading it, nothing else mattered. I found myself underlining passages throughout, saying out loud ‘I feel EXACTLY like that!’. Naturally, some bits are un peu outdated (I don’t actually know any girls holding onto their virginity like some diamond-studded albatross, for example) but on the whole, sentence after sentence gave me chills. It’s smart, observant and empathetic. I wish I could go back and read it again.

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… will remain a mystery until you read A Girl Like You. (BOOM!)

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Dave or Harry? Who would be your bastard of choice?

Hurry! Vote now or forever hold your peace.

Just add it as an anonymous comment or email me gemma@gemmaburgess.com

Want to read ALL the bastard entries? Check out www.namethatbastard.com

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I started the Name That Bastard blog as a funny, silly way to find a name for the bad guy in my second book, A Girl Like You. I knew what he’d do to be such a bastard – I just didn’t know what he’d be called.

It’s a pretty basic blog. I made a little border as an homage to classic bastards (Bruce Patman, here’s to you) and then I set it free. And the emails poured in. Sometimes vitrolic, sometimes impassioned, sometimes very, very funny. And often all three.

Some people commented that the blog was like free therapy. I love that. It’s also oddly comforting to know that everyone has a bastard story or two. It doesn’t mean we’re not awesome. It just means we’re human.


As one of my friends pointed out, we can’t possibly choose the most bastardy of bastard stories. A bastard is a bastard, whether he just stopped calling or ran over your cat on purpose whilst snogging your sister. So these are simply the 10 bastards that people have responded to the most. You can see them after the jump.

After you’ve read them, please email me gemma@gemmaburgess.com and let me know your favourite bastard name, or add it in a comment at the end of the blog.


Simon was into world of warcraft. When I asked him to stop raiding to spend time with me, he’d say ‘sure, honey, one minute’ . . . .then while I was IN THE SAME ROOM he would say to his friends online ‘I have to go guys, my girlfriend is nagging me. What a bitch!’.

Whenever he wanted to fail an interview or make a coldcalling recruiter go away, he’d pretend to have my degree and my grades.

He called my best friend’s boyfriend gay to her face, because he was a vegan. This was after getting high and trying to sleep with her, then calling me to brag about it.

He told my father about the time I got drunk and passed out at a work party.

He accused my mother of lying to him and trying to defraud him.

He had a public fight with my best friend over whether a company can EVER act unethically. He didnt believe they could, because ‘unethical companies get shut down’. Yeah.

Ten days after I left him after a three year relationship, he got a new girlfriend who was skinnier and prettier than me. He then kicked me out our house for two weeks while she came to visit. And then left messages on my facebook calling me a whore. She did give him an STD though.

Oh, and he still wants the £25 I owe him from over a year ago when I accidentally (really!) damaged his car.


Your bastard should definitely be named Chris. I have had long-term relationships with 3 Chrises, all were bastards.

You want chapter and verse? Oooh, I think the worst would be when Chris said ‘should I get the baby paternity-tested?’ – we’d been married 2 years when the baby was born and I’ve never been unfaithful to him.

I did freelance work for an ex named Chris and – between various one-night-stands – he conned me into doing 2K worth of work for his company without mentioning they were going bankrupt. So I didn’t get paid.

Another Chris loved to play mind games and bullshit – he was another manipulative, untrustworthy bastard.

In my experience all Colins are nice guys and almost all Chrises are bastards. (Don’t believe me? Colin Firth. Enough said.)


This isn’t exactly a bastard story, but at a party once I was chatted up by a friend of a friend.
Andy’s opening line was: “I may not be the best looking man in here, but I’m the only one talking to you”.
More of a dick than a bastard, really.


Henry regularly got so drunk that he wouldn’t recognise me and once came on to me saying ‘my girlfriend will never find out’!! I WAS HIS GIRLFRIEND!


Curtis signed me up for a minimarathon without my knowledge and to be honest against my will and said ‘i think you’ll really appreciate the results. Less chocolate, more running’. wanker.


I went out with Steve when i was 21 and too stupid to know better – I.E., he never rang when he said he would ring, was always half an hour late for me, rubbished my taste in movies (and my taste in movies is AWESOME), never remembered any of my friends names or introduced me to any of his. eventually we broke up for perfectly aimiable reasons but now looking back i think, fuck me, what a bastard.


There are so many reasons why everyone called Dave is a bastard

Dave number 1- dated me whilst living with his girlfriend of 10 years- bastard

Dave number 2- dated my best friend when we were at uni in Edinburgh (he lived in newcastle and “never had time to visit her in Scotland”), waited until we went to London for the weekend and then he came up to Edinburgh and shagged another girl (yes I just said shagged, it seemed appropriate in an Austin powers kind of way, who incidentally is also a bit of a bastard)

Dave number 3- smashed my phone on the ground because I refused to kiss him. then ran away with my chips

Dave number 4- kissed people even when he had a coldsore- that is just disgusting- herpes bastard


I had a very intense fling with this guy when i was travelling in south america, found out afterwards that he only did he have a live-in girlfriend back in london, but they also owned a dog together. i mean that’s worse than having a baby.


This is the adulterous cock sucker who had an affair with my ex of 5 years.
His name is Miles.
Kill him. In print.


Harry was not just an idiot, he was an idiot who thought himself intelligent. He spoke entirely in london slang, despite the fact he was from cornwall, and his speech was littered with grammatical errors and malapropisms. he said to me once: that mug is like well esoteric isn’t it? He made me a mix cd consisting entirely of emo music and made me listen to the whole thing going, yeah, i am so good at this. (what harry, making a terrible mix cd?) Because I am an imbecile, I used to cook him dinner every night like a good wife and he would stay in my room to sleep (we lived in halls) and he told my friends we were exclusive. However, while this was going on he would disappear, not reply to texts or calls, then suddenly turn up again. When it got stupid, ie saying he was going to the shop and would be gone for hours, i decided to check his phone. lo and behold he was sleeping with some other girl. when i phoned him to confront him, he said ‘WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU ON ABOUT WHO IS THIS GIRL?’ despite that fact he had actually mentioned he had a ‘friend” called lizzie before. then he said ‘well i dun not think we were going out den anyway’ despite the fact he bloody well practically lived at my house. then when i told him to fuck off and that i never wanted to see him again, he came out with this gem: ‘oh..does that mean we’re not going out anymore?’

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On… the joy of clothes

This post is not about trailers / writing / A Girl Like You / being published, so if you’re here to read about that stuff then scroll on down, sister.

This blog is about something completely shallow and delightful.


(I say ‘clothes’ because ‘fashion’ implies labels. I really can’t respect women who just lurve labels regardless of what the piece actually looks like, it’s somehow like being one of those WAG bikes who’d bang any footballer as long as he was premiere league. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-label and I lust for select pieces from Celine, The Row, Alexander Wang, etc, but the point is: we’re not here to talk about labels.)

I like clothes. No, I LOVE them. I love getting dressed. I love the way the right outfit makes me feel tall and smart and confident and not in the least self-conscious. Getting dressed every day takes less than 10 minutes, but the mood-boosting effects last all day. It’s such an easy joy.

So inevitably, I enjoy talking about them. (This won’t surprise you if you (A) know me, or (B) have read The Dating Detox.)

The character in The Dating Detox names her outfits – Urban Warrior, St Germain Schoolgirl, etc. I did this when I was younger, these days I only do it by accident (I wore greige harem pants, a white vest, a leather bomber, skinny beige scarf, hair in a plait to a party a few weeks ago, and realised on the way there that I looked like a female Indiana Jones. Oops).

I think that perhaps, thinking about clothes is the perfect antidote to writing. I can’t read after I’ve been writing intensely. I can’t concentrate on other plotlines so movies are out, too. I can exercise but that’s not exactly exciting. I even have trouble talking to friends as my brain is all over the place. Looking at pretty things, however, is ideal.

So I walk to the art galleries on Westbourne Grove or flip through coffee table books in bookshops. More often, I open Vogue or my laptop and look for clothes. And I don’t mean to buy. But just for inspiration and ideas about what to wear.

I visit Refinery29 almost every day. This a brilliant online fashion magazine and it’s about how things are put together, not how much they cost. They have (IMHO) impeccable taste – their ‘one perfect outfit’ thing is ace.

Fashion magazines are damn inspiring and damn expensive (Vogue Italia at £10 defies belief) but http://fashiongonerogue.com/ brings together the best fashion editorials, ads and covers from all over the world. An awesome resource. The ads are consistently more inspiring than the editorial.

There are dozens – probably hundreds – of consistently good streetstyle fashion blogs, too. The Sartorialist is the best, and you should find some fun on Chictopia, Style Sighting http://www.stylesightings.com/, Show Me Your Wardrobe and of course Style.com.

There are also a lot of samey amateur vanity fashion blogs out there called things like La Petite Coucou En Verte. A wistful knock-kneed girl trying to channel ‘awkward ingenue’ takes askew photos of herself in the ugliest getup possible. There’s always a close-up of a bad shoe, with everything else blurry. So I shan’t bother you with them. A French girl made a brilliant pisstake fashion blog, but I haven’t been able to find it again. (Don’t you hate it when you lose a blog?)

There are also a lot of well-written blogs from fashion journalists, but as much as I want to know who the next St Martin star is and how amaaaahhhzing it was that Chanel shipped in an iceberg from Patagonia, or whatever the fuck they did, for their show, it doesn’t help me figure out new ways to wear a pencil skirt and how I can make a nude dress work for me when I’m pale and blonde. Right? Right.

Okay. Enough talking about clothes. I’m off to Refinery 29. If you know any other really good fashion websites, please let me know…

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