As you probably know, Pantone’s official colour of 2014 is 18-3224 TPX, a.k.a. Radiant Orchid, which strikes a sickly, diamante-encrusted-tweenage-diary middle ground between pale fuchsia and violet. Duh.

According to the Pantone website, the Color of the Year serves to ‘express in color what is taking place in the global zeitgeist’. Unless the current zeitgeist is led by Taylor Swift’s prepubescent fan base, I’m not sure Radiant Orchid is quite the correct choice.

The Pantone Color Institute’s Executive Director, Leatrice Eiseman, describes the colour as ‘magical’, one which ‘encourages us to innovate’. She says, ‘it kind of embraces you; it pulls you into it. Think about that if you’re wearing the colour’.

Although I can’t imagine purchasing any kind of outfit in Radiant Orchid, I must admit that I’m a little hooked by Eiseman’s borderline-nonsensical spiel. Besides, how could I dismiss the official words of Pantone? I often drink coffee from a Pantone mug in 3273 C.

In an attempt to embrace Radiant Orchid, I thought I’d find out whether the first four months of 2014 have offered us any treasures in its hue. Looking around me, I’m unconvinced that the colour has caught on: the only Radiant Orchid I see adorns the lid and label of the Highland Spring water bottle I just bought at Costa. With enough time spent on Google, however, I found a whole different story. And it is Radiant Orchid.



This Michael Kors jumper is actually something I wouldn’t mind wearing. I like it because it looks as if it’s been infected with a suppurating rash of Radiant Orchid, which is exactly what Pantone are hoping to do to 2014.


femail radiant orchid

And if we’ve learnt anything, it’s that the Daily Mail is always right, right?


In her hair. This may be a slightly washed out version of Radiant Orchid, but the Pantone website teaches us that its colour of the year may be subject to small alterations. How would we cope otherwise!?


Adorning the laps of Strictly Come Dancing viewers nationwide, Quality Street chocolate tins continue to sport Radiant Orchid. This is a timeless and effective use of the colour because it perfectly reflects the repulsive sickliness of the confectionary inside.


Lavender beginning to bloom across the globe has been seen to match the dulcet tones of Radiant Orchid. Crazy!



I recently finished my undergraduate degree. I handed in my dissertation, listened to Amanda Lear in the sun for a while, and indulged in a cold glass of wine. Then, none of my friends being free from university work, I was bored out of my mind. Reworking my CV in the hopes of securing some kind of future, I added a mention of The Zemblan, and realised that I really missed writing it. Accordingly, here I am writing it once again.

You can expect round-ups of my favourite recent releases/events/experiences, and, of course, narcissistic ramblings on the subject of my totally fascinating life. Fortunately, people seem to enjoy those. So buckle your seat-belt and fasten your lace-front, because I’m back from academic limbo.


I can’t sleep. It’s only 00.26, but over the last year or two I’ve become old-mannishly afraid of late nights. If I’m not in bed after 22.30, whiteheads appear around my nose, the corners of my mouth crack and I spend the next day yawning incessantly, worsening said cracks. That’s why my family’s assumptions that I live the wild, borderline alcoholic life of a stereotypical student confuse me. What I’m actually doing is attending live opera screenings, attempting to fine-tune my vitamin intake and covering my face in jewels so that I can send painstakingly orchestrated Snapchats, complete with costume changes and well practiced lip-syncing. Then I go to bed. Really, really early. And by the way, if you’re not receiving those Snapchats, you are MISSING out.


As I was saying, I can’t get myself to sleep yet. As a way of putting my mind to rest, I decided to click on that daunting “New Post” button and finally publish something new on this terribly neglected blog. This is me brushing away the cobwebs and clearing out the tumbleweed.

Now that I’m here, there’s the small matter of what to write about.

Oooooooh, isn’t that last line profound!? Isn’t that what writers have been asking themselves for centuries?! Stream my consciousness and call me bipolar, because I’m totally Virginia Woolfing write now.

Okay, so I’m making progress. I’m writing about Virginia Woolf.

Virginia Woolf.

Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Not me! I’m taking an entire Virginia woolf module on my English degree course this term, and loving it, obviously. Nothing gets me going quite like a Woolf novel. I won’t subject you to an inevitably lengthy argument about her impeccable genius, but I will say that I’m head over heels in love with her (or at least her words), and that if anybody wants to accompany me on a trip to ogle at her various homes, I won’t hold it against you. It would be a logistical nightmare to take full-length shots of myself posing beside those little blue plaques, and I’ll be needing someone to hold the camera.

Oh, and another thing I’d like to say is that Nicole Kidman’s performance in The Hours, in which she portrays Woolf herself, does no justice to Ginny whatsoever, and whoever is responsible for the white plasticine lump they squished onto her nose in an attempt to achieve an accurate likeness should be forced to eat kale on a bed of nails for the rest of eternity. Furthermore: Nicole, honey, I don’t know why you think whispering qualifies as acting, but you really need to speak up sometimes.

I guess that I’m writing about Nicole Kidman, now. I’m not quite sure how that happened, but I’m going to roll with it.

When I was about 14 I was irrationally obsessed with the 2004 adaptation of Stepford Wives. Back then, I loved Nicole. I was too caught up in the ridiculous melodrama of the movie, and wasting too much energy pretending that the homosexual character didn’t have a weird and incomprehensible emotional impact on my deeply closeted mind, to notice that Nicole has been tricking Hollywood for decades by acting every role with the same rotation of incredulous frowns and dramatic whispers. I was young and naive.

On that note, with a mind soothed by the therapeutic power of writing (a power which Virginia Woolf would surely vouch for), I’m going to try again to sleep.

Sweet dreams, and I’ll see you in the morning.

P.S. I apologise if there’s a gaudy little advertisement flickering away below this post. If  you’re not happy with it, be a dear and send me the $30 which WordPress are demanding that I pay in order to get rid of it.


Before I begin, remember my embarrassing incident involving a toilet and a builder? Well, this morning a builder watched through my window as I combed a wig in front of my mirror. Normal? Yeah, I thought so. Don’t know why he looked surprised.

Yesterday evening, just before leaving work, I had a sudden urge to go out. I was in London, the weather was great, it was a Friday and I’d had a long week. This weekend, however, the social landscape is a sort of post-university wasteland across which everybody has been scattered well beyond walking distance (e.g. Australia). So, instead of having a wild one last night I ate an inordinate quantity of falafel on the sofa with my sleeping dog.


I can’t complain too much, though, because last weekend I went to the wonderfully debauched panvestite wig-fest that was Miss Sink the Pink 2013. It was a beauty pageant for the weirder breed of drag queens, which, if you know me or have been on my blog recently, you’ll know is my idea of amazing. Ben Wishaw and Ollie Locke were both there to judge, looking totally incongruous with the huge amounts of glitter,  fish-netted flesh and multi-coloured polyester hair on show, but were probably dying to go mad themselves.

The whole night was one long fit of glitter-strewn laughter. My friends and I danced on vomit (which we took to be cous cous and praised for its power to lubricate our footwork), I had my face painted by a completely off-her-face makeup artist, we did some pole-dancing, watched a drag queen lip-synch to a song from The Little Mermaid whilst holding a dead squid, and my friend got her nipple out only for a stranger to immediately begin painting a glittery blue starfish onto it.

Much to my distress, nobody took photos of these goings-on, so you’ll have to use your imagination, which is probably more powerful anyway. In your head, the starfish nipple can take any form you’d like it to – that’s the beauty of storytelling. Here’s a rudimentary sketch to help you along. Pin the starfish on the nipple!


In other news, I’m currently interning at the beautiful NOWNESS (it’s always written in capitals for some reason; I’m not shouting at you)  and luvvin it. Part of my job is researching art/design/culture etc, and I’ve been discovering so much beautiful stuff that sometimes I feel like my eyes are going to melt. It seems selfish to hold onto all that gorgeousness for myself, so here are a few golden cultural nuggets which you may or may not know about already:


Kevin Carmody and Andrew Groarke opened their architectural studio in 2006, and they’ve already one a tonne of awards and landed big jobs such as the Frieze London gallery space and the Windermere Steamboat Museum. They also designed the private underground spa which I’ve pictured below (that’s a swimming pool A SWIMMING POOL), which is situated in the basement of a nineteenth century family mansion. Who else is practically combusting with jealousy? The only way I’ll ever be able to afford an architectural commission like that is if I become an international drug baron or a high-end escort. Possibly both.

Private home in Limerick, Ireland

Frieze London 2011

The Filling Station in King's Cross

The Filling Station in King’s Cross


Sorry, I couldn’t help but squeeze that vulgar wordplay in somewhere. Assouline is one of the many incredible book publishers that I’ve been discovering on my research quests. I used to think there was just Taschen, but it turns out it’s not always the best. Some other greats I’ve discovered include Morel, Mousse, Etude and Hatje Cantz. If their books were human they’d look like a young Joan Didion, perhaps. I intend to make the pilgrimage to the bookartbookshop down the road from my office very soon. Goodbye, money. Hello, high-end, heavy-weight, limited release photobooks.

cats 2 cats


The kind of fine art photography which really does make life look frozen and beautiful. Cringe. Give me a shout if you want me to write your press release, Mr. DiCorcia.


I didn’t discover fashion and art magazine USED at NOWNESS (SO MANY CAPITALISED LETTERS), but it is another recent discovery which I’m a bit obsessed with. I enjoy it mostly for the superluxe photography and perfect styling, but the heavy presence of Birkenstocks in the latest issue is great, as it confirms the fashion-worthiness of my own. I’ve had them two years. Ahead of the trend oh yeeaah.

Issue 5, issue 4

Issue 5, issue 4

Craig Lawrence, Charlie Le Mindu


I was already vaguely aware of Carlsen’s work, having seen what he did for Garage magazine no. 4, but I didn’t know his name or anything about him. Turns out his black and white photographs, which utilise photo-manipulation techniques as a mean to distort rather than perfect, are pretty great. He released a book called ‘Worng’ with Morel Books, who I’ve already mentioned, which looks like a total dream.


Model Files is an online mockumentary series by fashion website V Files. I don’t really have anything insightful to say about it; it’s just great. You’ll recognise it’s slightly tragic protagonist, Preston, from the Asger Carlsen photographs above. I know that this is just a little Youtube series, but by the end of the second series it has reached absolutely genius heights.  Have a little watch — you’ve nothing better to do.


Usually, when somebody asks to tell them the most embarassing thing I’ve ever done, I’m stumped for answers. As of this week, however, that’s all changed. I’m about to tell you why — but first, let it be known that it’s taken me four days to decide whether to make this information public. Well, I decided that I will. My name is Mark, and this is my story.

My house is currently a building site. The entire kitchen has been knocked down to make way for a new one inside an extension, so I’m surviving on  food stored inside a tiny fridge in the middle of a living room covered entirely with dust sheets. Being woken up by power tools at 7.30am every day and having to live in just two fusty rooms has resulted in a constant desire to eat, so our crude temporary kitchen isn’t working out so well for me.

Anyway, culinary digressions aside, my embarrassing day began with a bedroom pilates session. I was enjoying some fat-busting, leg-pumping ab exercises to full volume CSS, partying like it was 2006, when there was some shouting and a knock on the door. I jumped up and opened it to greet a gigantic builder who pleaded me not to flush the toilet. At this point, I was flustered, sweaty, scantily-clad, and my Youtube pilates instructor was screaming ‘PUMP, PUMP, PUMP, OH MY GOD THAT’S HARD!’ from the laptop on the floor. I doubt my builder friend thought to himself, ‘oh, this young lad is enjoying a short exercise routine before sipping on his daily green smoothie!’. I looked considerably less wholesome.

But oh no, that’s not even the embarrassing part. Stick with me.

I finished my little workout, showered, dressed, and headed for the toilet. I’m not sure how to communicate this, or indeed any of the remainder of my story, without vulgarity, so I’ll just come out and say it: I defecated in the toilet. Phew. Ok. So, forgetting the message carried to me by the aforementioned amiable contractor, I hit the flush button. That’s when a shout came from outside.


In short, the toilet’s  pipe was disconnected and I poured the contents of my bowels onto a very unfortunate, totally innocent builder. That, most definitely, was the embarrassing part. And that’s when, being someone who likes to maintain the illusion that they don’t require normal bodily functions, I went into a panicked frenzy, grabbed my bag and ran out of the house, leaving the door open, too scared to go back and close it lest I encounter a very angry and very wet builder wielding a £1100 power tool which may or may not be capable of decapitating me.



If you’ve visited this blog at any point during the past few months, you’ll be familiar with my increasingly monomaniacal obsession with drag and Paris is Burning ball culture. Please refer to this video of Friday night’s debauchery. Yes, I was that cunt wearing sunglasses in a dark corner of the club. I couldn’t see a thing, but boy oh boy, if you could have seen me you’d be all “who’s that beguiling, enigmatic, beshaded boy!? How do I penetrate his chic, expressionless exterior and get to know him?!”.

You might also be familiar with Exetera, the magazine which I will officially edit come September, taking over from the great and often late Max Benwell.

Are you enjoying all the links?

For the upcoming edition of Exetera, I finally managed to indulge my drag aspirations and lady myself up in front of the lens of the talented Felix McCabe. My botched attempt at makeup, involving budget high-street buys and an excessive amount of pink glue in my eyebrows, shaped me into a perverse hybrid of Marlene Dietrich, Marylin Monroe, Myra Hindley and one of Toulouse-Lautrec’s syphilitic prostitute muses. So, I decided to name my creation Myra Le Monstra, obviously.



The photographs accompanied an article about the legacy of power dressing, called ‘Standing on the Shoulder Pads of Giants’, into which a managed to weave quotations from RuPaul, Simone de Beauvoir, and, every english student’s wet dream, Judith Butler. They were, respectively, ‘We are born naked and the rest is drag’, ‘One is not born a woman but rather becomes one’, and ‘In imitating gender, drag implicitly reveals the imitative structure of gender itself’. See, being fierce and vaguely intelligent are in no way mutually exclusive.

The Political Issue of Exetera is currently being printed and will be available for free in Exeter, and shortly afterwards online. Myra Le Monstra is unavailable for bookings; she broke a nail.


Before you begin, like The Zemblan on facebook, yeah? 

Like a lot of people, I am prone to obsession. I always have been, and I always will be. Past fixations have included dinosaurs, cucumber with mashed potato, typewriters, looking up at the ceiling four times upon entering a room (oops) and watching every single video of Bjork on youtube (I think I actually succeeded). When I was a tweenager I had a pretty arbitrary selection of favourite DVDs, each of which I would watch at least once a week, much to the concern of my mother, who probably couldn’t understand how she’d raised a boy who liked nothing better than recreating scenes from the remake of Stepford Wives and could quote along to the whole of Notes on a Scandal. Incidentally, I once had an English teacher who looked exactly like Cate Blanchett, so she probably thought a student/teacher affair was on the cards. Combine all this with two very noticeable facial ticks (a left eye wink and a kind of extreme one-sided grimace), and I must have seemed like a fairly unstable kid. I’d like to think that my awkward childhood was indication of a future genius, but then I realise that I can’t remember how to do long division and I spend most of my time walking into things.

Right now, I have several obsessions, which I thought I’d list here. Because, awesome! The first one is drag queens, but I’ve already posted way too much about that, so I’ll offer some alternatives.


In truly irritating Gwenyth Paltrow style (a woman most accurately described as a ‘hollowed-out avocado husk’ by Bullett) I now wake up to a glassful of spinach, banana, flaxseed, coconut water and carrot.

Now that my shopping basket is a veritable cornucopia of green leaves, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables, my regular trip to Tesco feels exactly like this:


£13 at Boots

It just clears you skin. It just clears it. Without Parabens. Without nasty chemical fragrances. Without grease.

Well, that’s the opinion of numerous bloggers and beauty critics, so naturally I’ve absorbed the facts which they regurgitate and taken on their views as my own. Luckily, though, it seems to be working so far, and I just can’t resist the lure that sophisticated little tube anyway.


Available at Holland and Barrett

I used to scoff at beauty trends and celebrity-endorsed vegan/organic products, but now I find myself totally sold on every single one. Dr. Organic’s Manuka Honey shampoo smells so good that it makes your shower feel like a tropical monsoon in a rose garden (where all the roses happen to smell like honey).


Get it with spring water, because oil is fatty, and, like, ew, you obese slob

It’s cheap, it’s versatile, it looks flaky, grey and slimy but it’s delicious. Serve in a salad with avocado, cucumber and coriander and you’re sorted. Chase with mouthwash and perfume so that you don’t smell like a dead fish for the following few hours.


Nobody can resist a sociopathic protagonist in the pursuit of power — just ask Mr Ripley and Richard III. Frank Underwood is no exception, and his ruthless, Machiavellian path towards the top seat in the White House is televisual gold dust. Throw in the unfaltering poise of Robin Wright playing his wife and Kate Mara as a terrifyingly determined journalist with a daddy complex and you’ve got yourself quiiiiite a show.