How To Fail With Elizabeth Day
S3, Ep3 How to Fail: Tracey Thorn

S3, Ep3 How to Fail: Tracey Thorn

April 17, 2019

My guest this week is the fantastic Tracey Thorn, who I basically grew up listening to. She was one-half of Everything But The Girl, guest vocalist on Massive Attack's phenomenal Protection album and lately has launched her own solo career alongside writing three critically acclaimed memoirs, the latest of which, Another Planet: A Teenager in Suburbia has won rave plaudits from Julie Burchill, David Nicholls and Dolly Alderton, to name but a few.

Tracey joins me to talk about failing to get into the university of her choice (but meeting her husband as a consequence so...y'know...swings and roundabouts), being an utterly terrible driver, as well as living with stage fright and bouts of serious anxiety that have shaped much of her life. Our chat also takes in the jostle between career and motherhood (three kids, including twins), the difficulty of understanding our own parents, the experience of ageing as a woman and why she'd never, ever consider growing her hair long.

I'm so grateful to Tracey for being so warm and generous and to Teatulia in Covent Garden for lending us their beautiful tea-shop for the recording. Teatulia sells a wonderful range of teas, some of which you can buy online here, and also makes absurdly good tea-based cocktails. Do pay them a visit if you're ever in the area.

 

Tracey's Sunday Times Top 10 bestselling memoir, Another Planet: A Teenager in Suburbia, is out now published by Canongate and is available to order here

How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, recorded by Chris Sharp and sponsored by 4th Estate Books

The Sunday Times Top 5 bestselling book of the podcast, How To Fail: Everything I've Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong by Elizabeth Day, is out nowand is available to pre-order here.

*IMPORTANT NEWS KLAXON* 

I’m doing a live How To Fail With Elizabeth Day event on 5th May at The Bridge Theatre in London with ZAWE ASHTON (who is amazing). There are still some tickets available here. 

  

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Tracey Thorn @tracey_thorn

Chris Sharp @chrissharpaudio

4th Estate Books @4thEstateBooks

S4, Ep2 How to Fail: John Crace

S4, Ep2 How to Fail: John Crace

April 10, 2019

My guest this week is John Crace, one of our foremost journalists and critics. Probably best known for his role at the Guardian as parliamentary sketch-writer (it was he who famously coined the term ‘Maybot’ to describe our besieged Prime Minister’s rather…um…mechanical response to crisis) and as the author of the brilliant Digested Read column, which takes the book of the moment and distils it into a hysterically funny parody.

John joins me to talk about being a heroin addict for 10 years. He describes the chaos and constant sense of failure that plagued him throughout his period of addiction with such candour and bravery that it moved me to tears halfway through the interview. There’s a school of thought that says interviewers shouldn’t show emotion, but I’m not sure this is always right.

John spoke about heroin, about how he failed to have ‘any sort of career until my mid-30s’, about living his life on the verge of a panic attack and sometimes struggling to get out of bed in the mornings, about his tricky relationship with his father and about how he finally managed to speak to his children about his past. And, for light relief, John also discusses supporting a football team ‘whose most notable achievement has been disappointment’ (it’s Spurs, by the way).

This is one of the most extraordinary interviews I’ve ever had the privilege of doing. Thank you, John, for your beautiful vulnerability. Listen and feel less alone.

 

You can read the article I mention John writing for the Guardian about heroin addiction here

 

How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Chris Sharp and sponsored by 4th Estate Books

The book of the podcast, How To Fail: Everything I've Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong by Elizabeth Day, is out nowand is available to pre-order here.

*IMPORTANT NEWS KLAXON* 

I’m doing a live How To Fail With Elizabeth Day event on 5th May at The Bridge Theatre in London with ZAWE ASHTON (who is amazing). There are still some tickets available here. 

  

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

John Crace @johnjcrace

Chris Sharp @chrissharpaudio

4th Estate Books @4thEstateBooks

 

 

 

S4, Ep1 How to Fail: Vicky McClure

S4, Ep1 How to Fail: Vicky McClure

April 3, 2019

We’re baaaaaack! And to celebrate our fourth season, please welcome the one, the only, VICKY MCCLURE.

You’re in for a treat with this one. Vicky is not only one of my favourite actresses but also one of my favourite people, as genuine as she is talented, and a total delight to interview. She’s probably most famous for her role as police officer Kate Fleming in Line of Duty, which kicked off again in spectacular style on Sunday night (did you watch the first episode? Could you follow what was going on with the UCO in the OCG who needed to get out ASAP? And what about that twist, eh?). Before that, McClure was Lol in Shane Meadows’s film and Channel 4 spin-off series, This Is England, a sinister maternity leave cover in The Replacement, a campaigning parent in Mother’s Day and a tabloid reporter in Broadchurch. Oh, and she’s won a Bafta, obvs.

McClure joins me to talk about failed auditions, failing to work hard enough at school, failed relationships, failure to be spontaneous and why she’s never going to be someone who posts her gym workouts (mainly because not going to the gym is one of her failures). Along the way, we discuss the pain of losing out on jobs (how dare you, Peaky Blinders) and how she fell in love with her fiance over the phone.

 

How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Chris Sharp and sponsored by 4th Estate Books

 

*IMPORTANT NEWS KLAXON*

The book of the podcast, How To Fail: Everything I've Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong by Elizabeth Day, is published TOMORROW and is available to pre-order here.

 

I’m doing a live How To Fail With Elizabeth Day event on 5th May at The Bridge Theatre in London with a very special guest (to be announced). There are still some tickets available here. 

  

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Vicky McClure @vicky.mcclure

Chris Sharp @chrissharpaudio

4th Estate Books @4thEstateBooks

 

 

 

S3, Ep9 How to Fail: Haemin Sunim

S3, Ep9 How to Fail: Haemin Sunim

February 27, 2019

Sniff. Sob. Wail and gnashing of teeth. Yes, it’s the SEASON THREE FINALE already - how did that happen? For our final episode in this series, I had the great privilege of talking to Haemin Sunim, one of the most influential Zen Buddhist teachers in the world.

He is a Korean ‘super-monk’ - so-called because he has over one million followers on Twitter and because his books have become instant global bestsellers. His latest, Love For Imperfect Things, is a guide to self-acceptance in which Haemin beautifully explores the idea that it is only by exercising compassion for our own vulnerabilities that we can pursue truly meaningful relationships with others. I read it in that fallow period between Christmas and New Year and it was a wonderful way to set my intentions for 2019. So much of what Haemin says chimes with the themes of this podcast, especially the concept that failure is a lesson, not a wholesale definition of self. ‘Life teaches us through errors,’ he writes. ‘When we accept the lesson from our mistake with humility and gratitude, we grow that much more.’

It was such an honour to meet Haemin, and to ask him more about his philosophy of failure. We discuss his self-perceived failure to be a good son, a failure of patience, romantic failures, break-ups and how resistance to a situation can often expend more energy than acceptance. He also manages to make me feel better about my repeated failures to meditate regularly. Apparently, just by observing my irritation at not being able to meditate, I AM ALREADY MEDITATING.

I really love this episode and I hope you will too.

We'll be back in April, but if you’re missing us terribly, don’t forget you can pre-order the book of the podcast, How To Fail: Everything I've Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong by Elizabeth Day here.

It would be amazing if you felt able to rate, review and subscribe to the podcast. This helps things like chart position and is good for attracting sponsors, which means I’ll be able to afford to carry on doing it!

Thank you so, so, so much for listening. Your messages, your likes, your Tweets, your emails and your love continue to mean the absolute world to me.

I’ll see you in April.

 

How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Chris Sharp and sponsored by 4th Estate Books

  

Love For Imperfect Things by Haemin Sunim is published by Penguin Random House 

  

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Haemin Sunim @haeminsunim

Chris Sharp @chrissharpaudio

4th Estate Books @4thEstateBooks

 

 

 

S3 BONUS EPISODE How to Fail: Kristen Roupenian

S3 BONUS EPISODE How to Fail: Kristen Roupenian

February 22, 2019

Ahead of next week's season finale, I offer you, my wonderful listeners, a whole new BONUS EPISODE.

I know, I'm too good to you, I really am.

No, but honestly, thank you so much for your continued support - for all those lovely messages, ratings and reviews. I appreciate it so, so much. Here, by way of a thank you is the amazing Kristen Roupenian, author of the viral short story sensation Cat Person, and an all-round brilliant woman who has such interesting things to say about failure.

This episode was recorded earlier this month in front of a live audience at Foyle's Bookshop in London as part of Kristen's UK tour to promote her newly published collection of short stories, You Know You Want This which has ALREADY been optioned for adaptation by HBO.

In this episode, we talk about how Kristen dealt with her unexpected and overnight fame and what it's like to be confronted by the forceful opinions of strangers when all you've done is written a short story. We also talk about her failed attempt to re-home a dog (leading to lots of profound realisations), a serious relationship break-up and how she lost her way in her 20s, as well as why it's pointless to live your life in anticipation of 'a future you' that might never exist. 

 

You Know You Want This by Kristen Roupenian is published by Jonathan Cape. You can order it here

 

The book of the podcast, How To Fail: Everything I've Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong by Elizabeth Day is available to pre-order here.

 

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Kristen Roupenian @kroupenian

Chris Sharp @chrissharpaudio

4th Estate Books @4thEstateBooks

 

 

 

 

 

S3, Ep8 How to Fail: Pandora Sykes

S3, Ep8 How to Fail: Pandora Sykes

February 20, 2019

This week I get to interview one of my favourite fellow podcasters: Pandora Sykes is a journalist,  co-host of The High Low and all-round woman of impeccable taste (I mean, she must be to have agreed to come on How To Fail, right?) 

Sykes is also a contributing editor at Man Repeller and Elle magazine and writes regularly for other publications. Her High Low co-host, Dolly Alderton, is a former How To Fail guest and - fun fact - Dolly's episode is the most downloaded OF ALL TIME.

I'm so happy Pandora agreed to come on the podcast and to talk eloquently and insightfully about not fitting in with friends at school, being fired from an internship in her 20s and 'failing to harness/ contain my brain after having a baby' even though, on the surface, her life seemed to be picture-perfect. Her words will carry so much resonance for so many of us and I loved doing this interview (partly because I got to nose around Pandora's beautiful house and to meet her mother who was as terrific as you'd expect and makes a mean sausage plait).

If you haven't listened to The High Low, hello who are you and what are you doing and please download it right now. It's a brilliant weekly take on high and low-brow news and culture.

 

You can order Pandora's essay, The Authentic Lie, via the crowd-funded publisher The Pound Project. (Full disclosure: I wrote the foreword).

 

The book of the podcast, How To Fail: Everything I've Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong by Elizabeth Day is available to pre-order here.

 

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Pandora Sykes @pinsykes

The High Low @thehighlowshow

Chris Sharp @chrissharpaudio

4th Estate Books @4thEstateBooks

 

 

 

 

 

S3, Ep7 How to Fail: Sharmaine Lovegrove

S3, Ep7 How to Fail: Sharmaine Lovegrove

February 13, 2019

This week on How To Fail With Elizabeth Day, my guest is the brilliant Sharmaine Lovegrove. Sharmaine is a champion of stories. As a publisher, she heads up her own imprint, Dialogue Books, at Little, Brown and has been instrumental in bringing more diverse voices into print.

But Sharmaine is also one of the most dynamic and inspiring women I've ever had the privilege of meeting. This is a woman who survived a challenging childhood and ended up living on the streets while studying for her A-Levels. This is a woman who, through sheer force of will, began selling second-hand books under the arches of Waterloo Bridge before rising through the ranks to head up her own publishing imprint. This is a woman who, despite the myriad obstacles she faced along the way, set up the first English language bookshop in Berlin and became literary editor of Elle magazine. This is a woman who says, quite candidly, that books saved her life. We talk about failure to be a child, failure to conform and failure to be a perfectionist (and I discover you can Deliveroo pizza to a park. MIND. BLOWN.)

You might not have heard of Sharmaine before this podcast episode, but after listening to her story, you will quite possibly become her biggest fan.

 

How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Chris Sharp and sponsored by 4th Estate Books

 

The book of the podcast, How To Fail: Everything I've Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong by Elizabeth Day is available to pre-order here.

 

Be sure to check out the forthcoming titles from Dialogue Books !

 

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Sharmaine Lovegrove: @sharlove

Dialogue Books @dialoguebooks

 Chris Sharp @chrissharpaudio

4th Estate Books @4thEstateBooks

 

 

S3, Ep6 How to Fail: James O’Brien

S3, Ep6 How to Fail: James O’Brien

February 6, 2019

Today's guest is quite possibly one of the most intimidating people to interview given his own reputation as a fearsome interrogator. But fine, I'll give it a go. James O'Brien is an LBC radio presenter who hosts a daily phone-in discussion show which attracts a million listeners a week. Clips of him dismantling the ignorance and prejudice of politicians, bigots and racists with his customary cool, hard logic have gone viral on more than one occasion.

His first book, How To Be Right In A World Gone Wrong shot into the Sunday Times top 10 bestseller list last year and tackles everything from Islam to feminism via Brexit and Donald Trump. It is a brilliant and entertaining read and in it, O'Brien is not afraid to admit when he has been wrong (an infrequent occurrence, admittedly).

He joins me to talk about failing at Physics GCSE, being adopted, going to a posh boarding school (and being expelled), how he got turned down by every single graduate traineeship on Fleet Street and ended up working as a tailor's assistant and selling Ronnie Wood a £15,000 Vicuna coat (true story). Along the way we also chat about the time Sean Connery hit him on the nose, his failure to record a CBeebies bedtime story and believing 'the angriest people are the ones who are most in need of help.'

 

 

How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Chris Sharp and sponsored by 4th Estate Books

 

The book of the podcast, How To Fail: Everything I've Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong by Elizabeth Day is available to pre-order here.

 

How To Be Right In A World Gone Wrong by James O'Brien is published by WH Allen 

  

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

James O'Brien: @mrjamesob

Chris Sharp @chrissharpaudio

4th Estate Books @4thEstateBooks

 

S3, Ep 5 How to Fail: Raven Smith

S3, Ep 5 How to Fail: Raven Smith

January 30, 2019

This week my guest is Raven Smith who, as well as having one of the best names dot dot dot EVER is also the funniest man on Instagram (it's true, don't @ me). Smith is a columnist for British Vogue, a guest lecturer at Central Saint Martins and is currently working on his first book: Raven Smith’s Trivial Pursuits, a guide to modern life which covers everything from Ikea meatballs to Ant & Dec and which promises to be just as funny and irreverent as the man himself.

We talk about Smith's self-professed 'failure to be straight' at school and what it was like growing up the mixed race only child of a single mother in an English seaside town (he was REALLY TALL too). We also discuss his failure to graduate, the absence of his father in his life, and Smith's failure at marriage, even though he's not divorced. As Smith put it to me in an email before we recorded the interview: 'Marriage is a concoction of failures (and successes). I relentlessly fuck it up.' I think there's something rather beautiful and profound contained within that. Hopefully you'll think so too!

And don't worry - there's also plenty of laughs, from Smith's absurd competitiveness in yoga class to his terrible DIY skills which mean there's currently no door on his toilet.

 

How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Chris Sharp and sponsored by 4th Estate Books

 

The book of the podcast, How To Fail: Everything I've Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong by Elizabeth Day is available to pre-order here.

 

You can read Raven Smith's 'The Week in Review' Vogue columns here.

Raven Smith's Trivial Pursuits will be published by 4th Estate in 2020.

  

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Raven Smith @raven_smith

Chris Sharp @chrissharpaudio

4th Estate Books @4thEstateBooks

 

 

 

S3, Ep4 How to Fail: Deborah Frances-White

S3, Ep4 How to Fail: Deborah Frances-White

January 23, 2019

My guest this week is Deborah Frances-Whitean award-winning stand-up comedian, author and quite possibly the defining feminist of our generation. You'll probably know her from her hit podcast, The Guilty Feminist, or from her book of the same name and if you don't then WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN, FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING, WHERE?

Deborah joins me to talk about failure at improvisation, failure to be a biological mother and how to rebuild your life after leaving the Jehovah's Witnesses. Along the way, we discuss her adoption, the Syrian refugee who lives in her house and why learning to be joyful about miserable failure could actually be the key to long-term happiness. Deborah is such an impressive and clever woman and every time I hear her speak, I learn something unbelievably helpful and new. This occasion was no exception. My favourite bit is where we talk about dating as a data-gathering exercise. Enjoy!

 

How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Chris Sharp and sponsored by 4th Estate Books

 

The book of the podcast, How To Fail: Everything I've Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong by Elizabeth Day is available to pre-order here.

 

The Guilty Feminist by Deborah Frances-White is out now published by Virago.

 

 

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Deborah Frances-White @deborahFW

The Guilty Feminist @GuiltFemPod

Chris Sharp @chrissharpaudio

4th Estate Books @4thEstateBooks