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

 

 

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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

 

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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

 

 

 

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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

 

 

 

 

 

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S3; Ep3 How to Fail: Jonny Benjamin

January 16, 2019

Ok, so full disclosure: I cried during this interview. You will quite possibly cry too. You will quite possibly need a box of tissues next to you as you listen. And you will quite possibly leave feeling enlightened and uplifted by the magical, gorgeous man that is Jonny Benjamin, MBE.

Jonny is a mental health campaigner and someone with a truly extraordinary story to tell. In 2008, Jonny was 20 and standing on the edge of Waterloo Bridge about to jump. A passing stranger noticed his distress and stopped to talk to him. It was a momentary decision that saved Jonny’s life.

We talk about his journey to track that stranger down and about what Jonny has learned about himself along the way. We also talk about Jonny's diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder and his experiences of living with 'The Truman delusion' (so-called because the person believes that their lives are staged reality shows being filmed on camera). We talk about mental health in the workplace and being open about our fallibilities. I am so grateful that Jonny also chose to talk about Irritable Bowel Syndrome and the realities of living with that when you're just trying to get on with life (it makes dating a bit of a nightmare and a lot of people don't really understand what it means). Along the way we chat about Amy Winehouse, feeling left behind in your 20s, the importance of self-compassion and why love isn't ever conditional on whether you succeed or not.

I hope you are moved as much as I was by this episode.

Also if anyone has any single gay men wanting a set-up with an incredibly handsome, funny and sensitive individual then feel free to DM us - details below ;)

 

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

 

The Stranger on the Bridge by Jonny Benjamin is out now published by Pan Macmillan.

Beyond Shame, Beyond Stigma is a new mental health charity for young people co-founded by Jonny.

You can learn more about the WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) by visiting the Rethink website.

If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this podcast, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123 or visit their website

 

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Jonny Benjamin @mrjonnybenjamin

Chris Sharp @chrissharpaudio

4th Estate Books @4thEstateBooks

 

  

 

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S3, Ep2 How to Fail: Chris Patten

January 9, 2019

This week, my guest is the former politician Chris Patten. It's almost easier to list the high-powered offices of state he hasn't occupied than the ones he has. Patten was the 28th governor of Hong Kong, the former Chairman of the BBC, the current Chancellor of Oxford University. For 13 years, he was the Conservative MP for Bath before losing his seat in the 1992 election - one of the incidences of failure he discusses on this episode. 

At 74, Patten has published seven books, gained a peerage, fathered three children and has eight grandchildren. You might not think he knows much about failure, but in this revealing and unexpectedly moving interview, he talks about what it's like to lose a seat and have your life changed overnight, as well as how he coped with the aftermath of his tenure at the BBC (where he presided over the Jimmy Savile scandal). We also discuss his faith, his love for his wife (and his wish that he had married her earlier), his natural inclination towards gloominess (and what he does to 'snap out of it') and his, as yet futile, search for the perfect breakfast muesli.

 

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

 

First Confession: A Sort of Memoir by Chris Patten is out now, published by Allen Lane.

 

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Chris Sharp @chrissharpaudio

4th Estate Books @4thEstateBooks

 

 

 

 

 

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S3, Ep1 How to Fail: Lily Allen

January 2, 2019

Haaaappy New Year! We're back with a whole new season and we open with a bona fide musical superstar: Lily Allen.

A singer, songwriter, the recipient of multiple awards, Lily's songs such as Smile and The Fear are observationally crafted with honesty and irreverent wit. In 2018, she was nominated for a Mercury Prize for her (brilliant) fourth album, No Shame, and published her memoir, My Thoughts Exactly, which was a Sunday Times Number 1 bestseller. In it, she writes unflinchingly about feminism, fame and family dysfunction. Oh, and shagging Liam Gallagher in an airplane toilet. 

She joins How To Fail With Elizabeth Day to talk about failing to be famous, failing to report a sexual assault, body image, children, marital breakdown, drugs and alcohol, songwriting and why, one day, she might just enter politics.

I am SO EXCITED to have Lily on the podcast. It's so rare that someone this famous is also this honest and it's a real treat. I hope you enjoy listening.

 

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

 

My Thoughts Exactly by Lily Allen is out now published by Blink Publishing

 

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Lily Allen @lilyallen

Chris Sharp @chrissharpaudio

4th Estate Books @4thEstateBooks

 

  

 

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How to Fail: End of Season Two

November 22, 2018

So here we are at the end of SEASON TWO of How To Fail With Elizabeth Day, 16 wonderful interviews (and untold numbers of pots of babaganoush) later. In order to mark this momentous occasion, I speak to the legend behind the microphone, the one and only Chris Sharp, producer extraordinaire. We chat about our favourite moments of the podcast so far and discuss the most memorable building work we've had to contend with along the way (it's a nightmare for the sound quality, apparently). Ironically, this takes place just as building work is being done in the flat above mine, so you get to hear an unexplained thumping sound about three-quarters of the way through. You're welcome.

 

Thank you so, so much for listening, rating, reviewing and subscribing. We'll be back in the New Year with eight new brilliant guests. Until then, remember what Truman Capote said: 'Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavour.'

 

 

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

 

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Chris Sharp @chrissharpaudio

4th Estate Books @4thEstateBooks

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How to Fail: David Baddiel

November 21, 2018

For the season two finale of How To Fail With Elizabeth Day, I speak to David Baddiel: comedian, author and co-writer of the best unofficial football anthem of all time (Three Lions, people). It was an interview that almost didn't happen because of his FAILURE to find a parking space near my flat. But we ended up piling into his Audi and driving to his house instead, so it all worked out in the end.

We discuss a horrendous corporate gig that almost put Baddiel off comedy altogether [warning: contains big swearing], his self-perceived failure to be taken seriously as a literary novelist, his overwhelming compunction to tell the truth, how he deals with internet trolls and hecklers and his failure to score a penalty in a Comic Relief charity football match.

Along the way, we talk about depression, anxiety, his father's dementia, Baddiel's ambiguous relationship with fame and why he might have been a premiership player, if only his childhood trainers had had velcro fastenings.

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

 

Head Kid by David Baddiel is out now published by Harper Collins

 

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

David Baddiel @baddiel

Chris Sharp @chrissharpaudio

4th Estate Books @4thEstateBooks

 

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How to Fail: Tara Westover

November 14, 2018

This week, I bring you a truly incredible woman. Her name is Tara Westover. She wrote a memoir called Educated, which is quite simply one of the best books I have ever read: profound, moving, unerringly original. It tells the story of Westover's upbringing, born the seventh child of Mormon survivalist parents who didn't believe in public schooling or mainstream medicine. It wasn't until she was 17 that Westover decided to educate herself - with astonishing results.

We talk about what it's like to love your family but to be estranged from them, and how the two ideas can co-exist. We also discuss how on earth someone teaches themselves algebra ('Yeah,' says Westover, 'that wasn't fun') and what it was like to refuse any pain medication despite having a dental abscess. Her failures include flunking tests, finding it difficult to make friends, her failure to believe in her family's religion even though she wanted to and her failure to make her relationship with her parents work. She also quotes John Stuart Mill on feminism and it's completely brilliant.

This was one of those very special interviews where I felt my mind expanding just from the privilege of listening to her speak. I hope you enjoy it too.

 

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

 

Educated by Tara Westover is out now published by Penguin

 

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Tara Westover @tarawestover

Chris Sharp @chrissharpaudio

4th Estate Books @4thEstateBooks

 

 

 

 

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