How to Fail: Olivia Laing

August 8, 2018

This week on How To Fail, we’re joined by the brilliant writer Olivia Laing. Her three critically-acclaimed works of non-fiction, To The RiverThe Trip to Echo Spring and The Lonely City, have explored themes of alcoholism, loneliness and suicide (and yet somehow manage to be deeply uplifting to read). Her recent debut novel, Crudo, has everyone from Jilly Cooper to Viv Albertine in veritable ecstasies. 

Olivia talks to us about losing her way in her 20s, how the torture of romantic break-ups has ultimately led to some of her greatest creative work and about what it’s like to be made redundant from a job you love. Along the way, we discuss gender fluidity, whether women are conditioned to self-deprecate, getting married at 40, why being raised by lesbians made Olivia less susceptible to patriarchal assumptions about What Men Want. We also debate whether Brighton has more dogs on strings than the average British city (spoiler alert: Elizabeth thinks that yes, it definitely does).

 

 

How To Fail is hosted by Elizabeth Day and produced by Chris Sharp 

 

How To Fail is sponsored by Moorish

 

Crudo by Olivia Laing is out now, published by Picador

 

 

Social Media:

 

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Olivia Laing @olivialanguage

Moorish @moorishhumous

Picador @picadorbooks

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How to Fail: Sathnam Sanghera

August 1, 2018

This week, journalist and author Sathnam Sanghera joins How To Fail and kicks off by saying how flattered he was to be asked to contribute to a podcast on failure because he hates hearing nice things said about himself. So that’s good.

As well as discussing his failure to take a compliment, Sathnam talks movingly about growing up in a household where both his father and his sister had schizophrenia. At first, he tried to run away from accepting it and then when that didn’t work, he wrote a brilliant, award-winning memoir called The Boy With the Topknot which was later adapted for the BBC. (Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling is a fan).

Sathnam talks about his social failure at university (and his inability to get a girlfriend for three years), as well as his failure to learn an instrument,  his failure to score a high Uber rating and his failure to read back his own handwriting moments after he’s written something down. 

Along the way, we cover his childhood job in a Wolverhampton sewing factory, the modern tendency to confuse anxiety with serious mental health issues, grief and how he coped with the death of his best friend, heartbreak, success, the concept of 'negative mindfulness', racist dogs and Sathnam’s undying love for George Michael and Club Tropicana.

We also spend longer than necessary trying to remember the common colloquial phrase 'prepare for the worst, expect the best' which is embarrassing given that we both make a living from words.

 

How To Fail is hosted by Elizabeth Day and produced by Chris Sharp 

 

How To Fail is sponsored by Moorish

 

The Boy with the Topknot is published by Penguin and available to buy here.

 

Sathnam Sanghera’s website is here.

 

Social Media:

 

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Sathnam Sanghera @sathnam

Moorish @moorishhumous

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How to Fail: Dolly Alderton

July 25, 2018

This week’s guest on How To Fail with Elizabeth Day is memoirist, podcaster and journalist Dolly Alderton. Dolly, the co-host of the utterly fantastic The High Low podcast and author of the brilliant Sunday Times bestseller Everything I Know About Love, talks about being rejected from Bristol University (and still feeling resentful of anyone she meets who went there), being ‘compassionately’ fired from a job she didn’t really want and what happens when you don’t meet the love of your life, even when you think you’re going to.

Along the way, we talk about the horror of being a teenager, internalised misogyny, the pressure for women to look good (‘I try very hard to remember that I’m not disappointing anyone if I don’t look perfect,’ says Dolly), sensitivity, people-pleasing, narcissism, discomfort zones, the brilliance of female friends and why it’s sometimes good to have a thin skin.

We also discuss Made in Chelsea (Dolly used to be a story producer) and her efforts to invent a new game show, where you would win your dream home but it wouldn’t have any doors. Sounds amazing. Not sure why it never got commissioned.

Note: this episode contains the phrase ‘absolute rotters’ used in a non-ironic way.

 

 

How To Fail is hosted by Elizabeth Day and produced by Chris Sharp

 

How To Fail is sponsored by Moorish

 

 

 

Social Media:

 

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

 

Dolly Alderton @dollyalderton

 

The High Low @thehighlowshow

 

Moorish @moorishhumous

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How to Fail: Sebastian Faulks

July 18, 2018

Sebastian Faulks, bestselling novelist and author of Birdsong and Charlotte Gray, joins How To Fail to talk about his failure to win the Booker Prize (“the whole thing is absolutely ridiculous”), his sense of social isolation at boarding school and a period of depression at university he feels he has never fully recovered from. Along the way, he talks about what it really means to be a “successful” writer and whether it matters what other people think, as well as the time he failed his driving test and got bowled out having scored 98 at cricket (two separate occasions, thankfully). Then there was the painful occasion he baked a soufflé and it failed to rise, a cooking faux pas that haunts him still. And if that’s not enough to whet your appetite, feel free to download and subscribe in order to hear Elizabeth being sternly reprimanded by Sebastian for her misuse of the word “saga”.

 

How To Fail is hosted by Elizabeth Day and produced by Chris Sharp 

 

How To Fail is sponsored by Moorish

 

 

Social Media:

 

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Moorish @moorishhumous

Sebastian Faulks @sebastianfaulks

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How To Fail - Phoebe Waller-Bridge

July 13, 2018

Phoebe Waller-Bridge, creator and star of Fleabag, writer of Killing Eve, superstar feminist and human embodiment of a Star Wars droid, joins How To Fail to talk about how she failed at her 20s (but got lots of brilliant material from the terrible dates she endured), failing at drama school, terrible auditions (including one for Downton Abbey) and how her female best friend is quite possibly the love of her life. She also talks about emotional vulnerability, why women fail at anger and about finding glory in one’s mistakes. There’s a great exchange about whether women should be open about whether or not they want children and a whole segue into the desirability of alabaster foreheads. Oh, and we cover the time Phoebe met Meryl Streep and embarrassed herself horribly, in what might be one of the greatest celebrity anecdotes of all time involving apple crumble. 

 

How To Fail is hosted by Elizabeth Day and produced by Chris Sharp 

 

How To Fail is sponsored by Moorish

 

 

Social Media:

 

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Moorish @moorishhumous

DryWrite @DryWrite

Fleabag @Fleabag

Killing Eve @KillingEve

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