One of my main motivations in setting up the Emma Press was to create the means by which I could bring great writing to a wider audience. As soon as I read Rachel’s poems I wanted to package them up appealingly and tell everyone to read them, and I’m looking for the same response in myself to submissions for the Erotic Anthology. Once I’ve found something I love, I want to share it with as many people as possible. With that in mind I give you … five terribly romantic and wonderful things.
A book: The Morning Gift, by Eva Ibbotson
Don’t be put off by the classic ‘random girl’ YA cover and don’t read the blurb on the publisher’s website. Or rather, you can read the blurb but before you start thinking this is just another romance, with a marriage of convenience which unsurprisingly turns out to be more than that, consider one thing: it’s by Eva Ibbotson. Eva Ibbotson didn’t do trashy romances set against the dramatic backdrop of whatever. Eva Ibbotson wrote uniformly magnificent novels spiked with pathos and wit. Her children’s books are a riot, and her adult romances possibly the best ever written. They’re all amazing, but The Morning Gift is my absolute favourite, possibly because the story was closest to the author’s heart (the historical setting is somewhat autobiographical) and this really comes through.
A music video: Elephant Gun, directed by Alma Har’el
I must have watched this at least thirty times. I love the song by Beirut, but oh my god the video. It’s a Bacchanalian fantasy full of loose-limbed dancers, antique maps, elephant masks and people falling over. All the dancers are stripped down to their braces and shirtsleeves or petticoats and stockings, and Zach Condon is sporting an exquisite bouffant hairdo. It’s exuberant, bonkers fun and utterly beautiful.
A song: Cherish, by the Four Tops
I first came to this song through Glee, but it was combined with a Madonna song such in a way that excised all the best lines. I didn’t begin to really love it until I found this heartbreaking version by the Four Tops, with backing vocals from the Andantes.
A poem: Symbiosis, by Rachel Piercey
It’s hard not to make judgements about people depending on which poems they like best from The Flower and the Plough. I’m probably offensively wrong 100% of the time, but it does seem like Symbiosis is especially popular with people in happy, stable relationships (that’s a nice judgement, so it’s ok to make, right?). Or it could just be that it’s a lovely poem and people are responding to that. Either way, it’s gorgeous and we made a video so people could enjoy it aurally as well as visually.
A bar: Bobby’s Bar, Bob Bob Ricard, Soho
I believe you can create a romantic atmosphere anywhere, though it helps if you have the right lighting (dim), furniture (sturdy, high-quality materials) and background noise (definitely some, though hushed). Bobby’s Bar helpfully provides all three, along with friendly staff who take your coat like you’re royalty even if you’re wearing a moth-eaten jacket and a too-short skirt. It taketh with the other hand, however, by being incredibly pricey (£10.50 for a cocktail).
If you want to read more romantic things, try matching the lovers to the love letter in a quiz.