Monday, 27 July 2015

Florence and the Booze

I'm a little bit obsessed by Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine.

Firstly, I think she, and her music, are really cool and properly individual.

Secondly, I used to work with her Dad, Nick Welch (how old does that make me feel?).

He was my first creative director, and I was both in awe of and terrified of him in equal measure. Spookily, she looks exactly like he would do if he were twenty five years younger (as he was when I first met him) and wearing a long red wig (which is the sort of thing he used to do).

Thirdly, she is very open about her 'unhealthy relationship with alcohol' which began, she says, when her parents divorced when she was fourteen and "there was chaos at home, so I drank. I went to wild parties, met some bizarre, amazing people and did mad things like running around naked in fields covered in leaves.”

We've been there, haven't we? Apart from maybe the bit with leaves. Definitely done wild parties, bizarre amazing people and inappropriate nakedness.

Flo claims she used alcohol to combat shyness (sound familiar, anyone?) and stage fright.
I used to drink before every performance," she told Billboard. "I’m quite shy, really - that’s probably why I used to drink a lot. But I don’t anymore."

Then, following the breakdown of a relationship, Florence says she went through a 'deeply chaotic and unhappy period.' She took a year off from the music industry and quit drinking.

"It [drinking] wasn’t coming from a place of fun and joy. It was coming from a place of wanting to cover and hide. But, actually, if I did want to go back and enjoy drinking again, then that’s a choice...

(NO FLO! FLO NO! Don't even think about it! Why go back into the hole you've just climbed out of?)

"I was so sad. And I’ve never been that interested in having a glass of wine, I’ll have a shot of tequila, it’s always been about the end result.”

Florence says that, during her year out, a cagoule* saved her life. No, that wasn't a typo. A cagoule.

Flo stole the cagoule (with all that money she could have bought a diamond encrusted one from Dolce & Gabbana! Surely no need to nick a manky second hand one?) from a house party on New Year's Eve, and wore it with a pair of leggings for a whole year.

She says "it saved my life." (see! I was not kidding you) "Clothes to me are a way of distracting myself and I had nothing left, I wanted to be identity-less.”

I so identified with the cagoule thing (although not in a literal sense, obviously). Two months ago I wrote a post called Losses and Gains (click here) where I said that when you quit drinking.... have to start saying goodbye to all your favourite things. You lose all your routines, your comfort blankets, your oldest, most familiar friends.

Suddenly you find yourself sitting on an uncomfortable chair in a totally empty room feeling completely naked, alone and vulnerable.

And Florence, in effect, did exactly that, and not just in a metaphorical sense. She says that clothes had become her 'protection' (along with alcohol, I'm guessing) and that she had to spend a year or two 'unravelling all that stuff.'

So, it was great to see Florence back at Glastonbury on such great form, and here's hoping that she decides to ditch the Tequila for good. And the cagoule. Which must be really smelly by now...

Love SM

*a cagoule is a thin raincoat with hood, often taken on hikes/camping trips as it can be squashed into a small carry pack.


  1. I must ask. What is a Cagoule?

    It's sad when famous people justify their drinking past and then return to it. Rarely does that end well, but it put the idea out there that it is what we should be able to do.

    And I was like her. It was all the effect. Not the sophisticated glass of wine.


    1. Hi Anne! A cagoule is a thin waterproof coat with a hood that packs up into a small portable pouch. What's it called over there?

    2. P.S. Anne, I've added an asterisk and translation to the post! Thank you.

    3. I have never heard that term before! But yes, windbreaker, or K way.
      See, I learned something new!

  2. Cagoule = windbreaker (at least in Texas, it does).

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  4. I swear I only hit "publish" once. No clue why I keep having double comments. Ugh.