I recently had a serendipitous encounter at my local lido with a friendly stranger. He was stood loitering by the swim-suit dryer, recording the sound of it on his phone. Like you do. We got chatting. I quickly unleashed my lido geekery on him (when I’m not writing novels, I’m a nutcase about outdoor swimming and lidos)… and before I knew it, I’d agreed to co-host on his show all about London Fields Lido, on Hoxton.FM.

It was insane amounts of fun. I’m going back on again this Saturday (23rd April), at 3pm to talk all about Break Up Club and its mega-therapeutic sound-track. We’re after recommendations – if you’ve got a song that’s saved your broken-hearted ass – let me know and we might play it.

‘Til then, here’s a handy link to listen to my goofy radio debut here:

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If you don’t have two hours spare and you fancy dipping your toe in to some of it, here’s what we chat about and when…

Break Up Club and my novels: 10 mins 33 to 11

My next book after Break Up Club, and Lidos and their history, and : 12 mins & 46 mins

Peckham Rye Lido and Thames Baths: 15 mins

Darren Hayman, London Fields Lido and Thames Baths: 33- 36 mins

Brockwell Lido: 50 mins and 1 min 50

The Salad Spinner: 52 mins

Lido love, and literature and swimming: 1 min 8- 11

Lucy Blakstad and her film Lido:1 min 11, and 1 min 50

Heavy Petting: 1 min 16




reader3I wouldn’t wish a break-up on anyone. But if you do happen to find yourselves in a similar position to the characters in my book; or if like Ally Sheedy’s character in The Breakfast Club, you have nothing better to do, then here’s a rough guide to creating your own warm, fuzzy and prosperous BUC…It feels pressing to point out that ‘The Real BUC’ was nothing like this um, regimented – these are based on the fictional one! Here goes.

  1. Find at least one other poor sod that has just had a break-up, or is thinking about it. Your dream scenario is finding someone in the ‘love him/love him not’ limbo like yourself. Then you can both agree to perform what’s known as a synchronised dump. Hurrah! You’re in.
  1. Once assembled, the main thing is to colonise your Sundays. It’s the saddest day of the week, so make sure you’re never alone, even for a minute. Where possible, congregate in time for brunch (see Rule No.5) with a view to staying over at a co-member’s house. Leave a ‘Boyfriend Pack’* there, of duplicate toiletries, undies and a toothbrush.
  1. Not to sound like I’m encouraging self-destructive behaviour, but booze really, truly is an integral part of any high-functioning Break Up Club. Stock up well on Prosecco, beer, ale and vodka.
  1. You’ll want all the members of the Carbohydrate family represented. Stock up pasta, garlic bread, pizza, popcorn.  And cheese. All of the cheese.


(here’s Mark, one of our Co-founders, and Lauren, foraging.)

  1. Also, have lemsip, paracetamols and ginger standing by for when your inevitable a bout of break-up flu strikes. It happened to all of us, during each break-up cycle. It’s cold-hard medicinal fact – something to do with your white blood cells working extra hard to clear all the ex-toxins out of your body? So prepare well.
  1. You’ll need a soundtrack involving lots of New Romantic songs, and this track by The 6ixths, called ‘Falling Out of Love with you’ which my friend Gaz first got me in to. It’s that perplexing combo of euphoric yet melancholic. The tone is happy and gay; the lyrics stick a knife through your heart. Then you’ll need the other kind of cheese jump around to – and ideally an old, non-precious sofa like the one in the book. To make life easier for you, I curated a  Spotify Playlist for #breakupclub. But I’ll be walking you through the peaks and troughs of that at another stop on my blog tour…
  1. Keep a notepad, paper and blue-tac to hand. Just in case one member needs to list out everything they don’t like about their ex, to remind them they weren’t right for them after all.
  1. Keep a laptop or ipad to hand, for deletion ceremonies (see rule No. 6).
  1. Keep box-sets of Girls, Sex and the City, Catastrophe to hand – for when your co-members’ funny-bones are out and you need the professionals.
  1. Get a large duvet with a good amount of togs.
  1. While it’s good to take it in turns to ‘host’ at each others houses, it’s also sensible to have a few bars or pubs as regular venues. Just so you can practice being ‘out’ in public, from within the warm supportive bosom. You’ll need places that are small and cosy enough that you can have the odd shoulder sob without being stared at. For us, the main BUC HQ was The BreakFast Club in Camden Passage, Angel, London.

reader2Sod Disneyland: this is the happiest place on earth. You cannot be depressed about having had your heart ripped through your bum – in here, while surrounded by all the warm eightees nostalgia and pancakes with bacon, banana and maple syrup. It’s so wonderful that I had my 30th here and even once interviewed the rather lovely BC founder, Jonathan (aka Ferris)

Since then, there are now about a hundred branches of The BC all over London, so those living in the capital can have their pick. The Angel one’s the cosiest and most fun. So much so that ‘The Real BUC’ and I are going back there tonight for dinner! There’s a bunch of other places to go but I’ll be exploring them in another post called the ‘Heartbreak Guide to London’, coming soon to the internets.

  1. Lastly, you’ll want to get away from it all at least once a year for your ‘AGM’. Take an excursion somewhere really, really bleak, preferably involving camping in the rain in a badly equipped tent from Lidl. But more on that on this guest post I wrote here!


*More on Boyfriend Packs in another blog


Forget fifty romantic places to woo your lover, this is an indispensable guide to the places to drown your sorrows in London town, either in solitude or with other members of your #Break-UpClub… especially on this most bleak and pointless of days.

Readers, if you’re single on Sunday or worse, newly single, take comfort. London is a city full of heart – even when yours is broken. As someone who has just written a book that takes a merry dance through the darkest and cosiest nook and crannies of our city, I would love to be your tour guide. So, here we go.

(1) One Tree Hill, Honor Oak Park, SE23

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Literally, the flip-side to the view from the top of Primrose Hill. Swap smug marrieds and sprogs for the birdsong and casual dog-walkers of One Tree Hill. It may sound like a half-baked American teen drama, but it’s actually a lovely spot flanked by cemeteries, to remind you of the fragility of life and shove everything into perspective. Watch the sun set on your relationship in peace in this well-kept secret in South East London. Makes Parliament Hill look cheesy, and is far enough away from everything to give you the distance you need to heal.

(2)The Breakfast Club Angel, N1

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Take a slow brunch at the cosiest little food-nest, and an 80’s time-warp in all the right ways. Fuck Disneyland: this is the happiest place on earth. You cannot be depressed about having had your heart ripped through your bum – in here, while surrounded by all the warm Eightees nostalgia and pancakes with bacon, banana and maple syrup.

(3) Theobalds Park Camping & Caravanning, Waltham Cross, EN7

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Go on holiday by mistake, at this eerie campsite in Waltham Cross, barely twenty minutes from Liverpool Street. An excellent place to dance in the rain next to some trees, static caravans and a stagnant canal called The New River, that is ‘neither new, nor a river’, according to its plaque.

At Theobalds Park, incomparable vistas vy for your attention – a dual carriage way here, a Slough-esque trading estate there. And if you’re lucky you’ll be able to jump around on an old abandoned fence like it’s a trampoline. ‘The Real #Break-UpClub’ spent a few days there in a badly-equipped tent from Lidl. It turned out to be one of the best weekends of our lives, and inspired a whole chapter in Reader, I Dumped Him. There may have been copious booze consumed though. So don’t attempt to go there without at least a crate’s worth.

(4) The Big Red – Holloway N7 

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The pub where nobody knows your name. Lower your expectations as low as they can get, and you shan’t be disappointed. The Real BUC also go there in the book, but they renamed it The Big Blue, which seemed more apt.

(5) Feeling Gloomy, N1 and WC1


Club Night in Soho, WC1 and Angel, N1 – Lose yourself to New Romantic classics, from the 80s and 90s, to songs which sound happy, but they are LYING. This is unsung club night spins tunes which are euphoric and melancholic in equal parts. From The Cure to The Smiths, you’ll be able to cry and jump around at the same time, and ‘reclaim’ any songs lost in the break-up vortex. (if you don’t know what a reclaim is, you’ll need to read the book I’m afraid)

Not open on actual Valentine’s Day but they did a Speed-Hating event which sounds amazing – look out for it next year! Their next club night is Saturday 5th March at The Phoenix in Soho.

(6) Swing Patrol, Lindy Hop dance lessons, all over London

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Swinging out is the best way to get over a break-up. You simply cannot be depressed about your failed relationship when you’re being twirled around to Ella Fitzgerald by a sweaty stranger, in a room full of other sweaty but ecstatic strangers, led by two even-more-perky Australians in headsets.

(7) The British Film Institute, SE1

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Not only is it right on the beautiful South Bank, so you can walk over the bridge and stare moodily out at the river before you get there, but the BFI boasts a best-kept secret called The Mediatheque, where you can binge-watch movies old and new, for free, from the privacy of your own booth. Look, even the Queen’s cottoned on!

If you’re lucky you’ll be able to watch some of the old movies and TV shows featured in this montage of break-ups. Bargain! Don’t miss out.

(8) The Serpentine Lido

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For evening booze picnics, followed by a sudden bracing dip in the 7 degree waters, clothed or otherwise. Nothing like a short, sharp shock to the system to wash away the old memories of your once-perfect-but-now-laid-to-rest relationship. And it’s a cold hard medicinal fact that wild-swimming cures melancholia. But more on that another day.

(9) Scrap all that. Hide indoors with friends, and have a Palentine’s Party.


You could also do none of the above on Sunday. Another very sensible option is to batten down the hatches, stock up on booze and cheese, and hide out with your mates ’til it’s the 15th. Friends are the best – especially when you’re fresh from a conscious un-coupling. This is going to sound pathetic but ‘The Real BUC’ and I once played a game of ‘Secret Cupid’ where we each composed anonymous poems and wrote them in Valentine’s cards, then had to guess who wrote them. Like Secret Santa, only sillier, and with much more vodka. One of them began ‘Love is a funny thing… it sometimes ends up, in the bin.’

With that in mind I’d like to wish you all a very #HappyPalentinesDay

Relationships come and go, but good friends are for life!