Friday 17 November 2017

Bryony Gordon: A former wild child who is now relaxed

Bryony Gordon (34) is a journalist and author. Born in London, she lives in Clapham with her husband, Harry, a financial journalist, and their daughter, Edie, 15 months. 
'The Wrong Knickers' is a memoir of her 20s, which she wrote on her maternity leave

Bryony Gordon. Photo: Andrew Crowley
Bryony Gordon. Photo: Andrew Crowley

Bryony Gordon

My day starts any time between 5am and 6am. This is because I have a baby, Edie. My husband, Harry, is usually in bed next to me. When Edie wakes, she comes into our bed. We try to persuade her 
that she wants to go back to sleep. An hour later, we accept defeat and then it's time to get up.

I still haven't quite accepted that my day starts so early. In my previous life, at the weekends, sometimes I used to lie in until three in the afternoon, which seems a bit sick. Now I like to get up and seize the day. In the mornings, Harry brings Edie to the nursery, so all I have to do is jump into the shower and get ready for work. He does the drop-off 
and I do the pick-up. It feels very equal. For breakfast, I usually have coffee and 
a banana.

I go into work early, so that I can leave early. I start at eight and leave at five. I'm a journalist with The Daily Telegraph. I really thrive on the atmosphere in the office - all that water-cooler chat. A lot of people have pictures of their kids on their desks, but I can't do that, because I'd miss Edie terribly. I do two columns a week, as well as an interview. The other week, I met the model Cara Delevingne. She suggested that we do our interview in bed and I thought, 'how can I turn that down?' She could see the ring on my finger and she heard me talking about my baby. She probably thought that I was really dull.

She was talking about how open she was and I said that I was a bit like that, too. I told her that I wrote a book and in it, I wrote about how I let a man snort cocaine off my breasts. And I thought, 'why did I do that?' She laughed at that.

I wrote this book about my crazy 20s when I was on maternity leave. I felt that part of my life was ending and a new one was starting. Also, when I got pregnant, I started to panic. I was always skint and I thought, 'I need to build a nest egg'. Edie was rather unplanned, so I didn't have anything as sensible as savings. Two weeks after Edie was born, I signed my contract. The book allowed me to be on maternity leave for a year.

The book is called The Wrong Knickers, because it opens with a moment in my 20s. I met a bloke and we'd got married, in my head, before we even went on our first date. I ended up going back to his place and the next morning he threw my clothes at me - my jeans, my t-shirt and some knickers. He said, "They are pretty knickers." They were silky, pink and tiny but they weren't my knickers. They were the wrong knickers. It was my first ever 
one-night stand.

That was the start of my chaotic 20s, where there was lots of booze, drugs and one-night stands. When I was 25, I interviewed Russell Brand and he pursued me relentlessly. It was before he was a well-known comedian and actor. I thought he was very funny and attractive. He called me and sang You're Beautiful down the phone. We went 
on a date to the cinema, and then 'whatever' happened. The next thing I heard of him, I saw him in the paper leaving Kate Moss's house.

I had an affair with a married man, and we ended up having sex as the television was on in the background, with Paxman berating someone on Newsnight. I managed to pull in the clap clinic, and there was a bloke who gave me nits. It was all very horrific, but I'm really glad that I didn't settle down with any of them. With every bad experience, I learned a bit more about what I did want. I was very conscious when I wrote the book that it had to be administered with a heavy dose of shame. I still feel shame about a lot of it. My husband hasn't read the book and nor does he want to, but he knows everything.

The last couple of months have been a strange out-of-body experience. Even though I've written a memoir, people refer to you as a fictional character. They can't quite believe that you would have behaved in that way. I was probably quite sad when I was younger, but I don't feel sad anymore. I think when 
you become older you become more 
self-confident, and you care less what people think of you.

My husband, Harry, is in the book too. Rather than a happy ending, he's my happy beginning. I'd known him for a while, but I'd always dismissed him. I thought he was really ordinary, but he turns out to be really extraordinary. We got married on my birthday, with our three-month-old daughter. He's kind and patient, and I always say that he's more of my carer than my husband. We have a real laugh. I always thought that when you found The One, that there would be fireworks. But it's not like that. I have found The One, and I just feel 
very content.

After work, I go to the nursery to pick up Edie. By that stage, she's usually exhausted. Then we go home and have a bath, and then we make a bottle of milk. I can't really imagine that I ever existed without her. I really enjoy playing with her. I also like it when she cries as I leave the room. It's like, 'wow, this is the biggest ego trip ever'. If the weather is nice, Harry and I will have our dinner in the garden with a bottle of wine and a couple of cheeky fags, once the baby is down. We talk a lot. It's just nice. Sometimes we'll watch Orange is the New Black. I am living the box-set life. My life is boring, but, for years, I've longed for it to be boring.

People used to tell me that they lived their lives vicariously through me and now, it's the other way around. Young folk in the office invite me down to the pub after work but I tell them that I can't, because I want to go home and see my baby. They tell me that I'm boring now. But I've done 30 years of partying in 10, so allow me this. I don't go out anymore because I'm really frightened that I'll go off the rails and go back to it.

In conversation with Ciara Dwyer

'The Wrong Knickers: A Decade of Chaos' by Bryony Gordon is published by Headline

Sunday Independent

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