DJ and TV presenter Lauren Laverne grew up in Sunderland and started her career as a lead singer in the Britpop band Kenickie. In 1998, she moved into broadcasting, with stints on MTV, Channel 4 and Xfm, where she was the first woman to host the station’s breakfast show. She now presents the BBC 6 Music breakfast show and has hosted Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs since 2018. From 22 to 26 June, she will host coverage of the Glastonbury festival on 6 Music and BBC TV. She is married with two sons and lives in London.
Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear, V&A, London; until 6 November
I’m a long-time member and fan of the V&A – I’m waiting with bated breath for its new premises in Stratford and for the reopening of the Young V&A. This is a thrilling deep dive into the fascinating, surprising history of menswear design. It was exciting to see such a diverse portrayal of men and how they have presented themselves over the years and the juxtaposition of designer pieces and famous outfits with historical portraiture and objects from the V&A archive was cleverly done. It got the thumbs up from both my sons too.
Windswept and Interesting by Billy Connolly
I was brought up on Connolly’s comedy. My dad was born in the Highlands and Billy was one of his heroes. Our conversations were peppered with our favorite lines from his standup (“those are the very fellows for me!”). My dad has been gone almost four years now, so it was emotional listening to Billy’s life story in his own words. Of course it’s funny. It’s also clever, tender and beautiful. Listening to it made me feel closer to my windswept and interesting father and very grateful that Billy is still around, as smart, tough and humane as ever.
Dickens’ London: Essays About London and Its People (Folio Society companion to the collection Dickens in Europe)
A friend who totally gets me gave me this wonderful collection of essays exploring Dickens’s “magic lantern” and favorite character – London itself. Night Walks is a fantastic winter read – gloomy, dreamlike and revealing – but this collection feels to me like London at this time of year: bursting with life and personality. The city he just couldn’t stop writing about – rowdy, boisterous, infuriating and delightful in the 19th century – will be intimately familiar to 21st-century Londoners.
Drag Me Down the Aisle (TLC)
I’ll be honest with you: I really only plan to watch TV shows in which people who really know their shit (ideally wearing great outfits) solve problems. Drag Me Down the Aisle is arguably the apotheosis of this genre and I find it incredibly soothing. The premise is as the title implies: each week, four queens give a hapless bride the wedding of her dreams, from an Amish lady having a frock-based nightmare, to one who is struggling to come to terms with her new shape and another who’s been too busy becoming a biochemist to plan her big day. It’s a sparkling joy.
Piece of Me by Lady Wray
This record has been stuck on my turntable – Through It All feels to me like the song of 2022. Working with the superlatively talented Leon Michels (producer and bandleader of El Michels Affair), US soul singer Lady Wray has created a record that glows with heartfelt, analogous warmth, coruscating with poetic, lyrical glitter. Timeless is an overused word, but the big things – love, heartbreak, compassion and hope – really are, as this album shows.
Kaleidoscope festival, Saturday 23 July
Alexandra Palace is my favorite venue in London. I’m biased because it’s in my neighborhood but honestly, it’s amazing: a venue that is a charity hosting everything from the Earthshot prize to the Knitting and Stitching Show and Alice Cooper’s Night of Fear (these last two were, as I recall, on consecutive weekends). I can’t wait for its wonderful, family-friendly all-day-do, set in Ally Pally’s glorious 196-acre park with city views, to return in July, with a bill including Orbital, the Happy Mondays, David Rodigan on the 1s and 2s, standup comedy, kids arts and activities and plenty of spoken word too.