Caitlin Moran’s How to be Famous: ‘I want to let this whole city know how sexual I am’

An extract from the best-selling author’s new north London-set novel

Caitlin Moran in a leopard print blouse promotes How to be Famous

Below we publish an exclusive extract from the sequel to the author’s bestseller How To Build a Girl. It’s a coming-of-age tale narrated by 19-year-old Johanna Morrigan, set in the world of Britpop and – where else? – Camden…

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nd so at nineteen, here I am in London – and London, it turns out, is the place for me. I was right. I was right that this was the place to go.

I moved down here a year ago, to a flat in Camden, to pursue my career as a music journalist. I brought three bin bags full of clothes, a TV, a laptop, a dog, an ashtray, a lighter in the shape of a gun, and a top hat. That was the sum total of my possessions. I didn’t need anything else.

London provides everything else – even things you’d never dreamed of. For instance, I’m so near Regent’s Park Zoo that I can hear the lions at night, fucking. They roar like they are trying to let the whole city know how sexual they are. I know that feeling. I want to let this whole city know how sexual I am. I see them as another one of those unexpected London bonuses – en-suite sexy lions.

This is something Wolverhampton would never give you. Although the downside is that the sexy lions drive the dog crazy. She barks until I order a Meat Feast pizza, and I give her the meatballs whilst I eat the crusts, and cheese. We are a good team. She is my pal. If I imagine the dog is a horse – which is easy, as she’s very large – I live a life that could largely be described as ‘that of Pippi Longstocking, but with whisky, and rock music’. To live in a city at nineteen, alone but for a pet, is to engage in adult pursuits, but with the vision of a child.

Front cover of Hot to be Famous by Caitlin Moran


spent three days painting my flat electric blue, because, in Sound & Vision, that is what David Bowie did, and there is no better person to take interior decorating tips from than David Bowie.

I then tried to paint white clouds on the wall – to make it celestial – but it’s surprisingly hard to paint clouds with a big paintbrush and some white emulsion. The clouds look like empty speech bubbles; the walls look full of spaces where things should be said, but I don’t know what those things are yet. That’s part of being nineteen. You don’t yet know what your memorable speeches are. You haven’t said them yet.

When I have money, I have takeaway spaghetti bolognese for breakfast, every day, because that is the most treat-y meal, and children buy themselves meals that are treats. When I don’t have money, I live on baked potatoes – because they are treat-y, too.

I wake at noon, and stay out until 3 a.m., and then I have a bath, when I come home, because I can. It doesn’t wake anyone up. Every single one of those baths makes me happy. You leave home to have baths in the middle of the night. That is true independence.

Extracted from How to Be Famous by Caitlin Moran, out now and available here (Ebury Press, £14.99).

Main image: PR


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