Emma John is an award-winning author and journalist who writes regularly for the Guardian and Observer. Emma was the first woman to win a Sports Journalism Award in the UK, though she is known for her writing on music, theatre, film, books and travel.
Creator and host of the Guardian's cricket podcast The Spin, Emma is a regular voice on national radio, appearing on documentaries and comedy shows on BBC R4, as well as providing sports analysis for BBC Radio5Live and talkSPORT. Her previous books include Wayfaring Stranger: A Musical Journey Through The American South and Following On: A Memoir Of Teenage Obsession And Terrible Cricket.
A wonderfully readable, thoughtful yet amusing, and sometimes painfully honest memoir from journalist Emma John as she asks: “What does happily ever after look like when your Prince Charming never shows up”. Emma is in her forties, she is not in a relationship, nor plans to be, in Self-Contained she looks at a society that views single as a temporary arrangement and, what it actually means to be on your own. Emma visits her past as she galloped through her twenties into her thirties and then entered her forties. She explores with intense personal reflection and writes with a self-depreciating wit. She is also incredibly honest and friendly, I felt as though I was having a heart to heart with one of my best friends. I have to admit to blushing beet red as I read one particular section, I still cringe at the memory of twenty-something me saying to a friend: “someone will come along when you’re least expecting it” and her vexed reply that she: “wasn’t looking”. Self-contained isn’t in the slightest bit preachy, it just feels as though Emma is allowing you into her thoughts, and in turn it made me think about mine. Chapter 14 is a wonderful closing chapter and it really, really made me smile. Self Contained: Scenes from a Single Life is a book for everyone, no matter how old you are, whether in a relationship or not, there is much to discover and appreciate between the pages.
There is a piece of cod-wisdom regularly dispensed to single women: romance will arrive when you least expect it. I had assumed it would also make its own travel arrangements too. Emma John is in her 40s; she is neither married, nor partnered, with child or planning to be. In her hilarious and unflinching memoir, Self Contained, she asks why the world only views a woman as complete when she is no longer a single figure and addresses what it means to be alone when everyone else isn't. In her book, she captures what it is to be single in your forties, from sharing a twin room with someone you've never met on a group holiday (because the couples have all the doubles with ensuite) to coming to the realisation that maybe your singleness isn't a temporary arrangement, that maybe you aren't pre-married at all, and in fact you are self-contained. The book is an exploration of being lifelong single and what happens if you don't meet the right person, don't settle down with the wrong person and realise the biggest commitment is to yourself.
Can you feel nostalgic for a life you've never known? Suffused with her much-loved warmth and wit, Emma John's memoir follows her moving and memorable journey to master one of the hardest musical styles on earth - and to find her place in an alien world. Emma had fallen out of love with her violin when a chance trip to the American South introduced her to bluegrass music. Classically trained, highly strung and wedded to London life, Emma was about as country as a gin martini. So why did it feel like a homecoming? Answering that question takes Emma deep into the Appalachian mountains, where she uncovers a hidden culture that confounds every expectation - and learns some emotional truths of her own.
It's one thing to be 14 years old and a loser. It's one thing to be the class swot, and hopelessly infatuated with someone who doesn't know you exist. But what kind of teenager is besotted with an entire sports team - when the players are even bigger losers than she is? In 1993, while everyone else was learning Oasis lyrics and crushing on Kate Moss or Keanu, Emma John was obsessing over the England cricket team. She spent her free time making posters of the players she adored. She spent her pocket money on Panini stickers of them, and followed their progress with a single-mindedness that bordered on the psychopathic. The primary object of her affection: Michael Atherton, a boyishly handsome captain who promised to lead his young troops to glory. But what followed was one of the worst sporting streaks of all time - a decade of frustration, dismay and comically bungling performances that made the England cricket team a byword for British failure. Nearly a quarter of a century on, Emma John wants to know why she spent her teenage years defending such a bunch of no-hopers. She seeks out her childhood heroes with two questions: why did they never win? And why on earth did she love them so much?