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Image / Style / Off The Cuff

Sentimental in the City: The podcast that made me miss SJP but made me miss my friends more


by Sarah Finnan
24th Apr 2021

Sex and the City

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Listening to the cackles and banter of Dolly Alderton and Caroline O'Donoghue on their podcast is giving me pangs for my long-distance pals and real-life chats.

Life under lockdown is far from fun. It’s a widely agreed-upon point of view, and the only one I know to think otherwise is my family dog.

Our existence has been reduced to what feels like an endless succession of Mondays, with brief interludes of entertainment sprinkled sparingly throughout the week, and though it’s not all bad, it can certainly feel otherwise at times. Learning to “cope” with lockdown is something many of us are still probably trying to nail down, but there are certain things that I’ve come to rely on to help me through. 

Last year, that was baking, tie-dye and TikTok. I took on pretty much all of the universal lockdown obsessions, save for sourdough (that came later) and running… that last one not for lack of trying but courtesy of two gammy ankles passed down from father to daughter. 

This year, finding my bliss was a little trickier. That “endless succession of Mondays” feeling I mentioned earlier only intensified, and for a while there, my pastime of choice was rolling out the yoga mat and simply lying on the floor. I’m not even joking. But, as you’ll all be happy to hear, that phase has since passed.

Instead, I listen to Caroline O’Donoghue’s Sentimental in the City podcast, though sometimes while lying on the yoga mat.

Sentimental in the City

Itself a mini-series of Caroline’s original podcast, Sentimental Garbage, it’s the only thing that could make me excited to head out on yet another walk (except maybe the promise of fresh pastries). Teaming up with long-time friend and fellow author Dolly Alderton for the eight-episode project, to say it got me through the past few weeks would be an understatement.  

A podcast dedicated to dissecting each Sex and the City season for “the great American novel it truly is”, it probably goes without saying that having seen the show is a prerequisite – at least if you’re to get all of the niche references the twosome make throughout. And if you haven’t watched it yet, consider this your cue before the remake/reboot/revival, whatever it is, arrives.

That being said, the podcast is really more like a conversation between two friends than it is an expert take on the hit show. Claiming that while they may not know the most about SATC, they definitely feel the most about SATC, it’s a catchphrase the duo carries throughout the entirety of the series. Yes, their “foolish love” for the show is palpable but more than anything this podcast is about friendship. And right now, it’s a bittersweet reminder. 

Female friendships

Dolly Alderton is a woman I’ve always admired for her female friendships. Her first book Everything I know about Love taught me how important the women you have around you really are, and as my own friend so aptly described it, it somehow makes you feel nostalgic for a time that hasn’t even passed yet. This podcast does similarly – and probably always intended to do so, given the title. Yet somehow it doesn’t feel forced. It’s the type of cackling catch up that usually only a handful of people are privy to. Like the raucous table in a busy pub (remember those?) that you’d love to join.

Both equally excitable on the topic of SJP and Sex and the City in general, the podcast sidesteps the cringe that often comes as part and parcel of being in a fandom, and while there are definitely some over-the-top moments and in-depth conversations about who Dolly would want to bring to the fire pit (if you know, you know), what you’re left with is a pang in your chest because it reminds you of the very conversations you often have with your own friends… or at least used to, in pre-pandemic times. 

Conversations that involved you both linking arms and professing your love for one another in the bathroom cubicle of your local. Conversations that often ended in one, or both of you, doubled over, with tears streaming down your face – unable to finish your story for fear of breaking into another laughing fit. Conversations that made little sense to those not “in on” the joke. 

Caroline and Dolly’s friendship is so tangible that it leaps from the earphone and gets you right in the gut. It made me yearn for friends, past and present, scattered in little corners of the world who I haven’t seen in real life in far too long and who know me well enough to not expect regular FaceTimes or updates on my life. And though that made me sad, it also made me hopeful and excited and all of the other joyful emotions that come with the knowledge that we’ll see our friends again soon. 

Until then, you’ll find me wandering around my neighbourhood, Caroline and Dolly in tow. 

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