Maisie Peters

I stumbled upon Maisie Peters via TikTok earlier this year. Since then, I have been fortunate enough to see her perform in London twice — on 19th June and 25th July— and most recently in Birmingham on 29th October.

London, 19th June 2023: The Anticipation

This was shortly before “The Good Witch” album release, and we were hungry for a first listen. The set list was a balanced blend of older tracks, sneak singles for the new album, and even one unreleased gem. Maisie announced, “Tonight will feature stories, talking, and songs – new and old.”

She spoke about “this feeling of desperate nostalgia, where you’re just obsessed with the idea of going back in time… Of wanting to have something back or being somewhere that just doesn’t exist anymore… This is really an album that explores the depths of that, and then how you leave that, and who you become once you’ve left”

Lost the breakup

Armed with her guitar, Maisie brought the intimacy of her lyrics to life. Her voice filled the venue as she sang:

So, I’m feeling and I’m dealing
With the heart you broke
While you do press-ups and repress us
And take off her clothes, oh
I’m hurting but I’m certain it’s still true
I’m the best thing that almost happened to you

I know I’m obsessed and
Right now, I might be a mess but
One day, you’re gonna wake up
And, oh shit, you lost the breakup

Introducing “Cate’s Brother” (released in 2022), she said, “Some of you are out here, thinking rhyming “front door” with “front door” isn’t genius, and that’s where you’re wrong.”

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She said, “I have another album out on Friday, which is crazy behaviour. I’m really proud of it. I actually think it’s really good, which is convenient. It talks about love, heartbreak, power, and gender.” She gave us a sneak preview of one song that was not yet released, ‘Wendy,’, telling us it is based on the story of Peter Pan. She said it explores life’s potential paths and the wisdom to choose wisely. It delves into the risks of living a life that’s not truly ours, while emphasising the importance of self-forgiveness when we stray off course.

You could take me to Neverland, baby
We could live off of magic and maybes
I could love you and wait till you’re ready
But what about my wings? What about Wendy?

Maisie took so many moments to engage with the audience. “Are any of you going to Glastonbury?” she asks, eyes scanning the crowd. “Girl in the white, are you going? Do you want a witch mission? What’s your name? Kirsty?”

Maisie offers her a broomstick.”This broomstick. If I give it to you, will you come to my show at Glastonbury? Will you pass it back to me?”

Kirsty accepts the broomstick and the mission.

(Cut to Glastonbury, Pyramid Stage, the epicentre of the music world. True to her word, Kirsty is there in the crowd, broomstick in hand. The exchange is complete as she passes it back to Maisie on stage, sealing their pact.)

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Since that day, the broomstick has found its place in every one of Maisie’s concerts. Its presence is a reminder of promises kept.

London, 25th July 2023: Post-Album Euphoria

Fast forward to the second London concert, and the energy had shifted. “The Good Witch” had been released two days ago, debuting at number 1 on the UK Albums Chart, and our familiarity with the new songs added an electric charge to the evening.

She asked us to keep our phones down and to try to minimise photos and videos – just be in the moment. She informed us the performance would be brief and not include every track from “The Good Witch”. Inviting the audience to “boo” on a three-count, she then humorously cautioned that we had forfeited our right to grumble if she omitted our favourite song.

The Good Witch

When you press play on “The Good Witch,” the first thing that graces your ears is its title track. This song sets the tone for the entire album and invites listeners into Maisie Peters’ universe.

Still King’s Cross and pullin’ heartbreak out of hats
Still argue like my mother and suppress stuff like my dad
Still miss you, but I know now it’ll pass
Found some other muses, I give ’em all my best
I light another candle, and I chant under my breath
That I will try forgiveness, but I will not forget

This nod to King’s Cross Station in London points us toward Joe Rubel’s studio, where both ‘You Signed Up For This’ and ‘The Good Witch’ were produced.

One of the most captivating moments in the song occurs at the end when Maisie says, “You wanna hear from all the people in my heart?”. In the recorded version, she then plays a sample chant from her concert in Webster Hall, New York.

When she played this for us live, we all knew when to pitch in and chant, and after the song, she complimented us on knowing what to do without even being asked.

Want You Back

Track 5 delves deeply into the themes of love, loss, and lingering desire. She told us that this was the most personal song on her album, as this song confronts the harsh reality of the breakup, acknowledging that it might have been a veiled blessing.

From the crowd, someone exclaimed, “It’s beautiful. Stunning lyricism.”

Maisie’s response was succinct: “You. Are. Promoted.”

Found yourself a lover; I bet she doesn’t sing
But baby, when you touch her, I bet she doesn’t flinch
She’ll have you every summer when I only had you half of the spring
You left like an assassin; maybe that’s for the best
‘Cause if you told me what would happen, I think I would’ve begged
So you gotta be a coward, and I salvaged a little self-respect

The Band and I

Maisie told us that her favourite track is “The Band and I,”, and I was lucky to be there the very first time she played it live. This song gives us a backstage pass to her life on tour. She said “I wrote this song about the magic of music, and about nights like this”.

My drummer fell for a girl in a cookie shop
He said he’d make a move and then he went with, “Excuse me?”
Came a boy and left a man, gotta give it to the band
Greatest one in Oregon

Maisie’s Drummer, Jack Geary, is the focus of this line. This moment unfolded during her March 2022 tour leg. We sang this line loud and clear, and he sheepishly ducked his head in acknowledgement.

Snowstorm in the middle of Texas
Called my mother in a Denny’s and lied
Told her I’d been eating, then, told her you were just a friend
Told her I was homesick, I hadn’t thought of home twice

Fast forward to another tour stop. A memory from March 21, 2022, when a record 3 inches of snow blanketed Amarillo, Texas. Maisie and her crew were pinned down by the weather, relegated to an arcade bar. Once the skies cleared, a TikTok snowball fight immortalised the day. She also told us that her mother wasn’t very happy at all when she heard these lyrics.

It was magic, babe, pure and strong
It was the last man standing for the Eagles song
It was a far-flung wish when we were young
Now we’re living the dream and I hope we never wake up

The “last man standing” is her guitarist, Joel Peat from Nottingham, who was previously a member of the band Lawson. We suspect the line “the Eagles song” might be a nod to “The Boys of Summer”.

Discussing her keyboardist, Tina Hizon, Maisie stated, “Tina is actually the most talented and smart and most interesting person in the world”. In addition to her vocal prowess, Tina is also a multi-instrumentalist skilled in keyboards, violin, and guitar. She has performed with Dua Lipa, The Pet Shop Boys, Ed Sheeran, Paul Draper, Becky Hill, Jacob Banks, and Clean Bandit.

When we asked her about the ‘witchiest’ line in the album, Maisie picked “The universe is shiftin’ and it’s all for me.” This line encapsulates the core message the whole album—life is ever-changing, and sometimes, those shifts can align to set you free.

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Birmingham, 29th October 2023: The Autumnal Spell

The Birmingham concert had a different vibe altogether. The two previous gigs were stripped-back performances, but this one was pure rock. A woman in the front row caught Maisie’s eye with a sign proclaiming, “you were my lesbian awakening.” Maisie read it aloud, blew a kiss, and gratefully responded, “thank you so much.” She added, “This next song doesn’t have much to do with lesbian awakening, but that’s something I’ll look into for the next album”.

Coming of Age

I’m quarrying new ground and I’m burning all your CDs
Baby, I am the Iliad, of course you couldn’t read me
So I’ll leave you behind, but that don’t mean it’s easy

By likening herself to The Iliad, Maisie is saying, loud and clear, she is not one to be easily deciphered. Let’s not forget that The Iliad is a chronicle of calamities, a long tale of woe and warfare. Maisie might also very well be pointing to the disastrous elements of her relationship. It’s an intellectual burn, cloaked in poetic elegance.


She sang us her favourite new song – released 3 days ago as part of the Deluxe Version of “The Good Witch”. We had all been listening to these songs on repeat for the past 72 hours and wistfully sang along.

But, man, you know, Yoko never broke up that band
You misunderstood The Beatles
Guess that’s being twenty-two
You misunderstood a lot of things
But, yeah, I guess me too

Later that night, she posted this photo with the caption:
people!!!! knowing!!!the!!!! lyrics!!!! already!!!!! 😭🫶

John Hughes Movie

As the show neared its end, Maisie Peters had something poignant to say about “John Hughes Movie,” a song that has, in her words, “started a lot of things” for her.

“This song brought me to a lot of places. It took me around the world and back home again. I feel like a lot of people here remember who they were when they found this song. I’ve been singing it for six years now, and I still love singing it. So if you know it, sing it with me too.”

This song captures the naivety and vulnerability that often accompanies youthful romance. Conceived when she was just seventeen, Maisie has matured alongside this anthem of self-love.

‘Cause this ain’t no John Hughes movie where the girl gets the guy
You look right through me every time you walk by
I keep waiting for the heartbreak music that’s never gonna come
‘Cause if you don’t want me
Then you’re not the one

There It Goes

When Maisie Peters recommends belting out this song in October, you take note. She told us that this is a song about closure, healing, and taking the right steps in the right direction.

The song starts:

I’m back in London, I’m running down Columbia Road
They’re selling sunflowers cheap
I’m reading novels, I’m dating, but just dating for sport
I’m getting coffees for free

Columbia Road is a flower market in her home town. In a later verse, she sings, “Sunflowers in the kitchen, a heartbreak in remission”.

On TikTok, Maisie shared her current reading list with us: ‘The Parable of the Sower’ and ‘Luster’. ‘The Parable of the Sower’ by Octavia Butler contemplates a future ravaged by social and environmental crises, where community and empathy become cornerstones for survival. ‘Luster’ by Raven Leilani narrates the complicated life of a young woman navigating identity. Both books are now both on my “To Read” list.

A new home, a swan dive a blank page, a rewrite
A black cat in the streetlights, an open door
The comedown of closure, the girls and I do yoga
I wake up and it’s October, the loss is yours

Imagine being amid 2,000 voices collectively proclaiming, “I wake up and it’s October.” Pure magic.

Near the end of this song, she asks us all to conjure an image of someone or something we wish to let go of. Then she encouraged us to repeatedly chant the song’s eponymous line, “There it goes,” in unison. As the words reverberated, it felt as if the very things we aimed to shed were dissipating into the ether, leaving us lighter and perhaps a bit more free.

I am proud to be one of Maise’s Daisies.

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Bridging Continents in Istanbul

Istanbul is a city that seamlessly stitches together Europe and Asia, both in geography and spirit. Recently, I had the pleasure of diving headfirst into its labyrinthine lanes.

The Turkish flag, often referred to as the ‘Red Crescent’, stands out with its vibrant red backdrop adorned by a white star and crescent moon in the centre. This iconic symbol not only represents the country’s rich history but also its cultural and religious ties. The colour red is believed to have been inspired by the ancient Ottoman flag, which carries centuries of history, conquest, and pride. The crescent moon and star, while historically linked to the Byzantine Empire, have since been associated with Islam and the vast Ottoman Empire that once stretched across three continents. Some argue that its strong religious connotations, primarily the crescent moon and star, might not truly represent the entire population of the secular state. In the ever-shifting dynamics of geopolitics, the flag has been seen by some neighbouring countries as a symbol of Turkish expansionism, particularly given the historical context of the Ottoman Empire and its past dominion over vast territories.


(Edit: a Turkish colleague sent me this note after reading my blog post: “According to legend, the red in the flag represents the blood of martyrs. It’s said that during the Battle of Kosovo in 1389, the ground was soaked with the blood of fallen soldiers. At midnight, the crescent moon and a star reflected on this blood, forming the image of the Turkish flag as we know it.)

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Our journey began in earnest with the majestic Hagia Sophia – a structure that’s evolved over the centuries. Its walls echoed stories of emperors and sultans, resonating with both Christian and Islamic hymns. The dance of light through its intricate stained glass seemed to narrate tales of bygone eras.

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The Hagia Sophia’s ever-evolving identity has been a topic of fervent debate in recent years. Initially a cathedral, then a mosque, and later a museum, its status has stirred passionate discussions both in Turkey and internationally. The decision to transform it into a museum in the 20th century was seen by many as an effort to secularise and bridge cultural divides, representing Turkey’s modern aspirations. However, in recent times, there was a significant movement advocating for its return to a mosque. This culminated in a successful campaign, backed by many who believed that restoring it to its mosque status would honour its historical significance during the Ottoman era. While the decision was celebrated by many, it also faced criticism from various quarters, highlighting the monument’s intricate position at the crossroads of culture, religion, and politics.

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Just a stone’s throw away stood the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, or as it’s popularly known, the Blue Mosque. The Blue Mosque was constructed in the 17th century under Ahmed I. It was built to reassert Ottoman power after a series of military defeats. Its six minarets (a feature unique among imperial mosques in Istanbul) were a statement of grandeur.

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Islamic art is renowned for its avoidance of depicting sentient beings, particularly humans, in religious contexts due to the belief that such representations might lead to idolatry. Instead, nature, especially flora and fauna, becomes a central theme in Islamic decoration.

Tulips, in particular, hold a significant place in Ottoman Turkish culture. Originating from Central Asia and travelling through the Silk Road, the tulip became embedded in Turkish tradition and was later introduced to Europe. The 16th century witnessed the ‘Tulip Era’ in the Ottoman Empire, where this flower became a popular motif, symbolising abundance and indulgence. Its form, resembling a prayer cap or the shapes in Sufi mysticism, is considered to reflect the divine. Thus, in the Blue Mosque, the inclusion of over fifty tulip designs accentuates its aesthetic appeal and resonates deeply with Islamic symbolism

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Of course, all this exploring meant that Alex and I were famished. Enter the Old Ottoman Cafe & Restaurant. The aroma of their signature clay pot dish wafted through the air, a symphony of chicken, apricot, and walnuts. The signature dish, prepared in a traditional Turkish “güveç” (clay pot), boasts a delightful fusion of “tavuk” (chicken), “kayısı” (apricot), and “ceviz” (walnuts). The dish marries the tangy sweetness of apricot, which found its way from Armenia and China to Middle Eastern kitchens in 800 BCE, with the buttery richness of walnuts, a staple in Central Asia since 7000 BCE.

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Next, we delved into the enigmatic Basilica Cistern, one of Istanbul’s most mesmerising historical sites. Built during the reign of Emperor Justinian I in the 6th century, this colossal underground structure once stored fresh water for the Great Palace and nearby buildings.

Rainwater and water from the Belgrade Forest, miles away from the city, was transported to the cistern via aqueducts. The water, once in the cistern, would settle, allowing any impurities to fall to the bottom. The clean water would then be drawn off from the top for various uses around the city. The underground nature of the cistern helped keep the water cool, even in the summer months, and prevented evaporation, ensuring a steady supply of water.

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The 336 columns in the Basilica Cistern are diverse in their styles and origins, reflecting the various eras and places from which they were taken. This medley of columns, together with the dim lighting and the still waters, gives the cistern its unique and mysterious ambience. Each step echoed with whispers from Byzantine times, and the ambient teal glow, reflecting off the water and lighting the cavernous space, was powerful and timeless.

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The Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamami, nestled between the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, boasts a rich tapestry of history that stretches back to the 16th century. Commissioned by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in honour of his wife, Hürrem Sultan, this Hamam was designed by the Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan. The intimacy of the Hamam – where gender-segregated communal bathing and being vigorously scrubbed down by another person is the norm – felt quite confronting. Moreover, the steam-filled interiors can be disorienting, especially without one’s glasses. I managed to embrace the experience and found it to be a unique and luxurious way to connect with a time-honoured tradition, leaving the Hamam with not just glowing skin, but also a deeper appreciation for the rich tapestry of Turkish culture.

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Cats have lived in the city’s streets, homes, and even sacred places for centuries. One reason for the abundance of cats is practical: historically, they were welcomed and even encouraged in urban areas because they kept the population of pests, like rats and mice, in check. It’s not uncommon for residents to leave out food and water for street cats, and many locals view them as shared pets of sorts. These free-roaming cats of Istanbul, while stray, are often well-fed and looked after by the community. The cats have become such an integral part of Istanbul’s identity that they are seen not as pests but as cherished residents.

Many Muslims believe that Muezza was Muhammad’s favourite cat. Preparing to attend prayer, he began to dress himself; however, he soon discovered Muezza sleeping on the sleeve of his prayer robe. Rather than wake her, he used a pair of scissors to cut the sleeve off, leaving the cat undisturbed. He then smiled and gently stroked his beloved cat three times, giving all cats the ability to land squarely on their feet.

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The next day, our escapades continued on the island of Büyükada. This motor-free paradise was best explored on e-bikes. The journey to Yücetepe Kir Gazinosu Restaurant was a challenge in itself. All bikes had to be left at the base of the hill. By the time we reached the top, we were out of breath, but the panorama before us made every ounce of effort worth it.

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Of course, amidst all the exploring, there was work to be done. The International Society of Urology conference was inspiring. Championing the cause of bladder cancer with Marie and Alex was a wonderful experience.

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Violet Hours of Kabelvåg

Oh, these violet hours of the morning
when time is still a wakeful dream
and happiness runs in shining shoals
gleaming in the undercurrent of the mind.

When earth and sky are a single translucent
proof of your own breathing being.
All is good, and nothing is important
except for shiny aspirations.

With this unborn something resting in you
is calmly longing to be used.
Wings of baby birds carry with them
their summer sky and blissful flight.

By Inger Hagerup (1905-1985), Norway
Translated by May-Brit Akerholt

(The Norwegian poet Inger Hagerup was born in Bergen in 1905. During the Nazi occupation of Norway during World War II, she was actively involved in the resistance movement while also writing spirited poems which were shared and recited in secret.)

At the end of August, Hayden and I tagged along to Adrian’s conference at the Nyvågar Rorbu Hotel nestled in the Lofoten Islands. All conference attendees were bundled into these quaint red fishing huts called “rorbu”. Our very own rorbu sat right on the water’s edge, offering an unobstructed view of the fjord.

There’s something profoundly special about the early morning. As long as I woke up early enough, each daybreak brought me vibrant shades of purple and pink, reflected in the tranquil waters. The world seems to pause, suspended between reality and fantasy.

Adrian’s conference schedule was packed, beginning early and concluding late. Hayden and I were able to join for the meals and the afternoon social activities – although Hayden demonstrated that “The Dungeon Master’s Handbook” was often more engrossing than the landscapes of Lofoten. The after-dinner poster sessions were a highlight for the three of us, where the PhD students seemed to enjoy the challenge of explaining their research to a solemn 12-year-old.

Hayden and Adrian savoured (and I completed) a challenging hike up Glomtinden, feasting our eyes on the sparkling waters below. The vistas were so stunning that even Hayden momentarily traded the Dungeon Master’s world for the real one. On our final evening, our adventurous spirit even led us to a refreshing dip in the Arctic waters, swiftly followed by a warming retreat to a nearby hot tub.

Whispers of the Past: A Telefon Booth Expedition in Bodø

While preparing for our trip, I stumbled across the story of the Norwegian telefon booths.

There once thrived a small army of over 6,000 of these curious, crimson creatures.

The story of these charming cubicles began their lives in 1932 when Telenor orchestrated a design competition, ultimately crowning the architect Georg Fredrik Fasting as the winner. On one chilly November morning in 1933, a newborn telephone booth, aptly named “Den lille røde” (The Little Red), was welcomed into the world at the Akershus Quay (now the Oslo Cruise Terminus).

Jump to the 60s, and these modest red booths transformed into vital connections for numerous people, often isolated within their homes. These crimson shelters nurtured whispered secrets, bursts of joy, and moments of sorrow. It was also a place for clandestine rendezvous where lovers would scratch each other’s names into the paint.

Sadly, the once plentiful telefon booths have now dwindled to a mere 100, with only a dozen above the arctic circle.

In 2007, Norway gave them a grand 75th birthday gift – a place under the cultural heritage umbrella, ensuring these quaint booths remained untouched by the relentless march of progress. They became the mascots of functionalism, celebrated by the Norwegian Museum of Architecture.

I told Adrian and Hayden that we were going on a hunt for the one remaining telefon booth in Bodø. Hayden was baffled and peppered me with questions about why I would attempt such a curious expedition in a country that was not my own. Adrian indulged me and navigated us to the correct spot.

I first saw it from a distance – that little red gem, standing out starkly amidst the pale structures surrounding it, its base adorned with tufts of green grass. To my utter delight, it had metamorphosed into a tiny free library, with a plaque that declared (in Norwegian and then English):

“Small rooms for great occasions… Even if the ringtone is gone, our telephone boxes have important stories to tell. Stories of a time when you couldn’t carry your phone around in your pocket. Stories about us.”

I squeezed inside and picked up the now silent receiver. Its once buzzing surface was cool to the touch as I let my fingers gently trace over it, feeling the echoes of countless conversations. I wondered how many humans had received earth-shattering news in this tiny sacred place.

Here’s to Norway’s “Den lille røde”, silent tributes to a time when the telefon booth was a meeting place, a confessional, and a secret keeper.


The Foundress

Once we could decipher all signs
It was no dream, but resembling one.
We were magicians, we could interpret
the hand that moved into a pose,
the word that hit home.

We knew what it meant to pour with
the left hand. What everything meant. What
no one knows anymore.
We had the most beautiful pearls around
our necks.
The water’s memory was within us.
Everything, including what brought us tears and desire
to kiss in a telefon booth.

Then it became more unclear to me.
My soul had to be led down the road
while I asked everyone to tell me who they were
for I could not see them, and
I would rather not seem arrogant.

But I woke up to light. The world was
still full of signs and messages.
Tears, foxes, bells, hands
stood and waited for me.
Then I quit tarot cards, almanacs,
and iconography.

By Cecilie Løveid (1951), Norway
Translated by May-Brit Akerholt