celebrity shopping

What Annie Macmanus Can’t Live Without

Photo-Illustration: Sian Smith

If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair but the stain-remover pen and the tongue cleaner. We asked DJ Annie Macmanus (a.k.a. Annie Mac), whose debut novel Mother Mother is out now, about the earplug dispenser, curly-hair conditioner, and commuter bike she can’t live without.

This is like a dispenser for my earplugs; it’s so ugly, but my friend Harry bought it for me as a joke, and it’s actually really useful. You just crank it and the earplugs fall out the bottom. Basically, I’m a super light sleeper, and I have a thing now where if I don’t have my earplugs in, I don’t get any sleep. And I don’t know if that’s just me telling myself that, but if I don’t have any, I properly panic. I keep this under my bed so that I can just reach down, crank the dial, and get a new set before I go to bed. In our house, everywhere you look, in corners and under beds, there are flashes of neon from the earplugs I have left lying around.

I used to have a bike that had a basket on the front, like the ones you see people riding in Holland, but when I got this one last year, I was specifically looking for one that was a bit more rideable, but not a racer. This is more like a mountain bike, but it’s really light, and it’s wicked. My husband (producer Toddla T) also uses it, and lately I’ve been riding to work a lot. At the start of the pandemic, when it didn’t feel safe, I’d drive. But I love biking into work now; it really affects my state of mind ahead of doing the show, because I come in, and rather than being stressed and full of thoughts, my head feels quite still and calm and I’m able to take whatever’s thrown at me. It’s just really good for my physical health, mental health, and performance as a broadcaster. And then coming home is cool, too, because by the time I get home — it maybe takes half an hour — you’ve completely forgotten about work and you’re knackered and you sleep really well.

All my life I’ve had people ask me, “What do you put in your hair?” And there have been many iterations over the years, many haircuts featuring different treatments, all with varying degrees of success. The one thing I learned was that products specifically designed for frizz just don’t work for me. Anything that’s especially “for” curly hair is no good. When I used conditioner in the shower, my hair would just turn into a giant frizz ball. So what I do is shampoo my hair, and put in some of this stuff, which is essentially a leave-in conditioner, and that’s all I do. I’ve been using it for years now, thanks to my hairdresser, Michael, who told me about it. It works, and after trying so many things for so long, it was a relief. It is expensive, but if you buy something cheap that doesn’t work, you just don’t end up using it, which is a waste of money. Trust me.

Apple AirPods

My AirPods are so useful, but they are so heinously expensive. I lose them all the time. But I cannot stress how useful they are as the ultimate multitasker. I like to do things when I’m talking to people, like doing a manicure, or putting on my makeup, or cleaning the kitchen. The ease of being able to do lots of things at once is what I love. I also love jogging, and I find these stay in place when I’m on a run. They’ve been far better than wires; I remember in the past I’d wrap the wires around my wrist, or keep the phone in my hand while I ran.

I own a lot of white T-shirts, but here’s the thing: Most of them are promo T-shirts. A lot of bands will make T-shirts and send them to me. My favourite is this one from Kelis. I did a radio interview with her just at the start of lockdown, she was over here for a tour that ended up being cancelled for obvious reasons. And she brought me a big box of merch, which was so kind. I wear this one the most because I love that it has loads of bright colours, but it’s still a white T-shirt. She was very unfiltered, she doesn’t hold back, and she’s a woman with a lot of conviction.

Zadie Smith: On Beauty
From £7
From £7

I read a lot of books, especially as my own book is coming out soon. But I reread a lot, too, because I have such a shit memory. I am terrible at remembering the names, or the authors, so sometimes I’ll pick one up and be like, “Oh, I haven’t read this, it looks good,” then realise I actually have already read it. I’m trying to get better at it. One of my favourites is On Beauty, which I first read many years ago. I have been reading it again recently, it’s just an absolute fucking masterpiece. She has such a beautiful way of writing, and she writes about Queen’s Park, the area she grew up in, which is where I live now, and there’s parts of North West London that I’m very familiar with, like Kensal Green Cemetery.

This was a present I bought myself for my 40th birthday, and it hasn’t left my wrist since. There was no plan, really. I don’t buy myself a lot of stuff; I’m not really indulgent in that way. But I promised myself I’d be positive about turning 40. I was in the airport with my friend Molly, we were flying to Belfast because I was doing a gig, and I went into the Rolex shop in the terminal for a browse, where I spied this one. It’s slightly smaller than a typical Rolex — I really didn’t want a big one. I liked that it was silver and gold, too. I loved it. I tried it on, and it felt great. I’m normally not flashy like that at all. This is almost a plain-Jane-style watch. I love the idea of a vintage watch, but the old ones are really, really expensive. But I swear, I have not taken it off, I’m so scared I’ll lose it. [Editor’s note: This product is out of stock online.]

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What Annie Macmanus Can’t Live Without