A written piece – A factual account of my coming to terms with childhood illness.
I make this statement after recently spending the night in a bar playing a Marvel vs Street Fighter arcade game until my hand cramped up. And what an excellent night … Continue reading Growing Up Is Hard To Do – Especially In London
When you’ve spent as much of your life being single as I have, your head gets filled with all kinds of romantic notions about how much better everything could be, if only you met the love of your life to share it all with! And, you know, those of us who think like that, we can’t be blamed entirely for such thoughts. People falling in and out of love are pretty relentless at times! Like a brick to the face! “EAT IT, LOSER, LOVE IS SO AWESOME! YOU MIGHT AS WELL BE DEAD IF YOU’VE NEVER LOVED! OH, YASSS!” Songs, films, books, poems, cartoons, TV, comics… It’s like, “shut up for one minute, will you! If you’re that in love, go enjoy being in love and shut the fuck up about it. Nobody likes a braggart!” At times I’d have preferred the brick in the face, to be honest. At least a brick isn’t smug! (Imagine a smug brick – what would that be like?)
Besides, it’s not like I didn’t love things! I’ve always loved food a lot. And drink too, don’t forget drink. Not soft drinks though, of course. And obviously I love people too – my family and friends. (I can’t tell people that I love themmmmmm, even if I do.) But then, no matter how against the romantic schmaltz I’d get, I couldn’t help getting sucked in and thinking, yeah, maybe things really would be better if I met the love of my life. “Love of my life” – what a shit pile of pressure that is as well, I might add. It’s not enough to love someone, they have to be the love of your LIFE. Your whole life! What if your life changes, their life changes – fuck change, love’s gotta be for LIFE…life…li…
So I went looking for stupid love. Yeah, I wanted to know what everyone was banging on about, I did. Now, I don’t know if it’s Nig**z fo’ Life, Thug Lyf, Love of my LIFE territory (and he would say the same), but I have found someone I’ve been rather fond of for the last two years (and he would say the same.) And, yeah, it is pretty nice an’ all, but nobody told me nothin’ about all that other shit that comes along with it!
Here is where you can call me a fool, but all those lovey status updates, holding your cameras really high to take photos of yourselves, checking in to really cool places…I believe that hype! So I’m all, “hmm, that is not what this shit is like for me.” (Although, on occasion, we’d take photos of ourselves from really low angles to see how ugly we could look.) Nobody warned me that having someone around you so often would lead to them picking up on ALL those stupid little things that you do that nobody’s ever been around you long enough to notice before!
Apparently, I REALLY like small versions of big things and big versions of small things. “I mean, I kinda do, but I wouldn’t say I REALLY do. I do as much as anyone else…” I’d say while handing him a lighter as big as his head to light his tiny roll-up. Hmmph. OK, so I have an A4 pack of cards, a miniature Austrian house, some tiny architecture figurines, a massive pencil (just in case I have to fill out a massive cheque), every Christmas cracker miniature screw driver set I’ve ever had, every Christmas cracker miniature pack of cards I’ve ever had, plus a few other bits and pieces, but I still wouldn’t say I REALLY like that stuff! Christmas is to blame for a lot of that shit anyway. The architecture figurines are just so damn cute, who doesn’t like those little guys? You can have tiny little versions of real life places with tiny little people! Come on, that’s cute!
The observations don’t stop there either. The most notable one that comes to mind, which I think says a lot more about him than me, is “the way you squeeze your thumbs for comfort is a lot like the way Vladimir Putin does.” WHAT?? Why does he know about Putin’s thumbs?? And I don’t do that! Do I? He thinks that hipsters don’t annoy me as much as they should because I think everyone with a beard looks like a human teddy bear. Yeah, I call him Mr Bear and, yeah, one of my best mates looks a lot like Teddy Ruxpin, but that doesn’t mean I think eeeeeveryone is a teddy. Stoopid. I’ve tried really hard to notice some mad shit about him too, but I guess I kinda think everything is “normal”.
It’s a funny old ride, this coupledom, I’ll give you that. But I still think your love songs are smug and stupid! Maybe I’LL write a song about that! With a MASSIVE teddy bear in the video. EAT THAT, LOSER!
Update: We broke up. I still don’t understand love. I now have a window ledge full of tiny furniture.
For a long time, I’ve had this nagging feeling that I’d really like to be a better person. An obvious reaction to this would be, “well, be one then, you fool,” but I mean more in a context of actively doing things to make a difference in other people’s lives. It’s not an uncommon feeling and there are a lot of reasons why people want to give back to society. For me, I guess it comes from the fact that I had a few problems when I was a child, and I’ve always felt kind of guilty about not making the most out of a second chance. So, over the years, I’ve tried to at least be the person that always has time for others and always makes an effort with “outsiders.” Doing so has helped me, in a small way, to feel like I’m doing something good. That is until…
..the inevitable moment hits me, like a slap in the face, when I realise exactly WHY some people are outsiders – they’re annoyinnnng! I try my utmost to be nice, while inside I’m screaming “pleeeease, just stop that shit, I can’t take it,” and it actually starts to feel unfair, like I’m this poor victim, and I question what bad thing I did to deserve this. Then I have to start phasing this person out, right. “I’ve got a lot of commitments.” “No, I don’t need any help with my commitments.” “I know you honestly don’t mind, but I really don’t need any help…” because I totally made up all of my commitments!! Next I’ll say I lost my phone, until they stand right in front of me and call it and it rings (shit). Things get progressively awkward, I’m scared to go out alone, I think about moving house… Basically, it’s REALLY HARD to just go around being good off my own back! I get it wrong. So I figured I needed more structure and context. Something like volunteering!
Working your way through pages of volunteer opportunities should make you feel proud to be getting involved. It SHOULD make you feel proud, unless you’re a teeny bit of a dick, like me, and the more pages you scroll through without finding anything you’d actually be willing to do, the more you start to feel like you might be a little bit rotten inside. It’s not that I wouldn’t volunteer for a homeless charity, it’s just that I have a delicate sense of smell and I wouldn’t want to be rude. It’s not that I don’t like animals, it’s just that the little fluffy bunny might look cute now, but when its wild instincts come raging out and it bites off my face, then what good will I be to charity?
Eventually, I redeemed myself and found the perfect place! It may seem doomy and gloomy, but that’s a wide misconception of hospices. The hospice is all about enabling people to live their lives as fully as possible for as long as possible. It’s actually a really upbeat and loving place. There is, of course, the possibility that I could fuck it right up and, like, literally annoy someone to death!! But I think I’ll be alright…(gulp!) After a two-day induction, I was tasked with my first role as a volunteer – to man the linen stand at the quarterly hospice jumble sale. “How quaint,” I thought. WRONG!
Pulling up to the hospice on the bus, I look out the window and think to myself, “huh, look at all those people lining up there with suitcases, I wonder if it’s some kind of epidemic or something?” I make my way inside and locate my linen stall, only to find that another SIX people are working with me at this solitary table. “Hmm,” I thought, “maybe they’re all just really shit at volunteering around here.” I get on with folding up towels, as dear old Eve has instructed me to do and then I ask, “Oh, by the way, do we have any carrier bags?” Dear old Eve roots around under the table, “yes, dear,” and hands me a roll of bin bags. BIN BAGS? Big old, industrial size, bin bags! What the shit is about to happen up in here?
When I say it was carnage, I am massively understating the craziness of this jumble! At its busiest, the linen table was five deep with arms and hands coming from everywhere and nowhere grabbing up towels and dashing them back, people fighting each other for the last purple pillow case, haggling the life out of a 20p shower curtain. It was nuts. It was relentless. People got loud, I got louder. People gave me lip, I gave them lip right back! I LOVED IT! It was like an adrenalin ride. “No, love, you can’t have that unopened John Lewis double duvet set for 2p!” It was both ridiculous and a lot of fun. I mean, you’ll always get chancers at these types of things, so much so they had community police officers walking around, but there were also some really lovely people coming by. The other volunteers were a bunch of characters too. Where else would I have a conversation with an 80-year-old woman about her “friend with benefits”!! (How I’d hoped she was talking about state benefits. She wasn’t.)
I ended my shift feeling exhausted, stinking of old rag, with a new handbag that cost 50p, and a surprisingly large amount of cash for the hospice. I felt pretty good. I felt the urgent need for alcohol, but yeah, I felt pretty good. Can’t wait for the next one!
Have you ever thought that you might like to learn how to play a musical instrument one day? Or you used to play one at school and now, 20 years later, you’d like to pick it back up? I reckon a lot of us say yes to one of those questions, but never do a thing about it beyond purchasing the instrument of choice, picking it up once and then using it as a costly doorstop or fancy bookend. It’s just one of those things – the idea of playing skilfully is the shit, but the reality is…you just sound like shit!
I would never judge anyone for doing that as I did it myself. It just takes so looong to get good! I wanted to pick up the trumpet… (it wasn’t even the trumpet that I learnt at school) I wanted to pick it up, immediately play to a grade eight standard because I’m so gifted, join an awesome band, quit my day job to go on tour, write a hit song and live off the royalties for the rest of my life! It could happen! To one person somewhere in the world it could happen, right? Obvi’ it did not happen. So after listening to me moan about how I don’t have enough time to practise or how I’m really just being considerate to my neighbours, my boyfriend, the seasoned musician, told me that the only way to get good was to join a band. “Join a band?” I’d say. “Yeah, join a band,” he’d say. “But I don’t know how to play,” I’d say. “That’s why you need to join a band,” he’d say. “But I don’t know how to play though,” I’d say. “Exactly, so join a band,” he’d say. “STOP TALKING DAMN FOOLISHNESS!” I’d say. “Just join a band,” he’d say. I mean, honestly, what was he going on about? You can’t join a band and not know how to play an instrument. I’d look a right fool! You wouldn’t get a job as a driver and then be like, “BTW, I can’t drive,” would you? What’s he on! As I couldn’t afford lessons, I decided I’d be content with my trumpet adding a new and classy dynamic to my flat on its stand in the living room. Lovely.
A few months later, he sends me a link to an ad on gumtree about a beginners brass band that welcomed all levels – even if you’d never played before – and it was totally free! I couldn’t argue with that, so…I joined a band.
After such a build up, I was actually reeeally excited for the first day of band. Even the act of carrying the trumpet on the tube ride there – I loved that shit. Bashing up kneecaps like, “Oh, sorry, it’s just my trumpet!” You’d have thought I was Dizzy Gillespie, the way I was going on! (Same cheeks) Even the fullness of the tube, the two bus rides and the ass battering walk up the hill to get to the community room did not get me down! Buzzin, I was!
Finally, I get to the community room, a cross between a school classroom and a church hall, but nestled under the grandness of Alexandra Palace, and I was greeted by two kindly gentlemen. Immediately warm, immediately welcoming. We had a little chat about the band, about the skill levels, I talked about myself a little – I was very happy indeed. That is until… (and it’s not that he was shouting, but I feel that caps are the only way I can express the level of enthusiasm) ..
“OH, BY THE WAY, I’M AFRAID TRUMPETS ARE NOT ACTUALLY IN TRADITIONAL BRASS BANDS.”
I’m all like, “Whaaa? But they told me I… Why did the ad say… I walked up that hill… Whaaa?”
“BUT NOT TO WORRY, I HAVE A CORNET FOR YOU.”
At this point I’m feeling a bit like my computer when I’m mad clicking on a million things at once – too much to process. First I was excited, then my heart was singing at how friendly these guys were… You know when you come across people that are just totally unaffected and…nice? I was taken aback. ..then I thought my dream was over because all I had was a trumpet, then I was cussing because I’d hauled my butt up that hill, then I was thinking, “what the hell is a cornet?”
“The cornet is a brass instrument very similar to the trumpet, distinguished by its conical bore, compact shape, and mellower tone quality.” Oh. Right then. So, I guess now I had a trumpet AND a cornet! What I musician I was turning out to be! We started out with a little one-to-one session where my nerves were quickly soothed by the unrelenting kindness and encouragement radiating from the band leaders. In any other situation, if someone had blown spit down a small object and then handed it to me to put my mouth on, it would have been a flat out “FUCK NO” but there I was, giving it a go! I didn’t even wipe the mouth piece first! He was looking right at me, so I couldn’t be so rude, but still, I found myself not even minding because he was so kind. What the hell was this place?
Later on, the rest of the beginners arrived. A wonderful ensemble of enthusiasm and friendliness. A tone deaf ensemble of autism and friendliness. It was purely lovely. (I mean, I’m slightly projecting here, the band are just delicious, me on the other hand, I definitely sit somewhere on the spectrum) I was at home.
I’ve been going every week for about two months now… Well, apart from one week when I turned up and didn’t recognise anyone through the window and went home, only to be told later it was all the same people as usual – I’ve been avoiding an eye test and all that face breathing. ..and every week they show me that it doesn’t matter if you’re just a bit shit at something sometimes, just give it good go and have fun. Saying that, I do notice the odd moment where you can totally tell that the shitness is starting to grate, but still, the encouragement is always there. Now that I’m over giggling at the trombones putting their hands by their bell ends, and the constant offerings of help with my fingering, I think I’m really starting to improve! It’s ace.
So what I’m trying to say here is, if you ever get the opportunity to “just join a band,” DO IT.
Today I decided to write a blog…. Haha, no, I won’t start like that.
Do you ever do that thing where you get dressed in the morning, look in the mirror and think, “yeah, I look nice in this,” only to leave the house, catch your reflection in a car or shop window and then think, “WHAT THE FUCK?” but you’ll be late for work if you go home and change so you just have to roll with it? Pretty much every day, I do that thing! Only today, as I’m crossing the road and dry heaving at my reflection in the stupid café-where-everyone’s-really-attractive window, I hear a little voice calling my name. (Of course I forgot my headphones today. OF COURSE.) To be fair, it was two of my best friends calling me, but still, you know, in that precise moment of reflection heave, you do not want to see anyone! Especially not someone you know really well who can then continually retell the story of that time they saw you heaving at yourself one morning. Urrrgh. But whatever, I had a sense of smugness about me this morning because, as it was such a sunny start to the day, (“sunny start to the day” – already talking like a div) I decided I was going to walk the half-hour walk to the tube station and get some pre-summer exercise. YAY ME!
No, not “yay me” in the end. Nothing to “yay” about at all! It was sunny, yes, but super windy!!! The weather forecast didn’t say nothing about no wind! So my coat kept blowing open and flashing my dry-heave outfit to all and sundry walking past and going by on buses. You’re probably thinking, “why not just do up the coat?” Well, I couldn’t because the coat is a little tight. YES, that’s right, I’m chubby. (Skinny attractive girls don’t blog, come on. They’re busy beating off all the attractive men…not beating off like wanking beating off, like beating off with a stick beating off…all the attractive men that buy them gifts and call them pretty and “like” whatever dumb shit they post on facebook…… or whatever the fuck skinny attractive girls do! They don’t blog anyway! Bitter much? HAHA) Anyway, back to the wind making my top cling to my belly rolls and flashing my chub to passers-by, it just was not pretty at all. And also embarrassing for me, but, you know, I’d started so I had to keep going. Plus, how will I get rid of the chub if I don’t walk? (Eat less, drink fewer pints? AS IF. I used to know a guy called Asif! No I didn’t.) I did keep going anyway. Top lip started to perspire, but I did not let that stop me. Forehead started to perspire and drip cocoa butter in my eye, but I did not let that stop me either. I did alright, to be fair and I’m glad I walked. I just need to burn this top that makes me look like a male body builder in a ripped sweatshirt.
I was even early for work in the end, and bumped into a lovely colleague and neighbour with whom I chatted all the way up to the office. That was nice…for once. Hate the tube in the morning, but I’ll appreciate today and say nothing more about that.
Work was uneventful, on the whole. I did read a lot about Anne Frank, which has entirely NOTHING to do with the work that I do, but my boyfriend told me he was reading her diary and there was “a lot more lesbianism in it” than he was expecting! What??? He’s not totally wrong, it turns out, but he is largely wrong. The fool. The foolish boyfriend that I still can’t talk to about my feelings. The boyfriend that I still think is too good looking for me which cripples me with insecurity. The boyfriend with a million questions over his head, none of which I can ask. But I CAN bloody well moan about over a pint (four pints) with friends.
After the rest of the day at work, hating on half the office in my head while smiling in their faces, I decided not to walk home from the tube station. Partly because I realised that the inner thighs of my trousers had started making a high pitched whistle sound with every step, but also because I just couldn’t be fecking bothered!
I’ve spent the evening home alone, stuck in my own head about ridiculous things. Not the boyfriend, he’s really very sweet. But I think a lot about other people. Friendships, relationships, how alone I feel despite having lots of friends. “Friends” – it’s hard to define friendship in a city like London. It’s a hard place to live, despite being one of the best places to live.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of FOOLISHNESS…”
Haha. Dick(ens). I think I’ll leave it there for now, shall I?