A Bath is Not A Photo Booth

Good morning!  How the devil are you?

It’s been – crikey, a whole week!  Whoops – since I last wrote a blog post.  Sorry about that.  I moved house this week, which has taken up a fair amount of time.  The upshot is that I am writing to you now from the kitchen of my lovely new flat.  Isn’t the garden pretty?  Ignore the boxes of books and saucepans.  I’ll finish unpacking later.

Moving house is incredibly stressful, but it also has a lot of perks.  Here are a few that I’ve experienced over the past few days:

  • Rediscovery – Ash and I packed up our possessions and vacated Bag End almost a month ago.  Getting my stuff back out of storage was quite good fun, because I’d half-forgotten about some of the nice things we have, including an owl cushion called Archimedes:
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    Hands down the most important thing I’ve unpacked so far.
  • Wonderland – I’ve spent quite a bit of time in this area of London before, but now that I live here I am finding out all sorts of things about what the area has to offer.  My favourite pub in the entire city is a ten minute walk away, the coffee shops look amazing and there are charity book shops all over the place.  It’s opposite a massive park AND an indoor climbing centre.  Bring on the adventures.
  • Team Work – my lovely, kind and wonderful friends are a very helpful bunch, and moving house has been a lot easier because of them.  It has also been a lot funnier because of them.  Spending time putting furniture together has given us the chance to reminisce, with some surprising stories – “Have I not told you this story before?!” – and a lot of nostalgia.
  • Bizarre Rules – my friends and I have also decided that the first time someone visits my new house, they have to sit in the bathtub (not filled, obviously) and have their photo taken.  That sound weird, doesn’t it?  I know.  I have no defence, except that the bathtub is weirdly small and we all found it hilarious.  I’m not explaining this very well…
  • Bear Grylls Complex – when you’ve only had time to unpack a fraction of your possessions, you have to sort of make do with whatever comes to hand.  It might just be me, but the whole experience makes me feel like a scavenger living on the fringes of society.  For example, when we left Bag End Ash and I threw the kettle away, because it was a bit old and scummy.  I forgot about this when I moved in to the new flat.  I assumed the kettle was hiding in a box somewhere.  I have coffee, sugar, milk and teabags, but no kettle.  If you’ve ever met me, you will know that this is a Very Bad Situation.  We dispatched someone to buy a kettle yesterday afternoon, with no success.  This morning’s coffee has therefore come from water boiled in a saucepan.  I feel so primitive.  I feel like I’ve EARNED my coffee.
  • Building Blocks – last but not least, a new house means a new start.  Distributing your books and belongings around a new space is a very exciting thing to do, and it’s how we build somewhere up from being a house/flat into a home/hobbit hole.  There is, as Dorothy Gale would tell you if she weren’t fictional, no place like home.

Have a glorious Monday.  I’m going to go and buy a kettle.

Really Odd Compliments

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Hello, you lovely creature.  How’s everything going with you?

In case you haven’t seen it already, the Daily Odd Compliment account on Tumblr is one of the greatest things that the internet has to offer.  It expresses genuine emotion through very weird ideas which, if we’re honest with ourselves, is often the most accurate way to do so.  Love is many things, but socially acceptable is not one of them.

In honour of this bizarre but brilliant concept, and as a sort-of sequel to this post about awesome attributes we all have, I would like to add a few of my own weird compliments.  Trust me, at least one of these applies to you.  Yes, you with the face.  These compliments will be things that your friends and loved ones definitely think about you, and hopefully things that you think about them, too.

  • You are the first person I call when I’ve embarrassed myself in public, partly because I know that you’ll make me feel better about it, but mainly because I like to make you laugh.
  • You are my first choice of wingman for crazy adventures.  I could call you and say “let’s go swing dancing!” and your response would probably be “Cool.  Flats or heels?”  I don’t know why you go along with my ridiculous schemes, but I’m glad that you do.
  • You are really witty on Facebook.
  • Your ability to text while walking baffles me, but it’s also pretty impressive.
  • You are way too good at coping with hangovers.  Seriously, I don’t understand how you didn’t get a letter from Hogwarts with a magical ability like that.
  • Your ability to psychically know when I need junk food has saved us both a lot of time over the years.
  • When the zombie apocalypse hits, I will let you be in charge of the plan.  Even if the plan involves holing up at the Winchester with your mum and your ex.
  • You remember my stupidly complex coffee order, and you don’t mock me for it.
  • The worst thing I can imagine is you not liking me anymore.  I genuinely feel a bit sick just thinking about it.
  • You being as weird as I am makes us both look more normal to other people.  That’s a huge source of validation.
  • I start missing you about ten minutes before you leave.
  • Whenever you’re sad, I get a really strong impulse to go and hunt down your favourite celebrity and get them to give you a hug.  One day I want to be able to call you and say “hey, cheer up, Benedict Cumberbatch is on his way over for a cuddle”.
  • You wear pyjamas with panache.  That is not easy to do, and I respect that.
  • You are very sympathetic when I get upset about spelling errors.  I know that you don’t get why it’s such a big deal to me, but you’re very nice about it nonetheless.
  • You make tea correctly.

The Smug Spectrum

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Hello, lovely reader.  How did you sleep last night?  Me?  Oh, I had a very weird dream about trying to put on a play in the House of Lords.  David Blunkett wanted to play Oedipus.  Very odd.

Anyway, today I’d like to talk about the various degrees of smugness (smugness?  Smugosity? Smugism?  Who knows) that we come across in day to day life.  As far as I can see, there’s a sliding scale of complacency that we are willing to put up with.  It’s very telling about British society that we have so many synonyms for “smug”, which is a state that we inherently mistrust.  We need lots of words for it so that we can identify exactly what it is about someone else’s demeanour that we find offensive.

Confident: damning with faint praise, in this country.  We say it about ourselves in job applications and we try to demonstrate it in our social interactions, but deep down we don’t believe that anyone is capable of being confident every second of the livelong day.  It’s just not natural.

Cocky: a laddish, raffish, devil-may-care word for someone who is cheekily sure of themselves.  A bit annoying, but essentially harmless.

Self-assured: sounds like a good thing, and in general it is, but for most of us it also conjures up the urge to shout “WHAT?!  How can you be self-assured?  Why aren’t you riddled with self-doubt and paranoia like the rest of us?  Weirdo.”

Vain: get your face out of the mirror, dumbass.  This one is just about having a preoccupation with one’s appearance, which is foolish but not unforgivable.

Smug: a silly-sounding word for a fairly silly state of being.  The word ‘smug’ has connotations of self-satisfaction on a long term basis, which is just unacceptable.  It also makes us think of undeserved good fortune – it is used a lot in reference to celebrities and politicians, after all – rather than genuine achievement.

Arrogant: ah, this is a tricky one.  We say that arrogance is unattractive, and we may well mean it, but there is something weirdly appealing about someone whose self-assurance has been taken to this whole new level.  This one is a bit toxic for would-be friends and lovers, so it’s probably best to avoid these people unless you’ve got very thick skin.

Conceited: arrogance mixed with extreme vanity.  Stay the heck away.

Simon Cowell: almost certainly the devil in (not very convincing) disguise.  Avoid at all costs.  

Have a lovely, Simon Cowell-free day.

The Three Ages of Timehop

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Hello there!  How are you doing?  Did you remember your sunglasses this morning?

I recently installed Timehop on my phone.  I kept seeing lots of photos from the past cropping up on Facebook news feeds (and had been tagged in a couple – the horror), so I thought I’d find out what the whole thing was all about.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, Timehop essentially digs through your posts on social media sites from today’s date x number of years ago, and then invites you to share them on social media again today.  New content is obviously generated at the beginning of each day, ’cause the date keeps changing.  Anyway.  These posts can be photos, links, videos, life-changing status updates or even just a common/garden Tweet.  Being no stranger to nostalgia I completely understand why people love this app, and sometimes it is very heart-warming to review specific events of our misspent youths, but I think we could all do with having a look at the pros and cons of hopping through time before we commit to it on a daily basis.

In Ancient Times
First of all, Timehop digs stuff out from the dawn of your social media time, which for a lot of us was around 2006/7.  As far as nostalgia value goes, it’s a slice of fried gold: seeing the very first words and pictures you tentatively shared on this new-fangled internet thing; the excitement of being able to talk to friends by writing on a virtual wall; your first ever Facebook status!  What joy!

On the downside, the start of our social media careers tend not to be our golden eras, do they? When I was eighteen I had BRIGHT YELLOW HAIR, for crying out loud.  Not blonde, not ginger, not anything remotely resembling a natural hair colour.  YELLOW.  I accept that those heady days of unwise bleaching are part of my past, but I would really, really prefer them to STAY in the past.  

The Middle Ages
The middle section of our online lives can be very interesting.  Let’s say between two and five years ago, our Timehop posts tend to be photos of us in places where we no longer live/work/study, wearing clothes that make us cringe and with friends whom we no longer speak to.  Sometimes this can be an excellent thing, prompting us to get back in touch with people whom we’ve long since lost track of.  Sometimes, however, it reminds you of difficult times or people who you are eternally glad to see the back of.

For a lot of my age group, it’s also an unwelcome reminder that we are “grown ups” now.  (Quotation marks are definitely applicable here.)  The Middle Ages of our social media careers mark time spent travelling or at university – or both – and therefore give us a chance to relive a time when life was more about adventure and potential than responsibilities and bills and stuff.  I don’t think any of us could hack going back to university now, but sometimes it’s hard to realise that we are a lot older than we think we are.  

Recent History
The Timehops from one year ago are the weirdest, in my opinion.  I realise that my memory is about as reliable as a promise from Nick Clegg, but even I can remember what I was doing this time last year.  I think. 

Having said that, this is a nice time frame to use for looking back and realising how much we’ve achieved.  The ancient times and middle ages are too massive to contemplate exactly how much we’ve done since then – we can name the milestones, but mainly we concentrate on how much better our fashion sense is these days – but if we look back over a single, solitary year, we can really pick out the specific moments that acted as turning points or triumphs.

I hope that you have an amazing day.  And that you had amazing day on this date several years ago, obviously.

Stop Talking to Yourself

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Happy Monday, reader!  How was your weekend?  

Everyone talks to themselves from time to time, and that’s totally fine.  It becomes slightly less socially acceptable when there are other people in the room, and it’s definitely frowned upon at formal occasions – funerals in particular are a no go.  In general, talking to yourself is not a problem, as long as you’re being nice to yourself.  It might sound a bit strange, but a lot of us use talking to ourselves as an opportunity to be defeatist or cowardly.  Here are five things that we really need to stop saying to and about ourselves:

  • “I’m such an idiot”
    No, you’re not.  Everyone has stupid moments from time to time.  That doesn’t make you an idiot.  Even if you were a idiot, do you really believe that telling yourself so is going to make you any smarter?  If you really think that you could stand to be more intellectual then read more books and listen to Radio 4.  Also, having an emotional response to something is not stupidity.  Trusting someone who ends up hurting/deceiving you or getting carried away by a crush is not an indication of cognitive impairment.  If someone else has made a mockery of your trust/feelings/Oyster card then they’re the idiot, not you.  
  • “S/he would never like me”
    Two words: watch Hairspray.  We have no idea how the human heart works, what makes people fancy each other or why couples stay together forever.  Oh, sure, there’s all the science about genetic compatibility and how we’re subconsciously attracted to the best candidates to continue the species with.  But if you convince yourself that you’re not worthy of someone’s affections then you’re creating a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you don’t believe that you’re worthwhile then how is anyone else supposed to?
  • “I’ll never get that job”
    Again, you never know.  It’s always worth applying for stuff that you’re a bit under-qualified for, because some employers see potential and like to help you realise it.  Also, it doesn’t matter how amazing the job is: if an employer rejects your application then either you weren’t right for the job, or the company wasn’t right for you.  Why would you want to work for a company foolish enough to reject you?  Why would you want to do a job that you weren’t right for?  Exactly.  Stop worrying about it.
  • “My mean parent/teacher/friend was right about me”
    No they flipping were not.  I know it’s much, much easier said than done, but you absolutely have to let go of nasty stuff that people have said about you.  This is for two reasons: firstly, those words were probably said out of anger, bitterness or malice, and therefore have less to do with you than the unhappiness of the person who said them.  Secondly, letting nasty comments take hold of your self-worth means that nobody wins.  
  • “I could never do that”
    Do what?  Travel the world?  Go skydiving?  Become famous?  Get out of your overdraft?  You are capable of anything you can think of, and I don’t just mean that in a cheesy, “live your dream” kind of way (although that is part of it).  Anything that you want to do with your life can definitely be done, and you know that to be true because someone else has done it before you.  Loads of people, in fact.  If they can do it – whether “it” is learn to tap dance or go into space – you can do it.  

Have a highly amusing Monday, and I will see you tomorrow.

10 Things “Tangled” Got Right

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Happy Friday, dear reader!  I hope this week has been kind to you.

Lots of us have a very strong emotional attachment to Disney films, and why not?  They tell magical stories using bright colours, silly voices and usually lots of marvellous songs.  What’s not to love?  Well, until very recently Disney seemed blissfully unaware of things like ethnic diversity, liberalism and…gosh, what was the other one?  Oh yeah.  Feminism.

Having said that, when they finally got round to it they did a great job, and Frozen is widely regarded as a triumph because it has two female protagonists AND was directed by a woman.  Nice work, Disney.  Have a biscuit.  

Having re-watched it recently, I think that Tangled actually deserves similar praise.  It might not have been as ground-breaking in terms of narrative format as Frozen, and it doesn’t have a talking snowman.  However, given that it was the retelling of a pretty grim (geddit?) fairytale about a woman being stuck in a tower, it did a pretty good job of giving little girls and boys some excellent ideas about self-belief and how love is supposed to work.  Here are some excellent lessons that Tangled teaches us:

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1) It’s always worth facing your fears, no matter how scared you are.  The alternative is being stuck forever in your isolated tower/comfort zone, where you are safe BUT nothing exciting happens.

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2) Go on an adventure for your own reasons.  Pursue things that you want.  Go and find out everything you can about stuff that fascinates you.  If you’re lucky and it’s right, a love interest will appear to accompany you, BUT they are incidental.  Your adventure is about you, not them.

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3) You can’t judge a book by its cover.  A simple lesson, but one worth reiterating.  Would you have expected this guy to be into baking?  Me neither.  But he is.

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4) True friends can communicate with just a look.  Pascal the chameleon doesn’t say a single word throughout the film, but you always know exactly what his opinion is.  It’s definitely worth paying attention to the things your friends don’t say, as well as the things they do.

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5) Don’t worry about your looks, because they seriously do not matter.  If you do worry about them too much, you can end up in a very bad place.  The villain of Tangled is consumed by her own vanity to the point where she kidnaps a royal baby.  That’s just not cool.  ALSO, (spoiler alert – although if you haven’t seen the film, I’m not sure why you’d have read this far) when Flynn/Eugene cuts off Rapunzel’s hair at the end, her looks change dramatically.  Does anybody care, or even mention the fact that her most defining physical feature is no more?  Nope.  Because it doesn’t matter.

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6) It’s always, always better to be yourself.  Even if your name is Eugene Fitzherbert.

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7) Girls – you can be the hero.  Boys – it’s ok to need rescuing.  Looking after the people you love is not a gender-specific thing.  We might not have magical hair, but we all have our own resources and traits that our loved ones rely upon.

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8) Always trust your own instincts over what your critics say.  Someone who goes to the effort of putting you down on a regular basis is clearly trying to suppress all the awesomeness you are capable of.

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9) The right person for you is the one who goes the extra mile to make you happy.  People have chequered pasts and we’ve all done things that we’re not proud of, but when people truly care about you their actions will be louder than their CVs.

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10) HAVE A DREAM.

Also, have a cracking weekend.

15 Words We Need To Use More Often

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Hello, dear reader.  I don’t know about you but I could really do with a coffee.  Do you want anything from the kettle?

After writing yesterday’s post about old fashioned things I think we ought to revive, I started thinking about words in the same way.  Every so often one of my friends will use a word like “balderdash” or “parenthetical” and everyone will go “ooh, that’s a great word!  Let’s bring that word back!”

Here are some brilliant and under-used words which I think we should all be attempting to bring back into everyday conversation:

  • Accubation – eating or drinking whilst lying down.  A fancy way of explaining that your hangover is preventing vertical movement.
  • Agerasia – the state of looking younger than you actually are.  Better than saying “I always get ID’d.”
  • Borborygmus – the sound of gas rumbling through your intestine.  Better than saying “I’ve got one brewing.”
  • Capernoited – slightly drunk/tipsy.  Trying to remember this word will be a good way to measure how capernoited/drunk you actually are.
  • Cruciverbalist – a person who loves doing crossword puzzles.  A better way of describing yourself than “word nerd”.
  • Farctate – being overly full of food. A marginally better way of saying “I’m stuffed”, but only marginally, because it sort-of sounds like “fart-ate”.  
  • Inaniloquent – being prone to say silly/inane things.  This one is going to come in very useful for all of us when we’re at parties with people we don’t like.
  • Jentacular – pertaining to breakfast.  I just love the idea of having a word that specifically means “breakfast stuff”.  I think that’s amazing.  Is there one for brunch as well?  
  • Lalochezia – the practise of using bad words to relieve stress/pain, e.g. swearing when you stub your toe.  I think this one is handy because if you get told off for swearing you can use a fancy word to justify your use of an obscenity.
  • Lethologica – the inability to remember the precise word for something.  Happens to lots of people all the time, although if you’ve forgotten a word like “jam” then I’d say your chances of remembering “lethologica” are pretty slim.
  • Prosopography – the description of a person’s appearance.  A good word to have on hand when trying to avoid looking shallow.
  • Qualtagh – the first person you see after leaving the house.  This is a bit silly of me, but I just love the idea of pointing at your unsuspecting postman/lollipop lady/bus driver and shouting “Hello, qualtagh!”
  • Sabrage – the act of opening a bottle with a sabre.  Not one I’ve ever tried myself, but now I sort-of have to, just so that I can use the word.
  • Sphallolalia – flirty talk that goes nowhere.  Write that one down, guys.  We’re definitely going to need it.
  • Tarantism – the urge to overcome sadness by dancing.  THIS IS A FANCY WORD FOR WANTING TO DANCE YOUR CARES AWAY.  The world is now a better place.

Have a truly outstanding Wednesday.  Extra cookies for anyone who manages to use all fifteen of those words in one day.

Old Fashioned Statement

Hello, you absolute delight of a human being!  How’s your Tuesday going so far?

Everybody’s a bit of a sucker for nostalgia, aren’t they?  We can all get a bit misty-eyed thinking about the past, whether it’s an event from childhood or a night out from last week.  Even if we weren’t actually around for them, we think very fondly of times gone by.  (For example, I would love to have been running around with the beautiful and damned darlings of the inter-war era, tearing up London with a cut-glass accent and wearing devastating dresses.  I was born a mere eighty-nine years too late to be part of that crew.  So close.)  

Times change and people change with them.  Technology, education, culture, language (and basically everything else you can think of) all transform unrecognisably in a few short years.  In general this progress is an excellent thing, but have we left anything of value behind?  Have the fads of fashion left us bereft?  Aren’t there traditions and ideas which might benefit us in the present day?  We can’t ask Doc Brown for a lift to the past, but here are a few old-fashioned practices I think we ought to resurrect:

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  • Wearing Hats

The first thing I should say about this one is that most hats don’t suit me, and yet I think we ought to bring them back as standard clothing items.  Hats add a level of respect and formality to greetings.  For example: men tipping their hats to ladies, which is just a nice greeting, or people removing their hats as a sign of respect when they enter someone’s home.  Hats also have the Sunglasses Effect – which I explained in this post – everyone looks dashing in the right hat.  (It’s just unfortunate for me that my ‘right hat’ is basically a bonnet.  Whatever, I can deal with that.)  When society wore hats all the time we all just looked a lot smarter and cooler, in my humble opinion.

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  • Writing Letters

We don’t really need letters anymore, if we’re honest.  Emails and Facebook messages can take forever if you’ve got a lot to say, texting is very straightforward and, if you’re feeling super old-fashioned, you can always pick up your mobile cellular telephonic device and give someone a ring.  We should bring letter-writing back for two reasons: firstly, the time it takes to hand-write and the money it costs to post letters shows a level of courtesy and attention which means much more than simply pressing “send”.  Secondly, if we can’t use a backspace key then we might think more carefully about what we say and how we say it.  If you want to make someone feel special, send them a letter.

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  • Dancing

You know when you’re watching a period drama or something similar, and everyone starts dancing in a very complicated-looking pattern without a second’s hesitation?  Someone from the sofa always says “but how do they all know the steps?”  Because that was a massive part of British culture in the Regency period, basically.  All children were brought up learning dozens of dance steps, because dancing was where it was at.  Flirting, favour, showing off how ‘accomplished’ you were, making friends, spurning enemies and holding pleasant conversation all happened on the dance floor of Austen’s time, and all of that social exertion was accompanied by lightly beneficial physical exercise.  Why don’t we do that anymore?  What a brilliant way to bring people together for a boogie, without resorting to deafeningly loud music and Jägerbombs.  

There are loads of other brilliant old-fashioned things that we could bring back if we wanted to.  For instance, I have a friend who always wears a pocket watch, and another who favours the cigarette holder.  This insanely talented friend even makes vintage clothing.  Whatever it may be, I hope that something from the past makes your present day life more enjoyable.  

I’m off to buy a bonnet.  Have a gorgeous day.

 

Skip to the End

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Hello there, and welcome to a brand new week!  I hope your weekend was extremely restful.

So, Bag End has now been vacated and Ash and I have both returned to our parents’ houses.  We are very lucky that our families are so understanding (and that they’ve kept bed space for us), but I think it’s safe to say that we both feel a bit deflated.  We’ve just had a year of living independently and building up our own home.  This next bit of our lives is going to be a bit tricky.

I wouldn’t mind so much if I had something concrete to focus on: a new job or a new flat would be great right now.  Anyone who has experienced job or flat hunting in London will know that both are extremely demanding, difficult and headache-inducing.  I’ve done both of them before and I’m sure I can do them again now.  The only thing is that I really, really don’t want to.

I have some very wise and sympathetic friends who have experienced similar situations, and the advice from all of them has been not to get bogged down in my current circumstances, because they won’t be forever.  Living at home and being unemployed can be demoralising, but they are temporary states.  Being less mature and more prone to whining than my sensible friends, my instinctive response to their sagacity is basically “but I want to have a new flat/job now.  Why can’t I skip to the end of this bit?”

It’s very common to wish time away when we’re going through a difficult patch.  We know that we’ll get over our break-up eventually, or that if we keep sticking to this diet we will see results at some point.  We just hate waiting.  Putting all of your energy into something and then having to hang about for the results is extremely frustrating.  

It’s actually a good thing to have to wait for what you want.  If we got everything we desired as soon as we wished for it, we would never learn to be patient.  If our dreams materialised as soon as we thought of them, we would never experience the satisfaction of pursuing and genuinely achieving them.  If we had magic lamps to give us what we wanted whenever we wanted it, we wouldn’t have anything to be proud of when we looked back over our lives.  Plus, where on earth would you keep a magic lamp?  Can you get magical knick knacks covered by home insurance?  The whole plan is riddled with extra problems.

I think that one of the best things to do when we’re going through phases of enforced patience is to think of other times when this has been the case, and to take lessons from them.  You got over that last break-up, didn’t you?  Exactly.  Your A Level results were eventually released.  The latest series of your favourite television show did eventually start.  And while you were waiting, I’m sure that you did and experienced things which may have been serving as distractions at the time, but which have now become important parts of your life.  For example, the last time I was in this situation I wrote a play.  That play has just done a great run at the Edinburgh Fringe, and is soon to be a short film for Sky.  

Life is like that: if we concentrate on what we can get done while we’re waiting, we will surprise ourselves with what we’re capable of.  Instead of wanting to skip to the end, we should try to enjoy the possibilities these difficult times contain.

Have a fantastic day.  Make sure your lunch represents all the food groups.

Sweet Little Lies?

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Hello there, reader!  How’s your week been?

Last night I got to see The Crucible at the Old Vic, which was excellent in many ways (Richard Armitage as John Proctor being the main one), and exhausting in others (the play finished at 11pm, and in the short time since I got home from Edinburgh Fringe I’ve lost the knack of staying out quite so late).  Arthur Miller’s retelling of the Salem Witch Trials is a fascinating story which, in its essence, examines what can happen when a lie gets spectacularly away from you.

We lie all the time, don’t we?  I’m not suggesting that we make stuff up from dawn ’til dusk every day, of course, but no one can say that they are completely truthful one hundred percent of the time.  Most of our lies are innocuous.  We exaggerate occurrences to add a bit more drama, or we tweak anecdotes to make them funnier.  Moving slightly further along the white-to-black scale of lies, we might hide certain things from loved ones because we don’t want to hurt them, or elect not to get involved with a dispute between friends when we know what actually happened.

There are two things to consider about this: first of all, when we lie in the smallest ways we are editing ourselves, and our lives warp incrementally because of this.  If we can convince ourselves and others that the funnier version of an anecdote actually happened, for example, then we are leading ourselves to believe that our lives are more artfully contrived than they actually are.  We adapt our identities in minuscule ways in order to format our experiences; we are fulfilling a role.  (I wrote an article for Miro Magazine that relates to this – give it a read and let me know what you think.)

The second thing is that we have no way of knowing what effect our lies will have.  If we choose to tell a white lie to protect someone, or hide information that we think would be upsetting, we are depriving other people of the opportunity to respond to the truth.  However good our intentions may be, if we love and respect someone we need to give them the chance to deal with the reality of a situation, even if we don’t think it will be pretty.  We would want the same thing if we were in their shoes, wouldn’t we?

The Crucible is a very extreme example of why lying is bad – people lose their dignity, reputations, property and lives because of a fiction invented by some highly-strung girls.  (It’s also not exactly a context that we can relate to: the story hinges on the fact that some girls were seen dancing in the forest, and dancing was most definitely Not Allowed in Massachussetts circa 1690.  The idea of anyone trying to stop my friends dancing circa 2014 is beyond laughable.)  Having said that, lies can have extreme consequences.  They might not result in death and defamation, but they can certainly cause long-lasting damage.

Also, don’t edit yourself when you’re telling a story.  You are wonderful just as you are, and someone who really loves you will find you hilarious, even if the anecdote isn’t actually all that.

Have a gorgeous weekend.  Make sure you get a decent lie-in at some point.