The Death Tag

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Happy Hallowe’en, dear reader!  Have you got enough Haribo in for the trick or treaters?

Flying in the face of my Catholic upbringing (just for a change), it turns out that I quite like Hallowe’en.  It was inevitable, if I’m honest: the combination of dressing up, sweets and silliness is a drama graduate’s DREAM.  I also quite like introspection and morbid scheming, so I have decided to use today’s post as an opportunity to do “the death tag”, which my dear friend Ash alerted me to (and covered in this vlog).

1) How do you want to die?
I suppose most people want to die in their sleep, surrounded by loved ones, when they’re old and ready for death etc.  I would like that, but if I’m completely honest I would prefer a more dramatic departure, like the end of Thelma and Louise or Moulin Rouge.  (It’s the drama graduate thing again.)  What I would like more than anything is to die in a really stupid and/or amusing way, so that my demise would make a good story.  E.g. I want my last words to be “Oh look, a tiger.  Here, kitty kitty!”

2) What will happen to your WordPress?
It will serve as a reference point for my friends when they argue about what I would have said/wanted in a certain situation.  For example: “Vicki would NEVER wear pink shoes.”  “Uh, I refer you to blog #347, where she states in paragraph 12 that she would absolutely love some cerise flip flops.  BOOM.”  (FYI I would absolutely love a pair of cerise flip flops, so that solves that one.)

3) Who will you leave your money to?
If I may answer your question with a question: what the hell is ‘money’?!

Seriously though, if this question is about what you want to happen to your most valuable assets, then the items in question will be my books.   Their combined value is probably hovering somewhere near the 37p mark, but they are my favourite possessions.  They will go to my lovely friend Louise, who is the only person I’ve ever met who is as obsessive about books as I am.  If Louise pre-deceases me (horrendous thought), then I give my brother permission to turn my books into a fort.

4) What will happen to your body?
This Friends clip sums up EXACTLY how I feel about this question.

5) What do you want your funeral to be like?
A day at the seaside.  Probably Brighton.  Rounders on the beach and arcade games on the pier will be compulsory.

6) What will you miss the most that will exist after your death?
Well, I hate to be pernickety, but being dead will sort of preclude me from missing anything at all, won’t it?  But ok, I get the point of the question.  I think that teleporting will probably be a thing one day (my ignorance of the science behind it notwithstanding), and I would hate to miss out on that.  Can you imagine?  “Tuscany’s supposed to be lovely at this time of year.”  “Oh, really?  Shall we go?”  “Why not?  Let me just grab my sunglasses.”  ZAP.  Fantastic.

7) How will you want to be remembered?
This is the big one, isn’t it?  How we are remembered seems much more important than where, when or how gently we go into that good night, I suppose because it’s the factor that we can most easily affect while we’re alive.
I want what we all want: to be thought of with love by people who knew us and respect by people who didn’t.  I want my loved ones to grieve but eventually move on, and I want an obituary that makes me sound like a saint.  I also (slightly less realistically) want the world to say that my death heralds a great loss for the theatrical world.  I want my tombstone to say something heartfelt and meaningful, like a quotation from The IT Crowd.
Most of all I want people to tell anecdotes about the dumbass things I did while I was alive, because Lord knows there are plenty of those.  I want my friends to say things like “oh God, do you remember when Vicki locked herself in the porch?” and laugh about it.  I might not leave much money or fame behind, but I can at least leave a mildly ludicrous legacy.

Have a suitably spooky Friday!

Departing Party People

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Good morning, you marvellous creature!  I hope that today finds you well-rested, prepared for all of your meetings and up to date with your emails.

Life, as many famous people have said in a wide variety of trite and/or profound ways, is made up of entrances and exits.  Your life-long social circle can therefore be likened to a train station, a play or a party.  Let’s go with the party metaphor, shall we?  Help yourself to a symbolic beer and a non-existent cupcake.

Some people enter your life and immediately make themselves comfy on your favourite beanbag, whereas others may only poke their heads in, apologise profusely and back out again.  The problem, as anyone who has ever hosted a dinner party will know, is that an emotional seating plan is very hard to stick to when the guests keep switching chairs, dashing off to the loo or disappearing for AGES while they make a phone call.

In some cases (both in the metaphor and in reality), you sort of know that the party won’t really start until a certain person shows up.  In the metaphor that person is traditionally your other half/spouse/life partner.  In reality I have found that it’s usually my dear friend Mario, who is always as boisterous and tequila-laden as anyone could possibly hope for.  Other pro party starters include my good friends Baino and Cieranne (pictured above), who are probably both going to kill me for using that precise image.  (They look like they’re having fun though, don’t they?  Exactly.)

The other party guests can be very surprising: friends whom you used to adore may end up leaving early, and comparatively recent arrivals can emerge as the life and soul of the shindig.  In other words: sometimes you lose contact with people you thought you’d know forever, and someone you’ve known for a matter of weeks may already be one of your closest confidants.  C’est la vie – or soirée, if you will.

Sometimes the departure of one specific person can be difficult – particularly if that person was up for the role of life partner – but we have to trust that when someone leaves the party early, they’re making room for a first-class late arrival.  Unless the circumstances are particularly fraught, I don’t think that people ever really want to leave your life.  (Why would they?  You’re a HOOT.)  It’s just that parties are a law unto themselves, and life has a funny little habit of doing whatever it sodding well pleases.

The party is the thing, and the shape of your evening/life is defined by a whole bunch of entrances and exits.  When people exit your life, it may not be permanent.  When people enter your life, they might come bearing more booze.  Whatever the circumstances, all we have to do is answer the door with a smile and enjoy the festivities.

Well, I think I’ve tortured that metaphor quite enough now.  Have a glorious Tuesday.

Confidence Tricks

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

For those of you who didn’t catch my last post about active problem-solving, the main aim of this post is to report back on my first ever indoor climbing session, which took place on Wednesday.  I was accompanied by my friend Laura, who has been going mountain climbing since the age of three and a half, and who kindly agreed to teach me how to climb.  Needless to say, she’s a very brave and patient woman.

Despite my novice status – and predisposition towards swearing profusely when under pressure – we ended up having a great time, and have therefore decided to make the climbing a weekly thing. I look forward to learning a lot more about it.  In the meantime, here is a basic report of my findings thus far:

a) Chalk gets everywhere.  You need it to stop your hands from getting sweaty and slipping on the grips, but seriously.  EVERYWHERE.
b) The names for various climbing holds and techniques sound like they came from a Carry On script, “jugs” being the least outrageous example.  Which leads me neatly to:
c) You can’t climb and giggle at the same time.
d) As with many things in life, it’s best to be cautious without over-thinking.  Staring at a wall for ages and trying to work out your route is only going to freak you out, although obviously it’s important to be careful.
e) Speaking of which, the climbing centre went to a lot of trouble to remind us that CLIMBING CAN CAUSE SERIOUS CASES OF DEADNESS.  So be warned.
f)  Climbing is a lot easier when you have confidence.  If you don’t have actual confidence, pretend that you do.

I am genuinely starting to believe that the way to get things done is to lie yourself into confidence.  For example, when Laura gave me a short bouldering demonstration at the beginning of Wednesday’s session, I mentally freaked out because the whole thing suddenly seemed impossible.  Laura has been doing this climbing thing for years, but I’m old and set in my ways!  I’ve been abiding by the laws of gravity for twenty-five years – what on earth makes me think I can start defying them now?!  Confidence, that’s what.  Stubborn, bloody-minded, if-R-Kelly-believes-he-can-fly-then-I-believe-I-can-climb-a-wall confidence.  If Laura makes it look easy, then it must be easy.  (It wasn’t.  It was brilliant fun, but it wasn’t easy.)  The kind of confidence, in other words, which is only ever borne out of a negative or scary scenario and is almost entirely composed of self-deception.

This kind of motivation might seem silly or counter-productive, but it really does work.  It would be nice to spend our entire lives feeling constantly capable, meeting new challenges with panache and overcoming obstacles with the right footwear.  However, sometimes we have to accept that things are going to be difficult, or frightening, or involve an excessive amount of chalk.  In those situations, we need to know ourselves well enough to pull out all the stops.  Procrastinator, know thyself – and know how to trick yourself into feeling confident.

Sometimes it’s as simple as wearing clothes that make you walk taller, or listening to music that puts you in a good mood.  Whatever your tricks and treats are, make sure you use them whenever you have need.  Eventually, they will become second nature and you genuinely will feel as confident as you’ve pretended to be.

Have an amazing weekend.  Make sure you get a lie-in at some point.

I Love You John Hannah, But Please Shut Up

John Hannah (Vanya), Joe Dixon (Astrov) and Alan Francis (Telygin) in Uncle Vanya at St James Theatre. Credit Simon Annand.

Hello, reader!  How are you doing?  You’re looking very well, I must say.

Last week I went to see Anya Reiss’ modernised version of Uncle Vanya at the St James Theatre, starring the relentlessly wonderful John Hannah as Vanya.  Having studied all kinds of plays at uni – including the work of that cheerless bunch of bastards known as “the Naturalists” – I am already as familiar as I want to be with Chekhov’s story of love, labour, loss and smug gits.  I mainly went to see John Hannah, if I’m honest.

For those of you who were not forced to read two Naturalist plays a week for a year, all you really need to know is this: traditionally Naturalist plays are characterised by all of the characters being miserable, and unanimously doing sod all about it.  Actually, that’s not very fair: sometimes they commit suicide.  But that’s about it in terms of problem-solving techniques.

What these characters do instead of pro-actively fixing their lives is talk.  They bitch about each other, they speculate on each other’s love lives and futures, they whine a LOT about the causes of their constant unhappiness, and they make terrible jokes.  What I like about Uncle Vanya as a play is that someone finally picks another character up on this.  Vanya is to be pitied for falling in love with a much younger, married woman, but it’s not her fault that she doesn’t feel the same way.  Will he shut up about it and behave with a shred of dignity?  Will he calmly and quietly enjoy their friendship for what it is?  Will he resist the temptation to constantly attempt emotional blackmail?  Of course not.  Understandably, Yelena cracks in the face of Vanya’s relentless whining and tells him to shut up.  Well, wouldn’t you?  I mean, John Hannah is absolutely wonderful, but even in his sultry Scottish voice, Vanya’s lines sound pathetic.

I am a big fan of words, talking and verbal communication in general.  I think that it is healthy and positive to have conversations about your feelings, and to process ideas and upheavals by discussing them with loved ones.  But venting about our problems means absolutely nothing if we are not willing to do anything about them.  It’s all very well and good to bemoan a bad situation, but if there are steps you can take towards resolving it – even if it’s just walking away with your dignity intact – why not take the flipping steps?

It makes no sense to talk the talk without walking the walk, especially when it comes to our emotional well-being.  Talking about stuff is wonderful, but (unfortunately) it won’t always solve our problems.  If you think about it there is always something that you can actively do to make a situation better for yourself, no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential it might be.

Also, acting upon your social survival instincts can lead to good things, and it teaches us to follow through with stuff we know is good for us.  For example, since I came back from the Fringe I have been contemplating (out loud and in front of witnesses.  Oops) taking up indoor climbing.  The time has come for me to face my fear (and a wall, presumably), so tomorrow I will be going climbing with a friend of mine who has given me strict instructions not to “fall off and die”.  I will do my best.  Assuming that I’m successful, I’ll report back on Friday.

Have an amazing week.  Eat super tasty breakfasts every day.

10 Mind-Changes Every Twenty-Something Girl Has On A Daily Basis

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Hello and happy Friday, you stunning creature!  I hope that this week has been particularly good to you.

A couple of days ago, I saw this post about 31 thoughts all girls in their twenties have on a daily basis.  I completely agree with practically everything on this list – especially numbers 9 and 28 – but I think that there’s also a lot of mind-changing to be taken into account.

We are constantly exposed to new information and opinions, courtesy of things like the internet and the people in our lives.  We are also of an age when our youthful ideas are battling for house room in our heads with the slowly-creeping increase of grown-up sensibilities, so our thoughts tend to pinball around a bit.  Bearing these facts in mind, here is a list of before and after thoughts that a lot of girls in their twenties have on a daily basis:

Before – Those trousers are hideous.  Who on earth would buy them?
After – Ah.  So apparently those trousers are actually in fashion this season.  Shit, I should get some.

Before – I’m young and spritely and living the dream!  Long-term health issues are still decades away!
After – I’ve had that pain in my side for over a week now.  I must be dying.

Before - I have GOT to stop spending money.
After – Ooh, ASOS are having a sale…

Before – I can still go clubbing, right?  Right.
After – I have never felt so old.  I cannot believe that people born in 1996 are allowed to drink now.

Before – I am never drinking ever, ever again.
After – I NEED WINE.

Before – It is totally fine to eat cereal for dinner, play on swings at the park and watch kids’ television shows.  TOTALLY.  FINE.
After – Dear God, I need to start thinking about getting a mortgage.  And a pension.  Crap.  Do I need life insurance yet?

Before – I’m a serious grown-up and as such I will decorate my home with tasteful, mature items.
After –  FAIRY LIGHTS!

Before – I’m so proud of my friends.  We’ve all grown up and achieved so much.
After – Wow, we haven’t changed AT ALL since we were nineteen.  That’s a bit worrying.

Before – I will cook a nutritious, inexpensive yet delightfully inventive three-course meal for this dinner party.  Check me out, I’m hosting a dinner party!
After – Sod that.  Chicken nuggets and chips for everyone.

Before – From now on, I will go the gym every day, get eight hours of sleep every night and be nice to people I don’t like.
After – Yeah, but…cheese and bitching.

Have a glorious weekend.

Seal of Approval

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Hello, reader!  How’s your week going so far?

When I was a child, it took me quite a while to work out that the phrase “seal of approval” referred to a stamp-type thing on a piece of paper, not an actual seal who followed you around and nodded approvingly when you did something right.  (Trips to the zoo became slightly less fun after this revelation, if I’m totally honest.)

In modern life, seals of approval come in many forms: likes on Facebook statuses and photos, retweets, promotions at work and the knowledge that awesome people like being your friends.  This is all very well and good, but how much time do we commit to gaining the approval of the only people who matter: ourselves?

I freely admit that I rely too much on the good opinion of other people.  Hence the writing, I guess.  I have built my entire professional life around entertaining other people, and it’s not that different in my personal life: I am one of those people who automatically assumes that an unanswered text means that the recipient despises me, for example.  I’m exaggerating, but modern life does encourage us to believe that silence is passive aggressive and that a friendship isn’t real until you’re connected on Facebook.  Not the healthiest way to approach social interaction, is it?

How do we fix this?  Can we go about our lives in a way that balances a strong sense of self-worth with knowing the value of other people’s respect?  Is there an attitude that will allow us to like ourselves enough not to worry too much about our reputations, but at the same time make sure that our reputations stay intact?  Can we be the best versions of ourselves without needing to hear about it from the people around us?

Some people are already able to do this, of course.  Lucky you, if you’re one of those types.  But for the rest of us, whatever aspect of our lives/upbringings/personalities has led us to this point, we need to focus on gaining our own respect before we work for anyone else’s.  You know the irritating but true phrase “no one will love you until you learn to love yourself”?  Well, it’s the same with respect (and slightly less cloying to think about): what use is anyone else’s if you haven’t got your own?

Pursuit of what we know (or hope) will make us better people is the key to finding self-respect.  Think about the people you admire in life: the achievers, the constants, the optimists.  All of those people have worked hard to achieve those great feats and obtain those virtues.  They identified what they wanted to be or do, and then pursued it for their own sense of self worth.  If they can do it, you can, too.

It’s like playing Pokemon on a GameBoy (showing my age here): when you’re working towards a gym badge in those games, you don’t give a crap what Team Rocket are up to.  In reality, when you’re working towards becoming a better version of yourself, you forget about what other people think of you.  You know deep down that your opinion is the only one which matters.

Having said that, I think all of our self-improvement programmes would develop much more rapidly if seals actually followed us around and applauded our good deeds.  I’ll have to look into that.

Have a stupendous Tuesday.

The Summer – Autumn Trade-Offs

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Happy Monday, reader!  How was your weekend?

Despite making a glorious comeback effort over the past week, Summer’s career is definitely over.  Make way for Autumn, the awkward but loveable bassist of the seasons.  It’s time to trade our flip flops for wellies, and to have The Discussion about turning the central heating on.

A lot of us tend to regard this time of year with trepidation and mild despair, because the days are getting shorter and before we know it we’ll be panic-buying for Christmas.  If we think about it, Autumn has a lot of fun stuff to offer that makes up for losing our Summer sensibilities.  Here are a few examples:

Sunbathing to Sauntering
No more sunbathing at every available opportunity, but now we get to enjoy leisurely walks on crisp, cold days.  We might not be able to top up our tans, but we can still enjoy the fresh air.  Even if it’s raining and miserable, there’s always the jumping-in-puddles option (as long as you’re wearing wellies.  This activity is not appropriate for those of us who favour canvas shoes).

Floaty to Fur-Lined
Pretty summer dresses get relegated to the back of the wardrobe, but on the plus side, wrapping up season is here.  There’s a lot of joy to be taken from being snug in a scarf, and being justifiably smug about owning a matching pair of gloves.  I personally am very excited about wearing my penguin jumper, because it’s SO COMFY.  Childish but not chilly is how to dress this season (although I confess I haven’t consulted any women’s magazines about this point).

Picnics to Pies
Goodbye, healthy salad and picnic snacks.  Hello, hearty stews and home-made pies.  Actually, this isn’t even a trade-off thing: who would choose salad over pie?!

Lazy Days to Long Nights
Like everyone who possesses an iota of sanity, I hate getting out up when it’s cold and dark.  If the sun isn’t out of bed yet, then why the hell should we be?!  Equally, getting home in the dark when it’s something stupid like five in the afternoon is just depressing.  What happened to long, drawn-out, sunny evenings and early, blazing sunrises?  They’re gone, I’m afraid.  There’ll be a reunion tour next year.  In the meantime, we can partly dismiss our despair by remembering that we are more likely to get to sleep at a decent time during the winter, because the earlier sunsets make us feel more tired, and that a sunrise that happens at 11.32 am (I’m exaggerating a bit, but you know what I mean) is still a sunrise.  A sunrise which we’re more likely to see, in fact, because who is ever awake at 5.34 am during the summer?  Exactly.

Festivals to Festivities
Festival season is over: pack up your tents and put away your dry shampoo.  Wherever you’ve been this summer, I hope you have some nice memories and several entertaining photos.  We also have a lot of great events to look forward to in the next few months – Hallowe’en, Bonfire Night, Christmas, New Year – and there may even be a few birthdays and engagement parties in the mix.  Summer is a great time to meet new people, spend time with old friends and go on bizarre adventures, but let’s not forget that Autumn is pretty good for all of those things, too.

Have a superlatively hilarious Monday.

Gratitude Attitude

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Happy Friday, you lovely thing!  How’s your week been?

My friend Tamsin recently nominated me for that “list three things you’re grateful for” thingy on Facebook.  While I am whole-heartedly supportive of such a positive, life-affirming use of social media, I am going to cheat and do it my way.  This is for three reasons:

1) I post blogs and articles and silly statuses on Facebook all the time.  If I did this thing properly (i.e. once a day for ten days – thirty things to be grateful for, all told), the message of gratitude would get drowned out by the sound of everyone frantically removing me from their news feeds.
2) I can assimilate the point of this exercise in one bite-sized, easy to digest blog post, which is what I’m about to do.
3) I’m a contrary little so-and-so.

So, here is my take on the gratitude exercise: ten categories, three examples per category, thirty things to be grateful for.  (So yeah, I am cheating, but technically I’ve done the exercise.)

Friends

  • The ones who can always make you laugh
  • The ones who are still friends after being miles and/or months apart
  • The ones with whom you have excellent eyebrow semaphore.

Jokes

  • In-jokes whose origins are lost in the mists of time, but which still make you laugh
  • Christmas cracker jokes
  • A joke you tell that makes EVERYONE laugh – no better feeling in the world, is there?

Family

  • The ones who looked after you when you couldn’t look after yourself
  • The ones who remember your most embarrassing moments but don’t bring them up in front of people
  • The ones who become real friends.

Experiences

  • Life-changing, unforgettable ones
  • Horrendous, lesson-learned-please-God-don’t-ever-let-that-happen-again ones
  • Ones that make for rocking anecdotes.

Strangers

  • Ones who inspire/amuse you without ever knowing
  • The ones who show you compassion when you’re lost/stuck/in trouble
  • The ones who have taught their children how to behave in public.

Aspects of Nature

  • Landscape awesomeness, e.g. sunsets
  • Biology, which proves that deep down we’re all the same
  • Penguins.  Who does not love penguins?

Bands/Musicians

  • Ones that always make you feel good
  • Ones that remind you of happy times and/or good friends
  • Guilty pleasures (did somebody say Hanson?)

Technological Wonderments

  • Television
  • Skype
  • The animatronics behind Ann Robinson’s face

Gut Reactions

  • “This isn’t right.”
  • “This is amazing!”
  • “I love you.”

Cheese

  • Retro, cringy pop music
  • Mushy, sentimental conversations
  • ACTUAL CHEESE

Mind-Altering Circumstances

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Hello, reader!  How are you?  Take a seat.  Don’t mind the mess, I’m still unpacking.  Would you like a coffee?

I recently discovered that many forms of urban wildlife like to visit my garden, and in my naive, not-a-real-Londoner state I was delighted.  “I’m living in The Animals of Farthing Wood!” I thought.  (Except that time I saw a squirrel eating a potato waffle – pictured above – which was just baffling.)

Well, waking up this morning to discover that said wildlife had seen fit to POO on the patio made me rethink my position.  I have spent the last hour Googling how to deter foxes, with mixed success.  According to this nice pest control man, “young male urine” will do the trick.  Excuse me, but a) gross and b) I live with my sister.  How on EARTH are we supposed to ask our next young male visitor to oblige us with that particular type of pesticide?  It’s just not happening.

Anyway, vulpine poo problems aside, this last week or so has demonstrated to me that changing your mind is an inevitable part of life.  It doesn’t even take an unwelcome surprise (as it were) to create the change: as we experience life, we discover that our feelings about the world change accordingly.  This is a good thing, because it shows that we are not closed-minded people, but it’s also a bit disorientating, because our opinions form an integral part of who we are.  Here are some of the things I think we worry about too much in terms of where we stand:

The Career Conundrum
I won’t lie to you: pursuing a writing career is hands down the scariest thing I’ve ever done, and this is coming from someone who’s been to Hackney at night time.  Sometimes our choice of job or pursuit of passion leaves us feeling a bit lost, and we start to wonder whether we’ve made the right decisions.  This week I genuinely started to panic about the writing thing, and even though it’s sort-of on the wane now, it was weird how unappealing my lifelong passion started to look.
I really don’t believe that it is ever too late to change your mind about what you want to do.  I have a friend who is doing a degree course at the age of 26 (and getting insanely high marks as well, the jammy madam).  A lot of people I know – especially those lovely creative types – are constantly turning their hands to all sorts of endeavours, and it makes them much more rounded and fascinating people.  Society tells us that we must introduce ourselves with our job titles, as though our careers defined us.  They don’t, even though they do take up a lot of our time.  It’s not worth wasting time worrying about what your job title sounds like when the main thing is to be happy.  If you change your mind about what you want to do, that’s your business.  As far as I’m concerned, you should be allowed to introduce yourself as Grand High Master of the Universe for all that your job title actually matters.

The Marriage and Kids Debate
“I definitely want to get married one day.”  “I want lots of kids, but not marriage.”  “I would never have a church wedding.”  We’ve all had these conversations, haven’t we?  Especially once you hit my age, lots of people start to seriously consider what the long-term landscape of their personal lives is going to be.  At this point, particularly if you have a serious boy/girlfriend, it becomes very important to be completely honest with yourself about what you really want.  You may have spent your entire life saying that you categorically MUST be married by a certain age or have a minimum number of children, but of all things your vision of familial happiness has to be allowed to change.  It’s nice to have a hypothetical idea of what you want, but you have to be able to adapt to what your heart tells you as you get older.  At sixteen you may have been adamant that marriage was not for you, but if you meet the man/woman of your dreams at twenty-six and you change your mind, don’t fight it.  Your past self had no idea what life had in store for you, so why does s/he get to dictate your decisions now?

The Really Big Issues
It is a truly excellent thing to have an informed opinion about Syria, Scottish independence, euthanasia and how we can persuade David Cameron’s home planet to take him back.  The key word in that sentence is “informed” – new information and updates about all of these issues appear on a daily basis, and if situations change we are supposed to readjust our views accordingly.  It takes a much more intelligent and honest person to change their mind about huge political problems than it does to stick to narrow-minded guns.  Consistency is all very well and good, but have you noticed that the news is not consistent?  It changes every day, in fact.  We need to keep up, otherwise we’ll end up like those eejits who think that gay marriage causes hurricanes or whatever.

The main thing to remember is that changing our minds once doesn’t mean we’ll never change them back, or that we won’t form a new opinion entirely.  My writing worries will go, I’m sure, as soon I get stuck into my next play.  If they don’t, I could always retrain as an accountant or something.

Ok, that will NEVER happen.  But the point is that we can and should keep our options (and minds) open.

Have a stupendously enjoyable Thursday.

8 Ways You Know That You’re Not A “Real” Londoner

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Hello there, you brilliant creature.  Are you enjoying your Thursday so far?

When Ash and I were living in Southgate, we got a lot of stick from our friends about not “really” living in London, even though Zone 4 is still a zone.  Now that I am snug, smug and central in Zone 2, I reckon I should have grasped some of the finer points of the London lifestyle…but I definitely haven’t.  I’ve lived in and around London for most of my life, but there are some Londoner trademarks that I just don’t have.  I’m sure some of them will creep up on me over time, but for a lot of capital-dwellers there are some expected characteristics that we may never obtain.  Here is how you can tell if you’re not a “real” Londoner (yet):

You wait for the green man before crossing a busy road
I have friends who are, in most situations, sensible and sane human beings.  Give them a hectic junction in central London, however, and they will sail across the road without even glancing at the traffic.  I just can’t do that.  I might take thirty seconds longer to reach my destination, but I will definitely get there alive.

You still (secretly) like the tourist attractions
I know they’re full of tourists who don’t know where they’re going, and I know they’re mostly overpriced and cheesy, but I still love London’s tourist traps.  The London Eye is pretty darn cool, and Piccadilly is just fun.  Give me a day of museum hopping in South Kensington over an obscure art gallery any day of the week.

The buses baffle you
I am very glad that my London friends can speak so knowledgeably and confidently about the buses in their local areas, but it takes some time to get that savvy.  I’m still working the tube map out, for heaven’s sake.

You don’t get annoyed appropriately
Yesterday morning I woke up to find two foxes and a squirrel asleep at the end of my garden.  Instead of getting irate about urban vermin and fearing for my bins, I immediately got excited at the possibility of The Animals of Farthing Wood becoming a reality.  That’s not really a Londoner way of thinking, is it?

You don’t understand how Boris bikes work
Seriously, no idea.

You don’t go to the right pubs – sorry, bars
In my heart of hearts I still feel like a student, which means that I automatically gravitate towards the nearest Wetherspoons or Nicholsons pub, even though this fabulous city is chock full of interesting and weirdly themed bars.  Even when I do find an independent pub I quite like, I can never remember what it’s called.  Whenever my friends and I are trying to think of somewhere to go, no one listens to me because I end up suggesting “that place we went to when it was cold”, “the pub that looks like the hanging gardens of Babylon” or “the bar that had lots of beers”.  Not helpful.

You can’t always give tourists directions
I try.  I really do.  I want to be helpful, and I’m flattered that I look enough like a Londoner to be asked for directions, but I very rarely know where I’m going.  I’d been working in the area for two months before I found out that you can walk from Leicester Square to Covent Garden.

You forget that it’s not ok to skip in public
Looking happy is strongly discouraged, and demonstrating joy is a definite no no.  (By the way, I do realise that the skipping thing might just be me, but what’s life for if not a bit of occasional silliness?)

Have a brilliant day.