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

Q38

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

funny-seal-picture-photo

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

5e74bfc88e414224755120d275ccfa49

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

EBB2A127B277C1E768F86D2CA9C0B9_h498_w598_m2

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

squiggle

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

BORIS-JOHNSON_2675593b

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.

My (Slightly Less) Naughty Little Sister

img26265732

Hello, lovely reader!  How’s life treating you today?

Does anyone remember those stories about a little girl who was incredibly naughty, but essentially loveable?  They were called “My Naughty Little Sister”, and I remember reading them as a child and feeling a bit cheated by the stories’ inevitable happy endings.  If I’d got up to half of her shenanigans, I would never have been able to charm my way out of trouble the way that little girl did.  In fact, on many occasions I was that naughty, and it’s shocking how useless a winning smile and puppy dog eyes are when you’re dealing with angry teachers/parents/older siblings.

Anyway, as most of my social circle know, my siblings are the most important people in my life.  We are five very different people who happen to have the same face, and despite the obligatory childhood scraps and rivalries, we have ended up being very close friends as adults.  Last night I had a long phone conversation with my little sister: nothing major, just a nice, lengthy catch up and a bit of gossip.  But it was, as all of my conversations with my siblings are, very rewarding.  There are a few reasons for this, and for the existence of siblings in general being a brilliant thing.

First of all, there is nothing like having someone just like you around to validate your existence (and personality, in some cases).  I know that I can say to my little sister “I’m worried about this”, or “I really don’t like that”, and she will always understand where I’m coming from.  Like everyone else, I sometimes worry that I am very weird and that everyone else is a lot better at life than I am.  Having four people in my life who share my neuroses, genetic predispositions and slightly odd frame of cultural reference makes me feel like a proper human being.  I may well be very weird, but I am not alone.  Having siblings puts you into context, and that’s extremely valuable.

Secondly, siblings – even twins – are never entirely identical as people, and it’s a constant source of pride and joy to me that my siblings all pursue different ambitions.  It’s amazing how different close relatives can really be, and talking to my little sister about her degree (which is in science, of all things.  Can you imagine?) reminds me how important it is to respect other people’s passions.  It’s easy to go through life assuming that we know pretty much everything about our nearest and dearest, and we may not share their beliefs or aspirations, but it’s always worth checking in on them from time to time.  I love hearing my little sister talk about her life, because it’s so different from mine.

Thirdly, I am a very typical big sister in that I hate the idea of my younger siblings repeating my mistakes.  I mean, really.  If you’re going to mess things up then at least have the decency to be original about it.  Jeez.  Seriously, though: I have messed up enough times and been hurt often enough to recognise the danger signs in my little brother and sister, and I dread to think of them going through some of the rubbish that I put myself through at their age because of pride, misplaced affections or your basic, thoughtless drunkenness.  Thankfully, my younger siblings are a lot more sensible than I am, and my little sister in particular is a wise old soul (for a twenty-one year old).  Talking to her and hearing her opinions reminds me that she is a lot smarter than I was at her age, and if she is slightly less naughty than I am, that can only be a good thing.

I know that I am very, very lucky to get on so well with my multitudinous siblings, but I think that the essential elements of our relationships are the same for friends and family members from all walks of life.  It doesn’t matter how alienated you may be now, or how little you think you have in common: your siblings are the people most like you on earth, whether that’s in terms of personality or physical appearance, and their influence on your life is incomparable with anything else.  Even if they annoy you, bore you or just have far too many embarrassing stories to tell about you: they will always be a huge part of who you are.

And that’s a very good thing, because you’re wonderful.  Have a cracker of a Wednesday.

Cheesy Conversations

artisanal1

Happy Tuesday!  Did you have a nice breakfast?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I have brilliant friends.  Last night one of my nearest and dearest friends came to visit me at the new flat, and if seeing her were not enough of a treat, she brought three different types of cheese with her.  What a legend.

Over said cheese and a lot of diet coke, we discussed the whys and wherefores of our current life situations.  These are somewhat complicated to say the least.

Where are we going?  What are we doing?  Where on earth has my phone charger gone?  Being in your mid-twenties is characterised by asking a lot of futile questions, and even though we can postulate and theorise and debate, it’s no big secret that none of us have any answers.

That’s ok.  It really is.  We are not supposed to know what we’re doing: we’re supposed to know by now what we want to be doing.  By that I don’t mean that we need to have planned out the next five, ten or twenty years of our lives.  I mean that we need to know what we want to be doing right now, and be working towards it.  We need to know ourselves well enough to be honest about who we are and what really motivates us, whether or not we think that it’s financially viable or approved of by our parents.

I have no idea what my thirty-year-old self will want from life.  I haven’t the foggiest idea what my forty or fifty-year-old selves will be gunning for, either (although an educated guess tells me that it will probably be “more cheese” on all three counts).  What I do know is that I have ambitions and hopes and vague aspirations, and that all of these are achievable if I am willing to have (literally) cheesy conversations with the people who know me best and love me the most.

For example, last night was the first time that I admitted out loud how freaked out I am about writing my next play.  Chris is Dead went down so well at Edinburgh and got such an amazing response from audiences that I am genuinely terrified of writing another script.  Have I peaked already?  Do I have anything else worthwhile to say?  What if from now on everything I write is utter drivel and doesn’t resonate with anyone at all?

No one can say for certain that that won’t turn out to be the case, mostly because I haven’t started writing another play yet.  But my cheese-bearing friend knew that, even though she can’t foresee the future, her opinion of me matters and her optimism on my behalf is a very valuable piece of encouragement.

I can’t tell you not to worry about the future.  We are living in an age when we are made to feel like 25 is (professionally speaking) the new 40, and that if you don’t know what you’re doing by now then you have already failed.  That isn’t true, by the way.  But we all feel that way from time to time, and the key to getting through it is to be worried, feel nervous, and get stressed: the vital second half of that plan is to let someone who loves you allay your fears.  They know you well enough to make you feel better about it, and that is what will keep you going.

Have a stupendous day.  If your breakfast wasn’t all that, have an extra delicious lunch.

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:
    005
    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.