Tag Archives: arguments

It’s Not Called “Boiled Wine”

 

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Season’s greetings, lovely reader!  How’s the wrapping going?

I won’t beat around the bush, because we’re all busy people and those mince pies aren’t going to eat themselves: 2016 has been weird.

Setting aside the national, global and celebrity death issues, it seems to me that a lot of us have been going through our own personal annus horribilis (which is Latin for “what the HELL happened this year?!”).

In my case it’s been a year of boiling points, especially with my friends.  Issues and unspoken gripes that had been simmering for a long time began to bubble up and spill, and at certain points I found myself not speaking to people who have been very close friends of mine for years and years.

In one instance – and I don’t think she’ll mind me telling you this story, because we’re grand now – I fell out with one of my best friends for about three months.  I was in the wrong for causing the argument, but her decision to temporarily cut me out of her life seemed disproportionate to me: it wasn’t that big of a row.  When we met up a few weeks ago to sort things out, it transpired that she had actually been upset with me for various reasons.  Thoughtless actions or badly-chosen words on my part had been upsetting her for a while, and she’d never said anything about them.  So what I thought was an over-reaction turned out to be totally justified: she was boiling over after months of unspoken annoyance.

Now, obviously, this makes me feel like an absolutely rubbish friend and I am not proud of this story at all.  I cannot bear to think that I was merrily running around thinking everything was ok when in fact one of my closest friends was feeling hurt by my actions.  I did the same thing myself with another friend: her behaviour upset me for a long time, but I plodded on with the usual useless thoughts of “that’s just what she’s like” and “well, what can you do?”, the way we all do when we love someone who occasionally irritates us.  That situation blew up in my face, too.  I thought I was being patient when all I was doing was giving myself permission to approach boiling point.

What I have tried to take away from these nasty situations is that it is important to be honest when someone close to you is hurting your feelings.  This is really not an easy thing to do.  We’ve all been in situations where it is difficult to be honest with someone, either because of circumstances or because we’re not sure how they’ll take it.  You know the sort of thing:

“Hey, listen, about your new boyfriend…”
“Oh my God, he’s great, right?  So smart, and SO funny.  What was that joke he made the other day?  Something about your hair?  How bad it looked?  Oh my God, that was HILARIOUS.”
“Er…yeah…”

No fun to be had there.  But the thing about letting things simmer for too long is that they always boil over: that’s physics.  And I don’t know about you, but I’m damned if I’m going to have another year of emotional eruptions and friendship disruptions.  Let us mull the wine of friendship, not allow it to boil over into a claggy claret mess.

Merry Christmas to you, lovely reader.  I’ll see you in 2017.

Do You See Where I Am Coming From?

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Dear, lovely, patient, understanding and more-attractive-than-average reader – yet again I find myself having to apologise to you for a long period of radio silence.  It’s not you, it’s me.  Honestly.

Actually, it’s not even me.  It’s Edinburgh.  The Fringe Festival is an annual suspension of reality for everyone who comes here.  Symptoms include averaging three hours of sleep per night, walking several miles every day (I worked out that I’d walked 23 miles in 3 days at one point), teaching your liver to man up and deal with four times its usual alcohol intake, and watching your bank balance dwindle faster than Nick Clegg’s credibility.

Excuses aside, I promise that during my time here I have come up with lots of ideas for topics to chat to you about.  Today I’d like to start with Cool Runnings, a classic nineties film about a Jamaican bobsled team at the Olympics.  That might not sound too profound to begin with, so let me explain: during the film, one of the bobledders, Sanka, is trying to assert his superiority over the others to their coach, and the conversation goes like this:

Sanka Coffie: I’m the driver.

Irv: You’re not. You’re the brakeman.

Sanka Coffie: You don’t understand, I am Sanka Coffie, I am the best pushcart driver in all of Jamaica! I must drive! Do you dig where I’m coming from?

Irv: Yeah, I dig where you’re coming from.

Sanka Coffie: Good.

Irv: Now dig where I’m coming from. I’m coming from two gold medals. I’m coming from nine world records in both the two- and four-man events. I’m coming from ten years of intense competition with the best athletes in the world.

Sanka Coffie: That’s a hell of a place to be coming from!

My point is that it’s important to think about where people are coming from before we make assumptions or judgements, even (and sometimes especially) when it comes to our nearest and dearest.  I started thinking about this the other night when I got into a bit of a bicker with one of my best friends, because we weren’t thinking about where the other person was coming from in terms of experience.  I’ve not had many long-term relationships, because I don’t like dating and I think romance is a bit weird.  My friend is a serial monogamist who hasn’t been single for more than a couple of months since he was a teenager.  Neither of us are better or worse people because of these things, but it means that our experiences of love, relationships etc. are very different, so we feel differently about them.  

When we fail to think about where our loved ones have been in life, we make it more difficult for ourselves to talk about the things that matter to us.  If we care about who someone is, what they like and how they feel about stuff, we have to also care about what has led them to have those feelings.  It’s all very well to think that your friend is a bit silly for fearing spiders, but before you judge them, maybe check that they didn’t have a bad experience in childhood or something.  

Also, make sure you watch Cool Runnings as soon as possible.  It’s an absolutely cracking film.

No blog tomorrow because I’ll be in transit, but have a marvellous day and I’ll see you on Wednesday.

CV Essentials

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Hello, dear reader.  How are you?

Have you ever looked at your own CV and thought “who the hell is this?”  Our CV-selves are not us.  They are more smug, they exaggerate their importance in previous job roles, and they are way too hung up on when exactly they got their Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award.

The problem is that CVs don’t say much about who we really are.  For instance, my GCSE in Photography does not indicate anything about my pathological fear of being late for things, and the latter of those two definitely informs more of my identity.

Even when we are allowed to reveal something about who we are, such as when we are asked to list our strengths and weaknesses, we are obliged to transform our real characteristics into meek-faced, employable ones.  For example: your actual weaknesses may be drinking milk out of the bottle and stalking your ex on Facebook.  In a job interview, you would demurely confide that you might sometimes be a bit too much of a perfectionist about work tasks.

So what should actually go on our CVs?  Which facts and figures can we use to truly represent who we are?  I have a few ideas of things that would say a lot about us as real people:

  • Stories from friends – what do your friends say about you?  When they bring you up in conversation, which anecdote would they tell first?  My friends would probably go for “the time Vicki locked herself in her own porch”, which I’m sure speaks volumes about my grasp on life.
  • Speciality dish – what’s your favourite thing to cook?  Is it a big dish that serves lots of people, or a snazzy starter that requires obscure spices?  Where did you learn how to make it?  Did your grandmother teach you?  Is it a recipe you picked up while travelling abroad?
  • Emergency – never mind that “tell us about a time you had to solve a problem at work” stuff – how do you actually respond to emergency situations?  That’s your instincts taking over, which say a heck of a lot about you.
  • Childhood character – who did you play in your primary school Nativity? No, seriously, think about it: everyone knows a pretty, popular girl who played Mary, a mild-mannered ex-Shepherd and a seriously disgruntled Third Guest at the Inn who feels overlooked in life.  (I was a Narrator.  That makes sense, right?  I do like to describe stuff.)
  • Conflict – again, not in a serious “how would you resolve a dispute with a colleague?” way, but in day-to-day life.  Are you prone to bickering with your partner?  Do you lose your temper when a friend tells you that you’re wrong?  Do you bury your head in the sand and refuse to confront an issue?
  • Strength and weakness – what are your actual, truthful, honest-to-goodness strengths and weaknesses?  Are you a Candy Crush addict?  Do your friends usually turn to you in a crisis?  Have you ever cheated on someone?  Do you tend to make newcomers feel welcome in social situations?  Are you one of those appalling people who doesn’t put their hand in front of their mouth when they cough?

Our CVs encourage us to present a modified version of who we are in order to be employable entities.  Of course we should present ourselves in the best possible light to the world, but I think that the real people are far more fun and interesting than their class of university degree.

Have a magical Friday.  If anyone finds Narnia, give me a shout.

Get Thee to a Wetherspoons

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Hello, lovely reader.  How are you?  Have you completed your challenge to take a chance yet?  I’m about to do mine and I’m terrified, so don’t worry about it too much.

My birthday is coming up soon, and the plan for the day is to get a load of friends round, eat a lot of cake and then go to the pub.  Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  It won’t be.  I haven’t chosen a pub yet.  I was seriously considering the Montague Pyke in Piccadilly, because it’s large, central and pretty cheap, but I’ve been shouted down by some friends of mine who have better taste (and more experience of the Montague Pyke) than I do.  The hunt continues for a large, central, cheap pub in London.  And for my missing pet unicorn, Ephraim.

I know that I’m a “grown up” now, and I should have acquired a taste for the finer (or at least less rubbish) things in life, but deep down I’m still a student and my heart belongs to Wetherspoons pubs.  Here are five reasons why:

1) Consistency
Any Wetherspoons in any part of the country serves the same drinks, food and surly sarcasm.  You know where you stand with a Wetherspoons menu.  Even in the farthest flung corner of the British Isles (Inverness), I can tell you for a fact that the only difference between that menu and the ones in my local is the addition of neeps and tatties as a side.

2) Price
So it’s not the most glamorous place in the world.   You won’t come across any sultry jazz music or atmospheric lighting in a Wetherspoons pub, but you will be able to buy a pint without remortgaging your internal organs.  I don’t really care if there’s a group of asshats making too much noise in the booth next door, or the toilets are a ten minute walk away; the beer is cheap.

3) The toilets are a ten minute walk away
Which is good for you.  Exercise and all that.

4) Something for everyone
I feel very, very sorry for my friends, because going out for dinner with me is a nightmare.  My dietary requirements include a lethal (and I mean lethal) allergy, an intolerance of casein (because lactose is too mainstream, apparently), and a lifestyle choice to give up carbs.  It’s a wonder that my friends can even look at me sometimes, let alone sit in a restaurant with me.  But in a Wetherspoons, all of that goes away: the extensive menu has something for everyone, no matter what kind of allergy/faddy diet/craving you’re restricted by.  Problem solved.

5) Remember the good times
Remember that story about a friend of mine who re-enacted the Stations of the Cross with a burger, chips and excessive ketchup?  (It’s here if you’re floundering – don’t feel bad, I tell a lot of stories and most of them involve a slightly strange friend.)  That is just one of literally hundreds of happy memories I have that took place in a Wetherspoons pub.  From the New Crown in my beloved Southgate to the Westgate Inn in Canterbury (hour for hour I think spent more time in there than I did on my university campus), and back to where it all began in the Wetherspoons pubs of Watford and Rickmansworth: I owe Wetherspoons some of the best nights (and mornings after) of my life.  Christmas Eve with my best mate doing uni essays, inventing very complicated drinking games that involved stealing books, meeting some of my now closest friends, falling in love, getting into arguments, re-enacting stuff with food (it became a recurring issue), laughing until we cried: all of the best and most ridiculous things in my life have happened to me in a Wetherspoons pub.  It’s not glamorous, but it’s fun.

So.  Where shall we go for lunch?