Tag Archives: crisis

Where the Hell is Simon Pegg When You Need Him?

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Hello, lovely reader!  How the devil are you?

I don’t know whether it’s the heat or Brexit or an angry Norse god having a tantrum, but there’s some dreadful stuff going on with my social circle at the moment.  Everyone seems to be breaking up, getting into arguments, losing jobs or just generally feeling sad.  Imagine the scene in Shaun of the Dead when Dylan Moran wants to kill Penelope Wilton and everyone’s getting hysterical and Liz screams “PLEASE can we all just CALM THE F*** DOWN!”  – That’s the gist of things for us at the moment, except that no one is actually calming down…on the bright side, no one is threatening to shoot anyone’s mum.  So that’s nice.

Apart from all of the serious problems, there are also a lot of people who are giving themselves an identity crisis by accidentally reliving their adolescence.  For example:

“I think I’ve got a crush on someone.”
“Really?”
“Yeah.  I don’t want to sleep with him, I just want to daydream about his hair and giggle.”

Or,

“I bought bubblegum the other day.”
“Are you twelve?!”
“Oh God, don’t.  I dug out my Linkin Park CD as well.”
“Good heavens.”

Worst of all, there are a few people who are going through quite serious bad patches in an adolescent way:

“And then SHE was all ‘bla bla bla’, and I was like ‘errrrrr, no!’ And then the OTHER guy was all like, I dunno, weird, and then I just turned round and was all, ‘no way’.  You know?”
“…So you left your job?”
“Yeah.”

There is most definitely something strange in our neighbourhood.

Everyone knows that the hardest thing about watching your friends struggle is that that’s often all you can do: watch.  When I was seven I got cast as the fairy godmother in the Year 2 production of Cinderella (five stars from the Independent and Time Out’s pick of the week, thank you very much), and the whole beneficent-sorceress-covered-in-glitter thing really went to my head.  To this day I cannot understand why I do not own a real, fully functional magic wand.   I don’t think any of us like not being able to fix things.

When we’re kids we think that everything can and will be fixed, either by an authority figure or by our own, unshakeable confidence in an ethical code (which is usually passed on by said authority figure and begins with “Well MY mum says…”).  As adults we are less equipped to respond to our friends’ problems, partly because of social convention – it’s not really the done thing to interfere with other people’s relationships, jobs etc. – and partly because we actually have no idea what the hell we’re doing in our own lives.

The way I see it, there are two metaphorical ways of handling these bad patches: you either go to Mum’s, kill Philip (Sorry Philip), grab Liz, go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint and wait for all of this to blow over, or you get out there and start killing the zombies with a Sade record and a cricket bat.  Both approaches have their own merits, I suppose.

Whichever way you and your friends choose to act, I think the important thing is just to be present.  If your friends are having an absolute shocker and you yourself are not entirely convinced that the “capable adult” costume looks good on you, standing shoulder to shoulder against the zombies is really your only option.  Sometimes it seems easier to run away or hide when things are getting tricky, but then you’re alone, and no one wants to be alone when the apocalypse hits.   Watching catastrophes might be frustrating, but it means the world to your friends to have you there with them.  See if you can rope Simon Pegg in as well; he’s probably good in a crisis.

Have a gorgeous weekend!

 

 

Bye Bye, Bag End

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Hello, you lovely thing.  Are you excited about your weekend?

This post is one that I’ve been avoiding for a while, because I think it’s going to be pretty difficult to write.  The subject matter makes me want to cry and stamp my feet, so do bear with me.  If I start getting hysterical just throw a biscuit at me or something.

At the end of this month, Ash and I will be vacating our beloved flat.  We’ve been living in Bag End for a year, and we’ve had an amazing time here.  We have had lots of lovely friends round to visit, hosted parties that defy the (minuscule) proportions of the floor space, danced around the kitchen to cheesy music, spilled coffee everywhere , had heart to hearts in the middle of the night and eaten unholy amounts of cheese.  It’s been bloody brilliant.

When we leave Bag End Ash will be moving home to save up for her trip to New York, and I will be moving to South London with one of my sisters.  Both of these are excellent and exciting things, but they are big changes.  I freaking hate changes.

Change is difficult for a lot of people to cope with because it involves uncertainty, which is something that humans are not wired to cope with very well.  We fear things like death and the dark because they represent obscurity: we have no way of knowing what they contain.  It’s the same with big changes.  How on earth can we be happy about them when we don’t know what they’ll entail?

It also comes down to a control and participation issue.  When we voluntarily make decisions that affect change, we can be happy because we’ve elected them.  Booking trips abroad, starting a new job and getting into relationships all fall into this category.  Being forced into change by other people’s decisions or circumstances beyond our control creates the opposite feeling: why should we have to participate in changes that we never wanted?  Why should we be forced into changing jobs, moving house or changing our relationship status?  If I may paraphrase William Ernest Henley’s poem slightly: “I am the master of my Facebook profile; I am the captain of my post code.”

I have realised that the trick to dealing with unwanted change is to look at it as an adventure rather than a crisis.  Bilbo Baggins didn’t want to leave Bag End any more than I do, but he went on to have a very jolly time.  (You know, except for the orcs and the massive spiders and stealing treasure from a dragon and everything.)  If we are never forced out of our comfort zones we never get to explore who we are or challenge ourselves, and both of those are very important things to do.

The other thing is that if we choose to look at enforced life changes in a negative way, it won’t affect any of the outcomes.  When we choose resentment over optimism we are only hurting ourselves.  Universal justice, fate, God or whatever life-affecting force you believe in probably doesn’t respond to sulking.

With that in mind, I’m going to start packing up my stuff.  I am choosing to look at this as an opportunity to re-alphabetise my books (which may sound like a pretty tremulous silver lining, but that kind of thing genuinely matters to me, because I’m a nerd).  Have a glorious weekend.

Never Lego

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Hello, lovely reader!  How are you doing?  Did you have a nice weekend?

I know I said I wouldn’t write too much Fringe-based bloggery while I’m away, but I’m afraid this one does start with an Edinburgh issue.  (It doesn’t stay there, I promise.  It moves swiftly onto more general silliness.)  

One of the strangest side-effects of being at the Fringe is that you find out a lot about people based on how they behave here.  This is especially true when it comes to time management.  There are people who plan their time to the very last second, with colour-coded, highlighted schedules.  There are also people who have a vague idea of what they want to see, but who are happy to go with the flow.  And then there are people like my friend Harry, who try to do way too much too soon and end up, five days in, lying on the floor in the middle of the day and singing “Smack That” to themselves.

At the Fringe and in real life, everyone has very different approaches to planning their time and achieving what they want to do.  Some people panic as birthdays approach because they see age as part of a huge, colour-coded schedule that we are supposed to blindly follow.  Surely by 25 we should know what we want to do with our lives, surely by 35 we should have met the person we’re going to marry, and surely by 45 we should have stopped enjoying Lego.  (Never stop enjoying Lego, by the way.  Lego is awesome.)

Others tend to amble happily through, cheerily meeting long-term partners and exploring career opportunities as they go.  Being slightly more laid back about when you achieve your life goals means that you’re more likely to be ok if things don’t go the way you expect them to.  Crises and bizarre eventualities are disconcerting enough as it is: if you have an imaginary schedule with post-it notes and a symbol key, it’s a nightmare. 

The other thing about being more relaxed about this stuff is that it has a knock-on effect on your own self-esteem and the people around you.  If you are frantically concerned about not being married before you’re 40 (or whatever) you will obviously discuss it with your friends.  Your friends in turn are more likely to get the idea into their own heads – the power of suggestion and all that – and then they will start to worry about themselves, too.  Before you know it everyone’s too worried about hitting an imaginary deadline to enjoy what they’re actually doing in life.

In terms of your self-esteem, you do not have to let go of your dreams or ideals if things don’t materialise the way you expect them to.  If you’re not married when you thought you would be, not living in the kind of house you dreamed of, or even rocking a hairstyle that you’re not entirely happy with, you’re still absolutely fine.  Things not happening when you think they should doesn’t mean they never will – it just means not now.    

Have a sensational Monday.  

Happy Birthday, Mr. Byrne

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Hello, dear reader!  How are you?

Today I turned 25, which is lovely because I have an excuse to eat lots of cake and do pretty much whatever I like (within the limits of physics, morality and the law, obviously).  Having said that, I am not actually very good at birthdays.  This is for three reasons:

1) The paranoia: will my friends turn up to my party?  Do they still like me?  Have they decided in the last twelve hours that none of them can be bothered to trek to North London for cake and scones?!  …Actually, what am I saying?  My friends would walk through fire to get to cake.

2) The perfection crisis: I think we all do this.  On our birthdays we expect perfect weather, green traffic lights, punctual public transport and shiny, healthy-looking hair.  It’s the one day of the year when everything is supposed to go our way.  People who are angry with us should automatically forgive us, we shouldn’t have to go to work and frankly the washing up can be left ’til tomorrow.  (That’s such a lie.  I’m definitely going to do the washing up once I’ve finished this.)

3) I have been known, upon  hearing the greeting “Happy Birthday!” to accidentally utter “thanks, you too” in response.

Luckily, I share my birthday with some awesome people who are better at this stuff than I am (and if they wished me a happy birthday, that embarrassing response would actually make sense):

  • Ed Byrne: one of my favourite Irish comedians, who also happens to be BFFs with Dara O’Briain and has some brilliant stories about him, such as this one.  I’ve met Ed Byrne (as you can see from the picture), and he’s lovely.  I hope he’s having a brilliant day.  (Milton Jones is lovely as well, so I hope his birthday is nice, whenever it is.)
  • Alex Pettyfer: you know him, the guy with the face who was in that film.  Yeah, him.  Apparently people tell my friend Ben that he looks a lot like Alex Pettyfer, but I think Ben has a less grumpy/confused-looking face, which is good.  (In fact, you can judge for yourself – he’s the blond chap in the picture.)  Happy birthday Alex; do try to crack a smile.
  • Mandy Moore: I always think that I should hate her, but I don’t.  She was very funny in Scrubs, she was excellent in Tangled and in general she seems alright at what she does.  So why do I want to hate her?  I don’t know.  Sorry, Mandy.  Have a nice birthday.
  • Theodosius II: born 401 AD, he became Emperor of the Eastern half of the Roman Empire at the age of seven.  That is one heck of a birthday present.
  • Vincent Jaskowski: not a famous man (although he should be, purely based on his generosity and ability to do strange voices), but one of my closest friends and the person who deserves to have the best birthday of us all.

Have a stupendously lovely day (even if it isn’t your birthday), and I hope that wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, cake will find you somehow.

 

Gloria Gaynor is Rooting For You

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Good morning!  How are you doing?  I hope you’ve got nice plans for your weekend.

For those of you who read this blog regularly (ish), you may be wondering why I haven’t yet written a post about what it was like recording Pointless.  There is a very good reason for this, and it’s a very serious, grown-up, intellectual reason: um…we haven’t been to the studio yet.  Due to numbers and other unpredictable things, we’ve had our studio dates postponed for a couple of weeks, but we are assured that this is a good sign and that the production team don’t usually bother providing people with alternative dates.  So that’s nice.

The other potential problem is that my house mate has an acting job in Salisbury that week, so she might not be able to attend one of our new studio dates.  I really hope that there’s a solution to the clash, but if not, we might not be going on Pointless after all.  Sniff.  It’s fine..all this revision for nothing…hours wasted on Sporcle…poring over QI books late into the night…but it’s fine.  I will survive, as per the wishes of Gloria Gaynor.

In general, human beings are capable of surviving all sorts of things: bereavement, break-ups, Soho on a Friday night.  Some things are more difficult to survive than others, but you are more than capable of coming out of an emotionally draining situation with your head held high.  Here are a few things that I think you should do to secure your survival in any emotional hardship:

1) Look at the long term

So difficult to do, especially if you are very angry or upset, but picturing yourself in a few years’ time can be really helpful when you’re trying to recover from a nasty situation.  For example, in a few years’ time you will be completely over your break-up.  In the future you might run into your ex from time to time.  Everybody wants to ‘win’ a break-up by being physically fitter, more successful and preferably going out with someone better-looking than the ex.  If you want to ‘win’ this break-up, it’s better to go to the gym than stay in bed eating ice-cream, even though it’s what you really want to do right now.  Put down the spoon.

2) Talk to nice people

Well, obviously.  Talking to nasty people is no fun at all.  What I mean is, it’s ok to be struggling with something and want to discuss it, whether you want practical advice or need a bit of a vent.  Choose your confidant wisely and make sure that you know what you want from the exchange.  I’ve made the mistake before of going to one of my clear-thinking, super-practical friends with a problem.  I just wanted a bit of a moan, and he sent me away with a colour-coded to do list and a Gantt chart.

3) Be kind to yourself

This covers all sorts of things: eat healthily, sleep at proper times, drink lots of water.  I know it sounds boring and mumsy-ish, but there’s a reason why people say weird things like “at least you’ve got your health”.  Having your health is important because it sets you up to cope with everything else in life.  And seriously, put down the ice-cream and go to the gym.  You’re not winning this break-up yet!

4) Use it

As those of you who read my blog post about The Hard Man the other day will know, I firmly believe the best thing to do in a bad situation is find a way to use it to your advantage.  Sometimes that’s not possible straight away, but if you’re looking for silver linings they don’t come any shinier than discovering a way to make a crisis into a success.  For example, losing my job didn’t feel like such a good thing at the time, but now I’m deliriously happy because I get to write all day every day.  Sure, a regular income would be lovely, but I’m doing what makes me happy, which is so much more important.

5) Aim for happiness

Don’t aim for survival.  Aim for the top.  Work towards your biggest goals, your most cherished ambitions and your ideal situations.  If you don’t quite make it you will at least have tried, and you’ll be somewhere between happy and surviving.  If you aim for survival and you fail, where the heck does that leave you?

The other thing about being happy is that it’s the best possible revenge against someone who treated you badly.  Most importantly, you deserve to be happy.  You’re lovely.  Gloria Gaynor and I are rooting for you.

Have a splendid Thursday!