Tag Archives: funny

Tutoring Tales

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The very warmest of salutations to you, lovely reader, on this long-awaited day of Fri.  On an unrelated note, my brain is very fuzzy and I am in desperate need of coffee.  Would you like anything from the kettle?

To supplement my rock ‘n’ roll writer’s lifestyle (ahem), I tutor some kids in English and Maths.  The kids are aged between six and ten, and I love them all to bits.  Some of them have their “challenging” moments, and to be perfectly honest I’m not always in the mood to rehash the five times table, but there’s no question that I love my job.

I also love the bizarre (but usually fairly sound) wisdom that my students come out with.  Here are some of the funniest, sweetest and weirdest things my little ones have said during lessons.  (By the way, I put a couple of these on Facebook as and when they occurred, so apologies for the repetition.)

1) The would-be dinosaur owner

Child: did the dinosaurs go to heaven?
Me: oh, yeah, definitely.
Child: do people in heaven get to have dinosaur pets?
Me: probably.
Child: you’ll go to heaven before me, because I’m only six and you’re about a hundred. Will you save me a dinosaur?

Yes, you evil little legend. Yes I will.  Although I should point out that I am twenty-five, which is A LOT nearer to six than it is to a hundred.  I wouldn’t usually mind too much about something like that, but we were at the ends of a Maths lesson…

2) The future feminist

Me: So what kind of characters do you usually find in fairy stories?
Child: Baddies and witches and a Prince Charming.
Pause.
Child: Why isn’t there a Princess Charming?
Me: I don’t know. Why?
Child: Because us guys are sometimes stupid and we need girls to help us.

The cutest thing about this one is that the kid genuinely wanted to know.  It was obvious to him that men need saving as much as women do, and he was baffled by the notion that men didn’t get a chance to swoon and women to ride in and kill the dragon.  Feminists, rejoice and be glad: this kid is a winner.

3) The paranoid artist

Child: I can’t finish colouring this picture in.
Me: ‘Course you can.
Child: No.  No, I can’t.
Me: Why not?
Child: I’ve been poisoned.
Me: …with what?
Child: Poison.
Me: Ok.  Who poisoned you?
Pause.
Child: Robert Mugabe.

Either this kid has been watching too much evening news, or he is an incredibly well-disguised political enemy of Zimbabwe’s current government.  I sort of hope it’s the second one.

4) The sibling swapper

Child: My brother is so annoying.  Do you have a brother?
Me: Yep.
Child: Do you get annoyed with him?
Me: Nah.  We used to wind each other up when we were your age, but we’re very close friends now.
Child: Is he nice to you?
Me: Yeah, he’s very nice.
Child: Can I borrow him sometimes?  You can borrow mine.

Seems fair, doesn’t it?  No?  I’m not allowed to abduct a six year-old boy who can burp the alphabet in exchange for my twenty-three year-old brother (who is pretty busy with his degree but would totally be up for this because it’s an excuse to play with Lego)?  Well, I wish someone’d said.  

5) The one who won’t be fooled

Child: Mum says I need to know about Maths for when I’m a grown up.
Me: She’s absolutely right.
Child: She says if I don’t know Maths no one will talk to me and I’ll have to wear a big pink badge saying “I don’t know Maths” and people will laugh at me.
Me: …
Child: I don’t really believe that, though.  I think I just need it for looking after my money and stuff.

God bless that mother, trying so hard to capture her son’s imagination when all she had to do was tell him the truth.  Apparently, six year-olds are ok with their future financial responsibilities.  Who knew?

Have a glorious Friday, you lovely thing.

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A Bath is Not A Photo Booth

Good morning!  How the devil are you?

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

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

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

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

“I’m Not Crying, It’s Just Been Raining On My Face”

Good morning, you stunning human being!  Did you have a good weekend?

Despite our best intentions and keenest hopes, we often find that life is more like an extreme sport than a walk in the park.  We can have a perfectly logical daily routine, an absolutely sensible diet and sleeping pattern, an eminently sensible wardrobe and a fairly rational outlook.  It doesn’t mean diddly: life is just going to do whatever the heck it feels like.

Inevitably, this leads to some great highs and some debilitating lows.  When the lows hit, sometimes we need to cry.  A lot of us dislike crying because it feels like a failure to cope (or even just an aesthetically displeasing transformation of our features), but it’s a necessary part of life.  Some of us cry more often than others, but it does happen to all of us, and that’s absolutely fine.  Here are a few ways to accept our inevitable face-leaks:

Separate the Symptoms
Sometimes we cry because of one specifically sad thing, but a lot of the time it’s because there are several contributory factors.  For example, I freely admit that when I’m overtired I tend to cry at the drop of a hat (or cafetière, most likely).  If you feel the need to have a bit of a sniffle, think about why that might be: did you drink a lot of alcohol last night?  Have you been sleeping properly?  When was the last time you ate something?  The purpose behind this is not to undermine your own feelings, but to recognise that the impulse to cry can be alleviated a bit by identifying and resolving the physical factors, which are often much easier to fix than emotional ones.

Forget Where You’re From
I don’t mean to stereotype, but I think one of the reasons that a lot of us struggle with crying is because we think it contradicts who we are: if we’re British, for example, we’re supposed to have a stiff upper lip.  Quite a few guys I know don’t like crying because they think it makes them seem unmanly, and several of my friends (male and female) think that by crying in front of people we are undermining years of establishing ourselves as “strong” or “good at coping”.  Sod that.  You’re a human being and you have tear glands.  Give yourself a break.

Choose Wisely
Crying can be embarrassing, impractical and downright irritating (especially if you don’t have any tissues to hand).  One thing that we can control is our audience.  If you’re the kind of person who needs to be by themselves to cry, so be it.  As long as you actually do make time to have a good wail, then go for your life.  But if you know that you’d be better off with a friend by your side, don’t feel bad about that.  It might not feel like your finest moment, but letting your friends look after you when you’re sad is actually a really lovely thing to do.  They don’t want you to be upset, obviously – but if you are going to be upset, it’s a privilege and a sign of how much you trust them when you let loved ones help you.

Join the Greats
Everyone you love, respect and admire has cried at some point.  Winston Churchill, Jane Austen, William Shakespeare and Mother Teresa all cried.  Heck, even the amazing Liam Neeson has been known to shed a tear.  Don’t feel bad about being a crier – you’re in excellent company.

Find Something Funny
Even though it sounds unlikely, there are all sorts of ways to make yourself laugh when you want to cry.  For example, my siblings and I tend to pull out this classic Friends line:

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This song is also excellent for making someone giggle when they’re crying.  Making yourself (or someone you love) laugh whilst weeping is brilliant.  It may not solve the underlying problem, but it’s good to remind yourself that stuff is still funny.

Have a gorgeous Monday.

You Are Not Sandra Dee (Thank Goodness)

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Good morning and welcome to a brand new week!  How the devil are you?

First and foremost, I would like to apologise for the gaps inbetween my blog posts recently.  My work schedule has prevented me from writing every day, for which I can only apologise and offer you a compensatory biscuit.  That being said, I have decided that from now on I will only be posting on weekdays, mainly so that you can go about your weekend unpestered by my ramblings.  Sound good?  Marvellous.

Today’s blog post is about the sneaking suspicion most girls have about themselves, which is (brace yourselves, ladies) that we don’t actually want to be the heroine of a story.  Oh, sure, we want the romance and the struggle and the ultimate happy ending, but we want to be allowed to get there on our terms.  We want to know that we can succeed without the necessary caveat of being beautiful, or the genetic good luck to have incredibly long, climbable hair.  The women we most admire and aspire to are the funny best friends and the sarcastic sidekicks – the characters who get the best lines and the best results.

Female characters who have an amusing foible or a deplorable flaw are, in film, literature and television, much more empathetic to modern women than their swooning, seductive counterparts.  The heroines of stories are willed by the reader or viewer to get the prescribed happy ending, because that’s what we are programmed to expect: give us a pretty girl in a pickle and we are desperate for her to find her bliss.  But show us a character who is less impeachably perfect and more honestly human, and that’s who we want to be.  We want to be the girl on the sideline who manages to win just by being herself.

Wouldn’t you rather be a Rizzo than a Sandy?  Nessa wins over Stacey, outright.  And deep down, don’t you think it would be fun to be more of a Karen than a Grace?  Why do you think movie writers keep inventing ‘kooky friend’ characters, anyway?  Because they know that those are the women we actually relate to.

These female characters are not perfect, but they are perfectly believable, which is definitely more important.  They might be bitchy, crazy or even prone to singing at high school for no reason, but there are worse things they could do.  (Geddit?)  These women are actually doing us all a favour by reminding us that you don’t have to be blonde, adorable or star-crossed in order to get what you want – you can (and should) just be yourself.

And why wouldn’t you be yourself, while we’re at it?  You’re brilliant!

Have a miraculous Monday.

4 Things We Shouldn’t Photograph

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Good morning, lovely reader!  How was your weekend?

One of my favourite things about my generation is that in twenty (ish) years, we will be able to tell our children anything they want to know about what our lives were like when we were their age.  Social media has become a sort of personal encyclopaedia of each user’s life: all of our memories, friendships, photographs and Buzzfeed quiz results are mere clicks away.

I particularly love being able to share photographs on social media, but for some reason I cannot get on with apps like Instagram – I just want a photo.  Why must everything be square and made sepia?  Photography really propels people around social media sites, catching people’s attention and storing their significant moments.  This is a marvellous and brilliant thing (although if I see any more images of flipping meals, which are always captioned with something horrendous like “baked beans for dinner lol I well love this particular type of phaseolus vulgaris innit #bakedbeans #Heinz4lyf #yolo”, I will probably scream).  Having said that, I think that there are some moments in life which are better left unphotographed – amazing, beautiful moments, but moments which should be allowed to go unrecorded.

1) Gigs
Let’s get this one out of the way nice and early: why do people record videos and take photos all the way through concerts?  LISTEN TO THE FLIPPING MUSIC OR GO HOME AND PUT ON THE ALBUM.  Of course it’s nice to have something to remember the gig by, but the photographs never come out how you want them to, and the videos are always rubbish.  Put your smartphone away and just enjoy the experience.  Maybe have a bit of a boogie as well.

2) Pyrotechnics
I was at a friend’s birthday party this weekend, which was a mini camping trip in a beautiful woodland half an hour outside South London.  We had bunting, a barbecue and a flipping great time.  We also had a camp fire, which is one of my favourite things in the world.  Although when you look around a camp fire or a firework display the faces of your companions seem warmly lit, photos of these joyful communal experiences never show as much clarity or illumination as you remember from the moment itself.  Best just to sit back and join in with the “ooh”s and “aah”s, then.

3) Split Seconds
Don’t you just love it when something hilarious or ridiculous happens without any warning?  Moments of sheer joy between friends, loved ones and strangers can be lifelong fond memories.  It would be great if we could relive them over and over again in HD quality, but inevitably we find ourselves saying “Oh, I wish I had recorded that!” and being left with just our memory of the event.  It does seem a shame, but then if we went around recording everything all the time, just in case something funny happened, we wouldn’t be properly engaging with the world around us.  Bizarrely, we would end up looking so hard for these moments that we’d end up missing them completely.

4) Anticipation
You can photograph a moment of happiness, or love, or success.  But we all know that sometimes the anticipation is even better than the event we are waiting for, and you can’t capture anticipation in an image.  You can’t visually explain that second just before you kiss someone for the first time, or the moment just before your team scores a winning goal.  Anticipation is very visceral as an experience: we feel it in strange physiological (as well as cognitive) ways, and it’s something that we should definitely just experience without trying to catch forever.  By its nature, after all, anticipation is fleeting (and hopefully followed by awesomeness).

Have a genuinely stupendous Monday.

Seven Signs of True Friendship

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Good morning, you charming human being!  Got any nice plans for your weekend?

Elite Daily recently ran an article about socially acceptable behaviours between best friends.  It’s very good (and worryingly accurate): give it a read here.  The article focuses on the peculiarly feminine attributes of some women’s friendships, but I think that there a few more which apply to friendships between people of either gender.  Here they are:

  • Strange Superstitions

In every friendship there is a phrase that both parties know has mystical powers.  For some reason, whenever Ash or I say that we won’t stay out late we invariably pull an accidental all-nighter, so nowadays when the phrase is uttered we both gasp and fight the urge to spin around three times, throw salt over our shoulders, etc.  It’s WEIRD.

  • Irrational Hatred

Everyone has a small aspect of life that they absolutely hate or just cannot understand, and we all need a friend who can back us up on it.  For example, my friend Harry and I both hate Waterloo station.  We have many reasons, none of which are rational enough to go into here, but we are adamant: no good comes from going to Waterloo.  Isn’t it reassuring to know that someone you love shares your slightly insane prejudices?

  • I Hear Voices

Fairly straightforward: impressions, quotations, silly voices and random noises are always better when you are with someone who can truly appreciate them, i.e. someone who knows you well enough not to assume that you’ve gone insane.

  • Left Field Questions

Do you remember this blog post, in which I described getting a text before 8am asking what the plural of mongoose is?  That kind of thing is only ever ok between very close friends, because they are the people who appreciate that sometimes you really, really need to know something incredibly random.

  • Over Indulgence

This applies to all manner of things, including the dedication of an entire day to stuffing your face and talking about the same love interest repeatedly for months at a time.  Only true and loyal friends can engage in these activities together.  Case in point: I am about to go and meet my friend Laura for a coffee.  “A coffee” usually translates into “four or five pretty strong, industrial-sized soya lattes each”, and we don’t judge each other for it.

  • The Opinion One Eighty

When your friend is enamoured of someone, you nod and smile and agree (but not too heartily) that yes, s/he is indeed very good-looking, funny, clever, etc.  When the relationship sours, your job as a friend is to agree (but again, not too heartily, lest the relationship starts up again) with the opposite sentiments.  The Opinion One Eighty can be a difficult one to keep up with, but we do it for our closest friends because we understand that feelings are fluid and romantic relationships are absolute minefields.

  • The Inexplicable Field Trip

Only a true friend will walk to the shops with you in your pyjamas, accompany you to the play/gig/party where your ex is going to be or agree to walk over the top of the O2 arena with you.  (That last one was Harry’s idea, and I’m actually pretty excited about it.)  You just can’t make a fool of yourself/be emotionally vulnerable/scale a London landmark without a proper chum by your side.

Have this kind of Friday.

Songs for When You’re Sad

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Good morning, reader!  How’s your Thursday so far?  Yeah, same here.

What is the one thing that can make you feel better when you’re low?  The answer varies from person to person, but I think we can all agree that certain songs always put a smile on our faces.  This is tricky to do accounting for everyone’s different tastes, but here are some songs that I definitely recommend listening to if you find yourself flagging a bit (we’re nearly there, but it’s STILL not Friday), and need cheering up.  YouTube links are in the titles:

1) The Middle – Jimmy Eat World
This is a great song for people who are feeling a bit stuck or lost.  The song itself is upbeat and rocky (I should apologise now for the fact that I have no idea how to describe music, by the way), and the lyrics are encouraging.  An all-round excellent motivator for anyone who feels victimised at work, left out by their friends, out of the loop or just fed up.

2) I’m Not Crying – Flight of the Conchords
This is for anyone on the verge of tears.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t know or watch Flight of the Conchords (although you really should check them out).  The reason that this song works so well for when you’re upset is that it covers all bases: its tone is melancholy and appropriate to your mood, but the lyrics are so funny that you end up laughing at your own sadness.  Any time that I’ve been crying or upset and listened to this, I’ve immediately felt better.  It’s like the Pro Plus of uplifting music.

3) Send Me On My Way – Rusted Root
This one’s just common sense by now, surely?  Alright, none of us know the words, but does that really matter?  It’s been a firm favourite since childhood thanks to Matilda and Ice Age, and it’s still got an irresistible cheer factor now.  I defy you to be unhappy while listening to this tune.

4) Every Little Thing – Delirious?
This is a song by a Christian band (don’t knock ’em til you’ve heard ’em), and it has been making me feel better about life since I was fifteen.  It’s actually more of a cathartic tune than an immediate happy-maker, but its message is very simple: everything is going to be alright.  And it is, you know.

5) Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da – The Beatles
Really?  Out of every Beatles song ever, I’ve gone for this one?  Yep.  Two reasons: firstly, it’s got some cracking lines: “Desmond says to Molly ‘girl, I like your face'” which is just brilliant, and b) during recording Paul McCartney  sang the lyrics wrong at the end, implying that Desmond and Molly Jones are actually a gay couple, which you can hear them all trying not to giggle at.  I think it’s very sweet that they kept and used that recording, because the song is just a cute little love story – who cares if it’s about a gay couple or a straight one?

6) This Too Shall Pass – Ok Go
Cracking, cheerful song and, as always from Ok Go, an insanely amazing video.  In fact, any of their videos will do the trick.

7) You Should Be Dancing – Bee Gees
You know, you SHOULD be dancing.  Forget your troubles and have a boogie, I guarantee you’ll feel better.

8) The song that reminds you of your best friend
This one has no YouTube link (obviously), but it’s probably the best song on the list.  You might recall from this post that my lovely friend Becca introduced me to lots of very good music when we were at university together.  Whenever a song comes on that reminds me of her, I think about how brilliant she is and how much fun we’ve had together.  So go and find the song that does the same thing for you and your best friend, and then if you’re still feeling sad, give them a call.  That’s what best friends are for.

Have the best Thursday since records began.

People Love You (And You Don’t Have to Forward Them Anything)

Good morning, lovely reader!  How are you?

Aside from the funny videos  and viral memes that make the rounds on Facebook, there are also several people who make the effort to distribute positive, heart-warming material.  These can be adorable photos of small children and puppies, faith-in-humanity restoring tales of human heroics, or even a simple “I love my friends” status with said friends tagged and made aware of their awesomeness.

When I was a teenager and email messaging was starting to become popular among my social group, we also used to send each other chain emails: “You are a precious butterfly.  Send this email to 320 other people and you will get your wings in seven days”  You know the sort of thing.  I never did get my wings.  Bloody Royal Mail.  These emails were (and I suppose still are) sent by people who have the best intentions in the world, but they’re not very personal.

One email that you might also remember was basically a long list of nice facts that supposedly applied to everyone, and had been compiled in order to make anyone who read the email feel better about themselves: “someone loves you”, “someone is grateful for the help you’ve given them”, “someone thinks about you every day” and so on (and on and on and on).  These are all perfectly lovely things, and I do hope that they’re true for all of us.  But they are a bit too vague and a bit too grandiose, so I thought it was about time for an updated, more specific and slightly more down to earth version:

1) Someone always wants you on their team
Board games, pub quizzes, video games or even actual sports: you in particular are known for being good at something, and someone always thinks of you when they have to put a team together.  Your unique set of skills and knowledge make you invaluable to that team, whether you’re trying to win a round about anagrams or running around a field with a stick. (That’s how you play hockey, right?)

2) Someone brings up anecdotes about you at parties
Not in a mean way: in a fond way.  In the way that explains something central about your personality to the people at the party, or reminds the group of an absent friend who’s sorely missed. Cases in point: my house mate once commented that Wales were doing quite well in “the Four Seasons” when of course she meant the Six Nations tournament.  Another friend from university once re-enacted the Stations of the Cross using a Wetherspoons burger, chips and a lot of ketchup, and we bring that story up whenever we’re all together, because we haven’t seen him in yonks and we miss him.

3) Someone always thinks of you when a certain song plays
There are so many songs that make me think of specific people.  About ten of my favourite songs make me think of my friend Becca, who introduced me to lots of excellent music in our first year at university.  I can guarantee that certain songs will remind people of you, and you’d be surprised by how much good stuff comes out of seemingly inconsequential things like that.  For example, writing this one has made me realise how much I miss Becca.  I’m going to ring her when I’ve finished this post.

4) Someone enjoys how ridiculous your friendship is
Everyone has at least one friend with whom they act slightly strangely.  In-jokes, silly voices and strange traditions abound between old friends.  To be perfectly honest, I’m struggling to think of friends with whom I don’t have slightly odd habits: for example, one of my oldest friends and I like to make macaroni cheese together, and we have a song about it.  That’s right.  It’s called “We Love the Macaroni Cheese”.  There may or may not be a dance that goes with it.  ANYWAY, the point is that with true and loyal friends it’s ok to be a teensy bit insane, and the knowledge that we can’t behave that way in public makes us all the more appreciative of the people who allow us to be a bit weird.  Have you seen this?  This guy knows what I’m talking about:

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5) Someone walked past you today and thought you were fit
That’s just common sense.  Look at you; you’re gorgeous!

Have a brilliant day.  May your lunch be unusually delicious.