Tag Archives: How I Met Your Mother

A Realistic Romance Recipe

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Hello and happy Wednesday!  You’re looking lovely today, if I may say so.

Not for the first time, my inspiration for a blog post has come from an episode of How I Met Your Mother.  If you’re not a fan, don’t worry – I’m only using a tiny snippet.  Two of the characters are discussing what it takes to make a relationship materialise, and one of them claims that chemistry is the key ingredient, and that “if you have chemistry, you only need one other thing: timing, but timing’s a bitch.”

Chemistry between two people is obviously very important in romantic situations, and timing is clearly essential (and also a bit of a bitch).  But relationships are very rarely that simple, and I think we need a few more bits and pieces to make the blasted things work:

Referees

As in people who provide references, not the football people.  I’m not suggesting that we turn the pursuit of a relationship into some kind of emotional job hunt, but it can be much easier to let your guard down with someone if a mutual friend will vouch for their behaviour.  Lots of people meet their significant others through friends or family, and I think that they start relationships with a very clear advantage.  If you meet someone in a bar and they make a great first impression then that’s lovely, but it’s a massive bonus if someone you trust can tell you for certain that this person has no criminal record, is good with kids and usually remembers to return phone calls.

Confidence

As Dexter says to Emma in One Day, “You’re gorgeous, you old hag, and if I could give you just one gift ever for the rest of your life it would be this: confidence. It would be the gift of confidence. Either that or a scented candle.”  Confidence covers all sorts of things, including the belief that you are a lovable person, the ability to look (and more importantly feel) good in your own clothes, and the willingness to start a conversation.  You might have unbelievably strong chemistry with someone and the timing may be perfect, but if all you can do is mumble into your shoes then your would-be romance will go nowhere incredibly rapidly.

Communication

This one is the most difficult (especially for us Brits), and annoyingly it is also the most important.  Nothing will work between two people unless they communicate.  (I’m starting to feel uncomfortable even typing this bit, to be honest.)  We don’t like talking about our feelings, do we?  Oh, sure, over a drink with our friends or in a post-break up rant, absolutely.  But with the person we want to go out with?  Good heavens, no.  It can’t be done!  We’re supposed to tell each other where we stand, how we feel and make sure that no one is being led on or getting confused?  What a ridiculous notion.

Communication issues are the reason that Jane Austen novels are longer than two pages, why Bridget Jones takes so long to get Mark Darcy, and they make up the basic plot line of every rom-com film ever made.  If the characters told each other the truth earlier on in these stories, they would be happier much sooner.  Sure, the films would be rubbish and the books would be abysmal, but you are not a character in a story.  You’re a real person, and no one is going to write your happy ending unless you flipping get on with it.

Besides, you deserve to be happy.  You’re a legend.

Have a superb Wednesday.

The Upsides to Unfair Truths

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Good morning, and happy Thursday to you!  I hope you are feeling very well-rested today.

I’m a very lucky girl.  Yesterday I got to spend a sunny afternoon in a kids’ playground, chatting to my lovely mates and escorting my friend’s eighteen-month-old son on his (many, many – seriously, millions of) excursions down the climbing frame slide.  Apparently, some things are not made boring by relentless repetition.  Wouldn’t it be amazing if we grown ups still found utter delight in something as simple as going down a slide?

I think that one of the reasons we don’t necessarily have the same capacity for joy as a toddler in a playground is that we know something the little ones don’t: life is full of hard truths.  Here are a few of the most annoying/inconvenient/unfair, each with a little optimistic upside to help us recapture some joy:

Television Shows End
I feel very sad for the people who watch Community, which I hear was cancelled recently.  It sucks to fall in love with a show, invest in the characters, get emotionally involved with the storyline and then discover that the big, bad L.A. producers don’t agree with you.  How very dare they.  The upside here is that new shows come out all the time: when Friends ended, nobody could have predicted that something as fun as How I Met Your Mother was on its way from the same brains.  So don’t panic, Community fans: you never know what’s around the corner (of the television executives’ board room table).

Justice is Unfair
Bad people hardly ever get what’s coming to them, terrible things happen to the loveliest people, and the theoretically just concept “freedom of speech” means that the BNP Youth are allowed to upload horrible campaign messages to YouTube.  We just can’t win.  the upside to this is that our instinctive “that’s not fair” reaction leads us to have interesting debates, learn lessons from bad situations and work out which horrible people to avoid in future.

Feelings Make No Sense
You can know what you love or hate about a person – their sense of humour, their attitude, their hair style – but you can never know exactly why you feel that way about them.  We fall in love with the least suitable suitors, and we cannot bring ourselves to fancy the people with the best emotional prospects.  The upside here is that the lack of logic makes love more exciting, romantic, weird and wonderful.  Wouldn’t it be horrible (albeit slightly more convenient) if a physical trait plus a personality characteristic automatically equalled love?  We’re not robots.

Life is Short
Scratch that: time is short.  I mean, it’s Thursday already; how did that happen?!  As we get older time seems to go by faster, and our to do lists get longer instead of shorter.  We forget to text people back, we miss birthday parties and there is always at least one household task that we’re just never going to get around to.  (Mine is hoovering the stairs.  It just isn’t going to happen.)  Here is our upside: the diem is ours to carpe.  Go on that holiday, take up that hobby and tell that person how you feel about them.  Go on, I dare you.

Wasps Exist
I can’t think of an upside to this one.  Sorry.  Wasps are just mean.

Have a brilliant Thursday.  I hope that this day goes down in your personal history as Unbelievably Delicious Dinner Day.

Looming/Loving Deadlines

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Good morning, dear reader!  If you are struggling with the whole “oh God where did that entire weekend just go?” feeling, remember that you are at the start of a mere four-day week.  You can absolutely handle that.  I have utter faith in you.

Like most people, I have a very love-hate relationship with deadlines.  On the one hand, it’s nice to be given a sense of structure that will lead me to plan my time effectively, and discipline myself accordingly to ensure that my work is finished in time.  On the other hand, deadlines also bring out the adolescent, “you can’t tell me what to do!  I hate you!!”, stomping-off-to-my-room-and-slamming-the-door side of me.  We may not like to admit it, but I think that that’s the case for a lot of us.

When we are teeny tiny, the deadlines are our parents’ to worry about: “shouldn’t he be walking by now?”  “Was your daughter talking at this age?”  “How long has he been stuck in that dustbin?”  And so on.  As we get older we take some responsibility for ourselves, most notably for the interminable GCSE coursework deadlines.  (I’ve just remembered: I never handed in my Physics coursework.  I just didn’t do it, on the grounds that I freaking hated Physics.  How did that work?  Why do I have a GCSE in a subject I didn’t do the coursework for?  Worrying.)

By the time we reach the grown-up world of work, university and real life, we have supposedly learned to work to any deadline that gets thrown at us.  Having said that, I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of uni students everywhere to say that module conveners really, really need to communicate better: having all of our essay deadlines within two days of each other is just not cool (although the managing directors of Red Bull and Nescafe must be very pleased with this state of affairs).

By now we have also reached the stage where we give ourselves deadlines in our personal lives: I want to be married by this age, I want to have been travelling by this time, and I want to have saved x amount of money before y happens.  This is all very well and good, since it shows that we have learned that structure can be good for us and we have taught ourselves a sense of purpose and direction, but it’s also pretty scary.

Last night my friend Harry and I were having dinner in a Wetherspoons (obviously) and I made a sweeping declaration, ala Marshall Eriksen in How I Met Your Mother.  

Me: I swear by THIS pepper pot…
Harry: Why the pepper pot?
Me: I dunno.  Anyway, I swear by this pepper pot that if x has not happened by the time y occurs, I will no longer do z!
Harry: Good.  Put the pepper pot down.

What Harry knows (and the poor pepper pot probably knows now, too) is that personal deadlines are all very well and good, but that we have to use them to grow and develop, not to limit ourselves.  If we want to go travelling, we need to set ourselves a deadline for the trip that reflects the reality of our financial situation, visas and so on, not a deadline that will make us feel like a failure in twelve months’ time.

If we don’t manage to meet our personal deadlines, it doesn’t make us failures.  It just means giving ourselves a bit more slack next time.  The countries you want to visit and the things you want to save up for will still be there when you’re ready.

Have the kind of Tuesday that is worthy of folklore.

Girl Code: Not Quite as Complicated as the Enigma Machine

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Hello dear reader, and welcome to your weekend!

First of all, a lot of congratulations are in order: to my friends who just got engaged, the ones who got married yesterday and the ones who, as of this momentous day, can now get married in the UK.  What a fantastic day for love and marriage.

Now, to the topic at hand (which as usual is pretty silly): those of you who watch How I Met Your Mother and/or are male will be aware of a mysterious set of rules called The Bro Code.  This is a list of regulations that men are supposed to abide by when they’re out and about with their mates, and a lot of them pertain to their duties as wingman.  It’s fairly standard stuff about solidarity, the pursuit of women and being manly.  A lot of the guys I know follow this code whether they realise it or not, but here is my question: where’s the Sis Code?  The Magda Carta, if you will?

Well it exists, but it doesn’t, if you see what I mean.  You know how people talk about there being “unwritten rules”?  Well, girls have those rules off by heart backwards, upside down and in seven different languages.  We don’t have to write them down to know exactly what they are, and when we sense someone breaking the Girl Code we can tell over a distance of up to eight hundred metres (reduced to six hundred on a blustery day).  But just so that there are no misunderstandings, I have written a few of the rules down:

  • When a girl shows you a photo of the guy she likes, the appropriate response is only ever “Aw, he’s lovely!”  THAT’S IT.  Don’t comment on his massive ears, don’t start drooling over him yourself, and for heaven’s sake don’t ask what’s up with his facial hair.
  • You must always hate the new girlfriend of your friend’s ex-boyfriend, at least until said friend is over the situation.  Which brings us nicely on to:
  • Your ex’s friends and your friend’s ex are off-limits.  This is non-negotiable.  No, not even then.  Or then.  No, definitely not.  Stop trying to find ways around this; it’s insurmountable.
  • Use your make-up bag for good, not evil: if you’re dressing up and going out, make sure that you are doing it for the sake of your own confidence, not to make another woman feel small or to impress a man.  (Example: don’t wear white to someone else’s wedding.)
  • Always accompany your friend to the bathroom.  Guys never understand this, but there are several possible reasons for making this activity a team effort: being in an unfamiliar place and not wanting to get lost alone on the way; protecting one another from scary loo attendants; continuing a conversation that is already in progress.  There are loads more, but those are the ones that sound least odd.
  • On a related note, if you are out in public and your friend turns to you and says “I need to talk to you”, then you drop everything.  There is probably a socially-awkward situation to diffuse, or a wardrobe emergency.  As you get to know your friends you will be able to communicate this non-verbally across tables, crowded rooms and dance floors, but remember to use your eyebrows sensibly.  You don’t want to end up like Emma Watson, whose acting style is entirely dependent on the caffeine-infused caterpillars above her eyes.
  • Don’t be mean for no good reason.  (Ok, I definitely just broke that one by being mean about Emma Watson, but seriously.  Her eyebrows genuinely worry me.)
  • This one is my biggest pet peeves, and unfortunately loads of girls do this: don’t be a story-topper.  If someone tells you something really good or really bad that’s happened to them, do not under any circumstances say “Well if you think THAT’s good/bad, listen to what happened to me…”  You haven’t been listening to your friend, and it’s painfully obvious.  One day you will hear yourself say “Well if you think’s THAT’s good, I’ve just been made High Majestic Overlord of the Seas and Sky!” and realise how ridiculous you’re being.
  • Always be willing to lend your shoes.  I don’t know why, but it’s important.
  • Take the time to compliment each other, and not just “oh, I love your earrings, where did you get them?” Make the effort to tell people that you think they’re brave, kind, good at roller-skating, etc.  It’ll take you two seconds and it’ll make their day.

There are hundreds more of these, but I won’t keep you from your weekend any longer.  Have an amazing Saturday!

Television Teaches Us

Good morning, reader!  Did you enjoy the sunshine this weekend?  Oh good, me too.

As those of you who read yesterday’s slightly frantic blog post will know, my house mate and I have cause to revise our general knowledge in the next, er…twenty five hours.  I’m sure we can manage that.  You will also know that I have a fondness for the television show Dad’s Army.

It might seem strange that a television show from the seventies about the forties resonates so strongly with someone who arrived in the world right at the end of the eighties, but I love the show because I think it’s taught me quite a lot.  In general, television shows have given me an education that rivals my A Levels in terms of relevance to the world, and definitely overtakes my degree in terms of practicality.  Here are a few examples:

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1) Dad’s Army

Community is important.  Life is full of people with idiosyncrasies, funny foibles and general oddities, and they all matter as human beings.  However bizarre your colleagues, friends and family may be, you are stronger united than you are on your own.  Also, don’t panic (especially if your name is Mr. Mainwaring).

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2) Blackadder

This show is responsible for about ninety percent of my historical knowledge.  My sincere apologies to anyone who taught me History at school, but if you want me to retain information I need to hear it with a massive dose of sarcasm, preferably from Rowan Atkinson.

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3) How I Met Your Mother

Oh, so many things: nothing good happens after 2am; bros before hos (or sisters before misters, I suppose); the Hot/Crazy scale is scarily accurate; never invite an ex to your wedding.  Also, the best thing you can ask for from life is an evening in your favourite pub with your best friends.

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4) Red Dwarf

Similarly to the Dad’s Army ethos, when you’re stuck in a space ship three million years from Earth, you need to be a team.  Even if that team is made up of a robot, a dead hologram, a genetic mesh of cat and human and a Liverpudlian layabout.

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5) Friends

Of course Friends made the list.  There are many good lessons to learn from the show, but in my opinion the main one is that you can know someone for years and still be surprised by them.  You never know how your heart might change: Ross got the girl after more than a decade, and Monica and Chandler didn’t fall in love until they went to London.  (This raises some questions about London being the new Capital of Romance, but we can come back to that another time.)

Obviously it would be nice to think that the lion’s share of my knowledge comes from books, lectures and academia in general, but I don’t think that it does.  I’m not convinced that that’s such a bad thing, though: surely as long as we are learning something, the source is not too important.

That’s what I’ll tell myself while I stick BBC iPlayer on, anyway.  Have a great Monday.

Stuff We Are Apparently Too Young For

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Good morning, dear reader.  Are those shoes new?  They look ace.

First of all, I’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has contacted me to tell me how much they enjoy reading this blog.  I am truly touched by the support I’ve received, and I hope that future posts will prove equally entertaining.  One of the posts that I’ve received most praise for is this one about stuff my generation is too old to do, so I’ve decided to try the opposite approach and talk about things that people in their twenties are supposedly too young to do.  (And yes, I know I’ve stolen the idea from an episode of How I Met Your Mother.)  I think that this list might cause a bit more controversy, because I know for a fact that my friends do some or all of these things, but this list is according to society’s expectations of our generation more than our actual preferences.  I personally think that most of these are fine for us to do, but apparently I’m just old before my time.

1) Go to bed before 9pm

As recently as 2011 I regularly stayed up talking nonsense with my friends until the unsociable hours of the morning, but these days I can rarely stay awake past pumpkin-transformation time.  Occasionally a night out will go on too long and I will accidentally see the sun rise, but in general my attitude seems to have done a complete one eighty since childhood.  Fifteen years ago, I would rage against the injustice of being sent to bed before 9pm.  Present day, I grumble morosely if my social life obliges me to be out of the house after 9pm.  I think I’m still tired after fours years of being a Drama student.

2) Wear slippers

Between the Spiderman/Thomas the Tank Engine/Bagpuss footwear phase of early childhood and the fluffy shufflers of old age, there is no socially acceptable footwear for those of us who like to keep our feet toasty while we potter around the house.  But d’you know what?  Socially acceptable be damned: I wear slipper socks most days and very few people have to see them.  I’m wearing my favourite pair right now, in fact.  They’re pink and stripy.  Take that, society.

3) Have a mortgage

According to high-up financial people (i.e. the ones who lost all of our money in the recession), a quarter of people under the age of thirty live with their parents, and practically nobody in that age group can afford a mortgage.  There’s also an argument to stay “free”, i.e. not tie ourselves down to long-term responsibilities, but actually this should come down to the individual’s preferences.  Some people my age are still going travelling, and some are married with children.  I personally am not ready for a mortgage, but I have friends who are and I am proud of them.  Why shouldn’t they invest in their future just because some people their age are backpacking around Thailand?  Why do we all have to be the same?

4) Play Bingo

Apparently this is an old person’s game, but I know a lot of people my age who enjoy it.  Actually, I quite fancy having a go myself.  That might be because I’m secretly hoping that it will be like the scene in The Mighty Boosh when Richard Ayoade and Noel Fielding turn up, but I’m sure it’s a fun game on its own.

5) Utter the phrase “Back in my day…”

This also applies to “When I was young…” and “Back in the good old days…”  These days we speak of are not that long ago, but I don’t have to be an old lady to know that my youth was better than the present day: children were better behaved, reality television didn’t exist and social media hadn’t ruined the art of conversation.  Obviously there are things that I quite like about the modern world: the internet is pretty handy, tolerance for different ethnic groups is better and at my age I can eat whatever I want for dinner.  (I eat vegetables Mum, don’t worry.)

I think that most adults are a secret combination of childish wishes and elderly habits; nobody my age is a straightforward grown-up.  There’s nothing to be ashamed of, though: I’m sure that the people who expect us to be taking drugs every night, renting trendy flats and eating instant noodles secretly miss owning Batman slippers.

Have a glorious Wednesday