Tag Archives: lifestyle

Crowded Carriages Are All in Your Head

Tube crowding

Good morning, you marvellous creature.  How’re you doing?

Today I would like you to imagine that your brain is a London Underground tube carriage.  What do you think it would be like?  Is it full of commuters?  Is there a school trip of fluorescently-clad children accompanied by one harassed teacher?  Maybe it’s the last train home, and a few sozzled friends are giggling manically in the corner.  For many of us, it will be the one with a homeless person wandering through asking for change, and a baby screaming at top volume.  In other words, our brains are crowded, noisy, awkward and confusing.

There are approximately 34 seats per tube carriage on London Underground trains, but you hardly ever see a train carriage that’s just neatly filled with 34 seated people, do you? In the same way, our thoughts and feelings do not sit neatly in our brains in a designated space; they run around and confuse us.  For example, the items on your mental to do list are like the school kids on a day trip, who run around and worry you in case one drops off.

Life is difficult , and worrying, and exciting.  It’s also going by very quickly.  Particularly in cities and especially for people who have busy lifestyles, it’s difficult to feel properly connected to one another.  (Like ships passing in the night, perhaps.  I have no idea where this transport obsession has come from, by the way.  I’ll be banging on about the “aeroplanes of ambition” next, I expect.)  It’s so irritating in its self-exacerbation: we get stressed out because we’re so busy and we have no time to see our friends and loved ones, and then we get more stressed out because we haven’t seen our friends or loved ones for ages, ad infibloodynitum.

It’s not easy to do, and for some people social stuff goes completely out of the window when the pressure’s on at work or what have you, but we have to keep connections with people during times of stress.  I’ve got a huge to do list on my desk (and I’m genuinely starting to think that it might be sentient), but I am aware that I’ll go loopy if I don’t talk to a good friend today.  Similarly, my friend Laura is studying all morning in the British Library, and her PhD will make her crazy if she doesn’t switch of from it for half an hour, so to solve both of our problems we are going to drink coffee together and have a chat.

Sounds like I’m encouraging procrastination, doesn’t it?  I’m honestly not.  I believe in working hard and doing something you’ve set out to do, but I also believe that burning out and cutting yourself off from people is an incredibly stupid and damaging thing to do.  Thinking that you are alone with your crowded carriage mind is silly, because everyone feels like that.  Also, when did you last see a train with six empty carriages and one full one?  Exactly.  Now go and ring someone who likes you.

Have a fantastic Tuesday.

Advertisements

They’ll Be There For You

fc4

Good morning!  How is everyone today?  Bit tired?  That’s ok, it’s Saturday.  Have a bit of a lie in if you can.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: practically every situation in the life of a twenty-something can be related back to Friends.  In many cases it’s actually necessary to explain things by comparing them to an incident from the programme.  There are also loads of situations from the show that play out pretty much exactly how they would if they happened in real life.  It says a lot about the show that it resonates so strongly with so many people, but I think it also says a lot about my actual friends, who are brilliant.  (Quick side note: I was watching television the other night and the announcer genuinely said “Feel like no one’s there for you?  Why not switch over to Comedy Central Extra for your Friends fix?”  I mean, REALLY.  There are limits, people.)  Here are some examples of times when friends and Friends are at their best:

1) The One Where No One Else Would Understand A Word You’re Saying
In the episode where Rachel has a farewell party before she moves to Paris, she has a heart to heart with each individual friend in turn.  Unsurprisingly, her chat with Monica descends into tearful gobbledegook, as you can see here.  In our own lives, there are many times when we would make no sense to people who don’t know us extremely well.  A real friend will always be able to understand you, even if you talk too fast, mumble or decide to use strange noises rather than actual words.

2) The One Where They Know You Far Too Well
One of my favourite episodes of the series is the one in which the boys win the girls’ apartment via a friendship quiz.  Feel free to remind yourself of it here.  I love this episode for two reasons: firstly, it says a lot about how close the characters are and how much history they have, and secondly I think that the friendship quiz is a genius idea.   Everyone who watches this episode thinks “I must do this with my lot”, because we all have friends that we never need to explain ourselves to: they already know everything.  I would probably abstain from gambling your home on it, though…

3) The One Where They Always Back You Up
My favourite dynamic in the programme is the friendship between Joey and Phoebe.  I love the fact that they’re such different people, but they really respond to one another’s quirks, and they always defend one another.  One brilliant example (which I couldn’t find a clip of, sorry) is just after Ross and Rachel get drunk and married in Vegas.

Ross: We were drunk.  I would’ve married Joey with that amount of alcohol!
Phoebe: Hey!  You could do a lot worse than Joey Tribbiani!

In terms of real life, it’s wonderful to find friends who love you despite your differences, and who will always stick up for you.  Some of my closest friends have entirely separate interests and lifestyles to mine, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t look out for each other.

4) The One Where They Forgive You
The characters in Friends make all sorts of mistakes: Ross sleeps with  someone when he is technically still with Rachel, Chandler drunkenly kisses one of Joey’s sisters and then forgets which one, Joey loses Ross’ wedding ring, Rachel steals Jean Claude Van Damme from Monica, Phoebe ruins Monica’s hair and Monica accidentally chops off Chandler’s toe.  Not a perfect bunch by any means.  But they all forgive one another and move past the problems, which is a great example to those of us who might write someone off for doing anything on the above list.  Although how often does someone chop off your toe?  Yuck.  Let’s not dwell on that bit.  The characters who cannot forgive don’t last (I’m talking about you, Emily), but the ones who do are still friends after more than a decade.  That could be you one day, if you can just move past the toe thing (or whatever the problem actually is).

5) The One Where They’re Not Just Your Friend
The ongoing love story between Ross and Rachel is so well-known that in my generation it’s slang for “meant to be together”.  It even got referenced in Scrubs, as you can see here.  Monica and Chandler are another example of a couple whose attitudes towards one another changed drastically during the course of the show.  I’m not suggesting that you start combing your social circle for potential partners (and God knows that moving a friendship up to the next level is an absolute minefield), but I really do think that good partners should also be good friends.  Whether you start off as platonic and then change gear or fall for someone as soon as you meet them, the person you spend your life with should be as much of a friend to you as they are anything else.

Well, I’m off to help some friends of mine assemble furniture, which is probably going to go something like this classic Friends moment.  Have the kind of Saturday that you’ll tell your grandchildren about.