Tag Archives: memory

The Death Tag

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Happy Hallowe’en, dear reader!  Have you got enough Haribo in for the trick or treaters?

Flying in the face of my Catholic upbringing (just for a change), it turns out that I quite like Hallowe’en.  It was inevitable, if I’m honest: the combination of dressing up, sweets and silliness is a drama graduate’s DREAM.  I also quite like introspection and morbid scheming, so I have decided to use today’s post as an opportunity to do “the death tag”, which my dear friend Ash alerted me to (and covered in this vlog).

1) How do you want to die?
I suppose most people want to die in their sleep, surrounded by loved ones, when they’re old and ready for death etc.  I would like that, but if I’m completely honest I would prefer a more dramatic departure, like the end of Thelma and Louise or Moulin Rouge.  (It’s the drama graduate thing again.)  What I would like more than anything is to die in a really stupid and/or amusing way, so that my demise would make a good story.  E.g. I want my last words to be “Oh look, a tiger.  Here, kitty kitty!”

2) What will happen to your WordPress?
It will serve as a reference point for my friends when they argue about what I would have said/wanted in a certain situation.  For example: “Vicki would NEVER wear pink shoes.”  “Uh, I refer you to blog #347, where she states in paragraph 12 that she would absolutely love some cerise flip flops.  BOOM.”  (FYI I would absolutely love a pair of cerise flip flops, so that solves that one.)

3) Who will you leave your money to?
If I may answer your question with a question: what the hell is ‘money’?!

Seriously though, if this question is about what you want to happen to your most valuable assets, then the items in question will be my books.   Their combined value is probably hovering somewhere near the 37p mark, but they are my favourite possessions.  They will go to my lovely friend Louise, who is the only person I’ve ever met who is as obsessive about books as I am.  If Louise pre-deceases me (horrendous thought), then I give my brother permission to turn my books into a fort.

4) What will happen to your body?
This Friends clip sums up EXACTLY how I feel about this question.

5) What do you want your funeral to be like?
A day at the seaside.  Probably Brighton.  Rounders on the beach and arcade games on the pier will be compulsory.

6) What will you miss the most that will exist after your death?
Well, I hate to be pernickety, but being dead will sort of preclude me from missing anything at all, won’t it?  But ok, I get the point of the question.  I think that teleporting will probably be a thing one day (my ignorance of the science behind it notwithstanding), and I would hate to miss out on that.  Can you imagine?  “Tuscany’s supposed to be lovely at this time of year.”  “Oh, really?  Shall we go?”  “Why not?  Let me just grab my sunglasses.”  ZAP.  Fantastic.

7) How will you want to be remembered?
This is the big one, isn’t it?  How we are remembered seems much more important than where, when or how gently we go into that good night, I suppose because it’s the factor that we can most easily affect while we’re alive.
I want what we all want: to be thought of with love by people who knew us and respect by people who didn’t.  I want my loved ones to grieve but eventually move on, and I want an obituary that makes me sound like a saint.  I also (slightly less realistically) want the world to say that my death heralds a great loss for the theatrical world.  I want my tombstone to say something heartfelt and meaningful, like a quotation from The IT Crowd.
Most of all I want people to tell anecdotes about the dumbass things I did while I was alive, because Lord knows there are plenty of those.  I want my friends to say things like “oh God, do you remember when Vicki locked herself in the porch?” and laugh about it.  I might not leave much money or fame behind, but I can at least leave a mildly ludicrous legacy.

Have a suitably spooky Friday!

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15 Words We Need To Use More Often

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Hello, dear reader.  I don’t know about you but I could really do with a coffee.  Do you want anything from the kettle?

After writing yesterday’s post about old fashioned things I think we ought to revive, I started thinking about words in the same way.  Every so often one of my friends will use a word like “balderdash” or “parenthetical” and everyone will go “ooh, that’s a great word!  Let’s bring that word back!”

Here are some brilliant and under-used words which I think we should all be attempting to bring back into everyday conversation:

  • Accubation – eating or drinking whilst lying down.  A fancy way of explaining that your hangover is preventing vertical movement.
  • Agerasia – the state of looking younger than you actually are.  Better than saying “I always get ID’d.”
  • Borborygmus – the sound of gas rumbling through your intestine.  Better than saying “I’ve got one brewing.”
  • Capernoited – slightly drunk/tipsy.  Trying to remember this word will be a good way to measure how capernoited/drunk you actually are.
  • Cruciverbalist – a person who loves doing crossword puzzles.  A better way of describing yourself than “word nerd”.
  • Farctate – being overly full of food. A marginally better way of saying “I’m stuffed”, but only marginally, because it sort-of sounds like “fart-ate”.  
  • Inaniloquent – being prone to say silly/inane things.  This one is going to come in very useful for all of us when we’re at parties with people we don’t like.
  • Jentacular – pertaining to breakfast.  I just love the idea of having a word that specifically means “breakfast stuff”.  I think that’s amazing.  Is there one for brunch as well?  
  • Lalochezia – the practise of using bad words to relieve stress/pain, e.g. swearing when you stub your toe.  I think this one is handy because if you get told off for swearing you can use a fancy word to justify your use of an obscenity.
  • Lethologica – the inability to remember the precise word for something.  Happens to lots of people all the time, although if you’ve forgotten a word like “jam” then I’d say your chances of remembering “lethologica” are pretty slim.
  • Prosopography – the description of a person’s appearance.  A good word to have on hand when trying to avoid looking shallow.
  • Qualtagh – the first person you see after leaving the house.  This is a bit silly of me, but I just love the idea of pointing at your unsuspecting postman/lollipop lady/bus driver and shouting “Hello, qualtagh!”
  • Sabrage – the act of opening a bottle with a sabre.  Not one I’ve ever tried myself, but now I sort-of have to, just so that I can use the word.
  • Sphallolalia – flirty talk that goes nowhere.  Write that one down, guys.  We’re definitely going to need it.
  • Tarantism – the urge to overcome sadness by dancing.  THIS IS A FANCY WORD FOR WANTING TO DANCE YOUR CARES AWAY.  The world is now a better place.

Have a truly outstanding Wednesday.  Extra cookies for anyone who manages to use all fifteen of those words in one day.

“Find a happy place, find a happy place!!”

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Good morrow, fair reader!  How fares the world with thee today?

Ahem.  Anyway, today I’d like to talk to you about happy places, and the different forms they take.  We all have literal locations that we love, but we also have mental go-to places that put us in a better mood.  Here are a few examples of the best happy places.  I hope that you have at least one of each of these:

The Happy Place of the Past
Isn’t it weird that when someone asks you to think of a song, every tune you’ve ever heard goes straight out of your head?  It’s the same when we’re asked to remember a time we felt truly happy.  That’s not to say that we’ve never been happy, but that the pressure of recollecting our bliss on demand is a little too much to deal with.  When we are at leisure to consider, we can all think of a period in our lives that brought us real joy.  Whether it’s a childhood era, an irresponsible summer in adolescence or an eye-opening travel experience, each of us has a memory that can bring back a lot of warm, fuzzy feelings.

The Happy Place that’s a Person
Sentimentality alert – our loved ones are also our happy places.  Whether it’s a partner, a family member or a best friend, the right person can immediately transport you away from your woes and worries into a place that only you two know about.  When we talk about real love, isn’t that what we actually mean?  The people we love don’t have to be perfect, or entirely compatible with our every personality aspect, or even physically present – they just have to represent a safe and happy place. Keane know what I’m talking about.

The Happy Place that Never Lets You Down
Some places make us happy time after time.  Lots of my friends have theatres that they always enjoy visiting, or pubs that always deliver a great night out.  Especially when we feel lost in general, or when life is confusing and annoying us, it’s a great thing to know that there is somewhere we can go that will always make us feel better.  If you’re stuck for ideas (and you happen to be in Richmond), I would like to recommend The Farmery, which I have visited three times in the last week.  I’m not even a tiny bit embarrassed about that.  Their frozen yoghurt is seriously tasty.

The Happy Place that’s a Good Old-Fashioned Metaphor
Whether it’s a memory, an idea or a vague daydream, we all have a handy bit of our brain that allows us to transcend the humdrum and the horrible.  We might not like to publicly admit the exact nature of our personal happy place, but it’s very healthy and helpful for us to have them.  Heck, have more than one.  Have as many as you like.  As long as you daydream in moderation, there is no limit to the places your mind can take you.

The Happy Place that’s Yet to Come
This might be a literal location – for example, I really want to visit Egypt one day – or it might be an ambition that you hold dear.  Either way, the best days of your life might not be ahead of you (although I sincerely hope that they are), but there is definitely happiness of some kind waiting for us one day.  If we keep working towards what we want and where we want to be, we can take comfort from the fact that we will always be moving closer to another, exciting happy place.

Have a glorious Wednesday.  May the place you are in be extremely happy.

Don’t Get Over It

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Good morning, and a very merry Thursday to you!

We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to recover from emotional hardships, don’t we?  When we don’t get a job that we desperately wanted and would have been perfect for, we immediately shrug it off.  When a friend lets us down, we want nothing more than to forgive, forget and never discuss it again.  When we get our hearts broken, we put an unbelievable amount of energy into getting over the rejection and recovering our confidence.

My dear reader, I have an outrageous suggestion to put to you: we shouldn’t try to get over these things.  We should try to go through them, instead.

The other day my flat mate asked me whether I would go for an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind situation if the opportunity presented itself.  (For those of you who haven’t seen the film, the basic premise is that a scientist offers people the chance to erase all of their memories of a previous, painful relationship.  This allows them to live without any heartbreak, or any idea that their ex even exists.)  It’s an appealing thought, and it reflects something that a lot of us feel when we’ve just been hurt: we want things to go back to the way they were, or we want to be the person we were before our beloveds messed us up.

It sounds ideal, doesn’t it?  But I ended up saying no to my flat mate, because even though my romantic history is basically one long, embarrassing cautionary tale, it is a part of who I am.  This is true for all of us.  It might be exciting to imagine that we could revert to a previous incarnation of ourselves, and that we could take back the humiliation, regret, wasted time and pain, but we can’t actually do that.  We can’t go back to who we were; we have to go forward being who we are.

So we can’t erase memories or travel through time, but we can recover from the situation.  Excellent.  In that case, we would like that recovery to happen now, please.  We’ve got stuff to get on with and it would be so much easier to go about life without an emotional hangover, thank you very much.

Again, this is not really an option.  We can suppress our thoughts and distract ourselves; we can refuse to think or talk about what’s bothering us and keep ourselves too occupied to dwell, but eventually the grief will find us.  We will eventually have to go through the draining process of recovery.

It’s a difficult period in anyone’s life, but you never know what could happen during it.  You could have some pretty interesting epiphanies about who you are and what you want in life, you might reconnect with a friend who helps you through the pain, and you may even discover a hidden talent.  (For example, I have a friend who worked out that she’s an excellent darts player by throwing darts at a photo of her ex when he left her.  Silver linings are flipping everywhere.)

Recovery is hard, and it also takes time.  We shouldn’t beat ourselves up if it takes longer than we expect, because there are no rules governing the time frame of mending a broken heart.  “Shouldn’t I be over this by now?” is not a good question to ask, because our feelings are not library books.  “You’re three months overdue with your emotional recovery, by the way.  They’ll start fining you if you’re not careful.”

Don’t get over things; go through them.  Also, have an amazing Thursday.

Home Alone 6: Lost in North London

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Good morning, fabulous reader!  Did you know that, according to Wikipedia, there have been five Home Alone films?  (I had to look it up in order to make sure that this post’s title was accurate.)  Crazy, isn’t it?  I know.  We should watch them all at some point.

This weekend my darling flat mate has (foolishly) left me home alone, and I would like to share some of the main reasons why, at the grand old age of twenty-five, I should probably have been left in the care of a babysitter, social worker or similar:

  • Memory issues: as discussed in previous blog posts, I have the memory of a senile goldfish who’s recently sustained a concussion.  When I left the house yesterday afternoon, I automatically left the living room light on in order to bamboozle potential burglars.  (That’s right: bamboozle.  That’s how I roll.)  When I got home later that evening, I saw the living room light on and thought “ooh, Ash is home!”  She was not.  Which leads me on to my next problem:
  • Intelligent conversation: when I thought that Ash was home, I wandered up the stairs calling out greetings, gossip about my day and general musings.  It took me – I kid you not – it took me at least five minutes to realise that no response was forthcoming, because I was alone in the house.  Did that stop me from talking?  Did it heck.  Talking to ourselves is one of the greatest joys in life, and if our own psyches start to get annoying, there’s always the furniture to chat with.
  • Misadventures: the guy who lives downstairs from us is a lovely old chap by day, but he is inordinately fond of playing loud music and drunkenly shouting at himself very late at night (or very, very early in the morning).  If Ash is not here to stop me (or at least calm me down slightly), there is a very strong chance that I will lose my temper and throw something through his living room window.
  • Sleepless in Southgate: I haven’t been sleeping very well for a couple of weeks.  My friends have had to become accustomed to me zoning out of conversations, being unable to think of words, having no spatial awareness etc.  Without Ash in the house this weekend I am basically helpless.  It sounds silly, but if you’d seen me try to work out how to change the channel on the television a few minutes ago, you would understand the need for caution.  (Seven attempts to hit the Sky button.  It’s just not cool.)

With a due sense of dread and fear, I’m going to go and try to make coffee.  Have a tremendous Saturday, you lovely person.

The Best People in Your World

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Good morning to you dear reader, and congratulations on reaching your four-day weekend!  I hope that you have some lovely plans to keep you occupied during this unusually long rest period.

Being the soppy little so-and-so that I am, I sometimes get a bit sniffly just thinking about my friends and loved ones.  They are incredible people, and I seriously lucked out by meeting each and every one of them.  I hope that the people in your life are just as amazing (and that you are capable of thinking about them without getting all girly and emotional).  Today I’d like to identify some of the best people in all of our lives, because if I’m getting emotional then I’m taking you lot down with me:

  • The person you want to lie in bed and watch stupid films with
    It usually (although not always) takes a very specific amount of love, intimacy and trust to share a bed with someone, but especially on days when you are hungover, ill or just refusing to navigate the confusing world outside your duvet.  Lying in bed with someone watching a film is one of the greatest pleasures in life, and we should feel very glad to have suitable candidates for that activity in our lives (and beds).  This is particularly true of people who will not only allow but often suggest that the film is childish/terrible/ridiculous – for example, Ash and I have been known to cosy up and watch obscure Disney films on our duvet days.  We are also very partial to a musical film version of Cinderella called The Slipper and the Rose, which I heartily recommend to you the next time you’re in the mood for something silly.
  • The person who can make you laugh on your worst day
    I am slightly paraphrasing the Friends theme tune here, but it’s true.  Someone who can make you laugh – not just any laugh, but your real, embarrassing, uncontrollable laugh that only appears when something is incredibly funny – is a treasure.  If a person can take you out of your stress, sadness or generic turmoil, even just for a moment, you need to keep hold of them.
  • The person who remembers tiny things about you
    It’s probably because my own memory is so flipping appalling, but I am always touched when someone remembers a small fact or silly story about me that I wouldn’t have considered massively important.  There are certain things about ourselves that we hope our loved ones remember (allergies being a pretty important one, for example), but what makes up a person is a combination of the tiny things as well as the big ones.  If someone has taken the trouble to remember something seemingly inconsequential about you, it shows that they know and love the whole you, not just the obvious attributes.
  • The person who unknowingly makes your day
    We’ve all had the experience of walking past someone and overhearing a snippet of their conversation, or seeing someone being kind to another stranger in public.  People who don’t know you and will probably never talk to you have the capacity to make your day, and I am grateful to all of those individuals who have unknowingly made me smile.  My biggest thanks must go to the business man – complete with suit and briefcase – who did the Gangnam Style dance all the way down a platform at Marylebone station once.  Whoever you are, I salute you.
  • The person with their head screwed on
    I am not the most practical of people, and I tend to panic in the face of things like technical rehearsals, tax returns and pedestrian crossings.  For these moments (and many more) I invariably turn to Harry, the Operations Manager of my theatre company, excellent friend and all-round voice of reason.  If you are like me, I hope that you have someone just as sensible to calm you down in times of stress.  If you are like Harry, I hope you enjoy being the sensible one with the practical solutions.  To the rest of us, it looks like a super power.
  • The person who wakes you up with a ridiculous text
    There is nothing like starting your day well, and the tiniest things can make a difference: you could put on your favourite outfit, see something funny on the news or eat a delicious breakfast.  But what you really need is the kind of friend who will send you a ridiculous message like “What’s the plural of mongoose?!” before 8am.  That kind of message amuses you, intrigues you, and then it gets you straight out of bed to Google “mongoose”.  It’s mongooses, by the way.  Sounds like it should be mongeese, doesn’t it?  Anyway, the point is that ridiculous questions first thing in the morning are only ok between true and loyal friends, so make sure you appreciate those people.  You never know when niggling curiosity is going to strike you down.
  • The person who reminds you why you love what you do
    I really hope that you enjoy what you do.  I really hope that you like going to work at least most of the time, and that you have a passion to pursue.  More than that, I hope that you have people in your life who remind you that what you are doing is good, and that what you are aiming for is attainable.  I recently met a lovely lady called Angela at a directing thing in Stratford, and in the short time I’ve known her she has wowed me with her enthusiasm, passion for theatre and her generous support for what I’m trying to do with my life.  She hasn’t known me for long enough to “owe” me her encouragement, but she gives it to me anyway.  We all need someone like that.
  • The person who gives you butterflies
    Yes, alright – I know I’ve said that my friends and I don’t like fancying people, and that feelings in general tend to make us feel out of control, but I think that we all need to feel that way from time to time.  If you’ve met someone who makes you feel giddy and nervous that’s a bit scary, but it’s also exciting.   Where would we all be without butterflies?  Exactly.  We’d be caterpillars.

Have a magical Friday.

Red Dwarf Fixes Everything

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Hello, lovely reader.  I hope you’re having a beautiful weekend.

I had a wonderful evening yesterday with some of my favourite people on the planet, which I then went and ruined by drinking far too much and behaving like a prat.  I am now deep in the throes of PASH (Post-Alcohol Self-Hatred) and I woke up fairly convinced that everyone hates me and that I have utterly destroyed my own life.

Being the incredible and lovely human being that she is, my best friend gave me a massive cuddle as soon as I was properly awake and said all sorts of nice things that I definitely didn’t deserve to hear.  Our other friend was similarly lovely, and on the way home we had a very interesting conversation which I’d like to share with you.

When that whole “time to talk” thing came up a few months ago, I paid lip service to it.  So many friends of mine had the courage and dignity to speak about their mental health issues, and I was (and still am) incredibly proud of them.  I did not follow suit.  I should have, but I didn’t.  I was a wuss about it.

Mental health is a very tricky thing, because in so many people’s eyes (including your own, sometimes), it defines an enormous part of your identity.  It’s so easy to look at yourself in a purely one-dimensional fashion, and to focus on one big, bad thing about yourself.  Odds are that nobody else sees you that way, and that you are a lot less crazy in the eyes of your loved ones than you are in your own.

Ok, so here we go: I have manic depression.  It’s why I tend to overreact to stupid stuff and obsess over trivia.  It’s why I say dumbass things when I’m drunk (and also why I get drunk in the first place), and letting out the crazy when I’ve had a few glasses of wine means that I don’t have to remember it the next day.  That’s not an excuse, by the way: no one forces me to get drunk or behave like an eejit.  I make that (dreadful) decision entirely on my own.

Assuming I manage to sort my self out and stop making terrible choices, will I automatically like myself more?  I don’t really know.  On the way home my friend Vince and I were talking about how difficult it is to like yourself, and wondering whether it’s something that you can change.  Some people seem to be born assured, mature and self-aware, while others (i.e. me and some of my friends) spend a lot of time worrying about who we are and what on earth we think we’re doing.  Emotionally speaking, we are three million years into deep space and we’ve woken up with a traffic cone.

Essentially, it would be lovely to be emotionally self-sufficient and be able to comfort myself when I’m feeling low, but I’m not sure how to do that.  In the meantime, I’ve got an amazing group of friends who forgive me when I’m badly behaved, and cuddle me when I’m feeling guilty/hungover/completely lost.  I also have the Red Dwarf box set, which is a godsend on days like this.

I am very proud of my friends and loved ones who are open about their mental health issues, and I hope that they can forgive me for having been a coward about it.  If you live with metal health difficulties or love someone who does, then you are a wonderful human being who deserves first dibs on all the Quality Street tins from here to eternity.

Sorry this post was a bit more serious than t’others; I promise tomorrow’s will be full of whimsy.  Have a fantastic rest of your weekend.

Truly Madly Busy

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Good morning, dear reader!  I hope you’re revelling in the glory of a well-earned Saturday.

Today’s blog starts with a confession: my short-term memory is beyond appalling.  This will come as no surprise to those of you who know me.  I can clearly picture many of you smiling and rolling your eyes, probably thinking about a conversation that you had with me at least six times before it got lodged in my head.  Sorry about that.  It’s not that I don’t care; it’s that my brain is a very leaky sponge.

Having a rubbish memory is both a blessing and a curse.  In one way, it’s a joy to go through life in a Dory-esque fashion, constantly believing myself to be discovering things for the first time.  On the other hand, my lack of retention heralds in the slow but sure descent into dementia that definitely awaits me in my old age, and it tends to make my diary a lifeline rather than a useful reminder.  Even when I do look at my diary, I appear to have started writing things down in a haphazard manner, without any reference to times, places or even dates.  It’s a miracle that I’m ever on time for anything.

I would love to be able to say that at least some of this woolly-mindedness comes from the fact that I’m very busy, and that it’s difficult to keep track of all of the things I’m meant to be doing.  In some ways this is true, but I know lots of people who are far busier than I am who cope just fine.  My friend Laura has only recently stopped working 82 hour weeks, and another friend balances drama school with two jobs (and still finds the time to learn lines, write emails and – I sincerely hope – sleep and eat at some point).  My life is full of self-employed people who co-ordinate incredibly complicated schedules, and still more full-timers who find time for very active social lives.  One of my friends lives in Singapore working something ridiculous like 7am – 8pm every day, and he finds time to explore local countries, play music and be on a sports team.  I cannot get my head around any of these people’s schedules.  Their diaries must look like the Matrix in paperback format.

I love being busy, and I think that most of us can agree that being busy (even if we are perhaps a bit stressed) is much better than being bored and feeling unproductive.  Sometimes we feel the need to occupy ourselves to the point of frenzy in order to avoid thinking about a certain person/problem, and that’s ok, too.  I am a big fan of denial as long as it’s making itself useful, and if you can use your issues to make yourself more productive, more power to you.  You might even find that a solution pops into your head unbidden while you’re doing something else, or that bit of space from the problem makes you feel differently about it.   At some point you’ll be forced to confront your fears, but in the meantime I firmly approve of using the fingers-in-ears approach to get stuff done until you work out the solution to your dilemma.

Having said that, in yesterday’s blog I tasked you lovely people with the challenge of taking a chance this weekend, so maybe this is the perfect opportunity to get your head out of the sand and go and fix the issue…you never know, you might end up solving the problem.  If you don’t, I hope you’ve got access to some nice coffee and a friend who will hug you.  If not, you can borrow one of mine (friends, that is.  Mine are pretty awesome, as friends go.  I’ve also got enough coffee for everyone, so do feel free to pop by if you’re running low).

Have an insanely good Saturday.