Tag Archives: party

15 Struggles of People Who are Pathologically Early for Everything

Hello, lovely reader!  Long time no see!  How have you been?

I recently came across this article on Buzzfeed about how it feels to be perpetually running late.  I have a few friends who belong to this happy clan of tardiness, and I can’t say that I love them any less for their constant cries of “sorry, I thought we were meeting at twelve/my alarm didn’t go off/the dog ate my Oyster card”.  However, on behalf of those of us who are so paranoid that we turn up obscenely early for everything, I would like to submit my own list of thoughts and problems.  Here it is:

1) You must always, always have a bag that’s big enough to contain whichever book you’ve selected to keep you company while you wait for people.

2) Finishing your book (or – horror of horrors – forgetting one altogether) can completely ruin your day.

3) You get so involved in the plot of your book that when other people turn up, you get a bit annoyed with them for interrupting you.

4) You tend to look a bit too eager on first dates.

5) Ditto job interviews.

6) It is ALWAYS left to you to get the party started, because an invitation that says 7pm means 6.45 to you and 9pm to everyone else.

7) By the time everyone else turns up to the party you are at least three drinks ahead, which never bodes well.

8) You are often left to the mercy of the weather.

9) Thoughtless people assume that you have nothing better to do, whereas actually you are very busy but you hate the idea of letting people down.  Consequently…

10) …Arriving somewhere on time rather than early makes you feel like an abject failure.

11) People who usually arrive late think that you secretly judge them.

12) You secretly judge people who always turn up late, and have to hide it from them.

13) You don’t understand how anyone could possibly be so laid back as to not mind being three seconds late for something.

14) You feel like a lone pioneer of good manners in an increasingly disrespectful and inconsiderate world of lateness.

15) You’re aware that there are more important things in life than being obsessively prompt, but you’re buggered if you can break the habit.

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Departing Party People

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Good morning, you marvellous creature!  I hope that today finds you well-rested, prepared for all of your meetings and up to date with your emails.

Life, as many famous people have said in a wide variety of trite and/or profound ways, is made up of entrances and exits.  Your life-long social circle can therefore be likened to a train station, a play or a party.  Let’s go with the party metaphor, shall we?  Help yourself to a symbolic beer and a non-existent cupcake.

Some people enter your life and immediately make themselves comfy on your favourite beanbag, whereas others may only poke their heads in, apologise profusely and back out again.  The problem, as anyone who has ever hosted a dinner party will know, is that an emotional seating plan is very hard to stick to when the guests keep switching chairs, dashing off to the loo or disappearing for AGES while they make a phone call.

In some cases (both in the metaphor and in reality), you sort of know that the party won’t really start until a certain person shows up.  In the metaphor that person is traditionally your other half/spouse/life partner.  In reality I have found that it’s usually my dear friend Mario, who is always as boisterous and tequila-laden as anyone could possibly hope for.  Other pro party starters include my good friends Baino and Cieranne (pictured above), who are probably both going to kill me for using that precise image.  (They look like they’re having fun though, don’t they?  Exactly.)

The other party guests can be very surprising: friends whom you used to adore may end up leaving early, and comparatively recent arrivals can emerge as the life and soul of the shindig.  In other words: sometimes you lose contact with people you thought you’d know forever, and someone you’ve known for a matter of weeks may already be one of your closest confidants.  C’est la vie – or soirée, if you will.

Sometimes the departure of one specific person can be difficult – particularly if that person was up for the role of life partner – but we have to trust that when someone leaves the party early, they’re making room for a first-class late arrival.  Unless the circumstances are particularly fraught, I don’t think that people ever really want to leave your life.  (Why would they?  You’re a HOOT.)  It’s just that parties are a law unto themselves, and life has a funny little habit of doing whatever it sodding well pleases.

The party is the thing, and the shape of your evening/life is defined by a whole bunch of entrances and exits.  When people exit your life, it may not be permanent.  When people enter your life, they might come bearing more booze.  Whatever the circumstances, all we have to do is answer the door with a smile and enjoy the festivities.

Well, I think I’ve tortured that metaphor quite enough now.  Have a glorious Tuesday.

Moving Mountains (of Books)

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Hello, dear reader!  How are things?

Just in case I haven’t complained about this loudly or frequently enough yet, I absolutely loathe and detest moving house, mainly because of the packing.  Packing for a holiday is great, and even packing for the Edinburgh Fringe is ok (as long as someone remembers the props), but packing up an entire house is just ridiculous.  Here are some modern moving woes which I think we can all relate to (and some nice bits as well):

  • “Whose is this?”
    It doesn’t matter whether you only live with one other person, or you put your name in all of your books, or you have an excellent memory: there is always at least one household item which has disputed ownership.  For example, I cannot remember for the life of me who owns the cheese grater, and that’s a very serious concern in our house.
  • “No, seriously, whose is this?”
    Ash and I reconciled ourselves a long time ago to the fact that our friends see us as an elderly married couple, despite (or potentially because of) our best efforts to behave like normal girls in their mid twenties.  However, it has resulted in the other ownership issue that arises when you move house: what do you do with presents that were given to you jointly? Is it fair to call dibs on something that you both have an attachment to?  Ash has already said that I can have the beautiful cheese board our friend gave us for Christmas, so that’s ok.  And yes, everything in this household really does come down to cheese.  It would be sort-of funny if it weren’t so very true.
  • Furniture Tetris
    During the last twelve months, Ash and I have both tried to move the furniture in our bedrooms.  I say “tried”, because one of us got stuck between a wardrobe and a bed, and the other got halfway through before realising that it was past midnight and the neighbours might complain.  Trying to move furniture around and have somewhere to keep your clothes, books etc. and clean as you go is like playing four different levels of Tetris at the same flipping time.  I’m genuinely worried about how we’re going to get all of our furniture out of the front door and into the van.
  • Boxing Days
    You can never have enough boxes.  Every time we’ve left the house in the past week, we’ve stopped at our local Asda to ask the lovely produce staff for cardboard boxes that used to house melons and cabbages.  We now have approximately seven crates of books each and no floor space to move around in.  My main regret about this is that we didn’t even make a fort before we filled them.
  • Sweet Charity
    Moving house is a great time to have a bit of a clear out, whether you swap possessions or do a massive charity shop run.  This aspect of moving is characterised by questions like “Do you want these shoes?”  “This belt doesn’t fit me, do you want to take it?” and even “Do you know you look like one of the seven dwarves with that bin bag over your shoulder?” (Answer: yes.  Yes I do.  And I’m ok with it.  Cue singing “Hi ho” all the way down to the Cancer Research shop.)
  • Hostesses with the Mostest
    By the time we have our house cooling party tomorrow night, the flat will basically be empty apart from emergency coffee-making equipment and the magic internet box (which I think proper grown-ups refer to as a modem).  This is going to make hosting a party a bit of a challenge, but with a bit of luck and a lot of plastic cups, I think we’ll be ok.  

Right.  I’m going to go and tackle the kitchen.  Wish me luck, and have an exceedingly joyful Tuesday.

Here Comes the Sun

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Good morning and a very merry Monday to you, dear reader.  How was your weekend?

In the grand tradition of Brits overdoing it on the first day of sunshine, I have some very fetching sunburn on my back.  In the equally grand tradition of Brits just after the first day of sunshine, I crossly insisted that I hadn’t been in the sun for very long, and that I “shouldn’t” be this red.  That’s right.  I am so British that I subconsciously imagine a system of justice behind the weather.

Tomato-complexion aside, the sunshine has a lovely effect on lots of things.  I think that there are a few which deserve a bit more attention:

  • The most average-looking places look like movie set locations.  For example, I am not a huge fan of South London, but Kennington yesterday was a delightful sight.  After the new writing night I skidaddled down to a pub by the river for a friend’s birthday, and found my lot on a rooftop terrace.  This would have been fairly glitzy for us on a normal day, but in the sunshine it felt like an industry party in LA, darling.   (Except that we had wine and cupcakes, not champagne and cigars.  Close enough, right?)
  • You feel so much more zen.  It’s probably a combination of things: cloudless skies remind us of infinity, lying on the grass makes us feel more at one with nature and being warm in general makes us a bit sleepy.  I mean, philosophical.
  • Life becomes a window shopping trip.  This might be more for girls than guys, but I love seeing what kind of sandals, sunglasses and pretty summer dresses people turn out in when the temperature gets above 22 degrees.  Also, people are happier and more confident in their nice summer clothes, so if you really like someone’s outfit you can actually ask them where it’s from, and not get a standard “stranger danger” glare.
  • Sunglasses make everyone look amazing.  I really don’t know what it is about sunglasses, but everyone looks really, really good in them.  I have no idea of the psychology behind this (especially given that eyes are meant to be the windows to the soul and therefore pretty important in attraction, surely), but sunglasses make everyone look like rock stars.
  • Sunglasses make everyone feel better.  This one is fairly obvious given the last point: when we know we look good, we feel good.  Instant confidence from something as simple as a pair of glasses is one of the weirdest and loveliest side-effects of weather like this.  Also, sunglasses of different tints and hues give people unique perspectives: for instance, my friend Rob’s sunglasses are a brown-ish colour.  More than once yesterday we were treated to the exclamation “Everything looks like a photograph from the seventies!” I don’t know why that made Rob so happy, but it did, and who are we to judge?
  • Ice cream trucks are everywhere.  Creepy and perturbing music aside, ice cream trucks are essentially vehicles of joy, and their purpose is to deliver deliciousness to all and sundry in a given postcode area.

Have a sensational 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.

Time is of the (Vanilla) Essence

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Good morning, you lovely thing!  How’s your week going so far?

If you’ve read my blog post about deadlines you will already know that I think working towards deadlines can be very good for us, but that we should have faith in the idea that opportunities don’t just come around once.  This post was similarly positive in tone, and dealt with the idea that we can afford to wait for the opportune moment.  Having made these fairly optimistic assertions, I would now like to talk about the slightly more frustrating side of things: the best laid plans of mice, men and mortgage brokers can be utterly scuppered by bad timing.  Good timing is like a ticket to your dream gig: you know some people have managed to get hold of it, but your best endeavours haven’t got you anywhere.  Sadly, there is no eBay equivalent for those of us who can’t seem to time things correctly.

In many cases, timing is problematic because it isn’t something we can entirely control.  Your best friend’s birthday party inevitably falls the night before your big job interview, and the season finale of your favourite television show is always showing when you’ve got a hefty essay due in.  In my house, we tend realise that we’ve run out of vanilla essence three minutes after Asda closes on the evening before some kind of cake-centred event.  (For the record, almost all of mine and Ash’s social interactions revolve around cake, and we are not ashamed.)

Currently, timing is just being a bit inconsiderate: I somehow managed to get ill just before today’s recording of Pointless.  This is an absolute pain in the sinuses, but I have two very good reasons not to let this bother me:

1) I have an incredibly compassionate flat mate who is very good at taking care of sickies, and who is unfailingly sympathetic when all I can muster by way of conversation is a feeble “uuuuuurgh my face hurts”.  Everyone should have an Ash in their lives, especially one who always has Olbas oil and vapour rub.

2) Pretty much everyone I know is ill at the moment, and we all know that lurgy loves company.

That’s the main point, isn’t it?  The worst feeling in the world is not necessarily going through something difficult, but feeling that you’re going through it alone.  Bad things don’t necessarily come in threes, but they definitely come in large numbers.  Sometimes it seems that we have stumbled across a school trip of bad news, and the little gits have taken over our mental landscapes with their lunch boxes of doom.  It isn’t necessarily encouraging per se that all of our friends get ill at the same time, that lots of couples break up within a few weeks of each other and that everyone seems to be in a bad mood on the same day, but our problems are so much easier to deal with when we realise that our loved ones understand them.  In many cases, their experiences of your situation will qualify them to offer you good advice, lots of empathy and, where necessary, decongestants.

Have a truly marvellous Thursday.  You deserve it.

Jack Sparrow Knows His Stuff

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Good morning, you fabulous creature!  How’s your bank holiday weekend treating you so far?

Today I’d like to talk to you about something that I think worries all of us: timing.  It’s the secret of good comedy, good cooking and a happy social life, and sometimes it completely eludes us.

It might surprise you to learn that I very much enjoy the first Pirates of the Caribbean film, even though Keira Knightley features quite heavily in it.  (My only explanation for this anomaly is that she spends most of the film being slapped by pirates or made to walk the plank, so maybe that’s why I’m ok with it.)  Anyway, despite being pretty infuriating, Jack Sparrow is an incredibly compelling character – which is probably helped by the fact that he’s portrayed by the wonderful Johnny Depp – who came out with a line that I think we could all learn from: “Wait for the opportune moment.”

I think that a lot of us live in fear of timing things badly.  We hate to miss out on anything, and the idea of a lost opportunity is horrifying.  In many cases we are just plain impatient.  Friends as young as twenty-two talk to me about not wanting to have regrets on their death bed, which is understandable (if a little morbid at their age).  That’s why we sometimes stay out longer than we mean to, or go to that party that we know we won’t enjoy.  It’s why we apply for all kinds of jobs, regardless of whether they’re the right ones, and why we travel all over the world.  We want to know everything, see everything and miss out on nothing.  That’s a lot to ask of ourselves.

Of course we should take opportunities, but I think that we should take them out of joy and optimism rather than fear of regret.  Grabbing everything that comes your way can be incredibly rewarding, but it might not leave you much time to stop and appreciate where you are.

We don’t have to do everything right now.  We don’t have to achieve all of our life goals right this second, and we don’t need to have done everything we ever wanted to do by the end of the week.  Watch this – Bill Bailey knows what I’m talking about.

Don’t get me wrong: I absolutely think that you should pursue your passion, go to the places you’re curious about and live life to the full, but don’t worry so much.  What’s the point of rushing around taking all of life’s chances if you’re not stopping to enjoy them?

Take it from someone who has a history of rushing into doing and saying things at the wrong moment: you’ve got time.  Wait for the opportune moment.  If you think you’ve missed one, don’t panic.  There will be another one along very soon.

Have a brilliant Saturday!  Maybe treat yourself to the posh coffee today.  Why not?  You deserve it.

We Could Totally Go on Countdown

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Hello, dear reader!  Are you having a nice Sunday?

My birthday party was yesterday, and it was marvellous.  Lots of friends, Cards Against Humanity and an unholy amount of cake at my house followed by taking over a pub garden for the evening make for a pretty perfect Saturday.  On the trip from my house to the pub we were definitely “those people” on the tube who were being a bit too noisy, but we were also handing out cake to strangers, so I like to think that we balanced ourselves out in terms of transport karma.

One of my favourite things about my wider social circle is that pretty much all of my friends get along with each other, regardless of external factors.  My siblings get on with my uni friends, and my friends from school get on with the person who stole my tricycle at nursery school (and has somehow become one of my closest friends in just twenty-two years).  Last night I sat in a pub garden and looked at my friends chatting, drinking, and climbing on the garden furniture, and I realised how lucky I am to have so many people in my life who like each other (and me, hopefully).

Something else occurred to me about my friends last night: none of us are where we thought we would be at this age.  Geographically we are all pretty much where we expected to find ourselves (i.e. in London), but in terms of career stuff and personal lives I think our mid-twenties have caught us entirely by surprise.  That’s not a bad thing, but it’s interesting to look at our trajectories since university (for example) and see how far we’ve strayed from our original ambitions.  We are, like Moss caught up in the dark underworld of Countdown, not exactly who or where we thought we would be.

I think that that’s amazing, particularly because so many of my nearest and dearest are drama types who could feasibly have been forced to abandon their dreams because of discouragement, money and other nasty things.  Thankfully none of us have, and if anything we are more enthusiastic about our dreams now that we’ve lived in the real world for a bit.  We know more about how we’re going to get where we want to be.

Now, how does one go about being on Countdown?…

I hope you have the kind of Sunday dinner that would make Gordon Ramsey weep with joy.

Let’s Kid Ourselves

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Good morning, lovely reader!  How’re you doing on this fine Friday?

Thank you very much for the birthday wishes yesterday; I had a really lovely day, and feel thoroughly spoilt.  I do not, however, feel twenty-five.  A few people have said “ooh, this is your last big birthday before thirty!” which I think is a lie based on the fact that humans like nice, round numbers, i.e. multiples of five.  This is a nice birthday for sure, but if I want to make my twenty-seventh birthday a “big” one, you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll do it, convention be damned.  Two years from now we will all be meeting for afternoon birthday tea at the Ritz, OR running around a fairground that includes at least one bouncy castle and some dodgems. (No clowns, though.  Definitely, DEFINITELY no clowns.)

But this is the problem, as you can see from my two top party choices: everything in a twenty-something’s life comes back to trying to decide whether to be a grown-up or a child.  When is it ok to be silly, and when do we have to be on our best behaviour?

I am currently working on a really exciting digital project with two lovely lads, both of whom have a lot of expertise in creative and technical production.  They are perceptive, talented and passionate people who are an absolute joy to work with.  They are also old friends of mine who share a ludicrous sense of humour and the tendency to enjoy silly voices, so you can see why we all get on so well.  Anyway, we had a meeting a couple of weeks ago about the project, which was a seriously mature affair.  We took minutes, for crying out loud.  In the midst of a very technical, important, official discussion about equipment and release forms etc., one of the boys said “oh my God, this is so grown-up!” and the other immediately started singing a little song that went “we’re grown-ups, we’re grown-ups”, complete with hand-clapping.

So obviously as soon as we realise that we’re being adults, we feel compelled to do something to return to our childish roots.  Whenever I discover that someone my age is getting married, it immediately makes me want to balance out the universe by eating a McDonald’s Happy Meal (or something).  When I find out that someone my age has gone clubbing in Watford on a Friday night, it drives me to read a furniture assembly instruction manual.  We are grown-ups or big kids depending on the occasion, and I think that that’s absolutely fine, for two reasons:

1) We are supposed to be enjoying our lives.  As long as we can separate the silly moments from the serious, why do we have to behave a certain way all of the time?  Why can’t Ash and I impersonate the bunnies from Gnomeo and Juliet when we want to?  Not that we ever do that.  Ahem.

2) No matter how grown-up we get, we will never be completely free of our younger selves.  People who are married, buying houses and having kids still say that they feel like they’re pretending to be adults, and that they’re playing at being responsible.  There is a surreal and scary quality to adult life that we have to defend ourselves against by letting out the childish impulses once in a while.  Perfect example: my dad started his day at 8am by running down the stairs singing “tra la la!” very, very loudly and for no discernible reason.  The man is knocking on sixty and he’s still got time for childish behaviour, so I think the rest of us can give ourselves a break.

Have a spectacular Friday.  I hope that your post-work social plans are the highlight of your week.

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.