Friday, 27 December 2013

The Christmas Crisis

I love Christmas. I look forward to it every year. I love presents, both the receiving and the giving. I love time off work, I love eating, I love my friends and family, I love sparkly decorations, I love carols, I love the Pogues. My heart aches for people who can't enjoy Christmas because they have lost others or are alone. It must be face-rippingly hideous to watch the whole world shake its corpulent belly and go ho ho ho when you feel isolated or bereaved. But I am not (yet) in that number, for which I count myself lucky. I love Christmas.

I don't love New Year. In fact, much against my better judgement and despite a great one two years ago and an decent one last year, I loathe New Year with a deadly loathing. See this early blog for more details:

And, I'm now learning, I really don't love the days between Christmas and New Year either. In fact, for several years now, on and off, these days have been marked by loneliness and something that borders on depression, although I may be over-agrandising myself somewhat to go that far.

As with so many things in life, the fantasy and the reality just don't quite match up. For months now, I've been dreaming of this week; dreaming of not having to get up early, not having to work all day, having eight whole days to do with whatever I please.

I always think that being alone and having no plans is going to be so great. This is because my days in a regular week are so jam crammed sideways and backwards full with things to do, things I often end up resenting. In fact this over-cramming of my diary caused me to have a bit of a meltdown about a month ago and firstly cry for so long I became a bit alarmed about if I would ever stop and secondly cancel a whole bunch of things I was meant to be doing. So I'd looked upon these few days as an oasis of calm in the middle of the city centre of my life that is jammed full of demands and niceities. And I mean oasis like the soothing desert haven, not Oasis like the shouty annoying indie lot.

What is it that goes wrong? Have I forgotten how to enjoy being properly alone? I love being alone at the beginnings and ends of the day, it's my preferable state. I love having evenings alone. But it seems like perhaps several days in a row just starts making the bad voices kick off in my head.

I have learnt from the last few years. I know that watching endless TV (even the good stuff) and shovelling mountains of cheese into my mouth may equal very short term happiness but will result in concluding that no one could ever love me and life is completely futile by hour five. So I swore blind I would read novels and listen to Spotify this holiday, not just hook myself up to the goggle box.

However, I got a cold. And apparently decided that meant I was incapable of reading. But definitely capable of watching an entire series of Modern Family (and the Big Fat Quiz of the Year Show, and some of the godawful Alan Carr Twatty Man (Russell was on it, otherwise I would have turned off) (I hope), and the final feature length episode of Masters of Sex) all in the space of about 29 hours.

And now, predictably, I feel like I will never love anyone and life is indeed futile.

I think perhaps this Christmas crisis that seems to be becoming a tradition for me is also mixed up to the irrepressible human urge to make ourselves better in the new year. We all know these attempts are doomed to failure, but none of us (at least, not me, and I'm guessing a lot of you as well) can resist the siren song of resolution. I will carry on eating this cheese now, because as of tomorrow, I will lose the cheese and do all the sit ups and none of it will matter any more. I'll definitely be reading novels instead of watching TV as of next month and you can take that to the bank. Again, I wrote a would-be jokey blog about that right at the start of this year (New Year, New You, should be you interested), but the fact that none of my clothes fit properly and I'm not sleeping right cos I've been drinking too much and I keep making one stupid mistake over and over and over and over again means that the pressure to change and change for the better don't feel so fucking funny right now.

Next year, I hope to be on a beach in Hawaii for this whole period of time. Hopefully with my best friends around me. Because I have a feeling that the loneliness will follow me, even if I do get to the sun. 

Monday, 9 December 2013

The Art of Conversation

I like talking to people. It's possibly my favourite thing in the world. I think I like it best when they don't answer back, hence why I love writing in this blog so much, all appearances to the contrary given the six month gap since my last entry. I can only apologise, but my PhD has taken over my life and squeezed my brain dry of any excess creativity. So quite what the quality of this blog will be, I dread to think. I shall close my eyes while I type and I'm sure it will all fine.

(I actually did close my eyes for last five words. No typos, you'll note, though I did miss out the word be. Riveting stuff. It's already going really well, eh?)

Talking to people in person is, of course, lovely. If they're the right people, which all too irritatingly often they aren't, and then it's just awkward and miserable, whether you're the one trying to get away or the one suspecting you're trying to be got away from. But when it is the right person, then it's all eye contact and belly laughs and clinking your drink to say cheers and maybe even a bit of a cuddle if you're lucky. You won't rack up phone bills or get RSI from good old face to face chat either, so it is a bit of a winner right out of the gate.

But... you know... we're all so bloody BUSY these days, aren't we? And everyone will insist on moving further and further away from me, and I think I am actually developing an allergy to trains in the same way I have an allergy to wheat... ITS, I shall have to call it, Irritable Train Syndrome, and if I have to stand around on a cold platform in South East London weeping over my useless smart phone because I still don't really understand how it's meant to make trains come faster, and as a result I have once again missed the last train for the next 45 minutes, I shall probably chuck myself onto the tracks. (That was a nice coherent sentence for you all, eh? Hey ho, I did try to warn you.)

So I guess phone calls, right? And in theory, yes, phone calls are a great idea. You can laugh with each other! You hear tone of voice! You can connect in many of the ways that you can face to face! All these things are true, and yet I only know two people in the entire world that still like phone calls and one of those is my supervisor. The rest of us have suddenly become terrified of them.

It didn't used to be this way. There was a time, as a teenager, when I would come thundering down the stairs no matter what time of day or night in order to snatch the ringing handset of victory from under the nose of my father and then happily stay chatting on it, lying across the hallway with my legs up the wall, for hours on end, pretending all the while that I couldn't hear my mother yelling at me to get off the phone and come to DINNER young lady.

Oh, sweet telephone, when did it all go so wrong? When did I stop trusting you?

Well, when other options... other - and here's the rub - editable options came along. I have always been a writer, which means I've always been an editor, which means I've always lain awake at night planning the exact sequence of syllables with which to seduce and surprise my suitors. But all the planning in the world can come to nought when faced with the stuttering reality of real-time interactions. Of course, being a self-immolator as well as a writer, I will then lie awake the whole of the next night cursing myself for having said oncology when I meant to say ontology. And those kinds of mistakes are far too easy on the old dog and bone.

So when text messages came along, our eyes met across a crowded room and the rest is history. Oh, the delightful back and forth banter! The exquisite pressure of presenting the best possible side of yourself in a small, neat paragraph! The absurd pleasure of correctly spelling six syllable words in defiance of the autocorrects of your friends! (Yes of course, conversation is better when it becomes a sort of war - what's your point, caller?) The freedom to reply whenever you damn well please, rather than having to attend to some cursed shrill ringing RIGHT NOW! Added to all this the thrill of the trill of the phone as a text message is received and you know that someone, somewhere is thinking of you and maybe you won't die alone to be eaten by the mice you fear so much after all and really, I think the pinnacle of human conversation has been reached and none of us ever need bother to leave the house again.

Text messages would really be enough to sustain me until the end of my days, but throw Facebook into the mix and I have an embarrassment of riches. I used to hate MSN, feeling it as a boorish intrusion on whatever highly intellectual past time I was engaging in at that moment (read - typing Morrissey lyrics into Word 95 and trying to glean their True Meaning), yet somehow, now the concept has been given some lipstick and high heels and has re-entered my life as Facebook Chat, I am hooked. (Oddly, I still don't really have much patience for people trying to chat to me in gmail and wish I knew how I could turn that function off. I don't know why. Oh, contrary-ness, thy name is Johanna).

I am smarter and funnier and at least 10% more attractive on Facebook Chat than I am in real life. Plus, I can keep one eye on the telly whilst engaging my awesome art of assonance. I also like to start conversations on people's Facebook walls. Why is this? I have been reading a little recently about how some people think we're all hell-bent on ditching the idea of privacy, and posts on Facebook walls are seen as proof of this. I don't really agree. I wouldn't talk about heart-break or tampons or a stinging sensation when I pee on a Facebook wall. (Oh no, no, clearly, I'd save that for this blog, you lucky readers). The things I'd say to a friend on their Facebook wall are the same sorts of things I'd shout to them across a crowded room at a party. It's just that with Facebook, the party lasts all day, dude. (Do you think if I say enough things like that, I'll be able to convince Zuckerberg to fund the research I want to do next year?)

Yet somehow, I can't really get on with Twitter. I'm on Twitter, and I use it to promote this blog and to talk to my friend who left Facebook, but that's about it. I think it's a combination of always wondering why anyone would choose to use 140 characters when 140,000 would do and an obsessive need to read *everything*. This is just about manageable on Facebook. On Twitter? You're having a laugh mate. Plus, I don't really understand hashtags. #old. 

So yeah. If, for any reason, you want to talk to me, then text me or send me a Facebook message. Phone me and I'll probably hide under my bed for a few days before I can remember it won't hurt to ring back. I would say face to face is best, but they I might get people turning up on my doorstep unarranged and I'd never get over the horror. I am a Londoner, you know.

Friday, 21 June 2013

In these shoes? I don't think so...

Beloved blog fans, in the recent present I had the great good fortune to go on holiday to Spain with my boyfriend and two very dear friends. We went to a spot called Isla Plana, which I would whole heartedly recommend to anyone thinking about having a holiday. Not just because it almost sounds a bit like the name of a Madonna song (although, let's face it, that would be enough) but also because it is a beautiful, sunny, unspoiled place with more coves than Nancy Blackett could shake a stick at and more mountains than even I could turn into molehills.

However, I am not here to wax lyrical about its beauty. Instead, as is befitting, I am here to tell you about a story of fear, forgetfulness and farcical fun, all of which stemmed from wearing entirely the wrong shoes.

Now, there are two important facts you need to know in order for this story to make sense. The first is that each of the three of my fellow holiday goers, boyfriend, girlie mate and her boyfriend all, are much more 'running, jumping, climbing trees' (Atkinson, 2013) sorts than I am. They like snorkelling in rocky seas. I like sun loungers. They like climbing mountains. I like sitting. They like flinging themselves after frisbees in the surf. I like novels. I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

The second important idea is that, whilst I am, as a general rule, way too keen to impress almost everyone (an ingratiating and uncomfortable trait that ironically has the exact opposite effect to the one it intends), I am especially keen to impress my friends I went on holiday with, since a) I think they're awesome and b) we're kinda new-ish in being close friends and I want to Do Well. Charming, no? No?

Right, now we've got those two things straight, I can commence.

On the second day of holi, we headed down to the beach, which stretches out for miles, as inviting as freshly washed, Egyptian cotton sheets. The sea features a tiny, rocky little island, to which you can wade out. Well, maybe YOU can. Can I? That's a different question altogether.

We had talked about this upcoming wade when we were drinking cocktails on the balcony in the sun earlier on (a much more Johanna-approved activity). My friend's boyfriend (also my friend, I should point out, but this seems the simplest way to avoid a) confusion and b) confidentiality spillage)) had said we would need sensible shoes. I think I owned a pair of sensible shoes once, but that was way back in 1986 and they didn't go with my outfit, so I took them off and threw them in the lake.

In fact, I had outdone myself on shoe flakiness on this particular holiday. There's a whole other story I could go into about why this happened, but I will just say that, due to a series of unfortunate events, I only had two pairs of half-way-to-broken flip flops with me (no heels at all either - damn Ryan Air weight limits), neither of which in any way qualified for sensible.

We walked down to the beach, with my friend saying that, due to the somewhat lively wind, the sea was rather a lot choppier than usual. We got to the sea, at the foot of the wade across the water, and could quickly see that my friend was right. There were waves which, in Cornish standards, were barely there, it's true, but still in real terms could knock a child of five over fairly easily. Given that I have the outdoormanship of a kitten of five months, I was already starting to worry.

A second result of the wind was that the sand was being somewhat agitated beneath the water, so you couldn't really see what you were treading on. Which, as it turns out, was a mass of very jagged rocks with the odd patch of slippery seaweed and the occasional sea anemone thrown in for good measure.

My friend's boyfriend strode out ahead to, ho ho ho, test the water. He, of course, made it across to the island in pretty much a single bound. All the same, I could see that this was not the journey for me and started trying to say so, mum-ish worry infecting my voice like a rash. However, without really knowing how it was happening, mid-pathetic-protest, I was suddenly attempting this wade and there was no turning back.

I don't know if you've ever tried to walk across spikes of stone that you can't see, through fairly lively waves, with breaking flip flops on your feet and nothing to steady yourself against but a friend you really don't want to push into the water? Maybe this is the sort of thing, blog fans, that you can do in your sleep, but me... not so much. I was convinced the entire time that I was going to fall face first into the spikey rocks, or get my foot stuck in between two rocks, or be stung by some kind of crazy ocean creature.

In fact, all that actually went wrong (apart from my intense panic) was that my flip flop, predictably, broke. The thong came away from the sole about half way along the journey, meaning that after a while, I was wearing that flip flop like a rather unconventional anklet flapping around my ankle, heightening the pain and fear-of-stingy-creatures factors relating to that particular foot twenty fold.

I don't think I have ever looked less in my element in all my live long days.

However, as you will have surmised, I did not die. Phew! I made it to the island in one piece and passed a pleasant hour or so reading in the sun.

I shall fast forward at this point because I've already been going on for ages and I want to eat my breakfast and not alienate you all my writing a novella. When the time came, I got back across to the mainland, mostly thanks to my friend's boyfriend bringing me my friend's (very sensible) (and yet still cool, I don't want to make her sound like a pottery teacher) shoes after she had done the clamber.

However, on reaching the road, made of black tarmac and cooked away in the sun all day, a problem quickly became apparent. My friend and I couldn't, due to the pesky laws of physics, share her shoes for the entire walk, uphill, over the rocks home. And, wuss and all that I am, I wouldn't have recommended doing that walk barefoot to anyone who didn't want some delightful blisters and burns all over the bottoms of their feet for the next week or so.

So at this point in the story, we parted ways. My friend and her boyfriend set out on the blisteringly hot, 45 degrees steep walk back to the apartment to get the car and my other pair of shoes, gawd bless them, whilst my boyfriend and I sat ourselves at the bar with cold drinks and our books. What a terrible hard life we lead.

We enjoyed the sun and our drinks. And we finished our drinks and started to notice that we were getting hungry. And we looked at our watches and were a bit confused. Our wet swimming costumes started to feel really rather damp and cloying. I think we might have ordered another drink - that's certainly not impossible.

After really quite a while, I saw my friend striding towards us and stood up, saying hello. I noticed that she didn't have my shoes in her hands, but kinda figured they must be in the car, maybe? I didn't really have time to finish this thought before the next one presented it to myself, which is that she didn't look best pleased.

She came over to our table and said a word that we so weren't expecting that I think it took a moment or two for us to understand it. That word was:


with, yes, that all-important question mark. Oh dear oh dear... what we had all forgotten was that my boyfriend had left something behind that morning, gone back to get it, and, as a result, he had the keys for the apartment (which contained not only the shoes but, rather crucially, the car keys) in his pocket.


I think at this point I think it's fair to say that my friend and her boyfriend were (extremely understandably) wishing they had gone on holiday with anybody other than this gormless sissy and her memory-deficient boyfriend. This had really not been either of our finest hours. We offered to try to manage the walk with the shoes, but my friend's boyfriend said that if we rendered this whole trip pointless, he would most likely have to drown himself, so we stayed in the bar while our friends went on the hotter than hell, steeper than Everest walk once again.

Fast forwarding again, our friends eventually made it back again complete with the car and much bigger smiles on their faces. But the punchline to this story? As my friend's boyfriend came to fetch us and show us where my friend had parked my car, he stopped to exclaim... they had forgotten my shoes. How this then lead to me standing alone and bare foot outside a police station, hopping from one foot to another in desperate need of a wee, is a whole different story for a whole different time.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

My New Phone or How I Became a Traitor

Blog fans, I owe you an apology. I knew it had been a long time since my last post, but I had no idea it had been over three months. I am abject. I am on my knees, begging for forgiveness. My ever hungry ego is wondering who noticed.

The thing is, it's not like I don't spend almost all waking moments when I'm not actively thinking about something (more moments than you might suspect) thinking about my blog. I really do. It's the screen saver for my brain. I have a long list of possible entries that need writing (viz: why the Big Bang Theory will never be as good as Friends; why I love dancing; tube politics, to name but three) but somehow the time has never been quite right to write them in the past - exactly - 100 days.

The reasons for this are multiple, often revolving around being somewhat busy, but I think the major one is that I've been, you know, if I dare admit it, kinda… happy. I know. Vile, right? I can't write about happiness. What would people say? This blog isn't called The Big Book o Smiles and Skipping, is it now?

I realise now how remiss I've been, and I shall do my best to redress the balance and get miserable again ASAP so that I can keep y'all entertained with puns and pithiness aplenty.

And so... those of you who are still talking to me will remember that I ended my last blog post with the promise of finally getting with the program only, what, like 8 or 9 years late and obtaining a smart phone. And on Monday, that's what I did. I nothing if not am a woman of my word.

I thought I would dive in at the deep end, so I got an HTC One, which I was reliably informed by reams of techy comparison websites in the hours of intense research that I did was the genuine article, the greatest phone ever built, the phone that would change my entire life. Oh, ok, that's a lie, a friend of mine said it could play audio books really loud and that was enough for me.

I have had this computer-in-my-pocket for six days now, and here are my conclusions, thus far:

1. It's not actually a computer-in-my-pocket. This would be an impossibility because it's so fecking BIG. My old Nokia 2330 fit in my hand like a diamond on a ring finger. This HTC One wouldn't fit in a 10 litre rucksack, even if it used its own internet capabilities to join Weight Watchers for a month first. Now, I know I got an extra big phone and I could have gone for a smaller one, so I really have no-one to blame but myself, but I had my reason for this, a reason which I stand by.

My major gripe with smart phones has always been that typing on them is so damn hard. Your fingers press the wrong key constantly. So it seemed sensible to me that a bigger screen would equal a better chance at accuracy when stabbing at the letters. This is somewhat true, and I must say, there is something very satisfying about the heft of it when I'm actually speaking to someone on it. My ear lines up with it... and so does my mouth!!! It is so many decades since I had a phone that did that that I forgot it was ever true. But... it won't fit in ANY of my pockets. Which means I'm either carrying it constantly in my paw like a mugging waiting to happen, or I have to zip it inside a special pocket in my bag so it won't get scratched, which means it's nowhere near me. I do not like this.

2. The typing IS really annoying. I have already made three (THREE!) mistakes in texts in only six days (well, I made about 65 more when I was texting my boyfriend very drunkenly on the way home last night - he, bless him, was replying imploring me to put the very expensive new phone bag in my bag and stop waving it around the high streets of Tottenham. Must remember that people might actually want to steal this phone, another sensation I've not had in a decade or so - but I won't count drunken text errors, we're allowed to do silly things when we're drunk), one of them, humiliatingly, on Facebook. For the WHOLE WORLD TO SEE. Happiness one day, and writing 'tryst' when I meant 'trust' the next. Where is the real Johanna?

This is obviously unacceptable. The thing is, isn't it, you're staring so intently at the bit where you're pecking away with your fingers that you don't have the time to look at the bit where the words are actually coming out. And let's face it, this phone is so big I'd need a stepladder to get to where I could see that bit anyway. This is why the mistakes happen. Well, that and the fact that some moron decided it would be a good idea to replace perfectly serviceable phone keyboards with 12 actual buttons on them with so-called touch screens with 104 virtual buttons on all the phones in the world ever. Of course that doesn't work as well, you ASS HAT. There's not enough space!

I hear there are 'apps' (I feel like such a traitor using that word, it sits in my mouth as badly as chillax or mudblood or I'll-take-mine-rare-please) which can turn your stupid virtual QWERTY keyboard into a sensible phone one (although sadly it can't turn the screen into a set of physical buttons), so as soon as I've worked out how to download things (alright, alright, as soon as I'm sitting next to someone who already knows how so they can 'show me' and I can nod wisely and watch Ally McBeal episodes in my head), I'm getting me one of those so I shall never make a mistake again. In my entire life ever once. It works like that, right?

Briefly now, as I fear I'm going to bore you all away if I don't shut up soon, here are some other observations I have made: I tried to use the maps for the first time yesterday, the thing everyone told me would make it all worth it, and it tried to make me walk 10 minutes past where I was actually meant to be going. You cannot text on 'smart' (HA! Smart my ASS!) phones and walk at the same time, at least not without causing a 10 person pile up. I actually never will read a book on a bus ever again. It buzzes annoyingly every single time someone sneezes on Facebook and I don't know how to turn it off.

I should really read the manual, huh?  

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

The League Against Smart Phones (or Why I Love my Dumb Phone)

I believe myself to be the last person under the age of 60 and living in the UK who doesn't have a smart phone. Even my parents have better phones than I do.

When iPhones first came out I, like many of the rest of the population, goggled at them, starry eyed and full of product lust, thinking that if I was only carrying one in my pocket, the secrets of the universe would surely be mine.  

However, as time soldiered on, in that inimitable way that it has, I become more and more grateful that I hadn't caved (*cough*  - read, been able to afford) a fancy touch screen mini-computer and had stuck with my terribly basic Nokia. The major reasons for this are three-fold. 

1. I quickly noticed that anyone who had an iPhone made all the same spelling mistakes in their text messages. Me became Mr. A simple pair of kisses at the end of the text became fx. You could spot an iPhone user at 100 paces. This is not quite so much the case any more, but all those hilarious Damn You, Autocorrect memes you see? You can bet they weren't written on a 3310. My friends with smart phones (aka, all of them) write me ever-increasingly incomprehensible texts and never really seem to notice. 

I like to think my pals have enough smarts to notice when one word is entirely replaced with another, and it can't possibly be that they just don't care, because that's the kind of thing that only happens in science-fiction, right? So the only conclusion I can draw is that it's so hard to correct these mistakes that no-one really knows how to. This unsettles me. Reading a poorly spelled text message can mess with my head enough. Authoring one would surely ruin my whole week. 

2. Battery life. I could talk about this at great length, but you all know the story. I sometimes don't take a charger on long weekends with me on purpose so I can text the entire time I'm away and then laugh at my friends when they can't play Angry Birds on the way home whilst I can still ring my dad to ask him to come and get me. 

3. There is nothing, nothing that makes me angrier than trying to have a conversation with someone who is more interested in their phone than they are in me. Well, ok, that's a lie... people who get all 'oh, it's so comMERcial' about Valentine's day or give those bloody charity certificates as 'presents' or say daft things like, 'it's good for the garden' as a way to try to cheer me up... those things all make me just as angry. But yeah - people who think you can't see them looking at Twitter when they're meant to be listening to you make me want to punch them. 

I do realise that not everyone with a smart phone is guilty of this heinous crime. However... this is me we're talking about. I am so addicted to the internet that I dream in Facebook colours most nights. If I had the whole of the social network in my pocket, there is no way I would ever talk to a real person again. 

All convincing reasons to stick with the dumb phone forever, right?

Well, yes, right... but still, come May time, I'm going to have to capitulate. Why, I hear all dozens of you clamour? Well, here is the sorry tale of woe. 

Whilst I was in Spain last year, I had an unfortunate incident with a sun lounger, my not inconsiderable heft, and the screen of my phone. I had a moment of smug glee in which I thought it had survived, but the top quarter of the screen went pretty rainbow colours and couldn't be read. This would never do. 

When I got back to London, I went to a phone shop and asked to see their finest dumb phone. I was laughed out of not one, not two, but three shops. In the fourth shop, I finally found a paltry selection of Nokias, huddled together, blinded by the techni-coloured light rebounding from the screens of the all-singing, all-dancing smart phones showing off on the shelves above them. 

In an ill-advised burst of stubbornness, I bought the cheapest dumb phone there (£10 for the world's most basic Nokia) thinking, 'ha, I'll show them! If it texts and it calls, that's ALL I NEED!' (NB... I'm not quite sure who it is I'm hoping to 'show' by having a rubbish phone. I never think that far ahead. Does anyone?)

However, this phone turned out to be so unbearably terrible that we parted company after about 14 hours when I hurled it into a canal. Well, ok, I didn't, because that would be littering, but by Jove, I wanted to. 

Remember the old, old, olden days when you would be happily composing a text message... you'd be three terribly clever puns and four esoteric references in, but then your big stoopid thumb would accidentally press the red 'hang up' button, and rather than saving your carefully crafted message to drafts or something sensible, the whole thing would vanish and then you'd turn apoplectic with rage? No? I didn't remember either, until it started happening again. And then I remembered how it happened three times an hour some years ago and coloured my every day with white-hot irritation. Isn't it funny how these things can piss you off so much at the time, just to vanish from your head the moment they stop happening? 

So I decided the thing to do was buy my favourite ever dumb phone handset (the Nokia Classic 2330) from Ebay. It had Snake on it, it had pictures of fish on it, it never let me down... I couldn't go wrong. 

Or so I thought. 

The first two disappointments came quickly when I realised that the shoddy eBay version of this phone didn't have Snake OR pictures of fish on it. I've never used a phone to connect to the internet and can't remember how to download anything that isn't from iTunes from one second to the next even when I'm on my laptop, so had no idea how I could go about downloading these items. 

It then transpired that, whilst I'd been disappointed with my broken Spain phone, and had thought it had no redeeming features at all, it had actually had some improvements on my beloved Nokia Classic. I had, however, like a mindless Pac-Man swallowing blue dots, absorbed those improvements and stopped paying attention to them. They have only become glaringly apparent now that I've had to go backwards. Plus, the shoddy eBay battery only lasts, like, two days, which is nowhere near long enough to make me smug. 

So... my dumb phone days are numbered. The signs all point in one direction. In May, when my contract ends, I will get a smart phone. What do you think, dear readers? Will I be able to resist the lure of 24/7 internet and continue speaking in person to you, my beloved friends? Or will I spend my whole time writing illiterate text messages and getting excited about apps and develop a permanent crick in my neck from forever angling my head at the fecking thing? Answers on a blog comment, please. 

Saturday, 12 January 2013

My oldest friend

Here's a poem I wrote for my friend Millena on her birthday. It's a little hokey, but I like it anyway. FYI, Hockerill was the school we stayed in for a weekend of intense rehearsals on the school play of Billy, where we first made friends. We bonded over the fact that we could both play 'Oh will you wash my dirty socks' on the piano.

Also - I know I'm meant to be moving my blog. I kinda started. But it confused me so I stopped. I'm working on it.

My oldest friend 

My oldest friendship is a boat
that glides through golden seas. 
We sail together, sharing secrets,
perfect you and perfect me.

We drift past faded memories 
of when we first were kin.
Washing dirty socks at Hockerill,
striking a pose in your kitchen.

We've docked a port at Whirl-y-gig
sparkling and star-eyed, we would roam.
On a mission, we'd dance til midnight,
when my dad would take us home.

Every Thursday night, our rowing boat
would cruise right to New York.
But we will never be on a break - 
this ship is too strong for that talk. 

Our boat beat storms in Bulgaria,
by conquering waves of wine. 
We've daydreamed around Greek islands 
and we've lost all track of time. 

Today our crew has new members: 
Rosch and Polly, Rachel and Jen.
We traverse the seas together,
plaiting hair and swapping men.

Our friend ship will sail forever
never creaking, never leaking. 
Our boat could sail up waterfalls
and never let the tide in. 

When we are old and rickety
our ship still won't let us get wet. 
We'll take an oar each for eternity
and row into the sunset.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

New year, new you

So it's 2013... a whole new year, a whole new start, time for a whole new page. As such, I can definitively state that I will never again eat anything unhealthy, miss a yoga class, drink booze, stay up too late, spend too much money or re-watch episodes of the Big Bang theory when I could be reading Jane Austen ever again. Ever.

Every day will start with a bowl (just one) of wheat-free muesli and a cup of hot lemon water. Ok, so I don't like hot drinks and never have (hot is the devil's temperature, as Kenneth Parcell once so memorably said) but I hear that hot lemon water makes your skin clear or smoothes out all cellulite or eliminates third world debt or some such, so it seems a small price to pay.  

Lunch will be home-made soup every day in the winter and home-made salad every day in summer. All packaged in recyclable tupperware. Never again shall I feel the heart-wring of guilt as I throw away, willy nilly, another fast food wrapper that once contained nothing but expensive calories. Expensive, delicious calories, to be sure, but nothing tastes better than the smugness of knowing you made your entire weeks' lunch on Sunday night for 32p... even by Thursday lunchtime when it's started to go a bit limp... right? 

I shall home-make every dinner entirely from brown rice and steamed vegetables, and yet every night will be a different adventure in cuisine that will delight and sate my friends in manners they didn't know yet existed. I shall throw away all takeaway menus and never darken the door of the chip shop again. Even if those chips are delicious golden rods of sunshine, each and every one of them, and even though I do want to, you know, like support local businesses and that. Would that make it ok to buy chips just once or twice in the year? No, definitely not. Probably. I'll get back to you. 

In order to augment this new, slimmer self, I shall also become leaner and more flexible and stronger. I shall get up at 7am every day and either do some yoga or sweat through a crazy Shred workout with that buffed up lady lover Jillian Michaels. Did I say 7am? No, surely 6am is better. Everyone knows that the earlier you do your exercise, the better it pays off. Real athletes (yes, correct, that's me) are sweating while the rest of the world is still dribbling into its collective pillows. I shall swim every other lunchtime and do 30 sit-ups before bed every night. I'll be so ripped by February that you'll be able to grate cheddar on my stomach. I'll be so toned that the rain forests will spontaneously start re-generating in honour of my biceps. 

I shall adopt a panda. Two pandas. A whole raft of pandas. I'll keep them in my garden, which will always be mown and weeded and pretty. I shall finally undertake that upgrade from vegetarian to vegan, and I'll spend weekends in my lab perfecting vegan cheese. I shall heat my house entirely with rolled up socks and teddy bears, and I shall use all my old Socialist Workers (which I'll definitely start reading again) to wrap the home-crafted presents I'll be giving you all for your birthdays. 

Every week I will make a budget of exactly what I can afford to spend, and I will spend £20 less than that and save the difference so that I am not living out of bins when I'm old. My tube journeys will be spent entirely focused on psychology papers; my evenings on Capital-C Clever novels and brand new music, not Absolute Radio 90s. Unless I've got a cold, in which case I might give myself special dispensation. But what with the new me living entirely off mineral water and organic fruit, I doubt I shall ever catch a cold again. 

Every DJ set I do will be the best one ever, and I will really learn properly what all the little lights on the mixer mean. I will never again have to ask a boy how to turn the volume in my headphones up. I will take at least one fantastic photo every day and fully master the concept of aperture. And yet at the same time both DJing and photography will remain effortless hobbies and I won't get hung up on being perfectionist. I can do all these things at once, right? 

I will write a hilarious and thought-provoking blog every single week; I will spend every bus journey I take writing profound poetry; I will walk instead of driving; I will drive faster and better and I'll never get lost again; I will only ever say things that are at once clever and thoughtful, and I will never act without thinking again. Although I will also be spontaneous and free-spirited and stop being so tied to a schedule. 

will do all this and I will do it with style, verve, elan and elation, and with all of the things in between. And I'll start tomorrow, do you hear? Tomorrow! Everything will change!