Tag Archives: Creative Writing

Rear Windowing The Neighbours:

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The view from my flat… Missing the river, of course! 🙂

Not many of you may know that I live in a block of flats. They’re not a block of flats in the traditional sense; it’s three stories high and boasts six flats in total, including mine. Mine is ground floor and the patio doors boast a truly phenomenal view, to the point where I like to sit in the rocking chairs outside in the summer and watch the river idle by. Where I live is really quiet, idyllic and peaceful and I love it. I’m not the type of person who craves drama or intrigue, I like to keep myself to myself and living somewhere that is as quiet as my flat is truly amazing.

Even though I live in a block of flats, I very rarely see my neighbours. I sometimes see the family who live above with their tiny little girl who as of late has been screaming for hours on end, breaking her little heart over something that is troubling her. I see the man who lives with his partner opposite who ignores me all the time and sometimes drives in and out of the estate for no reason, before standing outside and smoking for ages. I am also pretty obsessed with the old lady who lives at the very top of the building; I’m not sure if she’s in a same sex relationship with the lady I see around often, but either way, I think she’s the type of person who likes to get drunk on gin and tell inappropriately filthy jokes, which basically makes her my soul mate and I long to pluck up the courage to ask her or happen to accidently drop a bottle of Hendrick’s one night as she wanders past, hoping to strike up a conversation that allows her to be my best friend forever more. There’s another couple that I don’t really know much about; I’ve said hello to them both separately and I very rarely see them… until recently. Recently, dear readers, Brain and I have developed a Rear Window situation, which basically means I am the Grace Kelly in the situation and he is the wheelchair bound James Stewart… we are obsessed with one of our neighbours.

Clearly I am Grace Kelly, look at the glass of wine, man!

Clearly I am Grace Kelly, look at the glass of wine, man!

They’re a young couple like Brain and myself, which means I have often thought about them and wondered what they’re like. I do this with people who are in relationships, because relationship dynamics intrigue me to no end; I like to wonder if all couples are the same and if their concept of love is the same as mine, for example. Like, I wonder if couples behind closed doors spend as much time cuddling on the sofa, or if they like to cook together or if they chase each other round playing stupid games like Brain and I do. I’m obsessed with the closeness that couples share and if it feels the same. This sounds entirely mental, I totally appreciate that, but either way, I have wondered about this couple.

They are both young, they’re both pale and they’re both very polite, prim and I think quite proper. She is very quiet and I haven’t really spoken to her and he only says hello in passing, so I haven’t managed to strike up a friendship with them yet, to be able to outright ask them what I am dying to ask them. So instead, I have to spy. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t shimmy up the side of the building and Spiderman my way along until I can spy in their windows, and I don’t hang out in front of their door waiting or anything, it’s not that bad. Really, my spying is entirely accidental and I think that’s what makes the situation worse.

You see, every evening if I or Brain leave the house, or if we go out to our family’s house and return later on at night, or whatever, this couple are sitting in their car. The engine is running, the lights are on and they don’t do anything. They just sit there. And I am foaming about it.

Last night, we went out quite early because it was my dad’s birthday and we had gifts to take him, so we left at about six o clock and didn’t return until about half ten. When we left the house and I helped Brain put my dad’s presents in the car, the male human from this car couple was standing outside of the car putting his coat on. We exchanged pleasantries, as we always do and Brain and I got in the car. Immediately, as we do, we wondered out loud what they were doing sitting in the car, again. I mentioned that it was pretty weird and put it out of my mind, opting to bother Brain in the car by pushing all of the pushable buttons in the car and laughing wickedly as he clicks them all off, cursing me and calling me a nightmare, then we drove off, not to think of it again.

We had a lovely  night with my parents and after watching the Newcastle match, we came home. We got home at about half past ten and when I stepped out of the car, I realised that the couple were still in the car!! WHY, WHY ARE THEY IN THE CAR!!!!! I immediately started grinning, as I do when I’m excited and nervous and desperate to tell Brain some gossip and as soon as we got in the flat, we began wondering aloud what the fuck they could possibly be doing STILL SAT IN THE CAR. I’ve never known couples who do this, especially when they have a flat of their own to go into and do whatever it is they want to do. So I’m at a loss and I am so excited for night time to fall so I can watch them again…

Why are they in the car?

What are they doing?

Are they planning a murder?

Are they playing Mexican music loudly to mask the sound of them arguing?

What the fuck are they doing in the car?!

Stay tuned, because I will eventually find out. Until next time, Grace Kelly OUT!

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Chapter Five: THINGS THAT TERRIFY ME ABOUT PROCREATION

In light of my most recent blog, in which I outlined the horrors of Becoming A Woman, I began thinking about my future and what I should expect of my body if and when the time comes, I choose to house a proverbial bun in my toasty warm and equally proverbial oven. Truth be told, I find the whole concept of being pregnant and the act of childbirth horrendous and I genuinely don’t believe people when they say that it wasn’t painful. I mean, you’re shoving a human out of your happy place, what part of ‘excruciating hell pain’ doesn’t compute? Also, I’ve known women shit themselves and tear their happy place in two, purely to give birth to a tiny human who spends a long time crying, shitting, eating and repeating that process to the detriment of your sleep pattern. I find it terrifying.

Women are also divided in their opinions of pregnancy and childbirth and I’ve noticed that in my own social circles, I have been regarded as a bit of a lunatic for not lying back and thrusting a bairn or two out of my vagina. In the past, people have actually openly tutted at me and looked me up and down upon discovering that I, in my early twenties, actively elect to remain without a child. Apparently, admitting that I’d much rather focus on a career in my twenties and also stating that if I do choose to have a baby in the future that I’d quite like to be married first as, as well as being in a financially stable situation to be able to provide everything and then some for the tiny version of myself, should  I decide I want to have a baby. Apparently, I didn’t make this clear and people have heard me say, ‘I HATE BABIES AND WANT TO THROW MY FECES AT YOUR BABY AND YOUR LIFE CHOICES. I WANT TO SIP CHAMPAGNE FROM A GOBLET MADE ENTIRELY OF BABY BONE AND THEN THROW THAT GOBLET IN YOUR STUPID FACE, MOTHER-HUMAN!’ You can see where the confusion arose, I’m sure…

Don’t get me wrong, I support women who choose to have a baby regardless of their financial or professional situation; it’s a choice, after all and all women are more than welcome to choosing their own life path without input from anyone, especially me. I can’t even tell my right from my left, most times. It’s just the entire concept of it is so terrifying to me: Housing a baby in your uterus. A baby. A human baby. A baby that will one day walk and talk and eventually house a baby of its own; it feels a little Human Centipede like to me… but you know, in the most beautiful way imaginable. Of course.

Parts of pregnancy I enjoy, both in terms of seeing it happen to other people and I imagine enjoying myself if the time comes is that society in general are appreciative and celebrate your every growing stomach. They will also ask to touch it occasionally, so that they can admire it’s sheer size up close and personal. I’m not sure about you, but I would love it if people did that with my tummy now, but they don’t, they look at it and frown and ask how much strain my jeans are under, which I find offensive on so many levels. I also like that everyone treats you like a queen and constantly asks you if you need anything and also tell you that you look beautiful all the time, even though you haven’t seen your feet in weeks and literally cannot control your flatulence but even that is oddly charming because the baby is lying funny inside you, or is gassy itself. Charming.

Parts of pregnancy I don’t enjoy, both in terms of seeing it happen to other people and how I imagine I will feel if and when the time comes is that from the moment this tiny little invader makes its way into YOUR body, after you openly invited it inside, it takes over and for the rest of your life, your body is not your own. Especially during pregnancy: You eat some food the baby doesn’t like? Oops, vomit. You enjoyed wine once upon a time? Oops, no can do, I’m allergic. You want to go to that sushi bar with your friends? Sorry, raw fish isn’t good for me, I’M A BABY. It’s very annoying. Also I don’t enjoy that it just makes itself at home and begins MOVING things around – like your HIPS, did you know that your hips will change and move to accommodate the baby in the birth canal? No, neither did I. I like my hips. I’m very angry about this, baby. Also, babies are HUGE. One of my best friends gave birth to a really tiny baby recently, which kind of seems okay, but then my cousin gave birth to a baby that was NINE POUNDS. I’ve said in the past ‘oh, nine pounds, imagine shoving that out of your vagina!’ with no real perception of how much nine pounds really is, other than the fact that it is considered large for a baby, but really I have no idea. So, for your information and also for mine, I have just looked up house hold items that weigh roughly nine pounds so we can put this shit into perspective:

  • A turkey

  • Forty sticks of butter
  • An entire sack of potatoes
  • A bowling ball

  • An average sized three month old baby
  • Roughly four and a half bottles of 2 litre Coca Cola

Man not included.

I mean, that’s huge! Vaginas aren’t that big, but they are able to stretch to push out a tiny human whom they have literally baked inside of themselves for nine months… a baby that weighs the same as a bowling ball. I went bowling recently and I dropped the bowling ball. Babies are heavy. Going back to my last post about clever sperm, all I can say is that sperm is thick as shit; all you have to do is just keep swimming and kill your brothers until you reach the sweet spot. Women have to literally morph themselves into all sorts of shapes and sizes and then shove out A TURKEY from their vagina! If you are slightly confused by my outrage, please, take a minute out of your day to either look at your own vagina, or ask someone very nicely if you can look at theirs so you can comprehend the idea of a full size turkey making its way out of it. Terrifying, right? Right.

Obviously, alongside the other perks you then have a tiny human who will love you more than life itself, unless you’re a bad mother and then it will hate you. You will also have massive tits if you choose to breastfeed, but I already have those so really all I’m going for is being fat and beautiful and maybe the human who loves me. In all honesty, though, I am more than happy to wait until they have invented some kind of transporter from Star Trek and then the baby can literally be transported out by sending me beam me up, mama brain waves. And then I’ll do it.

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Chapter Four: Becoming a Woman

If you didn’t read that in a calming, soothing voice akin to Counsellor Diana Troy’s voice from Star Trek: Next Generation, then you have failed me. Go back, read it again, and come back to me with a fresh perspective and better attitude towards the piece I’m about to write. Back? Okay, thanks for that. If you’re male and/or slightly squeamish and are reading this with increasing trepidation that I’m about to go into a Vagina Monologue style rant about my first period or the first time I touched myself, then don’t worry, because I probably won’t. But then again, I might do, because I’m cruel and also because I’m trying to practice literary improvisation.

A lot of the things I read online tell me that gender roles are established very early on in life, depending on what toys you play with, thus, modern parenting techniques advise that parents don’t force their kids to play with toys depending on what part of the toy store they’re in; let kids be kids and choose their own way in life is the mantra. Anyway, I never had that. I played with Barbies and dolls (well, I smacked their faces against walls) I played with prams (ran over bees with the wheels) and played with toy make up and jewellery, as well as girly arts and crafts – I never grew up feeling that my place as in the home or in the kitchen (unless the fridge was fully stocked) and I don’t hold any kind of resentment towards my parents now for me playing with gender specific toys. Granted, I had both of my parents telling me on the daily that I would be a smart, career driven, independent woman who would be able to drive, tell the time without getting confused when the afternoon rolled in and never forgetting which way is right and which way is left, meaning I would just point in directions and say ‘over there’ by the time I was twenty six. Parenting successful, you guys, you can retire now… Anyway, I never felt that my toys were a suggestion of my future to come, nor did I think they were sending me subliminal messages, telling me that I’d make a great home maker/mother/wife, because my parents screamed even louder in my face that I would be AMAZING and BRILLIANT and high fived me when I didn’t wet the bed… In a way, I’m pretty pissed off that my toys didn’t have more of an influence over the adult I’d become, because my favourite toy, Barbie, had an amazing life and other than the subsequent body/self esteem issues I’d undoubtedly acquire by being too influenced by the blonde babe I played with daily, I’d still have been pretty happy with the outcome.

My Barbie dolls were awesome and their lives were pretty sweet. They lived in a giant mansion, all together with their best friends and enemies alike and they’d go on all sorts of adventures and divorce and marry people within a week. Imagine that life? It’d be like Dyansty! More to the point, I’d have been married to a Ken doll and we would have been amazingly well dressed and matching at all times. He would have enormous pectoral muscles, which I don’t agree with, and a questionable crotch region, which I agree with even less, but with the wealth of Barbie and Ken and the abundance of available plastic in the world, we’d be able to sort that kind of thing out, no problem at all. Life would be sweet. I’d also have an entire wardrobe style house full of clothes and every single day would be my first day at a new job. It would be like that first scene in Clueless where Cher is sorting out her outfit du jour via her amazingly technologically advanced computer; the only difference being, that my outfit match would be what I’d be doing as a job that day. My work week may have even looked like this:

Monday: Palaeontologist
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Tuesday: Canadian Mountie
Wednesday: Yoga Teacher
Thursday: Surgeon
Friday: Ambassador for World Peace
Saturday: NASCAR Driver
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Sunday: Princess

I mean, that’s way better than any of your careers, right?

Unfortunately, my toys had very little influence over my life. Unless you count my Speak and Spell which taught me how to spell swear words correctly and maybe my doll pram for killing all of those bees.

***

Do you remember watching ‘coming of age’ movies and TV episodes in the likes of Sister Sister, where they’d discuss womanhood like it was some kind of amazing journey we were about to go on, filled with love and romance and in the end, a tub of ice cream and laughs with our best friends for life humans? Then, as it got closer, all it really entailed was a lot of general hysteria at not only your perpetually changing body, but at the entire world around you for being so selfish by not realising your CONSTANT DAILY STRUGGLE WITH EXISTENCE!!! I was expecting magic carpet rides and new found responsibilities that had absolutely nothing to do with shaving my arms or legs, or being metaphorically thrust into the world with new squishy bags on my chest, thus suddenly agonisingly aware of my SELF and the perpetual gaze of the male ascending on me every time I chose to leave the house. It was awful.

Suffice it to say that I didn’t enjoy growing into a woman very much at all; I mean, I love it now, because I’m a woman and I firmly believe that is a great thing to be. I can’t think of anything that wields as much power as a woman’s vagina, except maybe her cleavage in a bar. Or more important things like what a woman has to go through to bring life into the world. There are some people who champion the sheer genius behind sperm and go into advance scientficit discussions about how far the sperm has to travel and out of the millions and millions THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE that assists in the creation of new life.

I’m not sure about you, but when I hear that, I’m sitting there metaphorically patting the head of which ever idiot has come out with that one, before retorting with what actual reproductive heroics actually entails. Firstly, women only have a certain amount of eggs and they start depleting from the moment we start our periods – did you guys know this?! – so when people start talking about biological clocks ticking, they don’t mean that one day you’ll wake up and have an overwhelming urge to reproduce and maybe, potentially steal a baby off the street, like I thought happened… Oh no: It means that you only have a certain amount and that the more periods you get, the more you lose them, because they just disappear. So if you only have like thirty eggs in your uterus and you’ve been a woman since you were like, eleven, then maybe you won’t have eggs in you at all and you’ll be BARRON. Which is really unfair when you think about it, like men can just wank incessantly on the daily for their entire lives and even when they’re like, ninety, they can still use that sperm to impregnate someone. I’m foaming I can’t do that with my vagina eggs.

I genuinely expected that becoming a woman would bring with it some kind of epiphany and that my entire life’s purpose would suddenly become abundantly clear, but other than the fact that I woke up in a pool of my own blood wishing I was born with a penis and that I could now house babies in my womb (ones that were grown there, not just put there as some kind of horrifically upsetting babysitting service) and that the concept of ‘babies raising babies’ suddenly became very clear to me, nothing else really changed. I still liked cartoons and I still believed in Santa Claus and cried when I didn’t get my own way. When I think about it now, I think of it in terms of history and how women throughout life were treated once they began menstruating, relief washing over me when I realised that upon having my period, my dad didn’t trade me in for a few goats to a middle aged man, I was lucky that my dowry remained very much non-existent. I was also lucky that my period coincided with the new millennium; otherwise I may have potentially been procreating for a well over a decade now and making food for a much older man, whose sweaty body had no concern for mine at all (what? The nineties were weird, man!). In a way, becoming a woman for me, meant staying a child, and I found that pretty awesome.

Me, on my 12th birthday, seducing babes, being a woman.

Me, on my 12th birthday, seducing babes, being a woman.

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My Career Aspirations Growing Up.

Maybe I could be a telephone operator! No… I wouldn’t like to wear those things over my ears. I wish I had a guardian angel, you know like Debbie Reynolds had in Tammy? What do you think?

As someone who, at the age of twenty six, seems to be having a career orientated life crisis on an almost daily basis and is generally anxious about her future because she has no idea what she wants to do other than earn money and buy shoes, I thought it pertinent to add a post depicting my journey through desired career choices that I’ve had since being a small child. As you will probably be able to tell whilst reading, I had very little grasp on reality growing up and was constantly changing my mind about career choices, which is probably why I’m so cast adrift now. Thanks, child me!

Teacher – I think every girl wanted to be a teacher growing up. I wanted to be a teacher, because my teacher at the time had really nice shoes with bows on and I liked the sound they made when she walked through the classroom. Also I was persistently top of the class when I was a kid and liked being the favourite of pretty much all of my teachers and also I was always picked to read first and was colour-groups ahead of my classmates who I helped teach how to read. So really becoming a teacher was a natural calling in my life, at this point, as let’s face it, aside from the great shoes and the wages, I was a teacher. One of the career choices people constantly tell me to look into is teaching, but as I grew older, I realised that kids are little bastards and that the older they get, the more arsey they become. I genuinely don’t think I’d be able to keep a level head with some puberty ridden shit bag being a nuisance in my class. I’d end up on the front of all national newspapers as the woman who beheaded a little bastard for bad-mouthing Shakespeare. And I’d stand by it too, the little rat.

Vet – If I’m being perfectly honest, I don’t think I knew what being a vet entailed growing up. All I really knew is that I liked watching Animal Hospital and loved watching the vets talk about the animals in great detail, soothing, calming tones lulling both me and the animal into a false sense of security. I would still like to be a vet today, but I wouldn’t want to operate on anything or euthanise anything either. Really, I guess all I wanted to be and what I would still like to be, is a professional dog and cat stroker, which according to my career’s officer at school, doesn’t exist and I should probably focus on a more realistic career goal instead.

Woman who walks around museum pointing at stuff and then talking about it – I don’t think that’s the real name of this particular career choice, but all I had in my head was a “curator” which is something different; I think that’s the name of someone who gathers stuff in the museum, rather than shows groups of school kids around. Anyway, I went on a school trip when I was little and this is what sparked my initial interest. An amazingly articulate woman showed us around and I decided that I wanted to be her, so when I got home, I presented my sister and mother with all of the things we owned in our living room and spoke proficiently and seriously about how all of our living room objects were from ancient China. Maybe guess what the exhibit we were shown around was? Ancient Chinese artefacts. I needn’t have gone, given my living room was bursting with the stuff!

Librarian – This career choice was generally a no brainer for me, given my passion for books and reading growing up, but really, at the time of deciding this, all I really wanted to do was own my own library and be Belle from Beauty and the Beast, however, given my abundant intelligence from a young age, I guess deep down I knew that girls didn’t fall for hairy-wolf-men that were made that way by magical white witches, so I thought that entirely ruled out the Disney Princess option, thus librarian became my only real option. I changed my mind during my first year of comprehensive school when I realised that our librarian was a mean, cruel woman who wanted to keep us away from all of the books by not letting us in the library at all, which not only negates the idea of a library, but makes all librarians absolute wankers, if you ask me.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – what? I did want to be Buffy. I liked the way she kicked and punched and I loved her snappy retorts to vampires and people in general. She was cool and confident, she was fierce and unstoppable and a vampire, one that filled my pre-teen heart with gooey feelings, fell in love with her! Then later on, a really bad vampire fell in love with her and become all soft and gooey too! It was very inspirational to, not only a hopeless romantic, but to someone who also grew up wanting to be the pink Power Ranger – at the time, even I knew a Power Ranger was inaccessible to a girl like me, but a vampire slayer? Totally realistic.

Singer/Songwriter or Britney Spears Impersonator – Stop judging me!! I am not at all ashamed that I went through a period of wanting to be Britney Spears. Did you see the video for Hit me Baby One More Time her loneliness was KILLING her and all she wanted was to play basketball. I may have misconstrued the point of the video, but regardless, she was a pretty amazing role model at the time. She kind of lost her shine a little bit during The Meltdown of 2007, but by this time I had already moved on to wanting to be both Beyonce and Marianne Faithful, so I really didn’t care. Anyway, at the time, I used to practice dancing and singing constantly, as well as doing my hair and make up to look like a little songstress. My parents were genuinely worried about me during this period and had a discussion with me that pretty much led them to crushing my dreams by telling me that I realistically couldn’t be a pop star/dancer. I’m not sure if it’s because they assumed it would be impossible for me to break into this world without compromising my virginity or because they didn’t think I was good enough. I should probably ask them.

Tennis Player – this was a constant one growing up, every time Wimbledon was plastered all over the television. When we lived in Holland we had this huge drive way and I would go into the garden and slam the ball against the wall, whilst making the best and not at all inappropriate for my age tennis noises. Admittedly, I did get quite good at slamming the ball off the wall and it did keep me fit throughout the summer, but I didn’t keep it up. Like all british teenagers once they get into comprehensive school and realise that doing anything leaves you open for incessant, cruel critique, so I gave up pretending to be a tennis player and put my racket down for good.

Lawyer – Admittedly, I might have only wanted to be a lawyer because I had seen too many episodes of Ally McBeal or potentially too many movies. But to me, I loved the idea of storming into a room and being like ‘OI, I have the evidence here that proves you’re all crooks! YOU HEAR ME, CROOKS!!’ or given the fact that I am really good at arguing and love giving self-righteous speeches whilst mounted steadfastly onto my high horse, that might have also been the reason that prompted me to want to be the voice of the law. Plus, again, I also really liked the clothes and shoe choices and the tap clap tap of court shoes as they bustled through full of law-like knowledge.

Fashion Designer – No, seriously. This was a genuine career desire of mine throughout school. I loved art and design and I wanted to take those as my options, go to college and take art, before applying to university to do fashion. I had it all planned out and I did have an abundance of talent in the old art department, so it made sense. An English teacher of mind found out and hauled my mother into school to beg her to force me to take more academic subjects, because my future lay with English and all the career choices that would leave me open to (all, Mrs Walker, ALL? I literally have done zero things with my degree other than starting this blog. I am foaming about it, in all honesty!) so they coerced me into taking French, Geography and History, which I aced, because I am brilliant, but didn’t really enjoy because all I wanted to do was draw and become the next Coco Chanel. But whatever, dreams are for rookies and kids, right?

Writer – In spite of all the fashion designer business, one thing did remain resolute: I was excellent at English literature and language and writing was another passion. I got a typewriter one year for Christmas when I was really small as well as a tiny desk and I would sit in the living room tapping away on the typewriter, even before I could write or form words. Then, as I learned, I would write stories and pass them onto my mam and dad, who would read them and tell me I was brilliant. So writing has always been something that I wanted to do and probably will remain with me until I’m an old lady, embittered with literary failure, making me become the type of old person who stabs knives through the footballs of local children who dare kick it near my property. I will also be the type of old lady who spits at the youths too, but that’s a story for a different time. Anyway, I’ve always written stories and still jot down ideas for short stories, novels, children’s literature, but have absolutely no motivation to do it, due to the fact that I am overwhelmingly terrified of being an even bigger failure than I am now, or being told that something I really want to do is something I’m not very good at. Just like fashion.

I think in this day and age a little despondency in one’s twenties regarding a career and professional future is pretty much resolute. I never wanted to be some phone monkey answering phones as a career… a stop gap, a way to pay the bills, maybe, but I wanted more and I think I always will be that type of person. So until then, I guess I remain a little bit like Frenchie, except with really shit hair.

 

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Chapter Two – Family

Family:
Noun
A group consisting of two parents and their children living together as a unit.

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In short, you could say that my birth was a success. My parents wanted a baby and they received me, so I guess you could call that a success. Then again, unless my mother gave birth to a smart car and audibly wailed at the sight of my four wheels instead of human limbs, I guess their expectations were bound to be met… anyway, suffice it to say, I enjoyed being a baby as far as photographs can tell me, but then again, tiny humans lead the best lives ever and unless they’re hungry, or tired or have just defecated themselves, they pretty much live a really cool, non-stressful lifestyle, which I am sure all new mothers will attest to, quite happily. I was also a very cute baby, which I say without a degree of narcissism; I had those chunky big baby arms and legs that you can’t help but want to sink your teeth into and enormously round blue eyes that I still own now, funnily enough. The only thing, when I look back at photographs of myself as a baby, as something I really dislike is the fact that I had an absolutely enormous head. Now, I’ve been told that I have a really small head, but back then it was huge – I think I might have been born with an adult head instead of a baby head and my body has just grown round it, lest it grew further and I was bullied throughout life for not being able to fit through doors. Anyway, I was a pretty cute baby and generally not one of those babies that parents say are cute, but when you look at them and recoil in horror, guessing that this particular baby is a face only a mother could love – I was an all-round adorable winner.

In spite of all this, my parents decided to have another pop at procreation and whilst I guess it would have been fun for all involved to have a tiny human of a different gender, they lucked out and got another female human and that, my friends, is how my sister was born as far as I know. I guess because it wasn’t about me, I never took the time to ask. Other than hearing about my dad exclaiming ‘IT’S A BOY!’ only to be told by the nurses that no, sir, that’s just the umbilical cord, I don’t know anything else, and really, after that story, what else is there you need to know? We were introduced in the hospital where she was born. My grandparents led me into the room and I walked over to my mam, who was cradling the brand new, tiny human in her arms and my response was to walk away and run up and down the corridors for the remainder of the visit. I was no longer the medical marvel, or the centre of attention; there was a new adorable human in town. I think if I’d known I was going to be meeting my very first and very best life-long friend, I probably would have made more of an effort, but seriously, what do you want from me?  I was one!

My sister and I have always been close and I honestly do consider her to be one of the greatest humans who has ever graced the planet and what makes her even more amazing is the fact that she doesn’t even know. She’s a really slight, petite and thin human which makes the tall and naturally curvaceous with bits of padding here and there part of my personality want to stab her every time I see her. She has these enormous dark chocolate, almost black eyes, stupendously high cheek bones and everything about her is just perfect and small; she’s like a doll who has just stepped out of a children’s fairytale or a masterpiece of some sort. In my eyes, she’s perfect and her hair, her gloriously long, down to her waist; curly, shiny hair is the thing I most covet in life. If she wasn’t my sister I would hate her guts.

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In a pretty brilliant move, my parents nipped the ever popular concept of ‘sibling rivalry’ in the bud before it had time to grow and be nourished as our bitterness for each other grew and as a result, my friendship with my sister has been persistently rock solid for almost twenty five years. They instilled in us from a young age that when you had a sister, you always had a friend and part of me makes me think that my parents stole this from a sickly sweet sit-com they watched growing up, or they had some kind of cheesy parental handbook filled with corny one liners, but either way, it was pretty good advice, if not a bit vomit inducing for the non-saccharin amongst us. There was also another snippet of advice given from one of the parental units that has been said so many times, I can’t remember which one said it and the sentence I am about to write is paraphrased with some intense emotional intent for dramatic purposes, so just be warned, but anyway, either the man or the woman said: There is nothing in life more important than the four of us, whether you’re happy or sad, rich or poor, near or far, we will always be there for each other and there will always be a home for you with mam and dad. Which is pretty amazing advice, really. Or, depending on how you read it and if we’d decided to choose a life of crime, it could sound pretty much like a pact that is relatively tantamount to saying: If we get caught, murder suicide pact, who’s in?! But I don’t think my mother’s catholic roots would allow it. I joke, but it’s something that I genuinely wear as a badge of honour; there’s nothing more important in life than the closeness of one’s family!

Over the years we did some amazing stuff together and whilst we haven’t had a lifestyle that saw us travelling to certain places on the globe and we only really had three holidays abroad during childhood, we still managed to have an amazing life. My dad’s career took us to Holland for three years and my sister and I can speak fluent Dutch and played the national sport for our local village. I did end up getting bullied and hated my life for a while, but I try not to blame my dad for that, I tend now just to blame the entire country of Holland for a few shit kids instead! As a result, my sister and I didn’t suffer some kind of childhood traumatic event that affected us well into our adulthood, but when you’re writing about your childhood you’re supposed to write about something that could potentially be construed as poor parenting, so I guess I’ll try my best to conform:

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That’s a small me sitting on the sofa of our first family home. Don’t I look adorable drinking from my can of Stone’s lager? My mam is not a lager drinker, but my dad is, so it’s pretty clear to see that we can place the blame entirely on my dad and let him know that it’s his fault that I’m such an alcoholic now. Except that I don’t drink lager and I drink wine, but really it’s just lady beer, so he’s still in the wrong. I am sure that both of my parents would like me to tell you all that it was EMPTY when I put my face against it, but they were young and probably also liars, so I’ll just let you guys decide whether or not they inadvertently fed alcohol to their small human or not, were mortified, but not mortified enough to carry out a photo-shoot. This is what happens when you have kids in your twenties.

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One time I hurt my leg and had to wear a cast for weeks. It was an itchy, hot cast that I can’t really remember anyone asking to write on, which is pretty upsetting. It had a heel so that I didn’t walk with a limp and when the doctor said that I’d be okay to do all the things that I could do before I had my accident, like pour myself a glass of juice, I’d be fine and my parents weren’t to mollycoddle me. Which would have been fine if I’d ever poured myself a glass of juice in my life, so when I asked for one and my dad piped up with ‘Now, now, Doris, the doctor said you could pour your own drinks!’ and I spilled it all over the bench, we really have no one but him to blame there, really, do we? For shame, father. The reason I wore the cast, you ask? Well, I fell off an apparatus at school during PE, where I’d apparently told one of my classmates that I could fly and when he didn’t’ believe me, I thought I’d teach him a lesson in both listening and believing everything I said because I was superior. Turns out I couldn’t fly and was brandished a liar (probably) in the eyes of my infant school class. I think another lesson I could have probably learned here is not to lie to people and also that my parents shouldn’t have been so supportive of my creative mind or active imagination, because look what happened!

For Christmas, roughly twenty years ago, I received my very first PlayStation. I had no idea what it was. I can’t remember asking Santa Claus for it and I didn’t know what it did. Turns out that my dad knew how to work it just fine and I guess it was the ideal gift for a twenty four year old father of two, who knew?! I didn’t know how to play games such as Tomb Raider because I was six and it was scary, I mean there were WOLVES and a DINOSAUR, so my dad played on my behalf, which was really convenient and helpful. I mean, let’s forget the fact that the PlayStation turned out to be the greatest gift our family could have received, because we would all huddle around and watch my dad play games and just remember the fact that I didn’t ask for a PlayStation and also didn’t know how to play the PlayStation – that’s the most important part. Equally so, a few years later, I asked for an All Saints CD for Christmas and received a Dave Pearce remix thereof. There was only one person in our family who listened to Dave Pearce on Radio One after the chart show countdown on a Sunday and it certainly wasn’t me, my mam or my sister… the lesson that I’ve taken from these Christmas gifts is that you can’t always get what you want. In a lot of cases, you get what your dad wants and you just have to like it or lump it.

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Chapter One: My Glorious Birth

I once said that if I was ever going to write a biographical account of my life, that I would begin with the closing chapter, so that people would be left guessing, rubbing their chins and huddling in dark corners of libraries or book clubs, pouring over the first (last) chapter, wondering if I was a time traveller, or if I had a very specific car that required plutonium, then bits of rubbish and eventually, a train, to work. Mainly because my introductory chapter was going to entail a very specific account of how I died. It would be like that chapter and also scene in The Time Traveller’s Wife where he flashes into the present and he’s bleeding profusely, causing everyone to panic. But, to save this kind of undoubted social upheaval that would pour into the media and social networking networks like a fine, but dangerous wine and vilify me as some kind of monster for the rest of eternity (oops, another plot twist/spoiler: I’m immortal), I thought I’d change tact and start at the very beginning: My glorious birth.

But first, we’re going to need a little background, I didn’t just appear in my mother’s womb unexpectedly, that is nonsense and only believable if it happened in the olden days when apparently everyone fell pregnant at the hands of THE LORD, who was more than a little cavalier at his seed sowing back then, if you know what I mean… anyway, let’s continue:

When my parents first met, they were just a couple of crazy kids living in the midst of the only decade that everyone remembers with heart-warming nostalgia for unbeknownst reasons, given the neon colours, strange pants and terribly big and crunchy hairstyles: The 1980s. Now, I’ve only heard this story from my parents, who, you’ll learn throughout the course of this process are inherent liars, so this may not be entirely true; they may have lied to my sister and me all these years, forcing us to believe in the bittersweet concept of falling in love at first sight, which is apparently what they did. Apparently, my beloved dad was a little smitten with my mam from a distance for an indeterminate amount of time and it wasn’t until he happened upon her one morning as she was waiting for a bus, did he take his chance and bedazzle her with his 1980s moustache and his own car. Anyone who knows me, knows my undying passion for romance and love stories, so undoubtedly this story is my favourite: She was waiting for a bus and he happened upon her and decided to take his chance at love. Like, if John Hughes had been wandering through a tiny, sleepy village in the North East of England back then, he would have definitely cast Molly Ringwald and Andrew McCarthy, or maybe even John Cusak to play my parents and it would have been a truly amazing piece of cinema, with an even better musical score (Side Note: For the rest of the post, I would be happy if you could hum Don’t You Forget About Me by Simple Minds, perhaps the epitome of the 80s right there).

It’s not often that my parents talk about when they met, or really, life before my sister and I, but when they do, they seem to go misty eyed and they look at each other with looks that only two people who know the true meaning of love can look at each other. It would be sickening if it wasn’t so damned romantic and when I see the love they have for each other, I can’t help but thinking that I’ve been so unlucky in love in the past because of my sheer unwavering desire to fall in love at first sight (which, eventually happens to me, but you’ll have to wait a few chapters to get to that part. Or go and read the rest of my blog, whatever) and eventually, hopefully, marry someone I would also call my best friend, like they did. To me, it just makes the fact that I exist that bit more important, knowning that I was conceived in an environment where two people were so in love that about twenty seven years later, they still look at each other all funny when remembering how they fell in love. Aside from the knowledge that they had sex, of course, it’s good to know that I’ve been bred from two people besotted with each other, which not everyone can say, I guess.

I am told that other gloriously romantic and comedic things happened during the period of them meeting and me being born, which pads out the John Hughes movie plot slightly: My mam stubbed a cigarette out onto my dad’s hand and laughed hysterically right in his face as he nursed his injured hand. He lied about being allergic to dogs, to hide a presumably un-masculine fear of a tiny little girl boxer dog (which he would own for the rest of his life, which might just go to show where I get my enormous sense of hypocrisy from! And my ability to tell lies to get myself out of situations I don’t want to be in, too, I guess!) and there’s also a story about salted popcorn being propelled down the aisles of a cinema, shoulder shuddering giggles ensuing,w hcih would be another, very sweet comedic aside for the movie John Hughes would have directed. Maybe my mother (Molly Ringwald) would say something in a voice over akin to ‘From the moment that popcorn spilled down the steps of the cinema aisle, I knew I would marry either Andrew McCarthy or John Cusak, depending on casting, and we’d have two amazing children and a very happy life together… everything became clear then.’ End scene.

Anyway, back to the important part of the story, perhaps the main part of the opening chapter, considering that, without it, I’d not actually be here writing this at all, unless I went the route of the usual blogger and hired a ghost writer (oooh, I went there!), but even so, without the main event, I couldn’t hire a ghost writer, and now I’ve officially ‘Inception-ed’ myself.

I was born on Christmas Eve, which was a full eleven days before my due date and as a result, I have given my mam an amazing story to tell to everyone who mentions the fact that I was born on Christmas Eve. She grins, leans towards the person to whom the tale she is telling and states, “Yes, she was supposed to be born then, but she just needed to be here for Santa coming, didn’t you petal?!” and then she looks at me all proud, because as my mother, of course she is proud for having given birth to a human, but also because she’s proud for telling the joke like it was the first time, but also, I’m guessing, because she remembers it word for word every single time, which is actually a very applause worthy accomplishment, given her forgetfulness. Personally, I don’t mind that I was born on Christmas Eve, but other people absolutely hate it and offer me condolences and pitiful glances before telling me that it must be absolutely terrible to have been born then, because people will undoubtedly skimp on presents, given that it’s the time of giving and whatnot, which always seems a little odd to me… why would one skimp during this time? I’m not going to apologise for being born then if people aren’t going to apologise for their blatant cheapness on the day before Jesus’ birth… Bastards.

Obviously, I can’t remember anything about being born, which is probably just as well. I would feel deathly sorry for anyone who can actually remember being cast into the world via means of a vagina, screaming and crying only to me released into – depending on the birthing process, I guess – what I can only imagine being rivers upon rivers of blood and potential excrement… who the hell wants to remember that freakshow?! According to my dad, I was a really intelligent baby and general medical marvel from the moment I was eventually released from the womb and into the real world (absolutely no shit to be seen, I’m told!). Apparently, I didn’t cry at all, just looked around with wide eyed wonder (or, if I was aware of where I had just exited, absolute terror), and later on, when he was tapping my incubator with his finger, I followed his every single tap with my eyes… let’s face it, if that’s not a sign of a genius baby, then what is? I was also told that I was very long and skinny, which looking at me now seems like a genuine impossibility and I often think that I’m told I was long and skinny with a certain sense of scepticism, like my parents have active conversations behind my back, wondering if they brought the correct tiny human home with them, or if they’ve made a terrible mistake. Because, even though my limbs are pretty long, they are also significantly padded, hence their potential disbelief. But, I guess I look far too much like them for that to be a plausible explanation for having a fat twenty six year old child-woman, so that theory is a bit knackered. It’s still good to know that I was skinny once, though (and will be again! My poor, aching skeleton shouts).

In conclusion, this insightful, entirely truthful, if not slightly melodramatic for literary purposes, chapter on how I was born gives you a little taster of what you’re in for over the coming weeks, months, years, decades (depending on how long it takes you to read this), of what’s in store within my biographical process. It will be, hopefully, a good journey, as long as you remember this: You are literally reading the life story of a nobody… that’s what you’re doing right now. Think about that.

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Introduction: Confessions of a Twenty Something.

Writing about yourself is supposed to be a really difficult process, but because I am so inherently narcissistic, I found it quite easy. Also because I’m really smart.  It just goes to show that if you have a generally elevated sense of self-worth, you can accomplish pretty much anything and that it is, in fact, insecurity and a lack of faith in yourself that breeds misery and stunts any form of creative process and talents in the process… The Harlot!

In a far more realistic sense, it was actually pretty difficult and spending so much time planning pieces and not wanting to include things that would make family members disown me, it meant that I spent a long time pensively staring into the distance, wondering if I could feasibly lie throughout the whole biographical process and get away with it. Turns out that I can, which is very pleasing (not really). I had many working titles for this series of posts. One title, which I wrote about pretty much at the start of my blogging journey, when I decided that I would one day write a biographical piece that would sell millions and make me rich beyond my wildest nightmares would be: The History of Dildos: Confessions of a Wine Addict, because I thought it was a really great, historical play on words – like, some people would think that I would be discussing dildos at some point (which, let’s face it, is always a possibility) and others would think that ‘dildo’ is actually a metaphor for me as a person, which is far more correct and if you guessed that you’re probably really smart and/or went to university. I also thought about the title Be Mediocre! Because I was reading Hadley Freeman’s Be Awesome at the time and thought I was burgeoning on being a comedic genius. I finally settled on Mad About the Brain: My Journey from There to Here because it has multiple meanings (again, I’m really showing off my mad skills, here): Mostly I’m talking about the things that go on in my brain and how life has shaped me and made me the adult I am today, but, also, because my nickname for the love of my life, male human shape I adore, is Brain and it was conceived when I first met him following the little avatar he uses at work to chat to people and because, if you choose to read further (which you might not) there are certain life events that took place that, I feel, wouldn’t have made me as available, I guess, to fall in love with Brain as quickly as I did, so I guess there’s always that. I’m sickening, I know.

There will also be helpful tips and anecdotes throughout the series so that you can feel inspired by the inner workings of my mind and revere me as some kind of Geordie Goddess (move over, Cheryl!) it will, also, hopefully try to conclude in a manner that is far more successful than the current conclusion you’re reading (see, you didn’t even know, did you?) and maybe inform you all what I think that I’ve learned in my twenty six years on earth. If you’ve read my Series of Lamentations which was a half-hearted attempt before I got bored and decided to do this, then you’ll know what I’m hoping to achieve (and if you do please tell me, because I have no idea).

I hope you enjoy it, if you get through to the end, let me know and I’ll buy you a congratulatory beer. Thank you in advance. Doris xx

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A Series of Lamentations: Self-Love and Being a Woman

If you are here because you read the title and thought that I was going to embark on an intricate journey of self-discovery and ultimately, public discussion of an internalised regret at having spent the majority of my twenties attempting to perfect my masturbatory habits, then you are, unfortunately, very much mistaken. If you are here for anything that may potentially resemble masturbation, or the desire to read one girl’s tale of sexual awakening, then you should leave, right now. This is a series of lamentations and I, admittedly, have nothing to lament about regarding that particular element of self-love: I’m awesome and I get shit DONE. No, this is a little bit of an insight into the life of someone who was given all of the opportunities to become a self-involved, worshipper of one’s self, but someone who, through life experiences, hasn’t taken those steps and has suffered exponentially as a result.

There is no real method of denial for anyone to exercise when I say that, as a woman, we are not taught to love ourselves at all. From the moment we are catapulted from the warm bosom of childhood into the cruel and harsh world of puberty, with tiny lumps growing out of our previously flat chests and hair where we never thought hair would grow (which we are then immediately taught to shave, wax or make deals with the devil to keep it off, right there and then), and blood torturing our crotches on a monthly basis, all in the name of eventual reproduction, (because, there’s not even a choice in the matter, we all just have to suffer regardless of what our life choices end up being. Lesbian? I don’t care, PERIOD. Double period, because you may eventually live with a woman and you’ll have them at the same time and not only will your crotch be bleeding, but you’ll be attempting valiantly not to enter into some kind of Hunger Games style lifestyle for the entirety of your period which only lasts about seven days, but seems to last lifetimes in your pants. I mean, we never even got the opportunity to ask Mother Nature about periods, you know? Like, I would have appreciated sitting down with her and being like ‘so, here’s the situation – I’m eleven and I’m not really sure where my life is going to take me, I might not want children in the future, they are small and the idea of housing a tiny human in my uterus for nine months seems an unnecessary downfall of my gender, especially seen as how I will then have to shove it out of a hole that doesn’t look big enough to push a giant head out of and I am sure older me would agree, that I could probably not fit a giant head IN there, so where’s the logic, sister? WHERE?’), we have had no real control over our bodies or states of mind; it has all been done for us via the over-arching glue of the media – keeping women in a state of perpetual self-doubt since its inception. YAY!

Admittedly, growing up, I was given all the fodder to potentially become someone who promoted love of herself in every possible form; my parents were my perpetual cheerleaders and there wasn’t a concept of ‘no’ or ‘this isn’t possible’ within our family. My sister decided when she was little she wanted to learn origami, leaned towards my mother one lunch time and stated, “I want to learn pornography!” and kudos to my mother, she didn’t say that she couldn’t, only asked where she’d learned such a grown up word. The only time I ever really heard ‘no’ was when I decided I wanted to be a pop star and actress, but that’s something I’ve covered and generally have come to terms with (weeps). It wasn’t until we became teenagers and allowed external factors to govern our opinions of ourselves, did our family dynamic really change. Whilst we were never told that we couldn’t do something, I remember our parents’ perception of what others thought of us was greater than it had been before, which I blame entirely on the fact that my parents were raising two females of a very similar age – if my parents had sons, there wouldn’t have been any issues over what they were wearing, or who they were hanging out with. The general adage, boys will be boys would have meant that any sons of my parents wouldn’t have hit the barriers my sister and I did when we were teenagers. I guess it’s the same notion as society teaching girls how not to get sexually assaulted, rather than teaching boys not to sexually assault; my parents taught us how to adhere to gender stereotypes and behave in a manner that one would deem as ladylike, thus hoping to potentially decrease the potential of anything terrible happening to us, so I totally get it and I’m not trying to say that my parents did anything wrong at all – because they didn’t and I thank them every day for giving me the best life I could have wished for – but, their actions were only symptomatic of the society we were all born into: That women need to behave in a certain way in order to ascertain their true meanings in life… marriage and babies. And that is pushed onto us as much as it possibly can as soon as puberty rears its bitch of a head; we need to find a man and keep him in order for us to fulfil our biological duty. They were taught by society and the media on how to appropriately parent as much as we’re taught how to dress and how to truly satisfy our man in Cosmopolitan magazine.

Granted, my sister and I never bought into any of that shit. I decided that I wouldn’t rush the marriage and baby thing, because there is SO much do in life before I have to settle down and have kids and whilst there is always the tick tock of my biological clock, that the media is always telling me to listen to, it’s not something that bothers me. My sister decided straight up NO WAY I AM NOT HAVING KIDS I HATE THEM THEY ARE SO SMALL AND NEEDY I JUST DON’T WANT THEM and has only in the past year or so slightly changed her mind (as long as she never has girls) because she fell in love, but before that we all pictured her as some kind of spinster, living somewhere covered in televisions, game consoles and random Legend of Zelda merchandise. She would be the auntie to my children and they’d be the only kids she ever liked, but they’d be scared of her because she is a little foreboding. But, I was still the weaker one of the two and fell victim to a lot of aggression because of my independent nature… so much so that I entirely changed for a long period of time.

I’m not going to go into that element of my life in too much detail, but I did get to the point where I genuinely thought I was deserving of all the aggression, of all the ‘why aren’t you pregnant, what is wrong with you’ type conversations and a lifestyle that really didn’t cater to my needs or desires at all – my passion for writing was non-existent, because it wasn’t supported, I couldn’t even watch what I wanted to on television and my happiness hinged on the happiness of another woman; if she wasn’t happy, or if she decided I was in her bad books, then my boyfriend would act accordingly and it was usually to the detriment of my state of mind, my happiness and my emotional well-being. So, this is what I lament most out of all of my series of lamentations; I grieve for the woman who was given every opportunity in life; who did so well at school, college and university and could have explored the world, but instead ended up in a relationship that she wasn’t enjoying as it was happening, forced into being with someone who put her down at every opportunity, who’s opinion of women was so fucked up because he was raised by someone who kept him sucking at the teat of motherhood well into his adult life and who’s only real goal in life was to get to the pub; he was raised to be a misogynist and any woman who exercised any form of opinion that differed from mammy dearest’s, was punished. It was your typical, run of the mill, Norman Bates style relationship between mammy dearest and her little boy. In hindsight, I was clearly a mentalist and I am genuinely ashamed to have been a part of that misogynistic lifestyle that allowed me to become stuck and think that there was something wrong with me for not wanting to have his babies at the age of twenty one (or, ever, just to be clear).

I have learned some valuable lessons from this relationship, though and have since become a self-sufficient, adult woman who has learned from those mistakes and become someone who is pursuing her passions and living a life that I choose to lead. I have a boyfriend who isn’t necessarily a feminist, but someone who believes my passions and interests are just as important as his own and deserving of pursuing, so I get to write in abundance and be in a relationship where I’m not pressured to be anything other than myself. And that’s definitely something worth celebrating and definitely something I intend to keep up in my late twenties, because what is the point in a series of lamentations, without attempting to either celebrate my future, or make plans involving handsome beards?

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A Series of Lamentations: Food

My boyfriend (Brain) is constantly admonishing me for my relationship with food; he accuses me of being picky, which tends to catapult me into an irate state of melodrama that involves me screaming “I AM NOT PICKY, I AM THE OPPOSITE OF PICKY, I AM FAT FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, ISN’T IT OBVIOUS THAT I LOVE FOOD IN ALL ITS GLORY?!” before listing items of food that I enjoy eating, that many people wouldn’t enjoy eating, either because their tolerance for dead animals and the food created from their insides is significantly less than mine (read: non-existent) or because they are vegetarians/vegans and their love of vegetables is so extensive that they would eat things that I never would without wanting to smother everything in thick layers of cheese and probably also some chicken.

However, and this is something that I have never told Brain, through genuine fear of him turning into the haughty, self-righteous know it all that he loves to be when he realises that he has bested me and that I am, as predicted, an unending example of persistent contradictions that render all of my arguments to the contrary positively inept (like, seriously, bro, how perceptive do you really need to be? Give a girl a break!) and that I did for a long time have genuine issues with food and most of my culinary discoveries only happened in the last, perhaps, one to three years of my life.

I still maintain that I am not picky, but that I grew up in an environment where culinary exploration wasn’t really a high priority; that set meals and an avoidance of foods that my mother didn’t want to cook was imperative and as a result, my palette was relatively infantile until I went to university and discovered an abundance of cheap restaurants that allowed me to explore food in more detail. So, if you are the type of person to read between the lines, I guess you’ve come to the conclusion that, not only do I blame my alleged pickiness on my mother, I also blame her for being fat too.

Isn’t that always the way: Slightly fat human in her mid to late twenties blaming her mother for her current state of tear inducing chubbiness that no amount of Spanx can conceal? Let’s not acknowledge the fact that I don’t live with my mother and that I haven’t done full time for the past three years and that, since the age of perhaps sixteen or seventeen, she had no actual control over what I ate for lunch or dinner unless I ate at home and no she doesn’t know that today for lunch I had a handful of Skittles and salted popcorn with extra salt, because she would judge me harshly. Quite rightly too.

You see, my mother is the true picky eater in this game of life we all play and therefore, my lack of knowledge where certain foods were concerned is because of her dislike for something. Chicken, for example, is something we very rarely ate; we would sometimes get a chicken curry for tea, but not very often because she hates touching it and thinks we are all going to get salmonella and die, which is why I have never been too fond of cooking chicken, because I’m frightened of getting salmonella and dying, fitting in all too well with my upbringing. This is also why I very rarely order chicken in a restaurant, because I will sift through the chicken, sticking bits in the face of the person opposite me asking if the chicken looks too pink to them. And that if I taste a piece of chicken that tastes too chicken-like, I will refuse to eat any further and want to order something else. And this is from someone who loves chicken.

I remember once we were ordering a very rare Chinese takeaway when I was a teenager, my sister and I opted to share a chicken curry together and my mother, who was writing down what to order so that she didn’t forget, looked at us with a face full of genuine concern and said: “chicken… Are you sure you don’t want beef?” prompting, naturally, my sister and I to burst into fits full of giggles and retort with something pithy and harsh, but all very well-mannered that no,  we actually want chicken and if we’d wanted beef, we would have said. But, her attempts at coaxing us towards the evidently far better takeaway option of beef did work, because I remember eating it thinking “this tastes too much like chicken. I don’t think this is cooked. Actually, I don’t think this is chicken at all…WHAT AM I EATING?!” and I have never ordered a chicken curry from anywhere since.

My mother has always had a genuine difficulty with handling meat (much to the lament of my poor dad! HA, sorry, but a good innuendo/inappropriate joke about one’s parents’ sex life should NEVER be missed…Let that be a life lesson to you!), and whilst we can’t class her as a vegetarian due to her love of beef roast lunches and the occasional lamb dish, we can’t class her as a meat eater, because she’d never eat spaghetti Bolognese or fish and chips if it was cooked by anyone other than the one man she trusts to cook her fish. Up until Christmas last year, she hated pork and was quite pissed off with my dad for buying a huge joint of pork and cooking it in her oven, until she popped her head around the kitchen door where my dad, myself and my sister were huddled, practically suckling the pig fat dripping from it’s delectable carcass and she actually tried some. Now she likes hot pork sandwiches. (Another great excuse for an innuendo, but I’ll let it slide.)

So, as you can see, any pickiness that I have exhibited is not pickiness at all, but a deep rooted loyalty to my mam that no one – not even you, Brain – can judge. And whilst I have always heartily enjoyed meat, rarest of rare steaks and chicken in abundance (only if it doesn’t taste too much like chicken), it wasn’t until the past few years I’ve discovered food that I like:

Haggis – as a result of my ex’s dad who played bagpipes and took me along to a Burn’s night where I had Haggis Neeps and Tatties for the first time (also the first time I realised I love turnip, but only if it is cubed) and it was divine.

Black Pudding – through walking in Tesco with my dad who asked me if I liked black pudding and before I could answer, my mam shouted, ”NO, SHE DOES NOT LIKE BLACK PUDDING!” prompting me to feverishly stuff it in my mouth next time I saw it on a menu in a restaurant, which was positively divine. I think I went home that evening, pointed at my mam and screamed “I DO LIKE BLACK PUDDING, WHY ARE YOU ALWAYS TRYING TO RUIN MY LIFE, YOU HARLOT!*” and locked myself in my bedroom because I am mature and not at all melodramatic.

Mussels – I didn’t realise I actually liked mussels for a very long time, mostly because I thought choosing this dish in a restaurant meant that I was eating the muscles of fish, which seemed an unnecessary delicacy that I didn’t want to try. I mean, I had tried sushi and some of it was lovely, I’d tried salmon and loved it cooked, but would never try it raw and the idea of eating a fish with it’s head and eyes and bones still attached freaked me out, so why would I eat a fish muscle served in a white wine sauce? Waste of wine if you ask me! Then I realised they were actual shell fish and served in a white wine sauce, because mussles go amazing with a white wine sauce, also a coconut and chilli sauce if you like spicy things and taste more meaty than I would have given them credit for (because I also don’t like things that are too fishy, another trait I owe to my dearest mama).

Admittedly, I have wasted a lot of my life thinking I hated foods when I don’t. I discovered that I love both olives and soft goats cheese this year as well as gnocchi and charcoal cheese. There are also things that I knew I didn’t like, but I tried any way, because Brain peer-pressured me, like camembert, stilton and other cheeses that smell and taste like mouldy, dead people feet. I will try to amend my lack of education in the culinary arts, but only for things I want to try like ostrich and venison and shark, but won’t ever eat pigeon or tomatoes because they are sinister looking and I hate them. So fuck you, Brain**.

*Slight dramatization. Probably didn’t happen like that at all. I’m a liar.

**I say this jokingly. For the most part. Love you, really, kidda!

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A Series of Lamentations

Today is 24th November 2014, meaning that in one month’s time, I will be celebrating my twenty sixth birthday. I’ve never been the type of person to lament over my age, instead embracing it like a new challenge, intent on living the next year of my life to the full and becoming slightly melancholy the day before my birthday the following year, realising that I have not fulfilled anything I had desired during my previous age. This was all fun and games in my teens and early twenties, when thirty seemed really far away and having one’s shit together didn’t seem as pertinent as it perhaps should have been. So, after standing in a queue in Aldi on Friday and discovering the stark, horrific revelation that my twenty sixth is not that far away (“Brain… On my birthday I will no longer be in my early twenties, or in my mid-twenties… I will be in my LATE twenties! WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME? MY LIFE IS DRAWING TO A CLOSE!”*) ((Also who has a practical break down in Aldi of all places, I AM old)), I started to lament for the foregone years that have been wasted by my general nonchalance and ignorance that age is not just a number and anyone who tells you that is a liar and should not be trusted.

I know the word lament conjures up images of abject misery and an arduous solilioquy of previously unspoken guilts and regrets, but this series is not going to be entirely miserable. I am hoping to add a dash of glitz, some well placed glamour and a bit of humour in there for you all as I discuss a degree of topics that I have decided to lament over, blame being placed entirely on other people, so I remain unencumbered by the not-so titillating fact that I’ve wasted a large portion of my life existing rather than living, and something that I am hoping to change in the next year…but actually sticking to it this time, instead of ignoring it and posting another series of lamentations next year, when I realise I am almost twenty seven and nearly at that point in life where thirty is glaring at me like impending doom; grim reaper, slowly emerging from behind waving his scythe, greeting me like an old friend about to be reunited. Anyway, I’ve decided I’m not going to turn thirty, I am just going to stay twenty nine forever until I can die.

I might end my lamentations on a high note and write a list of things I would like to do before I’m thirty, but I might not because I am consistently inconsistent and also have written far too many lists lately, making me question my own sanity.

Anyway, enjoy and if you are in the same boat as me, send me some of your lamentations and we can share our misery over a few glasses of wine and a tearful Skype chat.

*Slight dramatization, but I was pretty upset.

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