Monthly Archives: October 2010

Little Lies

I don’t think you’re being wholly honest with me, are you?

And thank goodness you’re not. It only really struck me the other day that as human beings we spend so much of our time lying, and that’s how socialisation works. I think perhaps a lot of our lives as people is based on keeping up pretences just to make things easier. I think that’s the way it should be, not because I’m a repressed Brit, but because it’s simply more convenient for us all to pretend all manner of things as a sort of social short cut. Does that make sense?

I met my old tutor the other day, and we were perfectly nice to each other, even though I think she actually thinks I’m both not particularly bright, and mentally fragile as a doll, and I resent that she thinks that I am that pathetic and would rather not have to see her, but instead I smile brightly and am ever so nice to her, walking off at the end with a cheery wave and a ‘see you around’.

Perhaps you end up going to the pub quiz or a friend’s house for dinner, and quite by accident, the guest list is literally just you, two of your exes, and your newest boyfriend. And yet you all pretend that’s absolutely fine until at some point, hopefully, it is, at least for you; but even if you guess that at least one of your exes is finding this really difficult and probably still misses you, if you’re a decent human being and sensitive to that kind of thing the rules of the game are that you pretend you haven’t realised this, and he pretends that that isn’t how he feels, and neither of you lets on that you both know that each other almost certainly knows. And everyone else keeps up the pretence too even though perhaps only last night in the pub after one pint too many he had in fact been saying just how much he misses you.

Or you’re introduced to a friend’s new girlfriend or boyfriend and you have to immediately pretend to be, like, best friends or something, and actually, you barely know each other, and being a close friend of/partner of friend X is no guarantee that you will find much in common with each other, but you pretend you do anyway, and perhaps over time that friendship grows, but really, just for now it’s far easier to pretend to warm to one another far more quickly than you do.

So it’s easy to say you hate that sort of duplicity, but actually, if we didn’t lie like this an awful lot of time then an awful lot of our dealings with friends and relations, colleagues, teachers and all the rest of it would be fraught with serious awkwardness. There are times when we lie or put on an act because it’s in everyone’s best interests.

I think this probably makes me the most abject hypocrite, except that I think it’s probably OK. What I still cannot stand or condone is talking behind peoples’ backs about people. If I don’t have a problem with someone’s actions then I will not bitch about them like that; if I do, I will make sure that they know it. I’m not perfect, but I do try.

Sometimes it’s kind of complicated being a person, isn’t it. I still wish I was a cat.

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Sorry

About the hiatus yesterday evening.

But we’re back on air now! So it’s OK.

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Fifteen Books

A friend posted this as a facebook meme a while back and I thought it was an interesting exercise, namely:

Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. Tag fifteen friends, including me, because I’m interested in seeing what books my friends choose. (To do this, go to your Notes tab on your profile page, paste rules in a new note, cast your fifteen picks, and tag people in the note.) Quickly, and in no particular order…

  1. The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood
  2. The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
  3. To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  4. When The Wind Blows – Raymond Briggs
  5. Crow – Ted Hughes
  6. The His Dark Materials trilogy – Philip Pullman
  7. Franny And Zooey – J.D. Salinger
  8. Feed My Dear Dogs – Emma Richler
  9. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
  10. Coram Boy – Jamila Gavin
  11. The Steep Approach To Garbadale – Iain Banks
  12. Midnight Blue – Pauline Fisk
  13. Summer Moonshine – P.G. Wodehouse
  14. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  15. Wreck of the Zanzibar – Michael Morpurgo

It’s no surprise that a lot of these are books I read as a child or teenager – I think it’s true that the things that influence you most are the things you come across when you’re growing up. There’s no reason why these particular books have stuck with me – it’s not as if any of them taught me a lot about the world or my place in it, it’s more that something about all of these books just caught something in my imagination and haunted me, slightly. There are so many more I could list, but here, in no particular order, are the first fifteen that occurred to me.

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Home Sweet Home

J wrote a post on this subject a long while back and I’ve remembered it ever since:

Do you recognise the needs and gifts of each member of your family and household, not forgetting your own? Try to make your home a place of loving friendship and enjoyment, where all who live or visit may find the peace and refreshment of God’s presence.

Advices and Queries, No.26

This is from (I think) the Quaker book of Faith and Practice. I’ve meant to get hold of a copy for a while and I still haven’t, but so it is.

Today I recieved the greatest compliment I’ve recieved in a while. Two friends came round who hadn’t been to my house before (not this year, anyway) and time and again they said how at home they felt here, what a relaxed atmosphere there was, what a happy house this seemed. They went on to praise the furniture, the pictures on the walls, the quilt, and everything else in between, but what really stuck was that, one way or another, here was a place where they both felt utterly relaxed.

So yes, I’ve made it. Me and my housemates between us have created a home out of a house which, though a bit draughty and falling apart in places, means well. The furniture is nice – old, comfortable and characterful, not yet more Argos chipboard and veneer like you find in most other student places; there are some quirky touches – the retro phone, the ‘gone surfin’ canvas over the fireplace, and so on – but what really matters is that we just somehow work as a house. We have our flaws and failings (me more than most) but somehow we just get on with it and the fact that we are so comfortable with one another and in our house means that other people feel that too.

I really do have the greatest housemates.

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Are You Crying, Dear?

Gran died this afternoon.

Surrounded by her whole family, she fell asleep, lost consciousness sometime yesterday evening, and died today. Knowing how loved she was, and peacefully.

If I can choose how I go, that is how I would like to die. And, knowing that, and having had a grandmother, mother, aunt and friend in our lives whom we all loved so much, we are blessed. That, in a way, makes this easier.

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I'll Teach My Children All The Flowers

I just want to say it once, just so it’s said, somewhere.

I spent the weekend staying at my aunt’s house again. In that time I said goodbye to my Gran, and I’m never going to get the chance to say hello again. As I write she is still alive, but it can’t be long, and meanwhile, I did have to come back here, she would have wanted that.

It is a huge privelege to be able to say a proper goodbye to someone you love like that. Normally in life you don’t properly get the chance, but I got to tell her just how much I loved her and appreciated her and she got to wish me all the best.

I have disabled comments and so on on this entry, and I’ve done that for a reason.

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Yesterday I Made Broccoli Cupcakes

No, seriously. A told me about the recipe when I saw him a few days ago, and because I had nothing specific to do, yesterday I invited him round, and we made broccoli cupcakes.

You can find the recipe here.

They’re quite yellow because of the addition of turmeric. There is also paprika, and cheddar. I’d recommend a stronger, better, less cheap cheddar than the one we used, but even despite that they were delicious.

Photographically not great because of the lighting – mainly murky daylight, with the unflattering addition of gloamingy dim sitting room light. I couldn’t quite be bothered to fetch out a decent lamp. A and I were both feeling rather ill in one way or another, so we made quite a sorry pair as we baked but were both much cheered by the results!

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Two For Joy

Going on a walk with my parents this weekend, we realised, collectively, that we were doing a similar walk about this time last year. And that it was a brilliant way, then and now, to celebrate everything that fell into place in the few days prior to that first walk.

I have made so much progress in the last year, especially in the first few months of that year. I’m still amazed, sometimes, by how far I’ve come, and it still feels so beautifully new, and I can’t help but thank God for all the things that fell into place that allowed me to make these changes and learn these lessons and, finally, love everything about my life.

I mean, yes, I’d probably love my life more if I had a lovely boyfriend and a lot more money and a really fast car, but on the other hand, I’m about to go and make broccoli cupcakes, and the sun is shining, and I’m enjoying my degree and my life and my job and my house and I can stand up and take anything and everything that happens.

Happy Anniversary. Here’s to many happy returns.

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Annoying Fashion Vagaries

Typical student going-to-lecture outfit choice: Shirt, leggings, boots that look like Uggs, full face make-up and overly ‘done’ hair.

Seriously, I do not understand this.

Firstly, leggings are not trousers, they are underwear. So if you’re wearing a shirt that does not cover your bum, you should wear a skirt too. If your bum isn’t the shapeliest, this skirt really should be made from something other than cotton jersey, and no, if you’re wearing leggings that are denim effect, floral, or indeed in any other way not black, this doesn’t excuse them from the leggings-are-definitely-underwear argument posited above. This is not because I am a prude but because nobody – least of all yourself, surely – really wants your cellulite and wobbly arse on public display.

Secondly, shirt and leggings is an outfit choice for the hungover and ill, those of us who have no intention of leaving the house today. So to combine this with putting your hair up in that artfully messy takes-hours-with-wax-and-irons way, and full face make-up, is contradictory to say the least. Because you’re clearly not that hungover if you managed to get up early enough to do that to your head. If you looked as hungover as your terrible clothing choices would suggest, I might forgive you. I might personally be wearing a sloppy dress with my leggings, but otherwise I’m sure I’ve done similar myself.

Thirdly, I’ve spotted a worse clothing choice: those skirts mentioned above, the black jersey ones, possibly with a slight crinkle to the weave, are actually designed to be worn with leggings, and as skirts. But a number of times I’ve spotted girls getting this totally wrong, and wearing them with normal tights, with the bottom of the skirt not actually low enough to entirely cover the buttocks. I do not want to be seeing arse-cleavage, thanks, and certainly not from the bottom up rather than top down, if you see what I mean. That’s just too unpleasant for words. And maybe it works on drunk men (hooray for easy access, hey?) but during the day time, when most of us are perfectly sober and trying to get to the library without incident, it’s just so unpleasant words cannot describe it.

I am really, really not some kind of prude. I am no-one’s granny. I really have no issue with the idea of clothing being revealing and sexy and all the rest. My problem is that this is not attractive, not to any thinking human being, no matter how good-looking you are as a person. It’s unappealing and undignified and unflattering to dress like that when you could be dressing not as if you were hungover, but as if you were an intelligent, attractive, confident and grown-up young woman, which, for goodness’ sake, you almost certainly are. Just put some fucking trousers on. Find some boots that fit properly. And feel like a lady.

Oh, never mind.

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Thank Goodness We're Not Teenagers Any More

Editor’s Note. This has been sitting in my Drafts in one of about three formats for a few weeks or months now, I’m not really sure how long. I wouldn’t bother saying any of it, because in some ways I feel like it doesn’t need to be said. Surely the point I’m making is that the secret to contentment is to stop constantly trying to figure out How It All Works, and instead just enjoy How It Is, and this entry runs almost counter to that. But I’m going to publish this anyway, and then I can stop wondering about whether I should bother saying The Obvious (which I think this kind of is) or not, and just do it. Because, frankly, since when have I held back on here before just because what I’m saying is obvious?

Having now spent quite a lot of time feeling like I’m no longer an adolescent, I finally feel qualified to offer a few comments on adulthood. Because, you know, I am just so mature these days and things. There is really no way to say any of this without sounding tediously fresh and young and silly and yes, perhaps even a bit (whisper it) ‘adolescent’. But what I’m trying to say is, yes, I’m still young. I’m twenty-one, of course I’m young. And I’ve got a lot to learn and although I would love to think there is some point at which we can all say, oh, thank goodness for that, I’m really mature now, I know the answer to everything, really, you know, you go on learning throughout your life. As long as new things keep happening, you gain new perspectives on things and you learn new ways of dealing with things as they happen.

So here are some interesting things I’ve noticed.

Getting more organised hasn’t actually been that difficult. I’m not perfect – I still struggle to be on time to everything – but I manage to be on time to the most important things, and I have so far, this academic year (this is obviously a statistically valid and completely-large-enough sample of time) always had all the things I needed to accomplish a given activity at whatever appointed time I was meant to accomplish it.

Friendships have changed. In the olden days, I had a small number of close friends, and I defined those people as the people who I felt I could tell pretty much anything to. We probably spent a ridiculous quantity of time talking about our deepest, darkest, inner truths. Now the people I keep around me are the people who make me happy, who make me laugh, whose company I enjoy. Perhaps if I wanted I could talk to them about my deepest darkest inner truths except, oh wait, I don’t seem to have deep dark truths any more. And that’s amazing. My closest friends, then, are the people I enjoy being around. And that means there are a lot more of them.

That’s not to say that I don’t have feelings. Of course there are days where I’ve just spent a million years in labs or lectures and I fail to see the point of any of it and I’m tired and I’m confused and I’m definitely the most single and ugly person on the face of the planet. But then you get home and the telly and the kettle are on and you just get on with it. Because that’s the other thing I think I’ve realised about this maturity fandango – it’s that most of the time how you feel is really not the most important thing out there. It’s far more important that you get your work done, get some food in, feed the kids, pay the bills, and before you know where you are there really isn’t time for you to get all emotional and frilly around the edges. Perhaps you have to bite your tongue or not allow yourself to stop and think once in a while – but what I think, is that that is, actually, fine. That’s the way it should be.

Perhaps what I’ve learnt is that you shouldn’t expect to be happy all the time, and there’s no sense in worrying why you’re not. Do what you need to do to keep moving and alive, and work to be surrounded by things and people that put a grin on your face. And that, really, is more than enough.

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