The Holy Grail of Moderation (and how a tube of Pringles doesn’t in any way equal a Nando’s).

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Hi there, it’s been a while. Sorry about that.

I’ve been reliably informed that if I continue to deprive my ‘followers’ of regular, scintillating blog posts then they’ll resolutely ignore any that I do make in favour of clicking on links to incredible make-up transformations that see Clare Balding turned into Sharon Stone with a little clever contouring.

A lot’s gone on since my last post; my niece necked a bottle of Calpol (don’t worry she’s fine), I made a twat out of myself at a hen party, and my mother wound up in hospital for a touch of burning the candle at both ends. Not to trivialise it (sorry, mum) but I’m trying to make a tenuous link here…

After all of that, I figured that today’s post could focus on overdoing it, whether that be on your favourite brand of child-friendly paracetamol, or your not-so-favourite, but wallet-friendly brand of vodka-based liquid hangover.

I for one have certainly been known to overdo it on some occasions. From the time I hid (badly) in a bush from a taxi driver who was in possession of my phone, who then promptly decided to call my dad to lure me out of said bush and bloody well pay him at God knows what time in the morning; to the time I mistakenly knocked on the door and made the acquaintance of a friend’s up-the-road neighbour, spent the small hours discussing his cats, then passed out so that he was forced to call, yet again, my dad to come and take me home, but not before giving him a note to give me upon waking asking if I’d like to be friends; it’s safe to say alcohol has played a considerable role in large number of the events that have taken place throughout my 27 years.

Unfortunately for me (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), I don’t actually remember these incidents, as well as plenty more like them, and they’ve been regaled to me over breakfasts of Coca Cola and salt and vinegar Squares by the reluctant participants in my little spectacles of twattery.

Usually these participants play the role of knight in shining armour, kindly guiding me back to my bed where I will promptly fall asleep, never to recall the previous evening’s events, but forced to endure tails of them from here unto eternity.

As a writer, perhaps this is a good thing. It means I can embellish the fuck out of them until they appear most amusing, but then again it also means that any ‘best bits’ not witnessed by my unenthusiastic redeemers are lost to the same place that all the bobbles and socks go, as well as all the lovely handbags that come along with me on these most excellent adventures.

The point here though, is not really to dress it all up and invite much smirking, but to examine why, when I know I’m predisposed to this most baffling affliction, do I continue to drink to excess?

For as many times as I’ve had the humbling morning after chat (from my dad, my fiancé, my sister, the friendly Reading Festival nurse), I’ve made the same number of heart-felt declarations to quit the booze, stop drinking shots, intersperse alcoholic drinks with water, or even just to eat a crisp or two along with quaffing my Cabernet Sauvignon. (You’ll notice that these involve less in the way of self-deprivation depending on the severity of the previous evening’s crime – giving up booze as penance for a failed taxi run seems a little excessive even to my brought-up-Catholic tastes.)

When I set out to make up for the crap that I put my friends and family through, I honestly don’t intend on failing. It’s usually incremental increases in the amount that I drink, eventually resulting in a Prosecco crescendo that involves my trying to swap a can of Pringles for a Nando’s on Uxbridge Road. And no, they wouldn’t let me swap.

So what’s to be done about it, I ask you? No, really, I’m looking for answers.

Does anyone else suffer these pesky black outs? Has anyone actually discovered this holy grail of moderation? As I continue to try and get a grip on all of the other areas of my life that need significant improvement, it seems that responsible drinking is as slippery a fellow as a greased up Joe Carroll from The Following (and yes, I’ve watched it, even though I hate Kevin Bacon’s stupid face).

Whether it’s down to weakness in my moral fibre, deficiency in my sober personality, or just plain boredom in the face of a long weekend sans San Miguel and his friends, I fail time and time again when it comes to walking past the off license.

I’m no alcoholic. I function perfectly well on a day-to-day basis without pouring cider on my cornflakes. The thing is, my wedding is ten months away, and going walkies from my own nuptial celebrations is a no-no even by my standards.

Tips will be appreciated, smug bastards telling me to get a grip will not. I’ll let you know how I get on as the year progresses. I’ve got a few practice weddings to go to before my own, so here’s hoping…

This One Time, At Band Camp (and how that makes me seriously friggin’ past it)

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This week I thought it would be a great idea to write my blog post into the notes on my phone when I was half asleep. It wasn’t.

Some choice gems that seemed particularly inspired at 3am (yes, still from the single bed at my sister’s) were:

  1. A rant about helping kids from underprivileged backgrounds aim higher.
  2. A reminder to tell you all about ‘that one time I got locked in Cardiff Castle, had to be escorted out by the Po Po, and then decided to tell a room full of people at a Weakest Link audition the day after all about it’.
  3. Some spiel about how Dexter should have died in season 4.

Although I’m sure you all would be fascinated to read about any of the above topics, and maybe when I’m really scraping the barrel for ideas I’ll regale you, what occurred to me when I was reading over my sleep-deprived ramblings was that this all could get a little ‘this one time, at Band Camp…’

Shit, even using that quote kinda dates me. I’m in the no-man’s land of my late twenties, a place where my cultural references are not quite old or cool enough to have gained cult status, but I’m certainly not a shit-hot graduate with a thousand followers on Twitter.

I’m pretty sure American Pie isn’t old enough to be retro, is it? So that means Road Trip isn’t either, and there’s scores of freshers out there finger popping each other’s ass holes who don’t know who Tom Green is or where he put his bum.  Oh, for shame.

So is that OK? Writing about that kind of shit? I mean, if I want to be taken seriously as a writer, maybe I should be writing something a bit more important? But then again, who’s to say what’s important?

I went through Uni looking back on my teenage years and thinking, shit, where was all the culture? I was gutted that my parents weren’t Guardian-reading, smoked-chipotle-frittata-eating liberals with degrees and fancy-pants jobs, and that they didn’t push me to do anything in particular with my book smarts. I still pretty much shit myself if a Made in Chelsea-alike so much as looks at me.

Despite lacking the folks mentioned above, I got stick for being too posh in high school. In year 7, because I talked ‘properly’ and wore my tie the right way around a friend (who shall remain nameless) declared in front of a large-ish audience that I bought my loo roll from House of Fraser.

Back then, I wanted a perm, a track suit, a sovereign ring and a pack of ten Lambert and Butler to smoke on the back of the 52. By the time I got to 6th form, however, I realised that I was as common as a see-through pair of leggings barely hiding a hungry, less-than-shapely arse in the queue at Primark.

(Yesssssssss….. that’s another 17 minute Google Vortex! Seriously, type ‘fat arse, see through leggings’ into Google. There’s a whole Twitter account devoted to Leggings Fails!)

Oh the irony.

I think it says a lot about the country at the moment, about wealth inequality, non-existent aspirations, and the near impossibility of a classless society. In the school I was working at before I decided to pack it all in, sell everything I owned and piss off to see (a teeny tiny part of) the world, I met a kid who had never left Cardiff and thought you were in France if you crossed the Severn Bridge. Who’s fault’s that? Certainly not his.

I’m not saying that I’m like this kid. Clearly I had a lot of opportunities that he might never have thanks to the parents that I’ve painted such a vivid picture of so far. (What’s that? You haven’t heard much about my mum yet? Ha ha! All in good time…) What I’m saying is that we should value the experiences of these kids as much as we value those of kids born into a life of privilege and instilled with a sense of, to quote Debra Morgan, a metric fuck tonne of entitlement.

I shouldn’t have quoted Dexter. They don’t deserve it. Not after that last series. Shoulda canned it after Trinity, guys.

What I’ve come to realise is that maybe it doesn’t matter that I didn’t read a Dickens book until I was 23, and perhaps I should embrace the fact that my soundtrack to high school was most probably Born to Do It.

I’ve got my own influences, my warped sense of humour/intense cynicism was not spawn in a vacuum, and if I think it’s worthwhile dissecting my hapless twenties on a public platform then maybe someone else will, too.

Anyway, back to those hapless twenties. Pearls of wisdom that I’ve received this week, relating to my progress in getting on and making something of my life, include:

‘Have you ever thought that maybe your workspace should be a bit less… bed?’  Attributed to my sister – she’s just jealous I make money in my jamas without being a hooker.

‘Didn’t someone get stabbed there last week?’ Brother’s new lady friend – on the flat that I’m finally moving into.

And, last but not least…

‘…………………………………………………………………………………………………….’ That’s grave-like silence, from every single job I’ve applied for.

My response to these? Well, I’ll borrow it from my niece’s favourite toy, a dancing Pooh Bear that sings about being a little chubby.

‘Oh bother.’

Hey wait, looks like I did get in all those topics from my midnight ramblings. Just not the Weakest Link audition. Oh well, guess I’ll just save that one for next time…

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On Blogging vs Box Set Binging

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Bloody hell. That escalated quickly.

It flew from my fingers and out into the world to become breakfast, bog or bus reading material before I had half a second to think whether or not it was a good idea to say ‘fuck’ in a post that quite likely, my dad was going to read. He’d refer to it as an ‘F bomb’, you see, and you’re not supposed to drop them in the family home.

But read it he did, and then, bless his heart, he shared it. He didn’t mention the F bomb. He didn’t even raise his eyebrows at ‘in uni, I was the one who always writes about sex’.

And it wasn’t just my dad I forgot to worry about. The fiancé. Post-blog he’s concerned about the James May fetish. He wants to know exactly how much of our dirty laundry is going to be pegged out in public (only the good stuff).

I joke. He’s been great. He’s still stuck in New Zealand though. Maybe we will have to sell the ring to get him home.

Anyway, I definitely should have thought this through. You see, the thing is, if I’m writing about not writing, I suppose I’m writing about what I’ve been doing for all of these years instead of writing, and that’s quite a lot. Carpet F bombing, soiled sheets and all. And I think I’ll say writing once more in that paragraph, just for good measure. Writing.

So should I have kept it anonymous? Gone all ‘Belle de Jour?’ I mean, regardless of upsetting the nearest and dearest, I might end up a teacher one day, and you’re not supposed to put anything on the internet that you wouldn’t be comfortable having tattooed on your face, are you?

Oh well. Too late.

So I’m going to see how it goes. Take it slowly, drop the odd profanity, ease in an uncomfortable anecdote, then mention an illegal substance or two about three or four months in, when the novelty’s worn off they’re both bored of reading it.

That’s the thing though. What if they don’t get bored? What if no one gets bored? What if this actually goes well and people actually read my writing? Basically, I’m about 11 and a half thousand times more self-aware writing this post than I was spouting rubbish to no one in particular on WordPress at seven in the morning.

It’s horrible. Kind of like that slick-palmed ‘I’ve just sent an incriminating text to the wrong person and now I’m watching those bloody ellipsis dots flashing while they write me a reply that’s going to make my bum twitch’ feeling. Only this time, it’s not a text. It’s a friggin’ essay. And I did it on purpose.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled that people read it. It’s been nice. Friends sort of asking about it, helpful advice proffered, etc.

‘Why don’t you write about fashion?’ said my sister.

Ha! My go-to look is lumberjack chic.

‘Current affairs?’ said the brother-in-law.

Um, sure. That could work. As long as he means ‘current affairs from the perspective of an ill-informed layabout who gets most of her news from Twitter’.

But that’s the thing. Even with something to write about, now that I’ve declared war on procrastination, it’s worse than ever. You see, they have Netflix.

It’s freaking awesome. I’m a box set glutton. If box sets were spaghetti I’d be the fat guy from the beginning of Seven face down in a bowl of them. And I’d have died happy.

Orange is the New Black. I love it! And if Obama can find time to watch it then I for one certainly can (see, I told you I get my news from Twitter). Plus, it features Jim from American Pie as a self-indulgent, lazy writer who wants to write about questionable sexual practices.

Sherlock. I’m going to say it, even risking the wrath of all those feisty Cumberbatches in the world, it’s crap. And I persevered, I really did. I wasted hours trying to get into the ridiculous cheese fest. It was better than writing about whatever I was supposed to this week (the tyre piece was reasonably well received, thank you for asking).

Luther. Good Lord, even worse. Who’s that duck-faced Alice bird? Idris, get back to Baltimore where you belong, you’re better than this!

Happy Valley. Not a Netflix one this, but iPlayer. Thank God for Sarah Lancashire. She’s badass, and she knows good grammar. It’s fantastic. It restores my faith in British drama. It makes me want to write (kudos, Sally Wainwright).

So the guilt sets in, the screen darkens for a second and I notice my reflection in the giant flat screen TV; unwashed, pyjama wearing, and, if I’m completely honest, eating my niece’s last Petit Filous while she’s in nursery.

That’s a new low. Even for me. So I peel myself off the sofa (after the episode’s finished, I don’t feel that guilty) and climb the stairs to my little cubby hole to get cracking. After I’ve had a shower. And come to think of it, my eyebrows could do with a pluck. And if I’m serious about this writing thing then maybe I should clean my room, you know, so I can concentrate…

Uh oh. Siobhan, you were going to write a BAFTA winning BBC crime drama.

This might take a while. Sarah Lancashire