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Monthly Archives: September 2010

I can’t wait to tell people about this blog post after I’ve written it

When I heard somebody on the bus the other day say: “I went to Wimbledon this year. Just to say I’ve done it, you know,” I couldn’t help but cringe a bit inside. It’s an old but sad notion that we do things not for the pleasure of doing them but to have something to brag about afterwards.

But we do that don’t we, it’s like those people we see out at parties who are posing for photos, grinning and sticking fingers up and I can literally see the thought bubble appear above their heads – “This photo will look great as my profile picture on Facebook” – Therefore the continuing pleasure of this night (which is often an even greater pleasure than the night itself) will be showing and telling people about it.

I know I’m in no position to preach – I probably do take too much relish in telling people I’ve taken part in a skydive (ooh get me). After a night out, part of my hungover hunched-over self is enjoying the drama of  sordid tales of lost phones, encounters with strangers called Jethro and dancing down the streets without shoes on to the tunes of a Ukrainian-born reggae band. (I definitely haven’t had a night out like that but it sounds great doesn’t it)

What really got me thinking recently was that, however well-meaning it may be, how can we seperate the experience from the narrative? Or the real question, I suppose, how can we avoid the pitfalls in ascribing our self-worth to the tales we come up with?

This particularly came to mind when I was reading about people’s travels. More and more people are paying insane amounts of money to volunteer abroad. But the people they are helping would probably kill to have that amount of money they paid to be there helping them. I know essentially these volunteers are paying for the security net of support when they’re out there etc but the whole idea is just so flawed to me. Essentially because it makes it more like a well-meaning holiday, rather than an act of making a genuine difference.

I’m careful how I phrase this because I know lots of people who do this are very hard-working, generous volunteers who simply don’t know how else to go abroad and help people the way they want to, without paying an organisation to help them.

What happened to exchanges – let’s bring those back. Seeing as there are thousands of Africans, Indians and other nationalities who would give their right arm to come to England, and British people who have had enough of the cynicism and weather and want to make a difference abroad. It makes the most sense to me, rather than the equivalent of an entire village’s annual income being spent on one person’s trip to Rwanda to help build a mud well.

Which brings me to my main point – the reasons we want to do what we do. Do we genuinely want to help people or do we want to have another experience to add to our growing and impressive list? I watched a brilliant film called Machan last weekend about a group of Sri Lankan men so desperate to come to live in Europe that they invent a handball team, not even knowing what the word handball means. Lots of westerners dream of going to Sri Lanka, it is a land full of beauty, Sri Lankans dream of coming to Europe, it is a land full of money.

I suppose we are lucky that we are allowed the indulgence of travelling to make ourselves feel good when many people we’ll meet in those countries want to travel to lead a solid life – the lives that we are leading here already and probably taking for granted.

This whole idea is probably not far away from the ‘Is there a selfless good deed?’ question. There is no easy answer and there is probably no shame in admitting that both factors – helping people and having a great experience – play a role in volunteering abroad. I think what we can reject though is the easy compartmentalisation of ideas. I have volunteered abroad therefore I am good. You are working in England therefore you are bad. I have met children in India therefore I am a better person. It’s far too messy for that and anyone who thinks spending 10 months in Bhutan makes them a better person than their peers is a lost individual.

This has all made me rethink my plans for when I go to India (yes, after all that ranting, I am actually volunteering abroad myself). I haven’t paid anyone to do this and am not even sure what I’m doing yet. But whatever it is, I will not be fitting it into any agenda of mine and I think the further removed it is, the more distanced I am from my own smug self and it’s ideas of what I want, the more I will actually be able to learn and find out more – which I will not be then posting on Facebook as a status update.

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Oh the banality…

I’d like to find out if anyone else has this problem – when I have to pick up the phone and dial the number for British Gas, when I have to check my council tax records, when I have to take my lap top to PC World to be repaired, my soul curls up and weeps. It rocks itself in a corner with its hands over it’s ears, eyes tightly shut going ‘Not this. Not this. Not this…”

That might sound a bit melodramatic but I despite, loathe and inherently hate doing those things with every muster of my being – my body literally rejects the sight of an electricity bill, I’m sure my eyes just block it out to save my soul the damage. My kind eyes will place something far more calming instead in front of me, like a book about horror film villains or a plate full of cheese. Then my soul will lift it’s head up, sniff the air and smile, getting up from it’s corner and gazing into the pleasures and beauty of the world.

I know I’m not alone in hating bills, broken things, post office slips, insurance forms and anyone with the word ‘tele’ in their job title. They basically stand for a reminder that life is full of boring shit that needs to be done so that you can carry on doing the fun shit. But it’s the time factor. When I spend 15 minutes on the phone with a BT operator, I have lost my time on this insanely mundane and irreprehensible task of having to tell them my date of birth, security password, name of mother’s first goat blah blah fucking blah.

I am incredibly possessive over my time. Giving 15 minutes of it to Ed the chirpy Kiwi BT worker makes me angry because it reminds me that there isn’t a lot of this time. This earth won’t grant me long and being talked through the problems with my modem remind me that a certain percentage of our lives have to be dedicated to monotiny. It just has to.

So I have three options:

  • Get super rich and pay someone to do those things for me while I’m busy having a torrid affair with an Argentinian soap star
  • Marry a data processor who loves all things utility and is one of those unimaginable weirdos who keeps files of old bills for record
  • Run away to live among field mice.

Any other recommendations welcome.

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Who you calling a piece of meat?!

Pictured here on the cover of Japanese Men’s Vogue is Lady Gaga a meat bikini – or meatini if you will. She decided this look was so fantastico that it could be taken a step further as a dress this year’s MTV Video Music Awards, but only complete with meat shoes.

The question on everyone’s lips today – is the meat real or fake.

Hang on, THAT’s the question on everyone’s lips? I think one sniff of her outfit would answer that in a second, surely? Shouldn’t the real question be – which lucky cow made the cut to cover Gaga’s butt? (Or not cover it, as the case may be)

This cow is now an international phenomenon and,even better, it’s controversial. It will  herald in a new era and hold the key to hiding the biggest beast in all ladies – cellulite (Being primarily made of fatty lumps and bumps itself). This cow is as big as Cher because it has now shared a stage with Cher! Cow is the new tweed. Flesh is the new…erm…fur.

Unless of course it isn’t a cow and is some weird plasticky thing that looks like a cow. If you had a sniff at the VMA awards, come forward now and set our souls at rest!!!!!!! And there is a £10 award for whoever knows the name of said cow.

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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The waiting room of life

I often feel like I’m living in a sort of limbo, waiting for something better to happen. Whether it’s waiting for a better job, waiting to be my ideal weight, or waiting for the trip of a lifetime. If there’s nothing particularly to wait for, waiting to be my ideal weight is always the constant – something to always aspire to. Yes, I’m a very loyal member of the ‘I’ll start my diet on Monday’ club despite the various feminist books I read and believe in. Perhaps I need to read and reread and think and rethink to make these things stick to my teflon brain. As Hadley Freeman recently put it- when you’re on your deathbed will you really say ‘If only I had been 5 pounds slimmer…’

These days, I’ve still got the wait of the weight of course but can add another one – my three-month trip to India starting in November.

No, I’m not going there to find myself.

This sense of perpetual waiting though, has always disturbed me in how much joy I take in it. My life has taken on a waiting room feel for the main event. I actually take comfort from waiting. Surely this isn’t IT, this isn’t life that I’m leading right now. This is life in anticipation for something else, something huge. When I have my bad days at work, it’s really nice to know that in a month or so I’ll be far gone. Although when I have a really happy evening with my friends, I then feel a bit sad knowing I’ll be leaving soon. Whatever it is, I know I’ll be leaving soon. Whatever it is, I am in a limbo state of anticipation and have my eyes firmly set on the goal rather than the ground beneath me.

What if I didn’t have a target weight to reach? Maybe my weight right now is just the weight I’m meant to be and that little belly on mine (I call her Jennifer) was meant to be put on this earth. Hell, if anyone’s the love of my life its probably Jennifer. We’ve really been through it all together. I know this because on those rare occasions when I’ve actually succeeded in losing weight, and Jennifer has gone a bit quiet, her presence ebbing away, I actually feel sad. I’m bereft at the thought of losing her, so much is she engrained in me. But don’t get me wrong, looking at her right now, I’m filled with nothing but disdain and annoyance. Yep – we may as well be married – can’t live with or without each other.

It’s hard to live life totally in the present. How can you not have one eye on the future. If I lived life totally in the present, I would panic at the sheer expanse of what I could be doing right now. The present is scary. It is infinite and it is NOW. It’s inescapable. It’s life. It’s ugly and bumpy and doesn’t have the technicolour of the future or the rosy hue that my past has immediately taken.

It would probably make me a lot damn happier though, appreciating what’s in front of me. India is exciting. Being a stone slimmer would probably be sweet. But what is in front of me now is a laptop, a mottled dirty carpet and a crumpled supermarket receipt lying on the floor. I can hear the traffic outside and Jennifer is rumbling for some lunch, bless her. She’s not that bad.

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

Shame, shame, shame

What can you do when you neglect your blog, shun it to actually live your life and then realise that you actually miss writing your nonsensical musings that nobody else wants to listen to, and want to go back to it. Will you take me back blog?

I promise I’ll change.

I will only write entries of the highest calibre. You will shudder and squeal with the expert touch of my pulsing, throbbing words. You will not have to wait wondering when I’ll call in. I’ll be here, regularly with flowers and a pocket full of puns that only half of the other bloggers are currently using.

Oh say it’s true, is it true oh blog? Yes! You won’t regret this, I swear. I’ll be the best blogger in the world. I will never leave you again.

And I’ll start now.

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2010 in Uncategorized