Bucket Lists…

As far as I’m concerned, bucket lists are a bit like a venereal disease: I’m happy for other people to have one, as long as they keep it to themselves. They’re hideously contagious, exhausting and on the increase – you seem to see them mentioned everywhere. The whole concept has become part of the current collective consciousness and nowadays you can’t be on a social network for five minutes or have a simple, drunken get-together in a pub without them cropping up in conversation.

I should probably make it clear at this stage that this in no way includes lists made by people who are terminally ill, that’s something quite different. Under those circumstances (the only really valid reason for making such a list, in my opinion) a bucket list becomes something terribly sad, poignant and, perhaps, brave even; certainly not something that deserves to be casually mocked on a half-baked little blog like this one.

Nor does it apply to anyone who has compiled a bucket list in the true manner they were not intended – i.e. with lashings of sarcasm and irony. Actually, I thoroughly approve of those and would urge you to send me a link to them so that I can enjoy them with you.

No, my flippant opinions are reserved for those people who are in perfectly good health, with probably at least another 40-60 years of shallowness ahead of them, who still feel it necessary to create a list of goals, so pointless and inane that it makes things such as Red Or Black, the entire cast of TOWIE – yes, even Joey Essex, and plastic sporks look like relevant and valuable cornerstones of modern society.

The thing that always strikes me most about the majority of bucket lists is their complete lack of reality and their composer’s total failure to grasp their true purpose. In recent weeks I have seen, or been told, that items on bucket lists include, amongst other things:

  • Sing with Celine Dion in Las Vegas.
  • Own a Birkin bag in every colour available.
  • Date someone famous.
  • Have over 10,000 friends on Facebook.
  • Receive over 1000 hits on a blog post.

Honestly, my brain couldn’t be more boggled if an Oompah Loompah stopped me and asked for directions to the nearest Lidl in Klingon.

Perhaps my understanding is faulty… but I thought ‘bucket list’ derived from the term ‘kick the bucket’? That it is literally a list of the things you want to achieve before you go to the big Noel’s House Party in the sky? Not, as the above suggests, the things you want to achieve before your fictional character is killed off in an episode of Gossip Girl.

Why, in the name of all that is superficial, would anyone, other than maybe Lisa Scott Lee or Four Poofs & A Piano, want to sing with Celine Dion? How is having over 10,000 Facebook ‘friends’ going to bring you comfort when the Grim Reaper decides it’s time to play Twister chess? And how likely is it that your death rattle will be accompanied by the thought ‘Oh, if only I’d bought a handbag in tangerine!’?

It’s extremely unlikely. As someone who has been in a position where their continued existence was – shall we say, a little uncertain – I can assure you that you’re too busy making deals with a God you’re not even sure exists, to worry about how many people were bored and confused enough to read your blog post on scented candles.

I confess though, I did once try to make a bucket list; it was during that uncertain time and at the suggestion of a friend who thought it might help, even if only by distracting my thoughts for a while. This is what I came up with:

Bucket List

  1. Eat a Mars Bar on MARS!!!! Double Decker on a double-decker bus.
  2. Watch Mamma Mia! again and try to understand the people who think it’s good. the complete series of Vicar of Dibley… particularly the bit with the farting duck, because farting ducks are hilarious.
  3.  Become a vegetarian. Oh, fuck that shit if I really am dying Eat bacon EVERY SINGLE DAY.
  4. AARGH! STOP MAKING STUPID LISTS!!!

Reality is a big stumbling block when it comes to making a bucket list unless, like J R R Tolkien, Terry Pratchett or Nadine Dorries, reality holds no lure for you and you simply disregard it completely. I realised this as soon as I wrote my first goal. I mean, really, I am never going to make it to the planet Mars, and even if I did – you can bet your giant Toblerone I would’ve eaten that Mars Bar long before I got there.To be honest, I’m not even likely to eat a Double Decker on a double-decker – when I was compiling my list I forgot to factor in that stench all buses have of damp anoraks, impotent rage and ancient vomit, designed for optimum appetite subjugation. It’s an unrealistic goal, so don’t bother putting it on the list. The same goes for something like ‘Date someone famous’… I assure you, unless you’re stunning, disgustingly rich and/or famous too – in which case, you’re probably too busy partying with the Kardashians and being impregnated by footballers to make a bucket list – the chances of a celebrity (including Chuckle Brothers, Cheeky Girls and Jimmy Krankee) even breathing the same air as you is slimmer than a performing flea’s unitard. Give it up. Go for something you can actually achieve – like a criminal record.

Once you’ve committed yourself to only listing things that are achievable it becomes even harder to find things to add. Of course there are hundreds of things that would be fun, but you have to ask yourself… just how important are they, really? I think it would be fun and rewarding to have six cats and call them Dave, Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, but I wouldn’t exactly be devastated if I died before this could become a reality. I’d be quite content to snuff it with just one cat called Dave – as long as I could have a goat called Geoff, too. Similarly, there are things we’d all like in our life, such as a loving partner or perhaps children of our own, but I don’t think these have any business being on a bucket list. In my opinion, anyone who can seriously include ‘Meet the man/woman of my dreams’ on any kind of list deserves to die alone, smelling heavily of goat cack.

I know this is all very negative, but I honestly can’t think of anything positive to say about bucket lists. They make me feel sad and growly inside, because all the while people are sitting there churning out these ridiculous, futile exercises in delusion and procrastination they are literally wasting time. It niggles me that so many people fail to realise just how precious time is, or how scarily fleeting it can be. It makes me want to scream ‘STOP WASTING TIME!’ and throw heavy, cast iron alarm clocks at their heads, just to prove a point in a really rubbish but satisfying way.

Seriously, if you really feel a need to make some kind of list – make it something worthwhile, a list that is going to make you feel good and your life better.

Like a Fuck-It List.

Yes, a Fuck-It list. I think it could revolutionise the world. Here’s mine, by way of an example:

Fuck-It List

  1. I should really eat more healthily – but fuck it! I like crisps more than I like most people I know, so I’m going to eat more crisps.
  2. I would like to be fitter and not get out of breath when changing TV channels – but fuck it! Excessive exercise makes me sweaty and turn an unsexy shade of ‘Fat Bastard Red’ and makes my hair go really flat, so I’m going to buy a recliner chair with inbuilt ‘massage’ controls instead.
  3. Piers Morgan is probably not as bad as he appears to be, I should probably try to be more understanding and tolerant of him – but fuck it! He has a freakishly small, girls mouth and keeps doing that thing where he talks out loud. So I will increase the amount continue to send the hate mail.
  4. I am young and have nice hair, I should mingle more, at least until I’ve found a man to do sex with on a regular basis – but fuck it! That would mean interacting with other people on a large-scale and other people are weird and complicated, so I will stay in forever more and just have lots of cats to transfer my affections to.

See how that works? All realistic, all very achievable, so you never have to mentally berate yourself or reaffirm your self-imposed ‘loser’ status. And let’s face it, it’s got to be more fun than dragging yourself up a really big mountain or learning to Paso Doble in gold lamé shoes.

CM x

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Poetry (Warning: may contain poetry)…

Apparently, it’s National Poetry Day.  For anybody who might have been tussling with that ages old conundrum ‘Is poetry really awesome or is it OK to assume it’s just a load of pretentious old wordguff?’ – here is your answer: poetry IS brilliant! Just look! It’s SO amazing it has been given its very own day!

Yes, OK, there is also an International Talk Like A Pirate Day and a National Bunsen Burner Day… and a National Penguin Awareness Day – but you should not let that, in any way, detract you from the importance of said day by giving you the impression that literally anyone or anything can have its/their own ‘National Day’. There is a whole bunch of stuff, like Petit Filous yoghurt, Charles Manson and Bognor Regis who don’t yet have a whole day dedicated to them. So embrace the day and celebrate it like you’re meant to.

Personally, I love poetry, and always have. For me, it started with A.A. Milne; one of my first memories is of a very small me, sitting cross-legged on a mat with lots of other very small people, listening to Miss George telling me about the poor, frustrated King who only wanted a bit of butter for his bread; all the while thinking that if frogs wore glasses they would probably look a lot like Miss George, but wouldn’t be as stern or scary or smell like that cupboard under the stairs that we don’t put anything in because mummy says it’s ‘fusty’ now, thanks to our cat, Smokey.

Wind on the Hill by A. A. Milne

No one can tell me,
Nobody knows,
Where the wind comes from,
Where the wind goes.

It’s flying from somewhere
As fast as it can,
I couldn’t keep up with it,
Not if I ran.

But if I stopped holding
The string of my kite,
It would blow with the wind
For a day and a night.

And then when I found it,
Wherever it blew,
I should know that the wind
Had been going there too.

So then I could tell them
Where the wind goes…
But where the wind comes from
Nobody knows.

I think sometimes my love of whimsy and my, occasionally, flippant attitude to pretty much everything can be a bit annoying to other people, but it isn’t me they should be blaming! No, it’s all Lewis Carroll’s fault.

Father William by Lewis Carroll

YOU are old, Father William,” the young man said,
“And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head–
Do you think, at your age, it is right?”
 
“In my youth,” Father William replied to his son,
“I feared it might injure the brain;
But, now that I’m perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again.”
 
“You are old,” said the youth, “as I mentioned before,
And have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door–
Pray, what is the reason of that?”
 
“In my youth,” said the sage, as he shook his gray locks,
“I kept all my limbs very supple
By the use of this ointment — one shilling the box —
Allow me to sell you a couple?”
 
“You are old,” said the youth, “and your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak–
Pray, how did you manage to do it?”
 
“In my youth,” said his father, “I took to the law,
And argued each case with my wife;
And the muscular strength which it gave to my jaw
Has lasted the rest of my life.”
 
“You are old,” said the youth, “one would hardly suppose
That your eye was as steady as ever;
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose–
What made you so awfully clever?”
 
“I have answered three questions, and that is enough,”
Said his father; “don’t give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I’ll kick you down-stairs!”

 

As I grew older and more euphuistic (still proved by my use of such a knobbish word as ‘euphuistic’), my interest in poetry grew and I devoured the classics faster than Yogi Bear could scoff a park full of ‘pic-a-nic’ baskets. Romantics, War poets, Beatniks and Pam Ayers – I read them all. And do you know what I discovered about poetry? Two things:

  • Sometimes… brace yourself… poetry doesn’t even RHYME!!! I KNOW! You have NO idea how much that concept blew my mind.
  • A lot of ‘classical’ poetry is way too long and, actually, a little bit pants. Well, to be brutally honest, a whole lot of pants… pantaloons, even. QUEEN VICTORIA’S MASSIVE MODESTY BUM HAMMOCKS… that’s how bad some of it is.

Byron, Shelley, Dante and even – dare I say it? – Shakespeare, undeniably clever fellows all, are fascinating characters and history is far richer for having them in it – but Gawd didn’t they go on! Elizabeth Barrett Browning is an undeniably romantic figure, but her poetry makes me queasier than that time I stole and ate a whole tub of chocolate sprinkles in the shed at the bottom of the garden (shut up, I was five at the time, OK). And as for Emily Dickinson? Who was undeniably strange… well, just hand me the razor blades now.

Actually, that’s not entirely fair or accurate; unfair because, obviously, it’s a question of personal taste and because all poets have played a lesser or greater part in the forming and shaping of literary art and language as we know it today, even if it’s only by way of making us appreciate other poetry more. After all, would any of us truly be able to appreciate the splendour of a Lady Gaga song unless we’d previously sat through ‘contributions’ by Black Lace, Sonia and East 17? Of course not! And poetry works on the same principle.

My previous statement is inaccurate because I actually discovered THREE things about poetry:

  • It can be amazingly cool, beautiful, funny and profound; there is literally a poem for every mood and  occasion, and it can make you wish that you were capable of writing more than just a slightly smutty limerick

I’ve tried, honest I have, to come up with something even halfway decent and Wordsworthesque, but my enthusiasm invariably far outweighs my ability. I don’t know why! I mean… I LOVE words, I love writing and I love… stuff! So you’d think that I’d be able to come up with something a little more poetic than ‘There once was a bloke from Cheshunt…’.  It’s a sad disappointment to me, and is right up there with ‘Triple Jump’, ‘Rolling my Rs’ and ‘Neuro Surgery’ in my ‘Top 5 Things I’m Rubbish At’ list.

Anyway, I shall leave you with a few of my favourite poems and let the poetry speak for itself. If you’d like to read more I would highly recommend, as well as the poets whose work I’ve included here: William Blake, Stevie Smith, Ivor Cutler, Sylvia Plath, Sophie Hannah, Spike Milligan and Henry Normal.

Happy National Poetry Day… enjoy!

CM x

 

Words, Wide Night by Carol Ann Duffy

Somewhere on the other side of this wide night
and the distance between us, I am thinking of you.
The room is turning slowly away from the moon.

This is pleasurable. Or shall I cross that out and say
it is sad? In one of the tenses I singing
an impossible song of desire that you cannot hear.

La lala la. See? I close my eyes and imagine the dark hills I would have to cross
to reach you. For I am in love with you

and this is what it is like or what it is like in words.

 

A Christmas Poem by Wendy Cope

At Christmas little children sing and merry bells jingle,
The cold winter air makes our hands and faces tingle
And happy families go to church and cheerily they mingle
And the whole business is unbelievably dreadful, if you’re single.

 

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

 

On Being A Woman by Dorothy Parker

Why is it, when I am in Rome,
I’d give an eye to be at home,
But when on native earth I be,
My soul is sick for Italy?

And why with you, my love, my lord,
Am I spectacularly bored,
Yet do you up and leave me – then
I scream to have you back again?

 

Oh, The Places You’ll Go! (excerpt) by Dr. Seuss

“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
Any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And
you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll
decide where to go.”

“You’ll get mixed up,
of course, as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great
tact and remember that life’s A Great
Balancing Act.”

“And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent
guaranteed.)

KID, YOU’LL MOVE
MOUNTAINS!”

Proof that secrets & boredom inevitably lead to trouble…

We all have little secrets, don’t we? Things that we choose to keep to ourselves, things that, for various reasons, are too precious, personal or downright embarrassing to share with anybody else, such as an unrequited crush, a medical condition or a collection of Barry Manilow albums. Secrets are a fundamental part of human nature.

The only thing surer than having a secret is the certainty that, at some point in your life, you will end up blurting it out to somebody. Be it your new boyfriend/girlfriend – probably after a lengthy session of sex that has left you witless and convinced that since this person can make you squeak louder than Mariah Carey in a blender that they must be the one person you can trust with your deepest, darkest secrets; or to a bewildered taxi driver, whose dark backseat, at 2.30 in the morning and after way too many daiquiris, becomes the modern-day equivalent of a confessional; or even just to a friend who, unfortunately, happens to be the only other sentient being online at 4am, when you’re vulnerable and so befuddled by lack of sleep and your own stupidity that you can barely recall your own face, let alone the fact that this person is about as trustworthy as Wayne Rooney in a home for geriatrics.

The bitter voice of experience? I hear you ask. Yes, it bloody is! Because once, during an early morning online conversation with a chum I somehow, inexplicably, ended up confessing that I am in fact… a phantom jelly biter.

Yes, you read that correctly. It’s a ‘quirk’ of mine.

Sometimes, when I’m in the supermarket, doing the deadly dull grocery shopping, just to relieve some of the boredom I like to take a packet of jelly (NOT the ones in boxes, obviously) and… gently bite it.

Don’t say “Urrrghh!” like that! I don’t break the plastic wrapping! I just bite it hard enough to leave teeth marks in the jelly.

The reason I do this stems back to when I was a child. I was at my friend Kim’s house, we must have been about 5 or 6 years old at the time, and her mum was making a trifle. We were at the table, colouring or something and chattering away, when suddenly her mum said “Oh good grief! Who on earth would do THAT?“.

Being curious, as all small children are, we immediately demanded to know what the matter was, to which she replied “Somebody’s been biting this jelly and then put it back on the shelf!

Of course, we insisted that she show us the offending jelly, which she did. And she was right. The jelly was pocked with teeth marks.

It was the most excellent thing we’d ever seen.

And we thought it was hilarious, reasoning that anything that disgusted a grown-up must be a very good and cool thing indeed.

Having talked it over at great length, we agreed that there must be a phantom jelly biter, lurking in supermarkets, probably with a mask and a cape, just like Batman but instead of a bat on his chest he’d have a big letter “J” or, even better, a picture of a big, wobbly jelly, like you get when you use one of those moulds.

He was our hero.

The next time we were in a supermarket together we remembered the phantom and managed to slip away from Kim’s mum and made straight for the jelly. We eagerly scanned the packets, looking for the phantom jelly biter’s mark. But they were all smooth and pristine.We were horribly disappointed.

Then Kim said “We should bite the jelly”

I looked at her, unsure. It seemed like a terribly naughty thing to do when we wouldn’t even be buying the jelly. “He can’t bite all the jelly” she explained, in some exasperation at my denseness, “He’s not magic, like Santa”. For some reason this made total sense. The poor guy could probably use some help, we would be the phantom jelly biter’s little helpers. That was pretty badass!

And that’s how it started.

Whenever we had the opportunity we would sneak off in supermarkets and bite the packets of jelly, giggling helplessly and feeling terribly naughty and daring.

As we grew older it became more about the forbidden side. We didn’t believe there was a phantom jelly biter any more… we had BECOME the phantom jelly biter, and it seemed like the most hilarious thing to do as teenagers. We wanted to do it just because we knew adults wouldn’t approve and therefore it felt rebellious.
By our late teens and early 20’s it had just become an in-joke, a little quirk we fondly shared in remembrance of our lost childhood.

Kim stopped doing it when she got married and had children of her own. I remember being round at her house one evening, we were sharing a bottle of wine and some memories when the subject of the phantom jelly biter came up. We laughed so hard at the memory of all the surreptitious jelly-biting we’d done over the years:

Kim: Aw, I do kinda miss it.

Me: Don’t you do it any more then?

Kim: (laughing) No, of course not! I’m an adult now!

Me: (nervously) Oh

Kim: (long pause) You don’t still do it… do you?

Me: (forced laugh) Me? God, no! I mean, that would be totally childish!

Kim: (Thoughtful, suspicious look)

Me: More wine?

Kim also told me that she’d be horrified if her kids ever did anything like that and strictly forbade me to tell them about what their mother and “Auntie Kate” used to get up to. I didn’t think it appropriate to argue with her… but let me tell you, just as soon as those kids are old enough, “Auntie Kate” is going to take them for a trip to the supermarket that they will NEVER forget! Some traditions simply need to be upheld.

The phantom jelly biter WILL live on in the next generation.

Anyway, I digress… today, I just happened to go to the supermarket.

I remembered the online conversation… and, yes, I nostalgically bit some jelly, just for old times sake. It felt ridiculously good. I was giggling and smirking to myself, wishing Kim could see me, wishing even more that I could see the look of horror on Kim’s face, when …

Er… Miss? What are you doing?

I froze.

I couldn’t believe it! I’d been caught! For best part of 25 years I’d been biting jelly, and not once had I been caught in the act! Why now?! I’d been appropriately sneaky, hadn’t I? I’d checked to make sure I was alone in the aisle… where the hell had that shop manager come from?

“What are you doing?” the voice sounded mildly imperative but I was also satisfied to hear a hint of nervousness, this guy was determined to do his job but he was also going to be ready to make a sprint for it if mad jelly woman decided to go loco.

I turned round, my most winning, dazzling smile stretching across my face,

“Just checking!” I said brightly.

Now I was looking at him I could see the fear in his eyes and the spots on his chin… btw: why are so many supermarket managers spotty adolescents these days?… he looked a bit weedy, I’m a total girlie wuss but I felt confident that I could take this guy in an arm-wrestling match. It gave me new confidence,

“Checking for what?” he asked, licking his lips nervously and checking for the nearest exit out of the corner of his eye,

“Oh, just to make sure it’s fresh. It gets a bit rubbery if it’s stale” I bullshitted, like a pro.

He clearly didn’t buy it and attempted a mocking raise of one eyebrow which just made me want to laugh at him, “You’re going to have to buy that, madam”.

I considered him for a second, it was so tempting to give in to my mischievous inner child and refuse to buy the jelly, even though I’d just been biting it, but then my conscience whispered in my ear, sounding suspiciously like my mother; it told me I’d been in the wrong and therefore to give in graciously and just buy the damned jelly! And furthermore, that it served me right that it was an orange jelly (which I hate) and not a lime jelly (which I love) and that I should have thought of that before I started playing silly-buggers in the middle of the supermarket!

*sigh*

It’s a lowering thought to know that I’ll never be a really bad girl. If I was I would have just laughed, chucked the jelly at him and said “Catch this, spotty” and run off, giggling. Instead, I admitted guilt and defeat and was practically frog-marched to a till where I had to buy the awful, teeth-marked orange jelly.

Although… it did give me some small satisfaction to know that there were 3 other packets on the shelf that he clearly hadn’t seen me biting.

Muahaha!

Ok, so maybe I am a little bit naughty after all.

CM x

Me vs The Social Networks…

You wouldn’t know it to look at me but I am a woman in the midst of a deep, emotional crisis… stop looking at me! My hair’s like this because it’s windy out there today! OK!

One question torments me, more so than all those other dilemmas of principle, such as ‘Am I right not to date men who like Mumford & Sons?’ or ‘Is it really morally wrong if I spend the bills money on shoes and Jelly Belly Beans and then pick most of them out and throw them away because they taste like vomit-flavoured soap?’ or ‘Should you have red or brown sauce on a bacon sarnie?’… actually, that last one was just a test – because of course you should always have RED sauce on a bacon butty! If you think differently you are a yeast-challenged neophyte.

No, the question occupying my thoughts most at the moment is…

Is it time to stop using social network sites?

The thing is, there’s just so many of them! If you let yourself, you could literally end up spending most of your existence online and thereby missing out on all the joys of ‘real life’, such as eating mini Babybel at 3am and pretending you’re the Jolly Green Giant, sick of indigestible fucking sweetcorn; doing the Cha Cha Slide after five double vodkas at a family wedding and telling everyone you’re a professional dancer and… getting parking tickets. Yeah, that last one doesn’t really help – ignore that one.

It started, innocently enough, with MSN Messenger. Oh, those happy, carefree days! How easily pleased I was at simply being able to ‘CHAT ONLINE!’ to my friends, to be able to indiscriminately forego punctuation, spelling, grammar and intelligence and end all my sentences with a ‘LOLZ!’ and an inappropriate emoticon. It was the perfect tool – as was I, it could probably be argued – for engendering a better acquaintance with all those lovely new friends I made in chatrooms in the first years of the 21st Century. OK, so maybe most a few of them turned out to be, not so much ‘friends’, as ‘strangers with an urge to show me their genitalia’ – but what’s a few restraining orders amongst ‘friends’, eh? If nothing else, some much-needed lessons were learnt, with MSN Messenger as the teacher – a cross between Mrs Robinson and Miss Jean Brodie, a little bit naughty seducer, a little bit conceited fascist.

But bigger and better slightly bigger things were on their way: 2006 was the MySpace year. It seems hard to believe it now, but MySpace used to be considered the most dangliest part of a dog’s nether region – which, I assure you, was a good thing in those days, and not at all unhygienic. Like the good, little sheep-nerd I was I dutifully signed up and then spent several months doing the four main things that everybody on MySpace did, namely:

  • Changing backgrounds (Snoopy, South Park, Snoopy, Hello Kitty, Snoopy, Something dark and rather Goth-like, Snoopy, Something dark and purple but with flowers so that boys would still know I was a girl, Snoopy)
  • Adding music that I, mistakenly, thought would be sure to impress other people and make them like me, but actually just generated comments such as ‘THE PROCLAIMERS ARE WANK!’ and ‘This is 2006, you fucking loser!’
  • Completing and posting endless quizzes with titles such as ‘What Type Of Saucepan Are You?’ or ‘What’s Your Secret Serial Killer Name?’ and questionnaires about myself which I’m pretty sure nobody but me and half a dozen perverts ever bothered to read.
  • Posting photos of myself and friends in various stages of drunken, red-eyed shame that I will spend the rest of my life trying to track down and destroy all evidence of.

Ah, we thought the magic of MySpace would last forever – but it turns out that ‘forever’ is approximately 18 months in dork years, because along came a trendy, young hipster called Facebook, and just like that MySpace was deemed an antiquated embarrassment that only the elderly and socially challenged could love. Heartless witch that I was, I didn’t even give it a backwards glance before eradicating it from my life with one click of a button. If I had known how much I would come to loathe Facebook I might not have been so quick to scorn.

It has to be said – me and Facebook – we never really gelled from the get go. We were like Lily Allen and Chezza Cole, endlessly circling each other, all big hair, posh frocks and plastic grins on the surface but with a wary undercurrent of malice and insecurity lurking beneath, waiting for the slightest hint of an imagined snub before exploding into a full-on, foul-mouthed bitchfest. There was just something about it, with its stupid wall of deluded lies, its inane status updates – as gripping as a deceased barnacle, the morally suspect obsession with mafiosi thugs and harvesting chickens… oh! And the poking! The FUCKING POKING! It made me want to hunt down Mark Zuckerberg and poke him with a thousand bread knives.

Needless to say, it took very little for Facebook and I to part ways. One bad relationship and what amounted to a hate campaign that followed its demise and I was out of there, faster than Nick Clegg can say ‘betrayal’. As is always the way, things calmed down and my friends and family urged me to return. I thought about it – for about five seconds – then remembered the chickens and poking and advised them to ‘jog on’. Besides, I had found something new to play with. Tsk! Don’t be filthy…

I first joined Twitter in June 2009 with a view to promoting my old blog and interacting with other bloggers, but it just didn’t do it for me back then. You know how Twitter’s many critics sneer and say it’s a bunch of people talking about what they had for lunch? Well, there’s a reason for that – back in 2009 that’s pretty much what the majority of people were doing – and they weren’t even eating anything exciting! There wasn’t so much as a sniff of sushi, a burrito or a Dairylea Dipper. It was just a handful of celebrities promoting themselves in the least imaginative, time-consuming way they could, a whole bunch of spam bots and a few people to whom a slice of luncheon meat would seem like a luxury item. My fascination with it was short-lived and I distastefully put it back on the shelf where I had found it. And there it sat, gathering dust and followers by the thousands, just biding its time, smugly giving me that ‘You’ll be back’ look that made me want to punch it in its little blue budgie – or whatever the hell type of bird that’s supposed to be – they’re all coots to me.

It never ceases to irritate me that I proved Twitter right by going back. One evening in January of this year I was watching TV, more bored than Britney Spears at a carrot convention, none of my friends were about, in real life or via IM, and I had a hankering for voices outside of my own head. By chance, Twitter was mentioned on the television and suddenly I was curious, I wondered if it had changed much, or at all. I looked at a few famous types’ pages and then, on a lonely whim, created an account and off I went, into tweet mediocrity.

And that’s my big problem with Twitter; as much as I love it sometimes, its quirkiness, its eclectic mix of people, the way it facilitates my addictive need for humour, information and YouTube clips of animals behaving in an amusing fashion – and all in a way so simple and lazy that even Homer Simpson would approve, the fact remains – I’m just not very good at it. And who wants to do something they’re rubbish at… except for, obviously, politicians, Daily Mail hacks and Peter Andre?  I’m too shy to voice most of my thoughts or interact with the majority of people – unless they speak to me first – giving, I suspect, a false impression of slightly vacuous disinterest that I am far from feeling.

Other people too, make or break Twitter for me; some make me long to slurp from the splendid milk of human kindness through a day-glo bendy straw, whilst others leave me with an urge to run for the most remote cave in existence and barricade myself in using boulders and my own faeces. I have gradually come to realise that hell on earth is watching as someone relentlessly tweets on about their stomach disorder and all the things that are wrong in their life and in the next breath snidely criticises a band, who they don’t even need to be listening to or watching in the first place, for droning on and being shit! Or it’s those people who mistake having thousands of followers for a God-like right to have the last word on everything, so hopelessly deluded by their own megalomania and the gang of hopeful sycophants that shuffle around after them that they can no longer see just what a ridiculous spazmoid they’ve become. There is an abundance of things on Twitter but, sadly, self-awareness is not one of them.

Having said that, it’s still not easy to leave – because there’s a lot of great people using Twitter too. Funny, intelligent people, people with talent who make me want to read what they’ve written, to hang one of their pictures on my wall or just do dirty things to in a stationery cupboard.  I’ve considered the delete button many times, I’ve even joined other sites, hoping to find an alluring alternative, but to no effect. Instead of being crap at one form of social interaction I am now crap at many, all at the same time.

Currently, I am a member of the following:

  • Google+ – I had high hopes for this one, it seemed to promise a sexy combination of the less annoying parts of Facebook and Twitter, but it’s never really delivered. Despite having a small number of friends and family lodged firmly in the first two circles of my very own version of Dante’s Inferno – it still just seems to be me who is actually in there at any given time. I bet Schrödinger’s cat felt like this. I also bet that if it was on Google+, then even that bloody cat wouldn’t be speaking to me.
  • Pushnote – The concept is simple enough but I am thrown by its pointlessness and my own inability to walk away. I think it’s my fear of disappointing people or hurting their feelings. I’ve only posted 5 links on there and yet I have over a thousand followers! I vaguely know that this is almost entirely due to some kind of ‘Neighbours’ scheme, of which I have no understanding whatsoever. I’m just pathetically grateful and reluctant to spurn this electronically generated devotion by deleting my account. My snooty Twitter persona sneers at my Pushnote self, pointing out that any followers that easily gotten don’t count anyway, but I think it’s just jealous because it’s a Billy-no-mates with a paltry 84. Ha! Loser!
  • Goodreads – I actually quite like this one, or rather – I like the idea of it. If I can just find the time and inclination to put more into it and… y’know… read stuff and, er… interact with other readers, it could be fun. Maybe.

So you see, something has to give before I’m irrevocably assimilated by the internet Borg and lose all sense of reality and start living in darkness under the stairs with only my laptop and a bag of Gummy Bears for company. If I can just accept that no matter how many different websites I join I’m never going to find ‘the one’, essentially, because other people will also be there fucking it up and spoiling it – then maybe there will be hope for me yet.

Or maybe I should just accept that resistance is futile and go back to FaceBook…

CM x

Would you like some superiority with your cheese?…

Don’t you just love other people’s dinner parties? All that free food and booze; getting bored and pretending you need a wee so that you can have a good snout through their bathroom cabinet; playing stupid games into the small hours and cheating because you HAVE to win EVERYTHING – except Monopoly, which is too dull to give two shiny shits about – and finally, the best part, getting to bugger off home afterwards without so much as a backwards glance at the clearing up.

But the thing that really makes or breaks any such gathering is, of course, the people you dine with.

Sometimes a dinner party can be an excellent way to meet people and make new friends; conversation flows, maybe there’s a bit of flirting over the gravy boat, a few suggestive visual gags with the pepper mill and laughing so long and hard that only the hardiest Kegel muscles will save you from that most embarrassing of social faux pas.  On the other hand, sometimes you end up being stuck for hours with people you wouldn’t wish leprosy on – because leprosy has enough to deal with already, and what did it ever do to you, you cruel bastard!

The dinner party I went to on Saturday night was somewhere between the two. The food was delicious, my wine glass was never empty and my fellow guests seemed – OK. They were all couples and I was the token single person, since I didn’t have a great deal in common with most of them, and being naturally shy anyway, I was happy to sit back and let them lead the conversation whilst I took pickling my liver to the next level.

I always think you can discover an awful lot by shutting the fuck up and observing people; and sure enough a smörgåsbord of secrets were unwittingly revealed during the course of the evening, but the main thing I discovered on Saturday night is that some women are a bit, well – smug. Smug and loud. Also, that said women are fantastic at dishing out sarcastic criticism but absolute shite at taking it.

My fellow female guests’ favourite topic of conversation seemed to be man’s inferiority, culminating in shoutily listing all the ways in which people with testicles have it so much easier than people who don’t have testicles. It was all going swimmingly, the men clearly knew their place, because besides a few wry chuckles and sheepish looks they made no effort to fight back or defend themselves, in spite of my silently willing them to do so. But then, inevitably, the bane of all women’s existence reared its ugly head – not Nigella Lawson, the other bane – menstruation, and one woman, a particularly angry redhead whose hair clashed violently with her outfit, screeched ‘Fucking men! You don’t know what it’s like, you don’t have to put up with what WE have to put up with every month!’ only for her partner to respond, with lightning speed… ‘We DO know, because you never shut the fuck up about it – and we might not have to put up with periods every month, but we DO have to put up with YOU when you’ve got ’em! Which is WAY fucking worse!’ winning him a venom-filled ‘PIG!’ from his partner and a chorus of cheers and laughter from the men that lasted precisely three seconds, which is roughly how long it took them to notice the suddenly Arctic temperature of the room.

As a ‘singleton’ I was automatically declared Switzerland in the warfare that followed, which suited me fine as I’d had enough by that stage. I like to consider myself a feminist, albeit a lazy, laid-back one with non-comfortable shoes, and I relish a bit of harmless banter between the sexes as much as the next flirt, but the conversation seemed to have gone beyond that and the men looked as uncomfortable as I felt. The women just didn’t seem to know when to quit, egging each other on further, seemingly unaware that their humour now appeared to have little to do with wit and everything to do with viciousness. I tuned out and watched as the ‘banter’ bullets flew past my head and pondered what had happened to make these women so smug and self-righteous that they were able to mistake a superiority complex for feminism.

The matter has rather stayed with me since Saturday night and I’ve had plenty of time to mull it over, and do you know who I blame? DO YOU?

Boots (the Chemist).

Well, Boots and that woman who comes into primary schools and gives girls the ‘Periods Chat’.

I blame Boots because thanks to them we’re all now living in one of their awful fucking adverts, where all women are sharp and ‘sassy’. Apparently, it doesn’t matter that the only goals these women seem to have is to look perfect whilst accruing points on their Advantage cards, and showing men up for being blithering, bumbling fuckwits. And talk about your double standards! – Get a bunch of hoodies surging through a shopping centre and they call it a riot – swap the hoodies and trainers for Dolly Perkins’ finest and some killer heels and let them sashay down a high street in threatening, glammed-up herds as the Sugababes warn us ‘here come the girls’ – and they call it female empowerment!

And then there’s Period Woman. SHE is the true root of female superiority – before HER we are simply little girls, still enchanted by small, plastic, pastel-coloured ponies, fairy cakes with sprinkles and bright pink pencils topped with psychedelic dust bunnies. Then one day you’re hustled out of the classroom in a sinister fashion, along with all the other little girls, bewildered, anxious, worried that you’re in for a double lesson of country dancing in your pants. Again.

You’re ushered into an empty classroom, and there she is, waiting for you, smiling with benign encouragement that doesn’t fool you for a second. But then you spy the little pink boxes on the table and you forget everything else, you just want one of those boxes, because they’re PINK, it doesn’t even matter what’s in them.

Twenty minutes later and EVERYTHING has changed. Because you’ve had ‘The Chat’. You left as a little girl, but by God you’re going back a WOMAN! My Little Pony can now go fuck itself, what you really need is a pair of hair straighteners and a car! You stride back to that classroom, clutching one of those precious pink boxes, nose in the air and with a new, inflated, sense of your own importance. The boys are still sitting there, curious, slightly pissed off because they’ve clearly been left out of something – and suddenly they look incredibly juvenile to your worldly woman’s eyes, with their scruffy jumpers and the chalk still on their hands from having scrawled ‘MR JEFFRIES IS A BENDER’ on the blackboard. They want to know what’s in the intriguing little pink boxes, naturally assuming it has to be something edible, still blissfully unaware of how all their fates will be shaped and driven, to lesser or greater degrees, by other little pink boxes for the majority of their adult lives. They beg you to reveal the contents of that box, but you’re relishing this new thrill of power way too much to comply. Fuelled by indignation and hunger, the boys quickly turn to hyperactivity of Jedward proportions and chaos ensues, until finally one of them gets dragged off to the deputy head for flobbing a lurgy onto Mr Jeffries’ blazer, and unwittingly kick-starts your new-found belief that all boys are lowly tosspots who smell of lies and feet. A belief that, for some women, will stay with them until death.

That’s where it all starts. Thankfully, most females quickly get over it and come to realise that sexual equality can exist and that men are just like us… well, obviously not entirely like us, there’s that whole ‘Top Gear’ thing, but close enough, with good and bad, smart and stupid, funny and… Bobby Davro. Other women discover Prozac later in life, which is effective too.

I suppose that, unfortunately, in this day and age, there are always going to be a few of those other types of women, the ones who think it’s ‘right on’ and the mark of a strong, confident woman to get laughs at the expense of men – just as there will always be a few men who are sexist and misogynistic – so can we PLEASE just agree to not invite them to dinner parties?

CM x

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