The Great Indoors

Writing

As you down your vitamin D tablets like the sun-loving junkie that you are, perhaps with the other hand you could do something  a little bit more pleasurable (not like that), during these unprecedented times we find ourselves in.

Below, from the fluffy fun depths of my mind, I share with you just some of the activities I had originally planned to do in prison (once they find the body *wink wink)  but thought they could be put to use now, don’t you think?

Yoga

If you happen to have a random yoga mat stowed in your back bedroom since stealing it from a previous workplace, then indulge yourself in a bit of downward dog. If you don’t have the luxury of ‘permanently borrowing’ one then bite the bullet and bruise your hips against your cold wooden floor. Your hamstrings and peace of mind with thank you later even in your pelvic bones do not.

Benefits: increased flexibility, protection from injury (not guaranteed) and stress-relief

 

Spring Cleaning

Not one of my favourite activities I must admit but nonetheless essential these days, given that my present  hibernation antics have led to a state of being that would make a chronic hoarder look like a neat-freak, trust me.  A bit of useless dusting here, a spot of polishing there, all utterly pointless but do them anyway as you’ll ultimately feel much more proud of your dismal dismal cesspit, I can assure you.

 

Benefits: reduces allergies, fosters calmness and boosts your mood

 

Get Artsy

Get artsy not arsey by channeling that inner 8-year old who I’m sure you struggle to contain during your weekly exorcisms anyway. Crack open the colouring book and crayons and create a multi-million dollar masterpiece otherwise known as a unanimous mess that not even your blind mother would be proud of.  If you aren’t a fan of drawing then there’s always pottery, watercolours, glass-blowing and knitting available to tickle your pickle. Me, personally, I always resort to everyone’s old favourite – finger painting.

 

Benefits: your work gives others a laugh, inspires critical – thinking and improves coordination and motors skills

 

Movie Marathons 

Every film is like inception to me , I don’t have a clue what’s going on. But I’m sure in your case you love a bit of Jaws, Shawshank Redemption and Saving Private Ryan all rolled into one sitting. And for this very reason there is no better time to heat up the poppedy pop-corn than the present, am I right?

Benefits: encourages emotional release, problem solving and is actually a light workout

 

I hope you aren’t climbing your walls too much, in negative situations there can sometimes be a positive. Perhaps one of the above has encouraged you to see opportunity in a space you may not have seen it before.

 

Stay safe, stay inside. Hopefully this will all be over soon.

Too Narrow-visioned

Writing

For some of us, life revolves around a career, for others it’s family. But should life really have a sole focus? Is it wrong to lead an existence where we strive for one thing and neglect another? Benefit in one area of our life  to the detriment of another?

Need we only look at the rich lonely business with money to burn on himself but no partner or child to share it with. Or the family with 5 mouths to feed who are living off of rations. A dichotomous pair, with polarizing values. Are they both wrong? Should life be less about a ‘single’ goal and more about having a ‘range’of goals? Should life even be about having goals at all?

Personally, I’m annoyed at myself for having the blinkers on, and neglecting  certain areas of my life, life shouldn’t really be about one thing or the other. Truly, I believe it should be about balance.

And it has only  been through experiencing mistake after mistake via bad life decisions for me to realise this unfortunately. One example for me is infact career. I don’t know exactly where my obsession with gaining certain career goals originated, whether it was from the mouths of pale and stale teachers at school or from the rosy-pink lips of the celebs interviewed on TV. But either way, my obsessive drive to become ‘X’ as a career completely overruled any other aspect of my life as far back as my early teens.

At school I remember threats were frequent – ‘if you don’t do well at this subject then you won’t be employable. If you’re not employable then you won’t get a job, so you won’t earn money. SO you’ll die!’ This general spiel was a common go to for my college careers teacher. A spiel which struck me to my very core, instilling me with a fear and a drive to seek employment, to seek approval from others.

The beginning of a bad end was soon to commence in terms of ‘dream jobs’ for me. At this stage I think it’s best to announce my age, from the number of jobs I’ve had you’d think I was immortal but infact at 25 years old immortality is exchanged for a quarter-life crisis instead. What a trade-off!

Ofcourse I can’t just blame my teacher’s threats on being the reason I’ve experienced so many mishaps on the careers ladder, but it helps so I’ll just go with it (hehe).

Although I’m 25 years of age, I’ve had 8 jobs in 4 years (this should be a pub quiz question). No, each one didn’t last 6 months and yes, there were gaps of unemployment where I found myself crying in the corner of my room, the room I was soon to be kicked out of had I not have found a job to pay my rent. At one stage I kid you not I was down to my last £30 in my account.

But I guess the question isn’t – ‘how may jobs have I had’ but instead, ‘why have I had so many’? A question I do ponder over deeply at times. A short answer of which would be to simply say that I found each one of them boring. But the truth runs much deeper than this. Really, I think the tip of the iceberg is hinted at by a statement I mentioned earlier – ‘to seek the approval of others’. In my little brain I think at some moment in my life I had a eureka moment and I found contentment in knowing that if I obtained a ‘successful’ enough career in everybody else’s eyes then I myself would be happy. And with this mantra moulded into the neurons of my mind I set foot on getting a job in the music industry. Notorious for it’s glitz and glamour or so I thought. But shock horror hit when I actually found myself number-punching into Excel spreadsheets in an office where the perk of the day was getting a free biscuit with my luke-warm cup of tea. The moral of the story was the music industry I experienced wasn’t the music industry I had envisaged myself experiencing. And from this a trend of falling in and out of a jobs list as long as your arm commenced. At one stage I thought I’ll take any job just to pay my extortionate rent as I figure out what way I want to maneuver myself within the music industry. Which sounds good on paper but when you have a 12 hour shift as a host in a restaurant where you can’t sit down and get groped every 5 minutes by one of the bussboys then you suddenly start thinking that the luke-warm tea back at the office didn’t actually taste that bad afterall. Over the last 4 years that I’ve been in London, my job titles have changed, my salary has changed, my career goals may have even changed but one thing which has not changed is my exasperating attempts to achieve some sort of career pinnacle. Some role which will make my parents proud of me, make me enough money that I won’t have to continuously set things back at the checkout, a role which will make my friends say wow, and make me feel genuinely happy. But here comes the irony. That doesn’t exist. And why not?

Because there’s an imbalance, just as I’ve been stressing over obtaining a career everyone can give a thumbs up too, other areas of my life have been neglected. It’s all well and good landing work experience with a big-name company, but as you’re stapling their meeting packs together the thought of ‘I haven’t seen my friends in a while’ might just start to sink in. Or ‘when’s the last time I’ve been to the gym, or ate correctly, or been on a trip?’.

For me a big thing is being too hard on myself, like, I would never reward myself for any wins be them large of small. It was always on to the next goal without hesitance. Whereas if I made a mistake along the way to achieving a goal it would be in the back of my head for weeks at a time. This stick over carrot mentality coupled with my blinkered attitude towards career alone meant that my dearest relationships became frayed. On ths desperate hunt for career success I no longer saw my friends, I wasn’t interested in romantic relationships, all because I had this hardcore belief that I had no time for ‘distractions’, that I needed to focus on achieving my career ambitions. Meanwhile, had I stopped for a second and realised that the areas of life such as relationships, self-love and health hold equal importance to a career if not more. I was blind-sighted by my own obsession to seek the approval of everyone else around me all while I was slowly losing any care I had for myself.  

If you don’t take care of yourself this can manifest into snapping at those who you do care about the most – your family and close friends. For a while I felt so pressured to become something so specific, I put deadlines on every objective I had, most of the time unrealistic ones which meant I was always in a stressed-out mood. Consequently relationships with certain family members became strained. And this was the wake up call I needed to realise that I had gotten myself into a  heightened-state of disillusionment and pressure. If trying to get a high-flying career comes with the cost of losing touch with my family then I don’t want the career. Better yet, what I’ve came to realise is that having a good career in itself isn’t the key to happiness nor is it the key to sadness, the true takeaway point is having a good balance between numerous elements in life: social life, looking after your health, hobbies and job.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t aim to become ‘X’ but what I will stress is don’t become ‘X’ at the cost of everything else in your life! Trust me, balance is more important that you may think. x

Being Called A C*nt By A Stranger

Writing

It’s not everyday that you can indulge in the luxury of having off-the-cuff profanities spat at you on a public street whilst on your daily commute home from work.

So given that exactly this unfolded this very evening makes me really want to count my lucky stars and thank God for all of the socially defunct individuals who scuttle through our streets, waiting to pounce unannounced on the unprepared passerby a.k.a. moi.

No matter who you are or where you are, rest assured, an ill-mannered, pale and stale son of a b*tch will force their way into your life if only for a moment to p*ss on your parade. What kind of world do we live in where you can’t even walk down a residential street without being told you’re a c*nt by a stranger? Cat calls are bad enough but to say something so vulgar such as the C-word is a total disrespect and disregard for me as a human being.

If the world p*sses you off, don’t take it out on me. Mental-illness gets a bypass, but if you are not mentally-ill and instead you are someone who quite bluntly gets a kick out of straight-up verbally insulting someone you know nothing about then  you’re someone we should feel sorry for. For your life must be in a seriously dire state for you to be so cruel.

As the hooded man in his late-thirties stared into my soul while simultaneously slating it as he spewed the expletive with such conviction, I felt a tremor of shock ripple through my body. I turned my head to ensure he wasn’t going to step up his verbal assault with a physical one.

I stopped momentarily, struck by confusion as to why someone who doesn’t know me felt so compelled to say such a thing. As I watched him fade into the darkness of the Winter evening, my thoughts of confusion followed and faded alongside him too. In exchange came one clear intrinsic thought – ‘why be an enemy to yourself when you have plenty of enemies in this world’, not to say that every stranger I encounter is an enemy but moreso it’s this idea that we are all so hard on ourselves. We can be our own worst enemies, we look at self-love as something which is either mushy or big-headed. But those who see it in these lights fail to understand the true meaning of love. Perhaps love means different things to different people, to me it is an unconditional kindness and care for someone/something. Absent of harm, and full of compassion. It’s funny how we can apply all of these to another human being yet can struggle so much to apply them to ourselves. I am notoriously hard on myself, and I’m sure there has been times in your life where you have been so too. When you reflect on the ‘stick over carrot’ model this, do you think it has led to better or worse outcomes? Better or worse moods?

Perhaps I really should be thankful for the stranger who called me the c-word. For he made me realise that self-love is more important than I may have believed previously. I’m not saying that we need to put our guards up to strangers and repeat affirmation after affirmation to ourselves in the bathroom mirror before blowing ourselves a big kiss each morning. But I do believe if we were to even pause for a moment each day and reflect on how we are feeling, how well we are looking after ourselves then really all of us would be in a better place. Maybe even the man who swore at me today, he needs some self-reflection! Some self-care.

I hope you aren’t too hard on yourself, and if you are then don’t be! Because someone may just call you a c*nt for being so!

 

neon signage

Photo by Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels.com

The Arrival…..

Writing

From the Coronavirus to Storm Ciara, it feels like judgement day has well and truly arrived. I helped an old lady cross the road last week, so for that alone I’m sure Jesus will bless me with the golden ticket straight up the squeaky escalator to Heaven and by doing so ensure that the fiery gates of Hell are for sure in my far far distant past.

For everyday of this week my Google newsfeed had bombarded me with biased negative reportings. None moreso than this contagious virus which is sending the whole world into a pandemic panic.

With images like this flooding the feed you can’t help but feel a hot flush of sheer terror radiate through your body:

Capture

Courtesy of Mirror.co.uk

Look at this! The only one without a suit transporting Brits to a quarantine centre in the UK is the driver! Why?

 Because I quote – wearing the suits would ‘pose a greater risk than the risk of contracting the virus itself’ says the Government officials. So in other words – if you put that hazmat suit on you’ll not be able to hold that steering wheel correctly due to the suits restrictive nature and may drive us all off a cliff as a result. So instead of taking us all out, just catch the virus like the rest of us and there may be a  chance that some of us may pull through. It’s all a game of probability really, isn’t it?

So, the coach isn’t looking like the cosiest set up if I’m thinking of heading to the coast anyday this week, and neither is a plane as it seems that Storm Ciara makes landing back from your business trip look like the fastest way to a heart attack. Take a watch of this:

Courtesy of Rehaan Omar

I guess if London really does become like ‘28 weeks later’, or ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ then I’m getting my ass on a kayak and paddling my noodle body to Easter Island. 

I think I’ll be browsing some positive news from now on, maybe ignorance is bliss! Perhaps this – Good News Network

A Poem About Love

Writing

Love.

Imaginary, or a force of nature?

Like the idea of ‘consciousness’.

Are they both just falsehoods,

Or truly realities experienced by those favoured?

 

Love.

As comforting as a hot bowl of soup,

On a cold frosty evening.

In its absence we are all but,

Lost souls, floating on rafts destined for sinking.

 

Love.

Perhaps yearned for more than money itself,

A truth too close to the heart,

That we mask it with our insatiable appetite for wealth.

I gush with guilt in admitting to the above.

Only to find myself alone at night,

Wondering. What it means to be loved. 

 

The Gym – Satan’s Second Home

Writing

Not much of the athletic type, the only way you’ll get me running is in the opposite direction from you if you start going into a long-winded spiel about the weather or how you’re deeply madly in love with your cousin twice removed for that matter.

With that being said, I think my wispy body has been in desperate need of a bit of toning up, my mind continuously screaming out for a hit of dopamine, the kind only garnered after you’ve expelled every drop of blood, sweat and tears out of every orifice in thine very body. In other words – exercised.

With the intrinsic pep talk echoing in my ear one evening after I found myself binging my way into a diabetic coma, I decided to finally muster up the courage to face the embarrassment and shame of my noodle arms shaking under the tremendous pressure of a 5 lb dumbbell, (heaven forbid I tried deadlifts). I remember that first night as if it was yesterday (really it was a week ago but who’s counting), entering the gym felt more like entering an amphitheatre full of lions. Men built like bison, muscles bulging through their over-washed teeny weeny v-neck vest tops. I couldn’t place a bet on which would be first to rip, their crop tops or the vein in their thick thick necks from the gargantuan amount of strain which could have only surmounted in weight to easily 102.5 of my very self. A double take at that weight-lifting carry on was enough to have me retreat as any gym newbie does, by scuttling to the corner of the gym and onto a treadmill. From which I’m reaching for the oxygen tank like a chain smoker on death’s door, after all of 10 mins on the thing. I’ve gotten better though in my 5 days of attendance so far. I no longer use the treadmill, I attend the classes, which is the best solution if you’re like me and don’t have a clue how to use any of the gym equipment and don’t feel like losing a limb in the process of trying to use a weight machine only to find out it has a second calling as a modern day guillotine. If you don’t believe me watch the move – Final Destination 3, I’ll say no more on that front.

So far I’ve done yoga, and a spin class, which tallying it up now sounds pretty lame, but considering the most exercise I ever did prior to a week ago was holding the door open for a tailgater in my apartment block, then I’m doing quite well, don’t you think?

Next up is barre and Afrobeats, the dancer truly truly lost within me will be be buzzing for these. I better bring my sweatbands. Wish me luck………….

The Wacky Walking Race

Writing

Have you ever had a silent race on a footpath with a stranger? Where you both take it turns  to overtake one another. Steadily and surely picking up the pace in a desperate attempt to outmaneuver your opponent.

I’ve had this too, but what I haven’t had is an argument with an old lady who is desperately trying to outrun me on a  residential road on my walk home from work. Well, atleast that was the case until yesterday.

Yesterday evening it was dark, 5.30pm was fast approaching and my legs were making a speedy getaway from the workplace. On my usual route home I walk through quite a nice middle-class neighbourhood which, to my finding, can act as a quite the backdrop to some not so nice characters. As I trot down this residential road, as I do every other day, I try to overtake  a fellow commuter – a short elderly woman, who was walking at a slow pace and had a grocery bag full of red wine.  This was a maneuver I should have never attempted, no sooner am I inches ahead of her than can I see out of the corner of my eye her grey haired head bobbing straight passed me as she jogs with vigor to get ahead of me. I found this peculiar but thought nothing of it and so attempted to get passed granny once again. Yet this time, before I even had the chance to get parallel to her, she spins her head round like The Exorcist to glare at me before 1, 2 3, going at full throttle running the street to get away from me.

In shock at her antics I held back out of fear that had I somehow managed to outpace the geriatric then she’d have taken it upon herself to do me in in such classy style with a bottle of red wine to the back of the skull. And with that image quickly flashing into my head I decided to detour up a side road to avoid that rather inconvenient yet very probably possibility. And in doing so, the old doll, now an ant-like size in the distance, shouts back –  ‘good riddance, piss off’!

Now, bearing in mind I don’t know this woman from Adam or Eve, I have not bumped off her first born, taken the last red wine bottle in the supermarket or told her she’s a coffin dodger, so what is her problem? Can I not walk own the street without being hurled abuse at?

But I guess this is nothing compared to getting your hair spray painted red by an absolute stranger as you wait for bus no.24 at your local bus stop. Later do you come to realise through the city news rags that your newfound hairdresser is actually an escapee of a local London asylum. But I guess that’s a story for another time…..;)

Poem: Present/Future

Writing

 

We only have the present.

Regardless of what we want in our futures,

It is the ‘now’ which takes all of the credit.

 

Living in the moment,

An experience unknown to many.

We disown it in exchange for a chance to oneday own a moment, 

Which is nothing more than merely a ‘maybe’.

 

Hope is one thing.

Oblivion another.

Do you look in the mirror and see yourself for who you are?

Or always strive to be somebody better?

 

Are You Poorer Than Me?

Writing

I’m so sick of being poor. Yes I may have a roof over my head and food in my fridge but when you can’t decorate your rooms or make meals beyond tins of soup and sweetcorn then what’s the point? I might aswell be living in The Amazon, atleast then I’ll avoid the council tax and eyewateringly long queues at the supermarket checkout. 

 

Yes I may be whinging about a first world problem but I believe this is a key reason for my upheaval in the first place. If I did infact live in a tribe in a forest then I wouldn’t know what I’m missing necessarily. How can I miss the sight of some dope dealer sporting the latest balenciaga’s, or the gluttonous geezer buying the ‘extra special’ range in Sainsbury’s when I wouldn’t have the foggiest what either two of these concepts were? You can’t miss what you’ve never witnessed I guess. I would be comfortable and content with my relationships and my tribal lifestyle. 

 

Perhaps that’s just it, in the society I live in, less emphasis is placed on the value of social relationships, instead these are sidelined for the stars of this farcical pantomime I call life – materialism and capitalism. The terrible twins. They are the children you grimace at and purposely attempt to swap at birth, only to find them crawling and clambering their way into your back pocket as you exit the hospital. 

 

My experience living in London has made me reevaluate my perspectives on numerous things, none moreso that the value I myself place on money. Putting it short and sweetly, I now understand why some people may force themselves to do things others may deem shameful. For example, we can all hold our heads high, point our noses in the air, as we scoff at the single mum shaking what God (or her surgeon)  gave her in a strip club. But you put yourself in her 6 inch stilettos for merely a second and maybe then you would begin to empathise and understand that she may have a young mouth to feed on her own. Why? Because the dad walked out as soon as he found out she was pregnant. And let’s face it city ‘living wages’ need to be rephrased as city ‘suffocating wages’. Unless you are in the finance sector or as old as time itself then I’m afraid for the rest of us, youth and inexperience comes as a pretty big financial burden. 

 

I ask myself – why did I move to this city? A question which is becoming worryingly frequent. I’m from a small town in the middle of Northern Ireland, the rent I pay in London could have me living in two places twice the size back in a rural setting, so why am I here? 

 

The old line of ‘there’s loads more opportunities’ is becoming undone, fraying and feeling further from reality. Yes, there may technically be more ‘opportunities’ but let’s face it, no one’s going to throw me a wad of £50’s to take up the opportunity to soak up a West End show, or meetings with top CEOs. Unless ofcourse I turn to sugarbabying, which is a completely different can of worms I wish not open in this moment. 

 

Today, I’m feeling sorry for myself, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who wards away threatening voices in their mind’s eye, tempting them to smash open their piggy bank into a million little pieces, only to find not much more than a hundred little pennies in the remnants of Mr piggy’s once round stomach. Financial hardship makes itself known to all of us at some stage in our lives, I have no doubt, but I say it has outstayed its welcome. So my question now is, how do I kick them out?

Rid them from my minimalist overpriced matchbox flat, where the walls lay bare out of fear that I may maim it’s clinical appearance with so much as a smudge of a marker, or stain from a sticker. Landlords in cities like London make Sherlock Holmes look like a babbling unobservant buffoon when it comes to hunting down the most miniscule of marks on a tenants leaving day, wouldn’t you agree?

 

And with this thought lingering I wonder whether I should indeed make myself scarce of it’s confinements, escaping the financial restrictions once and for all and bid this city goodbye. 

Are We Truly Selfish Or Kind?

Writing

Altruism – “Having or showing an unselfish concern for the welfare of others.”

Do you think you’re a nice person? And by this, self-validation in the form of saying “thank you” to the cashier and “hello” to your neighbor I’m afraid doesn’t quite cut it.

This question springs to my mind in light of a recent conversation I had with a work colleague, as a previous psychology student he divulged in a mixture of both his past successful and failing science experiments within the field.

One which stood out had to be the case where he intended to a stage a robbery, not by using actors or people who were atleast aware of actions to be taken upon them. Oh no, he was aiming to use the element of surprise and stage robberies on innocent ill-prepared passer-bys. The psychology experiment wasn’t to analyse jumpscare reactions, it was in his words to put to test the behaviors of the witnessing bystanders. In other words, would someone come to the rescue of the person who has just been robbed? Thereby testing to what extent people exhibit altruism. Do you think you would go to their rescue in the example above?

Whether you would or not, or whether anyone would  for that matter, the experiment never came to fruition, no surprises as to why. One sniff downwind that one of the school’s students aimed to scare the sh*t out of members of the public and the study was shutdown. Who wants a pass in psychology when it comes at the cost of being passed a 10 year jail sentence for manslaughter because the test subject suffered a heart attack?

As I digested the story of his scientific setback, it got me thinking – are we really as kind as we like to think?

Moving away from human beings for just a moment, I recently came across this video of altruism being exhibited in the bird species – the African grey parrot.

Here you can see that although bird one does not receive a treat for indirectly facilitating in the passing of a token to the human hand by passing it to the bird that does, it still chooses to continue the action despite no reward. A selfless act if you ask me! And likewise, when the birds switched places, the same was shown, they continued to help get the token to the human hand even when they themselves were not rewarded with food and the other bird was:

Courtesy of The Scientist

So where am I going with this? Well, if birds have the capacity for selflessness, then so should humans, right? Afterall, we live in a society, there is a need to be social, to create bonds and work co-cooperatively, so surely it’s in our best interests to look out for eachother, no?

So why might we want to help eachother?

Neuroscience? –  The reward centers in the brain are activated when we carry out an altruistic act [source: Hinterthuer].

But isn’t this in itself a selfish thing? I help you because it makes me feel better?

Survival technique – Cooperative Breeding? – offspring receive care not only from their parents, but also from additional group members, often called helpers. As Burkart suggests in Psypost: “When our hominin ancestors began to raise their offspring cooperatively, they laid the foundation for both our altruism and our exceptional cognition.”

So perhaps deep down helping others really means helping ourselves.

 

Poetry: Change

Writing

A leopard can change its spots.

But cheetahs never do.

Changing your mind is one thing.

But changing your heart, is about as easy as making a mountain move.

 

2020

A new year, a new you.

This year will be different.

A false promise? Or does here lie the truth?

 

Do you need to change your perspective?

Moreso than actually changing you?

Do you need to take more time reflecting?

Than taking time, faking, being too big for your boots?

 

Volunteering: Help Others And You Help Yourself

Writing

They say the best way to feel better about yourself is through helping others. And in no act is this more clear than that of  voluntary work.

‘Volunteering’ can refer to a smorgasboard of activities. Whether you simply take an old dear’s chihuahua out for a walk or wash the windows for your neighbour, the task at hand is not the focus, it is the act of simply doing something for someone else without the expectation of something in return from them. Yet, ironically what you do get in return surpasses any materialistic or monetary transaction tenfold over, doing something selflessly brings true merit.

*Studies have proven this to be true.

Towards the end of last year I found myself struggling with esteem in some areas of my life. This absence was, in effect, creating a presence of self-doubt and worthlessness. Deciding enough was enough I took action and sought to find a way to boost my self-esteem, I started looking for a charity to be a part of.

As much as each charity serves an important purpose, for me, children’s charities have resonated with me on a personal level. Everyone should have the right to an enjoyable childhood, as studies show,  a difficult childhood can manifest itself into a disastrous adulthood. So I think anyway to support children’s well-being and development is a great thing to do.

The charity I volunteer at in particular supports children with additional needs – autism, Down’s Syndrome for example. The charity creates a safe space for them to simply be children. We play sports and other activities which gives them 3 hours of fun and their parents some free time.

Although physically and emotionally tiring, the rewards of seeing them enjoy themselves and then find that I myself am smiling by the end of it is evidence of just how much I get from volunteering.

I would strongly suggest that if you ever feel down about yourself or even if you have a bit of spare time, perhaps give volunteering a go. You never know what it could give you in return.

Happy New Year To You, Not I

Writing

I hope you’re having a pleasant start to the new year, if not then I hope revelling in my misfortunes will have you grinning from ear to ear like a Cheshire cat. 

 

Having just about set foot inside my grotty London flat on the 1st Jan after a rather heart-palpitation inducing flight from Northern Ireland to visit the fam over the holidays, I’m greeted by a bold red-fronted letter of pure threat. Who could it be? My stalker’s love letters normally arrive for me on a Friday, it’s several days too early I pondered. Ripping it open in a fashion much similar to the scenes in Alien vs Predator where the Predator thrusts its hand into the victims stomach and then rips his spine out through his……we’ll not go there. Simply put, I open the letter with a hard swallow and what meets my eyes is the unwelcome invitation of a £1,000 fine coming my way if I so choose to abstain from paying for a TV license. Do you think I could get away with saying I don’t watch TV or is that a bit weak? I double blink in the hope that I just had a moment of utter delusion, as if the more I blinked the more zeroes would disappear from the fine. Just to be clear this is a warning – I’m yet to be fined, and have infact bought a TV License to cover my back for my endless bingeing of Botched, Louis Theroux and Sugar Rush (wait this is Netflix)? Anyhow it was just a miscommunication, I’m not keeping tabs on what channels charge me my hard earned money to become transfixed on the latest terrestrially televised topic. Why should I be? I have better things to do, like spend my wads of cash on the important things in life, such as scratchcards and Cuban cigars. 

 

As if this wasn’t enough, I also had a letter grace me from a magistrates court summoning me to appear infront of a judge for……..

 

I shouldn’t be divulging this information, for you’ll probably think I’m some sort of conman, it’s not like I intentionally forget to pay these bills, I just DO forget sometimes. Anyhow it’s all paid up now, besides it’s not like I’m tax evading millions (give it time). 

 

I’m off to buy a shredder for my letters, Happy New Year to you! 

Amazon’s Worst Christmas Gifts Ever

Writing

Well, there we have it, Christmas is over for yet another year. No one wanted the tangerine in the stocking, but I think we’d take it over these gift mis-haps, don’t you?

1. A Box Of ‘Nothing’


Quite literally a box of absolutely nothing. Why why why would you buy this?

Customer Review 4.1 out of 5 stars, what is going on here?

2. Man Arm Body Pillow

Because nothing screams your a sad singleton more than the sight of a mono-limbed cushion to keep you warm and slightly disturbed at night.

3.Sandals – From The Dawn Of Time

Like some mongrel form of a slipper with teeth, these sandals are uncomfortably akin to those gifted to my very own Mother this passed Christmas by my Dad. I guess a sentencing of 25 years to marriage does something to you.

4.Party Decoration Props

Nothing says par-tay like a pile of dismembered body parts sprawled across a washing line. Not the best Christmas gift but perhaps that’s Halloween sorted.

5. Humping Animals Adult Colouring Book

Yes, this is actually a thing.And actually a number 1 best seller. Should it be? I’ll let you be the judge of that. Let’s hope no children fancy a bit of colouring.

*Ranked in no particular order!!

My Mystery Dining Experience

Writing

Sherlock Holmes eat your heart out for I think you’ll find that I’m the true detective when it comes too all things ‘mysterious’.

Well, atleast when it comes to secret dining that is. Having recently signed up to a mystery dining program in the last couple of months, I’ve had the pleasure of casting my judgmental beady eye across all sorts, from bitching waiting staff to rather greasy grub and everything inbetween.

‘Mystery dining’, if you’re unfamiliar with the term, is the task of eating free food and whinging about the customer service of the waiters. Just kidding, it’s much much more than that. It involves adopting an analytical eye, if you’re a natural people watcher then this job will be right up your street. You basically go out for a meal, acting as you would normally do and then write up a short report at the end of it noting the obvious stuff like the quality of the food and friendliness of the staff. Although the scheme I’ve signed up to doesn’t pay you,it does reimburse you, it isn’t about the money! It’s about improving the standards for the hospitality industry, right?

It’s a good means of enjoying meals out while doing something good for the industry on the whole. Who hasn’t had a bad dining experience? Wouldn’t it be good if you were a part of making this a more rare occurrence than it may currently be?

With dining under the spotlight, let’s have a look at some of the internet’s most shocking alleged dining experiences:

Unsanitary napkin

Liam: That would be the time I pointed out my dirty fork to the waiter. He picked it up along with my own napkin, rubbed the fork, then plonked both items back down and asked if we wanted starters.

Read more: METRO

This diner was disgusted to find maggots in a meal he had ordered at a restaurant - and he was still forced to pay the bill

Read more: Dailymail

One former restaurant worker recalled that cockroaches and flies were commonplace - unbeknownst to the diners

Read more: Dailymail

HOT TO THE TOUCH

“A few years ago, I was at a Mexican restaurant with some friends.

The waiter brings our food, and warns everyone that the plates are very, very hot.

So, of course, the first thing I do is touch my plate.

I burn my thumb on the hot plate, and my automatic reaction is to stick it in my mouth so it will stop hurting.

Just then, the woman at the next table starts yelling at her five-year-old son.

‘Stop sucking your thumb, Bobby! You’re a big boy, and big boys don’t suck their thumbs.’

The five-year-old points at me and screams, ‘They do, too!

He sucks his thumb! Look! He sucks his thumb!’

Everyone in the restaurant turns to look at me, and I try to vanish behind my menu.

Read More: Oola

 

 

Have you ever had a bad dining experience like these? 

 

 

Poem: Winter

Writing

 

Cheeks flushed crimson,

Embers crackle,

As the smoke billows beyond the seams of the Oak smoked door.

 

A faint glow from within the forest,

The little cottage.

Offering temporary relief,

From a permanent frost.

 

Brave the wind, the rain and the snow.

A feat too difficult for now.

Yet a necessity for

Tomorrow.

 

She Threatened To Smash My Face In

Writing

Who walks into a shop to buy some Christmas baubles for their tree and instead has ‘you’re a f*cking b*tch’ screamed into their face as ‘Jingle Bell’s’ plays in the distant background? Only yours truly ofcourse!

Nothing reminds me more of the season of giving than being on the receiving end of the odd curse word, tirade of insults and that all too familiar tsunami of spit. It’s never a dull moment if you’re me in the shops I can assure you of that.

Let’s rewind for a moment, it’s Friday, everyone loves a Friday (unless of course you work weekends, then it sucks to be you). And what better way to kick off the start of the weekend, and the start of your Christmas shopping, than with a wander around overpriced shops? Doing exactly this, last Friday afternoon was rather boring, yet in doing so, I was content within my mundane little bubble until it was abruptly popped by an aggressive ram to the back of my Achilles heels by a stranger’s pram. The force so strong it made the Trojan Horse look like ‘My Little Pony’. I ignore this ‘accident’ from a fellow shopper, perhaps they had a spasm, slipped on a banana peel, had a moment of utter delusionment and unknowingly forgot their manners. And thus, giving them the benefit of the doubt, I continue to rummage through the tat on the shop floor.

No sooner had the pain dissipated from my heels than had it returned again, like an unwanted smell wafting, which you somehow find yourself consistently down wind of. This time I grit my teeth, crumple a pasty paper mache angel decoration in my palm to a pulp and turn to the perpetrator of this unforgivable act.

I thought pigs couldn’t push prams? I say internally as I give the doting new mother a look like she’s just killed my family pet. No amount of make up disguises an ugly personality, with her overlined lips she seethed through gritted teeth for me to ‘not bother giving her dirty looks as she said ”sorry”. To which I blankly stated ‘I wouldn’t, if your pram push wasn’t intentional’. And to this she erupted like a flantulent St Helens. Hotheaded and rough af, she proceeded to storm around the shop like a bull in a china shop spitting verbal abuse at me from left, right and centre. ‘F*cking b*tch this, f*cking b*tch that’, I wish I’d brought my swear jar for this lovely lady.

Before I’d even had a chance to register what was even being said to me, I watched in shock as other shoppers stood from a distance with both caution and concern at the behavior of this show up. I look around me, I too am in shock at this individual’s escalation from 0 to 100, afterall she was the one who rammed me. Eager to diffuse the situation, my attention turned to try and find the shop assistant before matters truly got out of hand. I spotted the manager but on first glance thought she was a mannequin thanks to her lack of expression, concern or action for what was unfolding before her vacant eyes. I pleaded for her to call security as I truly feared for my safety as the headless chicken of a mother hen rampaged through the store, a hurricane chicaning, refusing to relent. The shop manager,  to my utter astonishment, proceeded to flat out tell me that I was making the situation worse. ‘How could a mother with a pram do you any harm? I’m not calling security’. Was her phrasing. I’m sorry but just because you’ve a pram doesn’t making you bloody Mother Theresa. You can’t judge books by their covers. With this I was truly deflated, my safety means nothing to nobody. Had this aggressive individual spoke to the manager or one of her colleagues how I was spoken to, getting up into my face at a point,  I’d like to hope she would’ve had the respect and decency to call security in that instance. But for me, just a ‘shopper’ I’m somehow the problem?

‘Well Merry Christmas to you ya filthy animal! Your shop sells cheap tat anyway!’ I should’ve said, yet with an overwhelming feeling of disappointment and sadness at the event which had just unfolded I left the shop several minutes after my aggressor stormed out at the sound yet unfortunately not the appearance of ‘security’ at my request.

Sitting on a nearby bench to the shop I reflected and wondered had my actions caused such an explosive aftermath? Or can you truly be caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time? Should I have just not turned around when she bumped into me? Was it really an accident?

How can you not turn around if you feel a thump to your legs? If it was an accident why did she do it twice and at such force? Besides from the way she reacted to my turn around said it all. She was quite simply someone with no manners. If she wanted passed, couldn’t she have said ‘excuse me’? But at the end of the day it’s not my job to teach someone manners, and unfortunately the reality is is that sometimes you may find yourself on the receiving end of this. With that aside what hurt me the most was the lack of consideration given to me by the shop manager. Whether I’m a customer who enters your shop to buy a £1 item or £1,000 item, shouldn’t I be treated with the same respect? Isn’t that what all companies looking your custom want to portray, so you shop with them? That they care for you? The takeaway message from that event is that you need to take care of yourself. Not in a  selfish way but have some respect for yourself and your own well-being. Know that how you handle difficult situations says alot about your character aswell as the others involved.

I hope you don’t have the experience I had too often, and that Santa brings you something a little better than a chorus of cussing this festive season.

Merry Christmas! x

 

 

 

Dido In Concert 2019

Writing

Is it bad that I only know two of her songs? That’s right she’s a singer not a prehistoric bird (Dodo). Although at the age of 47 years old, I wonder is her voice as strong as it use to be? Not being ageist but if Sir Paul McCartney’s croaking at the London 2012 olympics was anything to go by then let’s just say pensioner care home choirs need not audition for the X Factor anytime soon. 

 

47 is certainly by no means old, and nor does it mean you should stop singing, I mean look at Cher! But forgive me for being somewhat skeptical ahead of the hitmaker’s concert last night at The Hammersmith Apollo. Will she deliver or will her support act outshine her?

If Eminem deemed her talented enough to be the chorus belter on ‘Stan’ then she must have talent, right?

*One Moment Later

So What’s The Verdict?:

Dido’s voice is flawless, still as ethereal and controlled as it was recorded in the 90’s. The strength of her voice in addition to it’s quality was sustained throughout the full 2 hour show, it didn’t waver once. I strain my voice shouting down a taxi nevermind belting out hit records for hours on end so she gets a massive thumbs up from me on that.

Her warmth onstage shined through also, with a good sense of humour in her anecdotes coupled with context on what encouraged her to create certain songs made for  engaging stage presence.

Dido proves that women in music don’t have to necessarily perform in their underwear to appeal to the masses, afterall she’s been on a hiatus from music for 15 years and still she can command a crowd across international cities.

The evening restored my faith in the music industry (apologies in advance for the terrible quality photos):

She’s not even in this one thanks to the man’s head in the middle! But I liked the flame effect.

79378827_547540379158043_4906462087946960896_n

78155185_558269985003412_3906806804830486528_n.jpg

I told you the quality was bad!

79293956_489840581737893_1375325743101247488_n.jpg

Odid? My sister et moi.

78955011_441678170056602_8032213722606862336_n.jpg

 

Poem: La Familia

Writing

La Familia,

Blood’s thicker than water.

A ‘V’ for Vendetta,

If any were to ‘runneth’ over.

 

Sibling feuding subsides,

Eyes are dried as,

The belly of the beast rolls over in submission.

Fist fights in a blink of an eye become,

Nothing more than a memory of augmented vision.

 

La Famila,

The Family,

The Clan.

Does the man make the family,

Or does the family make the man?

I Thought I Was Going Blind

Writing

Sitting at my desk in the office yesterday morning, everything was just peachy (or so I thought). Despite my eyelids occasionally closing over due to boredom, for the rare moments I decided to forcefully will them open, I could see as clear as day.

 

But for some reason or other I decided to wink at my morning array of spreadsheets and in doing so came to the stark realisation that my vision in my left eye was completely blurry.

 

 My vision through my right eye only was fine, through both eyes combined  it was fine, yet when solely using my left eye to look at the screen I was met with a blurred mess. It was as if someone had just poked my cornea with a vaseline blobbed finger and then proceeded to hold my head over a spoiled scrabble board. 

 

Feeling like I was about to give the game up on my sight I started panicking. Quietly. With the blurriness becoming progressively stronger I speedily sent my manager an email emphasising that my vision was weakening and that I needed to go to the opticians straight away. So sprinting into the store in an unshakeable panic I begged for an immediate eye test. My fear was less about my actual eye health to be honest and more about the condition of my brain. The earliest eye test to my dismay was to be a one hour wait. 

 

Advised to head to A&E if it got worse, I  instead chose to wait it out. Waiting out the time felt like a lifetime. Back to the opticians an hour later and I’m getting air shot into my eye and asked if I could read outloud a love letter that had been etched onto the back of a postage stamp. 

 

What were the results? 

 

Following an array of tests, I was put out of my misery as the optometrist declared that my eyes and corresponding vessels were all healthy. 

 

So what was causing the blurriness? And why was it only in one eye? 

 

The glasses. 😦

 

The bloody things which were meant to better my eyesight ironically played a crucial part in its deterioration. 

 

It’s because of the following explanation that I urge you to ensure that you get your eyes tested frequently and make sure your prescription is the most accurate  and updated one tailored for your sight. 

 

It starts with the fact that no two eyes are ever going to be the same strength, and for me my right eye is stronger than my left. So in theory I would need different lens strengths in my glasses, with each lens being specifically made for each eye. What happened in this situation was that this was not the case. Instead, the lens magnification which best suited my stronger right eye was placed into both the left and right eye section of the glasses. As a result my left eye was being put under constant strain every time I wore my glasses, to the point where the muscles were overworking so much it resulted in what felt like a remaining partial blindness in the left eye. 

 

Examples to describe giving the wrong glasses may be along the lines of:

 

-Giving chocolate to a dog. It poisons them. 

-Pouring salt on a slug. It does them no favours

-Giving someone a chocolate teapot. It’s useless. 

 

The bottom line is the glasses were not helping my eyes, they were hindering them, hence not fulfilling their purpose!

 

So Now I’m met with the choice of either not wearing glasses at all while I’m doing computer work or paying between £39 – £69 per pair (I have two pairs with these incorrectly fitted lenses). Do you think they should pay for the lens change? Or should I?

 

**This frightful momentary state of panic made me appreciate how complex we are as humans. It made me realise how important it is to look after yourself. We are human beings, made up of such complex biology. It’s astonishing how every cell in our bodies serves a purpose. And how easy it is for part of this harmony to be abruptly thrown out of sync.

 

Take care of yourself!