Thursday, 28 May 2009

The end of an Era

It has come to an end. My relationship with....my appendix. Yes, sadly it is true. For 21 years we had no problems. We co-existed in harmony. I knew he was there, he knew I was here. I thought we'd be together forever. Until...

2005. He decided to be a bastard. I was studying at University, in the midst of deadlines and research when he decided to let himself be known. It started off as an annoying niggle. I brushed him off. He persisted. Before I knew it, he stabbed me constantly in the side. Oh the pain. The pain!

The Doc said he was rumbling, grumbling; that was all. Nothing to worry about. And so I got on with my life. I ignored the annoying niggle, the inconsistent stabs of pain. I turned a blind eye to his pleas for attention. No, I said. No! Leave me alone. Can't we go back to the way we used to be?

Sadly, we could not. And so this afternoon, we will end it. My appendix is being removed. This is why I will not be posting for a while. I need time to come to terms with my loss.

Fear not reader, I will return. Until then my lovelies. Until then...

Monday, 25 May 2009

The Ironic Bandwagon

My dad does it. Every night he reads the paper before stacking it with the rest of the week’s crumpled, old news. He also does this with cardboard. Empty Weetabix, Frosties and PG tips boxes are cut up in a prolonged, time-consuming fashion to be taken on their weekly trip to recycling.

So what is the meaning behind this environmental endeavour? I know my dad didn’t do this for the good of his health, or mine for that matter. It’s possible that we love our planet dearly and want to ensure future generations survival. More cynically, it’s because we’ve jumped on the eco-bandwagon as it catapults our society into an overwhelming sense of eco-panic.

Okay, so my dad may have been first on said bandwagon, but he’s definitely not the last. According to governmental statistics, as a nation, we are getting better at it too. Earlier this month it was reported that recycling rates have increased by 30% in the last year. This comes as no surprise. The idea of ‘green living’ and all that sits under the environmental belt has become one of huge importance over the last few years. Thus changing the odd habit into more eco-friendly ones is never far from our minds. In fact it’s everywhere.

Supermarkets stock ecological or ‘green’ merchandise, ranging from cleaning products to reusable bags for life. Websites pop up on Google searches reminding us to switch off our lights, turn off our TVs and insulate our homes. Adverts by retail giants encourage us to go for electrical products with the Energy Saving Recommended Logo. On TV, politicians claim to be environmental activists. Even the Academy Awards are in on it; the documentary film 'An Inconvenient truth' won an Oscar three years ago for the discussion of its global warming issues.

Even so, behind the ‘save the earth’ campaign, lurks an extreme rampant hypocrisy. Articles do their best to argue for eco issues, exerting their environmental prowess in the form of perplexing words such as ‘CO2 emissions’ and ‘carbon footprint.’ Next to said article is an expensive advert for a well-known airline which, ironically enough, emits the same amount of CO2 as a small country.

Similarly, the United Nations Climate Change Conference is to be held in Denmark for 10 days this December. The aim is to discuss the Kyoto Protocol; a ten year treaty hoping to reduce the harmful greenhouse gases which cause climate change. The annual meeting, however, attracts around 20,000 politicians and environmentalists, as well as the odd celebrity. The environmental cost of transport for all these people? Oh, only a few hundred thousand tonnes of CO2 emissions.

In addition, leaflets on voting for Green Parties are printed, posted and thrown away without so much as a glance or regret for the amount of trees wasted. Trees that could help decrease these harmful greenhouse gases, as well as moderating ground temperatures. Implicated supermarkets may very well produce green products, ban plastic bags and promote their trusty bags for life, but the revenue made on such commodities are pumped back into their already successful multi-billion pound businesses.

Sadly, nothing will change. My dad will carry on with his painstaking recycling methods. I will continue to re-use my bag for life until my baked beans fall out of the hole in the bottom. Eco-warriors will continue to camp in trees, remaining unwashed. But together, while the supposed ‘environmental’ consumerists reap the monetary rewards, we will leave the irony (and mess) of it all for the next generation.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies

Sigmund Freud thought childhood was a time fraught with oedipal complexities; lots of penis envy and castration anxiety. This coming from a man who believed cocaine wasn't addictive. Hmm...

No offence to Freud but childhood isn't that complex. Sure it's a difficult period of psychological and biological development, as well as a variety of challenges. But does anyone else remember it being fun?

It's the only time in your life when naivety and ignorance is accepted. When innocence isn't something to be ashamed of and responsibility is an enigmatic word only spoken by big people. It's also a time when the word 'enigmatic' evokes a puzzled frown.

Looking back there was something so comfortable about being a child. Everything in the world, even the most mundane, was looked on in wonder. Curiosity ran through the blood. Climbing a hill felt like climbing a mountain. Swimming ten metres felt like ten miles and the discovery of a worm wiggling in the mud was the most amazing find ever.

What happened to that fresh, excited feeling? Why does growing up suddenly make us feel stale? In Western cultures, coming of age is advertised as the best time of life. Which it is, mostly. As adults we gain independence and an invitation to a whole new world. Sex, gambling, smoking, driving, voting, marriage. They seem pretty novel at first but soon that novelty wears off and we're left longing for the innocence and freedom of childhood.

I don't want to go back. Apart from missing all the novelties, I still haven't figured out that whole time-travel conundrum. However, I think we must change our adult perceptions. Occasionally we should act our shoe size. Go outside and splash in puddles, dance in the rain and play on the swings. Feel the fear and do it anyway. Investigate. Discover. Look at the world in wonder again. Maybe the staleness will fade away.

That said, I'm off to look for worms in the garden. Oh dear. Freud would have a field day with that...

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Words to Live Your Life By

I am trying to write a play. I have already done this; my first attempt deemed a success. I feel, however, that was pot luck. A fluke. Last year there must have been a magical creative current flowing through the skies above my house that poured its imaginative contents into my brain.

But I stood outside last night, stared into the lifeless sky; the kind of sky that is neither grey nor white. There was no magical current flowing above me. Just grey rain from a dove grey sky.

Sadly, I am suffering with an acute case of ‘inspiration-lackus.’ All writers encounter such problems. It happens. Free-flowing words get tangled up and eventually we trip and stumble upon them. The words stop. The cursor blinks, the pen dries out and we panic. Our thoughts become clich├ęd and stale.

In this situation, I have to jolt myself from all the wallowing in self-pity. This is where my beloved quotations come in. I take pleasure in finding some pearls of wisdom scattered about the internet, hidden away in the many ‘Os’ of Google like lost treasure. As I am not an evil pirate who hoards her treasure, I thought I would share it with you:

‘Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.’

-Calvin Coolidge

It amazes me that words spoken over eighty years ago still have such resonance. However much we may argue against it, human work ethics have not changed in that time. We have and always will need to work hard at everything we do.

So despite my resentment at my blinking cursor and stale ideas, I must persist with my play. Without a struggle, without any effort, success has no meaning.

Wish me luck! :)

Saturday, 9 May 2009

To Me, Love from Me

Hindsight is a powerful thing. Magical some might say. That is probably why we don’t have such ability. The power of it is far too great for us mortals to handle.

Last week I read the God’s letter to his sixteen year old self. By God, I mean Stephen Fry. In it he talks of the difficulties surrounding his sexuality and the repercussions it had growing up. The letter was such an inspired idea that it sparked a mass of replies from regular Joe Bloggs, like you and me; all writing their own letters to their younger selves.

I sat down yesterday intending to read a couple of these letters. There’s something quite alluring about having a window into other people’s lives. I never thought I would spend over an hour reading pages and pages, peeking into hundreds of windows. Hundreds of souls. Because that is what it felt like. I had access to years of resentment and heartache. It’s been a long time since I’ve cried that much. I felt like I was bleeding tears.

It got me thinking. What would I write to my sixteen year old self? If I were to have the power of hindsight, what would I do with it? Some people, a bit like the Old Biff in Back to the Future Part II, would tell their younger selves to bet on winning races. Make the future a little bit richer. Other people would warn themselves away from trouble, be it people or otherwise. Make the future a little bit safer. And me? Read on reader and find out:

To me,

The year is 2009. Firstly, there are no aliens here, robots or flying cars. The Fifth Element, Total Recall and all Philip K. Dick books were not predictions as we so thought. I’m sorry. It’s a big let down. There’s more future to come so fingers crossed.

Secondly, I want you to stop. Put down the book, revision card and highlighter pen and breathe. Look out the window. There’s a world out there. Life. Education is important but you’ll waste enough of your future on it for you to make such an issue of it now. So go out. Enjoy yourself a bit more. Remove that scrunchie and let your hair down. Oh and by the way, you will regret ever wearing a scrunchie. I mean Carrie Bradshaw hates them. You will find out about Carrie and Co in about a year. Oh and don’t stress too much; she does ends up with Big.

I also want you to stop worrying what other people think. You are still doing this now and we are growing weary from all the worrying. Paranoia is not healthy. If you get a bitchy look from someone, it does not mean that this person hates you or that you have done something wrong; it just means they are jealous of something or their face is naturally like that. I’m afraid there have been no developments on a bitchiness cure. Yet.

Unfortunately you will meet a few more bastards on top of the ones you feel have already ruined you. I would name names and tell you to steer clear or murder them if murder didn’t result in prison but alas, I will not. I cannot. Because Lou these people, like it or not, will make you. They will be the reason you know when someone is feeling sad, lost and alone because you have felt that way. They will be the reason you can spot/smell/sense a complete arsehole/twat/bully ten miles away; a very good safe quality to have. In spite of all the crap that will naturally happen, you are still here. And you still have your heart. You are a lot stronger than you realise. A lot.

So just remember, everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end. (I know how much you love quotations). Good luck Kid.

Love from Me

PS: When you go travelling in a couple of years, watch out for the homeless man hiding in a bush on Hollywood and Highland.

xxx

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Playground games

In 1994, I spent the majority of my time in the playground running away from the person trying to 'tag' me. Back then I could hide in the girls toilets or behind a tree. Here in the blogosphere I cannot. There's no tree. There's no toilets. There's just time, space and many people tagging me at once.

Alas, I'm a little slow at response. I apologise. If I haven't responded to one of the kind awards I've been bestowed it doesn't mean they're unappreciated or unacknowledged. It's just that I forget to put them here on the blog. You see, I think too much and this thinking means that other details get pushed out. I'd be a super encyclopedia if it weren't for all the thinking.

Anyways, I was tagged. A few times. You know who you are. This time I have made the effort to participate in our playground's game of tag: 7 things about me:

A) Link to your original tagger and post these rules:
The lovely Alpha Buttonpusher tagged me. You should check out her blog. She always has some very insightful, thoughtful things to say.

B) Share 7 things about yourself:
I'm going to recycle my very first post on this blog. Most of you probably haven't read it so I'm not cheating. I swear.

1) When I was little, I used to bite glass. Seriously. There are loads of glasses in my house with tiny chunks missing from them (illustrating that I was a freakish child who bit glass and that my mum keeps random crap for many, many years).

2) I have a fear of foxes. When I was about five or six, I had nightmares that foxes would climb through my bedroom window and claw at my face. Even to this day whenever we see a fox in our garden, while everyone says ‘aww how cute’ inside my head I’m thinking: ‘die evil fox, die.’

3) My favourite word is 'bollocks.' It's just so expressive. If I could use it in every sentence, I would.

4) I am one of these people who need things to look forward to or else I lose the will to live.

5) I am the most accident prone person ever. If there is something to hit, fall over, fall on, I will do it. Even if there isn’t, I’d fall over myself. Hell, I’ve even caught my foot in my own trouser leg.

6) I love New York to the point of obsession. Can one have too many black and white photographs of the same NY skyline? The ‘official’ answer is yes. My answer is no.

7) I get so angry at books and movies with sad endings. They lead you on with their happy beginnings and happy middles and then the ending appears where the lead character dies and I’m left feeling like I’ve been stabbed in the chest. If I wanted to feel that way, I’d go out and get stabbed. And don’t give me all that ‘well, real life is like that…real life is tough’ bullshit. Books and films are about escapism. I don’t read books and watch movies for reality bollocks. I leave that to Big Brother.

C) Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names and links to their blogs:
Here goes people. Watch out. You may get tagged!

D) Let them know they've been tagged:
Meh. I'll get round to that later!

So there it is. I've run ragged around the blogosphere. I've had my fun. Now it's over to you my friends. TAG! You're it!