10 Things I Wish They Had Taught Me in School

I learnt a lot in school. These are the edited highlights:

  • Henry VIII put it about a bit. (Quite a lot actually).
  • Guy Fawkes was a pyromaniac.
  • When in an exam situation – if you can’t remember the year something happened, just put 1962. Lots of things happened in 1962”. (John Keenan, Media Studies teacher; legend).

I was fortunate enough to benefit from a decent education. That said, I did once spend an entire term in Metal Work making a pooper scooper, so arguably my time could have been better utilised elsewhere.

There are several things that with hindsight, I wish they had taught me in school. Here’s my top ten:

1. BULLIES NEVER PROSPER. Those evil witches who pick on you now, throw pencil shavings in your hair and spit in your pencil case? Get the popcorn ready – they’ll soon be regular guests on the Jeremy Kyle show.

2. DON’T BE A SHEEP. You’ll waste the first 16 years of your life desperately trying to follow the herd and fit in, then the rest of forever trying to stand out.

3. YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW GORGEOUS YOU ARE RIGHT NOW. I don’t expect you to understand – you’ll only realise this in 15 years time, when you’re older, fatter and less firm.

4. FAILURE IS AN OPTION. You are not destined to be a Tomato, win The X Factor or marry Ronan Keating. Once fully disillusioned – you’ll learn a valuable lesson and go on to succeed in something you never expected – like Rubik’s Cube solving. A key life skill.

5. “BE NICE TO NERDS. CHANCES ARE YOU‘LL END UP WORKING FOR ONE”. Listen to that Bill Gates chap; he’s something of an authority on the matter.

6. UNIVERSITY IS NOT THE ONLY OPTION. Without it – you are likely to be just as successful, without sclerosis of the liver or a debt problem.

7. IF YOU DOWN 2 SAMBUCAS, 3 VODKAS AND 5 AFTERSHOCKS IN CLOSE SUCCESSION, YOU WILL BE SICK AND IT WILL GLOW IN THE DARK.   

8. NO, YOU CANNOT HOOVER UP PAPERCLIPS. DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT TRYING. The warranty will not cover damage caused by miscellaneous stationery items, Christmas ornaments or pet gerbils. House spiders however are permitted.

9. WHITE FOOTBALL SHIRTS DO NOT RESPOND WELL TO SHARING A WASHING MACHINE WITH RED SOCKS. Your husband and his team will not thank you either.

10. CAREER-WISE: HAVE A PLAN E. You are likely to need one.

Wait ‘til You See My Smile

It is fair to say that growing up – I was a crazy moo. Smiley, happy and mad as a box of frogs. I also had the energy of a Duracell bunny – on acid.

Then, at 15 years old – something changed. As an A* student, it was most out of character for me to fall asleep in my GCSE History exam. I ate iced buns by the dozen and endeavoured to satisfy my unquenchable thirst by downing roughly 396 gallons of water a day. It became an effort to walk 100 yards to the bus-stop, at 5’6″ my weight plummeted to 6 stone, I had constant halitosis and to add insult to injury – my hair started falling out. This was not the look I was going for to bag myself a hottie.

Being a teenager – I would rather have stuck a fork in my eye than talked to my parents about this – as it was, like sooo embarrassing. So I didn’t. I took the sensible approach of suffering in silence, sleeping 14 hours a day and almost failing my GCSEs. Genius, I know.

Despite my best attempts to hide the fact that by 16 – I had developed the get up and go of a 98 year old and the body of an 8 year old – my parents noticed. Damn them. One trip to the GP and a pee in a cup later and I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

Admittedly, upon diagnosis, my life fell apart a little bit, but I soon moved on. 12 and a half years later – happy, healthy, energetic and mad as a box of frogs once more – I am able to share 3 key pieces of diabetic wisdomery with the world:

  1. Never ask a diabetic “Should you be eating that?” They will punch you in the face.
  2. Life is frickin’ awesome. Be grateful for it and enjoy every minute.
  3. Smile every single day.

The True Confessions of Me, aged 29 and a little bit

I heard a vicious rumour that confession is good for the soul. With this in mind, I have decided to share my many crimes, faults and misdemeanours with the world. Brace yourselves:

I strongly believe that chewing gum is a filthy habit.

I habitually chew gum.

Not once have I retained the packaging for future reference. Does anyone?

I cried when Max said goodbye to OB on Hollyoaks. Yes, really.

I think Bruce Forsyth is highly overrated. There, I’ve said it. (Please don’t hurt me).

Only when accompanied by a small child, do I wait for the lights to change at a pedestrian crossing.

I am aware that I risk death by a thousand scorch marks when coughing loudly in the presence of smokers. Nonetheless – I have a point to make.

I have been known to eat my way through half a tube of Pringles in one sitting. Then cry.

I have a discoloured tooth, which contrary to popular belief – is not the result of poor dental hygiene, but the outcome of a food fight at University that got out of hand. Never take on your friend when she’s armed with a broom – you won’t win.

I know I talk too much. This does not stop me.

My mother taught me that “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all”. I am yet to master this. (Please see previous comment).

I have no idea what the terms “well jel” or “reem” mean, nor do I care. You have permission to slap me with a mackerel if I ever use them in a sentence without a hint of irony.

I once got very excited about the arrival of our new washing machine.

I love to mock people who take trivial games seriously, by overtly cheating in their presence. Potting pool balls with your hands always goes down well. (No pun intended).

If Princess Mercedes Armani von Fluffinton poops on my rosebush one more time – I shall pelt her with a pineapple.

I have a secret crush on Kermit the Frog. Please don’t tell my husband – or Miss Piggy.

I Really Should Have Thought This Through

I once had a large gecko inked on my back, which seemed like a good idea at the time. I was secretly relieved that it was gone within a fortnight; you’ve got to love henna ink.

I’m not strongly opposed to tattoos, but my reasons for not personally having any are threefold:

  1. They are permanent.
  2. I am indecisive.
  3. They are permanent.

Fortunately for me, the impact of most lapses in judgement is fleeting. Just imagine if every decision you made stayed with you forever…

At five years old, I gave one of my Trolls a particularly striking Mohawk haircut. Hairdresser of the Year, I was not – so I couldn’t wait for his radiant pink locks to grow back. Much to my horror and disappointment, they never did.

At six, I decided that I wanted a fringe. I tried to bribe my mother with a fairy made from half a discarded kitchen roll, two goggly eyes, several pipe cleaners and some sticky-back plastic, but she was having none of it. So I resorted to the tried and tested method of pester-power. It went a little something like this:

“I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I want a fringe. I WANT A FRIIIIIIIIIIIIINGE!”

Just three short months later, my mother finally caved – and I was granted my wish. I changed my mind within minutes, cursing her for “forcing me to have my hair cut”. How dare she?  Stomp stomp stomp.

Studies have shown that it is beneficial to let your child dress themselves, to help them develop a ‘sense of self’ early-on in life. I have strong evidence to the contrary:

 

I vividly recall a nativity play my brothers and I performed for my parents, at a young age. The shepherds wore towels on their heads, secured in place by y-fronts. My hobby horse was the donkey, Kermit the frog stepped in to play Jesus and our menagerie of barn animals present at the birth of the son of God included a giraffe, two lions, a talking parrot, three Velociraptors and a Tyrannosaurus rex. Eat your heart out Andrew Lloyd Webber. Regrettably, the pants-on-head look never caught on.

At twelve, I wanted all the boys to fancy me – so decided that the way to their hearts was cropped tops and head to toe denim. It wasn’t.

At the age of fifteen, my parents foolishly allowed me decorate my own room. I think they hoped I’d favour sophisticated salmon pink or soothing lavender. I actually opted for a postmodern self-conscious homage to the Teletubbies – namely lime green and purple passion, with a hint of turquoise. It looked like Tinky Winky and Dipsy had collaborated with Laurence Llewelyn Bowen. Delightful.

At seventeen, I was keen to find out for myself whether blondes really have more fun. So I saved my pennies and took myself to the best hairdresser in town, who dyed my brunette tresses a sexy shade of ash blonde. I smiled at the hairdresser, paid him a massive tip for doing such a fabulous job, then ran to Boots, bought a brunette home hair dying kit for £2.99 and ran home to change it back immediately. I really should have read the instructions – as not only did I ruin a towel and stain my forehead, but my hair came out bright orange (and to clarify – I really do mean ORANGE, not ginger). Not quite the look I was going for. Hats were my favourite accessory that season.

I’m pleased to report that my fringe grew out, I disposed of my denim jacket/skirt combo and the pants-headgear incident was a one-off. The bedroom I share with my husband does not glow in the dark and although I still don’t know whether blondes have more fun, I can verify that oranges certainly do not. 

“With great power comes great responsibility” (Stan Lee)

Facing imminent redundancy from work, I have decided to do the only sensible thing and prepare an acceptance speech for my next role as British Prime Minister.

There are the very small matters of starting up my own political party and getting elected for parliament to contend with first, but my mother reliably informs me – I’m a shoo-in, so here goes:

“Today is a good day. Her Majesty the Queen has asked me to form a new government and I have accepted; Eric Cantona has agreed to succeed Alex Ferguson at Manchester United and I found a five pound note in my coat pocket, along with a gobstopper and three penny chews.

I would like to express my gratitude to the outgoing Prime Minister for making me look so good. I’d also like to thank my mother for always believing in me, my bullies for never believing in me and my lucky pants, without whom I wouldn’t be here today.

Please allow me to introduce my new Cabinet:

I thought I’d break with tradition – and bring in a Chancellor who knows his sums: Count Von Count.

James Bond shall oversee the nation’s security as Home Secretary. He has excellent credentials, having worked with MI6 for a number of years and also looks very fetching in skimpy blue shorts.

Consisting of 0% fat, 70% silicone, 20% Botox and 10% false eyelashes, Katie Price has an inexplicable net worth upwards of £40,000,000. I can only deduce that she must be the greatest entrepreneur the world has ever seen.  With this in mind – please welcome her as Business Secretary.

There was simply no greater candidate for Party Chairman than my dear friend Animal, of Muppet fame. Have you seen him on the drums?

Former London Major, Boris Johnson plans to protect this country from ‘oiks’ by chasing them on his bicycle. I have appointed him Defence Secretary for leading by example.

As Artistic Director of Pineapple Dance Studios, Louie Spence loves nothing more than showing others how it is done. I have every faith in him as the new Health Secretary. Anyone who can put their feet behind their head above the age of 8 is okay by me.

Last, but by no means least – I needed someone I could really depend on for my beloved sidekick. So I have appointed Robin as my Deputy. Rest assured – he will not be wearing lycra in the office, though what he gets up to at weekends is his own business.

Together, my Cabinet and I plan to introduce some radical reforms to address, amongst other things – the debt crisis, obesity epidemic, global warming and Justin Bieber.

But first things first – that door seriously needs a lick of paint. I was considering aubergine…What do you think?”

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that when your mother full-names you – she means business

Allow me to demonstrate:

 “Charles Phillip Arthur George Mountbatten-Windsor – I think you’ll find young man that those are my Crown Jewels. Return them to the Tower of London immediately or I shall set the Corgis on you!(Circa 2011)

Your mother’s body language in this situation was always key. With an eyebrow raised and arms crossed – the death stare was employed. That was your cue to return her Crown Jewels / put down the hammer / take your brother’s GI Joe out of the microwave (even if he had decapitated your Tiny Tears).

Let’s face it – nothing else your parents said carried as much weight. You always knew better:

Being told “No you can’t watch that” merely resulted in you screening the desired 18 rated slasher horror psycho chainsaw massacre hell-raising blood-fest at your mate’s house instead. You’ve slept with the light on ever since.

As a child, being informed that something was prohibited, only ever made it more beguiling. As such, any of the following statements would have, quite rightly been wholeheartedly ignored:

“Your father’s nail gun is not a toy”

 “Calpol is not fruit cordial”

“Superglue, bleach and WD-40 are not fair weapons to employ in a water fight with your younger sister”

So, when stating the obvious didn’t work – your parents attempted reverse psychology:

 “I really love what you’ve done with your jeans. How do you get the waistband to sit just below your buttocks in that way? I hope you wear them like that forever”. If that failed, they resorted to outright lies:

My father used to tell my brothers and I “We’re nearly there” roughly an hour and a half into a 6 hour journey to Dorset. “I wonder who will be the first to see the sea?” he’d ask, midway through Luton. 

I had an epiphany in my late teens and I didn’t like it. I realised my parents actually knew more than me.

Here’s some whimsical wisdomness, from older, wiser grown-ups. Show-offs:

“Never be afraid to ask for help or say you don’t understand” Anon

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new” Einstein

 “Be whoever and whatever you want to be” My Mother

“These are the days of our lives” Queen (Roger Taylor) 

Oh to be ickle again…

THE WORLD IS YOUR LOBSTER

  • Jumping in muddy puddles will keep you entertained for precisely 4 hours and 27 minutes. Half the time it takes to get you clean again.
  • If you ask your mother “Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?…Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?…Why? Why?…Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?…Why?” constantly for 8 hours, her head will actually explode.
  • It may look like a drum stick to all the boring grown-up people, but to you it is a magical wand and you are not afraid to use it.
  • Fatigue is not an issue. You can always have a power nap in the dog basket.

YOU HAVE AN EXPLANATION FOR EVERYTHING­­­

  • “Daddy told me it was okay”.

IF IT DOESN’T HAVE A CHILD SAFETY LOCK ON IT, THEN IT’S YOURS

  • Left unattended for 2 minutes, any infant can eat half a pot of Sudocrem.
  • You can lovingly varnish your grandfather’s antique cabinet. Just don’t expect a ‘thank you’.
  • You look particularly fetching with your mother’s make-up all over your face. Very Eddie Izzard.
  • Toast really doesn’t fit in the DVD player. You’ve tested this theory, several times.

GROWN-UPS REMIND YOU HOW WONDERFUL YOU ARE AT LEAST 32 TIMES A DAY

  • Rapturous applause awaits you every time you count to 10 / clear your plate / pee in a toilet and not the waste paper basket.
  • Parents know nothing, but don’t worry – you can teach them the lyrics: “Twinkle twinkle chocolate bar, my best friend’s a racing car…”

NOTHING SCARES YOU

  • You get to dance with all the hotties.
  • You can drive without due care and attention and still not face a lawsuit when you hit a tree / cow / Lollypop Lady.
  • If you want to wear sunglasses with teddies on them, to match your teddy bear t-shirt, then you can and you will. You trend setter you.

YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW FUNNY YOU REALLY ARE

  • When asked if you have ants in your pants – you need to consult the contents of your underwear to verify.

Having given the matter much thought, I have concluded that I would be willing to be a kid again.

Now who stole my Magna Doodle? I want it back.

Pearls of Wisdom Just for You (You’re Welcome)

Someone really ought to learn from my mistakes, so please consider the following life lessons my gift to you:

No matter how much your brother tries to convince you – it is never cool to staple your own thumb.

Swimsuits don’t respond well to being ironed.

Fish Fingers only take approximately 12 minutes to cook. Not 4½ hours.

Cut your own fringe at your peril.

As an A-level student, resist the temptation to change your answer-phone message to something seemingly witty and hilarious, like “Hi this is the tumble dryer. The answering machine can’t get to the phone right now, so please leave a message after the beep”. University officials prefer not to liaise with kitchen appliances to congratulate you on your A-level results.

You will not make friends and influence people in University Halls of Residence by singing along to Destiny’s Child “Independent Woman” at 140 decibels at 4:00 am, regardless of the fact you split up with your boyfriend 20 minutes earlier. Nobody cares that you bought the shoes on your feet, the clothes you are wearing or the rock you are rockin’.

If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck’. This methodology is particularly useful when applied to picking a mate: If he looks like a Neanderthal, walks like a Neanderthal and barks like a Neanderthal, I assure you he is a Neanderthal. No need to waste time testing this theory; I’ve done the ground-work for you.

If it looks like it might rain – this is because it is going to rain. Unless you want to model the ‘drowned rat’ look for the third time in a fortnight, I strongly recommend you bring your blasted umbrella.

Always check yourself in the mirror before leaving the house for work. You can just about get away with odd socks, but wearing your top inside out in the boardroom will start rumours.

Never be afraid to try new things - apart from cottage cheese with pineapple. Big mistake. Huge.

A Letter to my Younger Self

Dear 12 year old me,

I have some good news and some not-so good news about the next 17 years. Where shall I begin?

I HATE TO BE THE ONE TO BREAK IT TO YOU, BUT…

  • You do not marry Ronan Keating.
  • As yet, there’s still no sign of hoverboards. (That Michael J Fox has a lot to answer for).
  • Take That split up. Robbie Williams gets fat. Gary Barlow also gets fat.
  • You haven’t yet holidayed in Space. Though you do get as far as Cyprus – and it’s fabulous.
  • In your quest to find a boyfriend who looks like Grant Mitchell - you end up dating a lot of men who look unfortunately like Phil Mitchell.

GREAT NEWS

  • You are no longer a short-arse.
  • You know that gawky looking fresh prince of Bel-Air? Think of him as an ugly duckling.
  • Gary Barlow gets fit. Take That reunite.
  • We have progress: Hillary Clinton is now officially more powerful than her husband Bill. Rugby Union legend Gareth Thomas came out. A black man runs the White House.
  • The Lion King returned to cinemas in 2011, this time – in high definition and 3D. You still remember (some of) the words.
  • You fall in love and get married. Your husband makes you smile every single day. I’m pleased to report –he doesn’t look a thing like Phil Mitchell.

SPOILER ALERT

  • That thing you’ve heard about called the internet? It’s going to be huge. It may even compensate for the lack of hoverboards.
  • You change your mind about the whole teaching career thing. Have a Plan E.
  • Princes William and Harry actually become borderline hotties. (Briefly).
  • Beware: Facebook.

No need to thank me – I know I am brilliant.

Yours,

Me (aged 29¼)

Kisses xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

“Think Different”

When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down “happy”. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” John Lennon

There was a sweet little girl on the bus today, with big brown eyes, short curly auburn hair and a cheeky grin. She turned to her mother and said “When I grow up, I want to be a tomato”. What a brilliant suggestion, I thought. Why didn’t I think of that?

I had to admire her ambition. After all, many grown-ups have pursued far more ludicrous career paths, with moderate success. Take Kirstie Allsopp for example – she can neither sew, nor glue, nor stitch nor paint in any coherent fashion whatsoever. I’ve seen grasshoppers with more artistic flair. Yet she has 2 television series to share her creative arts and crafts ‘talent’ with the nation. By contrast – David Beckham once reported in an interview that “at school whenever the teachers asked ‘What do you want to do when you’re older?’ I’d say, ‘I want to be a footballer’ and they’d say ‘No, what do you really want to do, for a job?’”

Unlike Beckham though – the vast majority of us never achieve our childhood dream of becoming a superhero / astronaut / secret agent / world-class footballer / piece of fruit. Occasionally, this isn’t such a bad thing:

Sir Elton John (back in the day when he still had hair and went by the name of Reg Dwight) wanted to be a footballer. Just imagine a world without the ‘Circle of Life’…No thank you.

Fastest man on the planet – Usain Bolt thought he was destined to play cricket. I beg to differ.

Luciano Pavarotti – wanted to be a goalkeeper. Enough said.

Thanks to Elton’s mother, Usain’s cricket coach and Pavarotti’s brain for drawing their attention to the far more sensible career paths of rock star, lightning bolt and operatic tenor.

I would like to dedicate the following clever piece of marketing to the adorable little girl who wants to be a tomato:

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do”. Steve Jobs

Where’s Jimmy Savile when you need him?