Excellent News! Nobody’s Perfect

I have four brothers. The eldest – Oliver, selfishly made life particularly difficult for the rest of us growing up, by being so goddamn brilliant. How rude. While I struggled to make a three legged cat from Stickle Bricks, he built the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World using matchsticks and wood glue. His Hanging Gardens of Babylon were particularly stupendous.

At eight years old, my extensive list of achievements included:

  • Playing a Daffodil in my school’s production of Alice in Wonderland.
  • Learning all of the words to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.
  • Mastering my three times table.                             
  • Drawing a Viking, whose immense moustache protruded from his nostrils.

When Oliver was eight – he started programming computers. By nine – he moved on to assembler programming (whatever that is). I just thought he was showing off.

Some people are simply destined for greatness. Oliver is one of them. Though don’t feel too bad – he can’t cook:  

Rumour has it Victoria Beckham has twelve toes, Brad Pitt is actually bald, Adele’s breath smells of cabbage, Dame Judi Dench once had an illicit affair with Billy Connolly and Sylvester Stallone can’t sleep without his comfort blanket.

Okay, so none of the above statements are strictly true, but for a brief moment, when you thought they might have been – weren’t you uplifted, just a little? By learning the flaws and mistakes of others – we feel a little better about ourselves (and sometimes a teeny bit smug). 

If it helps – Lily Allen really does have a nubbin.

As I face the formidable task of job hunting in this uncertain financial climate, I am comforted by the fact I don’t actually need to be perfect. Excellent news, given that I have the hand-eye coordination of a Muppet, coupled with the athletic dexterity of Moby Dick. I may not be made for waitressing, cheerleading or fire-juggling, but I can string a sentence together. I even know what an apostrophe is and I’m not afraid to use one. So somewhere out there in the job hunting abyss is an occupation with my name on it, something I am meant to do – that doesn’t involve spilling hot drinks, dropping people, or setting myself ablaze.    

I hear there might be a few openings at The Sun

Advertisements

I Was Young and Needed the Money

I once spent four and a half hours cleaning my father’s car, only for him to run his index finger along the bonnet and tell me it wasn’t spotless enough.

Admittedly, I hadn’t really removed any of the dirt, merely repositioned it. Considering the fact I had worked my way through a thousand gallons of water, two giant sponges, six bottles of washing-up liquid and 32 rolls of kitchen towel – this was something of a disappointment.

My parents were very keen to teach my brothers and I the value of money at a young age, and it is fair to say – they succeeded. Having persevered with the car for a further two hours, I was dutifully rewarded for my hard work, determination, blood, sweat and tears (so many tears) with what my father considered to be the going rate: fifty pence. I also caught a cold from being sopping wet all day, developed a rash from the industrial cleaning products and lost all feeling in my fingertips for three days.

Needless to say – that was the last time I ever worked for 7.6 pence an hour. It also marked the end of my short-lived car valeting career.

I was made redundant today, a scary prospect to say the least. To mark the occasion (aside from the obligatory job hunting) I thought I’d take stock of what I’ve learnt so far in my fourteen years of employment. Please remember, I was young and needed the money:

AS A WAITRESS – ONCE YOU’VE TAKEN A FOOD ORDER – MAKE SURE YOU PASS IT ON TO THE KITCHEN STAFF. They’ll cook it so much quicker that way.

CUSTOMERS DON’T TEND TO LIKE IT WHEN YOU SPILL HOT COFFEE DOWN THEM.

WHEN CARRYING 72 EMPTY PINT GLASSES STACKED ON TOP OF ONE ANOTHER, BE CAREFUL NOT TO TRIP OVER YOUR OWN FEET.

IF AN INTOXICATED CUSTOMER LOOKS LIKE HE’S ABOUT TO THROW TWO BEER BOTTLES AT YOUR HEAD – IT’S BECAUSE HE IS ABOUT TO THROW TWO BEER BOTTLES AT YOUR HEAD. That’s your cue to move.

DON’T BE A DOORMAT. If your obsequious boss frequently guilt-trips you into coming in early (unpaid), finishing late (also unpaid), cancelling your social life and mopping the floor with your tongue: leave.     

NEVER DATE THE BOSS. Especially when he looks like Phil Mitchell.

WHEN YOU EVENTUALLY GET A PROPER GROWNUP JOB – 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.

IF YOU FALL ASLEEP AT YOUR DESK/CRY IN THE LADIES TOILETS/VOMIT IN THE WASTEPAPER BASKET, JUST ONCE – DON’T EXPECT YOUR COLLEAGUES TO FORGET IT. EVER. 

ANNOY PEOPLE LESS AND THEREFORE AVOID GETTING STABBED WITH A BIRO.

MINIMISE THE WEB BROWSER WHEN YOUR BOSS COMES OVER. Not everyone shares your appreciation of David Beckham in his underpants. (I am yet to establish why).

THE NIGHT BEFORE YOUR INTERVIEW IS NOT THE TIME TO EXPERIMENT WITH FAKE TAN.

BEWARE: “REPLY ALL”.

FOR SOME LIGHT ENTERTAINMENT – REPLACE YOUR BOSS’ MOTIVATIONAL POSTER “PLAN, PREPARE, PERFORM” WITH ONE FAR MORE CONSTRUCTIVE, LIKE “PLAN, PREPARE, POTATO”. I give it 3 weeks before he notices.

DO SOMETHING YOU ENJOY.

HAVE A PLAN E! This is mine.

10 Things Children Know (and Grown Ups have Forgotten)

Childhood can be so stressful. Mine was no exception:

I got a splinter the size of a llama in my left pinky.

My brother Chris drew freckles on my hobby horse in indelible ink.

I once forgot to wear cycling shorts under my summer dress at school, so when practising handstands – inadvertently flashed my knickers at all the boys.

My Tracy Island looked nothing like the one they made earlier on Blue Peter.

A giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man romped through New York City and I thought we were all going to die (so hid behind the sofa).

My parents banned me from:

  1. Riding a motorcycle.
  2. Having a pet tiger.
  3. Getting a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles tattoo.
  4. Helping myself to any more of the grown-ups’ fruit punch.
  5. Microwaving any of my brothers’ toy soldiers (again). Especially the metal ones.

Okay, with hindsight – not having Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello permanently imprinted on my back may have been a good move – but I still want a pet tiger.

Children are a lot more intelligent than we give them credit for. I decided at 7 years old that I never wanted to be self-employed like my father, as he worked roughly 87 hours a week and we rarely got any quality time with him. I stand by this decision. Here are my top 10 equally insightful things that children know and adults have forgotten:

1. ANYTHING TASTES BETTER WHEN COATED WITH BREADCRUMBS AND SHAPED LIKE A DINOSAUR.

2. NOTHING HEALS A GRAZED KNEE FASTER THAN A REALLY AWESOME PLASTER…EVEN WHEN YOU DON’T ACTUALLY NEED ONE.

3. FOR A HANDY SNACK ON THE MOVE – INSPECT THE CONTENTS OF YOUR NOSE.

4. MONSTERS LIVE IN CUPBOARDS, UNDER BEDS AND BENEATH THE STAIRS.

5. ALL BODILY FUNCTIONS, WITHOUT EXCEPTION ARE HILARIOUS.

6. SANTA IS OMNISCIENT AND OMNIPOTENT. BE AFRAID.

7. SNOW IS ALWAYS A GOOD THING.

8. PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES ROCK.

9. YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO BUY WITH THE 37 PENCE AND 2 CHOCOLATE BUTTONS IN YOUR PIGGY BANK: A PONY.

10. ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. JUST BELIEVE. (PLEASE SEE POINT 9). 

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.