I’m Late, Again, But I’m Not Sure What For…

So today I’ve been in a completely excellent, and wonderful mood. I’ve been a shiny happy person, bouncing about, making milkshakes for people, taking puppies for walks, going above and beyond for guests at work… All is well with the world. I like that; especially when you feel so good about yourself that you want to be nice to people. I like making people happy, if I can.

I’ve even managed to not eat rubbish, and I’ve been to the gym. I feel like a little superhero. I bought myself a preposterously extravagant new mid-year diary too. I love it, because it is just completely beautiful. The cover feels precious, and I’m one of those people who adores pretty stationary, and filling in the information in the front is quite possibly the most exciting thing, well, ever.

Everyone knows what I mean. The excitement of fresh paper can’t ever be rivaled by digital takeovers, and sometimes you must have a piece of equipment that doesn’t rely on a battery pack, or need an extra charger. Holding onto a physical object is quite comforting, and scribbling things down is satisfying. Ticking things off on a Blackberry simply isn’t as extravagant as scribbling it off with a pretty pen, in a pretty book. There’s a sense of romance surrounding the concept of the diary, and the ability to write in it. It is personal in a way that software is not.

This is of course, the trouble with all this eco-friendly work. There’s no romance in electricity, and there’s no personality in a Microsoft software package. Paper gave us a sense of age, and of character, because we used handwriting, and tucked our favourite photos inside them, and made them ours. OneNote is a fantastic academic program, and there’s no doubt that it has made my filing system much, much more efficient. But a pretty diary is special; it might be materialistic, and I’m sure that the environment objects to my using of a diary. But I cannot ignore such a prominent sense of nostalgia that I associate with beautiful paper, and colourful patterns. It’s a permanent record of a period of your life, and the fact we haven’t got time to write down our trivialities anymore is quite shocking.

Everything is to-go. I am always running about, thinking where I have to be next. We don’t really sit down, and just, well, be there. At least not without thinking about something else. There are a million to do lists tucked away inside my head. And I’m always planning a new project and most of the time I haven’t quite finished the first, which is why I have half a room dedicated to ‘graveyard of projects past’. There’s so much to do, and it seems like there’s so little time.

And I realise it’s terribly trivial, and that diaries do not create time. But seeing those pages spread out before you provides you with a sense of perspective; there is a physicality to when things will be done, and when you will be able to do things. I think that perspective is worth all the money in the world.

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.

– Oscar Wilde



The Journey of a Thousand Miles

Tomorrow morning is the morning of my great journey back to the south. I call it a great journey because every time I undertake it, it feels monumentally difficult. Even though I’ve changed my choice of luggage, everything still feels extremely heavy; I myself feel heavy, and too hot, or too cold. I always feel frustrated, as though the journey simply won’t ever end. And three hours in, when you’re thinking about how there’s another couple of hours to go, you start to lose the will to live. Trapped on these moving tubes of steel hell, all aspiration, ambition and want to achieve is eaten away at, especially whilst you are is being sweated on by your neighbour, unable to move, because said neighbour is dribbling their sleeping drool all down your nice clean jumper.

The next conundrum to be faced then, is the bathroom conundrum; when carrying a vast amount of luggage that contains things of some value, you have no wish to leave it on a crowded train. But inevitably, one needs to use the bathroom at some point during the lengthy journey and taking a laptop case, handbag, and backpack that is almost as big as you seems highly impractical. And so you ask a kindly looking neighbour to keep an eye, praying they turn out to be trustworthy, go as quickly as possible, and have a near heart attack when returning to your seat, convinced that someone will have satisfied their kleptomaniac impulse, and taken at least half of your belongings. Hopefully, your assumption is proven wrong, and you settle back to your laptop, or book, or iPod. The alternate approach of course is to take not a drop of liquid before boarding the train.

Prettiness is no substitute for being a punishment for the multiplying human race. (1)

There is of course a more obvious problem when using long distance public transport: that unfortunate experience of who will be your seat “buddy” for the length of your journey. If you are supremely lucky, you will have a double seat, near the bathroom, completely to yourself for the duration of your trip, allowing you to be comfortable, and to access the bathroom with ease. If you are me, you will end up sat next to a portly gentleman, with your suitcase squashed between your seat and the seat in front of you, your legs perched somewhere on top of it. The advantage, in fact the only advantage of this situation, is that there is absolutely no threat of theft; it would simply be far to difficult to steal such a bulky item. On the hand of the disadvantages however, it becomes impossible to get up out of the chair with any grace or decorum (not natural attributes of mine anyway), or to really move an inch on either side. You’re stuck. And will be stuck until such time you have to jump off your train, awkwardly, and attracting an awful lot of attention, as you clout anyone with an aisle seat, moving yourself and your bags towards the exit.

My journey of course is not special. Hundreds of thousands of British students brave that monster, public transport, every three months. You almost start to feel displaced, moving half of your belongings around the country on such a frequent basis. You become accustomed to moving clothes, pre ordering food so that it precludes your arrival, and you start bracing yourself for the inalienable truth that “holiday” simply means “an excuse to work every hour that is legally acceptable because you have little in the way of student loan”. Bizarrely for students, holiday and term time are inversely representative of relaxation. Students, or at least some students, have more free time while they’re in session. This was the case for me, however this term, I’ve promised my mother that I will improve my lifestyle, eat better, drink less, and partake in more exercise. On Sunday, I’m joining both the gym and the sailing club. All I have to do then really, is attend both. I’m not worried though; I’ve booked my time according to my outlook calendar.

Tomorrow, I’m planning to get ahead of some essay reading, according to my gargantuan collection of literary theory; four hours is an ample amount of time to tackle a plethora of such material. I may reread some Oscar Wilde, Jane Austen, and so forth too. I’ve charged my iPod and BlackBerry, and prepared a light salad. Picked out warm layers, comfortable jeans, and practical underwear. I’m prepared. Prepared for a huge amount of boredom, but an inevitably warm homecoming from my fabulous flat-mates. And then of course, I shall unpack and realise that I’ve just been ejected from domesticity into the paradox of student life all over again, with no warning to my system whatsoever.

I’m sure I’ll have a few more thoughts on the journey some time soon…


(1) http://trainsimages.com/wp-content/plugins/WPRobot3/images/53e55_trains_211239773_940d75fc4d.jpg


Me? Oh, I’m Graceful and Sophisticated…

The day the BlackBerry smartphone was released was a revolutionary one; since then, the BlackBerry has crept further and further into our consciousness; it has replaced the necessity to remember birthdays, or even know what your plans for the day are. A reminder will bleep, and you will be told where to go, and what to do. It’s so clever that you don’t even have to have the ability to co-ordinate time; your smartphone will advise you of clashes. You have no need to remember small social trivialities, because with the click of several buttons, your brain capacity can be released to worry about other things.

For those of us who lack the ability to remember even their own birthday, this is a wonderful creation. However, there is a fundamental flaw; I am also one of these forgetful, occasionally unfortunate people, who forgets that the smartphone is tucked into the pocket of her jeans, so when she goes to the toilet, it lands with a splash at the bottom. Or she spills liquid on it. Or stands on it. You see, I’m fundamentally clumsy. The same sort of thing tends to happen at work; I’ll knock over a tower of tea cups, or knock a wine glass off the silver tray onto the floor. When it smashes, it looks slightly beautiful, however it’s a mess nonetheless. I throw cutlery around the still room, and spill soup over the side of the bowl. Presentation and finesse one could say, are not my forte.

Grace in physical movement is also a characteristic that eludes me; my mother is particularly graceful, and has an exceedingly light step. It would seem though that I inherited the somewhat less refined Shrek gene; I have been known to trip over my own walking boots, catch the toes on my sandals and trip forwards; wearing stiletto heels is akin to playing Russian roulette. The problem is, I’ve always wanted to be graceful, and not walk into walls. I’d like to be one of the effortlessly sophisticated that are so revered on television, however a more appropriate comparison would be to Betty Suarez. We have innumerable similarities.

Invaluable advice... (1)

Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe created a terrible precedent. They really ought to have been less sophisticated and graceful, because frankly, they just raised the bar for us too high. Haute Couture is unbearable to almost everyone, similarly to the emperor’s new clothes. In the same way, the expectation of slimness, hobbies, intelligent conversation, and excellent child rearing is completely preposterous. I have almost none of these hobbies, and I have accepted that I will never be especially graceful in movement, or particularly refined in terms of hobbies. I enjoy looking through stamp collections, and reading books; I don’t dance, or paint.

I think it is far easier being clumsy, anyway; no one expects very much, and a precedent of accidents only surprises people when you go a whole week with not one broken item. I suppose it’s better to raise expectations as you go, instead of starting too high. We just have to be grateful for smartphones, bubble wrap, and improved medicine, for when we inevitably dislocate a shoulder arm-butting a wall, or nearly forget to attend a little sister’s birthday party.


(1) http://livinglifewithraandfms.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/adviceforclumsy22.gif?w=306&h=320