Why Nobody Wants To Be Called Middle-Aged


Has anyone ever sat down and wondered at their old photos? It’s my lovely little sister’s sixteenth birthday today, and so we’re sat around, looking at photos from when we were both just tiny tots. And it’s hilarious. I was a victim of the perpetual bad hair day, and my sister just looked like a thug, with the biggest baby head I have ever seen. She also had an adorable little top-knot. It made her look a little bit like a teletubby. Does anyone remember tellytubbies? I used to quite like them.

I also quite enjoy looking at what your parents used to look like, twenty years ago before your teenager strops and tantrums turned them grey, or bald, or thin, or fat. It’s even more strange to look at them in long-forgotten holiday photos, before you were born, when your Mum was still blonde, and your Dad carried a slightly more svelte figure than you’ve ever seen. It’s really, really weird when you realise your mother was the dead spit of you, and therefore you catch something of a glimpse at what you will look like in middle-age.

I always think the phrase ‘middle age’ has slightly negative connotations. The Middle Ages, in Britain at least, were dark, and smelly, on the whole. Technology hadn’t begun to advance, and people had come to something of an intellectual standstill. Illness was rife, death was more common than a bucket of sewage on the head, and to add to this predicament, religious order was still a serious issue. As in, well, there wasn’t one. I think I’ve found the reason why nobody likes to be referred to as middle-aged.

And then there’s the problem of after middle-age. Old. Elderly. An older person. Nobody would ever want to be referred to as old, and I can imagine being unbelievably irritated if somebody had referred to me as old, even if I was about ninety-six years old. Anyway, I have to go, and carry on my excursion down memory lane. I apologise for my collection of thoughts on age; I’ve never known what it’s like to be old, but I suppose one day, it’ll creep right up on me.




Oh, What It Is to Be Excited…

I'd like a bed like this one day. (1)

So here we are again; another sunny Monday morning with the prospect of university essays, the gym, and the laundry to be doing. However, today is an exciting Monday, because today is the day of the Asda deliver. I promise that I’m not getting excited purely for the delivery of vegetables; I’m excited because I found a double duvet and pillowcase set, with pretty trees on it, for £2.77. And so obviously, I had to buy it. I love duvet covers. I especially like clean ones. So I’m really quite looking forwards to the changing of the duvet, later tonight. Which, as a I read that sentence back, I realise sounds a little bit sad. But nevertheless, I like pretty stuff. I especially like it when it is on sale. I think it’s a genetic programming issue.

Another upcoming event, with perhaps a tad more significance, is my impending birthday; I’ll reach the grand old age of nineteen, very soon, and therefore that’s an excuse for a party. Or in this case, a venture to a nice restaurant with ten of my oldest friends. The restaurant “Las Iguanas” is a place I’ve been desperate to try, however it is a little bit too expensive to justify it on an everyday basis. However, birthdays mean special things can happen, and therefore I feel the pressing urge to eat South American fare. I shall consider it a prelude to my visit to the continent in 2014. A necessary training exercise, one might say.

I really enjoy celebrations; not surprise parties, or massive community hall get-togethers, but I like a nice dinner, with all my favourite people. All I really want to do with my family for my birthday is snuggle up with my Mum and Dad on the sofa, and watch Swamp People, an ingenious television program about the alligator hunters of America. I wouldn’t mind eating a steak whilst I do it, maybe with some peppercorn sauce. I think celebrations ought to be as large or as small as one would like. Equally however, I’m excited to get dressed up in something pretty, and go out with all my friends.

But before this, I get to see one of my best friends, because she’s coming to visit me at university at the end of term. It’s going to be a mini-holiday, in lieu of going on a proper one; we’ll use my flat for a holiday house, and do holiday-type things; going to the beach, going out for cocktails, and watching DVDs. It’s going to be a wonderful few days, ended by the cross-country train journey back to reality, work, and home.

In conclusion then, I’m quite excited, about lots of things. My friend visiting, my Asda order, and my birthday plans, to name just a few. It’s going be amazing. Now, I just have to tackle that essay…


(1) http://www.terrysfabrics.co.uk/images/P/Lottie-Duvet-Cover-Gold.jpg


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


Good Morning, Christmas Eve!

This morning is one of the two mornings a year when school aged children are willing to arise from their beds; Christmas Eve is upon us. This magical day has religious significance, familial significance, and corporate importance, to almost everyone. This year for me however is going to be slightly different, because I am going to spend the morning with my family, decorating a beautiful gingerbread house, but this afternoon, I shall be going to work. This seems like an extraordinarily grown up way of conducting the day; as children, the afternoon would be used for playing with the garland, making stockings for teddy bears, and watching Christmas films.

(1) Christmastime in Harrods

Christmas tends to be one of those reflective periods of the year, especially since it falls very close to New Years Eve, a time where we make resolutions, and promptly break them at some point on the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd of January. I find the progress of the resolution strangely amusing in the way that one’s conviction for it decreases in direct proportion to the time passed immediately after it. New Year’s Eve resolutions are perhaps made to be broken, in the same way as tulip shaped wine glasses, and plastic children’s toys.

I find the Christmas period one unrivalled in attitudes by any other time of year. At no other time of the year is eating until you are considering vomiting an encouraged practice. The consumption of mince pies is, at no other time of year, a pleasant afternoon past time. During the course of weeks one to fifty-one of the year, drinking Bucks Fizz at breakfast is frowned upon. But not for Christmas. Considering the origins of the holiday, these practices present something of an attitudinal paradox.

To my untrained mind at least, Christmas seems to present something of a release from the restrictions and the tensions of the year that has just passed. Where people have been running through London’s complex tube system at six thirty every morning for fifty weeks, they relish the opportunity to exchange this for a very hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, smoked salmon, and kippers, accompanied by Buck’s Fizz. These foods represent the luxury of time which very often evades us, for most of the year. Christmas is also a time where paying mortgages, and saving up a nest egg, tends to be something of an abandoned practice; instead, we lavish gifts on family and friends, buy fine foods, gallons of wine, and seek only really, to be merry. This celebration of the year is a kind of reward: a reward for doing so well, surviving the pressures of life, and therefore instead of resisting the pleasures of life in favour of a slightly more attractive waistline, we tuck in.

The Christmas period offers us also, the opportunity to become creatures of leisure, something we don’t tend to be able to do very often during the year. Being a student, I have plenty of time for reading books, however they are not my books of choice; they are lovely books, they are classical books, but they are a part of my “job”. Over Christmas however, I get to indulge in the classics I have chosen for myself, such as Dostoevsky’s Devils, and The Picture of Dorian Gray. I also get to draw during the festive period, squeezing it in between walks and work. For the very reason that I get to be at home whilst I do all this, it’s my favourite time of year.

I hope everyone has a fantastic day today, and have a happy holiday!


(1) http://www.shoppingblog.com/2011pics/harrods_christmas_world_department_2011.jpg


I Love the Traditional Christmas Dinner

As far as dinner with my beautiful flat-mates goes, yesterday’s Christmas dinner was nothing short of phenomenal. Out table heaved, our stomachs stretched, and we all changed into stretchy trousers and baggy t-shirts. This bounteous feast included roast beef, pigs in blankets, Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, roast parsnips, carrot and swede mash, apple and onion infused red cabbage, steamed sprouts and broccoli, bread sauce, onion gravy, and finally cranberry sauce. It was excellent, an amalgamation of all that is the British Sunday roast and/or Christmas dinner. We ate until we could eat no more. And then we took a quick break to do some washing up, and came back for the Christmas pudding, chocolate gateaux, mince pies, and brandy sauce.

The British ability to munch through a feast of this magnitude took me aback last night; I usually try to avoid feeling vaguely nauseous when I eat, but last night, in view of this fantastic feast, I felt it was more of a pain barrier that once pushed through, would never again affect me. Obviously this was not true, but it was amazing nonetheless; why do we seem to feel it’s appropriate to resemble the stuffed turkey after eating on Christmas? I’m fairly sure that according to the Biblical tale, there were no pigs in blankets or red cabbages on the table.

Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the embracing of tradition. I’ve always liked things to have some root, and some meaning behind them, perhaps due to my perception of the world, and somewhere along the line, it probably has something to do with my capacity as an English student. We seem to have a running tradition of relating everything back to English studies in my flat, the joke being “it’s cause you study English”. I’m even more looking forwards to making a big bubble and squeak to use up all those vegetables, with poached eggs and bacon later.

It’s been the first Christmas dinner of the season, and probably the largest. On Christmas day I shall have to waddle into work immediately after, so smaller portions may be a prudent action. However, the turkey will be succulent, and I shall simply content myself to wobble around all day, and being very happy about it indeed.

And so Christmas begins… Merry Christmas!