Friday, 31 May 2013

Day 31: A vivid memory (#BEDM).

My Hag Do was one of my best days ever.

Stag + Hen = Hag.

I went to amazing trouble to provide something that was local, cheap, original and fun. Too many stag dos now are really ridiculous: Self-indulgent, expensive, unreasonable and unjustifiably over the top. Bridal couples seem to expect as a matter of course that now, rather than a night out or whatever, you have to go on a short holiday to an expensive foreign country, incurring hotel bills, flight costs without even considering the exorbitant fees for the go-karting, paintballing, food and booze. It’s painful and a little bit selfish.

I wanted none of it.

Hag Day 2008 was a day of fun in Brighton. We met on the beach, in teams of 5-8. I provided each team with a bottle of booze, a disposable camera and a list of 100 challenges. The premise?
Choose 30 challenges and record them on your camera. Easy challenges earn low points, hard challenges earn high points. Combining challenges in a single photograph can win you mega super points.

For example:
Re-enact Riverdance would be low scoring. Too easy...
Remove furniture from a house dressed as a burglar- high points. Much more challenging.
Kicking a cripple, then kidnapping their pet whilst dressed in newspaper clothes... mega points. You could practically win with one photograph if you achieved that.

Dressed as a monarch, stealing a dog.

Of course, no-one had to actually attack a cripple. You just had to get creative and courageous with your photographs, and simulate each challenge in a pleasing way.

But it was genius. I thought of everything... I even put our local, cheap and student-friendly photography development place on high alert for several rounds of bizarre photograph submissions, primed and ready, for the 4pm cut off.

Blagging their way into the doughnut shop.

Then teams got a text with submission instructions- to arrive on the beach at 5pm with their completed photo-assignment, dressed as... BACOFOIL ROBOTS!

Bacofoil robots convene on the beach.

It was the best day ever. Some people lamed out a bit, and some went completely fucking all out!
Then, to top it off, I hired a venue for a party, where we did an awards ceremony and drank and danced the night away. It was frickin’ awesome.

Collecting stamps and performing a 
sacrifice in a newspaper outfit.

I didn’t even get that wasted, because I was concentrating on seamless organisation and orchestration throughout the day. A bit sketchier in the evening, when i was made to drink beer (bleurgh!) and wear a bra (woop!), and do some challenges of my own.

But so the most awesome day ever.  I loved it and I really should organise another someday soon...

breaking into school in the holidays to make rude art.


The challenges? I won’t recount them all, but highlights include:

Re-enact the feeding of the 5000
Simulate sex in a public place
Celebrate Christmas (it was May)
Disgust me
Torture a cuddly toy
Be a gimp
Prick up your ears
Kiss a copper
Impersonate a monarch
Steal candy from a baby
Get a job
Sell something
Make doughnuts
Backstreet gambling den
Play a game with a pensioner
Carry more than 1 passenger
Organise a large-scale piggyback derby
Find your sinister evil twin
Food fight with strangers
Steal a pet
Take something back that costs less than 50p
Dress age-inappropriate
Dance off with a stranger
Food fight with a member of the public
Go dogging
Take something back that you’ve blatantly eaten
Dance with a very short man
Create some art
Pay child fare
Start a band
Dine out in fancy dress
Pour water over a stranger
Hold something dangerous
Eat something horrid
Old lady holding inappropriate sign

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Day 30: React to this term: Letting Go (#BEDM).

I have no sense of self-preservation at all when it comes to climbing. I’ve always been a climber.... I like climbing. I used to climb trees and walls and things as a child without hesitation. Then I grew out of it for a while. Then I took up climbing a few years ago as an adult, and – unsurprisingly I suppose –took to it straight away.

I went twice a week for a long time, and got pretty good pretty quick. I have tried to continue in that vein, but promotions and work commitments ate into my time and it dropped down to once a week, then once a fortnight. I pretty much keep to that, and still love it. I can do some pretty tricky moves and walls and climbs now- and the occasional thing that I think “Oooh, I must look way cool doing that!”

And I’ve done Go Ape! a couple of times too, with friends for birthdays and things. I love it, and am equally fearless. I didn’t see myself as fearless until this point - only when my friends commented that I have no sense of self-preservation did I notice.

It’s because I completely trust the equipment. Experience is part of it, definitely, but I suffer no concern at all that it’s high up or dangerous or I might fall. I can’t fall- I am tied to the top with string. Other people were in a state of shock when I leapt off of things in a crazy fashion, or ran full-pelt across tiny rope walkways, falling off and screeching along half way across, or when I let go and dangled off the side of a platform, or shouted down to the supervisors “Are we allowed to jump off, no hands?”

Apparently we were.  So I did.

And you know what?  It’s about letting go. If you jump off a few things, low down if need be, you learn that the rope holds you. It will catch you. You can’t fall because you are tied to the wall. But people don’t like to. But then they never learn how safe it is.

Let go. And trust in your equipment.

Let go. Then you learn how safe letting go is.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Day 29: Five songs or pieces of music that speak to you or bring back memories (#BEDM).

5 songs, not necessarily good songs, that take me back to times past. Some of them in fact, are actually quite bad songs...

Dario G – Sunchyme.
My 16th birthday: My friends and I went to Leicester Square in London, to the Capital Café. I’d always been a bit worried that I didn’t really have ‘enough’ friends. I know better now, of course. But around 15/16, not only did I suddenly find myself with a nice circle of close friends growing around me, but I actually started to socialise with them, and go out doing exciting things for the first time. And I remember sitting in the restaurant with my friends, this song was playing, and I thought ‘You know what? I’m going to be alright. Life is good, and I am happy.’
And those best friends I had then?  They’re still my best friends now...

Britney Spears – Oops, I did it again.
University. My favourite club- the illustrious Dynamite Boogaloo. It was an amazing phenomenon that I am happy and glad to have been a part of. It was more than a night out- it was a bit special to the people who went there. And at the peak of my times there, before it moved, evolved, grew, then moved on, we used to do silly dance routines dressed in ridiculous outfits. Everyone did. It was that sort of place.
My favourite memory- a BAD homemade dance routine we drunkenly improvised whilst standing on the stairs queuing for coats, ready to leave as it was crazy-late and we were flagging. But Britney started. That instantly-recognisable first double strike- and we just made up this stupid, crazy, drunken dance there on the stairs.
And then? Everyone started doing it; copying our routine like some glittery workout video. It was the strangest thing, but SO much fun... It reminds me of uni, it reminds me of my best nights out, and it reminds me of everything I loved about Dynamite Boogaloo.

David Essex – A Winter’s tale
So yeah- when my dad left AGAIN, and my mum started perpetually crying AGAIN, mummy and I had to go and watch my brother in his school’s Christmas carol concert. And they sang this, and it made my mum cry. I think she’d been told that day that it was over, or she’d told us that day it was over, or something. And it was just horrible.
And then for years later, she always skipped it on our Christmas CD, or turned the radio off for that song. She said she couldn’t hear it again as it made her so sad. Which was a shame because I sort of like it in a melancholy way. Maybe because of all that?  I don’t know. And then when I had to sing it in my Christmas concert I think I lied and told her parents weren’t invited, or that all the tickets were gone so she wouldn’t come and have to hear it and feel sad. I told you I started taking care of her around this point, didn’t I...?
She can hear it now. She quite likes it now, which is a bit perverse, but she’s very much moved on and is a different person now.  Still gets me every time though.

Liberty X – Just a Little
For reasons unknown, we spent an ENTIRE YEAR singing this song in our final year of uni. All four of us had it stuck in our heads for the entire year, all through all 3 terms, all the holidays and right through finals. You’d walk down to the kitchen quietly murmuring to yourself:
“Sexyyyyyyyyyyyyy... Everything about you’s so sexyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy...”
then as you walked in, you’d find one of the others making dinner, singing:
“Just a little bit moooooooooooooooore.... gimme just a little bit moooooorrrrre!”
At a completely different point in the song.
It was amazing, but so amusing. And that became my uni song, just because it was so impossible to shift. It reminds me of the girls- we were such a happy little group.

KISS – Crazy Nights
I was going to choose Do Your Thang- the best song ever and our first dance at our wedding, but I can bet Simon will choose it too, and I want to avoid being twee.  Crazy Nights was a song I learned of relatively late in life. It was at the last ever Dynamite Boogaloo in fact- the end of an era, and all the amazing hosts, hostesses and DJs were dressed as KISS, doing crazy stunts and games and the usual stuff. And they closed, after years and years of amazing nights, and years and years of attendance from us with this song, and I thought- Fuck- they WERE crazy nights, weren’t they. It was the end of an era, and so sad, but so much fun and such an amazing way to go out. It was like you were part of a special little select gang, and you’d all shared in something wacky that most people didn’t know about and it felt so special. A sad night, but a happy memory...

Monday, 27 May 2013

Day 27: A letter to your readers (#BEDM).

Dear Internet

Please stop taking photographs of your cat or dog in the mornings, snuggled up on your bed, with cutesy captions like “someone doesn’t want to get up lol111.”

I could tolerate one or two.  But a daily update of your cat or dog, in the same position and the same place? It looks the same each day. You might as well save yourself time and battery power and just repost the first one over and over again.

And why don’t you? Because you think it’ll be boring. I’ve got news for you, I’m afraid. It is just as boring taking a fresh photograph of your dog in bed with you each morning as it is posting the same photograph of your dog in bed with you again and again. To the casual observer, it really is no different.
I’m really not totally convinced I understand what it is you’re trying to achieve.

Also, you may not realise, but you are not the only one doing this all over twitter and facebook. You are one of 15-20 obsessive dog-photographers taking multiple photographs of your dog from different angles in the same position, in the same place. And you may not realise that we can’t actually tell the difference between your dog in bed with you and the dog someone else posted in bed with them 3 minutes earlier.

Admittedly, I am not an animal lover. I don’t see the cutesy appeal. But it just seems so self-indulgent! Yes, I’m aware that half the internet is people taking ‘selfies’ now, and pictures of their child, or their dinner or their drink. The whole internet is self-indulgent, sure.

But the animal thing? I’m no fan of endless pictures or updates about children, but at least they are actual human beings. They still take precedence over animals on my sliding scale of interest. And food? At least you can vicariously think 'ooh, that looks tasty!' But animals?  In bed with fully-grown, functional adults? Every morning?

So do us all a favour, internet. Limit yourself to one picture of your dog a week.

You might love it to bits, but you probably wouldn’t be interested if I distributed a daily photograph of my verruca via social media each morning, would you?

I feel much the same about pictures of you in bed with your dog.


Sunday, 26 May 2013

Day 26: Something you read online (#BEDM).

I could read all day.

Sometimes I get lost for hours, trailing one article to the next to the next.

I realise it might not be the most reliable source, the provenance being a little questionable, but there’s something about the tone of it that I generally trust – maybe because it’s one of those ‘you’ll never believe this is true!’ sites, full of misconceptions that turn conventional wisdom on its head.

Also, some genuinely are true, as they happen to be things I know are misconceptions from reading related material with less dubious attribution. This makes me think that some of the ones I cannot verify myself must be similarly true.

This one, however, blew my mind.

Deleted gospels telling of the early life of Jesus, you say?
With super powers and explosions, you say?
And... Dragons?

Can it actually be true? That unselected gospels featured such mega-amazing super power drama? It might explain why they weren’t selected, I suppose. Too implausible even for the Bible?! 

That’s seriously implausible.

It makes great reading however – even if it’s not entirely accurate.

And it reminds you how totally ridiculous religious beliefs are in general.

And it makes Jesus seem like a total dick!

And if any bright spark out there can provide more substantive attribution for these lost gospels, I would love to hear it.

“Dragons. Pah – how ridiculous! Angels however- that’s obviously true. No question.”

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Day 25: Something someone told you about yourself that you’ll never forget (#BEDM).

You may have picked up by now that I am not a deeply spiritual person.

I don’t believe in ghosts, I don’t believe in the baby Jesus, I don’t Believe In Life After Love.

But at a particular club night that I particularly enjoy on a particularly regular basis, they sometimes have an enormous-breasted hostess and entertainer, who occasionally likes to read fortunes.

So I went for it.

I thought it would be ironic and amusing and comedic and... well, silly. For this is the tone of the particular club night in question.


So I took it seriously, and whilst it wasn’t a deeply spiritual experience, and was more akin to life-coaching than anything else, it did stay with me. Like an expert therapist she had my measure in short order, and broke through my not insubstantial mental defences and my protective shell of irony to cut through to my soft, marshmallowy middle.

We started off like this:

And we ended up like this:

And her advice?


Whoa!!! Stop right there.

This echoes my Simon Amstell/Acceptance epiphany I’d had a few weeks prior, but was more scary because she said it RIGHT TO MY FACE, and KNEW that was where my brain was at. If you’d asked me the source of all my worry and anxiety, and why I was so frustrated with work, it would have been THIS. And it took her about 4 minutes to coil her tentacles around my cerebellum and play her beautiful music into my frontal cortex. She was so right...

So heed these words, gentle reader: Beware of busty ladies reading fortunes. Their keen insight may not be mystical in nature, but they have GOT. YOUR. NUMBER.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Day 24: Your top 3 worst traits (#BEDM).


I do like to be looked at. I am a bit of a performer. Not always, but quite often. One of my favourite parts about teaching is the performing- I like to make my classes laugh, to keep them hooked on silly stories and ideas and things. I like to entertain.
Less so as I’ve got older, but it’s still there to some extent. I do it a bit with clothes too- I use clothes (or sometimes lack thereof) to get attention.
And I get a bit jealous if someone is wearing something better than what I’m wearing on Halloween or whatever, or more usually if they’re somehow managing to wear less than I am.
Yes, I’m a little better than I used to be- I literally lived on attention when I was 19- but I still enjoy being the entertainer a little too much, and I still get a little jealous when people are better and more successful at it than I am.


I need to feel that my contributions are acknowledged. I hate the thought that people might not know that a particular outcome, success or product came from me- or worse still, that they believe it was the work of someone else. I actively seek out credit for my work- presenting things for people’s perusal, usually under the pretext of uncertainty and checking it’s suitable, when I know full-well it is amazing, but I want them to see I did it.
It’s not an attractive trait, but something inside me needs recognition for my achievements. Perhaps someone long ago stole the credit for something I did and it caused irreparable damage to my brain?


I know it’s terrible, but I’m actually really shallow about money, cars, houses and materialistic crap. I know it doesn’t count for much in the final analysis, and I would never be an arse to people for something so stupid as money, or meaningless status symbols...
I am a little bit fond of my status symbols. I love the fact I have a really nice, fairly posh house by the sea. I love my wanky, pretentious convertible. I love putting on nice clothes and going out for posh dinners and eating swanky, fiddly, over-priced, delicious food. And I would never look down on, or be mean to someone who didn’t or couldn’t do that. Christ- most of my friends are terminally short of cash! But it is sort of important to me that I can do those things.
It’s not so bad- I work really hard, in a challenging job, so I can have nice things. But sometimes I worry I’m a bit preoccupied with how much I earn relative to others, and that I’m a little too hung up on things because it looks good.

There you have it. I’m a shallow, materialistic, attention-hungry credit hog.

I'm very shy and retiring.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Day 23: Things you’ve learned that school won’t teach you (#BEDM).

It isn’t love, dear gays. It is infatuation. You may well feel that, after a week going out with a guy, he is perfect. That you are beautiful together. That no-one has ever felt like you feel.
You may even feel the urge to share this with others. To proclaim your love, and how amazing he is, and how perfect your new relationship is, and how no-one else could possible understand.
But I would advise against this, for the following reasons:

a. It makes you sound like you are a 12 year old girl.
b. Your relationship will likely be over in a further 3 weeks, when you remember that you can’t handle the commitment.
c. You went through this entire process 2 months ago, with a previous perfect guy. It was horrible to listen to then, and it is horrible to listen to now.

By all means enjoy yourself, and fall in love, be soppy and romantic and talk about it. But do not overstate what you have. It’s been a week, it’s not unique to you and it may not last. Crushes are fleeting. Infatuation *feels* amazing, but is not sustained. If you are lucky (or careful about how you play it) you may end up in love for real, which is nice. But this takes time...

It’s true. Hangovers are horrible, but they are easily avoided. Simply cook yourself a meal when you get in from clubbing, comprised mainly of pasta, and you will awaken the following morning feeling fine, if slightly full.

At least, not necessarily. We tell you all the time that you need qualifications to get on in life. And most of the time that’s true. Sometimes though, it’s just down to luck. Most of the rich, smarmy fuckfaces you meet are super-stupid. They just somehow defied the odds and managed to wangle a highly paid job without having to demonstrate intelligence AND managed to not get run over by ice-cream trucks during their formative years despite their alarming stupidity.

And all whilst brilliant young teachers with incredible qualifications and sky-high IQs toil in obscurity.

All children say mean things about their parents. At school we combat this, making vague but supportive noises about how they have your best interests at heart. But you’re actually completely right. Your parents really ARE stupid. They had you on a whim, because babies make cute noises and are fun on television. But they were not qualified to do this, and they are really just guessing their way through it. Consequently, only about half of the decisions they make have any likelihood of being remotely correct or appropriate regarding your upbringing.

Hurts doesn’t it?  Your entire childhood is really just up to chance, and things they may or may not have seen on Supernanny one night when they were having their dinner.

We try not to dwell on it in school, but it’s true. 

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Day 22: Rant about something. Get up on your soapbox and tell us how you really feel (#BEDM).


I refer, gentle reader, of course, to parents. PARENTS!

There was a time, long ago, when teachers were respected in their local communities. When their word was valued, their knowledge esteemed and their input prized.


Now, parents suffer the delusion that they have rights. That their opinion is worth something on account of the fact that they managed to screw for 15 minutes, then squirt out a child.


And yet... AND YET... I get these STUPID letters. These RIDICULOUS phone-calls. These LUDICROUS complaints about the most bizarre nonsense on a daily basis. Today’s example:

‘I am disgusted that you would show a 12A certificate film to my daughter. I know she is 14, and it’s technically allowed, but she is very vulnerable. In my work as a youth worker, I have learned that children progress at different rates and some are not emotionally ready for films at the same time as others. I am disappointed that she was exposed to this film at school, as it is not a film we would watch as a family.’

This is especially stupid, given her constant letters about how her child is so mature, and should be treated like a normal teenager, and should be encouraged to be grown up and pursue grown up interests.


Also- Youth Worker? Wow- that requires.... no qualifications. I bow to your wisdom and experience in all matters pertaining to this subject you clearly know nothing about.

But it’s not the letters of complaint and baseless opinions I mind, however mindless and over-frequent.

It is the RUDENESS. They talk to us in such an unpardonably offensive way. No manners, no please, thank you, sorry or beg your pardon. Just rude, aggressive rants, and never a word of thanks when we BEND OVER BACKWARDS to do something to help them out, even when it’s nothing to do with school and everything to do with helping them claim benefits, manage their child at home, or resolve family conflicts.

Awful, AWFUL people.

And we are expected to just smile, be professional and TAKE IT.

If they could hear themselves, I bet they wouldn’t even be embarrassed.

Parents have no shame, are completely self-absorbed and are unforgivably rude.

Parents are nasty, nasty people.

They shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near impressionable children.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Day 21: A list of links to your favorite posts in your archives (#BEDM)

Easyjournal is dead. Long live Easyjournal.

The nuisance being that I cannot link to my ancient blog posts, circa 2002. And it seems a bit indulgent to link to posts that I wrote last week.

But fear not, gentle reader- Easyjournal survived in the form of a creaking old Word97 document. Biding its time. Gathering its strength. Waiting for the world to forget it. Waiting for a time when it could rise once more, and again have a foothold in the world of the living. Waiting for...


And thanks to the modern miracle of copy-pasting, here are some excerpts that have survived the passage of time, and transfer between multiple laptops.

2nd October 2002
Well, today I was hypnotised.

How was in a 'Consciousness and Mental Representations' class, and was actually *amazing* fun.

I didn't honestly think it would work, but I was still a little apprehensive.

I know you have to throw yourself into it, and really have to LET them hypnotize you, and just go with it, so I tried.

And blow me, it worked! It actually makes you do these things without your conscious effort, and you're not really aware you're doing it. You can stop anytime you like, as soon as you think too much about it, and stop focusing, but you really do all these little things, not against your will, per se, but against your conscious volition.

Its a totally weird sensation, and i advise anyone to try was very cool.... 

14th December 2002
Saw Vile Richard in Argos. Ok, so I didn’t get my wish. He is still, apparently, alive, which is a terrible pity, but at least he’s even balder now. Which I found fortifying.

PS - Stupid Bald Richard.

24th December 2002
It was the night before Christmas… …and all through the house, Nothing was stirring, not even my mother, obsessively cleaning.

27th December 2002

We watched my Spider-Man DVD, which was excellent, and though nanny struggled to understand the plot designed for 5 - 6 year olds, she seemed to understand the basic sentiments. It was just the point at which, when Willem Defoe removes his mask revealing Norman to be The Green Goblin, when she exclaimed… ‘I thought it would be him’
 For those of you not in the know…this was not what you might call a closely guarded secret throughout the film.  More one of those…explicitly stated facts.

11th March 2002
There’s a reason he’s never had a boyfriend.  It's 'cos he’s a total prick.

5th May 2003

You know what?  I hate being a fucking student.
 I just want to say SCREW IT, and go to the beach and eat doughnuts, and let myself go. And balloon. Then I can fit in on the big, podgy Brighton scene.

20th July 2003
Our estate agent is super-doopa cute.  Well one of them.  We kept popping in to ask infantile questions, and he was always pleased to see us, and OH SO SWEET. 
It reminds me of that tragic summer when mummy was away, when I kept ordering take-aways because of the cute delivery boy. But I was about 14 then.   
I really should know better now.
22nd August 2003
Oh yes, and an old man sucked my nipple after applying a powerful mind confusion technique.

15th September 2003
Today was fun.  I went to the toilet in my break, only to discover that I was wearing speedos. 
I must have picked them up and put them on in my confused, early morning state.

So there you have it. An insight into my life and my mental state in my early twenties. Quite fun re-reading actually. These extracts kind of neatly sum up exactly what I was doing during this transitional time: Uni, family fussing, getting cross about sex and gayness in Brighton, renting my first flat, starting my first job. Quite a lot of changes really.

It all seemed so challenging at the time.

God, I was such a child.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Day 20: Get real. Share something you’re struggling with right now (#BEDM).

Honestly?  I don’t have a lot of worries. I don’t struggle often.

Occasionally stuff happens and I sort it out, by one means or another, and then I move on to whatever’s next, but generally I lead a very stable, untroubled life.

But there is this one thing...

I have, for the last 3 years, been undertaking my masters degree. It has, in the main, not been a struggle. It’s not that demanding really. You have to turn up, you have to write essays and assignments every couple of months, but it’s designed for practising teachers, so time-wise, it’s really not been that big a deal.

Of course, doing anything like that on top of working full time in a damn nuisance at times. It’s kind of hard to get motivated having been teaching all day.  But generally it’s not vexed me too much.

Then this year I have had to write my dissertation.

After school. In the evenings. Or at weekends.

And fucking check me out- I’ve been a MACHINE! I have burned through it at amazing speed. And the quality has not, it appears, suffered as a result.

Why then, do I include this as my nod to struggling?

Ay, gentle reader, there’s the rub. The reason I have worked at such a ferocious pace on this undertaking is not because I am motivated, inspired and captivated by my study. It is not because I am conducting important, valuable and stimulating research. It is not because I am enthusiastic about improving myself, expanding my mind and advancing our understanding of educational theory.

It is because I. DO. NOT. WANT. IT. IN. MY. LIFE. ANY. MORE.

I cannot wait for the day that I don’t have to think about. That there isn’t this little voice in the back of my head whispering ‘you should really be working.’ Because whilst it doesn’t tax me particularly, and the rate of work necessary isn’t especially strenuous, I simply cannot live with THE GUILT.

Sometimes I go for weeks without doing any work at all on it. You might extrapolate from this that it therefore doesn’t concern me. But it’s ALWAYS THERE. The guilt. It’s still there waiting to be done.
Consequently, I have pushed it through at quite astonishing speed. My dissertation supervisor congratulates me on my enthusiasm. Little does she know that I am not enthusiastic. I am not motivated. I am motivated only by the prospect of NEVER HAVING TO SEE HER STUPID FACE AGAIN.

And you know what?

Today I finished it.

It’s sort of been finished for a while now. But today I opened up my ridiculously massive 12MB Word document and did the final sorting out. Margins, contents page numbering, formatting – Essentially, making it look pretty.

And you know? It was a bit of a struggle. Every time you make a tiny adjustment, stupid bloody Word shunts everything around, and all your chapters move down a bit. Then all your page numbering is wrong, and all your graphs and figures are suddenly on different pages. It was actually quite stressful. Right at the bitter end, you just want to do it, save it, close it and forget about the fucking thing, but it wasn’t that straight forward.

But now it’s done.

Now I don’t have to worry about The Guilt any more...

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Day 19: Five of your favourite blogs and what you love about them (#BEDM).

Having only recently returned to the world of blogging, this one made me go ‘URK!’
But once I thought about it, it was pretty easy...

My better half blogs with more commitment, flair and humour than I do.  Mainly because he sits in an office twiddling his thumbs all day and has the luxury of time for these things. Truthfully, I haven’t read much. I used to read it, then stopped as it felt like snooping, but have kept up with his BEDM efforts. I plan to stop reading again in June, as it feels unreasonably invasive. But you still should.

Our friend in The North. Succinct and intractable, but always entertaining. An enjoyable read- though I would far sooner he blogged under the pseudonym ‘KnowItAllWithAHeartofGold.’ I rhapsodised about him sufficiently here to make me feel dirty, so I won’t do so again; merely direct you to his latest outpouring.

Someone I know but I don’t know. Someone I know on the internet, though I don’t feel I know too well yet, though we have met for real. Someone I know through others and watch with interest as they bang on at each other via twitter. For this reason I find his blog fascinating- You really do get a remarkable insight into someone’s character, even if you don’t know them as thoroughly as you might. Well worth a read, and a follow on twitter.

And now to my impersonal, but amazing blogs of preference:

Basically because it’s like my days, but put more amusingly than I could ever manage. Semi-regular updates from the lighter side of special education. Charming, illuminating, educational, inspirational AND honest. I heartily recommend.

And my absolutely number one favourite blog ever written:

Nothing on the internet has made me laugh like this. Sadly discontinued, but very meaningfully because the chapter about which the Silent Koala was writing came to an end and he moved on. You felt like you lived it with him. If you have any sense at all you will read the entire saga, starting from the beginning, and continue to the bitter, bitter end. It almost couldn’t be true, but you just know it is... for the inaugural address.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Day 18: Tell a story from your childhood (#BEDM)

Okay, okay.  I *know* I said I survived parental divorce unscathed, and in the main that’s true. I am undamaged by the process, and it totally was best for everyone.

In the long run.

But a few years prior, when I was maybe eight, maybe nine, my father left the family home to live with another lady. I’m not sure how long it lasted, but he lived there for quite a while, to the point where my brother and I visited him and his new lady friend at weekends, and took day trips and stuff.

And this spell I took much harder

The details are unimportant, but I remember my mum crying a lot. At some point my father moved back in, and we carried on as before, though I realise now it probably wasn’t *quite* as before. But for the duration, my enduring memory is of my mum crying.

A lot.

And me worrying about her.

A lot.

The most striking memory I have of this time is one that has always interested me since, as it was my first encounter with psychosomatic illness. To be brief- I used to walk to school through a residential area, then climb a small fence, then run across a meadow to my primary school gates. It was a sort of short cut that everyone used; all the mums used to walk pupils to the fence, then stand gossiping idly whilst watching the children climb the fence and make their way across the meadow.

Presumably, because they didn’t want their children walking all the way alone, and because they didn’t want to scale the fence in front of the other mums.

Then one day, we were going in late- because of an appointment or something, one assumes –my mum bade me farewell at the fence, I hopped over and made my way across the meadow. And I looked back and waved, as I often did.

And she was standing there on her own. No other mums there talking. And I became acutely aware that she was going back to the house on her own. To be alone. And that she was on her own a lot now. And that she would probably cry.

And she just looked so small.

And I turned round a few more times and waved as I walked across the meadow. And then I stopped walking and started crying and just ran back. I ran back all the way across the meadow, sobbing, until I got back the fence. Mummy was a bit worried initially- I was crying wildly, and having a bit of an unconsciously self-induced asthma/panic attack. I don’t remember the conversation, but I ended up going back home with her.

But she knew.

She knew I’d gone back for her, because I was worried about her, and felt guilty for leaving her on her own. 

She knew what I was doing- so I would be taken home and she wouldn’t be alone in the house. I think it happened a couple more times before she addressed it more directly and nipped it in the bud. I didn’t miss more than a couple of afternoons I expect.

But it was a strange turning point.

In my adult life, I am the emotional support for her and her many, many issues. I don’t tend to need much emotional support from her now- so our roles have reversed a bit. And that was it. That was the point at which I started worrying about her, and orchestrating events to protect her from things, which gradually evolved into me giving her advice about problems and situations.

Which I do quite a bit now.

I suppose I started seeing her as fragile, and adjusted my response, and our roles adjusted accordingly.
It sounds a bit unhealthy when I relate it like this, but it wasn’t really. She just needed more taking care of at that point than I did.

I’m not sure it ever switched back after that, mind...

Friday, 17 May 2013

Day 17: A favorite photo of yourself and why (#BEDM).

So hard to choose.  Photographs of myself are my favourite kind of photographs.

After much deliberation- this:

Reasons?  It was taken on our post-wedding holiday. Honeymoon, I hear you say? Well yes, but not a word that suits me. We went to New York for the first time and had the best time, so it speaks to me of super-happy memories. But more than that- What a picture! No special effects either- no additional tweaking, photoshopping or illumination. It was a giant lump of quartz from an exhibition, and it just went wild under the flash.

I like it because It looks like a magic sci-fi crystal imbuing the wielder with extraordinary celestial powers.

And I like it because my hair looks awesome.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Day 16: Something difficult about your “lot in life” and how you’re working to overcome it.


I’ve had an easy life. I am incredibly lucky and I’ve never had any excuse to complain about my lot in life.

Which is not to say I’ve not had to work hard. I’ve always worked super hard at everything, but academic stuff always came easily to me. I don’t find exams difficult, I don’t often find many things that difficult.

Sport maybe.

I end up walking into jobs, I don’t find interviews hard. I had a stable childhood throughout which I didn’t want for much and was pretty indulged at times. I was given a good education and a good start with school and university and travel and general experiences...

I guess dealing with being gay early on sort of qualifies as a bit of a lot in life. Something to cope with?

But I never really saw it like that. I knew early on, accepted it early on, and had kind of resigned myself to being alone forever by about 13, but not in a sad way. I had amazing friends and a really good life. Sex and relationships didn’t seem that big a deal then- so it never perturbed me that much. It was just a minor detail in an otherwise great life.

So no- I can’t think of much to complain about.

My parents divorce? A bit tricky at 13 or so, but totally the right thing for them to do.  And I was sheltered from the drama mostly. Not that there was much.  Completely the right thing for both of them to do, and 
everyone looks back and agrees.

Truthfully?  I *am* lucky. I win at everything. I’ve won every competition I’ve ever entered I think.

I’ve had a sort of ill-defined philosophy throughout my entire life along the lines of “Everything goes my way in the end.”

And it kind of does.  I always crash on okay. As an adult, I’ve defined it marginally more clearly as: “Oh, it’ll sort itself out. It always does.”

I guess that’s part of the reason I get irritated by people using parental divorce or gay teenage years as an excuse to be a bastard, under the pretext that they had such a hard start.  It’s never easy, but you don’t have to let it consume you.

Stay positive: Then just about everything goes your way...

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Day 15: A Day in the life.

A day in quotes, in chronological order.

“Oh thank you. Thank you for coming, and at really short notice.  We really do appreciate it. I hope we’re not keeping you from something important.”

“Sorry about that meeting this morning.  People are so negative about anything new.”

“Can I go on the computer?”

“Hello?  Oh okay. Thanks, I’ll tell him. Thanks, byeeee... No Nicky today... *YESSSSSSSS!*”

“Can I go to the toilet?”
“Well...  now.”

“What’s for lunch today? Spinach b...?”
“It’s spaghetti bolognese.”
“Alright! I don’t know, do I? I’m fick! I can’t help it!”

“Again? He’s faking it. He was on x-box live this morning.”

“Can we do no work today instead?”

“It’s a weird fruit day today. Look!”

“Can I do my work in Loser’s Corner?”

“End of the lesson.”
“Not yet.”
“Now end of the lesson.”
“Not yet.”
“Now end of the lesson.”
“Now end of the lesson, yes.”

“There was cake in the staffroom, but now it’s all gone.”

“He was just being an idiot, so I made him sit in Knob’s Corner.”

“Don’t sit on that chair- that’s the poo chair.”

“That’s not a poo chair, but I still wouldn’t sit on it.”

“But have you actually ever worked with any children who actually lick windows?”
“Lucy in Chestnut Class licks the railings every play time.”

“As you all walked nicely, you can go straight up for lunch.”

“I’m not taking it home. My whole family don’t like quiche.”

“Well, he wanted to eat his quiche now, and I said it wasn’t ready yet. So he called me a fucking twat and that’s why he’s in for playtime.”

“Aooww!  It’s borin’. Do we have to?“

“It may look like a weird penis, but it was actually just... an aeroplane. Well done.”

“He actually said it! Oh my god! Did you hear him say penis?!”

“Can we do that again?  That was my favourite lesson ever.”

“If you don’t like it, why did you choose it?”
“I don’t know!”

"He's been touching us all day today."

“Everyone has to leave through the side door today.  Someone is being very unsafe at the front of the school, so we’re all going to go to the hall.  You all need to be extra sensible and extra helpful, okay? Just to make sure everyone stays safe. Okay – let’s go.”

“You’re all going to have to vacate. This room is double booked...sorry.”

“Right- let’s move on-  we still have 3 more items and AOB  and we’re supposed to be going in... 30 seconds.”

“Are you staying late?”

"Fuck that."

"No, I'm not. I just thought you were."

Day 14: Ten things that make you really happy.

1) Cocktails.
Cocktails make me happy. We have a small but well-stocked little cocktail bar in our kitchen, and it is my favourite part of the house. When Simon gets home from work, I often hand him a martini, and I’ll have one whilst I’m cooking.  We have people round for cocktails all the time, and sometimes have them in the evening when we’re watching television or whatever.  It’s like a little treat – a signal that you can relax and your time is your own.

2) Roof-down days.
I know it’s wanky. I know, and I can’t help it, and I don’t care. I wanted a convertible for years and years, and worked for years and years, and saved up for years and years and drove a really old lady car for years and years... I now I have one.  And I LOVE IT!  And sunny days, driving around in the sunshine?  It’s just the best and I love it every time.

3) Dancing.
There’s nothing like dancing. Dancing your troubles away. Dancing like no-one’s watching. It’s just fab and makes me happy. I’m not particularly fussy about music, and I may not be the world’s best dancer- though bizarrely people used to approach me and ask me if I was a professional – whilst doing giant hand gestures and ridiculous actions for Oops, I did it again on podia over the years. I was actually quite pleased. I also quite like the feeling sometimes, dancing to One Direction in binty clothes surrounded by gays, where I wonder:  what would my pupils would say if they could see me now?

4) Getting the credit.
Getting the credit I deserve is incredibly important to me. I’ve filled out those personality/career questionnaire activity things a few times over the years, and getting credit for my work and my contributions is always super high on my list of priorities. Sometimes I am so desperate for recognition for something kick-ass I’ve done that I’ll take it/send it/show it to my boss on the flimsy pretext of checking it’s okay- even though I know it’s amazing- just so  they’ll know it was from me and not someone else.

5) Straight boys flirting
I’ve said something about this lately, so I won’t harp on. But nothing gives me a giddy thrill like a hot straight boy flagrantly flirting. And I love rushing home to Simon to say “Oooh, you’ll never guess what XYZ said today!!” Then we get all silly and excited about it.

6) Kicking ass at climbing.
I climb... ooh, every two weeks now.  It used to be weekly. Actually it *used* to be twice a week.  But I got busy.  But I still love it. It’s harder and harder to get there after a day at work now and I secretly always hope it’ll get cancelled, but once I get there I LOVE it. It’s so satisfying and I’m pretty good now- I love it when I ace a hard 6 and it feels all effortless.

7) Eating out.
Oh eating out, how do I love thee? We eat out loads.  It’s my favourite. Sometimes swanky, sometimes cheap and cheerful – either works for me. I basically love food, and eating out I get stuff that I can’t cook myself or can’t be bothered to cook myself. The only thing that stops me eating out every day is that I’d be morbidly obese in a fortnight.

8) Counting my money.
I know it sounds bad- like a giant in a folktale, but I like counting my money. I like putting money in my savings. I like opening it up and going ‘Oooh, look at my savings!’ I’m not deliberately careful with money, in terms of self-denial or going without. We go shopping, eat out, go for drinks and go clubbing a lot, so it does mount up. But honestly?  I think I have fairly modest taste and my resting state is generally quite frugal. I always have money left for my savings after all the bills have gone. And I love it. I love knowing I can have pretty things and have a holiday if we need one. I like watching it grow...

9) Bath, Booze, Book.
I need an hour on my own a day. No disrespect to Simon, but as I described before, I have people basically talking at me from the second I get out of my car to the second I get back in it and drive home. So I have a drink, a bath and read my book every evening and it’s just wonderful.

10) Dressing up.
Fancy dress is my favourite thing in the world. You can expect to see frequent mentions of this. Any opportunity really. Halloween is my favourite night of the year, but I’ll take whatever chance I get. It really is super amazing fun, and I like to try and be clever or inventive or unusual. I also like to get my kit off, so dressing up is really just a flimsy pretext for getting naked.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Day 13: Issue a public apology.

Dear parents of the UK,

I am SORRY that having children is such a burden to you.

I am SORRY that, unlike me, the whole of the internet, the whole of the population of the world and the whole entirety of popular culture, you never realised that sometimes having children might inconvenience you or preclude you from doing something enjoyable.

I am SORRY that you no longer sleep.

I am SORRY that you never go out.

I am SORRY that you have nothing else to talk about.

I am SORRY that your life choices have been limited by your decision to have children.

But it was YOUR decision.

In view of that decision, I find it unfathomable that you now demand the right to the parking spaces nearest the entrance to the supermarket, the right to board before everyone else at airports, and the right to first choice of holiday dates in the work place.

Obviously, it is incredibly hard work having children. After all, you feel the need to complain about it ad infinitum on the internet, in person and on television, radio and in magazines. Obviously, it must have become much harder, and requires all these additional concessions to allow you as parents to cope, since World War II- when people still managed to bring up children with no money, no resources, husbands fighting overseas and bombs dropping from above throughout the night.

But most of all, I am SORRY that I, as a teacher who spends a mere 6 hours a day with your child, am unable to bring them up to your satisfaction. I am SORRY that you repeatedly feel the need to remind me:

“Well, it ain’t my job to bring ‘em up, is it?! That’s what you lot are for!”

And I am SORRY that you feel the need to constantly tell everyone how magical having children is, via the medium of inspirational-motivational-parenting-quotes, as if saying it all the time might distract from the soul-crushing depression and drudgery your life has become.

I offer you an alternative that I rather like:

Having children makes you no more a parent than having a piano makes you a pianist.

I am SORRY that you find it so difficult and yet at the same time harp on about it so incessantly to convince the world that you haven’t made a terrible mistake, and I am SORRY that the fact that your life is on hold until they reach 25 and maybe consider moving out, and that you won’t be able to go to a pub, restaurant or cinema without become a social pariah for the next 12 years.

But most of all I am SORRY that I have the time, energy and resources to go out, eat out, drink cocktails, go dancing, take holidays and basically have a FUCKING GOOD TIME.

Want fun, money, a successful career, regular holidays, a nice home, a nice car and a rewarding social life? 

Easy-peasy: Don’t have kids then.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Day 12: What do you miss?

I miss sunny summer days growing up.

I’m not trying to be twee. But there was this certain feeling I can recall only fleetingly – a distant taste of a memory – of walking home from junior school in blazing sunshine; the smell of cut grass and knowing that you could go and play outside or sit in the garden or have ice in your drink. Probably on the last day of the Summer term, I expect.

I can’t even remember it really. Not entirely. Only the feeling I got.

Being carefree and feeling liberated and having no demands on your time.

And I miss it...

And it evolved as I got older.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Fast forward six years, to the end of secondary school. I no longer participate in PE lessons, due to *ahem* ...medical reasons. Instead, I spend those sunny, summer afternoons lying on the grass at the edge of the school field with all the girls who are inexplicably on their period again, watching the boys play cricket with their tops off, wearing just trainers and tiny white shorts.

We sit and ogle, though I am discreet, and flick through Sugar magazine and talk about pop music.

Great days, and a feeling of excitement, acceptance and the complete absence of worries.

What do I miss?
Carefree , sunny, summer days. And whilst my carefree, sunny summer holidays have not changed much as an adult, and I am still pretty much untroubled by life, the feeling itself- that taste of a memory of a feeling.... 

I’m unable to recapture it as it was.