Becky says things about … the last days of term

Can you hear that, fair Listener? It is the ecstatic collective squeal of school children around the globe as we approach the summer holidays.

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And, if you listen carefully, you will hear the exhausted wails of several thousand teachers.

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Fact: there is nothing more exciting than the last days of term.

Amongst the hysteria and the chaos and the inevitable child that got over-excited and quietly soiled herself in assembly, one thing was certain as we approached that last golden week: teachers would stop doing their one job.

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Each lesson would become a lucky dip of unfathomable treats. What would await us on the other side of the door? A TV on wheels, stationed at the front of the class like a proud, tubby Emperor?

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Or a wordsearch? The end of term is the one time in a human being’s life when a wordsearch is legitinately and shamelessly thrilling. When presented as an alternative to distilling some water, or reciting the German for ‘When the weather is good, I play tennis*’, a wordsearch is your ticket to happiness.

*Wenn das Wetter gut its, spiele ich Tennis. (Aber, wenn das Wetter schlecht ist, spiele ich Tischtennis.)

Sometimes, however, the teachers couldn’t even bring themselves to provide us with any form of stimuli, and instead left us to our own devices.

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Oh, the thrill of getting away with slight alterations to your uniform! The teachers’ stringent term-time sartorial rules would gradually relax in the run-up to the holidays – they would half-heartedly frown at your trainers, or your whimsical approach to doing up your tie – until eventually they literally didn’t give a shit.

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There were vague last-ditch attempts to send us on our way with some educational remnants in our brains, by making us sit through a final assembly on the importance of listening to our parents and doing our Tudor projects over the holidays, and remembering at all times that we were representatives of the school, but they may as well have been talking to a hedge.

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And the peak of a mountain of almost unbearable happiness? The half day.

As the clock inched to 1pm on that final day, the teacher would take a last register and tell us to get the hell out, and as we left the school gates we would wipe away a single tear.

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Oh, yes, I enjoyed years and years of tremendously exciting last days of term.

Until my very, very last day of term, in my third and final year of university.

I sat my last exam in the second week of a six week term. As I put down my pen on my Literature of World War One exam, I realised, with a strange mixture of elation and trepidation, that I had just completed my life in education. The years of coursework, seminars, lectures, revising, binge-eating Malteasers, were over. (Happily, it soon transpired that my life of binge-eating Malteasers had only just begun.) Naturally, I wanted to celebrate.

I rushed into the pub, expecting to find willing drink-gin-until-we-puke comrades, but was instead met with a silent citadel of revision.

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I went home, had a cup of tea and watched Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, so I think you’ll find I had the last laugh.

So, enjoy these last days of term, particularly if they are your very last, as from now on there are no last days of term: just a continuous drudgery of work with no foreseeable end.

Enjoy!

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Becky says things about … staying positive

‘Crikey Moses, what the hell’s going on over there?’ my splendid international listeners must be wondering. ‘Britain looks like a pair of tangled headphones covered in unidentified soiling that have been found at the bottom of a crud-filled handbag, with one earpiece snapped off and the other one stuffed with wax. What a terrible mess! But it’s okay, I’m sure the Brits themselves know what is going on. They must know what is going on.’

Tell you what, splendid international listeners. I’m going to hold a referendum on whether we Brits know what is going on right now.

 

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So, what you are reading and seeing in the Media – images of a smouldering British wasteland filled with vultures, clowns and flying pigs – is exactly what it feels like.

It seems we’ve learnt the hard way that when you give a very hungry dog a bone, he might just eat it.

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Whichever box we crossed on Thursday 23rd June, it is fairly unanimously acknowledged that the immediate outcome has been, how shall I put it, PRETTY SHITTING DIABOLICAL, and we’re now floundering in the smelly discombobulation of an Unexprectit.

But it’s okay, because we Brits have a remarkable ability to remain positive in the face of adversity. It’s the war spirit. We won’t be dispirited by this chaos and uncertainty and anxiety. We have many things to be positive about.

I mean, look, I know it appears to be terrifying and dangerous now, but at least we have a strong and faithful leader to guide us through the most economically, politically, financially and socially difficult times in recent history.

Oh no wait.

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But it’s okay, at least we have strong candidates to guide us through the most economically, politically, financially and socially difficult times in recent history.

Oh no wait.

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But it’s okay, at least we have a sensible leader of the Opposition to rise up and present the country with a strong alternative leader to guide us through the most economically, politically, financially and socially difficult times in recent history.

Oh no wait.

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But it’s okay, at least everyone who voted Out is sticking by their decision now that we’re Out.

Oh no wait.

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But it’s okay, at least all the promises that were made about Brexit are being faithfully kept.

Oh no wait.

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But it’s okay, at least we have the football to remind us what a strong footballing nation we are and boost our morale when we need it most.

Oh no wait.

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But it’s okay, at least it’s nearly July and it’s high summer and the sunny weather will cheer our dampened spirits.

Oh no wait.

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But it’s okay, at least we can pack up and escape the country and seek solace in far away lands.

Oh no wait.

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Oh.

 

Shit.

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Becky says things about … pain

Gentle Listener, I want to take you on a journey.

A journey of pain.

It is a journey I have been on in the last week or so, and I felt that it would be selfish to keep all the pain to myself – considering that there was such an incredible amount of it – so I decided to chronicle my pain to share with you.

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Friday afternoon
2pm – Whilst eating a roll for lunch, I get a twinge in my upper right-hand second premolar, on which I had root canal treatment three years ago. This is not unusual, as it occasionally twinges. I think no more of it and cheerfully finish my roll.

6pm – On exiting my office into the cold, I get another twinge in my upper right-hand second premolar. It is a slightly more intense twinge, up in the gum. Hmm, I hmm, what dark force is this? But it’s Friday evening and no time for dental concerns, and I go and get drunk with my best friend.

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Saturday

10am – Through the blur of a mild hangover, there is a dull ache in the root above my upper right-hand second premolar. Hmm, I hmm, this is the same upper right-hand second premolar in which I was getting twinges yesterday. Let’s try eating something on it. I eat something on it.

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2pm – The aching bud above my upper right-hand second premolar has blossomed into a delicate tree of unpleasantness. It is very sore to the touch and, every now and then, I get a cold, icy ache flaring up towards my eye socket. This brings back happy memories of actually having the root canal treatment and being able to feel the dentist shove a rod so far up my face that I felt it nudge said eye socket. I buy precautionary painkillers.

9pm – Despite the precautionary painkillers, the sharp, twisting sting above my upper right-hand second premolar is now throbbing. I cannot even think about touching it. Eating on that side of my mouth is inconceivable. I take more painkillers and try to go to sleep. Lying in bed feels like this:

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Sunday

5am – I am still awake. My mouth and cheek are alive with the sound of pain. I have taken two more doses of painkillers. I finally fall asleep from sheer exhaustion at around 5.30am.

7am – I am woken by a fiery shot of pain so intense that it makes me sit bolt upright like I’ve had a nightmare in a film. A blue fire licks at my root and burns my cheek. I tearfully call the NHS emergency dental number and, through a fabulous spoonful of luck and the wonders of our National Health Service, I get a dental appointment at the nearest hospital at 9.30am.

9.30am – I stumble to the hospital. I see Dentist Norman. I hope Dentist Norman will tell me I’ve just got a bit of food stuck between my teeth, and send me home with some dental floss and a sticker. Instead, Dentist Norman tells me I have an infection at the top of my root canal, the root canal on which I had treatment three years ago. He gives me two sets of antibiotics and tells me they should kick in within 24 hours. I wish Dentist Norman a happy Valentine’s Day, and crawl to the nearest pharmacy where I collect my drugs, after almost passing out over the counter, and hunch outside like a junkie on a comedown and shove drugs into my shattered mouth.

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6pm – Pain. I live within it. I have never been without it. Crunched in by my cell of pain, my non-painful life does not exist. Work, play, friends, food, hopes, dreams, YouTube, have gone, all crushed to pulp by my pain. I don’t know what day it is, I don’t know where I have been or where I am going. The pain is like someone jabbing a rusting steel rod up into my root and twisting. I slurp some lukewarm tomato soup and lie in my death bed like a broken, drugged dish cloth.

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Monday 

7am – I have had a few hours sleep. Twice in the night I sat up in bed mournfully eating half a slice of dry bread to line my stomach before taking more painkillers. This morning the pain has clearly decided to branch out, and has spreads its thorned wings to my lower jaw, my ear, my eye socket, my nose. I weep snottily through fears of the antibiotics not getting off their arses to take my pain away.

1pm – I curl weakly in bed clutching an ice pack to my cheek. Every time the ice comes into contact with my skin, the pain instantly fizzles and dies for two glorious, beautiful seconds of pure relief, before roaring back into my face like some sick prank. Electric shocks of pain are now gripping my eye so that it feels like the lower rim of the socket is shattering. Lighting bolts of pain crack along my jawline. My cocktail of codeine and ibuprofen is no longer a match for the pain, serving only to faintly dull it for 20 minutes or so, before giving up and letting the pain grin its hideous grin. Through the blue bars of pain and the doped-up haze of all the drugs, I seriously contemplate stumbling out into the road in my pyjamas and asking someone to drive into me.

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7pm – And then… a miracle. The electric shocks are not so intense. The throbbing is not so powerful. The feeling of a rusting steel rod being twisted into my root is not so acute. Could it be that the antibiotics have finally woken up and decided to do their one job???

Tuesday

9am – Instead of spending hours of fitful consciousness writhing in pain, I woke only once to take painkillers. Otherwise I have slept like the dead. I check on the pain. Yep, there it is. But it is a different pain. It is as though the pain in my root above my upper right-hand second premolar has got bored with being above my upper right-hand second premolar, and has wandered off to explore other parts of my face instead. My back lower molars are agony. The bridge of my nose is throbbing. My eye socket – and this is probably my favourite of all the pains, that feeling that the delicate ridge of my eye socket is being drilled by a needle – is bursting with pain. But my upper right-hand second premolar? Not so bad at all, thank you.

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2pm – After spending yet more hours in bed, the pain is slowly but surely fading, like a tide going out. A tide of needles, fire, and bombs.

7pm – I manage to eat something that isn’t a) Heinz tomato soup; b) dry white bread; c) my own fist. I haven’t taken a painkiller since 1pm. The drugged wooziness is slowly lifting, leaving in its place an exhausted, crippled shell, like a woodlouse that has fallen asleep in the sun.

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Wednesday

10am – I have slept for nearly eleven hours. I take no painkiller. The pain – all the pains – is sinking, all the time sinking. And what commences instead is a spectacular painkiller withdrawal involving me shouting and then crying at two of my best friends, trying to itch the twitching feeling of unrest deep inside me somewhere, and writing ‘Never take up heroin’ on the fridge.

And now, a week on, the pain has all but gone, and the tooth of doom is being whipped out imminently. I want no part of its heinous cruelty anymore. I have been advised that the infection will only return, and that does not interest me one jot, so out it must come.

And what advice can I give you, after going through my journey of pain? Keep the number of your friend with the fastest car next to your bed.

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Becky says things about … what happens in your 30s

Gentle Listener, I am now 31.

I’ve learnt things.

I want to share them with you.

Here they are.

  • If you can’t think of a hilarious and verbose introduction to a list-based blog post, short and sweet is king.
  • Everyone in the world is either married or engaged.
  • If you are not married or engaged, you start to fear that the reality of aged spinsters silently knitting alone is coming your way, baby.

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  • You start tutting at loud music in shops.
  • Your friends start discussing mortgages and car insurance in the pub, and you’re too embarrassed to ask if anyone saw ‘World’s Most Dangerous Newts’ on Channel 5 last night.
  • Crouching for long periods of time doesn’t become impossible, but unpleasant.
  • The wrinkles that you see on grown-up people suddenly appear on your own fair skin, overnight. Next to the fresh spot that popped up yesterday.

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  • Facebook is swamped with first smiles, first steps, first birthdays, first school photos, first managed-not-to-shit-on-the-floor-but-in-the-allocated-potty-in-the-allocated-poo-station-in-the-corner-of-the-bathroom-s.
  • If you don’t have a child with which to adorn Facebook with its firsts, your parent friends assume that there is an old ice cream tub where your womb should be.

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  • If you accidentally buy trousers with elasticated waists, you do not freak out at their tragic agedness, but rather relish in their supportive yet luxurious comfort.
  • A nice cup of tea and a sit down is literally the shit.
  • You find bits of your body evolving into places you cannot follow.

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  • You don’t buy clothes on their fashion merits, but on your judgment on whether they will maintain you at a pleasing temperature.
  • A bottle of wine + ‘British kids’ TV theme tunes from the 80s’ on YouTube = Best. Night. Ever.
  • You see your friends every two months instead of twice a week because of children / honeymoons / mortgage repayments / late-night working / business trips to New York / prison.
  • You have to start taking paracetamol before, possibly during, and definitely after a drinking session to mitigate the risks.
  • You genuinely start to not give a poppins about what people think of you and you’re much better with criticism.

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  • There is literally nothing more exciting than discovering a 70-part show to binge watch on Netflix.
  • People falling over is still funny.
  • You start asking for grown-up things like saucepan sets, slow cookers and new mattresses for birthdays and Christmas, and are genuinely thrilled when you receive them.
  • You see your childhood toys labelled as ‘vintage’ and ‘retro’ on eBay, and a small part of you dies (but you secretly don’t mind now being ‘retro’).
  • You are still not too old or grown-up to act like a right brat in front of your parents.

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  • You keep a packet of Rennies or Tums in your bag, because indigestion is an evil you do not care for.
  • You fear for humanity when you see pictures of Leonardo DiCaprio looking a bit old and podgy.
  • You cannot grasp what a ‘gif’ or a ‘vine’ is, and you’re too afraid to ask.
  • Vicious forces start mucking about with Time, and as a result, Christmas comes round every three weeks, yesterday was 5th May and today is 30th October, and when someone asks you what month you went to Greece, you assume this pose:

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  • You realise that, when you thought at the age of 22 that by the time you were 30 you’d know what words like ‘dividend’ and ‘remittance’ mean, you were naive, and you don’t.
  • You are utterly fascinated by teenagers, because the last time you spoke to one, you were one.
  • Instead of saving up all your money to go on a £100 blow-out on a Saturday, you drink moderately and consistently throughout the week.

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  • If you’re a writer, the phrase ‘Write drunk; edit sober’ is literally the best advice anyone has literally given to anyone literally ever.
  • If your night out edges much past 11pm, you start desperately worrying about transport.
  • You get vague pangs of envy when you see nubile, dewy, smooth-skinned 20-somethings prancing around and necking shots, but then you remember you have a fresh packets of crumpets in your cupboard at home.

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  • You still catch yourself thinking the phrase ‘When I grow up’ and wince inwardly and painfully every time.
  • None of the above is really so bad.

So, if you are yet to tumble into your 30s, you have all this to look forward to; and if you are past your 30s, please don’t spoil the surprise. We’ll find out soon enough.

Like, TOMORROW, at this rate.

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Becky says things about … how to detox

My name is Becky and I am disgusting.

And if I’ve got to admit it, my darling Listener, then so have you. Admit it. You are disgusting. We are all disgusting. We have spent the last fortnight slouched on various sofas scoffing various beige food (the best party food is always beige), chucking endless booze down our flabby throats, and passing out into bloated, saggy comas.

It’s been wonderful.

And then came Monday morning and we put on our work trousers.

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I shall admit, dearest Listener old pal, that I was alarmed on Monday. I thought someone had kindly placed some cushions in the seat of my desk chair, and then I realised that I was in fact snuggling into the comfortable squidge of my own love handles. I spent the day gently perspiring, which I can only assume was my body finally ridding itself of two weeks’ worth of non-stop festive alcohol.

So, naturally, and along with literally everyone else, I decided to detox.

And as I have just completed my first day of detoxing, I thought I’d write you, my lovely listeners, a helpful guide to assist you in your quest for cleansed perfection. You’re welcome.

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What you will need 

  •  Willpower
  • Motivation
  • Delusions of success.
  • Approximately £10,000’s worth of fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, wholegrains, ominously-named health food shop items, and some form of mystical rare plant powder off the Internet that claims to boost your vitality, purify your system and improve your football dribbling skills.

Day 1 Detox Plan

07:15 Wake up with vague sense of dread. Quickly cast aside the implausible yearning for a bacon sandwich and a cheeky morning pint.

07:33 Let the struggle with which you pull on your previously loose-fitting skirt encourage you to make this day brilliant and to be the healthiest and most motivated person in the world and to transform yourself into a vision of saintly excellence. 

07:46 Retrieve from the fridge the unidentifiable-green-sludge-that-was-supposed-to-be-a-juice-but-you-don’t-have-a-juicer that you made last night using thirteen different green ingredients, including moss, algae, seaweed, pond scum and the mystical Internet powder, spent twenty minutes pulverising in your inadequate blender which resulted in your kitchen looking like Fungus the Bogeyman had had a particularly violent cold up the walls. Remind yourself that this green sludge is breakfast. And lunch.

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08:24 Order a flimsy black coffee instead of your normal frothy latte. Tell yourself you’re doing it for King and country.

09:03 Finish watery coffee and, in a single, glorious second, think ‘Well at least I have a lovely bowl of sugary granola smothered in thick, creamy yoghurt for breakfast’. Then remember about the green sludge.

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09:58 Breakfast. Retrieve green sludge from the fridge. Quickly realise you can’t drink it from the flask because its sludgy, thick consistency means that thick blobs of gloop simply slide onto your face, and instead eat it with a teaspoon. Try to ignore the mounting bitterness that is not only filling your mouth, but your heart.

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10:07 Put remaining green sludge in fridge. Ignore colleagues’ questions, remarks, and utterly unhelpful comments about how tasty their own breakfasts were.

10:11 Experience a brief but pleasing sensation of smugness as you consider the goodness that you’ve just put in your body.

10:12 – 12:10 Throw yourself into your work, and imagine your body exorcising itself of evil.

12:15 Ignore colleagues’ declarations of where they are going for lunch, or how many types of cheese they have stuffed into a French stick. Continue to work doggedly. (Useful tip: have some tissues at hand to wipe away the solitary tear that will fall from your eye as you consider the green sludge waiting for you in the fridge.)

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13:00 Moodily stomp outside for a walk, then experience the astounding revelation that you only ever step outside your office during the day in order to hunt for food, and thus are now utterly directionless because you have no need for food as you have the green sludge.

13:02 Walk moodily round the block, and stomp moodily back into the office. Tell your colleagues it’s just started to rain.

13:28 Sit hunched at your desk in front of Google images of ‘best burgers in the world’ and slurp green sludge from a teaspoon. Follow with a cup of peppermint tea and a healthy dose of resentment towards humanity.

13:47 Feel momentarily euphoric because you don’t feel full or sluggish, and remind yourself that the green sludge gives you nothing but goodness.

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13:48 – 15:09 Get on with your work, and genuinely forget about the green sludge.

15:10 Get up to go to the toilet, and walk straight into the hard wall of hunger. Realise you are dangerously hungry. You have probably never been this hungry. Look wildly around the office. Note the tin of sweets left over from Christmas. Squeeze out an ounce of willpower and try to focus on the taut stomach and inner peace you will achieve if you stick to the green sludge.

15:39 Give the following response when one of your colleagues says they will bring to the office the enormous unopened box of Christmas biscuits they didn’t eat at home.

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15:43 Weep softly.

15:44 – 17:20 Finish the working day with increasing fatigue, bitterness, and irrational rage.

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17:21 Crawl home. Do not for one second contemplate the prospect of a glass of wine or a chocolate biscuit. Instead, get home and immediately put on your jogging pants.

18:12 Flap-arse about in your bedroom with a couple of dumbells, download the 30 Day Squat Challenge app, do half the squats you’re supposed to do because they’re uncomfortable, and lug your drooping, groaning buttocks out of the door for a jog.

18:30 Jog.

18:33 Seriously contemplate going back home.

18:39 Experience an endorphin.

18:41 Realise you have the actual ability and physical fortitude to run a marathon. Make mental note to sign up for one when you get home in four hours’ time.

18:42 Get an excruciating stitch, trip over a stick, hack your guts up into a bush and try to tell yourself you don’t need an ambulance.

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19:01 Having crawled home, have a shower and prepare dinner. This will involve 23 green and obscure ingredients and won’t use anything normal like potatoes or pasta.

19:25 Consume your virtuous green creation in front of Man vs Food. 

19:31 Sit very still in front of an empty plate and fight urge to order a pizza.

19:45 – 21:30 Absorb yourself in something engrossing, like a Netflix binge or mountaineering.

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21:49 Make tomorrow’s green sludge.

21:56 – 22:33 Clean the kitchen.

22:38 Crawl into bed in a cocoon of confusing mixed emotions over the day’s apparent success and the excruciating hunger that is literally consuming your entire being.

22:52 Text your work colleague and ask him nicely to please bring in that unopened box of Christmas biscuits to the office tomorrow.

 

Repeat the above on days 2 and 3, and on day 4 replace green sludge with brie and bacon baguette, three packets of crisps, a sausage roll, two doughnuts and four pints of self-loathing.

Good luck!

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Becky says things about … the first day of Uni

Wondrous Listeners, many 18 year-olds are about to embark on the biggest adventure of their lives: University.

(Well, the second biggest adventure – the biggest adventure is the epic trip to Wilkinson to buy more kitchen supplies than they will ever use, 90% of which will spend the entire first year under their beds, never touched by human hands).

So what happens on the first day of this epic adventure?

I shall tell you a story.

My first day of University was on the 21st of September 2003.

[Pause while I consider the dreadful fact that this was 12 years ago.]

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I arrived at the concrete jungle that is the University of East Anglia with my parents and my younger sister. I went to the Student Union (what the hell was a Student Union?) to collect the keys to my room, trying to swallow the fear of being surrounded by more 18 year-olds than I thought existed in this world (where did they come from?). The girl who handed me my key said ‘Oh, you’re in Waveney Terrace. I was in Waveney Terrace in my first year. You’ll have a wicked time! Just don’t be put off my appearances.’

My mother almost drove me home there and then.

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The girl was not wrong. I later heard a rumour that the design of Waveney Terrace had been inspired by that of a Swedish Prison, and there were definite incarceration-like qualities about it: a great, snaking concrete building that ran from blocks A to Q, each block with four floors. I was in N Block. A long corridor, seven rooms on each side, one kitchen with a McDonalds-style plastic table bolted to the floor, and a ‘bathroom’ with three toilet cubicles and one shower.

One shower.

For 14 teenagers of various genders and hygiene standards.

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My room was a tiny breeze-blocked cell with a single bed barely big enough for Billy Bear and Huggy Bear (yes of course they came with me). My family and I stoically unpacked my things, my ears pricking at any sound of approaching fellow students. After a couple of hours, my family said they had to go.

I waved them off, watching their car trundle across the muddy car park.

I went back to my cell and stood in the middle of my few possessions. What did you feel, Becky? I hear you cry. Was it excitement? Freedom? No. What did I feel? I’ll tell you.

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I then undertook the single most incredible feat of bravery that I have, to this day, ever performed: I swallowed the burning urge to burst into tears and hide under my bed, legged it up the corridor and exploded into the kitchen where two people were sitting awkwardly at the table, and yelled

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[Extracted from Chapter 3 of ‘How to Break Ice’, by Prof. Becky Mayhew]

And so it began. One by one more quivering teenagers skulked into the kitchen, each eyeing the others with the fearful stare of a rabbit about to be ploughed over by a Ferrari, and I realised something wonderful: everyone was shitting themselves. Probably the greatest realisation of my young life. It made it so much easier. (Note to any impending Freshers reading this post: always remember, you are only as scared as the Fresher next to you, and he is cacking his pants.)

Conversation happened quickly. Judgements were made almost instantaneously (100% of them turned out to be wrong, obvs). Soon there were about ten of us bundled into the kitchen, and so I learnt another important nugget: on your first day of University you spend a lot of time yelling place and subject names at people, and it works remarkably well.

 

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After we’d all exhausted ourselves by yelling our home towns at each other, someone uttered the words that would become the most frequently used phrase next to ‘Whose eaten my Admiral Pie?’: ‘Shall we go to the uni bar?’

And off we trundled, clinging to each other like King Penguins, to the heaving Uni bar which was full of other clinging groups of King Penguins who were – hallelujah! – all shitting themselves. And there, over insanely cheap drinks (99 pence for a gin and tonic. I know. Take a moment to digest that) more barriers were broken down, common interests were discovered, and I bonded with Mel and Emma in the toilets when my bra strap snapped.

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And then, a couple of hours later, someone said ‘Hey, I’ve got some cheese – fancy going back to halls?’ And we must be the only Freshers in the history of Fresherdom who went back to halls at half past nine on the first day of Uni for cups of tea and a cheeseboard.

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Then came the dread: it was suddenly half one in the morning, I was exhausted from being so inhumanely sociable for so long, and I wanted to go to bed. But no one else had gone to bed. I couldn’t be the first one to go to bed! I would forever be remembered as The One Who Left the Party Early. I knew how crucial this first day was, how important first impressions would be. Fortunately, the urge to snuggle up in my Aspirin packet-sized bed outweighed the fear of being labelled lame, so I bade them goodnight, claimed that I’d been up since five that morning (a heinous lie, but needs must), and scuttled off to my room. And, even more fortunately, about half an hour later, I heard them all do the same.

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So there are several morals to this story, which you may like to share with anyone who will be starting University in the next few weeks:

  1. Congregate in the kitchen. The kitchen is the centre of your world on your first day.
  2. Don’t let your parents hang around. The longer they hang around, the less time you will have to yell your home town and subject at your new friends.
  3. Even if you want to crumble into a sandy heap of terror, run up to the nearest housemate and bellow your name in their face.
  4. Never forget that everyone else’s pants are equally as soiled as yours.
  5. Bring a cheeseboard.

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Filed under Embarrassing Revelations, Life eh?, People, The Beauty of Life, Thoughts and Musings

Becky says things about … writer’s block

My dearest, loyal listeners. I have abandoned you. I have shunned, rejected, deserted you.

You see, listeners, the unthinkable has happened: I can’t think of anything to say.

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Yes, I have been struck by the writer’s worst nightmare: the dreaded Writer’s Block.

Initially my desertion of this blog was due to my focussing on writing my novel, which was going spiffingly: I’ve bumped the bastard thing up by 40,000 words since January. But then the writing slowed to the pace of a drunk arthritic slug, and then the ideas shrivelled away like a drunk arthritic slug that’s fallen into a puddle of salt.

So instead I thought I’d focus on my blog.

But then I realised I had no ideas for that, either.

The chamber of ideas was sadly lacking.

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There is no writer on earth who hasn’t succumbed to writer’s block. It is, to employ a phrase commonly used to describe the experience, a right old bollocks. It makes you feel incapacitated, because you can’t do what you know you’re supposed to be doing. Imagine if footballers suddenly couldn’t remember how to football, or singers stepped on stage and didn’t know why they were there?

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You feel like you have to start all over again. You have to rediscover your skills, which have crumbled to a pile of rubble, and lug out the most tremendous energy to retrain yourself to do what you hope you can still do. Writing suddenly becomes the most hopeless pursuit in the world. The pressure to get back into it grows to an impossible weight. Picture this: Christopher Wren starts building St Paul’s Cathedral. Everything’s going swimmingly, he’s at the top of his game, it’s a feat of architectural magnificence rarely seen… and then he gets builder’s block. He can’t go on. He runs out of ideas, his motivation dies a terrible, humiliating death, and he really doesn’t know what to do.

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Is writer’s block borne from external distractions? Does it have anything to do with the fact I subscribed to Netflix a few months ago? Maybe. Instead of writing I have binge-watched the entire three seasons of House of Cards, without once, I might add, having a clue what was going on.

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Instead of writing I’ve gone to the pub. Instead of writing I’ve painted my nails. Instead of writing I’ve searched for unobtainable properties on Rightmove.com, I’ve fiddled with my phone, with my laptop, I’ve googled ‘eye make-up tips for blue eyes’ and ‘documentaries about natural disasters’, I’ve trawled through Buzzfeed’s backlist of articles about cats. I’ve done literally anything to avoid thinking about the fact that I can’t think of anything.

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And as if the actual experience of writer’s block wasn’t irritating enough, the remedy is even worse: writers say that the only way to get over writer’s block is to write.

That’s like telling someone with no legs that the only way to get some legs is to walk to the leg shop.

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But I do feel a little better for just writing this blog, despite the fact that even these few words have been a struggle. Getting these words out has been like dredging a pond full of scummy water (which is a phrase I use in my novel. See, I’m recycling my own words because I can’t think of any new ones. I’ve stooped lower than whale shit (which is also a phrase I use in my novel. I’m doomed)).

So, hopefully, if I keep dredging the pond, I’ll get to the nice, verdant, mossy bottom, and that mossy bottom will, hopefully, produce ideas and words which will flourish into a veritable oasis of creativity and joy and if I haven’t drowned in the puddle of my own analogies by that time, I will, hopefully, be able to do some ruddy writing.

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Filed under Life eh?, Mishaps, Thoughts and Musings