Becky says things about … the human brain

O sweet and graceful listeners, let us speak of the human brain.

I’m a big fan of the brain. There are many things that that lump of moist cauliflower is good for; namely, and in no particular order:

  • coming up with sassy comebacks to impertinent comments
  • knowing not to eat things that wouldn’t agree with us, such as exposed wiring, or brick

  • remembering all significant dates in the world wars, or the dates and fates of Henry VIII’s wives, or the crucial cinematic progression of important Disney films between 1938 and 1952
  • recognising mistakes and rectifying them accordingly, such as ensuring that you write ‘kind regards’ and not ‘king retards’ in an email to the CEO of a multi-national company (NB. the human brain occasionally falls short on this one)
  • understanding when it’s appropriate to greet someone with a polite, palm-tickling handshake, and when it’s appropriate to use another form of greeting

  • being able to apply the correct sentences to correct situations, such as ‘I’m so incredibly happy for you’ at a wedding, and ‘I am deeply, deeply mournful’ at a funeral, and not the other way around
  • keeping you entertained with hilarious jokes

But sometimes the human brain doesn’t cooperate. Sometimes it gives up, or sabotages you, seemingly deliberately, out of spite or apathy.

I was recently in a very important meeting where I was a trifle out of my depth. I was being asked questions that really tried to fly over my head, but my brain was somehow managing to net them and fire back reasonably intelligent responses. This was a textbook example of teamwork: my brain and I were happily working together, and we did a small high five every time I responded to a question with actual words that made moderate sense and not complete hogwash.

And then a difficult question was thrown at me. It’s okay, I thought, my brain’s got this. It’s ready with its pen and pencil, scribbling down an answer, and my synapses will take but a milisecond to transmute an answer to my mouth.

But instead of filing a response into my mouth, my brain sat back, crossed its arms, shook its head, and proceeded to tell me this:

I tried desperately to clamber over my uncooperative, starved brain and fumble for an answer, but my brain stood up and plonked its fat behind on the question, and instead of words coming out of my mouth, there came…


Nope, not a thing. For seconds, I stared dumbly at the asker of the question, while my brain stopped telling me I was hungry, and instead helpfully started pointing out that

Finally, after what seemed literally weeks, I slapped my brain quiet, and gave a response that made it very clear to everyone in the room that I had no idea what the question was:

The human brain can also be pretty ruddy irritating when one is trying to get to sleep. Why, why, when a brain can literally spend all day saying ‘I am just not going to do anything today, you’re on your own, you pitiful creature’, does it then suddenly come alive the minute you get into bed?

Here is an excellent example of the acrobatics my brain can do when I’m trying to get to sleep:

God I’m tired what about boats in a nice turquoise sea oh that holiday to Austria in 2002 was lovely I wish I had a dog not been to the Hart’s Boatyard for dinner in ages mmmmmm scampi I wonder what the temperature is in New York right now Christ space is massive what about that guy who jumped out of a rocket that’s mad I must start running again and get a massage what’s that tune in my head I think it’s Mozart I really should take moisturising more seriously ahh those house parties we used to have with alcopops were great where has my youth gone ooo if I could have one sandwich right now it would be salt beef with mustard must get some kitchen towel tomorrow God I love flowers especially blue ones

When you’re brain is doing that to you, you may as well try to get to sleep like this:

See, look, here’s a prime example of the human brain not cooperating: I’m trying to think of a brilliantly inventive and amusing way to end this post so that my lovely listeners will think ‘God, she’s a terribly comical wag, that Becky’, but all my brain is saying is ‘I can’t think of a brilliantly inventive and amusing way to end this post’. See? So unhelpful. And there’s literally nothing I can do about it, so I may as well just jack the whole thing in and go and make myself a cup of tea.

I’m sorry, faithful ones, but don’t blame me for this heinous anti-climax, blame my stupid lazy human brain.


Bimble wallop.


Oh shut up, brain.

25 thoughts on “Becky says things about … the human brain

  1. My brain never comes up with sassy comebacks to impertinent comments. Actually, that’s not true – it comes up with real zingers, about two days after the moment has passed…

  2. So happy to wake to a Becky Says Things. Luckily for me (and you, I suppose) I managed to make and ingest some of my coffee before tackling your post. Luckily for me also, probably based on my experience with your posts, I knew enough not to drink and read at the same time. Had I done so, my screen would covered in “spit take” coffee.
    Thanks for the morning pick me up.

  3. I hate the moments in the middle of the night, you’re trying to get to sleep and you have the BEST idea EVER, you get excited about it, think tomorrow you’re going to be so damned productive.
    Then the morning comes round, you wake up absolutely shattered because you spent the night plotting, and when you finally come round you can either not remember what that brilliant idea was, or it’s too late to implement it anyway, or and this is the absolute worst, someone gets there before you.

    Yeah, brains suck.

    1. … or, by the cold light of day it becomes apparent that your brilliant idea was, in fact, complete nonsense.

    2. I hear you, my friend. Many times I have woken up to a scribbled note on my desk that says something like ‘story about an anxious parsnip’ or ‘be productive you dickhead’.
      I am thrilled to hear that other people do this 🙂

  4. That pith joke is hilarious. I hope you’ll let me borrow it. I just recently learned what pith means from a Blue Apron (food delivery) card. My brain made me feel like an idiot when it said: “Duh. Who doesn’t know what pith means, you stupid American.” So I really connected with that…and all the other things, too. Thanks, Becky. 🙂

  5. Oh Becky, that beautiful British brain of yours is wonderfully silly. What the hell is a salt beef sandwich with mustard? It sounds amazing and according to my brain, I must have one now.

    1. What do you mean what the hell is a salt beef sandwich with mustard??? Dear God. Pretty much a roughed-up version of a pastrami on rye. It is DELICIOUS.
      Your brain is right: you should have one immediately. 🙂

    1. Yup. I definitely did that once. I had to follow it up immediately with a grovelling email and the excuse that I was rushing to get to a meeting (I was actually rushing to go to lunch). Fortunately said Chief Executive was marvellously good humoured about the whole thing. It could have been SO much worse.

  6. I get those brain blanks at the WORST times: job interviews. Also, I flush bright red when even slightly uncomfortable or embarrassed. So now not only have I failed to answer, ‘If you were an asparagus, what kind of shoelaces would you wear?’ but I’m blushing and sweating and all I can think is that I must look like I want to wear the most perveted type of shoelaces in the world and I’m too ashamed to answer. It’s amazing I’ve ever been hired anywhere.
    I am very good with a snappy comeback or put down, however. Likely it’s because I work away from the public and with mostly men, so when I hear an opening, nothing can stop my smart mouth.

  7. It also provides you with the ability to come up with hilarious posts like this one.
    Ah…how I missed them…that’s my brain talking, not me.

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