Becky says things about … home workouts

Greetings isolators!

So, the sun’s out, the air is warm, it’s bank holiday weekend – do you fancy meeting for a few drinks in a pub gard –

– oh.

No.

Forget that.

I don’t mind telling you, I’m annoyed. Until recently, I was enjoying my most successful relationship with a gym in all my 35 years: we were seeing each other regularly, for the most part we enjoyed each other’s company, and I was leaving it aching and sweaty, all good signs of a healthy relationship. I was even starting to see results – you know, those nebulous and much-coveted results that only happen to other people, well they were starting to happen to me! Our relationship was flourishing!

And then we broke up. Not because we had an argument, or I got bored, or the gym started making unreasonable demands about wanting to see me every day, none of that. We broke up because there was a sodding pandemic.

So now I’m locked up in lockdown, but it’s okay, because according to quite a lot of people on the Internet, lockdown doesn’t have to mean my newly cultivated muscles need to melt to sludgy pockets of Malteasers and Cool Original Doritos-oomska, because I can turn my home into a luxury premium workout studio.

Except that I can’t.

Now look, I live in a studio flat. I can reach all parts of my flat in three strides – and I’m talking modest strides, I’m not talking I-just-paid-£8.99-for-an-item-labelled-£15.99 sort of victory strides – and therefore it is not possible to execute the sort of gallopy I’ve-got-so-much-energy-and-the-space-to-accommodate-it exercise routes that are springing up online, because this happens:

And whilst I admire people’s dedication to keeping fit, I’m not sold on the increasingly inventive ways that they are suggesting we use our household items as gym equipment, such as deadlifting the piano, or doing 800 squats with the washing machine strapped to our backs – I mean, as if the emergency services don’t have enough on their plate right now?

What happened to the old ‘if you don’t have any weights at home, a couple of tins of beans will do’? We appear to have donkey-kicked our way straight past that to ‘if you don’t have any weights at home, the kitchen table will do’.

If I were to do the sort of home workout that these crazy cats are encouraging me to do, I cannot begin to imagine the carnage that would ensue from using three chairs to do push ups –

– or from using the radiator to do pull ups –

– or from using the toilet to do step-ups.

And there is another school of thought that encourages us to replace gym equipment with family members; you know, those cute videos of buff dads bench pressing their three year-olds. Well, that’s all very heartwarming – you’re working out really effectively and spending quality time with your child, you absolute winner – but what if you don’t have a three year-old?

And what if you live alone? With social distancing it’s not even acceptable to take measures that would otherwise be perfectly 100% acceptable.

 

SEVEN MINUTES LATER 

 

I suppose as I don’t have any small children lying around, I could use Billy Bear and Huggy Bear as weights.

Sod all this, I’m going to turn my flat into a premium luxury Easter egg haven instead.

Stay healthy, stay home, and look after each other xx

Becky says things about … acceptance

Greetings, isolators!

How’s it going? Broken into that bottle of traquelizers yet? Punched a hole through the oven door yet? Covered an entire wall with pictures of Jet from Gladiators yet? (And if not, why not?)

Well, it’s been an interesting week or so, hasn’t it? Each day has brought a new treat for us to try to comprehend, treats which would be utterly mind-blowing if we had even one of them to deal with, but to be given all of them at once really takes the biscuit.

So whilst it’s impossible to comprehend everything that is happening, we must try to accept what is happening – because if we don’t accept it, we will try to fight against it, and that’s when this happens:

So I thought it might be helpful if I shared with you a few of the things I’ve accepted over the past few days, and if it’s not helpful, then at least it gives you something to do for five minutes that isn’t dusting the ceiling (again) or building a small cage out of pipe cleaners in which to keep your bemused and hyperactive home-schooled children.

1 – I have accepted that life as we know it has changed for the foreseeable future, and that simple everyday things we take for granted, like popping to the pub or seeing friends or using toilet roll to wipe our bums, are temporarily off the cards.

2 – I have accepted that I cannot physically visit my friends and family, even if none of us are sweating or hacking into our arms, but that social lives can continue and even flourish thanks to the wonders of modern technology; and, moreover, I have accepted that this form of socialising brings its own benefits.

3 – I have accepted that it may be several months before I wear normal clothes like jeans, or dresses, or shirts, and that by the time I have a reason to get out of my leggings and hoodies, there is a real possibility that I may have forgotten how to wear other clothes.

4 – I have accepted that – as is the case for every single one of us – hopes and plans have been unceremoniously lobbed out the window, and that my much longed-for plan of finally getting on the housing ladder this year is now as likely as Donald Trump suddenly apologising for being a psychopathic turnip; but I have accepted this with surprising ease because there is absolutely n o t h i n g I can do about it, and I am only one of millions of people who have had to cancel plans like holidays, parties, weddings and important life events, to much heartache and ballache.

5 – I have accepted that I will have to visit at least 18 shops in order to find basic essentials, and also accepted that I will have to ration what I eat when I can’t find them – but I have readily accepted this fact, because it means that I am not a heinous bellend who has stockpiled 1,573 eggs and 30,921 ready meals over the past couple of weeks, and I would rather ration what I eat than be a bellend.

6 – I have accepted that, due to my work all but drying up, I will have to be incredibly responsible and careful with my time over the coming weeks and months, because the time-consuming concept of ‘busyness’ has evaporated. I have accepted that it is no one’s responsibility but my own to ensure that I forge structure and productivity through these sudden limitless plains of time, and not plummet into a personal quest to see if it’s possible to watch every true crime documentary ever made.

7 – I have accepted that there will be good days – those days when living alone in an isolating world with time on my hands won’t seem so bad –

– and that there will be bad days, when news from the outside world is particularly grim, or personal news is worrying, or devastating; or the magnitude of what is happening, and the unknown of when it will end, becomes simply too much – and I have accepted this, because it will be humanly impossible to endure this with unwavering smiles and good cheer, even if you are secretly enjoying life in isolation.

8 – I have accepted that my experience of this – trying to fill time, trying to cope with being alone – will be very different to the experience of thousands of others who have incredible demands on their time and have to leave their homes every day to keep the world turning, and that I am not worthy in the face of people who look after others in these unprecedentedly hard times and who, at some point, may look after me and those I love.

9 – I have accepted that the way I feel now – which is quite positive, and productive, and defiant – may not be the way I feel in a week’s time, or three weeks’ time, or two months’ time, when I may feel scared, or depressed, or terrified, or lonely, or hopeless; and I have accepted that I will feel all those things, and that it is okay to feel those things.

10. And finally, I have accepted that it is only be a matter of time before I go and buy a melon.

 

Stay healthy, stay home, and look after each other xx

Becky says things about … acne

Listeners, we need to talk about acne.

If you suffer from it, I understand; now sit down and listen to Auntie Beck tell you a lovely story about her acne. If you don’t suffer from it, you are a lucky swine, but you need to listen all the same, because I bet you know at least one person with zits the size of Jupiter who could do with some empathy.

Sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

I had textbook teenage spots: the equilateral triangle of whiteheads on the forehead; the oily pimpular dusting on the chin; the bulbous protrusions on the temples.

It didn’t bother me that much; I was gloriously confident, and wore a lot of animal print. Then I went to a house party and some dude casually said ‘Ah, I see you’ve grown a spot since I last saw you.’

To be fair to the snivelingly rude arsehole, it was a gargantuan spot, but from then on I took acne more seriously. Happily, me taking acne more seriously coincided nicely with acne taking me more seriously, and it ventured onto my back in cheerful globular mounds, and to my chest in snug, tight little pustules. Mum took me to the doctor and I was prescribed some green gel that had three noticable characteristics: 1) it stung like hell when applied; 2) it left crispy flakes on my bedsheets; and 3) it did bugger all to clear up my acne.

So I bumbled on into my late teens, single-handedly keeping the concealer-stick industry afloat, and then at university my acne got bored and wandered off. Not completely – I was still never without a peskily determined blemish – but it took a holiday.

Then when I was about 26, my acne folded away its Hawaiian shirt, turned off the TV, put on its industrial boots and went back out to work.

Spots appeared where they had never appeared before, namely on my jawline, up my cheekbones, under my chin, on my neck. And they were angry. Painful. And so there.

No amount of foundation or concealer is going to completely conceal an acne-splattered face. You can still see Everest when it’s covered in snow, can’t you? Well, you can still see savage boils of hell on your chin when they’re slathered in expensive ‘blemish concealing’ foundation. You can see a spot particularly well just as it’s starting to crust, and your foundation forms a little moat of oily goo around the flaky peak.

Two things happen when you try to cover up spots: 1) You are constantly convinced that everyone is staring at the vicious pustule on your chin (which they may well be doing); and 2) due to your acne-prone skin being insatiably oily, by 2pm your blemish concealing foundation has slid right off your face.

The good news for acne sufferers is that there are many thousands of products you can spend your hard-earned money on that will definitely categorically 100% certainly get rid of your acne and give you perfect baby skin. The bad news for acne sufferers is that you have to purchase every single one of them to eventually find the one that actually works. The worst news for acne sufferers is that 99% of them are bollocks.

Becky’s Guide to Acne Treatments

1. Buy every single item in your local pharmacy’s acne aisle. Constantly dab at your pustules with witch hazel sticks, smother your skin in chemical-smelling gels. Result. Your spots laugh at your pathetic attempts to get rid of them, and you are £40 worse off.

2. Venture to department store skincare counters. Swoon over promises of radiant, blemish-free skin. Buy five products from the ‘acne-prone’ range. Follow a complex 17-stage cleansing, exfoliating, toning and moisturising regime twice a day. Result. Your skin looks like it’s been doused in paint stripper, your spots shake their pus-filled heads in amusement, your productivity levels plummet because you are spending four hours a day removing various products from your face in small delicate circular movements, and you are £160 worse off.

3. Go for the highly-advertised cures (only available online), which are backed up by science and research. You receive a clinical gift box of scientific unguents containing all the seriously-named chemicals that are clinically proven to obliterate your acne, like hydrational hydrabollockychlorzine acid or badgerzhoric A12. The clinical gift box comes with an informative booklet telling you that, in addition to the science that you have just sold all your jewlerry to purchase, you should eat lots of fruit and veg and drink 497 pints of water a day to cure your acne. Result. After three days of using the highly-advertised scientific cure, your acne looks slightly better. You tearfully rejoice at the miracle of science for ending your carbuncled misery. On the fourth day, you have 13 extra spots, your skin looks like it’s been sandpapered by a bad-tempered wilderbeast, and you are £90 worse off.

4. Resort to home remedies. Study ’17 home remedies that WILL cure your spots!’ on the Interweb, and scrub at your skin with cider vinegar, lemon juice, lavender oil and turmeric whilst quietly weeping. Result. A turmeric face pack leaves you looking dangerously jaundiced for at least a week, your bathroom is in a right state, and your spots are finding it all hilarious.

Listener, I tried them all. When I found myself following instructions for a sweetcorn and angel tear face pack I decided enough was enough and went to my GP.

And I was unfathomably lucky: despite my acne not being comparable to some of the cases that some poor souls suffer, my GP understood that it was affecting my life, and prescribed me isotretinoin (also known as roaccutane or accutane). I had never heard of it. I had thought the only last option available to me was lasering my skin off in an exclusive Harley Street clinic and living the rest of my days inside a rubber giraffe mask.

Now, isotretinoin is no walk in the park. I had to have blood tests to make sure I was physically well enough to start it, and it comes with a whole heap of fun side effects, like incredibly dry skin, sore lips, joint pain, dizziness. Within a month of being on the drug my lips felt like they would blow off in a sudden gust of wind, and my skin was feeling decidedly dry and shrivelled.

For the first time in my life I was buying moisturiser for very dry skin and slapping it on my face so that I resembled a seal caught in an oil slick. But, gradually, old spots faded, and new ones didn’t materialise. I couldn’t believe it. I can’t believe it. I took my last pill nearly four months ago, and right now the only really visible blemish on my face is a red mark on my forehead which is the result of a poorly-aimed eyebrow scratch.

There is no sugar-coating acne. It is rubbish. You can spend all day listening to fluffy platitudes that ‘you are beautiful no matter what’, but you can pretty much guarantee that the producer of those platitudes has never had to deal with a crusty, seeping Eighth Wonder of the World in the middle of their forehead. If you have acne, it is a daily battle.

And it’s easy for me to say ‘Go ahead, try isotretinoin’  as one of the lucky ones who has had a success story; but, like a smug ex-smoker, there’s always a chance that my acne abstinence will break and those devilish little swines will creep back onto my face again. But if you haven’t tried it, give it a go. It might just be that one thing that works for you. It’s surely better than spending a third of your life exfoliating your skin with the sap of an ancient Babylonian mountain plant (only available online).

And whatever you do, don’t try the turmeric face pack. Trust me.

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 … 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 … January

Well good day to you my most excellent Listeners! I trust you are in fine fettle and full of the joys and hopes of a shining, sparkling New Year?

Of course you’re not.

It’s January.

The laws of Physics, Biology, Cosmology and other sciencey things dictate that it is virtually impossible to feel anything other than thoroughly depressed in January. It is a terrible month. We plough through December, eating and drinking everything in sight, relying on the fact that on January 1st we shall be injected with a pure elixir of energy, health and enthusiasm for life.

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The reality is quite different.

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Oh, Listener, you have no idea the effort it is taking to drag my lethargic fingers across these keys. Would I rather be binge-watching anything on Netflix with a plate of cheese resting on my stomach? Of course I would. Because that’s what I spent December doing. But January is here now, and January says NO to everything we did in December. December is the really fun yet irresponsible babysitter who lets us eat all the chocolate and watch unsuitable films, but is now passing us back to our stern January parents who are entirely disapproving of the whole thing.

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In the midst of the grey funk of January, we are expected to reinvent ourselves. We are expected to hoist ourselves out of the gluttonous December coma and be inconceivably motivated. I tried to do this, Listener. On Monday I went to the gym. For the first time in about 347 years. Everyone in the gym could be moved into one of three categories:

1) Those who were doing a sterling job of starting their New Year’s health and fitness routine, who had clearly spent the weekend online ordering vitamin powders and home exercise equipment, and who were sprinting, cycling, lifting, pushing, squatting, and sit-upping with the fearsome determination of movie soldiers running in slow motion through a forest in heavy rain to catch the enemy who had just shot their best buddy Herb against a dramatic soundtrack.

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2) Those who desperately wanted to be in the first category, but who couldn’t quite muster the same level of enthusiasm because they were weeping internally for the loss of justified over-indulgence and the ability to consume an entire wheel of truffle brie without challenge. These folks were slumped wretchedly over the rowing machines and staring at themselves in the mirror whilst mourning their lost happiness.

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3) Those for whom January is just another month of incessant smug fitness and energy, and who were watching the New Year’s Resolutions clutter up their gym with a tedious annual predictability, and who were waiting for us to get the hell off the treadmill and stuff our pathetic faces with the pizza we so tragically desired.

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And the weather will not assuage our torment. In December, we can handle the perpetual greyness because it is lit up with a flurry of twinkling lights and the prospect of endless evenings face down in sausagemeat stuffing against a backdrop of numbing festive television. In January, the greyness is just grey. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. No hope. No joy. Nothing.

Just grey.

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We are overweight. We are dehydrated. We are unfit. We have played with our Christmas presents and had to explain ourselves to the family member who spied their gift to us on eBay. We have received the credit card bill. We try to sleep after an evening of peppermint tea and miso salmon, but lie awake inside a body that screams ‘What is this shit? Give me a full-bodied Merlot and a turkey crown this instant!’ We are oh, so aware of the running shoes that have lain unopened in their box since Christmas morning, and which are now pulsing like Kryptonite at the back of the wardrobe where we have pitifully tried to hide them and forget that they exist.

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Oh, Listeners. I wish I could end your seasonal suffering. I wish I could tell you a sprightly jape or provide some words of comfort to pluck you from your January doom.

But I cannot.

January has us in its clutches. January lies like the cold forgotten sausage at the back of your fridge. Hopeless. Useless. An unbearable disappointment.

My only advice to you is: cook some more sausages.

 

AND NOW FOR A SHAMELESS PLUG…

If you’d like something to cheer up your January, why not buy a copy of my book ‘This Ridiculous Life’? Click ‘Buy This Ridiculous Life’ at the top of the page and hey presto! January is immediately better! 

 

 

 

Becky says things about … being a rubbish woman

Firstly, I’m going to neatly gloss over the fact I haven’t blogged in nearly two months by using Stickman’s yoga skills as a distraction.

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Thanks, Sticky. You’re a pal.

Sublime listeners, I am rubbish at being a woman. There are so many things that society expects of women that are simply beyond my capabilities as a human being with boobs.

I cannot style my hair. I think I have the wrong type of hair. I think my hair is broken. I am forever gazing enviously at women with whimsical corkscrew curls, with sleek businesslike ‘up-dos’, with fringes that sit happily at their allocated angle, with pins and clips and grips that create veritable fountains of  coiffured abandon – whilst I sit under the humdrum melancholy of a frizzy ponytail.

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I have tried, Listener. I have followed YouTube videos to the letter, I have bought contraptions and equipment more reminiscent of open heart surgery than a casual grooming session; I have come dangerously close to breaking my neck as I contort my body in front of the mirror to achieve what bottles and tubes call INSANE VOLUME or GRAVITY-DEFYING BOUNCE (a scientific paradox, I’m sure you’ll agree, as to ‘bounce’ surely means an inevitable descent after an initial ascent, thereby succumbing to gravity and not defying it in the least) – and all to no avail.

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Just the other day I bought THERMO ROLLERS, determined to acquire a carefree-wavy-mermaid look. I followed all the instructions. After 20 minutes of looking foolish in front of myself, I unravelled the rollers in quiet anticipation of the twirled glory to come, and achieved the following:

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I am also rubbish at nails. I don’t understand how women can keep their nails looking so lovely. I can’t operate nail files, I can’t afford constant manicures, and stick-on nails are surely for the under 18s or the over 80s. I yearn to be able to drum my talons on a desktop, or drape my hand elegantly over my neck to show off my sleek red manicure. My nails look like a hobo’s teeth. Ragged, torn, unkempt finger teeth. This is not a good look.

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And what of contouring? That peculiar, Cosmopolitan-induced concept of facial contouring. Drawing lines on your face to make it look more 3d than it already is, to give you a smaller nose or a more defined jawline or a less spatially-consuming forehead? Those girls on YouTube casually flick orange bronzer all over their mug and before I can say ‘Oh gosh, someone should tell her she’s put on way too much and she looks like someone’s tried to draw a map of the North Circular on her face’, she does something flicky and brushy with an enormous brush and she is transformed into a flawless, beauty-pageant superstar. I am filled with confidence at how easy it all is, and attempt to do the same, with the following result:

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I forget to moisturise. I would love to be that girl who lovingly swathes her limbs with creamy goodness morning and night, and slips about the world like an oiled nymph, un-plagued by the dreaded freckling of dry skin on tights or the raw, chapped knuckles of a cruel winter. And, on the next level, I would love to remember to exfoliate. I want to buy a loofah and use it, instead of have it mock me from its untouched position in the bathroom cabinet, a devilish symbol of my failure to remove my billions of dead skin cells and reveal the nubile smoothness underneath. I want a life that is not tormented by that silent, watching loofah.

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I can’t darn. I have never mended a piece of clothing. I cannot thread a needle. I have tripped over a thousand over-long hemlines, I have trailed them in the mud and crud and hoisted them up like a rebellious princess on the way home from a forbidden rave, and I have endured all this without ever once thinking ‘Maybe I should learn to darn’. I fear my clumsiness and general cack-handedness would render the exercise disproportionately dramatic.

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Clumsiness is another foible. I am the most inelegant, elephantine lummox to ever walk the earth. I cannot do anything delicately. The simple act of raising a water bottle to my lips to quench my thirst is done with such vigour, such carelessness, that 11 times out of 10 it results in a terrible over-spill situation which, when I am talking to my boss, or trying to impress a dude, or surrounded by live electrical equipment, can be somewhat trying.

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I make more noise performing everyday tasks than a herd of obese T-Rex rushing to the opening of a new fast-food diplodocus restaurant. Cupboard doors bang, Tupperware clatters to the ground, bins tip over, windows break, mirrors shatter, roofing slates explode, children cry. I get so caught up in the whirlwind of my hulking ineptitude that I actually wonder why things are crashing to the ground. If I stopped clodhopping around for one second, I’d realise that the wasteland of devastation around me was actually caused by the fact that I am a hopelessly maladroit bint.

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I have never cleaned my oven, flowers perish in my presence, I do not own an iron, I drink lager from the bottle instead of a delicate G&T by the tumbler, I never dry between my fingers after washing my hands, I obsessively watch Man VS Food instead of The Great British Bake Off, I forget my eyebrows exist, I sneeze like a walrus farting, I leave socks lying around, I don’t know my bra size, I hate ponies and gerbils, I would rather shove my face in a ribeye steak than nibble daintily on a lightly-fried hake fillet, and I have never mastered lipliner.

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I’d ask to come back as a bloke and see if I do any better, but I fear that looking after an extremely delicate and vulnerable appendage 24 hours a day would be too much to handle. As it were.