Tag Archives: health

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.

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Filed under Health and Exercise, Humor, humour, Life

Becky says things about …. dreams

Dearest listeners, I had a most peculiar dream the other night.

I dreamt I was wandering the corridors of my old school and came across a lady I used to know when I was a teenager. We had a little chat – an ‘Oh hi there, haven’t seen you in ages, how’s it going?’ sort of chat, all very normal – and then suddenly we were both standing in a pool of steaming water, completely naked.

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And as if that wasn’t startling enough, we then had a steamy naked hug. Not a sexy hug – this wasn’t The L Word, or anything – just a ‘Oh well, we’re in this steamy pool and we’re naked, we may as well have a hug’ hug.

And then I woke up.

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Listener, I cannot explain this dream. I haven’t seen this lady in well over a decade. Sure, she pops into my head to say hello every now and then, as most people from my past do from time to time, but why should she suddenly wander into my sleepy dreamy brain? And how did Dream Becky get from the corridor of my old school to a pool of steaming water? And – perhaps the most pressing question of all – why were we naked? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being naked as much as the next gal, but to suddenly get naked with a lady I haven’t seen for over 10 years seems a bit forward.

It wasn’t an unpleasant dream by any stretch of the imagination. The hug was a bit sweaty, but if anything it was nice to see her. I might give her a call and say hi.

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Isn’t the brain mad and wonderful? Confusing and sometimes terrifying, certainly, but what an occasionally brilliant place to be while you’re asleep! It is a rare treat when you have one of those excellent dreams that you try desperately to squeeze yourself back into when you feel yourself waking.

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Whilst wandering through a gothic cathedral in a recent dream, I stumbled across a smashingly good-looking chap in a Bond-y tuxedo, and we proceeded to do some rather compromising things behind the alter. It was, frankly, thrilling, and gloriously distasteful.

Unfortunately, just as things were getting really disgraceful we were interrupted by a man in a tall white hat, whom I can only assume was a dream pope.

And then I woke up.

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I’ve done so much more in dreams than in real life! I’ve rescued Jeremy Irons from falling out of a skyscraper window. I’ve explored a mystical underground realm with a team of Girl Guides and hidden from a foul subterranean monster (I can’t remember if I saved the Girl Guides – they may well have been eaten). I’ve been on stage with Liza Minnelli and performed a Western-style dance number before an audience of green people.

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It’s not all been exciting, though. I once dreamt I walked into my parents’ living room, stood in front of their DVD collection, selected a DVD, put it on the coffee table, then sat on the arm of the chair. I didn’t even watch the DVD. Just sat there. Waiting to wake up, I suppose.

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Then there was the time I dreamt there was no cutlery in the world, and I awoke confused and full of questions.

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Sometimes it’s taken a while for my dream to leave me. I once slid into consciousness with the phrase ‘All words are spoken upwards’ tumbling round my brain, and for a good five minutes I was convinced I’d stumbled across some profound linguistic revelation, then eventually realised that there was nothing profound about it and my head was full of nonsense.

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Then there are the bad dreams. The anxiety dreams.

The teeth dream.

O, the teeth dream.

Is there anything worse than the OH SO REAL feeling of your teeth wobbling, falling out one by one, and crumbling to dust in your mouth? Feeling the grit and the crunch, like a mouth full of gravel. The dread, the helplessness, then the absolute RELIEF when you wake and frantically feel all your teeth and realise you don’t have to call the emergency dentist.

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I suppose we just have to accept that when we’re asleep our brains do what the hell they want, and if that means ladies from our past strip off and give us steamy naked hugs, then so be it.

NB. Psychoanalysis of the abovementioned dreams is unnecessary, thank you very much. They have already been comprehensively logged in the book of Becky’s Incredibly Strange Nocturnal Brain Antics Volumes 1 – 67. 

 

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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 … 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 … 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.

 

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Becky says things about … reasons to be cheerful

Oh, brave Listener. We’ve all had a bit of a rough time recently.

There are several reasons why we are all feeling a bit peeved, irked, and somewhat vexed:

1) It is February. February is an obnoxiously depressing month, it knows it, and it doesn’t care. February is insufferable.

2) We are still paying off our Christmas credit card bills. This is intolerable.

3) Our New Year’s resolution diet and exercise regimes have failed miserably and we are eating more doughnuts, peanut butter, and full fat milk than ever before to cope with the depression of February and Christmas credit card bills.

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4) The couples amongst us have had a relationship-busting argument on Valentine’s Day, and the singletons amongst us have just been reminded that they are SINGLE and ALONE and destined to remain that way for the rest of their sorry lives.

5) There is nothing to look forward to. Sorry, Easter, no one looks forward to you. You are not exciting. You are a legitimate reason to consume biologically harmful amounts of chocolate, and therefore you are a beastly contribution to our self-loathing about our failed diet and exercise regime, and also the reason we are alone.

6). THE WEATHER. Oh, the weather, Listener. We in Englandland have had the shit beaten out of us by the weather. For the last 3 months, this has happened on a daily basis:

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Some of us are underwater. Some of us have no roofs. Some of us have lost everything. The print journalists amongst us are fed up with trying to find synonyms for ‘wet’ and ‘flooded’ and ‘catastrophic’, and never want to see or write the word ‘deluged’ again. Several of our politicians have spent a considerable amount of time in Wellington boots pointing at floods. 

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And over in the US of A, you have had a POLAR VORTEX.

A POLAR VORTEX.

A POLAR VORTEX, Listener??? What is this, The Day After Tomorrow??? Polar vortexes happen in disaster films, in comics, and in the dark nubs of my brain when someone asks me to do Maths, but SURELY NOT IN ACTUAL REAL LIFE???

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Unfortunately, the only explanation for this deluge of catastrophic shitness is that we are finally entering the Apocalypse and will very soon all be dead, and because of this irrefutable fact, I would like to try and cheer you all up. I can’t make it stop raining, or thaw out Lake Michigan, but I can give you some reasons to be cheerful.

Becky’s Reasons to be Cheerful

1) You weren’t presented with this cake for your birthday:

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My mum was. She was presented with this cake for her birthday this weekend. My cake-baking skills are normally phenomenal. This time they weren’t. I failed. My mum had a failed cake, presented to her by a failed daughter.

Fortunately, once we stuck a candle in it, it looked MUCH better.

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2) Life is full of small joys that make you realise how ridiculous it all is; the brief and unexpected moments of such tom-foolery and slapstickery that happen to everyone: that little trip up the kerb that you have to turn into a jog, or the poorly-judged lunge of your foot into your knickers that gets your toe caught in the elastic and sends you hopping across the room and eventually colliding with the wall, or the premature opening of the dishwasher while it’s still on.

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Yes these moments initially make us want to kill ourselves, but next time they happen just imagine you’re the person next to you watching the whole ridiculous scene unfold, and remember that your idiocy is extremely amusing.

3) This joke exists in the world:

What’s grey and can’t climb trees?

A car park.

Thanks to my cousin’s 4 year-old son Oscar for the greatest contribution to the world of comedy EVER.

4) You did not arrive at work this morning and realise that your securely-fastened Tupperware box had spilt a lot of homemade soup into the bottom of your recently-purchased bag, and consequently your worldly goods, including your make-up, phone, and wallet, were smothered in pureed beans, spinach, and peas.

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5)  If you just had a relationship-busting argument on Valentine’s Day, or are a lonely singleton, or are generally friendless, isolated and alone, and have no one to talk to but the voices in your head that tell you to make questionable advances towards badgers, HAVE NO FEAR!! Talk to yourself! Talking to yourself, out loud, is one of the many joys of life. I have spent most of this evening talking to myself in a Northern Irish accent. No reason. I just fancied it. I made a beef stew whilst enjoying the lyrical twang of my verbal commentary. I once had an entire conversation with myself in a supermarket that went thus:

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See? How fun is that? Talk away! Ignore the strange looks and harsh judgement of society, and cheer yourself up with the wittiest, most intelligent banter around!*

*Actual attempts at talking to oneself may not be as successful, profound, or as imaginative as mine. I accept no liability for attempts at talking to oneself that result in boredom, anger, sexual arousal, or mental illness. 

6) There is dancing in the world. And there is plenty of space to do it in. Do you think a crowded station platform prevents me from performing an incredibly small jig that is invisible to the naked eye, yet gives me insurmountable glee? NO!

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There is no reason to be peeved, irked, or vexed when there is dancing in the world.

And finally…

7) There is love.

Yes, there is love. There are people in the world who will give you a huge, enormous, squashy hug when you feel a bit low, when you are depressed about your credit card bills and your lack of exercise and your heinous doughnut consumption and the fact that your house is underwater or your local supermarket it totally out of beans because people are panic-buying due to the impending Apocalypse, but throughout all that, there is LOVE. And yes, I may be saying this predominantly for my American listeners, because you LOVE a bit of mushy talk about love and emotion and whatnot, and my English listeners will be sitting in front of their computers thinking ‘Blimey, Becky’s gone a bit overboard with the slushy love stuff. I feel a trifle nauseous’ – but, Listeners of all nations and values, there is a whole heap of love in this world, and no one loves you more than my friend Stickman.

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So cheer up, my courageous listeners. The weather cannot continue to be this crap, your credit card bill will eventually be paid off, you will make up with your other half after your horrendous Valentine’s Day bust-up (unless it was over food, in which case that will take a lot of healing), and you can tell the excellent car park joke to all your friends and family and spread the general glee and merriment.

Hurrah!

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Becky says things about … giving up booze for a month

Listener, you have before you a virtuous Becky. A wholesome Becky, a saintly Becky. A Becky so pure, so unsullied by evil, that I wouldn’t be surprised if you feel a trifle overwhelmed. I feel a little overwhelmed at myself.

Yes, most admiring Listener, I have given up booze for an entire month. I have been on the sobriety wagon for the whole of November. Not a drop of alcohol has touched my lips, tickled my nasal hairs, or been dribbled down my chin. I am, to quote my good friend Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way.

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Why did you give up alcohol for a whole month, Becky?? I hear you cry. Fear not, inquisitive Listener. I shall tell you.

Aside from the rather alarming realisation that since alcohol became a regular feature in my social life at the age of 18/19, my body probably hasn’t gone more than about a week without saying hello and howdy to a drop of the sauce, I wanted what I was promised by other people who had given up booze for a month; namely, boundless energy, less tiredness, stunning youthful looks, dewy fresh skin, a reinvigorated zest for life, and a newly developed penchant for soft drinks.

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Considering the above, I shall present you with a series of statements that should be pertinent to my month-long sobriety. I shall also present you with a truthful account of whether these statements are in fact truthful.

Observe.

Becky gained more energy, and wasn’t tired. Once.

I shall ask Stickman to demonstrate how I expected to feel during my month abstinence from energy-zapping alcohol.

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And now I shall further ask Stickman to demonstrate how I actually felt during my four weeks without one single milligram of energy-zapping, fatigue-inducing, body-poisoning alcohol in my bloodstream.

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Listener, this experience led to my discovery of one of the greatest lies of our time: Giving up alcohol gives you more energy and makes you feel less tired. This, Listener, to put it bluntly, is a giant, hairy, stinking, heinous lie. I have never been more tired in all my life. Waking up in the morning was like dredging a pond of scummy water. For most of the four weeks I have sat slumped over my desk in a lethargic funk, wailing pathetically to my keyboard that I SHOULD FEEL AMAZING!! WHY DO I NOT FEEL AMAZING???

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I had a vague energy surge in the first week – no, surge is the wrong word – more a slight energy incline, like a small wheelchair ramp – the second week was appalling, I felt like my head had been stuffed with soggy teatowels and I was actually reduced to tears one Sunday whilst staring at my novel that I wasn’t writing and realising that I couldn’t even see it, never mind write the frikkin thing; the third week was becoming boringly energyless, and this fourth week – well. On Monday I stood at the bottom of a flight of stairs on a station platform during rush hour and contemplated asking a fellow commuter if they’d give me a piggy back.

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Verdict: A revolting lie. A lie the likes of which has rarely been seen by humanity.

Becky looks years younger and her complexion is dewy and amazing.

Within about four days of my body not receiving alcohol, I noticed that I had alarmingly pronounced wrinkles under my eyes which, infuriatingly and devastatingly, were not there before. Excuse me, I said to the God of Sobriety, I thought giving up alcohol was supposed to reduce wrinkles and make me look healthy and youthful, not worn and decrepit. 

Well, replied the God of Sobriety, alcohol can cause puffiness of the face due to increased water retention. Perhaps – just perhaps, Becky – your face has been consistently slightly puffy during your years of regular alcohol consumption, and now that sobriety has lessened your water retention your face is less puffy and has resulted in uncovering the fact that you are actually quite old and haggard and have wrinkles which were previously stretched out due to your terrible puffiness. 

So, God of Sobriety, it’s a bit like sweeping a dusty floor and discovering a really shitty worn carpet underneath. 

Yes. That’s exactly what it’s like. 

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I will admitListener, that I have noticed an improvement in my skin tone. It is less red, less blotchy, and less dehydrated-looking. And do you know what? I should f*cking well hope so. A month of nothing but water, soda water, drinks made with water, and water, should f*cking well improve my f*cking skin tone.

Verdict: Mostly a lie with a thinly veiled compensation.

Becky had a reinvigorated zest for life and enjoyed observing things she hadn’t previously noticed, like the gentle gleam of a drop of dew on a fallen leaf.

In the first couple of weeks, O inquisitive Listener, I did, despite the fug of fatigue, feel a strange lightness of being. That is to say, I was less irritable. I was able to maintain conversations that I would otherwise have found bothersome, and I was able to tolerate people to whom I would otherwise have taken umbrage.

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I also achieved more. Due to the fact that I wasn’t monstrously wasting away my life spending evenings sipping cool, relaxing, soporific wine and indulging in vibrant and witty conversation with my closest friends whilst sitting in the cosy, amiable atmosphere of a warm local pub………….sigh……….. I actually spent a lot more time writing. I worked on my novel. I wrote blogs. This is my fourth blog post this month. YOU, most fortunate Listener, have benefited from my month-long abstinence. It’s okay. You can thank me later. (An incredibly large bottle of gin will suffice.)

And guess what – I enjoyed sitting at home and being industrious. I felt creative, I felt productive. True, some evenings I was too RUDDY TIRED to do anything particularly creative, and on those evenings I angrily watched documentaries on YouTube (Most Extreme Airports and The Truth About Killer Dinosaurs were particular highlights), but most of the time I was being productive. And that made me feel quite good.

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Verdict: Almost true. A welcome motivational boost, occasionally punctuated by useless facts about stegosauruses.

Becky developed a keen penchant for soft drinks and realised that alcoholic beverages are really not that great.

I want to make this clear, Listener: my evenings at home drinking cups of tea and hot milk were fine. I didn’t miss alcohol. At all. I didn’t even think about it. But sobriety did not turn me into a hermit. I did venture out into public houses. (Come on, there’s only so much creativity a girl can take in a month.)

To learn of my experiences of abstinence whilst in a public house setting, observe the following accounts of a typical evening:

6.07pm: Approach bar. Stare yearningly at alcohol. Order pint of lime and soda.

6.09pm: Guzzle lime and soda. Relish, for about 49 seconds, in its pleasingly refreshing qualities.

6.19pm: Refuse offer of glass of wine from friend. Order second pint of lime and soda.

6.33pm: Go for a wee.

6.35pm: Return. Guzzle lime and soda. Get caught staring at friend’s bottle of lager with ‘manic look’ in my eyes.

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6.40pm: Go for a wee.

6.44pm: Return. Eye spilt droplet of beer on the bar, and quickly tell myself that licking public surfaces would do me no favours whatsoever.

6.46pm: Go for a wee.

6.50pm: Finish second lime and soda. Get asked if I want a drink. Stare hopelessly at range of soft beverages in front of me, all of which will pump me full of sugar or caffeine and rob me of precious sleep. Fear third pint of lime and soda will cause irreparable bladder malfunction. Order tomato juice. Cry a bit inside.

6.56pm: Go for wee.

7.00pm: Return. Fail to laugh at a joke that I would’ve laughed at had I had a glass of wine.

7.10pm: Descend into a sober-induced paralysis in which I watch people around me getting merrily crapulous, sip wincingly at my tomato juice, every quaff of which is like a mouthful of chilled snake venom, and contemplate asking if anyone has heroin.

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7.20pm: Go for wee. Tomato juice has quashed bladderly urges slightly, thus reducing frequency of toilet trips.

7.31pm: Have someone say ‘Becky, do you want a large wine? OH NO SORRY YOU’RE OFF IT HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.’ Plot violent and monstrous revenge whilst becoming fixated on the dregs of white wine in a nearby glass.

7.45pm: Push empty tomato-smeared glass away. Mutter a weary farewell to the merry folks around me, go home and cry into a mug of warm milk.

Verdict: If I ever see a tomato juice or a lime and soda again I will personally remove the foreskin of every man within walking distance. Alcohol is great.

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VERDICT

The best thing about giving up alcohol for a month?

THE MONEY.

Buying alcohol is expensive. I bought no alcohol. For the mathematicians amongst you, the relevant formula is something along the lines of:

sobriety x the square root of my purse / 30 days in November +  a couple of  boxes of teabags = BECKY SAVED A LOT OF MONEY.

This, my friends, was the best thing about giving up alcohol. I enjoyed not spending my hard-earned cash to fund the slow decline of my liver, and I enjoyed spending it on other things, like a new pair of shoes, a new dress, and a haircut (no I wasn’t previously some bearded hair-covered wino, I just had a few split-ends, okay?).

Second best thing, the increased productivity. The extra pages I’ve added to my novel. The extra time I’ve spent with you beautiful people.

The rest? Lies.

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But don’t take my word for it. Try it yourself. See if you feel invigorated, full of energy, rid of fatigue, dewy complexioned, and fly through life being positive and fresh and clean and ALIVE.

Alternatively, do take my word for it, and pour yourself another massive glass of wine.

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