‘It’s Okay I’m Wearing John Lewis Ear Muffs’ – surviving the jungle of 2016 and other fables

It’s that time of the year again where facebook fills with ‘new year, new me’ based profanities, new year’s’ rounds ups, statuses of good will and ‘thanks for a goodun’ I however have resigned myself to the fact that I will be leaving 2016 exactly how I entered it – fat, broke and full of wine.

As far as the 2016 health kick went I think I managed to be slim(er) for about three months and that was only because some days I  was too miserable or hungover to eat/ couldn’t be arsed to trek up the hill to co-op to fill the fridge with sustenance. I’m pretty sure I managed to make a quality street easter egg last me about two months (possibly my proudest achievement) and I even managed to live of a staple diet of luke warm cheese strings and the odd berocca without catching scurvy- win! I tried to be veggie for a while an though sure it amounted to very little other than opting against fried frankfurter for the odd veggie sausage, I’m beginning to think it wasn’t the worse idea I could have had. I mean if there was ever a reason for cutting down on meat in 2017 the position i’m in now would provide a more than satisfactory point….

I sit nursing a sore little finger blistered and pulsating after catching it in the fire line of flying, frying, ‘fecking hot bacon fat jumping like a maimed cat and biting my lip to prevent a wild and animated showcase of the most popular swear words of the twenty first century leaving my mouth and potentially scaring an unsuspecting five year old into the realisation that his father is in fact dating a wild animal in a blonde wig.

But by squashing this release (which is not dissimilar to the brechtian mother courage silent scream)  all I can do is whimper at my sorry state of culinary affairs. I don’t know how people do it… the domesticated thing I mean. All these people cooking up delicious dishes, baking sweet treats to rival bake off, making homes look lovely and with the sweet smell of bottled happiness rising through the air and I’m here in my pyjama top unable to so much as cook a pizza without accidently leaving the grill on and serving it up ‘char grilled/ borderlining charcoal.’ I think some people just aren’t destined for certain things and I am one of them – thank f**k for Dominoes 😉

I’d make it my new year’s resolution to improve on some things but they’d be no point as the only changes I’ve ever been able to achieve have been ones made by me in a none time-sensitive epiphany moment of ‘f**k my life.’ It’s been an odd year, from the insane woman who tried to take me on Jeremy Kyle (I kid you not) to sodding off to Venice by myself with no working phone to cover a film festival there have been ups and downs but it’s the one where I finally woke up and smelt the coffee. A moment that you can’t force or pin point no matter what people say or what you lose or gain- the existential crisis of I’ve spent the most part of the past five years being a absolute ‘See You Next Tuesday’ is one that you can only arrive at by yourself… and boy did I hit it.

After the hazy debaucherous summer that ended in my birthday, I woke up the day after my 29th year began filled with the standard, guilt, shame and dread. The kind where your heart beats so fast you struggle to breathe as you panic about what you could have potentially said or done. The only difference this time being that I actually hadn’t been a git I’d just been the standard birthday drunk the majority of people indulge in once a year, not an LPJ special, pub based punch up and a black eye…. but I was so used to waking up filled with the dread of the night before in my formative years that it had become a pattern weather I’d been an idiot or not.

After a couple of beta blockers and a long nap I told myself and then publicly exclaimed that the only thing I was looking to achieve for the last year of my twenties was to meet someone half decent to share a romantic KFC with… and I meant it.

Be careful what you wish for….

The only problem was I was done with dating and like the majority of women tinder had caused me more matted hair and disappointed than good so that wasn’t a route I was looking to explore either. But weak and low I attempted to re-download that magic, coveted app if anything in an attempt to make myself feel better. Now little did I know that whilst in the thralls of Birthday based wine consumption the day before, my friend had logged me out of said app and facebook on my phone to show someone a hottie on their profile and I couldn’t get back in – thus preventing more madness that could have happened.  Instead I perused my old POF profile, an avenue I usually choose to avoid at all costs due to been bombarded by weirdos….

Now I am fully aware that all of the above sounds like the worse thing anyone could do after vowing to turn their life around but having being bought a bottle of channel perfume titled ‘chance’ when I received a message from someone who didn’t look like a potential murderer I did just that…

I thought to myself this isn’t what I’m used to, this isn’t the normal ‘plan’ but maybe just maybe I could go on a sober date with someone. Meet for a quick no pressure coffee rather than three wines in the pub and a clumsy good night snog that results in nothing. And even if nothing comes of it at least I know I can do it. Now don’t get me wrong sitting and attempting to sip on a hot latte without getting your red lipstick in a joker style pattern is a tough feet and attempting to be funny and witty and all the things you know you can be in front of someone new doesn’t seem as easy without a jug of pinot but the reality is that not slurring your words at first sight is most definitely the way forward…

And now the rest is history but I still resent the same smug people who came out with ‘oh you’d be happier if you had a boyfriend’ and ‘you’d get a boyfriend if you lost weight’ coming out with, ‘well at least you’ve got a boyfriend’ and ‘What do you think of Bridget Jones now you’re not single?’  No matter at what point I’ve been at I’ve always known that relationships weren’t easy and that being in one doesn’t make things any easier, it just compliments your life in a different way and people who think that being with another makes you a cut above need to give single lasses a break. Of course it’s lovely to be with someone, of course it’s great to find something that fits – but anyone whose managed to survive being single in the city or in fact in the age of social media and dating apps will certainly have learnt a few life lessons along the way.

I, like many girls around my age are at a different time in their lives, one that has evolved from who snogged who and the student union, passed have you seen so and so is working for that place and split up with wotsit, back to raw and animalistic nature of the playground.

While I’m not there myself (nor do I ever think I will) a lot of people in my life are the proud owners of small, often cute things known as children. I’ve always been a fan of this species as they’re great company and if they’re not yours, when they get to much you can hand them back. But unfortunately unlike taking care of someone’s cat, there’s no instruction manual as to how you should act around or involve someone else’s child.  well considering I struggle to follow the most basic of recipes I’d probably mix things up and improvise anyway but still….I remember offering to look after a friends 3 and 1 year old one morning to be handed over these cute mini people, one of which with a full nappy to be like oh feck what if I break it? Where are the spare batteries?

I’ve been an unofficial adoptive aunty to other people’s sprogs for years, headed to school nativity plays passing others I went to school with and people of my age bemused at to why I don’t have one and if there’s one hiding in my bread bloat. But that’s always been easy enough but cos you’re not there to be judged. But in the clichey world of village yummy mummy playground gossip a new presence in the form of someone’s blonde, relatively younger and far from middle class girlfriend is like a lamb to the slaughter…

I mean having children around has it’s perks- there’s always tinned spaghetti hoops and yummy things like potato smilies lying around. And if you want to have a sto, providing it’s on one of the days they’re not there, forget the sofa, you’ve got a very comfy cabin bed to sulk off too…. admittedly you risk tripping over Tracey Island, getting lego in your toes and sleeping under a duvet of snot ball tissues when you get there but win-win!

It’s the grown ups that in all this become the children. I remember being at some mid-week village light switching on event where certain mummies were giving me odd looks thinking jesus wept I know I’m not Albrighton standard regatta waterproof wearing mother standard but we would be the only people here with pint glasses and shit, oh god I’m wearing teddy bear ear warmers…I must look about 12. Oh christ after the teenagers move on I must be the youngest ‘grown up’ here by about six years… But it’s okay, I’m wearing John Lewis earmuffs everyone can stop panicking now – Shropshire approved clothing has entered the oxygen sphere….

I feel I’m in uncharted territory, like David Attenborough reporting on a territorial species in it’s known habitat….  ‘The arse-faced nappy valley mummy observes new female in companionship with the recently estranged male and alerts ‘class blah blah’ whatsapp group…’

I exaggerate but all playground dwellers have been there and I understand. In fact I understand some things too much. There have been occasions recently when  upon seeing said happiness people have gone a little bat shit, left shitty facebook comments, even sent strings of ridiculous text messages to the wrong person. And every time I’ve had to deal with a crazy women whose upset me and should know better I haven’t gone batshit because I’ve been there (well perhaps not to that extent) and am so embarrassed by myself that I feel I’m not in the position to judge others.

For the past month I have suffered near daily anxiety attacks where my heart beats faster than it should and I can;t get certain thoughts out of my head. Memories of when I got drunk and said something stupid, got over emotional at someones get together, said things that I bottled up when sober but make me look ridiculous when they came out after a bottle of wine. I know why I was like that, I was sinking in this sea of ridiculousness with no anchor but willingness to help myself and swim to the shore. And the guilt and embarrassment won’t stop. It consumes me until all I can do is sleep and then I dream it… Now I can’t exactly send a group text message to about twenty odd people being like ‘soz for being a c**t I was in a bad place’ mainly cos it brings it all up and aside from that most people don’t even care but I do… now I’m better I cringe at myself. And thought completely unintentional have no idea how I still have friends.

I wrote so much about wanting the clouds to lift but it never appeared and when it did I’m now wracked with guilt that I spent half a decade being a complete an utter bellend.

To anyone I ever pissed off after sailing a ship of intoxication drowning in a sea of Pinot Grigio, I am sorry with all my heart.


So here’s to 2016…. the year that sounds like a figment of my imagination the one that lead me to cry more than I ever would over politics and the death of inspiring legends… things that before (Whitney aside) wouldn’t have even touch my little bubble, the year I smelt the coffee and decided to be a better person… not just for friends and loved ones, but for me- and it was only then that the dreams I wanted started to come true….and it’s what will make 2017 one of the hardest but best years yet.

Don’t touch the sleeping pills, they mess with my head,  dredging of big white sharks, swimming in the bed, and here comes a killer whale, send me to sleep
Thrashing the covers off, has me by its teeth , and ah, my love remind me, what was it that I said?I can’t help but pull the earth around me to make my bed
And ah, my love remind me, what was it that I did?
Did I drink too much? Am I losing touch? Did I build a ship to wreck?









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