Wednesday, 29 September 2010

A Mournful Interlude

Those of you who know me will be aware that I am attempting to plough my way through the ‘1001 books you must read before you die’ list, and have been doing so for several years. For some reason however, last week I diverged from this list for the first time to read a book named Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. I remember shelving this book continuously whilst working at Waterstones and wondering why on earth we managed to keep selling so many copies, years after it was published, because in my opinion, it looked terrible. But with a bit of persuasion from my boyfriend I gave it a shot.

Tuesdays with Morrie turned out to be one of those books I will never forget first reading, and I hope to enjoy it again many times in my life. The general gist is that’s it’s the true story of an inspirational college professor who touched and changed the lives of many of his students. Morrie was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, which lead to a lot of press coverage. After hearing about Morrie on the news, one of his students, Mitch Albom, gets back in contact with him sixteen years after last seeing him at graduation. What follows is the story of their weekly meetings in which Morrie teaches Mitch about the values he holds in life and the importance to remember that money and work will not be there in the end for you. These things will not sit and hold your hand when you’re taking your last breaths, they won’t fluff your pillows when you can no longer do it yourself. One thing that stuck in my head that Morrie believed is that the trick isn’t how to deal with death; it’s how to deal with living. The trick is to really hold onto the things that are important in life. He taught love and compassion above all things.

It was a strange twist of fate that I read this book last week, digressing from the list that I had so strictly stuck to for years. Nothing makes you look harder at what you value in life than this book, and an untimely death.

A few days ago, a friend of mine passed away. It was completely unexpected; Matt was 23 and, as was my understanding, in perfect health. I’m not going to pretend like he was a close friend of mine; we knew each other from a small church group we both attended for a few years back in our teens. Since then, I had spoken to Matt on occasion, mostly when I bumped into him on nights out. No matter how long it had been, I was always genuinely happy to see him and I felt like the feeling was reciprocated. He never failed to make me laugh.

When I found out the news about his sudden death, needless to say I cried. A lot. It didn’t really feel like I was upset for the change my life will undergo due to the loss of my friend. At the moment it’s all I can think about, and don’t get me wrong, I will always remember him. But in a few weeks or months he’ll probably crop into my head every now and again, after a while I’ll forget what he sounded like. What upsets me more is the utter devastation his family and close friends must be going through, and my heart truly goes out to these people at such a time of tragedy.

It made me realise how insignificant all my current worries are, mainly about my lack of money for my upcoming trip to Canada. I locked myself out my flat last weekend, and this resulted in having to pay £40 for a locksmith to come and stick a piece of card in my door to let me in again. I was so angry at the time for just throwing a load of money away when I need it so badly. But in light of recent events, all I can think is ‘who gives a shit? Does it honestly matter?’

From what I could tell in the short spells I had with Matt, he enjoyed life. He had his bad times, but he overcame these in a truly admirable way. If there is anything I’ve learnt from this and that life-changing book, it’s that you literally cannot waste a moment in this world.

Matt, this one’s for you. To say you will be missed is an understatement. 

Thursday, 23 September 2010

An Unexpected Delight

George and I often have the problem of what to choose when browsing the shelves at Blockbuster. The simple truth of being a couple wanting to spend time with each other but not having the finances to have grand evenings out, or time to go away that often, is that the film industry becomes your best friend. A simple way to experience something new together or share a favourite of yours that your other half may not have enjoyed yet.

Having differing tastes in film makes the pickings rather slim. So after a very long day in which I had worked away in Oxford, I was in the mood for simple, easy watching comedy. George picked up something he had spotted on a previous visit and suggested it. This film was Humpday. There was a single copy on the shelf; four-star reviews from various mainstream film magazines on the front sleeve, and the tag line read ‘How far would you go?’ I have to say, I had fairly low expectations, but along with a couple of other titles we decided to just give it a shot for the sake of ease and speed.

The basic premise behind the film is two guys who reunite after a long period of time after they finished college together. Ben has in the mean time found a steady job and gotten married. Andrew, an aspiring artist, has been travelling across the globe finding bits of work along the way.  After ending up at a crazy party full of artists and sexually liberal hippies, the free spirited friend drags along the straight-laced family man. As it transpires, they end up having a few too many drinks and decide upon making a piece of art together; a piece of art that will consist of these two friends, both seemingly heterosexual males, having sex with each other on film.

Now this seems like a pretty typical American comedy with hilarious consequences; a tale of bromance if you will, in league with the likes of I Love You, Man. However, about twenty minutes in, George and myself were both wondering how it is that the film actually gets to the topic of porn? It is shot in a kind of documentary style, with some unconventional and unsteady camera angles. Some of the transitional shots in between scenes were my favourite of the movie; simple and lingering clips of Ben’s house, such as a fruit bowl on a table and net curtains floating by an open window. As well as the shooting being much better than you expect, the same can be said for the acting, particularly that of Ben’s wife as she struggles to comprehend the entire concept of her husband becoming an amateur porn star, and quite rightly so!

So I got to the point where it struck me: hang on, is this film actually trying to make a point about something? I’m unsure as to what exactly this is yet, as most of this time whilst watching it you’re trying to let go of the preconceptions you made beforehand. I guess for the main part these two men are trying to prove to themselves that they’ve still ‘got it’. Ben likes to think that marriage hasn’t eliminated the prospect of his ever having wild nights again, and Andrew, having never done so before, is attempting to actually follow through and complete a piece of artwork. The two try and convince themselves that the only motive for their actions is to make an important and pioneering piece of film; two straight men having sex.

It could also be argued that the film in itself may be trying to be a piece of art, covered by the seemingly stereotypical comedy sleeve. Perhaps taking that stereotype and packaging it differently with stylistic, unconventional camera angles and more subtle acting. A quirky approach to the kind of film reaching its overkill limit.

Don’t get me wrong, it still has shades of Hollywood, and the sheer ridiculous nature of what they’re trying to do has some really funny moments. You have to watch it all the way through. Firstly, to find out whether they actually go through with it or not. Secondly, to see my favourite scene which is the final ten seconds before the credits roll. It’s simple, natural and sums it all up. Don’t be put off by the awful title!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Money makes the world so lame

In the run up to a stint of travels to Canada I shall be embarking upon come November 16th, there is but one thing on my mind. Moneymoneymoneymoneymoneymoney. And I’ll tell you one thing; it is bloody annoying! Whoever it was that blessed me with the love to travel didn’t really consider how expensive it all is. And as a result of this, I’m attempting to save every last penny to make my travels fully worth it.

Don’t get me wrong; when it comes to money I’m a hugely lucky individual. My parents have always been there and continue to help me out when I’m in need and provide for me, and for that I thank them, and for working so hard to earn it.

 It’s been something that’s cropping up at the moment with all my friends. People getting married and trying to cut off any help from their parents in order to start a new life off their own backs. Little babies bringing joy into our lives but also dread into the hearts of their parents when the bills start coming in. For me, it’s the idea that now I’ve finally worked out what I want to do, it’s going to take a lot of hard work and budgeting to be able to survive whilst trying to make it. We are all truly breaking free from the nest, and it’s a little bit daunting!

It took a while, but I’ve kind of got used to having to sacrifice things in order to put all my money away for Canada. Some examples include:

Not wearing makeup for three weeks because I’d ran out and couldn’t afford any more. I think my skin quite enjoyed the break. When I could buy some, I still went for the cheap stuff, saving me a fortune!

I’ve lived in a studio apartment with but three small rooms for five months now. It could be worse I guess, some are only one room and my apartment is just enough for me. Due to the fact it’s too small, I have no chairs, it would clutter up the place. This means sitting on the floor a lot at my computer; I swear this does nothing good for my back, even though at the beginning I claimed it did. This has now encouraged me to take up yoga again, and that can’t possible be bad for me.

Following on from this, it also took me three months to buy a vacuum. Well, I say buy, I mean steal the one from our old house that my friend was hoarding in his new house down the road. Since then, I have come to fully appreciate the feeling of not having to brush yourself down after sitting on the floor (my hair sheds in massive amounts) and nothing sticking to your feet and/or socks.

I have also yet to buy a kitchen bin, so I hang a bin bag off an unused draw in the corner of my kitchen. I see no positive of this, it just seems like every bin I find I consider way too expensive. If I can go without for five months I can carry on doing so, right?

There are two ropes holding my bed together. There was originally one, but the headboard kept falling off whenever I rolled over in my sleep, thus ruining my slumber. Now my mother has found out about this, she has decided to donate a spare bed she has and also throw in the super-comfortable mattress cover that I love so dearly. Hooray!

Being a bit strapped for cash has meant there is an upside to being ill, in that I could in no way be tempted to go to the pub.

So there they are. I know a few of them may sound a little extreme and be considered just plain lazy but hey ho, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I utterly adore my little home, and I just have to tell myself that the various corner’s I have cut in order to save money are just character building.

It’s nice to know that I don’t waste my hard-earnt (debateable?) wages on anything, and that’s all just come down to practice. Having to reduce my outgoings has really made me appreciate the times when I do splash out a little and go down the pub and actually have a glass of wine instead of trusty bank account-friendly lime and soda. But what’s more is to really value seeing your friends over the beverage you consume. Vancouver, you better be worth it!

Who am I kidding? Of course it will be.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Thanks Chris Waitt!

Most of you out there who have been reading this blog an haven’t spoken to me in a while would probably think ‘Where on earth has this all come from?’ Truth be told it’s not really like I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I dabbled with the idea when I was applying for Uni, and I ended up doing English and Media, so the subject was vaguely related. I just didn’t think I ever really had it in me to be constantly imaginative, and I’m not sure why my mind has gone into overload the past few months.

It all started when I was watching one of my now favourite films, A Complete History of my Sexual Failures, a documentary made by and independent filmmaker named Chris Waitt trying to seek out why all the girlfriends he’s ever had have dumped him. If you haven’t seen it, find it and watch it, it’s really fantastic. Anyway, in this film he’s got a notebook in which he scribbles down all his thoughts on the research he’s doing. Jealousy hit me from this moment on, and I decided that I too wanted to write. I think the idea of creating something is what I was drawn to, and having stuck with it for a while now, I’ve loved every second.

At this time in my life there were so many changes I was going through, and I was learning new things on an almost daily basis, about myself and the way I want to live my life. So this is what I turned my notebook into, and I named it ‘Lessons I Learnt in my Twenties’ The next day I skipped on down to Paperchase and bought a beautiful embroidered book, some think felt tips and let loose. I was stunned at my capacity to just keep on writing more and more.

Sadly I did not anticipate the felt tip pens leaking through the pages, therefore meaning I had to figure out a way to cover up the backs of every right hand page. It struck me at work the next day how much paper we waste, especially in receipts, and particularly at my work, the little bit of pink and white striped paper that shows when the till roll is nearly running out. So I proceeded to irritate my co-workers no end by taking every piece of paper that was wasted home with me instead of throwing it in the bin. To this day none of them know what it’s for because I just didn’t feel like telling anyone about my writing at that time, and now I just like winding them all up. So this will prove whether they’re reading it or not; yes Rob THAT is what I use those bits of paper for!

To give you an illustration of what kinds of things I wrote, here are some snippets:

Things to remember…number 10:
Popped into the Indian Consulate in Birmingham today.
Lesson learnt:
The Indian Consulate is in fact not where you go to apply for an India Visa. It’s in a building down the road. However, now I know what it’ll be like to have dozens of Indian people stare at me.

Things to avoid…number 9:
When running, I very nearly ran over a snail. I had to dodge it and it completely put me off my rhythm.
Lesson learnt:
Smashing his house and himself would definitely have put him off his rhythm.

Things to remember…number 11:
Do you ever find yourself wandering through a supermarket trying to figure out what it is that you want to eat. Then, suddenly, basked in a ray of glory, you see something and think ‘YES, this is exactly what I’m craving’?
Lesson learnt:
Today, for me, this is a Caramel KitKat chunky.

Things to avoid…number 4:
Me: Would you like one of our re-usable shopping bags for £2.99?
Customer: No thanks, I already have loads of those at home. I’ll just have a plastic one.
Lesson learnt:
Nothing. Why these people have ‘loads’ of re-useable shopping bags at home and don’t re-use them is a mystery.

Things to remember…number 6:
I’ve just completely forgotten what it was I wanted to write.
Lesson learnt:
Write things as soon as you think of them.

Things to remember…number 12:
Today I did one of those weird trips where you kind of trip on a paving slab, but manage to recover swiftly and carry on like it never happened, laughing ever so slightly out of embarrassment. Immediately after doing this I looked up and saw a girl in a wheelchair with no legs.
Lesson learnt: Appreciate the legs you have to trip with.

The reason why I thought of this to write about is because I think it’s important that we all remember, no matter how old we are or what we’ve all gone through, that every day we learn something new. I think the worst kinds of customer I serve at work are the people who pretend like they know everything. Pretend like you’re trying to make a mug out of them, pretend they know the refund policy inside and out better than those of us who work there actually do, and pretend like you’re not a human being and just a shop floor drone. This one goes out to you guys, always remind yourself that you in fact don’t know everything, and just kick back a little and take the time to just learn a little.

Lessons learnt is still going, although I think I have more receipts floating around my house than I care to mention, and after collating all the evidence I can safely say that Tesco’s officially has all my money.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Dream a Little Dream of Satan

Since going through this period in my life where I’ve been debating who I am or what I believe in, I’ve been having some pretty strange dreams. Whether dreams can in fact be strange at all is of course another question, considering they’re the work of your sleep-addled mind outside of reality. I’ve always been interested in the concept as a whole, and would probably consider them the most spiritual thing all of us as humans universally encounter.

So to give you a picture of what exactly has been going on inside my consciousness, here are a few of the ones I’ve managed to scribble down whilst I can still remember them in my first few seconds of awakening:

1)    I dreamt that a tiny little cockroach made it through a crack in the cupboards of my kitchen and, after trapping the little fighter under a cup, she (yes it was a girl cockroach) then proceeded to secrete some kind of yellow liquid, not unlike English mustard, and warn me that a whole army of cockroaches was about to invade, much bigger in size than herself.

2)    I had a dream in cartoon, but not brightly coloured Disney styled cartoon. It was all different shades of grey, very abstract and pictured a dying girl in the arms of a man. Then, all of a sudden, this girl proceeded to perk up, turn into Katie Perry, and kiss me. (?!?!)

3)    I often dream about work, one of which was that I took a little girl to use our staff toilet out the back of the shop, only to find the back of the shop had turned into some kind of flooded industrial warehouse, with lots of small little men covered in coal trying to escape from it. I then walked down the stairs backwards and this resulted in tripping up and the girl and myself plunging to our deaths.

4)    In the same night, I dreamt I locked a dozen or so people (all of which seemed to resemble the entire cast of Dead Man’s Shoes) in a building and set off all the explosives I had hidden around the place, killing them all. I walked away from this in some kind of Hollywood thriller slow motion stroll, smoking a cigarette.

5)    Finally, and probably the most disturbing of them all, I dreamt I was Satan’s assistant, torturing his victims, some of which were very young, and all of which were covered in vomit. Include the devil and myself. I’m not particularly proud of this one.

Now, I’ve never really been one to believe that dreams actually mean anything, and it was always my opinion that they were just random signals your brain sent off whilst you were asleep. But if you consider the idea that they are actually your subconscious acting out it’s desires and fears, in a way this makes sense. I like to think of it as the equivalent of giving a 5-year old a piece of paper and some crayons. Supervised, the child will probably withhold certain images and draw a lovely little picture of a house on a hill. Unsupervised, the child could just let loose and this can on occasion come out with some very strange illustrations, such as distressing drawings of family separations or deceased pets. In this same way, without your conscious mind being able to censor the inappropriate material going on inside your head, like the child it might come up with any random sequence of events.

There are a few meanings to my dreams that have interested me since I’ve looked them up. Dreaming about cockroaches tends to mean there is something to clean up in your life. Dreaming in cartoon means there is something going on that you can’t take seriously or cope with, so you change it to cartoon to be able to deal with it. Dreams including coal mean wealth and prosperity, but also it points to the dreamer’s unused potential. Dreams where you are friends with the devil can mean you are dealing with issues of morality.

Those of you who have read my former posts will know that each of these points come into them, one way or another. It can certainly be said that I’m looking to clean up my life and find a new direction, that I’m dealing with issues of morality as to my thoughts about religion and my experience in India, and when it comes to unused potential, I guess that’s one for you guys to decide whether I have it not to use it! As for the cartoon dream, death is something that I always find hard to comprehend, the details of which are for another post. The dying girl then turning into Katie Perry and forcing herself upon me is an interpretation yet to be solved.

Of course I still have my cynical side. Like horoscopes, dreams can sometimes be manipulated by their owners’ conscious mind to fit in with their lives in reality. And also, who was it exactly that came up with these definitive meanings to elements of dreams? Some part of me still thinks they could be random brain activity, especially that harrowing one about the devil and puke.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

How well can you really know someone?

I read Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse a couple of months ago, and it continually makes reference to the protagonist being both man and ‘wolf’. He breaks himself up into two parts; I guess the equivalent of having a good and evil side to your personality. Sections of this book then go on to explain how man cannot be broken down so simply into just two pieces, and it is in fact a much more complex matter. This got me thinking at the time (I was on a train in India when this all occurred to me) that no matter how much you can try to do so, can you ever really know someone inside and out?

This is always a hot topic to consider when considering travelling with someone, and I suppose that’s why I got to thinking about this when I was in India with three other people. The thought of having to spend every waking second with someone else really makes you consider what flaws they have that’ll really get to you when you’re tired, hungry and probably a little bit home sick. Now I’ve known two of the guys I was in India with for a number of years; well to be quite accurate I’ve known one of them for my entire life, as he is my brother. The other chap happens to be my current boyfriend, George, and we’d been together around 5 months at the time. Despite the huge difference in time periods I have known these two people, they both continue to astound me in equal measures as to how well I really know them. I spend a lot of my time with George, and sometimes he manages to come out with things that my immediate response to is ‘Where the hell did that come from?’ I can’t quite decide if this is a good or a bad thing. In one respect I get miniature heart attacks on a once-a-week basis when something unexpected pops out of his mouth. On the other hand, it keeps me on my toes. Whilst the feeling of intimacy that comes with knowing someone through and through is so very comforting, I think the idea that I have so much more to learn about the people I spend my time with is an exciting prospect. Let’s just hope he’s not holding anything too shocking close to his chest!

When I think about this however, the question does pop into my head as to do I really know myself all that well? The more I’ve been writing recently and taking a cold hard stare at the values and beliefs I hold which come up whilst I’m typing away, the more I realise and often change the opinions and thoughts I originally set out to write. If I consider the complexity and depths of various thought processes that go on in my head on a daily basis, I often think, ‘If I don’t really get what’s going on in my head, how could I possibly completely understand someone else’s?’ I’m not really one to hold back on my thoughts and feelings (this often gets me into trouble) and I’m very open, but there are certain aspects of myself that I like to keep hidden, If someone as direct and unreserved as me can hold back some details even to their closest friends, I might struggle a bit trying to work out someone much more guarded.

This is one of those things about the human mind that continues to baffle me, the concept of our own individual train of thought. James Joyce, you tried to get this all down on paper when writing Ulysses and it will be, for most people, a load of gobbledigook, but if we really did see into the minds of other people, that’s probably exactly what we’d find. I don’t think you can ever really know what someone else’s process of thinking is, it’s finding someone who has one you can combine yours with that’s the trick. That or the complete opposite would make for a good conversation. I’m not much of a scientist or a psychologist but in my own little way I try to make sense of these things, usually failing in the process, as it is truly unsolvable. For now I can come to no conclusion. God knows what you think. 

Friday, 10 September 2010

Tiny Feet

In a natural progression on from my talks about marriage, next come the wee ones popping outta you. I would like to start this entry by saying a big public congratulations to Miss Laura Nesbitt and Mr Joe Foster on the arrival of their first son Leo Foster, who is two weeks old tomorrow. Leo, you are the inspiration for a little discussion about babies and truth be told a much needed inspiration at that, nothing too excited is happening in my life so you have provided a talking point! For that I thank you, and I would like to emphasise that if I say anything mean about babies, it’s not directed at you, of course it isn’t. Also, we really should meet sometime; give me a call.

Now Leo is the first little bairn to be born in our circle of friends, so it of course got me thinking about our want for children around this age. I guess this moves on from feeling like marriage is a natural progression from dating someone for a number of years, babies inevitably is the next hot topic. I think it’s weird that the want for children can differ so much from person to person, particularly from woman to woman. Laura, Leo’s mother, told Joe around about a year and a half ago (or thereabouts, correct me if I’m wrong guys!) that she was thinking she wanted a baby, which made her around the 23/24 years old mark. Now I’m currently 22, and I couldn’t think of anything worse than having a baby in two years time.

From the age when us little girls can just about walk, it’s pretty standard that someone will thrust a toy doll into our hands to have as our own. Is it just me or isn’t this actually a really strange tradition?! Just children ourselves, hardly much older than the age that doll is supposed to depict, our role as a mother is projected onto us so very early in life. Perhaps this dates back to a few hundred years ago when a woman was predominantly there to procreate and be a mother, first and foremost. Along with those miniature fake plastic kitchen’s you get because a woman’s place in pregnant and in the kitchen! I don’t mean to go all radical feminist on you all here, but I’ve got to say, giving a little girl a simulation of a baby seems a little weird to me. Especially the ones nowadays that imitate going to the toilet; that’s the worst bit of parenting. If it’s supposed to be make-believe for this little girl you don’t need to put that in! Trying to make these dolls as realistic as possible is quite scary as we’re really trying to give these young ladies a taste of what it’s like to have a baby. (Although you could leave this one on a roundabout in a park somewhere and not have social services come down on you, maybe that’s the next horrific step in the production of these toys, Doll protection?! Madness.)

Don’t get me wrong, I loved my dolls so much when I was little, and my miniature fake plastic kitchen was my pride and joy. These things probably aren’t linked to my lack of want for children any more than it is linked to Laura’s earlier want for babies, as I’m sure she adored her toys just as much. I’m just thinking that little girls should be little girls for as long as they can whilst they are still little. Without another little (fake) person attached to them.

One piece of advice that sticks in my head when it comes to this subject is something my ex-manager’s mother told her when she was my age. (A tenuous link yes but stick with me, I am very close to said ex-manager!) That guidance was to never have children until you’ve done everything in your life you wanted to do, and I think she couldn’t be more right. For me at this time I can safely say that my twenties are my own to enjoy. Once you have children, you are sharing that life with something you’re linked to in many more ways than you could be with anyone else, even a boyfriend or husband. So for me children aren’t my gig right now, or for a very long time. That is of course no judgement on anyone who does have kids right now, if that’s what they feel is right. I have a few friends, Laura included, that are just made to be Mumma’s. They’ve done everything they’ve wanted to do, and having a wee baby is their moment to shine. 

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

One Simple Rule

Since working in retail, I’ve come to realise there are two different kinds of people in this world; those that intend upon making the lives of shop assistants a complete misery, and those who don’t. Being part of the management team at the store I work in means dealing with all those ridiculous and outlandish complaints, usually regarding our returns policy. With such a job as mine, you come to just expect these kinds of things and it’ll happen wherever you go, you end up just getting used to it. For those customers however, surely they’re just making their days more difficult and inflicting that on other people? For the matter of a few quid, is it really worth it?

Last week I got a visit from my old manager who still works in the chiropody centre I used to work in as a footcare assistant. A few months ago we were approached by a group called ‘Bounce Back’, a weekly meeting for women who have recovered from breast cancer and want to meet with others in the same situation, and had arranged to go to one of the meetings to give them a bit of pampering, check their feet and hand out a few freebies. I volunteered with my manager to go along and help her, even though I found the whole prospect a little daunting, I thought it might be quite interesting. One of my grandmothers has in fact had breast cancer in the past and recovered from it, and sadly my other grandmother passed away having had lung cancer three years ago. In spite of all the constant hospital appointments, nerve pain and emotional exhaustion this has caused these women I met, it seems they all share the same viewpoint in that (for want of a better expression but I think this one explains it effectively) you’ve gotta grab life by the balls when you’ve got the opportunity. Having been faced with the prospect that they hadn’t got much time left in their lives, and fought that with every last breath, these women really know what it is to feel alive.

One of the women has had both of her breasts removed due to cancer, and was having a giggle with the other ladies about her ‘new boobs’ she bought that day, the old classic chicken fillet. Another that I spoke to lost her husband four years ago, and was diagnosed with breast cancer a year after that. After such a tough and lonely time, she decided she really needed to make the most of what she’s got now, and is currently on her fourth holiday this year to Spain. If I have half the courage these women have if God forbid I ever have to go through the same, I’d be seriously lucky. Not necessarily the courage to really get out there and make the most of it, but just the energy and vitality to laugh in the way that I saw them do so that night.

Going back to the topic of customers, in the job as a footcare assistant we often had women in going through chemo looking for comfortable shoes to wear. I often found these some of the nicest and most grateful customers I’ve ever had to deal with, and sadly most were not as lucky as those ladies in the Bounce Back group. We had a few people in who were terminally ill and they knew exactly how much time they had left, and still hopped about full of the joys of spring. Now I obviously don’t know what each individual customer has been through, and I do know that everyone has bad times. I also find that in most cases the customers who really kick up a fuss seem to be perfectly well-off individuals, and I just don’t get what it is that makes them think that complaining to such an extent is going to get them anywhere, especially for what it’s worth in a shop that sells clothing, which usually amounts to the maximum sum of £50.

These two polar opposites in customers have really made me think about the attitude we take in such situations, or even generally in life. This just boils down to the simple fact that it takes nothing to be kind and fair to someone, and in most cases it can be rewarding. If someone terminally ill with cancer can manage to bring a smile to a strangers face, then why can’t the rest of us? 

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Marriage Part Two: …go together like a horse and carriage.

The second part to my thoughts about marriage stems from a lot of my personal experience of family, and starts off by begging the question of whether your understanding of marriage is influenced by your parents, and if so to what degree. I suppose that ultimately the environment you grew up in and the values of family that your parents taught you, whether it be stable or otherwise, directly or indirectly, must influence the way you act in your own relationships later on in life.

I myself come from a family where my parents were divorced when I was at an early age, and believe me I went through all the motions and reactions to this I possibly could. Without going into any details, by the age of 18 or so when I was really starting to work out who I was, marriage was totally off the cards for me. I guess this must have had something to do with my understanding of family I had encountered so far from my parents and their divorce. That sounds like I’m blaming them for it, but as far as I’m concerned they did me a favour.

Those of you who know me well will know I can be a bit of a dreamer sometimes, and God knows in my teenage years like every other girl I was certainly na├»ve. I can imagine that if I did have that nuclear family, my head would have drifted off into fairy tale land and I would have searched the world over for a perfect husband far too early. It’s taken me a long time to get to my viewpoint now, but the good thing I can take from my unorthodox family set up is to know that relationships are unpredictable, and you can never really tell if the person you think you’re going to spend the rest of your life with is really the one. When being tied down to a single person in a marriage and you hit bad times, are your feelings all that clear? Doesn’t the fact that you physically and legally share everything cloud your perspective on whether you do really want to be with this person? For me, I would say that if you were in a relationship that was breaking down, without the bindings of marriage, it would force you to take a hard look at the fundamental reasons why you are sharing your life with your partner, and not have the complications marriage might bring to the table.

I’ve said the words ‘I love you’ to several more young men than I care to mention at my age, and I also have come to realise in my more recent experiences of love that some of these were ridiculous. It’s only in my current relationship, where I’ve found something right for me now, that I’ve truly come to realise that I’ve been looking for the wrong thing all along. If people can get divorced in their forties after twenty plus years of marriage and still come out of it struggling with knowing what they want in a relationship, how on earth am I supposed to know?!

This is a topic that I’ll never really find an answer for; I don’t think anyone really understands love, and certainly not a 22 year old. It’ll inevitable pop into this blog every now and again, as it’s far too influential to miss out. I’ll keep it on the back burner for a bit though, along with my wedding dress.