Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Nobody Likes You When You're 23

I don't look much older. I don't feel much older. I definitely don't act much older... But, as it is, I am much older. I am 23, and that is that, and, according to blink-182 and a birthday card from my sister, 'nobody likes you when you're 23,' so I'm just going to have to deal with it.

I have gone to the liberty of making a list of things that, as a 23 year old, I should probably try and phase out of my lifestyle:

  • Wearing a name badge at work that says 'Jean' because I have lost mine, and then refusing to answer to anything else
  • Letting my boss catch me 'playing hopscotch up and down the counter for ten minutes and not doing any work'
  • Correcting my boss when she reprimands me for this by telling her it was not hopscotch but in fact the Cha Cha Slide dance routine
  • Anything involving the Cha Cha Slide dance routine
  • Cheestrings
Instead, I will fill my time with only intelligent conversation and respectable actions. My working attitude will be less belligerent and I will execute my customer service with the gravitas it deserves. As a kickstart to my new, dignified lifestyle, I had a trial run and attended a dinner party at my friend Bella's house. (I say attended, I was technically co-hosting, but mostly all I did was turn up in denim, take control of the music, and force Tequila on the other guests). During the dinner party, conversation turned, as it does at dinner parties, to people's experiences of being on TV. Notable appearances include Bella's dad having multiple cameos on Time Team and our friend Alun expressing his views on politics, doctoring, and the new 20p coin. When it came to my family, however, we deviated slightly from standard dinner party etiquette as our only claims to fame were my cousin Steve debuting on Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents and my sister making an appearance on a channel 4 documentary about phone sex. All we need now is for me to go on Jeremy Kyle and we've got a full set.

Once, when I was twelve, I went on holiday to Gran Canaria and the musician in the bar let me have a go on his guitar and play a really depressing Nirvana song to families drinking sangria and trying to be happy. (This was the start of a stage I went through where all I would wear were baggy jeans with skulls on them and big jumpers. Even on holiday. In 35 degree heat). As I left the stage, the musician thanked me and said maybe he'd see me on TV one day, and then, in an undertone, 'on Crime Watch.' I only hope that one day I can fulfill this man's prophecy and end up on Crime Watch, if not because I have committed an impressive crime, then at least as a victim in a reconstruction of a mugging, complete with dramatic screaming and, I can only hope, a swag bag.

I feel like if I ever got mugged in real life I would be the biggest disappointment ever. (Story of my life, I know). Someone would come over with a pistol and demand all of my valuables, and I would just have to stand there, probably having pissed myself, and hand over the Nokia mobile phone I've had since 2007 that has a missing back and £3.42 in change. I think I would end up being more embarrassed than traumatised... Maybe I'll invest in an iPhone, just so I can have a scrap of dignity when my time eventually comes. To be honest, I'm not sure why I don't just get a new phone anyway, regardless of mugging prospects. I think I've grown so used to all of my possessions being broken through lack of care that I can't actually envision a world in which I don't have to stand on a chair holding my radio aerial in order to get Radio 1 or support my camera lens when taking a photo so it doesn't fall out of the body. My glasses have also recently joined my growing collection of broken possessions after I dropped them at work and broke the frame. I had to spend my morning in search of a strong adhesive to hold them together and then, in the afternoon, I had a phonecall from Specsavers saying that as I have ignored their relentless phone calls and letters, they are assuming that I no longer require their contact lenses and have cancelled my direct debit. Consequently, I am now too embarrassed to go and get my glasses fixed and I can't wear contacts because my supply has been cut off, leaving me walking around with broken glasses that are, despite what the last ten people who've noticed have told me, very noticeable. 

Saturday, 13 April 2013

I Am Old, My Life Has Peaked, And My Children Will Look Like Bears

Every so often I have a horrible feeling that I am getting old. The provenance of this feeling is unknown, but like a child you gave up for adoption at 14 and hoped never to see again, it rears its head at inconvenient times just to check up on what I'm doing and cause chaos in my everyday life. Maybe chaos is too strong a word, but I would definitely say it causes an unwelcome wave of feeling ill at ease.

It could, to be fair, be related to the fact that it will be my birthday soon and I will be turning twenty-three years old. Twenty three. 23. XXIII. Whichever way you look at it, I am getting a lot older. (And personally, I am choosing to look at it in Roman numerals from now until I turn 30, because not only does it look fancy, but also I will be able to write my age as XXX and my blog will get hits from people searching for porn. It's not particularly how I want people finding my blog, but at the end of the day, traffic is traffic, and I'm in no position to turn it down.)

Whenever I have these Oh My God, I'm Old! panics, I have to take a quiet moment to contemplate all the impressive things I have done over my many years. It tends to start off relatively well - I list my degree and the various places around the world that I've travelled, but when I get to number three my impressive achievements start to dwindle somewhat, and by the time we're at number seven I am clutching at straws and wondering whether or not being able to rap every line to Sir Mix-a-Lot's classic song Baby Got Back is worthy of note and whether being able to name every US state and its capital counts as 'impressive' when it could just as easily fall into the category of 'party tricks of the sad and lonely 20-something'.  It's a tough one to call, I'm sure you'll agree.

I know that I am not the most well rounded adult, but given the type of child I was, I think I've turned out pretty well. Here is a self-portrait that bears an uncanny likeness to how I looked as a five year old:

Apparently, I thought of myself as a very colourful and flamboyant child, with oddly proportioned limbs and extremities that are not dissimilar to those of a bear. However, you will notice that, despite these physical defects, there is a huge, self satisfied smile on my face. I was very destructive as a child - my sister has various scars from times I thought it acceptable to run up to her in the playground, sink my teeth into her shoulder as hard as I could, and then trot away calmly as though nothing had happened. My favourite destructive memory (although I'm sure my sister probably doesn't remember the event as fondly as I do) is the time she willingly put her fingers near a mangle and I, seeing a chance to destroy, sped over and turned the handle, effectively flattening her fingers and causing them to appear slightly two dimensional for the following three weeks.

Now, don't get me wrong, I wasn't a disturbed child or anything - I wasn't one of those kids who killed the class pet and then laughed about it whilst every other child wept (after what happened to my cat Shelley, God rest his soul, how could I have been?) - I think the main issue was that I just got bored very easily. (A sign of intelligence, I've heard...) Evidently, now that I am older, my intelligence has dwindled somewhat and I can happily spend an entire day walking around with my mother and sister and not resort to a) biting anyone, or b) causing a scene, attracting unwanted attention, and giving off the impression that I am the spawn of Satan and should never be let out of the house, accompanied or otherwise. I do still get bored whilst shopping though and I usually just tend to spend most of the time huffing and sighing and generally expressing sounds of distress until I am either given the car keys so I can sulk in the car, or bought a treat to shut me up.

Knowing that at 23 years old I am still inclined to occasionally act like a child is one of the many reasons that I feel I should never reproduce - they'd be exactly like me. I know that if I were to grace this world with my spawn, I would be creating a litter of the most annoying, destructive, self-appreciating, misbehaving little shits in the entire world. My maternal instincts (which are fairly thin on the ground anyway) would be tested in ways I never imagined. I also think I may be incapable of differentiating between offspring and animals - I know for a fact that I would accidentally whistle for my child when I wanted it to come, then reward it with a pat on the head, a scratch behind the ears, and a suspiciously bone-shaped treat. Still, there's at least one thing I can be certain of - if my child looks anything like I looked as a child (see above), then I can rest assured that it will be the most adorable, perfectly proportioned bambino in the world, and should I fail to remember to feed it, it can fend for itself by foraging for food with its magnificent bear-like claws. Motherhood, I am ready for you.

(Not really. That was a joke. I am not, nor will I ever be, ready to birth a human, despite possibly already being past my child-bearing peak.)