5 things that make me feel slightly less like I’m about to have a mental breakdown

I am all over the place. Some days I am luvin lyf 2k17, and others I open a Wagon Wheel slightly too vigorously, it drops on the floor, and tears prickle my eyes. There is literally no in between.

The last couple of months have been first world difficult. I left the career I dedicated my early twenties to. Plus everyone is betrothed, while I’m 95% sure the last guy I dated ended it because I fell asleep while we were watching Angels & Demons (which, in my defence, is boring AF). So yes, this #survivor is expecting her slot on The Ellen DeGeneres Show very soon.

Being an adult is a lot trickier than I thought it would be, but there are a few things that make me feel (deluded or otherwise) like I ever-so-slightly have my shit together:

  • Joining the gym for the 6786th time when there is not a chance in bollocks I will actually go

Snapchat smallestAs I enter my direct debit details on the Pure Gym website, I feel a sense of elation. This is it. I am going to rid myself of the belly fat that peers over my jeans like a meerkat checking for predators. I am going to be scouted for Britain’s Next Top Model.  I am going to have a sculpture of my insanely toned abs installed in the National Art Gallery.

Then it rains. Or I come on my period. Or I leave work five minutes later than usual. And I end up paying £18.99 a month for Pure Gym to send me guilt-trip texts reminding me that I haven’t hauled my lazy ass to the gym for 27 years. “Just fuck off,” I mumble, swiping off the message with my pizza-greased fingers, “I’ll go tomorrow.” *

*This is a lie. 

  • Ordering stuff I can’t afford off the internet

There are seven words that send a shiver of delight down my spine. A thrill so electric I can barely contain myself.

 “There’s a parcel for you in reception.”

God, I love it. The anticipation whilst flouncing down the stairs, the cradling the package to my chest like a little baby, the grand reveal once I’ve scuttled into my bedroom. Granted, nine times out of ten it is absolute tat and being sent back, but still.

  • Being smooth

There is nothing relaxing about having hair ripped from your skin. Let’s just get that straight. But there is also nothing relaxing about being late for work because all of your pants are in the wash and you don’t have tights thick enough to conceal your hairy legs. So a monthly wax is an excellent, if rather expensive, investment. Plus to put a few myths to rest: it does NOT take off your skin, it does NOT grow back thicker, you DO have to peel apart your ass cheeks like Moses and the Red Sea if you want your bum doing as well.

  • Netflix binges

I’m not talking a li’l Pretty Little Liars marathon; I’m talking a sunlight-what-is-that-dear-God-I-stink odyssey. I never feel as enlightened as when I have spent all weekend cocooned in my duvet, forfeiting exercise and basic hygiene to broaden my mind with documentaries about death row prisoners and people who are addicted to eating bubble wrap.

  • Writing

I am an emotional clam. But just because I don’t always say much, it doesn’t mean I don’t have a lot going on in my head. Ultimately, all of that drivel needs an outlet. So welcome to my blog.

Unexpected Item In The Bagging Area

John grimaced. Every queue in Morrisons was trailing into the aisles. He’d only nipped in for a bag of prawn crackers, but he’d been seduced by the buy-one-get-one-frees, the two-for-£3s, the multipacks and the meal deals.

He’d been in there so long he wasn’t sure what day it was. He wasn’t sure who the prime minister was. He wasn’t sure who he was. Was his name even John?

His basket weighed him down like an albatross. Peeling himself from the kitchen roll section, he trundled exhaustedly towards the self-checkout machine.

We meet again, he thought, as he eyed the cold, calculating hunk of metal. I’m here to get my job done, you’re here to do yours. No reason for either of us to make things difficult. 

“Unexpected item in the bagging area.”

John reeled in shock. There certainly was not anything unexpected in the bagging area.

“Unexpected item in the bagging area.”

People were beginning to stare. A security guard unstrapped his walkie-talkie.

There is no fucking unexpected item in the bagging area…” John hissed frantically, tearing open the carrier bag.

Suddenly, he stopped. Nestled between his easy-peel tangerines and can of coconut milk was a baby. A mini-human. Un bébé.

It was pretty unexpected, John agreed begrudgingly.

*

From thereon, the Morrisons was declared a place of miracles by the Vatican. People flocked from all over the world to find their own unexpected item in the bagging area.

And they were not disappointed; the self-checkout machine threw out all kinds of shit. A koala bear. A velvet cape. A fried egg that looked a bit like Ed Sheeran.

All very unexpected.

THE END

The Christmas Advert

“Please, no more,” the man begged exhaustedly. “I’ve had enough.”

As tears slid down his face, the man’s entire body trembled. His eyelids were sellotaped to his forehead, his hands bound at the wrist. Strapped to a metal chair in front of a projector screen in a cold, dark room, he was at the mercy of his captors.

The John Lewis advertising team.

From their two-way mirror, the chief advertising executive turned to his colleague. “We’re nearly there. One more cute animal and a simpering, whispery remake of an 80s classic, and I think we’ve cracked it.”

His colleague eyed him nervously. “Are you sure he can handle it? You know, after what happened last time.”

The two shared a look.

“I mean, we already have a chinchilla in a wheelchair and a hauntingly sad soundtrack,” the colleague suggested hesitantly. “Maybe it’s schmaltzy enough now.”

“Maybe,” the executive pondered, stroking his chin. “Or maybe we’re one Ellie Goulding soundbite away from a viral smash hit.” He stepped away from the mirror. “What are his statistics showing?”

Ruffling through his notes, the colleague jotted down some figures and tapped them into a calculator. “Tears up 300% on the recently-bereaved pigeon advert, down 0.5% on the bewildered red squirrel. He’s 7.8 times more likely to buy a Russell Hobbs Heritage Standard microwave, but far less likely to go for the Swarovski cheese fondue gift set.”

“God damn it,” the executive said, slamming his fists on the table. “We’re so close.” He rolled up his shirt sleeves and paced the room. “That’s it,” he said, snapping his fingers.

“That’s what?” The colleague asked nervously.

“We just put them all together. The wheelchair chinchilla snuffs it, the pigeon is bereaved, and the red squirrel is bewildered by the whole situation.”

“But that doesn’t make any se…”

“It’s magic, pure fucking magic,” the executive said. “We’ll be shipping out those fondue sets faster than an Aldi till assistant, you mark my words.”

“I’m not sure he can handle it,” the colleague pleaded. “He’s becoming weak.”

The executive pushed his face towards his colleague until their noses met. “Fon. Due,” he said.

The colleague nodded resignedly. Typing some commands into his computer, he sat back, before pressing enter.

*

No-one knows quite what happened that day. Some say they heard the cries from miles away. Some say they have glimpsed the man, roaming the moors, sobbing incoherently. The advertising executives were never seen again. They just disappeared. Vanished, like melted snowflakes.

THE END

* This story was NOT sponsored by John Lewis. Although I would happily accept a cheese fondue gift set.

The Facebook Birthday Wish

Claire didn’t mind Stephen. He was alright. She wasn’t sure why she had him on Facebook as they never talked and she couldn’t picture his face without stalking his profile, but he was harmless enough.

But when it came to writing on his wall for his birthday, she just couldn’t do it. It’s not like she wanted him to have a shitty birthday. It’s not that she thought he was unworthy of birthday cheer. For some inexplicable reason, she just couldn’t bring herself to say those two little words.

So when Facebook sent her a notification reminding her to wish him a happy birthday, she thought it was a bit pushy, but clicked off it and got on with her day.

Then during a meeting with Barbara from accounts, she got a text from an unknown number.

It’s Stephen’s birthday.

Sliding the lock on her screen, she leaned back in her chair. ‘Probably just a coincidence,’ she told herself.

After returning home from work, she threw her keys on the kitchen table and headed towards the fridge. Grabbing a jar of pickles, she nudged the fridge door shut, before gasping and dropping the jar to the floor.

Arranged in plastic letters on the fridge were the words ‘WISH STEPHEN A HAPPY BDAY’.

“What the fuck?” Claire said.

Checking her door and window, she closed her curtains and sat on the couch to watch Coronation Street. Her eyes heavy, she felt herself drifting off.

A few hours later, she jolted awake to a curious rustling sound.

Peering over her couch, she watched as a note was pushed under her door.

Her hands trembling, Claire got up off the couch and opened the note.

Do U wAnT to WiSH sTePhEn a HaPpY bIRthDaY?

SEVEN YEARS LATER

Claire had moved to Costa Rica, grown a handlebar moustache and bought some Gucci sunglasses, but The Facebook Birthday Wish had tracked her down.

She was tired of looking over her shoulders. She was tired of running. Of living in motels, paying in cash, and taking on a new identity in every godforsaken town.

As she nursed a double whiskey at the bar in some scummy downtown joint, the bartender called over to her.

“Hey, chica,” he shouted. “Some hombre has left a message for you. Feliz cumpleaños for some Stephen dude. That mean anything to you?”

Claire downed the rest of her whiskey in one burning shot, and pushed some crumpled-up cash onto the bar. She now realised that she would never escape.

Back in her motel room, she booted up her laptop and logged into Facebook.

Taking a deep breath, she clicked on Stephen’s profile and began to type.

*

Under the glare of the streetlamp outside, The Facebook Birthday Wish smiled. Its work here was done.

THE END

First date nerves and being yourself

I had two Plenty of Fish dates this weekend. TWO. I am a sexual predator. I am going to end up on Crimewatch, or in Closer magazine.

Having little to two Tinder dates worth of experience in this respect, I was understandably fairly nervous. All of the usual thoughts were buzzing around my brain as I prepared for my first date at a local bar on Friday night. What if he doesn’t like me? What if we have nothing to talk about? What if I stand under a certain light and he spots my moustache?

So after defuzzing, I had a couple of pre-drinks to calm my nerves. Unfortunately, the result of this was that I was a) already slightly drunk by the time I got to my first date and b) really hungover on my second date the next morning. Because that is how much I have my life together right now.

To make things worse, the second date was at the King Richard III museum in Leicester (who doesn’t love looking at skeletons of 15th century monarchs when they’re hanging), which meant that not only did I have to get up early and catch a train, but also shuffle nauseated around a building where fucking everything is white and historically significant.

At first I tried to style it out, but I eventually had to concede defeat and diverted us to a café for an XL maple spice latte. I may have been hungover, but I am always #basic.

There are loads of rules for first dates. Don’t sleep with them. Don’t talk about exes. Don’t eat their food when they’re not looking. Don’t turn up in a Chewbacca costume. Don’t repeat everything they say back to them in a robot voice.

Clearly, some of these are blindingly obvious. Like bitch, don’t touch my food unless you value your fingers. But a lot of them, I think you should ignore.

Think about it. What is the point of acting like a different person during a meeting designed to assess each other as potential partners? It would be like buying a chicken and mushroom bake from Greggs and then it turning into a sausage and bean pasty half-way through.

Yes, I did just compare myself to a Greggs pasty.

So I decided to be myself. I admitted I was hungover, told him about the time I had to go to my birthday spa day with tramp sick in my hair, sat in awkward silence a few times, and made him wait for ages while I chose three psycho killer books in the 3-for-£5 deal at The Works. And he still asked me out on a second date.

I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t worry if you are weird and can’t handle your drink and have no idea how to act on dates. Be your own pasty.

If you think you may have an alcohol problem, visit www.drinkaware.co.uk