Category: Blog (page 1 of 24)

When I’m alone I am mad

In the last 15 years, I have rarely spent any prolonged period of time completely alone. As soon as babies came along, solitude became rare. I couldn’t even escape to the toilet. They came with me. In 15 years I can count on one hand the amount of nights I have spent in a house or hotel room alone. I’m almost on two hands, but not yet. Last night, I slept alone and today I have been alone.

I’m as lonely as this poor bear

Solitude brings a lot of scope for the old weird thoughts to spring out and it has been a while since I’ve had one.

Today I had a weird thought. And it was that I am bonkers when I am left alone.

Why is that? I hear you cry. I’m not talking mental health issues. I have those. This is more of a stereotypical ‘bonkers’. A sad-cat-lady bonkers. A middle-age bonkers. I am sad-cat-lady bonkers when I’m alone because I talk to myself, a lot. I didn’t realise I did this until today. I chatter away about what I am doing. I tell myself off for being stupid. I share with myself my triumphs. Today I have noticed this. I keep stopping myself mid-sentence to say (out loud): What are you talking about? Stop it already!

As well as talking to myself (and why wouldn’t I, I am great company) I also talk to the cat, a lot. At one point today I decided to pop out to MacDonald’s for a bite to eat and to see the real world (shortly before my digestive system decided to explode and ruin my plans for the day but the two events are not related). As I left my house I told the cat when I’d be back. Did she reply? No. Did she care? Possibly but not speaking my language she didn’t react.

Having derided myself for being crazy, and having realised and come to terms with my crazy cat lady side, I quite enjoy time alone. Today at least it has afforded me time to think, time to find a new creativity (I’ve written four blog entries today after a two-month hiatus), it has calmed my extremely busy mind. I haven’t felt an ounce of anxiety. I haven’t felt any stress. Ironically, I am not crazy at all today. I feel calm. I’ve had a nap. I’ve spend a large part of the day in my PJs, I can eat when I want, what I want. I can just do whatever I want. I don’t want to do this all of the time. There are people I love with all my heart and they are not here today. I will be reunited with them very soon. I miss them like an ache in my guts. But there are going to be times when I cannot avoid time alone, for whatever reason. So instead of seeing it as a time to wish away, I will see it as a time to recharge, think, explore, create and enjoy. It is quite good being a crazy cat lady.

Me and Sheldon – can you tell us apart?

My dream dictates the mood of the day

This is a weird thought I had the other morning when I woke up in a grump. There was no evidence in the real world for my grump. I wasn’t feeling hormonal. Nobody had annoyed me. I hadn’t had any bad news. I hadn’t stubbed my toe. All appeared relatively serene and pleasant.

So as I stomped around the house being stroppy, I decided to try to work out the source of my grumpiness. And after going through the list above (bad news, hormones, annoyances etc) it came to me in the form of a vivid image passing through my mind from my slumbering activities. I remembered my dream. It had been a bad dream. It has been an awful dream.

I won’t bore you with the nature of the dream. Suffice it to say that it involved travelling back in time, fear, anxiety and waking with a racing heart. I had soon put the bad dream aside upon waking, forgotten about it, risen, drunk coffee, eaten a toasted sandwich and started the day. Yet, I had felt this underbelly of grumpiness that wouldn’t shift. Nobody was able to do anything right. My children were just here to be served. The kitchen was dirty. There was stuff everywhere. I had too much work to do and not enough time to do it in. I didn’t know what to wear. The recent colder weather was an added frustration I didn’t need to cope with. Everything and everyone existed to get on my nerves.

All this, because my subconscious had decided to write a play I didn’t want to be a part of.  At least I hadn’t dreamt I was getting rather fruity with Gordon Brown (yes, I have also had that dream). That might have put me in a better mood. Might, I emphasise.

Phwoor

Why I like Poldark

I’m sat here as I type this watching Poldark. I’m a day later than the rest of the Poldark lovers out there. I was out last night. I was out at quiz night at the Wheatshef in Frankwell, Shrewsbury. We didn’t win. We were fourth. Fourth was good. The last time we attended quiz night at the Weathshef we came last. We being ‘Carly’s Angels’. I am one of the angels in question.

Sunday quiz night at the Wheatie in Frankwell – worth a visit if you are clever

So I sit here watching Poldark a day late, and as I do, I have one of my weird thoughts. I am pondering, what is it about Poldark I love so much?

There are a few elements to Poldark to like:

  1. Poldark – Aiden Turner (he’s rather pleasant to look at)
  2. Fancy life style (I live in Newport, Shropshire, I don’t dress for dinner so it’s nice to watch people who do)
  3. Passion (there is a lot of passion in Poldark – I don’t think there is as much passion in 2018, that is unless you live in West Bromwich)
  4. Plot (it’s quite a good story – lots of emotion and passion (see above))
  5. Nostalgia for the Poldark of the 1970s (I only vaguely remember the old Poldark, but there are a lot of people who do)
  6. Cornish beaches (bingo!)

As for me, personally, I would say that number 6 comes top of the list, with number 1 jogging along after.

Phwoor – look at those beaches!

I am a beach lover. I stand up and admit it. I just love the sea. I adore the Poldark beaches. I long for his beaches. I have only ever ventured into Cornwall once in my life and that was a day trip to Loo. I’m not sure that is the right spelling but that reflects what I thought of the place. It was about as pleasant as a trip to the loo. It was crowded, hot, tacky and cramped. So a bit like a trip to the loo in a nightclub. I don’t think Loo is the real Cornwall, it is just the gateway for desperate Devonians.

This might not look like a nightclub toilet but there’s a lot you can do with PhotoShop these days

I think in a previous life I must have lived by the sea because I feel the lure of the sea so frequently. I feel as if I have come ‘home’ when I am by the sea. The sea I see on Poldark every Sunday night is pulling me towards it. There are some episodes where I only get a glimpse (damn it), and there are some where I get a good ten minutes of Poldark (Aiden Turner) galloping on his stallion along a glorious piece of untarnished sand and windswept waves (oh joy). so in answer to my original question: why do I like Poldark? It is definitely the sea.

And as I type, sadly, they are in London, nowhere near the sea. Damn it!

Double phwoor!

For Christmas the children are going to get old socks and squashed mini-eggs this year

This weird thought occurred to me this morning after the following exchange occurred between my middle son and I.

‘Josh, Josh, come here!’
‘Why?’
‘Just come here a minute!’
Why?’
[Sound of silence.]
‘I have a present for you’.
[Sound of child leaping out of bed and running down corridor towards his mother’s voice.]
‘What, what is it?’
[Eager child appears.]
‘I have something for you.’
[Mother grins, hands behind her back.]
‘Show me!’
‘This.’
[Mother reveals present to child, found in a coat pocket.]

An old, crushed mini egg

[Child recoils in horror and retreats back to his room.]

My weird thought is related to this exchange. I noticed with my little joke that my son felt a strong excitement of anticipation for getting this gift (it got him out of bed at least). He had had high hopes. However, the sensation of pleasure (or in this case, disappointment) on receiving the actual gift was much less significant. That moment of emotion was fleeting. The moment of anticipation was not so. If this little exchange is indicative of most gift-giving scenarios, then the pleasure we feel of anticipation of the gift generally lasts longer, is more heightened and much more joyous than the pleasure we feel on final revelation of gift.

Think of how exciting Christmas is. The build up can last weeks (or sometimes months). I imagine the same is felt for impending birthdays (since mine occurs on the same day as Christmas I cannot relate here in the same way). I know my children look forward to their birthdays about 9 months ahead of the event. As for Christmas, they are prone to frequent exploding with excitement prior to the event (as am I).

My point here is that the excitement of anticipation is always there, irrespective of the gifts received on the day. If we could measure that excitement, I expect that there would be very little deviation year on year. If I look back, I would say I have felt equally as excited for Christmas every year since circa. 1974 (when I would have first been able to register that Christmas was a ‘thing’ of excitement). Yet, I bet most people, as do I, have years of preferred presents and years of shitty presents. I know, not many people will admit it but sometimes we do get given shitty presents. There is such a thing as the ‘shitty’ present. My most shitty was too shitty to write about here and I ought to protect the giver’s identity as I don’t think they meant harm and they may read this, but I remember opening it and being utterly gutted that someone would give me ‘that’ for a present. I threw it away a few years ago, unused.

After my mini-egg gift joke I informed my children that for Christmas this year I would be wrapping up a lot of old socks and crushed mini eggs for them and placing them under the Christmas tree. I told them there were two reasons for doing this. Firstly, frugality. Secondly, as I have explained, the excitement of the anticipation will still be there for Christmas irrespective of the gifts given so in my mind there is no need to go to all the effort of choosing special gifts for them all. Their reaction was one of disappointment.

‘But now you’ve told us, we won’t have the excitement of the build up to Christmas,’ one wise child pointed out.
‘Oh,’ I replied. ‘But wise child of mine, you won’t remember this exchange come December. It is June 1st today, and also you wouldn’t think I’d be so harsh as to carry out this evil plan. Ergo, you will still feel the weeks’ long excitement of Christmas and I will save hundreds of pounds by just wrapping up old socks and crushed mini eggs’.
‘Oh but we will remember!’ Piped up another child.
‘Is that so,’ I mused. ‘Tell me, dear child, what did you get for Christmas last year?’
The children paused for thought.
‘That book over there,’ one replied.
‘I got a book from Grandma Bertie and that old camera from Father Christmas’. Another added.
Therein followed a thoughtful pause. I waited. Then I spoke.
‘So none of you have mentioned the main present you each got last year, the most expensive, and in fact the one you played with the most in the weeks following Christmas, an Alexa each,’ I smugly replied.
‘Ohhhhh,’ they all cried in unison. ‘Yeah! We forgot about that!’
‘My point exactly!’ I responded. The children grunted.

So I think I will carry out my ‘threat’. I firmly believe that the anticipation of getting a gift, which is a combination of the pleasure of surprise, the joy of anticipation, the warmth of feeling that someone has done something for us, is far greater than the reality of getting a ‘thing’ irrespective of whether we will treasure that thing or not. I implore you to disagree with me. Go on, try it. This might have some deep philosophical message about the nature of our relationship to each other, to stuff, and the power of the capitalist economy and Guy Debord’s ‘The Society of the Spectacle’.  Think about it.

The Christmas Tree with lots of presents under it – old socks or exciting toys?

I also, cannot now tell you exactly what I got for Christmas. I will have to get back to you on that. I didn’t get any old socks or crushed mini-eggs but perhaps I will this year. And I can’t wait to unwrap them.

Time is pure perception – how long was it for you?

I’ve written about time here before. About a year ago, I decided that time was a messy scribble. I still think that time is a messy scribble. But I’ve also come to the conclusion that time exists only in my head. It also only exists in your head, in my mum’s head, in the heads of all of my children and in the head of the lady who served me my small Americano with skimmed milk this morning  (poor thing only had four hours sleep last night, her time at work was dragging).

Time as a scientific construct is meaningless. I’m sure I’m not the first person to say this. In fact, I know I’m not. Even scientists have said this. As that eminent philosopher Emmanuel Kant pointed out, time (and space) aren’t physical things, they are modes of understanding, part of our mental software that shapes sensations into something tangible. Time, in reality, is just the tool of our intuition. It isn’t real. Can you touch it? No. Can you measure it? Yes, sort of.

What is this thing called time?

I notice that when I’m happy, enjoying my time, engaged in something pleasurable, such as writing this blog, time is rapid. When I am anxious, worried, sad, down, or waiting for something to happen or for some important news, time is incredibly, painfully, tortuously slow. During those times, the gaps between meals, events, or moments between being asleep and awake seems to drag through the treacle of my mind. The thoughts race but time is slow. I hate time when I’m anxious. I truly hate it with a passion. Time is my enemy. We are opposites. It hates me. I hate it. The rational part of me will say to myself: ‘this won’t last forever’. However, the time to get to the time beyond the now seems beyond my reach. I have to keep telling myself, that cognitive oft-repeated phrase: This Too Shall Pass. It does, of course. Eventually. It isn’t just emotional pain that slows time, physical pain does as well. When I was in labour giving birth to my three babies, the time between each contraction and the times of the contraction itself seemed a lifetime (a common cliche – an exaggeration for sure but it makes sense). In actual fact, that time was seconds.

Me shortly before my first child came out – time slowed.

So conversely, when I am happy, joyous and relaxed, I forget time. It can be 11am one minute, and 1pm the next minute and I’m late (a minute, of course, in the perceptive metaphoric sense). I am late because I’ve lost track of time (another cliche which makes perfect sense). I am lazy because of happy time. Happy time skips by me, it glides effortlessly through my creative mind. It is my enemy again. I hate it because it doesn’t last long enough. I want more time but time betrays me and says ‘you must stop this now’.

Time, also, quickens as I get older. That is not an unknown phenomena. It has often been commented on that time to a small child is perceived very differently to time to a much older person. Time to animals, also, is perceived differently to time to humans. A day in the life of a fly is not the same as a day in the life of my eight year old.

So although we measure time, and we find comfort in that measurement of time, I think we should give that sort of ‘time’ a different name. Or perhaps give the sort of ‘time” of perception I’m talking about a different name. They aren’t the same thing. The time of measurement grounds us to the here and now. I think we would feel extremely anxious without this measured time. We can rely to a certain extent on the movement of the sun, the rumbles of our bellies, the yawns we start to emit late at night but we still need some precision to the measurements of our activities so that we don’t get too out of routine. People may say they hate routine but they are all lying, or kidding themselves.

As for perceived time, we both love it and hate it, depending on how old we are and how happy we are. Or perhaps we always hate it – we either want less or more of it.

Today, time for me is chugging along at a gentle speed. Ergo I must be having a relatively good day, its not my birthday so I’m not joyously happy, but equally I’m not anxious or stressed. And as I type that, I realise by looking at measured time and listening to the rumbles below that it must be  lunchtime.

What I want for lunch today

Waiting rooms all over the UK (and possibly the world) are the same

Today I found myself in a waiting room. It doesn’t matter what sort. That’s a whole other story. It was just a waiting room where you arrive, announce your arrival at reception, and are instructed to sit and wait until you are called to be seen.

And while I was sat in this waiting room, I had a weird thought: waiting rooms are the same, not only all dentist waiting rooms, or even all GP waiting rooms, or even all out-patients waiting rooms, but ALL waiting rooms. They are all the same. They are the same in Bristol, Exeter, London, Shrewsbury, Telford, Aberdeen and Borth. They might even be the same in France, Germany, Japan and Nauru.

They all contain the same vital components which I will list:

1. Stiff, straight backed chairs which are probably blue.

Waiting Room Chairs

Whoever invented these chairs is very rich.

2. A pile of old, well-thumbed, magazines.

Pile of old magazines

Does anyone actually read these? Where do these come from? Is there a website where companies can buy ‘old magazines’?

3. A busy receptionist.

 

Where the busy receptionist sits

Don’t dare have a question to ask, or even worse, moan that you’ve been waiting ages.

4. Really awful art in really cheap frames on the wall.

I can’t find a photograph of a good example of this. I wonder why. These images are usually boats, landscapes or flowers. I think they are meant to cheer the patients / clients up. If it is a posh company, the artwork will be abstract without a frame.

5. Advice leaflets and / or posters.

Useful advice

Does anyone actually take these?

6. Something which is described as ‘carpet’ but not something you’d have in your home.

I bet it is full of fleas.

7. People on their phones, people looking sad, people bored.

Yep, I was guilty of one of these three today.

8. A box of toys that mothers tell their children not to touch in case they contain the novovirus.

Novovirus

9. Not all waiting rooms contain this but the ones that do, irritate me: a TV advertising products related to what you are waiting for (dentists are notorious for this).

10. I can’t think of a tenth component but nine didn’t seem enough.

If I had a job where I had to have a waiting room for people, I’d fill it with new magazines, books, chocolate, bean bags and a shag-pile carpet.

 

 

 

Thoughts have shape

I haven’t written anything here for ages. Perhaps I haven’t had any weird thoughts. I don’t think that is true; I have had thoughts, lots of them, I just haven’t written about them. Truth is, I’ve had lots of thoughts over the last couple of months, more thoughts than normal. Life is full of smooth, free-flowing times and chaotic, busy, challenging times. I’m currently going through a challenging time. Thinking about my thoughts over these last couple of months, I had a weird thought.

Which is kiki? Which is a negative thought?

Thoughts have shape. Challenging thoughts are angular and sharp. Happy thoughts are bulbous and curvaceous.  Is that because if I were to sit on something angular and sharp I’d be uncomfortable and stressed yet if I lay in something bulbous and curvaceous I might fall asleep? Perhaps. I think I can go deeper.

This weird thought reminds me somewhat of the well-known Bouba-Kiki effect. This ‘effect’ was discovered by psychologist Wolfgang Köhler in 1929. Essentially, this effect describes a phenomenon whereby people, irrespective of language, have a tendency, if asked to choose between two, to give a rounded object (such as the one to the right above) the name ‘bouba’ (originally ‘baluba’ when Köhler first conducted his experiment) and an angular shape the name ‘kiki’ (‘takete’ in the original experiment). The inference here is that we naturally attribute personalities and ‘sounds’ of language to shapes. Round things have ’round’ sounds. Angular things have ‘angular’ sounds. To me, this also applies to thoughts. This indicates a presence of synaesthesia-like mappings in the brain (having the condition myself, I am susceptible to this perhaps more than others). Interestingly, as an aside to this weird thought, studies have shown that individuals with autism do not fall into the predictable patterns of choice of words associated with shapes.

Recent research has been looking into how this effect also relates to something called ideaesthesia. This is the phenomenon where activation of concepts, or ideas, evoke perception-like experiences (scientifically called concurrents). So this is exactly what my ‘thought’ thought is an example of. The concept is ‘the shape of the thought’ and the experience is round or angular.

Recently, I’ve started cycling. I have a super fast bike which takes me for 23 km along the country roads of Shropshire. When I’m a fuzzy mess of chaotic thoughts I get on my bike. As I start my ride, my thoughts are all angular and knocking around inside my head, pinching the sides. The energy they give me translates into my legs as I peddle ever fast up those hills. Then as I take in the beauty of the countryside, hear the bleating of the sheep, smell the soft, comforting smell of manure, my thoughts slowly change shape. The ‘noise’ lessens, the angles curve and round, the sharp edges turn soft and round. My thoughts move on to things that make me happy. They even dissipate to some extent. The thoughts are slower, relaxing and comforting. By the time I return home. The shapes are completely rounded and cotton-wool like.

What shape are their thoughts?

What shape does a weird thought have? I suspect it has both round and sharp elements. As for this one? I’m really not sure. What do you think?

Repetition is not boring, not really

I often have weird thoughts while driving in the morning to the Wolverhampton School of Art. Perhaps I should rename this blog ‘Weird Thoughts I Have on the M54’. Today’s weird thought happened on the M54 and it was about how repetitious and dull life can seem, yet in fact it isn’t.

The M54

Driving to Wolverhampton earlier today I pondered my daily routine: wake up at 7am, eat a piece of orange chocolate, drink coffee, pick up my phone, scroll through facebook for 10 minutes, read for 10 minutes, go to the toilet, get dressed, wake children up, make breakfast, listen to my favourite music of the month, make a packed lunch, sit and scroll through Facebook a bit more, put makeup on, brush teeth, read in my pink chair for 10 minutes, gather children, scroll through Facebook while they get ready, take them to school, scoot home, drive to Wolverhampton, park, get coffee, go to studio…

I could go on, and this routine can be repeated, with small variations, for almost every week day. It feels as if it won’t change. It feels as if it will never end. It feels as if it is here to stay. I know I will do the same next week. I will also do the same next month, and even next year. However, if I transport myself 13 years ago, my routine was vastly different. It’s difficult even to see a gradual change from then to now. My routine then was as follows:

Wake up at 5am with cranky baby, feed cranky baby, put cranky baby to bed, go back to sleep, wake up when cranky baby wakes up, feed cranky baby, take cranky baby to toddler group, feed cranky baby, return home, put cranky baby to bed, eat lunch, go out when cranky baby wakes up, feed cranky baby…

As you can see, this routine is very different to my current one (and notice, no mention of Facebook).  The routine above, somehow, morphed into my current routine. Of course the obvious thing to point out are that the cranky baby grew. What’s more, he was joined by two more, who also grew. Then as they all gradually grew, I found a new purpose in life: art in Wolverhampton, and work. I moved house. I changed. I became different. I became the current me.

I can’t quite imagine how my current routine will change into something new in 14 years from now, even though I know it will. It has to. Life does change, gradually. And I have to keep positive, for all the mundanity of my routine now, I do actually quite enjoy certain aspects of it and I know that I will look back in 14 years from now and miss the eight-year-old world view my eight year old has now, the jolly ride up and down the M54, the ladies in the Starbucks on campus who know my name and most of all my little studio space in room MK711 which is my ‘man cave’.

My man cave

So I should stop resenting routine, and embrace it, and capture it in my mind, if that is possible, before it has morphed and changed into something else, even if that something else is better.

Are you chaotic inside or outside?

This is a weird thought I’ve had over lunch. I’ve just read this book and it was brilliant. I recommend it to anyone who loves people watching and snooping around other people’s houses or places of work. It offers a fascinating insight into how much of ourselves can be seen through our ‘stuff’ and how we display or arrange the stuff in our lives.

My most recent book

One of the insights it offers is about how the way we arrange our stuff in our working environment may indicate how we feel insides our minds. I want to explore this idea. My Year 4 teacher (2nd year juniors in old money), Mrs Nichols used to say oh so frequently to class 2N the following: ‘An untidy desk means an untidy mind’. At my junior school, in the late 1970s, we had flip top desks with ink wells.

An example of an inkwell desk with storage and a flip-top lid

We kept our books and belongings in our desks. Every week Mrs Nichols conducted a desk inspection. I believe it was on a Friday. And during every desk inspection she repeated the same phrase: ‘An untidy desk means an untidy mind.’ This was one of her many mantras. Hearing this used to make me cringe in my seat. My desk was always untidy. I envied those well-behaved intelligent children with tidy desks. I hated them. How did they do it? I never really knew. I aspired to be like them. I never was like them. Subsequently, after failing desk inspection every week, in that way that children think teachers speak the word of truth, I grew up believing I had an untidy mind and that that was ‘a bad thing’. I resigned myself to being inferior to the army of tidy people.

Leasowes Junior School – can you spot me?

However, Sam Gosling in Snoop argues that this ‘untidy belongings equals untidy mind’ belief might not necessarily be the case, at least when it comes to working environment. It argues that an untidy desk might actually be the sign of a tidy mind and visa versa. A busy mind needs order, and a ordered mind can deal with  chaos.

Having said that, and I like his theory, I don’t entirely agree with it. I’m basing this on a scientific study of one person: me. At the age of 46 I know enough about myself to know that I do have a chaotic mind. It isn’t going to change. It is and always has been chaotic. It is what it is. But then I thought about my working environment. When I had a full-time job, a job which entailed huge piles of paper everywhere (piles of proofs, revisers, ozalids etc) and huge piles of books everywhere (that’s what publishers make), you might expect my desk to have been very messy. It wasn’t. Or at least, it got messy each day but at the end of the day, I would straighten all the piles up, wash my mug, and create a desk space for the next day. So although I am quite messy in many respects, I like to put things in order. There is a limit to how much mess I can deal with. Perhaps Mrs Nichol’s weekly desk inspections rubbed off on me. She encouraged me to at least give a semblance of tidy at the end of the day.

Now I work from home and my desk is the sofa. It is a little messy, but not excessively so. I need to be surrounded by books and sketch pads. But it is not hugely messy and I do straighten the piles up now and then. So perhaps my chaotic brain can cope with a little chaos but not a lot.

I have another desk now, it is my art studio in Wolverhampton. This is a place where I am expected to be messy. Yet, even here, at the end of each day, I find myself straightening the piles and tidying it up.

This is not the end of the day.

I have never considered myself as a tidy person in terms of my environment. The house is full of piles of books, odd socks, X-box games and the like in random places around the place. The mantelpiece is a mixture of cats in hats, which is hardly tidy and pleasing to the eye. But in my work environment, perhaps, although I allow mess to develop during the day, I need a sense of order (or at least a sense of order to me) to help calm my chaotic brain which is known to spill out with ideas and thoughts (like today – this is my second ‘weird thought’ of the day). If it gets too messy, I get jittery. On that note, I ought to tidy up my piles now.

Cats with hats are not tidy

So, Mrs Nichols, you were three quarters right. I do have a messy mind and mostly I do have a messy desk, but I have aspirations for a tidy desk and it is always tidy at the end of the day, at least it is now.

 

Why hearts and flowers in February fill me with rage

It is February, it is nearly Valentine’s Day and I feel the rage. I’ve just been to Waitrose in Newport. While at the till, waiting to take home my coffee, Sunday paper (both free) and a few essentials (not free) my eye caught a display of Valentine’s gifts and I felt a strange rage surge up in me. It was a passionate rage, ironically, but a rage nonetheless.

Why the rage? I hear you cry, dear reader. What can possibly be outrageous about hearts and flowers? I don’t dislike Valentine’s Day per se. I am a big fan of romance. It’s nice to spread the love now and then. The admirers from afar may need an excuse to show their love, hopeful perhaps, and if Valentine’s Day prompts that, then so be it. That can be very romantic and can end in joy (or tears perhaps). I approve. Even when love is requited, it can be nice to make the effort for a bit of romance. Romance, especially unexpected pockets of romance, is one of life’s little pleasures. We all love a bit of love.

However, despite my support for the day and what it stands for, every year I get cross at it too. I get cross at the forced nature of romance that comes along with Valentine’s Day, and I get even more cross at what ‘they’ think ‘we’ should be giving each other (our respective love interests) on this day: flowers, heart-shaped chocolate boxes, teddy bears and champagne. To me, that is not true romance. Flowers, chocolates and champagne are all nice but they are not what I consider the most romantic. As for teddy bears…

So on my scoot home I started to analyse why I felt such anger. After all, that’s quite a strong reaction and quite harsh. Why don’t I appreciate all the grand, traditional romantic gestures of  the day of St. Valentine? Is it the commercial aspect of the ‘chosen’ gifts? I think that is a big part of it. However, I think the rage goes deeper and to find out, I think I need to look back.

Blaaaaa

As I scooted past the second-hand book shop, a little reluctantly, I took myself back to my teenage years. Hitting puberty, I remember the coming of St. Valentine’s Day became a time of hopefulness and, naive optimism. Once I realised that boys were desirable in some way, I so very, very badly wanted a secret admirer to send me a card, put flowers in my locker, or leave some heart-shaped chocolates on my desk. From the age of around 11 onwards, I craved this and for some reason, thought it might actually happen. Each year, I woke up on February 14th hopeful, and went to bed disappointed. Sadly, it never happened. Not once. I didn’t get anything, not even a joke card, in the seven years from the age of 11 to 18. As each subsequent February 14th arrived, however, I hoped again, against the odds. I longed for there to be just one person, even someone I wouldn’t fancy back, to be walking along the corridors of Walton High School harbouring a secret crush on me. Sadly, as far as I am aware, and if the evidence of February 14th is anything to go  by, there never was such a person. How sad. Please don’t cry. It’s probably a good thing. I had other things to focus on and I was a bit of an ugly duckling at school. For 364 days of the year I accepted this duckling status and plodded on with life being geeky and arty. However, for one day a year, I became a total girl and craved that glimpse of romance. I would have been happy with heart-shaped chocolates, flowers or even, dare I say it now, a teddy bear. But it never happened. But it’s not all sad, as soon as I went to university things changed. My dream came true in the end. I got a card.

However, the memories of those seven years of pubescent disappointment still sting and I think that is the main reason why I feel such toxic rage at the profusion of red and pink, flowerly, soppy, vomity stuff in the shops at this time of year. I actually feel the urge to dive into it and have a toddler tantrum. Perhaps I should.

But perhaps I need to stop being so angry and just accept that the red and pink love does bring happiness to many, and it’s not so bad, with the exception of the teddy bears.

 

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