Tag: iPhone

I’m not very couply

This isn’t a new weird thought. This is something I’ve known for many years. The weird thought is: I’m not good at being part of a couple. I don’t do PDAs, I don’t often hold hands, and I certainly would never, ever put my hand in someone else’s back pocket for reasons of affection. But this weird thought came to my attention recently when my husband went shopping.

I've never done this

I’ve never done this

Knowing how uncouply I am (I struggle even to read in bed side by side with glasses on faces and cups of tea cooling on matching bedside tables), a couple of weeks ago my husband bought this:

This is far too couply for me

This is far too couply for me

In case you aren’t aware of this particular gadget, I’d better tell you what it is. It is a his ‘n’ hers iPhone charger. I hadn’t even known such an object existed before he bought it. And he didn’t ask me whether I’d be interested in co-charging my phone with him before he bought it. So I’m not happy with him! I have been using it but only because it is convenient. I don’t use it by choice. Every night when I stick my phone on charge I do it begrudgingly and with a wince.

This is one step away from his ‘n’ hers towels in my opinion.

This is quite low on my list of wants

This is quite low on my list of wants

And the final step to coupledoomdum oldmarriedcouply contentment would be Harold and Hilda jumpers.

The lovely Harold and Hilda

The lovely Harold and Hilda

I can assure you that that is NEVER going to happen.

My 18-year-old self’s comfort objects

I seem to be in the nostalgia and reminiscing zone at the moment. Perhaps it is age. Yesterday I was reminiscing about secondary school and today, it is the turn of university.

Hope Hall, Exeter University

Hope Hall, Exeter University (where I watched two episodes of Brookside)

It occurred to me earlier today that it is, give or take the odd day, 25 years since I arrived at the University of Exeter (probably the best university in the world, as the car sticker says) as an excited and nervous fresher. My 18-year-old niece has just started her Freshers’ Week at Loughborough University (incidentally, Freshers’ Week in 2015 is a very different beast to what it was in 1990 but that is another blog entry). I am also about to experience Freshers’ Week as I am on the cusp of starting Year 3 of a BA (Hons) degree at the University of Wolverhampton (not sure I will be out drinking and dancing until 2am this time, I might just have half a pint somewhere). So all these things combined: my niece, my own impending studies, and a major anniversary since my first attempt at studies (I scraped a 2:1) have got me thinking back.

Me at university, at the end

Me at university, at the end

My weird thought relates to ‘things’. I am a big fan of ‘things’. Most of my art practice of recent months has centered on objects or things. Many of my weird thoughts and other blog entries are about ‘things’. I read a lot of books about ‘things’ and our relationship with such things. In fact, books are one of my own ‘things’. We need things in our lives. Things bring us comfort. We surround ourselves with the things we love and those things might not necessarily be the sort of ‘things’ normally regarded as comforting things. Without our things, anxiety and depression ensues. We may kid ourselves that we could live without things so long as we had health and family. Nope, not true. We’d fall into a well of loneliness without our things.

One of my favourite things

One of my favourite things

My current must-have things are: a black furry blanket purchased half price in Tescos, my current book, my sketch pad, real coffee, a black pen, a cushion (any cushion but preferably a velvet one), my children and husband (yes, people can be things), my cat and my hula hoop. These things are very different to the things my 18-year-old fresher self needed to have close by.

My 18-year-old things were: Brookside, my best friend Jane (sorry, Jane, for describing you as a thing), a duvet, tea, my favourite Top Shop trousers, my cat Crackers and my mixed tapes.

Can Brookside be a thing?

Can Brookside be a thing?

When I arrived at Exeter (a long way from home), I couldn’t take all my things with me. I certainly couldn’t take my cat Crackers and my best friend Jane. The others, I could just about manage. I sneaked a small black-and-white TV into halls but not having a license I only ever watched it under my bed when my two roommates were out. I think I only manged about two episodes of Brookside during the first term. So with just a duvet, my Top Shop trousers and my mixed tapes, I was a bit lost. I didn’t have my things with me, or at least not all of them. However, as time passed I adapted and found new things to love: my new friends, the library and books.

Yes, there was even an Exeter University BT phonecard

Yes, there was even an Exeter University BT phonecard

I wonder what my niece’s Freshers’ Week and beyond ‘things’ are? Perhaps the only correlation with my list of essential objects would be the duvet and feline company. I shall ask her. I suspect ‘phone’ or ‘laptop’ would feature in the 2015 student’s list.

A 'can't live without' thing

A ‘can’t live without’ thing

Things that weird me out about America

There is a lot of water in the toilets and it is quite high up

This really weirds me out. I don’t like American toilets, the use of which is unavoidable unless taking a really short trip. Two nights is quite a short trip but not short enough for avoiding that. They seem to hold more water than British toilets, you also¬† feel closer to the water (and the contents later on) and also the flush is really quite violent and sudden. Your produce is whooshed away as if down a shoot.

Toilets are different wherever you go, there is good and bad

Toilets are different wherever you go, there is good and bad

I also don’t like the public toilets. The doors are short and do not reach the ceiling or the floor. They are simply stalls. They remind me of the ‘outside’ loos at Leasowes Junior School which the class of 1983 avoided using at all costs for fear of peeping people. I feel that same fear in the US (it has not yet happened but I don’t like the idea of being heard either). I am also challenged by the automation of US public toilets – the flush, the soup dispenser, the water, the dryer. On the plus side, US public toilets are always free whereas over here we may have to pay a small sum (more than a penny) to visit the micturition station.

Sitting in the stalls

Sitting in the stalls

The hotel rooms make full use of mirrors

Every hotel I have stayed in, in the US, has contained lots of mirrors: in the lobby, in the lift, in the hotel room and in the hotel room toilet. I don’t really enjoy seeing my naked self or my naked bottom perched on the funny toilet (see above).

My photographing the big mirror

My photographing the big mirror

You can’t just have a bagel

This applies to coffee, bagels, pizza and in fact almost any food stuffs. I have quite simple needs in the morning: a coffee and a bagel. It’s not easy to order that. On my first ever trip to the US (Boston) we had to cross the road to the bagel shop to get some breakfast and the first time I remember feeling somewhat confused by the person serving me when they asked: ‘What sort of bagel would you like, ma’am?’ I think my response was ‘Huh? Just ordinary please’.

Panel bagel with no frills

Plain bagel with no frills

Everyone moves so fast

This might only apply to New York and Boston (I have also been to Cape Cod but that was 15 years ago). Certainly in New York the people move as if they are being chased. They don’t run, though. They are still walking but they walk very fast. They would struggle with the slowness of a day out in Shrewsbury.

The fast-moving people of New York

The fast-moving people of New York

I blend in well

This is something I like about the US. I have some weird and wacky clothes (not too weird and wacky, but perhaps a little wacky for Shrewsbury) but in New York at least I look less like the eccentric artist.

Videos in lifts

I’ve only ever encountered this phenomena in the US. Perhaps it is only a New York thing. But both hotels I have stayed in in that city have had videos in the lift.

Videos in lifts

Videos in lifts

Revolving doors

This is most likely a New York thing but the city is full of revolving doors. In the UK the only place you will find one of these is in Morrisons.

One of the many revolving doors

One of the many revolving doors

Everyone walks around (very fast and with purpose) with a drink in their hand

Everyone (again, perhaps this is a New York thing only) walks carrying a Starbucks or similar cup, presumably of coffee. They do this at any time of day or night. They also often are attached to headphones and an iPhone. They also are more likely to use their phone as a phone. They like to march across the road, phone against ear in one hand, coffee in another.

The adverts for medications list all the side effects

I love watching American TV because it is different and refreshing. On our second morning, I enjoyed an hour or so watching the US-equivalent of BBC Breakfast or GMTV. One of the adverts during this programme was for a sleep medication. The narrative of the advert was very convincing. It sounded too good to be true. Towards the end of the advert a different, and faster-speaking narrator, listed all of the side effects of this medication which included: suicidal thoughts, anxiety, depression, liver problems, kidney problems, death. It was almost as if the angel and the devil were competing with each other. I certainly wasn’t convinced by this wonder-drug by the end of the advert.

I have returned home now and already I miss the energy of the US. I may be ‘weirded out’ by the things in the list above but I am also energized and inspired by the very same things (if at the very least, to write this blog).