This weekend I have had a few conversations in which the words courage, fear and brave fell. Taking this line of thought and building on yesterday’s entry Hard Man, what does it all mean these days?

With the axe of redundancy hanging above her head, I tried to persuade a friend that now might be the time to at least explore other employment options before she heard the final decision. She was reluctant as this would mean potentially moving somewhere new on her own and she said:  I am not as brave as you.

It stunned me into silence when I wanted to confess as I do to you: I do not feel brave and probably never have done. Even my initial emigration at 17 was not brave, honestly it was more a mix of naivety and youthful invincibility. This I do not say with an air of melancholy or cynicism – imagine it more matter of fact. If you are lucky at 17, you will feel like you can rule the world.

I find it hard to imagine that anyone would think themselves brave or courageous. What does it mean? Does it mean getting into fights, stepping towards that confrontation, winning? Fear on the other hand is often quickly deemed silly, fear of dentists, fear of the dark, fear of failing – after all you need to be in it to win it.

So with fear being silly and courageousness being undervalued, no wonder 20 somethings with a perpetual quarter-life crisis are confused.

The online dictionary defines it as follows:

1. the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery. 

I disagree, I believe that fear is integral to courage. I think I once defined courage in a philosophy class as ‘acting despite fear’. (Purely theoretical of course: I was 17 and still invincible at the time.)

Fear is everywhere and fear is personal; we all seem to fight or hide from our own personal demons at times. As a result, courage is also everywhere and also very personal but if we can admire others, we should praise ourselves.

Let’s take credit for all small courageous acts we complete during the day, whether it is going to work, trying new foods, signing up for a course, exploring the neighbourhood or simply getting up, showered and dressed in the morning.

It is ok to fear, as they say: it is your heart’s way of telling you that if anything, you are still alive. ( This temporary flux of optimism is purely theoretical of course: I am 24 going on 105 and pretty much crest-fallen at the best of times!)

Hard Man

We’re watching Piers Morgan’s Life Stories with Vinnie Jones.
It is fascinating to see this man-to-man conversation:

A weird sense of humour where it seems hilarious that Vinnie grabs somebody’s balls. ( As in testicles, not football plural.) Vinnie biting someone’s nose until it bleeds, is just a joke gone wrong. When he couldn’t see a way out of a crisis in his life – he just took a gun and went to the woods. Really.

He really isn’t looking for trouble, he just seems to walk into it. He got glassed by a big fella, then when he got carried out the big fella got in the way Vinnie threw him some punches.

One of his mates explains: LA can bring the worst out of people, but Vinnie is still as good as gold…

A window, an interview with man about his life to explain that he is not so tough or just misunderstood?

Whatever the reason, it seemed to have captured me and it leaves me flummoxed about this philosophy of life.

On Remembrance Day

Quickly I rushed down the stairs, I knew I was cutting it fine: two minutes to go.

Would I make it up the stairs?
I rushed a conversation with Paul, trying to ask him whether he could do something for me and explain what that was. One minute to go, I ran up two flights of stairs.
Argh time. Should I stop or join the rest?

If I go in quietly I thought… so as I walked back into the office I heard the first bars of  Lennon’s Imagine. It looked promising but everyone just seemed to keep going at their business.
People frantically typed e-mails, discussed lay-outs, had mini-meetings at their desks.

As quickly and quietly as I could, I walked into the storage room.

One minute left and as somebody followed me in and looked at different proofs, I finally stood still in front of the freezer and hoping that capitalism hadn’t completely taken my soul, I remembered them.
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.
 – Wilfred Owen

Ten Things I learned today

  1. Three cups of coffee in two hours make me buzz.
  2. The information lady in Selfridges was so good at her job that whilst serving me, she kept apologising for the wait to the queue behind me. Customer service yes please, preferably to the one you are actually serving.
  3. There are 60 kcal in a Cadbury Caramel Bite, with 1.8g saturated fat, which is 9% of your GDA. Which means you can eat ten.
  4. Even the boys who seem nice can be mean. Don’t be fooled by awkward dress-sense .
  5. People are still surprised and upset by Britney’s lipsynching: is this still news anno 2009?
  6. It is time to buy shares in the New Covent Garden Food Co, as everyone at work eats their soups and they even have a cookery book.
  7. If you leave the boiler dial to the left instead of all the way to the right, your shower doesn’t heat up.
  8. Sometimes it is good to think ahead and pre-order that gift.
  9. Good reviews don’t necessarily make a good film; Bright Star the longest two hours of your life. Art is subjective: when Keats finally died my friend sighed ‘Thank God!’ as the person behind us burst into tears. Oh dear.
  10. Only People.com can compare Taylor Lautner confessing he likes an older woman ( Jessica Alba, 28) with Russell ‘Triple Shagger of the Year’ Brand in a Naughty/Nice poll. Please.
  11. Extra after I googled picture: Taylor is a sixteen-yr old with a six pack. Not beer. If I were his mother I’d be worried.  Especially for Laura, please compare notes below:

Shapes of thoughts

When the dark sets in and the world goes quiet, or at least as dark and quiet as it is possible in London, my thoughts seem to run wild: there is a reason why most of these entries are written late in the evening.

I am not a night person: I prefer the mornings, I can even deal with early starts. Yet lately the night and the dark seem to create a false sense of alone and safety in which the majority of my unvoiced thoughts dare to come out.

Some are reflections on the day gone by, some are wishes for tomorrow. Some are dark and worrying, others are optimistic and ambitious. Some evenings there are none, but more often the thoughts arrive randomly mixed in groups, playing on different emotions.

Tonight I enjoy their company as they inspire me to write while I also realise they keep me from reading (or sleeping for that matter.) Still I wouldn’t want to silence them for the peace of sleep, because as some thoughts move into my dreams, some dreams are made into plans, some plans are put into actions and some actions shape reality.

Life might be lived mostly during the day, but it is often created when the dark sets in…

Slags and Sisterhood

All is fair in Love and War. Or so they say.

Last night as I contemplated whether it would be bad to sleep with someone who is seeing another girl (Don’t worry- hypothetically speaking, mother!) my friend Laura cut in with ‘ Don’t betray the sisterhood.’

The sisterhood.  It sounds a little too American for my liking if I’m honest. Are we all part of this sisterhood in the first place or can we opt out? When I told Laura about my last entry Things a woman shouldn’t wear she thought me too harsh on my fellow females, only to criticise the out-fit of the girl who’d just walked into the pub. (Rightly so by the way: who would wear red tartan tights with a fluorescent salmon skirt?)
If we are a sisterhood, we are also our own harshest critics. Often you hear that girls don’t dress for men but for women. Men usually go delirious with the sight of girl in skirt ( any old skirt if it is short enough), and are notoriously easy to impress with visually pretty pictures. Yet it are the women in the room who you want to bowl over. There is something double about the reasons why: either to impress them and be one of them or to out-do them and be envied.
So this sisterhood, if it exists, is the rose with thorns. To be fair: some women would rather perform a bikiniwax on themselves using gaffertape than be part of this sisterhood, shuddering at the thought of even a made-up relation to other women; whilst others relish it as the strenght that keeps this world turning.
Which is why there is also something ironic about the pivotal part that a man plays in ‘the ultimate betrayal’ which this is how ‘being the other woman’ is viewed. Isn’t this the survival of the fittest? If he is sleeping with someone else, surely the relationship was not that strong anyway? If he hadn’t cheated on her with you, there would have been someone else.  Now I would say there are definitely some moral issues as it is usually nicer to get through life without hurting someone, but at the same time it is not like you are clubbing her over the head with a baseball bat – though some might say you might as well be- and secondly (more importantly!) there is: the man. Surely the man who’s already in a relationship should take some responsiblity too, I mean to just say that ‘Boys will be Boys’ is a bit lame.
Men play the adorably incapable card too often. They present themselves as presidents, bank-directors, CEOs, media-heads, firemen, actionheroes but when it comes to a little bit of moral responsibility the computer all of a sudden says No? I agree that men by nature might be less emotional about certain things, yet morality is still a man-made rational connecting emotions in cultural context. Surely men should be specialists on the subject in theory.
I was still pondering the issue when I saw ‘An Education’. This gorgeous film is set in the 60s and tells the story of Jenny. She is a bright sixteen year old who is drilled to go to Oxford University, when she meets David an older guy who shows her a more glamourous side to life. This makes her wonder what life is all about. The film just made me realise the relative recent right of women to be full-time members of society. To be educated, to have a choice about what to do with your life, to havefull autonomy of your own life are all things which are easily taken for granted.
This made me think that it is not ‘being the other woman’ that is the ultimate betrayal to the sisterhood. Yes sisterhood. Even if you don’t want to be part of this group of other women, you have to admit that you only have this freedom because of what other women fought for. To have the choice – out of context of affordablity – to be by yourself, to be with a guy without him having to marry you, to have the choice to (try to) conceive, to have the choice to travel, to have choices even though you don’t know what to choose, would only 50 years ago be some woman’s dream come true.
For me, the ultimate betrayal to the sisterhood would be to accept that he cheats on you. Because to be unhappy and to wallow in it as your lot, when so many women have fought for your opportunity to change it, is quite frankly just unacceptable.
The moral of the story, if he cheats on you: dump the loser and don’t waste a thought on the other woman who in your eyes will be a total slag with a bad dress sense anyway.

Things a woman shouldn’t wear

…because it is just unnecessary:

Hair in two pigtails, or plaits ( not cute after your 12)
Leggings without something to cover bum and thighs ( unless you are 6ft and skinny)
Schoolgirl skirt with white blouse
Platform trainers
Triangle bikini if you have more than an A-cup, really doesn’t help anyone
String bikini full stop
A Bright Pink Merengue Weddingdress ( you know who you are Jordan!)
Orange tan
Cake on foundation / Make up that hides your face
Thong peeping out of jeans

Jeans with elastic waists under the age of 50 (unless you are pregnant)
PVC dress/suit ( and I’m not talking the chemical protection ones- though they aren’t great either) outside of extra curricular activities

Pfff so many wrongs in the world….