Day Eleven: old couples that still hold hands



I’m a sucker for romance anyway, but the sight of two people who have probably been married for decades and still love each other? Be still my heart. As a relatively antisocial person I spend a large proportion of my time trying to avoid people but this makes finding someone that I truly like spending all of my time with even more miraculous. I don’t hate everyone, obviously, but I’m pretty darn picky, so if we’re friends you should take comfort in the fact that you must be quite awesome. I’m also a big, big fan of hand holding. Were it up to me it would be socially acceptable to hold hands with many more groups of people than it is. I still hold my mum’s hand when we walk together even though I’m pretty sure she finds this a bit weird. If you’re under the age of 10 I will be holding your hand in mine. I don’t care if it makes you uncomfortable – it’s happening. So to get to old age and still want to be tactile with your partner is a beautiful thing. It gives me hope that relationships can last, that it is possible to find that one person you are meant to share the rest of your life with, and even years down the line you’ll still want to feel physically connected to them. That makes me happy. People need other people to survive (and I’m not just talking on a carnal, reproductive level). The universe runs on connections, whether it be the connection between lovers, friends or family. It would be nice to think that at certain points during your (hopefully long) life you have made these connections with other human beings, that you have left your mark. Because at the end of it all, isn’t that kind of the whole point?


Day Ten:  tattoos



Bit of a controversial one this. One person’s joy may well be another person’s tramp stamp. Personally, I’m a big fan. I have always thought of tattoos as little individual pieces of art, pictures telling a story or representing a particular moment in your life. It is possible however to get it VERY WRONG. It would take you a mere thirty second Google to find examples of how not to do it. Tattoos should be well thought out, they should mean something, and more importantly than all that for the love of all that is good and holy they should be spelled correctly. That’s an important one.
Tattooing dates back to prehistoric times, so it stands to reason that my generation can’t be the first to regret getting the name of that cave woman next door inked onto our derrières. People have been screwing each other over since prehistoric times too, so it makes sense that the two most likely co-existed together. Going back only a couple of decades tattoos still had a lot of stigma to fight against, and were reserved mainly for prison farers and old ex-military dudes (think some kind of blurry swallow shape etched in black ink so faded that it had turned a lovely shade of green). Add to that delightful image the high likelihood that said tattoo was administered using a drawing pin and a fountain pen by a herbally medicated guy named Garth and no wonder they had such a bad rap. Nowadays tattoos are considered much more mainstream, so much so in fact that I have kind of come to resent it, in a similar way to hearing that unknown band you’ve followed since day one being played on an episode of Home and Away – kind of proud but mostly a bit sad and kind of queasy.
I love the sound of the tattooists’ needle. That vibrating buzz actually gives me chills, and I often find I can’t walk past without going in for a quick peek. And one is never enough. The second I walked out of the shop after my very first tattoo I knew I’d be back for more and that feeling has never really gone away. I’m currently at eight and I know I’m not done. Whether or not you like tattoos, I’m of the opinion that it’s my body, my skin, my blank canvas and I’ll do what I like with it. That said, if you ever see me with someones name tattooed anywhere on my person you have my complete and total permission to punch me in the throat. Some things are just inexcusable.

Day Nine:  naps



I am the master of naps. I may get a crappy quality of sleep at night but, my God, can I nap. The irony of this is that I apparently point blank refused to nap throughout my entire childhood, much to the despair of my parents. Maybe I’m making up for lost time now. Even prior to my CFS diagnosis I could sleep for queen and country. If I didn’t set an alarm and was left to my own devises I could quite easily sleep through until the middle of the afternoon. I envy those people who wake up at 7am on the dot regardless of what day it is and rise from their beds refreshed, alert and ready to face the day. Did I say envy? I meant I want to punch them in the face. I genuinely can’t remember the last time I woke up feeling any of those things. And so, naps became a big part of my life. According to the National Sleep Foundation (hello? talk about best job ever. where do I sign up?) naps restore alertness, enhance performance, and reduce accidents. NASA recommends napping to their astronauts as a method of improving productivity in space. There are also proven psychological benefits, so that’s awesome too. Of course there are negative effects to daytime sleeping. There’s that oh so pleasant groggy, disorientated feeling that you’re sometimes left with, and apparently if you’re already at risk of heart failure it will further increase your chances of checking out early.
My personal advice for a stellar napping experience? Drink a strong cup of coffee right before you settle down. You’ll have mental dreams but you’ll feel so much better for it on the other side. Another tip is to be aware of your surroundings. I once fell asleep with my face planted on my desk only to discover when I woke that I had been leaning on my wrist as I slept, resulting in a perfect impression of my watch in the centre of my forehead. Not a good look when you work with the general public…or, you know, people of any kind. Also beware sheet crease marks and patterns left on the skin by fancy throws/blankets. They’ll make you look stupid.


Day Eight:  love


I could babble on for hours about this particular Joy but when it comes down to it, you didn’t get a blog entry yesterday because I was busy spending the day with the person I love. And I don’t think it gets any more joyous than that.

Day Seven: hugs


As I have previously stated, I think hugs are awesome. I genuinely don’t understand people that aren’t tactile (and by that I mean tactile, not gropey – there’s a big difference). What I hate the most is that kind of half-hug that some people give where they sort of drape their arms over your shoulders with zero enthusiasm, like they’re afraid they might catch something. If you’re gonna hug me, hug me properly dammit or don’t bother at all. I come from a reasonably hug-loving family. I’m only slightly ashamed to admit that I still, when the occasion necessitates it, crawl onto my mother’s lap for a cuddle. Yes, I’m 31 years old, but there is something pure and beautiful about a hug from your mum, even if you are now taller than her and it probably squashes some of her internal organs in the process. She’s a sweetheart and never complains. A good hug can work in a number of different situations. Someone is sad? Hug them. They tell you good news? Hug them. You haven’t seen them in a while? Hugs. You want to piss off one of those aforementioned non-tactile people? Hug the shit out of them. There are of course many times when a hug would NOT be appropriate. If someone is looking to punch you in the face, for example. The policeman arresting you, not appropriate. Also, it’s probably not a great idea to hug your potential new employer at the end of a formal interview. Just so we’re clear. I honestly believe though that if people hugged each other more there would be no more wars, no more famine, politicians would be trustworthy and small cartoon birds would fly around our heads. Alright, maybe not. But it certainly wouldn’t hurt to try.

Day Six: Poetry


i carry your heart with me

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

Do I need more of an explanation for my love of poetry than that? Nope. I really don’t.





Day Five:  dreams



When I was living the student life in a house share in Sheffield I became infamous amongst my fellow housemates for my weirdo dreams, so much so that they eventually bought me a book on how to determine the meaning behind them. The only trouble with this was that my dreams were of such a high level of eccentricity that no book in existence was capable of decoding them. I began to suspect I needed professional medical help, or that these dreams were just the beginning of my decent into a madness so awesome that I would make Charles Manson seem like a really nice chap. I was also fairly suspicious of the credibility of said book’s author due to the fact that pretty much everything seemed to mean that you were suffering from some kind of sexual repression. Couldn’t it be that you were dreaming about rhino’s because you had seen one on TV the week before? Did it have to mean that you were so horny that your brain could no longer process thoughts like a normal person? I remain doubtful. On the flip side, dreaming does allow me a certain amount of liberty. If my subconscious wants to experiment with the idea that all my limbs have been replaced with ears of corn and I’m running around Tesco’s car park being chased by zombies then so be it. My imagination apparently knows no bounds. In a dreamworld anything is possible. You can be whoever you want to be, say all the things you’re too frightened to actually say, be stronger, braver, sexier, smarter. If it were to come down to a choice between more restful sleep and my amazing, vivid, bat-shit crazy dreams, I would always choose to keep them. Reality can be so boring, and little bit of insanity is a good thing, I’m sure of it.

Day Four:  music


Oh, music. Sweet music. There’s nothing that makes me happier, and I’m being quite literal with that statement. I can find the perfect song to fit any mood, any moment, any occasion. That person who’s job it is to decide what music plays in the background of a movie trailer? My ideal job. I would kick ass. Music, like words, has the power to take us away (there’s that pesky escapism word again, people). It can lift our mood, allow us to break down and cry, it has the ability to calm or excite us in equal measure. And there are endless genres to choose from. Pop, rap, hip-hop, country (“ooooh, my wife has gone and left meeeeeee… I’m left only with the company of my trusty steeeeeeeed” etc etc), classical, blues, jazz, swing, heavy metal…….the list goes on. I have what most would consider to be an eclectic taste. My music library rages from the seriously hipster to the very, very shameful. Oh so very shameful. The guilty pleasures, you could say. Now, I would quite happily take a spade to the faces of each and every member of One Direction completely guilt free, but I’ll admit that they still appear on my playlist when I’m in need of a good pop ballad. All music has it’s place. Even the crap stuff.

Like oxygen, water and a good full bodied cheddar, music is a constant in my life. If I’m not listening to something I’m either at work, asleep or dead, otherwise you can guarantee that the dulcet tones of (insert name of cool band here) will be playing from my iPod. A good friend recently bemoaned that chart music had become dire and unoriginal and they had a point. But if you venture even just slightly off the beaten track you will find that the music world has never been more alive. Much like finding a decent bargain in a crowded sale rack, you have to be prepared to do a little digging. And if you do, oh, the treasures you can find.

Day Three –  reading


Not to be confused with it’s city counterpart (no offence, Reading), this joy is really an extension of Day One. Reading is very similar to travel, in that it boils down to ESCAPISM (this is an important word so I’m making sure you know it’s important by putting it in capitals). In a fictional situation even the bad stuff isn’t as bad as in real life. The arguments, the scary moments, the nightmares, the faults (both in ourselves and in other people). What is painful in life is quite often a page-turner or a plot twist in fiction. And who doesn’t want to get lost every once in a while? Books are safer than drugs, healthier than a bag of jam donuts and cheaper than alcohol (and you’re significantly less likely to end up staring in a humiliating YouTube video as a result). My love affair with books began at a very early age. Before I was able to read them myself the responsibility fell to my long-suffering parents. I remember hearing Rudyard Kipling’s Just So stories for the first time and concluding that whoever this Mr Kipling was he was most certainly on drugs. But he allowed me to disappear into a far away place full of weird and wonderful creatures and mysterious characters and for that, I loved him. My love doesn’t only extend to books. I just adore words, and as much as I am probably the least patriotic person you will ever meet, I love the English language. Take the following sentence for example…

“James while John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher”.

This actually makes total sense (no really). See what I mean? Fun. Words are powerful, provocative, inspiring, beautiful and painful. They have the capacity to declare vows of promised love, the power to break somebody’s heart, we use them to pray. Life would be pretty dull without them (and downright impossible if you think about it). And as far as I can tell, the same applies to books. I will love them forever.

Day Two: crosswords


On the face of it, crosswords shouldn’t be fun. Taxing my worn out brain for pleasure? Pffft. Also, spelling is not my forte and you’d be surprised how much this can screw up your game. But despite this, I’ve always found them strangely cathartic. Maybe it’s that I get a disproportionate thrill from plucking random words from my subconscious that I never knew were there (peevish, anyone?). Or could it be that I always associated doing the crossword with being an adult (something that I still aspire to be). Either way, there is something quite marvellous about a lazy Sunday morning spent huddled over a steaming cup of coffee with the paper in hand. Though I’m not sure if my love of crosswords was wholly responsible for my love of words and language, I have very special childhood memories of ‘helping’ my mum with the weekly crossword, thesaurus and dictionary on my lap. Did you know that there are nine different alternatives to the word bigot? Me neither, but it’ll come in handy next time you play Scrabble or are trying to compose a sternly worded letter to your local MP. Besides, big words make you sound smarter, right? Right.