Monthly Archives: May 2012

Boys Boys Boys

“Boys and girls in the summertime love,
In the summertime love on the beach tonight
Say hey say me say you say what?
Everybody’s gotta stop, I say stop, don’t stop
I say you say me gotta get in the groove!”

I’ve been wondering whether I should announce that I remember the entire rap from Sabrina’s classic 1988 song, ‘Boys, Boys, Boys’ on my internet dating profile? You want to stand out from the rest of the crowd right? This is the minefield I have entered into this week…and it’s not pretty…but more of that later. In 1988 I was 11 years old. I was about to go to senior school and I had just started to think about boys. I was lucky then, that there was an anthem that summer which expressed how I was feeling, even though I didn’t understand what that feeling was, and I memorised every word. The realisation which has struck me fairly recently is that I have been chasing boys (they have occasionally chased me) for 24 long years. Now it might be time to find a man.

The trouble, of course, is my plan to go to New York. I am not really in a position to commit to anyone if I’m about to bugger off and I also have so little spare time, that I can’t imagine when I would fit a ‘man’ friend in. But on the other hand, I can hardly put my life, and possibly my future, on hold in the hope that a miracle happens and I do find a way to get to the best city on earth – where it is apparently even harder to meet men. I haven’t tried internet dating before so I guess I should give it whirl, if nothing else it might be fun to go on a few dates. I’ve never admitted this, but in the back of my mind, I am always aware of the fact that a psychic told my mother a million years ago that I would marry an American man. I just want to make it clear that this IS NOT the reason I want to move to New York as I am surprisingly contented with myself without a man in my life, but anyway that phantom thought is always hovering around my cerebellum. I’ve had enough of it so am going to see what London has to offer.

Last Saturday night I allowed myself to have one last hurrah with a boy. To clarify, my definition of ‘boy’ is never inappropriate and has more to do with attitude than age, this one was about 30. I was in paradise and as the breeze blew across the steamy dancefloor I spotted a tall, dark stranger. No, that’s not right. I was actually in Paradise (by way of Kensal Green) and I was so drunk and sweaty that I stumbled onto this boy’s toes and elbowed him in the ribs (he was about 5’5”), but he did have nice dimples, and tattoos. We started chatting, or rather shouting, over the heavy soul music. Then the seduction dance began, lots of fumbling and groping, and finally some filthy snogging. It was so romantic

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I wrote a poem about it. After about half an hour, I grew a conscience about my friends and told him I had to leave. He asked if he could take me out to dinner, I put my number in his phone, and shouted, “My name’s Jane, by the way!” his reply, “I know, you told me. What’s mine?” Blank. I don’t think I’ll be hearing from him any time soon.

Clearly I need to stop drunkenly meeting boys in bars, and start soberly meeting men in coffee shops – how interminably dull. In the last week, since joining the internet dating community, I have learnt 3 things;

  1. Most ‘single’ men out there are called Paul, don’t ask me why.
  2. Many men think it’s ok to take their profile picture in the toilet. It’s not.
  3. Being stinking rich is often listed as what they like most about themselves. I’d hate to know what they dislike most about themselves.

I have also learnt that internet dating is a full time job – like I didn’t already have two of those! First you have to review your matches, respond to initial interest and then think of witty banter as you get to know random strangers who you most likely have nothing in common with. And then start all over again. The other night I had that moment any internet dater dreads. When reviewing my matches I came across someone that I interviewed once. If memory serves he got the job, but he wasn’t very good and his contract wasn’t renewed…ouch. Hang on, if I can see him that means he can see me, think it might be time to start exercising the ‘block’ button. All this in the first week – I can’t imagine what’s to come.

Anyway, I do have a date with one of them next week, we exchanged so many messages this week I thought he might be trying to make me fall in love with him before meeting and discovering that he’s actually 82. But he finally asked me out. He is not called Paul, he’s not unattractive (when did that become an acceptable description?) and I don’t think I’ve ever interviewed him, so watch this space. I may or may not report it here.

 

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You Gotta Have Faith

I don’t believe in God. Even in the 21st century it’s a hard thing to admit, and I sometimes get raised eyebrows and expressions of shock from friends who didn’t know. I went to a Methodist school and was exposed to religion from an early age, we prayed every morning in chapel, I (mostly) respected this ritual and joined in, but it just never clicked for me. My parents weren’t religious but they very much allowed me to make up my own mind, even allowing me to join The Brownies (Girl Scouts). Sadly I was thrown out for making people laugh during prayers (I did say I mostly respected prayer time) but I was 7 years old – not very forgiving of them, I always thought. so despite trying I am just not able to believe. But I do have faith.

I have faith in people, I think humans are capable of extraordinary and surprising deeds and despite all the cruel and hideous things we do to each other my cockles are regularly warmed by tales of immense generosity and kindness, and particularly of endurance through adversity. People are bloody amazing.

After The Brownies incident, I was allowed to join The Woodcraft Folk, a kind of alternative, hippy, tree-hugger organisation. I loved it. We went camping, did a lot of bark rubbings, and sang better songs round the campfire than Kumbaya – there just seemed to be a much stronger message in respecting nature and the world around us than praying to a heavenly Father who did some art in heaven.

I am not a devil worshipper though and I do have a strong belief system. Honesty, respect and equality are at the forefront of my values and there are certain religious sayings which have resonance, particularly ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ – this has to be a universal human value. Another prayer which has universal value and which traditionally starts every AA or NA meeting is;

‘Lord, give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference’

This is a great piece of advice, and you certainly don’t have to say Lord at the beginning of it if you don’t want to.

So you see I am not completely anti-religion, like most atheists. In fact in a way I am envious of people with a deep religious conviction, the comfort they must get when going through difficult times of knowing there is a higher force guiding things and of believing that there is a better world after this one must be so, well, comforting. I enjoy visiting churches and religious buildings and have often been moved spiritually in them, but I know this isn’t to do with God, it’s to do with the majesty of the architecture and the history associated with it. There are moments when I would welcome the comfort of religious faith; when I hear about the casualties of war and natural disasters, during personal tragedy, even when I am in severe turbulence on a plane it would be great to pray and to believe that it might help, to ignore my conviction that these acts are random and unpredictable. But instead, donating money to charity, being with friends and family or drinking a Bloody Mary are the only ways I can find comfort now.

It took me a long time to accept that I was an atheist, for years I called myself agnostic, and I don’t think I was really sure for a while, it’s tough to think that this is all there is and we are here for no other reason than an accident of evolution, but as soon as I did accept the glaringly obvious facts of science and stopped being scared to tell people what I was I felt much more at ease with myself and more whole. This is the only crack we get at life, I’m gonna make the most of it before this remarkable body gives up and I am nothing more than a memory.

At the risk of sounding naïve and/or patronising I think religion is a force for good on a personal level, the rituals and traditions bind people and communities together, and give them a sense of purpose but there are aspects of it which terrify me. As a woman all I can see is patriarchal religions, most of which have practised suppression for years and are struggling to adapt to life in the 21st century. Marriage equality and abortion rights are two hot topics in the US at the moment and, although they are not the only opponents, religious leaders are stalling any progression with their outspoken prejudice. The fact that so many people believe in the poppycock of creationism, and that it is actually being taught to children, is frankly horrifying. But I have to have faith that there will be a natural evolution towards secularism and to equal choices for all, I can’t fathom a future world which doesn’t allow that. It is so obvious to me that religion should never be mixed with politics, it has started too many wars.

As an addendum, I’m fully prepared to admit I am wrong when my time comes. If I ever get to meet Saint Peter or go to Paradise I hope they will recognise that I have lived a fair and honest life and treat me accordingly. Unless I come back as a beetle, and then there’s not much hope.

So I thank God I’m a heathen and I’m pleased to say that although it took me a while to get here, it is possible to be a happy, contented and whole atheist, you just need a little bit of faith.

 

Bad Decisions

God. There have been so many I don’t even know where to start. I’m not talking about the life altering decisions we make which we spend days mulling over and which then turn out to be bad. Like buying a house just before the crash, or taking a new job and finding out your boss is a bully. I’m talking about the tiny decisions we make every day, the ones we know are bad decisions but we make them anyway out of some misguided wish to be rebellious and not do what we are supposed to do. I’m saying we a lot here because I really hope it’s not just me who does this, but if it is I apologise – you are all better people than I.

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The bad decisions I’m talking about are things like drunk dialling, getting off with a random, having one more beer or getting the night bus home – wait, these are all drink related bad decisions which we can hardly be held accountable for – I’ll start again. Things like wearing uncomfortable shoes when we know we’re going to be standing up all night, having a pizza when we know we’re going to have to run to the loo immediately after, or messing around on Facebook when there is work to be done. I like to think I’m quite sensible, at least I’ve got my head on my shoulders, I know right from wrong, I give out advice all the time, but when it comes to my own life it’s almost like I purposely want to mess things up…all the time.

Luckily my bad decisions don’t have any impact on anyone else. I am single, I don’t have any dependents so if I decide to go to the pub (drink-related again, I know) instead of re-writing my screenplay, I’m not hurting anyone except me but I worry that as I get older and if I do end up having responsibility for people, my desire to rebel and the ease with which I make a bad decision, could impact on other people and have far reaching consequences. With age, life takes on a more routine pattern and our lives are more settled, so the desire to do bad things becomes suppressed. We have finally reached a point of contentedness so why on earth would we want to mess that up – to screw with everything we’ve worked so hard to achieve? The thing is at this point the bad decisions get even worse. We’ve given up smoking, we hardly drink any more so with contentedness I imagine there can be a tendency towards boredom and maybe this is why people have affairs. This is possibly one of the worst bad decisions you can make, to break the bond you made when you committed to someone else and whereas in the past you were open about the bad decisions you made, and found them almost funny, when the possibility of hurting people that you love arises, the world becomes filled with secrets and lies. Surely it would be better to be upfront about your desire to make this bad decision and to talk through that desire with your loved one? I can’t imagine many people do that though. Call me naïve and I am sure there are a gazillion reasons for an affair, not just boredom and rebellion, but I am not sure there can ever be any justification. Anyway, I digress – maybe it’s the 3 margaritas I’ve had this afternoon.

I’m not entirely sure what makes bad decisions so attractive. Sometimes if we vocalise what we are about to do it makes us feel better about it, as if someone might tell us to stop and we would obey, which of course would never happen.

My latest bad decision may be a sleeper hit. Things are going pretty well with my writing and theconversation.tv seem to love what I am giving them. So I have written, and submitted, a fairly controversial piece about being an atheist. I even talk about the poppycock of creationism. Now, in the UK I wouldn’t have a problem with delivering this kind of article, but the US has a different attitude to religion. And I don’t know enough about it to gauge what kind of reaction they are going to have. They have told me that nothing is off limits, and I’m certainly not ashamed of anything I have said, but for some reason I have made the decision to push the boundaries to the limit, to find out how far I can go. So let’s see if they publish it. And if they do, whether I can handle the inevitable backlash. I’m fine with putting myself out there, but I don’t really want any death threats.

Back to the day job tomorrow then, with a determination to run there every day, eat only porridge and salads and not even check my personal emails during the day. So I’ll see you on Facebook at about 12:30, while I’m eating my fish and chips and wishing I’d looked harder for my trainers tonight. That’s just the way I roll so I better get used to it and as long as I continue to be honest about it, it’s really not that bad.

Being Me

I’ve been watching a chrysalis in the garden for the last week, a non-descript lump of cells which will soon open and become a beautiful butterfly, unrecognisable from the caterpillar who built it. Nature is full of transformations, from the ugly duckling to the prickly pear, but it is the human transformation which can be the most subtle and which is, of course, the one we are most obsessed with.

For once I’m not talking about physical transformation which society is becoming more and more obsessed with. Sure, we can get a new hair cut to make us feel better, put on make up, do some exercise or the extreme – get some plastic surgery, but it won’t transform who you fundamentally are and it certainly won’t make you a better person. For me, the spiritual transformation is much more fascinating. We spend our lives searching for meaning, trying to understand who we are, trying to be a better daughter, sister, mother, wife, rarely satisfied with who we are and what we have to offer the world. Once in a while we get it right and we are grateful and grounded for a moment, but most of the time we are haunted by demons; Why did I make that joke at her expense? Why doesn’t he love me? Am I ever going to succeed? Where is my life taking me? Sometimes we can feel frustrated, angry with ourselves for not accepting who we are but unable to do just that, unable to just be.

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I was quite a serious and timid little girl and, like many little girls, I wanted to be an actress. Aside from the fame and the glamour, it was the possibility of becoming someone else which enticed me, to play a role, so that I didn’t have to play the part which life had decided for me. But, sadly for Hollywood, I’ve since learnt that the best role we can ever play is ourselves.

Last year I took a sabbatical, mostly to have an extended holiday but partly to get closer to ‘me’. During that time I learnt to sail in North Carolina. I have always been terrified of water. Not just deep water, i.e. the ocean, but all water. I’m not even very fond of having a shower to be honest. When I wash my face, I screw it up as tight as possible so not a drop enters the eyes or mouth and often hold my nose to prevent water from going in there too. It is such a palaver that it doesn’t happen very often, thank goodness for face wipes! Anyway, one day we were in this tiny training boat and my co-learner had control. I should say, up to this point I had executed every manoeuvre perfectly, not because I am a particularly competent sailor, but because I was so terrified about going overboard that every part of my being insisted that I do things, if not absolutely correctly, then at least safely. My co-learner was slightly more gung-ho than I was and I just knew he hadn’t been listening to all the instructions so when the instructor shouted ‘tack!’ he tried to jibe and for a fleeting moment the boat (did I mention it was tiny?) took on an almost 90 degree angle which required an impulsive reaction from me and my somewhat elderly instructor to leap to the rescue and regain control of the vessel. We all laughed about how close we had come to capsizing, but in that moment something within me had transformed. While I was still scared of the water, I had a respect for the ocean which I had previously not understood, and for a brief moment the fear left me and I was able to just be.

That incident and several others during my sabbatical taught me that I will never change who I am fundamentally, but I can challenge it daily, and in doing so aim to transform into the best possible me. Making almost imperceptible changes in my life, such as saying ‘Good Morning’ to the bus driver (believe me, it’s unusual in London) or making a round of tea at work, are daily reminders that I am capable of being a better me.

Now, when I look in the mirror, I no longer see that frightened little girl, desperate to be anyone but her, she’s still there, but through experiences she is becoming the woman she never thought she could be. I see wrinkles which remind me of the laughter I’ve had in my life, I see freckles which remind me I shouldn’t have stayed so long in the sun, and I see a body which reminds me that I am always the one to have one more bite or beer, but all those things are merely physical representations of the me that I have always been. And I’m starting to be ok with that.

So remember, the ugly duckling, once he became a swan, was still the ugly duckling, Optimus Prime was always just a truck, the butterfly has the same DNA as the caterpillar and leopards can’t change their spots. But you can be the best you you can be. So say ‘Good Morning’ to the bus driver, it might make your day.

Deeds Not Words

Something peculiar happens to me whenever I enter my local polling station during an election. I involuntarily burst into tears. Every time. Sometimes it might be a solitary tear running down the cheek, at other times uncontrollable ugly sobbing, but I inevitably come out bleary eyed and needing a stiff drink.

The funny thing is – I know absolutely nothing about politics. I know that I am ‘left-leaning’ – not a raging Commie, but I sympathise with leftist principles and I believe in equality for all… in fact I’ll stop there, I’m ashamed to say I haven’t got a clue what my personal politics are. So, why the tears? It’s as if every time I exercise my right to vote the spirits of the millions of women who were never able to exercise this basic human right rise up and remind me of how lucky I am.

It scares me to think that as recently as a hundred years ago, I would not have been able to do this. Every aspect of my life would have been decided by men. Just think about that for a moment. I might have had some influence, but no rights at all. The men in charge believed if women were allowed to vote it would ‘upset the system’. Sadly, this is still the case in some countries in the world.

But thanks to those brave women and men of the suffrage movement who pursued the issue, both peacefully and violently, and continued even when horrible events threatened to halt them, such as Emily Davison famously dying under the King’s horse or the imprisoned suffragettes on hunger strike less famously being force fed through the rectum, our voices can be heard. Without them, I would not be writing this.

Here’s a mind-blowing theory: If the history of the earth was condensed into one year, humanity would appear at about 6pm on New Year’s Eve, and the modern industrial era would start at about 2 seconds to midnight which therefore means women have only had the vote for less than a second! There’s still a lot of work to do.

A lot of my friends are like me in that they have no tangible political persuasion so they rarely, if ever, use their vote. It’s a hassle to research who the political candidates are and to find out who’s lying about what policy this time and who’s going to make the most changes to your community, but it’s worth it. I usually cram the night before, check out their manifestos and decide who I trust the most. Then, with a good supply of tissues, head to the polling station and proudly handover my polling card. I just wish every woman in the world had the same right.

This is why we have to keep making use of this privilege and make our voices heard, only that way will our sisters all over the world one day be heard too.

So, even if you don’t know what your personal politics are and if the only thing you know about the Suffragettes is the ‘Votes For Women – Step In Time!’ song from Mary Poppins, make sure you use your vote the next time you are called upon.  Your gender needs you.

Happily Ever After?

My first proper boyfriend dumped me a few weeks before my 18th birthday party. I was heartbroken and thought very seriously about cancelling the party, locking myself in my room and watching Running On Empty on repeat, fantasising that if River Phoenix hadn’t so tragically died he would definitely have come to my rescue and we’d have lived happily ever after.

I’m trying to remember what my ‘happily ever after’ looked like when I was 18. I’m sure it was much simpler than my life has actually been, and I’m sure I didn’t expect to have quite as much fun – or heartache – along the way, but there is something missing from my happily ever after. A relationship and children.

At 35 and single, I realistically have 5 years to make that youthful presumption a reality.

I always admire women who know for sure whether or not they want children. Recently I heard a story about a woman who decided with her partner, when they were 24, that they never wanted to have children. She got sterilised. They are now in their 60’s, still together, blissfully happy and don’t have any regrets about their decision. I also know women for whom having children has been the focus of their entire life and they have been unable to conceive. Although they get on with their lives it must be hard not to feel that something is missing. We don’t always get what we want and there are not always happy endings.

With the opportunities afforded to women nowadays, many of us forget to think about starting a family until it’s too late. After a certain age it seems there are two tribes of women in this world – the ones with children and the ones without. Of course they overlap and are still friends but they will never truly understand each other again. Where do men fit into this equation? They don’t have a time limit on when they can choose to have children and consequently many men I know don’t want to think about having children until their mid-forties – but of course they have to because we do, even though science has made it very likely that my generation will live till they are 100, women’s bodies have not caught up with this evolutionary miracle. We have (very recently!) come up with ways to make the blind see again, but we still cannot find a way for women to have babies later in life easily and safely. If I want to live ‘happily ever after’, I need to make a decision soon before my biological clock strikes twelve.

It is difficult, though not impossible, to make this choice without a partner. Unless you have an overwhelming desire for motherhood, which many women do, it is a real conundrum to know what to do next if you are unsure. Maybe that’s why biology has not yet caught up with us – the arrogance of youth makes you stride into parenthood without wallowing in this mad middle-aged fear of the future.

I’m not gonna go out and find a boyfriend just to get knocked up, that would be mental. But maybe I should open myself to the possibility of falling in love, of settling down, rather than living for the moment.  One of the best reasons I’ve heard for having children came from my sister – because they make you laugh. That’s pretty much all we can wish for.

However, I suspect I’m approaching this all too logically, after all life is full of surprises, and I may not be able to have them anyway, who knows? I have never approached any aspect of my life with a plan so I don’t think I’m about to start now but in order to face what’s next, I need to make peace with the fact that I may never have children.

You’ll be pleased to hear I didn’t cancel my 18th birthday party and when I returned from sobbing in the toilets something wonderful happened. The music stopped and a couple of the boys started to click their fingers and walk towards me. Then I heard;

‘You never close your eyes any more when I kiss your lips…’

I found myself surrounded by 8 rugby playing teenagers singing badly, trying to be like Tom Cruise and just trying to make me laugh, which it did. There is always a smile around the corner.

So, in spite of the fear and anxiety about facing what’s next, I don’t think I’ll cancel my plans for a happily ever after. It might just be a different one to the one I pictured with River *sigh*.

The Sound of Silence

I have never been afraid of my own company. I prefer the company of others, and I do really annoy myself from time to time, but I enjoy being on my own and over the last couple of years have actively sought out places which will allow me to experience true solitude. However, after two weeks on my own in scorchio Mexico last year, when I nearly sent myself loopdyloo with my own company and intensive self analysis, I decided that maybe solitude wasn’t for me after all and I should welcome the benefits and company of others. It was a surprise then, that over the last few weeks I have found the noise and bustle of London so overwhelming that when I was offered the chance to spend a week, on my own, in Portugal, I jumped at it.

So it was that last weekend I found myself, with my lovely Portuguese friend, his girlfriend and baby, driving to his parent’s unbelievably beautiful beach house in a tiny fishing village. The plan was to spend the weekend together there, hanging out and enjoying the weather, and for them to leave me there on Sunday, alone, to write. I’m currently going through a rare prolific period so was relishing the chance to have some time alone, just to work on the many thoughts racing through my head. By about 4pm on Sunday though, there was only one thought racing through my head. ‘Please leave, go now, no right now, don’t have another cup of coffee, just go, please!’. This was in no way a reflection on my wonderful hosts, who were just that, but with a baby in the room there is always a lot of chatter and when the pregnant sister arrived with a toddler in tow the general hum, especially in a language I can’t understand, increased to bombastic levels. The mental ‘Ingles’ (me) nearly started beating herself in the head with her fists, and speaking about herself in the third person, see? mental. Finally, the time for them to leave arrived. Phew. But the expected sigh of relief didn’t come…as soon as I heard the car door slam, the only thought suddenly racing through my head was ‘don’t go, come back, I’ll make dinner, have a beer with me, I miss you!’ Short of chasing the car down the street and begging them to stay (so not my style), I was left with one option. Be Alone.

I paced through the house several times, completely at a loss as to what to do with myself. I hate to use an overused phrase but in this case it was true, the silence was deafening – every sound was magnified by the silence; the waves of the Atlantic, the pilot light on the gas boiler, the bees in the jasmine flower outside. After an hour or so though I started to relax and sat in the garden, finally enjoying the sounds of silence, and the solitude until it was cut through by the tuneful whistle of an elderly neighbour. I don’t know why but I love a man who can whistle well, sadly it seems to be a dying art. He popped his head over the fence ‘Bom dia’. I smiled – of course it is very hard to achieve true solitude, but in the end I had a wonderful, and productive, week. And a few hilarious conversations in international sign language.

Ay, there’s the rub. How can I be so desperate to move to New York, the busiest, most bustling city of them all and yet be at my most content by the ocean. This is not just a normal life v. holiday conundrum either, it’s a split personality conundrum which has haunted me, and many of my friends, ever since I can remember. All I want to do is party and rebel and go out with the bad boy…no, wait, the opposite of that…I just want to have a cup of tea and go for a walk with a nice man who understands me. I change my mind about this on a daily basis. I am so desperate to move to New York, but I keep meeting people who live there who say, ‘Oh wait til you’ve been there a couple of years, it’s not that great.’ I want to scream at them and say ‘Do you know how lucky you are?’ But I suppose (in this cliché ridden post I may as well add one more) the grass is always greener on the other side. I just need to chose a side and stick to it, at least for longer than one day.

I am on the verge of accepting a new work contract for 6 months (it is taking slightly longer than I thought to pay off the debts from last year’s sabbatical) so my plans to ‘make it there’ are on hold, but only for a little while. At least the company I am working for have a New York office so will keep pushing for a transfer. I am more determined than ever to make it happen and, hey, Coney Island is only a subway ride away.

She’s Like The Wind

This week, I have mostly been thinking about Patrick Swayze, weird but true. There has been a mantra going round in my head about fear versus love and his character in Donnie Darko (who turned out to be a raging paedo) was obsessed with this idea too – and had this to say about it: ‘You are a fear prisoner’ or something like that.

I’m inclined to disagree and would argue, as Donnie himself did that without fear we would be unable to love, and also to live. I have spent a lot of this week terrified, and I have never felt so alive – not since I went swimming with Whale Sharks in Mexico (I was of course very scared then too). Writing about The Demons last week helped to dampen the fear a bit but they have been alive and well in the middle of most nights due to my idiocy in writing about and GETTING PUBLISHED something unbelievably personal and sharing it with friends (there are still people I won’t let read it, you know who you are).

The strange thing is it doesn’t stop there – I have so many stories to tell, some of them even more embarrassing secrets, that I can hardly justify going to sleep because it will waste valuable writing time. When did this happen? 14 months ago I was on a plane to New York in an absolute flap because I was supposed to be turning up for my screenwriting course, which had been planned for a million years, with at least one idea for a screenplay, preferably three. I couldn’t think of a single thought, let alone an idea for a whole film. I hadn’t written anything, except budgets and schedules for 12 years and I had absolutely no doubt that I was going to be a crappy writer – I had no imagination, I had no originality, I had no confidence in me, let alone sunshine or rain! (another Sound of Music reference, sorry). Anyway, a year later and I can’t write the ideas down fast enough – I am still working on that first script which started as a seed of an idea which I probably chose while drunk in Milady’s but grew into this mental romp of a rom com – and a few other hopefully mildly amusing concepts. I still think they are all crap but at least I have the confidence to finally write them down.

I guess what I am saying is even if you think you will be crap at your dreams, don’t give up, even if you’re the only one getting pleasure from it, that’s still better than not doing it. I am inclined to sympathise with 70’s feminists more than Swayze on my earlier point; Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, is going to be my new mantra, or, basically, suck it and see.

One of the things I have been told this week is how brave I am. It is an amazing compliment but I honestly don’t know what it means, I have never felt less brave (apart from maybe when that bug entered our tent while camping in Amarillo) but there is a definite freedom in doing something which makes you so effing scared.

On the day I got the email telling me my article was going to be published soon, I was just walking into the cinema to see new horror movie Silent House. I was a little bit excited by the news, but tried to calm down and get into the film, it was good but I wasn’t really scared, I’d faced much bigger fears recently. Anyway, about 15 minutes in I could hear this really annoying music coming from somewhere – I was certain the man in front of us was listening to ‘Simply The Best’ by Tina Turner and I kept giving him evils to get him to turn it off. It was only when my friend nudged me that I realised it seemed to be coming from my bag, which indeed it was – I’d left my phone on shuffle after I got the news so with a wry smile I shame-facedly turned it off. Sure I was feeling cocky, I was simply the best! But I was also, and will always be, a bit of a nob.

By the way, I have been in Portugal for 3 hours and have already had 3 beers and 3 Marlboro reds – you’ve gotta love Europe. I’m sure the high will dampen soon, but even when I get those much needed rejection letters, I’ll remember and be glad for what Patch said cos at the moment it’s true on a daily basis ‘I’ve had the time of my life.’