September is here and it might be the ACTUAL most wonderful time of the year

So long summer. Seriously goodbye. I’m so over you now. It’s been a blast. Really it has. I lost my bikini bottoms in the sea, burnt my nose, ate sandy sandwiches – did all the things we Brits are meant to do during the holidays. But I’m fickle and just really into autumn now. I want to wear jumpers and eat stew and read whilst horizontal on the sofa all day without feeling bad about not being outside playing fucking Frisbee in the park.

Finally I can indulge in all these things because as of today it’s SEPTEMBER! The greatest month of them all! Okay, I may say this about all months but September does seem particularly blog-post worthy. Why you ask? Why? Compared to, say, June or May or the heady heat of August? Well, dear reader, because there is something innately hopeful about September. It’s still warm enough for skirts but a wooly jumper wouldn’t be completely out of the question either, the hedgerows are jeweled with ripe fruit so crumble is always on the cards and it is, for those still lucky enough to get six weeks off (bastards), time to go back to school.

This childhood routine seems to have stuck with me, because every year, when it gets to this time of year, I suddenly switch: whether you’re 12 or 24, September seems to be the most sensible time to start again. Summer isn’t the season for studiousness – it’s all about sun and sand and sea – and god it’s great. But now? I’m tanned and I’m tired and I’m ready for change. I’ve eaten one too many ice creams and feel the need for soup, a new pencil case and a fresh notepad: a clean slate.

I think we got New Year wrong. It should be now, after the buzz of beach life – when we’re all brimming with ideas stored up over summer and still have residual tans from our week in Turkey. The ensuing months will be darker and colder, but September is all warm light and rust coloured leaves and jacket potatoes and Bake Off being back on the telly.

After a long summer, September is the time to reset: to feel the crunch underfoot as you walk through the park, welcoming the crisp breeze as it intermingles with the warm air and the auburn leaves as they float down towards the baked earth. It’s time to give that thing you wanted to do another go, to turn to page one of your new notebook and write your name in your neatest handwriting and be filled with a sense of jubilant optimism that this year just might be your year.

 

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Late again?

‘I have LOOOOADS of time’, I find myself saying at least once a day – usually as I lay half dressed on the bed with a towel on my head scrolling inanely through Instagram. This happens about 20 – 25 minutes before I start frantically running round the house with wet hair and half a face of make up in search of keys, phone, purse, kitchen sink etc. berating myself for being late AGAIN.

I then slam the door, probably having left my keys inside the house and make haste to the tube. By the time I get to the tube I am BOILING, sweating incessantly and filled with a sense of self loathing so deep, I manage to convince myself that I’ll change my ways for good. Which, of course, I do not.

‘On my way’, I say, as I stand in front of the mirror attempting to match my left eye to my right. I was, in fact, supposed to have left 15 minutes ago but here I am, doing what I do best, faffing about, being inefficient with time again.

There’s a word for people like me. No, not that word. We are, according to the Collins Dictionary, “tidoptimists”, or rather “people who are habitually late because they think they have more time than they do”. And there are thousands of us, all lying to ourselves and others about the amount of time we have to play with. What a terrifying thought.

Whether habitually late to the hairdressers or arriving to dinner sweaty and out of breath, whilst trying to conjure up some ridiculously transparent excuse about tube delays, being a tidsoptimist is an annoying trait – not least for the people who have to put up with my routine lateness (sorry everyone). But I’m working on it. I’ve tried the lot: setting my watch a whole thirteen minutes early, drawing up incredibly anal timetables to help keep on top of time, laying out an outfit – pants and all, ready for the day ahead – you know, to evade that moment of overwhelming despair when you open your wardrobe to find you have NOTHING to wear then spend the next 47 minutes trying on outfits, only to settle on a bizarre ensemble reminiscent of Carrie Bradshaw in season three episode four..

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To be fair I could totally rock those jeans.

My big fear (aside from slowly morphing into a dodgy Carrie Bradshaw doppelganger or being banished from date-night for constant lateness), is that I might become something rather more serious than an everyday type of tidsoptimist. As I roar through my twenties at an unprecedented speed (24 – how did that happen?!) – I worry that I’m a person who thinks she has more time than she does to do life.

A larger scale tidsoptomist: a life delayer. A girl who says, ‘oh I have plenty of time, I’ll do that tomorrow – only to reach 97 and realise she STILL never wrote that play or learned how to make her own souffle: one who thinks she has loads of time to do all those things she wants to do with her life and using that as an excuse to not actually do them them. Instead, scrolling inanely through Instagram watching everyone else fulfil their potential – before eventually, decades from now, realising she has done none of the things she meant to do and dying an empty shell of a person having achieved nothing. God, I just gave myself shivers. Essentially being late to my own life because I thought I was running early.

I know I’m not alone. I hope anyway. Anybody? And I want to change, really I do. But how? Get on with it, I suppose is the easiest answer. Stop wasting time watching re-runs of Made in Chelsea. I know, I know, very difficult given that Binky is having a baby(!!!!!!!), but necessary. I, like thousands of my peers (hey guys), need to whip that towel off my head, throw down the phone, pick myself off of the bed (BUT IT’S SO COMFY!) and grab life by the horns or I might miss the whole bloody thing. Also it would be great if I could make it to the hairdressers on time ONCE IN MY LIFE.

We’re young, but not that young. Isaac Newton had discovered gravity by the time he was 23 (don’t quote me on that – totally made it up) and Lindsay Lohan had been to rehab at least 52 times.

So, not only have I set my watch ten minutes early, but I’ve made a pact with myself: I’m determined that I’m going to be on time to my own life, not lollop in 20 minutes late, breathing like an elderly labrador. What could possibly go wrong?

Nb – as I write this I am already running late for a friend’s birthday dinner. I’M SORRY ROSIE. I think I need help.

Things I (think I) know

I don’t pretend to be anything CLOSE to an authority on, well, anything – but I have been on this planet for a whole sodding 24 years now and through trial and error (mostly error) have learned some valuable lessons. I still have a lot to learn of course – surely I can’t be the only one who still hasn’t worked out how the EFF to iron sleeves?! But I’m getting there, and we should take pride in our achievements – even when they’re just as simple as making a great risotto, right?

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In which I attempt to rationalise Valentines day

Do you celebrate Valentines Day? I ask a colleague. “Why yes, I’m going to stand naked on a balcony and recite poetry to my adoring boyfriend down below” she says deadpan while I consider whether eating scotch eggs by candlelight could be construed as romantic (yes).

I ponder my own views about the blessed day and naturally they’re a somewhat mixed bag: On the one hand I don’t endorse it in anyway. Are we so devoid of genuine emotion that we need a card company to remind us we should probably go out for a romantic dinner once a year and make pallid gestures over stale breadsticks? On the other I would be disappointed not to get a card.

The truth is we all know Valentines Day is tacky and a bit insincere and honestly if I never see another teddy bear clutching a pink heart again it will be too soon. But who am I to turn my nose up at a day dedicated to L O V E love? I LOVE love. Plus – any excuse to go for a three-course dinner at Pizza Express, am I right ladies?

We’ve had a cold, wet 2017 thus far. We’ve had anger and marching and the building of walls. We could all do with a little bit of love.

If your beef with V Day is the fact that it’s really a party for the card companies, then why not make your own? Stick it to the man using pritt stick and a pack of felt tips. Don’t want to pay for exorbitantly priced flowers? Helloooo origami. Last longer anyway. Don’t fancy Pizza Express with all its two for one specials and flaccid helium balloons (are you mad?!)? Grab V Day by the frying pan and whip up some pancakes (the way to any girl’s heart).

Being single is no excuse to shun the sacred day either. In my heady uni days I was a firm advocate of spending it with friends. We’d consume an unholy cocktail of gin and chocolate, put James Blunt on full blast and profess our undying love for one another until we fell asleep on the sofa and started dribbling.

Having experienced a rich array of Valentines Days – some good, some bad, some truly ugly (the less said about 2014 the better), I’ve decided that for me – it should be less heart shaped chocolates and more thoughtful gestures and showing someone you really bloody care (I know right – vom). But I do think it’s great that there’s a day dedicated to telling someone you love that they absolutely rock. In an ideal world we should be doing this everyday – but what better time to start than 14th February?

Romantic gestures don’t have to be contrived: Get up five minutes early to make your favourite person a cup of tea – that’s about the most romantic thing I can fathom right now. Text your best friend to let her know how much she means to you. Or better – send her a card – that’s a way to turn V Day on it’s head – celebrate SISTERHOOD in all it’s glory. Surprise somebody by waiting outside their office until they finish work (NB this could be construed as slightly stalker-ish so proceed with caution – no lurking around in dark alleys or hiding behind walls). Buy the big issue guy standing opposite the tube a cup of coffee. Tell your boss you like her shoes. Call your mum and have a chat. Get yourself a cookie.

This year I plan on celebrating V Day unabashedly – I’m going to do ALL of the above -because who am I kidding? I LOVE a romantic gesture (yep might even hide behind a wall). While I think I might just about resist the urge to buy the King a teddy bear from clinton cards en route home tonight, he might get to eat a scotch egg by candlelight if he’s lucky.

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Have you heard there’s this new film La La Land?

I know… it hasn’t had much press has it? But I think it deserves some praise because it was BRILLIANT.

I jest of course. I’m sure everybody’s moved on to T2 now but sry not sry I’m chiming in on the whole La La Land thing because I LOVED IT and I’ve been playing City of Stars on repeat since last week (sorry HRH) and I can’t seem to stop imagining my life is actually a musical and we could all just burst into song at any moment. Can we?

If you haven’t seen it yet you need to get down to the Picturehouse STAT (because srsly is there any other cinema worth going to?) Hey I’ll even come and watch it with you. How’s next Tuesday? Or tomorrow?! I’ll cancel my plans and get popcorn.

We need more films like this: Dreamlike sequences interspersed with real life heartbreak and rejection and regret. It’s enchanting stuff and it makes my heart crash and soar far more than any glossed over rom-com could (although don’t get me wrong I do love a rom com). Films, as a general rule, are either gritty realism or fluffy romantic ridiculousness; there’s little in between. Until now.

La La Land is like a more magical, musical version of life – where you don’t always hit the right note and your dreams don’t always come true and love doesn’t always mean you get to stay together forever, even if you really want to. But there’s still lots of lovely stuff if you look for it. It’s happy and sad and complicated and you get let down and you part ways and it hurts but you move on, or you pretend to move on then you see one another five years later and you realise you haven’t really moved on at all.

(Spoiler alert): At the end of the film, our protagonist’s dreams came true, but at the price of their relationship. Each lost a great love in pursuit of a lifelong ambition. It’s bittersweet. People make compromises. Never before has there been such a realistic ending to such a romantic film. Okay maybe Titanic. (While we’re on the subject it did not need to end that way – there was totally room for two on that door).

Love is a wonderful powerful thing but it doesn’t always triumph over life and all of its complications and aspirations. That doesn’t make it any less powerful though: Without love, Emma Stone’s Mia would never have known about the audition that would change her life: Love propelled both characters into the next phase, where each excelled in his or her own way.

Sure it was an all singing all dancing version of real life where everybody is really, really ridiculously good looking with flawless skin (one step at a time, Hollywood) – but Damien Chazelle’s reluctance to conform to a neat narrative with a storybook ending where everything works out exactly the way we want it to was the right thing to do. By the way – how does it make you feel to know he’s only 32?! THIRTY TWO?! I have a lot of work to do…

Love trumps hate

Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh. Pretty much sums up how I feel this morning. It’s bloody miserable outside, it’s Monday, after what feels like 500 million days it’s somehow STILL January, oh and to bloody go and top it all off – the leader of the free world is a sadistic moron who has decided to ban people from entering the country because they happen to come from one of seven states which happen to be majority Muslim. Ugh.

It’s easy to become disaffected by such bleakness. It’s apt really, that this week’s weather forecast should look like this:

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Never have the words “pathetic fallacy” been so accurately employed. It’s raining in my heart.

World leaders have the duty to lead by example: intolerance breeds intolerance and hate breeds hate. If Trump continues, as I fear he will, on this rampage of discrimination and destruction, he will create enemies in those who could have been his allies. He will incite a conflict he could have quelled.

At base level, it’s easy to feel powerless. I do. When little more than ill-founded hatred is being translated into international policy affecting millions of good people – what do we do?

It’s so easy to greet hate with more hate. And anger has it’s place. A good peaceful protest is one of the most poignant, powerful statements of dissatisfaction a group of people can make.

But second to that, on this particular occasion… On most particular occasions actually – the most poignant, most powerful thing we can do in defiance to disdain is to love. To love even when we’re so angry we could turn green and rip all of our clothes off. Cheesy? Yes. Necessary? Absolutely. As a great man once said; “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

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All things bright and beautiful: a sartorial revolution (of sorts)

Recently I deliberated whether a pair of skintight gold pleather trousers might be a bit too much for work – given that I work not at a fashion magazine but rather less glamorously one that covers all things sheep related.

I know it doesn’t seem particularly maddening… clothes are just clothes after all. They don’t define us in any way. They’re simply layers preserving our modesty and preventing us from getting frostbite. No – I don’t buy that either. Superficial as it may seem – what we wear does speak volumes about who we are. So, why be dull? Why wear tired jeans and an ink stained blouse when you could be prancing around in a polka dot play suit or a neon tunic?

Anyone who knows me will know that I really can be quite dull when it comes to my sartorial statements. Black jeans, I’m afraid to say, have been my go-to item since I was a mere babe in arms (well practically anyway). I’ll wear them on dates, to the shops, to work, I’ll wear them out walking, I’ll wear them to brunch with all my other black jean wearing chums, I’ll wear them until they start to develop dodgy looking holes in the crotch and then I’ll wear them some more. I wear them all the bloody time and yet I can’t remember the last time I looked in the mirror whilst wearing a pair of faded black jeans and thought ‘yeah – this chick looks good’.

So, in a bid to bring a little more excitement and eccentricity into my life, I reorganised my wardrobe: Resigning the 56882 (approx) pairs of black jeans I own to the back and bringing fourth bright floral prints, deep orange hues and, of course, plenty of gold pleather. I will no longer dress like someone who really can’t be arsed in faded jeans and an ink stained blouse, from now on I’m a go-getter clad in plenty of colour. Or go-go dancer. Haven’t properly decided yet.

To mark this new era of go getting and power dressing, I dared to be marginally controversial and wore gold pleather to the office. It caused quite a stir: The notoriously scary editor of a well-known women’s magazine approached me to tell me how much she loved them. She had never so much looked at me before.

Most of my colleagues were somewhat bewildered. Some laughed, some gasped, one insisted on taking my picture. Every time I stood up my editor laughed and told me my jeans made her day. Something so simple as a slightly squeaky pair of trousers had injected so much fun into the office.

Clothes provoke conversation; an offbeat item invites interest. They don’t define us, but they do certainly hint at who we are, who we want to be. And fashion isn’t just for stick insects with no soul: It’s everybody’s ball game. We all need to wear clothes and we’re lucky enough to live in a liberal metropolis where we all have the right to be expressive and outrageous from time to time – from now on I intend to take full advantage of that.

Of course it’s all a little bit silly: No one really needs a shiny pair of trousers to make them feel empowered. But I happen to be a huge advocate of silliness. What we wear, whatever that may be, should make us feel like the best, brightest, boldest versions of ourselves. Wearing bright, beautiful clothing is like creating your own bit of sunshine on a cloudy day. So put on your rainbow socks, sparkly shoes or whatever it is that makes you look in the mirror and go “WOW” – because it’s bloody miserable outside and we all deserve some sunshine.

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