Awkward things.

Juice As I Expected


It’s that time of year again! Yes, the time when I willingly submit myself to a chewing ban. Last year I juiced for nine weeks. This year I’m going for twelve weeks, because I am an attention-seeking masochist. This is my diary of the first week…

Day 1: It’s day one and I am confused. It’s not like I’m a newbie at this. If juice fasting won medals, I would have a freaking medal, but there are no medals, so we should just move on before my hopes realise what’s happening. Like I said, I am confused. I know what the first few days of a juice fast bring, and this is not it. The whole day I’ve been happy, energetic, and less likely to eat my loved ones than usual. That is not how it’s supposed to go down! Where are my headaches and random pains and extreme tiredness? Where are my mood swings and urges to kill? If I’m feeling good, are my toxins still hanging out inside me, waiting to mutate all of my cells with a sledgehammer? Call me paranoid, I don’t care. I could at least get an itchy boob or something. If I don’t get a good dowse of misery tomorrow, I’m writing a letter of complaint to Joe Cross…

Day 2: Today’s phrase is: I am sooo tired! Seriously, I can’t stop saying it. Also I can’t get out of bed, even though I need the toilet and would quite like to not die of dehydration. Isn’t that the strangest situation in the world? I need to pee, but I’m so thirsty! If I drink will I explode? If I pee will I die? Oh what a crazy, exciting life I lead. Anyway, I had a few juicing symptoms, so Joe and I are still bros. I had a mild headache this morning, I have felt a bit bleurgh at random times and have a delightfully disgusting tongue. And now of course I have glued myself to the bed with no hope of escape. Oh well never mind, this is most people’s dream come true.

Day 3: Today I am the weirdo who randomly grins at strangers. I am happy – SO happy. I think someone may have spiked my juice… I am just hanging out in my big bubble of Zen and gratitude and cheesy pop music and puppies and everything awesome about life. I remember this feeling, and I’ve just realised that I haven’t felt it since I last juiced. There is a well of joy inside me that’s only tapped when I’m juicing. How crazy is that? It’s mad how what you consume can change who you are. And this is probably proof that eating junk turns me into a psychotic, tearful mess. Juice it is then!

Day 4: Back to tired again. My body is doing this strange, looping rollercoaster of feelings. Elated and dancing around the supermarket to unconscious and back again. Today I decided that it would be a brilliant idea to muse on the meaning of life. This is NEVER a good idea, and always ends in misery and alcohol and death. Luckily there’s pineapple in my afternoon juice, so I’m distracted by the deliciousness more quickly than I would be by chocolate, since this is my only food source. Ooh, and while we’re talking about it, I don’t want chocolate. Ikr? I can’t even remember what it tastes like, it’s that much of a burned bridge. So I’m on the up of the rollercoaster right now, hanging out on the smug side of town.

Day 5: I am feeling good! I have all the energy and have used it for swimming and cycling and wandering to the library. I want to read all the books. I’m feeling super motivated right now, like I could become a completely different person, one who’s named after fairy tale creatures and says things like ‘rad’ and has delicate facial piercings and builds robots for fun. I love her already and I’ve just invented her. I’ve got to the point where I am not having much mood difference between full and hungry. I am not hangry any more, merely in need of juice. I am Zen and serene like a beautiful, robot-building mermaid. Must google how to swim, because I almost drowned several times. Not the juice’s fault, that’s my own ineptitude and lack of practice. But juice will transform me into a mermaid, because juice is like magic!

Day 6: I want to sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep. I was fine until I spotted my bed, and now all I want to do is snuggle up and grab some delicious Z’s. Everything hurts, I am freezing and I am verging on irritable. I’m pretty sure my body’s unearthed some major toxins under last month’s Glamour magazine, and now they’re raising hell, because in my head, my body is like a theme park spa. You know, there are rollercoasters, and they screech to a stop and flip you into a hot tub. Disney characters hand you glasses of champagne and Gaston, (my new boyfriend, Gaston) is on hand to rub you down in all the right places. Yeah, my body is definitely like that. So who can blame the poor little vicious toxins if they don’t want to leave? Exactly.

Day 7: I want to say that I am feeling freaking amazeballs, and bouncing off every wall there is, like a kid who’s inhaled a lifetime supply of sherbet sticks. I’m not. I’m tired. I’m so tired. I just want to sleep for a week, and I’m telling you this because, in my juicy experience, this is atypical. By day seven I should be verging towards something like normal at least. Maybe I would be if my tyrannical boss didn’t decide that today would be the day that we did ALL the work. Maybe I would be if I hadn’t embarked on a pretty packed exercise schedule. Who knows? All I know is that I’ve only lost three pounds, and instead of being upset about it, I’m happy. I have gained muscle. I know this because my calves are like rocks and my downward facing dog is looking pretty awesome.

So there we go. It’s the first week of twelve, and like being in a car driven by a platypus, it’s been a bumpy ride.* But it will get better. Oh wow, I sound so morose. I’m not, I promise. I’m just concentrating really hard on holding my face over my laptop via one elbow. Drool is a tech killer, people. So now I’m going to sleep, but before I do, I’m putting money on the fact that I’ll wake up as freaking Pollyanna.

*Platypuses are notoriously inept drivers. Everyone knows that.

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New Resolutions


I think anyone over the age of twenty would have to completely disagree with Willow Smith. Time does exist. We know it exists because it’s been screwing us around for the past however many years, making us believe that it’s going to be there when we’ve finished the Netflix marathon, or after the ‘quick’ Tumblr browse that lasts for all of eternity and then some, or after the super important crafting experiment that basically consists of gluing fluffy stuff to shiny stuff and covering the whole thing in ALL THE GLITTER!!! But time, being the fickle bitch that it is, has gone off with its cooler, thinner friends by that point, to do all the things you said you’d do once you could be bothered. Lesson one billion and fifty four: You will never be bothered. Excited? Yes. Completely kitted out and poor? Totally. But bothered? Next week, maybe.

And that’s the beauty of New Year’s resolutions. They are not happening right now when you want to be doing something much more fun involving many more calories. But they creep up on you. Time roars forward, because it totally exists, and as well as being older, greyer, fatter, wrinklier and a whole lot grumpier, you are also being shamed by your own ego. Remember when you said you were going to do yoga every day? Remember when you were going to learn to play the drums and start a punk band? How’s that novel you’ve been working on, huh? It was all well and good when it was in the future, because it was a beautiful, fictional dream. But once it’s here and it’s real and it’s not getting done, that’s when life starts to suck.

I’m not saying don’t make resolutions. No way am I saying that. Self-improvement is my guilty pleasure. I absorb self-help books and affirmations with all the smug joy of Gwyneth Paltrow, but without the awesome body and bazillions in the bank. I just think that you have to ease into bettering yourself. The thing is, we’ve all got this image of who we could be in our heads. Some are achievable and some aren’t. To figure out which camp you fall into, I’ve created a quiz. Yay! Quiz!!! Ok, so here we go…

Q1. When you imagine future you, does he/she:

  1. Look like you, but thinner/happier/healthier/chiller/richer/etc.?
  2. Look like Adriana Lima/Vin Diesel/Taylor Swift/Ryan Gosling?

Q2. Think about your goals for a second. Are they:

  1. So achievable you’re thinking of asking your gran if she wants to get bigger guns too?
  2. So terrifying that they would make The Rock burst into tears?

Q3. Have you thought about the fact that you might fail?

  1. Yeah, but it’s cool. You’re not going to beat yourself up. You’ll just get back on the horse.
  2. Fail? Me? Pfft. You’re cray cray, Holmes.

Q4. Why are you even doing this anyway, when you could be drinking ice-cream in bed for 365 days straight?

  1. Because I want to be healthier/calmer/more successful/happier/more well-rounded.
  2. Because I think it’ll help me score.

It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out that if you’re hanging out on the b side of the fence, you’re doing it wrong. For resolutions to work out, they need to be realistic, achievable and for the right reasons. You also need to have a back-up plan, because life happens at the most inconvenient times, but if you’re ready for it, you’ll be fine. People are amazing and they do incredible stuff all the time, but in order to be amazing, you need to bullet-proof yourself, or you’ll go down with the first hit.

There’s a lot of stuff that I intended to do this year that didn’t get done, because all I had was the intention without the solid plan in place. I was totally going to do a zip line. This was definitely happening. Absolutely. But it was too cold, then life was too busy, then the place I was planning on was closed. It’s impressive how awesome we are at making excuses. The truth is, I was scared. Really scared. The idea of doing a zip line? Yes. Hell to the yes. I am so into that. Once I’ve done a zip line, I can do anything. I will collect my Wonder Woman certificate and cape and get on with my life. That’s the dream anyway. In real life I have a fear of heights so crippling that I climb two steps of a ladder and Freak. OUT. So it didn’t happen. Am I sticking it on next year’s list? Duh. Will it happen? Hopefully. I’ve taken baby steps to get over my fears, so I will cross things. But if it doesn’t, I won’t beat myself up.

This year I got a lot done, and that is because I didn’t make resolutions. I made goals. Clear, concrete, black and white goals. Here is my list for you to see how I did:

2014 goals

Because I’m me, my eyes are drawn to the big blank spaces that should be filled by ticks. But that’s bogus, because come on; I’ve done well. I’ve done a lot. A year is a long, short time. While you’re in it, it’s like wading through treacle. We wish away the minutes and the hours to get to other days. We pine for holidays and birthdays and whatevers. But the year seems to go by so much faster than the days do. Before you know it, you’re another year older and you’ve thrown it all away with wishing. And that’s how you know you’re old, because you’ve figured out that it can’t be controlled, and you start to realise that you want to hold onto every minute, before the minutes add up and it’s over. So don’t make resolutions, make goals. Try your best to achieve them, and if you fall down, get up, because the time goes whether you waste it or use it, and you can do more with less than you think.

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A Serious of Unfortunate Food Choices


Like a lot of ladies, I am carrying a few extra pounds. And when I say a few extra pounds, I mean call me Richard Branson and get my private plane, because we’re off to Necker Island. And like a lot of ladies, I get kinda bummed when I realise that lbs aren’t cash money, and the closest to a private plane I can get right now is stealing a Morrisons trolley, climbing into it and squeakily wheeling it off a cliff.

I am Rubenesque, voluptuous, bootylicious and all the words that mean fat that aren’t fat, because screw you, that’s why. And mostly I’m ok with it. That is until that horrifying moment when I actually bother to glance in a mirror. Cue shopping trolley fantasies. That’s when the diets start. Of course we all know diet is code for only eating a quarter of an apple a month until I fit into my goal outfit, and then eat ALL THE FOOD before someone sees. Probably not a great idea, but hey, I’m keeping the economy up. Where would we be if I wasn’t spending obscene amounts of money on maternity trousers and cake? You’re welcome.

But I have this friend. This MALE friend. Hey, no misandry here, just pointing out a scientific, anatomical fact of life. Anyway, this MALE friend, who is a MAN, is a GUY who seems to eat whatever the hell he feels like and has the gall to hang out in the healthy BMI zone like a complete bastard. Long story super short: I hate him. I have a complicated and not entirely legal plan to steal his thyroid, because that’s obviously his skinny little helper, right? He eats all this crap and his thyroid buzzes straight through it, letting him stay in magical happy land with all the Victoria’s Secret angels. On a yacht. Probably.

But is it that or am I completely kidding myself?

Well I’m glad you asked, my wonderful reader, because, for you, I decided to take on the terrifying task of eating EXACTLY what Skinny McBaggypants ate for a whole week. All in the name of truth. And science. And other good things that are likely to win me a Nobel Prize.

Day One

Otherwise known as the day I almost died from overdosing on food. I didn’t even know that this was possible, or to put it another way, I thought I was pretty much immune to food. I mean, I am good at eating it. I sit at the top of the league table. But day one was a challenge. It started off with stomach grumbling agony. I was majorly hangry by the time he decided that chips were a good idea. Damn right they’re a good idea, I thought, anything with the slightest inkling of being edible is a good idea. EAT ALL THE THINGS! And then he ate all the things, meaning that I had to eat all the things. Cue lying in bed with a kicking food belly, feeling very sorry for myself and regretting this whole stupid idea.

Day Two

Usually I’m not that into murder, but today that changed. How is it possible to go half the day on nothing but a sugar-filled coffee? How?! I’ll admit I cheated a teensy bit. Well, I didn’t cheat, I bent the rules slightly. Basically, I moved the food. I ate the same things as him, but at saner hours. So I had the sandwiches at lunchtime, rather than right before dinner, Costa between sandwiches and dinner, and dinner at, shock, horror, faint, die, DINNER TIME. I know, I know, I’m a maverick, but I’m also a hero, since I pretty much saved a lot of lives.

Day Three

Who knew that eating all the food in the whole world could be a terrible, horrible thing? Today I was exposed to the joys of carb-ing up. And protein-ing up. And fat-ing up. And caffeine-ing up. If it was edible, it was eaten. You know those days when the diet starts tomorrow? Cool, good. And you know when you go to a party and it’s a special occasion, so you eat seven packets of crisps, all the houmous and pretty much everything in sight? Yeah, this was those two occasions smooshed together, sprinkled with sauce of ‘Screw it, it’s Christmas.’ But it was a normal day! The food just kept coming, like it was a contest, and I’m sure I lost.

Day Four

I’m getting used to feeling like I’m going to die soon. Like, I think my arteries hate me. And my stomach. My brain is sick of it all and has gone on vacation without leaving a note. I am daydreaming about fruit and salad and delicious, delicious juice. I am plotting my shift to the dark side. I want to do a water fast for a year. I might go breatharian. Anything just to get all this sugar and salt and crap out of me. I feel like I’m built out of stodge, squished lumps of bread pasted together with a slop of yellow fat. I can no longer stand the sight of crackers. And I hate, hate, HATE whisky!

Day Five

Today was another horrible day. I am going to list my symptoms to adequately convey how much of a MAHOOSIVE mistake this was. Ahem. I am currently suffering from: Headache, stomach ache, backache, aching everything actually, tiredness, spots, major mood swings, the need to constantly sit down and glare at anyone who comes near me, hardcore negativity, and scarily vivid fruit fantasies. I would literally kill for a pineapple. I mean, I would usually only murder for passion fruit and truffles, but I would take a pineapple in return for a body. Or a mango. Your choice. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND VITAMIN PACKED, PLEASE FEED ME FRUIT!

Day Six

Today I cracked. After um-ing and ah-ing and ohmygod-ing, I decided to give up. I have had a constant headache for the past few days, felt like my feet were in imminent danger of falling off, and I almost fainted. I’d like to think of it as quitting in the way that you might quit alcohol or smoking or meth. I am saying no to everything processed and white and cardboard.

Ok, so at the end of five and a half days, I have gained half a stone, a skin problem and anger management issues. I suppose I learned what I set out to prove, and that’s that certain people have superhuman thyroids that are in cahoots with the devil. But I also learned something WAY more important than that, which is that I am not jealous. I don’t want to survive on chips and bread and pies. Not even if I had the magical ability to stay super skinny with it. Because after less than a week I can tell you that the food I’ve eaten is crap. If in such a short space of time, a diet can screw over your whole body and turn you into a walking ball of rage, it’s not exactly selling itself. So I’m going to ditch the frankenfood and revert back to my old ways. If you need me, I’ll be face first in a watermelon.


5 Things I Learned By Getting Into Mensa


Recently I took two IQ tests, hoping that Mensa might, you know, ask me to hang out or whatever. And, awesomely, they did! Cue party hats and kissing glasses and photo opportunities. Or not.

I was ready to write this article whether I made it, or whether the letter that landed on the mat was a big fat “no thanks,” because I knew that I was going to learn something either way. This is one of those big deals in my life that means a lot, but not for the reasons I thought it would. It doesn’t matter because I got in. It wouldn’t matter because I didn’t. It matters because I tried, and you learn a lot when you reach for something you want.

I will admit it. I took the test because a lot of people think I’m stupid, and I wanted to be like “Um, actually…” I can be blonder than Paris Hilton sometimes. I panic about filling in forms, was convinced until recently that anvils were a comedic prop created by Looney Tunes, and walk into inanimate objects on an almost hourly basis. I am also what my friends kindly refer to as ‘adorable’. I insist that they name their cars, I swear that I have seen a unicorn, and I cannot resist the allure of anything in my path that sparkles.

But I am not stupid.

I do algebraic equations for fun, I can recite the 27 moons of Uranus in order of orbital period, and I read more than my optician is happy with. I am a healthy mix of fluff and dust. I am a grumpy old man in a tutu, poring over yellowed pages on special relativity, whilst knocking back a drink that’s pink and comes, pleasingly, with a cocktail umbrella and a curly straw.

On the outside, yeah, I seem to be a bit on the slow side of the street, but a poor grasp of blacksmith tools does not an idiot make. So I took this as an opportunity to prove to people that I am not as thick as I look, and also to prove it to myself. When you are treated a certain way, if you’re not careful, you can start to believe that you are what they think you are. But I didn’t just get a shiny certificate and a metaphorical pat on the back, I got a lot more than that.

Here is what I learned…

  1. Things aren’t as horrifically terribly horrendous as they seem.

On test day I was constantly reminding myself about my question-reading weakness, and the fact that I should take it slowly, not rush and read every question thoroughly, rather than doing what I am wont to do, and giving the opposite answer because I’m not paying attention. So the first test started and I plodded through, conscious of every possible slip avoided. It was going well until BZZZ. Time up. What? WHAT?! Noooo. Head meet hands. I missed so many questions on that test. But it was ok. It didn’t matter. I screwed up super badly and left half the sheet blank, but test two saved my question-reading backside. Side lesson: Three minutes is no time at all if you’re not paying attention.

  1. I care.

A LOT. The day before the test I was terrified, during the test I was a wreck, after the test I was an emotional car crash. Suddenly getting into Mensa was the only thing I wanted in the world, and if I didn’t get in, I was an intellectually stunted moron. In fact, why was I even bothering to try? Everyone knew I was stupid, it was common knowledge. The fact that I was wasting everyone’s time here wasn’t only laughable, it was offensive. This test would serve as nothing more than a baseball bat to crack me down the few pegs that I’d mistakenly ascended. When the congratulations letter arrived, I screamed and phoned my best friends before even bothering to take off my shoes.

  1. It doesn’t actually matter.

At first it is the best feeling in the world. It’s official. You are an intelligent person. The other intelligent people want to play with you. You can visit libraries and discuss Shakespeare and do Rubik’s cubes together. All the yay for you! But it doesn’t last long. I am still me, ditzy as a poodle with a mouth full of candy floss. Except now I have a certificate. I guess it’s the equivalent of having a lifetime of low self-esteem issues and someone telling you how pretty you are. It’s nice to hear, a shock even, so much of a shock, in fact, that you decide that they are a liar, probably a scam artist. There’s a pyramid scheme trundling into your future, pulled on a cart by a man with a pocketful of magic beans. There is probably some screw up with the test. You’re not going to make anyone aware, but you know, oh you know.

  1. Nobody is impressed.

My mum’s response was to screw up her face and ask me where I came from. No parental pride from that side of the fence. My friends were more curious. The thing about having the appearance of being a few paintbrushes short of a picnic, is that once you get into the genius club, everyone else decides they can too. Rather than Mensa being a prestigious organisation for brainiacs, it becomes accessible. Which is fine and dandy and all that jazz. But it’s also a teensy bit, I don’t know, annoying. It feels like “Pfft! They let you in? That means I could do the test with my elbows, wearing my knickers on my head whilst Benedict Cumberbatch whispers breathily into my ears!” Instead of people’s opinion of my intelligence going up, I’ve managed to bring people’s opinion of Mensa’s standards DOWN. I am probably the only person in the world that could manage to do it, so slow clap for me.

  1. I am brave.

Intelligence is all well and good, but the best thing that I realised is that I am brave. I’ve been pushing myself this year to jump off all the metaphorical cliffs, and have mostly only managed to walk to the edge, shudder and scramble backwards to safety, whilst creating new and unusual swear words. But I took the test, even though it was terrifying, even though there was a high likelihood that I would get a letter saying “Hahahahahahahaha… No.” Bravery is being scared and pushing through the fear. Bravery is telling your coward of a brain to STFU. Bravery is risking your shaky opinion of yourself on the chance that someone somewhere might just agree. I took a chance and whatever the outcome, it would have paid off because I didn’t leave the chance on the shelf in the first place.

So yeah. I am smart and I can be dumb. I am scared and I am brave. I am a human being with a bucket load of contradictions wrestling inside of me like a bunch of greased up deaf guys. And that’s ok, because, I’ve realised, most people are.

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I Am Nine and I Am Fat


I am nine and I am fat.

The older girls have noticed what I can only call man boobs, since puberty won’t hit me for another four years. They say I need a bra. On the bus ride home they push gum into my hair and spit at me. I don’t want to be fat if this is what it means. I’ve heard the word before. My mum uses it as she screws up her face in disgust and tugs at her belly. I like her belly. She lets me play patty cake with it, when we’re lying on the sofa eating biscuits dunked into her tea with no sugar. It sounds hollow inside, like something’s fallen out. Maybe that’s what’s making her sad.

I wasn’t always bigger than the other kids. I used to fit in with everyone else, hiding under a cover of approved hobbies, cheering for the right football teams and requesting Barbies for Christmas. Then my nan died and a chunk of something fell out of me, just like with mum. I never discovered what it was that fell, but I found out how to fill it. Crisps worked best, packets and packets of them, chocolate too, trifles and cakes and all the bread in the house, cut into slices and delicately dipped in egg. Then when that wasn’t enough, it was wolfed down in platefuls of toast and mountains of sandwiches, barely stopping to breathe.

I am eleven and I am obese.

That’s a new word I’ve just learned. It’s the only thing that fits me. I kind of like having a name and a status to crawl into. I’m not like the other kids. I wear tracksuits and trainers and sing musical theatre at the top of my lungs. I write stories about the friends I never made and the brothers and sisters I never had. I imagine boyfriends and send myself love letters, always too pink, too saccharin, too obvious. But now I have a word for what I am and a place where I belong. Capital O. Obese. I finger the leaflet in my hands, with the smiling, skinny kids holding carrots and jumping rope. Another has a boy that looks like me, sitting, shoulders rolled forwards, mouth wound down, alone. That’s who I am now.

I knew this was coming, the whole measurement thing, and I tried my best to get out of it. I cried until my parents wrote a note to the school nurse, claiming spurious religious reasons for my opting out of the medical. The school nurse saw right through it, (of course) and asked me directly whether I would consent to being weighed and measured FOR MY HEALTH. Being a child who can’t say no to a cupcake, I nodded silently as she guided me to the scales. The BMI chart was shaded from sunshine to vomit. I am deep into the vomit section. I get the feeling that I am a terrible person, that my double chin will somehow keep me out of heaven. I picture Satan dangling crisp packets in front of my mouth and suck it shut. I grab the rolls of fat, and I vow to live on carrot sticks and fresh air until I fall into the friendly, yellow slice of the graph, labelling me ‘OK’.

I am thirteen and nothing’s growing the way it’s supposed to.

I’ve seen pictures, so you’d think I’d be prepared, but I’ve decided that I’m an alien, or a genetic mutation that hasn’t been seen before. I’ve yet to discover my super power. I hope it’s invisibility. How I’ve prayed for that. My boobs are growing down instead of out. My body’s growing out instead of up. My sweat stinks of cigarettes and everyone’s convinced that I’ve started smoking. I haven’t. My mum’s cigarette smoke seeps into everything. Even smelling like an ashtray can’t add a popularity point to my score. If anything, I’m in the minus digits.

I’ve invented a boyfriend. His name’s Ashley and I send soppy texts to my own number to prove his existence. No-one’s figured it out yet. Ashley thinks I’m beautiful. He calls my dimples cute and thinks I look perfect without any makeup. Ashley doesn’t care that I’m four sizes bigger than the other girls, that my bedroom floor is littered with chocolate pudding pots with the sides licked clean, that the number on the scale keeps ticking up and up and up. Ashley doesn’t care because he’s imaginary. Real boys look at me like I have the plague. They part like the red sea when I walk through the halls. Sometimes I fall into believing my own beautiful lie, until I have to text myself again and the vision cracks and breaks. Then I cry into my pillow and wonder how I could be so stupid.

I am seventeen and I have a boyfriend that I didn’t earn.

Every time he touches me, I cringe away from his fingertips, certain that he can feel my worthlessness through my t-shirt. I’m too fat for a boyfriend really, everyone thinks it and it’s not like I don’t know. I just keep crossing my fingers and hoping that he doesn’t realise and run away. I’m afraid to hold his hand. He thinks it’s him. I just don’t want to claim him in public, don’t want the world to know how low he’s stooped on the social scale. I don’t want to embarrass him. His best friend has all the fat jokes you can think of on repeat, and all the jibes waiting on the tip of his tongue to snipe at me, to slap me back in line. I think he thinks I haven’t heard them before, that with every footstep, I’m not calling myself the names that hurt the most, urging myself to walk faster. Fat. Bitch. Fat. Bitch.

I’m waiting for the day my boyfriend sees through my veneer. It’s just hard for me to pretend to be happy when he’s getting so close. One day I’ll let him under my skin. One day I’ll let him underneath my clothes. His hands will wander and freeze when they feel flesh, warm thick flesh that shifts an inch with every movement. Sometimes I think that I’m a good liar, like maybe the outside world sees the girl I’m projecting. Then I see myself side on, my stomach stretched out and my head shrunken by car windows in the sun, and I realise it’s only myself I’m fooling. There is no shell and there is no camouflage and there is no safety net. I’ve jumped. For him I’ve jumped, and he hasn’t run yet. Perhaps this is love. Maybe love isn’t roses and perfumed love notes and stretching up to reach his lips in the rain, but feeling swollen, dimpled skin and not giving up and going home.

I am eighteen and I am hungry.

I’ve been living on too little for too long. My dad told me to stop eating and I did. Just like that. For years I’ve been stuffing my face with everything that my hands can grab, and now I’ve discovered the secret. Just stop. At first it was a revelation. The scale’s hands juddered left every morning, another pound down. Every time my stomach growled beneath my desk I would smile, superior in my starvation. I was getting thinner. With every minute that I didn’t taste or chew or swallow, I was shrinking, purifying, transforming. And then I turned the corner and smacked right into a wall. I can’t sleep. I can’t think. I can’t string a sentence together. All I know is the clack of the scale as my soles slap against it, and the pounding of my heart, too loud, as I wait, naked and shivering, staring blindly into the bathroom mirror.

My life has become a series of mathematical equations. I used to see the world in Guitar Hero format. I’d close my eyes and reds and greens would descend on me. Now I close my eyes and I see ones and twos and, God forbid, fives, flashing like warning lights, telling me to stop eating. There are too many numbers. 100 kcals + 580 kcals. How many grams of fat? How much do I need to eat to lose? Too late. How much to sustain? Too late. How much am I going to gain? How long until dinner? BMIs, BMRs, fluctuating dress sizes, calories in an avocado, calories in a rice cake. I could drink five hundred cans of diet soda and be fine. I’ve forgotten my cell phone number again.

I am nineteen and I am alone.

The inevitable happened. He dumped me. I should have seen it coming, but I fell into the fairy tale. His mum told him that he needs to be single right now. He’s going to university and he should be open to new things and new people. People that aren’t me. I want to hate her, but I know she’s right. I’m like a rusty anchor dragging him down into the dark. I keep trying to remember that the success rate for first loves is hardly impressive anyway, but deep down I know it’s me. If I was thinner, I’d be harder to leave. If I was beautiful, I’d be worth keeping. If I was anything other than myself, I wouldn’t be scrolling down his Myspace page, clicking constantly at the word ‘single’ as if I could undo it, whilst shovelling ice-cream into my mouth.

I feel like I should be grateful that I had him at all. I feel like the last two years were charity work for him. He was doing me a favour and now I should just let him leave for greater things and a wider world. It’s been, what, two weeks and he has a new girlfriend already. She looks a lot like me. Her cheeks hide her eyes when she smiles, but she doesn’t smile often enough to tell. Still my brain blames the blubber that’s bulging out beneath my skin, crowding around my elbows and my knees. I still have his hat, and his hoodie, and a pair of pants that I tried to squeeze into, but failed. It feels like a metaphor for us, so I keep them, even though they don’t fit.

I am twenty-six and I am fat.

I’m only just learning what my body can do and thinking how dumb that is. My whole life I’ve seen my stomach as a sign of my status, my thighs as mottled, bloated skin packed with lard, intent on scraping against each other just to piss me off, my boobs as flaps of skin to be built up with padded bras and one day slit open and stuffed with silicone. It never occurred to me that my body is fit for purpose. My body moves. My feet can take me anywhere. My hands can hold someone else’s. My eyes can show me the world if I care to look hard enough. My body is a gift and I’m sick of hating it.

So what if it’s not like the pictures in the magazines? I am not a girl in a magazine. I am a real person and I’m done with living my whole day in someone else’s terms. If I have cake, the world won’t implode. If my jeans are snug fresh from the wash, it’ll be all right. If someone makes a catty comment about my bingo wings, that’s their damage. I don’t have time for other people’s opinions, and I don’t have time to starve and pop pills and develop complicated mathematical formulae for how much salad is too much. As long as I can dance, I will, and as long as I can smile, I should.

When I look at strangers, I don’t see legs and stomachs and arms and cheeks. I see people. We are people. We are souls stuffed into bodies. We are brains and hearts. We are doers, dreamers, thinkers, achievers. We can climb mountains and run marathons and skydive. We build computers and write books and give birth. We are gifted with these amazing tools and we’re all too eager to insult them or scar them or starve them. We try to squeeze our bodies into soul-shaped holes and it’s impossible. I’m never going to look like someone else and that’s fine, because I am me, with all my lumps and bumps and beauty spots and bruises.

But it’s hard. It’s hard to say that you like the way you look. Even if you’re Adriana Lima, it’s hard because we are brought up to find faults. “Oh my gosh, my nose is so big.” “Yeah? Well check out these pimples.” It’s all a big competition of who can be the ugliest, who can be the saddest. And while we’re busy picking ourselves apart, we’re only too quick to throw compliments at other people. “Shut up, you look great. You’re crazy!” How about you compliment yourself, because you’re crazy too, and you’re beautiful, just like them. I’m beautiful, and I am not a mannequin or a painting or a dream. I am a real girl with real feelings.

So from now on, whenever people look at me they won’t see a body. I won’t let them. They will see a smile, perfectly formed, because I know who I am, and I’m done with hiding it under blankets of insecurity.

I am twenty-six and I am gorgeous, and my BMI can go die in a fire.


Sick of Not Being Successful


I am sick of not being successful, completely and utterly bored out of my mind with the idea of not being who I know I can be. I mean, I thought I’d be there by now. I had a ten year plan. I made lists. I consulted self-help books. I visualised and I created vision boards and I thought positively and… Yeah, no, definitely not successful yet. So who do I have a word with about that? Is there like, I don’t know, a manager or someone I could consult with? Did my wishes go to the wrong address? Is there a delay? Will I be refunded? Who do you blame when your wishes don’t come true?

And I’m trying. I’m trying so hard. I rock a crazy schedule, working and writing and editing and pitching and pushing everything forward, across the gravel with my nose, but it’s like I’ve hit a wall. Of lava. And I have no idea where this metaphor is headed, so let’s just say that the metaphor is a metaphor for me. I have no idea where I’m headed. I’m running blind, just hoping and wishing and tripping over shadows.

You know what sucks about the freelance world? You could pitch something that you think is perfect. It’s completely typo-free and just their style. You’re enthusiastic, complimentary, brief, explanatory, basically all the good stuff that gets an editor going, but two days after the pitch, the rejection hits your inbox like a freaking anvil. Why? WHY?! WHY DO YOU NOT WANT ME?! Who knows, man? You certainly don’t because they’re not telling. So you tweak and pitch, tweak and pitch, over and over until you get accepted or go insane. Or both. Usually both.

Sometimes I think that I just want to give up and lie on the sofa and stuff Pringles in my face. I want to watch reality TV and cuddle my dogs and just not care anymore. I’ve been writing at least one thousand words a day every day for the past year and a half. Some days I don’t want to, and I debate with myself, whether it’ll matter in the long run, and I think hard about taking just one night off,  but I don’t. I write. And I’m glad I did, because I know that one day turns into two, turns into a week, turns into a month, a year, a lifetime. I know that momentum is something that’s hard to get back. And I know that what I’m doing is working. I’m improving. I’m tallying up the little things that would have been big two years ago, but now they’re mundane. I should be grateful. I should be happy.

Neil Gaiman once said something, and I can’t find the exact quote, so I’ll paraphrase. Hey, maybe some of you wondrous research types could track it down? Basically it was about some advice he’d been given. The advice was to enjoy it. Don’t waste your time at the top freaking out about falling. You need to look around while you’re up there, admire the view, be thankful that you got so far, and marvel at how it was possible. But Neil Gaiman, like most human beings, ignored that awesome advice, panicked and worked like a nutcase scrambling to stay up there. I can imagine doing that. When you get somewhere you’ve always wanted to be, the worst thing in the world would be to have it taken away from you. But if you’re freaking out, you’re not enjoying it, so is it worth all the fear and the blind flailing to get to another location where you’re just doing what you did all the way up? Well if it’s good enough for Neil Gaiman…

I just want to get somewhere so different from where I am. I’ve thrown all of my previous dreams out the window. Screw marriage, (he never showed) screw kids, (just NO) screw illustrating, (I have no talent) screw teaching, (I don’t get on very well with grown-ups) screw everything that doesn’t involve putting words in the right order, because it’s all I want. I want a hardback copy of the inside of my mind. I want people to step into worlds I’ve unlocked for them. I want to make people feel all the things. I want to make people think and understand and talk and want. I want my scribbles to mean something. I want to inspire people to be the person that they can be, to be brave, to jump, to fly. I want to do exactly what other writers did for me. I want to teach people to believe in magic and hope and other people. I want them to breath in pages and feel all of their worries drop with their shoulders when they step inside a book shop. I want to help, and this is my way.

So I could just give up, shut up and sit down. I could just lie on the sofa and say maybe tomorrow and let time drip and drip and disappear. But I won’t. I have thought so many times that if I’m not successful by thirty, I’m out. I’m not cheapening suicide here, I mean it. This possible future is what I live for. I have tried to kill myself a few times before. Obviously I’m still here, and I am so, sooo grateful for that. I wouldn’t swap what I’ve known and felt and had for oblivion, not now. But I know that feelings come back, that darkness rises up if you feed it, that your life can short circuit if you let it. There will be days when it seems like the right thing to do, and there will be days when nothing could be better than being alive in that moment. In the words of a great man, “life is a rollercoaster”. So yeah, sometimes things get heavy and life gets hard, but I’m not done yet. I just need to remember that Kurt Vonnegut was a late literary bloomer, and as long as I’m alive, there’s always time.


I Feel Fuzzy and Woo!


Ok, so I don’t get drunk that often. And when I say I don’t get drunk that often, I mean it, like seriously. I’m not hanging out in the booze closet with a bottle of brandy in one hand and a tankard of cider in the other, hoping no-one comes to investigate the weird, glugging sound. I mean that in the past year I have been drunk a grand total of three times. Nope, I’m not a saint, but I’m also not a wino, so that’s something cool to add to my CV. I work well under pressure, (pfft) get along well with others, (HA!) and don’t have a drinking problem (yeah ri- Oh no, that one’s actually true. Score!). Everything in moderation and all that jazz.

But when I do decide to get gazeboed, I do it with style. The point of getting totally vajazzled is to grab yourself a good story, right? Hells to the yes times a zillion. And that is what I set out to do. Every time I purchase a bottle of something stronger than a Dr. Pepper, I am proclaiming my intentions to the world. I am out to completely and utterly mortify myself. All in the name of science, of course. And being a writer, there is always that thought in the back of my mind, or the front of my mind, SOMEWHERE in my mind, that this is an amazing opportunity. This is living. This is material. In the words of (my future husband) Jim Moriarty…


So in the interests of studying normal human beings, sometimes I like to make believe that I am one, infiltrate the in-crowd and get utterly and completely carparked. And I don’t just jump into it blind and crawl out of it the next morning, memory-less and grunting for a glass of water and some paracetamol. Oh no. I am no fool, my friends. The last time I was drunk, I made an effort to accost my friends via recorded instant messages. The time before that, I actually took a notebook and a voice recorder with me to sit on a park bench with a crush and glug rum until it was too dark to see the terror in his face. I repeat: Score!

But, as I’m sure you know, we humans are an imperfect lot, and not everything we decide to do goes completely to plan. Or at all to plan. Or even acknowledges that there might have been the merest hint of a possibility of a plan. Such is life. So the notebook and voice recorder plan? The utterly, totally, completely fool proof plan? Yeah, no. Didn’t work. The only things I recorded in my notebook were a few incoherent squiggles and the beautiful line, (that I may get tattooed one day, such is its intricate and delicate description of the human condition) ahem, “I feel fuzzy and woo.” Gold. And the tape recorder got switched off just as the night was getting interesting, because I decided that it was a terrible idea to record my live mortification, and that I’d probably find it hilarious, play it to everyone I know and regret it.

Drunk me happens to be a lot saner than sober me.

I have no idea what happened that night, apart from sending my best friend texts about love and bread, and the fact that I accidently tipped some rum over a stranger’s dog while enthusiastically trying to pet it and then fell asleep on a bucket swing.

When I am drunk, I become me times a billion. I am clumsier, ditzier and surprisingly, more eloquent. I mean, while I was throwing rum at dogs, I was also using words like compartmentalise. My handwriting also becomes this beautiful, calligraphied piece of art. Ok, so maybe it’s not THAT good, but it’s totally legible and everything! Which leads me to believe that being drunk all the time would be an excellent idea, and would probably result in me getting some sort of well-paid stapling job, but then I think NO. No, that is probably the worst idea that I have ever had, apart from that time that I decided to ride a blind, angry dragon to work and all those people died and town smelt like barbeque for a week.

The most embarrassing thing that happens when I am drunk is that my interest in the opposite sex goes into overdrive. Anyone that I’m with gets ALL THE COMPLIMENTS about the dumbest things. Like, “You have the most beautiful sideburns. I want to plait them.” I accost boys that I like with amorous (yet slightly nagging) and badly spelled messages. Luckily the boys I like tend to reply with information about their extractor fans. That or they edge away slowly in digital form, which tends to involve reading the message and NEVER REPLYING.

Side rant: Don’t read the message and not reply! REPLY! Or don’t read the message. But mostly reply. Please reply. Not that I’m needy or anything.


If I’m not messaging boys, I’m messaging my best friend ABOUT boys. Like, “Why is blahblah so booooooooring?” “Why does blahblah like football?” “Should I phone blahblah? I should totally phone him. Now is EXACTLY the right time to phone him. Quick, before I fall asleep and start drooling! I shall profess my undying love for him and THEN fall asleep! Yes! Plan!” Ok, scratch that about drunk me being any sort of sane. Clearly she’s a special kind of special.

And every time I get drunk, the next morning is the time for resolutions. I am never drinking again. EVER. EVEEEEEEEEEEEER! Four months later… Do you know what would be an AWESOME idea? I actually have a video recording that my ex-boyfriend made when he was seventeen or eighteen, where he’s in the dark, (the video is literally just black) and he’s slurringly bemoaning the fact that getting drunk is a terrible idea, and how he’s let everyone down and how he’s, yeah, you know what’s coming next… Never. Drinking. Again.

So I’m not going to say that. I am going to be the snowflakiest unicorn. I plan to get drunk again. I plan to pronounce words properly and to lose interest in writing anything useful. I will aggressively internet stalk boys who are so not interested that they’re considering moving to Canada. I will spill things and drop things and fall over. I will stumble across parks and sleep in inappropriate places and eat ALL THE BREAD, because after I’ve made a complete mess of everything and my reputation has been ripped from shreds to tatters, I will have an excuse.

I was drunk.

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Cosmo Article!

Regular readers and random wonderful people! Yes you!

Just so you know, Cosmo have published my article, “I Lost Six Stone and All I Got Was a Reality Check“.

It would be cool if you read it, but whatever you do, have an awesome day! 🙂


How do we Solve a Problem Like the Haters?


I’ve got something important and angry to say and I will try to say it in the kindest, least confrontational way that I can, but sometimes I get the urge to just take certain people, slather their face in superglue and slap a picture of Nicholas Cage over it.

This picture of Nicholas Cage:


It would be a beautiful moment.

Anyway, what I want to say is this:

Stop saying mean shit on the internet!

Stop it. Stop it right now. This has really been bothering me lately, and I don’t know if it’s because there’s more evil, or because my eyes are more open to it. Maybe I’m wandering over to where the trolls hang out, or maybe the trolls have figured out that they don’t need to chill under the bridge and have skulked out to crash the party. Trolling really is the internet equivalent of rocking up to someone’s smart casual, lurching wildly at the host’s wife, (whilst burbling on about how she’s fat and has no boobs) and then pissing in the crème brûlée. It’s gross and it’s rude and, what are we? Five? Grow the hell up.

This is not kindergarten. You can’t just screw with everyone’s colouring, steal the red scooter and rely on your meagre IQ to get you off with a few secs on the naughty step. I mean you do have the diminished intelligence excuse, but really. If you know that you’re a few chips short of a motherboard, just stay away from the information superhighway. Maybe collect stamps or photograph birds or something? Surely there’s something completely harmless that you can take up your time with. Then again, I suppose that idyllic pastimes can’t really compete with telling eleven year old girls to go die in a fire.

How amazing is the internet? Actually think about it for a moment. Imagine explaining the internet to people from, say, Victorian times. Can you? If you’re super smart, probably, (go you! I am not jealous in the slightest of your genius. At all. Really.) but the best I could come up with is saying that it’s a computer magic thingy that allows us to send friends and strangers our feelings about Taylor Swift’s Tumblr and pictures of baby sloths. And then I worried about explaining Tumblr, and then I gave up, because there are seriously enough conundrums in life without having to make people time travel into a land populated by Lolcats.

I really do not know how this internet malarkey works at all, and that confuses and enrages me. But even though I have these crazy intense feels about my inferiority and inability to code, I have no intension of heading over to and flaming some adorable, unsuspecting internet-users. By the way, doesn’t seem to exist, so if someone makes zillions off my awesome idea, I’d appreciate the kudos. But as I was saying… I mean, there are no WIRES! The internet is an incredible (possibly Pagan) device and we don’t appreciate it enough. But do you know who really doesn’t appreciate it? Haters. They could be using it for so much good, but instead they want to hurt people, random people, people they don’t even know.

And I wonder what they’re like, these trolls. I wonder where they are and why they ache so much to scar strangers. In my head they’re the sorts of people who build their own sad faces – downturned mouths and frowns and this permanent misery etched in their skin like their personal dark cloud. They bend over their laptops and they mutter and snipe, clicking on every single thing that they can find to burn down. But how many people like that can there be? They can’t all be the stereotypical trenchcoated loner. I don’t know anyone who would do that. I think of each of my friends and I can’t imagine that they’d have the inclination, or even the time to screw with someone’s happiness. I bet that you’re the same. I bet all your friends are angels, right? Or at least half-decent folk. So where are all these haters hiding?

Wherever they are, we need to hunt them down, with our pitchforks and our torches and our battering ram. We will storm the castle and rescue the girl and- Hold on, that’s a scene in Beauty and the Beast. Scratch that. You kill more haters with pictures of Nicholas Cage than fire. What are these people after? They want to break stuff, right? They want to smash bottles and burn buildings and break bones. They want to screw society from their sofa, and by reacting, maybe we’re letting them. Every time you enter a flame war, every time you give in to Godwin’s law, every time you grab a tub of popcorn and settle down to watch the fur fly, you are saying that it’s ok. And it’s not. It’s so not ok.

So here’s what I think we should do:

  1. Don’t bait haters, UNLESS you are commenting on their bile with the cutest pictures you can find. I’m thinking sloths feeding hamsters, while kittens look on and cross-stitch motivational slogans for miniature llamas. Or something like that.*
  2. Spread the love, man. I’m talking about whenever you read something that you like, even a little bit, why not say something? Even if it’s just a simple ‘I liked this’, or a thumbs up, or whatever. Just make an effort to spread peace and love and smiley faces. If we all work together, we can start a kindness revolution.
  3. And don’t be one of them. Think before you comment or tweet or reblog the hate. How innocuous is what you’re saying, really? You might think it doesn’t matter or it won’t hurt, but stick on the other person’s shoes. It’s hard to put your heart on the internet. It’s hard to create something and set it free, only to have it shot down. If you don’t like something, stop reading. There’s no need to say. Maybe it wasn’t meant for you. Of course, if you have constructive criticism, word it well and send that shit out into the universe. Hopefully you’ll help. But if all you have to say is how you wasted five minutes of your life, YOU’RE WASTING MORE TIME BY COMMENTING. Grab some common sense and click on something that hits the right spot.

We need to remember that people are people, and people have feelings. So don’t trample over their feelings. Make love, not war. Appreciate, don’t spread the hate. And above all things, be as nice as nanas knitting in the snow to a Boyzone song. Or you’ll be waking up and looking in the mirror and seeing Nicholas Cage screaming back at you.

You have been warned.

*WARNING: The most evil people will not be deterred by this, and will possibly respond with comments or pictures about killing said cute things. Proceed with caution and the strongest of stomachs.

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Sleep Problems


Lately I’ve been having trouble sleeping. I’m usually a crazy heavy sleeper. Like, I can literally pass out anywhere. One of my friends drives like Jenson Button on speed and yet I manage to catch some Zs in his car. I can also sleep through earthquakes, hurricanes and alien abductions. Don’t ask me how I know. I just do, all right?

Also I used to never have nightmares. EVER. Another friend of mine has nightmares all the time and does crazy amounts of damage, breaking teeth and battering her husband and everything. But I’ve always had the type of zen sleep that I’m sure the Dalai Lama gets. That clear conscience, totally just checked a few souls into enlightenment shiz. Recently though, I’ve been jerking awake in a cold sweat. The other night I had a nightmare about the manager of my local coffee shop being a complete see you next Tuesday to me. She was supposed to be giving me an interview, but completely ignored me to play World of Warcraft. We now have a feud in real life that she doesn’t even know about.

I keep a notebook next to my bed that I ignore like it’s my job. It’s supposed to be a dream journal or something, but mostly it’s used as a paperweight. Sometimes I balance drinks on it until I decide that that’s a terrible idea and move the drinks perilously close to my laptop instead. Obviously I suck at learning lessons. But even though my notebook goes unused, sometimes, in a fit of conscious unconsciousness I will find somewhere to scribble down notes from dreams that seem to matter at the time. Not in the notebook though. Never the notebook. I bet that if I ever actually used the notebook, the world would implode, or a genie would appear, or it would be like the literary version of Jumanji… Ok, now I’m determined to never use the notebook.

This morning I woke up to find that I’d scrawled something in pencil onto a piece of tracing paper, which in my sleep-addled state is somehow better than writing in a book specifically designed for that purpose. I lifted it up to the light and squinted at it. “I can’t die now, because my room would make a rubbish shrine.” Yes, I thought, glancing around, it would make a rubbish shrine, and this is relevant to the human condition how? How will this solve the world peace conundrum? How will this generate food for the hungry or shelter for the homeless? How will this cure cancer or HIV or Ebola? Clearly subconsciously I’m much more concerned about the amount of candles that I own.

Also, I think Paul McKenna might be screwing with me. I’ve been listening to these self-hypnosis tapes. Actually, they’re not tapes. I don’t know why I called them tapes. Maybe I’ve finally become one of those constantly confused little old ladies. Every song is a record, every guy under forty is “such a nice young man” and every problem can be solved with a cup of tea and a little sit.

Anyway, so I’ve been listening to these self-hypnosis whatevers, and Paul McKenna is promising to transform me into a skinny, confident, genius billionaire or something like that. I didn’t actually read the small print, but I think that’s what’s supposed to happen. But all that actually seems to be happening is that I wake up at midnight, (yes, I know that to all you young movers and shakers that’s practically the afternoon, but Grams needs her beauty rest) and my ears are aching from the ear buds, my mind is spinning, and all these random lines of nonsense are begging to be written down.

I think that I convince myself when I’m barely functioning that I’m some sort of prodigy, rather than an inept, clumsy moron with a massive urge to go to the bathroom. I’ve met a few people in my life who have been such a special sort of thick that they think they’re genii. That’s me when I’m half-asleep. I’m an imbecilic egomaniac. There’s a massive probability that I will storm the University Challenge stage in my pyjamas, burbling about the nesting habitats of cheeses, or the sound barrier of marmalade. If only I could grab myself in that moment, shake myself and scream “Wake up Alice!” …Or maybe something that makes slightly more sense.

Anyway, it’s not all bad. There are a few plus points to my sleep problems.

  1. I know what the coffee shop manager is REALLY like. Also she didn’t seem that great at WoW, so ha. The next time she gives me a plain soya latte instead of hitting me up with some caramel syrup, I’m totally gonna insult the stupid pandas.
  2. Maybe one day (night?) I will come up with something more meaningful than a commentary on the state of my bedroom. Hey, maybe I’ll write the next great American novel, only in British form. It could happen.
  3. Paul McKenna is totally transforming me into the next Richard Branson/Tyra Banks hybrid. I can just feel it.

So yeah. Watch this space. I’ll just leave you with these words of wis- Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

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