A-Z: Essentials I Can’t Live Without

I’m not about to get all LeAnn Rimes on your asses because I could survive without these but it wouldn’t be as much fun. 

Front and centre it needs to be my friends because although you think you might have the greatest group of friends in the world I’m afraid you’re wrong. Of particular note are of course my Urban Family, the Urbs. My true blue ride or die homies who I would do anything for. From the outside looking in we probably look mental, but we’re a-okay with that. 

Ice cold water – I know, none of us could live without it but for someone who doesn’t drink hot drinks, rarely drinks fizzy drinks, and can’t drink fruit juice (because heartburn) my choices of drink are wine, gin, or water. And I don’t think my boss would be too chuffed with me being pissed out of my tiny mind in the office. I drink 3 litres a day without fail, sometimes more, and yes I whizz like a racehorse. 

Lip balm – because I get lipstick on my teeth and even though I drink water until I piss like Shergar I always have dry lips. I’d like to be chic and I’d like to be the elegant sort of woman who can sweep her hair into a chignon and slick on some perfect lippie without a mirror but… I’m not. The best I can do with my hair is bung it up with a chopstick, y’know like I’m Mandy Moore circa 2001 and I’m off to the Teen Choice Awards with a slip dress on over my stonewashed flared jeans. I always have a collection of lip products in my handbag which currently include 2 pots of the same lip balm, one of a different brand, and a blue lipstick. I’m not trying to channel Björk, it only looks blue but comes out a sheer berry hue in case you think I’ve gone mental.  

WhatsApp – with 23 chats on the go, some of which go back to 2015 it’s clear I’m a bit of a junkie. Of course the large proportion of the chats must NEVER SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY. If I die, someone needs to go in and erase them before they go viral. 

My denim jacket and a pair of Converse – it sort of sums up my style that this is my go-to confidence outfit.  With a pair of Chucks on my feet and my ‘so cheap it was almost criminal’ denim jacket on my back I feel like I can take on the world. Plus sometimes I pop my collar and shove my hands in the pockets and I feel a little (very very little) like Sandy from Grease. 

Quiet time – if you know me in real life you know I’m gobby, can talk for England, and love relaying a story. But being ‘on’ also means I need time when I’m ‘off’. I sit and read, I nap, I walk by the water. I just ‘be’. 

Aaaaand fuck me that sounds wanky. 

Artwork – my ideal house has white walls that are crammed with art. Big art, small art, funny art, serious art, just art. I’m collecting it as I go to make a gallery wall in my living room and my style is, well it’s quirky. Tucked away I have a little collection of Anna Wintour cartoons building up ready to have an ‘Anna’ corner behind the door, and I have so many prints saved on Etsy I could open my own shop. 

My medications – I thought long and hard about putting this on here because recently I’ve proved to myself that I can live without anti-depressants (although I weep, I weep at the oddest things) however my other medication keeps me sane. Literally. We’re moving towards a place where we can be open and honest about mental health issues and so that’s what I’m doing. My tablets keep me upright and there’s no shame in that. 

What are your essentials? What do you keep around? 

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A-Z: Dispatches from the middle of the night

Ugh, the blinds in this room are about as useful as a chocolate fireguard, I really should go to IKEA and get some more fabric for them. What is that noise?! Oh Hobo your snoring is pretty darn cute, but it’s about to be disturbed by… yep, here she goes. Randy downstairs neighbour giving herself a very loud knee trembler. Every night, regular as clockwork. Yes, hi Hobes, I know you want attention but you don’t have to wiggle yourself between my pillows and bop me in the face to get it.

Oh Hooty the loudest owl in Hampshire has got going now, maybe he/she is also having a knee trembler? Can owls orgasm? How do owls have sex? Maybe I’ll just Google that *picks up phone* Huh. Never knew that. Well whilst I’m here I’ll just have a nosey at Instagram. And Facebook. Aaaaaaand there we go, fallen into a Reddit hole.

*ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ*

Hmm, need a wee, let’s try not to trip over the cat on the way to the loo. No Hobo, just because I’m moving round the flat does not mean it’s breakfast time. Back to bed but can’t get comfy, maybe I’ll just have a quick WhatsApp with all the people I’ve ever met who live in a different timezone. And back to Reddit.

*ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ*

Wake up, have a stretch and ooh let’s turn over. Ow! That hurts because you’re a stupid bint who drank way too much on a school night and chipped your elbow. Bellend. Okay so if it’s 1am here, it’s 8am in Singapore maybe I’ve got an urgent email I need to reply to from the office. Whilst I’m here I may as well just clear my inbox a little, oh and what do I have in my calendar for tomorrow? Sugarlumps, forgot about that meeting. Have I done any prep?

*ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ*

What the actual fuck do you want Hobes? I love you but fuck off! Maybe if I pull the duvet over my head he’ll leave me alone?

*ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ*

How is it alarm time already?! Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

 

With thanks to ‘My Life: An autobiographical journal from Adventures to Zealous Plots’ by Mr Boddington’s Studio

A-Z: Difficult but important lessons learned

  • You are not going to be the best at everything you do and that’s okay but unless you try you’ll never know.
  • Being a scaredy cat just holds you back so it’s important to do things that push you out of your comfort zone.
  • Cheap shoes will hurt your feet.
  • If a man likes you, he will let you know.
  • The three day rule is bullshit.
  • It’s not weak to let people in, although it’s taking you a ridiculous amount of time to realise it.
  • You’re okay on your own.
  • The combination of white wine and Jaegermeister is your kryptonite.
  • It’s important to say sorry.
  • It’s more important to mean it.
  • Your family have your best interests at heart.
  • Polyester is an awful fabric.

A-Z: Childhood Memories

We lived in a detached house on a private estate, the house my Mum had grown up in once her family moved to the sea. My Grandfather worked for Midland Bank and used to commute to London daily and when he got older and my Grandmother was long gone he lived with us. I remember him always being happy to climb under the dining table with a young Alice to play cards and I remember him watching my brother play cricket sat looking stoic concentrating on Humphs’ form. I also remember his best friend Bernard Parrott who had a wooden leg and used to charge me money to knock on it.

Pops worked abroad until I was 16, the pattern tended to be away for 6 months and home for 2 so I remember a LOT of journeys to and from Gatwick Airport. We always stopped at Little Chef after dropping him off, an Olympic Breakfast and a lolly to cheer us up. We went to the local Church every Sunday, Mum was a server and I was in the choir. One December she was up serving whilst wearing Christmas tree earrings with LED lights and had accidentally knocked one on her collar switching it on. It was flashing like crazy and we were all in the choir stalls waving madly to get her attention.

I went to the local school and to this day am still friends with my first teacher in year 3. Eventually Mum got a job at the school and it became a huge part of our lives even after Humph and I had left. There is a peace garden in her memory in the school grounds.

When I was tiny I was uncertain when Dad came home because when he went away he was clean shaven and when he came home he had a full on Captain Birdseye beard – little me couldn’t reconcile the two and it would take a bit of time to give him a cuddle. We didn’t often go on holidays due to Dad liking to be at home when he was at home (totally understandable) but also due to some complicated tax reasons. One summer we went to stay with my Dad’s friends in Cornwall, the F’s. We went to Flambards Theme Park and I was in awe at Dad flinging himself down the Demon Drop slide. If I close my eyes I can picture it like it was yesterday.

After Grandpa died we went on a family holiday in Lisbon, it’s was Humph’s 11th birthday and we spent it staying in the Captain’s cabin on Dad’s tanker. It was in dry dock so we were allowed onboard and even got to walk around underneath it. My Dad was the coolest man in the World on that holiday. In charge of an entire tanker and all its crew, it was nice to see where he spent all those months. We used to write to him but as we got older we would lie on ‘half acre’ (my parents massive bed) and talk into a cassette tape for him, being too lazy to put pen to paper. I could never stay in the school assemblies around Sea Sunday, the hymn ‘Eternal Father, Strong to Save’ used to make me weep thinking about Dad ‘in peril’ on the sea. I still can’t listen to it without welling up.

We had a cat called Blueboy and a scruffy little dog who Mum wanted to call Binbag but sense won out and he became ‘Aries’. Life in the village was slow paced and everybody knew everyone else which felt claustrophobic at times. Mum used to gather her lady friends in the house for dinner and wine, I would sit on the stairs long after I was meant to be in bed watching them in the mirror above the dining table. They seemed like so much fun and I wished I could understand more of what they were talking about – turns out they were writing a Mills and Boon (which got rejected!) so some of the topics were definitely not for my sensitive ears.

On the estate there were a lot of kids and I remember hours playing Manhunt in and out of people’s gardens. Once my ‘Aunty Sue’ came over and asked if I wanted to join her family on the beach and I burst into tears. On being asked why I was crying, with a wobbly lip and a snivelly nose I wailed ‘but Mummy… how will I know which is the shallow end?’ Common sense was never my forte.

I haven’t lived there for sixteen years and yet even now whenever I see the sign at the edge of the village my soul relaxes and I sigh in relief. I might have made roots somewhere else but it will always be home.

 

(With thanks to ‘My Life: An autobiographical journal from adventures to zealous plots’ by Mr Boddington’s Studio)

A-Z: Confessions

  • I always have to put my right sock on first. If I don’t I have to take my socks off and rub away the ‘sockness’ on the floor before starting again.
  • For a long time I thought that Mauritania was a fake place, like Outer Mongolia and Narnia. I hang my head in shame. I also work in business travel so I hang my head further.
  • I don’t understand how wifi works so I just explain it away by fairies fannying about sprinkling little wifis around the place.
  • I’m great at writing cards but rubbish at posting them. When I moved desks a few months ago I found Christmas cards from 2015 at the back of my drawer. I’m also the type of knob who writes ‘Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2015′ so it’s not even like I can re-use them.
  • I buy Tatler. My friend Harold always winds me up about this and we once wrote our Tatler profiles – his was ‘Harold, 32, collects fine wine, enjoys rambling in the country with his rare breed dog Luna and has a love of Chomps.’ Mine was ‘Alice, 35, enjoys collecting antiquarian books and pieces of statement jewellery as well as playing parlour games on her weekends in the country.’
  • I love a good G&T, my favourite gin is called Barr Hill and is a small batch gin from the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. This makes me sound like a total wanker but it’s delicious.
  • I call my Dad ‘Popsicle’ and my brother ‘Humphrey Big Bear’. His name isn’t Humphrey, and he’s not a bear, but it has stuck.
  • I keep buying books. It’s fatal if I wander off piste at the supermarket and I actively have to stop myself going to Waterstones. When I was in New England I came home with nine new books and narrowly avoided an excess baggage charge.
  • I’m an equal opportunity flirt. I’ll flirt with anyone and sometimes there is nothing better than a flirt with a cheeky old man. It makes their day!
  • I know I’m hitting a depression when I get sad looking at old people. I imagine them hungry and lonely huddling round a one bar fire and it’s a smack upside the head that I need to start looking after myself.
  • I used to hate the thought of being single, the stereotype of a ready meal for one and no social life. I’ve now realised that is total bollocks, being single means I’m not tied down. Hobo has a lovely cat sitter and I’m free as a bird. Well, one with bills to pay, a job to go to, and the neediest cat in the world.
  • I want to be someone people talk about long after I’m gone. Whether it’s good or bad, philanthropist or dictator, the thought of being forgotten upsets me.

 

(With thanks to ‘My Life: An autobiographical journal from adventures to zealous plots’ by Mr Boddington’s Studio)

A-Z: books too brilliant to put down

To give you an idea of where I’m coming from on this, everyone loved ‘One Day’ whereas I hated it so much I threw it at the wall when I’d finished. I own over 250 books and this is the only one that has provoked a physical reaction. I’ve never been able to get further than a couple of chapters through ‘Life of Pi’. Yes I know, you’re all going to rave about it but I just find it bloody dull. I’ve also never read a lot of the classics, no Tolkien; no Handmaid’s Tale; no To Kill A Mockingbird. They’ve just sort of passed me by. I have however read Alice In Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass more times than you can imagine. O frabjous day!

So moving on to those I love –

“Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding. Find out what you already know and you will see the way to fly.” Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

“I am not important. If I take a break, no one dies. And this is A Good Thing.” The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

“He does something to me, that boy. Every time. It’s his only detriment. He steps on my heart. He makes me cry.” The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

“The best revenge, like the best sex, is performed slowly, and with the eyes open.” Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

“Tom has a theory that homosexuals and single women in their thirties have natural bonding: both being accustomed to disappointing their parents and being treated as freaks by society.” Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

 

With thanks to ‘My Life: An autobiographical journal from Adventures to Zealous Plots’ by Mr Boddington’s Studio

 

A-Z: Beaus I Have Adored

There have been many boys who have caught my eye and made my heart flutter but up until now none have been worthy. It started as all good love stories do with a boy who lived down the road, nothing ever happened but I used to think I’d marry him one day. I once sent him an excruciatingly embarrassing love letter as a teenager and still feel all scrunchy inside when I remember it.

Then it was the boy next door with the chocolate brown eyes. We used to hang out quite a lot but only when none of his mates were around. He was very cool and part of the in-crowd which I never managed and was sweet to me, when we were alone. He wasn’t worth my time but was a good first kiss.

Then came the basketball boys, some crushed on from afar and one that I used to hop the fence with to play one on one at a local school. They made me feel cool and I spent most of one summer with my tongue down the throat of the fence hopper. Who told his mates he’d only kissed me as I promised to give him my Walkman… A) I’m showing my age and B) what a dickhead.

There was the total arse stain Freddy – so notable I’m using his real name. He was bloody gorgeous, much more experienced than me, and a real arsehole who was definitely not worthy of my first time. We were ‘in love’ (we weren’t), he was ‘the one’ (no, God no) and I was set on moving oop North to be with him (dodged a bullet there). One night he got drunk to the point of needing to be carried and tried to strangle me whilst saying vile things. I never spoke to him again, apart from when he text me asking if I thought my mate would shag him. It destroyed me because I’d let him in whilst being mired in grief having just lost Mum.

The kindest man I’ve known was next and my first ‘proper’ boyfriend. Although we lived three hours apart we saw each other all the time and I adored his family. We really tried to make it work but when he started uni and I was still doing A-Levels it all started to fall apart. I promise you I didn’t choose my university city based on where he was studying but I did have a glimmer of hope that being in the same postal city meant we’d get back together. We didn’t.

Since then it’s been a maelstrom of ridiculous crushes, mis-reading signals, and generally not being very good at love.

I’d just like a beau I could actually adore, instead of thinking I do and then realising he’s a bellend.

 

With thanks to ‘My Life: An autobiographical journal from Adventures to Zealous Plots’ by Mr Boddington’s Studio