My Weirdest Date of 2022

A few months ago, I went for a drink with a girl. The drink went quite well and afterwards I gave her a lift back home and she invited me into her house.

As she led me into the living room, I noticed that there were a lot of plants around the place, so many in fact that I decided to comment on it.

‘I’m guessing you like plants?’ I said, expecting her to simply confirm she was, indeed, pretty fond of plants.

Instead, she said something altogether more unexpected:

‘Oh I see,’ I said, glancing around and trying not to become too concerned by the large number of plants in the immediate vicinity.

‘It makes sense if you think about it,’ the girl continued. ‘You see, at the beginning of last year, I realised I had a lot of negative people in my life that were making my personal atmosphere very toxic, like emotionally. But plants are, like, the opposite of toxic. They do all these good things for the atmosphere, like making it clean with their photosynthesis and shit. So I just thought why not have less shit people in my life and more plants?’ She shrugged. ‘That’s science for you.’

She looked at me and smiled, eyebrows raised, as if expecting me to validate the credibility of her hypothesis. I smiled back and chose not to point out that her use of the words ‘photosynthesis and shit’ to describe her theory had somewhat undermined its legitimacy as a scientific concept, conscious that doing so might deem me a toxic human primed for plant replacement.

Besides, although the way she had phrased it was slightly intense, the core idea of having less shit people and more plants didn’t seem like the unhealthiest coping mechanism in the world, so I decided to explore it further.

I moved across the room and picked a spider plant up off the windowsill.

Who’s this replacing then? I asked.

‘Oh that’s my ex Sarah’, the girl replied nonchalantly. ‘She was dead clingy, you know, wanted to hang out with me all the time, always needed to be validated.’

‘It honestly is really hard to kill,’ she continued. ‘Which is kind of ironic because Sarah was also really hard to get rid of.’

I stared at her, incredulous, momentarily fearing for my life. ‘Get rid of…?’

She laughed. ‘Don’t worry, I didn’t kill her off or anything. But I did have to break up with her like six times.’

‘Oh right,’ I said. ‘Haha. Ha. Haha. Ha.’ I placed the plant incarnation of Sarah back on the windowsill and picked up a nearby cactus.

‘Let me guess? Another one of your exes?’ I joked.

‘Yes’, she said, her face completely deadpan. She reached across and took the cactus from my hands. ‘This is one I got to replace my ex-boyfriend Chris. He was like the opposite of Sarah. Wasn’t emotionally available enough.’

She paused.

She put cactus Chris down and picked up another plant.

Who’s that? I asked, slightly apprehensive of the answer.

‘My mate, Callum,’ she said, passing the plant to me.

She shrugged.

The girl removed plant Callum from my hands and placed it back on the coffee table next to another plant with sharp pointy leaves.

I gestured towards it. ‘What’s this?’

‘Oh that’s a snake plant,’ the girl said. ‘I got it when I found out JK Rowling was a TERF and I had to get rid of all my Harry Potter books.’

I nodded, unable to fault her reasoning, and then moved over and pointed at a large plant positioned near the door.

She then proceeded to provide an extensive and incredibly detailed explanation of why, all things considered, her mother was a bit of a monster.

By this point, I was feeling quite uneasy, a feeling that persisted throughout the evening and followed me when I left her house later that night.   

Although I had enjoyed the initial drink we had had together, I couldn’t stop thinking about what would happen if I continued to see the girl and something went wrong in our relationship. Would I be added to her horticultural museum of percieved knobheads? If so, what type of plant would I be replaced with?

I envisioned myself in flower or succulent form, perched forlornly on the windowsill with only plant versions of Sarah, Chris and JK Rowling to keep me company. The idea of ending up side by side with a plant TERF didn’t exactly appeal me.

Turns out I needn’t have worried because a few days later she sent me a message saying that, although she had enjoyed my company and the drink, she hadn’t felt a spark between us.

Overall, this was a massive relief; however, the rejection was still a slight bruise to my ego and it took almost superhuman levels of restraint not to buy a plant pot with some soil and a seed in it and drop it off outside her front door with the following message:

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5 Everyday Nightmares

It’s almost Halloween and, over the years, we have created a wide range of creatures such as vampires, werewolves and ghosts, all designed to scare us and give us nightmares.

However, I personally think everyday life contains more nightmarish scenarios than any horror movie ever could.

As a result, I have decided to honour Halloween by writing about a load of random things that the majority of us encounter on a daily basis that I would consider ‘a nightmare’.

1. Having to engage in any form of small talk

Small talk is hands down my least favourite form of communication and I don’t think I’m alone in this.

One of the worst things that ever happened to me as a human being on this planet occurred when I was taking train journey up to Edinburgh and the woman sat opposite me proceeded to make aggressively cheerful small talk (the majority of which was centred around her five cats) with me for four hours straight.

Nobody really wants to make small talk, or is even remotely interested in it, but we are all forced to engage in it on regular basis.

Ultimately, I guess participating in small talk is the result of being stuck between a rock and a hard place – when choosing between an awkward silence or small talk, people choose the lesser of two evils and opt for talking about the weather and their weekends.

We all have different tolerances for small talk.  

(I personally have a one hour window on a Monday morning where I will tolerate talking about the weekend…)

My friend once told me that she could tolerate small talk if every five minutes, she could ‘take a break and go scream into a pillow’ to which I replied I could tolerate small talk if every five minutes, I could climb a mountain, stand at the summit and scream into the chasm below or, better yet, rocket myself into space, warp jump myself to the black hole at the centre of the universe and scream into an all-consuming void in which nothing, including small talk, can escape.

But each to their own…

2. Washing your hands in a small sink

In addition to small talk, I also hate small sinks, especially when they are attached to taps with aggressively high water pressure.  

There is one of these sinks in one of the bathrooms in my current workplace. I do not know what masochistic engineer designed this sink but it is literally the size of a cereal bowl and the water that sprays out of its tap does so with the equivalent force of Blastoise’s water cannon.

To make things worse, the height of the sink and the curvature of the basin means that when the water is projected violently out of the sink, it is fired directly at your crotch which really is highly inconvenient when you’re trying to get through your working day with your professional dignity somewhat intact.

3. Having to deal with GP Receptionists

It is often said that only constant in life is change.

This is a very profound and thought-provoking statement but one with which I ultimately disagree.

Sure, the world exists in a state of continuous flux but, if there is one constant in the ever-changing ebb and flow of life, it is that GP receptionists are always, without fail, miserable as fuck.

I have never applied for a job as a GP receptionist for fear that it will suck all the joy out of me and leave me a husk of a human but I can only assume that one of the essential skills on the person specification is the ability channel all of your internalised resentment in the world into your customer service skills.

As far as I’m concerned there is no greater nightmare than really needing an appointment and being forced to stand in a borderline empty GP surgery whilst a hostile medical receptionist tells you that there are none available.

4. Group Chats

Hell is traditionally conceived as a fiery underworld where morally corrupt humans are sent to be punished for their sins.

However, my own personal conceptualization of hell is being forced to join 50 WhatsApp group chats and not being able to mute any of them.

There is no torture like being tormented by an endless onslaught of notifications, GIFs, selfies and out of context in-jokes.  

Honestly, give me a lake of sulphur any day.

5. Mansplainers

If you’re not sure what mansplaining is, let me mansplain it for you.

Mansplaining is when one human explains a concept to another human in condescending way.

Now, I don’t want to assume that mansplaining is a gender-specific construct that is used solely by men and that women are not immune to falling into patronising explanations.

That being said, I once had my own personality mansplained to me by a guy who was trying to ‘let me down gently’ by telling me in great detail about that I was so kind and clever and funny etc. but also a bit too guarded and therefore he didn’t feel he could be in a relationship with me. When I told him that he’d got the wrong end of the stick and I wasn’t actually into him, he then proceeded to explain to me that I was but I just didn’t know it yet. Honestly. having your own non-existent thought processes laid out before you is truly mansplaining on steroids.

Another time, I was having a panic attack and a man tried to help me through it by telling me to ‘chill the fuck out’, a truly revolutionary insight that I’m pretty sure could singlehandedly dissolve the need for the therapy industry and ease the NHS’s strained mental health budget.

Preach, sir, preach.

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Why I Am Not A Professional Actress…

When I was younger, I was quite shy and self-conscious and struggled to express myself in social situations.

As a result, my mum was always on the lookout for activities that I could participate in that would push me out of my comfort zone and help me develop confidence socially.

So when I was in Year 11, she encouraged me to audition for the school play.

The prospect of getting involved in the school play made me quite nervous because, up until that point, my track record in drama hadn’t exactly been great.

My confidence had been dented by an incident that had occurred several years earlier during my primary school nativity when I was playing the part of a sheep.

Compared to the other parts in the nativity, the role of the sheep was relatively straightforward.

I only had one very simple line to deliver.

However, when my moment of glory arrived, the pressure of the audience staring at me caused me to panic and I slipped completely out of character and messed up my lines.

Following this, the teachers no longer trusted me to be able to handle the role of the sheep and, as a result, I was cast as the back-end of the donkey when nativity rolled around the following year.

The role of the donkey’s arse was a non-speaking part, which meant that I didn’t have to worry about messing my lines up, although I did find it hard to get fully immersed in my character and the overall narrative arc of the play.

As a result of my experiences in my school nativities, I didn’t have a lot of confidence when I went to audition for the play in Year 11.

The play that year was Oklahoma which was set in the Southern States of America and I was cast in the role of a generic milk maid.

Like the part of the sheep, the role of the milk maid was pretty simple and only involved saying two or three lines of scene setting dialogue.

However, during rehearsals, the teacher gathered us all around her and told us that, in order to give the audience the most immersive viewing experience possible, we would have to put on our best accents.

This was slightly problematic due to the fact that I couldn’t do a Southern American accent, or any accent at all for that matter. In fact, the only accent that I could do was a stronger version of the accent that I already had.

As a result, our school’s production of Oklahoma featured eight Southern American Maids and then me, the extremely Liverpudlian one.

Btw if you’re not sure what a Liverpool accent sounds like in the middle of Oklahoma, imagine that Cilla Black has been transported back in time and is presenting an episode of Blind Date in 19th century America.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the audience laughed at me when I delivered my lines, something which I interpreted as an affirmation of my inherent comedic talent as opposed to a reaction to my dubious ‘American’ accent.

Following this ‘success’, I decided that I actually quite liked acting so, the following year, I auditioned for the school production of MacBeth and was cast as a witch.

Whilst this was an upgrade from my previous role as a milkmaid, it was still a relatively minor part.

However, at this point, I was beginning to develop a little more confidence in myself and was sick of playing a background characters.

I became convinced that the only reason that I that I wasn’t getting to play starring role was because I was being forced to play two-dimensional supporting characters that didn’t allow me to explore the full range of emotional expression that I was capable of.

I thought that if I fleshed out the character of Witch 2, I would be able to form a better emotional connection with her character and really show off what I could do.

Unfortunately, my teacher didn’t seem as onboard with my attempt to diversify the roles of the witches, especially when it started to interfere with the performances of the other students.

I was never cast in another school play again and my acting career has never quite recovered since!

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The Time I Accidentally Ran A Half Marathon

Back in 2016, I worked on an outdoor education centre in Canada.

During one of my weeks off, I decided to take a trip to Vancouver Island with a few friends.

The journey to Vancouver Island was quite long and involved sitting on two coaches and a ferry for several hours.

By the time we arrived at our Airbnb, my legs were quite stiff from sitting down for so long so, the following morning, I decided to go out for a run.

I did not set off intending to run a half marathon.

I only wanted to go for a light jog to stretch my legs.

However, around 10 minutes into my run, I began to notice that things were slightly strange.

The streets were really quiet and there was no traffic on the roads, despite the fact that I was running close to the city centre.

A few minutes later, other runners started to pass me, one or two at first, and then several at once.

To go from seeing virtually nobody to seeing lots of people was quite confusing so I followed the runners around a bend in the road, curious to see where they were going.

I turned the corner and, all of a sudden, found myself being funnelled between a set of barriers leading to a blow-up arch. There were lots of people crowded behind the barriers, clapping and waving their hands in the air.

Stunned, I removed my headphones from my ears and realised that they were cheering.

It suddenly dawned on me that I was in the finishing straight of a half-marathon.

As the reality of the situation settled upon me, I decided to try and exit the race by climbing over one of the barriers. However, the sheer amount of supporters leaning against the barrier made this impossible.

One woman even patted me on the back and yelled the words ‘you can’t give up now honey, not when you’ve come so far!’ into my ear before shoving me back onto the road.

In the end, I had no option but to cross the finish line.

I stood dazed among the other finishers, most of whom were bent over double or collapsed on the floor, having run 21km.

I, in contrast, had run a grand total of 2km max.

After a minute or so, a volunteer shoved an energy drink and a chocolate chip cookie into my hand, before enthusiastically congratulating me and placing a medal around my neck.

Then, before I knew it, I found myself being ushered towards a beaming man who was holding a microphone in his hand.

‘Congratulations,’ he said, holding his hand out for me to shake. ‘You are our 2nd placed female finisher!’

It turned out that, not only had I unwittingly finished the race, but I had apparently completed it in a time of 1 hour and 25 minutes.

Now, at this point, I should have corrected the man and said something along the lines of:

Instead, I looked him dead in the eye and said:

I’m not sure exactly what compelled me to say this.

Maybe I hadn’t wanted to disappoint the man, who looked so happy and thrilled on my behalf.

Maybe I was secretly flattered that he thought I could pass as an accomplished athlete.

Or maybe I had just liked the look of the free cookie I had received as a reward for finishing the race and didn’t want to risk it being confiscated if someone found out I was fraud.

No matter the reason, by accepting the fabrication that the interviewer had shoved upon me, I had begun to spin a web of lies from which there was no escape.

Evidently unaware that anything was amiss, the interviewer proceeded to ask me how I was feeling.

I wracked my brain, searching something that would make me sound like a legit sportsperson.

In hindsight, this made me sound more like an amateur surfer than an elite runner.

‘I bet you are!’ the interviewer said.

The interviewer patted me on the back. ‘Well, I’ll have to congratulate you for a second time then!’ he said. ‘Did you have a race plan?’

Considering I wasn’t planning on running the race in the first place, this was a pretty defunct question.

‘No, not really…’ I said.

The interviewer gasped. ‘You must be a natural then!’ He glanced down at my shirt.

I expected the man to laugh, but instead he nodded his head sincerely and said ‘it happens’ before moving onto the next question.

‘I get it,’ he said, tapping the side of his head. ‘Keeping it on the DL. Wouldn’t want your competitors knowing your secrets.’

He nodded at a woman behind us, most likely the actual second-placed finisher, whose abs were clearly visible through her skin tight shirt.

I flashed him a strained smile, flabbergasted that he was even entertaining the idea that she and I could be considered competitors.

The man smiled back. ‘One last question and then I’ll let you go and rest. Those legs must be tired after all!’

There was a silence. The interviewer stared at me, a frown etched onto his forehead.

I looked down, cheeks burning, ashamed, convinced that my web of lies was about to come crashing down around me.

I prepared to hand over my cookie.

Then, the interviewer bent over double and started laughing.

Eventually, I left the finishing complex with a thoroughly undeserved cookie in my hand and a medal round my neck and, if I’m honest, the satisfaction of eating the cookie outweighed any feelings of guilt or remorse I may have felt about being a complete athletic fraud.

To this day, one hour twenty-five minutes remains my lifetimes best half-marathon time.

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My Least Favourite Christmas Song

The Twelve Days of Christmas is my least favourite Christmas song, mostly because it is very repetitive and, as a result, extremely catchy.

Every time I hear it being played, it manages to worm its way into my psyche, playing on repeat for hours, sometimes even days, in an incessant loop of festive merriment.

It is absolutely infuriating – nothing makes me feel more like the bastard child of Scrooge and the Grinch quite like listening to The Twelve Days of Christmas.

I also find the lyrics of The Twelve Days of Christmas absolutely ridiculous. 

As most of you probably know from having been subjected to the song every year, the Twelve Days of Christmas is about a person whose true love brings them a series of increasingly elaborate presents over the course of the twelve days.  

These gifts include seven swans-a-swimming, six geese-a-laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge that comes with its own complementary pear tree.

Now, I don’t know what was considered a normal Xmas pressie in the 18th century but if someone brought me an entire flock of wildfowl, I wouldn’t be inclined to write a jovial Christmas carol about them – I’d be questioning their mental stability.

I mean, after the delivery of the initial partridge, I would be pretty confused.

On Day 3, I would be getting pretty concerned.

By the time Day 4 rocked around, I’d be looking to report my them to the RSPB.

I also think the idea of giving someone six geese and seven swans as a gift is pretty far-fetched.

Considering geese and swans tend to get pissed off whenever you go even remotely near them, I doubt they would be cooperative if someone tried to turn them into a festive offering.

In fact, as far as I’m concerned, geese and swans would make a much better Halloween present because they are absolutely bloody terrifying.

Now, I’m aware that The Twelve Days of Christmas is a beloved Christmas carol that the majority of people enjoy singing every year.

Maybe I am just bitter as I haven’t got a true love who is willing to provide me with an entire aviary’s worth of birds for Christmas.

In fact, if I’m getting anything for Christmas, it’s more likely to be an unsolicited commentary on my love life from one of my elderly relatives…

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