I Think I Might Be A Modern Day Ebenezer Scrooge…

A Christmas Carol is one of my favourite festive stories, mostly because I feel a certain connection with the central character.

Although I do not identify with Scrooge’s attitude and general approach to life, on some level, I do relate to his experience in the novel.

Like Scrooge, I frequently find myself awake in the early hours of the morning.

However, unlike Scrooge, the voices that wake me up are not those of supernatural beings sent to teach me a lesson about the joy of Christmas and the fundamental meaning of life.  Instead, they are anxieties that originate from my own brain, piping up for no discernible reason whatsoever.

So, this Christmas, I have reimagined Dicken’s iconic spirits so that they represent some of the anxieties that often haunt me in the early hours – after all, there’s no better way to get into the festive spirit than using classic Christmas tales to analyse your own mental health!

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If you enjoyed this post, feel free to check out some of my other posts. For more blog posts and drawings, you can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

How I Learned The Truth About Santa Claus.

When I was younger, my main ambition in life was to own a dog.

Unfortunately, my parents were reluctant to buy one because they both worked long hours and thought that looking after a dog would be impractical.

When I was seven, I decided to take matters into my own hands and actively wrote to Santa asking for a dog.

At the time, I thought that I was being really crafty .

I thought that I had devised a cunning plan to outwit my parents by going behind their backs in order to obtain what they had previously denied me.6 As a child, I had a very intense and vivid imagination and invested heavily in fantasies and delusions.

As a result, I had complete faith in Santa’s ability to provide, not only free 24-hour delivery of a live animal, but also a complimentary kennel construction and installation service.

I was therefore slightly disappointed when all that I received on Christmas Day was a DVD of Disney’s ‘101 Dalmatians’.

At this point, any sensible child would have learned to monitor their expectations and set their sights a bit lower.

Not me.

In fact, the following year, I decided to up the ante.1The prospect of having a magical flying unicorn excited me – not only would it be an efficient mode of transport but it could also act as a symbol of my inherent coolness which I could use to improve my social status on the playground.

Christmas day arrived and I rushed downstairs, only to find a distinctly non-unicorn sized package waiting for me under the tree.

Attached to the package was the following note:2Inside the package was a ‘My Little Pony’.

I’m not going to lie – the ‘My Little Pony’ was a MASSIVE downgrade from a magical flying unicorn.

I told my Dad that I ‘ho-ho-hoped Santa was very disappointed with himself’ but apparently this was ‘slightly out of tune with the spirit of Christmas’ so I brushed the hair of my ‘My Little Pony’ and tried very hard to look as if look like the process of doing so filled me with festive merriment.

Over the course of the following year, I discovered the Harry Potter books.

My favourite Harry Potter book was ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban’, mostly because I was borderline obsessed with Buckbeak the Hippogriff.

As a far as I was concerned, a hippogriff was a cooler, edgier version of a magical flying unicorn.

I decided that I wanted to go to Hogwarts and buy Buckbeak off Hagrid.

My dad once told me that if you want to get anywhere in life you have to learn to work your contacts so, that year, I wrote a letter to Santa asking him for a letter to Hogwarts.3At the time, I thought that relying on a fictional character to help me escape into a fictional world was a completely legitimate, logistically-sound plan.

However, on Christmas day, I was once again disappointed when I received a copy of ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ along with a note that explained that all I needed to go to Hogwarts was my ‘imagination’.

By this point, I was getting quite frustrated with Santa.

However, despite repeated disappointments over the course of several years, I still fervently believed that he was real.

In fact, my brother, who was two years younger than me, discovered the truth about Santa before I did.
4Evidently, I thought that Santa was having some sort of confidence crisis and that my pep talk would provide him with the self-esteem boost to cement his place in concrete reality.

I was quite upset when I didn’t receive a reply.

I saw it as a personal rejection.

After all, I had made the effort to write a letter to Santa and, even if  he wasn’t real, the least he could do was write back to me to confirm his lack of existence.

I obviously couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that this lack of existence may have somewhat impaired his ability to reply to me – in fact, in order for him to reply to me he would have had to sent me a message from an alternate fictional dimension, something that would have essentially involved defying the laws of existence.

Nowadays, I have a better understanding of the boundaries between fiction and reality.

That being said, a small part of me still kind of believes Santa Claus is real.

However, I know that if he does exist, he is probably struggling to update his business model in order to remain competitive in an overly saturated, technologically-advanced modern market.

christmas-delivery.pngIf you enjoyed this post, feel free to check out some of my other posts. For more blog posts and drawings, you can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

I Like to Pretend That I’m a Mature Adult With High-Minded Intellectual Opinions But, in Reality, I’m Just a Big Kid…

I have a degree in English Literature which essentially means that I have a £27,000 piece of paper that says I’m good at books.

One of the main skills that you learn as an English student is to think critically – to take wider intellectual concepts and apply them to whatever text you happen to be studying.

When I was at university, I often felt an obligation to live up to my image as a literature student.

I tried very hard to sound well read and informed and to provide a deep insightful commentary on whatever subject I happened to be discussing.

christmas pretty2_LII graduated from university a couple of years ago and, since then, I’ve become concerned that I haven’t been intellectually stimulating my mind as frequently as I used to.

I used to be interested in critical observations about the flawed nature of human society.

Now, simple little things BLOW MY MIND.

christmas pretty2_LI (2)If you enjoyed this post, feel free to check out some of my other posts. For more blog posts and drawings, you can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The World Is A Harsh Place Full Of Unfortunate Baking Incidents.

A few weeks ago, whilst I was watching the Great British Bake Off, I decided that I wanted to become a baker so I impulse bought a guidebook called ‘The Ultimate Guide To Baking’ in the assumption that it would instantly transform me into the next Mary Berry.

‘The Ultimate Guide To Baking’ is full of images of expertly constructed, pristinely decorated cakes.

Each image is accompanied by a set of instructions which are arranged in a series of ‘simple steps’.

In theory, following these simple steps will enable you to accurately replicate the cake in the book.

The problem with guidebooks is that they tend to be written by extremely talented people who have spent years honing their craft.

Therefore, what may seem like a ‘simple step’ to them, is actually quite challenging for the average person.

In addition, each ‘simple step’ is linked within a co-dependant chain of other simple steps so, in order to successfully replicate the image in the book, it is necessary to follow every single simple step correctly.

If you mess up one simple step, it directly affects all the other steps and the entire thing collapses – like a game of ‘simple step’ jenga.

I first learnt that simple steps aren’t as simple as they seem when I decided to learn to draw as a child and made the mistake of believing that a ‘Drawing Made Easy’ guidebook would transform me into a skilled and masterful artist.

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It turns out that 23 year old me can’t cope with simple steps either…

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If you enjoyed this post, feel free to check out some of my other posts. For more blog posts and drawings, you can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram.

The Thing That Bugs Me Most About Summer.

I’m always secretly quite happy when summer comes to an end.

My dad is a redhead and although I did not inherit this trait, somewhere deep down inside of me there is a recessive ginger gene that protests whenever I venture out into the sun.

There also tends to be quite a lot of bugs around in summer and I don’t like bugs very much.

I understand that bugs are an important part of our ecosystems and that all life is beautiful and sacred and I am happy to appreciate their integral role in the circle of life… as long as they don’t come anywhere near me.

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I am aware that bugs have a vital role in natural processes such as decomposition but when a bug is buzzing around my head the only thing breaking down my ability to tolerate its existence.

The number of bugs present is proportional to temperature.

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So it makes sense that, as summer comes to an end and the temperature begins to decrease, so does the bug population.

In the past week or so, I have noticed that there are fewer bugs outdoors.

It is as if the bugs have sensed the impending drop in temperature and have migrated in search of a warmer climate.

Unfortunately, that warmer climate just happens to be inside my house.

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The other day, my room was quite stuffy so I opened the window to allow some fresh air to enter.

Half an hour later, it was as if Pixar had decided to use my room as a filming location for the sequel to ‘A Bug’s Life’.

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Having a load of bugs in my personal space made me feel all icky inside so I began to waft the bugs towards the window in the hope that they would go back out of it.

After a while, I was left with one stubborn insect who refused to leave.

I had an empty mug on my desk so I decided that the best way to deal with the bug would be to trap it under the mug and then transport it back outdoors myself.bugs_LI (2)

Once I had managed to catch the bug, I realised that I needed to slide a piece of paper underneath the mug in order to move it.

So I left the bug buzzing around inside the mug and went downstairs to get some.

When I came back upstairs, my room was silent.

I lifted up the cup and the bug was gone.

I looked at the empty space where the bug had been and almost immediately my imagination rushed to fill it.

Because I could no longer see the bug, my mind began to create scenarios to explain its disappearance.

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I became convinced that there were only two ways in which the bug could have possibly escaped:
1) The bug had sent out an SOS signal to its bug friends who had performed a rescue mission in my absence.
2) The bug had somehow managed to teleport out of the mug.

I didn’t know what was worse:
1) Dealing with a legion of vengeful bugs seeking justice for the capture of their friend.
2) Dealing with some kind of cyborg technobug, probably sent back from the future with the sole purpose of brutally assassinating me.

Logically, I knew that a bug not have the cognitive capacity to form strategic plans to bring about my demise.

However, in my panic, the rational part of my brain ceased to function.

I ran into my brother’s room and told him of my concerns.

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My brother’s complete disregard for my panic calmed me.

Maybe I was just being silly.

Maybe there was no reason to be worried after all.

For the next couple of hours, there was no sign of the bug and by the time I went to bed, I had forgotten all about it.

However, just as I was about to fall asleep, I heard a faint buzzing arise from the darkness.

I got out of bed and turned the light on.

The buzzing stopped.

I frowned and thought that maybe I had imagined it. Maybe my mind was just playing tricks on me again.

I turned the light off and got back into bed.

Two seconds later, I heard the buzzing again.

I got out of bed and turned the light on.

Once again, the buzzing stopped.

At this point, I realised that I had evidentially misjudged the situation.

There was no army of cyborg technobugs.

There was just one bug and it was engaging me in a much more intimate form of physiological warfare.

The bug was playing mind games with me.

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I couldn’t see the bug in the dark and I couldn’t hear it in the light, meaning that I was unable to pinpoint its position with any degree of accuracy.

As a result, I wasn’t able to locate the bug until the following morning.

When I finally found it, I felt like a heroic protagonist facing up to their arch nemesis.

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Except I looked a bit more like this…

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If you enjoyed this post, feel free to check out some of my other posts. I often have profound thoughts on important, life-affirming subjects such as dogs, social awkwardness and scary animals that freak me out.

For more blog posts and drawings, you can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram.

How Not To Pack For A Holiday.

I live in UK – a country that is notorious for having bad weather.

However, I would argue that problem with the weather in the UK is not that it is consistently bad but that it is not consistent at all.summer_LI

In summer, the idea of travelling abroad in search of more consistently nice weather becomes very appealing, especially as the internet provides us with access to thousands of websites advertising exciting holiday destinations.

This year, however, the number of travel destinations available to me has been somewhat limited by the amount of money in my bank account.

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I have decided to stay at home this summer which is probably for the best because I am not very good at preparing to go on holiday.

This is mainly because I have a tendency to pack significantly more than I need in order to compensate for a range of (often completely implausible) scenarios.

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My tendency to pack excessive amounts extends beyond clothing.

When packing, I am fully conscious of the fact that I’m going on holiday for a couple of weeks.

However, for some reason, I insist on taking enough toiletries to open up a beauty store.

I guess I find it comforting to set off on my travels safe in the knowledge that if I was unable to return home, I would have sufficient supplies to establish a living for myself in the local cosmetics industry.

I probably read about four books in a three month period.

However, when I go on holiday, I pack under the assumption that my reading speed will increase so drastically that I will manage to get through the same amount of books in the space of a single week.

Once I have gathered everything that I intend to take with me together, I tend to spend around half and hour glancing back and forth between the mountainous pile of clothes, books and toiletries and my suitcase, thinking that fitting everything in will require me to defy the physical laws of the universe.

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Any sensible person would approach this task in a logical way, neatly folding each individual piece of clothing before placing them one by one into their suitcase.

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In contrast, I attempt to shorten the process by adopting a more unrefined ‘shove it all in and hope for the best’ approach.

This involves throwing all of my possessions into my bag in the hope that they will miraculously adopt the physical properties of a liquid and adapt to fit the shape of their container.

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When this doesn’t work, I resort to sitting on top of the suitcase and using my entire body weight in a vain attempt to compress its contents down to a size where it is possible to close the zip.

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When this proves ineffective, I add the force of gravity to the equation.

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However, the sheer force of my possessions pressing against the confines of the suitcase is enough to create an equal and opposite reaction that overwhelms the downward motion of my body.

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Once I have realised that the force of my willpower alone is not enough to pack my bag, I tend to adopt the more tactical approach of rolling my clothes up like burritos in order to reduce their volume.

However, reducing the volume of the luggage only serves to increase its density, meaning that by the time my suitcase is fully packed, it is so heavy that it develops its own gravitational pull.

Getting to the airport becomes a struggle between my desire to move forwards towards the departure gate and the force of my bag dragging me backwards.

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If you enjoyed this post, feel free to check out some of my other posts. I often have profound thoughts on important, life-affirming subjects such as dogs, social awkwardness and scary animals that freak me out.

For more blog posts and drawings, you can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram.

3 Books That I Loved As A Child But Now Find Logically Problematic As An Adult.

One of the great appeals of reading fiction is the idea of escapism.

Books provide us with the opportunity to transcend our everyday lives.

As a child, I had a very intense and vivid imagination.

When reading a book, I would often become so immersed in the story that I would begin to confuse the fictional world with reality.

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When reading, I would enter into a self-enclosed sphere of imagination in which my immediate surroundings momentarily ceased to exist.

The material world no longer featured as part of my own personal reality and, as a result, the things that my body required in order to function properly became completely irrelevant.

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reading, books, joanne sarginson

reading, books, joanne sarginson

However, as I have grown older, my ability to become completely absorbed in a fictional novel has been somewhat compromised.

I come from a scientific family – my granddad was an engineer, my parents are doctors, one of my brothers is studying marine biology at university and the other one received a prize in Year 2 for ‘The Best Model of a Volcano’.

Therefore, although I like to consider myself a creative and imaginative person, there is a part of my brain that is inclined towards thinking in an analytical and logical manner.

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As I have progressed out of childhood and through the teenage phase, I have noticed the logical side of my brain begin to exert increasing levels of dominance over the imaginative side.

I have seen this transition manifest itself most noticeably in the way that I now perceive the books that I used to find so captivating as a child.

reading, books, joanne sarginson

1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar tells the story of (SPOILER ALERT) a caterpillar that is very hungry.

At the end of the book, the caterpillar metamorphoses into a butterfly.

Before completing this transition, he eats his way through increasing quantities of brightly coloured food items.

By the story’s climax, the caterpillar has consumed over 20 items of food, including an ice cream cone, a cupcake and a slice of Swiss cheese.

This was fascinating to me as a child.

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However, as I have grown older and my knowledge of the anatomy of insects has developed, it has become harder for me to get invested in narratives such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

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2. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt details the story of a family who spontaneously decide to go out into the wilderness and search for a bear.

The structure of the book is similar to that of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Before locating a bear, the family is forced to traverse various obstacles in the landscape.

As child, I found the wide range of obstacles that the family encountered so completely captivating that I failed to think about the fact that they were actively looking for a bear.

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As I have grown up, I have spent some time watching David Attenborough documentaries and other educational films such as The Revenant.

I have therefore acquired a greater awareness of the physical threat that bears can present to humans.

As a result, I have developed a few issues with the basic principle of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.

reading, books, joanne sarginson

reading, books, joanne sarginson

3. Harry Potter

Quidditch was always my favourite part of Harry Potter.

Whilst I found all of Harry’s magical adventures fascinating, I was particularly enthralled by the concept of Quidditch.

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However, I recently dipped my head back into The Philosopher’s Stone and, whilst reading, I became slightly alarmed at the rate at which Harry Potter learns to fly a broomstick.

Within the space of a one hour Broom Skills lesson, he progresses from barely knowing how to hold the broomstick to driving it at high velocity.

I am aware that Harry is special and Hogwarts is magical but this accelerated rate of learning still seems quite dangerous to me.

I also found myself slightly concerned with Madame Hooch’s conduct within Harry’s first flying lesson, particularly the point at which she leaves a group of 11-year-old children unsupervised with a load of flying equipment that is capable of reaching speeds in excess of 100 mph in order to take Neville Longbottom to the hospital wing.

It occurred to me that Hogwarts should probably run an INSET day before the start of term in order to properly educate its staff in Health and Safety procedures.

Then again, the fact that there was a massive three-headed dog, a massive poisonous snake and a massive ‘whomping’ tree on the premises at various points during Harry’s time at the Hogwarts suggests that Health and Safety potentially wasn’t a prioritised matter on the agenda at any of the school’s board of governors meetings.

If I were a teacher at Hogwarts, I imagine that my flying lessons would be a little less exhilarating than Madame Hooch’s.

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In fact, I’m pretty sure that I would be Hogwarts’ most hated teacher.

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Although I am no longer able to use fictional books as a form of complete and utter escapism, I often use them to inform my real life.

It is comforting to know that, no matter how crazy or fantastical a book is, the struggles of its characters are always partially drawn from the author’s real life experiences.

If I am going through something difficult, sympathising with a character can make me feel less alone.

Or alternatively, if I am facing a difficult decision, observing how characters deal with their issues can sometimes give me an idea of how to move forward.

Books like The Very Hungry Caterpillar, We’re Going On A Bear Hunt and Harry Potter, for example, have provided me with some valuable advice on how to deal with my current quarter life identity crisis.

reading, books, joanne sarginson