Saturday, 31 December 2011

New Year's Eve

Tonight I shall see in the New Year in the traditional British way by severely punishing my liver with copious amounts of alcoholic beverages. Hopefully there will also be some chocolate involved. If not, then never mind, as I’m sure the Tesco’s Value whiskey will see me through just fine.

The New Year is a chance to start again. But I think that in this day and age people forget to work on the most important things, and instead aim for grand revolutions that are simply unrealistic and overly ambitious. Alternatively, people set themselves a challenge, but forget to think about how they could go about accomplishing it in little steps, thus making it much harder for them to achieve their goals. Every year, when I write my New Year’s Resolutions, I think to myself, “I’m never going to manage this”, and, of course, I’m right. This year, when I make my plan, I shall try to focus on how I will actually fulfil each resolution. Here they are.

1. Stop biting my nails. Here’s one grand sweeping statement. But what I will do is cut down slowly, by first of all limiting it to my left hand, and then limiting it to my middle finger, and then stopping once and for all. If I manage this I can literally do anything.
2. Go to the gym. I hate exercise. I prefer books and chocolate. But I hereby vow that on Mondays, after games, I will go to the gym at school and read whilst on the treadmill. If I have an incentive to go, like a quiet half an hour of Hemingway, I may be able to convince myself that exercise is fun.
3. Eat an apple a day. No way am I going to say that I’ll eat five portions of fruit and veg a day. I will eat an apple. But only if it’s crunchy and green.
4. Do my homework on time. Dear Lord. The essays simply pile up. But, if I break them into little sections, for example making the plan when it’s set, writing the introduction the next day, and then the next paragraph the next day and so on, I may be able to keep on top of it.
5. Stop fighting with my family. When they are annoying, leave the room. Or do breathing exercises. Or something. And bear in mind that if you tell them to shove the hell off, they could ground you, and that would be sad.
6. Don’t overuse Facebook. I may find a way on my PC to limit myself to half an hour a day on certain websites (I shall include YouTube in this). Alternatively, block it until after 10pm so that I have to do my homework first. Or just delete my account . . . oh no, wait, sorry, not going to happen.
7. Read more. I suppose this will be one of the side effects of less Facebook. Instead of staying up on the computer every night, I shall read a nice story. Simples.
8. Practise cello more. Oh my days, how shall I accomplish this one. I hereby set myself the challenge of half an hour a day, ESPECIALLY on Wednesdays when I have my lesson, as if I don’t do it then I shall leave it in its case all week.
9. Drink less alcohol. Starting from tomorrow, of course. Tonight is New Year’s Eve. Give me a break. But when I get very drunk I do very silly things that I later on regret, so I shall limit myself to one beer at parties and be done with it.
10. Don’t stab stupid people. Nuff said.

I reckon 2011 has been my best and worst year yet. On the downside, I’ve had GCSEs, bitchy friends, a screw-up of a love affair, a hell of a lot of family drama, and disappointment left, right and centre. On the other hand, I did bloody well in my exams, made some excellent new friends, started a really quite nice love affair, have some good times with my family, and went to Israel and Greece. I don’t think I’ve done too badly. And neither has the world, which may have struggled through a mighty financial recession and had millions of people being murdered in uprisings all over the Middle East and Africa, horrible violence in the riots in the UK, an earthquake in Japan, a massacre in Norway and demonstrations all over the place, but still managed to chug out a political revolution, independence in South Sudan, a treaty between India and Pakistan, water on Mars, the homecoming (finally) of Gilad Shalit, the end of the Iraq War, seven billion people on the planet, and a royal wedding to boot. Plus Dougie from McFly won I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, and Little Mix didn't get the Christmas No. 1.

When things look shit, just check the Wikipedia page, and you’ll find a million happy things that you’d forgotten about. We gravitate towards the gloomy. It’s in our nature. Learn to fight it. There’s my lesson for the New Year.
Happy New Year, and see y’all in 2012.

Friday, 23 December 2011

I am ancient.

Well, not ancient, but quite old. Seventeen, to be precise. I promised you a nice post full of delight and excitement but, to be honest, I'm so exhausted right now I can't really be bothered. I properly turned seventeen about twenty minutes ago, at half past eleven, and now there's only ten minutes left of my birthday. Boy have I had a lovely day. And now I am tired and needing to pack because I'm away again this week. Much love, have a lovely Christmas et cetera, and speak to y'all on Thursday. BYE.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Well, I've been on holiday.

Just thought I’d let you know I’ve been away. It was fun. I went to Kent for a four-day residential with my youth movement Noam, and the aim was to reassess the policies and ideology for the coming year. We do this every December and, if I’m honest, we spend more time arguing about how to make the decision than actually making any decisions. Even within the tiniest group of people who all want the same thing, bureaucracy gets in the way. People become so bogged down in the details that they forget what really matters, and all they can focus on are standing orders and petty legislation. If an agreement can be reached, why not make the effort to reach it, rather than hiding behind stacks of paper?

Also, guess what. Tomorrow’s my birthday. Expect an excitable blog post from me.

Friday, 16 December 2011

It's a Wonderful Life

"Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?"

This is officially the best Christmas film ever made. Made in 1946, it tells the story of a guy called George Bailey, played by the ever-dashing James Stewart, who reluctantly spends his life in the little town of Bedford Falls in New England and contemplates suicide on Christmas Eve before being distracted by his guardian angel, Clarence. George tells Clarence that it would have been better if he’d never been born, and of course Clarence decides to show George exactly what the world would have been like had he never existed.

The film touches on many Christmassy themes, but what resounds most with me is the idea that a man who never achieves his goals or gets what he wants can still have a wonderful life. George spends his whole life making sacrifices because his conscience tells him to: he never goes to college, he never travels, and he does a job he hates because no one else will do it. In every instance he kicks himself for giving in and letting himself get dragged down, but he’s so generous and kind that he sees everything through and makes an awful lot of other people’s lives much happier as a result of it. And what this means is that when George regrets ever having lived at all, Clarence is able to convince him of how important he is in the grand scheme of things.

It’s an uplifting movie. It ends with a family reunited, a happy little angel and a rendition of Auld Lang Syne. It’s the sort of movie you watch with mulled wine and a box of tissues. Or, at least, I do, because I’m disgustingly sentimental about old Hollywood films. It’s the sort of film that tries to change your perspective of life, and says, “Look carefully; it isn’t all that bad.”

Nearly every Hollywood movie made these days has a common theme: achieve your dreams. It’s a Wonderful Life is the story of a man who never achieved his dreams, but was still a worthwhile human being and managed to change the world for the better. Now there’s a happy message if ever there was one.

"You see George, you've really had a wonderful life. Don't you see what a mistake it would be to just throw it away?"

Monday, 12 December 2011

Ten reasons why the last week of the autumn term is fabulous

It’s my favourite time of year. This week is set to be the best week of the school year. Here is why. They’re not in order because some things just can’t be put in order of preference.

1. Christmas lunch Every year I get the black forest gateau and every year it’s disgusting, but somehow Christmas lunch is still wonderful
2. Christmas assembly The head of music playing Jingle Bells in the style of Handel, year 7s in reindeer headdresses, the Twelve Days of Christmas NLCS-style . . .
3. Secret Santa More chocolate than you can possibly eat shoved into your pigeon hole. What’s not to love?
4. Less homework The teachers have basically given up by now, which is good, because so have we (a long time ago).
5. Shorter week Last day of school is Thursday. Major excitement.
6. Half day on Thursday And after school on Thursday I’m going to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park with friends, which is a delightful prospect.
7. Food in every lesson Tis the season for putting on weight, so we have biscuits, chocolate and cake in every class.
8. Christmas decorations Most classrooms are decorated at least semi-festively with a paper chain or too. We used to go all out with Christmas fairies with our faces on them.
9. Games in lessons In Latin we had a quiz on Ancient Rome (which my team just happened to win) and in Classics we played “What would Cicero do on a blind date?” Brilliant.
10. Auld Lang Syne Holding hands in the last assembly and singing really loudly. Nothing beats it.

This post definitely makes me look like a massive Christmas fanatic. I’m not. It’s just fun to get into at school. Honestly.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

I can upload photos!

This excites me hugely. Watch:

Honestly didn't know I could do that. Thought I'd show you a picture of a wolf because I love wolves. Best animals ever. Anyways. I shall include pictures in my posts from now on.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Best songs to listen to when you're feeling blue

A tiny selection. This is by no means definitive, but I have essays to write so I’m not going to make a longer one.

1. Highly Evolved – The Vines This is the one I jump on my bed to.
2. Poisoning Pigeons in the Park – Tom Lehrer One of the funniest and darkest songs you’ll ever hear.
3. Better Than Revenge – Taylor Swift She literally sings about my life and I adore her. This one is nice and angry.
4. Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns N’ Roses TUNE. Enough said.
5. I Can Do Better – Avril Lavigne It’s a dreadful song, I must say, but the chorus does go “I can do better, I can do better” so it’s on the list.
6. All Star – Smash Mouth What a song. It is a lovely lively pick-me-up. Try playing air guitar along with it.
7. Roll Over Beethoven – The Beatles Love ‘em.
8. I’ve Got a Dream – Tangled One of the best songs from one of the best Disney movies ever made. Watch the clip that goes along with it too, it’s really funny with dancing rats.
9. Year 3000 – Busted I grew up to this song and it still makes me feel happy.
10. Don’t Stop Believing – Journey Ooh it’s fantastic. Dance around and cheer up.

Just so you know, when I post these lists they’re not necessarily in order of favouritism. I could never be so unfair to the poor music.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

That massive book list I promised you ages ago

I said I'd make you one so here it is. Sometimes I've put down more than one book per author because I think it is vital for you to read both of them. For example, you can't read Twain's Great American Novel without reading Tom Sawyer first. And some of them, like Philip Pullman, have one major work for which they are particularly famous, but other little ones too which are mind-bogglingly brilliant and should also be read. Enjoy.

1. The Outsiders – SE Hinton
2. That was Then, This is Now – SE Hinton
3. Mrs Dalloway – Virginia Woolf
4. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
5. Clockwork – Philip Pullman
6. I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith
7. Finn Family Moomintroll – Tove Jansson
8. Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
9. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
10. Mansfield Park – Jane Austen
11. Emma – Jane Austen
12. Howards End – EM Forster
13. Where Angels Fear to Tread – EM Forster
14. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis de Bernières
15. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
16. The Silmarillion – JRR Tolkien
17. The Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
18. Harry Potter – JK Rowling
19. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
20. Artemis Fowl – Eoin Colfer
21. The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank
22. Sexing the Cherry – Jeanette Winterson
23. Tanglewreck – Jeanette Winterson
24. The Tidewater Tales – John Barth
25. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
26. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time – Mark Haddon
27. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
28. One More River – Lynne Reid Banks
29. The Princess Bride – William Goldman
30. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency – Alexander McCall-Smith
31. A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini
32. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
33. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
34. The Midnight Folk – John Masefield
35. The Railway Children – E Nesbit
36. Kiss the Dust – Elizabeth Laird
37. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
38. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer – Mark Twain
39. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
40. Kensuke’s Kingdom – Michael Morpurgo
41. The Sword in the Stone – TH White
42. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert M Pirsig
43. Ballet Shoes – Noel Streatfeild
44. Life of Pi – Yann Martel

Thursday, 1 December 2011


Being awake at midnight isn’t an irregular occurrence for me, but last night it was particularly special because I got to turn over my calendar onto the last month of the year, which excited me because the picture is of a bowl of jelly babies and I am a big child. December is my favourite month of the year by far, and 1st December always gets me very excited. I ran around school today telling everyone that it’s twenty two days until my birthday.

All the good stuff comes in December. We, of course, have the birthday of Noa, but we also have the birthday of Jesus, who is a somewhat more significant international figure. There’s also the end of term, really lovely cold frost on the windscreen of the car in the morning, New Years Eve, Channuka, and the way your breath twists up into the air in smoky curls. When you walk along the Southbank, there are grills of roast chestnuts that are so hot when you buy them you have to blow on each one for a good two minutes. We get Christmas television (It’s a Wonderful Life, Love Actually, A Christmas Carol, The Holiday, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, not to mention the Doctor Who Christmas special). Plus my winter treat every year is a trip to the ballet with my grandma. This year we’re doing The Nutcracker by the English National Ballet, and I am ridiculously excited. Last year we saw Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella, and it was magnificent.

One of my favourite things about December is that it is the month of sparkles. Each year, on the roundabout at Highbury Corner, the trees are draped with strings of little white stars, and as I walk past they look like star dust has fallen on them. Up and down Oxford Street, great glittering decorations dangle from shop to shop, and every window display is filled with Fair Isle sweaters and candy canes and stockings and enormous sparkly trees. The Hamleys window display is always particularly spectacular at this time of year, as are Fortnum and Mason’s, Selfridges’, and Harrods’.

And to top it all off, December is the only month of the year in which I allow myself to listen to Christmas music, including that giant among Christmas songs known as Fairytale of New York, and possibly the most excellent moment of my day was when I sat down on the bus on my way to school and clicked on that title in my iPod. The music is just sublime and the Pogues are geniuses.

A famous December motto is “In December, keep yourself warm and sleep”. I totally disagree with this. I think that in December we should all keep warm and go outside and soak up the cold air. Go for a long walk on the Heath and be healthy and bright. The ponds freeze over, the sky is white, and the robin redbreasts are out. Wear thick woolly gloves and walking boots, and go to Kenwood House afterwards for hot chocolate. Feel the winter spirit. It’s the best time of the year.

Happy December!

Some extra stuff . . .

Today my lovely friend Saachi Sen released a song, Heal, because she is splendid. Click on her name to buy it on Amazon.

Plus, the marvellous Alex Day wants a Christmas no. 1. Click on his name to hear his song Forever Yours.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them" ~ Mark Twain

I feel that this post has been staring at me crossly for a long time like the cats of the people I babysit for when I don’t let them sit on my lap. Time to get it out in the open. The Book Recommendations. Some are new reads, some are old favourites, some are pretentious classics and some are derisively mocked. But they’re all brilliant. These are just the top ten, but beware that I shall be sending y’all a great long list of everything I love sooner or later.

1. The Outsiders by SE Hinton You will laugh, you will weep, you will want to keep reading after you have finished reading the last page that has brought you and the characters right back to where you started. Don’t be put off by the odd names such as ‘Ponyboy’ and ‘Sodapop’. The story is compelling and emotional, and the voices of the characters are just so likable, even when they do the most terrible things and break your heart.
2. Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf I read this just last month and it is simply beautiful. The language she uses is so decadent and generous, yet she still manages to convey every motion and concept in the most concise, sensible manner. The narrative covers just one day of Clarissa Dalloway’s life, full of tangents and delicious details, and by the time you reach the end, and read that last line, you’ll just want to cry with relief and misery and pity and joy all at once.
3. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman I should hope you’ve all read this already, because it’s just one of the best stories you’ll ever come across. It’s poetic and lyrical, full of rich, vibrant description with some quantum physic science fiction fantasy thrown in. Plus the characters, plot, challenging philosophical questions and armoured bears do rather help.
4. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith Oh this book. When they ask me on Desert Island Discs in fifty years which book I’ll take with me, it’ll have to be this. I really did cry through the last three pages. The story is told by Cassandra, honest and naive, who writes in her journals the account of her sister Rose’s engagement, and the misadventures that befall them. Poor Cassandra. She doesn’t deserve what she’s left with at the end; she’s good and kind, and you will just want to bundle her up and cry with her.
5. Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson So sue me. This book is hilarious and charming, even if it is aimed at eight year olds. Ah it’s just so funny and cute and well-written and adventurous and quiet and imaginative and full of lovely characters and loaded with wit. The ultimate banter-fest. Seriously. Give it a try.
6. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome Don’t be put off by their weird old-fashioned names. Arthur Ransome wrote books about the holiday adventures of children in the Lake District, most of which involved boats and tents, and Swallows and Amazons was the highlight of his career, in my personal opinion. Remember when we used to play war, and we had bases and battles and tactics and things? That’s what these kids do. Now read the book.
7. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen Being the educated bourgeois dog that you are, you’ll have read this already, possibly for your GCSE English Lit coursework. Lots of people find Jane Austen tricky to get into, but Pride and Prejudice is the easiest way in. It’s witty and beautifully told, and Lizzy-and-Darcy is just so perfect a couple you can’t help but feel delighted and desperate all the way through.
8. Howards End by EM Forster I just finished reading this last week, and it is totally brilliant, right up until the last word. What makes it so sublime and worthwhile is how it is full of seemingly unrelated events, each important in their own right, but each mundane in the course of the novel itself; however, by the time you hit the last chapter, you truly see how everything fits together perfectly, and the sense of relief that everything has ended as it should is just overwhelming.
9. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières A tragic and beautiful love story set during the War. Antonio is an occupying Italian soldier, Pelagia is a local Greek girl on the island of Cephalonia. The book begins with a sweet anecdote telling how Dr Iannis managed to extract a dried pea from a patient’s ear. Nuff said.
10. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien There are no words. I actually chose this one for the list over Harry Potter, and that tells you something. This is the ultimate adventure story, and, being the fantasy junkie that I am, this is probably my favourite of all. It’s not just the books that make themselves worth reading, although the story is exciting and wonderfully crafted; it’s the fact that the whole world and it’s many languages and cultures have been intricately constructed by one man. A truly magnificent feat of fiction.

Harry Potter is not on there. I apologise, but if you haven’t read it already, I don’t think that even I would be able to persuade you. My next post will be an extra long list of my must reads. Then we shall go back to happiness and the meaning of life. See ya later.

Thursday, 24 November 2011


Having posted one of my favourite poems on this blog, I realised I didn’t really know very much about its background. I opened up a new window and typed in the address of my good friend Wikipedia. And at the bottom of a lovely little history of the poem, which included some nice stories about how it was found in a church and making the top four, there was a solitary little line that simply read, “Many parodies exist.”

How could I resist.

Within seconds I was googling ‘parodies of Desiderata’ and clicking on the first result. “Deteriorata!” it declared. I read. I wept. I laughed. I recommend.

It’s the chorus that really does it for me. If you haven’t already heeded my recommendation and read the poem, it goes like this:

You are a fluke
Of the universe.
You have no right to be here.
And whether you can hear it or not
The universe is laughing behind your back.

In a way, it’s even better than the original, because it’s just so flawlessly human: sarcastic, dry, and morbid. For all my nattering about seeing the beauty in life, laughing at shit is a lot of fun too.

And the bit that goes, “For a good time call 606-4311; ask for "Ken"” is also really funny.

P.S. In case you were wondering, I’ve decided on minimum twice a week, once during the week and once at the weekend. Plus anytime I am inspired in between. Seem reasonable?

Monday, 21 November 2011


Post every two days? Too often? Not often enough? Remotely possible or unrealistic (I see you all there shaking your heads doubtfully . . .)?

Anyways, I promised I would post y'all a little bit of my poetry. You're lucky I was lying because my poetry is atrocious and I don't think I shall let you see any ever. However, I would be delighted to share other people's with you. This one is a particular favourite of mine. It's by Max Ehrmann, written in the late 1800s, and it's sort of a life lesson in how to keep yourself cheerful. (Enter Noa and her blog on how to be cheerful. Violently grabs poem and posts it all over the internet in an annoying and preachy way).

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
And remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender
Be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
And listen to others,
Even the dull and the ignorant;
They too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
They are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
You may become vain and bitter;
For always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
It is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
For the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
Many persons strive for high ideals;
And everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
For in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
It is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
Gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
Be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
No less than the trees and the stars;
You have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
Whatever you conceive Him to be,
And whatever your labours and aspirations,
In the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
It is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

I could basically stop writing this blog now. That poem literally sums it all up. But I shan't, because I've been enjoying writing again. Until next time, my darlings.

Saturday, 19 November 2011


I'M SORRY, OKAY. I had GCSEs and then two months in Israel and then Year 12 started and suddenly I'm a sixth former (by the way it's INCREDIBLE; for the first time ever I'm actually enjoying school) and my life became a bit chaotic. But the other day I remembered something, which is that I love writing, so I thought I'd start doing a bit more of it. Hence: NEW POST.

I was going to show you all a little of my most recent creative stuff, because that's mostly what I've been doing lately - it's the deadline for my school's creative writing competition AND the short story competition on Monday. Shit I have like two days to get all my pieces finished. But really, I just feel bad that I haven't been telling you why I'm happy at the moment. SO here are a few little things.

1. I'm happy because I'm not sad. This week has been a bit turbulent (not going to tell you why, sorry) and it's starting to look UP.
2. The background of this blog matches the ‘November’ page of my calendar. Sorry. Just thought everyone should know.
3. It's nearly my birthday. Okay, fine, it's still over a month away, but I'm allowed to get excited.
4. The book I'm reading is FANTASTIC. It's Howard’s End by EM Forster, and it’s simply beautiful. It’s just one of those books where the words are chosen flawlessly, the plot is compelling, the philosophy is challenging, and the characters are enigmatic and likeable. Honestly and truly, it is one of the most perfect books I have ever read.
5. Despite it being mid-November, the sky is cheerfully being blue and it’s crisp but not cold. My rabbit is in his hutch and he’s not looking all grumpy and miserable.

I feel that I’ve at least partially redeemed myself, so now I can go and start my History essay without that enormous guilty burden hanging over me, like the sixteen-ton weight in Monty Python (I really did have an inexplicable sense that it would fall on me if I didn’t post something right this minute). Anyway, soon I shall write you a poem. It might be better if you didn’t read it because my poetry is invariably ghastly, but there you go. There’s just no escaping some things.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Misquotations are the only quotations that are never misquoted ~ Hesketh Pearson

I like my room. It’s big and it’s blue and I have lots of awesome things like a bed and a wardrobe and a bookcase, and wide windows that look out over the garden. Plus, it’s in the attic so I am nice and lonesome and I can dance around to Guns ‘n’ Roses with the music loud and no one can hear. On my walls are old paintings that I’ve done and birthday cards and postcards and prints of Monet, and there are posters of Arsenal and minis and New York and Paris and Happy Bunny. But the best thing about my room, I think, is the quotes. I collect quotes, and I write them on my walls and stick them on my door and I have a book of ones that I find in unexpected places, such as, err, the World Wide Web. The point of them is to inspire me when I’m feeling gloomy, and I thought I’d share a few of them with you now.

This one’s my favourite. It’s painted in white on a big navy blue card and framed with photos of roses and candles, and it goes like this:

“My candle burns bright at both ends,
It will not last the night,
But ah! my foes, and oh! my friends
It gives a lovely light.”

It’s written in the back of most of the Roald Dahl books as it just happened to be his motto, but it’s actually by Edna St. Vincent Millay, it’s called First Fig, and it’s from her book A Few Figs from Thistles. What is so brilliant about this quote is that it captures everything we should all be aspiring to: making the absolute best of what we can, even though it may seem futile at the time. I think the metaphor is clever although slightly cliché, you know, the whole candle equals life idea, but it sort of works here, and to top it all off, it rhymes. Perfect.

The newest one is above my door on the inside, written in permanent marker because I was feeling particularly rebellious. Who’s seen Dead Poets Society? (If you haven’t, I severely recommend. It’s one of those films that change your perception of everything). There are plenty of inspirational quotes in this film, not least of which is “carpe diem”; but my all time favourite that I first heard from watching it is by Walt Whitman:

“I sound my barbaric YAWP over the rooftops of the world.”

For those of you who have seen this movie, you’ll know that the scene itself is pretty inspirational. Keating is shouting at Todd, who stands in front of the whole class, terrified of making a fool of himself, or of failing; and Keating pushes and pushes, and eventually Todd Anderson is hollering out great lines of poetry that express something he doesn’t quite understand. This quote is the kind that stirs up the souls of people who were once too afraid to speak for themselves. Next time you’re feeling nervous, try yawping. You might find it works.

Another good movie one is:

“All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you.”

Gandalf says it in The Fellowship of the Ring, after being told by Frodo that he wishes the Ring hadn’t come to him. What he’s really saying is, “Don’t regret things. Don’t worry about what you can’t control. Just stroll along and make the best of everything thrown at you”. And it’s inspirational because it’s so whole-heartedly true; sometimes you just have to sit back and let events carry you along, and not try to influence everything, because you’ll just exhaust yourself with worrying.

So, one by a world-famous poet and two from blockbuster films . . . Paris Hilton is next on the list, and I refuse to be ashamed of quoting her by stating that actually, this one’s quite brilliant (not nearly as funny as her replying “Gordon Ramsey” when asked who the British Prime Minister was in 2009, but whatever). It’s written in A4 size bubble-writing across my back wall, and each letter is patterned with cheerful-looking things like flowers, glasses of champagne, bubbles, cupcakes, strawberries, books, splotches of paint and butterflies. Each is hand-drawn and hand-coloured, and in fact I could probably have handed in every piece of homework throughout Year 9 if I hadn’t spent the best part of that year drawing this. It goes:

“Life’s too short to blend in.”

Pretty simple, I hear you say. (Trust me, it took about six months). But doesn’t it just express everything that we want in life? Unless, of course, you’re happier just fitting in, which is fine too. But I don’t want to be beige, I want to be scarlet and gold and turquoise and lime green, and I don’t want to waste my life in the background when I can fling myself into the whirlpool and let it spit me out into whatever crazy situation it may choose. I want to walk on the moon and deep-sea-dive, and wear home-made neon dresses just so that people stare in the street (one name for this is attention seeking, but I prefer to think of it as not hiding). The point is that I want to do things. I refuse to allow my life to slip through my fingers and look back at the age of sixty thinking, “Damn. I never went skydiving”.

One last quote, to finish off. I really could go on to infinity (and beyond), but I won’t as I suspect you’re getting bored, if you haven’t stopped reading already. It’s written on bright yellow paper and blu-tacked to my door, and it was written by a fifteen-year-old girl who lived in an attic with seven other people for two years of her short life, after which she was murdered. It reads:

“Think of all the beauty still around you and be happy.”

If Anne Frank could look on the bright side of life, then so can we. Even when living so close to death, she saw the good, and for that reason she is one of my all-time heroines. Know the danger, but smile in its face. If you haven’t read her diary, go read it now. It is funny and interesting and heart-warming and heart-breaking.

I want to keep going. Really I do. But I have a feeling that this is already too long, so I’ll call it quits. I hope you feel as inspired by these quotes as I do when I look around my bedroom. There may be a “Quotes Part II” on the way. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Don’t let it drag on.

I worked it out. I worked out how to be happy even when every fibre of your being tells you not to be. What you do is allow yourself to wallow, like the human being that you are, and then when the opportunity presents itself to cheer you up, don’t push it away feeling sorry for yourself; grasp it and remember that good moods are better than bad moods. I found today that Disney songs and banana-caramel cake works particularly well, and I felt proud that I had gotten myself out of my depressed flump. Come to think of it, there were plenty of things that I smiled about today. You’ve just got to look for them.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Sorrow is one of the vibrations that prove the fact of living ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

It can be really hard to be happy. Sometimes shit happens. What about when something really bad happens, and you don’t want to laugh about it and tell yourself it doesn’t matter? What do you do when the sadness is justified? Am I supposed to just sit here feeling unhappy? Do I do what I do when I’m feeling generally grumpy, and read a book? Do I dance around my room to Taylor Swift, like I do when I’m feeling lethargic and bored? Do I sit on my bed and practice playing my guitar as if I was just avoiding going to bed? It’s hard to be sure where to put oneself or what to do with this kind of sadness. And it’s confusing, because on occasion there’s reason for a resolution to be broken, and then one feels bad as if one shouldn’t be breaking it, even though it’s ok.

And then you have to deal with the pain of the misery itself, which is consuming; not the ‘haven’t-done-my-coursework-grounded-bored-out-of-my-mind-had-a-shit-day-and-feeling-like-being-a-bit-of-a-drama-queen’ kind of misery, the proper ‘something-bad-has-happened-and-now-I-want-to-cry’ kind of misery – the kind of misery when you curl up in a ball and eat a metric tonne of chocolate ice cream. The reason I try to be happy is because I don’t want to be sad. That’s the whole point. But what about when you are sad, and there’s nothing you can do about it?