Monday 22 April 2013

10 Things we Know to be Absolutely True

There are certain things in life which are undeniably fact.  This is commonly construed to be “Nothing is certain in life but death and taxes”, but this isn’t quite what I mean.  I believe there are ten truths in life which are unavoidable and are factually true, to my standards anyway.

1.    Old Dogs are the Saddest Thing Ever

As a massive dog fan, puppies are heaven sent; I can honestly say I think old dogs are truly tragic.  Nothing breaks my heart more than a hobblely old dog with the same look in his eyes that was there as a puppy.  I used to blub saying goodnight to my old Labrador just because she was getting old.  This started about 3 years before she passed away and might make me the saddest person ever but it is undeniable – old dogs are just too sad.

2.    Drug Dogs or ... Drug Addicts

Following on from the doggie theme, I pondered this a few nights ago after an episode of Family Guy.  Drug dogs are miraculous and do many great things for our country, but are they just addicts trying to get their next high?  With those supersensitive noses something must slip in, it’s not just the Bonio that’s their motivation.

3.    Shloer is far Better Than Wine

Don’t get me wrong, I love wine as much as the next twenty-something year old woman and often it’s the only thing that hits the spot, but sometimes at parties when offered a glass of wine and I’ve already spotted the Shloer I find it hard to choose.  Shloer is definitely tastier and it was perfect for pretending I was drinking wine as a child.  On reflection though, when wine was the choice I made, Shloer is a cracking fixer for that all too familiar ‘never-ending-thirst’ hangover.

4.    A Peplum is a Problem Solver

When I have been over indulging or not feeling too hot, my trusty collection of peplums is where I turn.  No top has ever been so flattering, highlighting your waist and concealing the muffin top, when these become seriously unfashionable I am going to be screwed. 

5.    You’re Never Too Old for Lambrini

Admittedly, this was the drink of many of our teenage years and for some, may hold some truly hideous memories, but fear not – trusty old Lambrini is a familiar friend.  Maybe not one to be swigged in public, but in the privacy of your own home, and the company of friends who are going to keep your dirty little secret, it is definitely acceptable.

6.    Kris Humphries, Taylor Lautner’s Brother Gone Wrong

I believe Taylor Lautner, best known for playing Jacob in Twilight, to have a brother, gone slightly wrong, in Kim Kardashian’s ex-husband Kris.  Brief though their marriage was, he came into the spotlight and immediately caused suspicions in my mind as Taylor’s secret bruv.

7.    Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud

When they first coined the phrase “every cloud has a silver lining” I think they got it wrong.  It is far more accurate that every silver lining has a cloud, remember that time you finally found those Topshop platforms in your size after weeks of searching high and low only to take them home and realise one had a wobbly heel?  Or that mad rush to McDonalds to make it there before they stopped selling breakfasts and your favourite Sausage and Egg McMuffin was sold out? That’s your cloud on your silver lining.

8.    Something’s Not Right About Prof. Brian Cox’s Smile

I know he is a national treasure, a complete genius and for some women an absolute fox, but oh God his smile.  A top lip that NEVER moves is an untrustworthy one if I ever saw one.  It just isn’t natural.  Maybe a Botox injection too far or a science experiment gone wrong, I don’t know, but that ain’t right.

9.    One Drink is Never Just One Drink

Try as I might to make sure that I maintain some level of dignity, I can never just do as I say and have just one drink.  These nights tend to be the most fun, spontaneity at its best – but there was a reason for ‘just one drink’.  Whether it be a deadline, an early start or an important meeting the next day you’ll be cursing yourself until you crawl into bed at 6pm the next day, cradling a bowl of mashed potatoes just like Mum used to make.

10.  You will Always Regret a Chinese Takeaway

I love Chinese food, and weekly I get a real hankering for it.  No matter what I order, and despite how much I enjoy it at the time, I always regret it.  There is no comparable feeling to the post-Chinese agony where curling up in the foetal position is all you can do to make yourself feel better.  The gut wrenching pain is made worse by a check in your pocket making you remember you just paid for this misery – WHY? WHY DID I DO IT AGAIN? Unfailingly though, I have to admit, I still can’t resist.
Written for Propergander Magazine also available on:

Tuesday 9 April 2013

How To Rid Yourself of Writer's Block

Whether you are a budding journalist, an amateur writer or a professional columnist the day will come, if it hasn’t already, where you suffer from the dreaded writer’s block.  Ironically enough, last night I lay in bed thinking ‘What I am going to write about writer’s block? I have writer’s block about writer’s block!’  Hopefully I can help dispel the situation and offer a few ideas on how to progress without ripping your hair out.

Firstly, if you have no direction in which you want your article to go – write a list.  Write a list of subjects you are interested in or are knowledgeable about.  Writing is so much easier and enjoyable when you can take pleasure from what you are writing about.  When I am enjoying writing an article I can bang it out in under an hour – leaving much more time to watch endless re-runs of Come Dine With Me.

If you are writing about a chosen topic, and there’s no wriggling out of it, again I would suggest writing a list.  This list should be more of a contents page of such.  Hopefully you can derive a flow from a few bullet points to help get you started again.  I also think when suffering from writer’s block, some secondary research never goes amiss.  Not necessarily looking up about the subject you are writing about, but check up on related topics – these can often spark your brain with new ideas and get you back on track again.

When I’m out and about I always carry a notepad in case ideas come into my head.  My notepad of choice is highly unpractical; it came into my life in a Christmas cracker and measures about an inch squared.  I do not advise purchasing one of these, but it’s so cute and as one of my best friends always says “It’s a notepad for a giant!”  Even if these ideas that are flying around aren’t useful for what you’re writing now, they will most likely be of help at a later date.

Take a break.  Sit back, turn the kettle on, find the most calorific biscuit you can lay your hands on and walk away.  Turning it over and over in your mind will do nothing but drive you crazy.  If your deadline allows it, take a day or two away from writing and clear your head.  As a country girl living in the city, when I need a break I drive to the countryside and, fingers crossed if the Gods allow, find a field with some friendly horses to stroke over the gate.  You will be amazed how a refreshed mind and soul makes an astonishing difference when you sit back down to carry on.

By adding some element of routine to your writing it helps break down your time and allow you to reward yourself every 30 minutes for example.  The reward doesn’t have to be ground breaking, the routine could be getting a drink or ritually walking a lap of the room you’re in every second paragraph.  By adding physical structure to your writing time you can allow yourself writing breaks and opportunities to clear your mind – even if just for a few minutes.

Hilary Mantel, author of Wolf Hall and The Mirror and the Light amongst many others, explains “If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to ­music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.”  

Article written for Proper Gander Magazine available online at: