Why we all want to be a bit more Villanelle (minus the murder)

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My husband and I always tend to have our most deep and meaningful conversations in the car.  It makes sense; you’re wedged together for anything from a few minutes to a couple of hours where at least one person isn’t allowed to scroll the time away on their phone.  Conversation is going to happen, and when you’ve known each other for ten plus years, it’s not going to be about the weather.  In between mini-arguments over who’s Spotify Playlist has got the best mix (mine, obviously), bouts of road-rage and scrambling around to find that fruit pastille I dropped between my legs (it was a black one, no!) – we tend to get a little deep.  Last weekend – road tripping back from West Wales – we somehow got onto the subject of murder.  “Could you ever kill a dog?” I asked.  “No, never – not unless it was in pain,” was our united stance on that one.  Even then, I’d struggle and sob myself silly; I couldn’t even bear the thought of it, because, well… dogs.  And then we played that game you always play when pondering moral dilemmas; you go to the most extreme situation you can think of.  I shrugged my lips, “Alright then, could you kill a person?”  

Now before you start thinking that my husband and I are psychopaths who spend every single car journey plotting murder, I should probably explain that we don’t.  We’ve just been watching waaaaaay too much Killing Eve.

It’s back this weekend for Season 2; are you as excited as I am?  I’m so ready for another helping of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s razor dagger-sharp script-writing, more scene stealing fashion and two of the most complex, well-written female characters on the box (three, if you include Fiona Shaw’s Carolyn – which I totally think you should because she’s awesome).  But mostly because, finally, more Villanelle!  Played by the brilliant and beautiful Jodie Comer, she’s become a bit of an unlikely icon and – yikes, dare I say it? – role model?  Probably not for the cold blooded killer bits, but for just about everything else.

I mean, there’s a reason why tailored suits are everywhere at the moment, along with frou-frou pink tops and dresses (who can forget that psychiatrist scene from Season 1?).  And it’s not just the fashion, it’s her playful, devil may care attitude that we’re all hooked on; she does and wears whatever the hell she wants, speaks her mind, and is as tough as the Balenciaga Biker Boots she stomps around in.  There’s a beautiful brutality to her that I think we all fancy injecting a little of into our own lives – whether that’s wearing something eye-catching and extravagant, to telling someone exactly what you think of them.  To their face, with a serene smirk.  Sorry not sorry, baby.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge explained in an interview that crafting the character of Villanelle (originally created by the writer Luke Jennings in his book Codename: Villanelle) came from continually asking herself the question, “What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?”  And I think that’s the question we should all probably be asking ourselves every day in as many variously worded ways as possible.  It’s the only way to acknowledge the fear holding you back from being the most explicit and honest version of yourself, and then shake it and be that person – devil may care. “What would I wear today if I wasn’t afraid of being stared at?”, “What project would I take on at work if I wasn’t afraid of failing?”, “What would I say to that person if I wasn’t afraid of being rejected?” ad infinitum.  As long as the question isn’t, “Who would I kill today if I wasn’t afraid of being caught?” then you’re golden.

Killing Eve is back on BBC One this Saturday at 9.15pm.  Smell you later.  🔪

 

Let’s Stop Self-Defecating (…yes, you read that right)

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Happy April Fool’s Day!  I don’t know about you, but I’m absolutely useless when it comes to playing practical jokes… and telling jokes full stop, to be totally and completely honest!  I either give the game away by giggling too soon or I screw up the punch line, and my go-to joke is the one about the panda who goes to a restaurant and eats shoots and leaves.  The one thing I am good at, however, is laughing at myself.  A couple of weeks ago, I managed to play the most ridiculous practical joke on myself while I was refilling a cook’s blowtorch.  When I (stupidly) decided to check whether it was working and pulled the trigger, the lighter fumes ignited and I was momentarily consumed by a ball of fire that not only burned my fingers but also singed off most of my eyebrows and a lot of my hair.  After the initial sobbing shock and cries of “my hair!!!” (and the call to NHS Direct to see if I needed to hop it down to A&E…) I did what I always do after I’ve done something stupid; I laughed long and hard over what an utter nob I was.

There’s nothing better than having a good ol’ chuckle, is there?  Even when times are tough having a laugh about it – y’know, a proper tear-streaming, snorting, rib-aching, gasping for air kind of laugh – is better than any kind of medicine.  And self-deprecation (or “self-defecation”, as I used to call it until someone stepped in and corrected me… yeesh…) is the one woman stand-up routine I’ve been performing since I can remember.  I slip into it so easily these days: if someone compliments my anything, I’ll launch head-first into a bit where I take out a metaphorical magnifying glass and hover it over every flaw I have and can think of.  Like, the dog hair clinging to my brand new black jeans, or my vampire skin that’s hilariously allergic to fake tan, that ketchup stain on my new shirt, my flat chest, my misbehaving hair and *tap tap* “Hey, is this thing on?”  I’ll downplay my own achievements and shrug them off as pure luck – as simply being in the right place at the right time – because – come on now – there’s absolutely no way this train wreck is capable of achieving anything on her own other than maybe inhaling three cream eggs in thirty seconds.

Har de ha.

And I know I’m not alone in this.  We’re all guilty of slipping into that old routine in social situations, aren’t we?  Whether we’re with our mates or with a whole crowd of new faces – it’s an easy way to seem more human – more relatable – to come across as humble instead of arrogant and therefore more likeable.  In theory!  But are we harming ourselves in the process?

If I’m constantly poking fun at myself and telling other people that I can’t cook to save my life, that I only wear flats because I look like drunk giraffe in heels, or that the reason I got that big promotion was completely down to luck rather than my own hard work, I’m going to start believing it myself.  And for what?  To spare someone else’s ego?  To be liked?  At that point we’re not self-deprecating anymore, we really are just self-defecating – shitting all over ourselves and our achievements!  And that ain’t cool, my friend!

I came across some sage words of advice on how to own your achievements and talents a while ago and it really stuck with me.  It’s basically all down to learning how to self-deprecate in a self-aggrandizing way.  I mean, you’re still poking fun of yourself – but you’re doing it in a much kinder, more positive way.  For example, instead of rolling your eyes and telling yourself and others “I can’t cook to save my life”, laugh at that burned slice of toast and declare proudly, “I clearly need my own cookery show – watch out Nigella Lawson!”  Next time your eyeliner’s wonky or you’ve gone in too hard with the blush, don’t pull the ol’ clown face gag out the bag – just have a chuckle and say, “Nailed it.”  Or the next time you send out an email full of mistakes (and to the wrong person – yikes!), instead of coming down hard on your writing skills just laugh and say, “Hey, I was clearly robbed of that Pulitzer.”  It’s a small switcheroo that’ll help change your mindset and have you owning both your flaws and achievements in a more positive way.

Let’s have a good ol’ laugh at ourselves without being the fool.

Anyone played any good April Fools pranks today?  The closest I got was Sunny politely informing me at 6.30am this morning that our toilet was backed up and spilling over – hilarious!  NOT.  Have a great week!  🙂

Here’s To the Women

Happy #InternationalWomen’sDay, which is probably my favourite day to skim social media, because today between the ads, the clickbait, and Trump’s mis-tweets there are so many stories of amazing, strong, fearless women.  We got this!

Me?  I’m not sure if I’m strong and fearless, in fact, I can think of more times when I’ve been the exact opposite.  But, I’m almost certain that during those weak and fearful moments, 9 times out of 10, I’ve been picked back up by womankind.  So, let’s raise a glass (or a mug, in my case!) to the women who scoop up other women and help them to stand tall again.  Here’s to them and their small acts of heroism.

Here’s to…

…my Aunt, who tells the most amazing stories, has travelled the world (sometimes even on her own) and is absolutely determined to learn how to use her computer.

…Brown Owl, for letting me phone home as many times as I wanted on Brownie Pack Holiday when I got homesick, but also for absolutely refusing to let me go home under any circumstances!  Would I have ever gone to University or moved to London if I hadn’t survived that week away from home?  Who knows.

…the “Swot Brigade”, I mean sure, it took us about a month longer than everyone else to work out that we could roll our skirts instead of just wearing them down to our ankles (the fashionable midi skirt wouldn’t come into fashion for at least another ten years), but  hey, we were our own brand of cool and stuck up for each other all through High School.

…the Bishop Girls of 2001, who decided that it was high time that girls were allowed to choose whether to wear skirts or trousers to school.  It was my first experience of feminist protest and we won!

…my Mother-in-Law, for losing months of sleep working on a case against the local health board whose negligence killed your mother, and for helping make my big move to London so much easier than I thought it was going to be.  Oh, and for cooking Aloo Gobi just because you know it’s my favourite 😉

…Rach, who bought me Chicken McNuggets at the end of the second year when I had no money left (of my overdraft) and was bawling my eyes out because I’d just said goodbye to my future husband for a whole year.  For telling me that she always looked forward to my Night Out Debriefing MSN Blog Posts and Photographs.  For teaching me that when Easyjet batters your luggage beyond recognition that you’ve got a right to storm up to their desk at the airport and demand that they damn well pay for a replacement – and for so, so, so much more. ❤

…the Random Old Lady on the Saturday Morning train from Swansea to Cardiff on the 17th of November 2006, who told me that I had vomit in my hair and offered to get me some water and paracetamol when I emerged from the train toilet in the midst of my first real hangover.  Cheers for that.

…my Year 7 English girls, for being so scary smart (watch out, those girls are going to run the world), for letting me know when my eyeliner was “on fleek”, for teaching me what “on fleek” means, and for that time that I said I wanted to be a writer when I grew up for saying, “Aren’t you already grown up, Miss?”

…Missy, who kicks ass in Westminster every day, never turns up empty-handed and ALWAYS sends a thank you card.  For trying some of my worst culinary creations, including a Kirsch Cake (vom) and a Jelly Baby Cheesecake (diabetes on a plate). She’s the finest lady I know, and the most hilarious drunk.

…my Year 12 Computing Teacher, for being a women who thought computers were cool and for making me feel like a total badass for being one of only two girls in my year to study for an A Level in Computing.  (Oh, and for that time you accidentally told us to “go ahead and shove our floppy dicks into the drive”)

Nina, for being my first fan. 😉  And all the other blogger babes.  You guys inspire me every single day.

…Is it me or is this slowly turning into my Oscars Best Actress speech…?

…my Mamgu, who instilled in me the importance of spoiling oneself with tea and cake and other sweet things.

…my Year 12 History Teacher, who told me to stop sniffling and get studying when I failed my first AS History paper.  You taught me that it’s okay to fail as long as you don’t give up.  Because of that pep talk, I worked hard and totally aced the resit. 😉

…my Mum, for inadvertently starting my obsession with Women’s History (I know you don’t remember teaching me about Madame de Pompadour when we went to Versailles, but yeah, you did.  That one’s on you!).  For being so brave when Dad was sick.  For having the spirit of adventure whenever we went on holiday and forcing me to try everything – no one has the “when in Rome” spirit quite like you do.  For insisting we stop and take a photograph ALL THE TIME.  For introducing me to eye-makeup remover (I’m so sorry I ruined so many of your towels growing up!), and for teaching me how to make the perfect Victoria Sponge… and then for not complaining when I decided to ruin it by experimenting with it.  For encouraging my car-singing (“I should be so lucky” – you, not so much for having to listen to it over and over again!).  For not being afraid to laugh loudly on a quiet airplane in the middle of the night.  And everything else.

Here’s to the Women.  Which women are you raising your mug to today?  ♀️

About Motivation

Wouldn’t it be great if they bottled Motivation?  So whenever you were feeling stuck in that emotional rut of “I just can’t be arsed” you could just drag yourself to your local supermarket and literally stock up on cans of whoop ass that would give you that much needed boost to get stuff done.  They’d be right there on the shelf next to those silver cans with bulls and lightening bolts on them, but completely separate because let’s not confuse motivation with energy.  After all, they’re completely different things.

A slump in energy can be quickly solved with a sold eight hours shut eye or a stonking great big cup of coffee (…or tea, if you’re like me!).  Motivation though?  That’s trickier.  Motivation is elusive.  It’s unpredictable; it comes and goes and can’t be pinned down.  It can’t be summoned, and it can’t be kept.  Just like inspiration (I’m a firm believer that the two are either the same thing or at least go hand in hand), it’s got an air of mystery and magic to it – a sudden spark that gives you the jolt you need to tackle anything and everything from the moulding dishes in the sink to job applications, blog posts and unwritten books.

Motivation – when it sticks around – makes you feel powerful, invincible.  You know the feeling; it’s practically a superpower, it’s that voice inside that shouts YOU GOT THIS and just for second makes you believe that you’re capable of doing almost anything.  The problem is that almost as soon as it appears, it’s gone again.  Hopefully after you’ve finished that pisa-esque pile of ironing or bashed out that blog post that’s been bugging you, but y’know sometimes it’s been known to bugger off sooner, leaving you high and dry – something that’s not only incredibly rude, but can be incredibly depressing too.  It leaves you feeling the exact opposite of strong and capable; weak and unable.  Useless.

Perhaps that’s why Motivation’s so elusive.  I mean, if we all went around ignited by that spark 100% of the time then we wouldn’t value it as much – not to mention, we’d be bloody exhausted from taking over the world every day of the week!

Sadly, I can’t see Tesco or Waitrose bottling Motivation any time soon (but if it did it’d probably be flavoured with blood oranges and salted caramel), but there are definitely a few ways to encourage that fickle spark of superhuman can-do to return.

Rest and Re-energize

Ground breaking, I know.  But, Motivation never likes to stop by when you’re feeling run down or exhausted.  So relax, put that to-do list on hold for a while and refill those batteries.  Not by necking caffeine though – all that’s good for is a quick burst of Faux-tivation followed by a crash.

Do Something Else

Motivation likes to be inconvenient.  Just like that Hermes delivery you’ve been waiting for and watching out the front window for all morning; you know that as soon as you decide to get in the shower or plonk your bum on the toilet the front door bell will go.  A watched cake never bakes (…or something like that). So do something else; read a book, go for a walk, start binge-watching that new show everyone’s been talking about and you can guarantee that Motivation will suddenly show up unannounced and ring that bell.

Ask for Help

There’s no shame in taking a sip from someone else’s can of whoop-ass.  When you’re feeling in a rut, ask for a boost-up from friends or family.  They might have the answers you’ve been looking for and couldn’t see yourself, or be more than willing to give you a break and help with that to-do list.

Fake It

Sometimes we can’t afford to hang around waiting for Motivation to give us a jump start (there’s no AA membership when it comes to Motivation!), and during times like that you need to be able to roll your sleeves up and get things done anyway.  Everyone has their own ways of tricking themselves into feeling inspired, whether that’s bribing yourself with a reward for getting the job done, or a playlist of songs that help you feel empowered.  And you never know, maybe Motivation might sense the positivity and offer a helping hand after all.

What are Your Tips and Tricks to staying Motivated?   🙂

100 ideas to beat Blogger’s Block

You know how it goes; some weeks you’re spilling over with ideas and then others… meh, you’re running on empty.  Inspiration is a fickle thing; you can’t bottle it and it comes and goes like the family cat – on top of you one minute, then off prowling the neighbourhood the next.  Blogger’s Block – just like writer’s block – is tough!  It can make you feel emotionally and creatively constipated and damn it, there’s just no magic, cure-all to get things moving again.  In a word, it sucks.

So I’ve put my thinking cap on and have come up with 95 potential post ideas to help beat the block…

Continue reading “100 ideas to beat Blogger’s Block”