Your friends who think they can fix your body

I recently read a blog post called An Open Letter to the Guy Who Thinks He Can Fix My Life in Five Minutes. It’s a very funny piece of writing, but with a serious point:

I’m not sure what the world would do without the Guy Who Thinks He Can Fix Our Lives in Five Minutes. Overweight people would simply go about their day, blissfully unaware that they are disgusting and probably going to die soon. Women might walk down the street without realizing that they are dressed like sluts. Coworkers might have to do their jobs normally, without a helpful mansplainer nearby to constantly watch over their shoulder.

It struck a chord with me, in particular with the main point that Matt Thomas was making: weight.

As someone who has been perennially overweight since his early teens, I know only too well of this problem. I think it’s different as a teenager; you really are in denial, or at least I was, and it’s quite possible that actually this Guy has a point by trying to make you aware of the issue. However, it’s equally unhelpful — as a teenager, you don’t want to hear it and will pay the Guy no heed.

When you reach adulthood, however, and feel the need to take your life into your own hands, it’s different again. Although I would like to think that at 23 years old it’s a bit early for people to have genuine concerns about my mortality, there’s still a certain pity discernible in some people: ‘If only this fat guy knew what he was doing to himself, and knew how easy it was to eat less and move around more… What a tragedy.’

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HR: Human Remorses

Currently, I am doing a full-time job and a full-time degree. In this economy, that’s not bad really, but it’s probably a bit much for my wee brain. It also goes some way towards reinforcing the stereotypes of people doing Arts degrees that they have all this time on their hands, but… shhh.

Officially I am a Recruitment Assistant (Intern). I like to put the ‘Intern’ bit in parentheses just to emphasise that I do get paid for it and I’m not some crazy person trying to survive in London with no income whatsoever, nor do I simply harvest my parents’ funds. Well… I do do that a bit, but I feel bad about it afterwards.

This job title basically means I do the dogsbody work, getting job applications in, compiling job applications, thanking people for applying to our job but informing them that, unfortunately, on this occasion, their application has not been successful, but perhaps they would be interested in future roles, in which case they should keep an eye on our website.

A large part of the reason why many of these people get rejected is that, even in the year 2013 when nearly everything is done through a laptop or an iPad, people have no idea how to do a job application on a computer.

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Archbishop on the Tube: It mitre been him

For some time now, I have been complaining that I haven’t bumped into any famous people. When Dick Whittington came to London, it was with the promise that the streets were paved with gold; I was under the impression that they were paved with celebrities. I don’t know why I clung to this idea so. I’m hardly a fawning fan-girl, waiting to scream her head off at any Z-lister that appears; indeed, I’m a chromosome’s leg short of a uterus. I think I just find it odd that people who have previously only been represented to me in pixels and on paper can actually take a full, three-dimensional, human form, presumably with a consciousness and/or a soul.

Well, I have finally broken my duck, in an especially topical way. This morning, I read that Rowan Williams’ successor as Archbishop of Canterbury has been all but confirmed as Bishop of Durham Justin Welby. This evening, I was next to him on the tube. I even gave up the opportunity of a seat for him. (How very Christian of me.)

Or at least… I think it was him. Here is the problem with my ambition to meet famous people: I suck at faces. (Not literally.) I know a lot of people think they are bad at faces but, at the risk of appearing solipsistic or wannabe-non-conformist, I suck worse. I can’t remember them; I can’t describe them; I have trouble recognising even those that I know best. If people change their hair, clothes or weight, I’m completely screwed. I have a terrible fear that I will be the only witness to a horrible crime, relied upon to describe the suspect, and the best I will manage will be: “Black/white, tall/short, dressed/naked.”

Bishop Justin Welby

Bishop Justin Welby

How I remember Bishop Welby

How I remember the features of Bishop Justin Welby

Therefore, I will be completely penitent if Bishop Welby turns out to be one of my many readers and can inform me that in fact he was nowhere near Tottenham Court Road station this evening. However, it’s almost as if the good bishop was going out of his way to ensure that I recognised him.

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LINO: Londoner In Name Only

I have a tube map on my wall.

This is a new development. As I made clear in a previous post, I am not a Londoner. I’ve lived my life in a medium-sized Cambridgeshire town, not big enough to be considered urban but not small enough to be truly rural; not close enough to any city to be considered a suburb but with a direct train link to Kings Cross to prevent the feeling of true independence. Yes, I had cows within walking distance of my house, but I also had a Costa Coffee.

Tufnell Park Station. Image: Sunil060902

Tufnell Park — there’s no park here! (Photo by Sunil060902)

However, while I seemed to be floating along in this undefinable purgatory, the metropolis was slowly swallowing me. I felt it. A very close friend of mine lives in London, meaning I was visiting more frequently; an Oyster card materialised in my wallet; and finally, I was struck to apply to do an MA at University College London, the Londoniest place you could study. Continue reading

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Don’t pity me, though I be a poor humanities graduate

I was in London not so long ago when I was approached by a clipboard.

The okapi — save it, save it now! (Photo: Charles Miller)

Not being a Londoner, clipboards to me invariably say, “Excuse me, would you spare a moment of your time for xyz cause so that, even though you are not particularly invested in said cause, we can bombard you with emails, texts, letters, tweets and pigeons until you feel so unbearably guilty you will hand over your pitiful savings to save the okapi/raise awareness of dandruff/petition the government for better chewing gum removal on our nation’s streets?”

The clipboard got to me before I saw him and suddenly my friend and I were trapped.

“Excuse me,” he said, and I feared the worst. “Do you like films?” This was new. This was unexpected. Suddenly I was on a first date with the clipboard and we were sharing our interests.

“Yes,” I panicked. Continue reading


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Living the good life in Brierland

On Sunday, I will be heading down to Wembley Stadium to watch football. Well, ‘football’. It isn’t that game we Brits all know and love which actually uses your feet, but that other one they like in the States with all the ad breaks.

That’s right, my beloved Chicago Bears, whom I have held dear to my heart for the whole two-and-a-half years that I have followed the NFL, will be coming over to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a game that promises to be mediocre on action but big on hot dogs.

I was today watching NFL Total Access on Sky Sports (I’m an Arts graduate, okay? I have nothing to do with my day) and was expecting to feel a rare sense of jingoistic pride that the US felt the need to have validation from us for its little sport. It’s like a big brother who, while acting all protective and superior, actually really lives for the praise of his baby bro. “Hey UK! UK! I– Look! Are you looking? I made a sport! I mean, you probably wouldn’t be able to play it, it’s very physical and requires you to put emphasis on the first syllable of the word ‘defence’, so you can’t play… But do you like it? Do you?”

Instead, however, I just felt patronised. The presenter initially asked whether the coaches and players should be referred to as “the Right Honourable Gentleman”, before saying that the Bucs were looking forward to their trip to “Her Majesty’s Great Britain”.

After my fuming sense of indignity at these callous stereotypes had been calmed by a crumpet and cup of Earl Grey, what then got me was that it was another example of the way in which Americans use the words ‘England’, ‘(Great) Britain’ and ‘the UK’ interchangeably. Continue reading

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Troilus and Cressida

Patroclus  Who’s there? Thersites! Good Thersites, come in and rail.

Thersites  If I could have remembered a gilt counterfeit, thou wouldst not have slipped out of my contemplation: but it is no matter; thyself upon thyself! The common curse of mankind, folly and ignorance, be thine in great revenue! heaven bless thee from a tutor, and discipline come not near thee! Let thy blood be thy direction till thy death! then, if she that lays thee out says thou art a fair corpse, I’ll be sworn and sworn upon’t she never shrouded any but lazars. Amen. Where’s Achilles?

Patroclus  What! art thou devout? wast thou in prayer?

Thersites  Ay; the heavens hear me!

(Act II, Scene III)

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