On Making the Most of Winter

Despite the incessant moaning and groaning of English Folk (read: Londoners, mostly) on the odd super cold day, I actually feel like winter has been quite forgiving so far this year. In fact, I admit I’ve woken up some mornings saying ‘Hey. You know what? I could go for a walk today because it’s so crisp and delicious outside!’ And, though my nose feels like an ice cube, I am content. I seem to have foregone the usual bout of SAD this year, though I’m unsure if that’s partly because of my recovery time off work.

Nevertheless, winter, to me, is a time for doing almost nothing outdoors except the bare minimum. Yes, the Christmas markets are up and running, enticing us to leave our cosy homes for promises of a bustling, vibrant atmosphere that includes Mariah Carey playing much too loudly on a speaker nobody can locate and a £7 hot chocolate that we could have made at home without being sardine-packed on the Piccadilly Line. But what else is there to do outside this cute, expensive little activity?

There is many a festive menu across all restaurants, and enough limited martinis that now have a generous sprinkling of icing sugar snow dusted on the side of the glass. We’re being reminded that, actually, there is a lot to leave your house for, guilted into staying indoors instead of venturing into the cold. It’s December and I haven’t even been to any Christmas markets! Or the outdoor ice-rink! I haven’t been to see a single flashing light and I’ve missed Winter Wonderland, a heaving extortionate waste of time that I now have to pay and queue up for!

So anyway, I’ve thought about the winter goals I have that don’t necessarily mean doing festive things because, truly, I very much enjoy the weather that forces me to stay indoors. What a shame, I can’t go outside, it’s raining. Damn it. Actually, I’m blissfully happy laying in bed with the lightbulb red, asking Alexa to play metal while I write, so I can really feel like I’m in a dungeon. Can’t do that when it’s sunny at 8pm.

I would, on a normal day, like to have some mulled wine and chestnuts, but it’s not something I’m going to pen down and venture into the crap weather and ginormous crowds for; don’t get me started on Christmas crowds because I’m exhausted just thinking about them. There are plenty of indoor and introspective goals to be achieved in Winter, especially for an introverted dopamine-chasing hermit who absolutely loves their own company and will look for any excuse to stay indoors.

Here are my five winter goals. Let me know if you have any of your own that I can draw inspiration from!

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November: Ten things on my mind this month

  1. Why do I keep getting almost-ill? I am not wishing the flu on myself. Nor a cold. Nor Covid, which has apparently made a comeback (though it was just last week that I was wondering why I couldn’t taste the ice cream I was eating. I realised it may have been because I was scoffing it down faster than my tastebuds could register the flavour. Then I remembered the time my old workplace furloughed everyone except ME and the bitter taste in my mouth told me I was fine). It’s not any real sickness. It’s that horrible tingly throat that you get a few days before you actually get ill, snotty and pale, the kind that makes you say ‘oh no. I think I’m getting ill’.Part of you groans because you can’t afford to not be working at optimal levels, another part shrugs because you have a reason to stay indoors and in bed, watching reruns of Gossip Girl. But the ill never comes. It just teases you and forces you to cancel plans in the near future because ‘oh no. I think I’m getting ill’. But then Friday night comes around and you’re fit as a fiddle without a table reservation. It’s just you and your cosy bed with a takeaway and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Oh no.
  2. On the subject of things that pretend they’re about to happen but then don’t, being a woman can be absolute hell. PMS is my worst enemy. I’m one of the unlucky ones who only feel normal for about a week out of the month (though I have all the sympathy for those who only feel normal for a day… or less). Immediately after ovulation, my body gets ready to really cause a scene.“No baby? Fuck you, then! Here is a lot of bloating to simulate the bump you didn’t want. Don’t want a baby in your belly? Here is a massive craving for carbs and sugar so you can store some fat in there instead because why do you need your jeans to fit today? Also, any time you scroll through reels there’s a 98% chance you will cry at something, and if you’ve been in a good mood recently, too bad. Hope you’ve bought extra supplies because you will constantly be on edge about a surprise bleed tomorrow that still won’t come until you’re actually due on. Have some of that for two weeks, you bitch.”
  3. Last week I was walking through the shopping centre and suddenly realised I was really upbeat and happy. I then also realised I was accidentally strutting along to Destiny’s Child’s 8 Days of Christmas, after which I immediately altered my stride so that my steps were no longer accidentally aligning with if he only knew what he does to me. But I did unfortunately smile to myself as I thought about what a good song that is and stopped smiling when I tried to think about good Christmas songs that aren’t from The Before Times; is the era of good Christmas entertainment over? Or am I just old?And what happened to good Christmas films? They just really don’t do ‘em like Elf anymore. I want cringey, corny movies with giant elves. Even, dare I say it, Home Alone. Which, of course, couldn’t happen today. Perhaps there’s room for a wider discussion about how the advancements of the world make it impossible to create any believable but riveting entertainment. Merry Christmas.
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From playful and fun, to politically correct: Censoring Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl books, nationally revered and loved by kids everywhere, are having lots of alterations made to them by woke, politically correct editors who want to appease snowflake adults.  Roald Dahl, nationally revered and loved by kids (lots of whom are also adults now), is also dead and unable to speak out against the censorship being placed on his books.

I am against censorship in books and I am against banning books; sanitising them isn’t too far off. There are books and authors whose writing I despise – but I don’t believe in rewriting or banning them. Even if it is Salman Rushdie.

It seems to me that people would rather pull the wool over their children’s eyes than use ‘offensive’ language as an opportunity to explain the real world to them; the real world which, might I add, is a lot worse than how Dahl portrayed it. And let’s be very honest, the reason we love those books so much is because that language is all around us; it’s playful and it’s descriptive and it’s something we understand. I’m sorry you don’t like the words ‘ugly’ and ‘attractive’, but they are adjectives that exist nonetheless. It makes no sense to censure the use of the word ‘ugly’ when it is being used to describe characters whose entire story is based on the fact that they are ugly (both inside and out). How do you rewrite that? Not to go all Hopkins-Clarkson-Morgan, but I don’t understand why we need gender-neutral terms in the books either. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why ‘Cloud-men’ is more offensive than ‘Cloud-people’. Why is the word ‘man’ offensive? Men and women, boys and girls, exist; this fact shouldn’t offend anyone, regardless of their own beliefs about gender. Are we going to rewrite every character in every book as gender-neutral? Must we rewrite Harry Potter as the person who lived? Read more

Old habits… die


When I think back to days gone by — you know, the days before voluntary 10pm bedtimes, a strong aversion to teenagers, the discovery of more than a few grey hairs, and a tendency to feel every single ache under the sun — I remember being a 19-year-old caffeine-fuelled creative powerhouse who didn’t stop until the sun started to bleed into the night. Sometimes I was convinced it even rose a little later just to give me more time to myself, but maybe that was just me thinking the world fell at my feet whenever I willed it. That I could have anything I wanted. I was right, though; I could.

Unsurprisingly, it would take more than a spell of dizziness, a gnawing stomach, and tired eyes to break me from the almost physical connection I had to the keys on my laptop. Writer’s block? I didn’t know her. I wrote when I wanted to write, and my day ended when I wanted it to end. I was juggling a million different hobbies and somehow still able to squeeze twenty-five hours from a day for everything I wanted to do (and all the things I didn’t). My skin suffered, I was a little underweight, and everything I created was borne out of some sort of affliction, but I always had something to be proud of at the end of the day. That’s what kept me going – I was addicted to the dopamine I sorely lacked. In truth, I was never really living in the real world. I was living through each piece of art I created, and it showed, weighing heavy on my entire being, scrawled all over everything I produced. I lost touch with reality; it started with books, which plagued me with a billion different perspectives of the world and only managed to feed my cynicism, and then I turned to writing in an attempt to drain myself of all the excess poison in my mind. I’m not sure if what I wrote was good, or I just needed something to relate to – whichever it was, I made it appear, and it worked. I dare not revisit the things I used to create, but there was a lot of it. Read more

The Artist’s Dilemma


I sat down to start this post in my usual fashion; with misery, cynicism, and a little self-loathing. But then I remembered that negativity begets negativity, and the last thing I need is another reason to beat myself up. So, I’ve picked the next closest thing: honesty.

I took yet another break from writing in general. People have told me and continue to tell me they love my blog posts, my copy, my short stories — whatever it may be — but I just… don’t believe them. Imposter syndrome, I believe they call it. Feelings of inadequacy that block us from ever proving to ourselves that we are better than we think we are. It’s a vicious cycle that I often struggle to break out of.
We create art to express ourselves and resonate with people, so when they tell us they want to see us or hear us, why can’t we deliver? Why do we feel like frauds in our field –surely I’m not meant to be in this club? You’ll find that this club is filled almost exclusively with people who are, in fact, very good at what they do. Conversely, there are a lot of people who produce ridiculously sub-par work, but because they believe they can get to the top with it, they soar. Right to the very top. Read more

I think I’m here, therefore I’m here(?)


Or whatever Descartes said.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything on this blog. I have found myself drawn more to the throwaway simplicity of Substack; my creative (?) thoughts are sporadic and I have a very short attention span, even when it’s for myself. When I lay down at night, I jump from memory, to thought, to scene two in that same thought, to scene three, back to scene one to find out how else it could have played out, to a different thought altogether, to a horrible scenario that I hope will never happen but I’m now prepared for in case it does. Long blog posts don’t really do it for me, and I know they don’t really do it for anyone else, either. I talk about things succinctly (but often), I think about things forever and then write about them succinctly (I hope) (but often). Other times, there is waffle.

This is one of those times.

I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t been writing anything over the past couple of weeks because I’ve had fake nails on. I don’t know how you were expecting that sentence to end, but I know it wasn’t like that – maybe you expected simple writer’s block, being bogged down with work, a crisis in the family. And all of those things are true, but, for a writer, not nearly as debilitating as having long nails that prevent you from typing efficiently on the horrible flat butterfly keys of a 2015 Macbook that just won’t die. Let’s not tempt fate now, though, because, being older and closer to real adult life, I can’t afford my Macbook to die on me the same way I could when I was 19 and didn’t want to think about the future. I used to look into the future and see a black screen because, as far as I was concerned, I should have been dead already and anything that was to happen after that is a miracle in itself. Maybe miracle is the wrong word. Now, I look into the future and I panic because I wasted so much time being dead inside that I now have so much catching up to do; now, I look into the future and it’s not just about me – now, I see the white picket fence. Not really a white picket fence because, living in London, I know a small Tesco lorry will probably back into it and ruin everything. Maybe a big, strong, robust wall. And some barbed wire. And lots of CCTV and gates and deadlocks. Maybe a rottweiler.

I digress. But it’s also a nice illustration of how my thought process works. I get antsy, I can’t sit still. I get anxious, I get frustrated, I don’t know how to be calm. I am, quite simply, all over the place, all the time.

But sometimes, all the chaos must come to a stop and I am nowhere.

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