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Being angry is fun. I actively enjoy it (sometimes), although I understand that there must be consequences, as with most things. But I think getting a bit angry is good for us – wouldn’t you agree?

Wider society is impossible – on the one hand it wants us to feel empowered, express ourselves and yet we popularise some means of getting to those places and berate the exhibition of the other, less palatable means. Like anger.

sci fi bold cropped plainThe unavoidable thing is, we all have rage lurking inside us somewhere. We just do. And what is wrong with that? It’s a natural emotion, just as the fluffier Love and Lust are. Life is a hot bed of drama. It’s silly to think we all go around being happy and compliant all the time, how could we? We each make small compromises daily. Small compromises that build into layers and layers of anger. Imagine the cover of some warped sci-fi book. That’s you. There’s your anger. There’s only one place for it to go if you are to survive – out. (Think Alien. Apologies for another tenuous sci-fi reference). Surely, when that time comes it’s much better to unleash it and get it over with, harness that self expression and empowerment, and get back to everyday life afterwards un-scarred.
When I think of anger, I often think of modern consumerism. This, it seems to me, is the one place where anger is accepted, expected even, in our culture. And it’s training us how to be angry.

As we navigate ourselves more confidently in the commercial world – becoming more consumer savvy, more active – we become more confident at being angry with institutions and their representatives when things go wrong, when we feel let down as a consumer. This trains us to be angry in a controlled way. Yelling on the phone to British Gas (or some other energy company!) (although this did happen to me – I was the yeller) when they mess up your bill for the fourth time and then change your payment amount without your permission is now an acceptable thing to do (ish). They are in the wrong, and you are alerting them to that fact. Better that, surely, than grumbling sheepishly and then you end up somehow apologising to them and as a result feel even angrier about the whole thing, blowing up at your boyfriend three months later when he puts the tupperware in the wrong cupboard.

Getting angry saves a lot of bother and frees up to time to exercise other emotions, do other things. Life’s too short to keep that volcano closed for business. Plus it can be a bit fun – go on, admit it. That adrenaline release. It’s like you’re on a roller coaster – which you are in a way, a social one.

Of course, it’s not ladylike is it? Rage. Such labelling of appropriate emotions for women is exactly the kind of thing that makes this woman, well, angry. There are clearly some of us don’t seem able to manage our emotions. Obviously this is the key. I’m not recommending we all descend into abandon and give into murderous urges. But for those of us who are able to exercise a modicum of control maybe it’s time to loosen that lip, come over a bit Brazilian and allow yourself to be angry for a day. It could do you some good to let the steam out the volcano.

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We all have embarrassing habits, don’t we? Googling yourself regularly. Slathering on antibacterial hand gel every time you touch someone for fear of their likely germs. Secretly listening to One Direction every morning (the latter not one of mine).

Is there anything worse than admitting an embarrassing habit? Yes – not noticing said habit in the first place, and carrying on doing it obliviously. Which is what I’ve been doing, subconsciously, for years. Forever. Only last week did I finally notice this particular habit – my saving grace being that at least it wasn’t pointed out to me by my boss, my mother, a member of One Direction.

I mimic people. I just can’t seem to help it. Not in a comic way – I’m no actress and, anyone will tell you, I can’t do an accent to save my life. No, it’s more of a social reflex. Something we all probably do to some extent – to demonstrate our apparent attentiveness, to make other people feel special, comfortable (or uncomfortable) – reflecting others back to themselves during conversation. Mimicking their body language, intonations of voice and facial expressions in our own body, voice and face. I know this isn’t exactly some kind of breakthrough observation; most of us are capable of doing this when we want to, or when social convention dictates we have to. But the somewhat embarrassing difference with me is that I can’t seem to control mine. I wish I could switch it off! But no, I’m mimicking in every conversation I have. If the girl at the supermarket counter happens to be from Yorkshire, my response will slip out in a Yorkshire accent without me even realising I’m doing it. The worst is crying – people are always setting me off.

I’ve talked before about my attachment to women’s magazines. Perhaps being under their influence for so long has affected me. All those articles you read about how your body language betrays your innermost feelings – about men, mainly. Mimicking a potential mate by stroking your face when he strokes his reveals that you fancy him. Cringe! It’s as if I’ve not read these articles properly and have extended this behaviour to all of society…what an indiscriminate hussy I am.

Even now that I’m aware of it, and riddled with embarrassment by it, my face-matching continues. In fact, if anything it’s stepped up it’s game. I’m watching people even more closely now, as though I’ve got my own social interaction survey going on – only no-one knows they’re being surveyed. Ethics of this survey aside, it is revealing. Because the thing is, when other people do the mimicking thing I’m noticing that they are usually incredibly insincere with it. You can see their face working in a calculated effort to get what they want out of people. Whether that’s getting them onside, extracting information, testing out difficult waters. It is embarrassing to watch. Painful, even. I really hope I am not such a ham actor.

I’m considering another little experiment, actually. Using my mimicry as a superpower for social good by tackling the everyday rudeness we all endure from total strangers in our lives, and throwing it back in their faces. A gentle Batman for polite society, if you will.

Not giving an inch on the pavement when a stubborn individual enters my path, demonstrating just what chaos will ensue should one of us not budge.

Storming, literally, through the bus queue and sending all and sundry flying like bowling balls in my wake.

Hmmm…another embarrassing habit seems to have revealed its ugly head. Getting too angry at things…

I have a confession to make – I have become prone to alcohol abuse. Hang on, not the stuff you drink. I mean the slightly alien stuff you slather over your hands.

I am addicted to hand gel. It kills 99.99% of bacteria. Well, that’s just so appealing isn’t it – why wouldn’t you use it?

I have never been more germ aware. I go about my daily activities always with the background goal of maximum germ avoidance. You might say that sounds like hard work – it is! But it is part of who I am. It is perhaps a little sad to have a part of yourself defined by your relationship with germs. It’s not like I live in a part of the world where each passing day carries a risk of death by infection. I recognise that I am fortunate to live in a pretty sanitised environment. But in my defence I haven’t always been this way – it is something that has gradually seeped into my consciousness to the point where, not only do I have a little tub of hand gel on my person at all times, I also find I am using the stuff at least 20 times a day, probably more.

It all started in my early twenties – I was forever catching colds, and I blamed this entirely on the bus. People are disgusting. Everyday I would watch them sneeze all over the place, use their hands as though they were tissues (why don’t people carry tissues?! WHY?!), and then clamp these hands all over the railings, stairs and handles. And then I, unless I wanted to hurtle to my death, would have no choice but to touch those handles myself. So I took control with hand gel. The problem is that the more you use it, the more you become aware of potential germs.

They’re everywhere, germs. Door handles, kettles, chip and pin machines, money – the list is, of course, endless. Once you are on the alert it is really quite shocking how much people touch things, often just for the sake of it. Us hand gel-ers, we only touch a surface if we really have to.

I am loathe to use the word OCD because I don’t want to make light of a serious mental health problem. People seem to throw this word around as though it is fashionable, a desirable condition almost. But with that said I do sometimes worry, is my behaviour ‘a bit OCD’? No. I don’t think so. I’m not distressed when I’m doing it, more embarrassed. But the act has certainly become a compulsion.

I can’t imagine life without hand gel now – and this becomes a problem in that you start to find yourself wanting those that share your life with you to use it, too. Otherwise, what’s the point? You can’t effectively manage the germs coming into your home if your other half waltzes in from the newsagents with a fistful of germs swabbing at the light switch, the fridge door, your face. You can almost see the fluorescent green blobs – like the kind used in adverts for bleach – lighting up their hands like a Belisha beacon. HAZARD!

None of this is exactly good news for your relationship, let alone your mental health. It’s probably safer to just embrace the germs and put up with a cold for a week – I’m sure your other half would rather that than suffer with your issues for eternity.

Although in my case this isn’t entirely true, because I have now passed on my little addiction to him – like a germ itself. He too takes hand gel to work. He too is constantly navigating the gauntlet of the outside world. You’ll see us, clumsily opening doors with our elbows, pressing pedestrian crossing buttons with coat sleeves pulled right down over our hands teenagers in new school blazers. You’ll find us at cash points using a loyalty card to jab at the keypad instead of our fingers.

All this exertion and contortion results in weird bruises and injuries to places like the side of our thumbs, toes and shoulders. And seems as both of us have had colds this last week I don’t think it’s worth all the effort…

It makes me wonder – is it just us? Or, as a society, are we all becoming more germ aware? The very fact that hand gel is sold as a run-of-the-mill hand care product in Boots etc must be proof that it is cemented into the mainstream social psyche now. People must be buying the stuff, there must be a real demand. But when you think back to the Bird Flu masks of recent years and now the Ebola hysteria exploding over the globe it all gets frighteningly dystopian.

I worry that I have placed myself on a slippery slope – am I just a few years away from wearing a mask myself?

Something out of the ordinary happened the other day – I lost something.

I never lose things. I am just not one of those people. I am organised. Boring. You can rely on me in a scrape – I will have that emergency tissue in my handbag; I’ve got the map to the hotel; yes, I’ve got some suncream you can borrow; yes, I have the last train time written down in my pocket notebook.

I do not lose things. Well…apart from the time I lost my passport. Life lessons learned: 1. Don’t take your passport to a festival, even a non-camping one, and 2. Hairdressers are good people (one from the Regis salon in Debenhams found said passport and returned it to me. I went back there recently.

Ok, so I lost something once. Although, hang on…there was also that time I left an amazing paid of vintage driving gloves on the bus. I cried. Really (turns out there’s a helpline you can ring).

Ok, so I am not quite as organised as I thought I was three paragraphs ago. But I’m pretty ‘together’ most of the time. So you can imagine my anger and disappointment when, on the last short hurdle of my commute home – the number 50 bus, I realised…I had gone and lost my house keys.

It’s horrible that moment, isn’t it – you must have felt it at some point? That sinking realisation that your treasured possession is not in your pocket, at the bottom of your handbag, on the floor. This is an organised person’s worst nightmare – how could I be so careless, so unlike myself?

You see, I will freely admit that I am a control freak – I think all truly organised people are. We cannot escape from ourselves. Which is why I was so unhappy when, in that moment I knew my keys were gone, I surprised myself with how careless and unreliable I could actually be. The last thing I want is to be surprised with the hidden depths of my character –  I want to be in control of me.

But if we were to rewind to seven years ago, to when I lost the passport, it is a bit of a different story.

Of course, in that first moment of realisation there was the familiar panic / terror / rage-at-self for being so stupid. What if I had to leave the country? Or, more realistically, buy alcohol? But then once I knew my passport was safe in Debenhams, I let go a little and actually felt a bit pleased with myself. Proud, even.

Because when I was a teenager, being the organised one in my circle of friends always felt rather lack lustre, predictable. Dull. How I longed to be as carefree as they driving around late at night with boys they’d just met at MacDonalds, running off to the Welsh seaside on a whim, bunking off school, walking into an exam having done zero revision. It all came so naturally to them. It made them so appealing – sexy. There was nothing natural about me trying to climb onto a yacht late in the evening in Sandwell Valley Park, when I’d only (begrudgingly) agreed to go on a short walk.

And so as a young woman I found myself fighting against the organised streak in me, wishing I could be more like my more un-together, dishevelled friends.

But I’ve found that as you get older the tables turn. It’s funny – people actually want to be like you. Those same free spirits want to know how you manage to get through life with few dramas and disasters. “I don’t know how she does it.” You feel brilliant (until you are inevitably asked to organise a hen do.)

You find your opinion changes, too. No long longer is the total disorganisation of your friends endearing or jealousy-inducing – it is f***ing annoying. Even they are annoyed by it, too.

This, reader, is a certain sign you have become a ‘grown up’.

At the end of the day, that organised streak runs through you like a stick of rock. And if you break it, you breakdown. Having to sit outside your apartment building on a step like a cat, waiting for the other (responsible) key-holder to get home, is a low point in life.

It is no shameful thing to be the boring, organised one. But losing my keys has reminded me that I am indeed human, and still capable of surprising myself – even if I don’t like it.

P.S. A few days later I found the keys – in my desk drawer at work. I think I can actually remember placing them in there…thinking I lost something else last week – the plot.

Recycling. I think we can all agree it is a crucial and moral act we must all make some effort to incorporate into our daily lives, however small.

Whether it’s putting your empty cardboard coffee cup into the correct bin at Pret A Manger.

Or donating that Steven Seagal DVD to your local Age Concern, brother, hated work colleague etc instead of just throwing it away.

This is all our duty, right? Apparently I was wrong.

I will admit upfront that I am not exactly a recycling evangelist – I am very aware that I could and should do a whole lot more saving-the-planet-wise.

I do wash all my clothes at 30 degrees. However, I buy most of said clothes from the High Street, and not often from the pricier sustainable organic cotton range…not that organic cotton actually is all that sustainable anyhow…but more on that later.

But I’ve got my basics covered. Paper (no matter how small, scrappy and incredibly irritating when you’re trying to shove into the recycling bin), appropriate plastics, tins and cans all get recycled, and I make sure to donate any of my unwanted stuff.

I’ve done so since childhood and as a result it is ingrained in my psyche. Recycling is in my code.

So I just cannot believe it when I see people throw their newspaper in the bin, or worse, on the floor (aargh littering! Separate issue).

I just can’t believe every other person on earth wouldn’t make the effort to put something in the recycling bin instead of the regular bin. It’s not even an effort now, is it? It is so damn easy to recycle with facilities available in the street, in shops and cafés, at your home – you almost have to go out of your way to not recycle. There really is no excuse.

Which is why my wrath knew no bounds when, last year, the recycling facilities were withdrawn from our apartment building.

Why the hell would they do that?! I hear you ask. Can they even do that? I don’t know. But it happened and, a year later, I am still having to travel three and a half miles (in the car – sorry Earth. It’s too much stuff to carry and I’m not sure travelling with rubbish on the bus is acceptable. Even on the 50) to use the recycling bins in the car park of the Asda supermarket I used to shop in when I actually lived in that area.

The apparent reason for this outrageous removal of services was because the recycling bins were being abused by residents.

Now bear with me here because I can imagine why you’d struggle to understand how and why a recycling bin could be abused, but I’ll try my best to explain.

People – grown men and women – were dumping their normal rubbish in the recycling bins for paper, glass and cans.

I know of other residents who would argue this is actually an improvement on alternative behaviour witnessed, which is to simply leave the rubbish – not always even secured in bags – right there on the floor, just next to the perfectly acceptable bin. Sometimes, not even in the designated bin area at all – just out in the street. A number of times in the hall. One time even in the lift. But I digress.

Unfortunately this confirms for me that I am forced to share my living space actual idiots. Here we have grown adults, who have worked hard enough to be able to afford to buy or rent a city centre flat, who are unable to dispose of their waste in a socially acceptable manner. How can they go about the world with such little pride in themselves and their surroundings? Life shouldn’t have to be like this.

It is, of course, frustrating when others do not share the same standards and vision of a happy social balance as you. I suppose it is one of the common problems of modern life in the city. Sharing your space with ever increasing numbers of people. Increasing numbers of whom are leaving their manners behind when they leave home. You just have to become resigned to it. Accept thy inconsiderate neighbour – otherwise, you may just kill them.

Are plain basic good manners an abnormality now? Not even good manners – just ok ones…

It may just be me getting older, and a city dweller to boot, but I can’t see what hope social responsibility has if a person will spit in the street, leave a used nappy in a public lift, or dump their general waste in a paper recycling bin before they will swallow, or before they will remove their child’s nappy in their own home a matter of feet away. Before they will use a recycling bin.

I hope the cynic in me is wrong. Maybe as soon as people start recycling old-fashioned manners, the rest will follow.

We all have to face up to the fact that we can’t go on living in and with such waste. We can’t get away with it forever. Something has to give. People have to give. Even if we won’t be here to see the impact we make, and it’s our old curtains that are getting taken away by end-of-life recyclers.

And on the subject of fabric, I must take this opportunity to mention The Ecologist Guide to Fashion, one of an amazing series of books WHICH YOU MUST READ. You could be forgiven for considering the fashion world simple and frivolous and a world that plays no impact in your life – but it is a complicated business that affects us all. This book will open your eyes to the real cost of the clothes you buy and wear.

Is it me, or are today’s men increasingly choosing to dress in women’s clothes?

I don’t mean cardigans (sorry, mardigans), the odd man-bag, or even skinny jeans. I’ve accepted and adjusted to these additions to the general male wardrobe, just about.

I’m talking about actual women’s clothes, made for women to fit a woman’s body – sheer blouses, deep v and scoop neck tops, leggings, neck scarves, harem pants and embellished thong sandals.

Why God, why? Or rather, why fashion designers and high street retailers – why?

Cut it out – it’s not funny anymore, you may not have noticed but the men are taking it seriously! The average British male is just too damn lazy a shopper to actually think about what it is they are buying. They blindly trust you.

So, I implore you – give us our men back!!!
Let me be clear here. My beef is not with the hipsters (although they did start this). They are a law unto themselves, a weird closed species, and who knows in which unattractive way they will asset their ‘individuality’ next.

My concerns are the impact this movement is now having on the common man. And, in result, common woman. Common, persevering, patient (too patient) woman. This is just yet another thing she has to put up with.

Our men are visiting the high street, a couple of times a year at most – very much out of their comfort zone, and often confused. With this recognised reality in mind, men’s fashion departments in the UK are limited at the best of times. This suits them! They just want to get out of there as soon as, with a few clothes to last them for the next six months.

The fashion industry, it seems to me, are preying on this vulnerability, offering up an assault of flimsy cleavage revealing blouses, jeans that bulge in a madcap, mind boggling manner (phones, wallets – just jutting out like a horrendous utility belt for the thighs, whilst simultaneously reducing the sperm count of our male population) alongside jewellery – actual jewellery – and more. There are shoes that surpass the slight repulsiveness of flip-flops and hurtle full throttle into what can only be described as ladies sandals.

What next? Are you going to have them wearing bras? This must stop!

Don’t get me wrong – it’s encouraging that men are accepting and flaunting their feminine side, publicly, in making this effort to be more…erm…adventurous about the way they dress; something typically accepted to be the domain of women. It’s flattering I suppose, that men want to wear what we do; they must think it looks good. And yes, it does – on women!

In this lies, for me, the real horror and just plain confusion about this trend: why are men, straight men, Dads, dressing as if they have female bodies?

I accept that all this is nothing especially new, really – as ever the case in the world of fashion. Our men are blindly recycling practices of old. Look at the New Romantics, Bowie and Jagger before, and before all that – European men of the 1800s, for whom dressing ‘effeminately’ in decorative shirts and stockings was the norm, a sign of status and wealth – a sign of manhood.

But these men, 17th Century society aside, were demonstrating their allegiance to distinct social groups in the way they chose to present themselves. Very much like our modern day hipsters, they were making their mark through fashion.

In recent times, these feminine styles have spread to the masses. Hence now our nice, plain dressing, no funny business, comfy sweater men (who we know and love, even if we don’t want to admit it) are striding around, albeit bandy-legged, in bottoms fit for the Royal Ballet and tops reminiscent of Shirley Bassey cast-offs.

Surely it’s got embarrassing now? Someone must take a stand and say something.

I suppose some women must like it, surely? Otherwise the men wouldn’t keep doing it… But I ask you – who are these women?

Are we all just too embarrassed to bring it up in order to avoid hurting the feelings of modern man? Has this started a chain reaction amongst all young women in modern society, cumulating in the myth that we all like our men to look like us?

If this is the new face of modern equality, I find myself sorely disappointed.

I learned something from Come Dine with Me the other day (no, really).

Apparently, Merseyside has one of the highest numbers of unmarried people in the UK. I know – what’s the marriage status of the North East got to do with a bunch of idiots terrorising other idiots in their own homes? To put into some context, this was Couples Come Dine…I’m assuming that’s why they chose to throw this fact in, rather than just some random Liverpool bashing from Channel 4.

Bashing – now, there’s me and my defensive knee-jerk reaction to the subject of marriage, or rather not-marriage, rearing its ugly head. After years of social conditioning I now instinctively assume that when the subject is raised, it is usually done so negatively. Or confusedly, at least.

As I find myself now, in a) my thirties b) a happy long-term relationship with The One (I apologise) and c) not married or wanting-to-be-married-ever-REALLY, I am finding it ever more the case.

“What, you don’t want to get married? Oh, you’ll probably feel differently in a few years time.”

Why? It’s easier to assume I don’t know my own mind, rather than accept I choose not to marry. This seems to me to be a socially acceptable form of condescension.

Not-marriage

With all this in mind, the actual statistics really surprised me. The 2011 census revealed 51% of people have never married, or are divorced or widowed.

According to a piece in The Daily Mail (apologies for this, my second slightly dubious source), the Office for National Statistics said the changes “were the result of declining numbers of people making it up the aisle since the 1970s, and changing social attitudes towards people who co-habit or live alone.”

Maybe I just knock around with old fogey traditionalists (I don’t), but my social experiences just don’t match this picture.

Despite it being 2014, and despite being a ‘grown woman’ (of sorts), I still find myself embarking on conversations with total strangers where I feel the need to justify my decision not to get married. I can very much relate to those horrendous dinner party scenarios in Bridget Jones’s Diary. Women in particular just don’t get it, I’ve found. I get shot a look, like I’ve suddenly grown two heads and one of them is going to try and seduce their husband or something.

What’s going on?

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a big moan (ok, it is a bit). I can certainly understand why people want to get married. But I find it curious, the social taboos that still seem to operate in modern society, despite the very real facts of changing marriage trends.
I wonder, is this just me? It wouldn’t be the first time.

Or, does this strike a chord with other women?

As a jolly aside, wasn’t it a whole lot better when Come Dine With Me was sponsored by Blossom Hill wine? Glorious sun drenched alfresco scenes, women frolicking around (clearly not talking about not-marriage) in pastels, a bit of Camera Obscura playing. To replace it with dishwasher tablets…why? Is this another comment on the recommended domestic lives of viewers?

On that topic, get ready for my next post on the subject binge drinking. All the big hitters!

Bye

Source link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2591541/Revealed-How-married-couples-minority-half-Brits-choose-live-just-stay-single.html

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