Saturday, 26 December 2015

God, why do you have to be so positive all the time?

Yes that's right, it's Boxing Day and I've decided to take this opportunity to write to you all in praise of negativity. I can't help it. I'm bored. When I have unfettered free time I write. I never felt more justified in calling myself a writer as when I was unemployed. Now, if only I could harness the same spirit of creativity to write paragraph two of my sure-to-be-a-bestseller novel, only three years in the writing, I may only have a paragraph down so far, but I assure you, it's finely honed. Anyway, as ever, I fear, I digress.

So, I've been thinking a lot about negativity recently, what with having been threatened with the sack for not being a bright little ray of sunshine (plus side, more time for writing!), and the words spoken to me on Thursday still ringing in my ears: "God, why do you have to be so negative all the time?"

I'm going to answer with a question: "Why do you have to be so positive all the time?" Serious question, I'm not being facetious. Personally, I can't stand happy, positive people. Their blunt refusal to acknowledge that the world is an utterly terrible place makes me want to push their heads under water and hold them there until the bubbles stop coming up. The phrase "Oh well, musn't grumble" throws me into a blind rage. No, grumble! You must! Life is awful! After all, no next door neighbour of a spree killer interviewed on TV has ever said after the fact "Well, frankly, we suspected this was going to happen from day one", have they? Because the moaners of this world aren't the ones repressing their negative emotions until they flip and pack an assault rifle in their briefcase instead of a newspaper and a banana. And yet I'm the one people don't want to be around,  Madness.

Anyway, to answer with an answer, I can't help it guv, got a dicky amygdala, innit? Ah, the amygala, my old friend, and the source of all that is wring in my life, For you 'normies', who have no need to understand why your own brain has turned against you, let me explain. The amydala is the part of the brain that assesses risk and measures fear responses. Think of it as a little man, or woman, or non-gender conforming person in a little watchtower in your brain, looking out through your eyes for potential threats. For most people, the little man doesn't have a great deal to do; he spends his days with his feet up, binoculars hanging loosely round his neck, having a little snooze, until someone walks up behind you and wakes him up, and in a sleepy-eyed daze he pushes the wrong button, and that's why you sometimes get a fright when someone innocuously approaches you to ask you a question, for example.

However, people who are shy, introverted, depressed or have high levels of stress or anxiety are known to have an enlarged or over-active amygdala. So the little man in the watchtower is still there, only he's on the edge of his seat, nervously biting his nails and shouting "S-s-s-s-SNAAAAAAAAKE!" every time he sees a twig on the ground, pressing all the buttons, and sending you into near constant fight-or-flight mode. Have you ever head to deal with that much spare adrenaline running through your system? It's exhausting. (To clarify, I'm not especially scared of snakes, more than the average person. I petted one once, though I declined the offer to have it wrapped round my neck, preferring not actively present myself as an appetiser. As a therapist once told me, my amygala is working just fine, only I've trained it to massively broaden its definition of "threat" to the extent that it now judges "knife wielding murderer" and "person I don't know" to present roughly the same level of menace.

Long story short, I was reading an article the other day, and it was saying that negativity was linked to an over-active amygdala. I'm not sure why exactly, but you can guess that being stressed, depressed and over anxious about everything might not always put you in the sunniest of moods.

I'm taking this personally because it is personal. This is my personality, it's the result of genetics and learned experience, but none of it is a choice. Yet, the internet is full of articles with titles like "How To Shut Down Negative People", "How To Banish Negative People From Your Life", and "How To Drown Out Negativity". Where's my fucking self help guide to drowning the sort of idiots that will only say even of Tories "Oh, I'm sure it's not all bad." It is! It is all bad! It is all very fucking bad! The very long-winded point I am making is that a negative outlook on life is a personality type just the same as having a positive outlook is a personality type, so where do we get off saying one kind of personality is OK, desirable, even, but another is bad, undesirable. How is that OK? How is that not discrimination? I refer to Quiet by Susan Cain a lot (Things an ex love of mine was bad at: not putting his penis in wholly inappropriate places.  Things he was good at: buying gifts. A book about the secret power of introversion, a flask and an adopted penguin at London Zoo after knowing me for two months, BOOM), but I'm reminded of the section on introversion in the business world, and how "outgoing" is seen as a positive trait in potential employees and "shy" or "introverted" is seen as a negative one, to the extent that introverts are least likely to be hired and most likely to be fired, regardless of their academic or career achievements, and the fact that introversion comes with it's own set of positive attributes just like extroversion does. We, as a society, have accepted that one kind of personality is acceptable and to be lauded, and another is not, and is to be hidden away.

Well l I say, NO MORE. We're here, we're negative, GET USED TO IT.

Human beings don't have an innate fear of fire, like they do of say, falling (you might overcome this as you grow older, but babies hate heights for this reason. The only two innate human fears are falling and loud noises, true facts), probably because fire was something that we discovered at some point, rather than that was always there. But don't tell me that when humankind first discovered fire, there wasn't one guy saying, "Now this is great obviously, but are you sure want to stick your face in it? Is that safe?", who only end up being accused of being 'negative' at the funeral for muttering "I fucking told you this would happen, Barry." The truth is, you need us negative people. We're the reason there are seat belts, and speed limits, and, thanks to Barry, fire extinguishers.

Don't be like Barry. Embrace the negative (but I mean, don;t literally, because human contact, ew).

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

"To be wronged is nothing, unless you continue to remember it."

That's easy for you to say, Confucius. You're dead.

I think I have an unrivaled ability to hold a grudge. Despite all the happy-clappy advice to the contrary, it's the natural way to be - you know what they say, the only things that continue to grow all your life are your ears, your nose, and your resentment.

Sometimes I think I ought to forgive the Beast, and move on, because it was two and a half years ago now and it's silly to hold a grudge for so long. But then sometimes I have days like today, when I;m tired at work because I was up crying at 2am, remembering how I was actually happy back then, for a while, until it was all wrenched away from me, and the ground collapsed from under my feet.

Sometimes I think I ought to forgive the Beast and move on, because it was two and a half years ago now, and it's toxic to hold a grudge for so long, but then sometimes I have days like today, when I try not to let me colleagues see that I'm crying at my desk, because flat hunting is bringing it all back, and there are flats for let on my street, in my house, even (because 25 Thicket Road, London, SE20 8DB will always be my house, on my street, and I have the keys to prove it. Dumb letting agents evicting me and not asking for the keys back. Fucking amateurs), and they're all just out of reach, because rental prices have gone up so much in two and a half years, and even though I earn more now, it isn't enough to cover the difference.

Sometimes I think I ought to forgive the Beast and move on, because it was two and a half years ago now, but sometimes I have days like today, when I remember that she never apologised, That she was given, nit just by me, but by the landlord, every opportunity to stop this from happening, but she didn't. She just left. Left all her crap, left me to receive an eviction notice, left me to pay the agency fees they think it's fair to charge you when they force you from your home, left me in fear that she was going to come back, but she never did. She just changed her phone number, blocked me on Twitter and Facebook and disappeared. Much like she did when the boiker broke and we had no heating foir a week in December  and the landlord was trying to get out of fixing it, or when we were getting letters threatening to cut off our utilities, because she'd been taking my money for my half of the bills and not paying them. Just disappeared. Only this time she never came back, and I haven't seen her since.

Sometimes I think I should forgive the Beast and move on, because it was two and a half years ago now, and someone asked me, at the time, wouldn't I feel bad if I got my way and publicly humiliated her (I made brief attempts to sell the story, a magazine was interested, but only if she would acknowledge that they'd reached out to her to give a right to reply, She declined), and she killed herself? Wouldn't I feel bad? But sometimes I have days like today, when I think no, I would not feel bad. That if she hanged herself and I was the one to find her bloated corpse, swaying in the breeze, toes turning black as the blood thickened and pooled, stiff with rigor mortis, I would snap a photo to post on Twitter - hashtag LOL - before doing anything else. Because I wouldn't feel bad. I wouldn't give a flying fuck if she was mown down by a lorry tomorrow morning, If it happened after midday, I think I'd pour a drink to celebrate. Because today is just like any other day and I am holding a fucking grudge, because that is the sane, rational thing to do in this situation. And I am not going to forgive her, and I am not going to move on, and I am not going to "see her side", because there isn't one, and I am going to continue to hate people for choosing to remain her friend, because I am holding a fucking grudge, because that is the sane, rational thing to do in this situation, and your continued cordiality with the person who ruined my life is a betrayal on an even grander scale than hers, and I believe treason should still be punishable by death.

I fucking love a good grudge, me.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Regrets? I've had a few.

Inspired by recent events:

Let me tell you something: I've made some terrible decisions in my short time on the planet. I dated a man with a misspelled tattoo of his own name. I have huge body image issues and ruinously low self esteem as a result, and knowing all this, I pursued a career in modelling (and if you don't see the contradiction there, try spending your days in the company of people who have been officially ruled the most beautiful and see how you feel about your face). After that unsurprisingly failed, I pursued a career as an open top bus tour guide, despite the fact that 'tourists', 'talking to people I don't know' and 'being on the top of an open top bus' are are all things which are at the very top of my list of 'Things I Do Not Like'.

I could go on. I've harboured innumerate hopeless crushes on friends, coworkers, and men I met at bus stops, all of whom were handsome, cool, and stratospherically out of my league, and even if they hadn't been, they all had girlfriends with long hair and pretty smiles, who weren't clinically depressed. At least once I've decided it was a good idea to confess my feelings anyway, which has only lent further credence to my theory that I am not a person capable of stirring feelings of affection in members of the opposite sex. 

I've grown so terrified of yet again being labelled 'the really quiet girl', which is basically code for 'the really weird girl', that I've embarked upon a policy of filling all silences with "I'm sorry I'm not talking more, is it weird that I'm not talking more, should I be talking more?", and am now well on my way to being labelled 'the girl who never shuts up'. I've made the mistake more than once of thinking, when my confidence is rock bottom, that drinking will somehow make me feel better, instead of making me hate myself even more.

And yet, in all my years of making mistakes, humiliating myself and fucking up my life to the extent that most of what happens to me on daily basis would no longer be believable even as the basis of a sitcom especially commissioned by Dave, I have never face fucked a fucking pig. So there's that.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015


So, I spotted this on the tube the other day:

Forgive the blurriness, it was taken with a smartphone on a moving train, and I had to snap it quickly, partly because I was getting off at the next stop, partly because the guy sitting directly underneath clocked me pointing my phone in his direction right away, and was getting more and more visibly agitated - perhaps he's in witness protection and thought I was going to blow his cover. Don't fret, your secret's safe with me, jittery tube man with the conspicuously over sized glasses. YOU'RE NOT FOOLING ANYBODY. 

A little internet jiggery-pokery reveals this is an ad for We Swap, an online currency exchange forum which might actually be a good idea if the company weren't clearly run by sexist twatwagons. Oh well, you lose some, you lose some more. I've left them unmolested so far but their Twitter handle is @WeAreWeSwap - have your fill, my vengeance-seeking feminist missiles.

Well anyway, when I saw it I posted it on Twitter under the #EverydaySexism hashtag, because my version of activism is raging impotently on social media for a bit, and then forgetting all about it, much like 99% of all other activists. (Incidentally, this kind of activism does nothing for your job prospects. It seems all writing jobs these days want your Twitter handle as part of the application process - possibly because I will insist on a desire to write for the 'yoof' market - and I don't think it impresses employers when your feed is comprised entirely of swearing, jokes about sex acts, and calling people sexist twatwagons). Ordinarily I'd have left it there; as I say, I've adopted a strict 'post and run' policy, only moments later I got a notification from a (I'm reaching for a suitable synonym for sexist twatwagon. Misogynist cockwomble? Misogynist cockwomble.) misogynist cockwomble asking me "why" it was sexist, and, abandoning my instinctive response of "if you can read I shouldn't need to answer that question", I have decided, for the benefit of misogynist cockwombles everywhere, to answer the question. So why is it sexist?

1.) Women aren't objects
Surprise! Yes, shockingly, there are marked differences between a woman and the average desk chair (namely, we don't tend to come with convenient swivel-wheels and ergonomic back support). To boil it down, you cannot 'swap' women with or for anything because THEY ARE HUMAN BEINGS WITH FREE WILL (I concede that We Swap do admit they can't swap your wife for a Swedish supermodel, but I suspect with them it's an issue of ability and not for want of trying). You can swap your stapler for a Mars Bar because it's inanimate and can't object (it judges you silently though), but attempting to trade in people comes under the handy, catch-all term of 'human trafficking'. Don't do it kids.

2.) It reduces women to no more than the sum of their looks
The only time I tend to ever get shouty about male privilege is when attempting to explain that women are taught from birth that their most important quality is their physical appearance. Men really don't get that. If we spend hours obsessing about our looks it's not self-obsession, it's self-preservation, because if you're not pretty and thin, by Cod baby, you'd better be rich. Anyway, I digress. The 'joke' is only funny because we're supposed to assume that the hypothetical male (let's not kid, this ad isn't aimed at anyone else. Only teh menz deal with important things like money) would obviously want to swap his missus (what a descriptive term, I feel like I know so much about this woman) for a Swedish supermodel, because when it comes to women, looks are all that matter. Guess what? THAT'S SEXIST.

3.) It assumes all men are sexist too
Remember how I just said the joke only works when you assume the male reader would obviously want to swap their female partner for a Swedish supermodel - well, that's pretty sexist to men too. As much as it's offensive to women to imply all that matters about them is how attractive they are, it's equally offensive to men to imply that they are all so shallow that they only care about looks, that they'd all blindly take the supermodel over their loving partner because they're all a bunch of superficial aresholes. Calling all men sexist is, ironically, fucking sexist.

4.) It fetishes Swedish women
I'll touch on this only briefly, as because a white, Western woman, I'm not ideally placed to comment on the fetishisation of other cultures, but it happens a lot. Like in how Eastern European women have been stereotyped as femme fatales (I'm not just talking about Bond girls either, the number of times men have told me I'm "not Eastern European enough" or that they "only date Eastern European women". It's......weird), and how middle aged Daily Mail readers are always espousing the values of marrying Thai and  Eastern women, because they're supposedly more subservient (because that's what normal people want in a partner. Part lover, part slave.). It's Creepy. As. Fuck. And when it's concentrated on one gender, it's sexist. So stop it.

I could probably go on, but I can't be fucked. Slacktivist forever.

Monday, 5 January 2015


Those of you who know me will know that my fondest wish is to be completely average. Where others seek to escape the anonymity of mediocrity, I crave it - I want to be just like everyone else. Basically, I just want to be normal. And what do normal people do in the early days of January? They set themselves long lists of completely unattainable goals that they can beat themselves up about for not completing later in the year, of course! I'd hate to miss out on a trend, despite being at least a day late, so as ever, I am making a desperate leap for a long-passed bandwagon as it disappears into the sunset.

'Revolution is the only solution' - Michael Mansfield

1.) Go back to therapy
In retrospect, it was probably overly-optimistic to think a six week course of CBT would solve all of my deep-seated and numerous psychological problems, but hey, never let it be said that depressed people can't also be optimists - hope, however unfortunately, springs eternal. However, I'm not sure how well the CBT has actually worked, partially because I always left my homework til the last minute at school and I don't know why as an adult I thought I'd be any different, partially because my circumstances have changed greatly since then and I don't feel my problems are the same anymore and partially because CBT is aimed squarely at anxiety, not depression, and I don't know why it's touted as cure-all. I was just (un)lucky that much of my depression, at the time, at least, was triggered by crippling social anxiety, so theoretically I still benefited, but I don't know. Interestingly, at the time, the recurring problem was that I felt unable to communicate with my colleagues, I hated that when I left no one knew I was going and I'm fairly certain most of them won't yet have noticed by absence, and I finished last May. So I think my therapist would be really pleased with how well I get on with my colleagues now, but I can't track any of it back to CBT, because I'm a lazy bitch and I never did the confidence building exercises, so I have to question whether it's a victory for CBT or just the fact that I'm sitting with my peers, who are closer to me in age and more equal in position (at Hotcourses I was an editorial intern and I was sat first with IT and then with sales, owing to space issues) and that my colleagues just happen to be people I was more naturally inclined to get on with. ANYWAY, CBT ramble aside, easily the most beneficial thing for me for those six weeks was having someone to talk to, and when I had my initial assessment, it was recommended that I follow up the CBT with talking therapy, because, in the words of that particular therapist, 'you haven't stopped talking for an hour and a half, and the session was only supposed to be an hour long.'  Given that most days now I'm about five minutes away from ending up the subject of a newspaper article that ends with the words "before turning the gun on herself", to talking therapy this year I go.

End note on CBT: I'm really not anti CBT (I'm also going to really make an effort to start doing the exercises and keeping the thought diaries and everything again while I wait for an appointment for longer-term therapy), but I think what annoys me about it is that so much of it is based on challenging your assumptions, based in it's OWN assumption that you're being paranoid. When I was having it, for example, I was convinced that a certain man in my life (anyone who knows who I'm talking about will get that I have no idea exactly how to refer to whatever that fucked up situation was, so forgive the vagaries ) didn't care about me anymore and was going to leave me, and we did six weeks of exercises about challenging my conclusions, and saying "well maybe he's just busy and that's why he doesn't call so much anymore" and what eventually happened? He announced that he didn't care about me anymore and I haven't seen him since. A lesson learned - sometimes they really are all out to get you.

2.) Eat less crap/more not-crap things
It's possibly contradictory of me to go on a health kick when I often say I don't particularly want to live a long life (cut away to futuristic video news clip of 130-year-old Victoria patiently explaining that the key to a long life is hating every single second of it, because if there's one thing the universe loves, it's fucking with me) but that doesn't mean I want to make myself susceptible to cancer and heart disease, or the fatty deposits that are already strangling my liver, according to dodgy magazine article I did that ended with the conclusion that I'd be dead within the month. This thing is going down at a time and in a manner of my choosing. And sometimes I feel guilty about the amount of rubbish I feed myself with, and not to bang on about my debilitating mental illness, they do say eating too much junk food can exacerbate feelings of depression, and whether that's true or not, it probably doesn't actively help at least, plus you do experience a feeling of accomplishment when you successfully eat a salad. And I do like some healthy foods (mixed leaves and hummus and asparagus at least), I'm just unimaginative, plus it's really hard to eat healthily and gain weight, which is another of my goals. I made a gorgeous salad the other day, rocket, baby spinach and watercress with mozzarella, croutons and French dressing, and the whole thing came to about 350 calories, and I ought to be aiming closer to the the 800-per-meal mark. I hear rumours of fat vegans - how does this work? How many pine nuts do you have to eat?!?!

3.) Start making an effort to gain weight again
It isn't a huge mystery why I'm so thin - I have a fairly small appetite, and where other people comfort eat I've always comfort starved, and I haven't cracked a smile since 1997. That's not all of it of course, I quite patently have something wrong with me (unspecified connective tissue disorder aside), whether it be an insanely fast metabolism or something more nefarious, as one enthusiastic young doctor once opined, fantasising his name in the medical journals, telling me whatever it was we could name it after me ('Bad news Sir: I'm afraid you've got Victoria Williams' - sounds about right). So I'm not entirely certain calorie counting and just, as so many sarcastic people have told me, 'eating more' will work, but I can't be sure, because I've never properly applied myself to trying, bar a period earlier this year in the summer when I was doing quite well at sticking to my target calorie count, though I gained a grand total of one pound all the time I was doing it. So I pledge to count my calories and aim for the request 3000 a day. Worst come to worst, I actually really like the weight gain milkshakes I have.

EDIT: There's been another 'thigh gap' controversy, and now I'm tempted to renege on this. Even if I stand with my knees squished together I still have a thigh gap (and a bikini bridge, a bodily feature apparently so ridiculous it was made up as a satirical comment on the pressure on women to look a certain way and I was like 'Umm, hellloooo! Sorry...'). Fuck you, skinny shamers. I'm tempted to diet down to a size zero (pretty easy for me to achieve to be honest) just to piss more people off.

4.) Stop fancying twats
Here's a fact about me - I have terrible luck with men. The ones I like never ever like me back, and neither do the ones I don't like - 'I really fancy that really tall, anorexic-looking girl with the weird short hair and the fat lips. Yeah - that one standing awkwardly in the corner by herself wearing the feminist t-shirt' - said no man ever. Plus, I only ever seem to be attracted to men that make my friends roll their eyes and groan. The word 'hipster' has been mentioned. More than once. I swear, it's a disease.  This has sometimes led to ill-advised flings with a fat singer in a bad indie band, a hairdresser who didn't want anyone to know we were dating and a man with a tattoo on his penis. Mostly it just leads to hopeless crushes and unrequited love. I don't know if you've ever fancied anyone who was aware of, and yet still deeply unmoved by your existence, but it doesn't feel great. It fucking sucks. And when it's someone who you're fairly certain is actually a terrible human being as well it just makes it worse - you get an oppressive sense of self-loathing to accompany the gnawing self-doubt. And so I've got myself into a situation where I have a crush on a terribly fashionable guy who has all the personality of a washing up brush and is openly hostile towards me. And is already taken, because of course he is. So now every day it's this internal battle of wits where one half of my brain is going 'hnnnuuuuuuaaaaaaah' and licking it's lips and the other is shouting 'WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?!' Well, no more. I can't guarantee I'm going to start fancying nice guys; to be honest, I hardly ever end up fancying anybody, I usually run at an average of one doomed obsession every 6-12 months. But since the end result is the same (soul-crushing loneliness), I don't suppose it matters. What I can do is at least stop lusting after men who've clearly assembled both their wardrobe and their personality from a collection of lifestyle tips in Vice magazine. I'm not sure how, exactly, but I'm working on it. Maybe my future therapist will have some ideas (My old therapist thinks I push nice men away because subconsciously I think I don't deserve to be treated well, but I maintain it's because they're largely bad in bed).

5.) Write more
Fairly obvious. Writing is the only thing is the world I could give a fuck about (and pugs. Writing and pugs) and I barely do any. I have ideas for blog posts for literally years at a time (I've a draft from 2011 on here I keep meaning to finish) and I keep thinking up ideas for Buzzfeed posts only to see them published by other people weeks or months later because I didn't get off my arse and turn fantasy into reality. Fucking fear of failure. Plus, I've had a really good idea for a novel for three years now and it's starting to get ludicrous that I've only written the opening paragraph and I'm having second thoughts about that now, to be honest. I'm not setting myself a posts per day/week/month target, because that's setting yourself up for a fall, but more, I promise. And if I haven't got a full chapter of the book finished by April you have my full permission to tie me to a chair and force me to listen to The Enemy until I promise to try harder.

6.) More Germans
A deliberately broad goal. I love all things German and I refuse to feel ashamed because Germans are just better. FACT. I will fill my life with that which makes me happy. I will pick up learning German again, because I used to be good, damn it. I will go to Bierschenke on the weekends and watch Bundeslige games and eat currywurst and drink vodka sherbert shots and whomsoever judges me will earn only my eternal wrath.

7.) Shun people who don't like the Manics
Because who needs that kind of negativity in their life?

8.) Stab more people in the face 
This one is getting its own follow-up post.

9.) Develop powers of telekinesis
Not actually even joking, this has been my goal ever since I read Carrie as a teenager. VENGEANCE SHALL BE MINE (no list of resolutions would be complete without at least one thing that was totally unachievable, no?).

10.) Become a happy, positive person
(OK, two things that are totally unachievable)