On Balance & Boundaries

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This morning, as most mornings, I was pulled from the depths of sleep by the relentlessly chipper jingle coming from my bedside table. Face pressed into the pillow, my hand reached out, blindly groping for the source of the noise. I gripped my phone, rolled over and swiped, peeling my eyes open to type in the passcode. Unthinkingly, instinctively, I tapped into Instagram and began to scroll.

It’s a problem, I know.

Before I’ve sat up, or even wiped the sleep from my eyes, I’m inviting the world into my bedroom, bombarding my brain with an endless gallery of other people’s lives through a hazy Amaro filter.

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#NewAge Campaign: Rebranding Old Age

What do you think of when I say ‘old age’?

A doddering figure with a stick, papery thin skin falling in folds, a frail voice speaking words of old-school bigotry and pro-Brexit rhetoric?

Would you recognise yourself in that description?

Along with a group of writers participating in the DMA’s Future Writers Labs, I have launched the #NewAge Campaign, a movement to change the conversation around growing older and rebrand old age as something desirable, useful and valuable.

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On being alone

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Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time alone.

If that sounds bleak, it isn’t. At least, not for me. Most of the time, I like being alone.

There’s something inherently taboo about enjoying your own company. The carpe diem attitude championed by the self-help industry implies that choosing to be alone is somehow a cop-out, that in order to be making the most of our lives we need to be stuffing every second with brunches and first dates and weekends away and big nights out.

The truth is I get the same satisfaction from the prospect of a weekend without plans as I do from a brand new notebook and a collection of freshly-sharpened pencils. Both contain the delicious sense of possibility.

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On irrational hatred

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‘Consider the scenario. You’re sitting in the pub, waiting for a friend. They’ve texted you to ask if it’s ok if they bring someone else along and you’ve happily agreed. They arrive and your friend introduces you to their companion. As you shake their hand, you experience an instant, hot, totally irrational rush of dislike…’

[To read my full piece, please visit the good folk at Lndnr.com]

On Asking for Help

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Seven years of boarding school have turned me into an independent monster. Add a healthy dash of stubbornness to my self-sufficiency and you’ll often find me ‘powering through’ to the point of ridiculousness. Needless to say, I’m not very good at asking for help.

Cut to midnight, a week ago. A cup of freshly boiled lemon and ginger tea all over my foot. 3 hours in A&E. Bed. Rest. Keep it elevated.

My little accident has left me completely dependant on others. I am, for all intents and purposes, confined to the sofa/bed/other comfortable surfaces until my foot is completely healed.

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When does a brand biopic become a marketing ploy?

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Steve Jobs, the third film to be made about the founder of Apple in as many years, has been chosen to close the 2015 BFI London Film Festival. This news confirms what was already obvious: from Howard Hughes to Mr Heineken, Hollywood has an increasing obsession with entrepreneurs. With films about the founders of Google and McDonalds in the pipeline, it’s a trend that shows no sign of abating.

In many ways, it’s unsurprising. The origin stories of many iconic brands contain the hallmarks of the classic rags-to-riches plot that has long proved irresistible to filmmakers.

Whether or not an official studio-brand production partnership exists, films about existing brands inevitably come with a side-order of subliminal advertising that can diminish the power of the storytelling.

At their best, these films present an inspiring tale of vision and fearlessness. At their worst, they become little more than souped-up marketing ploys masquerading as artistic entertainment.

I’ve had a look at four films that revolve around brands and their leaders to decide in each case whether integrity won out over The Man.

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Surviving the Job Hunt (aka The Hunger Games: London Edition)

I’ve had to take a brief hiatus from blogging in order to focus all my attention on dealing with two big challenges in my life: moving house and finding a new job.

The first is tricky enough, especially in London where landlords charge half the average monthly salary for a one-bed flat in Zone 3 with a shower in the kitchen. Combine that with the job hunt and life becomes pretty hellish. 90% of the calls I received over the summer were from estate agents or recruiters. You feel popular for about a day. Then you start to feel pestered. Then so overwhelmed that you turn your phone on silent and hide it in the freezer.

The story has a happy ending; about three weeks ago, I moved into a great new flat and, earlier this week, I accepted a job offer. After countless cover letters, dozens of interview outfits and many, many pep talks, I finally (finally!) found a job I’m excited about. Here’s what I learned in the process…

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Great Expectations: or learning to live without your toes

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Dog not included.

 

The other morning, groggy headed and bleary eyed, I opened my front door to head off to work and was greeted by a blast of cold air and a flooded drain. Wrapping my coat tightly around me, I locked my door and, head held high, stepped defiantly over the sewage and stomped off towards the tube. Inside, though, I was seething.

The drain was the latest in a recent onslaught of problems with my new-ish London home. It would be added to the increasingly long list of ‘Things to mention to the landlord’, along with faulty oven, damp and the lack of central heating.

I allow myself a blissful few minutes when I step into the shower, close my eyes and dream of the day when the list stops being my life and starts being an amusing dinner party anecdote. That’s usually when my housemate turns on the kitchen tap and I’m hit by a jet of freezing water and a cold, hard dose of reality. My bank account is, alas, five figures short of a Pinterest palace and I – like countless other overly-ambitious, financially-challenged youths – will have to put up with what I can get.

In the past three months, I’ve become a lot better at dealing with a less-than-perfect rental situation. In the spirit of sharing, here are a few of the things that have saved me from crying and stuffing ice cream in my mouth whilst browsing the property pages of the Evening Standard.

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