Monthly Archives: August 2011

I’d rather hang around and be there with my best friend, if she wants me.

Friendships. At their worst they are often mucky, stressful and exhausting hard-work.  At their best, they are a celebration of all that is brilliant about human nature; full of joy, compassion and kindness.

Despite my usual self-deprecating nature, I’d like to think I’ve been a good friend far more than I’ve been a shitty one.  I can be intensely loyal, fair-minded and thoughtful just as much as I can be lazy, stubborn and unyielding. My friendships, new and old, have been littered with jealousy, bitching, and passive-aggressive stand-offs. For girls, friendships are often like soap operas – full of drama which is only interesting to the parties involved, simply because we invest so much of ourselves in them. The petty dramas seem to tail off as we get older and wiser – or at the very least we become better equipped to deal with things.

I’m fully aware of my shortcomings as a friend. My lack of self-esteem often stops me from arranging meet-ups, fearful of rejection. I know I need to make more effort to, as it were, put myself about a bit. Yet, I’ve travelled the length and breadth of the country to see them, when I couldn’t afford to, because I value them.

I’ve said stupid things out of jealousy and self-loathing, which I should have had the grace not to. I know better now of course, but I’m also awfully good at listening and advice. I’ll pepper it with daft tales to get them laughing when they don’t much feel like it. I’m good for a laugh.

I’ve got a knack of putting my foot in it. Ill-thought out rants and raves have caused me trouble in the past. Yet I also know the value of compassion. A handwritten letter or card, when you are at your lowest, is one of the most meaningful things you can ever receive.

I’d say I value loyalty, compassion and kindness more than any other human traits, but I’ve been guilty of being unkind and thoughtless on occasion. But being called out on these things has undoubtedly made me a better friend.

I’m lucky in that all my closest friends possess these lovely qualities by the absolute bucketload. Because they do, they get forgiven for being consistently late, missing my birthday, or not returning messages. Just as I hope they forgive me being an idiot. It’s a terrible cliché, but it’s true; with friendships, you can only take from them what you put into them. Some of my relationships have withered and died from neglect, others have withered and blossomed. But all of them have been special and valued.

And that really is the most important part.

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The Great Fire of Croydon

I’m a Croydon girl. It’s true.

I certainly don’t live up to the stereotype. I made no effort to squeeze out 3 kids by the age of 15 and clog up the social housing list with my brood. Nor do I sport a “croydon facelift” or wander the streets in juicy couture knock-offs from Surrey Street market, swigging blue WKD and screaming abuse at strangers.

But a Croydon girl I remain.

I shouldn’t make sweeping generalisations like that, since it’s not strictly true. It’s a small minority of idiots that have given Croydon the reputation it has. It’s also this minority of idiots who have caused chaos all over England these past few days. And ‘idiots’ is putting it mildly.

Watching them tear up the high streets of our cities and towns, it’s certainly difficult to see them as a minority, whilst they mobilised themselves to wreak havoc, steal and harm. But they are a minority – the one we’ve bemoaned for taking over our streets. We’ve demonised for not understanding what we hold by the term “respect”. They’ve been stereotyped, they’ve been ignored and written off – nudged outside of society with no option but to form their own. A society that doesn’t play by society’s rules. Whilst that certainly isn’t an excuse for anything been seen over the past 5 days, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t expecting something like this to happen. I think a lot of people are shocked at the level of violence seen over the past few days, but no-one seemed shocked by who carried it out.

Growing up in Croydon I’ve watched my community change a great deal over the past 10 years. I’ve seen multiculturalism blossom and succeed, but witnessed a seething tension amongst the poorest – in a society which measures success by material value.

Even I have a chip on my shoulder about coming from a working class background where money was tight. I get worked up when I feel those from a middle class background don’t seem grateful for the start they’ve had in life. It’s terrible thing to admit, but it’s true! I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t admit it. But the difference is, whilst I’ve had twinges of jealousy about it, my stable home life and peer groups have meant I’ve sought to change my lot through school, developing a strong sense of social justice and aspiration. I’d hate to admit to being middle class now (I TOLD you I have a chip on my shoulder about it) but in all likelihood I am. But you don’t forget your roots.

That’s why when away with my parents this weekend, watching a good chunk of my hometown being burnt down to the ground by the same sort of kids I grew up with, I felt sick. Sick with anger, helplessness and worry. Not just at the thievery and arson, but at the events to unfold. The public backlash, the knee-jerk reactions and wondering precisely is in store for a whole generation of young people. It’s complex, it’s depressing and it seems impossible to change.

Croydon will be back on its feet in the next few weeks. Tiger Tiger will be packed with revellers, kids will still be skating down by Fairfield and Primark ALWAYS looks like it’s been hit by a riot. The relationship the community has with its youth? That’s going to take a lot longer to repair.

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Ugh

I am in a rut
Nothing is exciting me
Need to live again

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Secrets

So, according to WordPress, my last blog was number 39, making this number 40. All pretty reasonable since my previous attempts at blogging have petered out after a few attempts. My entries have been a little sparse over the past couple of months, but they are still there. They’ve been written. They exist.

I’ve never really decided in what particular direction I wanted this blog to go. I’ve read perfectly excellent blogs in which the author is open about their identity, who they work for etc etc and read some also excellent anonymous blogs, where friends and colleagues have pseudonyms and it’s easier to whinge, whine and bellow freely at the internet, whilst writing in peril of being discovered by real life people.

Much like the rest of my life, I seem to settle somewhere in the middle of all this. I’ve not changed the names of people who feature here, yet I’ve have made some attempt to not give away absolutely everything about me. My blog is linked to my personal twitter account, which my friends read, but I’ve never publicized a post on FB. I’ve given the address to a couple of friends, who might be interested in having a nose, but never tried drawing attention to myself.

I don’t know if that is precisely what I wanted from writing here – I know the original idea to start writing accounts of my life was inspired from emailing a boy and comparing our tragic dating history. We joked about writing opposing memoirs – mine containing a comprehensive list of awful dates in which I search for true love and his; an account of someone descending slowly into madness. That’s not really how this has turned out so far, but that doesn’t mean to say I won’t bust out the story of the bad date where a guy bit my forehead, or the tale of “the evening of cack-handed back-handed compliments”.

I think I realised I couldn’t anonymously write an account of my love life, because quite frankly, an awful lot of people have heard the stories before and it really would be quite easy for anyone who has met me to put two and two together and find me online, regaling another disastrous date. I’ve had a checkered past which has left me with excellent stories which I have dined and drunk on. In that case, an anonymous (and inevitably quite spiteful) blog would only exist to tell MORE people about my shitty life and I’d be writing purely to seek an audience. Yes, I suppose that is primarily the point of writing, but I’d prefer someone to accidentally stumble across my blog and start to read regularly, than deliberately write something provocative in order to generate attention.

I think for now, I’m happy to drift inbetween diarising my life and anonymously cataloguing it, although if all goes quiet here and suddenly a new blog about a misanthropic south London twentysomething living in Berkshire gains huge momentum and legendary blog status, you know where I’ve got to 🙂

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