Loss of my innocence
If I wasn't so jaded and cynical from the past few years spent glued to the internet, I'd spare a thought for my lost innocence. Back at university forays into the web were irregular at best, and once there I had little idea of where to visit other than Amazon, the Beeb and free essay websites to plagiarise. Even at work I only ever skimmed the surface: type “cool websites” into Google and B3TA doesn’t pop up – that was a website someone had to tell you about. One new boss later and I was introduced to B3TA, Popbitch and various other sites on which I could while away the working day. Bored in my job, I became addicted to lurking on Popbitch, and dreamed that one day I too could be a shallow media whore with a perpetual sneer.
And, thus, I learned about Goatse, about nullos, about fat people in fairy costumes, and the cynicism grew and the propensity for being shocked lessened, and my innocence was lost. Mention a celebrity and I’d give you the bitchy gossip about them. Friends sending me forwards with the subject: “FW: fw: fw: RE: look at this!!!!!! It’s really COOL” were greeted with my new-found sneer and the messages binned instantly. New websites from friends who didn’t check the B3TA link board every five minutes were dismissed as “corn” (“I saw that 3 days ago, jesus”).
I was an internet snob.
When the realisation struck me I turned my sneer on myself and backed away slowly from the internet. I stopped reading the mailouts, didn’t laugh at the Chav website (one last sneer: haven’t I seen all this before?), stopped following the popbitchers to Liphook, to Holy Moly, to Bob pitch, to whatever new board they moved to in an effort to escape their lurking media wannabe groupies. And slowly – hopefully – the cynicism starts to peel away; some innocence returns (I could have lived my life quite happily without ever seeing Rotten.com). But I can’t shake that jaded feeling – can’t laugh at Taliban Reunited piss poor gags, can’t stand the bitter and lame attempts at humour on the chav site: I’ve seen it all before.
It's not my party
During university, I always suffered the gnawing certainty that whichever hall party or club night I elected to attend for the evening it would always turn out to be: one sad loser in a cowboy hat and gingham shirt, dejectedly sipping cheap white wine out of a split plastic cup, three fucking balloons, and Now That's What I Call Party Music Vol. III on the sound system. No matter where I went I was always sure that there was a better party going on somewhere else that I didn't know about; there was a cooler club out there that I hadn't heard of ; that there were better people to hang out with than this ginger amphetamine-induced psychotic and her stoned humourless twat of a boyfriend.
Now I'm older I no longer attend hideous parties in a desperate bid to make better friends than the aforementioned nodding, gurning drug-addled personality vacuums that blighted my existence, and have embraced my misanthropy by finding a job that allows me to sit all day in my pyjamas with only my cat and my broadband internet connection for company. The only problem is that I now feel the same misgivings about whichever blogs I'm following or whichever websites I'm reading. No matter how long I spend going boss-eyed online, I always feel that there's other cooler, more popular blogs out there that everyone's commenting on and no one's told me about; that there's a whole load of forums that I should be hanging out on and adding my witty thoughts to; that there's an excellent online magazine that I could be religiously reading.
Either that or the internet is being run by one sad loser in a cowboy hat and gingham shirt.
I've had a mass culling of my skanky pants. Thrown out all the chewed chewing-gum coloured ones and the holey threadbare ones (literally - a pair snapped on me the other day and it wasn't a thong; it had started life as a midi). A liberating experience (not quite on a par with bra burning, but hey). In place of the nasty knicks I have bought a job lot of UniQlo soft fluffy big pants. I'm immensely pleased with them. So much so that when it came to washing them all I found myself ironing them and folding them back up as they were when they came out of the packet (yes, I actually paid attention to how they'd been folded). I ironed my knickers. I have a constant pile of laundry the size of the butter mountain that I hide in the wardrobe when people come to visit and yet I ironed my pants. And then I folded them and lined them up neatly in my drawer.
I now have the pants drawer of a serial killer.
Arriving in London a few years ago, I knew I'd arrived in a strange place indeed when I overheard one girl say to her friend, "fancy coming over for organic Chinese takeaway on Friday night?" Without even a flicker of self-consciousness or irony. Organic Chinese takeaway! Not even in my wildest flights of fancy had I imagined there might exist something as ludicrously poncey. That was then. I've since discovered that there are many many more poncey things available to London’s populace.
But perhaps most disgustingly, I have turned into the sort of person who would invite her friend over for organic Chinese takeway. Yes, I am one of those hideous food twats you meet in life - and the longer I stay here the worse I get. Organic delivery boxes, fair-trade, free-range, bird-friendly, non air-freighted, unrefined, unbleached, wholewheat, msg-free, corn fed, vine ripened, 100% pure squeezed, live, non-hydrogenated, low sodium, the list goes on and on. The hours of my life spent turning over packets of food to frown at the ingredients, weighing up the benefits of buying the organic backed beans over the low-salt, low-sugar baked beans. Agonising over whether it’s better to get fair-trade or organic; free-range or organic; air freighted organic or locally grown non-organic; choosing between a breakfast cereal I actually like and one that tastes of old dust and bird grit, but has the benefits of being low in sugar and salt.
The money I’ve wasted! I could actually afford to buy new clothes at if I just gave up poncing about like a twat in Waitrose. I certainly don’t have the income to match this food habit. With this sort of food, the less the put in it, the more you pay. And it keeps getting worse and worse: once there was concentrated orange juice, then there was 100% pure squeezed (turns out the rest of the civilised world knew about this years ago, but in my family we thought we were pretty impressive buying the concentrated juice that had the orangey bits put back in), then it was organic 100% pure squeezed, now – low and behold – it’s fair-trade organic 100% pure squeezed. Why must they do this to me? I saw it for the first time the other day, bit my bottom lip, shut my eyes and picked up a carton of the regular stuff (100% pure squeezed). I felt guilty for days – hell I still feel guilty, hence the desire to confess all here. But listen, they may be offering the workers a fair wage, but it would be nice if they offered the consumers a fair price at the same time. I can’t go on like this! How I long for the days when I could eat a No Frills fishfinger sandwich without choking on the knowledge that the cod is over-fished, the breadcrumbs are full of colourings and additives, the bread is filled with starch and the marg is full of hydrogenated fat.
But worst of all? When my sister suggested we go for a colonic irrigation the other day I got all excited and said, “yes! I’d love to go for one of those!” It was the first my conscious mind knew about it, I think that dead-eyed, sour-faced old cow off the TV who seems to spend her life poking about in other people’s shit must be sending out subliminal messages.
My only solace? I remain resolutely immune to all this bollocks about Gluten and Wheat… But it’s only a matter of time.
As a teenager it never occurred to me that walking actually constituted exercise. In the holidays I regularly walked the half hour into town and half hour home a couple of times a day without even entertaining the notion that it might count as part of a fitness regime. Not that I was an especially sporty youth. Far from it. I was a B Team girl, which meant during sports practice I could stroll up and down the pitch or court as soon as I got even slightly out of breath.
Still, it may not have seemed a lot at the time, but now I look back at those school days with gaping awe at my level of physical fitness. Because now, in my more sedentary twenties, merely standing up can leave me feeling quite pleased with myself: “oh, I’ll stand up on the tube – that will give me a bit of exercise!”; “well, doing this washing up is at least giving my legs a bit of a work out!”
When I worked in an office, I could always be relied on to leave the flat too late to make the train, which meant power-trotting the entire way, charging up and down stairs in a state of mild panic. Now, working at home means that I can go for days and barely leave the house. Bum sores from sitting in my chair for too long are a constant hazard. But I try to get in a bit of a daily sweat on, nevertheless. I pace up and down whilst on the phone; pop to the cornershop for milk; wander up the hill to pay in some cheques, get some lunch in a café, or visit the Post Office. And when I actually go for a proper walk round the park – my god! - I feel positively saintly!