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LEVIATHANALTPRESS

Like a lot of women I know my chosen form of contraception is ‘the pill’. There is a pack of 21 innocuous looking little white pills in a blister pack on my bedside table that I take on about two hundred and seventy five days of the year. Each one is there to save me from the emotional, physiological, financial and psychological strain that an unplanned pregnancy would place on me, my relationship and those who care about me. Right?

I started taking the pill when I was 17. When an unplanned pregnancy would have been totally life altering. I wasn’t, and haven’t ever been, particularly sexually casual. As a serial monogamist, for me the P word was forefront in my choice of contraception rather than any consideration of the potential of STI’s. I have also been what you might care to refer to as a tad naive in my…

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Not a Very Good Day

A post about nothing in particular, other than the not very good day that I had.

It’s amazing how quickly your day can go downhill, although to be fair it didn’t exactly start well. I was due to go to London for an interview. An interview for a one day a week role, where I will receive no pay and have to travel quite a considerable distance.

I say I was due to go to London, the previous day I had a conversation with the person organising the interviews. It was towards the end of the day, judging by the length of time the line was engaged when I tried to return the call; it was a busy day for the person I needed to speak to.  Ours was a brief chat, in which, I helpful said,’ yes’, ‘yes’ and ‘sure I can do that’. I was told the details would be emailed to me; I was to fill an empty slot that had just come up for the next day. I went back to the day job with the plan being to figure out the details later that evening.

Emails, instant messages, the ability to send reams of information instantly to someone who can receive it whether at their desk or out grabbing a coffee, is fantastic. It’s fantastic when it works. It is slightly problematic when it doesn’t work and you have fallen in to the trap of relying on it.

Fortunately I have a reasonably good memory and had at least jotted down my interview time. I took a guess, from the little I had gleaned from the conversation, that the interviews would be held at the organisations head office. So I charted my course for London and was up early the next day to catch the train, with fingers crossed that I was heading in the right direction.

Of course thanks to Murphy’s Law, or Sod’s depending on your school of belief, things did not run smoothly. I don’t know why I expected the ticket machines to be working at the station, clearly a rookie mistake, one which left me still fumbling for my debit card at the ticket office while my train pulled out of the station. Being a resourceful young lady I dash through the barriers and on to the next train figuring it was at least heading in the right direction and could work out the details once I had a seat.

The train I had boarded was heading to a different London terminal to the one I usually disembark at. Not I problem, in fact it passed through a station which allowed me to access the tube line I needed without having to change, not saving me time, but certainly not costing me any.

I settled back to read my book, keeping one ear tuned into the station announcements as we rattled from suburb to suburb. I had just lifted my head to peer across the changing landscape, and congratulated myself for not being one of the poor people stuck on the snaking line of buses I could see crawling along, when we pulled into another one line station. I was wondered where, geographically, the unfamiliar station name lay relative to places I knew. As I did so the guard announced that an electrical fault, at a station I had heard of, which meant that our train would be terminating where we sat.

Cue much annoyance from all around me and mild panic on my part. Everyone disembarked and stood on the platform like a flock of un-shepherded sheep. I had been just about to ring the interviewing agency, to confirm I was heading in the right direction, before we were unceremoniously dumped out mid journey. I decided to make the phone call anyway, as if I was headed to the wrong place, I could at least call the whole expedition off and afford myself the time for a minor meltdown at my predicament. I was informed that I was indeed heading in the right direction and that the train issues were affecting a few people so even if I was late I might still be ok. Swallowing my meltdown and trying to think clearly through the rising fog of anxiety, I considered my options. Fortunately just as I had ruled most of them out a new announcement was made that the train would be continuing on, but to yet another London terminal. I quickly concluded that I had at least heard of the destination and that it had a tube connection so this was my best bet.

Twenty minutes after the train should have arrived it its destination it finally pulled up. I have to say my relief that we hadn’t been stranded in some of the places we had passed through, like Peckham Rye and Millwall, just about outweighed my frustration at having been on a train that was travelling at roughly the same speed as a sleep walking zombie. I dialled the agency to update my status, but it seems that others hadn’t had quite such badly affected journeys as me. I was told I wouldn’t make my interview slot and I could either be seen in six hours or come back another day.

Surprisingly I opted for a different date and having been on the road, so to speak, for an hour and a half at this point, turned to head homewards having achieved nothing other than a mild headache. I am extremely grateful to the information service’s chap who helped me out at the rather confusing London terminal I found myself in. Patiently explaining to me how to get a tube back to somewhere I would recognise and understanding my reluctance to get a bus. Having just been on a form of transport confined to a rail that hadn’t gone where it was supposed to, the idea of boarding a bus which had so much more freedom to go off-route wasn’t appealing.

I made it home three hours after I had left, with nothing to show apart from a greater geographical knowledge of south east London and a lesson learned about the perils of delayed gratification. Buy the doughnut when you see the doughnut, there might not be Krispie Kreme at the next station.

Two Sides, One Coin

A post in which I possibly get too philosophical for my own good……

They say there are two sides to every story. I understand why they say it, it illustrates a point. It isn’t accurate though, it’s misleading. We all know the idea is to remind us that our point of view isn’t the only one. However a side effect of the language in play is the propagation of the idea that every story boils down to two opposing sides, sides that must be chosen, aligned to.

Equally, your side of the story may be closely aligned to someone else’s, but if you dig deeply and honestly enough you will find some detail over which you disagree. Social constructs, for the most part, paper over these cracks in mutual opinion. “She probably didn’t mean that how it came out”, “Maybe he has a point about that”, we find ways to bridge these small gaps in agreement. Sometimes we just ignore them, allowing ourselves to think that those on our” team” share our exact opinion. Even if it means putting words into their mouths that perhaps they wouldn’t choose, because what is the harm?

The harm is not in realigning our supporters stand points, but in the temptation to then realigning those of our opposites, our supposed opponents in the matter. If they are not in agreement and every story has two sides, then they must be in polar, opposite disagreement, right? Well no of course not, because there is no black and white, the issue isn’t even monochrome.

The notion that two people, who seemingly sit on juxtaposing side of the fence, must therefore be on different “teams” only serves to exacerbate the issue. Life is rarely that simple and by trying to boil it down to those terms we only fan a flame that could so easily have guttered out.

That’s where the whole thing falls down. There is no right or wrong side, there are only stories, stories that interconnect, entwine, intersect and contradict one another. They don’t connect or juxtapose because they are right or wrong, they do so because of the individual frames of reference on which they are built.

Of course the inconvenient truth is that every story has as many sides as people experiencing it.  That two people with seemingly incompatible points of view are being compared on the basis of one story, not the infinite of narratives which may intersect both their lives. Differing, opposing even, points of view at one intersection do not mean that every encounter or interaction will follow the same path or lead to an overall correlation of similar results.

Basically people are complex, disagreement is not terminal to relationships and sometimes we all need to just chill out. Well that’s my two cents worth anyway.

Couples Who Prep Together….

….probably eat the same things. They might also have a strong relationship because of it.

For those of you who don’t know what I mean by prep together, I am talking about food prep for a healthier lifestyle. My other half and I are currently on our third week of a bit of a health kick, more training, eating better that sort of thing.

To a lot of people we probably seem a bit mad, but our current diet* isn’t a huge step from our regular eating habits. All that has changed is, we’ve decrease our sugar intake and are choosing a slightly different way of getting carbs, for example not inhaling a tiger loaf twice a week with butter just because it tastes good. I know, I know it sounds like torture, but I maintain that I will enjoy it more when I do have it. My point is that eating slightly differently, whatever that might look like for you can have huge benefits. I have already lost weight, which wasn’t a goal, but is a nice bonus. My clothes fit better, my skin is better, my recovery times when training are shorter, all in all I just feel better.

Sounds simple doesn’t it. The thing is, despite the fact the changes we have made have been very small they have still required a lot of work. I think that is one of the biggest problems people have when they decide to make healthier choices. We hear all this information about less sugar, less salt, only using ‘good fats’, less carbs, more protein, calorie counting and assume we have to do it all at once, invariably then stumbling at the first hurdle.

Making healthy changes are hard, but they don’t have to be revolutionary to work. If you usually eat three times a day, feel like you eat too many carb and too much sugar and want to get in healthier fats that is fine, but choose one or two habits to change at a time. Deciding to eat 6 times a day, plus moving to all protein and green veg is a completely lifestyle overhaul. Choosing just to lower your sugar intake however, still requires quite a lot of work, but you will feel the benefits and after a few solid weeks be ready to make the next change. Perhaps your carb intake has already gone down and you’ve identified ways to cut back, go for it, momentum counts for a lot.

My other half and I still eat the same number of meals a day, still prep food to take to work, still cook from scratch. None of that has changed, but some of our ‘go to’ choices for what goes into those meals are no longer an option. We need a little more protein to make up the balance, so we usually have to cook an extra dish whilst dinner is on the go. These small changes however have had a big impact, to the time we have, the planning we do and the way we operate as a team.

I won’t lie, week one was hard and week two ended in an argument, but now in week three we have found that balance and it is all beginning to feel worth it. Not just for our individual health, as an added benefit the health of our relationship has improved. We have discovered that the only way to effectively make these changes work is by doing it together. Prepping food together means spending time together, talking to each other about worries and about successes. Sharing things that we would probably have shared anyway, but maybe only in passing. This way we focus on those things, especially what is working. We revel in the wins rather than nod and smile at them before moving on.

Whatever your situation, get the people you share your life with involved. If you want to make a change get your other half on board, a small change will be easier for both of you to sign up to. If you are a family, make it a team effort. We leave kids out of these decisions far too often, their enthusiasm can be a massive support, plus they’ll have ideas you won’t have even considered. Embracing change as part of a team means you get more than just the physical health benefits, you get the mental health ones of sharing a goal, sharing problems. Once you start it’ll open up doors you didn’t know were closed and conversations you didn’t know where there to be had.

*by which I mean the noun diet define as: The kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.

– Food Prep ideas at @GetLeanOrEatTryin *coming soon*

Stuck in the Mud

I’ve had writers block. I’ve had it for a while.

Of course if you talk to a growing number of writers you’ll know writers block isn’t a thing. I recently heard a successful author, with numerous published titles, talk about writers block. She was of the opinion that it is an excuse, a fantasy ailment, a lie we sooth ourselves with when times are tough.

I don’t entirely disagree with her assertion of this pesky little blight of writing life. Writing is hard, harder than you think. I forget how hard it can be when I am having a good day. When an issue arises however, when my characters begin acting like stubborn children and refusing to do what I need them to, or when every feasible idea for a blog post evaporates into a haze of nonsense and unsubstantiated facts, I remember how hard it can be. I turn to writers block. It defines something tricky and undefinable to others. I can’t write because I have a problem with my writing, if I could define that problem I’d most likely be able to overcome it, but I can’t quite put a finger on it.

“I am struggling with writers block.” This in and of itself isn’t a problem. When writers block is a short hand description for the difficulties a writer is having, isn’t an issue. It is when we writers start telling ourselves that we just have writers block that the problems arise. When we stop working on what the problem is, stop interrogating our characters, stop chasing the trail of our plots; simply tell ourselves we are blocked. It is when writers block stops being short hand and becomes the issue itself.

Making writer block the issues is lazy, however hard the conundrum is. So if we banish writers block from the already endless list of excuses writers can turn to for not cranking out the word count, that fixes the issue, right? I’m not so sure. Using writers block as an excuse isn’t helpful for writers, but equally it didn’t move from descriptor to ailment for no reason. Sometimes you can brainstorm and plot and character profile until the cows come in, the lights fail and you realise you’ve been trying to tackle the block until 3am every day for a week, yet you still don’t have the answer. It is then, in those cold, grey twilight hours that the thing takes on a life of its own and starts to seem like your nemesis.

Maybe we writers need to get a bit better at looking at the bigger picture. During my current block, I’ve worked through all those little tricks and technique, written pages of nonsense, plotted, profiled characters, worked on something new. Nothing has helped; everything I write is flat and lifeless, trailing off into a great abyss of nothingness. I am stuck wallowing in the muddy pit of my block. I’ve been scared, sad, frustrated and angry. It wasn’t until I stopped, took some time out and looked at the bigger picture that it dawned on me. It isn’t writers block, it’s life block. It isn’t just my writing that I am struggling, it is my whole life, my relationships, my home life, my social life are all stifled and strangled by the way I have been feeling. I’ve been scared, sad, frustrated and angry about everything, all the aspects of my life. You can write when you are tired, when you are ill, when you are upset or when you are just having a crappy day. When you are so low that you are struggling to eat, to get out of bed, to function in everyday life, of course you are going to struggle to write. Your writing is being blocked but it isn’t writers block.

Figuring out the difference might not solve the issue. It won’t suddenly free up your writing and allow you to flow as well as you’d like. It isn’t like overcoming a week’s long plot hurdle or finding the driving forces of a challenging character. It will allow you to unstick yourself though. To begin to untangle yourself from the web of self-doubt and to split writers block away from what is going on in the rest of your life. How many writers are stuck with writer’s block, which when you step back, is actually depression or worse? And what does it mean for them when all that is all being focused, unhelpful, on one aspect of their lives, their writing?

I’ve been lucky; I’ve identified the problem away from writing and am working on clearing the issues up. I can feel myself starting to flow already. It’s not always so simple, but unless we start looking at the bigger picture, how can we know if we are making excuses or whether we are truly stuck in the mud?

My Inadequate Goodbye

Death isn’t cruel – merely terribly, terribly good at his job.” – Terry Pratchett, Sourcery

We knew he was coming, he is coming for us all, but when it was announced that Sir Terry Pratchett had finally met, that which he anthropomorphised so well, I still wasn’t ready. When Sir Terry’s death was announced last week, at first I didn’t want to believe it and then I was heartbroken.

Pratchett announced his Alzheimer’s diagnosis, “the embuggerance” as he called it, in late 2007. We all knew the end was nigh, but just as he tells us in The Wee Free Men it doesn’t “stop being magic just because you found out how it was done”, so his passing doesn’t come as any less of a shock because we knew it was coming.

I was surprised at first to find myself shedding more than a tear over his death, but given how long I have been emerging myself in the Discworld, is it really that surprising?  Pratchett’s work has been a part of my life since I was in primary school. We weren’t allowed the telly on at tea time in my house, however much we begged and pleaded. Mum came up with a cunning compromise and instead we would listen to audio books while we ate. Terry Pratchett stories were a regular staple in our house, reading his novels by my self was a natural progression.

Explaining Pratchett’s appeal to those not already converted is somewhat of a challenge. Start with the setting, the Discworld, balanced on the backs of four elephants which, in turn, stand on the back of a giant turtle, all floating through space. You’ll watch a lot faces glaze over and likely hear “oh it’s fantasy”. This is both true and not true all at once, technically it is fantasy, but it is oh so much more than just that. His stories, his books, the world he has created is a great big metaphor for reality. It seems a first to be a ridiculous fantasy world until you realise how cleverly it reflects the ridiculousness in our own world. His novels are counselling for humanity, reflecting back at us our own utterly bonkers existence, making us not just laugh and cry, but also question.

His greatest creation is the personification of Death, the grim reaper appears in so many of his novels and is loved deeply by his fan base.  He never shied away from mortality, not least his own. He faced questions both big and small about the final end, toward which we are all heading.

I was surprised at how sad I am, but reflecting back I am glad I am as sad as I am. I am different for his work. I am grateful for all he taught me. I like so many others am mourning the loss of an inspiration, a bright flash of brilliance in the history of human kind.

No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away…” ― Terry Pratchett, Reaper Man

Bigger not better

This week the East Coast main line rail services returned to private hands after 6 years of being the only publically operated line. Virgin Trains and Stagecoach won the 8 year contract last year. The re-privatisation of the line has inevitably reignited the debate about railway nationalisation.

Both sides of the privatisation/ nationalisation debate feel that their answer has the resources and structure in place to save the ailing rail network. The nationalisation side enjoying the boost in support of being the underdog and the rose tinted, cloudy reminiscence about ‘the good old days’.

Whether you are talking about renationalising the railways, the utilities or saving the NHS from buckling under its own weight, the debate is endless. I somewhat suspect this is down to the fact that neither side has all the answers. The corporate world has a certain cut throat mentality that can callously streamline ventures into money making machines, but when it comes to any venture which serves the public interest, there is too much politics for their tactics to be effective. Cuts have to be made in small precise strokes so that all the interested parties can get used to the pain in increments, so that the public can see that it is worth it. The problem with that is the scalpel quickly gets blunt and “sweeping cuts” become so insignificant that the application of a plaster pretty much puts things back as they were.

The problem isn’t that privatisation or nationalisation is better, the problem is the age old one of size. Bigger most certainly isn’t better. Systems that were created in the early to mid-20th century are now dealing with far more than they were every designed to handle. These organisations many seem to be too big to fail, but the real problem is that they are too big to succeed.

Even the systems broken up into franchises, like the railways and utilities, must ultimately operate as one system. A system which is obese and obsessed with the way it looks, unsurprisingly given the constant, unwavering public scrutiny. Internal politics and war mongering between departments whose strategic goals are in conflict, or simply do not match closely enough to allow for mutual supportive working, tear the whole thing apart from the inside.

These organisations know this approach cannot please the public collective, but they equally fear provoking the masses into an angry uprising. More so since the 2009 financial collapse, the idea of provoking a pitchfork waving mob is the stuff of corporate nightmare, but one that if you listen to any sort of media commentary is only a single failure away from becoming reality. They trickle through the price rises and the service cuts which just about keep the bloated goliath wheezing along. It’s better to live with consistent disappointment than provoke wrath of the collective beast, especially since they are unable to calculate the potential level of its veracity.

All of this seems to point to the fact that these businesses, organisations and public services have reached an equilibrium point. They are too big to be allowed to fail, but also too big for any measure of true success. Perhaps instead of endlessly debating whether the private or public sector does a poor job the best, it’s time we started looking at the bigger picture and accepting that, despite the promised of modern living, we can’t actually have it all. Who does a better job is irrelevant when nobody manages to do a good job. We don’t need a new approach; we need a whole new outlook.  Maybe it’s time we started having big conversations about what better really looks like.

It’s not just the taking part that counts.

This week has been, Inspiring Women in Sport Week, presumably in part to cash in on publicity in the run up to International Women’s Day on March 8th. Press releases, about Claire Balding encouraging young women to consider careers in sport more seriously, are doing the rounds.

Part of me is stubbornly thinking ‘hell yeah’, sport is far too male dominated and young women shouldn’t be made to feel that any door is closed to them. In the 1920’s women’s football had a huge following in the UK, so obviously the FA banned women from playing at football league grounds. That alone is enough to make you want stick two fingers up at established tradition and start playing even the sports you hate with a burning passion.  Part of me however isn’t so sure I can get 100% behind what Ms Balding is saying. She is quoted on the Inspiring Women in Sport website as saying “there are so many options across the board – whether it be in event management, coaching, marketing, sports science, journalism or governance”. Yeah Claire, the things is, are there?

A lot of those jobs are fairly generic, take event management; you can do it with or without a sports slant to your role. A lot of the industries mentioned need to do more to attract women in general. Anyway everyone knows working in event management is something you do for 3 or 4 years in your 20’s before you burn out. You are generally under-paid, over-worked and move into PR either just before or just after you’ve had a breakdown. You are then under-paid slightly less and probably over-worked slightly more, but since it’s less physically demanding you pretend not to notice and boast you can survive on 20 minutes sleep whilst downing your twelfth coffee of the morning. 

The point is that I don’t want to focus on the career paths that are non-specific to sport. Journalism, science, marketing and event management are all careers that young women do choose; the industries themselves need to do more internally to support women into sport niches.

For young women who want to specifically work in sport, the jobs aren’t there and the career paths are terrible. Being an elite women athlete is really tough, but equally the numbers of elite athletes male or female make up a very small percentage of the sector. If you aren’t an elite athlete then it is slim pickings career wise; trust me I know I have been there. Sport governance, development and coaching are awful regarding career opportunities and that is not just for men.

I have seen bright young men and women with university educations, talent, ambition and potential sink into a quagmire of jobs with absolutely no progression. I know a lot of people have this idea that sports degrees are Mikey Mouse courses, but they aren’t all golf management and surf science. Moreover, something about all that fresh air seems to make sports degree students, eager and passionate about learning. These barely twenty something year olds, come out of University with ideas, ambitions and drive. Then they hit their first job, maybe in a National Governing Body (NGB’s) of sport and it goes downhill. They end up cycling round the few jobs that are available in local government, NGB’s and sports charities. The staff turnover is high, but most because the job turnover is high. Roles appear and disappear at the whim of central government and funding stream inputs. This week’s brilliant idea to revolutionise sport participation and athlete talent pathways is binned next week thanks to policy change or a total lack of key performance indicators (KPI’s).

The obesity crisis has only made things worse; can you prove people are more active?  The entire sector is caught up in endless cycles of how can we implement this and prove it works so that they don’t move the funding to another project. So many projects are decreed from on high with no KPI’s in place, those on the ground have to work out how to report on the outcomes, only to have the big chiefs decide the number aren’t good enough. It borders on obscene.

I didn’t choose to work in sports development, I kind of fell into it. I’m not passionate about the sector like the people who choose to be there. Maybe that’s why it breaks my heart to see so many good people, plugging away so hard, in a bad system that they so desperately want to make better. Maybe before we start pushing for more young women to work in the sports sector, we should make sure the core, grass roots sports jobs, that most of those young women will go into, will be around longer than 18 months. Then again maybe Claire Balding is right after all, maybe if more young women did come into the industry they’d see how stupid the current system is and give the whole thing the kick up the arse it needs.

Fat Tuesday

It’s Shrove Tuesday, Maha Shivaratri and also Mardi Gras. For those of you to whom those don’t mean much, it’s just Pancake Day. I’m not usually one for ‘days’ like these, but it’s February, it’s cold and damp and grim and frankly I need something to brighten up my life/ slip me delicately into a food induced coma so I cease to care. What better than a plate of pancake oozing chocolate sauce and packed with deliciousness? I’m not going to mess around much, let’s face it there will be loads of articles out there today discussing the history, context and convention of the day. Honestly though, we all know the only reason it gets googled so much is because we come home with a craving and haven’t got enough cognitive power left to remember how three simple ingredient make such deliciousness.  So before you start spooning the Nutella directly from the jar into your face hole here is the magic:

The Best, Not Really All That Exotic, Pancake Recipe I Know

110g Plain Flour

Pinch of salt

2 large eggs

300ml milk

The quantities above should give you 12 ish pancakes from an 18cm pan. That should feed about four people, unless you are me, in which case make double.

Before you start, unless you are serving the pancakes directly from the pan, in some kind of round robin of cooking diplomacy, put the oven on its lowest setting with a dinner plate inside. Create a tinfoil lid for the plate, but one which you can attach and detached with ease for optimum pre-eating pancake storage.

Sift the flour into a bowl, you don’t have to, but trust me getting a bit of air into it makes a difference.  Add the pinch of salt and then make a well in the flour. Pour the eggs into the well, cracking them into a mug first. Remember last year when you thought you were experienced enough to crack them straight into the mixing bowl. Thirty minutes of fishing around later and your wanted to cry, plus those pancakes were crunchier than you thought they were meant to be, weren’t they? Let’s not risk it. Whisk the flour and eggs together, once they are combined start slowly adding the milk. SLOWLY. Seriously I know you are hungry and Delia says the lumps will sort themselves out, but not if you just chuck it all in and give it a cursory mix. Whisk it properly or you’ll get doughy bits. If you’re fellow pancake eaters all end up grimacing through their less than tasty treats it’ll only end badly. Refer back to you eating the Nutella directly from the jar, only this time with a tablespoon.

Right mixture blended; ideally leave it to stand for a bit. OK, ok, put the jar and the spoon down. The pan needs to go on the heat with something in it for lubrication, minds out of the gutter please. Oil or butter, I find a knob *snigger* of butter and a drop of oil does the trick nicely. Let the fat get hot, but don’t let it start to burn. I find a 2/3rd full ladle or 2 tbsp of batter are about right. Remember the first one will probably be an unsightly disaster (that you will still eat while no-one is paying attention).

Once the batter is in the pan leave it alone, just let it do its thing for a bit. If you start faffing with it straight away you’ll get raggedy edges and your topping will end up on you, your hands, your only clean work top and the sofa.  Patience. Once the batter looks like it is drying near the edges you can start to loosen the pancake so that it doesn’t burn. When the underside has some colour you’ll need to consider your pancake flipping options.

Personally I prefer the fish slice flip, ok it isn’t always a 100% clean flip, but for me it beats the risks of the pancake toss. Sure it looks cool when they do it on the cookery shows, the pancake doing its delicate mid-air turn, and if you get it right the pancakes is saved from any of the potential folding issues of the fish slice flip. There is so much danger though, toss too hard *snarf* it hits the ceiling and slow peels off on to the floor, let’s face it you are never going to catch that bad boy however hard you try. Toss with too much thrust *snort*and it’ll end up skidding across the floor to end up in an ungainly heap with the dust bunnies that hang around your skirting board. Toss with too little oomph *sigh* and it won’t make the flip at all, instead concertinaing at the side of the pan, possibly flopping over the edge a bit, resulting in you losing some to pan related decapitation. Of course the very worst scenario of all is that you execute the perfect toss only to have your golden, battery, beauty land cooked side down, leaving you with the pain of a fail that disguised itself as a win.

Once you are finished flipping and tossing it is gorging time. Don’t forget there is magic in a savoury pancake, but don’t leave that until last, always end on a sweet note. Also some pre-planning is advisable, especially if you gather for a shared pancake experience. Consider your filling options before you dig in, don’t risk ending up with a highly questionably combo just so that you can stuff every available option in your maw before the batter runs out.

Above and beyond any of my bits of advice remember this experience is a fleeting moment of happiness in the otherwise endless abyss of winter, make the most of it people. See you on the other side.

Happy Pancaking.

When I Grow Up

When I grow up I want to be a writer and live in a modest yet comfortable house. I want to be able to go and visit friends who live in faraway places. I want a garden and time to sit in it. I suspect I will moan about whose turn it is to do the washing up but not too much.

I live in a modest yet comfortable house, I spend most of my waking hours writing, or at least thinking very hard about writing something.  I have friends in faraway places that I like to assume I will one day be able to afford to visit. I have a garden, which is soggy and harbouring velociraptors in its waist high lawn, but it’s February so it’s not at its best right now. I moan about the washing up more than I would like. Yet I don’t feel grown up.

Is it just me? Am I some sort of freak of nature who is epically failing at life, or does everyone secretly feel like this? Are you all sitting out there, with your cups of tea and scattered Sunday papers, secretly wondering when you will start to feel like an adult?

I am in the process of procrastinating very hard about booking a holiday. A large part of my procrastination is to do with the fact that I don’t actually have the money to book the holiday as yet. Well, I like to think that is a large part of it, but there is also this nagging doubt in the back of my mind, one which I suspect is larger and more of a factor than maybe I’m letting on, one that is telling me I shouldn’t be doing this without checking with a responsible adult.

The thing is there, is no hiding from it for very long. There aren’t many areas of my life where I feel particularly grown up. Sure, I clothe and feed myself on a daily basis. However I still follow a pattern with both of those things that I have been adhering to since I was 18 and still living at home, despite my body giving my numerous hints on both counts that I should probably make a change. Apparently take away food more than once a month when you are thirty *cough*has much more of an impact than it did *cough* number of years ago. There is nothing about these daily acts that makes me feel particularly grown up, rather I just feel lucky no one has told me off yet.

I have yet to make one of those “big life decisions” by myself. Sure I moved out of home, but I couldn’t have afforded it without parental support. I didn’t so much make a decision as negotiate what was the right move for me and the rest of the family’s sanity. When it comes to doing anything around my house like DIY, especially DIY with the electric, cordless drill that I know how to use in principle, it is to my parents that I turn before butchering the paint work, plaster and structural integrity of my home. Whilst I may have a home in which I can hang paintings, put up shelves and replace the never ending tide of broken white goods, I still feel like a five year old playing grown up in the wendy house at the bottom of the garden. Although I play with much greater care than a five year old because have you seen the price of a tin of dulux these days?

So what is it that makes you a fully-fledged, signed up member of the adult, human race? Is it paying tax? I have been painstakingly filling out my self-assessment and uttering an ever expanding vocabulary of expletives for years now. I don’t feel any more grown up for doing so; usually I just end up with the tax equivalent of a hangover every time someone mentions HMRC. Is it managing to do your own washing, cooking and cleaning? If so I am failing miserably, even my washing machine is filthy; it may need industrial scrubbing or just purging with flame.

What is that elusive, magically quality that takes you from faking it to making it? What does making it really look like? Is it having debt, children and holidays from your boring, repetitive job biannually? Or is it something deeper, is it finally feeling like you are in charge of your own destiny? Even if the destiny you can afford is only as exciting as a two up two down and taking the bus to work?