New Year, Old News

2015 has arrived in the usual unexciting, mundane New Year’s kind of way. January offers little and takes a lot; we get a new series of Celebrity Big Brother’s human hamster cage in exchange for giving up Cadbury’s chocolate and bad men or Cadbury’s chocolate on bad men depending on your taste buds.

In the dying months leading up to a new year we indulge in alcohol, yule logs and Bruce Forsyth’s ghostly face only just visible on the latest Strictly Come Walking. We allow ourselves to parade around in reindeer onesies with wine-stained teeth safe in the knowledge that next year, we could run for the president of the United States of America.

In December, we decide to make ‘New Year’s Resolutions’. It takes a while to start writing as our E.T looking hands fiddle with a pen that we haven’t held since 1997 until we get into the rhythm of writing. Optimism begins to flow as we imagine marital bliss on the beaches of Mexico having secretly eloped with a bigamist George Clooney. We see our dreams coming true because a new year allows for change and we can morph ourselves into anything; we could wake with Kim Kardashian’s buttocks.

Most people opt for the obvious; dieting or sucking on anything other than cigarettes. Others decide it is time to throw caution to the wind and do obscene, nearly-time-to-be-sectioned kind of things like botox and growing moustaches. Just remember that we have to be realistic when deciding; Madonna’s armpit hair was grown for artistic purposes and should never be imitated as part of our New Year feminist empowerment.

With the lists ready and January coming to unpack a hamper full of success and orgasms, we wait patiently until it begins. We cram in any last minute gorging of cheesecake and One Direction because after, we shall no longer be these sad, depressing, I-heart-Harry kinds of people.

All of last year’s disappointments are left behind as we try to forget exes, the World Cup and the continued existence of Kanye West. We can disregard the momentary joy we felt that Take That might finally be breaking up and the chance that X Factor would fall further than Louis Walsh’s reputation as a talent spotter. 2014 is long gone and we no longer have time for it.

So here she is one and all. Her majesty, January, with nothing but rain keeping you wet when you would rather it came from elsewhere. We’re only a week or so in and we could still marry Prince Harry, travel to Jamaica on a banana boat and befriend King Kong but maybe one less tube of Pringles on our hips may be a slightly more realistic prospect.

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Tip-ping Me Over the Edge

I refuse to tip in restaurants and I’m not sorry. Why is it after we’ve paid a David Cameron style wage on food that we really could have just microwaved at home, we’re supposed to hand over ‘loose change’ to someone who has barely acknowledged our existence for an hour? Hold me hostage and feed me meat-filled burgers until I pay up because otherwise my purse will stay firmly shut. It’s become this strange legal kind of mugging where they stand before you ready and waiting as though you’re drowning in money and they have to somehow relieve you.  

I can understand that waiters and waitresses have a difficult job; cleaning up some mutated spaghetti mess is hard for even the no-gag-reflexing individual. However, they’re not the only ones that ‘serve’ people. In retail, you don’t walk up to a till point and add a tip to the payment of a crop top, in fact you’d be completely outraged and stroll out with an air of ingratitude. So I’m struggling how after a quick Mr Muscle wipe of the table and a plate of chips I’m expected to hand over my flat keys as a substitute for my lack of tip just so I can escape through the side exit.

The worst part of the whole ‘dining out’ experience is the expectation at the end. It’s an Oliver Twist style moment where ‘more sir’ really wouldn’t be an exaggeration. We all want more money but by giving me a glass of coke and a toothy smile really isn’t the way to go about it. Here’s a prime example of exactly why I’m not willing to give up my week’s earnings on someone who probably chucks hangers on me when walking out of a high street fitting room.

When I was out for dinner the other evening, I requested a vegetarian meal. As abnormal as that is for a waitress to hear that vegetarians really do exist and they’re not just an urban myth, she asked me if I was ‘sure’ that is what I want. Pondering this for a whole second of my life, I proceeded to tell her that yes, after eleven years of Quorn and Tofu, I was extensively sure that my choice was one that I would not later regret. When she left, we waited for forty minutes without our drink order although I’d asked numerous times emphasising the ‘please’ in case I got the whole saliva-in-burger drama. When the dinner arrived, it was a chicken dish that smelt of farmyard manure and a breaded Chicken Run character. After huffing and puffing like an overheating, constipated fish, she eventually replaced it with a salad that I, once again, didn’t order.

            At the end of the meal, my Nan decided to tip six pounds for her ‘enthusiasm’. She had as much ‘enthusiasm’ as a funeral director in a labour room. I kicked up what can only be described as a ‘hormonal’ raucous until my Nan told me that ‘its rude not to tip’. I need this explained to me because for the love of all that is food, I was given a bird to eat.

Call me the wicked witch of the west but my point is true; service is service and it shouldn’t be one rule for one and one rule for another. Receiving great service is a joy but it isn’t one that deserves reward because at the end of the day, they’re getting paid. You may argue that it’s ‘stressful’ and ‘busy’ in restaurants but it is too, in a shop or in an underground station or on a bus. These people don’t play the puppy dog eyes and almost splutter into your soup when you give them nothing. It’s not about politeness because I will engage in conversation in the very typically English way where we evaluate the ‘awful weather’ and I will always say my please and my thank you. But I wonder, when did a heart-felt thank you become a metaphor for I’m-a-tight-fisted-pessimist? It’s about time we all admitted that it’s tipping us over the edge.

 

Love’s a joke.

Love. What a stupid word. Okay, not so much stupid but it poses too many questions. One of the most ludicrous questions of my teenage years was during a Philosophy lesson asked by my ginger curly-haired teacher who claimed she was a goose in a past life. She asked ‘Can you define love?’. I felt like if I said no, she’d give a proud smile and say ‘Aristotle could’. Aristotle says a lot of shit about a lot of things but I can define love in my own way; just see me try.

I’ve probably said ‘I love you’ to about five boys in the past 21 years. Naturally, I thought I did at the time but then again I thought denim on denim was a billion-pound catwalk trend. It’s one of those phrases you say sporadically as though your mouth is too quick and your mind is trailing behind. When you come to your senses, you want to zip your mouth up so tightly you look like a reinvented version of Zippy from Rainbow.
Don’t get me wrong, when I say ‘I love you’ now, I know why I’m saying it and I know I mean it. (I’ve had to write this paragraph next because my boyfriend of two years is eyeing up the page and wondering if this is my way of saying I’m breaking it all off – I can see the panic in his face at whose going to make the curry tonight if I leave). But no, I know I mean it. Not because he’s my ‘world’ or ‘my everything’ because Barry White has already said all that for me but for real reasons.

For reasons that are so ridiculous that they make the idea of my teacher’s past life as a goose almost believable. Almost. These are some of my reasons:

The way he’s so precise about teabags. Normal people and I emphasise the ‘normal’ part, don’t care about teabags when they’re making a cup of tea. Yes, it’s a necessary part of the tea-making process but you’re not going to stand giving it your undivided attention whilst the just-boiled water starts to go cold. My boyfriend does. He likes to give teabags some tender loving care. He fondles them with a teaspoon then with his fingers and only when they’ve been played with enough will he discard them into the bin, reluctant as he may be.

The way he can’t make the bed. We’ve lived together for nearly a year and he can’t seem to master the challenge that is a king size duvet. He’ll maneuverer it backwards and forwards, creating more creases than there were to start with and claim victory as he stands back admiring his not-so-handy work.

The way he rambles on about everything and nothing. When I’ve been working a nine hour shift, finished at eleven and got home past midnight, all I want to do is eat, shower and go to bed. This is what every person should want but not him, oh no. He sits us down and delves into stories that I’ve heard twenty times over since the beginning of 2011. As far as he’s concerned, the Burger King incident from two summers ago is still very harrowing.
The way he tries to clean. He looks just as good in an apron as he does in his birthday suit but when attempting to put it to good use, he fails like Suarez nibbling on an opponent’s hairy arm. He brushes dust under the rug with his bare fingers and says its ‘vacuuming’, he wipes the sink when an old dishcloth, smearing it with grease and says it gives it ‘shine’ and manages to wash up all cutlery and uses a bath TOWEL to dry them afterwards. We do own tea towels.

I love him for all these reasons and I make sure I say this every night as he twists and turns in bed every forty five seconds. This is how to define love; by pointing out all the hilarious things your other half does when you have a moment’s peace from them to sit down and think about it.