Normality Bites

It was a funny old day.

From questions posed to me such as “Can I lift you up by your head?” to a statement directed to a cat of “You can stay but you have to share.”

What on earth do you do with a day like that?!

It should perhaps fall into the deep well of Forgotten but some mundane, everyday things are too good to be sunk in such a way.

Did I just say ‘everyday’?

Well, everyday for me but (I imagine) not quite so everyday for everyone.

Isn’t it odd how we get used to the weirdest things?

Or how we don’t get offended when a young person announces: “You’re not getting anything from Santa ‘cos you’re ugly, smelly and a spoilsport.”


What is normal to me is not so normal to another. People talk of offices and cubicles and horrible commutes and the 9-5 grind fueled by coffee and gossip.

A totally alien notion to my mind.

Normality to me consists of working with hundreds of young people, living with three cats, working alongside a crazy team amd avoiding being lifted up by my head.

What is normality? I’m sure we all know that here is no such thing. One day I can be answering a phone call from Hitachi; the next trying to help a young person through their darkest hour; and shortly afterward, bouncing a ball in a youth club and gleefully shouting “Doing!” with each spring.

Or maybe its the person that makes the normal a little bit weird.

Maybe we all do normal things and live normal lives but it is the way we act in a specific setting that sets the ‘weird’ gauge quivering.

So, in my example, bouncing a ball was quite normal.

Commentating was not.

I maintain that being asked if I could be picked up by my head wasn’t normal (it was certainly a new one on me) but I reckon my reply of “No. ‘Cos that is stupid” was fairly normal. Maybe it was the questioner who broke the normality code.

So, assuming that ‘normal’ exists at all, I would argue that perhaps normality is dictated by actions rather than situations.

For example, playing games in a youth facility to entertain young people is pretty normal; explaining to them that they have to smear butter on their face and then stick it in a bowl of Cheerios and count how many stick is perhaps not so normal.

Sometimes, I just bring it all on myself.



The Others

Boys are funny creatures. I remember in high one of the so-called “popular” lads taking a shine to me. Now, our group of friends was not what you would call cool: to be honest we couldn’t be bothered with all that popular stuff and much preferred to hang out at our friend’s place, occasionally eating ice-cream and often playing computer games. And constantly eating chips, cheese and coleslaw (a local delicacy and, by all accounts, fatty heaven).

I realise that description has probably left your ears ringing with the word ‘losers’, but you will have to believe me when I say that we weren’t.


Anyway, this lad seemed to be giving me a little more attention than normal.


They did call me by my nickname but it was so wildly unimaginative that I refuse to eternalize it here. But it was not terribly inventive or witty; trust me.

“I really fancy you.”

Not only is my home town famed for its chip shop delicacies, but we are also hopeless romantics.

“Whit?” came my terribly intelligent response.

“I pure fancy you. You’re sexy.”

Now, just to go with the whole ‘loser’ label (I’m sure you still have even it though I asked you not to), I was also a girl who wasn’t used to boys coming on to me. Especially one so brazen.

If I could have alerted Jane Austen, this young man would have been positively locked up with only paper and a quill in which to structure his defence.

In saying that, I had humour and a quick wit.

“Yeah, whatever.”

Ok, so not a particularly sharp wit.

But this lad became insistent and I quickly learnt that something was amiss as his heartfelt confessions of affection were very public. He was always in sight or hearing of one of his pals.

It did cross my mind that this lad actually had genuine feelings and he went home every day after school and weeped gently into his pillow at such heartless dismissal.

But I doubt it.

Besides, I did kind of enjoy the opportunity to publicly deny the popular lad as his declarations became more incessant. It got to the stage where I didn’t even pause in walking by and just threw a sarcastic “right, ok” over my shoulder.

My thoughts has always been that when popular folk were talking about whatever it is popular folk talk about (it saddens me to think that chips, cheese and coleslaw probably wasn’t involved), this lad sat gloating to his friends about how he would get the so-called ‘unpopular’ chick to fall for him – or that she would get all giggly and shy and admiring at such a popular, ‘lovely’ boy showing her affection. He would have fun with that.

Crumbs. If he was chocolate he would eat himself.

I am aware that all this is speculation on my part and always has been.

All my sarcastic comments did was frustrate him as he clearly was not getting the reaction he expected.

Eventually, one day I had enough.

“>enter witty nickname here< I really fancy you.”

(He wasn’t very inventive either).

“Yeah, whatever.”

(And neither was I).

“No, honestly- I really fancy you.”

This time I stopped.

“Sure. Stop being a tube.”

“No, really, I fancy you.”

I told you folks from my neck of the woods are hopeless romantics.

The lad was sitting next to one of his guy pals and he was clearly listening in. Good – I wanted an ‘on high’ witness.

“Oh yeah – and who dared you to say that?”

And there it was – out in the open. What I knew and what he had hidden. Out. The gloves were off.

“No-one! I fancy you.”

You know, they might be popular but they suck at lying. I guess I should respect him on some level for showing loyalty to the sacred popular folk conversations- even if they are severely lacking in fried foods.

“Yeah, whatever,” I slung over my shoulder as I joined my friend.

Ok, I know I could have said something much wittier, but I was a young teenager and I can safely say that I would react much differently now. I hope. I’m proud of myself anyway, don’t take it away from me.

Oddly, instances of public devotion quickly ceased from that quarter. And, double oddly, the lad in question seemed to have a certain respect for me then – even if he still was a numpty sometimes.

YUS! Populars: 0, Others: 1

One of the greatest achievements of my school years. Except for exams and lasting relationships. Obviously.

For someone who genuinely had no interest in being in the popular group, I did enjoy getting one-up on one of the ring leaders; as well as foiling his great plan to embarrass the short, unfashionable one.

There; I said it.

What is popularity anyway? In my experience it is a title often self-given and smothered in make-up, square jaws, gossip and perfectly trimmed hair.

How dull.

Ok, so maybe The Others are a bit more au naturale, unkempt and are more likely to be smothered in chip shop fat. But it is much more fun. I wouldn’t change a moment of my high school days – even though we didn’t have the label that many young people seem to chase.

When you are older, what will popularity get you?

Trouble, upset, betrayal, a hefty bill from Loreal and, if you cave to the pressure, an alcohol problem and an S.T.I.

Or, even worse, leader of the Conservative Party.

So, I call all of you to charge your glass and rise with me in toasting that great tradition that should over-rule all else. A group that has saved more lives and delivered more intervention than the NHS. The group we should all strive to fall into.

To: The Others.


Old Beginnings

It may seem odd to begin a blog at the end of a year, but it seems the right thing to do. I’m looking forward to firing out some random ideas – both unhinged and unhidden – and thank anyone who cares to take a wander through my meandering thoughts. Feel free to pull up a comfy chair, take a seat by the banks of the river, climb the hills outlying (it is worth it for the view), wander into the local cafe or meet a friend by the bridge. My blog is your blog; make yourself at home.

I wish I could tell you what to expect if you choose to follow me over this future we inhabit but I am not even sure myself. I might talk sense, I might not; I might make you laugh, I might not; I might make you think, I might not; I might infuriate you, but I hope not.

And, so, to work I suppose. And the journey begins and I hope improves from this point. As I was told recently, practice sharpens the pen.

“We are but hollow vessels, washed through by history” (Etty Hillesum, June 1941)