Saturday, 29 October 2011


During a Literacy lesson last week, we talked about what could’ve been said in a conversation between Mr and Mrs Twit, about the fact that they had ingeniously managed to capture an entire flock of birds by smearing glue on the branches of the tree in their garden.  

Child A, representing the average 10 year old writer, suggested that Mrs Twit should turn to Mr Twit and say...


The expression on my face quite possibly said it all and there were a few giggles. Sarcastically, I went on. “Yes, child A, Mrs Twit should then turn to Mr Twit and say lol,” at which point the entire table erupted into uncontrollable laughter because I had said lol.  

This was obviously an exceedingly exciting situation, so I allowed the moment to happen, and then fizzle out, and then we decided on something more fitting for our passage of dialogue – “Go and fetch them down then, you old grouch, or there’ll be no pie for you tonight!”

So it got me thinking about why they laughed. It may have been that, in my professional capacity as a teacher, it was just an unexpected utterance. Maybe they felt excitement for catching a glimpse of my youthful side! Perhaps it was a side effect of relief from having to decide where to put speech marks (they did find it bash-your-head-against-a-brick-wall hard)…

But I think it’s more likely that they just perceive me as being old, and old people don’t say words like that. I mean, OMG, totes cringe! 

The thing is, I want free access to all lexical choices available to me without wondering whether I’m too old to use some words, and it’s only going to get worse with age!

So this got me thinking about when Dad first wrote lol in a text message. It was appalling.  The second time he did it, it was appalling. The third time, it was appalling. Over the years, I've been desensitised to it. Nevertheless, it still manages to provoke a dull cringe.

BUT, now that I have experienced the situation from the oldies side…

Dad – I give you permission to use ‘lol’ freely and without constraint. Paddle in the lexical pool of the Urban Dictionary whenever you feel the desire to broaden your vocabulary.*

And next week I’m going to exercise my lexical freedom too by casually describing something as ‘sick’ at school, just to see what happens.

* Just don’t use any ‘new’ words in surgery.

Or when I’m at home.

Monday, 24 October 2011


Yesterday, I went into town to buy a coat. I came back with two. 

I surprised myself with my first purchase, a camel coloured trench coat from Oasis. I wasn’t expecting to buy a trench and definitely not a camel coloured one. However, Christopher did a Gok and persuaded me it was a wise investment, and I couldn’t disagree with the £50 price tag, especially when it was reduced from £85; I was saving money!

Despite feeling very happy with such a successful start to the shopping trip, when we carried on walking round town, I couldn’t help but keep an eye out just in case I spotted a better one. I could of course take the first back if I needed to.

I found the second item in H&M. As I tried it on, part of me hoped it wouldn’t be as good as the first one (that would save me a lot of umming and ahhing) but it really was, and at £40 it was a snip! It had a lovely fitted shape and yet it was a duffle coat, which was the sort of coat I had been looking for in the first place. Perfect!

SO, I found myself with a dilemma. Should I:

A) Buy the H&M duffle and take the trench back to Oasis? 
B) Stick with my original purchase only and forget about the second option?
      C) Buy the duffle and keep the trench too?

Finding myself reeling off a very convincing list of justifications at Christopher on the shop floor (quite literally at this point), I decided to plump for option C.

My rationale sounded something like this:

Firstly, the trench is quite a thin coat in comparison to the duffle, really suited to milder autumnal days than the harsh cold of deep winter. Secondly, the trench doesn’t have a hood but the duffle does and on some days I won’t mind wearing a hat but on others I will. Thirdly, the trench coat is quite light in colour and would be in danger of getting dirty if, say, we went for a muddy winter walk in the woods. It’d be better to have a darker coloured coat for occasions like that. The trench is also smarter so would be perfect for wearing over more formal clothes, if we went out for dinner or something. The duffle would look good in the playground… And so it went on.

The moral of the story: I am a sucker for a sale and victim of a consumer culture. That’s not to say it’s society at fault and not me, like I’m passive to the materialistic and falling for two coats has been done unto me in some uncontrollable way. That’s not what I mean. Only I whipped out my debit card in an all consumed shopping frenzy. Only I have two new coats hanging up in the hallway.

I have my hands up here. It’s my fault. I’ve allowed myself to be caught up in the materialistic. Again.  Every now and then it smacks me in the face. Like when I find myself mindlessly posting a photo of a possession or when I block out the world in favour staring at my laptop screen, browsing online shops, or when I buy two coats. 

All of this got me thinking about how I felt when I came home from Africa. Stepping off the plane back onto English soil, I hoped that I would live more frugally. I hoped that I would remember how material things count for nothing and life is only rich from the people who you meet and the experiences you’re lucky enough to have. Africa gave me that reminder full on; it was stark and it was in my face and I knew it and I understood it. Like, I properly understood it. When I stepped off that plane there is NO WAY that I would have bought two coats. I wouldn’t have bought one. Because really, I don’t need one. 

So, where does this realisation leave me? Will I return the coats? Will I take one back and keep the other?

Honestly? Probably not. I’ve been sucked back in and I’m feeling weak to consumerism and I like them too much (and there was a plethora of other factors influencing the coat buying, which I haven’t mentioned, such as needing to look smart at work and working hard to afford myself a treat. And stuff.) 

So I’m going to enjoy these coats but I’m not going to post a picture of them of Facebook.

And maybe I should buy a plane ticket back to Africa.

Mostly Medicre (Maybe)

When I was in Africa, I wrote a blog. Well, the blog wrote itself really. It wasn’t hard to think of things to say when every day I had the privilege of seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, feeling or experiencing something totally new and eye-opening.

When I got home, I stopped writing it.
  Partly because its title was Africa based and I was no longer in Africa, and partly because the grey of England on my return didn’t inspire in me the same desire to write.

I decided that life - ‘normal’ life - was mostly mediocre. 

But of course, I was wrong. So here’s my blog, Mostly Mediocre (Maybe).