Hello chums. I'm still transferring old content over to the new site. Busy writing some new bits and pieces; here's one of them.
Hope that you're having yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Here's the story of why I love it so much:
Haven't had any time for writing recently, but promise you some new stuff in the new year. Thanks for your patience xxx
Hello chums! Happy December to you. New updates coming soon... still loading up the archives at www.allthebiscuits.com.
Have a look! Please consider telling your friends–especially if they enjoy reading tales of terrible dates, awkward conversations and other embarrassments–to have a look*! Have a biscuit!**
*Thank you. It is devilishly difficult to spread the word. Anything you can do to help is most appreciated xxx...
**Today has been a hobnob sort of day
Hello chums. Right. RIGHT! I thought I'd collect all this nonsense on an ACTUAL PROPER WEBSITE, so I've been busy setting up www.allthebiscuits.com. Will be posting the archive from here on there (from the beginning, one post every day), so please do keep an eye on it. It'll be easier to find posts and browse on there too.
So. Will still be updating this page, when I've got the new site up-to-date.
Lovely! Thanks for your patience xxx
Elder Daughter: "What's in the London Dungeon, Mummy?"
Me: "It's got lots of gory history from London, with people like Jack the Ripper and..."
ED: "Bradley Wiggins?"...
ED: "You know, Bradley Wiggins, he tried to burn down the Houses of Parliament... oh, or is he the man who wins all the cycling events?"
HAPPY BRADLEY WIGGINS NIGHT, EVERYONE!
THE WINNING LINES: Tales from my dating days #19
We met online. After I emailed him my number, he rang me, but withheld his number. Here’s an excerpt from the conversation:
Him: “So, what do you do?”...
Me: “I’m a writer and a musician. How about you?”
Him: “Oh, I’m not going to tell you, sorry. You could be a stalker or something.”
Me: “Riiiiight. Hey, for all I know, you could be a stalker too.”
Him: “I’m not”.
Me: “Well, there you go, neither am I”.
Him: “Well, I don’t know that for sure. Do you still fancy a drink?”
Me: “Are you going to tell me what your job is?”
Him: “When I meet you. I have to be sure you’re not a stalker”.
I know I should have run away at this point, and that I wasn’t going to be romantically interested in him, but my curiosity was piqued… What was his job? What was he hiding? I had to meet him.
Eventually we arranged a meeting place and time.
Him: “Great. I’ve got your number so if anything changes I’ll give you a call.”
Me: “Fine. What about if I have a problem and need to call you, what’s your number?”
Him: “Sorry, I’m not going to give it to you. You might be a stalker.”
Me: “But you’ve got my number.”
Him: “But I know I’m not a stalker. I don’t know about you though.”
***Trigger warning: Abuse***
I remember the first time someone told me that they didn’t believe me.
I was just a kid, and I’d borrowed my dad’s guitar. I knew how much he loved it so I was extra careful with it, strumming it gently, and tucking his lucky plectrum back behind the strings when I’d finished....
ADVENTURES IN SHORT-SIGHTEDNESS #3:
Every few years—when I feel I have too much money in my life and not enough punishment—I join a gym. Years back, I'd just got a membership to a local sports centre, and went there for my first swim.
Now, it's not normally one mistake or misfortune that leads to disaster; instead, it's several small ingredients combining to create a towering cake of calamity. For example, it's not a disaster if your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere....
ADVENTURES IN SHORT-SIGHTEDNESS #1: That time I went swimming.
In the changing rooms, I hung my white towel on a peg, changed into my costume, and left my glass...es in my locker.
I'm extremely short-sighted; I can't swim in my glasses, obviously, but I can't see anything without them.
So, I went for a swim—all very pleasant—then back to the changing room for a shower. I grabbed my towel off the peg and started drying with it, instantly realising that something was very wrong. My towel wasn't the right texture. My towel was, it transpired, actually some lady's white coat, and she wasn't very impressed with me.
These days, I wear contact lenses and a pair of goggles while swimming.
(Enjoy this sort of thing? Come and join me at https://www.facebook.com/AllTheBiscuits/ for more stories)
It's normal to get a bit anxious about doing a good job.
What's not normal is to get stomach-wrenchingly, can't-breathe, can't-stop-shakingly anxious about it.
Welcome to the wonderful world of stage fright....
Dating can be pretty brutal. So much so that it's tempting to stay in a crappy relationship if it means you never have to engage with the singles scene ever again. (Seriously though, don't stay in crappy relationships. Life is too short. Really.)
In my 20s, I ambled from one longish-term relationship to another, and then tumbled into a decade of marriage. When I found myself—somewhat bewildered and blinking—single again, the dating world had changed. And so had I.
When I was...
THE WINNING LINES: Tales from my dating days #18
It was a wintery, blustery day. We'd been for a long walk through the country park. chatting happily. Rather a promising first date, I thought, topped off with a hot chocolate in the cafe.
He grabbed the bill as it arrived:...
Him: “Do you want to see me again?”
Me: “Sure! I had a lovely time”.
Him: “Are you sure you want to see me again?”
Me: “Yes, I just said I did”.
Him: “I don’t want to put you on the spot here, but you’re definitely sure that you want to see me again?”
Me: (getting less sure by the second) “Errr, yeah”.
Him: “Well, in that case, I would be delighted to pay for your hot chocolate”.
Him: “Well, I wasn’t going to offer to pay for it if you’re not going to see me again.”
Me: “I'll pay for my own hot chocolate, it's fine."
Him: “I’ll buy it for you if you’re going to see me again”.
Me: “I’d really rather just get it myself, thanks.”
Him: “No, no, no, I insist. My treat.”
Me: “No, really.”
In the end, I let him buy me the bloody hot chocolate. But he never called me again (and I was somewhat relived).
HOW TO GET THROUGH A BREAK-UP (WITH YOUR SANITY RELATIVELY INTACT)
Even if it was a horrible relationship, even if you hated him by the end and you're quietly relieved he's gone, even if he used to chew his toenails in front of your parents*, take some time to acknowledge your sadness that it's all over. There might only be a pea-sized smidge of sadness, but it will be there and it must be acknowledged; you'll have gone into the relationship with at least some ho...
ON BEING A GROWN-UP
I'm not cut out for this, I'm really not. Being an adult is much harder than it looked in the brochure. When I was small, I couldn't wait to grow up, fondly imagining the time when I'd have all the answers, gliding gracefully between the days, busy only with the sheer enjoyment of living. I'm glad I had no idea how wrong I was.
Life is much more complicated than I ever gave it credit. There are bills to be paid, lines to be drawn, principles to be defende...d. And laundry to be done. So much laundry. Don't get me started on the bloody laundry.
But then, there's the sweet contrast between being a grown-up and growing older. The former promises disappointment and expectations that can't ever be met. The latter is a balm; the older I get, the more comfortable I am in my own skin. The more secure I become. The more I sense and value the love that surrounds me; the more I appreciate my friends, my family.
The flip side to that: being able to lovingly let go of some relationships and people. Recognising the friendships that used to work, but don't any more. And finally understanding that what other people think of me is none of my business.
These days, I have a sense of happiness, of peace, of calm, that I've never known before. Even amid the chaos of the endless logistics and paperwork. And the sodding laundry.
Being a grown-up royally sucks, but at least growing older is great.
I went to see Home Alone 3 with a mate. We'd always had totally different tastes in cinema so, true to form, she was convulsed with laughter and I was bored rigid. For some light relief, halfway through the film, I nipped to the loo.
Business done, I went to open the cubicle door. But, the lock had jammed. I thumped the door. Nothing. I shouted myself silly. No-one came. This was back in 1997, I didn't have a mobile phone, so I resigned myself to being stuck until my friend ...raised the alarm.
Because surely she'd soon notice I hadn't come back.
Surely she'd soon realise I'd been gone for much too long.
After twenty minutes, I realised that either she hadn't noticed I was gone, or had assumed I was having bum troubles and didn't want to disturb me.
Another ten minutes passed.
As much as I hadn't been enjoying Home Alone 3, being stuck in a toilet cubicle in a branch of ODEON Cinemas* was marginally less fun.
In desperation, I took off my shoe and started hammering at the lock. My impressive DIY skills did the trick (or perhaps the gods of misfortune felt sufficiently sorry for me) and the door popped open.
I made it back into the screen as the credits rolled.
My friend looked round at me. "Where were you?"
"I've been locked in the loo for the last half hour."
"Did you not notice?"
"It was such a great film."
So, there you have it. I am officially less great than Home Alone 3.
(*since demolished. It's all it deserved.)
BRAND NEW SERIES: MY ENDLESS FAILINGS TO BE A GOOD JEW #23 (a tale of quizzes and public humiliation)
I am Jewish in the same way I am white and English. I don't have a sense of triumph or superiority about it; it's just how I happen to have been born. It's only one aspect of my tumble of genetics—like my brown hair and my long toes—and not something that defines me.
As an adult, I don't specifically seek out Jewish friends. But as a child, my social life was a whirl of Jewi...
THE WINNING LINES: Tales from my dating days #17
I’d been seeing a guy for a little while; he lived a long way away, so all our dates had been in restaurants and bars. Things had been going well, and I'd agreed I'd stay the night at his.
When I arrived, he was apologetic; there was a problem at work and he'd been thinking about cancelling, but still wanted to see me. However, he'd need to check in with work occasionally....
He left me with a drink while he answered a few emails. I checked out his books and his CD collection while he was gone (doesn't everyone?) When he came back, he explained he'd have to keep an eye on his phone during dinner.
Well, there's a difference between keeping an eye on your phone and giving it your full attention. We didn't talk much during the meal, and he seemed to get more and more agitated about work. I tried to chat about his taste in music and books, but a frostiness settled; he shut the conversation down and went back to looking at his phone and ignoring me.
It just didn't make sense. He'd said he was happy to see me, but his actions said the opposite. It's not fun hanging out with someone who blatantly doesn't want you there, and I wanted to leave; but I was 70 miles from home, I'd had a few drinks and couldn't drive, and public transport wasn't an option.
I was stuck at his. There was nothing that could be done but brave it out until the morning.
He had the one bed, so we both had to spend the night sharing it, keeping as much distance from each other as possible; not talking, not touching. I didn’t sleep a wink.
The next morning, he woke and said he had to get onto a conference call with work immediately. I said I’d leave, but he told me to stay, saying that the call wouldn't take long. I didn’t want to seem rude, so I stayed.
Two hours later, he was still on his call, and I was feeling thoroughly stupid. Several times, I stuck my head around the door to say I'd be going, but he insisted I stay, that he'd be off the call soon.
Eventually, my anger and discomfort finally overtook my desire to be polite. Enough. He didn't want me there, whether he was prepared to admit it or not. And—more importantly, although it'd taken me long enough to get there—I really didn't want to be there. Time to go.
Time to go. As I headed for the door, he muted his call to tell me: “It’s been a long time since I’ve had anyone over to mine. I’m not good with having other people in my personal space.”
I drove home, angry and upset. I presumed I’d never hear from him again, but he phoned me three days later. Maybe he thought he hadn’t insulted me enough yet; he told me he’d called to explain that he didn’t want to “take the relationship any further, because you’re obviously much keener on me than I am on you." And in the next breath, he asked, "Do you want to be friends, though?”
I laughed—a sharp, hollow, laugh—and said no, thank you.
#Glasgow is a wonderful place. I had a pretty tremendous time there, but my favourite memory was trying to get from the exhibition centre, back into the heart of the city, when a bus pulled up.
Bus driver: Hi! Nice necklace....
Me: Thanks! Are you going to the city centre?
BD: No, you want Derek.
Me: Excuse me?
BD: Derek. He's driving the bus that's about five minutes behind me.
And yes, Derek did drive me back to the city centre (and was somewhat surprised when I greeted him with a hearty "HI DEREK!" What a charming place).