Brief encounters: re-visiting acquaintances from a year gone by – 15/01/17

I finished my journal a couple of weeks ago in a weird coincidence that obeyed the rules of the Gregorian calendar. Completing a notebook is a similar feeling to finishing a book, except with extra hand cramp. Before the final pages had been filled, I re-read it, and was reminded of some characters I briefly met that had a weirdly profound and lasting effect on me. Here are words summing them up. 

Festival goers inhale laughing gas at sunrise at the stone circle on the second day of Glastonbury music festival at Worthy Farm in Somerset

To the boy with a shaved head trying to flog two bags of coke and ket at Glastonbury this year – congrats! You’ve made my top three brief encounters of 2016. How are you? I’ve been reminded of you more than once since June, and each time I am, it makes me smile a bit. This might sound a bit VICE, but I’ve never met someone so into drugs in such an excessive way, and the way you went about it was admirable and a bit brilliant.
I went all heart eyes for your infectious joie de vivre, which – in a field of festival-goers – wasn’t sparse, but yours seemed totally authentic: committed to the (chemical) cause. We were all sat at the Stone Circle during the Sunday night/Monday morning merge, and I let you kiss me a tiny bit while I was holding the hand of a newly-instated friend I’d first met earlier that day, who lay passed out on the grass among all the popping canisters. You were giggling with your best mate the whole time I was there: a right pair, out of your heads, hopelessly devoted to each other.

You were supposed to be working the get-out for Coldplay’s closing set in a few hours’ time, but decided to (rather sensibly) sack it off and continue to cane it instead. Hope the two of you had a mad sesh planned for New Year’s Eve. And, separately, to the group of sixth form boys we met in the whiskey tent at 6am, drowsy on Valium, I hope you passed your A-levels. You will all be fine.


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To the man I met outside Liverpool St. station in September holding a bag full of meat, I hope you got on with your brother all right. We met when I was waiting to meet a friend for lunch, and you were sat there looking noticeably nervous, with a plastic bag filled to the brim with pork.

You told me you were waiting to meet your brother who you hadn’t seen for nine years – and you’d just come from a charcuterie class. Whatever it takes to calm your nerves, I suppose. I’m glad I was there to witness the physical reunion of you both, experiencing a truly dramatic Slice of (Someone Else’s) Life.

I hope the rest of your date went as swimmingly as the reception did, and I wonder if you spent Christmas together. If so, I really hope you supplied the Christmas ham.



Alejandro*, my first crush on a Catalan boy that took place in Berlin during August, thanks for stepping in to my summer trip at exactly the right time – when I desperately needed someone to make out with at all the major sightseeing spots. Sorry I got so uptight about you not paying the train fare to go to east Berlin for the day, but I’m quite into paying for public transport (and secretly riding the S-Bahn was an affordable tourist attraction I was more than willing to pay for). Not paying did make you look really cool though.

Perhaps the most romantic thing that’s ever happened to me was when I walked you to the train station in the morning so you could jump the train to Amsterdam (transport troubadour), but then you called an hour later to say you were back at the hostel – and would I like to go to the zoo? (Answer: always yes.) You were my total guy for three days, and I will never forget that time in the Photoautomat booth. Happy new year, babe.



*Names have been changed to protect only the innocent

‘Nothing more than confetti on the floor’, or, considering ways to resolve 2017 before it even begins – 26/12/16

Resolutions for The Next Year. How lovely it is to measure things in years for absolutely no beneficial reason to us whatsoever. I think 2016 could have actually been a bit less depressing if you didn’t have to hear someone tell you how shit 2016 was being at least once a day. Oh god, a 96-year-old BBC weatherman died. Great, 2016. A racist reality TV star became the president of the United States of America. Thanks, 2016. Primark discontinued their sales of fishnet tights. Literally what the fuck, 2016.

On a personal level, I’ve had a pretty good year. I finally moved out, I travelled across a continent via high-speed train during the summer, I met a serious amount of gobsmackingly good people in a relatively small 12-month timescale, and generally had a huge hoot doing the whole lot of it. People came to watch a play I’d written, Joanne by Lady Gaga came out at the exact right time that I needed to hear it, and Instagram released a Snapchat-like feature where you can see who’s looked at your ‘story’, proving that most of your beady-eyed ex-boys still think you’re mad hot!

I went home last weekend to have Christmas with my dad, as I’m with my mum for the actual birth of Christ this time around in Spain (Feliz Navidad!) Spending the yuletide here is very different to being at home, but I am loving it. You can feel a bit weird about Christmas when your parents no longer hang out, so instead of having to deal with all that at home, it seemed like a good time to go on holiday. 

I’d been getting along just fine in London these past few months but I wonked out a bit when I mistook whisky for water at our Christmas party last week and the visit to my dad’s was a welcome break. I felt way more soothed out afterwards (my dad was quite adamant to run me a hot bath after I kept showing him how much my shoulder has been clicking lately. No, seriously, my shoulder can come out of its socket and go back in again – mostly pain free – every three to four minutes. He kind of went: Physio could be quite pricey, but Radox Muscle Soak could be the solution to this six-month problem! It wasn’t, but anyway, being home was lovely). Pa gifted unto me a book in which Beatles fans recall meeting the band on various tours from ‘58-’64, along with a recording of six Steptoe and Son radio episodes on vinyl! Like, the guy knows me, you know?

While I was immersed in hot water, trying to heal my dislocated shoulder without the financial interference of a private medical professional, I got thinking about what I could to do next year to resolve my things-that-could-be-improved things, in the hope to give 2017 a one-up on 2016. Here were some things I was thinking of doing – and am still thinking of doing – except now I’m editing this post sitting on a beach on the Costa del Sol. Come at me, 2017:

Cook better food

I moved out four months ago and thought that if you spent a fiver on a recipe book and made sure you came back from the supermarket with some onions, that pretty much meant you were Rachel Khoo. It doesn’t, my culinary skills are still quite limited to lazy bolognese (i.e., make a huge vat of it, freeze, and eat three times a week for a month).

We keep a rabbit in the flat (as a pet, not for consumption) who eats parsley and kale out of a tiny cardboard box, and sometimes I can’t help but think that I’m the one that wants to be eating something as hip ‘n’ healthy as kale, not this tiny and very cute mammal. I am better than I was, though, and I’m getting the hang of shopping relatively healthily in supermarkets on the cheap. Not only I am buying onions, I now occasionally buy the odd clove of garlic. I nearly bought parsnips the other day, but only nearly.

Answer emails on time

This has been a strange source of aggravation over the last few months: REPLY TO NECESSARY EMAILS ON THAT SAME DAY GIRL, because when you put it off until tomorrow, three weeks go by and you end up having to start emails with:

Hi,

Sorry for my late reply, I’ve been in hospital after a malaria-y kinda safari trip on the equator, hence why I couldn’t let you know about This Really Important Thing, nor respond to your several follow-up emails.

Yours very, very, very truthfully, 

Tara

I have no idea how I got into this habit so hard and fast, but I’m going to nip it in the bud as of RIGHT NOW. If you email me in 2017, I will have replied before you’ve even pressed send, okay? I’ll live in the outbox.

Stop saying sorry

Look, I’m particularly stubborn when I don’t feel it necessary to apologise for something that wasn’t my fault, but I am quite happy to say sorry to my flatmate if I walk into the kitchen and she’s frying some eggs. It’s good practice to try and not apologise by default. A colleague at my old workplace once said to me: You say sorry for nearly everything you do! And I was all, Sorry! No not sorry! Sorry not sorry! (God, 2017 is NOT going to work out at all, is it).

No more shopping on ASOS

What could alternatively be titled ‘Spend More, Buy Less, Live A More #SustainableLife’, I am going to call ‘No more shopping on ASOS’. ASOS is like Tinder, you could easily spend an entire evening on it, but it never makes you feel Peak You. Particularly since its warehouse burned down a few years ago – and delivery only became free if you spent more than £20 – it’s became a weird hellhole where I find myself buying thigh high socks and hair clips just to get my basket’s monetary value up to £20.01. It’s all too easy to spend £20.01 on shit you don’t want just to make yourself feel better. So when I feel like a delicious consumerist pick-me-up, I’m going to head to HMV and buy a bargain bucket CD (like I did the other day with a Fugees album that has since changed my life), instead of a collection of naff velvet chokers off 0f ASOS. I am adulting!

No more tote bags

YOU’RE INVITED: Are you free on January 1? Would you like to attend a ceremonial burning of all 1,001 of my tote bags, collected at various free events and music festivals? Hooray! Bring your own bottle! It’s happenin’! I’m boycotting the tote bag in 2017 to a) fix my clicky left shoulder b) look like a More Fashionable Person who actually has proper compartments in her knapsack for things like LIPSTICK and BUSINESS CARDS. You may be pleased to hear that I’ve already invested in/been gifted such bags, and I am so hyped to begin the new year equipped with body pouches that DON’T JUST COLLECT TOBACCO IN THE BOTTOM OF THEM. THAT’S ALL THAT TOTE BAGS ARE GOOD FOR. ‘Anyone got any baccy?’ ‘No, but let’s turn my tote bag inside out, and – among the tampons and broken pens – we could roll up at least eight cigarettes!’ But no, I don’t have a lighter. For all their space and life span, tote bags NEVER contain the thing they really should have in droves: fire, for your tote-born fags. Massive eye roll, tote bags. But 2017 may already be looking up – my new one has a ZIP compartment!

Write more about shit you love (it’s not a waste of time if you just get on with it and do it)

Since my hack training began in late August, I’ve been closely monitored on my work with words each day, but had begun to forget the pleasure of writing for writing’s sake. This isn’t really a resolution, more so a reminder to myself that I’m at my happiest when I’m writing a lot. So, on that note, and perhaps ironically, I’m going to stop writing now to go and pour myself another whisky and coke.

Good luck, resolution makers, and here’s to a wonderful start to next year. Here are some tunes to create your 2017 rulebook.

Love,

T.A.L x