It’s all about #meme

Last month I was tagged by a cake loving, Flackwell dwelling friend of mine (@rainbowclaire) in her blog and it’s spurred me into action. I’ve not kept up with the blogging at all of late. In fact, I was so proud of my last blog, perhaps more for it’s 3000 word length than it’s quality, that I put myself into semi-retirement.
But on reflection, this #meme thing looks like fun. Questions designed for soul searching and thought provoking answers. I’m not sure I can provide that, but I am good at making a flippant comment on command. So here goes nothing.

Questions about Me.

Which living person do you most admire, and why?

That’s a really tough question. I admire most people who do things that I find really difficult. I admire people who can stand on stage and make stuff up, which just happens to be hilarious. I admire people who can run a marathon and still walk the following day. If someone can get on a horse and immediately understand and build a relationship with it, chances are I admire them too. I look up to those who can write meaningful, beautiful prose. But I think the most important admiration is for those that stand up to adversity and give it a good talking to. Those who have fought in wars and yet see no bravery in what they have done. I did an adventure race recently, raising money for The Soldier Charity and meeting ex-service men on the finish line in their wheelchairs with their families around them was a truly humbling experience. They were thanking us for what we had done. What we had done? What, abseiled down the Oval and run around London for four hours? It hardly makes a mark compared to the kind of stuff they have done. Yet it never occurs to us to thank them. Those are the kinds of people I admire.

When were you happiest

I’m happy quite a lot of the time to be honest. It sounds dull, but I am. Perhaps if we step a little deeper into my pysche what we can actually read into this is that I haven’t had a life-changing event that was the “biggest day of my life”. It is one of the biggest cliches to say “I was happiest on my graduation day”, but actually sometimes the days in between are the best. The day I received my results at university was a great day. After a can or two of warm Fosters and a few pilfered Jaffa Cakes, we got snap happy with the camera, taking photos of friends and an era that was so soon to end. I couldn’t describe a particular reason or thing that happened, it was just a lovely time.

I love live events and I love being in the middle of a crowd, knowing that this moment will never happen again. It’s addictive, I adore it. I was in the front row at the Live8 concert in Hyde Park and it was amazing. Seeing U2, the Stereophonics, Sting, Mariah Carey, Robbie Williams and countless others performing was breathtaking. I remember the excitement of Robbie Williams standing directly in front of me, singing Angels, as though it were yesterday. Like the addict that I am, I still crave live shows and so I adore going down to the Comedy Store to see improv, which is the best form of live performing; it’s so immediate, that outside the confines of the show, it makes no sense whatsoever. It’s forgotten, but the feeling of rocking back and laughing uncontrollably is a fantastic one.

What else makes me happy? My horse. I’m predictable, I know. But I’ve had my horse for nearly four years now and I ride her nearly every day – it’s an amazing relationship that you build up with understanding and patience, that can be so frustrating, but also rewarding. You can think you are getting somewhere, or on the road to improvement, and then in competition, it can all go back two steps. But when it does go right, it is such a wonderful feeling. Seeing your picture in a magazine or beating 40 people to win first prize is so exciting. Obviously these things don’t happen all the time, but that’s what makes them so exciting. You get a taste of success and you spend the rest of the year craving and striving for more. That’s what makes me happy.

What was your most embarrassing moment?

As an individual, I tend to be a little excitable and easily led, which leads to many embarrassing moments. But the one I remember most clearly was pretty out of my control.

I was working at Tescos late one evening and having a giggle with the person on the till next to me. My customer, an Asian gentleman, finished loading his shopping on to the belt and came down to begin loading it through. Between giggles, I said my mandatory line, “Hi, are you alright packing?” He turned an interesting shade of purple and without mincing his words, told me exactly what he thought of me and “my kind”. It was only after what felt like an eternity, I realised he had misheard me and thought I was being racist. This wasn’t really my fault, it was a simple mistake, but I was so mortified, I just didn’t know what to say.

Aside from property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?

The most expensive thing I ever bought was my degree! But that is an incredibly boring answer and not strictly true as, although I have approx £10k worth of student debt, I did use some of it to buy my car. It is an 09 reg, Hyundai i20. It is grey, with pink flowers on. I shouldn’t love it as it is a bit ugly and not very cool, but I really kind of do. Having pink flowers, you would think it was a girl, but it is most definitely a boy car. Perhaps a boy car who likes other boy cars, but he is most definitely a boy.

What is your most treasured possession?

I can’t beat Claire’s lovely answer to this. Memories are the most treasured thing ever, especially for experiences we won’t ever get again or people we will never see again. It annoys me so much when I go and see comedy and there is someone sitting there recording it on their phone. Just appreciate the moment and enjoy it for what it is. You won’t get it back and that phone recording isn’t going to bring it back. I do wish I took more photos though because I feel there will be so little for my children’s children to see about my life. Digital cameras are great, but we just don’t have photo albums like we used to any more.

Where would you like to live?

At this time in my life, I’m very happy living where I am. It is convenient and useful for city, town and country. What more can you ask for? I’m happy as long as I’ve got friends and/or family around me.

But in a dream world, I’d love to live in Edinburgh, Pitlochry or somewhere in Somerset/Devon. Never going to happen, but they are beautiful areas.

What’s your favourite smell?

I love the smell of new sponges. That is all. Well, what more can you say?

Actually, I also love the smell after you have popped a new can of tennis balls. Weird, but true.

Who would play you in the film of your life?

I would love to see Sandra Bullock play me. I think she could manage the pratfalls with aplomb.

What is your favourite book?

This is really difficult! I have so many books for so many occasions. There are “pretentious” books that I enjoy as an English Lit student; Dickens, The Fairie Queene, Atwood… that sort of thing, but I also love a trashy book like Jill Mansell or Mike Gayle. But I think my favourite books of all time would have to be the Wind in the Willows and Winnie the Pooh. I treasured my big hardback copies as a kid and I was never as excited by the films or cartoons as I was by the books. The illustrations and the big hard spines on them just made them feel so special. That was what gave me a love for reading and I can still enjoy them now.

What is your most unappealing habit?

Not thinking before I speak, every single time! I get too excited in company and talk too much.

Another unappealing habit of mine is that I’m just too stubborn to accept help when I need it. I see asking for help as some kind of failure and am strangely proud of not wanting to admit I can’t cope.

What would be your fancy dress costume of choice?

Last year I dressed up as a British tourist; it was great! Socks and sandals, black velvet hot pants, a pink check shirt, a red face and panda eyes. Oh yes, and a bum bag. Absolutely perfect!

What is your earliest memory?

I remember snippets of going out for a meal with my family and coming home to find that there was a surprise 40th birthday party for my mum. Now I don’t want to age her unfairly, but I’m pretty sure I can only have been 4 at the time.

I also remember being at Abbotsbrook – a kind of pre-school thing – and being in the play. I was the Queen who baked a pie. I also remember cooking things there, like chocolate cornflake cakes and then eating most of them before Mothers Day when I was meant to give them to my mum. (Some things never change!) Another memory from there was a boy called George, who got playdoh stuck in his hair when we had our milk break one day.

It’s strange the things you remember!

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

This reminds me of a Tim Minchin joke; people say their guilty pleasure is listening to Take That. Well that shows an incredibly low threshold for both guilt and pleasure. His guilty pleasure is cancelling a charity donation and using the money to buy wine. Sadly, mine is awful music. I can normally only listen to my mp3 player alone because it is ram-packed with cheesy pop and dodgy comedy!

Another guilty pleasure is baking cakes. I enjoy eating the cake mix and the butter icing more than making the cake and I know how bad it is, but I just can’t help it.

What do you owe your parents?

That’s a strange thing to ask because technically, they have paid for the first 16 years of my life or so, so I owe them a huge amount. But I also know they would not ask for that back. They will always support me in what I want to do and hopefully be there to comfort me and pick up the pieces when it goes wrong.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

So far? My family and my pets/horses. I spend most of my time with them, so it’s love or loathe!

What does love feel like?

I’m not too sure myself, but I think it’s feeling comfortable in your own skin and not worrying about others judging you. Feeling that you can speak without being judged and that that person will always be there to encourage, and support you in the times of good and bad. But then maybe my hopeless optimism is why I can’t find a nice man!

What was the best kiss of your life?

Interesting question. Normally the first kiss with a new person. That moment of will we, won’t we, followed by the excitement of not knowing what’s coming next. That’s all I’m going to give away! Saying who I’m thinking of would be far too gossip-worthy.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

I can’t help but overuse exclamation marks when I talk to friends! Not many!! Just one at a time!

I get told I overuse phrases all the time, but I just can’t think of any. I say “to be fair” an awful lot.

What is the worst job you’ve done?

I’ve been very lucky in that I haven’t had many terrible jobs. Although, I’m always keen to impress, especially when I don’t know people, so when I started at Tesco, they asked me to clean the “crumb trays” from the tills every night. It wasn’t until I’d been there for a month someone told me I shouldn’t have to do it. The “crumb tray” is the underside of the till. It doesn’t sound unpleasant, but imagine squashed, mouldy berries and all sorts of rubbish found under there. Not so pleasant, but it was hardly like being taken down the mines aged 9!

If you could edit your past, what would you change?

You can’t change the past. You can only use the past to change the future. We’ve all done embarrassing things or stuff that we wish we hadn’t, well all we can do it about it, is learn from it.

What is the closest you’ve come to death?

I’ve kept a distance from death thankfully. I crashed a car at 70mph into a ditch and tree, but I walked away. You sometimes think, if a different part of the car had hit the tree, it could have been different, but you can’t dwell on these things.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I’m not very good at selling myself, but I’ve got a degree and a respectable job where I do my best. I’m an active member of the riding club, doing lots for the club. But I think it’s actually using the things I enjoy to raise money for others that makes me proud of myself.

When did you last cry, and why?

I haven’t cried for a little while. I’m sure it was over something trivial and what I was crying about was not what really upset me. Sometimes things just build up and you have to let them out.

How do you relax?

Riding, running, watching comedy, writing. All of my hobbies are my downtime.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?

It’s very hard to say. I think my quality of life is pretty good at the moment. Obviously winning the lottery and buying a house would help, but we all know miracles don’t really happen.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Live for the moment because once it’s gone, you’ll never get that moment back. (I wish it had been more groundbreaking and succint, but there we go.)