Time Is Precious, My Precious!

This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down.

This sneaky old riddle was muttered by none other than our ring-loving, schizophrenic quiz-master Gollum in a recent spectacular, ‘oh my gurd this is amazing’ feature film known as ‘The Hobbit’. Honestly, if you’ve not seen this film yet, get yo hairy, hobbit feet off to the nearest Vue Cinema, you’ll leave that screening room a changed man/woman/thing! Whilst seeing Dame Edna’s counterpart play a Goblin King, as well as seeing a wizard ride a sleigh with a chorus of rabbits pulling it a.k.a. Middle Earth’s answer to ‘Santa Clause’, were pondering on my childlike mind as I left the screening and Middle Earth, it was this riddle that really tugged on my mind as I travelled back to my own home (which thankfully, isn’t a hole in the ground). Figured it out yet? Or have you already seen this film? Well, I was option two, so let me provide you with the answer – Time.

Just when I thought I had this bad boy figured out, it comes back to slap me in the face with its second, minute and hour hands. Back in t’ day, Adrian junior began to be around this four letter word more often than anything else, even his Hot Wheels cars – and boy, was he around those Hot Wheels cars a lot. It’d be on his Maths worksheets, asking him whether it was ‘to’ or ‘past’ the hour; it’d be on his television, being the ultimate decider in shows such as ‘Countdown’ and ‘The Weakest Link’; it’d even take different forms in his favourite songs, whether that be ‘Hammer’, sometimes even ‘Chico’! He knew of it, he was always around it; yet, he never quite understood what it was. A bit like the Moon – ‘Scrubs’ told me it was ‘the Sun taking a night shift, whilst ‘Wallace and Gromit’ delightfully taught me it was made out of cheese. Oh how I wish they were true!

Science has taught me that the Moon is in fact Earth’s natural satellite (totally would’ve preferred the previous second option) – how do we know that? Man’s second most effective way at finding answers, (Google being first) travel. Travel has helped me to answer many questions throughout my life. From visiting my grandma in Ireland, I now know that the answer to the slightly stereotypical/border-line racist question, Is Ireland full of Leprechauns? is sadly an n, o, no. From visiting France umpteen times, I learnt the hard way that the question, So, sir, do you think this GCSE in French will help me to speak actual French to real French people? wasn’t really worth asking. Travel seems to be the answer to all of life’s questions, right? NAAAAAT. Even now, with all of our to-ing and fro-ing, travel hasn’t helped us to understand this word ‘time’ any more than square one. Whilst Scrooge/Michael Caine/Jim Carrey might understand his past, present and future more thanks to a bit of the ole travel, the modern age still wants to travel through time to gloat to their neighbour about the brand-spanking new, flying car they’ll be driving in the future; or travel to the past to be able to say ‘MUM, MUM, I… I JUST HIGH FIVED JESUS!’. Sadly, travel hasn’t brought us any closer to making these claims. Pardon the pun, but are we wasting our time trying to answer its mysteries with travel?

Now more than ever, time is the only resource I’m aware I use so much of. Sure, I might get carried away singing in the shower and use up that extra bit of water. Or I see a coat reduced in the sales, where I throw away my money in the excitement of the moment. Time is a completely different concept. From childhood to now, whether that be thanks to The Hobbit, school or travel, I’ve learnt many a thing about time. In all of its mysteries, it has one important aspect – you can’t get it back. Until the lads/lasses at Yorkshire Water go on strike, I’ll always have water. Until I buy a car and race off to university, I’ll always have money. Time, however, I have less and less of it every day! As I begin to grow up, this fact couldn’t begin to sting more than it has. On some days, I wish I could have more, more, more. If I had to give up a fiver or a bottle of water to grant myself an extra day of the week I would, as Nick Hewer once said to Alan Sugar in an episode of ‘The Apprentice’, ‘be all over it like a tramp on chips’! Sadly, we’re stuck with what we’ve got.

Sometimes time can go in a flash, or it can drone on and on. What’s important is that we look back on the flashing (not that kind of flashing) and the droning without regret. Now, let’s hope that reading this post was as good a use of your time as it was for me writing it! If not… we’re sorry, my precious :/

The Good, The Bad… But, Which One Is The Ugly?

*Sigh*, I really could do with this every single morning, considering the news doesn’t have a wonderful reputation for giving me my daily dose of ‘goodness’! Whether it be another Saville story that managed to remain secret for so long, or another rocket fired by an Israelite in vain for a cause he possibly doesn’t understand he is fighting for, I wouldn’t really consider the news to be as appetizing as the title ‘BBC Breakfast’ makes it out to be. I think I’ll stick to my Weetabix and apple juice, thanks! Every now and again, I’ll see a lighting news article talking about a new, genetic discovery or how Boris Johnson takes delight in doing the ‘Mobot’ (that as well as getting stuck on a zipline? I award him for being ‘The World’s Most Daft Politician’). Though, just like weighing the two chosen contestants on an episode of ‘Supersize vs Superskinny’, there is an incredible unbalance. Am I the only one who sees that the bad outweighs the good? We strive to be good, human beings; yet we’re surrounded by negative lines such as ‘Your economy is failing you – prepare to be skint!’ and ‘The price of alcohol is going up – prepare to be sober!’ Okay, so the second one is open to interpretation. Regardless, it begs me to ask the question – which one should we choose?

The little old lady waits impatiently on the side of the road. You have two choices:

  1. Help her across the road like the ‘Good Samaritan’ you were called to be, receive your reward of a peck on a cheek coupled with a ‘Why thank you, dear!’
  2. Select your baseball bat, beat the helpless pensioner to a pulp and walk along the road with your prized $2 in hand and buy yourself a well deserved hot dog.

Recognize the reference? For those who were 18+, or just had parents who were ‘open to agreement’, you’ll have been faced with this decision umpteen times on the infamous video game ‘Grand Theft Auto’. Whilst it gave many teenage boys an excuse to unleash their testosterone by crashing a stolen ambulance into a nearby bank, it made me think just about the consequences of falling on a spectrum. If I said my ‘Ps and Qs’ and drove an innocent bystander from one point to another, then in this magical, clear-cut world I’d be considered a ‘good person’. However, if ever the little devil standing on my pixellated character’s shoulder started shouting ‘GO ON, BE BAD YOU’LL GET XP’, then my character felt obliged to run around shooting like a maniac, taking on every police chopper and tank that came his way. Look out, we got a badass over here! They both have their benefits – but, which one should you choose? Oh, who am I kidding, the second option is much more fun! This isn’t reality, it’s just an excuse to blow off some steam/ something up. Why do we love do it if we’re good people in real life? For once, is it good to be bad?

Whilst it may be a song about, well, the title really does give it away, Rihanna’s ‘S&M’ has one line that I think actually makes a lot of sense, despite it’s connotations:

I can be bad, but, I’m perfectly good at it

I won’t carry that on as *Ahem, shuffles collar nervously*, it becomes inappropriate. Some of us see being ‘bad’ as a profession, putting everything they have into it and being ‘good’. Our lives, both in reality and non-reality, always have the bad guy. I really do want to make this seem like a ‘Disney’ film, but even Walt Disney has let us down – for the bad guys exist in his films, too! The Bad seem to be bent on stopping The Good, scampering their valiant efforts to do the right thing and be good role models. What are their motives? Do they just enjoy being destructive? Have they just been playing too much GTA? ‘The Incredibles’ (great film. It has humour, story, action and… a baby that lights on fire? Perfect!) seems to think that the villain came about from a fall in good. As a young, eager Incredi-Boy wished to help his role model, Mr Rejection I, *ahem*, Mr Incredible denied him the chance, to save his life. Did the little boy like this? NO, NO, NO. He turned ginger and decided to become the villain = a recipe for failure. Despite making a rookie error and ticking off a superhero family of 5, his intentions as the villain were to make himself something that his former hero never could be. Not so ugly after all? He was just bad at being good so he turned bad. See – not all evil characters had the intentions of blowing up the world!

Nevertheless, my one rule in life? Never root for the bad guys – they always lose. Whilst we may enjoy seeing the bad guy wreaking havoc along the way, we still want everything to end in a big, camp, cuddly-hug happy ending. Personally, our lives are filled with such negativity that it begins to feel difficult for us to embrace just that last, little spec of prosperity. We want to see the good guys win because they deserve to win. No one is perfect, though they hold traits and make good decisions that we want them to ‘earn the girl’ and drive away into the sunset in their Lamborghini whilst the credits roll. Now I’d certainly say that this isn’t the ugly option. Look at the shiny, shiny perks! It pays to be good and we can translate this for ourselves. Who knows whether being a kind, generous person who cares for those around them has any perks after this life? Even if it doesn’t, wouldn’t you feel better, say, giving to charity than vandalizing? For the time being, I’ll see being bad as the ugly option. I’d rather not be thrown into jail or have ‘boooo’s shouted at me as I walk down the street – I’ll leave that to the ‘Ugly Proffessionals’. We can be good and we can be perfectly good at it!

Knowledge Is Power – Crayons Are Bliss

This poor man has enough on his plate (quite literally, in most cases) without this problem. A time-consuming job that he pummels many hours into; a family that he’s had to provide for for an entire 23 seasons, yet still can’t seem to make them age; and to top it off? He’s yellow. Yellow. Let’s hope his liver is functioning the way it’s supposed to! Yet, when those 16 crayons were shoved up his nose and lodged into his brain, he made a choice – to remain dumb for the rest of his family-oriented days. Can’t he just, like, get those crayons removed?  Believe you me, he did this and… well, let’s just say he preferred being a moron. To him, the fact that he can’t absorb all this knowledge isn’t such a bad thing (what would be a bad thing would be fat-free donuts and ‘Duff Zero’. Healthy eating really is the bane of this morbidly obese family-man’s life ) – is it so wrong to think the same?

I, er… sorry, sir, I don’t know the answer. If I ever so willingly wanted to make myself cringe, I would utter this phrase. Or watch a cheesy ‘rom-com’, that does a delightful trick, too! Admitting defeat. Rather than straining my face for several minutes to create an answer that would make me look like a dunce, instead I just say to myself ‘Just give up, you don’t know the answer’. Okay, at first it may feel painful to admit defeat, but, give it a few minutes and it just feels to be really irrelevant. Like stubbing your toe. We make out like the pain is endurable, yet after a few minutes? Ahhhhh. I might have been able to get over it, though I wouldn’t always. To be honest, some people still don’t! It’s not a trait we like to have, but there is a tendency to have an obsession for knowledge. Regardless of how crammed our brains already are ( all those useless Q.I. facts, upcoming important dates and friends’ birthdays into a volume of 71 cubic inches? What sorcery is this?!), we just want more, more, more. Regardless of the fact the brain is an organ, the ‘brain buffs’ out there feel the need to exercise it as if it is a muscle. It’s your loss, guys, because if a zombie apocalypse ever happens? Well – you’ll be the first ones they’re looking for! *Ahem*, braaaaaaaaaaaains:

Though, I won’t be one to judge as this was the tendency I adopted when I was a kid. In class, our teacher would ask us this question – ‘If a genie visited you, what one wish would you make?’ Personally, I had three:

  • I wish my tap would just continuously sprout apple juice instead of water, Genie Man!
  • Mr Genie, I wish I had unlimited wishes. Is that in the terms and conditions?
  • I wish I knew EVERYTHING.

Whilst I admit they’re all a bit ‘out there’ (a bit?), it was the third one I would always ponder upon. Back in the day, me and my brother would be sat in front of the television, watching ‘Spongebob Squarepants’ whilst attempting to learn our 11 times tables for the next day. As Spongebob would flip Krabby Patty after Krabby Patty, I would sit and *humph* to myself at the fact that I really could not get past 55. Why don’t I know these? Can’t I just know them, please? Being a creative little child, I thought to myself how it would be great if I knew not just what my 11 times tables were, but everything else. Everything. What condensation actually was, what the difference between a noun and a verb was, what grass (an alien term to me at the time) actually was. Power at my fingertips/brain neurones! How good would that feel? Just to know absolutely everything? As a kid, we find that there doesn’t seem to be an awful lot to learn in this world. Yet, thanks to secondary school and shows like ‘Pointless’, we learnt the bloomin’ hard way that there is. There is an entire world out there for us to discover, piece by piece. Do you really want to know every single last bit about it? You do? Well enjoy looking like this:

Pretty big head, huh? I think I’ll pass on that! Day-by-day, we’re surrounded by question after question that seems to require an answer. Does God exist? Do you think there are aliens out there? What’s in a Krabby Patty? Questions that can’t seem to be answered right now, yet long for an answer. Why? Can’t we just live in our own ignorant, crayon-shoved-up-nose-into-brain world and accept that we don’t know everything? Okay, so I guess Steven Hawking doesn’t need to accept that rule. But we mortals should really think about doing so. We’re learning new things continuously and our incredible little/big brains are managing to not make our heads implode. So let’s be thankful, because the zombies really won’t care how many facts we’ve got up in that potential food of theirs.

‘What Are You, Chicken?’ ‘No – I’m Batman’

The Chicken Cluck. Why have those three words become a pet hate to me? I mean, a cat meows and a pig goes oink (feeling like a nursery teacher at this moment in time), yet I don’t dislike those noises? I’ll clucking tell you why I hate that clucking noise – because we humans use that noise now-a-days more clucking times than chickens! To imitate a chicken? Ohhhh no. For another reason – Fear. ‘What are you chicken?’ *Clucks aggressively like a hyperactive chicken*. Whether it’d be backing out from riding the Nemesis for the first time at Alton Towers; to ask out that girl you don’t dare approach or just because I said ‘No’ to something which for some reason required a ‘Yes’, The Chicken Cluck is an inevitable sound I receive to most of my actions. Honestly, chalk on a chalkboard, the banshee and the shriek of a Fell Beast (nerdy reference, but oh so relevant! ) sound more delightful than that clucking cluck. Cluck sake… why do I have to feel fear?

Readers, your friends may not feel the need to ‘dish out the cluck’ as much as mine do – maybe because it’s not needed? Or is it because this fear isn’t something that you haven’t done, it’s just an internal fear you keep to yourself? Yet, what do I know, I’m no psycho… analyst… thingimijig! Thanks to my loyal, intelligent friend known as ‘Google’, fear is seen as an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. That sounds about right! In one way or another, we feel this emotion known as ‘fear’. Come on, man, get a grip! This runs through my head every time I feel fear – yet, why? Why does Ron Weasley so desperately wish that it could have been butterflies instead of spiders? Why is a clown, a goofy man with over-expressed makeup and a colourful afro, such a daunting concept to so many children? It’s something that we all have a problem answering, like ‘the chicken and the egg’ (everything always comes back to those clucking chickens… *dramatically shakes fist in air* why I oughta!). Whilst some feel it developed from childhood to become a part of our subconscious, other caraazy people think we were born with it. Born with it? My fear is of death… so I was born with a fear to die? How unfortunately ironic! Heights, spiders, you know the usual. However… some fears are just down right barmy! Here are my ‘Top 5… Fears?’:

  • Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia – the fear of long words. Is now a bad time to be humming a certain ‘Mary Poppins’ tune in my head? Also, the fear of a long word is a long word? Good luck with that!
  • Pteronophobia – the fear of being tickled by feathers. Okay, whilst tickling someone with a feather is serious fun, the consequence isn’t quite so amusing – making them wet themselves. I mean, that is just another fear in itself – this fear just combines the two together!
  • Luposlipaphobia – the fear of being pursued by timber wolves around a kitchen table while wearing socks on a newly-waxed floor. A tragic fear, affecting a staggering 0 people every single year. My heart goes out to you poor, non-existent people…
  • Venustraphobia – the fear of beautiful women. I guess this is a good thing – at least a man can’t be accused of being a ‘shallow, sexist pig’! Or a woman, if she bats for that team.
  • Pinaciphobia – the fear of lists. Wow… to any of those who suffer from this phobia, feel free to send me some hate-mail. Or thank me, I mean, I’m helping you conquer it here!

To be honest, I don’t know anyone suffering from these phobias. Probably because they’re not mainstream like spiders and heights – for all you hipsters out there looking for a ‘Counter-Culture Phobia’? You are most welcome. Yet, with a fear, I think the best mind-frame to have is one of Julius Caesar. Rather than ‘I came. I saw. I conquered’ – how about a more appropriate saying? ‘I feared. I cried. I conquered’. Adrian Horan, 2012 A.D. if ever you need to quote it in some work. Let me give you an example – Na na (This isn’t Rihanna, before I commence with this tune) na na na na na na na na na na na na na na BRUCE WAYNE. When he was innocently playing hide and seek with Katie Holmes as a kid, he fell into a deep, abandoned well. Okay, so child protection doesn’t appear to be a great concern in the Wayne household – but give me a minute, this is going somewhere. Down that well, he was surrounded by just one thing – bats (Batman didn’t start off as Adam West running around in spandex from day one, you know). To feel so vulnerable, surrounded by this formidable creature – he feared. After being pulled to the rescue by his Dad and comforted by Micheal Caine – he cried. However, there came a time when Gotham needed him to overcome his fear, to use it and in fact – conquer it.

I know that to overcome fear, the D.I.Y. method is a truckload of medication and some of the old-fashioned ‘hypnosis’ – but not all things in life can be solved through this. How did Neville overcome his fear of Alan Rickman? RIDDIKULUS! He made his fear into something light-hearted. He feared, I’m sure he cried, then he conquered it. Next time you see a spider? You scare it. Next time you’re being chased by timber wolves whilst wearing socks on a newly-waxed floor? Learn how to skate and glide gracefully around that table. As for you, chickens? I’ve conquered that God awful sound. You. Are. Clucked!

Go On, Put A Face On That Smile!

The Stig, Darth Vader and Spider-Man – what do they have in common? No, no, no, a better question – what don’t they have in common? Well, considering one is a pro-racer, the other is a ‘Sith Lord’ and the third one is a teenager running around in lyrca shooting webs; I would say a lot! Yet, there is one thing they all lack whilst at the same time they possess. Don’t worry, this isn’t some insane riddle – I’ll leave that to the professionals  I’ll tell you what it is, folks. A face. A face? What do you mean they don’t have a face? Of course they do! Okay, so they have a head on which their masks can tightly squeeze onto. Come on, you can’t admit that that is a face? These are ‘Men Behind the Mask’ – the real face sits behind it, just waiting to be revealed.

As an impatient, young child, I would sit there in awe as this ‘Stig’ character would demolish the likes of Clarkson, Hammond and May by sliding, ever so stylishly, into the finish line with Audi’s latest ‘new-born’ creation (in record time, just to step things up a gear. Casual pun intended). I would turn to my Dad, tugging at his sleeve shouting, ‘Who is that man, Daddy? Why has he not got a face?’, to be responded with, ‘But, son, he does have a face?’. *Humph* same old, same old! ‘Take off that mask, mysterious man, let me see who you really are!’ I bellowed with a child-like tantrum. The day would finally arrive when he would remove his mask to reveal none other than Michael Schumacher, whipping his head side-to-side like a ‘L’oreal’ shampoo model. I felt at ease, now that I knew the face of this mysterious idle. Tell me I’m not alone in this. Am I the only one who feels the need to put a face to something?

Ohhh life. You mysterious, little you. Life is just shrouded with mystery; whether that be wondering how Johnny Depp’s appearance doesn’t appear to have changed in the last 20 years, or why a ‘Hot Dog’ is called a ‘Hot Dog’ even though it’s just a pink, flabby tube of paste. Still mysteries to myself! Though, just like a “Hot Dog”, I hate mystery. Yuck. Personally, I like to know what something is and feel this sense of security. Ever seen ‘Jaws’? Watching an entire film when you don’t know ‘what lies beneath’? If you were a fan of mystery, my apologies for having just ruined it for you! More mysterious than ‘Jaws’ eating a hot dog whilst watching a Johnny Depp flick is, well, people. Concepts, more specifically.

Let me provide you with a *ahem* mainstream example – God. Just what is God? To you atheists, he/she/it (to avoid being called a ‘sexist pig’) doesn’t exist; but haters gonna hate and I shall ignore your judgments  However, so many people have had different interpretations of this concept ‘God’. Is he/she/it material? Is he/she/it spiritual? I’ll tell you one thing – God’s bloomin’ mysterious! All aspects of life have felt vulnerable to the mystery that shrouds God. To remove this mystery? Society has ‘Put A Face’ to God. Now, God is either a grey-haired, bearded man, living on a cloud with sandals for shoes; or… he is Morgan Freeman. *Sighs with relief*, I feel much better now that I have ‘Put A Face’ to him.

Heaven ain’t big enough for us both bearded, sandal man!   

Security? Who needs security when you can use ‘Putting A Face’ to something to enforce fear or intimidate others? Muahahaha. No, no, I’m not talking about you, Jocelyn Wildenstein (seriously, Google her, you won’t sleep tonight I can assure you). What I’m really referring to is ‘Big Brother’, the enemy of The Ministry of Truth’s Winston Smith. The original Big Brother from ‘1984’, not Devina’s ‘Minor Celebrities  Major Show’ version. Throughout the book, poor Winston is surrounded by posters of this ‘Big Brother’, which I’m still convinced is based on the ‘blast from the past’ known as Stalin. Does he even exist like a mustachioed Stalin? Is he just a concept? Who knows – though ‘Putting A Face’ to this figure made it appear more concrete, more real. Whether it be God or Big Brother, ‘Putting A Face’ to something has made us think differently about these ideas.

On a less serious note, I’m not sure if I myself am shrouded with mystery to you readers. Though, let me take the weight off of the concept, for you. I’ve applied my poor photo-shop skills to ‘Put A Face To Adrian Horan’. Do you remember those cardboard cut outs at the seaside, where it’d be a woman’s body and some middle aged would eagerly stick his head through it, wearing a goofy smile because he thinks he’s the first person ever to do that? Sadly, I’ve never done that. I’ve sacrificed my pride to do this, so I hope it was worth it:

Call it ‘making up for lost time’?

At least you can go away laughing at my expense and bearing that thought in mind – ‘Putting A Face’ to something makes it a whole lot less mysterious. However, just to assure you I’m NOT a Hula Dancer – there is still some mystery left to my name!

WARNING – Thought-Provoking Blog Post Ahead, Take Caution

Ahhhh the unfortunate world of misinterpretation. Misinterpretation… it isn’t exactly a concept adored by many of us. In fact, I like to see it as one of the natural banes of our lives, regardless of how intellectual we are. No I’m afraid you might have got the wrong end of the stick, dear! is a phrase I hear much too often nowadays. With so much going on in my tired, little noggin, it’s quite easy for me to end up misjudging what the implied intention of something actually was. The ‘Awkward’ moment, the ‘Epic Fail’ moment, the ‘Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. For the third time, what did you say?’ moment – these are all unfortunate births that have arisen from my arch nemesis that is the ‘misinterpretation’. Just like having a conversation with your best friend about religion or politics (This NEVER goes down well. Bring these two up and, well, prepare for a ‘Clash of the Titans’), misinterpretation is a concept I try to avoid at all costs.

Yet, the bitter truth of life is that our skills are constantly being tested. Okay you got me, sometimes I misinterpret things, just let me off with a warning and I’ll learn not to do it? Ohhh how I wish it were that simple. My ‘Supermum’ recently discovered, thanks to her keen bargain eye, a book in the ‘Red Cross’ called ‘The World’s Stupidest Signs’. If ever ‘misinterpretation’ were to have a partner in crime? The ‘sign’ would step up to the challenge. A baffling concept, as signs are seen as ‘An object, quality, or event whose presence or occurrence indicates the probable presence or occurrence of something else’. What exactly that ‘something else’ is, I hope to be a plain, simple suggestion. However, the English Language has its faults – and signs are willing and able to put our own faults and that of our language to the test. Here are the ‘Top 3 Unfortunate Signs As Chosen By Adrian ‘Misinterpreted’ Horan:

  • ‘WANTED UNMARRIED GIRLS TO PICK FRESH FRUIT AND PRODUCE AT NIGHT’ Number 1 was found on a farm. A farm? It sounds more like a brothel! Oh… oh you meant something that has been grown? I’d suggest finding a synonym for ‘produce’ – you might get the wrong sort of ‘unmarried girl’ working for you!
  • ‘HAVE YOUR EARS PIERCED AND GET AN EXTRA PAIR FOR FREE’ An extra pair? Thanks for the offer, but I think I’m coping just fine with these two ears, I’ll come back if there’s a problem *leaves  jewellers*. Wait a minute…
  • ‘ELEPHANTS PLEASE STAY IN YOUR CAR’ Now, Nellie, you read the safari park sign, DON’T leave the car it’s not safe. *Gasp* Mum, stay calm, there’s an elephant in the passenger seat. Get the peanuts from the glove compartment, sloooowly.

It’s clear that all three examples had their intentions in almost the right place. However, ‘Misinterpretation’ strikes again! Sadly, they all suffered from this tragic outcome:

Despite the brief chuckle at their misfortune, I won’t mock them as the common ‘Misread Sign’ can crop up in my life from time to time. Our lives appear to be a spontaneous, ongoing process where each day is as we make it. However, as we’ve all been subject to, sometimes we might see moments to be a ‘sign’, or a reflection we should have noticed. Hey hey, yeah you! I want you to notice me – I’m happening for a reason! Personally, I’m not a great believer in ‘fatality’ or ‘predetermination’, as each of us possesses our own free will to do as we wish. Yet, sometimes I believe a ‘sign’ may appear in our life in order to make us head into the right direction. Okay, so I’m not a driver (despite my impressive skills playing racing games *shuffles imaginary tie*), but I think ‘road signs’ can be compared a little to that of our own life. I recently read this post on ‘Yahoo’ by a chap called ‘Albert Adler’ discussing signs in our lives. Thought I’d engage in a little segment of ‘Pimp My Article’ and ‘vamp’ it up with a reflection on real, materialistic signs. Here’s his article:

http://voices.yahoo.com/learn-read-signs-our-life-gives-us-2157004.html?cat=72

He mentioned about ‘informal signs’ in our lives, whether that from a dream or a black cat. For the ‘Rally Racers’ of our streets, you might not have seen these signs. For those ‘Cautious Kevin’s out there, you certainly will have. On the roads, you’ll see signs telling you to ‘STOP’ or ‘SLOW DOWN’. In our lives, we might get a little bit carried away with it all. Sometimes, those around might be telling us to ‘STOP’ or ‘SLOW DOWN’ (without the shouting, which the capital letters seem to imply) – they are signs to inform us. Plus, they are quite simple, which means we can clutch the right end of the stick with both hands *sigh of relief*. If you’ve ever heard Electric Six shout the words ‘DANGER,DANGER!’ you should know the second is a warning sign. They’ve kind of summed it up for me. I like to see this sign in our real lives as a ‘conscience’. Whilst Joe Bloggs might be telling us ‘Playing with fire is SICK’, my conscience knows otherwise. Take that, Joe! His third kind were signs which ‘test our will’. It’s an open, country road – no other cars are on it, for the country isn’t as popular as it used to be. ‘SPEED LIMIT 30’ the sign reads. HA we might think to ourselves *accelerates aggressively*. Bad hypothetical driver. We might have signs in our lives where it is beginning to feel quite strenuous on ourselves. Rules, rules, rules! These are merely to test our will – to let us come out on the other side. They’re doing us a favour. Mr Adler did a dandy job with the fourth one, so I’ll leave it untouched for now! Signs such as these aren’t quite so easy to misinterpret as my ‘Top 3’ mentioned earlier. Reflecting on signs in our own lives certainly makes our interpretation skills appear to be less embarrassing. Don’t let misinterpretation win – stay strong, you shall overcome it!

Get Out Of That Gutter, Kid – But Don’t Stop Looking At Those Stars

You there! Yes, you, you haven’t heard of me? Seriously, where HAVE you been? Now, that’s how I interpret what the picture would present if a bit of quirky dialogue was added to it. Let me tell you a little something about this guy… or does he even need an introduction? Quite possibly no! This is the man/thing/time-lord that just about every boy my age I knew wanted to become when I was young. Well, apart from those kids with an addiction to playing football. Why kick a leather ball around for the rest of your life when you can explore vast galaxies and save the Earth from complete destruction on countless occasions? Your loss, buddy! I remember in primary school, one of my friends in particular just used to sit there drawing picture after picture of this ‘regenerating legend’ and his next dysfunctional adventure. ‘Do you think I could become Doctor Who, miss?’ he bellowed with a child-like enthusiasm. Now, my teacher could have denied him his dreams right there, at that time. But she didn’t. She told him, ‘You can be whatever you want to be, Adrian!’. Yeah that’s right, friends, anti- climax! That “friend” was me. I wanted to grow up to be him – but would it always stay this way?

I never tend to read The Guardian, but an article posted today really did draw me in. *Applause*, bravo for reeling in a new reader! Anyway, the article reminisced about the days when as children, we could sit there doodling prosperously for hours about our future careers. Can I be the wildest cowboy in the west? You go ahead, kid. Can I be a knight who fights dragons for a day job? You can be the best! Yet, there was a reference to the current infamous recession; how it will become difficult for today’s youth to get ANY sort of job, let alone be Doctor Who. So, we stop aiming. We stop aiming for those stars and return to that gutter in Planet Earth.

My childhood dream of fighting the Daleks on a daily basis has been long dead. After much suppression and several new faces for the Doctor later, my career path is, well, in a completely different universe. Today I aspire to become a journalist, to pick up a pen in place of a sonic screwdriver. I do feel happy about my life choice, I have a passion for writing and presenting my opinions to others. Yet… didn’t we feel happy about our choices as kids? Didn’t we have that freedom to just be whoever we wanted as kids? I have what I had then, but that’s not important today. What’s important for us today is that we have enough ‘wonga’ in our back pockets to create a life for ourselves. The first time you have a part-time job is the scariest; but then you become used to the world of work. You recieve that first wage slip, along with a bonus smile on your face at the thought of how much amazingly useful/useless stuff you can buy with it. For me, I guess I was thankful that my parents, my teachers and society in general told me that I needed something secure in my life. That metaphorical kick up the backside is what we need to realise that life is a lot tougher than we used to think as a child. Times are tougher, jobs are harder to find and we need to show employers why it is us who deserve that job; not that ‘Joe Blogs’ kid who’ll fight (hopefully not literally) to the death for that last job post. Okay, so realism is what we need. Yet, why does that mean we should have to shoot down our dreams in the process?

My answer? Don’t – those dreams shouldn’t have to be brutally silenced. We should just have to put a realistic twist on that picture we drew in our younger years.

‘The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra’. Ohhh Jimmy Johnson, he has just sneakily answered my point without even realizing – what a guy. We shouldn’t have to see that ‘extra’ as a barrier which says ‘Kid, grow up, forget your dream and move on’. I see it as a way of transforming our childhood dreams into our lifelong careers. For the kid who wants to be the wildest cowboy in the west, how about you learn to get a ‘faithful steed’ of your own and be a jockey? Or embrace the ‘wild’ part of the West and have an adventurous career exploring vast tropical jungles in South America? These are jobs that society sees as being ‘realistic’; but deep down that child you used to be knows why you wanted to do that job – and he’s bloody proud of you for doing it.

Sure, I put the sonic screwdriver down and stopped living in my own, little, inter-galactic world. But, I picked up a tool that’ll help me explore the large, realistic world that I live in now. I’ll enjoy working, I’ll have a paycheck in hand AND – not a Dalek in sight. *Phew*, that sounds much better, doesn’t it?

Calm Down, Dear. It’s Only Life!

I just want to tear my own hair out! There it is folks – that infamous cliché that rears its ugly head every time life begins to become difficult for us. In fact, I’ve heard the phrase being thrown around from time to time this week (even by one of my balding teachers, which… isn’t the most appropriate phrase considering their dwindling levels of keratin!). At a young age, life is just a care-free paradise, where our worries will magically just resolve themselves without even giving them a second thought. Sure, you might say that even as we grow up, ignorance is bliss. Yet no matter how simple we make our lives, that certain concept persists to be a part of our lives without question. Think of it as that annoying kid who persists to add you on Facebook even though you decline his requests… *Tsk*, frustrating times! If you haven’t guessed it, I’ll give you a clue. Well, it’s not really a clue, I’m just going to tell you to ruin the suspense:

STRESS

*Shudder*, now that is one of the most hated words in my vocabulary. I feel that word just by uttering that word! To be honest, anything I do seems to make me become stressed. Now this isn’t so difficult, considering my life is a giant juggling act (metaphorically speaking of course, I really do suck at juggling). To sum up, I am committed to playing the violin, I am currently studying for my A-levels, I am a consistent blogger, I am the Editor of the school newsletter, I have an active social life, I visit Church on a regular basis… *pants heavily for breath*, basically A LOT. If one of those slides out of perspective, then stress just casually strolls into my life. Personally, I like to see it as an unwelcome visitor who really does not understand the phrase ‘Do one, please?’. Now, surely I am not alone in this scenario? Life seems to just throw one thing after another at us and we are expected to casually tackle each problem, one at a time- if only life were so easy. Stress piles up and our body is expected to do the ‘dirty work’ and handle it all. This can become incredibly harmful if stress amounts to a high level. Here is where my Biology A-level comes in handy! It can mean a lack of sleep, a reduction of brain activity and an increase in blood pressure, i.e. hypertension. Do I like the sound of that? Naaaaah. Do I want to change all of that? Why, yes please.

My Mum recently bought me this book (mamma’s boy I know…) called ‘The Now Show Book of World Records’. It’s basically the Guinness World Records made by comedians – brill’. There was a section which discussed the silliest things blamed on the ‘Credit Crunch’. The range is just bizarre  from ‘Racism at football grounds’ to ‘The breakdown of trust in society’. Whilst this was just poking fun at the situation, it made me realise how stress makes us shift the blame to something else. For example, if I’m stressed and break something at school, I tend to shift the blame to my best friend (9 times out of 10 he takes the bullet for me. Aww what a guy). This isn’t a great thing to do. Rather than being slightly immoral and shifting the blame to someone else, we should just learn not to become stressed in the future. ‘Chillax’, as I’m still saying in a rather uncool fashion these days. I found this quote by William James which stated that ‘The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.’ Clever stuff, Mr James. Seriously, he’s right. Every once in a while, I just take my mind away from my busy, slightly dysfunctional schedule by sticking my feet up, plugging those earphones in and just taking a nap. Honestly, it’s para-para-paradise (I’m so sorry).

Fear not, readers, for stress isn’t always an *insert derogatory word here*. I read an article on ‘MSN’, which stated that it is healthy to have stress, but only in small doses. Stress has been proven to allow us to complete those daunting tasks. It sparks that rush of adrenaline that provides a surge of energy to make the impossible, well… possible! We feel in control of ourselves as an individual, but also (Biology time) it helps fight infection and reduce our heart rate. I apologize, stress, you shouldn’t have to ‘Do One’. Just… be sure not to outstay your welcome, okay?

So there we have it – my own little insight into the mysterious little world of stress. Hopefully this proves to be a thorough read but it also has helped my readers. What can I say? Biology student an’ all 🙂

Long Live Our Inner Child :)

Peter Pan is an incredibly lucky kid. Whilst I sit here writing this blog, studying for my A-levels and hoarding my spare change like Ebenezer Scrooge in the hope of saving some ‘dosh’ for later life; 10-year-old Peter Pan is busy flying around Neverland, Wendy in hand, without a care in the world. *Sigh*, I guess it’s just a part of growing up – but boy would I love to trade places with him for just a little while!

Now I know that that will never happen, I guess what I am trying to say is that we won’t be young forever. I was reading the BBC news today, basking with snoozefest articles about David Cameron failing the Letterman quiz, more added cuts to the already growing fiscal troubles… *scrolls down page*. But then I found an article which celebrated the 30th birthday of the emoticon, an article which the child in me just loved to read. The world is becoming an increasingly formal place and it was admitted that the emoticon is a fun, child-like thing that we carry with us. Regardless of age. Regardless of age… if only that applied to everything.

I remember having limitless freedom as a kid, not having to give a monkeys about anything. I could run around my house with a ‘Hot Wheels’ car in hand, shouting ‘BRUUUUUUM’ at the top of my lungs (I was a very active kid) and be called cute by my parents. But now, my Dad just tells me to ‘Calm it down, son’ whenever I run up the stairs. I could go to my friend’s house and for a few hours we could just pretend to be pirates looking for a secret treasure (his Mum would encourage us and hide a ‘Mars Bar’ somewhere in the house. 9 times out of 10 it was behind the sofa, I still lost everytime!). Oh how things have changed. Ever so subtly, that freedom you once had as a kid just deteriates. One day you play in the ball pit, the next you don’t. One day you sit watching ‘Spongebob Squarepants’, the next you find yourself continiuously watching ‘Friends’. You become more grown up and you’ve just had to let your childhood slip away. It’s not an easy transition.

I guess it is hard for an only child, or someone without a little sibling like myself. Once you find yourself transform into an adult, you don’t have a little munchkin to teach the best hiding places to hide in your house or how to play their first videogame. All those things you did as a child, you can’t really pass on until you have kids of your own. The lucky ones are those who have a younger brother or sister. Sure they may be an irritable pain in the backside from time to time, but we all were once, weren’t we? Society wants us to act mature and grown up. But at home, well, you can act about 5 years old with them and the world just won’t care.

A favourite author of mine said that there is a time when we all begin to use credit cards, to drive our first car, to have that first job. Most of us see that as a part of growing up. Now that’s not what I like to call it – I prefer to call it ‘ageing up’. Deep down, we’re all still kids. You don’t have to let your inner child go – just tell him to shush once in a while when someone calls you ‘innapropriate’. My generation is coming to an end; we’ll soon be off to university and venturing off into the adult world. Peter Pan may never grow up. But for us? We can ‘age up’, whilst still watching Toy Story again and again and buying a Kinder Surprise Egg once in a while (Hopefully it’s not just me!). That is something Mr Pan will never have, and it’s something we should always cherish, no matter how old we become.

Long live the emoticon, and long live our inner child 🙂