Thursday, 30 July 2015

In a Minute Now: Growing Up in Wales

My mother sat me down as a child and shared something with me:

"Becky, we found you in a bin and decided to keep you."

She also strapped me in my pushchair with a loaf of bread and pissed herself laughing as the ducks swarmed towards me while I screamed (I can't have been too bright a kid.  Upon reflection, I should have just lobbed the bread away from myself), but her questionable sense of humour is beside the point today.  I think she might have been right about the bin thing.

I sound nothing like any of my family members.  Dad was a moustachio'd scouser (is there any other kind?), Mum and the youngest sis have strong Welsh accents, and even the middle sis, who is only two years my junior, has a hint of a Welsh twang in there, even if it is only a subtle one.

I, however, sound like I've just come from a Victorian tea party, which prompts the question

"So...Where are you from, exactly?" or, from those more rude and/or drunk 
"You're not from around here, are you?"

The answers are Wales and yes, shut up!  I've lived here for twenty odd of my twenty seven years.  Before that, I was an army brat living in Germany, but the vast majority of my memories are here, as well as half of my family, who give me biscuits and tea when I visit so I ain't going nowhere!  I belong in this sheep strewn patch of green as much as anyone who was born here.  I loves it, I do.  I have no idea why in two decades my accent's not even remotely deviated from that of a BBC newsreader, but I'm proud to have been brought up here.  Hell, my first name even featured heavily in an infamous welsh riot masterminded by cross dressing locals (see: BBC Wales History - The Rebecca Riots) !

I love Wales' industrial history and its deep roots in art, literature and music (Dylan Thomas may have been a roaring drunk, but that bastard was a clever roaring drunk!), and I love the fact that even if you are in a city, everywhere still has that local feel.  I live in Swansea right now, and my favourite thing about it is that even though it's a city (albeit a baby one), you can always find refuge in the greenery of lakes and trails when you're out running.  Oh!  And I'm seldom further than twenty minutes from a beach!  Not bad, eh?

So..thought I'd use today's post to share with you some things I've learned growing up in South West Wales.  Here goes:

1.  The smaller the town you grow up in, the less need there is for surnames.  My hometown is called Penygroes, which translates to "top of the cross".  Probably because there are more churches than actual families there, which meant that everyone was named by their neighbours after where they worked.  Pete the Petrol Station, So-and-so the Shop.  And so on.  Don't think it works as well these days.  Becky the Call Centre doesn't quite have the same twee feel to it.  Becky the Blog does, though... Might have to pedal that one and see if it sticks.  Sounds a bit too much like "blob", though...Hmm.

2.  Rissoles are a delicious treat from the chippy, and not balls of offal in breadcrumbs (or "lips, arse and teeth" and I heard someone say not-so-inaccurately once).  So much so that my local nightclub served them alongside burgers at the end of the night.  It's been a while since I've gleefully torn into a glob of questionable "meats" at 3am.  I miss that nightclub.

3.  "Butt" is a term of endearment and not just another way for someone to call you an arse.

4.  It is an important tradition to dress your children in old timey Welsh ladies' and men's clothing once a year on St David's day.  You  might think it's cute to see your offspring in a little bonnet and pinny, but I remember what a whole day dressed in fabric made from Satan's beard felt like.  It felt itchy.  And hot.  However, I ever choose to replicate my genes, I know for a fact that I was inflict this on the poor sod too.  "Ahh, look!  You look like a tiny adult!  Stop scratching and smile for the camera - it's not that itchy!"

5.  It is also tradition on this date to eat cawl.  (Pronounced "cowl") - a watery soup made from what tastes like salty water and moist, soft vegetables. Mmmmmm.  Okay, maybe I'm not as Welsh as I'd like to be.  Can't stand the stuff.  It's like drinking armpit water with lumps in.

6.  The Welsh language is the best.  The alphabet is all kinds of fucked up.  We have all the English letters... A, B, C...etc... but this isn't good enough on its own.  How to we make an alphabet our own?  I know!  Let's throw in a handful of extra letters, to trip the foreigners up!  Here we go.  How about... A, B, C, Ch, D, Dd, E, F, Ff, G, Ng, H, I, J.... I never liked K, can we get rid of that one?  Cool...L, Ll, M... etc.  Language is much more colourful, but try and sing that one to the alphabet tune and someone might have to gently guide you to a corner and quietly sit you down with a snack so you don't strain yourself too much.

Here are some words I like:
  • Pili pala (pill-lee-pah-la) - Butterfly
  • Popty ping (pop-tee-ping) - Microwave
  • Guto Ffowc (git-oh-folk) - Guy Fawkes (I love this one.  When I learned it, my mum, who isn't a Welsh speaker, thought I'd made it up and was just using it to say mild swear words)
  • Cacen (Cack-en) - Cake (same reason as above.  "Haha, I get to say "cack" and no one can tell me off!)
  • Coch (Co...spit all over everyone making a noise I can't write down phonetically) - Red
7.  There is no sense of urgency in Wales.  Everything is done "In a minute now."  So, now, then?  Or in a minute?  "I said I'd do it!  In a minute now!" 

8.  You cannot move for castles.  If you go on a school trip, you go to a castle.  Fancy a walk?  Let's go to a castle!

My house

9.  No flag can top ours.  We have a mother lovin' dragon on it.  Anyone care to claim their design is cooler than that?  Anyone else got a badass red DRAGON?  No?  Didn't think so.

10 Wales is effing gorgeous.  This next picture is just a generic view from the area I went to comprehensive school in, taken on my phone.  In South West Wales, this kind of view is standard:

My garden

Sudden urge to go outdoors now.  No idea why.  I think I'll leave my list there and get my shoes on.  Hwyl fawr, pawb! Cymru am byth! =)

Friday, 17 July 2015

Come to the Wrong Side. We Have Cookies.

Oh my lawd.  It's the weekend.  Sort of.  I still have to work a teeny tiny pretend shift on Saturday, but I'm relieved to be seeing a chunk of leisure time on the horizon at least.  It's not been a bad week as such.  Just a never ending merry-go-round of minor, avoidable mishaps.  For about one week in every four, I'll have one of these stints where every boiling hot coffee I make ends up more on my knees than in my mouth, and I turn up to work only to realise that I've got my underwear on backwards.  Not inside out.  Backwards.  I knew I hadn't put a thong on this morning!  

Tomorrow, resident man-boy is going on a night out and I'm excited to have the house to myself.  On a Saturday night, I plan to sit in my PJ's on the sofa, (where am less likely to encounter corners and things that I can trip over) watching 500 Days of Summer despite the fact that I know it back to front.  Much like my pants.  

Realising that the above (500 Days and a night of heavenly hermitude, not wearing underwear wrong) is my idea of a glorious Saturday night surprises me.  Only two or three years ago, I would be necking JagerBombs in panic at even the idea of having to spend a weekend *gasp* indoors(!).  

People sometimes casually drop the idea of being "the wrong side of [insert age here]" into conversation, which is stupid, because how can any age be wrong unless you're terrible at counting? However, I'm recently starting to see a noticeable difference between pre and post 25 me.  I wouldn't say I'm on the "wrong" side of 25, but I'm certainly on the comfier one.  I am going to document some differences between pre and post 25 year old me, because post 25 year me likes documenting things and lists.  Excuse me while I push my invisible spectacles up my nose:

Hang Overs

Pre 25: Hits pubs at every available opportunity (i.e "night time"), soldiers on through work four hours after last "sesh" ended with a bit of a headache and maybe a slightly more intense craving for McDonalds chicken nuggets than normal.  Worth it.

Post 25:  Still suffering the after effects of one night out that happened several days ago.  No amount of burgers and milkshakes can appease her.  Hates everyone.  Is never drinking again.  Wants another milkshake.  GET HER A MILKSHAKE!


Pre 25:  Can get by on a few hours.  Bit grumpy, but will live.

Post 25:  No one who dares cross her path after less than seven hours' sleep will live.  You have been warned.



Post 25:  "Something doesn't feel quite right inside.  Must be hungry."


Pre 25:  Considers "dancing" (i.e flapping arms higher in the air to music with each drink) enough to burn off excess energy.  Also lifting heavy bricks of cheese to face is excellent weight training.  With this much calcium intake combined with all the lifting, am never going to get osteoperosis.  Hurrah!

Post 26:  Requires daily sweat-fest of some variety in order not to go ferile.  Bit like a dog.  Requires regular walkies and enjoys finding out new stuff that can accomplish with own body all the time.  Still enjoys flappy-arm drunk dancing, but not as solid a staple to exercise routine as once was.  Mostly because has to wedge feet into silly high heels to carry out activity.  Heels are silly. Wants cheese brick.  Mmm, cheese brick.

Example of what body can accomplish #1:  Becky prepares to lift the moon.

Self Image

Pre 25:  Is convinced that own body is betraying self by visually screaming its own flaws in poor onlookers' faces.  Spends inordinate amount of time hoping that no one notices how many things are wrong with own appearance and that dying hair a different colour every month will help to achieve this.

Post 25:  More concerned with what body can do (marathon/lift stuff over own head/open  jars to unlock gherkins and chilli peppers) than how it looks.  Occasionally disturbed, but mostly just amused at how funny looking self can be from certain angles, but would feel weird if suddenly had perfectly symmetrical features and/or massive boobies.  Wouldn't be self.  Brain no longer fights with body most of the time.  Too old for that shit.

...I'm so mature and wise now.  If I could only learn how to dress myself and not share my beverages with my lower body, I'd be a fully fledged grown up.

Now, who moved my colouring book?  I've got some serious art to tackle.  Did you know they do colouring books for adults now?!  I didn't until just this week.  Adult colouring books take the title of July's Best Discovery!

Monday, 6 July 2015

Pros & Cons of Being an Introvert

Whoops.  Been a little while since I wrote a thing, hasn't it?  My bad!  In all honesty, I've struggled to think of something to write about that doesn't involve clocking up mileage in my trainers.  In the last couple of weeks, I've gone crawling back to CrossFit (SO happy to get back to it!) and have discovered that I'm almost back at square one when it comes to upper body strength, which is fine.  Means I get to go back almost to newbie status where every minor improvement I make blows my tiny little mind.  

Miraculously, I have a Monday off work today - insert smug and gloaty comment here - so I've decided that now is the time to hop back aboard the blog train.  Choo choo!  Still struggling to think of something of actual interest to blog about, so I'm going to do the next best thing and write about myself.  When in doubt... thinly veiled narcissism!  Hurrah!!!

I am a keen devourer of anything remotely touching on psychology, especially if it has self help-esque undertones in it.  Think Bridget Jones, if she was drawn in by dubiously sourced percentages and stats.  I enjoy reading about personality types, even though I do have enough brain cells to realise that a lot of it needs to be taken with a pizza-load of salt, let alone a grain.  Said brain cells may be lying dormant, tucked somewhere behind my ears, but they are there nonetheless.  

There are a billion and twelve different categories you can fall into in the murky world of personality testing, but I'm going to touch on one of the big two - introvert and extrovert.  After much extensive reading and reflection (internetting and reading pop psychology books like the true psychologist I am), I have determined that I am the former.  Introverts aren't necessarily just quiet and/or shy.  Although on the sliding scale of social ineptitude, I often lean towards the "cat stole, devoured and pooped out your tongue" end, given the right combination of familiarity/excitement/being in comfort zone (drunk.  Being the right amount of drunk), I can be a tough one to shut up once I get going.  Where you are in terms of being an introvert or extrovert is on a spectrum, but from what I gather, introverts:
  • Internalise much of what happens to them (check)
  • Express themselves better in writing than verbally (check?  I haz the words good?)
  • More energised by time alone than social occasions (went to a brilliant wedding this weekend, booked the Monday immediately after it off to hide in my house eating cheese toasties away from humankind.  Case in point)
  • Especially chatty internal monologue (shut up, shut up, SHUT UP!!)
  • Sensitive and shit.
All of the above applies to yours truly.  Now that I have decided what I am (sadly, dinosaur wasn't an option.  Or unicorn warrior princess), I must be an expert in introvert...ism(?), so I am like, totally qualified to dole out some information about what it's like to be an introvert for those who aren't or are unsure of which camp they should be pitching their tents in.  Ahem...

Pros and Cons of Being an Intovert

Heehee, I love Cyanide and Happiness.  Click here for more funnies -

Pro:  When people have decided that you're one of "the quiet ones", anything you do that isn't avoiding eye contact and hiding in the office fridge from human interaction is mightily impressive, considering how you're so shy and all.  "Oh, my God, guys, she told a joke!  Let's all laugh uproariously to show her how brave she is!"

Con:  Sometimes people don't expect you to be able to handle as much as you can i.e confrontation, responsibilities etc etc.  They are forgetting that we are prepared for every single fathomable outcome of every situation because we have already over thought them all.  Raptor attacks included.  Is chatty Bill from accounts prepared for raptor attacks?  No?  Didn't think so.

Pro:  It is so easy to entertain yourself! Days off work are gold dust.  The less I have planned, the better.  I shit you not - after a busy week at work, I like nothing better than having twenty minutes to sit alone in the living room with the TV off.  Who needs recreational drugs when you have stifling quiet, solitude and snacks?  I think that part of my affection for long distance running is that I get to spend ages just being.  It's easy to appreciate the little things in life when you get off on just being alive at any given point in time.  We're a cheap date in the long night out that is life!

Con:  Whenever an introvert is having a quiet day, it usually means that there's a full on brass band/fireworks display/Rammstein concert of an inner monologue going on in their brain.  Not necessarily always negative thoughts as such, but always, always so bloody LOUD!!  It's hard to concentrate on speaking to people when you have a voice on loop in your mind going "Oh, they think I'm being rude because I'm not talking, maybe I should say something, it's been too long since I've said something, oh, here's your opportunity to say something, oops, you missed it, I'm hungry, what time is it, what are they talking about again, look how rude I'm being, say something, not that, something else..."  On some days, I would find having the Crazy Frog song stuck in my head easier to cope with than my own inner voice.  She's a pain in the ass.

Pro:  Sometimes people assume that you've got more of the clever than you actually has because you must spend all that time alone/sat with your gob shut, thinking.  Hahaha fools!  *chews TV remote*

Con:  Small talk makes me want to set my hair on fire just so I've got something else to do.  I hate the idea of coming off as disingenuous, and strongly feel that conversations should be for:

a. learning more about each other
b. sharing opinions and information, or
c. lolz

I'm acutely aware that the purpose of small talk is to make slightly awkward situations feel less awkward to those involved.  This in itself makes me feel so uncomfortable that I'm convinced that one day, I will spontaneously combust out of discomfort and/or embarrassment when someone innocently points out that it's rainy.  At least if it's raining, I won't cause accidental arson on a large scale.

I would continue, but I have some serious pottering around the house to attend to.  It's going to be MENTAL!!  Party on, friends.  I will take less than a fortnight to write the next one, promise!