Saturday, 24 September 2016

How To Do Uni

Hello Saturday! Hello middle-of -the-day bath and dressing gown times! Not simultaneous, 'course.  Dressing gown would get soggy.  I know I should be feeling sorry for myself after I made the decision today to forgo another Cardiff Half Marathon since my last week's Swansea Bay 10k reminded my right foot how angry running can make it, but in all honesty, I'm not too arsed.  I'm fully aware that I did this to myself. Zero proper running training, followed by one manic month into which I decided to squeeze in ALL OF THE MILES EVER!! What else was going to happen, really?  Silly sod.

It is precicely because I have such clearly excellent logic skills that I'm going to share some nuggets of knowledge this week, primarily aimed at my baby sister, who used to look like this:

Butter wouldn't melt

and now looks like this:

Butter still wouldn't melt.  Also get that butter away from me, it'll ruin my lipstick for my Instagram post. #selfie #Nomakeup #etc #etc #harambe?

In my mind, she is still 9 years old, and will remain to be so, even when we both reach an age where sitting down is the best and most time consuming part of our days (soo...28, then?) and we are so wrinkly that we look like we've been left in a bath for way too long. So, it comes as a bit of a shock to me that Forever 9 is pissing off to uni tomorrow.  
Because everything is about me, me, me (obviously), I have processed my "What the fuck?  Nooo, time is going too fast and I have no control over it and my life is ultimately meaningless and what is life about anyway and is it time to eat yet and help me, I'm so oooold!!" feelings by ruminating about my own experiences of studentom.  

Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20.  And even if my own vision isn't perfect now, it's a damn sight clearer than it was back in 2006-2009 when I was off my tits on 2-4-1 VK Blues 5 out of 7 nights a week.  I didn't have a big sister to kit me out with important hints and tips when I was a fresh faced (spotty) youth embarking upon the adventure of a lifetime (the opportunity to take wild advantage of a body that could drink heavily and not suffer for a whole week afterwards).  So, Shaunna....This is my gift to you.  And no, you can't return it for a H&M voucher:

1.  Say no to as few things as possible
I probably took this bit of advice a bit too far. And obviously, if it feels too dangerous/uncomfortable, definitely say no.  I'm not telling you to say yes if a stranger asks you if you want to see some puppies in the back of his van.
In Swansea Uni, I worked a part time job, "studied" (read mostly good books that I would have enjoyed in my spare time anyway for a degree - sussed the system there, didn't I? Heh) and said "yes" to every single night out/group meetup/opportunity to hang around in town in a small gang going "ha, look at me, I can buy Haribo for breakfast and no one will tell me off!".  It might have resulted in a few mornings working at Debenhams cafe, hiding in the big freezer and praying for death because "everything hurts", but it was worth it.  
3 years fly by about as quickly as 3 weeks in Uni and suddenly it's all over.  Think of it as a mini practice at life as a whole.  You want to look back at it and hate your adult life in comparison because uni was so magical and dramatic and silly and fun because you took advantage of every opportunity you had. Okay, maybe not, hate your adult life, but...y'know.  Memories and that.  If I hadn't said yes to so many things, I wouldn't have had memories like this beaut:

- Going up onstage at a student pub's karaoke night (my first and last ever attempt at karaoke for reasons about to be made obvious) to belt out Tribute by Tenacious D as part of a group of 3, only to finish and realise that my co performers were mute throughout the whole thing.  Then, sitting back at table to rest of friends telling me in the blunt honesty only real friends can employ  "Beck, you had a microphone.  You didn't need to shout."

2.  Check your garden for rats
Enjoy your first year in halls.  If your experience was anything like mine, the student housing situation will be dire.  My first house share outside of halls introduced me to the delights of:
 - Having a gaping hole in the kitchen floor, covered only by thin plastic flooring, making each trip to the fridge a potential game of Kerplunk where the marbles are students.
- Fuzzy mold and damp in every nook and cranny of the house that gives you eczema for the next decade of your life.
- Scaffolding left up all year round so that strangers can climb up to the top floor windows to cheerily bid your roomate "Hello!" and scare the living shit out of her.
- Having a derelict building adjoining your house, which you and your peers spend more time in than is strictly safe, causing the letting agent to ask with a knowing smirk the following term "so..ahh...Nice circle of chairs you have in there.  Can't imagine what that's for!"
-  A territorial, jack russell sized rat in the back garden that aggressively rushes at the door every time your dare to take the bins out.  

Don't worry.  It's all part of the experience.  Living in a house not fit for human habitation is all par for the course as a student and it gives you some great stories for when you leave.  Sometimes, I do wonder how Kalashnikov the rat is doing these days.  S/he is a monster not of this world and will defnitely outlive us all.

3.  Eat more than 2 colours
Seriously.  Everything I ate was microwaveable, orange, came from a can and was sprinkled liberally with melty cheese.  Sounds delicious, but there's only so much tinned spaghetti and Tesco Value cheddar your body can tolerate before begninning its slide into potential obesity and being struck by oh so "mysterious" colds every other week.
4.  Accept that you will drive your housemates crazy
 You will fall out.  There will be at least one impossibly neat one, an infuriatingly messy one (moi!), one that has the ability to party for more consecutive days than should be humanly possible and one that fucks with/steals other people's food when they're in bed (we never got to the bottom of who the nocturnal "bread scruncher upper" was in my house.  Still a mystery to this day). Your habits will drive the nuts and theirs, you. Everyone is annoying, and living in close proximity with other people, day in and day out will inevitably create the odd drama.  However, if you realise that these dramas are just superficial and keep in touch, you could have friends that you take with you for the rest of your life.  Plus, they'll probably know so many embarrassing stories about you by the end of your time together years that you'll have to keep them sweet to keep them quiet and vice versa. 

5. Know that after 3 years of toil,study and making a tit of yourself at the union on a Wednesday night, it'll all be worth it, because you get to proudly wear a silly flat hat and cape like you're in Hogwarts and post for not-at-all-awkward photos to cherish forever.  Like this:
 "I graduated! Lolz."
Good luck, young one!  And don't let Tequila trick you into thinking it's your freind.

Evidence.  Tequila = bad

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Death vs Gerry

Hallo!  Bit of a weird post, this one.  I've been struggling to find the time this month to do anything other than writing pages of to do lists and zombie-ing my way through them.  Here's some stuff that's happened:

- Went to Reading Festival.  For the first time felt about a billion years old in amongst the swarm of dancing "yoots".  Was an okay time, though.  If I remember to, I'll blog about it.  Promise!
- Got Becky flu on the last day of Reading (like man flu but several times more pathetic & potent) and tweaked my back just..standing about.  Because apparently that's a thing that happens to me now.  As a result, watched Biffy Clyro's set through a fog of painkillers and sadness because "I just can't enjoy the nice bearded man with his top off properly because even my spleen hurts, waaah!"
- I may or may not have (i.e...I have.) started the process of BUYING A NEW FUCKING HOUSE LIKE A MOTHERFUCKING GROWN UP! HOLY FUCK, I'M NOT READY FOR THIS KIND OF COMMITMENT!! But I've never owned a breakfast bar before, so that should be nice...

What with all of the coughing and organising, I've mostly just been running around, shouting at myself like a deranged army major about getting shit done, all the while trying to remember whether I've put deodorant on that day and feeling like my hair is on fire. Cool as a cucumber under pressure, me.

Because I don't have the brain power for anything new at the minute, I've cheated by deciding to use some short (very short, promise) fiction I've written to amuse myself in the hopes that it'll at least raise a smirk for you too.

Let me know in the comments or on my Facebook page (search Rebecca Writes & Runs) if you want to see me do more silly fiction in future, or whether you would like me to know that it's terrible and that I should burn my hands off for ever having tried my (currently still attached) hand at it.  Here goes nutt'n...


Gerry Smith, 37, divorcee and father of one’s stomach clenched as an icy tremor ran through him.  He let go of the ivory hand that helped him to his feet.  

“Cheers, love.”  He pulled a cigarette from his jacket pocket and perched it precariously on what was left of his bottom lip.  “You’re strong for a little ‘un.”  

“That’s alright, Gerry.”  How does she know my name?  

“You the work experience girl?”

“No, Gerry.”  Reaper One found it best not to formally introduce herself unless prompted.  She had learned from experience that introduction upon her arrival tended to freak people out, and she had no time to wait out a meltdown today.  “It’s time to come with me.”  The air behind her shimmered subtly before bursting into a glowing, human-sized blotch against the backdrop of the construction site.  Gerry felt that tremor again.  Why could he hear screaming?  He shook his head and turned in the direction of his porta cabin.

“Flattered as I am, sweetheart, you’re a bit young for me.  If you’re sticking around, make sure you put a hard hat on.  Dangerous places are building sites.”  He gave the yellow plastic on his head a knock.  A tooth skittered off his boot.  “‘Scuse me, mate.”   He stepped over his own corpse and staggered past the left side of his face, which was clinging limpet fashion to a wrecking ball.  The crane’s operator was occupied in watching his lunch make a reappearance into his lap.

Reaper One sighed.  Denial.  Excellent.  Not for the first time that day, she lamented the fact that she couldn’t simply push her clients into The Light.  Why was The Boss so taken with the freewill business?  It only served complicate matters.  Never mind, she thought as she followed her last assignment of the day.  Rules are rules.  

When she caught up, Gerry was in his office sliding his hand through a solid telephone, brow furrowed.  

“Did you do this?”  He snapped.

“No, I didn’t.  I think you know full well why you can’t touch anything.  There is peace in acceptance of the facts.”

“What?  Why have you broken my phone, and who the fuck are you?  I’d call security, but-”  The panic was beginning to bubble in his voice.  Centuries of doing the rounds, thought Reaper One, of guiding souls to their final resting places, and the enduring human ability to point blank refuse to see anything other than what they want to is still astounding.

“Your phone is fine.  However, you-”

“Go fetch telecomms for me.  I’ve got a meeting to reschedule!”

“Telecomms can’t help you, Gerry.”  Something passed over Gerry’s face.  Realisation?  Acceptance?”

“Take anything you want from the safe, just don’t hurt me!  I have a daughter!”

“Oh, for the love of -  Look.  It’s physically impossible for me to hurt you.  I can’t.  You’ve already left your bodily vessel.”  He opened and closed his mouth, his fleshless chin clicking in rumination.  They heard the thunk of another tooth hitting the floor.  


“You’ve snuffed it. Popped your clogs.  Hopped off the mortal coil.”


“You’re dead, Gerry.”


“Yes.”  She slipped a hand inside her cowl.  Gerry’s hands flew up to protect what remained of his face.  

“Don’t shoot!”  She produced a gold framed mirror and handed it to him.

“Look.  Remember now?”  He would have vomited on the spot if his stomach lining wasn’t still sitting in his body halfway across the yard.  Didn’t he he have two eyes this morning?  His memories trickled back to him.  The bronze glint in the dirt.  The cold smack of metal against his face.  Dave asleep at the crane’s controls. See a penny, pick it up.  For all your day, you’ll have good luck.  

“Oh.  Shit.”

“Yes.  Sorry.”

“So what now?”

“You come with me.”  

“And who are you, exactly?  Death’s admin girl?”  This?  Again?  How many souls did she have to transport from this world for sexism to actually be dead?  She exhaled.  

“My name is Reaper One.  I currently hold the position of Death.”

“Get off it!  You’re too cute to be death!  Where’s the skull?  Where’s the scythe?”

“The reaper who held my post before I was promoted was...replaced.  His methods were deemed unsubtle.”  The least you could do to move unnoticed through the human race was to make the effort to have skin and a pair of eyeballs.  Reaper Grim chose the flashier route of making an icon of himself.  Wanted to be both feared and revered.  Needless to say, The Boss wasn’t best pleased.  Reaper One dreaded to think where he might be now and never wanted to find out for herself.  

“Maybe people would be less scared of The Reaper if they knew how good she looked in jeans!” He stared at her, the exposed muscles of his cheek twitching.

“What are you doing?”


“Hmm.  Come on, time to get going.”


“Into The Light.”  They were at his body now, where a crowd of hard hats had gathered, enveloped in the eerie quiet of minds struggling to verbalise how it felt to have witnessed your boss’ face hitch a ride several feet into the air.

“Jenkins is eating a sandwich.  My dead body is right there, and Jenkins is eating a sodding sandwich!”

“People handle grief in a multitude of ways.”

“I wasn’t aware that the bloody munchies was one of them!”  Reaper one swept a hand in the direction of the glimmer that was still suspended in the air, only a fraction smaller now.  

“Hurry.  It will close soon.”

“I’m not going in there until you tell me where it goes.  Am I going to Heaven?  Hell?  Disney Land?  Where?”

“The possibilities are many.”

“You don’t know, do you?”


“Then why are you making me go in there?  I could end up watching reruns of Glee for all of eternity for all you know!  You go in first.  Have a peek for me.”

“I would disintegrate if I tried to.  It isn’t my time.  It’s yours.”

“I don’t care if it’s hammer time!  I’m not going in there!”  He glanced at his body.  “What’s the alternative?”

“Roam the Earth for eternity and go insane with all of the other trapped souls.  They’re not pleasant company.”  Right on cue, howls reverberated somewhere nearby.

“What was that?”  

“Them.  They sense when a soul is about to depart this realm and try to escape with it.  I’ve never seen one succeed, but it doesn’t stop the poor wretches from trying.”  The leader of the pack appeared from between two portacabins, clutching his own head in one arm and dragging someone else’s along by a long, ginger beard.  He gurgled viciously at the neck.

“Fuck this.  I could learn to like Glee.”  He practically fell into the void.

“Farewell, Gerry.”  With a shimmer and a pop, he was gone.  Reaper One turned to the neck that was now gurgling at her side.  “Sorry, Nigel.  You missed your chance in 1993.”  He flung the bearded head into the dirt and skulked back to the pub he’d been haunting down the road.