A friend of mine messaged me the other day about an opportunity to pitch a piece for a new magazine looking for articles about happiness and well-being. She swiftly withdrew her suggestion upon realising I had literally nothing to contribute to the subject.
I can’t seem to shake off the ever so slight suspicion that my particularly abrasive brand of defeatist sarcasm is unlikely to go down well with an audience that’s after feel-good stories for a much-needed start-of-week pick-me-up (that’s enough hyphens for today).
Life in the time of Miss Rona is predictably slow. Aside from the customary episodes of wretchedness which stud my life that I have already discussed at length on this platform, I have very little to write about.
I am of course binge-watching the Crown (hence me casually using words like “wretchedness”). I have also decided to finally do something about my life-long shampoo addiction and reduce the frequency of my hair washing from once every 24 hours to once every 30 hours. I have been spending time with all the friends I have in the city who live alone aka the only people I am legally allowed to meet thanks to our loose interpretations of social bubble rules. Also, the two lymph nodes I’ve had on my neck for eight years have swollen up again – a clear sign that the stress of the current situation has once again weakened my immune system (much to Miss Rona’s delight). And that, I’m afraid, is as newsworthy as it gets.
I am a 25-year-old man and, ten years on, I remain consistent with my brand of prepubescent ineptitude and still use this blog as a coping mechanism. I have abandoned my new-found passions for collage portraits despite my undeniable talent for it (at least according to my friend Jessie after three glasses of Echo Fall). I have opted out of my latest ground-breaking idea (starting a blog about experimental waffle recipes – the world is not ready for beetroot and cumin waffles).
I have also temporarily suspended my investigation into the mysteries of modern love because my quest to meet my inevitable fate of becoming the voice of my generation or at least a voice of a generation has proved too stressful too handle while trying to juggle my day-job and my failing home life. And as you all know, when I’m stressed I get spots on my forehead and I develop an obsessive-compulsive tendency to put in repeat orders of KFC sharing buckets despite having nobody to share them with (my flatmate Silvia has become a vegetarian, which makes it all the more difficult to justify my controversial takeaway choices to myself and my trusted Deliveroo driver).
Hair still looks good, though. I was thinking about this after downing approximately 400ml of straight vodka last week in a fancy studio flat with heavy four-star-hotel vibes which my dear friend and former flatmate Atina moved into. Earlier this year, she traded a hyperactive Italian housemate for a concierge, a private room and an indoor communal garden. I don’t blame her.
Leaving aside the absolute mercilessness of her bathroom overhead lights (when I become president of the world banning overhead fluorescent lighting will be the first manifesto promise I’ll deliver on), I quite liked what I saw in the mirror: uncharacteristically greasy hair (the new 30-hour shampoo routine has its downsides), black circles and an ill-fitting Everlast tracksuit.
But I thought I still looked kinda hot so I proceeded to flirt with my own reflection, turning my head abruptly to meet my own Melania-Trumpesque seductive gaze in the mirror while pronouncing positive affirmations. I should also emphasise that, at the time, I was possessed by the spirit of Mr Smirnoff. I would therefore refrain from reading too much into the implications of this psychotic episode.
On top of this, Christmas is cancelled. Yet another gift from Miss Rona - and probably the only one I’m getting this year. I might start eating gravy granules by the spoonful just to feel something. Life at the moment is less-than-ideal but I never get tired of romanticising my disappointments and digesting them through the self-administered enzyme of my comforting sense of humour. It’s the perfect antidote to the painful realities of modern life. In the words of renowned Cuban philosopher Celia Cruz, la vida es un carnival, life is a carnival… or, more accurately, a comedy of horrors. A freak show, an endless parade of absurdities which marches towards us and that we simply can’t escape - so the best we can do is join in and try to have fun.
The past weekend hasn’t been easy. Back in Atina’s hotel/flat overlooking the charming bit of NW London that is Finchley Road, she said something that really stuck with me. I was eating prawn cracker-flavoured Walker crisps while the two of us played the 36-questions to fall in love game popularised by the New York Times some ten years ago. We didn’t really need to play the game because we already love each other in a non I-want-to-marry-you-and-have-your-babies way, but we were bored.
One of the questions required each of us to mention a quality we admired about our partner. I can’t offer a direct quote since we were both heavily intoxicated at the time but she said something like this: “I admire your ability to just go for it, over and over again. The amount of near-traumatic experiences and disappointments have never been enough to stop you and to dim your light and to live life to its absolute fullest, jumping on the next opportunity despite its tragic potential and taking in the good and the bad with your typical manic and relentless flair.”
I thought about all the life I’ve lived. So much of it, brilliantly painful and yet so remarkable. A tear or two was shed. And all was good again.