New year, new me!

1 Jan

HAHA ONLY JOKING looking forward to making exactly the same mistakes I’ve made every other year.

Hey happy new year everyone can’t believe it’s 2013 already! Can’t wait to tell everyone I haven’t seen them since last year so they’ll think I’m really funny and want to be my friend.

I was watching the Christmas episode of Would I Lie to You about 12 hours after I’d written my previous post and Barry Cryer was talking about how he had been in hospital over Christmas because of his eczema and he said “happy eczemas” so I text my friend Alex complaining that now it looked like I’d stolen my terrible pun from a really popular TV show and he told me not to worry because it’s been done loads of times before so PHEW YOU GUYS glad I’m just super unoriginal rather than a thief!

What’s the most appalling gift you gave this year? I bought Cards Against Humanity (UK Edition) for one of my brothers. It’s a party game where one player draws a black card – a statement with a missing word, or a question – and reads it out. Every other player then chooses one of their white cards to fill in the blank, and the person with the funniest answer wins. Here’s an example:

Cards Against Humanity

Actually grandma let’s play charades.

My little sister came home at 1.30AM today after a New Year’s Eve party at her friend’s house and she was drunk. I could tell that she was drunk because of the way she said “I am drunk.” I’d never seen her drunk before so it was really weird. She’s 21 now but because she’s my little sister I still think of her as like 12 which is why I forgot to share the eggnog on Christmas Day.

DRANK ALL THE THINGS

DRANK ALL THE THINGS

I haven’t made any resolutions this year. Mostly because I just forgot. My friend Martin says that I need to do some gigs or some writing before the end of 2014 or he will set fire to me and that is the kind of resolution that I’d like to make – avoiding going on fire, and also writing or saying some words or something – but realistically I think that it won’t happen and I’ll end up going on fire yet again.

I give the friends I mention in my blog posts names so it’s harder for you to figure out that I’ve made them up.

It’s beginning to look a lot like eczemas.

25 Dec

Someone found my blog on Sunday by searching “i need help i have no clue what i’m doing and no dogs”.

At least I have a dog.

Hey you guys it’s 4.30am on Christmas Day! Merry Christmas you guys!

I am writing a blog post at 4.30am on Christmas Day because I was awake until 7am yesterday and then slept until early afternoon and now my body clock is messed up. I was awake until 7am yesterday because I was at a party all night having sex with a succession of attractive and charming young men. Also by at a party all night having sex with a succession of attractive and charming young men I mean in bed at my mum’s house trying to claw my skin off because I have a deeply uncomfortable and unsightly skin condition that flared up within hours of me arriving home for Christmas LOL I will die alone.

I want to go to sleep because my brother will get up super early and wake everyone up so that he can open his presents and play with his new toys.

My brother is 36 years old.

He doesn't even live here. Last Christmas he commuted dressed like this.

He doesn’t even live here. Last Christmas he commuted dressed like this.

I finished all of my Christmas wrapping a few hours ago. Also by “I” I mean “my mum”. Except for her presents. I wrapped those.

And did a really professional job.

Instead of getting a job I am thinking of starting an online business that will provide services in gift-wrapping and professional, bespoke, artistic greeting card design. Here is the professional, bespoke, artistic greeting card that I designed for my sister’s 21st birthday. As you can see, it includes both her single interest – giraffes – and the number 21.

In your eye, Hallmark.

Now it’s 6am because I paused mid-post to have a discussion with my friend Rob over facebook chat about whether he’d had a dream about going downstairs and drinking some orange juice or had actually gone downstairs and drank some orange juice.

Might add a tagline to my blog:

“Every post more disappointing than the last.”

Attack of the Can’ts.

30 Nov

“A condition of the College’s permission [to return to study at Oxford] is that you seek out counselling or a similar strategy to address your confidence difficulties.”

Sounds like something I’ll be really bad at.

HAHA IT IS A JOKE but also a real thing that my tutor has said in a letter to me hey everyone this is my first post of 2013 happy 2013 everyone!

I was due to be back in Oxford way back in January but I am still not back in Oxford so then it was supposed to be next January but it’s looking like it won’t be next January either because I am incapable of success. At first I thought that meant that I couldn’t go back ever, but my tutor sent me a letter saying that I can go back later as long as I stop whining about how terrible I am at everything or something I might be paraphrasing it’s hard to remember there were so many words.

Someone I met at a comedy club who’s trying to help me get a proper job said that I should start updating my blog again because it’s “basically [my] CV” so I’ve decided to start my first post of the year by signposting my fragile mind and also this post about why I’m unemployable.

Speaking of reasons you should never give me a job, on Tuesday my friend said I was a sociopath (can’t really empathise with that perspective AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA LAUGH THROUGH THE TEARS) and it reminded me of this conversation with a stranger on a bus:

Them: “Have you seen the film Seven Psychopaths?”
Me: “No. What’s that?”
Them: “One of the characters has a hat like yours.”
Me: “What character?”
Them: “The psychopath.”

DSC_0047

Speaking of reasons you should never travel with me on a bus, a few hours ago I was on a bus and stuff started falling out of a sleeping man’s bag onto the floor and I was worried he’d not realise and leave without it so I got up and put it back in and stood his bag up so nothing else would fall out and he woke up and saw me with my hands on his bag and was really angry and I apologised so profusely even I’m convinced I was trying to mug him why am I like this?

Speaking of shoehorning totally incongruous things I’ve already posted on facebook and twitter into my blog because I’ve forgotten how to write, my sister took me to West Midlands Safari Park for my birthday two months ago here are some things what I saw!

A flamboyant donkey

A flamboyant donkey

An angry flamingo.

An angry flamingo.

Aslan's mum.

Aslan’s mum.

A woolly mammoth.

A woolly mammoth.

Some naughty ducks in their prison uniforms.

Some naughty ducks in their prison uniforms.

A market.

A market.

A unicorn.

A unicorn.

A narwhal.

A narwhal.

Bye I have to go now and attempt to stem this inexhaustible tide of job offers that’s just started rolling in.

The Ghost of Christmas Disappointment.

30 Dec

Carphone Warehouse? More like Carphone Shithouse!

BOOM! ZING! WHAMMO! I AM DRUNK!

Way back in June I bought a phone from Carphone Warehouse and it was faulty and a few weeks ago I decided that I should probably do something about the fact that I’d been sold a broken mobile phone like half a year ago, so I took it in to one of their repair centres. And they looked at it for 2 minutes, formatted it and gave it back to me saying it was fixed and then I took it back the next day being all like “hey this is still broken” and they were like “oh yeah haha actually it is broken here is a steam-powered contraption from the 19th century that’s never heard of the internet for you to use while we take 17 years to fix the broken phone that we sold you you’re welcome.”

And then some other stuff. I was going to write a whole post about my broken phone and how much I struggled to cope with its basic replacement because of how spoilt I’ve clearly become and how surprised I was by my dependence on my smartphone, but I got bored halfway through. Imagine if proper writers did that:
“‘Harry – yer a wizard.’
There was a silence inside the hut. Only the sea and the whistling wind could be heard.
‘I’m a what?’ gasped Harry and then some other stuff happened and Harry beat a bunch of baddies and everything was fine come on guys there’s a cupboard full of alcohol here it’s Christmas jeez.”

Christmas! It’s too late for a Christmas post now. Here are the ones from the past two years: last year and the year before that.

I’m not sure it’s really too late to write a Christmas post, I just don’t have anything interesting to say. I don’t have anything interesting to say because I haven’t really been outdoors for a while. I’ve been spending most of my time reading about dead fish and looking at pictures of dead fish in an effort to salvage my degree. There’s a type of fish called the remora that has a dorsal fin modified into a sucker so that it can hitch rides on other fish and also do awesome Klingon impressions at parties:

It’s not going very well. The degree-salvaging. I’m not sure I’m going back to Oxford next month. I’m probably not. Not in the capacity that I was supposed to be, at least. But that’s another thing I need to figure out how to write about. I’ll probably move back there in the new year with the aim of resuming my degree at a later date but it’s all a bit of a mess really.

I am a disappointment to everyone apart from myself. But the good news is that I’m hopefully on track to graduate before my 40th birthday. HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYBODY!

The laziest blog post what I ever done wrote.

14 Nov

I’ve resorted to just writing down things that strangers say to me on the phone now because I haven’t been outdoors since 2003.

“Hi Heather, I’m calling from the World Wildlife Fund. Thanks so much for your donation like 700 years ago or something when you were ambushed that one time by an intimidatingly enthusiastic gap year student. Could you sponsor a tiger for just £12 per month?”

“Look I’m really sorry but I don’t have an income right now so that’s not really prudent. I’m unemployed and haven’t signed on.”

“Oh that’s fine Heather, totally understand. How about for just £10 per month?”

“Mate really I appreciate what you’re doing but I’ve got no money coming in right now. Can’t do it.”

“I understand what you’re saying Heather. £8 per month?”

“Yeah, look tigers are ace but I really can’t commit to anything right now. Sorry to waste your time.”

“Okay Heather, I’ve listened to everything you’ve said and you’ve made some really good points. How about £24 next month?”

“I don’t think this is working out.”

The greatest threat to rational thinking and scientific progress is Heather Stevens.

6 Nov

I didn’t even know Jimmy Savile was dead.

BOOM! SATIRE! I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THAT IS!

On Saturday I spent more time than time itself writing an email for the Oxford Skeptics in the Pub mailing list and then hit send and when I looked at the email that it had sent out to 500 people it was definitely not the email I wanted it to send out to 500 people. It was the antithesis of the email I wanted it to send out to 500 people. It was the email that I wanted it to send out to precisely no people. And so, having realised that 500 people had been emailed with something that I didn’t want them to be emailed with, I decided that I should write a blog post about how I’ve taken over the running of Oxford Skeptics in the Pub and I have no idea what I’m doing and I’ll probably have accidentally annihilated atheism within the year because OH MY GOSH YOU GUYS I AM SUCH A KLUTZ WHAT AM I LIKE?

Like most things that happen, I don’t really understand how this happened. Last year nerd-hero Andy Lewis, co-founder of Oxford Skeptics in the Pub, said that he was looking for people to help out with the group. And I figured that it would be cool to be one of those people that does something in their spare time other than Internet and crying, so I said I’d be up for helping. I don’t really know how I thought I’d be able to help, aside from “in a really minor, undemanding and inconsequential way”. Looking pensive and drinking beer in a more authoritative manner than usual or something. But then I got a message from Andy being all like “Hi I’m about to have a baby organise the next meeting please thanks” and so I was all like “well this is unexpected” and now 12 months on I spend one day per month on the verge of mental collapse and heart failure for the good of science and reason.

Ahead of the first meeting that I ran, Andy had been pretty firm about the fact that I ought to do the MC duties myself. “Put your stamp on it,” he said. Turns out my stamp looks a lot like an ageing child cowering in a corner a long way from the microphone and trying not to have a seizure, 1990 issue. I’d started out with good intentions. Alex Gabriel got in touch when he heard that Oxford Skeptics in the Pub was going to be relaunched, and I’d asked him to come along in case I bottled it because I knew that he’d put on similar events in the past, but I was pretty keen on not bottling it. I’d written some jokes on the train to Oxford that I was going to do at people and everything. I was feeling pretty good about the meeting. I mean, I felt sick and hadn’t been able to eat anything that day because of how disproportionately nervous I was, I was in a weird, numb funk because my grandmother had just died and it hadn’t really sunk in, and I was inordinately tired because I’d spent the previous weekend attempting to be helpful at the inaugural Winchester Science Festival and all available hours since at work to deflect my thoughts from familial death, but apart from all of that I was feeling pretty goddamn excellent. I got a text from Alex saying he’d managed to pick up the new PA system that my friend Philip had taken delivery of because the organiser of Oxford Skeptics in the Pub lives 90 miles away from Oxford and didn’t really think very hard before taking on such a geographically-specific role, and felt at least marginally reassured that everything was on track.

When I got to Oxford, it was about half an hour before shops were due to close. This was important. I didn’t realise this was important until 25 minutes later when Alex and I opened the box of the brand new PA system and found that it wasn’t designed for UK plug sockets. I responded by shutting down all thought processes except for the one necessary to set Marche Funèbre as my new internal soundtrack, but Alex responded by suggesting that I go to the shops to buy an adaptor so I went to the shops to buy an adaptor. The first two shops that I tried were closed, and a shop assistant at the third was locking the door but let me in to buy an adaptor out of pity because I had the look of someone that had shut down all thought processes except for the one necessary to set Marche Funèbre as their internal soundtrack. I took it back to the venue and Alex finished setting up the PA system whilst I paced uselessly and looked agitated and decided that all of my jokes were terrible and Alex should do the MC duties whilst I sat at the back of the room and tried not to break anything.

And it went really well. Mark Henderson, the speaker, was fantastic and extraordinarily forgiving, the room was packed, people bought a bunch of books and I wasn’t sick on anyone. And the unnecessarily kind Chris Richardson, who’d driven down from Tamworth, gave me a lift 90 miles home to South Derbyshire at the end of the night so that I could go to my grandmother’s funeral the next day, where I was also not sick on anyone.

There have been two events since that first one, and in both cases I started with similarly good intentions that predictably evaporated. I’m just not sure that I’m capable of standing in front of a room full of people and talking at them. I’m so meek. I’m so meek I’m not sure people even realise I run the group. Last month I was walking up to the room where we hold our talks and I saw a couple of people approaching some way behind me, so I stopped to hold the door open for them – in “Look at the Birdie”, a collection of short stories by Kurt Vonnegut, there’s a guy who’s described as “standing on the edge of the mainstream of life, smiling and saying, “Pardon me,” “After you,” and “No, thank you”” and that character is totally me apart from the bit where he kills his wife with a tiny spaceship – and when they caught up they thanked me and asked if I was new to Oxford Skeptics in the Pub as they’d not seen me before and I’m not sure what I said in reply because my voice can only be detected by hyperacutic dogs.

It’s going all right. I think it’s going all right. All of the speakers have been fantastic, and if you get chance to see any of them – Mark Henderson, Alom Shaha and Liz Lutgendorff – then frickin’ do. Our next talk is tomorrow and it is Professor Stephen Curry and it will be great and you should come so that you can learn about viruses and stuff and then watch an unemployed 22-year-old that used to have prospects trip over wires and accidentally set fire to things.

Andy, I am so sorry.

My life is like a terrible sitcom.

12 Sep

The Olympics, huh? What was that all about? AM I RIGHT? HAHA!

SOMETHING ABOUT SYRIA ALSO.

I can’t write topical jokes so I’m going to tell you about a farcical situation that I put myself in at considerable expense and for no reason whatsoever last week.

Also by “last week” I mean “the week beginning 23rd July” but I am terrible at blogging and also IT’S CALLED CREATIVE LICENSE I’M AN ARTIST SHUT UP.

Last week – LAST WEEK – was pretty full-on. I spent the previous weekend at the thoroughly excellent inaugural Winchester Science Festival organised by the also thoroughly excellent James Thomas, and then I went back to London for two days to work, and then I went to Oxford to relaunch Oxford Skeptics in the Pub which I seem to have inexplicably taken charge of without, so far, destroying. Actually it’s going really well – I haven’t accidentally started a brawl or made a speaker go on fire or anything. And then I went back home to South Derbyshire so I could attend my grandmother’s funeral after which, in a state of significant sleep-deprivation, residual panic and subdued grief, I made a decision that was comically ridiculous.

I had never applied for a job before 5th July. I am 21 years of age and I had never applied for a job. I’d had jobs. I’d had a job in London since April that I kind of fell into. But I’d never applied for jobs because I’d always assumed that I wouldn’t get them. I wouldn’t even apply for vacancies in the local supermarket, so convinced was I of my unemployability. But after I kind-of-accidentally got this job in London, I think I finally began to accept that it was my own convictions about how unemployable I was that were, at least partly, ensuring my continued lack of employment. So when I saw a vacancy at the beginning of July for a role throughout August – which was when I was due to be leaving my London job – at the Fringe Shop in Edinburgh – which is where I quite like spending my Augusts – I thought, “fuck it, why not?”

And then I thought, “LOTS OF REASONS WHY NOT” so I was all like, “STOP SHOUTING IT WAS RHETORICAL” and applied anyway.

I didn’t expect to hear anything back. And I didn’t hear anything back, for a while. And then last Tuesday – don’t pretend like you’re not on board – last Tuesday I got a call inviting me to an interview at the Fringe Shop that Thursday. That’s the Fringe Shop on Edinburgh High Street. That’s Edinburgh in Scotland. And I thought, “Well I’m not working, but I’m not working because I’m going to my grandmother’s death party. Also, Edinburgh is FAR.” So I said I couldn’t make it and they asked whether I could make Friday and I said it was probably a no, but that I’d call them back. And on Thursday – the morning of my grandmother’s funeral – I called back and I said no. And then immediately after the funeral I think my brain had temporarily forgotten what “rational” meant and I called them again and said yes. Yes, I will get a train to London in 3 hours in order to get on a coach for 9 hours to come to Edinburgh to be interviewed for a poorly paid job that I have little-to-no chance of getting. SEE YOU TOMORROW!

Most of the next 36 hours merged into an indiscriminate fuzz of regret and bafflement. By the time I got into London, the megabus that I’d planned to get had sold out and only the expensive decadence of National Express remained. It was at this stage, having already resigned myself to the fact that I definitely wouldn’t get the job even if I did travel to Scotland, that I should have cut my losses and given up. But no, in for a penny, in for £40; I was determined to see this one through to its inevitably dispiriting end.

I’d spent so long pissing about trying to find a cheaper coach that by the time I’d booked, I had no time left to eat anything before I had to run for the coach. The coach was half an hour late leaving London, so I could have eaten something before I had to run for the coach. I could have eaten something and then walked to the coach. I wished I’d walked to the coach. My leg was hurting because I used to be a cripple and I’d ran for the coach. There was a woman talking into her phone at an unnecessary volume in the seat in front of me and I started to worry that I’d been naive to think that a 9 hour overnight coach journey could just be spent sleeping, but after a while the vehicle settled into silence and I was finally overwhelmed with the exhaustion that I’d been doing my best to fight for the past week.

I’d been naive to think that a 9 hour overnight coach journey could just be spent sleeping. I must have slept for a good 3, maybe even 4 minutes before we pulled into Milton Keynes, where Captain Cockwash boarded the coach and decided that he should sit next to me. He was with a group of friends celebrating a 30th birthday, and when he sat down he pulled out a pack of Fosters and said, “ALL RIGHT LADS? HAHAHAHAHA!” and then something about breasts and it just continued like that, really. It continued like that until about 2.30am, at which point the coach broke down. The coach broke down and we were stuck on the hard shoulder somewhere in the East Midlands – somewhere frustratingly close to where I’d started out 8 hours ago – for two hours. I already had a residual, if mostly-subdued, fear of motorways from when I was 10 and my brother’s two best friends were killed by a lorry on the M5, so by this stage my thoughts had drifted from “WHY AM I HERE I AM UNEMPLOYABLE” to “WHY AM I HERE I AM GOING TO DIE.”

We started moving again at 4.30am, in a new coach, and this time I was sat next to a woman who kept falling asleep on me and then looking startled and vaguely offended every time she woke up. As the sun started to rise, I tried to work out whether I’d be able to make the 11am coach back to London. My interview was supposed to be at 10am and I’d lost all motivation to gain the job or make the most of the fact that I could spend a day in Edinburgh. I’d forgotten to bring a jacket, I hadn’t eaten for 12 hours, I was tired, my grandmother was dead, it was 6am on my eldest brother’s birthday, my whole family was at home for the first time in months and I was on an uncomfortably cold coach two hundred miles away from where I wanted to be in order to do something that I no longer wanted to do. And I think that lack of enthusiasm positively shone through when I did eventually find myself on Edinburgh High Street, 2 and a half hours later than planned, and walked into the Fringe Shop.

The interview itself, looking back, was an adorable clusterfuck. I had absolutely nothing left to give, desperately wanted to go home, and my tone throughout was what can only be described as apologetic. That’s something that is reasonably easy to cover up in writing, but in person it’s much harder to disguise my relentless feelings of guilt. So my internal monologue of “I know this is awful and I’m sorry” when I’m filling in an application form is much easier to temporarily suffocate than my implicit external monologue of “I know this is awful and I’m sorry” when I’m sitting in front of someone and trying to talk to them. When they started the interview by asking me to tell them about myself, I looked baffled for a few seconds and then quite bluntly told them that I’d never had a job interview before and didn’t really know what I was doing. When they asked me why they should hire me over the other people they’d interviewed, for a fleeting moment I considered actually answering the question like a normal human person but then I realised that I was absolutely incapable of that and was all like, “Uh, well I guess you should hire me over the other people you’ve interviewed if if I’m better than the other people you’ve interviewed? I don’t know who else you’ve interviewed. Don’t hire me if I’m terrible” because I’m terrible. I told them that I was “quite good” at sales, and I think that my use of the descriptive term “quite good” when attempting to sell myself indicated clearly enough that I was not at all good at sales. I think I might also have used the phrase “laid-back” when asked to describe my character, but by then my internal monologue was screaming too violently for me to commit anything to memory.

They told me that they aimed to let people know if they’d been successful by lunchtime and that I should keep an eye on my phone. I knew that I didn’t need to keep an eye on my phone. Satisfied that I had once again secured my continued lack of employment, I walked back to the coach station to see if there were any seats left on the 11am coach back to London. There were no seats left on the 11am coach back to London. I wondered how so many people could be taking a coach out of Edinburgh at 11am on a Friday and imagined that it was full of jobless 21-year-olds and their broken minimum-wage dreams. I asked when the next coach that I could get was and they said 9pm. I wished I’d brought a jacket and eaten something and not ran for that coach 12 hours ago.

When I got back into London the next morning I realised that I’d lost my Oyster card so I sat on the floor of Victoria Coach Station lamenting my existence for a bit but it didn’t really help so I bought a new Oyster card. And then at 6.30am I stumbled out of King’s Cross Station and, staring at my phone and trying to think of something witty to say on twitter so that I could glean a modicum of affirmation from strangers on the internet to fill the gaping hole of need that the past 36 hours had torn, I almost walked into a tall man. We did that awkward pavement dance thing where you both flail your arms and try to walk on the opposite side of the path from the other person, and when I looked up at the man to apologise I realised that it was Gordon Brown. And that it was absolutely perfect, necessary and inevitable that on the day that I crossed paths with a former world leader, I would be smiling meekly and apologising for being in their way.

I didn’t get the job. I did spend August in Edinburgh. I volunteered at a venue for the month and they gave me a free room. I was doing front of house, so mostly I spent my time being told how appalling I was by people who turned up too late to be allowed into the shows they wanted to see, and learning that poor time-keeping does not preclude excellent judgement of character.

The year out‘s going pretty well so far.

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