It’s the taking part that counts

So, the final results of the Yeah Write competition were announced this week and sadly I was not in the top three.

I’m oddly comforted by the fact that the piece of writing I submitted was not my best work and I really struggled to write it (probably a sign from the wedding planning gods telling me to get my shit together and stop fannying about with writing competitions when I have other more pressing issues to concern myself with).

Had I written something that I felt was really good, I’d have been more upset but by the time I submitted this entry, I was just relieved to have finished something and I suddenly started to consider the wedding invites with much more affection.

The brief was to write about any topic but to incorporate the word “bemused” seamlessly and in context into the piece…Come back PacMan, all is forgiven.

***

LETTER TO ME CIRCA 1993

Dear fifteen-year-old me,

It feels like hardly any time at all since I was you; braces on your teeth (good call on that by the way, you are often complimented on your lovely straight teeth, I mean it’s not the same as being told you’ve got a great arse, but you’re nearly 38 now so you’ve got to take what you can get), rocking out your denim dungarees over your leotard-esque bodysuit with press stud gusset fastening, clumpy Dr Marten boots, and silver rings on every finger (some of the silver is less authentic than you think and will turn your skin green so watch out for that).

I walked past your primary school today. It looked familiar but different; buildings had been added, the big blue gates were neither big, nor blue anymore. The playground looked a little fatigued and weary.

You are also familiar but different. Fat has been added (if you could eat slightly less cake in the forthcoming years, I guarantee you’ll thank me for it), your big brown hair is still quite big but it’s less ‘au natural’ brown, more ‘sponsored by Garnier’ brown and as for fatigue and weariness, they are your best friends second only to gin and tonic.

In 2016, the world is familiar but different too. People have phones that they carry around with them at all times; even Mum, although she never turns the bloody thing on. Fortunately, technology has moved forward from the huge rotary dial telephone on which you spend an hour every evening talking to your best friend about boys.

You can book a flight, turn on your heating, buy groceries, check your bank balance, read a novel, send a letter, listen to music and watch a video of a cat dancing to hip hop (trust me, you’ll deny it in public but you do watch that shit) all from your phone through the marvels of the Internet.

The Internet is a cinema, car boot sale, compulsive liar, dustbin, department store, dirty magazine, encyclopaedia, school bully, teacher, telephone, television and takeaway menu all rolled into one and it’s both incredibly amazing and completely ghastly all at the same time. Don’t worry though, you will work it out. Bottom line is that you can use it to buy shoes and that’s all you really need to know.

Excluding watching cats dancing to hip hop, you most use your phone for taking photographs. No longer do you need to buy camera film sold in little metal lined packets that require gladiatorial strength to open or have to wait three days in excited anticipation for the film to be developed and printed by your local chemist who charged a hefty £7.99 for 24 photographs.

When you got the precious packet of snaps home you usually found twelve family portraits where Auntie Jane’s eyes are shut, little Simon has his finger up his nose and you’ve chopped off Grandma’s head. There would be four pictures of blurry sunsets with warning stickers plastered all over them. Half a dozen pictures would be of Uncle Fred’s nostrils because he used the camera the wrong way around, an early example of the phenomenon now known as ‘taking a selfie’. Finally, there would always be a random picture of a cat that no one recognises. If you were very lucky, your £7.99 might buy you one or two decent pictures suitable for framing.

Nowadays a photograph can be taken instantly with a phone. A digital picture can be cropped and uploaded to the Internet in the time it takes for you to say “cheese” (or in your case due to your buddy gin and his pal tonic it’s usually more like: “What’s that? Did someone say pizza? Eh? Oh! Picture! Okay go on then”).

I’m sorry to report that there are many pictures on social media of you in your 30s with a bemused ‘this is an unexpected photo opportunity, I thought someone was offering me food, should I try to look sober?’ expression on your face.

Conveniently, very few photographs exist from 1993. The awkward braces/dungarees/Dr Martens days were not captured on film and even if someone had taken a sneaky shot, you can relax knowing that you’re probably headless or you have been replaced by Uncle Fred’s infamous selfie nostrils.

 

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