What I've Learnt
Today I am a year older. And with that, am obviously much wiser. It seems right then, to reflect on what I've learnt, not just in the past 12 months, but in life, and to share it as sage advice here:
- The main question you should ask yourself when going to an event / social gathering / booking accommodation is: will I get fed? Is there really any point in going to a wedding/meeting/conference/funeral if there isn't going to be a decent spread? Tea and biscuits are acceptable, just make sure you surreptitiously eat as many as you can and, if the teabags are individually wrapped, pocket a few to put in your cupboard at home. When booking accommodation, if you're not getting breakfast, frankly you're getting a bit of a raw deal. This I feel has been drilled into me by my mum. It's quite cheeky when hotels will charge £100 a night but then will want another £10 for some cereal and a croissant. When I was travelling, the main criteria for picking hostels was "Will there be food?" I chose my first place to stay in Christchurch based on the fact that homemade bread was provided. In L.A it was because there were pancakes. I lucked out somewhere else in New Zealand when I stayed in a hostel that was given leftover cakes from a bakery. Similarly, you should be thinking - what can I take for free? It's a bit like that episode in Friends where Ross, when staying in a fancy hotel with Chandler, gives a lesson in the art of well, pinching stuff...Did you know that Jamie Oliver loses 30,000 napkins a month from his Italian restaurants because people go off with them? Well, they are quite nice... (I draw the line at the bathroom fixtures though).
- Eavesdropping is always excellent entertainment, even, and sometimes especially, if the conversation you are listening to is between people who are complete strangers.
- Prosecco is always a good idea. Mixing your drinks is not (but if you insist, start with lowest alcohol percentage and work your way up).
- You can never have just one chocolate biscuit with your tea (unless it's a Penguin maybe - in which case you should bite off diagonally-opposite corners and use it as straw, throwing the whole thing into your mouth after sucking up hot tea and letting it dissolve into a delicious chocolate sludge).
- I don't think I will ever get bored of watching THIS video.
- I can't really claim to live by the following words yet but I know them to be true and they were those of my granny: always spend money on good shoes and mattresses - if you're not in one you're in the other.
- Pop culture can be very educational. You'd be surprised by the vocabulary you can learn or how much historical and geographical information you can glean by watching Disney films, The Simpsons, Frasier and Homes Under the Hammer. I once got a question right on University Challenge because the answer had, somehow, been in an episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (don't judge me).
- Don't work for free. They can always afford to give you something.
- Spend the occasional day doing absolutely nothing. And learn to love your own company.
- Most of life's lessons can be learnt by reading Bill Bryson, Malcolm Gladwell and Nigella Lawson. Failing that, remember that we are all just atoms crashing around and that, in the end, nothing really matters...