How To… Say Yes to This

Say yes to what exactly? I’ll get onto that in a minute but first I need to rant about how my consent is patently not required. The world has made is abundantly clear to me that it’s going to carry on with a variety of different systems and activities of which I fundamentally do not approve. Even the more democratic arenas of existence don’t give my opinion as much weight as I really think they ought to.

But I still don’t like the fact that we have a monarchy. An unelected head of state determined by whose genitals they emerged from just doesn’t sit well with democratic ideals. Not so long ago I had an increasingly (on their part) drunken debate on the matter that went round in circles and neither of us emerged with our views remotely altered.

The Queen has no real power. So why does it matter who she is? Because she has the power to do all sorts of things. So shouldn’t there be some form of qualification or indeed some say from the public as to who it is? Do you want to bring in the likes of Nigel Farage? Come on, he’s never managed to be elected to anything that people were paying attention to. The public have proven that they can’t be trusted with a popular vote, see: Boaty McBoatface. They bring in tourism money etc.

There aren’t any simple answers, not really. But I still resent the imperialism being rubbed in my face. A woman has had a third child. This is a family largely funded by the taxpayer at a time when child allowance has been taken off regular families if they dare to have more than two babies. They’re perfectly nice people but the notion that it should be front page news is galling. I don’t know how to say yes to this but there’s no need because it’ll happen anyway.

Say yes to this – Jill Scott


How To… Look Alive

I am in no way saying that I don’t totally enjoy the new makeover. It’s very… edgy, to the point of the cutting edge. I’m faintly certain that absolutely no one else out there will have thought to combine vampire pallor with the slowly desiccating flesh of the zombie. It’s two kinds of dead, who wouldn’t want to emulate such a devastatingly effective skincare regime?

That being said, I’m really not sure it’s the best face to put on in order to meet this impending interview. You do kind of need to get this job. To keep yourself swimming in theatrical makeup if nothing else. Glad we’re on the same page. No one’s expecting anything too dramatic, you don’t need to look like any variety of glamour model. Let’s simply set the bar at looking alive.

After all, first impressions are largely arbitrary and it’s almost impossible to know how they’ll pan out. One person might think you’re trying too hard and another could look at the exact same setup and dub you as the sort of person who simply couldn’t be bothered at all. It’s so hard to hit the right level so try and get to a point where your personality and skillset are rather more highly valued than a skin deep aesthetic. But for the love of everything, please take the werewolf mask off.

Yes, I know that they’re alive but can we just aim for basic human? I know, it’s a big snore and that but to get vaguely accepted by a judgemental society, you’re going to have to conform just a little bit. Two eyes, conventional face, sticking with your natural skin colour (we’re looking at you, fake tan fanatics), those will all probably help. And stop hissing when you go outside, the sun really isn’t trying to kill you (apart from that whole melanoma concern).

Look alive – BlocBoy JB

How To… Make Your Own Kind of Music

I’m generally the first to endorse free thinking and drifting into new bounds of creativity. Especially when it’s of the kind that may well benefit me. But people coming up with inventive and different song titles for the sake of me having new ways of telling people what to do isn’t the point.

Aren’t you tired of yet another pop ballad about love and how miraculous and/or difficult it is getting cued up on the radio? But perhaps that’s unfair, what else is there to write about? Who would do something so odd as to pen a track about the calendar phenomenon of earth day? Then again, the oversaturation of tunes of a romantic nature and all that soppiness leaves the field wide open for your music about whatever niche gubbins you’re interested in.

But perhaps I’m being overly dismissive about the epic nature of your sweeping love story. Everyone needs to hear it and the best way to spread the joy is to create an earworm. Once it’s burrowed into the consciousness of the general populace, they’ll know whatever they need to about your tale. It’ll be absolutely everywhere before you know it. Then, of course, folk will get singularly sick of hearing about you and consequently either drive you out of town or ostracise you from society altogether.

Maybe it would be better to stick to songs about butterflies or the state of the nation or whatever. I’m not even sure why you started on this music making scheme in the first place. There are thousands of other people out there who are far more creative, have much more interesting things to say and have managed to convince influential people to sign up to their business practices. There, now you’ve been smacked down, why not try and create a song around the experience?

Make your own kind of music – Paloma Faith

How To… Read, Eat, Sleep

I don’t know about you (well, I do but it’s nice to pretend every now and then that I don’t have complete dominion over every waking moment of your life), but reading, eating and sleeping sounds like the ideal schedule for a Saturday. For the anti-bookworms amongst my sprawling audience, you’ve already got the reading portion covered with this fabulous blog. Others might prefer to go and find an actual book once they’ve got through my excellent words.

Of course, there are also magazines, websites, cereal boxes, legal indictments and plenty more besides that you might feel compelled to read. I suppose it depends on your preferences or general need for news and/or tales of space romance beyond the grave. Once you’ve had your fill of words you can move onto the far more interesting portion of the schedule you came up with.

Sure, you’ll have had some very boring breakfast to get you through strenuous reading. But now it’s time for a boast-worthy lunch, one you could even feel compelled to post to Instaface or Whatsgram or a similarly non-fictitious social media platform. On a sunny day like this, particularly when thunderstorms are threatening later, I would suggest a barbecue (even though it’s not the kind of thing you ought to unicorn-ify, think of your poor tastebuds). Grilling in sunglasses, is there anything more impressive?

If you’ve done lunch properly, you’ll be positively weighed down. By all rights, your stomach should be so distended that you feel practically pregnant. If you’re still capable of moving (and that’s something of a big if at this point), you should definitely go to bed for a sumptuous nap. However, if crawling up all those stairs is absolutely beyond you, you could nestle in the safe harbour of the sofa or indeed stay in your food chair. That way you’ll be primed for second lunch.

Read, Eat, Sleep – The Books

How To… Wear Me Down

I am someone who likes to pride themselves on their endurance. This has the adverse effect of me sticking certain things out for quite a bit longer than I often need to. As I sit in my aforementioned furnace-like office, my resolve is slackening as sweat beads around my hairline. In the sticky temperatures, time seems to have ground to a halt, leaving me increasingly astonished when my eyes flick down to the current time and I see that it’s barely progressed at all.

We have delicious chilled water but no one should continue under the illusion that desk fans are any kind of substitute for industrial air conditioning. My heat addled mind doesn’t even care if it kills all the whales, it’s impossible to be productive in these monstrous conditions (which essentially sums up the story of how we as a species screwed the planet and its ecosystem beyond all recognition and hope of repair).

However, I can endure this. I can make promises that will never be fulfilled that I’ll buy a family pack of ice lollies and bung them in the freezer. More than that though, this week I have discovered just how excellent my car’s air conditioner is. If it’s still like this by tomorrow, I can retreat there and pretend to be a penguin amongst the gloriously icy blasts.

So, for those of you out there sufficiently vindictive to want to try it, I think the way forward to wear me down is abundantly clear. Take the car away from me, by one method or another, and you’ll have reduced me to the plebeian status of public transport user. I can barely imagine the horror of such a step down in the world. It’s enough to make one want to take an hour long ice shower.

Wear me down – Blur

How To… Catch the Wind

It’s hot. Suspiciously hot for April. It’s almost as if they were serious when they preached the inherent dangers of that climate change thing. Anyway, we’re not in charge of environmental policy or anything like that, we’ve simply got to stay focused on coping with the unexpected onslaught of incredibly sunny weather. In my hotbox of an office (converted barns just don’t make for ideal work spaces I’m afraid. They’re freezing in winter and don’t have anything like the ventilation needed to stay cool in summer), it’s all I can do to keep from dissolving into a little oozing puddle of humanity.

Fine, that’s an exaggeration but weren’t you paying attention when I said that it’s only April? We’ve gone straight from wintry barrages of sleet and snow and tipped into blazing heatwaves. Where was my spring buffer period? I’m an eminently fragile being. It’s terribly important that I have time to get used to things and the environment really ought to fit in with whatever requirements I have of it.

But no one’s paying proper attention to my particular needs. This means that I have no choice but to take matters into my own hands. The government finally seems to have started paying attention to green concerns: banning drinking straws is just the first step, right? And they’re totally going to move quickly on this one rather than spending endless months in consultation, aren’t they? So let’s keep this environmental momentum moving by catching the wind.

Then again, what if there isn’t any? As the sun beats mercilessly down on our fair brows (sun cream manufacturers are going to make quite the bundle), there may not be so much as a breeze in the air to rustle the leaves. That brainwave you had about trapping winter gusts in a jam jar don’t seem to have panned out. And as for the other kind of wind, what a grim thought. You know what, let’s forget about the future and just go and play outside.

Catch the wind – Donovan

How To… Say for Certain

What can you actually say that you’re sure about these days? Is there really anyone out there in whom you can truly believe? Kittens are adorable but some of them go on to develop questionable personalities and can inspire allergies in unsuspecting humans. So perhaps they’re not all that.

In a post-truth, post-fact, fake news littered world how can you be sure that anything is what you might have initially thought it was. All those people you so looked up to in more formative years (you know, those bastions of morality: actors and politicians) have come crashing down to earth in a haze of disgrace. Complicated moral lines are drawn around issues that you used to hold as cut and dry. You’re even running out of people safe to hate without having to actually think about it. At this point we’re pretty much down to Nazis and plenty of people are making spirited arguments to the contrary. Fine people, on both sides.

How is it possible to hold anything to your heart and know that your impression of it is flawless and unchangeable? Can you really be bothered to carry out the research and interrogation necessary to have so much as half a hope that you’ve uncovered any painful truths about it? Or are you resolved to shout down anyone who dares to consider whatever it is and say ‘well, actually’?

Well, actually, there could be a different path to consider. Certainty is something of a shifting concept. You might have noticed a pair of shoes and immediately snapped to the conclusion that they are the pinnacle of modern existence and owning them will solve any and all problems you’re experiencing. That certainty might change when you realise how much they rub/torture your feet/how much problematic labour went into their production.

Say for certain by leaning into your feelings of surety in a given moment in time. But also recognise that this might change when presented with new information. Or don’t, I’m not the boss of you. Yet.

Say for certain – Generationals