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

How To… Follow My Voice

*Winces* Must you? Don’t get me wrong, in my own head, my voice sounds relatively fabulous. Scratch that, but to me it’s at least bearable. It’s got a nice naturally sarcastic tone to it which I feel meshes quite neatly with my world outlook. And yet when I hear it played back to me, it’s not entirely unlike nails being scraped down a chalkboard.

Maybe I’m exaggerating but during those moments of auditory self-reflection, I come across as a completely different person. That could be a bonus but I can’t be entirely sure. I also couldn’t bear the time it would take to get to know this mystery voice. I might have a few self esteem issues to work through but I could hardly burden you nice folks with that sort of enlightened development. Besides, what does it say about the broken nature of your own life that you’re suddenly seized by a desire to follow my voice?

So, this general ambivalence of mine to the sound of my own voice could be counted as just the first of your various problems in attempting to follow it. The more prominent issue would be that I’m not exactly a renowned public speaker. I can’t remember the last time I held an audience of strangers in a thrall akin to the most rapturous moment of their entire lives. How exactly do you intend to track down my dulcet tones?

Once you’ve tracked it/me down of course everything will get so much simpler from there. You’ll have to find ways to keep me talking, asking questions about my fascinating life and so on. Where you’ll run into difficulties will be when I try to leave. Why are my bodily functions/desire for sleep more important than your quest to track my voice wherever it might lead? You’ll probably need a poking stick of some variety. And a big net.

Follow my voice – Julie Byrne

How To… Make Things Make Sense

And we’re back to politics again. I’m sure that when 2018 is viewed through the lens of history it’ll seem thoroughly mundane to the survivors battling their way through the frozen hellscape or apocalyptic desert (depending on what method civilsation is ended by). But for those who haven’t really been paying attention (me included), news feeds seem to have picked up a recent tendency to go absolutely ape shit. So I’m going to have a go at unpicking the tangled web we’ve woven.

War crimes have been perpetrated in Syria for a little while now but chemical attacks are very much the last straw because… rhetoric. We couldn’t possibly help by opening our borders to refugees since immigration turns out to be the fourth horseman to replace pestilence. Side note: it’s incredibly disheartening to hear opening remarks from the Enoch Powell speech (know thine enemy and that/the only way to counter the bile is to know what’s being said) and to realise that stunningly little has changed. He didn’t have to say why immigration was a terrible scourge on society, just that it was happening and what should be done to stop it.

But I digress. Lines have been crossed apparently and so it is imperative that strikes are launched without the pesky delay of securing congressional or parliamentary approval for bombing the shit out of foreign lands. Don’t worry though, the operation has already earned itself a big fat ‘mission accomplished’ from the toddler-in-chief. So that’s all sorted then.

While Theresa going all gung ho was fairly important news over here (with her non-existent majority, she could hardly trust MPs with a vote on something so politically charged now could she?), it was very much a small blip of Donald Trump’s week. Porn stars and midnight raids and withering tell-alls from FBI directors you’ve fired, oh my. You really can’t stop paying attention for a minute or you’ll miss the next shed load of shit to rain down on the increasingly beleaguered administration.

Make things make sense – Frank Hamilton

How To… Take Off Your Dress

Absolutely no one is being smutty about this. To be honest, I’m still really rather impressed that you managed to find your way into that getup in the first place. Full disclosure, I can’t look at you in that and not leap to the conclusion that they had to sew you into it. I think it’s a compliment. Really? Oh, I see, quite elaborate. You actually have diagrams? Seriously, that is practically a work of art.

So, let me try and get this straight. First the scaffold-like underwear that lays the foundation. On top of that goes on what I can only describe as a harness. Seriously, it involves the sort of engineering I would expect of parachutes. I’m fairly sure you could fall of a building and not be adversely affected by the impact. Definitely don’t test out my theory though, I have a tendency to be impressed all too easily.

To a certain extent, it doesn’t entirely matter what the underwear looks like. It’s completely hidden from view by that beautiful dress with zips and buckles aplenty that disappear into the folds of the fabric. With all that preparation, I’m not surprised that you had the time of your life during the event you got so very gussied up for. However, three or four days later (I’m guessing by the state of your hair), it’s probably time for the dress to come off.

I do understand that you don’t want to cut it off. But what exactly was your original plan? I get that the situation has ever so slightly backfired but you must have realised that you would have difficulty with those endless fastenings. Fine, just grab me a peg for my nose (no offence) and we might be here for an hour or two but let me see if I can work you free.

Take off your dress – Yo Montero