How To… Roll on Down the Highway

Look, it’s a free country and all that but I’m not sure you’ve completely thought this one through. I’m sure if you hark your way back to the innocent halcyon days of childhood you’ll remember the giddy thrill of rolling down hills. And of course it wouldn’t be quite the same to repeat said activity as an adult. Where’s the danger? Where’s the uncertainty that you’ll ever be able to come to a halt?

So, from a particular point of view I suppose one might be able to understand quite how you managed to come up with such a madcap scheme. It’s fair enough to want to roll down something a little bit more interesting than a mundane hill (I mean, other people turn to drugs and other substances of exhilaration but whatever). But a highway? I’m not sure how you reached that sort of decision, we don’t even have highways over here.

Of course, you could have a crack at rolling down the motorway but it somehow doesn’t have quite the same ring to it now does it? You’ll therefore have to incorporate a plane ticket to America into your assorted plans. And a method for them to ship your mangled remains back home after you’ve finished with your rolling.

At the point, it’s possible to consider the fact that a different form of rolling might have been originally meant. Could it be that there would be any enjoyment to be had from gunning it down a long straight of asphalt in a classic muscle car with the convertible roof down? Now, it’s entirely more logical to lie on the ground where automobiles might thunder along and tear your fragile meat sack to shreds. Anyone reporting on the situation will most certainly agree so you should feel absolutely no reluctance in following through in this endeavour.

Roll on down the highway – Bachman Turner Overdrive


How To… Come Rain or Come Shine

As I sit staring out at an unapologetically thick blanket of grey, I can’t help but think, what if it’s neither? Does it change things if the overriding circumstances tend towards neither extreme? Of course it’s easy to skip and gambol outside if it’s delightfully sunny and potentially warm. Just look at the lambs who sweetly mill about in their fields. They haven’t so much as heard of mint sauce yet, there’s no reason for them to fret.

Equally, you’re something of a hero if you brave storms and squalls to get somewhere or other. People will naturally appreciate the extra level of effort you went to. Even if you spoil the effect somewhat by scattering precipitation everywhere by shaking yourself like an especially shaggy dog. But if it’s grey and unassuming out of doors it’s a whole lot easier to convince yourself to stay indoors and see what treats Netflix has dredged up for you this particular week.

Come on, person of self-determined identity, you can do this. Whether it’s come rain or come shine, you’ll be able to weather it provided you prepare accordingly. Of course, in this country it’s best to plan for all possible eventualities in one go. That’s why I have sunglasses and a waterproof in my car. And emergency biscuits, just in case of an unexpected breakdown. Or a random Tuesday where I feel I’ve earned a quick sugar rush.

So, slather yourself in sun cream or swaddle yourself in impermeable fabrics with a massive umbrella for good measure, depending on your assessment of outside conditions. Once you’ve made the best stab you can at outfitting or equipping yourself effectively, all you’re going to have to do is to grit your teeth and go whatever distance you need. And by the time you’ve got wherever you need to be I’m sure you’ll have a far more interesting tale to tell than if you’d just stayed home and binged on media.

Come rain or come shine – Ray Charles

How To… Sing for the Submarine

In an increasingly embattled world, it’s important to find ways to keep up the spirits of those around you. Especially when you’re in a glorified metal tube many leagues under the sea. I imagine it can get pretty tense in that sort of setting. So it’s a kind impulse to reach for some variety of entertainment. If you do decide to sing for the submarine you’d better hope you have a more melodic voice than me (imagine some angry cats. In a bag).

I know you think that you’ve come up with something terribly clever in reaching for a Beatles classic. But consider this, the notion came to you in what felt like a flash of divine inspiration. It was in fact the most obvious idea and, to be honest, everyone will feel faintly sorry for you if you try to present it as remotely original. Stay away from the colour yellow.

So what tunes should you opt for? I suppose a more delightful way of observing tradition would be to trill a shanty or three. Awaken the dormant sailors of old in every last member of navy personnel (I mean, if you’re on a boat then you’re technically a sailor but probably not in the more historical sense. I suppose there’s probably not quite as much swabbing the deck or shimmying up the crow’s nest as there was in days gone by).

Or you could crack out whatever’s in the hit parade. It’ll largely depend on whether you want people to join in or to quietly observe you and your masterful singing. And then breaking out in spontaneous applause whenever you’ve finished of course. Whatever you pick, try and stay away from anything that could end up being construed as ominous, you know the sort of thing: Stayin’ alive, It’s the end of the world as we know it and Nearer my God to thee.

Sing for the submarine – REM

How To… Faint

I’m a mildly boring person. I could easily leave it there but I’ll happily lay out my reasoning for you. I’ve never fainted or been hospitalised or ever properly broken a bone (you can’t really count a decidedly diddy greenstick fracture on one of my fingers). But on the fainting front, my general womanly lady-ness has brought me to the very brink of a fainting spell on a few different occasions so perhaps I do have some wisdom to share on this topic.

The most dramatic of these was during an A level maths lesson when I realised that the only way to retain consciousness was to slide off my chair to the ground. If it had been a test of my classmates first aid skills they would all have failed spectacularly. I know that this isn’t the main thrust of the subject matter, but if someone faints near you then just pop their legs on a chair or something. The blood will go back to their head and they’ll find it that little bit easier to recover.

Anyway, this is about you. As far as my recollections go, you’ll need to experience a fizzy tunneling of your vision as everything closes in. You’ll have to try and make yourself feel terribly hot, or possibly shivery. It’s definitely at least one of those two but right now I’m not completely sure which. Trembling’s got to have something to do with it, I’m sure you can think back to a time when you’ve been positively weak at the knees.

If none of this is working for you then just fall over. Close your eyes and pretend to be having a nap. Who’s going to really know the difference? Big fakers are all the rage these days. You’ll attract the same level of fuss and you’ll be safe in the knowledge that nothing’s actually wrong with you. Apart from this pathological need for attention.

Faint – Linkin Park

How To… Unpack Your Heart

The Simpsons has attempted something pretty problematic. Yes, I still dip in and out of their current offerings. It’s my expression of hopeless optimism even though I know it’s been on a downward trajectory for many years now. When you compare current seasons to its previous examples of biting satire, the whole thing’s now pretty toothless.

There was a mildly funny bit about silverfish claiming the library after hours and the only consequence of Homer hitting a police car was being hauled off to being the entertainment at Ralph’s birthday party. Apart from those two instances, actual jokes seemed few and far between. But there was an instance of heavy-handed messaging, complete with a turn to camera and a pan to a framed photo, just in case you’d missed the deeper meaning they were trying to nudge you towards. It was more of an overly defensive hissy fit than anything else. Which is sad.

Hindsight is a powerful tool and worth using to shine a light on previous works. I’m in the middle of an article written by Molly Ringwald about looking back at her John Hughes era films (of which all I’ve seen is the first half-hour of the Breakfast Club). When she re-examines what’s going on there she can see overt sexual harassment coming from the Bender character and uncomfortable sequences she didn’t appreciate to their full problematic potential at the time.

I haven’t got to the conclusion yet but I can’t imagine she’s about to utterly denounce such a formative portion of her career. And it’s worth noting that having insensitive material contained within doesn’t necessarily write the whole thing off – it just signals that there’s stuff there worth unpacking.

The Simpsons used the vehicle of a Secret Garden analogue story to look at outmoded and downright racist stereotypes used in such literature. As was fairly standard at the time. It’s the main reason I haven’t yet delved into Kipling’s oeuvre. Yes, standards change over time and what used to be largely considered as entirely harmless can morph into something more insidious. It doesn’t really justify continued usage though does it?

Just because you didn’t think it was wrong to kick someone in the shins because you couldn’t hear their shrieks doesn’t mean that it’s fine to continue once you can. Right? It’s a really lame excuse. Go and watch Hari Kondabolu’s documentary, The Problem with Apu for a far more eloquent discussion of what I’m trying to get across in this most lukewarm of hot takes. But there’s still a difference between something locked in the past, largely immutable, and something else that continues ever onwards.

Unpack your heart – Phillip Phillips

How To… Marry the Night

Erm, well, sure that’s fine and all but… how? I’m sure that you and the night have a staggeringly meaningful relationship and all. The two of you may well even feel compelled to stand in front of all your most favourite people and make an official commitment to each other. But be practical about it. I know that love can overcome all manner of hurdles but I implore you to have a bit of a ponder about the various implications.

For one, the church and its associated institutions have proven themselves to be decidedly rigid about the precise definition of marriage (for the most part anyway). Even at its most progressive, the practice seems to be confined to human participants. That means that you and the night are going to have to rock up at the register office with your assorted paperwork in hand. Does the night have a passport or anything else to prove its date of birth or residential status?

But if you really want to then I’m mildly certain that we can get this done. All you need to do is to book a midnight ceremony (or maybe even dusk, no one’s prettier or more ready for a set of nuptials than when they’ve just got up. Then you can guarantee having the whole rest of the night to get down and funky). Night-blooming flowers will add a touch of class and then you can cram the whole venue with candles, they’re bang on trend.

Before you go down this road make sure that you’re certain. Because whatever problems you have over the course of making your way down the aisle, you’ll run into far more serious ones if you and the night decide to split. What sort of unreasonable behaviour could you possibly cite? Or maybe it’ll start having a torrid affair with sunrise.

Marry the night – Lady Gaga

How To… Hold Your Head Up High

Spots on your face, hairs on your chin, the occasional cheek scar (not speaking from personal experience), there’s no reason not to hold your head up high. Although, perhaps you’re feeling that there’s a reason for your current state of dejection. Or maybe I’m reading too far into a marginal slump of the neck and you’re merely ever so slightly bashful. I suppose it wouldn’t be especially nice for you to be chastised for modesty.

But to hell with that sort of thing. There’s no earthly reason for you to overemphasise the humility above and beyond your very own sense of swagger. After all, there are plenty of people out there with no particular distinctions or qualifications. And yet nothing seems to stop them from proclaiming themselves as pretty much the best thing ever since sliced bread. And possibly even before that, have you ever had a proper crusty loaf, they’re delicious.

In fact, one way to boost your esteem or sense of confidence is to project an image over and beyond whatever your feeling at a particular moment in time. If you jam your shoulders bag, point your nose nominally skywards and plant your hands on your hips in your best superhero impression it should surely follow that you’ll feel that little bit closer to invincibility. Of course if you’re not careful then there’s something of a danger that you might begin to believe in your capabilities to stop time or deflect bullets or whatnot.

You might start worrying that if you walk about with your head high then people might start thinking of you as a bit stuck up. They’ll believe that your nose is somewhat turned up by whatever experience is set in front of you. Don’t worry though, your freshly bolstered positive attitude in life will more than compensate for this dubious public image.

Hold your head up high – Boris Dlugosch