The sweet people at the Times have kindly ensured yet again that I do not go short of material, with this magnificent list of things you should have done by the time you are 35. It's by Shane Watson, who has spent the last 6 months telling the entire British media how women over 40 can capture a husband. WE GET IT SHANE. We should probably be welcoming this - albeit limited - change of tack, and truly, there is too much fun to be had with this. I could not resist. Though I am very sad to see that Plum Sykes 'long sleeved dress' hasn't made the list. Of course, she only says you need it at 38. Plenty of time yet!
Here is the list.
Been head-hunted for a new job
Tony! This is your moment! Yes. I was headhunted last year by Tony, an ineffably optimistic, yet doomed, recruitment consultant as documented on these pages. The jobs proposed made me want to give myself a lobotomy with a spork, but it counts anyway. I have had to change my phone number because he is still trying to get me to work trading peanut futures in Surinam.
Been taken to lunch by your boss
Seriously? This is something to aspire to? God, plenty of times. Lawyers seem to love lunching, ranging from 'let's go to the canteen/Wagamama, you had the noodles AND a juice so you owe me £11' to excruciating client dinners in places with Michelin stars. These are the worst. I always choose something really difficult and inappropriate to eat, and end up with fronds of salad, or tentacles, or prawn whiskers hanging out of my mouth, looking like one of those grotesque insects David Attenborough likes. So of course I imagine him crouched under the next table whispering commentary. Then someone asks me a question and I can't answer because I am fighting with recalcitrant foodstuffs. Also, my lack of familiarity with cutlery gets me into trouble and I am always stealing the petits fours and putting them in my handbag. Often I am physically, emotionally incapable of not stealing food of someone else's plate, however inappropriate it is. It's a fail.
Just veeerry occasionally these lunches were great fun, everyone was indiscreet and giggly, and I got pleasingly drunk and staggered back to the office to fall asleep on my keyboard. These happy times are now over and the best offer I have had for months is to go and get a Mr Softy ice cream from Quick.
Been on a business trip abroad
Oh, yes. I remember my very first, on my second ever day as a brand new flesh eating legal zombie. I had to carry eight large cardboard boxes on the Eurostar to Brussels, alone, then come straight back, accounting for every minute of my time to a some über eurozombie. Business travel has continued at this high level of sophistication ever since. Yay me. Favourite trip to date: warehouse near Zaventem full of brake parts. Many diagrams.
Why yes, albeit in a country that most people do not believe actually exists. I am covered in glory. Gold star for me.
Bought your own flat
Presumably it doesn't count if you buy it off your dad? Yeah, thought not. Fail.
Been bought jewellery by a man
Aaargh. What a fucking milestone eh, here in 2009. Must watch out here, my cranium is under enormous pressure of outrage and I am going to have to do an emergency trepanning with a staple remover if I'm not careful. Jewellery from a pgymy anteater, now, that WOULD be special.
Well. For my thirtieth birthday I had high hopes the CFO would buy me a diamond. I had, in fact, decided this very firmly in my head. Of course, I had not communicated that to the CFO, who in fact bought me a very beautiful small Dufy line drawing of a female nude. I know, much better, right? Anyway I was all lukewarm and hmph even though I LOVE the drawing, until he caved in and bought me one for Christmas instead. Under pressure. So all the magic had gone and I had basically bullied him into it. Yes, I am a bad person. How on earth is this worthy of the list? It is one of the most petty and shameful things I can think of in my life. Next!
Socialised outside your age group
Why yes, actually, I am a tremendous hit with the 4-6 demographic due to my inability to say no, cupboards brimming with trans fats, extensive knowledge of Pokémon AND, coûp de grace, ability to REMOVE MY HAIR. Hurrah!
Hatched a plan for your own business
Long-cherished plan to open British style fairy cake and sensible plain sponge bakery in Brussels stalled due to:
(i) Absence of financial viability (CFO: In order to be profitable you would have to sell each cupcake for €20. Does that seem plausible to you? Me: Shut UP and pass the edible glitter! )
(ii) Terrible icing skills and inadequate health and safety procedures.
Successfully negotiated a pay rise
As if the fuck I have. I "negotiated" a month of leaving early when I arrived here and even that made me cry. I am guessing that doesn't count.
Discovered your signature style
I am trying to think of a name for my "signature style". Hunchback noir? Elegantly stained ? Mothy gothic? Deluded vagrant?
Discovered the importance of women
This one made me snort, daintily Oh my god! Women! I'm sure I've heard something about them. What do they do again? Aren't they supposed to be the new George Forman grill? Better pets than labradoodles? An innovative new religious movement? Uuurgh.
Established a shoe collection
Well, yes. But I'm not proud. It hardly makes me Mother fucking Teresa, does it?
So, as inevitably as night follows day, and lazy post follows lazy post, here is my list, with some initial contributions received after canvassing opinion. Please add your own.
- Had a screaming meltdown in public, Christian Bale/Naomi Campbell style. Me: sitting on floor outside children's nursery in Spitalfields, crying and shouting uncontrollably. Percentage of people who completely ignored me: 100
- Had court proceedings issued against you (I think I currently have 2. Maybe 3. Would have to check the post to be absolutely sure, and that's not going to happen).
- Had to crawl somewhere rather than walk due to intoxication.
- Become ill purely as a result of own stupidity eg. staying up all night for 3 weeks watching repeats of Lovejoy leading to psychosis/hallucinating about table legs, licking raw chicken breasts to get time off work, detox diet turning you purple and splotchy, etc. My mother gave herself scurvy by moving to Ghent with only the Dutch words for liver paté and coffee. Ah, the hardships of life before self-service shops!
- Been cautioned (or worse) by a police officer.
- Chosen a coffin.
- Buried something. Something dead, not a bone/treasure/vole.
- Dealt with a crying man.
- Worn a wig.
- Stolen something.
- Smashed a plate/cup/glass in anger.
- Had your hold up fall down on you in the middle of the street.
- Gone to a serious meeting with chocolate on your face/straw in your hair/baby or cat sick on your shoulder/a lovebite/laddered tights/loo roll stuck to your shoe/all of the above.
- Had some form of therapy.
- Had a mortifying crush on a co-worker.
- Had an uncomfortable discussion with bank manager/maxed out credit cards/been reduced to hunting for change under sofa cushions.
- had a close encounter with a speculum.
- Mistakenly sent a "reply all" email destroying a number of relationships and your credibility in the process.
Any advances? If the 35 list makes you feel bad, check out the 25. It made me cry harder than ever.