Why do we always think the worst?

This afternoon, I was out shopping on Oxford Street with my sister and as is the norm the place was packed with shoppers, many of them tourists. I bought a periwinkle cardigan and black harem trousers and tried on a few maxi dresses but because I am incredibly short, those were left behind. I was happy with my purchases but they were not the only things I brought back with me.

Somewhere in between one shop and another, amongst a throng of people walking past each other, one stopped and handed me an object. It was unexpected and my automatic response was to take it. I hardly had time to look at the curly-haired woman who gave it to me and did not look at the object itself until she was gone, leaving my sister and I in a state of confusion.

Here is what she gave me:

After we had gotten over the initial surprise our thoughts naturally turned to the worst conclusions. My sister thought that it might be a computer virus and I thought that it might be the stolen data of a major corporation or bank that had been hidden with an unsuspecting stranger who know one would suspect (me), to be collected at a later date. Neither of us thought, maybe it could be a….I can’t even think of anything positive that it could be.

Is it a city thing to be suspicious of everybody’s motives? A result of reading too many crime novels or watching too much CSI? Or even watching too much news? Why did we automatically think the worst?

I’m wondering what other people would think in the same situation. What do you think is on the SD card? I’m not going to dare to find out but I’d like to read your thoughts.

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The anticlimactic end

After five weeks of GCSE exams, I would expect to feel more excited than I do at the moment. After 5 years of education in the same school, I would expect to feel something greater than what I do now. However, my own feelings are non co-operative and I even sense a hint of boredom approaching. Is it a case of delayed reactions or is finishing a key stage of your education not so important? After all, if all goes according to plan, I have plenty more years to go.

Perhaps, it is a completely opposite case of advanced reactions. I celebrated the end before it came? What with counting down to the finale with each completed exam, my final exam may have been just another step and although it was the final one, it did not get any more recognition than the first because my mind had got so used to taking steps. Had the exams been compacted into a single week, I think I would have felt more emotional at the end, relieved and excited, but because they were spread over weeks, all the feeling diffused in between. Maybe A-levels will feel like more of an accomplishment…

I can’t believe I am already going to do A-levels. It feels like only this morning I was practising for my weekly spelling tests, but in reality, it has been a long time since I’ve done one of those. It has been a long time since I’ve been in a playground. Teenagers do not go to the playground at break time. It has been a long time since I’ve lined up in a straight line, crossed my arms and placed a finger on my lips. Teenagers are not so docile. It has been a long time since I’ve used a pencil to write, carried a lunchbox, worn plimsolls, frozen when the whistle blew for the end of break or sat on the carpet. Those were the good ol’ days… Years go by so quickly and things change so fast. I can already feel the wrinkles hiding under my teenage skin, bidding their diminishing time.

I was talking to an elderly lady on the bus this morning and she was telling me about the importance of buying the right pair of shoes to maintain a good, healthy back. I found myself wondering if she felt like only that morning she had been practising for her weekly spelling tests. Trust me to get all reflective and go into deep thinking over something as trivial as finishing exams…

Exams are over! School is out! I am using exclamation marks to compensate for my lack of enthusiasm!

This will be one of the longest summer holidays I have ever had and to ward off feelings of boredom or unnecessary over thinking, I will read all the books that I had no time for during the school year. So, recommendations please!

Tags are excuses to be nosy

My little sister, who was tagged by my mother, who was tagged by another sister, tagged me. I will take part in this family game of tag, but I am afraid the family connections end here.

Do you have a middle name?

Unfortunately not and I am still not over it. I was not worth the extra thinking for an additional name and I am pretty sure that I was not consulted.


What’s your favourite subject at school?

English Literature, languages (Spanish/French), and history. Teachers have a significant impact on the preference towards a subject but I genuinely enjoy studying them- reading suddenly becomes studying.

What’s your favourite drink?

Strawberry juice. It’s light, smells of summer and looks like blood. 

Favourite song at the moment?

The birthday song. Isn’t that everyone’s favourite? Who doesn’t love their birthday? Happy Birthday mum!

What would you name your children?

This one is difficult. If someone were to pry into my computer and look through my personal documents, they would find a curious little word document with a list of names for any future children I may have. The list is embarrassingly long and as I don’t want more than one or two children, the few I may have will be burdened with the names of many. Where I do not have a middle name, they may have more names than they can spell. The latest additions to my ever-growing list are Nina and Adina, and I most recently crossed out Caramel and Aphrodite; in retrospect, they are terrible names.

Do you participate in any sports?

I enjoy sports but at the moment I do not participate in any, unless yoga is included. P.E class used to be my only form of exercise but now that I am on study leave, I hardly move.

Favourite book?

Anything with words.

Favourite colour?

Purple.

Favourite perfume?

Light, fresh and fruity with a hint of spice. I currently smell like Calvin Klein’s Beauty.

Have you graduated High School?

I am in the process of graduating Secondary School, with only three exams left. High School is for Americans and if the movies are anything to go by, they don’t do much studying.

Have you ever been out of the country?

I have been to Algeria, Spain and France. I dream of travelling everywhere but I am parent-bound and my mother is unadventurous. Since the invention of the internet and Google Earth, she can not see the point.

Do you speak any other languages?

Spanish, Arabic and French. I can count to twenty-nine in Basque and say ‘I hate you’ in Somali.

Do you have any siblings?

Yes. They claim to be related.

What’s your favourite store?

When it comes to shopping for clothes, I have no preference. I’m not one to go by brands and designer names. If I can afford it and it does not make me look terrible, then it’s mine.

Favourite restaurant?  

I’m not a big fan of food. So, anywhere with a nice view and preferably not in England.

Do you like school?

It depends on the day, but generally, I do. More so this past school year, when I just happen to be leaving. I didn’t like it a few years ago. I felt that it was a lot of pressure and the social aspect made me cringe; I can not handle school drama.

Favourite youtubers?  

Pass.

Favourite movie?

Again, difficult… I enjoy the Harry Potter series, I enjoyed the Hunger Games, but those are just the first ones that come to mind, not necessarily my favourites.

Favourite T.V shows?

I hate all these ‘favourite questions’. It is much easier to decide on your least favourite. I enjoy Downton Abbey, The Apprentice, The Vampire Diaries and more recently, medical programmes such as Junior Doctors and 24hrs in A & E.

P.C or Mac?

Neither. I know the internet, not their techno-vessels.

What phone do you have?

HTC Wildfire S.

How tall are you?

A more appropriate question would be, how short am I… Ridiculously short. My younger sister is much taller than me.

I now tag a non-related blogger. Becky, you’re it. I know you have exams, so pass it on if you don’t have time.

Time Will Fly.

It always does. When you want everything to slow down so that you can just take a moment to breathe, that breath is your last one before time is up. Only yesterday you calculated that you had a month left, today it has miraculously reduced to two weeks and tomorrow it will only be a few hours. Why does time do that ? It should stick to the rules. I can’t keep up with it because as soon as I get close it speeds up and as soon as I try to manage it, it rattles about like a caged bird until I have no option but to release it and give up.

Three weeks left. Then, I will be finished in the school that I have been a part of for the last five years. Then, before I can blink, I will be faced with four weeks of exams, I will go to a new school, I will go to university, I will grow up, get married, have kids and die. That’s how much I think that time will fly. Whilst I am living through it, there may be moments where I am bored and feel like time is dragging along but I am sure that when I am older and look back at this post, this moment in time, I will have to agree with my broody younger self.

Is 24 hours the same everywhere? Do people in Australia have a different 24 hours than people here in the UK? What about in space? What about a thousand years ago? What about in a thousand years time? I think 24 hours felt longer when I was younger, when I had less things to do and to worry about. It will probably feel that way again when I am retired, and I am finished doing and worrying about things. Until then, 24 hours feels much too short.

She did it Agatha! She’s the killer!

So, I previously wrote about my classics drive: my mission to read better books and acquire a richer reading repertoire. Since then, I have read a Dickens, Austen and Brontë, in the form of Great Expectations, Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre. I have branched out into classical horror in the form of Dracula and surely made my way into the once unexplored genre of crime.

My first Agatha Christie book was lent to me by a friend; ‘Death on the Nile’; and I was surprised to have enjoyed it as much as I did. Despite the large number of characters involved, their gradual introduction allowed my mind to keep them all and I quickly sorted through them at every minor event to try to work out who the killer was. I almost got it right… but that’s the unique thing about Agatha’s books, you’re not supposed to get it right.

It is always the person you least expect it to be, the person that you tick off, you think they have no motive or a flawless alibi…then you’re proven wrong. That’s why, whilst reading another of her books, I decided to choose the most unlikely character as being the murderer…. again, I was wrong. It was the one that everyone expected it to be.

To me figuring out the mystery before everyone else does (especially Poirot), is the aim of my reading, the earlier I crack it, the better. I can not express the glee that I felt when I finally bested her and guessed correctly whilst reading ‘And Then There Were None’. I knew it all along…but I’m not going to spoil it for anyone. That would defy the point of reading. I was going to read ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ but I was ‘accidentally’ told who the killer was and now, I am pretty sure that I will remember it for as long as I live, so I will never get the pleasure of reading that book.

The language of Agatha’s book are straight-forward and easy to follow, mainly dialogue and nothing special. It’s a good thing that the appeal is with the plot because the characters are not explored in great depth, words do not stir emotions and regardless of how many people die, you will never feel sympathy. The plot is precise and the twists and turns are gripping but whilst your mind is exercised, your heart is barely moved. When a character dies, I don’t feel even the shadow of a twinge, I just get annoyed that I didn’t see it coming.

So, I have read a few Agatha Christie books, and although I was thoroughly entertained by them and highly recommend them, it is time for me to move on. So many books, so little time and on I go to ‘the Woman in White’.

When I grow up, I want to be…

When I grow up, I want to be…

That’s the title every child starts off with when they first begin their education as a tiny 5-year-old and one that follows them throughout their school years. What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to be a builder like daddy! I want to be a nurse like mummy! I want to be a teacher like you! Every child has their own response and those that don’t copy the child next to them. A response is expected.

What is also expected is for that response to change. People are indecisive, children are fickle and what could be your dream job one day could be a bore the next, especially as your interests change, you find out that you’re not actually that good a singer and you realise that if you were an astronaut you would miss your mummy too much.

I’m no different and have been through the usual winded route of twisted career paths. These include but are not limited to:

  • An aeroplane- I must have shut out this shameful memory but my parents claim that I once had this peculiar aspiration.
  • A baker- I have an adorable photograph of myself in a white baker’s hat and apron for a school assembly.
  • A secret agent- If it happens, you’ll be the last to know.
  • Lawyer- A terrible work experience thwarted me of this career. Legally Blonde is just a movie.
  • Vampire- one word: Twilight
  • Journalist- I’m a blogger. That counts, right?
  • Writer- Forever and always. I can always write in my free time and be a writer on the sidelines, it doesn’t have to be my main career and I don’t need to get a degree to learn how to write. It’s just something that you do and that evolves naturally; the more you take in reading, the more you give out in writing.

Inspired my media, friends and the latest craze, those are some of the career options I have entertained in my unsettled mind.

It’s just so difficult deciding what you want to spend the rest of your life doing and there is so much pressure to make the right decision, especially now. Unemployment rates are toppling, university fees are rocketing and all you hear from the depressing news is that even if you go to university and dedicate years of your life studying, you will amount to nothing. Universities are extremely competitive, you will never get a place. If you get a place, you’ll drown in debt. If you survive university, you still won’t get a job. If you get a job, your wages will be cut or you’ll become redundant after your first week. All the horror stories about Britain’s unemployed youth are enough to make me feel like giving up, before I’ve even started.

Nevertheless, I think that I have finally decided what I want to be when I grow up and it is something that nobody expected; I surprised even myself. I want to be a doctor. Seriously. I cried when I had to get a blood test, but I still want to be a doctor. It is nothing that I have ever considered. When I was younger and we played make-belief hospitals, I was always the patient but I suppose you don’t always know what you want when you’re younger. When you’re younger you want everything and not always the right things.

It makes more sense if I explain that I want to be a psychiatrist and to do that I have to go through medicine and then specialise. I’m a deep thinker and a professional over-analyst so the job suits me perfectly. No blood or guts, just take a step into my office for a lovely chat and tell me how that makes you feel. That’s more like me, not that I mind being a ‘doctor’ either, although I’m sure it would take some adjusting to, but just like with anything else, determination can take you a long way. I’m sure that if you know the theory behind it, you won’t be so squeamish when its time to stick a tube into someone.

Since voicing my intention to enter the field of medicine, my family has embraced it whole heartedly. I never thought it of you, but now that I think about it, I can imagine having a doctor as a daughter. Which daughter is the question, because now both my younger sisters have decided that they might want to be doctors as well. Junior Doctors (BBC3) is now a family favourite and I’m sure that pretty soon I’ll have paper-cuts and twisted ankles to examine.

It may never happen, I may change my mind again but I’m really starting to think that this is it. I even e-mailed Imperial College to ask about their entry requirements! If that doesn’t show commitment ,then what does?

Wouldn’t it be funny if in twenty years time, I look back at this post, shake my head and think, “I can’t believe I wanted to be a doctor,” before telling my class that it’s time to go outside and play? The future is a tricky thing to control or even to guess right and you never know what’s waiting for you. I don’t believe those people that say, they always knew what they were meant for. How about you?

A message to the speed reader

Oh you who prides himself in flipping all the pages, from cover to cover, as quickly as your hands can move, your satisfaction does not compare to he who reads the book!

On my way to becoming a more accomplished reader and keeping to my resolution of reading more classics, I was leisurely reading and enjoying the literary wonders of Jane Eyre, when my impatient mother commented on the speed of my reading. My pace was not slow, she simply wanted me to return her Kindle and no speed would have been fast enough.

She, as are many others, is a speed reader and can go through many books in a week, although she isn’t the most boastful and competitive I know. Others will race each other to complete a book in the least amount of time and compare and criticise those who read at human speed, holding them in contempt and fancying themselves superior. However, how much of it do they actually read? Do they understand, process, ponder and savour the actual words or do they just move along the letters in a mechanical fashion?

I am not a slow reader but sometimes, after a particularly powerful line or paragraph, I like to move back a moment and think, imagine myself in the character’s position, guess what will hapen next and even read over it because I appreciated the words so much. How could you do that if you just skim through it?

So, here’s a message to the speed reader and precisely what I told my mother:

“If you swallow it, you will not taste it.”

What is your opinion on speed reading? Is it something you do yourself?