Monday, 19 January 2015

Post-Post Panic

     So the last two weeks have been a bit weird, twatty bloggerwise.  An overheard conversation in a pub, a bit of private kvetching, a post about Public Archaeology that went down like a cup of cold sick with some… A bit stung by the response and the barrel of snakes I had unwittingly released, I thought it was probably best to retire from the world of blogging for a bit, and let the dust settle.

     Unfortunately, I couldn’t. Because before I wrote about The Public Centipede, I’d had an email, asking if I’d do something. And I had agreed to the request.  But the time that I should have spent thinking about how I was going to fulfil the request was instead taken up with peering at twitter through my fingers, and wincing to see various people having a bit of a snipe, swipe and scrap over my post.

     So when Thursday dawned… I really hadn’t thought too much about the request. As ever, I’d left it to the last minute. I’d confidently said I’d have it done by twelve. By half ten, the laptop was on. Coffee had been drunk. Cigarettes had been smoked. And I still had no idea how I was going to keep my end of the bargain.

     A flicker of alarm, no bigger than a boilers pilot light, began doing a groovy little shimmy in my head. My inner monologue went something like this:

     Start writing. I can’t. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to say. Just DO it. How? I’ve got no ideas, no angle, no corner pieces of the jigsaw. But you’re never going to until you start writing. But I don’t have anything to write! I’ll have another coffee. And another cigarette. Those five minutes will give me the time and space to find the right place to start.

     [Long drawn out five minutes. Brain goes into standby mode. Tumbleweed rolls a cross the road of twatty blogger inspiration. A wolf howls, somewhere in the distance. A cold wind whistle past]

     Ok… so that didn’t work. NOW WHAT????  Stop faffing about with the washing up!  Shit, it’s nearly eleven and not a word have I written… Less than an hour. Shiiiiit… I can’t let them down! Right. You. Laptop. NOW.

     And thirty-five minutes later, it was done. An email had been sent. An acknowledgement email had been received. Job done. Nothing to see here, people, move along, go about your business, get on with the rest of the day. Sounds like a plan, right? Oh, how I misjudged myself. The minor alarm of earlier now seemed like a memory of happier, simpler times.

     I showered. I dressed. I houseworked. I drank coffee. I smoked cigarettes. I played with my hair. But most of all, I checked my emails obsessively.  And when I say obsessively, basically I mean that I sat, hammering F5 like I was playing Lego Star Wars on the Xbox, for four hours, in b between refreshing the email app on my phone too. Every time my phone gave the chirpy little happy ‘ping’ of a new email, I dived onto my phone like a ferret on uncovered human flesh. But never the email I was waiting for. No, no. My inbox was suddenly full of emails from shops, companies, supermarkets, school, twitter notifications. Never in my life has my email address been so popular, and never has it made me fret more. Alone in the house with no one else to turn on, I pounced on myself.

     Look. Look – see that? That email you replied to yesterday? THAT’S what they asked you to do. THAT is what you were supposed to do, you blithering idiot. Not serve up some self-indulgent wanky bag of wind and piss that will give everyone brain poisoning. You silly little fool. Twatty blogger? Twatty… TWAT more like (I can be incredibly articulate and eloquent at times)

     And then of course, I couldn’t help it. I pictured the scene. The recipient of my email (sorry, so sorry) innocently opening the contents   and being confronted with a wave of mawkish sentimentality and overemotional rambling of the most pathetic type. It played out in my head like a scene from Dynasty…

     An office, somewhere in central London. A woman sits down at her laptop, and reads a document. As her eyes move down the page, her face changes from expectant, to doubtful, to concerned, to horrified. She calls over a colleague, and asks her to read the document. The same facial expressions follow, and at the end of each paragraph, the colleague looks over to the first woman, who nods each time, as if to say ‘I know.’

     Colleague: What are we going to do?

     Woman: I don’t know

     Colleague: No, but seriously, what are you going to do? You can’t use this!

     Woman: Me? Why is it my problem?

     Colleague: You bloody asked her to do this! It’s your fault!

     Woman: We all talked about it and agreed! It wasn’t just me! And in any case, I had no idea that we were going to get… this.

     Colleague: You’ll just have to email her and say we can’t use it Can we just pretend we never got it?

     Woman: No, because I emailed her to say that I’d got it. What? Don’t look at me like that! It’s standard. You’ll have to email her – explain that something’s come up, and we can’t run it today.

     Colleague: But she’s going to expect it to go up at some time. We can’t keep putting it off forever.

     Woman: Nah, it’ll be old news.

     Colleague: Not that old.

     Woman: Look, are you trying to help here or not? I mean, can you think of anything better?

      Colleague: Um… tell her… you’re dead?

     Woman: Piss off. [Long silence] Tell her mumsnet’s closed?

     Colleague: Plan. You do it.

     Woman: No, you do it

     [Descends into pitched battle with laptop being used as a weapon, mugs being hurled, bunting everywhere, hair pulled, toes stamped on, tables overturned, swivel chairs being used as battering rams, until the two combatants are on their hands and knees on the floor, panting, surveying the wreckage]

     Colleague: You know how to sort this?

     Woman: No.

     Colleague: Start a thread in AIBU.

     [Cut to house in Norwich.  A 35 year old woman checks her email for the 57th time, sighs, chews her fingers]


     I paced the living room floor, occasionally pausing only to log out and back in to my email account. Nothing.

     Still nothing

     More nothing

     Still more nothing.

     Oh god… What had I done? Why had I been so stupid? The Greek Chorus in my head clamoured ever louder. So loud in fact that I nearly rang Norwich City Council to put in a complaint about noise pollution. I sent a panicked message to a friend. Friend replied soothingly. I was off my face on anxiety, surfing the crest of fear and loathing in NR2. I could barely think of my own name. On the school run my feet weren’t working properly, and my knees were unco-operative.  And in the midst of the usual shouting, food demands, hanging up coats and sibling low level bickering of our arrival home… ping. An email.

     ‘You can see your guest blogpost here, and I’ll be putting it on the Mumsnet front page later.’

     [Breathes out]

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

The Public Butterfly

     On Sunday night I did something I’m not proud of. I deleted a blog post. Something I’ve done only twice before, when I unintentionally hurt people with what I’d written. It’s one of my Rules of Blogging – if I feel strongly enough to write something, then I stand by it, no matter what shit may come my way. I may be persuaded to think differently of a subject after I’ve blogged, I may change my mind entirely. But the blogpost stands, as do any comments, no matter how nasty, personal, or twatty they may be (other than the really sick ones, thanks Richard Dawkins fans!). If I write something, then it’s part of me.

     I can, and do, write about anything. My depression, graffiti, self-harm, Blogfest, miscarriage, Ed Balls, attempted suicide, music, my children, Page 3, ATOS,  religion. Bloody hell, I can even write about a trip to Notcutt's or indulge in a bit of wanky short storyness It’s all there. I’m happy to discuss. If you think I’ve got something wrong, leave a comment, I’ll more than likely reply. Talk to me on twitter. Or even email me if you like.

     I will put the post back up, eventually, when I’m feeling a bit less bruised. Considering some of the posts I’ve written in the past, I didn’t think it was all that controversial, and I’d hoped that people in Public Archaeology would see it as an opportunity for discussion. Some – most especially James Dixon of  the Public Archaeology 2015 project did, and I enjoyed reading his thoughts. Community Archaeologists broadly welcomed it, and saw it as reinforcing the idea that real people can make a real difference to archaeology. People, ordinary people like me, saw it as an expression of their views, and agreed with it.

     But a minority, a small group of Public Archaeologists saw it as… well, I don’t know really. But made it clear that they didn’t think much of what I had written, or the idea I suggested; that they form a clique that’s offputting, or that the public have any right to express their thoughts on Public Archaeology. Instead they directly and obliquely discussed my blogpost without involving me in the discussion.  Which rather proved my point. That I, as a twatty blogger, A Member Of The Public, am viewed as inferior, am not welcomed to Public Archaeology, and have nothing to contribute to it. I disagree on the first point. I am better than no one and no one is better than I.  The second point has been proven, by a number of people calling themselves Public Archaeologists, who sneered at the idea that someone outside of Public Archaeology could have anything to say that was worth their time and attention.  And on the third point… I think it is not so much that I have nothing to contribute to Public Archaeology, as that some Public Archaeologists have nothing to offer me, The Public.

     The academics, the scientists, the scholars… They can pin a butterfly down, label each and every part, discuss the DNA, talk about habitat, diet, mating behaviour. But when they scrutinise it as intensely as they do, do they ever take a moment to reflect on the simple complexity and beauty of a butterfly in flight? Or do they feel that would be beneath them? Because it certainly feels to me that some Public Archaeologists see this Member Of The Public as beneath them. And for that reason, Public Archaeology, I’m out.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

The Public Centipede

     I’ll be honest. This started in a pub. I’d escaped the house over the Christmas holidays, and was trying to write in my local, aided by a pint and some biltong, when a couple sat at a table opposite me. I wasn’t trying to listen in, but they were talking loudly, the pub was quiet, and I was not in the grip of writing fever…

     I don’t know who they were, other than they mentioned Public Archaeology quite a few times. What I do know is that they appeared to be engaging in some seriously painful handwringing about The Public and some project they were working on. ‘Do you think The Public will like that? Do you think The Public will understand this? Do you think we should contact that professional person to deal with The Public? Do you think Person A would be equipped at communicating with The Public?’ The Public this, The Public that…

     And, if I’m honest, it really started to get on my wick. Who, exactly, are The Public? Because the distinct impression I got was that in this case, The Public appeared to be one, multilegged, singleheaded creature, distinct from the couple sitting near me.  By constantly referring to The Public, they were distancing themselves from anyone who lacked their specific knowledge – in effect, othering The Public, in order to elevate themselves. Not once were ‘people’ mentioned, just The Public.

     As a few of you know, I have been described as a history obsessed moo in the past. I don’t know much, but I want to learn, to discover, to explore, to feel the past and be drawn into the details of people who went before me. To walk up worn down steps, to trace my fingers over ancient stones, to read about history around me, and then to be able to go out and see it for myself with greater clarity and understanding. It’s always been about people for me, right back to that bored ten year old girl in Salthouse, suddenly having her eyes opened. People. Not The Public.

     And this is where I take issue with some Public Archaeology, which seems to seek not to embrace people outside that specific profession, but to hold them at arm’s length. To refer to them as The Public, not as people, not as individuals, but as one homogenised mass blob of humanity who need to be spoonfed, told what they can and can’t touch, and need ‘special’ projects, designed for The Public, not for people. The Public, who are ‘allowed access’ to archaeology and the past, rather than welcomed in, inspired, encouraged, and valued. The Public, who simply by being referred to as The Public, are somehow lesser.

     Do we have Public Historians? Public Gardeners? Public Geographers? Public Chemists? Or do we have those professions, and people who work within them seeking to bring their message to a wider audience, without the need to add the word ‘public’? Something about the term ‘Public Archaeology’ irks me. It suggests an ‘us and them’ mentality, the archaeologists and ‘The Public’, an inner circle and ‘The Public’ being permitted to  look in, rather than valued guests and possible future contributors, which is surely where a lot of archaeology is going to end up… mutter, mutter, undervaluing of our shared past, cuts, lack of funding, heritage in crisis, bloody politicians… 

     Archaeologists should be the facilitators of encouraging people to get involved, to find out more, to fall in love with the world around them and see it anew, with a greater, deeper appreciation of something as simple a landscape feature, a building, or even some scratches on a wall. They shouldn’t be the gatekeepers, deciding when and where ‘The Public’ are allowed in, for how long, and under what conditions.

      I appreciate that everything has to have a starting point, that just because you build it, doesn’t mean that they will come. That archaeologists have to have ways and means of attracting people into their projects in the first place, a hook, something that will work as a method of enticing people outside heritage/history/academia in the first place. That some consideration has to be given as to how to get people to want to become involved. But a better way of doing that would be to engage with people as people, not as The Public, not as something distinct and different. To use facebook, twitter, blogs, whatever – hell, perhaps even real life interactions - to talk to people who are currently outside the inner circle of Public Archaeology, which can sometimes seem to an outsider as a very closed clique that only talks to other members.

     The Public aren’t a segmented single being. We’re people. Just like the people that archaeologists study.

Friday, 19 December 2014


      Email subject header: Put up with mane, you have a new follower on twitter!

     Oh, do I? I wonder who tha… Oh. It’s you. Again.

     Twitter’s a funny old place. I much prefer it to facebook if I’m honest, because of the fact that you can choose who to follow (or not) and you get followers who are funny, clever, thoughtful, kind, silly, interesting, and unbelievably sexy (you know who you are).  But then you also get followers that, well, don’t seem to entirely grasp the concept and possibilities of it.

     Why me? They’re new. Probably still an egg in the profile pic, with no bio either. They’re following thirty-odd accounts, almost all of which are blue ticked news, sport, official celebrity accounts. And me. They never tweet. They never interact with anyone. They’re just there. Why are they following me? Why me? Do I know them in real life? Don’t think so, although obviously it’s hard to tell with no further information to go on.  They make me slightly nervous, as though they know something about me that I don’t.

     Not for longers. Someone you follow retweets something. You retweet it. The original tweeter sees you’ve retweeted it, and follows you. You check out their twitter feed to see if you want to follow them back. Within seconds, you know that within a day or two, one of your sweary/silly/KITCHEN DISCO tweets will cause them to think ‘Oh. Not the person I thought she was.’ And quietly unfollow you.

     The bots. You know. Mention Shakespeare, cats, Stalin, horoscopes, Norwich, politics, cats, exercise, cocktails, photography, cats, heritage, Kim Kardashian, parenting, crowdsourcing, or cats, and within a day, you’ll gain at least five new follower bots, who only ever tweet Motivational Quotes In Which The First Letter Of Every Word Will Be Capitalised For No Reason. They tend to drop off after about a week or so, a bit like a scab.

     Making a hash of things. They’re probably quite nice people. But they do like a #hashtag. They #LoveHashtags #Everything #is #Hashtagged #LikeThis #HashtagEverything #LikeHashtags #HashtagLove #Love Hashtags #TheyLoveHashtags #LivingTheHashtagDream #ItIsABitMuchHashtagging #IfYouLikeItThenYouShouldaPutAHashtagOnIt #Hashtags #Hashtagging #HashtagIsQuiteAnOddWordWhenYouWriteItOverAndOverAgain #JustOneOrTwoHashtagsWillDo #PleaseStopUsingHashtagsSoMuch #ForSomeReasonOverdoingHashtagsAnnoysMe

     And then. The type of follower that really, really grinds on me. And I don’t think I am alone in this.

     Clickteasers. You know. They follow you. You look at their profile. They’re following 14.5k tweeters. They have 20k followers. You see their feed is a lot of hashtags, links to That Type Of Motivational Quote That Is Bollocks over a picture of a sunset, a few retweets of people saying nice things about them, and them saying ‘Thanks! We do our best!’ And absolutely no real interaction with anyone. At all. Ever. Just constant selfpromotion. ‘Urgh.’ You think. ‘Not for me.’ And that’s it. Until ten days later. ‘Put up with mane, you have a new follower on twitter!’ Do I? Ooh. Who’s that? Oh. It’s that person who followed me ten days ago. Bit odd. Still not going to follow them. Ten days later, ‘Put up with mane, you have a new follower on twitter!’ I wonder who has discovered me, and my witty, clever, and inspiring tweets? Oh for the love of… it’s them. Again. Right… And it goes on and on and on. Unless you block them. But, and I guarantee this, if you then unblock them, within minutes, they will follow you again. And again. And again.

     It’s ridiculous, it’s pathetic, it’s really annoying. They’re repeatedly following and unfollowing in the hope of drawing you into following them. Guess what? Not gonna. It’s not really helping their cause, because it’s quite clearly telling you that they see twitter not as a tool for communication, interaction, and discovery, but as some kind of popularity contest where the person with the most followers somehow ‘wins’.  No. The clue is in the name ‘Social media’. You know, social. Getting to know people, to find out things, to promote things you care about, to provide support, humour, whatever you like. I would rather have ten followers who *get* me, than 10,000 who couldn’t give a monkey’s. And if I didn’t follow you the first time you followed me, then it’s unlikely that I will on the eleventh time either.

      So please. If you suspect you might be a clickteaser, please. Step away from twitter, and reflect. Is continually annoying a large swathe of tweeters really the best way to promote yourself? Or might it be a better strategy to be slightly more selective, slightly more targeted in your output, and ever so slightly less of a complete and utter click?

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Scary Movie

     A few weeks ago, I had to face up to something that I’d had been doing my utter best to avoid confronting. The Black Dog had returned. The fucker.

     All the signs had been there. Not sleeping. Not eating. No motivation. Moodswings. Getting poisonously furious over trifling upsets. But what finally bounded out of the mist, smacked me over, and savaged my throat were the intrusive thoughts.

     This is always the worst part. Naturally cynical and pessimistic as a default, when the Black Dog takes over, my mind is set to catastrophe mode. It’s not so much that I expect the worst, I suspect it, I imagine it, I believe it to be happening. So I behave as if it is. Even when the wafer thin mint of sanity that remains tries to reason with me.

     It’s like when you’re five years old, and your elder siblings force you to watch a horror film rated 18. The quiet, quiet… BANG of a horrible jolting thought. You squeeze your eyes closed, turn your head away, hands gripping the sides of your chair, your face a rictus of trepidation and fear. It’s not real, it’s not real, it’s just a film, it’s not real, that’s just tomato ketchup, after this scene was filmed they all went and had lunch together, it’s not real, if I open my eyes, it’ll be a different scene that isn’t scary, I’m not scared, I’m not, I’m going to look again now… Your face twisted in a grimace, head not facing the telly, risk opening one eye a teeny tiny bit and OH MY GOD LOOK AT THE PEOPLE BEING KILLED FOR REAL

     For this reason, I never watch scary films. The effect lingers on a bit too long. But obviously, that’s fine. I can just not watch scary films. But life… can’t be avoided, although I’ve done my best at times. And when the intrusive thoughts start up, it becomes very difficult to shut up the voice in my head that makes me suspicious and doubtful.

     It’s horrible. Just URGH. The worst interpretation is applied to everything. If someone puts an inappropriate wink in a message, I become instantly paranoid. If someone says they’ll do something and doesn’t do it, I know they’re trying to hurt me. If someone says they won’t do something, and they do, I know they are deliberately fucking with my head. Messages that I don’t get an answer to? I’m being deliberately ignored.

      And it’s not just interacting with others. It’s the potential for things to go wrong. If Alistair’s out longer than I expected him to be, I think ‘Hmm. Hope he’s ok.’ And then WHAM that’s it. My head merrily projects a horror film of a twisted lump of metal that was our car, his mangled body, the knock on the door from two Policemen, me having to tell The Blondies, the funeral (would I be capable of delivering the eulogy? What would I say? Could I write it, but ask someone else to deliver it? Who would carry the coffin in?) grief, loss, me, a single mum raising two fatherless children, birthdays, Christmas, important life events, facing all of them alone. Would I meet someone else eventually? Or stay faithful to his memory? How the Blondies turn out, growing up without a father? If I became a grandmother, how sad would I feel, knowing that Alistair would never meet his grandchildren? Would a grandson have Alistair’s name?... Yes.   An entire alternative reality, delivered in as much time as it takes for me to wonder why he’s later than normal. And all because the queue to get out of Sainsbury’s car park was a bit longer than usual.

     There’s no reason for it. None at all. But it’s there. Like an infection. Brain wanker.

      And it’s horrible, because you never know where it’s going to come from. Life is all fine, happy happy joy joy, then OOF. A thought hits you and you can’t shift it. Believe me, if I could, I would. It’s not pleasant to feel you’re teetering on the brink of disaster. And what is most damaging is that you can’t anticipate. Some thoughts… meh. Shrug. Something relatively minor comes along and that’s it. Your mind cracks in half, and you’re left reeling, angry, hurt, paranoid.

      Happily, there is something I can do about it. I can (eventually) get my unwilling arse to the GP, get a temporary upgrade in anti-depressants, wait for them to kick in, and smooth over the rumpled sheets of my brain’s misfiring chemicals. It’s not burying anything. It’s not refusing to deal with life. It’s not a placebo. It’s me fixing the faulty wiring of my mind. It’s me not letting the Black Dog pull too hard on the lead.

     It’s me getting up, turning off the telly, and forgetting about the scary film. It’s me not having nightmares.

EDIT: I really ought to explain that I wrote this several weeks ago, but knew I wasn't ready to blog it. The fact that I have means I'm feeling a whole lot better. The Black Dog has disappeared.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Clouds that won't pass

      He delights in torture, but he holds my hand, and never shields me. Because the best shield is to accept the pain. Then what can really destroy me? Let me close my eyes and lie invisible, and perhaps the clouds will pass through me.

     But they’re not. The clouds aren’t passing through. I am in the fog, the fog of The Boy, and trying to understand how I can make him happy again. Because at the moment, every day is a struggle, and although there are brief shards of light and laughter, they only throw the dark clouds into greater relief.

     He doesn’t want to go to school. Every morning, it’s the same. The moodiness, the sulkiness, the deliberately slow act of getting dressed, sniping at The Girl, storming ahead of us up the driveway. Silence most of the way to school. Once The Girl’s been dropped off, I try and talk to him, to try and cheer him up. Sometimes it works. Some days he goes in happily. More often it doesn’t, and so I embrace him at the school gates, feeling the sense of resignation coming from him in waves, my heart heavy with unconditional love as he trudges slowly into the playground, looking back at me just before he goes round the corner, and making the heart gesture with his hands.

     I’ve tried talking to him. The school have tried talking to him. I’ve tried talking to the school. But there’s nothing, no obvious cause. He’s not being bullied, he’s popular, his work is good, he seems happy in class. He’s eating normally, sleeping normally. But the hour before we say goodbye is the longest hour of the day. And once home, any reminder of school sets him off into either a silent sulk, or an explosion of temper. Sometimes he leaves notes for me to find ‘I’m not going to school tomorrow Mum, please don’t make me, I love you, I miss you too much when I’m at school so I’m not going.’ He’ll talk to me openly about it, when no one else is around, which I tell myself is a good thing. At least he’s talking. At least he’s being honest. At least he’s not ashamed of feeling how he does. He’s not trying to keep dark thoughts hidden.

    But I can’t help him. I can support. I can alleviate. I can distract. I can reassure. But I can’t help him; I can’t fix what’s going on in his head. I can’t change the way his mind works.  And what I see is me. My failings, my flaws, my fears writ large that I see reflected in him. Because I know I felt the same way when I was his age. The only difference is that I kept my thoughts to myself.

     And it terrifies me. If he’s thinking this way, feeling this way, just as I did, then what does the future hold for him? My beautiful boy, the baby who would turn his head when he heard someone laugh, assuming that anything funny somehow involved him? The toddler who would reach out and gently touch every child he passed, as a sign of affection, friendship, warmth? The Boy who falls over laughing at some of my terrible jokes? The Boy who cried last week because he accidentally tripped his sister up and she hurt herself? The Boy who told me he was crying because he felt stupid and useless…

     It doesn’t seem to matter what I say or do, or how much I keep telling him of his good qualities. That he’s kind, gentle, thoughtful, caring, polite. Every teacher he’s ever had has praised him again and again for his sensitivity. ‘He’s such a nice boy.’    Even a stranger on a plane this summer praised me for my good fortune in having such a sweet and funny boy. Every day I tell him to believe in himself, that I believe in him, that I love him, that he matters, not just to me, but to plenty of other people too. But none of it seems to make any difference.

     I’m his mother. I should be able to make things better for him. But I can’t. All I can do is be there and hold his hand for as long as he wants me to. And it breaks me. On a daily basis. To see my son hurting, to see him struggle with the fear inside him. I do so much to help. But I can only do so much. And so much is not enough.

Friday, 28 November 2014

NOT Black Friday

     Oy! Are you feeling bit rubbish? Not really miserable or anything, just a bit flat, bit meh, can’t really be arsed? There’s stuff you should be doing, but uh, can’t be bothered…  It’ll get done, just not right now. Would you like me to help? I can, you know. I can provide you with the energy, the motivation, the zip, the pizzazz, the spark you are currently lacking. No, we are not going to the off licence, and no, I’m not proposing anything illegal either, so reel your thoughts back from there, you dirty, dirty child. Stand up.  That’s it. Ok, go. It’s time for


      Oh, you’re not sure about this, are you? Feeling a bit silly. Alright, I’ll be gentle. Let’s go up to your bedroom, NONOTLIKETHAT. Imagine you’ve just got out of the shower, and you’re getting dressed. Here:

     Hmm? It’s not too overwhelming, is it? It’s alright. On that first ‘Do it!’ I want you to point both forefingers and mouth along to the words. Uh-huh. Just like that. Shoulder shimmy, bit of hip action, now spin…. And get your neck moving from side to side, arms slinking, ooh, sax SOLO! Channel that John Travolta inside you! Woo! And you’re getting dressed in time to  the music, and doing a little tit shimmy forwards…and then the rhythm kicks in once more and you’re bossa novaing like a BOSS, dude! Check you out! Sax solo arms spread spin time! Yay! Shake that tailfather! Heading out the bedroom door with a spring in your step, your bum seemingly has a mind of it’s own in time to the music, arms are windmilling, you’re smiling, and it fades out, so you don’t need to end on a big  flourish or anything. Well done. Proud of you.

     Ok, feeling a bit more confident? Let’s try this one:

      It starts slowly, so you can skip the first bit, or do overemotional 80s air guitar. Your choice. And THEN, when it kicks in, you MUST do the 80s power walk (you know the one – strutting with shoulders jutting forward in time to the music). And brilliantly, with this one, you can sing along and enjoy the peculiar pleasure that is Phil Oakley straining to reach and hold the high notes (as the ever excellent Chiller said on twitter, it makes it sound like a dodgy X Factor cover version, when it is the original). You can also add the signature 80s ‘pulling it in’ move on those notes, whereby you raise your clenched fist above your head and slowly pull it down to your chest, to denote genuine emotional feelz. And then, AIR GUITAR SOLO! Go on, you know you want to. Bent knees, head thrown back, gimme some serious strumming action! And add in some Dad dancing ‘I’m shaking imaginary maracas’ wrist action. And fade

     Here’s a nice bouncy one to tell the world just how fucking marvellous you really are. If the other songs were a bit too funky for you, try this one:

      Yeah? You can do your best badass crap rap moves to it with weird finger and thumb pointy things, but the BEST bit is the chorus with ‘HO-OH? Say HO-WOAH, HO-WOAH!   EAT MY GOAL?’ call and response. If you’re not leaning back slightly, arms outstretched, wrists  bent back showing open palms, like a footballer inviting the crowd to celebrate his goalscoring genius in an attitude of ‘How fucking brilliant am I?’ ness, then I want to know the reason why. Yes? I’m waiting. Why aren’t you doing that thing I just told you to do? That’s better.

     Yeah, we’re doing alright, hey? Ok, I’m going to step it up a gear now. I think you’re ready. I have covered this one before, but it’s a good ‘getting ready to leave the house’ piece, and I think you’re ready to move on to more freestyling efforts. 

     It starts slower than you think, so you’ll probably want to kick things off with a funky walk, but once that choir and guitar kick in, along with the brass section, I’m expecting serious airpunching, spinning, and jazzy arm movements. Yes. That choir are singing for YOU. They’re telling you that YOU are getting stronger, that it won’t be long now, that YOU are flying high now. And yeah, those shouts of encouragement in that video are for YOU too. Get you, you fab downstairs dancer. And now, here’s the big crescendo, MAKE IT COUNT.

     OH YEAH. You are the showstopper. And now, the final grade. It’s kind of an abstract. You can’t really dance to it. But you can totally throw away all inhibitions, all the notions you have of not looking like an eejit, of any pretence of not just going completely batshit and not giving the tiniest toss what you look like. I’ve already kind of said what that songdoes to me before. But just go with it.

     Now try and tell me that you don’t feel better.

      Once you’ve cracked KITCHEN DISCO, you’ll find it a very pleasant friend in times of trouble. And, I hope, you’ll find your own KITCHEN DISCO playlist that works for you too. All suggestions welcomed. And look! Suddenly you’re no longer grey, dismal, and fed up, are you? You’re bouncy, joyful, pert and perky. I like it. It suits you.