Thursday, 6 August 2015

I Don't Like Birthdays!

I don't like birthdays. I don't like the fuss that they generate, it makes me anxious. I much prefer run of the mill, ordinary days, where surprises are less likely to arrive out of the blue and expectations are generally low. Before you accuse me of being a total misery-guts let me just say that I’m quite happy to celebrate other people's birthdays. It’s just that where my own are concerned I have a history of things not running smoothly. In fact, some might say I’m jinxed.  

Casting my mind back over the years, I don't even know where to start. Maybe the time I fell down the stairs as I was heading out to celebrate and didn't realise until the next morning that I’d broken my arm. Or there was the one where I visited my sister in London and arrived home late Saturday night only for the cash machine to swallow my card. I consequently had a forty minute walk home and not a penny to my name until the banks reopened on the Monday. Still not convinced? How about the time I ended up in A&E when a rambunctious sailor inexplicably rubbed vinegar into my friend's eyes (don't even ask!)?

The jewel in the crown though, the one which is unsurpassable in its jinxedness, happened just a few years ago. I knew it wasn't going to be a good day from the get go. After all, my dad had only just been diagnosed with terminal cancer and so it was understandable that my family would forget, reeling as they were under the weight of something far more important. However, little did I know that every single other person in my life, except for one, would also forget. And in the end I’d wish that the lone well wisher had forgotten as well.

This particular person called me a couple of days before the 'big day' and informed me that she’d booked a spa day for the two of us and another friend. Predictably, given my previous birthday form, the day came around and the friend who’d arranged the 'treat' called early to say she was ill and couldn't make it. All was not lost, however, as I was still meeting the remaining member of our celebrating trio at the spa. This though was when the day really began to descend into surrealism and I started to suspect that I was trapped in some bleak European art house film. The said friend quickly informed me that she couldn't stay long as she’d managed to book herself an appointment with the much in demand spa hair stylist. She then thrust a card and gift at me but, before I could get excited, said that they were for another friend with an upcoming birthday for which she wouldn't be around. 

Worse than being forgotten was the creeping sense of dread that she might at any moment remember and there would follow the indignity of all the embarrassment and fuss that would bring. I was literally counting the minutes until her hair appointment and then it was just me. I spent my birthday alone with a bunch of strangers, flitting from a boiling hot sauna to a freezing cold ice room, pretending that I gave a hoot about the natural exfoliating effects. And worse was yet to come as, one by one over the following week, people remembered and I had to relive the whole tawdry experience.

So who could blame me for saying that birthdays are really not my cup of tea? And if you’re still not convinced, I do have more evidence filed away in my back catalogue of birthdays from hell.

How Anti-Social Are You?

I am in the main a fairly calm person but I suffer from two forms of rage. Air rage and cinema rage. When I find myself in the confines of an airplane or in a cinema, I become something akin to the Incredible Hulk and fear it's only a matter of time before I’m led away in handcuffs. 

I’ve heard of people who suffer from supermarket rage and find themselves scuffling in queues or grappling in the aisles, but not even being rammed from behind by a trolley can induce me to want to kill. Likewise in the gym, despite hearing tales of fisticuffs over hogging the treadmill or leaving machines soaked in sweat, none of that can rile me up. 

However, as soon as a plane leaves the ground, I could quite literally massacre everyone on board. There’s something about being crammed in, especially when the person in front decides to recline their seat that makes me hyper-sensitive to every sight, sound and movement. The person several rows behind talking too loudly, the person next to me wafting their newspaper a little bit too close to my space or, God forbid, the person who tries to engage me in conversation. There’s something about not having much space that makes me want to cling onto what little I have like a mad woman. 

Even more intense, is the rage I feel on a regular basis when I visit the cinema. I sometimes wonder why I even bother to go when every trip is like playing Russian roulette with a stroke. There are so many things that can trigger my descent into full blown serial killer mode. In no particular order: people sitting on my row when practically every other row is free, people using mobile phones and lighting up the entire cinema with their texts, people eating food noisily, people talking and laughing and generally enjoying themselves. In fact, if I'm honest people even existing, given that my best experiences are the ones when there is nobody else in the cinema. 

I realise that my rages say more about me than anybody else and that, sooner or later, I’m probably going to have to become a recluse. Either that or risk being arrested for taking down an entire plane or running amuck in my local cinema.