How to find a house in London

Start your search early. Far too early. Take a cursory look at Gumtree and Spareroom and find loads of properties that match your reasonable requirements. Confidence level: 100%.

Then start your search for real. Find all the good places have gone, but that’s okay, because there’s still time. There’s still time to be choosy. Laugh scornfully at adverts boasting ‘Lovely and good’ or ‘Cheap and nice’ rooms. We all know what that means. You’ve got standards, thanks very much. Confidence level: 90%.

Go to a few viewings. Find that the rooms are not anywhere near as ‘gorgeous’ or ‘spacious’ or even as ‘good-sized’ as the ad description suggests, but that’s okay! It would be unheard of to find somewhere decent straight away, right? It’s London! Confidence level: 80%.

Go to more viewings. View several houses with palatial ensuites that can only be accessed through a partially open door as the adjoining bedroom is a cupboard. View a house occupied by pasty, translucent boys that all but wet themselves shaking your hand and ask if you have many single girl friends. View a house with giant pictures of vaginas all over the walls and be scolded by the landlord for looking at them. View a house where the available room is advertised as having its own conservatory but find that it’s basically a lean-to featuring a clogged toilet. View a house where the door is opened by an imposingly large Turkish man who yells ‘YOU A CLEAN GIRL, OKAY?’ in your face. Confidence level: 50%.

Eventually, find a place you really like. Text the tenants to express interest. Hours, then days, pass without a reply. Become wracked with self-doubt as your self-esteem takes a battering. Maybe you came on too strong. Maybe your joke about baking a chocolate cake was interpreted as needy, or mental, even. WHAT’S THE BLOODY ETIQUETTE FOR THIS SHIT? Struggle with the idea that the tenants have put you in the same league as sweaty hands boy, or mad vagina lady.

Spend hours and hours on room share sites. Destroy your phone battery by hitting refresh every five minutes. Send hundreds of awkward ‘I’m super cool and normal!’ emails to people who never respond. Find dozens of gorgeous houseshares advertised by awesome-sounding people requesting gay applicants only. Damn the gays and their beautiful mould-free houses.

Manage your expectations. Broaden your search parameters. You don’t really need a garden. You don’t really need a living room. Sure, you can work from your bed, and it’ll be fine sharing with four couples. Fun, even! Confidence level: 30%.

Lament your woes to your friends and listen to them wax lyrical about how hard they found that one week they spent searching for a flat, or how they had to view ‘like, six or seven!’ places before they found their current house, or how it actually took them upwards of two months to find somewhere because the lettings market in London is completely fucked and they’re not telling you this to dishearten you, but ‘you know…’.

And you do know. You ‘know’ to the point that you’ve started viewing rooms that have been advertised without pictures and wishing some kind of property Lemon Law existed so you didn’t have to spend whole hours traipsing around an inhabitable dive answering questions about what you do for a living and listening to fucking News of the World jokes. You ‘know’ to the point that you’re starting to think that an advert mentioning the fact that the room’s radiators have valves is probably pretty useful to know actually, and you ‘know’ to the point that you’re seriously considering responding to the likes of these ‘Cheap and lovely’ adverts you’d previously pooh-poohed.

Looks nice.

Looks nice.

It would have taken exactly 30 seconds to clear that crap off the bed.

It would have taken exactly 30 seconds to clear that crap off the bed.



Can only assume that bedside cabinet had eaten the previous tenant, hence photographers reluctance to move it back 10 damn centimetres.

Can only assume that bedside cabinet had eaten the previous tenant, hence photographer’s reluctance to move it back 10 damn centimetres.

Look at all these rooms to rent at the Tube station!

Look at all these rooms to rent at the Tube station!

Literally, take FIVE SECONDS to pick up the damn chair.

Literally, take FIVE SECONDS to pick up the damn chair.

I can't even.

I can’t even.

Confidence level: 5%

And then one morning, three and a half months and 23 viewings later, sit in the bedroom you’ve come to hate and load up Gumtree for the millionth time, and find a new advert. A new advert with pictures, and an adequate description written by people that sound sane, and go into your message drafts and copy/paste the same tired message you’ve looked at five times a day for the last 117 days. Send it off. Expect nothing. Don’t even allow the smallest sliver of hope or optimism into the dark, rough void where your soul used to be, for only disappointment resides there now.

Receive a reply straight away. Go through the motions, arrange a viewing. Plaster a smile over your tired, lifeless face and trudge to the address. Ring the bell and take a deep breath as the door opens…

Confidence level: 100%.





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Brace Face. In London.

Six Month Smile for adults‘Kids can be so cruel’.

I hate that expression, namely because usually the people that throw it around with reckless gay abandon, chuckling and rolling their eyes as they do, were the very kids propagating the cruelty. I find that those that were on the receiving end tend to keep their mouths shut, pushing their unpleasant memories into an untapped pocket of their mind where it can all fester quietly as a mental illness.

Still. Kids can be horrendous creatures, and it only takes one knuckle-dragging child to come up with an insulting nickname that’ll plague you for the rest of your days. Something the rest of the drones will latch on to and throw like spears in a bid to avoid their own persecution. Child psychology 101.

The problem is, once you’ve grown up and gotten your shit together, and have long since revelled in seeing the offenders clocking off at McDonald’s, or waddling down the high street with a farm of children nipping at their heels, that nickname still scratches around the corners of your consciousness. It embeds itself in your psyche, and becomes a quiet part of your identity.

Even if you no longer demonstrate attributes of the name, the name was once responsible for the shape of your entire world. Despite the ‘love yourself!’ rhetoric that dominates much of the conversation we’re party to nowadays, where self-acceptance and self-assurance are the ultimate goals, your heart will still miss a beat when you hear the name mentioned (entirely out of context, of course), or are in on any kind of discussion revolving around features linked to the name. Like it or not, that bloody name is an albatross around your neck no matter how many inspirational ‘U R so unique’ quotes you read on Tumblr.

Which is partly why, at the age of 28, I’m getting braces.


I had braces when I was 15 in a bid to counteract the attributes of the name which had long before been bestowed unto me. The requisite train track types that marked a rite of passage for the dentally disadvantaged teenager, but were liable to rip open the inside of your cheeks and drive pieces of errant metal wire into your gums every time you attempted an apple or a Mars Bar. But so desperate was I to be rid of them, and the name, that the retainer given to me by the orthodontist once they’d come off was gleefully flung into a drawer and quickly forgotten about. It was only a few weeks afterwards that I tried to put it back on and realised that my teeth had already moved too far to do so. Good work, teenage me.

So the name stuck, and I have been hugely paranoid about my teeth ever since, especially since they have now shifted quite significantly back into their original, overcrowded position.

The few people I’ve spoken to about this have of course assured me that my teeth are fine. And I know they’re not that bad, really. But this has nothing to do with emulating magazine-standard beauty or aspirational living, it’s because every time I look in the mirror, see a photograph of myself smiling awkwardly, or even see my erratic, jumbled bite mark in a piece of fruit, the name reverberates around my skull like a trapped bird, along with all the anxiety, paranoia and nervousness associated with it. So I’m taking charge of the name by banishing it for good.

The irony is that I’ve spent all of my adult life trying to hide my teeth, and now I’m drawing attention to them in the most overt way possible: “I’m an adult with braces! I’m unhappy with my teeth! Look at them!” It’s something that makes me feel quite sick and uneasy, but if I don’t do this now, then when? I definitely don’t want to make it to old age and look back at photos of milestone moments and think ‘Fuck, I wish I’d just gotten it over with’.

So after nearly eight years of saving (son, this shit is expensive and I’m a freelancer), I’m off to purposefully regress into my teenage self, and exorcise her of the demons of the name.

Just gonna get my fill of apples and Mars Bars first.


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‘Should’ is a four letter word

Is 30 the new 20?This morning I watched a TED video joyfully titled ‘Why 30 is not the new 20’. In it, clinical psychologist Meg Jay talks about the plight of indecision and nonchalance afflicting huge swathes of 20-somethings around the world – 20-somethings that live their lives in a comforting bubble of ‘I’m young, I’ve got time, I’ll do it tomorrow’.

That such 20-somethings then wake up at 30 lamenting those lost years, panic-marrying and diving blindly into any old career because they spent too long ‘seeing what would happen’, is not, Meg says, okay. And she’s right. But as rousing as that speech is for 20-somethings that do still have time on their hands, for those hurtling towards the big 3-0, it’s a hell of a kick in the face. And thus…


This bloody video comes at a sarcastically-relevant time for me, because like the case studies discussed, I too am beginning to feel the panicky sensation of life speeding up, when right now I just need it to calm the hell down so I can figure out what I’m doing. And at the crux of the problem (my ‘identity crisis’?) is a single word. Should.

Last night I read that the Independent’s new editor – Amol Rajan – is 29-years-old. By comparison, I should be much farther along in my career than I am now. Of course, there’s little point in making comparisons, but it’s given me cause to consider the job I do. Should I be doing something differently? Should I consider a different direction? Should I accept that freelance journalism is not a sustainable way of life and get an office job? Where should I start? Should, should, should.

Then, and perhaps more distressingly, is the fact that some 95% of my female friends have shacked up with their other halves (and given this blog’s readership there’s a very high chance you’re one of them). Again, I am rational enough to recognise that there’s no basis for comparison, but it makes me consider what I should be doing. My bloke and I are very happy living separately, but should we be living together? And if not now, then when should we consider it? And if we’re not living together by now should we be asking why not? Again with the shoulds.

The word pours into every aspect of imminent-30s life in a very toxic way. The ‘shoulds’ that presented themselves in my early and mid-20s were concrete and finite, with clear outcomes and consequences rendered irrelevant by the wonderfully intangible sands of time that lay beneath every question.

Now, the ‘shoulds’ are abstract, the outcomes uncertain and it’s the consequences that are concrete. Many (myself included) live in constant states of happy/unhappy: ‘I’m happy with my life, but should (there’s that word again) I be happier?’ Or, perhaps more damagingly: ‘I’m not happy with my life, what should I be doing to be happier?’ And for guidance, they look to others:

‘What is the control group doing?’

And if you’re not doing what the control group is doing then it’s very easy to feel like you’re trapped behind a pane of glass, watching everyone else skip merrily along with their lives. There’s momentum in you, but you’re not going anywhere, and the whole thing is worsened by the media reports and scare stories and blimmin’ TED videos promising definite misery if particular life objectives are not met within certain timeframes.

It’s time to ditch the word ‘should’.

‘Should’ is inherently doubtful. ‘Should’ is inherently indecisive. ‘Should’ paves the way for ‘maybes’ and ‘perhaps’. It’s kinda negative, really.

So forget ‘should’. Replace it with ‘will’, and ‘can’, both positive, hopeful and empowering words free of uncertainty: “What will I do…?” “What can I do…?” After all, Obama didn’t emerge victorious on the back of ‘Yes we should’, did he?

It’s no mean feat to entirely change the way you think about life – after all, we’re all subjected to damning ‘Big 3-0’ narratives for years and years before we actually get there, but it’s your choice as to whether you keep listening to them. It’s within your power, and the power of ‘can’ and ‘will’. Let those words pour through imminent-30s life. The only alternative to doing so is the ‘shoulds’ and the debilitating whispers of the control group, but if you’ve read this far, it means you’re already pretty sick of those.

Thirty is not the new twenty, no. It’s not the new anything. But it has come to represent some kind of invisible cut off point for joining the control group, or for doing the things you really think you should do.

But it’s not a question of whether you should. It’s whether you will.


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A picture of teenage depression

PillsFor a number of reasons, this week has seen my hasty and unexpected return to the ‘Shire for a couple of days. As anyone who has ever spent more than ten minutes in my conversational company will know, there’s not a lot to do here. I’ve looked at Dad’s new lettuce patch, watched a high volume of crappy chick-flicks and had a weirdly spooky moment with my mum while the dog ate a tea towel. And that’s about as much as I could hope for, activity-wise.

So, in a move that was guaranteed to end well, I decided to dig out all the boxes of sentimental teenage stuff that I had accumulated over the years. Diaries, knick-knacks, letters, an astonishing number of decorative fans (why), and quite a lot of crap with meaning I can no longer recall. That sort of thing.

And it made me really, really sad (quelle surprise), because for the first time in my adult life I sat down and read – through my many diaries – a blow-by-blow account of the mental health issues I struggled with when I was younger; a bleak narrative that has been packed away for over ten years. It made for a depressing evening, and there wasn’t even any wine in the house.

The descent from sunny, upbeat and girlish diary entries in swirly handwriting to scrawled accounts of mood, medication and mental (in)stability is marked. From Mean Girls to Girl, Interrupted over the course of mere months. Eventually, I stopped writing anything of note and simply filled in the days with single, nonsensical words such as ‘another’, ‘still’ and ‘can’t’.

My residency at the bottom of the hole is foggy in my mind, such was the volume of chemicals I was prescribed, and such is, likely, my desire to repress it all. It was a very, very unhappy period, and one that has had a pronounced effect on my life since.


While there is always a hangover from any period of mental distress – like a skidmark on the clean white pants of your future – one thing I’ve taken from the whole sorry affair is resilience. A dear friend of mine is currently going through cognitive behavioural therapy for her own issues, and she maintains that she’ll be a more well-adjusted person for it – even more so than she was before her problems took hold.

And I agree. In this life, the only person you can ever rely on is yourself, and if you can get yourself through a period of genuine, personal hell – when you can’t even trust your own damn brain to help you out – then you’ve seen life stripped-back to its disturbingly bleak core and have been given the wonderful gift of perspective.

Which is something I need right now, since I’m not having a very good year at all. In moments when I feel overwhelmed by the number of crappy cards I’ve been dealt it’s easy for me to lose sight of how different I am now to the girl in these diaries. Life is tough now, but at least it’s a life, which is something Diary Girl was barely hanging on to.

During those dark days I saw countless therapists and mental health professionals. Some were great. Some made me feel much worse. But one woman – whose name I regrettably can’t remember – encouraged me to express my feelings through drawing. I have all the artistic ability of a goat wielding a pencil so it wasn’t something that came easily to me, but I do remember it helped a considerable amount. Last night I found a pile of those drawings and felt quite shaken by them, such was the force of the memories they evoked. But I found them underneath a pile of love letters, travel tickets and photographs that illustrate my life since that time.

And I felt an overwhelming sense of perspective.








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Wildlife. In London.

During my first year at university I lived in student flats in a green and hilly part of Wales. One day, one of my flatmates – a girl from Birmingham – and I were leaning out of my bedroom window having a fag, and we spotted a rabbit frolicking around on the grass outside.

I remember thinking the most striking thing about the scene was that the blighter wasn’t riddled with myxomatosis. Coming from the countryside, you can’t really walk anywhere without tripping over poor little mites huddled in the middle of footpaths with their eyes all gooed up.

This girl, however, lost her shit. “OH MY GOD. Is that a real rabbit?” She was physically flapping at this point, and whipped out her phone to call her mum. “Mum, guess what? THERE’S A RABBIT OUTSIDE.” She put her hand over the receiver and whispered to me, “Do you think it could be somebody’s pet?”

And that’s when I realised that not everyone had the same nonchalant attitude towards wildlife as I did. It was quite eye-opening, really; I was living with people who had, quite literally, never seen a wild rabbit before. Anyway, I chalked it up to the great city / countryside divide, and thought nothing more of it.

Until I moved to London. When I moved to this sprawling concrete wonderland, I knew I’d miss the countryside a bit. What I do really miss is the backdrop of rolling green hills that had been a constant eye canvas throughout my moves around Wales, and even in Bristol. Now it’s just buildings, offices and fried chicken shops. But whatever. No-one moves to London for the scenery.

What I’m missing the most at the moment, though, is that in the countryside, you know what the fuck is going on with its wildlife.

People tend to think the countryside is some wild, untamed animal free-for-all. That there are just pigs and sheep milling around wherever they please. That rabbits are pouring out of the ground and every single household owns a chicken. But this is not the case at all.

Wildlife in the countryside is kept in check. Farm animals are accounted for, few people own chickens because they’re bastards and rabbits, badgers and foxes keep to their bloody selves. On the rare occasion a cow starts munching your hedge, you just run at it with a novelty umbrella and they stomp off to the corner of the field, ready to be taken for milking, or turned into burgers.

You know what’s what in the countryside.

NOT LIKE SODDING LONDON, THOUGH, where the amount of wildlife I’ve encountered in the last two-and-a-bit years is simply extraordinary.

First there were the rats, which I blogged about exasperatedly at the time. What started as the odd scratching noise in the kitchen (It’s just the house settling!) quickly turned into episodes involving housemates and I hysterically throwing spoons at them as they scuttled across the cooker. Thanks to the heroic efforts of my other half, we (we – thanks for nothing Wandsworth Council and every bloody pest control agency we called in thereafter) managed to catch the offending pair, unceremoniously turfing their huge furry brown bodies into the bin (as instructed by the authorities), and leaving their nest of babies, cosy and out of reach in the ceiling, to squeak and scramble for days, until one day the noises simply stopped. It was horrible.

Then, without rats to deter them, in came an army of mice. Mice, which are able to squeeze themselves through gaps smaller than their heads, fact fans. Many weekends spent shoving wire wool down every single gap in our Victorian terrace and substantial investments in traps and sound-frequency deterrents eventually put pay to the problem, but not before several ‘hilarious’ attempts at catching the strays that saw fit to scuttle into the lounge while we were watching TV. How many grown adults does it take it catch a mouse? Seven, apparently. Five to flap around impotently, two to actually do something, but the whole group to create enough noise and panic that the poor thing eventually just drops dead from fright.

Then there were the spiders. And I don’t mean spiders. I mean spiders. Huge spiders. Over the course of one month in September, we averaged one of these monsters every two days. You’d walk into the kitchen, take a cautious glance at the floor, then go to the sink or cupboard or whatever. When you turned around – BAM. There it was. Squat and hairy, from nowhere: phobia ninjas. Both of us eyeing the other, waiting to see who’d make the first move. I’d reach behind my back, slowly, grasping for a bowl, a saucepan, anything, but its thousands of repulsive eyes would gauge the movement and it’d scuttle towards me at alarming speed, sending me tearing out of the door screaming for my life. The September rains stopped, and they left. But I know they’ll be back.

Then – and throughout our tenancy – there are the birds. We’ve an enormous tree in our back garden (some folk say it’s the tallest in Tooting), home, initially, to a pair of wood pigeons that seemed to be constantly embroiled in a domestic. I don’t know what the problem was, or indeed, what kind of problems wood pigeons have, but every day the tree would shake and they’d squawk at each other furiously, turfing bits of twigs and fluff out of their abode, which they eventually left. Maybe they split up, maybe they needed a fresh start somewhere new? Who knows? What I do know is that the tree is now home to a pair of mentally-challenged magpies that don’t understand their size and insist on flying at the tree with comically-oversized sticks, and then being all surprised when physics doesn’t work out for them. As such, the garden is covered with bits of branch and wood, and it all looks a bit Blair Witch. Which is great.

And then, most recently – and the catalyst for this lengthy rant (sorry) – the foxes. The fucking foxes. Urban foxes are as much a London landmark as Big Ben, or drunk girls falling out of Infernos. They’re just standard. The norm. But they’re utterly fearless, and whereas in the countryside they’re likely to sprint away at the first sign of a human, here they’re more likely to pull a knife on you and take your wallet. They’re everywhere. And now they’re LIVING IN MY GARDEN.

I came back from a few days away to find a family of them had dug into the plant borders around the sides of the garden and had set up camp in a the mound of earth beneath the tree. And they’d dragged a load of crap in with them: half-empty cat food tins, crisp packets, a broken plant pot (?). And, as it’s illegal to harm them with traps or poison (not that I would want to hurt them), short of shouting ‘PLEASE LEAVE’ at them through the safety of the window there’s nothing I can do. So now they join the rodents and the spiders and the stupid idiotic birds in a gang land-style territory takeover.

At least they’re keeping the cats away, I suppose. Ah yes, then there’s the cats…

Sod off


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‘Oss’, or, how I’m kicking my problems in the face

You can call me Sensei, bitchIn a school PE class there are two types of child. The child that can climb the gym rope, and the one that can’t. I was, and always have been, decidedly in the latter camp, dreading any kind of scenario that requires physical exertion, co-ordination and the bravery to put myself in a position where I might fall and brain myself. A sickening proposition at the best of times, never mind in front of a group of sniggering, capable individuals and an exasperated teacher.

So it was with massive apprehension that I stood on a plastic blue gymnastics mat this evening and greeted the burly man who, for the next four weeks, will be teaching me – wait for it – martial arts.

Yes, you did indeed read that correctly. I, of cack-handed running fame, am doing martial arts. Of my own free will.

Ever since The Event I have, I’ll admit, been pretty unhappy. Coming to terms with what happened, the reactions (or lack of) from people I considered friends, the brewing anger and resentment I foster towards the incident, the knock-on effects all these months later… it’s all come to a critical point during the last few weeks where I’ve been in serious danger of losing the plot completely. I’ve done that before, and it’s not a road I care to tread down again.

I’ve found some relief in my three-times-a-week gym slog (I know, right? I go to the gym. Shut up), mainly in that for 45 minutes or whatever I’m focused solely on reps and distances, rather than how much I want to kill everybody, and it was there that I saw the advert for the class I went to tonight.

I really don’t know what possessed me to sign up. Let’s be clear, martial arts is literally the last thing most people would think I’d do. In fact, when I told my mate Becky about it her reaction was: “WOW. I genuinely did not expect you to say that. I thought you were going to go see a musical or something.” Which I think that tells you all you need to know about the parameters of my comfort zone.

But sign up I did. And after a punishing ‘warm up’ and ten forward rolls in a row (from which I still feel nauseous), it was time to kick the shit out of things. And it was BRILLIANT. All my rage and anger channelled safely into a jab pad, while screaming – at my instructor’s suggestion – a list of all the things I’m mad at. Turns out there’s a lot of things I’m mad at.

And, it turns out, I don’t totally suck at martial arts. I’ve got good balance and thrust, apparently, and good focus. So I’m on a bit of a high. I’ve found a healthy channel for all the bad feels, I’ve stuck two fingers up to my increasingly restricted comfort zone and I got a pat on the back from someone who told me ‘You’re doing well’. And that’s what I really wanted to hear.


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Hope is important

HopeThere are many kinds of hope. Active hope, quiet hope, false hope, hope you didn’t even know you had until something happens to make you question it. For example, I’d have hoped that Scottish rock band Idlewild (whose seminal debut album accounts for the title of this blog post) would have stayed true to their indie roots instead of subsequently releasing several albums of wishy washy pap, but here we are. It’s a hope I didn’t know I had until it was lost.

All of us are hopeful, whether we know it or not. Hopeful that we’re making the right choices in life, that we’ll be happy and content in the end, that nothing will come along to alter the finely tuned trajectories of our lives. It’s not a hope we tend to fixate on, nor even consider too frequently, but it’s there, nonetheless, nestled warmly in the corners of consciousness.

When that kind of quiet hope is fulfilled, it becomes joy. When it’s jeopardised, it becomes a fed-after-midnight gremlin popping out emotional nasties with yellow eyes and dangerous claws. Hope itself is overwhelmed by paranoia, desperation, anxiety, fear and anger, and without a metaphorical Billy Peltzer around to sort shit out, the whole damn city is soon enough overrun with the monsters, and hope hides, powerless, in an air vent.

This is why hope is important. Until all hope is gone (another musical reference there, but the less said about that one the better), these demons are kept at bay. You can see humankind’s propensity towards false hope, then. Lost hope means things have gone irrevocably wrong, so it’s easier to wrap glimmering threads of ‘maybe’ around your fingers than take the heavy shackles of reality around your wrists.

And the threat of these shackles exists everywhere that hope does. They are always just off-screen, waiting in the wings. “I hope I get this job” is, of course, quite different to “I hope my mother can beat this cancer again”, but without hope both scenarios create an undesirable reality. Unemployment, financial strain, low self-worth. Grief, sadness, depression. So we cling on to these tempting threads and not until the last one snaps out of our fingers do we entertain the unhappy gremlins that have been lurking in the backs of our minds. And where’s hope, then? Sitting in a sodding air vent.

So herein lies the problem. Hope is important. But it’s also a flight risk. We nestle down into its warm bosom and wait contentedly until it either comes good or does a runner, and in the case of the latter we’ve frequently spent so long curled up with our eyes closed that the sudden harsh glare of reality leaves us blindsided.

Rationally-speaking, then, the business of hoping can just make things much worse in the end (going back to the Gremlin’s reference which is somehow dominating this post, if Gizmo had just been left in Chinatown Billy and Kate would be in smooch city instead of trying to save the world from monsters). Ironically, as my mother so fondly says: “Expect nothing and you won’t be disappointed.” (EXPLAINS EVERYTHING, RIGHT?)

And yet despite all of this, despite the rationale against ‘pinning your hopes’, and the nauseating knowledge that unfounded hope brings distressing consequences, we do it nonetheless. Like tobacco for smokers, alcohol for drinkers and casinos for gamblers, hope can provide a short-term fix for an issue we just don’t know how to deal with.

And that, unfortunately, is why hope is important.

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