I’ve been at The Times for nearly a year now. Within that time I’ve locked myself in the toilet by accident twice (you need your keycard to leave the toilets for some reason), I’ve been here on big news days such as when Thatcher died and that baby popped out and worked shifts so bizarre and silly (11pm-7am) five days a week at some point) that my Mum would ring me every 72 hours and ask “Are you okay Scott? Are you really really okay?, believing that every reply of “I’m fine” to be a complete and utter lie.

The thing is though, I’m off. I’m leaving the paper. I didn’t expect to leave so soon, but I’ve been offered something different role elsewhere. I wasn’t a full on journalist here (my role was doing their social media and shouting the words “BREAK” on there every 36 minutes), but still, working for a national was a very different experience than what I expecting.

There are three big differences in fact. Things that I think all people who write ‘aspiring journalists’ anywhere should know about. And just like a column WOWZA here the reasons are how convenient:

Working for a newspaper isn’t that special.

You think that newspapers are powerful giants don’t you? Front pages decide elections, investigative journalism changes the opinions of the masses and industry and titillation and insensitivity cause people to go “OMG” in outrage on twitter day after day. Okay so we don’t read them as much as we used to, newspapers spend most of their time these times being criticised by airhead blabberheads on Sky or BBC News in “paper reviews” late at night. Or they are being proudly shown off to the camera at an angle one-by-one on Sunday morning political news programmes, as if it was being done by a smug parent showing off their son or daughter’s proud academic trophies whilst you don’t give a shit. Still, we’re still powerful creatures.

You’ve read our history, that we were once located on Fleet Street next to our printers, that everyone bashed out copy on typewriters then went to the pub and got pissed. You’ve seen footage of printing works on site, giant whirring machines that somehow manage to tightly zips and folds 96 pages in a zip of an eye, before cackling along a conveyor belt upside down with our front page name, one occasionally being lifted off and held by a proud proprietor, before being chucked into a lorry to your local newsagents. You expect, if summoned to a newspaper late at night (don’t ask me why, just imagine alright?) you were walk into a building like 80 stories high with like LAZERS coming out of the top or emitting bat signals notifying our scarred and scared world of our editorial opinions.

And yet, for most of the time that I have been working here, I haven’t felt as if I have worked for a newspaper at all. There’s nothing here that screams NEWSPAPER. In the office there’s a row after row of computers, a circular bit where the senior editors work, a room for the editor (a room that you will never ever sit in), chairs, the world’s worst coffee machine… that’s it. Not many banners boasting our name, no funky interiors or light fittings. It’s just a white office. Our facilities consist of a reasonably decent canteen, a Pret a Manger at the other end of the courtyard outside, a Shell garage over the road and being near the City of London, a sea of concrete outside the window when you look in any direction for miles and miles. We occupy two floors of a building, not eighty. And you know those big printing works historically next to us… they’re not here anymore. Our printing works have been relocated to a big old warehouse in a picturesque concrete industrial park only metres from the six lanes of the M25.

Even though you see the pages been put together, even though you see people talking about stuff that later be in the papers and even though you later see the paper in the shop… nothing. It’s an office.

The only times that you realise that you work for a newspaper is this: when people ask what you do and you tell them that you work for a newspaper. That’s it.

When you get in the newspaper you don’t join the best friends club

This is the other surprising thing about working in newspapers – we’re not a big club of best friends. You see journalists interacting and buzzing each other on Twitter, interacting like some big intellectual clique and blocking the general public out like a big a paywall of reputation and employment credentials, so much so that you expect us to do the same with everyone in the office. Shouting goss across the room, flapping our hands from one side to the other yelling “RT”, acting like we’re all in an episode of Cheers (disclaimer: I have never watched Cheers).

Yet in the newsroom, none of that. The office is whisper quiet. Most of us don’t know each other. Your colleagues who share the same role as you know you, the people who need to interact with so you can both do your job know you… nobody else. There’s too much to do on a day basis. Everyone is on different shifts between the hours of 7am to 3am. It’s manic. You just do your job.

I have sat in my desk for nearly a year but could I name some of the people who sit more than five metres away from me? NOPE.

It’s even weird when you see somebody big, like the editor or a well-known columnist and journoceleb. You think that you’re in there, that since you both share the same employment keycard you have the right to knock back some wine together and get wasted at 3pm on top of the photocopier. But do they know you? No. Does anyone know them? Not really. You end up reacting like you would do if you see them on the street – your eyes light up, you feel that you are going to screech their name, but then you realise that you’re British so you keep looking as if you never saw them. Maybe take a secret subtle photo of them on the toilet later on. That’s it.

Think being an intern is vulnerable? Imagine what being an employee is like.

When you’re an intern and you’re trying to get into the media industry, you spend most of your time clinging on to the edge of the cliff, anticipating that somebody would step on your fingers and smile fondly as you scream to the rocks below to die (note from me before publishing: please don’t be so cynical). There’s no money involved, you constantly worry that everyone in the office hates you because you’re spending your time ‘putting yourself forward for things’ or writing hours of transcription. You feel proud of yourself because after two months after sleeping on someone’s kitchen floor in Shoreditch you’ve upgraded to a sofa a foot shorter than you are in Clapham Junction (me: that’s better).

So when I got a job in journalism, I naively thought that I was it. I was no longer scared. I was no longer vulnerable. I am now in the protective cocoon of a contract with hours on and suitable holiday entitlement. That now the hardest work and suffering was over, and that thank goodness I managed to get in somewhere.

However I slowly realised that this wasn’t the case at all. For you see my position here at The Times was never in any vulnerable position at all, but the whole media industry as a whole is. You can feel the change happening every day in the office – that we can’t keep doing the same thing in the way that we market, find and write up the news. Speakers at big corporate journalism events would start rubbing their thighs at this point and say it is all “INCREDIBLY EXCITING to be in the media at this time when everything is shifting to digital”, and would advise to any young upstart the benefits of learning as many multiplatform skills as physically possible to get noticed, but it doesn’t also mean that they’re right, that everyone who is talented is going to get hired and that we’re all going to be here to see the benefits on the other side.

But never fear… if getting into the media is your ultimate ambition some traditions of journalism still exist and will never change. The fact that you spend the entire time panicking about deadlines, the fact that as journos are never free there’s never any long meetings (fake voice: “oh nooooooo”) and that without coffee, paracetamol and quite a considerable amount of alcohol we’d all be dead in about five hours.

No wait. Scratch that. Two.

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I thought of writing you an update of what I’ve been up to, so you don’t think I’m dead. I promise that this won’t turn into one of those letters you get from some distant family relatives subtly humblebragging about how amazing they all are, letters that you laugh at and spend a great deal of time reading between the lines because they mysteriously forgot to mention their wild teenager Norman who has just served a long prison sentence for sexual harassment.

DYSLEXIA
You might be able to tell from my occasional lol-tastic grammatical and fails in my posts or on my twitter that I am either dyslexic or I write when I am totally wasted. Sometimes I am both.

Dyslexia to me is a wonderful mindfuck of a thing and it isn’t a ‘learning disability’ in the slightest. Dyslexia just changes the way you think, alters the way you approach and communicate things. We have strengths in some ways (long term memory, creativity, problem solving) and weaknesses in others (like expression in writing, speaking aloud and reading). Every person who is dyslexic has different strengths and weaknesses, but how are we all assessed in job applications or in written exams for a great deal of our lives? MOSTLY OUR WEAKNESSES.

So to combat the stigma of dyslexia I am organising two sessions at IdeasTap (an awesome arts-based charity in London). For the first session I’ve invited two people who are pretty epic at what they do in the field of writing, who have managed to achieve great things despite the weaknesses of their dyslexia. There will be Q+As with them to find out how they managed to get to the top of their game, and the session will be full of advice and nuggets of knowledge to help you (if you’re dyslexic) get over your demons.

Find out more about the event here. It will be on Wednesday 18th September at 7pm. Tickets are free.

BUZZFEED
From the end of this month, I will be joining BuzzFeed UK as a full-time writer. I’ll still be writing for this blog as usual, but if you want to follow my ramblings on about television or funny stuff on the internet then it’s probably wise to see me over there. I’ll be posting what I write on my Twitter, which is at @scottygb

Oh and I also wrote this recently for them, all the reasons why it sucks being a gay teenager.

RUNNING
I would like to apologise to the people of Greenwich.

I did a half-marathon yesterday. I didn’t enter it, I was running on behalf of someone else. This ‘someone’ was a person who I have never met, she is a friend of a friend. She had pulled out of the race for a reason that I can’t remember, so my mate offered me to run in her place since I have been wanting to run quite long races for quite a long time now, but I hadn’t got round to actually entering anything.

Long story short: as I was technically running under the name of a woman in her early 30s I had to run in a extra small women’s t-shirt for 13 miles. After running for nine miles (and after the t-shirt turned soggy due to a mixture of sweat and bottled water missing my mouth at every ‘water stop’) this small t-shirt shrunk so much that I started to feel as if I was wearing a corset and I subsequently wasn’t able to breathe properly. This meant that I had one of only two choices: die, or continue to run topless.

I ran topless. I haven’t taken my top off since two hours at Glastonbury Festival earlier this summer (until I realised I looked weird so I put it back on again) and on a beach during a holiday in 1998 (in Polzeath in Cornwall – I also want to take the time now to apologise to the people of Polzeath in Cornwall for that experience in 1998). A sweaty pastey me, clenching a woman’s t-shirt between my teeth, is not a pretty sight to see on a balmy Sunday morning. In fact it was made worse by the fact that I was suffering from stitches across the top half of my body at that part of the race, so I had to keep stretching my arms out like Usain Bolt every four hundred metres to ease the pain, consequently making it look as if I was showing off and posing in front of the ladiezzzz.

An unrelated incident from this race was that at one point I accidentally nicked a packet of crisps from a small child who was spectating. Some kids were handing out sweets during the course you see, I put out my hand when a kid offered me a boiled sweet, but then I missed his hand by error and nicked a packet of 10p crisps from his mates’ hand by mistake. Realising what I had done, I then dropped said crisps by the side of the road 10 metres away and didn’t stop running, and was so tired and confused I didn’t think about apologising to them until about three miles later, when of course I couldn’t.

I’ll let you know about my day in court in my next blog post.

Yours (from prison),

Scott Bryan

1. I am terrible at quizzes

Not just pub quizzes. Well, there was this one time when I was given the opportunity to be in charge of the piece of paper and pen at a pub quiz. There were 20 questions per round, and with the scores being announced at the end of each round, we knew by round four that we were well in the lead.

That was until the second to last round, the music round, where the songs we had to guess the name and artist to were all colour related, songs blasting out of the stereo like ‘Yellow Submarine’. Everyone in our team started whispering to each other the colours and the songs. I jotted them down on the page. We all thought we were right. We were all pretty smug.

Here’s how my answers looked on the page…
Yellow
Green
Blue
Red
Black
Red
Blue
Green
Blue
Green
Purple
Blue

I didn’t realise until our scores were being read out ten minutes later that we got one point for correctly guessing the artist and one point for correctly guessing the song. I ignored the artist and the song name. I didn’t understand why people kept telling me what the song name and who the artist was whilst I was jotting down the colours. I thought that information was irrelevant.

We went from first place to near last place in just one round.

SO YEAH GUYS, I AM TERRIBLE AT ALL QUIZZES. Terrible at sports, terrible at history. I remember and regurgitate facts that nobody else wants to know (like facts from my dissertation topic ‘Agricultural and Machinery Production in Rural Japan in the 1800s’) but I don’t remember facts that absolutely every other single person seems to know, facts about food, society, culture, sport, film, music, geography, technology and life.

If you want proof, you can listen below to the quiz that I did on BBC Radio York back when I was a student in 2009. I was on the radio because back at the time I was the Station Manager of the University radio station URY. I had been invited on just to plug the station and tell everyone that we existed. I just didn’t know that every single guest on this radio show had to take part in a quick general knowledge quiz.

My answers just get worse, and worse… and worse and worse.

2. I am bad at booking things.

I was up at the Edinburgh Fringe just over a week ago, along with ten or so good mates. It was my first time at the Fringe – I literally had no idea what to expect. It was also been the first time that I had visited Scotland in about 12 years, and being Scottish (I was born in Aberdeen and my Mum has a Glaswegian accent) I was hoping that I would pick up some sort of sexy Scottish twang and end up sounding like and looking more like my arch nemesis… the man on the front of those Scott’s Porridge boxes.

It didn’t work (obviously), my accent is as still just as ‘Oxfordshire commuter town, went to a rural Church of England school’ as ever.

Anyway, we all had shows that we wanted to see when we were at the Fringe. Most of us had booked shows in advance. Some of us had bought tickets and some people, like me, just thought of making up a schedule of performances as we went along.

My system worked. I was able to see a lot of shows last minute. I was pretty proud of myself… until I decided to purchase tickets for Jon Ronson.

I am a big fan of Jon Ronson, the author of ‘The Men who Stare at Goats‘ and ‘The Psychopath Test‘. He was playing at Edinburgh for a weekend, a show that consists of him talking about some of his work and his experiences and so on. I told a couple of friends that he was performing. They got excited too, so I purchased a ticket for both of them too at the same time.

The problem? Jon Ronson was playing Edinburgh, but not at the weekend we were there. He was playing the next weekend. I got the date wrong, I thought it was Sunday 18th August not Sunday the 11th so I purchased three tickets to a show that it turns out none of us could go to.

No matter. I could just return the tickets couldn’t I? ‘TICKETS ARE NOT REDEEMABLE OR EXCHANGEABLE’ it said in capital letters on the back.

How about selling them? Nope, I couldn’t do that either. I tried. I asked performers whether they wanted to have them (none said yes), I offered to sell them on twitter (but nobody accepted). I even tweeted @JonRonson telling him that I had three tickets to spare and whether he wanted them, only to be told by another twitter user that it might be a bit pointless to sell tickets to him considering that it is his show and he’ll be there anyway.

I ended up just giving these tickets away. I took a photo of these tickets and posted them on Twitter and Facebook along with the words “God. For the love of god just take them. Anyone. Just take them. Please. Oh god please.”

20130821-094207.jpg

Someone on Twitter accepted them, for free. I shoved the tickets into an envelope and posted it to him. “That’s the end of that”, I thought. “I’ve only wasted £12 and wasted £24 of my friends’ money.”

The guilt continues. For you see, I didn’t post it soon enough. The letter was sent to Scotland, it arrived at this person’s house on a Monday morning. The performance? The performance was the previous day.

Here’s an example…

1

If you take a look at the results, there’s a pattern…

photo (1)

99%

photo (2)

99% AND 99%

3

99%

4

99%

5

97%

6

96%

7

99%

9

99% AND 99%

photo (5)

97%

photo (2)

99%

photo (1)

98% AND 97%

photo (3)

99%

photo (4)

94% AND 96%

photo

93% PLUS 3 % = 96%!!!!

It’s good to know that whatever you ask, 99% of people will agree with you.

Other Daily Express investigations (by me):

Are the weather Daily Express headlines accurate? Answer – probably not
So why does the Daily Express hate the EU? Let me count the ways

(This was first written for Go Think Big – a lovely online publication, full of careers advice for young people. Their sole duty is to stop them making the same mistakes that I have done.)

It is a throw away remark you’ve heard a million times at various careers events or read as ‘advice’ on various websites…

“Why not have a blog whilst you apply for a job? It’ll make you stand out from other competition!! It’ll show off your skills!!!!!!! It’ll be fun!!!!!!!!!!!”

Well let’s cut to the chase shall we?

Don’t start a blog for any of those reasons
Blogging is not fun. Blogging is an arse. You spend your first three posts shouting at your computer because the formatting keeps crashing and the website that you’re using to make the blog doesn’t make any sense. You then spend the next ten posts angry at yourself because no one has clicked on your blog apart from you refreshing the page over and over again to see if anyone else has clicked on your blog.

Blogging might show off your skills to potential employers, but it’ll take a lot of work to even make your blog in a good shape to remotely impress them. You cannot get a decent looking site in a day, or even a month. And the more you blog the more you notice that there are many other people within your niche blogging too with much better skills than you have. You’ll then develop a horrible sense of envy when you see them hogging the limelight, unless you work at your blog 39 hours a week for the next nine years whilst living penniless in your Aunt’s basement (like they are).

And blogging, for all of that effort, consists of your potential employer taking the initiative and visiting your site in the first place, so it might not make you stand out after all. And your blog will not stand out online unless you market it in the right way and blog for a hell of a long time. And remember… ‘marketing’ does not consist of you writing on your Facebook wall or your Twitter profile over and over to say that your blog exists, because that will ALIENATE. YOUR. FRIENDS.

So you’re probably wondering by now… why the hell blog? What is the point in investing so much time? Why do people do it in the first place?

Blogging is the crawl space that you go to to scream
I think people blog because they have a desperate need to vent somewhere. Bloggers have an opinion that they haven’t seen replicated in a national newspaper or expressed more than 140 characters on social media in any given time. Bloggers are angry that nothing caters for their interests so they feel that writing about it every couple of days will inspire the wider world to get a move on. And bloggers are people who are a little bit full of themselves, who believe that people will actually come to listen to them and argue with what you have to say every time that they press the word ‘submit’ rather than having you reading and consuming something else.

We’re all smug arseholes basically.

So now you know what blogging is – how do you get a good one up and running? Here’s a list of everything that I have learnt in the last three years I’ve been blogging…

Find a niche
When you hear careers advice like “oh why not write a blog?” from Mr or Mrs Employment Face you then start to follow the logic that you have to write something that you think that they would want to read. That you have to tailor your writing to be of something that would be completely compatible with your CV that you submit weeks later, yapping on about something about the industry, trying to work towards an imaginary checklist that they would have in their head whilst they check you out.

Don’t bother. Write what you want to write. Write what you find interesting. Even if it doesn’t exactly match the job specification or the industry that you are interesting at least it shows that you are passionate about something to a future employer. That you are not a robot bleeding out CVs and application forms hoping for anything from anywhere. Also remember, you are doing this for the long game. You’ll learn so much about the subject making you more qualified anyway.

Don’t niche yourself too much
When you have chosen a niche it is easy to get carried away with yourself and believe that every single post that you make has to be on that topic or that general interest from now on. I wouldn’t recommend doing that, Unless you are planning on building a website in the long distant future and are planning on hiring writers and contributors and photographers and managing editors, I would recommend keeping your blog flexible.

Why? Firstly because you might have a brainwave on a similar but different topic or a whole different topic but there’s no point having multiple blogs on different topics cutting your audiences in half. Secondly you are blogging and generating awareness about you, not the subject that you are writing about, and your interests and passions and opinions might change. And thirdly, some way down the road it is likely that you will encounter brain freeze, and literally run out of opinions to write about that niche, in which case you’ll stop blogging and see everything that you’ve been working towards die.

Be in the moment
The posts that I have been most proud of in the past few years are the ones that not only reflect perfectly what I am thinking, but ones that I think has resonated and are being thought about by readers, at the same time.

But how do you know what other people are thinking? By keeping your ears to the ground and keeping in the loop with whatever niche you are thinking of writing about. Use your twitter to follow all of the bigwigs and people who are passionate about your interest. Read all of the recommended titles (and then some) to know what the agenda is and what the big stories of the day are. And then when you feel that little buzz in the centre of your body, your hands shaking of anger, or hatred, or inspiration from what you have been reading or what you have discussed or argued with somebody else… that is when you write. That is when you somehow manage to bash a piece out in an hour page without thinking or deciding to spend twenty minutes looking at various YouTube videos first. That is when you write something good.

The biggest thing that I’ve learnt from blogging is that you should never ever EVER write for the sake of writing. Don’t set an agenda that you have to write every single week or every single day at a certain time. I can guarantee that in most cases what you will write will be half as good as when you write when you are ‘in the moment’. Columnists for various national newspapers have to write at a certain time each week because their mass audience expects them to, because it suits their reading habits. When you start blogging you haven’t got an audience reading out of habit yet. Write a couple of brilliant posts rather than a distinctively average ten and audiences will follow and come back. Let columnists work out have their “I haven’t got anything to write” problems for themselves.

Market it
I wrote earlier that shouting on social media with “OH HERE’S MY POST AGAIN HAVEN’T YOU ALREADY IT” makes you a giant tit. So do you get a good audience?

It’s easy. Part one. Write well. Some of the best blogs that I read don’t need that much marketing (if any at all) because they have such good content I start suffering from withdrawal symptoms from not catching up weeks later and feel that I should go back to get my next fix.

Part two. Use social media, effectively. Mention each new post each time you get one done on twitter (“I’ve written about ‘X’ and why ‘X’ is a giant ‘X'”) and then leave it. If the topic that you’re writing about is what other people are talking about or are interested in they’ll click on it – they don’t need reminding several times. Then maybe mention it again passively several hours or a day later. Then, use social media constantly between articles. Network like hell and discuss the issues with all kind of people (not just people who you’re interested to work with) and add your points within 140 characters or less in a regular and consistent fashion. Then when you’ve got another blog post on the way, people know who you are and what quality they are likely to expect.

Part three. Slowly, but surely, build on it. Create a newsletter (try free software from Mailchimp.com), set up a Facebook Page for your own work so people you don’t know can see it on Facebook and ask experts during those special event evenings (when you were only there for the wine anyway).

That’s it, really. You don’t need any money. All it takes is a good word of mouth from your work and a not-too desperate way for you to promote it.

Don’t do this for the money
You might quickly get the bug of writing, see some consistency in your hits and wonder “hey, how can I make money from this?” It can work, you can make money. For example, the people behind Domestic Sluttery have written this great little piece about how they’ve managed to do it. Then there are fashion bloggers who somehow manage to get sent stuff before it is in the shops and get enough money from advertising that they get money on top of that… lucky.

But here’s what I think. If you’re really keen about blogging don’t do this for the money. If you’re good, advertising opportunities and maybe something random like paid speaking opportunities might flow into your inbox. If you do this for the money from the start, it shows. It alters your thinking and I think could potentially block you from thinking up some really good stuff, because you’re concentrating less on the words on the page and more on your bank balance.

Also… you might in the early days get the attention of big PR agencies who would like you to write about their latest product they’re flogging or ask if they could do a ‘sponsored post’ on your blog. They say that they’ll pay you or give you “exposure” if you agree to do so. Don’t give in. Any cash that you will make this way will cost you your reputation. You’re there and you’re getting great hits because people want to see your work and hear your views remember? If they wanted to see an advert that takes a thousands years to finish looking at they would just open a new tab and watch something on 4OD.

So in conclusion…
Can blogging lead you to get a job? Possibly. Don’t bet on it.

But if you it isn’t going to lead a job then why do it? Because it is an unpredictable, creative wonderfuck. You can have the freedom to start something you want from scratch and throw all of your energy and passion into it. You also learn so much about something, and that in turn, might lead to something down the road.

If that sounds up your street, give it a go.

Yes this is a blatant rip-off of Sophie Heawood’s ’37 thoughts on turning 37′ column in The Guardian today. So why am I doing it? Well I absolutely loved that column. Not only because of way she speaks openly about what she is proud of and what lessons she has learnt along the way, but also because it makes you think about everything that you have learnt too regardless of your own age.

I turned 24 last week. So here is 24 thoughts on turning 24.

1) Those people who say that their time at school were the “best days of their lives” must have had boring lives from the moment that they left school.

2) Saying that, I miss school because of the way that they teach you. Yes so much of what they teach is unnecessary, yes the examinations were difficult and infuriating, but when you step out into the adult world you spend so much of your time trying to work out what you should learn to get ahead in your own chosen field. You constantly have to write your own syllabus, and you constantly get anxious just in case you’re falling behind the same people or the people you look up to.

3) When you get your first job outside University it’s totally fine to announce on Facebook that you have got a job. But from that point never announce anything job title wise to your mates on there unless it is big. Nobody cares.

4) Also, after you finish University, you immediately think that your skint days are over. Lies. In a way it gets worse. There’s no ‘end of term’ moment, so there are less opportunities when you can go back to your parents house and enjoy good food and temporarily stop your overdraft sinking into oblivion.

5) Saying that, your parents still love you to be at home once you’ve flown the nest. They don’t even care if all you do when you’re home is pass out on the couch all day and watch the Barefoot Contessa. If anything, they enjoy it when you do that. Don’t feel guilty.

6) One of the most important things that my Mum ever told me was how, now matter what age you are, you never feel older. You’ve always got that young little buzz in your stomach that you think only you have. When you have children, when you retire… you don’t change. You’re still the same person you always were.

7) Letting agencies are shit.

8) Earlier bed times are fine. There’s no shame of falling asleep before 10.30.

9) Naps are also genius. In the past few years I’ve got into the habit of them and they are a joy to behold.

10) When you go to your hometown that you hated when you were a teenager you now have a little thing for it, even though it is always as shit as it has always been.

11) However when you go back to the same place where you had a job when you had a teenager (in my case a shop in my local town), nothing can be more gut-wrenching. The staff have changed, the environment has changed, the furniture has been replaced and what has been replaced has lost its charm. You always think where you have been before will always be the same, and it isn’t.

12) The biggest thing that I’ve learnt is to just let go when the person you love doesn’t like you back. Don’t cling on. You can’t change them. You can’t really ever impress them like people do all the time in Hollywood movies. Just move on.

13) When you were at University you looked down at clubs and societies you were involved in. At times you thought that they were badly run, disorganised, are fuelled by ego and make it up as they go along. Then you get older and you realise that in the wide world almost everything is like that. Nobody has a clue what is going to happen next, and that’s fine.

14) Everybody has a conversation when they are around this age about how everyone around you is either having a baby or getting married. You agree and share about how you’re worried about how fast life goes. Then you get used to these announcements and you absolutely freaking love it.

15) The commute to work can make you feel as if you’re a cog in a machine. You see everyone heading in one direction, acting like robots, trapped in their own bodies, and you’re one of them.

16) Saying that, there’s nothing that you can do about it. Working from home makes you feel left out of the party, even if the party involves meetings and bad tasting coffee from an automated machine.

17) On social media it is so easy to fall into the trap that people are people having better lives than you. Streams of photos from nights out and holidays and semi-boastful statements fill your feed at every moment.

18) Why everyone perceives to be your teenage years to be the most complicated and confusing is beyond me. It’s only since I’ve got into my 20s that I realise that life can be just be as horrific and life-changing at any age.

19) The proudest moments of your life can be the little things, like collecting a good selection of spices for a spice rack to improve your own cooking.

20) The experience of seeing talent such as television presenters and celebrities more famous and younger than you can be unnerving at times. And it only gets worse the older you get.

21) There’s nothing uncool about watching University Challenge. There’s nothing uncool about listening to the Today Programme each and every morning. There’s nothing uncool about watching a two hour documentary about trains on BBC Four. There’s nothing uncool about reading about things that others would find deeply dull. It’s fine.

22) No matter what age you are, you will always be considered as the ‘baby’ or referred to as having the same mannerisms that you had when you were a kid by everyone in your family.

23) Conan O’Brien’s speech at the end of his spell at the Tonight Show is probably one of the greatest quotes that I have ever heard and the one thing that keeps me going: “Nobody in life gets exactly what they first thought they were going to get. But if you work very hard, and you’re kind, amazing things will happen. I’m telling you. Amazing things will happen. I’m telling you. It’s just true.”

24) I love that quote much I would love to have it as a tattoo, but a paragraph across my chest or down one of my arms would look pretty bloody weird.

You know when you go on to Amazon to search for something, and then the following day you see a ‘coincidental yet slightly stalkerish’ email from Amazon advertising some of the same products you were looking at?

Well Amazon likes to send you these emails at approximately two o’clock in the morning, when most likely you’re in bed. I guess so it would be the first thing that you look at (and promptly delete) when you wake up the next morning.

The problem was that I wasn’t in bed when their email had arrived. The previous day I had been researching possible tents that I could purchase and take to Glastonbury. By 2am that night I was wasted in the Electric Ballroom nightclub in Camden, whilst dancing to Barbie Girl.

My phone went *ping*. “LATEST OFFERS OF TENTS AVAILABLE AT AMAZON.CO.UK”. That tent looks interesting. *click* website *click* add to basket *click* checkout. Enter bank card. Add security code from the back of my bank card. *click* Order confirmation. DANCE TO GET LUCKY.

It was only when I checked my emails the following afternoon and I saw that I had received an ‘Order Confirmation’ did I remember that I had purchased a tent. It was also only on Facebook did I remember that I told friends that I had purchased the tent as well…

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Worst of all was that for some reason I had decided to get it delivered to my parent’s house so I wasn’t able to check the tent until i next visited, two days before I went to the festival itself.

Here is what the tent was supposed to look like:

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Deal of the century right?

Well… the tent arrived. It came with no instructions.

This is what it looked like after an hour of trying to erect it in the confines of my own bedroom…

photoNope that can’t be right.

So I asked my sister for help. She recommended taking the tent to the back garden to erect. For the next half hour we tried to work it all out. We laid out the twelve ropes, six poles, twelve pegs and two layers on the grass. We then worked out what bit goes where and how it should all piece together.

An hour later it looked like this:

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If you laid down in it, there’s a heavy chance that you would wipe out one of the two poles on either end, leading to the whole tent caving in on itself with you inside.

So I decided, rather reluctantly, to return the tent.

LESSON LEARNT.

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