Recently, I was asked to name one or more of my pet hates by a friend. Aside from the obvious things we all hate – racism, sexism, homophobia, snobbery and the like – every single one of my peeves escaped from my mind at that very moment. I definitely have them, but I couldn’t think of them when they were needed. I was, however, reminded of a particularly elusive pet hate through a chance remark someone made in front of the TV soon afterwards. As a Mastermind contestant sat down in the show’s famous black leather chair, they revealed their chosen specialist subject to the host, and it was to this that my companion uttered two highly infuriating words: “That’s sad”.
Upon hearing this, I felt an instant hot flush of anger. Sad? How dare you! To suggest such a thing is to fail miserably at looking big or clever, and to ruthlessly belittle someone else’s passion. Yes, there are plenty of differences between us, and we might struggle to understand what other people see in their respective areas of interest, but it is immature and needlessly disrespectful to criticise them for enjoying what they do. The mentality that leads someone to do this must be of the “glass half-empty” variety, and incredibly cynical. I pity those who are like this. Wouldn’t it be much better for them to listen and learn about what they don’t know rather than dismiss it immediately? Let’s not forget that this would have an added bonus, in that you’d be indulging their enthusiasm whilst doing so. What’s not to like? Above all, make sure you remember that the people who are unlucky enough to be ridiculed as “sad” are actually – and very ironically – the exact opposite. They will engage with whatever they love the most regardless of where they are or who might be watching, and it’s all because they’re not sad in the slightest. They’re drunk on pure, undiluted passion, the best possible natural high. There can never be enough of those in life, so if you don’t have anything nice to say when you witness them, don’t say anything at all. Especially nothing so childish!
Nearly two weeks after receiving my first offer, I am thrilled to reveal that today, a second university place was offered to me for Creative Writing. Upon seeing it in black and white on my Kindle screen in my bedroom, I shot down the stairs to relay the good news to Dad. As I did so, I was beaming from ear to ear, and Dad said that I looked like I’d just won the lottery. It certainly felt like that – the first offer felt unreal enough, but the latest one has escalated that feeling to truly indescribable levels. When I spoke to Mum on the phone to give her the news, I mentioned that now we have reached the proper decision-making part of the process, it feels as though we are on the home straight – and in response, she said it is as though I can almost touch it. University was closer than ever before a fortnight ago, but now I have one hand on the trophy. I hope that I will soon be grasping it with both.
As aforementioned, both of my options must now be placed under the microscope so that I can decide once and for all where I will be going. I am aware that it may be a trickier process than I expect, since both universities would be excellent destinations, but with the support of my family and friends, I am confident that I can reach the best possible outcome – and you will know by now that I can’t wait. Onwards!
The annual Doctor Who festive special on Christmas Day finally saw Jodie Whittaker make her long-awaited debut as the Doctor, replacing the outgoing Peter Capaldi in a burst of orange light. It was a fantastic send-off for Peter, who has been a brilliant Doctor and ambassador for the show, but its closing moments – depicting an explosive regeneration and Jodie plummeting to Earth from a fiery TARDIS – were an introduction to an even more exciting era to come (previously discussed here).
Finally seeing the Thirteenth Doctor take over as the star of the show actually gave me goosebumps as I sat slumped on the sofa. We may have to wait until the Autumn, but that fresh new Doctor Who dawn will be the very next thing to greet us. The corresponding feelings of eager anticipation have only really come to me once before; whilst I obviously look forward to the start of every new series, I haven’t been this excited since 2010, when Matt Smith took over as the Eleventh Doctor for Series 5. If you ask Will, he’ll tell you I hold that particular run of episodes in very high regard. At that point, everyone in and around Doctor Who also found themselves looking at a changed animal of sorts. Much like now, there were plenty of new faces in the cast and production team, and what came from them was a series that I believe is yet to be topped.
Any of its thirteen episodes could easily have stood out as a favourite, and all were memorable – although, in my opinion, the modern classic “Vincent and the Doctor” (written by Richard Curtis) is a particular highlight. I remember watching the series on first broadcast very clearly. It felt – and still does feel – like Doctor Who was a new programme, closer to five years old than fifty. I’m not criticising how it’s been before or since, because I owe an awful lot to its complete 55-year history. I just think that Series 5 had an especially vibrant quality that may not have been the same had there been more continuity from Series 4, David Tennant’s swansong. Change is a good thing, more often than not, and with it there was increased vitality. Eight years on, Series 11 has a golden opportunity to bring even more, with new crews in the TARDIS and behind the camera. I may have said all this before, but I reckon that conveys just how excited I really am. When the Doctor comes down to Earth with a bump, I can’t wait to see what adventures will await her. Blessed are the writers who get to find out first.
Happy New Year to you all! Please allow me to start 2018 with a swift update on my university situation, as promised. I was most excited to wake up this morning having lunch with a couple of friends ahead of me – but imagine my elation and surprise when, at around 11:20 this morning, I spotted an email notification telling me to check my applications-in-progress for an update. Of course, I spent a split-second thinking of the worst-case scenario. What if it was a rejection? I found myself simultaneously getting excited and trying not to set myself up for a fall, but as it turned out I need not have worried.
At once, I hurriedly logged into my UCAS Track account, to be greeted with the news that one of my choices was offering me an unconditional place on my chosen Creative Writing course. It is difficult to describe the joy and relief I now feel with this outcome – I only know that it’s big, and that I can now begin looking to the future in earnest. I can’t accept or decline the offer until I’ve heard from my second choice, but it is a major boost and I couldn’t be happier. University seemed almost unattainable for me two years ago, but as of today it is closer than ever. Watch this space, people!
So, the second-best day of the year has come again, and I find myself seated comfortably in the front room just as I did last year, watching the lights on our Christmas tree enchant me as they always do. We have now introduced a string of warm golden lights alongside the regular multi-coloured lights, and whilst I was initially sceptical about how they would appear together, they do ultimately compliment each other very well. As they fade slowly in and out, somewhat hypnotically, they can have a magical effect on an otherwise dimly-lit room. They entice you, drawing your eyes towards their vibrant embrace, and for a moment you can lose yourself fully in the magic of Christmas.
That never changes, it’s the same year after year, but in this instance – as we head into 2018 – I feel like the lights are a bright appetiser for an exciting twelve months to come. As I write this, I am on the brink of finishing my university application and sending it away, and when I do it a period of intriguing uncertainty will begin as I await an offer. Of course, I can’t guarantee that I’ll be wanted, but the apparent strength of my personal statement has given me a lot to be optimistic about, so I intend to keep my head held high whilst I wait for news. The excitement has made Christmas that little bit better for me so far, and whatever happens I will keep you all updated on the situation from the start of this new year. Right now, however, I must live in the moment, and that means eating, drinking, being merry and watching Casino Royale with my nearest and dearest. Whatever you’re doing tomorrow, and for the rest of December, make it happy, stress-free and fun. I know I will. Merry Christmas, one and all!
Christmas cards were duly exchanged at the meeting with my aforementioned friend earlier this week, as we passed an hour or so sipping Coke during a very valuable catch-up. In many ways, it was an encounter that subtly represented a very important element of the festive season today. Christmas is a time for friends and family to come together, be they close by or further away, and whilst there are many people I’ll be glad to see in December, I’m especially thankful that I got to reconnect with someone more elusive at this special time of year.
The meeting has given me not only another thing to smile about, but also another cause for reflection. In this instance, I am thinking of Adam, a fellow wheelchair user with whom I briefly exchanged emails and wrote a post about last year. I remain very grateful that he remained on this site for long enough after accidentally finding it to read and appreciate this content, but perhaps he has forgotten this since I regrettably failed to maintain the chain of communication. He showed me nothing but interest, enthusiasm and support, and there is nobody but myself to blame for the fact that he has received inconsistent replies. I did openly invite emails from visitors on here, after all! My conduct has not been indicative of the friendship in abundance at Christmas, so it must change soon. I will make it a (hopefully successful) New Year’s resolution to get back in touch – after all, as he lives some distance away and we have never met, it is up to me to reach out just as my friend did. If I am successful, who knows what kind of friendship could develop? He could even join this band one day!
I recently heard the words “good for the soul” uttered by a character on an episode of Home and Away (popular culture is never far away from this blog). If I remember rightly, they were referring to the effects of a bowl of chicken soup, but I wanted to think about some deeper applications of the phrase. So my natural instinct told me to ask around amongst some of my friends. One offered the predictable – but not incorrect – suggestion that “friends and happiness” were good for the soul, whilst another suggested “allowing yourself to make mistakes” was healthy. On the other, more unexpected hand, there was Will’s answer, namely “if I don’t believe in anything to do with spiritualism, I’m not going to believe in the soul.” Interesting.
After asking just three people, I already had a fairly wide range of responses to my question, but I was still convinced that there could be more, so I continued to privately ponder it whilst gradually forming this post. I have been writing this over several weeks, and there was a time when I wondered whether it would see the light of day; just when all hope seemed lost, though, I found just what I was looking for. As a regular user of Facebook like many others, I am used to messages coming and going on a daily basis, but I came across the kind of message I’m not so accustomed to last week. Logging in as normal, I spotted a message from one friend – who I haven’t seen in some time – which looked an awful lot like a very unexpected invitation. “Would you be free…”
I had only opened the initial drop-down inbox menu, so the end of the question was cut off. What would I be free to do? Instantly, I had to find out. It was indeed an invitation, met by the widest of smiles spreading across my face. The friend in question was one with whom I talk quite happily very often, but even so, I wasn’t prepared for the fact that they were actually asking me for a meeting, not the other way around. “Would you be free one evening on the week of the 18th? I have a Christmas card I’d like to give to you!” Wow. I had just had a clear example of what was good for the soul unwittingly handed to me on a plate, and it warmed the cockles of my heart. Very festive. Having felt as though I was holding people back for the majority of my short life so far, it was wonderful to see more evidence suggesting that maybe this isn’t the case after all, and that people want to see me as much as I want to see them. “I think seeing people is an important element of Christmas, more so than the frugal exchange of gifts,” said my friend. Amen to that. Of course, I gladly accepted the invite and we’re meeting this coming Thursday. For them, it might be nothing more than a pleasant evening out with someone they like, but for me, it is a simple but remarkable Christmas surprise that will be very much appreciated. It confirms that to some extent, I am worth something to people, and if my friend is reading this, they can consider my soul duly enlightened.