If you’re a single woman, you apparently have only two choices. You can either be a cynical, bitter but busy woman who’ll turn down every date just because she can, or you can be the type to curl up watching romantic films while sobbing into a box of chocolates with only a cat for company. Then there’s me, and I don’t fit into either. Well, not all the time anyway…
As January ends, so do the sales. All that remains are assorted oddments that you find yourself asking, “Who on earth is going to buy that?”. The answer to that question is me. If it’s useless, aesthetically unappealing and/or generally grotesque, I’ll buy it. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, as they say, and I literally do treasure trash.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always liked the things that others reject. Not so much out of pretentiousness but more out of questionable taste. As a child, when others clung on to cute toys, I carried around a Disney Quasimodo puppet with pride. As an adult, while many aspire to cool interior design, I’m envious of anyone who owns a lamp that is either shaped like a poodle or a nude model with a strategically placed switch. My taste in décor could not be more low brow.
I ‘blame’ most of my unusual likes on my hometown of Brighton and its quirky shopping areas. One of Brighton’s most iconic shops is Snooper’s Paradise – a flea-market that is the stuff of hipsters’ dream. My teenage wardrobe was bought from the emo stall (complete with pink-fur covered changing room) but the other sellers grew my interest in all things kitsch and vintage.
If it wasn’t for Snooper’s Paradise, where else would I have started my love affair with 1970s Christmas wrapping or began imagining where the giant light-up Haribo boy head (albeit for display only) would fit in my room? Of course, I discovered many of my odd finds at car boot sales and charity shops but Brighton made second-hand odds and sods cool.
That’s not to say I’ll only buy used goods when they’re “cool”. Despite my hometown’s thriving pre-loved clothing scene, I’m seldom bothered with vintage fashion. My taste is more shabby than shabby chic. I don’t collect things out of the anti-cool irony – I genuinely like them (for inexplicable reasons).
As I look around my room where I write this, I can see an Orville mask, googly-eyed shells, a Howard the Halifax man money box and a creepy Cinderella with eyes as big as a 70s Blythe doll. All cheap and nasty. All loved by me. One of my favourite pieces of tat is a plastic baby pink elephant cradling a tumbler for toothbrushes. It’s beautiful.
I am aware that my taste is a little odd, hence why I’m writing this blog but it’s always been a part of me that I refuse to refine. Sometimes I wonder if I’m attracted to objects out of a love for the underdog, as if I knew that the Nutty Owl (literally some nuts glued together to vaguely resemble an owl) was destined for the bin if I hadn’t rescued it. I remember buying a handmade felt lion in Oxfam, and having the charity shop volunteer refuse to let me pay when its fur moulted as I placed it by the till. She would rather have disposed of it than had me pay (My generous nature meant I did make a donation anyway). Little did she know, it would later feature on Twitter’s Charity Shop Shit, and remain loved for years.
— CharityShopShit (@CharityShopShit) June 19, 2013
Although I’m sure I’ve saved items from the skip, I know that I can’t be alone in having such bad taste. Why were these items ever made if there was never a market for them originally? It can’t just be the Brighton trendies who are keeping kitsch alive, surely! There are more plastic flamingos in existence than real ones so I know people with my taste are out there – I just don’t know any of them. So lovers of the offbeat, I urge you to come forward and embrace your quirky taste. Just please don’t clear the bargain bins before I’ve had a chance to rummage through!
One of my favourite things about Christmas is the food – the turkey and the trimmings, the cupboard’s worth of condiments and even the Brussel sprouts that get their token annual outing. It’s the unnecessary yet deemed essential excess of food that I love so much about a festive roast. So, will I be preparing this year’s family feast? Oh, god no! If I was in charge, the poultry would either still have a pulse or be as cremated as Mog the Cat’s efforts in the Sainsbury’s adverts. Because of this, I can guarantee that I’ll be bought at least one ultimate beginner’s cookbook but as I pile up the books of basics, I’m worried my well-meaning Mum may be wasting her time. One day I hope to return the favour of many marvellous meals (and not just Christmas ones) cooked for me but looking back at my culinary fails, I don’t think any amount of help guides are going to see me rustling up a roast this Christmas…
I’ve spent a lot of my life wishing I was older. As soon as I could speak, I became distressed whenever the grown-ups couldn’t understand my gobbledygook. Not long after hitting puberty, I wanted to be thought as a woman, not a girl and I’ve spent years not correcting people who assume I’m older than I actually am. However, now that I’m a bonafide adult (of sorts), I’ve realised how much I love children’s things. Cartoons, fancy dress and blowing bubbles – you name it, if it appeals to ten year olds, I probably love it.
We all know that there’s something very loaded in calling a girl “bossy”. Men are “assertive, strong, confident” when taking control but women doing the same are branded as “nagging, bossy, domineering”. I have long thought that the division here was a clear binary with the supposedly ‘masculine’ qualities being exclusively positive and the ‘feminine’ being wholly negative. However, I’ve recently felt that being called “assertive, strong, confident” can sometimes be a backhanded compliment. It’s perhaps not so much of an issue of gender but maybe more so one of modesty – or Britishness. What is the point of encouraging empowerment if we are going to shun anyone who dares to just be “confident”?
I can’t resist inspirational quotes. Neither can I ignore any excuse to celebrate. Naturally, International Happiness Day makes me smile – it offers a chance to appreciate life and waste time browsing galleries of cheesy mottos (even if this year’s features were slightly overshadowed by the eclipse). I have spent so many hours surfing Google Images that it’s a rarity I find one that I haven’t read before, although today’s new favourite is “Take Risks. If you win, you will be happy. If you lose, you will be wise”. I don’t mind seeing the same sayings but there are some that have often made me feel uneasy – those that tell you to experience sadness before you understand happiness. Although I think many are clumsily worded, I’ve started to recognise that they only mean well.
I hate sexism. I also hate exercise. I don’t loathe sport quite as much as misogyny or misandry but the feeling of anger is still there. Tell me that a woman’s place is in the kitchen and I’ll be filled with rage but tell me a woman’s place is on the sports field and you’ll find me raiding the fridge for comfort food. Of course, I’m sure Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign is inspiring many women to do activities they’ve always feared were too “masculine” to enjoy but I can’t help but shake my head at their adverts. It’s not because I disagree with their message but simply because This Girl Can’t.