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How To Do What You Have To Do

12 Mar

1500907987594My dears, I need to tell you: there’s too much in my life right now. There’s too much to read, to watch, to think, to do. I was unable to get around to posting last month simply because I had too much on my plate and only a salad fork to eat it with. I would offer my apologies, but I just don’t have the time.

Of course, I’m not the only one currently in this predicament. From the way your leg is bouncing on your chair, I assume you are as well. Although I’ve clearly not mastered managing my time just yet, I am trying, and I thought I could pass some suggestions on to you as I am always keen to share what I’ve learned (plus now I can cross ‘help readers improve their lives’ off my to-do list).

The first two step is to prioritize. Naturally, keeping yourself and friends/family/pets alive has to be most important. Make sure you eat, sleep, and wash obviously, but you also need time to relax — reading a book, watching a film, staring off into the distance where the ceiling meets the wall —  whatever does it for you. If you don’t look after your body and mind, you’re not going to be able to accomplish anything else.

Now, you may have seen tweets or blog posts about how you need to spend your time only on things that bring you joy or about how you should walk away things that cause you stress. These are tempting policies but utterly unworkable. There are many things in life which are joyless and stressful and still required. It’s useful to remember that the people who post that shite make their money by selling posters and mugs to schmucks before selling their email addresses to telemarketers. You’re better than that — you know you are.

So prioritizing is also important when it comes to the bullshit tasks you have to do. Are you legally or morally obliged to do the thing? Will anyone die if you don’t do the thing? If so, complete those tasks first. Will ignoring or delaying the tasks really negatively affect you? I don’t just mean will you have to accept that you may not be perfect in every single way — that’s something you should be over by now. I just mean, will you lose your home, your income, access to your children, etc? It’s good to avoid those negative  consequences by bumping those tasks up your to-do list, regardless of how bullshit they may be.

It’s also important to get help where you can. I appreciate that not everyone has the luxury of hiring a handsome young man of the homosexual persuasion to do difficult things around the household, like I have. However, perhaps there are some tasks you could afford to outsource. You could get a cleaner or hire a gardener. Remember, local teenagers are always looking for extra money to buy their marijuana — offer them some (money, I mean) in exchange for painting your fence or walking your dog. If you don’t have any extra cash, take advantage of cost-less timesavers like automatic bill payment. Ask your friends who don’t bounce their legs constantly what they do and take on some of their advice. If you’re still working through your not-perfect-in-every-single-way issues, pretend you’re asking for a relative whose doctor is worried about their blood pressure.

(Note: add check blood pressure to your to-do list.)

The final suggestion I’d like to share is to say no when you can. If you’ve seen Christopher around town recently, you’ll notice his cheeks and chin are sporting stubble. Why? Because over the last week, I’ve had to say no each time he’s asked to be shaved. Yes, his sad little face was hard to look at, but I took care of that by simply looking the other way. I cannot do everything; that’s just a simple fact. You can’t either. Sometimes you just have to say no.

Well, I feel I’ve helped you at least a little, so now I can move on to my next task. Let me check my list . . . a nap’s up next and then I need to finish the crossword. If I can get those done in the next three hours, I may, just may, have time to take a straight razor to Christopher’s soapy face.

On Top Of The World

29 Nov

0I’m often asked how I can simultaneously be on top of things in both the United States and Great Britain, as well as get involved in developments in other less important countries. I will confess, it can really take it out of a person to be the go-to-girl about current political and cultural events all over the globe. However, it’s the burden I’m expected to bear as an international mover-and-shaker, and I carry it with pride in my handy canvas totebag.

However, even less extraordinary people can easily spread their impact quite far. It only takes a bit of effort. If you’re a regular reader here, I presume that you are already involved in your local community (since all members of my fan club are required to sign a “I am not a lazy tosspot” clause), but you shouldn’t stop there. With the Internet, it’s possible to extend your reach, keeping your finger on the pulse of (and your nose poked into) whatever is going down wherever it is going down. Even those not technologically advanced enough to get online can still get knee-deep into issues via the good old fashioned post. You’d be surprised at the effect a serious letter writing campaign can have: did you know, for example, that Winston Churchill’s first became well known through his persistent letters to the editor of The Times, promoting leg o’ mutton sleeves as a viable fashion statement? Look at the influence he ended up having!  Basically, you just want to learn everything you can about as much as you can and then get all up in the world’s business.

Perhaps the most obvious way to be gain influence, though, is to ensure that you hold a place in all people’s hearts. I’m afraid there’s no guaranteed route to this. The best I can suggest is to be good, be wise and, if all else fails, die young in a suspicious car accident. It’s quite a sacrifice, but it’s one surefire way to win the world’s affections.

How to Effectively Deal with Natural Disasters (Spring Edition)

20 Mar

Today officially marks the first day of Spring, which can only mean one thing: you are now at risk of a major natural disaster. (The date also marks two months since a certain someone became the 45th president of the United States, but I’d call that more of a national disaster.)

However, don’t go shitting any bricks just yet: I am here to help you. In addition to the boatload of badges I received as a member of Troop #4847 in Trenton (NJ), I was invited (by Smokey Bear himself) to participate in the first annual Abandoned Cubs Survival Camp. Although the camp was quickly closed, thanks to a lawsuit filed by Timmy “I Don’t Wanna Wrestle Raccoons” Wilson’s mother, I did learn a lot. I’m pretty confident that I’m prepared to handle anything Mother Nature can throw at me, and I’m happy to share that knowledge with you forthwith.


If Smokey  taught me anything, it’s that you don’t play with matches, especially when each one represents a grand in a dice game. However, fires happen and require quick thinking. If you caused the fire, quickly throw any evidence into the hottest part of the blaze then get out of there as fast as you can. Stay low if possible to avoid the rising smoke, but scooting around on your belly is stupidly ineffective so try to keep your wits about you. Don’t stop to pick up valuables (except for your purse or wallet; phone; camera; laptop; important documents like birth certificates and banking details; treasured family heirlooms; and children, but only your own). If you have to jump out of a window, try to land on something softer than cement.

Fire-Forest.jpgIf you’re out camping and encounter a forest fire, find out first if it was deliberately set by experts before you start chucking the contents of your Thermos at it. Some people think controlled fires are good because they prevent more dangerous fires, just like smoking crack prevents heroin use. Whatever. If someone official is in charge of the fire, just go home and promise yourself to stop pretending that camping is fun.


Dszpics1.jpgIt’s relatively easy to tell when you’re about to be confronted with a tornado. It’ll be proper rainy and windy. The air might seem a little warmer than it should and feel weirdly still despite the wind. The sky could even go a strange colour that will make you think, “What the h?” Then all of a sudden you will notice that the ringing in your ears is not just the remnants of last night’s hangover, but a siren announcing that a tornado has been spotted in your area. It’s time for you to act.

Do not run. First off all, if you run while you’re panicked, you’ll be tempted to flail your arms around, and you risk looking hysterical. Secondly, you cannot outrun a tornado: they can travel up to 100 mph and you cannot run that fast, even if your life depended on it which it will.

Instead you need to go to the cellar (if you don’t have a cellar, I’m sure your neighbours won’t mind if you use theirs or just crawl under a rock). Locate something strong and heavy to protect your person: get under some shelves, slip beneath the washing machine, or crawl into a disused refrigerator and pull the door shut tight. Do not, however, try to get inside a working furnace. Make yourself as small as possible: tuck into a tight foetal position and use your hands to cover your head. If you’re religious, this would be a good time to pray but don’t make any promises you can’t keep.

Three things will happen next. You could get caught up in the twister and your body will catapulted through the air until you slam into a barn or the ground and you’ll be dead.

Or the building you’re inside of will be destroyed. This sucks but at least you’re alive.

The most likely option, though, is that the siren will stop, the wind will die down, and you’ll go back upstairs, probably feeling like a cowardly idiot whose knees are now filthy. Clean up and shake it off: this is just the way it goes when it comes to tornadoes.

Note: it’s a myth that tornadoes will lead you to the Emerald City. If you want to get out of Kansas, just relocate.


Hurricanes aren’t quite the same as tornadoes, but you didn’t come here for science, you came here for practical advice. While the above suggestions still apply, everything’s going to be a lot worse for a lot longer, so act now by constructing a concrete underground shelter and stocking those shelves.


The best way to protect yourself against floods is to not get gay married. If it’s too Looking_downtown_from_Riverfront_Ave_Calgary_Flood_2013late for that (congratulations by the way), the best thing to do is to get into the bath. As you are normally wet in the bath, it’ll feel less like a crisis and more like the norm and thus you can think more clearly. Don’t bother with sandbags; they are really, really heavy. If you do have the strength, go out to your garden and dig holes — this will give the water a place to go. You could even dig one in your neighbour’s garden and charge them for installing a pond — think creatively!

Weaklings should carefully consider which possessions to carry up to the roof first. Help will eventually come, usually in the form of politicians in wellies.

Wild Animal Attacks

Spring weather means that hibernating animals are starting to rouse and emerge from their wintry naps, drowsy and hungry. Plus when they find out that no one stopped January’s presidential inauguration, they are also going to be well pissed off. Your reaction will depend on the type of animal staring you down.


Wolves can only focus on one thing at a time. Throw some clothing or an infant at the wolf and then book it out of there before it realises what precisely is going on.Black_bear_large


Bears look cute, but they are deadly. Seriously. Don’t muck about. Get yourself to the nearest elementary school, borrow a child’s gun, and blow the bear’s brains out.


If a fox is attacking you, you must have done something to aggravate it. If you survive the attack, promise yourself you’ll leave foxes alone in the future. So what if they eat leftovers out of your bins? Is that a crime? (If it is, it shouldn’t be.) Shop less wastefully from now on.


Always wrestle raccoons. They like it. They think it’s fun.


If you’ve got a goat on you, offer it to the chupacabra in exchange for your safety. If you don’t have a goat, take a quick photo then back away slowly to make your escape.

Since most of my emergency training was done when I was a child, it is, admittedly, more geared toward those living in the United States. However, soon everyone on the planet will get to live in fear of the environmental repercussions of 45’s well-informed stance on climate change, so at least bookmark this page for future reference.

Until then, enjoy the daffodils!

Look After Yourselves Tonight as No One But the Police Will Be Watching Out for You

31 Dec

As Christopher and I are getting ready to ring in 2015 like everyone else on Earth (except for the Australians, who have, per usual, selfishly preempted the rest of us), I thought I’d pass on a few quick tips to keep you safe on New Year’s Eve.

1.Keep costumes simple. It might look lovely at the beginning of the evening, but how difficult will it be to keep it looking lovely if you end up shagging someone out by the bins?

2.Think before you dance. It’s as simple as that.

3.Follow appropriate party etiquette.

4. Be sensible about alcohol. Many a foolish activity has been inspired by drink.

5. If you’re feeling a bit worse for wear tomorrow morning, treat yourself to a hot bath and a big ol’ bucket of shame. That should help.

Have a darling New Year’s Eve, my dears! I’ll be toasting you all shortly!

Memo to All Idiots: Stop Being Idiots

10 Aug

This morning a friend sent me an email letter to which was attached a ‘hilarious’ photograph of something she saw on her travels across the US (I won’t say which state it was in, but if you assumed it was a Midwestern one, you would not be wrong). It was of a bumper sticker that read:

If I pass you on the right, your in the wrong.

The car displaying this sticker was unsurprisingly red and had hubcaps on its wheels which spun even when the vehicle was stationary.

Unlike in England where two-way roads are so narrow bicyclists barely have the space to travel down them, most roads in America are multi-laned in each direction. Americans drive on the right side of the road (and before any Britons assume that I mean right as in correct, rest assured I mean right as in not left: you will not find me in any motoring-based morality arguments like that). The general rule is that those driving the speed limit should drive in the right lane, and that the left lane be used only by those who are speeding (which happily makes it quite easy for coppers to spot lawbreakers).  The left lane therefore is also known (by twats) as the ‘fast lane’.

Clearly the driver in the red Ford displaying said bumper sticker feels strongly about this guideline. He is clearly so outraged by those in the left lane travelling at the speed limit that not only does he feel the need to overtake them, he also takes the opportunity to remind them that they are in fact ‘wrong’. I can only deduce from his placing of a non-removable decal on his vehicle (not even on the bumper, mind, but across the rear window) that the ‘fast lane’ issue is a passion of his, something he feels in the very pit of his soul.

Perhaps I should admire his commitment. However, I do not. Because he is clearly an idiot, and idiots do not deserve admiration for anything they do.  There is one simple clue to his idiocy—though I’ve no doubt there’s plenty more evidence available—and I trust that you all spotted it instantly within my unbiased description above.

It’s the word your.

Not driving fast in the ‘fast lane’ may be frustrating and naive, but if you need a clear cut example of something that is across-the-board, out-and-out wrong, you need look no Stop Sonfurther than the word your.

Your means ‘belonging to you’. I assume the driver meant you’re, meaning ‘you are’. While I acknowledge the two words sound the same, they are in fact two completely different words. The bumper sticker might as well as read ‘tomato in the wrong’. Tomato does not mean you’re and your does not mean you’re.

God gave us the English language to use to communicate with one another. It’s a great language. It’s got words like crumbly and delicate and trumpery, fantastic words that incorporate a range of sounds and many shades of meaning. But the language only works when used correctly. Using words incorrectly destroys marriages (my darling, our love is so holey) or results in incarceration (I have the head of that old dear hanging over my fireplace).  Using words incorrectly is wrong.

If I ran the world (which as of yet, I do not), people driving slowly in the left lane wouldn’t give me much pause. But people who say your when they mean you’re would immediately be banished to Idiot Island (formerly Molokai) where they would be exiled until they learned to speak correctly. If that took their entire lifetimes, then so be it.

Your Body When Dancing

27 Jul

Earlier this month, I wrote about the body and why it’s okay to like yours even if it doesn’t fit the unrealistic ideal perpetuated by the media and my mother. However, now that I’m thinking more clearly and my finger is fit and flexible once again, I feel compelled to attach an addendum to my previous treatise.

It’s about dancing.

KeychainHave you ever heard the phrase ‘Dance like no one’s watching’? It sounds wise, doesn’t it? But as with many life philosophies written on key chains and fridge magnets, it needs a little unpacking.

It implies that most of the time we’re dancing, we restrict ourselves if there are others around because we fear being judged by someone else. It is only when we are alone — when ‘no one’s watching’ — that we (the key chain implies) ‘let go’ and respond naturally to the music.

Here’s the irony: when you dance as if someone were watching — and I’m the one who’s watching — I am going to be judging you hard.

Because there’s no better guarantee that you’ll look a twit than if you try to control your body while dancing. Dancing should occur without restriction because it is a natural function of the body: like sneezing, breathing, or orgasm, it is simply an instinctual reaction to external stimuli. If you try to control your sneeze, you can actually blow up your brain (or something, I don’t remember exactly, I didn’t do the research myself). If you try to control your dancing, the result can be equally devastating (at least to me, if I happen to be there when you do it).

What I’m saying is this: don’t think about who’s watching. Just dance. Sometimes you might look silly, but that’s fine — you look ridiculous when yCharlie-Brown-Christmas-Peanuts-danceou sneeze but you don’t stop yourself from doing that. Have you ever seen your orgasm face? I confess I didn’t watch the entire video your ex posted online, but from what I saw, I’m confident it wasn’t pretty. Yet, that video received over a thousand likes before your lawyer had it taken down. Why? Because you were just being natural, you were just letting yourself go and enjoying the moment.

That’s what you should do when you hear music you want to dance to: let yourself go and enjoy. When I see people who refuse to do this — who dance as if they know people are watching them — yes, I will mock them. I don’t even care if it is during the father/daughter dance. I mean it was her third wedding anyway, and why have an open bar if they didn’t want people to take advantage of it?

Right On Red (How to Drive and/or Make Love)

9 Mar

carUnfortunately the time when most of us first experiment with operating a car or doing sexy-sex is during our early teens when we have the least control over our brains and bodies. Most of us probably had our first driving lessons from a family member (I’ll leave any further comment to the Freudians amongst you), but even if we are given professional instruction, we just don’t have the mental and physical capabilities to effectively perform the functions needed for a satisfactory experience. Sadly, though, we stick with our awkward, teenaged techniques and continue to do it wrong for the rest of our lives.

This undoubtedly explains why 3500 people die on the road each day and why the toxic stink of sexual dissatisfaction fills the bedrooms (though generally not to a lethal level) of many homes around the world. I’d like to pass on some advice I’ve picked up through my travels, which may help improve your skills and keep your insurance company off your back as well.

Safety first

Buckles, helmets, condoms — don’t be daft, you know what this paragraph is going to say. Also, don’t text. It’s dangerous and rude and not the best use for your fingers during this time.

Honour local laws and customs

In many places, it is legal to turn right on a red light. However, this is not the case everywhere. When I’m in an area where it’s illegal and some jerk honks to pressure me into turning right on red, I want to slam it into reverse and ram him (and not in a good way). Different locales have established rules or guidelines which need to be respected, and it’s important to be aware of these so you don’t offend or end up in cuffs (again, not in a good way).

The opposite of defensive is not aggressive

My mother suggested early on that the goal is to be a ‘defensive driver’, meaning my job is to respond only to what others on the road are doing. This, like most of what my mother says, is tosh. If all I do as a driver is react to what others are doing, I’m never going to get to my destination. I’ll be stuck in neutral, letting everyone else have their fun whizzing by, swerving to avoid my timid self. Obviously, it’s important to watch what others are doing and respond appropriately, but driving defensively is not wise.

However, the opposite of defensive is not aggressive. I don’t want any one’s bumper up in my face and I doubt you do either. This strategy is only going to lead to broken bones or blue balls, and no one wants to end up on a list of those statistics.

Instead you should aim to be offensive. Think about sport (especially if you’re trying to last a little longer): if all you do is loiter around your basket/goalposts, you’re not going to win. But if you blindly crash through your opponents, you’re going to end up on the sidelines with a technical or red card. To score, you must focus on the offense — be strategic and focused, while being prepared to respond to whatever is thrown your way, and you’ll come out on top.

Know when to slow, speed up and stop

The gas pedal is what gives you control over your speed. If you’re coming up to a stoplight, simply lift your foot from the gas and your car will slow. Don’t ride or slam on your brakes. Follow traffic patterns — if people are going faster than you, you probably need to speed up. Otherwise, they’re going to get there before you and might be dressed and out the door before you arrive.

Knowing when to just simply stop, though, is also important, especially when it comes to milking a metaphor for all its worth. Watch as I prove this right now.

Special advice for motorcyclists

  1. Maintain smooth wrist action
  2. Any additional riders should hold your hips to keep balance
  3. Be careful when giving it choke

The Internet Is Tricking You

19 Feb
Come for the click-bait; stay for the advice.

Come for the click-bait; stay for the advice.

You may have arrived here because you like Benedict Cumberbatch. That’s fine, no reason not to, just because he once refused to share a cab with me, claiming he was allergic to my perfume. I don’t hold grudges; if anything, I pity him if it’s true that he can never enjoy the smell of lilacs (though I wonder if he’d have been so insistent had he known the bottle of scent was given to me by Terence Stamp).

Regardless. Here’s the thing. You won’t find anything here about Benedict Cumberbatch (excluding the anecdote above, obviously). You were led here under false pretenses. Because, my dears, the Internet is lying to you.

I am terribly sorry to be the one to tell you about this.

Now let me ask, what do you think of when you think of the Internet? What visual image appears in that little head of yours? Perhaps it’s a big ‘ol mess of wires connecting countries on a map. Wrong. That’s not the Internet.

Maybe you prefer to think smaller and simply picture your own little device whenever you think of the Internet. I like that you’re keen on synecdoche, but I’m afraid that is not appropriate either.

If you insist on my suggesting a concrete image for you, I’d have to say the Internet is most like a big ass, fire breathing dragon. Not unlike the dragon in those Hobbit films (hold on there, didn’t one Benedict Cumberbatch provide the voice and motion capture for that dragon? Oh my, it looks like I’ve accidentally mentioned that name again!). Anyhoo, get your mind off him for like two minutes of your life, please, and listen up. The Internet is a most specially greedy, strong and wicked worm who is fucking with your head, even as we speak.

Benedict Cumberbatch does not approve of being used like this. Unlike you, he doesn't have any choice.

Benedict Cumberbatch does not approve of being used.

Every time you “log on” to the Internet, you are giving away a little piece of your soul. This most frequently takes the form of your privacy or your self-control. And what’s worse is that the Internet is trying to trick you into believing you want to do this. In most other circumstances (excluding the minds of many high school male athletes), this kind of trickery would be considered criminal coercion. Not so here. The Internet can get you to do most anything it wants you to by almost any means whatsoever (say, by misleading you into believing you’ll learn something new about Benedict Cumberbatch).

It’s a dirty business really, and we should all be ashamed of participating it. I know I’d be ashamed if I weren’t so sure the stats for this blog post will be exponentially higher than any of my previous ones. That’s the thing: at the moment, most of us are pretty happy with the situation. We may lose some things because of it, but we gain others. Yes, our personal details got hacked but we were able to buy something from Target without having to actually go to Target, so it’s swings and roundabouts, isn’t it?

I’m not suggesting you stop using the Internet (in fact, why not subscribe to this blog? I won’t even ask for your mother’s maiden name). I’m not even suggesting you stop telling strangers your mother’s maiden name, if that’s the kind of thing you’re into.

All I’m saying is this: be aware of what’s going on and the role you’re playing. The Internet is using you. Google is aware of that purchase you just made. The NSA knows you. I know they know you because yesterday when we had lunch together, your name came up in the conversation. It’s likely your identity will get stolen, your sex tape made public, or a good year of your life lost to Candy Crush Saga. Tread carefully.

The fact that the dragon’s got a voice that gives you fizzy knickers shouldn’t permit you to forget that ultimately what he wants is your gold. Or your soul. Both of which you should remember are the precious (yes, I know that’s Gollum, but work with me here, people, I’m trying to make a point).

No Raccoon Has Ever Lied To Me

2 Feb

Raccoons-bite-baby-sleeping-in-cribI’ve never seen a raccoon in England. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re furry grey animals with fluffy tails. A bit like squirrels except less squirrel-ish and more raccoon-ish. Their most distinct feature is the black mask across their face, making them look like fluffy bandits. Cute! What I like most about raccoons, though, is that they are incredibly trustworthy.

This may come as a shock to you, but as a child, I lived for eight months in Canada. My mother led me to believe that this location change was due to my father’s draft dodging. Alas, I was too young to realise that not only was the draft not enacted at the time, the US was not even at war. Nonetheless, to this day, I still see my father as a conscientious objector, and I look back at those months with great fondness.

One afternoon I decided to head out for a long walk in the Canadian wilderness. I went out with one of my brothers (or sisters, I don’t remember exactly, and does it really matter?). We hiked through the woodland, making small talk and pausing frequently for me to capture nature with my Kodak Instamatic.

It was mid-July. While most of us tend to think of cold when we think of Canada, I can assure you it was well hot. After an hour or so, my brother (or sister) and I were regretting not bringing drinks with us and decided to head home. However, we had lost our way and raccoon-wallpaper-10-752390neither of us had a compass with us. As we were plotting out our plan back to safety, I noticed a little raccoon with her kits in a nearby tree. I stood up to take a snap (even in times of danger, I am committed to my work as a documentarian) when I swear the mother beckoned me towards her. I cried out, and she and her babes scuttled down the tree and took off. We ran over to where the raccoons had been, and spelled out in pebbles at the root of the tree was the word “wow.”

“What do you think it means?” my puzzled sibling asked me.

I walked slowly around the message. From a different angle, it spelled out “mom.” So I determined that the raccoon was either directing us towards something worth seeing or leading us to our mother. Either way, we decided to follow and took off in the direction in which the animals had fled.

We quickly caught up with the raccoon family, primarily because they had thoughtfully stopped to wait for us. Again the mother used her little paw to urge us forward. As we made our way through the trees, we began to hear the sounds of a waterfall and then of gleeful laughter. We were almost home safe!

As we rounded a corner, though, it quickly became clear that we were not at the Whitt-Wellington homestead but rather the raccoon had led us to a park for nudists. My brother (or sister, whatever) and I stood transfixed as we watched the nudie grown-ups frolicking in the water, lying in the sun and bending over to pick flowers. For a few moments, we were frozen in our tracks. Then, we turned our heads away from the spectacle and saw the raccoons running away, so we followed again for quite some time until we ended up behind a police station. We went in, our folks were called, and eventually we got home. Neither my sibling nor I mentioned the nudists to the cops, our parents or each other. That day I learned what a naked man looks like, and all I could say was “wow” (read whatever tone you want into that). The other thing I learned was that raccoons can be trusted.

I bring this up today because it is 2 February, also known as Groundhog Day in America. In Pennsylvania, a whole bunch of people get together to listen to a groundhog called Punxsutawney Phil predict Groundhogs are Liarsthe weather. (If you’re not familiar with groundhogs, they look nothing like raccoons.) If Phil sees his shadow, it means six more weeks of winter; if he doesn’t see his shadow, an early spring is coming. The problem is, of course, that groundhogs are notorious liars, and Phil’s predictions are usually wrong.

Don’t go to groundhogs for your information. If you want the truth—however harsh, wrinkly or dangly it might be—a raccoon will lead you to it. If you want to know the weather, however, simply look out your window.

Pleasure v. Pain: Which Brings More Pleasure?

17 Sep

Don’t be daft: obviously, the answer is pleasure.

Or is it, Agatha? you might be asking in that cute way you do when you’re trying to look clever but are really just being silly.

Well, yes, it is. Because pain is always painful. Guaranteed.

Whip of DesireNow if you are currently clad in handcuffs with a ball gag in your mouth, you might be tempted to speak up to contradict me. You needn’t bother. I’m well aware of the whole “pain is pleasure” scene, as the young sadomasochists are calling it these days, though I remain skeptical. I mean, we all love a good whipping, sure, but those welts are going to sting like a bitch the second you lower yourself into a nice, hot bubble bath and then you’ll have wished you thought twice last night before introducing leather play into your bedroom shenanigans. Let’s face it — orgasms are a dime a dozen (if you’re a Gold Club member) but few things are more pleasing than a long, hot soak. Write that on a piece of paper and tape it to the door of your sex cupboard (or car dashboard, if you’re a member of the dogging community) to remind yourself for next time. In the long term, doing what you can to avoid pain usually pays off dividends.

However, pain does have a purpose and the next time you feel it, I recommend you stop to think about the lesson it is attempting to pass on. Pain is rarely subtle; it screams but doesn’t whisper.

For example, if your hand hurts because you’re hitting it with a hammer, you’re probably going to want to stop hitting your hand with a hammer. Pain’s messages are usually as straight forward as that.

If your ears are hurting, turn down your iPod or purchase higher quality headphones.

If your eyes are hurting, you probably need more sleep or to take breaks from looking at the computer.

If your nose is hurting, cut back on the cocaine.

I am not even a doctor and I know these things.

Emotional pain works similarly. If your heart is breaking, pain is trying to tell you that your taste in romantic partners is poor. If you suffer from a panic attack on the drive to work, you probably should quit your job. If you feel despondent, why not lift your spirits with some cocaine?

So while we can learn from pain (and learning should always bring joy), ultimately the evidence has shown that pleasure packs more punch in the pleasure department than its alternative. However, this is not say that pleasure doesn’t have the potential to bring harm. It does, because everything does. Are you really that naive? I’m sure you familiar with roses, yes? They’re beautiful, very pleasurable to both look at and smell. Yet if you eat two thousand tonnes of rose petals, you are going to get a very nasty tummy ache.

So I generally don’t recommend doing that.