THE SUBSTANCE

4639f10cf6d22f795ac20caa63594174As I watched a guy snort coke off a nightclub table top last week, I thought… well, I didn’t actually think anything to be honest. But that in itself made me realise that it just (rightly or wrongly) isn’t something that shocks or surprises me anymore.

I’m not sure whether it’s because I’m a Londoner or not, but drugs seem to have been a staple on the party scene since I first stepped off the tube and into the bright lights of Piccadilly.

During sixth form, Nu-Rave was at its peak. And it wasn’t just the 80s clothing that people were replicating, but the whole rave culture. If you’re not sure what I mean by this, 2005 – 2007 (for people of a certain age) pretty much consisted of pill-popping, endless bottles of Evian and a whole load of shit music that you wouldn’t dream of dancing to sober.

Then came university where, cliche or not, weed was pretty popular in halls and student houses. I’m sure you can picture the scene: a host of sweaty post-pubescents, surrounded by piles of pizza boxes behind a green haze. Then came graduation, and with that came jobs, money and easier access to the stronger stuff. Having never entered the heels and suit-jacket type of workplace myself, my knowledge is minimal, but I’ve heard countless stories of coke in the staffroom, sharing grams with the boss and week-long benders that started out innocently as a client lunch. Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware that Class As are used in places outside of the banking district, but I think you can see why I’m using this as an example.

Sounds like fun, right?

It probably is, until the time comes for our generation to feel the effects of this hapless drug use on our bodies.

We look at pill heads from the eighties, now in their 40s and 50s, and you can see it. The hours of partying etched into their deep seated wrinkles, some still clinging onto shaved barnets with ink scrawled across their bodies with the 6am musings of a barely-conscious paralytic. And we’ll be no different. I know some really quite successful people who use on a daily basis, there are tons who dabble each weekend and very few who have never tried some sort of substance. The scary part about recreational drug use is that with all the new types available on the market, we just can’t be sure what the effects will be and what sort of long-term damage we might be faced with; we just have to sit tight and wait.

A good few of my friends, however, are already feeling the effects, with a slow demise into depression, anxiety and addiction and most of them are under 30. I’ve watched people I know go from being the life and soul to quivering wrecks, unable to even go to the shop for a pint of milk; these are intelligent, good looking people who are now shadows of their former selves. There are also people I know who have turned to it in times of desperation, as a way of blocking out reality and existing in what they deem to be ‘a place of peace’. You might think I’m exaggerating, and so be it. Maybe in twenty years from now, you’ll look around you and realise that those people you partied a little too hard with are now looking somewhat dishevelled. And then you might look in the mirror and realise that you’re one of them.

This post isn’t here to judge or point fingers and lots of people who dabble end up having only great memories to show for it, but my intention is to hopefully make you think about maybe giving your body a rest- for at least 1 weekend out of 52. It’s already trying to cope with the alcohol running through your veins, let alone the crap that you’re shoving up your nose as well.

A night out V your future? I’ll leave it to you to decide what’s more important.

To me, it’s obvious.

Have a good week.

THE BODY

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I love food.

I have never had a problem gorging on carbs and rarely count calories. I always thought that I was actually an Italian woman trapped in a freckled body and felt superior because I was one of the few girls in my year who wasn’t obsessed with what I ate. I had this idea that I was the cool girl, the one who ordered spaghetti on a date, slurped until her heart was content and never split puddings. Ever.

But what I lacked in obsession, I more than made up for in neglect. I used to be skinny and only ever used to move my body to shuffle to the dance floor, drifted from shop window to shop window and only ate vegetables because I had to. I would eat a cheese and pickle sandwich everyday after school, after snacking all day, and no one could understand where it all went.

But since I turned 25 and completely lost the ability to break down anything fattier than a carrot stick, I decided to give my body the leg up that it needed. In addition to buying a yoga mat – and actually using it – I’ve started juicing; making glasses of goodness that kick coffee’s arse in the pick-me-up stakes each morning. I cycle, I walk, I sit down less and I’ve started wearing heels again. Not only do they make me look taller than normal and feel a little more glam than when I’m in my jim-jams, they give my calves a workout when I get down and dirty on the dance floor.

Now, although I’m pretty laid back about what goes in my mouth (don’t), pretty much only eat when I’m hungry and give my body what it craves – even if that is a bar of Whole Nut -one rule I do abide by is that I absolutely never weigh myself. This isn’t just because the last time I checked (in 2005) I weighed eight stone and I would like to continue to pretend that I am stuck in that weightless, pubescent tunnel, but because it doesn’t matter to me what the scales say. As long as I don’t have to burst a blood vessel trying to fit into my beloved black skinny jeans and I can still cycle across London on a Sunday without passing out, then I’m happy.

Loving our bodies shouldn’t just be about pounds and ounces and although we’d like to say otherwise, most women my age tend to focus primarily on what’s staring back at them in the mirror. I love to try out the latest MAC lipstick as much as the next person and have an unhealthy obsession with clothes, but I cannot stress enough that it’s what’s on the inside that counts, so please, do not neglect your health.

You might be young, have hair like Rapunzel, a bang-tidy bod and your nails might be lacquered every Tuesday, but that’s not what’s going to keep you going for the next 30 years, is it? Just because we are young doesn’t mean that we are immune from life’s curveballs, no matter how invincible we feel after a few glasses of gin. Prevention is so much better than cure, so speak to someone if you are not feeling 100%. Go for all of your check ups – even if it means cancelling on friends – and have a timely route around for lumps and bumps, because no one else is going to do it for you… well, unless you ask nicely.

I, myself, have been feeling a bit fuzzy in the head as of late, so have been accepting advice from wherever it’s offered. One chap suggested to me that I would only be able to move forward with things and exercise a positive mental attitude if I explored what is good for my body. “Sort out the physical”, he said, “and the rest will follow”. And he was right. A few vitamins, some freshly squeezed fruit juice and some serious work outs later, I feel a lot more like myself. Actually no, a better version of myself.

I urge you to do it too and do it now; after all, once the arthritis sets in, there’ll be no Zumba for anyone.

Here’s to health and happiness. Have a wonderful Wednesday.

The Habit

So there’s no smoke without fire.

But is there fire without smoke? The designated area that you’ll find in pubs, clubs and bars across the country is undoubtedly the source of friendships, bonds and sometimes life time love affairs with the flick of a lighter.

But does that give us enough reason to smoke?

In these health conscious times, knowing the effects of nicotine and us being more than a fag ash away from the glamorous chuffing of the 1920s, why does our generation still partake in this past time? To spark conversation of course. But do we need to suck on a small white stick behind a rope, on the street, in order to bond? Surely all that puffing just gets in the way of conversation?

There are some social circles where smoking is a given. Arts students will do it with a coffee in hand, gap year travellers do it while tying on their anklets and businessmen do it on their lunch breaks, huddled in doorways. There’s definitely something about doing this, huddling in doorways thing, which feels almost primitive. It’s like a bonding technique to discuss how stressed they are and how much money they earn. And much like Rachel in Friends, when the office smokers go out for a fag break, you’ll always wonder what exactly it is they speak of whilst pirouetting on a fire exit stairwell.

Far from these veteran smokers, are the seasonal smokers. Come their second or third pint of the night, they will steal one’s cigarettes thereafter. Some do it because their drunken minds tell them they look cool doing so, some are craving that first drag head rush and then there are those who are simply trying to chat someone up who puts away twenty a day. They will light the wrong end, hold it with their pinkie and normally drop it at some stage. Or worst of all, choke. You’d think that taking up smoking for one night only wouldn’t bag you a bird but, somehow, sometimes it does. There is however, definitely something in sharing a cigarette. Especially with someone you don’t know. It brings you closer than swapping numbers or sitting side by side. Unless it’s post-coital of course. In which case, I’m pretty sure you probably know each other well enough.

Despite how it may appear, I am not here trying to tempt you into smoking. Far from it. There are the obvious downsides. The first being inevitable illness, as well as ash going in the eye which will always equate to an awkward moment which cannot be styled out due to temporary blindness, and finally, spending masses of money with very little to show for it.

However, and I think most of you will agree, that the scene in Alfie, the one where Sienna Miller strips off, would not be complete without that cigarette perched on her lower lip. And the same can be said for real life love scenes. Or any sort of scene for that matter. Look at Danny Zucko for Christ’s sake.

But as cancer rarely exists in Hollywood movies, perhaps we should leave it to the professionals who are probably puffing on tea leaves rather than tobacco on set. So although it has, and will always, looking effing cool, try and kick that habit. Or at least cut it down to one-a-chat-up-line.

After all, smoking kills. Kissing doesn’t. You do the math.

The Freckle

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Aged nine, probably wearing tight pink cycling shorts and a Spice Girls tee, I strolled alongside mum in Marks & Spencer, looking for some potatoes. I wasn’t distracted at all by the lovely chocolates or the old school version of Percy Pigs. Instead, I was busy making my skin raw, after bringing a rubber along in an attempt to wipe off all my freckles by the time we arrived back home.

As a child, I hated them.

I want to now be able to say that I love them. That I find them empowering and really attractive. But to be perfectly honest, I cover them up with make up. If I had a few freckles sprinkled across my nose and cheeks, then fine. But I feel that I am more splattered than sprinkled with them, making the main focus of my day to day beauty regime, a way in which to disguise these little genetic defects which live upon my face. And arms. And legs. And back. And tummy. And toes.

I do find freckles intriguing because they are memories created by the sun. They are the times spent travelling in Mexico, family holidays to Europe, a sunny afternoon in the park after school, a week spent at the beach last term; the list is endless. Happy memories are mapped out for me on my body, for everyone to see. Although a deep tan is desired, freckles actually last longer on the skin. They’re signs of good times spent in the sun in a more original form than quickly fading bikini lines or that

Although a deep tan is desired, freckles actually last longer on the skin. They’re signs of good times spent in the sun in a more original form than quickly fading bikini lines or that post-holiday hangover.

I think its time for me to start to embrace my freckles, just as the leopard has had to embrace his spots.