Posts Tagged 'Friends'

The Stigma of Saying ‘I’m Lonely.’

One of the few things, and there aren’t many, that I’m too scared to say on Facebook or Twitter is that I feel lonely, and that’s because I’m worried people will think I’m weird. In truth, they probably would. Saying you’re lonely implies that you don’t have enough people in your life. The word ‘lonely’ paints a picture of a person with no actual friends, and someone who isn’t close to their family. At least, this is how I feel I would be portraying myself if I were to confess publicly to feeling alone, but it isn’t necessarily the case.

In the modern world we tend to be surrounded by hundreds of people, but most of them are acquaintances, rather than real friends. It’s especially the case with students. We add hundreds of people to our list of ‘friends’ on Facebook, but how many of these people could we actually ring up (if we even have their phone number), and ask for help with a problem, or ask for a shoulder to cry on, even ask to come out for a drink? Last Christmas, the one just gone, I sent out a message over Facebook to about forty of my friends, asking for their address. It occurred to me, as someone who is reluctant to yield to modernity, that I see these people every day, sit next to them in lectures, go out with them for evenings of drinking and laughing, share stories and jokes with them, have real friendships, and yet I don’t know where they live. I had phone numbers for a few of them, but no postal addresses. So I sent out this message, and received a fair few answers, and so I compiled an old-fashioned address book (I bought a Filofax. I’m very happy with it), and when December came I sent out Christmas cards to all of them, just like grown-ups did in the olden days.

Our friendships, and most of our day-to-day lives, are conducted entirely over the internet, through social networking sites like Facebook. I for one feel that we’re losing the traditional relationships and friendships that we used to have. I miss the days when you had one phone number, and you would say things like ‘find me in the book’, and would have to make sure you took ten pence with you when you went out so you could ring home. In those days, friends were friends. These days, we get along with people, we see their holiday pictures and know what they had for tea, we offer advice or support when they need it, we share their ups and downs, and all the details of their life, but if I’m being honest, of the people on my Facebook list, there are only a few that I feel able to ring up and ask to come out for a drink. That’s not to say that there aren’t lots of people on that list that I’d love to ask for a drink; there are, but I feel that if I did, they’d think I was weird. It’s a new social boundary. These new friendships aren’t based on solid foundations, like the old ones. Being someone’s Facebook friend often means you met them once when out in the pub, or you know them to say ‘hello’ to from some extra-curricular club. These people aren’t prepared for you to suddenly invite them round for pizza… are they? Perhaps I’m wrong. Maybe they’d be delighted and flattered, and would love to build a more personal friendship. Maybe it’s me who’s too cautious. Maybe I’m the problem.

I have less than ten really good friends. By ‘really good friends’, I mean friends that have been in my life since I was thirteen, eleven, even four in some cases. These are friends I trust, and who really know me. I have 176 friends on Facebook, some of whom I haven’t spoken to in years. They are Facebook friends, but are they actually friends? There are so many of them who I’d love to meet up with, have a drink and a laugh with, who I’d love to know better. There are girls I’d love to go shopping with, but I always feel that if I invite them, they’d wonder why the hell I was asking them to go out, when they barely know me. Maybe that’s the point. The friends I’ve know since I was eleven already know whether or not I’m funny, weird or normal, how I feel about certain things, whether I’m being serious if I take the piss out of them, they know my sense of humour. It’s a frightening thing to suddenly talk to people who don’t know those things. Often, I post a comment on someone’s facebook then panic in case they don’t realise I’m joking. What about those people who have 700, 800, 900 friends on Facebook? How many of those hundreds of people would really classify as friends?

So, where did this all start? This blog wasn’t supposed to be about Facebook, but why it isn’t acceptable in today’s society to admit to feeling lonely. It stands to reason that most of us are. If we’re single, especially if we’ve been single for a long time, and we don’t get out as often as we should, and if our friends live at other ends of the country, as most of them often do, why is it so shameful to utter the word ‘lonely’? Is it because it implies weakness? It is because we think other people will automatically assume that we’re lonely for good reason, that we’re boring, horrendous people, who deserve to be lonely because no-one could bear to be friends with us? I don’t know, actually. I wish I did. What I do know, is that it should be easier to reach out to each other. There shouldn’t be a barrier between us, like there is. We should be able to hold out a hand to anybody, anywhere, and say ‘Hi, do you fancy a drink?’. Maybe that would make us even weirder, and even lonelier, I don’t know.

Why I’m a Trendsetter

My sister with Pete Doherty, three years after telling me how awful he is.

Okay, so I haven’t actually set any trends, but I’ve noticed a fair list of items, fashions, objects, which I sported to much mockery from family and friends, and which subsequently became ubiquitously popular; from the F.R.I.E.N.D.S pencil-case which I was the first to have and later became the favoured pencil-case of every girl in the year, to the desire to wear skirts over jeans or trousers, which my mother told me made me look ‘a lesbian’ but which, following the Spice Girls girl-power era, became a fashion staple for a couple of years in the mid-nineties.

This isn't me, I'm just illustrating the trend.

I don’t wish to sound like I think I’m some stylish trendsetter, because it couldn’t be further from the truth, but I just find it curious, sort of like when you’re reading a book and the word you’re reading is said aloud in the room or on television, at exactly the moment you read it, it’s a strange peculiarity.

An example is Jack Wills.  Now, I’m not claiming that I invented Jack Wills.  No, that was the ingenious work of Peter Williams and Robert Shaw in Salcombe, Devon, back in 1999.  However, long before I knew anything about Jack Wills or had even heard the name, my family used to call me scruffy and weird for wearing tartan pyjama bottoms and chunky knit jumpers.  I used to love nothing more than coming home from college, or later, work, and settling down on the settee in comfy pyjamas and a jumper, it’s just so cosy.  Now, Jack Wills charges £49 for what they call ‘Loungepants’ but are essentially very well-made, high-quality tartan pyjama bottoms designed to be worn during the day, as loungewear.  When I first discovered Jack Wills, walking into their shop in Chester was like walking into my own mind.  I felt they’d captured every idiosyncratic thought I’d ever had about an outfit, and made it reality.  Does this mean I’m a genius?  I think, more probably, my predisposition for wearing pyjamas in the daytime was shared by a great many other people, mainly students, to be fair, and this was noticed and capitalised on by Jack Wills, who have since made it extremely popular.  Nevertheless, at the time, it felt like they’d stolen my thoughts.

My next point of conjecture, good people of the jury, is The Libertines.  Now, this point is more personal, but still serves a purpose.  Back when Pete Doherty and Carl Barat actually played together, before they broke up and reformed for a lucrative festival deal, I loved them.  They were the epitome of everything I worshipped about music, and their songs were good, too.  Some years later, when my sister reached that age when teenagers start forming their own opinions about music, I tried, as a big sister, to make suggestions.  I was desperate for her to experience what I had experienced, feel what I felt.  The Libertines had been broken-up for years, their music was never played, not many people ever mentioned them, they’d faded into musical memory.  I wanted to show my sister the wildness of those early gigs, when they’d line people up and tattoo Libertine across their arm.  I wanted her to hear the music that was full of passion, energy and poetry.  She refused.  Still not quite over the break-up of her beloved Busted, but never into McFly, she said the Libertines were junkies, dirty and refused to listen to a single song.  Fast-forward two more years.  My sister began going out with boys who loved the Libertines, and so began listening to their music and very quickly warmed up to them.  Nowadays, she knows more lyrics to their songs than I do, is a personal friend of Pete Doherty, goes to parties at his flat, has been photographed in Elle and Grazia walking down the street with him, has been in a taxi with him, has Libertine across her arm, which was drawn by Pete himself and then tattooed over.

My sister in Grazia with Pete Doherty.

My point is, I begged her to listen to them, and now she’s more of a Libertine than I am.  So, does this mean I started a trend, if only in my sister?  I think so.  I have very similar stories for the films Withnail & I, the film (coincidentally) The Libertine, and Sylvia Plath.  She always resists but concedes in the end.  Also, The Smiths, but I can’t take all the credit for that one.

My sister at Leeds, wearing a Libertines jacket to see the long-awaited reformation.


Back in, probably around 1997, I was the first person in my year at school to have a mobile.  To be fair, this is probably less to do with the fact that I’m a perspicacious mogul and more to do with the fact that my Dad was flogging moody phones that topped up £10 every time you turned them off and on again.  Still, I started the trend for mobiles at my school, in one way or another.

So, you see, my point is not that I began trends and influenced people, more that I had a desire to wear, listen to, or do something, which later became very popular.  Back in 1990’s Runcorn, I longed for a vague ‘something’ which I couldn’t define, which involved loving good music, wearing floral dresses, a sort of mixture of 80’s, 70’s, 60’s, something cool, vintage, old-fashioned, and which later developed as a little trend we know as ‘Indie’.  I was indie before I even knew what it was.  Growing up, we wore tracksuits, listened to whatever was number 1 in the chart, bought our cd’s from Asda with the weekly shopping, went to McDonalds, and didn’t really think about anything else.  I had a tingling; an itch which was finally scratched when people started talking about indie.  I’d come home.  Just like, I suppose, all of us.

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Sylvia Plath said; "Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences". My aim in life is to find things and people to love, so that I can write about them. Putting words together is the only thing I can see myself doing. This blog is an outlet, and I hope you enjoy reading it. Please feel free to comment on posts, or contact me by the special e-mail I've set up ( with your thoughts.

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The New Remorse, Oscar Wilde.

The sin was mine; I did not understand.
So now is music prisoned in her cave,
Save where some ebbing desultory wave
Frets with its restless whirls this meagre strand.
And in the withered hollow of this land
Hath Summer dug herself so deep a grave,
That hardly can the leaden willow crave
One silver blossom from keen Winter's hand.

But who is this who cometh by the shore?
(Nay, love, look up and wonder!) Who is this
Who cometh in dyed garments from the South?
It is thy new-found Lord, and he shall kiss
The yet unravished roses of thy mouth,
And I shall weep and worship, as before.

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Music I Love (In no particular order, except that The Smiths are first)

The Smiths,
The Libertines,
The Courteeners,
Nina Simone,
Pete Doherty,
The Kills,
Amy Winehouse,
Arctic Monkeys,
Rod Stewart,
The Doors,
The Rolling Stones,
Etta James,
T. Rex,
The Jam,
The Kinks,
Jack White,
The Deadweather,
David Bowie,
The Winchesters,
The Cure,
Kaiser Chiefs,
The Kooks,
The Twang,
Kings Of Leon,
The Housemartins,
The Ramones,
Robots in Disguise,
The Klaxons,
Kate Nash,
The Raconteurs,
Regina Spektor,
Aretha Franklin,
The Contours,
Dirty Pretty Things,
The White Stripes,
New York Dolls,
Yeah Yeah Yeahs,
The Clash,
Style Council,
Velvet Underground,
The Horrors,
The Cribs,
Reverend and The Makers,
The Subways,
The Wombats,
Elle S'appelle,
The Troggs,
The Beatles,
Echo and the Bunnymen,
Florence and the Machine.

Olive Cotton, Tea Cup Ballet, 1935

Olive Cotton, Tea Cup Ballet, 1935

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One less tree from our window each day

Vikki's bookshelf: read

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Of Mice and Men
Pride and Prejudice
The Hobbit
The Da Vinci Code
Tipping the Velvet
Wuthering Heights
The Picture of Dorian Grey and Other Works by Oscar Wilde
Bridget Jones's Diary and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
Irish Peacock & Scarlet Marquess: The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde
The Peculiar Memories of Thomas Penman
Moab Is My Washpot
The Bell Jar
The Other Boleyn Girl
On the Road
Brideshead Revisited
Revolutionary Road

Vikki Littlemore's favorite books »

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