Writer, photographer, "rapper" and general technophobe takes on the internet in what could be a very, very messy fight. But it's alright: she's harder than she looks, and she's wearing every single ring she could get her hands on.


Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Cosmic humour

And the cosmic jokes keep coming. The universe is literally lobbing them at me now, and it's all I can do to duck so that they don't wallop me in the face.

Today, I got the following message from somebody I haven't seen for eighteen years. A message that began:

Am I the blonde eight year old? I just thought I'd check. 

Twenty years ago, the love of my small, freckled life was a boy called Tom. In fact, he was the love of everybody's lives back then: I distinctly remember a girl's pyjama party (aged 9) where we all confessed - with increasing alarm - that we all intended to marry him, which could pose a problem what with British laws being what they were. There was a bit of an ego scuffle - a bit of 'well, I believe that I'll be marrying him because I've got the newest My Little Pony, not to mention that he borrowed two pencils off me last week' - and I promptly ducked out and decided not to compete. Not that you compete at the age of 9, obviously, because you're not sure what you're competing for: you just become vaguely aware that when you look in your desk on Valentine's day and there's nothing there, something is amiss (this feeling continues, incidentally. No matter how old you get).

Anyway, I didn't have the ego to scuffle with, so I just contented myself with furiously trying to beat him at everything: swimming, History, Maths, Geography, Art, whatever that subject is in primary school where you use a glue gun for no identified reason. Beating him, and thus gaining at least some kind of unwilling respect, which was one up on not knowing I existed: which was clearly the alternative.

You might have beat me at Maths but you didn't beat me at Geography, Tom added, twenty years later.
I wouldn't want to beat you at Geography, I told him. Geography's rubbish.

Anyway, twenty years ago the 8 year old Holly Smale had a rough deal of it. Not only was she freckled and shy and gappy teethed and knobbly kneed; not only did she have extremely prominent ears and an interest in Elizabethan History; not only did her fellow, pretty, female classmates think it was hysterical that she should like the same person that everybody else liked (she did try, for the record, to like somebody else - just to balance it out - but it turned out that even at 9 it doesn't work like that), but her mother also thought it was hysterical. So hysterical, in fact, that she took to making animal noises in the front seat of the car, because his last name was the name of an animal and thus she was ingeniously making the most obvious link possible and humiliating me with it. (For which, mother, I will be forever grateful.)

Thus, every single day at school was a rollercoaster of excitement and humiliation and shyness: spent blushing, hiding, quivering, watching. Spent going through that first terrible, wonderful crush.

It lasted.... Well. I don't know how long it lasted. Into my teens, I'd say. It was unrequited, but it remained steadfast: his dotted line lasted until I was at least 13, and then it got replaced by somebody else who was also adored by hundreds. (Clearly, I had not learnt my place on the ladder: and never did, actually. I'm always climbing up where I shouldn't be climbing.)

But - and this was the most important thing - he never knew. There was never one moment where he knew: not one confession at a school disco, not one secret little love note tucked into his satchel, not one rubber handed over with my a little heart doodled on it. It was my biggest romantic secret: the one I would have died rather than let on. Even the fates appeared to be unknowing: they made him Prince Charming when I was Cinderella in the school play, and then swapped another girl in for the half where they got to kiss.


Well: he knows now. Because it turns out that he reads this bloody blog. And that is not how I wanted the poor boy to find out. Twenty years ago, the freckled, shy Holly Smale would have been horrified - devastated - if she had known that the love of her eight year old life would find out that she liked him on the internet. Now, she thinks it's funny. Embarrassing, obviously, but funny.

Which leaves me to look at the sky again. It's still, apparently, laughing.

"Seriously? Are you playing silly beggars?"
Hahahaha. Ah, come on. You've had a rough ride of it recently. I'm throwing in as many laughs as I can find.
"Yes. I can see that."
Did you like it? Write 'I'm free' in the sand like a big old hippy and within two minutes get a miniature version of your ex turn up. Write about letting go of your romantic past, and the next day that writing drags up your romantic past. I'm doing good, aren't I? It's funny, right?
"Yup. Very funny. Can you stop now? Too much cosmic humour is just as bad as none at all."

I love irony: the building blocks of satire. But as long as you're laughing at yourself, you can't really go wrong.

Until, that is, you decide to tell the world about it.