Wednesday, 9 April 2014

“Never forgive. Never forget.” 80+ homespun mottos for a wholesome existence.

Lucrezia Borgia meets Mother Teresa? Gandhi meets Machiavelli? A Chinese restaurant fortune cookie automated fortune printing machine meets the Ten Commandments? Here are my guides to life, inspired by Regina Brett, Oprah and Harper’s Bazaar magazine’s Words of Wisdom page.

  1. Listen to what your body’s telling you. It’ll save your life. 
  2. Judge people by what they do, not what they say. 
  3. Natural justice always prevails in the end. It takes a long time but it’s evisceratingly, disembowellingly thorough. Don’t bother with revenge if anyone’s deliberately hurt you. Never forgive. Never forget. Mentally, take out a contract on their life. Then forget about it. Concentrate on healing and being happy. When the karma happens, you’ll know. It will be permanent. It will be annihilating. And yea verily, you will be satisfied. 
  4. Never judge by appearances. You can’t tell a single thing about a person’s character, background, mood, values, opinions or history from their appearance. Not a thing. 
  5. If it feels good, in a calm and happy and at-peace way, it is good. 
  6. If it feels bad, or intense, or charged, or extreme, or agonising, or ambiguous, or so exhilarating that you’re on the brink of total insanity, that’s because it’s wrong. 
  7. Be friendly to everyone once. How they react after that will give you the measure of them. 
  8. Do what you love. You don’t have to turn it into your main career, but keep it in your life whatever else happens. Try to get a career which is roughly in the same area as what you love: either a different job in the same industry, or a different industry but using the same skills, or a different role with the same outlook, or something totally contrasting but attracting the same general type of person. Then, one side of your life with stimulate and inspire the other. 
  9. Never lie, never play games, never pretend, never deceive. Deception tears something fundamental in the fabric of the universe. 
  10. Being picky about food as a grown-up is a sign of ego, not healthiness. 
  11. Never knock the pleasures of a regular pay cheque. 
  12. If your life’s reached an impasse, learn something new and substantial. I mean like mastering a new language or getting a motorcycle licence. Not learning fantasy 1950s housewife cupcake crafting skills. 
  13. You will never regret doing a job that makes things better for people in general rather than making money for your bosses. 
  14. Don’t be a martyr. Remember that 90% of all charity volunteers are women of all colours and backgrounds working themselves to the bone for free and 90% of all charity bosses are white men paying themselves a businessman’s salary. Labour should be paid. Don’t act like some drivelling female masochist and say it’s fine. There’s doing good, then there’s good old fashioned sexist labour exploitation. 
  15. If you can, save half of everything you earn. Divide these savings into three. One third is for long term life savings. One third is for paying tax if you’re self-employed. The other third is a travel treat fund for you to see the world in style and comfort. 
  16. Everything in life is dominated by vested interests so maintain a healthy scepticism about your bosses, authorities, heads, management and other ruler types. Be polite whenever they address you, but don’t believe anything they say. 
  17. The corporation’s always bigger than the individual. If you try to take on a corporation by yourself, it’ll crush you. Even if you win a moral victory at a tribunal stage, you will lose your career. Line up a Plan B that doesn’t feel like a consolation prize, then try to change the system to make things better for everyone else. 
  18. Exercise a little bit every day, doing something you enjoy. It feels great and you’ll sleep really well. 
  19. Support groups are very nice but directly exposing, fighting and challenging inequality are fantastic. 
  20. Your pet cat is nowhere near as interesting as you think. I don’t care what it did/ate/caught/sicked up today. The shifty way it slinks about makes my skin crawl. 
  21. Don’t surf the Net, it’ll dissolve your brain. Log on twice a day, at noon and four, for half an hour each time, to check your emails, look up specific things and go over the headlines of whatever newspaper you prefer to read. If you need to be email-responsive for work, set up your iPad or iPhone in a far corner of your study or your desk and glance at it once an hour. 
  22. Graphic novels are not the Messiah. 
  23. If there’s a story you’re burning to write or any other creative project you’re desperate to pursue, do it. In the evenings. Don’t give up your day job to do it. 
  24. Don’t self-publish your junk or put your crap iPhone film on the free Net for everyone (ie. no-one) to see. That’s for losers, freaks and desperados and the people who’ve made it that way are a tiny proportion of all the ones that tried. If you want to be a book writer with a longstanding career you need a proper agent, a proper publisher/crew/distributor, proper deals and proper marketing. 
  25. You can use Amazon. You can complain about Amazon. But you can’t do both. 
  26. Just surviving long term in the arts, culture or media is an achievement in itself. 
  27. It’s great to be freelance but it’s also good to be in part-time regular professional alliance with major institutions whether they be companies, universities or the BBC. So if you can get yourself a regular gig, do so. 
  28. In work and life and love and creativity, don’t be influenced by passing trends or swayed by what other people are doing. By the time you’ve worked up a passable imitation the moment will have passed. 
  29. Don’t talk about yourself all the time. It’s not interesting. Ask other people about themselves. 
  30. Trust the universe generally. But more specifically, especially if you work in my field: don’t trust anyone. 
  31. It’s not gossip. It’s passing on important news. 
  32. It’s hard to be instinctive or predictive about situations, but trust your instincts about people you're dealing with in the medium term. If something strikes you as odd, it’s because it is. Listen to alarm bells and heed your red flags. 
  33. Don’t give attitude to B because you’re upset about A. If you’re upset about A, do what any decent normal person does and cry in the toilet. You’ll feel better. 
  34. Don’t flirtybanter with people whose job is to serve you in shops, restaurants or bars. At best it’s tacky, objectifying, patronising, arrogant and exploitative. At worst it’s sexual harassment. And it’s something they have to put up with all day, every day, in addition to their work duties. 
  35. Don’t sext or go back and forth on the text with people you’re ‘dating.’ It’s not sexy. It’s cheap, it’s tacky and if they’re doing it with you they’re doing it with a dozen others. Show a little bit of class and self-respect if you can. 
  36. Bullies aren’t cowards, they’re deliberate, simultaneous and serial abusers who are brave, confident, entitled, experienced and have massive egos. Don’t turn yourself inside out trying to explain away or come to terms with the actions of bad people you’ve encountered. They’re just arseholes. 
  37. Accept that in every year you’ll waste £1,000 on something or other, usually a non-refundable booking, a lost deposit or a big-ticket item you’re not allowed to return. I call it my Annual Idiot Tax. 
  38. If you think you’re being paid less than your peers, ask them straight-up what they earn. It’s very hard to not answer a direct question. Even if they don’t really want to tell you, they will. You’ll lose friends but you’ll gain the bitter knowledge that you’re being paid less than everyone else because you have a filthy taint in your pants. Call it the Woman Tax. 
  39. Never argue back and forth with chippy strangers on the street, in shops, in queues or in businesses. It’s a waste of time. Take the high and humorous road instead, it’s a truly snooty mindgame that’ll leave you feeling fantastic. 
  40. When sexually harassed, always look delighted, immediately go right up close to the perpetrator, invade their personal space, put your arm around them, stroke their face and engage them in bright and intimate conversation at the very top of your voice, asking them if they want to be your friend, where do they live, what’s their name, where they work, how old they are and any question you can think of. Draw in anyone else who may be nearby. Then tell them all about yourself, your hobbies and your family. Invite yourself to Sunday lunch at theirs, perhaps. It’s always hilarious when you finally break it to them: “You know why I’m talking to you so much? It’s so that when I call the police I can give them a really, really good description of you. And I now have your DNA on me, from where I patted you on the head, so I can give them that too, and they can keep it on record. Although I have to say, you see up there? You’ve been standing in front of a CCTV camera all this time and I’m sure it’s got a lock on you by now. And now if it’s all right I’m going to take a photograph of you because you’re so lovely and friendly and I’m going to remember you for a long time and show it to the police and put it up on the Internet.” Turns out they never wanted to be friends in the first place, at all! 
  41. When I gave up make-up and alcohol I suddenly noticeably had a load more money in my wallet to be spent on food and travel and fashion magazine subscriptions. Just saying. 
  42. Skincare products give you acne. Acne treatments give you acne. Face flannels and exfoliating brushes give you acne. I had total red onion, chilli beef and pepperoni pizza sore purple acne all over my face and got rid of it by splashing it twice a day with warm water and taking a good multivitamin. No scrubbing with the towel either. It calmed down within a month and I had glowing, perfect, balanced skin within two months. 
  43. Once you start wearing designer clothes you’ll never go back. 
  44. Rich people, of either sex, never have cheap shoes or cheap luggage, ever. 
  45. If you’re going to whistle-blow, tell the hidden truth about something or expose a network, be ready to leave it permanently and say goodbye to that phase of your life or career and everyone in it. Even if people agree with you privately, they’re not going to stand up and take the bullet with you. 
  46. Even so, never protect wrongdoers. The silence of witnesses actively supports perpetrators and enables abuse. When someone breaks the silence, eventually all the toxic matter comes out. Always out the abusers you know. 
  47. If you notice something as a passer-by in daily life that strikes you as unjust or unequal, always make a complaint, write about it or flag it up in some way. At the bottom of the complaint, write, “I am going to publicise this even in the case of non-response.” You’ll feel better, and eventually complaints do add up and shift things. 
  48. Never do anything when you’re angry. Don’t confront anyone, don’t fire off an email. 
  49. That said, if you’re not the panicking type, sometimes when you’re angry, you say exactly the right thing. 
  50. If you can’t decide what to do about something, go for a long walk and the answer’ll come to you. 
  51. If someone at work says something a bit insulting or ‘off’ and you immediately want to answer back, instead say and do nothing. Absolutely nothing. Just look at them gently. Perhaps raise an eyebrow. Merely wait. The situation will magically reverse itself in your favour. Then, if you can, gather your things and leave in silence. This will become a cherished memory. 
  52. Don’t grovel, apologise for yourself, downplay your work or behave submissively, it’s nauseating. 
  53. Don’t be a man-worshipper or -enabler, it’s pathetic. It’s toxic. And it’s not mutual. 
  54. If any girlfriend tells you they suffered abuse, believe them. Survivors don’t lie. In fact they usually downplay what happened. 
  55. After your two years of work experience, shadowing, body-of-work building or interning, don’t do routine everyday or regular work for free. If you do, you’re telling the world you think you’re worthless. Sometimes however, unpaid one-off appearances at public events are worthwhile. Be strategic in choosing which ones. 
  56. Study what fascinates and challenges you, not the subject you’re easily good at. 
  57. Be friendly, it makes life interesting and joyful. 
  58. Bad people are brilliant actors and fantastic liars. But they always drop hints about themselves. If something strikes you as odd, ask a direct question. 
  59. Never get involved in interpersonal bickering, petty politics or in-fighting. Especially not online. It’s a waste of time. 
  60. Don’t mess people around by making appointments and then cancelling or continually changing them. Not at work. Not in your personal life. It’ll mark you out as a skeevy, unreliable two-face. 
  61. Don’t go on about how stressed or how busy you are. You’re not. 
  62. Carbs, sugar and caffeine give you thrush. Antibiotics also give you thrush. Alcohol, sugar and caffeine give you cystitis. And then there are those times when it’s clearly God’s punishment for having sex. 
  63. Cranberry tablets, gallons of water and nettle, lemon and ginger, dandelion or fennel tea are all miracle cures for cystitis. At the same time, a standard brand painkiller takes the edge off while you sort it out. 
  64. One and a half glasses of rosé. Or two glasses of champagne. Or one Martini. All with food. That’s enough for a lovely buzz and not so much that you’ll end up with your head down a toilet, your stomach in your mouth, your lipstick on your chin and a little bit of squirted out pee on your skirt. 
  65. If you’re hosting a party and you want to take it to another level just go around with a tray of tequila shots, salt and cut limes. 
  66. When you learn a new language you wake up your brain, unlock a new part of the world and discover a new culture, history, landscape and an entire population of potential friends. 
  67. Enjoy, learn, grow, earn, survive and be practical, but forget about bogus concepts like career and success. Life isn’t a game that you can win. Nobody’s following or cares about your individual career trajectory, which is an illusion. 
  68. Power relationships are obvious. Look at who’s doing the drudge work and who’s having long lunches and casual meetings, who looks tired and who looks breezy, who’s being paid more and who’s being paid less, who’s taking the credit, who has room to manoeuvre, who gets the perks and who doesn’t, who’s being promoted and who isn’t. It’ll all be clear as day, right in front of your face. Analyse any situation by interpreting what you witness. 
  69. Celibacy feels completely and utterly fantastic. 
  70. Romance, sexuality and sexual love are not that important or interesting. Friendships, colleagues, artistic collaboration and parental love are richer. 
  71. Do what you enjoy, pay attention to what’s around you and relax in the moment. 
  72. You can become friends with colleagues but you can’t become colleagues with your friends. 
  73. Give money if you want. But never lend money. You won’t get it back. Asking for it back’ll leave a bad taste in your mouth, perversely. 
  74. You’re never going to be rich and famous. 0.00000001% of people on the planet are rich and famous. They may not be nice. They may not be good. They may well not be happy. So don’t torment yourself about ‘making it’ in your industry. 
  75. Liars and cheats don’t change. They’re nasty people of bad character. Everything they say is a lie, everything they do is part of a game. 
  76. Know that your sin will find you out. Luckily that goes for everyone else too. 
  77. Change with the times. You can’t live at 35 as you did at 25. There comes a point when you have to stop hanging out, shape up and get your life together, whatever that means for you. For some people it’s settling down, for others it’s travelling the world, commencing the big project, getting the PhD or making a career change. But you have to change because nobody wants to be the oldest swinger in town. 
  78. There are those  people who, like me, don't particularly want children or mind the prospect of never having children. Then there are those people who are absolutely hotly 100% adamant that they will not have children and who actually hate and, weirdly, fear children. These people had miserable childhoods, hate and feel anger towards their parents and are terrified of replicating their own history. Don't let them put you off if you're undecided.
  79. Agonising relationship drama is a sign of toxicity, not passion, whatever the relationship. 
  80. Marriage is a nasty trap and the nuclear family was the world’s shortest lived social experiment. 
  81. Don’t splurge out huge amounts of career or general life information to people you’ve just met. It’s cheap and unwittingly backfiringly revealing, and you don’t know what they’re going to do with the info you just gabbled out of your mouth in a desperate bid to please. 
  82. It’s true that your real friends reveal themselves in a crisis and fair-weather friends disappear. But fair-weather friends are great to take to parties. Think of them as party pals. Not everyone has to be gathered around your bedside when you discover you’re dying of herpes or whatever. 
  83. Self-hatred is a boring, destructive, curiously narcissistic waste of time. Do something for or with others instead of constantly thinking about yourself. 
  84. Home is the place you heal, replenish, create and feel completely safe, completely yourself, joyful, permanent and replete with promise. Even if you never had that or don’t have it now, you can create it.