Wednesday, 9 May 2012

All The Best Things...

On searching for a suitable topic for today's post I ran over a few of the randomnesses currently rolling around in my mind, to see if any of them fitted the bill. Are aliens real? Are YOU an alien; how would you know? ...or how about chameleons - if you sat one in front of another, would they look at each other and explode through trying to emulate one another exactly? ...why does it never seem to rain until you need to go outside? How about the undeniable awesomeness of giant bean bags, and how it should be the law that everyone in the world should own one...or how many people, when they receive a txt from someone they really like, spontaneously kiss their phone before realising that someone is watching, and then try to make it look like they were merely breathing on the screen before cleaning it... (what? I've never done that o.O )

However, in the end I decided that today I would like to talk about an issue which I know bothers so many girls (and you gents too of course, but I can only really speak on behalf of the female population!) out there, and I feel a need to tackle it head on. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you (drum roll please) ..........Living Life As A Short Girl. 

I myself (as illustrated above, posing with a friend not one hour before he got married! Great stuff!) stand at a reasonably petite 5"2 - or 157cm, for my overseas readers - and to start with, I rarely had a complex about my height. I grew up hearing that 'all the best things come in small packages', although it has to be noted here that a. despite rumours regarding the awkwardness of taller girls, I have always managed to achieve impressive levels of clumsiness regardless of my dinky size, and b. growing up, most of my tall friends seemed to have a kind of sophistication about them which I sometimes felt I lacked...but in general I didn't give it much thought.

At the age of 16 however, I became obsessed with the idea that extra height was needed to achieve what I felt was a much-needed transition from cute little munchkin to irresistible goddess. However, I chose to gain this extra height by buying myself the most hideous, giant pair of yellow three-inch chunky rubber-heeled knee-high lace-up straw boots the world has ever seen (thank you Shoe Zone). As if this indignity to boot-wearers everywhere was not enough, I decided that the best outfit to wear them with would be a pair of denim dungaree shorts, worn attractively (or so I thought) with the legs turned up as high as could be, and only one strap buttoned up. I left the other strap dangling down, over a giant red and white t-shirt. This new look was appropriately finished off with a blue and white choker necklace. Made of seashells. And some bright heather pink lipstick. Even Pixar wouldn't have animated me in a role, I looked too weird.

I went out to a church youth group meeting dressed in said outfit, and can confidently state that I have never been teased quite so much for how I looked before or since. I quickly realised that I did not look like an irresistible goddess at all. I looked like a very small person who had fallen by accident into a large pair of boots and was then thrown up on by a peculiarly mismatched wardrobe. To add injury to insult, when I woke up the next morning I discovered that walking on three inch heels had not in any way agreed with me, and hobbled around like an old lady with sciatica for the rest of the day. The hideous boots were promptly disposed of. Thus ended my brief love affair with heels. To this day I can't manage more than the occasional kitten heel if the need arises. I am resigned to the eternal quest for flat shoes that don't look like they belong in the children's section.

Life went on as normal, until the age of 22 when I had the great privilege of living in South Korea for a few months. For the first time in my life I experienced life as a tall person! Of course some of the men - and about one in a hundred of the women - were a little taller than I was, but in general I was definitely at the higher end (no pun intended) of the height spectrum.

I absolutely loved it. Mirrors in public bathrooms were low enough for me to see more than just my head and shoulders. Clothes fitted me properly without having to shop in the petite section, or chop inches-worth of hem off so new trousers didn't drag along behind me when I walked. I sat at the very back of a friend's wedding and was able to watch the entire ceremony without craning my neck. When my derrière was grabbed and squeezed on the subway by a random old man I was able to turn around and tower over him indignantly, and my extra height made me feel that my impressive 'get your filthy hands off my behind' moment (shouting 'ANDE!' - 'no' in Korean) held much more weight than it would have had I been squeaking up at him instead. Oh the power trip! It was awesome!

The strangeness of the day when I found myself back at Incheon Airport, waiting to board the plane home, surrounded by other Westerners of all shapes and sizes, cannot be adequately expressed in words. I literally felt as if I had shrunk by about two feet in the space of five minutes. The illusion was shattered and I was once more plunged into a world where I was officially short.

This time the sting lingered. It took a good few months to not get exasperated over not being able to reach things from the top kitchen cupboard without a chair, having to be put at the very front for group photographs like an awkward footstool that nobody knew where else to place, hauling myself up onto busses like a child because of the ludicrous height of the step, and so on and so forth. I started to feel increasingly stupid on a regular basis. Simply put, my confidence started to dwindle.

As time has moved on however I have pretty much made peace with my littleness. There are lots of benefits to being short, and I have always tried to be a glass-half-full kind of girl in any case. Getting to know myself better on the inside has helped me to accept who I am on the outside. And I now feel, on behalf of all you gorgeous petite sized ladies everywhere who may still be lamenting their size, that it is now my duty to make a list of all the reasons why it is AWESOME to be tiny. Listen up!

1. We can still fit on children's rides in theme parks. Don't look at me like that. I know you've tried it.

2. We have more options for escape. Remember that. It will come in handy one day if you are ever kidnapped. 

3. We are adorable and cute. I know that many of you will be thinking 'but I don't want to be adorable or cute. I want to look willowy and graceful and sexy and mysterious.' However, being short does not mean that all of those physical attributes need to be stricken from the list. Think of actresses like Isla Fisher, Amy Adams and Eva Longoria. All of them are 5"4 and under, yet they manage to be stunning, sexy, mysterious, graceful, adorable and cute all rolled into one! Because it's not about height. It's about confidence. I have met tall girls who are almost crippled with shyness, and short girls who are larger than life and twice as loud! Who you are has absolutely nothing to do with how tall or short you are. And no, I haven't entirely got the hang of this one yet either. But I'm working on it.

4. We are easy to rescue. I can't count the number of times I have found myself stranded on a sheet of ice, or stuck in some mud, or blown off my feet in a strong wind. The relative ease with which I am able to be yoinked from my usually humiliating predicament/caught as I fly past, and returned to safety, has always delighted me. Of course, people usually laugh at me first. But let's not go there.

5. We're closer to the ground. Children seem to hurt themselves much less when tumbling on their faces in the street than the average adult. Whether this should be attributed to their more malleable physique rather than their close proximity to the ground I'm not entirely sure. But it seems reassuring to know that if some moron does decide to trip us up when out and about, the journey downwards will be significantly faster than anticipated.

6. We get to kiss tall guys. Guys and/or non-romantics can skip this section. But it has to be said. As a short girl, most guys are taller, and tall guys can be kind of irresistible. There's just something so butterfliesy about the moment when a guy leans down to kiss you, followed by the feeling of totally disappearing into a massive bear hug. It can't be just any guy of course, let me make this clear: this is not an invitation, readers, should you be male and over 5"2, to hunt me down and test this out! It has to be someone special. But there's no denying that for me at least, in order to be swept off my feet, it really helps if he's big enough to do some sweeping. And I know I'm not the only one...ladies, come clean...

7. We can easily wriggle through windows. Trust me. You will need this one at some point. And no. I don't want to talk about it.

The fact is, whether you are short, tall or middle sized, you are who you are for a reason. We can all make endless lists as to why we wish we were different. But if you look more closely, you will discover that who you are and how you were made is exactly right for you. And the people who really count will love you for it no matter what. When it comes down to it, nothing else really matters.

So let me end by simply saying: My name is Becki, and I am a short girl...and I love it!

Friday, 2 March 2012


Why is it that ghosts mostly come out at night?
A song, a word, a sudden ineludable feeling -
And there they are...the ghosts of my heart

The fullness of day has emptied itself out
Leaving a quietened mind, a heart less guarded
And there they are...the ghosts of my heart

Eyes drinking me in more passionately than ever
An absent kiss, melting me forever from the inside out
That nose, wrinkled in adorable self-conscious confusion
And there they are...the ghosts of my heart

'You can never lose me...I love you so much'
Rootless words which weigh more than the cosmos
And leave me abandoned, these ghosts of my heart

Morning comes and shooes them away
Shadows ebb and flow, whispers come and go
Subtle, hidden, waiting...the ghosts of my heart

Until the cloak of nightfall flutters, unravels
like a dark velvet river, exposing memories once more
And there they are: never fading, ever seducing
Sparkling, painful, wonderous, haunting...the ghosts of my heart.

© R.K.Mancey 02.03.2012

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Love (and beanie animals)

I'm sitting here in the wee small hours feeling rather philosophical, listening to the rain splashing down on the pavement outside my living room window, and contemplating the issue of love. 

Love hurts. Isn't that the saying? In fact Daniel Bedingfield's song 'Nothing hurts like love' ripped my heart out the last time I heard it, as every single word seemed painfully appropriate. But the more optimistic amongst us say that no, love doesn't's the absence, or retraction of love, that hurts. LOVE is awesome, wonderful, beautiful, exciting. Love rocks! Well, 'they' are probably right. But it can be almost impossible to hold on to that perspective when you're feeling really broken hearted.

I've had 'I love you' said to me passionately, and sincerely. I've also had it said to me as a selfish means to an end. I've had it recited as an excuse for hurting me, and used as emotional blackmail. I've been unable to stop smiling like a lunatic, lost all common sense, been unable to sleep, lost my appetite, daydreamed my way past the right bus stop, been motivated into getting fit quick, spent crazy amounts of money, and done things I never thought I could or would - all because of the words 'I love you'. On reflection, it's almost scary how much power those three little words can hold over us, be it positive or negative.

However, it occurrs to me that all of this musing so far is only related to romantic love. And yet there are so many different forms of love that we come into contact with on a daily basis. So why is it that we so often spend the majority of our time focussing only on that one kind of love? And if we were able to open ourselves up to the power of love in different ways, might it perhaps make the often confusing and painful battlefield of romantic love a little easier to navigate? Could we perhaps, by learning to understand, appreciate, and drink in the beauty of all kinds of love, learn to discern sooner when romantic love is insincere and not built to last, or when we are truly on to a good thing?

Many people never get married, or have the opportunity to have children. Most of us travel through life fearing that this will be our fate, and taking as many steps as possible to prevent it from happening. Some people date or even marry out of fear, simply to avoid being alone. And yet some of the most amazing, caring, happy people I know have never been married and have no children, but they radiate peace and fun and contentment in all they do. They have families with whom they are extremely close, children to whom they are Godparents or honorary Aunties/Uncles, and close friendships that have lasted for years. How is it possibly fair to say, therefore, that they have in some way missed out, or that their lives are any less fulfilled than those around us who have 'found love'? Have they not also found love?

It is true, in my thirty-and-two-thirds years of being alive, that some of the most amazing, passionate, intimate and poignant moments of my life have been romantic ones. And a few of those moments are, without question, burned on my heart and mind forever. But I also know that when those relationships caved in on me, and my heart was unbearably broken, it has been my family and my close friends who have been there for me, and who have allowed me - no, encouraged me - to cry in their arms, in their homes, into and onto their pillows/blankets, over plates of cake: nowhere is ever off limits to people who truly love you. Over the years I have been given massages when I was tense, provided with enough tissues to consider taking out shares in Kleenex, had cups of tea brought to me, been forced to eat when I couldn't, been dragged on nights out that turned out to be inexplicably awesome, and have even been presented with ludicrously cute microwaved beanie animals to cuddle (as displayed below. Everyone should have one. So adorable!)

I have been reassured countless times that (contrary to my own opinions) I am beautiful and special; that I deserve to be treated like a Princess, that everything is going to be ok, that I am loveable, that I'm not second best, and that 'somewhere out there' is someone who will agree with them on all of the above points, who will treat me with honesty and respect, and 'make all my dreams come true'.

I am not saying these things to make myself sound fabulous. I am saying them because recently, it has been occurring to me that the only dream I really have, when it comes right down to it, is to be able to live a life of love with, and for, the people around me. It's as simple as that. I suspect that this is also the case for many of my other single friends. But this is not necessarily a dream that needs an 'other half' to be fulfilled. I am a whole person as I am, and for me, my worth is found in who I am, in the God who created me, and in the people in my life who love me back. So how is it that we all seem to grow up harbouring a constant need to 'find someone', and harbouring an even bigger complex if they appear to be nowhere to be found? And why on earth do we feel that we need a 'significant other' to make our dreams come true?

It's as if the only way we can fully accept ourselves is when somebody somewhere has a revelation of our hidden awesomeness, which will magically transform the way we view ourselves, instantly validating our existence as a person worthy of love. When the simple truth of the matter should be this: there are already people around us who believe that we are beautiful and special, and who already treat us with respect and decency. These people make it their business to ensure that everything will be ok for us one way or another, simply because they constantly have our backs in every situation, and they love us no matter what. These are the people who show us true love on a daily basis and ask nothing in return.

These people are our friends, our parents, our siblings. These are the true heroes of life. These are the people we can call at 3am when we feel lonely, for no other reason than we know that they care. These are the awesome, wonderful nutcases who for years have put up with bad hair days, bad mood days, creative messy paint all over the house days, weepy days, irritable days, writing music at 3am days, crazy hyper happy days, oops I drank too much and I'm not sure where I am days, I really need a hug days, can I come over? I locked myself out again days, I'm sorry but I spilled Ribena all over your white carpet - please don't hate me days...and all the days inbetween. 

Why should these relationships have any less worth than romantic ones? Surely they should hold equal value in our hearts, and we should invest every bit as much time, effort, and love into these people as we do into finding our 'someone special' - they are ALL special, and should be valued as such.

It's natural sometimes to feel lonely for more than just friendship. To deeply miss the one who meant the most and who, for whatever reason, slipped away, or broke your heart. To wonder 'what if', be it concerning the past or the future. And when we get hurt, it's natural to retreat and to take time to heal. But I truly believe that the most important thing, above all else, is to not waste precious time by blocking everyone out whilst grieving over someone who once was, or by neglecting those close to us whilst worrying over someone who is not yet. Instead we should throw ourselves into loving and truly appreciating those who 'are' now. 

That doesn't mean it's wrong to remember, or wonder about the future, and it doesn't mean that being alone doesn't sometimes hurt. Broken hearts take time to mend, and loneliness can be a killer. It just means that when it does hurt, we need to open up our eyes and realise that we are never fully alone, and learn to be grateful for the people in our lives who are our true constants. They are our lifeline...they are our now. They are what makes us awesome, no matter what we go through. They are a huge gift and we need to treasure them, or someone else will.

So to every friend and family member who has been a hero to me throughout my life so far I thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Your love means more to me than you will ever know. I will love you forever and ever. Thank you x

Monday, 17 October 2011

Much Ado About Nothing?

Welcome! To my first blog post in almost five years, back by popular demand (well, enthusiastic suggestion...) I thought it would be an excellent idea to open up the floor to ideas for a first topic, and so asked around on StalkBook and Twitter. The collective responses created such a smorgasbord of weirdness that I decided to list them on here for your amusement:

Time travel
Things that make me smile
Things that grind my gears (!)
The most significant thing I've learned this year so far
Underwater basket-weaving
A stranger possessed by an alien cake ingredient

I know. Brilliant.

One thing I decided right away was that, whereas I believed all of these issues to have the potential for some decent ramblings at some point, I would never ever stoop so low as to waste space writing about 'weather'. I hate stereotypes, and what can be more stereotypical than an English girl ranting about the weather, right?

That was until late Saturday morning however, when I popped into the local Co-op to pick up some lunch. After going through the inevitable, internal: 'Do I want a wrap, or sausage rolls?' debate, which occurs every time I stand in the chilled isle staring at the depressingly sushi-less options on offer, I decided on sausage rolls and joined the queue. I waited patiently behind an elderly couple attempting to tear coupons out of a magazine - ripping them to shreds in the process - and an irrefutably White Lightening-scented lad, repeatedly itching his head with disturbing enthusiasm.

My gaze idly wandered from the special offers (large tubs of Celebrations for only £5.79! Memo to self: buy a tub, before the price reverts to rivalling that of my monthly rent) to the personal hygiene shelf (does anyone ever buy Co-op Basics mouthwash? It's so luminous it could be used as an underwater beacon) until I noticed something which jerked me out of my reverie, causing my eyes to widen to almost three times their normal size, and my mouth to drop open in utter shock and horror.

(Yes. Just like that.)

It was the newspaper stand and, in particular, the headline of the Daily Mail (which, incidentally, sports the self awarded title of 'The World's Greatest Newspaper', although I suspect this is a matter hugely up for debate; not unlike its content it has to be said):


I realise that headlines are designed to draw in their readers by being as shock-inducing as possible. I also realise that, being the Daily Fail, it should probably be taken with more than a pinch of salt (or road grit, in this case). However, on arriving back to Chez Becki and Googling said pending weather, it would seem that - sadly for me - this may be the closest to a factual headline the Daily Wail has published in years. Apparently when I wake up later this morning, I will be faced with icy temperatures, wind, sleet and snow, from the Pennines all the way down to Devon. Great.

I should explain. Growing up in North Yorkshire, I attended a large sprawling private school in the heart of some beautiful countryside. The location was fantastic, and the facilities were great (they had awesome art and music blocks) but the majority of the buildings were extremely old and draughty. The winter months were brutal. I remember huddling around giant white radiators with hardly any heat in them to try and warm up at break times, many cold-induced tummy aches, and getting chilblains on my toes because my feet were so chilly. Going home to eat dinner in the baking-warmed kitchen with my family, having a hot bath before bed, and snuggling down at night with a hot water bottle and 'Angelina Ballerina' to cuddle however, definitely made up for it.

Then at the age of thirteen, we moved to the Midlands, where I attended the local comprehensive school. The modern buildings were much warmer as was the general area. However, my issues with being cold continued in one major un-get-out-able aspect of school life - sports. I detested P.E, and always had done, for the following four reasons:

1. I felt intimidated by the teachers, particularly one who once referred to me as a 'brain dead seagull' (!)

2. I loathed the showers. We had to go in threes, stark naked, into a communal ceramic chamber of watery shame, overlooked by a teacher who harangued us through our thirty seconds under the water and one minute to get dried and changed. As an extremely self-conscious (and not terribly speedy) twelve year old it was a perpetually embarrassing nightmare.

3. I have as much sporting ability as a plank of wood. With termites. Dead ones.

4. Winter outdoor sports in a tiny pleated skirt and skimpy t-shirt...oh, the cold!!

It was not fun. However, I don’t want to convey that I had a terrible, frozen childhood. I had a great childhood (P.E trauma aside!) - in fact, any flurries of snow at all would send myself and my sister screaming to our parents and demanding wellies, scarves, instant garden access, and a carrot for the nose of the snowman we were already designing in our heads. And it is a simple fact that, growing up in this country, you subconsciously accept that this is how it is. It's England; it's cold. You have an umbrella and a duffle coat. You can wear your socks in bed if you need to. And you get annual snowball fights into the bargain. So just get on with it!

At the age of twenty-one however, September 2002 saw me embarking upon a ten month round the world trip. The first couple of months were pretty chilly, as I travelled through beautiful upstate New York, Ohio, and Canada. But then in November - on Thanksgiving as I recall, and feeling extremely tearful at leaving some amazing friends behind - I flew to Viti Levu, Fiji, and thus began my love affair with the heat. From the moment I stepped out of the airport into the thick, pungent, deliciously scented air, I was hooked. I remember just standing there and looking around me in a daze, all my senses instantaneously bombarded with colours that seemed hazily brighter than usual, sky that looked bluer, ground which had a sparkling, almost aqueous quality to it, and the sun...well, the sun appeared to be actually hugging me. At least that's what it felt like - totally, utterly and completely enveloped in a thick, comforting, neverending warmth. It was amazing.

Since then, simply speaking, I have never stopped craving the heat. I'm not saying that I don't enjoy a crisp autumnal morning or the smell of bonfires on November 5th. I appreciate the beauty of snow shrouded trees in the winter and the muffled 'pat pat pat' of wellies walking past the window, leaving a vanishing trail of footprints behind them. I love Christmas with my family, snuggling in front of the fire on Christmas Eve, and fresh early morning walks in the village where my parents live. I can appreciate the beauty of the winter months as much as the next person.

What I HATE however are the parts of winter that many people don't stop to think about. Last year when the snow came, living alone in a new city at the top of a massive hill, was the worst winter of my life. I spent weeks pep-talking myself up on a daily basis simply to leave the house, and then when I did, being shamefully and regularly overtaken by elderly superheroes in the street, striding forcefully over snow and ice like human grit-machines and leaving me shuffling anxiously along in their wake. 

I discovered that when you live alone, every expedition out of the house is a nightmare of epic proportions. You're isolated if you stay in, but you can feel even more isolated when you go out. What happens when you fall over on that horrific two meter sheet of ice outside your house which no amount of salt can melt, and as you hit the ground you realise that nobody knows where you are? What about when your boiler breaks down, and the wonders at British Gas take six days to get to you, so for those six days you end up living like a modern day hobbit, huddled in your bedroom over a small electric heater, wrapped in a duvet, watching reruns on 4oD and drinking Cointreau to keep warm? How about the fact that it takes over an hour to walk to work in the snow, so you have to set off in the dark to get there on time, but that by 5pm it's so dark and miserable once again that you end up staying til 7pm just to delay attempting to get home until absolutely necessary?

Taxis can't get to you. Busses are cancelled. Trains aren’t running so you’re literally trapped. Yes - winter alone is hideous. The cryophobically challenged of society, we take our lives in our hands every day merely to put the bins out, let alone attempting to get anywhere further afield!

In summary, this passionately sunshiney girl is not a fan of ‘Arctic Blast’s of any kind. And would like to put out a national plea (should the country once again be smothered in a blanket of frozen ice crystals this week): 

Next time you’re making your way down a snow clad street, and you spot a little person shrouded in a thousand scarves, advancing as slowly as a snail on Zopiclone, eyes screwed shut and triple-layered arms outstretched for added balance like a nervous, overdressed tight-rope walker, be a saint and offer them your arm. They’ll love you forever - and besides, you never know. It could be me.