Have you read Miranda Hart‘s book, Is It Just Me?, yet? No? Why on earth not?
I finished reading it yesterday and feel the need to share now. I laughed (out loud, sometimes, while in public places), I almost cried, and I nodded my head in agreement quite a lot (on pretty much every page actually – must have looked like some kind of nodding dog). Throughout most of the book a knowing smile was spread across my face, and people around me on the train or in Starbucks must have wondered what it was that I knew that they didn’t. It was simple – I knew I was reading a gem of a book!
Just before I read the final chapter of the book I had been wandering along a quiet street in south-west London when I suddenly imagined myself bumping into Miranda Hart (probably literally, since we both seem prone to bumping into things). I often imagine such scenarios, and now I know that it’s not just me who does this, which is reassuring. After bumping into Miranda, I imagined apologising profusely, laughing it off together, and then explaining to her that I was just about to finish reading her book and that I loved it. In the past when I’ve met famous people I’ve become a jabbering sweaty fool (sorry Jonathan Ross!), but on this occasion I would exude confidence and wit and Miranda would instantly see that I was her kind of people (that’s how the fantasy went, anyway).
Because I am, dear reader, I am her kind of people. The book asks “is it just me?”, and I can say with total confidence that it most certainly is not just you, Miranda. Never have I read a book I related to more. It was hilarious because life is hilarious, isn’t it? And if you don’t laugh, you’ll probably just cry. Or sit around frowning, which I admit I am prone to doing sometimes.
Right from the first page I knew I was going to love Is It Just Me?. Miranda talks about where you might be reading the book (I was stood in Sainsbury’s having not actually bought said book yet, trying to kill some time because the tills weren’t open – bloomin’ Sunday trading laws). On that first page Miranda makes a reference to commuting, which perfectly describes why I hate it with such a passion: “Maybe you’re standing on a commuter train, using this book as a filter between you and a repellent armpit. If so, I’m terribly sorry. That’s no way to start the day, is it? Face in a pit.“. I knew I was going to love every word that followed.
Is It Just Me? is an amusing romp through life’s trials and tribulations (good word, ‘tribulations’), in which Miranda talks to her 18-year-old self, who attends and all-female boarding school. As she covers each topic, from music and hobbies to office life, to diets, dating and dreams, Miranda gives advice, tells anecdotes and asks “is it just me?”. If you’ve ever seen her wonderful BBC comedy (currently showing series 3 on Mondays at 9pm), you’ll have an idea what kind of stories you’re in for. These are stories of ordinary stuff, like how to balance a drink and plate at a buffet and actually eat the foot on your plate (you can’t, it’s impossible), making small talk with super intelligent people (just don’t get me started on that!), and carrying watermelons (we’ve all seen Dirty Dancing, right?).
But it’s the last chapter on ‘dreams’ which I really adored, and which actually brought a tear to my eye. I won’t ruin it for you, because I do insist you buy and read this book yourself, but Miranda talks about the importance of following one’s dreams, just as she has done. She reminds us all that life is silly and difficult at times, but that we must hold on to our dreams, even the little ones. We must also be honest with ourselves about what those dreams are, and not attempt to make our dreams fit in with what we think we should be doing or what the rest of the world thinks we should be doing. If it’s been your dream since childhood, and it’s still your dream now, then it probably is what you ought to be doing. I’ll give you a small quote:
I think it’s sad when people stop dreaming, or start losing hope. Because holding onto the bonkers dream might just turn out to be the most marvellous thing you ever did…. Allow me to sit back, fold my arms, hoist my trousers northwards and say, ‘YOU. YOU are the person this industry has been waiting for.
So it was with this thought about dreams that I finished Is It Just Me?, while riding on a slightly sweaty Piccadilly Line tube, face not quite in a pit. Ever since I can remember I have been writing stories. When I was a kid I wrote stories about killer piranha fish and Sylvanian Families. Now I write stories about Japan. Although it’s always been my dream to be a writer, I guess I struggle with the idea that I actually could. I find it hard to imagine walking into a bookshop and seeing my book on the shelf (I’d better hurry up or bookshops might cease to exist, what with all this technology), or being invited to a bookshop to give a reading, but why shouldn’t I achieve my dream?
When I heard Miranda had a book out, I just thought it would be a jolly good laugh to read – such fun – and it was, but I didn’t expect to get a real life lesson too.
Thank you, Miranda Hart, for what I call I really fabulous book!
I knew it was going to be much harder to find new things to do on work days, and the pouring rain today didn’t help, but I still managed to find something! Today’s new thing was:
Smiling while commuting
Everyone hates commuting, right? Especially if you’re stuck on a crowded train with your face in someone’s armpit, an elbow in your ribs, and someone else’s free newspaper grazing your boob. Commuting really gets me down, and I feel like I have this big black cloud over me all day because I know I have to get back on the damned train again after work to go home.
But I have no choice. I can’t afford to live in Zone 1, therefore I must commute, and I must use public transport because I can’t ride a bike and wouldn’t cycle that far anyway! So, today I decided to try to find a way to smile while commuting.
Generally it’s the other people on the commute that get my goat, so I figured I would have to form a bubble around myself and fill it with things that made me happy. The easiest way I know to do this is with music. I often listen to a bit of Lady Gaga on the way to work, but I decided to try something new today… something which was guaranteed to make me smile…
Comedy. Or, more specifically, comedy music. 😀
Here’s an example of something that made me smile inappropriately on the Tube today:
Please note: If you try smiling while commuting your fellow commuters may glance at you suspiciously and think you rather strange, but it shouldn’t matter because you will be in your own little comedy bubble, oblivious to their grumpy moods. The only people I am allowing into my bubble with me at the moment are the gorgeous Tim Minchin, the hilarious Victoria Wood, the ridiculous Bill Bailey and perhaps a little Monty Python.
Due to vast amounts of studying recently I haven’t yet been able to write anything significant on this website, so instead I want to share something I recently discovered, which I wish I had written…
I just think this is so clever, so well written, and fucking hilarious!
Tim Minchin is my new favourite comedian. He seems to be a little bit of everything I like (including uncanny resemblances to both Bill Bailey and Victoria Wood!). He’s rock, he’s roll, and he’s a fabulous pianist. (He’s also pretty damn cute!) 😉
I’ve often toyed with the idea of putting my words to some kind of music, and would love to one day meet a musician I can really work with who is willing to listen to my waffles for long enough to try to find their rhythm. Unfortunately I’m really not musical myself.
Anyway… I will try and write something soon. My Japanese exam is on December 6th, and after that I plan on actually chilling out a bit and spending time doing things other than studying… so watch this space!