Jubilee and FOMO

The fear of missing out (FOMO) is a blight on London life. It is why your mate is checking his iPhone under the table every five seconds; it is why you agonise over what to have for dinner; it is probably why you have a Facebook account, too. In Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life (Hamish Hamilton) psychoanalyst Adam Phillips formulates an elegant argument about why what we don’t do is just as important as what we do do. Frustration is fundamental to satisfaction; regret is nourishing; not getting is good. I would have found it comforting if I didn’t have a hundred other books I could have been reading. (Richard Godwin, Evening Standard, 30th May 2012)

It was towards the end of last year when I first heard the term “FOMO”, or “fear of missing out”, and I’ve been meaning to write a post about it ever since. As soon as I heard the term I recognised it as the way I have been feeling not just since I’ve been back in London, but also while I was living in Japan. There’s just always so much going on, never enough time in the day, and no way I’ll be able to do everything no matter how organised I am and how many post-it notes I use (and believe me, my world is wallpapered with post-it notes!). Today, with the Jubilee weekend almost upon us, I seem more full of FOMO than ever.

In the same issue of the Evening Standard there was an article called Should I Stay or Should I Go? in which two writers were asked if the Jubilee holiday was a cause for celebration or a great chance for a four-day getaway.

Nirpal Dhaliwal responded saying that like many thousands of other Londoners he would be celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee this weekend. He pointed out that it was a good time to get to know your neighbours and have a street party, and to celebrate being British (something people often regard as “somehow backwards or even sinister”). I agree that it would be nice to know the names of the people on my street but, as far as I know, no one is planning a street party (we could actually, and it would be lovely, as I live on a dead end street). If there were a street party going on I would no doubt pop down and join in, but I somehow can’t see it happening.

The other side of the argument in the article comes from Jasmine Gardner, the “Jubilee Jetsetter” who has worked out that this Jubilee weekend offers a “17 for the price of nine annual leave deal”. She has no qualms about leaving all the bunting behind and going off on holiday somewhere fuss-free, and I can’t say I blame her. If I had the money, I would be packing my bags for the airport to catch a flight to anywhere-but-here.

Sadly, I don’t have the money, which leaves me in London for the weekend. I’m sure if I was abroad somewhere, a little part of me would be wondering what I was missing out on back home, but I would be too excited by being in another country to really care. However, I’m here in England with no real distractions, left with this feeling of obligation that, seeing as I’m here, I really ought to join in. If I don’t do something for the Jubilee, will I regret it on Wednesday morning when I get back to the office and everyone is talking about what a jolly good time they had with their families and friends, or how amazing the flotilla was, or how many cupcakes they ate in the vintage village fete they attended? Will it haunt me forever that I wasn’t part of this historical event?

The fear has set in. I’m scared I’ll miss out on something good if I don’t join in some jubilee shenanigans, but actually I would love to have a quiet weekend at home catching up on blogs, tidying my flat, uploading photos, etc.

The next hurdle I stumble at is, if I do go out and do something, what should I do? Squeeze in with the rest of London (and half of the rest of the world, or so it seems) to watch some boats go along the Thames and hope for a glimpse of the Queen. Surely I’d get a better view (without the leg cramp) if I watched it on telly. Have a picnic with my friends in Hyde Park and watch the concert on screens? Er… isn’t that just like watching telly in the park (and it will probably rain…). The only event that might actually tempt me out of my cynicism is the event at Boxpark in Shoreditch, but only if the weather’s nice.

So, what are you doing for the Jubilee weekend? Do you have your bunting and Pimms at the ready? Have you already left the country? Will you be down at the Thames or in Hyde Park? Or are you going to hide from it all and just watch a bit of telly at home? Do let me know… because I’d hate to miss out on what you’re doing too! πŸ˜‰

Union flags for the Diamond Jubilee

Snowmen and snow angels

I did it – I went out to play. I set my alarm for 6.30 this morning and went out just before sunrise. The snow was so thick and clean, and ready to be played in!

I decided to walk to Friary Park, which is only about 20 minutes away from my house (well, 30 minutes in the snow). On the way I passed a few men out scraping their cars. We exchanged good mornings and I marvelled at how snow makes people more friendly.

As I reached park, I couldn’t see another person. It was mine.

Snowy North London

Snowy North London

Armed with a few accessories, I built a little snowman:

Snowy North London

It’s actually quite hard to build a good snowman and, as you can see, I’m not very skilled when it comes to snow sculpting!

Snowy North London

I liked my quirky little creation though.

As I stomped through the snow I saw a couple of other people, but it was still very quiet. When no one was looking, I made a snow angel:

Snowy North London

(Not easy to take a photo of it though!)

There was one dog in the park, and he was about as excited as me!

Snowy North London

As I crunched back home I felt very satisfied and happy (and wet). Playing in the snow – fun and free! πŸ˜€

Wanting to go out and play…

There are not many times in my life when I wish there was a child around, but right now I do. Or a flatmate. Or even a dog. You see, it’s been snowing all evening here in North London and I want to go out and play.

If I had access to a child (of course, I don’t want one of my own!), a flatmate or a dog, I would have an excuse to go out and enjoy the snow. As a single, 30-year-old woman, it might seem a bit odd if I pop out in my PJs and start making a snowman next to my front door. But oh do I want to!

Actually, what I’d love to do is lie in the middle of my road and make a snow angel. I’ve never made a snow angel before, and that snow out there is so virgin white, it would be perfect. Of course, I’d need someone to take a photo of it though, else I’d just be a crazy woman lying in the road.

It’s sad that I have to worry about how people would perceive me if I did decide to go out and play on my own. It’s also sad that, being close to midnight, I would have to worry about my safety, too. As I am all wrapped up in my PJs, playing in the snow probably isn’t an option tonight. I’ll have to settle for a quick step out my front door instead…

I hope it’s still there in the morning… πŸ™‚


What does β€œhome” mean to you?

Today’s WordPress Daily Post topic suggestion is: “What does β€œhome” mean toΒ you?“. As this is such an appropriate topic for me at the moment, I couldn’t resist writing something.

“Home” is a topic I’ve thought about a lot this year. I began my year living in Japan, which is a place I will always call “home”. In April, I returned to my childhood home in Bognor Regis, where I then lived for just over three months. While I did enjoy being able to spend more time with my mum, catch up with friends, and sort through a bunch of stuff in my old room, Bognor Regis is not a place I ever intend to call “home” again.

At the end of July I finally got a job and had to move to London very quickly. This haste has since caused me a great number of problems, but there was really nothing I could do about it.

I had two weeks to find a flat in London, no specific area in mind, and a very limited budget. All I knew was that I didn’t want to live in East London again (because I used to live there, and because of the Olympics next year), and I wanted an easy commute. So I looked at a Tube map, picked a line (the Bakerloo Line) and followed it out from Baker Street (where I work) until I found somewhere I could afford.

I started looking online and quickly became frustrated by calling and being told that the properties I had seen on websites were no longer available. When I finally called somewhere and was offered a chance to view a studio flat, I jumped at the chance and got on the next train to London.

It was the first property I viewed, and I knew I shouldn’t rush into making any decisions, but desperation had set in and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to find a place to live. When I saw the door, which was on the high street, my heart sank a little bit but I managed to convince myself that it was what was behind the door that counted.

Behind the door was a dingy hallway and dirty staircase, which led up to a white door. I started telling myself that the hallway didn’t matter, it was what was behind the next door that mattered.

Behind the next door was a room. The room was small, and there was an old-looking double bed in the middle, next to a slightly cracked wooden table. There were two plastic chairs which used to be white, and a water stain on the ceiling. That was the main living and sleeping area. Behind two more doors were a kitchen that was smaller than anything I had seen before and a bathroom containing a water stained shower.

As I describe it now, I can’t believe I actually stood there and thought “I can make this my home”, but I did. I imagined brightening the place up with pictures and knick-knacks, and I imagined cleaning everything up until it sparkled.

The reality was that some of the dirt was so ingrained that it wasn’t going anywhere. The flat was so small that I couldn’t fit hardly any of my stuff in it – in fact, the kitchen cupboards were so narrow that I couldn’t even put my dinner plates away. Seriously.

And then the problems began. The sink was leaking, a few things the letting agent had promised to get fixed weren’t getting fixed, there was nowhere to put my rubbish, the neighbours were really noisy… I won’t go on, but basically it wasn’t as easy as I had imagined to make it my “home”. I tried, though. I bought a colourful duvet cover and a few picture postcards, but nothing could hide the gloom.

Eventually, it all became too much. After a number of run-ins with my letting agent I asked to be let out of my tenancy agreement. On top of the flat being a disaster, the area wasn’t very nice either. Wealdstone was never going to be my “home”.

Fortunately, there is a happy ending to this story. On Saturday I will be getting the keys to my new flat. I’ve come to realise that a “home” should reflect the personality of the person living in it. My new home has a dark pink door, and behind the door there is a spiral staircase leading to a split level studio flat. It’s all self-contained, and thoroughly quirky. It’s incredibly well designed and makes really good use of a small space. It’s inviting, yet private. There’s a bath to relax in, and a skylight to let plenty of light in.

My new “home” means everything to me at the moment. I’m looking forward to adding my own splash of individuality to an already curious property, in a great part of London. I think Finchley will be my home for many years to come, and I’m excited about exploring and discovering new things there.

So, what does “home” mean to you?

Around Islington

How to make a “house” a “home”…