*insert flimsy excuses for the lateness of this post here*
Thanks to some encouragement from certain people (Imogen, I know you’re reading this) I have returned – and oh boy is there a lot to catch up on. I’ve broken everything down into sections for the sake of simplicity (and because, like many people on the internet, I’m a big fan of lists).
First and foremost….
Those of you who know me personally (or have been reading this blog long-term) will know that for over a year, I’ve been hell-bent on getting into a certain Lit and Creative Writing course at the University of East Anglia. It was all very touch-and-go as to whether I’d get in; they wanted three A grades, and I wasn’t exactly optimistic about my chances of getting what I needed.
I got my results a couple of weeks ago: Two B’s (in Lit and Lang) and a C (in German). Hardly what I was after. As someone with a tendency to be a perfectionist I’m really disappointed with them, but I’m not at all surprised. It’s down to the fact that while I worked my arse off all the way through second year, I did sod-all during first year and just coasted. If there are any of you reading who are about to start your A-levels, here’s a bit of advice: don’t do that.
Here’s the thing, though: I still got in.
After a lot of verbal keyboard smashes and exclamations of the words “GUH”, “WHAT” and “HOW”, I discovered it was down to the portfolio of creative writing I’d sent in during my application. Apparently, the seven pages I sent in several months ago (including several of my more waffly pieces and a crap first draft of this) were enough to save me from staying in Sheffield for another year (and consequently going completely bonkers).
So, having got in on sheer dumb luck, I’m not about to waste the chance. No more coasting for me, I think.
On another note, one of the reasons this post is late is because the last week or so has mostly been spent trying to organise the Anna-Cave into a packable state for the move from Chez Fox to my new room in Paston House, or freaking out about the fact that I’m barely a functioning human with absolutely no idea how to adult.
Two weeks of this summer just gone were spent travelling around China with the famalam. When it comes to family holidays, we tend to get into disagreements – they all wanted to go somewhere hot, and I (with my hilariously pale skin and ability to go from “blancmange” to “lobster” after three seconds of direct sunlight) didn’t.
China turned out to be a fairly good compromise, because even though the weather was ridonkulous (the day we went to the Great Wall, it was 42 degrees with no shade) there was enough interesting history there to fob me off complaining about it. We had a few days in Beijing, followed by one mad day in Chongqing, then a cruise down the Yangtze followed by a brief stint in Shanghai. It was all conducted at a mad pace but thanks to the speed, we did manage to get around all of the major sights and then some.
My favourite bit, rather unimaginatively, was the Great Wall. There were several moments all the way along where I just stopped, looked out over the mountain, and just thought: “Holy shit, I’m on the Great Wall of China.” That was quickly followed by a memory of something I’d learned from Horrible Histories, including the dead bodies of exhausted workers being built into the wall, and a brief moment of: “Wonder if I’m stood on a corpse. Or several corpses. Eurgh.” I wish I’d managed to think something a bit more profound-sounding, but hey.
There was one particular turret about halfway along the wall where they’d whitewashed the walls, and people from all over the globe had graffiti’d their names on the blank space. The messages ranged from the sweet….
…to the cringingly awful.
Unfortunately, not only was I in a hurry to get back to the group by the time I reached that turret but the heat seemed to have affected my brain something terrible (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it) and so I ended up leaving something cringy for want of something more interesting to write than just my name.
Also claimed a bit for my like-minded band of scribblers and library-goers, because I could.
Also, true to flaily and accident-prone form, I nearly fell off it. I wasn’t going to relate that particular experience but I yield under great persuasion from a certain friend of mine, who seems to have decided that the internet ought to know this sort of thing. Unfortunately it wasn’t so much a dramatic hollywood-style fall from a great height followed by heroic save… as much as I wish it was. I mean, if you’re going to fall off a famous landmark, at least do it with style.
Nope, the way it actually went was this: I was sat in an alcove in one of the turrets, stopping to scribble a few things down in my notebook…
…when a wasp flew under the brim of my floppy hat and hovered, stinger-first, right next to my left eye. Given that I am incapable of acting calmly if a wasp is within a two-mile radius of me, naturally I flailed like an idiot and let out a noise not unlike “AEUUUUURGHWASP”. Said flailing caused me to slip off the ledge and backwards out of the window – one moment I was worried about getting stung, the next I was hanging bum-first out of the window, hanging onto the sides by my fingertips and contemplating how close I came to death by falling down a mountain. They all want me dead, I swear. (If you’re unfamiliar with my ongoing war against waspkind, may I direct you here)
I’m not going to go into detail about anything else from China on here; I took far more video footage than I did photos out in China, so the rest of my adventures in the land of pandas will at some point be compiled into a video on my newly-resurrected youtube channel.
However, there was something that happened during our cruise down the Yangtze that I do want to talk about…
That’s right, folks… I’m finally an official adult human (god help us all). I turned eighteen on the first full day of the cruise and let me tell you, the people at Victoria Cruises know how to treat a birthday girl. I got a handshake and a champagne toast by the captain (the champagne was for something else, but I’m conveniently ignoring that tidbit), “Happy Birthday” sung to me in Chinese by all of the passengers, and a free mug. Everyone loves a free mug.
Birthday presents included, but were not limited to:
- Eighteen year’s worth of photos compiled by Mum into a “growing up book” – because everyone needs the most awkward stages of their life documented and printed into a professional book. (I’m kidding, Mum, it’s lovely)
- A set of “Story Cubes” (google them, they’re amazing)
- A cuddly Sherlock Holmes – Conan-Doyle, not BBC. Mum informed me sadly that they didn’t come in “Cucumberpatch style”
- Typewriter earrings, a Charles Dickens scarf, a leaflet of writing prompts and other various writery tidbits
- A lot of TARDISes drawn for me by various friends
- A bag with “You wouldn’t want to take over the universe – you wouldn’t know what do with it besides shout at it” (my absolute favourite Fourth Doctor quote) embroidered in circular Gallifreyan on the front, made by the ridiculously talented Mollie Howson. Needless to say, I fangirled everywhere.
- EIGHT HUNDRED POUNDS. Most of which has now gone towards setting me up for uni.
Also, my cleaning lady turned up on my doorstep with a flower… which was apparently all her idea and so ridiculously sweet that I had to respond.
Over the course of the cruise, we ended up communicating through notes and little gifts:
Until eventually, I left her this on the last day:
A whole bunch of people bought my book on my birthday, too – I don’t know whether or not it was organized, but nonetheless it made me very happy. And speaking of my book…
The book is selling well and I’ve had a couple of good comments on it so far, but I want to hear more from you guys! Anything you particularly liked, anything that might need a bit of explaining, anything you absolutely didn’t like (as long as it’s for a good reason)… leave it in the new “Contact Me” section (you’ll find it back up there in the header).
Also related, I had a very… entertaining email from a young gentleman reader of mine in California (who shall remain unnamed for the time being), detailing all of the reasons why I should immediately pack my virtual trunk and leave the blogosphere. Now, it’d be stupid of me to ignore all criticism because no writer is ever perfect (except possibly Neil Gaiman, but he’s a god so he can’t be matched against us mere mortals), but this email was vitriolic, rude, and just generally inaccurate. Also, it attacked me personally – my weight, my appearance et cetera – as though that really matters when it should be my writing that’s front and centre on this website.
Let me just make it clear that I don’t like that kind of thing. I don’t think anyone does. Please, if you’re the sort of person that sends out abuse like that unprovoked, crawl back under your bridge and re-evaluate your life choices.
I did originally write a lengthy email in return explaining point-by-point why he was wrong, but decided against sending it. Instead I sent him nothing except this video, which I think sums up my feelings towards every point he made.
And so concludes the catch-up post. I have another couple in the works for you, which I’ll post over the next few days – but until then, fare thee well.