30 Things I’ve Learnt In 30 Years

Shamelessly ripping off Ian Martin’s 60 thoughts about turning sixty:

  1. Adulthood does not preclude laughing at puerile jokes about bums.
  2. If you need to find your friends in a crowded place, shout “BUTTSEX” as loudly as humanly possible. The people not staring at you like you’re mad and in fact desperately trying to pretend they have neither seen nor heard you are the ones you’re looking for. Sooner or later they will relent, and you will be able to find them by listening for the answering cry of “BUTTSEX”.
  3. As a woman, turning thirty is a blessing, because you are now officially dead. I believe this is also true of gay men (last time I checked in with a colleague about this he informed me that you were Gay Dead by twenty-four): it means you are now officially On The Shelf and can be as laid-back and disinterested in the struggle to Look Foxy as you like, and also gives you carte blanche to sneer at anyone still trying.
  4. If you eat it at breakfast time, it’s breakfast.
  5. “Breakfast” is a time defined as “the first meal you eat after waking up”.
  6. The best thing to do on falling down a flight of stairs is to laugh, and then assess whether or not you can stand up. Laughing helps soothe the pain, stops you from looking like a sourpuss, and means people are more likely to help you up.
  7. There is no point in pretending to like something for the sake of engendering acceptance: people need variety amongst their friends, and if that’s having one friend who doesn’t give a damn about purple, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Virginia Woolf, or Cherry Coke, that’s somewhat better than having one friend who thinks slavery wasn’t such an awful idea.
  8. You also don’t have to argue the intellectual merits of something when you like it because it’s mindless guff that hits your buttons. I’ve had a lot of conversations which run along the lines of “BUT HOW CAN YOU LIKE THAT” recently, but I can assure you none of them were especially sincere.
  9. Being your job is entirely optional.
  10. Sticking raw dry spaghetti into Nutella makes a pretty nice snack.
  11. The time to be angry about politics is roughly 15–25. You’ve got ten years of righteous fury in you. The problem is that this mostly doesn’t coincide with ever having the power to do anything about what’s making you angry.
  12. All the anger left over after your mid-twenties turns into bitterness and sadness and makes it impossible to do anything even if you do have the power to do anything.
  13. Learn about methodology and trial design, read about medicines you’re about to take for more reputable sources than the lady with the silver and purple jewellery who talks about “energy”, and do not refuse vaccines.
  14. Magazines are designed to sell magazines, newspapers are designed to sell newspapers. There is no one single source of information which is infallible, especially your mum.
  15. Don’t sleep with someone because you think you ought to.
  16. Don’t sleep with someone because they think you ought to, either.
  17. If you make a lot of something and plan to put it in the fridge or freezer and eat it all week, make a lot of something else as well so that you can alternate it, otherwise you will be sick of it by the third day.
  18. For fuck’s sake, learn to drive. I didn’t and now I can’t go and raid Hay-on-Wye’s innumerable book shops with a massive van and it vexes me.
  19. Don’t throw out books.
  20. After a certain point in drinking, when you start to feel nauseous, it’s a good idea to stop and drink something that’s not alcoholic. You don’t have to go home, but you should probably avoid drinking anything else because otherwise it’s going to turn into one of those nights you don’t entirely remember where all the bits you do remember involve throwing up or having fights with people.
  21. Whoever you vote for will disappoint you: it’s better to feel disappointed in your representatives than a kind of blind cold fury that makes you start ranting on public transport about how much better you’d feel if we could “go properly Cromwellian” or “bung their heads on spikes on Traitor’s Gate”.
  22. Become known for your quirky likes and people are more likely to buy you things than if you have entirely unknown or usual likes, because the minute they see X they will associate it with you. The downside of this is that you will continue to get forty emails about bee conservation every single day of your life from people you barely talk to any more until you die.
  23. So that business about taking an apple in your bag with you in case you are hungry: your mother was right. Not in the sense that you will ever while not actually in an altered state seriously consider eating that apple, but your level of disgust at that apple helps you gauge how hungry you are and whether you can make it home to eat food or whether you are going to throw money at someone to give you food or if it’s worth going to prison for capturing and consuming a small child because you are sure as hell not eating an apple that’s been in your bag for five months.
  24. Famous people are basically the same as other people but more used to dealing with large numbers of people, up to a point. They will also disappoint you if you put them on a pedestal.
  25. Sooner or later you will get pickpocketed so it’s a good idea not to keep anything enormously sentimentally valuable on you.
  26. Learning is a lot more fun when you’re doing it for your own pleasure, but the way that gets the most out of you is when you’re doing it for your own pleasure and being graded on the results and there are twenty-odd other people to compare yourself against and compete with and decided that you have to be better than or else.
  27. There isn’t actually a law against sleeping on the toilet and sometimes it’s better than dealing with the last minute rush to work.
  28. If you have to sign your email or phone number up in order to get free stuff, make sure the free stuff is worth the bother of the endless marketing emails/phone calls from every company ever.
  29. Always take a book, especially if you’re going to Accident & Emergency.
  30. Writing a 30-point list is hard.
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One thought on “30 Things I’ve Learnt In 30 Years

  1. #6 is amazingly true.

    #18 is literally the first and best reason I had for forcing myself through three driving tests and the torture of infinite, vastly costly driving lessons. The cost of a single driving lesson can fill a damn car with books from Hay-on-Wye, ffs.

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