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  • Writer's pictureAlex Sim-Wise


Okay I’m back for blog two, and in the week since my brain has only gone and done what it does best which is completely fucking overcomplicate everything. It’s decided that maybe the entire blog itself can be the Brain Edit, and that rather than try and cram everything beginning with B into one long blog I can just keep writing about random topics that pop up, and have a master blog to sort everything into alphabetical order. Heck, I can even upload old blogs and add them to the Brain Edit database, thereby uploading everything in my noggin past and present to the blog equivalent of an external hard drive - which honestly, isn’t a bad idea. Or is it? It’s hard to tell.

If you have already tuned out, I fully understand, I’m sure I will at some point also - but until then, let’s do it. Let’s just blog and see what happens and see how far we get. For continuity’s sake I will still blog about things beginning with B today, but the list won’t be extensive or definitive as I will more than likely add to it at a later date.

So, lets get started with…

B.V.

Jesus Christ, what a thing to start on. Curse this alphabetical process. If you’re not turned off now, I’m pretty sure you will be by the end of the next paragraph. B.V. is gross and it’s embarrassing, but I’m just going to lean into the embarrassment because that is 100% my coping mechanism.


B.V. is short for Bacterial Vaginosis and it is something me and my friend Von used to bond over back in the day because we both used to get it a lot. At the time it was this weird secret lady problem that no-one every really told you about because it’s rank. It’s not like you get told about it at school or anything, they’re too busy throwing condoms and sanitary towels at you and running away. Due to the dire state of sex education at my school I knew next to nothing about anything, and found talking about anything vagina-related intensely embarrassing as a result, so it was a relief to find a friend like Von who would just shout B.V. at me and make me see the funny side.


B.V. makes your vagina smell like metallic fish death - and it’s not necessarily an STD but it kind of is. You get it from shagging smelly boys who don’t wash, and it’s basically your vagina’s way of telling you to stop doing that. It took me quite a while to realise this blatantly obvious fact of life so my alternative solution was to find these little tubes of anti-B.V. magic from Superdrug that you would squirt up yourself and they would make it go away and that was my way of ignoring the real problem of my poor life choices for about ten years.

Obviously I don’t get it anymore because my husband washes twice a day (minimum) but I remember it being quite recurrent among my friendship group way back when in the dirty unwashed Myspace days. I don’t miss it.


BAKING


Probably not the most appetising choice to segue from B.V. to baking but I do love to bake a cake. Don’t like eating them, mind, but I like making them. You see, my biggest secret is that I am way more Martha Stewart than I ever make out and pretty much always have been because she has ALWAYS been my hero. I’m sure she will get her own blog at some point, but I discovered Martha from reading my grandma’s crafting books in the mid-nineties and through my obsession (back then) with America - which also needs it’s own blog.


So yeah, I am really quite domesticated - which I guess is what happens when you don’t leave the house a lot.


BAYWATCH


I fucking love Baywatch. I don’t remember ever being able to watch it when I was young (it was too low brow for my parents) but having binged the shit out of it on some free TV channel recently I have to say that it is a true classic of our time that should be studied like Michelangelo’s David. There is a reason it is the most successful syndicated TV show of all time and it’s not just Pamela Anderson’s tits, it’s everything about it: the colours, the slo mo montages EVERY episode, the dad bods… it really had it all. What a dream.

BASTARDS


I love a bastard. In fact, one of the reasons I was attracted to my husband initially was that he looked like an old-fashioned bastard from the 1940s, like a Hollywood villain. With his side parting and pencil moustache he just didn’t look like anyone I had seen before (outside of old films) and I found that intriguing. As I got to know him I found out that how weird and out of place and “bastard” something makes him look is actually a positive to him. He does it on purpose, but not in a try hard way. Gawd, nothing worse than a try hard.


BENZOS


Like most washed up models I have had my obligatory flirtation with Benzo addiction, although mine was relatively short-lived and only lasted for 6 months or so in 2010. During the summer of working for MTV in Europe I had to take a lot of flights and while I had never feared flying in the past the law of averages began to creep up on me and I started to get really vivid recurrent nightmares about being in massive plane crashes.


As I had a long haul flight to Japan coming up that I really wanted to go on I went to see my GP and he prescribed me a boatload of Temazepam, telling me to take one an hour before my flight. I did as directed and slept the whole way there, it was great! After taking them for a few flights I started to take them for other things, like when I felt sad or heartbroken (which was quite a lot) because they helped me to forget and again, it was great, until I took too many and had the worst anxiety attack I had ever had in my life and had to stop taking them.


Cool story bro.


BIRTHDAYS


I never remember birthdays. Part of my ADHD that I struggle the most with is discalculia. Numbers get mixed up in my head and while I can remember what month someone’s birthday might be in, I can never remember the exact date. Obviously I can remember my own, and my daughter’s, and Von’s (because it is 9/11) - and sometimes my husband’s and my mum’s - but for everyone else I draw a blank. I see it as being part of my time-blindness.

As you get older you realise birthdays aren’t such a big deal anyway. Coming from a family who really held grudges if you forgot a birthday or bought a wrong present, I think I have just completely detached myself from it as a concept and

I don’t really care about birthdays at all.


BJORK

I’ve written at length about Bjork before but as I am listening to her podcast at the moment I thought I would give her a brief mention as I see her as a human talisman of sorts. Someone in this world like me. I love listening to her podcast and hearing how intuitive yet methodical she is. It sounds silly but it makes me feel less alone.

I remember doing a Myers-Briggs personality test a few years back and being so made up that my personality type (INFP) is the same as Bjork, David Lynch, and Amelie Poulain - all entities I had previously felt a deep kinship with. INFP is a rare personality type that is sensitive, creative, and emotional with an imaginative inner landscape. We are driven by empathy, idealism, and are truth seekers. Basically we just want to help people and are really kind and perceptive but introverted. Like Amelie, which fully explains why watching that film is like a religious experience for me.

As a side note: because I am ADHD I never remember what personality type I am for long periods of time, so every so often I redo the test and it always turns out the same and I find so much comfort in that.

BLACK BOX

The black box is what I call the place where the bad memories go. It lives (and hides) in the back of my brain, and because it’s so dark back there it’s really hard to see what’s inside it or whether it is a box at all or more of a dumping ground or a living seething dark mass. I’ve done lots of things to try and shine a light on what’s there - including a whole year’s worth of EMDR - but it doesn’t really like me knowing too much and it is always an uphill struggle that after a while I lose motivation for tackling, so like a mould it festers and grows darker.


Part of why I am writing all this is to maybe see if it helps as I don’t think I am alone in having this, I think everyone has a black box and it’s a self-protection mechanism. If you experience anything that is too much, too big or traumatic or overwhelming, this is where your brain will put it to protect you - some unreachable place that it pretends is invisible (its not), where some brain gremlin will sit and stir everything all together just to fuck with you.


BLOGGING


Historically, blogging is the way that I cope. Writing about my problems is my way to process and deal with things, and in the past it has worked really well. As I got older I leaned more on therapy, self help, and even medication - but nothing hits the same as a good old blog. And I get that blogging is probably old fashioned now, that I should probably be doing this on TikTok or whatever, but TikTok is full of cunts so I really can’t be arsed with that.


BLOWJOBS


Hate to blow my own trumpet (lol) but I am really good at blowjobs. Not that you will ever know because it’s definitely not something I would ever share with the world in an audiovisual sense. I’ve been many things but a porn star is not one of them - and that’s not because I think there is any shame in that career choice - more that I am really shy and private about sex stuff and always have been.

Sex has always frightened me on some level so I got good at blow jobs partly as a way out. Early on, probably from age 15 or 16, I saw it as a way to be intimate with someone without really sharing anything private of myself. Everything else would creep me out so blowjobs were my way to diffuse situations and avoid drama, because who doesn’t love a blowjob, right?


To me, blowjobs were super easy to learn, something I could do with anyone (even people I didn’t like) where I wouldn’t be judged for my performance because honestly, unless your name is Tulisa it is really really hard to be shit at blow jobs.

That’s not to say I don’t enjoy them because I do… with the right person, of course.

BOOBS

Boobs are so weird. I literally made an entire career with mine and looking at it now, in hindsight, I do find that pretty odd. Like, how was that even a thing? I mean, I do get it - I’m not immune to a pair of nice tits, and you can’t deny that women’s bodies are nice to look at - but so are mens! Why was it so one-sided? Why was it just women’s bodies on Page 3, not mens as well?


Having said that I remember the day I realised the power of tits quite vividly. I’d gone to see my nan in Hatfield and she had bought me (after a lot of begging) a leopard print Wonder Bra from the TK Maxx in the Galleria. First day back to school I wore it under my school shirt and I remember every single boy on the bus just going silent and staring at me until one boy shouted “fuck me, Alex has got TITS”. I was 14 and it felt incredible, just to be noticed like that when previously I had been completely invisible. I’ve probably been chasing that high ever since.

When you have a child you realise what your tits are actually for and it does change things. I won’t go into detail though, as a lot of my fans are creepy about stuff like that and it really grims me out.

BOYS


Just putting it out there but I have NEVER understood boys, or men (man-boys) and how their minds work… and as you can maybe tell from some of my posts I was not very popular with boys when I was younger. I was popular in a friendship sense and had lots of boy mates, but could never hold the romantic interest of someone I liked. And maybe part of that was my own insecurity. I was painfully shy back then, to the point where I was scared to even look a boy I liked in the face. It was like trying to stare at the blazing hot sun. I thought that if I looked at them they would know from my face that I fancied them and that was something that to me, should always remain secret. I didn’t want the people that I liked to know that I liked them because deep down I thought it was hopeless and that I would be teased or mocked for it. And that is something that came from my parents, from being teased by them over childhood crushes. There is nothing I hate more than being teased, and over time their taunts made me feel like there was something deeply WRONG with love and crushes, creating a link that would trigger feelings of shame and make me feel embarrassed to my core every time I developed a crush on someone.

This is one of the reasons why I relate so hard with the film Amelie, because I had never seen the way that I felt depicted so vividly on screen before - that feeling of wanting something so bad but it being something that felt so dangerously hopeless and self-destructive that the only option was to hide from it. To become a creepy little recluse that when confronted would turn into a puddle of water.

BRAINS

I realise I talk about brains a lot, mainly because I feel like mine is wired up so wrong that I am constantly trying to make sense of it.

I once described my brain to my husband as being like a log cabin. Inside it’s small and cosy and familiar, and outside of it is the dark woods where all the black box memories live. To do anything vaguely human or pleasurable I have to open the windows (or worse, the door) of the cabin a little bit, but as soon as I do the dark memories come hurtling through the woods like the camera from Evil Dead, heading towards the cabin trying to find their way in. It becomes this mad race against time and means I can’t do anything good for very long. Or at least I couldn’t do - I have gotten a bit better.

BRITNEY


Back in the late nineties, early aughts Britney was IT for me. The GOAT. She represented everything that I wanted to be, and more. She was sexy but innocent - the ultimate contradiction - and a juxtaposition that at the time I really related to.


And again, I have written at length about Britney before so it is a subject that I would like to revisit at some point in its own blog as she was such a formative influence on my sexuality and career as a glamour model. Without Britney I don’t think I would have gotten into any of it. I just wanted to BE her and I remember spending hours studying and meticulously recreating her makeup and outfits… bringing me onto COPYING - which I will talk about next week.

BULLET JOURNALS


As an ADHD person I find it super hard to just stay on top of things and organise myself like a normal person. I just don’t have those inner systems that neurotypical people have that help them visualise time or remember to wash or eat or drink. I don’t recognise hunger or thirst, and things like brushing my teeth or having a shower feel overwhelming and composed of too many steps a lot of time. The natural state of my head is a fuzzy mess, and when I close my eyes I struggle to visualise anything at all. I find meditation impossible.


So I bullet journal. And honestly, it is the only thing that has worked so far. I may not be able to do it every single day, and I fall off the wagon a lot with it, but it’s easy to get back started again, and there is something about visually planning and writing everything out by hand on square dotted paper that soothes me.


BUM HOLES

I went through a massive phase about ten years ago where I got completely obsessed with taking pictures of my own bum hole, which was funny for a while until I realised that it was a knee-jerk response to being sexually assaulted by a friend. So I don’t find bum holes quite so funny anymore (although they are still pretty funny).

BURPS


Fun fact: I can’t burp. Well, I can, but I find them so terrifying that I have trained my body not to burp. Honestly, not much scares me more than burps - I find them absolutely vile.

And that’s it for B for now! Do you know what? I’ve not been very inspired by B - it’s been pretty BORING so I am holding out for next week’s C - what do you think should go in that one?

Sim xx

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  • Writer's pictureAlex Sim-Wise

Updated: Sep 15, 2022



Can you Home Edit your brain? Asking for a friend because…


Okay no, I’m asking for myself because I feel fucked and I would much rather put all of my thoughts and memories into nice clear, rainbow-coordinated containers instead of the dark cluttered trauma boxes that dwell there at present.


It’s time for a declutter because apparently I don’t self reflect enough. I analyse, sure, but not in a way that is healthy. So I have been set a challenge: to write a blog every week for 5-8 weeks to self reflect and see how I get on. I haven’t written anything in ages. Maybe I have forgotten how to do it… but I used to do it a lot “back in the day” as it used to be my way of processing. Back in the Myspace Tumblr days when sharing on the internet was safe. Or safe-er.


Because the elephant in the room is that sharing on this hell hole that we now call the internet in 2022 doesn’t come without risks. As a naturally risk-adverse person, risks are something that I tend to avoid. Almost categorically so. I won’t eat anything pink, I don’t go on rollercoasters, and I avoid looking anyone directly in the eyes in case they glimpse my saggy broken soul. Heck, I barely leave the house. Were it not for my family I would be a solid recluse. So it makes sense that I have avoided blogging regularly for the past few years or so. Who even blogs anymore when you can use your phone to humiliate yourself and bare your soul so much more easily on TikTok? You don’t even have to know how to spell.


But there is something about the written word that I love - mostly the fact that you can go back and edit or delete it if you don’t like it. Also when you blog something you don’t leave yourself open to 5 million faceless TikTok Karens continuously calling you different variations of cunt in an endless depressing stream. Or maybe you do. Depends where you are, I guess... but in order to Marie Kondo this shit I’ve got to start somewhere. So I’m starting on my own website and it’s reach of maybe 5 super fans that actually bother to read my ramblings.


Hi Gerald!

So let’s look in the first box shall we? In an attempt to be organised I’m gonna start with boxes that begin with A.

I’m nothing without a system, me.

ADHD


When you go on TikTok you would think that everybody in the world has ADHD, but - not to gatekeep - there was a time when barely anyone had it, when it was a special treat reserved for nutcases and weirdos. I mean, it’s clear people were being severely under diagnosed with ADHD back then - especially women - but when I first received my diagnosis 20 years ago it wasn’t quite the socially acceptable behemoth that it is now. I don’t even know if it was considered a learning disorder in 2002 as I had to fight my university at tribunals to get allowances for it. It just wasn’t on anyone’s radar and was seen as something that naughty primary school kids had, not university students.

At school I had struggled miserably with social situations, time management, executive function and emotional regulation but as I was a girl and quite smart, I mostly managed to hide it, performing well at school despite various emotional outbursts and episodes of odd behaviour. However, by the time I got to university my ability to keep everything under control had started to completely disintegrate, because, well: alcohol, and boys.


I remember thinking something might be up when I lost my shit and wanted to kill myself because some twat on the golf team didn’t text me back. That’s when I went to my GP to ask if I had ADHD, because golf twat had only lasted two pumps. Totally not worth killing yourself over, didn’t even count as a shag.


Back then ADHD was this big unknown, this list of criteria that as a young woman, didn’t cover or explain everything but explained a bit, and because I didn’t quite fit all the (male) criteria and wasn’t hyperactive I was told by the specialist at Cambridge hospital that I had it “mildly”, which made it super easy for me to write it off and dismiss, because everyone else did.


I have been diagnosed with ADHD again since then and I don’t have it mildly at all. I have inattentive ADD with a hyperactive mind, and something called Pure O, which sadly isn’t anything to do with orgasms but a form of OCD.


ALEX


Yep, that’s me. My name. The name that my husband has tattooed in tiny scrawled handwriting over his heart - which would be romantic were it not for the fact that it was written by his uncle and it's the name of one of his friends who was on his Amsterdam stag do. So technically it’s a tribute to Alex Dart - but let’s not go there, it’s not important.

I remember when I was 14 I went to Greece and everyone wanked off about how my name (“Alexandra”) was Greek. That made me feel cool for about 5 minutes, but only because I was a loner that used to mentally masturbate over Usbourne books of Greek and Norse mythology. Also Clash of the Titans. What a film.


Having said that, I don’t really have any feelings about my name. It is what it is. A collection of letters and the name of a few dead princesses. In fact, I don’t even know why it has it’s own box. Maybe it can go in with something else… like Advocaat or something.


Mmm… snowballs.

ALCOHOL

Just going to put it out there but I fucking hate alcohol and have always had a weird relationship with it. I don’t think I have ever been able to drink more than two drinks without feeling intense inner anxiety, not since I was force-fed Smirnoff Ice from a washing machine at university. Nil points, would not recommend.


ALPHABEAT

Seeing as we’re on an alphabetical tip today - does anyone remember Alphabeat, the band? Is it me or did they give off incest vibes? Like I know the singers weren’t related but they just looked very incest. Sorry, just a PornHub-friendly observation. Also: is “Fascination” a porn? Should it be?


ANAL

Man, I used to love anal. Feel free to sing that a la the Shania Twain song like I just did. I discovered anal, like most, by accident. But unlike most I instantly loved it, and there is a reason for that. At the time vagina sex used to hurt a lot for me, because I was terrified of intimacy and sex. So much so that my vagina would just close up shut, you couldn’t get anything inside it, not even a Tampax or a finger. It’s called Vaginismus - look it up! It has it’s own black box, but being at the end of the alphabet you’ll have to wait a while to open it. Like my actual vagina. Do you see what I did there?

When I discovered anal - with my first boyfriend, at 22 - it was like a lightbulb moment. Finally the impersonal, non-cringe, non-committal sex I was looking for! A sex that didn’t hurt and couldn’t get you pregnant. Winner winner chicken dinner! Only downside in the early aughts was AIDS but as a heterosexual white girl I’ve only ever had one AIDS-scare - from a vertically-challenged South African asshole called Donovan, who looked like Paul Danan and whom I DIDN’T EVEN SHAG. WTF. So yeah, anal was my sex of choice for a very long time. It made me feel cool and Catholic.


THEN, in the middle of a #52ANAL challenge with my husband I decided my emetophobia (sorry guys, another box) was too great and and I couldn’t do it anymore. Thanks a lot random article I read on Shigella.

ACID RAIN


Acid Rain is a song by Lorn that I feel greatly reflects the state of my inner monologue right now.


AMYGDALA

The amygdala is a part of your brain that regulates emotions, and if you have ADHD your amygdala is a little bit smaller, like Beadle’s right arm. Yes, I had to google “which arm on Jeremy Beadle was small” to make sure that throwaway joke was factually accurate. That’s just the kind of asshole I am. Anyway, I’m not an ADHD expert or anything but this shrunken amygdala is what makes you behave like an absolute nut job, FYI.

AUTISM


Back in the day if your uncle Kevin had a special interest in trains and ants, you just called him a serial killer, not autistic. But turns out autism is this WHOLE THING that it has been 90% confirmed that I have. It would be 100% if I could be bothered - but as there is no real benefit to officially having it other than bragging rights, I have put off doing that. Honestly, it makes a lot of sense, but as I am the least autistic person in my family it is not something I expect to receive a lot of sympathy for. I wouldn’t use it as an excuse to harass customer service employees at 11pm on a Saturday, put it that way.

AVOIDANCE


Aha! Now we are getting to the good stuff! As mentioned earlier I am an avoidant person. I avoid EVERYTHING. Responsibility, confrontation, apologising, blogging, self care, people I know in the street… you name it, I WILL avoid it.

Why do I avoid? Well now, there’s a question. I guess this COULD be because of my aforementioned learning disabilities, but it could also be because I am a dickhead, the jury’s out. Mostly I will do it because said situations make me feel uncomfortable, and in my inner world comfort is key. My favourite activities are sitting down, lying down, and doing nothing after all.


Social situations are the worst. I absolutely do not know what to do in social situations at all. Not now, not ever, and everything that I DO do is a learned masking behaviour, learned from a crash course in socialisation from some posh girls I met at Camden School for Girls, who taught me to “talk normal, stop that” and hug people with 25% less awkwardness. An upgrade from my Coventry friends who would watch boys attempt to finger my closed up hole as if it were a comedy show.


Masking gets quite exhausting after a while so I will always be the one hiding in dark rooms on my own at a party trying to recharge, before people burst in and I decide to try and drink Radox or take Ketamine to impress them.

As I’ve got older it’s become this thing where I will throw a party and then go to bed at 9pm and leave everyone to it.


Ain’t nobody got time for that.


BONUS BOX: ALPHABETS


As an autist (is that a word?) I like to sort stuff. Mostly alphabetically but also by colour and PARTICULARLY in chronological order. I don't know why I do this, I guess because my ADHD makes everything jumbled and my autism hates it, so I will always try different ways to make the world more manageable.


I would say I spend a lot of my quiet time trying to sort my inner timeline. I am always trying to put everything in the right order, which is an endless task because when I leave it, my ADHD will go back and mix everything up and I also have a problem where my chimp brain will also go back and erase stuff that it doesn't like and throws them back in the black boxes. Hence the need for an audit, I guess.


Okay so far, so good. Have I self-reflected? I’m not so sure but it’s a start. You know what they say on the Home Edit - don’t start with the hard stuff first, do something easy like a sock drawer.

I guess that means A is my sock drawer.

Stay tuned for the B boxes! To include Brains, Bastards, Burping, and Bumholes - all the good stuff.


Sim xx

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  • Writer's pictureAlex Sim-Wise

Updated: Aug 4, 2022



So it happened. I did an old, and I’m here to tell you that it’s fine. Don’t be afraid of age, it is natural… says the girl who quit modelling at 30 because I thought I was too old. I appreciate the hypocrisy, but I can recognise now that it was a learned fear and a taught behaviour. This idea that women’s “value” is in their youth is misogyny in action as it works on the premise that women are possessions, which we are not. If men can be found sexually attractive well into their eighties then so can women. It works both ways. Being attractive doesn’t constitute all that you are either, so don’t ever listen to the (mostly feminists) who try to negate others’ intelligence if they choose being attractive for a job. They are merely projecting their own inadequacies.

I started modelling when I was 22/23, and back in the early aughts you could technically become a glamour model at the age of 16 (which I always found icky) so I liked the extra life experience that being a bit older gave me. By the time I did my first shoot in FHM I had worked for a few years as a stripper before and through that had learned the confidence to stand up for myself in dodgy situations. As let's face it, the glamour industry was bit dodgy back then… although not as dodgy as you would probably think.


It seemed as soon as I started on my modelling career path I was forever reminded by friends, family, agents… that I was on “borrowed time”, that eventually my looks would fade and that would be it. Game over. Little did I know back then that it was an absolute fucking lie.


I still look the same (if not better) than I did twenty years ago. I might not be as skinny (thank god) but I feel a lot more comfortable in myself and my body. What society as a whole doesn’t accept or recognise is that the ageing process isn’t that rapid and doesn’t automatically make you unattractive. In many cases being older can make you more attractive. It shows you have lived and that you are experienced. Our cultural misogyny is what prevents us from celebrating all of the things that make humans sexy and beautiful, so never let it hold you back. As long as you have a stable base to work from - friends and/or a partner who appreciate you for you - then the world is your oyster.



TIFFANY’S


Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not posh. I grew up in Coventry and there is no such thing as posh people there (they all live in Kenilworth). But I do occasionally flirt with the finer things in life and was completely designer-label obsessed as a teen.

At the age of 16, when my designer obsession started, I had recently enrolled at Camden School for Girls which was a big culture shock for a townie girl from Coventry. I would rock up to school in my pedal pushers, nude tights, and Reebok Classics and feel fully out of place. Most of the girls there were incredibly wealthy and displayed the kind of conspicuous consumption that at the time I could only dream about. They seemed to spend all of their sizeable allowances in MAC and used to wear all the designer things I would rip the pictures out from magazines to put on my wall because I couldn’t afford them.



…and Lois jeans for some reason? LOL.


ANYWAY, while I would try my best sourcing discounted designer clothing in second hand shops and sales, it was always a bit of a disaster. I couldn’t walk in my (£25 Selfridge’s sale) Miu Miu shoes and my knock off Gucci Envy perfume smelt like cat piss. When it became abundantly clear that the lifestyle I sought as a teen was in no way affordable I was sent down to the Job Centre to get a part time job. I ended up working for the Royal Air Force Club in Piccadilly as a breakfast waitress, which initially I was impressed by as it was posh, but it was pretty much the worst job ever. Not only because it was in the service industry but because I had to wake up at 4am on weekends (on top of school) to go and be verbally abused by doddery old rich men who called me “maid”, as in “Maid, maid, my kippers are cold and there was no cream with my lunch yesterday MAKE SURE THERE IS CREAM!”. It was fucking awful.


As part of my 4am journey to work I would walk down Bond Street and pass all the things I would rip out of ELLE and VOGUE and see the other girls wear, like the Anya Hindmarch handbags and Gucci horse bit patent platform court shoes I coveted, while trying to calculate how many hours I would have to work in my shit job in order to afford any of it. The answer was A LOT. As I was a media studies student at the time (and hella pretentious), I would sometimes pause and eat my breakfast while looking in the Tiffany’s window, because Holly Golightly, and apparently financial masochism was my thing.


Eventually, after a couple of months, I got fired or I stopped turning up to work (I forget), and decided that because the job was SO SHIT that I should do something nice with the money I had earned and saved so that it wouldn’t be a wasted experience. So I got up early for the final time on a Saturday and took myself to Tiffany’s as a customer. There was a silver Elsa Peretti heart necklace that was huge at the time that I had my heart set on. All of the rich girls at school had it. I walked into the shop visibly shaking as it was so posh and I was terrified, but I found the necklace I was looking for, shelled out £250 (or however much it was), and wore it religiously for the next ten years. I still have it now, although it needs a bit of a clean.



I must have told my husband this story as my 40th birthday gift was being taken to the SAME Tiffany’s on Bond Street from all those years ago, and being assigned a personal shopper so I could pick something new, which was equal parts terrifying (I know nothing about jewellery) and touching. As I said, we are not posh people and my husband works in the emergency services so I know how hard he must have worked to be able to afford to take me there, which to me means more than a gift from someone who is minted. Weirdly, I picked the same necklace my husband had (secretly) chosen: a gold and turquoise Elsa Peretti orb which I shall treasure together with the original heart.


Obviously in my old age I have (somewhat) grown out of my designer obsession. I still like nice things, but I prefer buying less and choosing things that are timeless and well made to things that are expensive just for the sake of it. I try and keep away from fast fashion and invest in handmade items that will last. My main aim at the moment is to get rid of all of my clutter and just keep things that are useful or “spark joy”, although I would still die for those Gucci horse bit court shoes.

ICELAND


As you can tell by the above story I spent my birthday being thoroughly spoiled by my immediate family. I thought we were only going to London for my birthday, for cream tea at Fortnum’s, but the night before we set off my husband revealed that we were going to Iceland as well! Which was a major bucket-list aspiration of mine and a total surprise! I was a bit nervous as we hadn’t travelled since the beginning of the pandemic, and I was also a bit terrified about air travel, but it was actually fine. My husband had planned ahead and gotten us all the relevant tests so other than having to wear masks it wasn’t that different to flying pre-Covid.



I can’t explain the feeling I had when I got off the plane in Iceland but it felt like I was returning home. I have always preferred colder climates (being ginger in the sun is not much fun) and there was just something about the landscapes that felt really familiar, like I had been there before. I don’t really tell anyone this but I often dream of Iceland, of flying onto the black beaches and finding giant black basalt sex toys (don’t ask) among other things. I think maybe in another life I was Icelandic. Outside of Reykjavik the landscapes of Iceland look like you are in outer space. There is literally nothing, not even road signs. It’s like a colder, more violent and expansive Dartmoor, with ice and volcanoes.



The first day we spent in Reykjavik and ate Icelandic meat stew and explored the (very expensive) shops before it got dark. On the second day we hired a car and explored the Golden Circle, going to the Thingvellir national park and to a natural hot spring (not the tourist trap by the airport, but a real one) before attempting to visit one of the waterfalls and almost getting blown away by the wind, so we went to see some geysers instead. We were only in Iceland for a couple of days so didn’t get to explore any volcanoes or try to find the black beach dildos (or see the northern lights) but we decided we would very much like to return for a longer visit in the near future. My daughter absolutely loved it. Despite all the inherent natural danger present, it felt calm and safe.



Björk



One of the most surprising things about Iceland is how they don’t reference Björk AT ALL, and the people there go very quiet if you mention her. I later found out that this is because she still lives in Iceland part of the year and as it is a small country, they are very protective over her, which I thought was very cool. In Scandinavian countries they don’t seem to suffer the same idolatry towards celebrities that we do, which I think is a positive. Celebrities are just people after all.


Even so, and as cringe as it sounds to say it, I have been a big fan of Björk's work for almost as long as I can remember. As a child I had a somewhat… unconventional… upbringing. My parents were super young, wildly ambitious, and fancied themselves a bit cool. Nowadays you would call them hipsters. And while there are many things I could criticise them for, their musical tastes are not one. We had a room just for music and we would listen to all sorts of stuff, Depeche Mode, The The, Beastie Boys, Barnes & Barnes, Devo, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Les Negresses Vertes… but most of all I remember listening to The Sugarcubes. I remember their bright neon vinyl covers vividly and how they felt matte and had a different texture to the other albums. I remember trying to draw the album artwork (with the crudely drawn tits, dicks, and fannies) when I was about 6-years-old and knowing that the lead singer with the funny voice was called Björk and she was from Iceland.

The first time I saw Björk on MTV, being interviewed by Ray Cokes on MTV’s Most Wanted, I just thought she was brilliant. She was so beautiful and funny and unpretentious. Her vibe and attitude were not like anyone I had ever seen before. Compared to all the polished performers we had back then, the Madonnas and the Kylies and the Paula Abduls, her voice and creativity seemed to come from another planet entirely. She reminded me a bit of my mum. A glorious oddball.

Growing up I never felt like I was on the same wavelength as everyone else, always an outsider, always thinking too deeply, never quite fitting in. But whatever stage in life I was going through there was always a Björk album. Always. Stick Around For Joy came out just as my parents split up. Debut came out when I started secondary school and really began to struggle with my ADHD. Post came out during my Tank Girl phase (didn’t everyone have a Tank Girl phase in the 90s!?) and the discovery of Hyper-ballad was a formative experience as it was the only song I had found that could verbalise the anxiety and impulsive thoughts I felt in my head.

Each album was accompanied by the most amazing music videos, directed by Anton Corbijn or Spike Jonze or Chris Cunningham. All Is Full Of Love remains one of my favourite music videos of all time (along with Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth by The Dandy Warhols and Everlong by Foo Fighters). Even as I grew older and discovered her later albums, particularly Vespertine and Vulnicura, there was always a place in my life for a bit of Björk. It was one of the things me and Von would bond over starting out on our oddball modelling adventures… so it seems fitting that my Christmas gift for both of us is tickets to see Björk live, a bucket list event for both of us!

I think we will probably both just spend the whole evening drunk, or crying, or both (like Ashnikko).


GIFTS

Gifts are a funny thing aren’t they? I am a very good gift giver, but perhaps not the best receiver. I have a weird relationship with gifts in that they can make me feel very uncomfortable. In my childhood, gifts were used either to control or to paper cracks, so I view them with caution. I think that as a whole we place too much emphasis on gifts and material goods when they have become such a transactional thing. We think that gifts can fix things or that everything we give should be given back in kind, when that is not the way life works. Gifts are better when they are joyful and spontaneous.


For me personally, I give gifts not to receive, but to feel the joy of the receiver. I like helping others by giving them things or experiences that they need. I don’t expect anything in return, especially from people that may not be able to give anything in return. The gift is the gift. Gifts don’t have to be expensive, they can be thoughtful or handmade or heartfelt… but there is no better feeling than to give someone a gift that makes them feel fully seen. It is better than receiving a gift I think and it is hard to do, even harder to explain, and I don’t always get it right, but finding something that makes a person tick is one of life’s small pleasures, best described by this scene in Amelie.



And I guess that is why I told you about my 40th birthday, because while I have given many joyful gifts, it’s rare that I am on the receiving end, probably because I am so closed off to it. But my 40th was the most seen I had ever felt by a birthday and it’s gifts. It showed me that my husband listens to me and cares about my stories. He found what made me tick and worked hard (like I did in my Tiffany’s story) to get it. He didn’t have to do that, and I didn’t expect it either, but it was touching and it was thoughtful and it is a new memory that I can now treasure forever. It makes me tearful just thinking about it.


This Christmas was our first Christmas without gifts for each other and it felt so freeing. To be set free from obligation and expectations… although I still snuck in a present from our daughter (a pair of signed wrestling leggings worn by Jake The Snake that reminded my husband of his childhood) so it may be hard for me to give up giving gifts completely.


I hope you had a good Christmas and enjoyed my ramblings, it has been a while, and I wish you all happiness for 2022!

Sim xx

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