About Me

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London, United Kingdom
Holly Searle is a writer who was born in Westminster in the middle of London. She shares her birthday with Jarvis Cocker and David Seaman and like Jarvis Cocker she wears glasses but has nothing whatsoever in common with David Seaman. She is fascinated by words, people and their stories, and regularly spends hours fantasising about being offered a weekly column. She has a degree in Film and Television which she gained from Brunel University in 1997. She has been blessed with two quite remarkable children whom she adores. She enjoys the company of her friends and the circus that is life. Long Walk to Forever by Kurt Vonnegut is her favourite short story. She is the author of the published children's tale The Story of Balan Singh, and is currently working on her first book.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Drink! By Holly Searle



I am not a good drinker. So, I don't drink.

Okay, I may have lied a bit, as I don't mind the odd glass or two of something. Usually, to toast an event with my family on a special occasion, or, on a night out with friends. But as a rule, I hardly touch the stuff.

Really.

I am not a good drunk. And I am not good at being drunk.

Not because I am prone to aggressive behaviour or outburst. I am not that sort of a drunk. I am the sort that just gets all silly and will tell you how great I think you are, and how much I love you.

I am an emotional sort of drunk.

In that state, when I am a bit worst for wear, I find it makes me feel a little bit vulnerable. And, to be honest with you, I just don't like feeling like that.

No, I quite like to be in charge of all of my faculties, especially when I have to rely on the power of my own steam to see me home safely in one unstaggering piece.

Now, if you don't drink that often, when you do, it only takes a small amount of whatever it is you might fancy on any of these given occasions, to make you more than a little merry.

I am not only an emotional drunk it would seem, but I am also an economical one as well.

I once had a group of friends who couldn't quite understand why I didn't drink too excess as they did.

They would drink, as if they had heard that as of the following day, prohibition was being reinstated.

I had no problem with their drinking. But, boy, did they have an issue with me not following in their unsteady footsteps.

They felt very uncomfortable being in the company of someone who wasn't necking the sauce like they were.

On one such occasion, they were in full swing, and filling their boots with whatever they could lay their hands on. I stood there and watched them all larking about, and acting like fools, when one of them approached me and said "You know what your problem is Holly? You need to loosen up a bit and drink more."

I was more than a little offended by this. But then I soon realised, that when you chose not to drink too excess socially, your sobriety can make others feel uncomfortable.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm
.

I had been to several dos with this particular bunch of people. One I attended, I arrived to find a majority of them slurring their words, while a minority were passed out cold where they sat, with their heads resting on the tables in front of them.

It wasn't a pretty sight and I felt embarrassed by their behaviour.

I didn't mention it, as I felt that it wasn't my place too draw their attention to my discomfort.

I felt it was rude to mention it.

I may have needed to loosen up a bit more, but I had started to find their drunken lifestyle choices dull and more than a little boring.

So, I decided not to see those people any more.

Like my desire not to drink too excess, I felt I made this choice, based upon the fact that it suited my personality better than it suited theirs.

And, do you know what? That suited me just fine.

And then there was the last time that I was drunk....

It was my birthday and I had made arrangements to meet up with a group friends (no not those ones).

I arrived all bright and shiny as a new pin. I had even left my specs at home that night and had popped my contact lenses in for good measure.

When I arrived my friends were insistent that as it was my birthday, they should buy me as many drinks as possible. And they did, and they were doubles.

I was unaware of their generosity for about half an hour, or so, until the room started to spin a bit. So I decided to slow down and sit down.

I found a quiet spot, and sat very still.

But the room's insistence at mimicking a wurlitzer ride at a funfair, refused to abate. And its efforts to spin me right round, baby right round, like a record baby, until I was well and truly dizzy, was beyond repair.

At this point, my daughter (who was an adult, I might add) approached the lonely slumped figure that was her once responsible parent, and suggested it might be a good idea if we got a cab home.

I was in full agreement, and so we left.

Much to her amusement, I was trying to do that thing that you do when you are drunk. I was trying to conduct myself in the manner of a person who wasn't drunk at all, by giving the taxi driver clear and concise directions to our home, and failing with a capital F.

Of course she saw through this straight away, and found it hilarious.

And then there were those involuntary little squeaks that kept vocally emanating from me, every time we drove over a speed bump.

She found those funny too.

Once indoors, I just wanted to lay down in a darkened room and go to sleep, just as I did on every other night of the week. I also needed my nightly glass of water next to my bed, and must have repeated this request more than once to my daughter. For she soon delivered a glass to my bedside table, instructing me that she had done so in the manner of a parent who was growing impatient with the behaviour of their naughty child.

I mumbled my shameful thanks, and bid her goodnight and turned off the light, and laid my sorry head down on the pillow,

For a while, the room span.

It was reckless.

I prayed for sleep and looked forward to the following morning when normality would return.

After a fashion, it arrived and I slept.

The following morning after I woke and had opened my eyes, two thoughts occurred to me in very quick succession; one, my sight had been restored (a miracle!), and two, I realised that in my drunken state, I had left my contact lenses in.

I went to the bathroom in a mild panic, and peeled them off of my eyes.

My eyes felt like they had been rubbed with sandpaper, and my cursed myopia returned.

I sighed, and went back to bed.

And so I learnt from this experience, and from many others just like it, that I had missed the actual point of the evening, simply because I was too drunk to enjoy it.

And so, if you are ever out drinking with me, please, carry on at your own pace.

I am happy enough, taking it slowly and just enjoying the evening.

You needn't worry about me.

I am just fine.

Honest.

Cheers.


Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Swoonage By Holly Searle




Have you ever fainted?

If you have, you'll know just how horrible it is.

One minute you're fine, and then the next, you start seeing purple flashes in front of your eyes, then your ears start to ring, and then the next thing you know, you are waking up surrounded by people staring at you.

It is one of the most frighteningly and vulnerable things you can experience.

When I was a child, I used to faint on a regular basis. I have no idea why this occurred, but it was just awful, as it prevented me from taking part in activities and events that I was looking forward to immensely.

On one occasion, I was being taken to see Father Christmas at Selfridges in Oxford Street as a pre Christmas treat.

I remember quite clearly having to queue up as prior to seeing himself, we were entertained by Uncle Holly. Well I saw him alright, and then the next thing I remember is being carried by my Dad to the Selfridge's sick room were I stayed until I was considered fit enough to go home.

I never got to see Father Christmas, but I still have my Uncle Holly badge, so at least that is something.

The next clear memory of this ever happening transpired during a family holiday to Cornwall or Devon.

I was queuing up (again) with my family, waiting to be seated in a restaurant, when I began to see those purple flashes.

My Mum turned to my Dad and said "Terry, take her outside, she is going to faint."

To which I responded, in a melodramatic manner "It's too late." before crashing to the floor of the restaurant, in a unceremonious heap.

This undoubtedly became an hilarious incident that my elder brother would mimic relentlessly throughout our formative years.

From then on, I guess being the subject of ridicule, pretty much kicked me into touch, as I began to recognise the early signs, and would take ever opportunity to prevent it from happening in public again.

Personal pride, it would seem for a short period at least, had cured me from these episodes.

However, then came The Bun Factory incident.

As a young adult, I found myself working for a company that decided that some of its employees should visit the bun factory that made and supplied its buns.

How exciting !

So off we all went.

As you can probably imagine, this was an incredibly dull and boring trip, and I can tell you in no uncertain terms, that if this opportunity should ever come your way, pull a sickie and stay at home and do something else instead. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was the fantasy kids, the bun factory, on the other hand, was the reality.

There were no Oompa Loompas, but rather a dullard corporation bod explaining how buns were made.

At one point we were all standing there nodding our heads like dogs on the parcel shelf of a car, trying to look interested, when an old familiar feeling started to consume me.

I thought "Oh please, not here." I mentioned to the guy standing next to me that I wasn't feeling too good and asked him if he wouldn't mind if I lent on him for support.

I shifted my feet, and started to panic, and then passed out on the concrete of the factory floor hitting my head in the process.

Great.

The next thing I knew, someone was trying to revive me with some foul smelling substance, that I was later told was industrial ammonia.

Genius.

Safe to say, I was let off the visit to the next factory that was part of our agenda for the remainder of the afternoon.

My head was pretty sore and I am sure I lost a few valuable brain cells that day.

Jump ahead to a photographer's studio on a hot summer's day a few years later.

I am an extra on a shoot that features a small crowd of people. It is some advert for the winter, so we are all wearing thick jumpers.

The photographer has us all in a tableau that he appears to think will work. He decides to take a polaroid to see if we look right on celluloid, before he starts shooting us with real film.

He takes the shot at the same moment that I fell to the floor.

Click. Thud.

My comic timing on that occasion, was perfect.

I was not in the advert, and I didn't get paid.

And if my foray into the world of extra work couldn't get any worse, I later took part in yet another photographic shoot on a roof top in Covent Garden with yet another small crowd of people.

This time it was a job for The Daily Star for a competition they were wanting to promote called Stargazing.

We were all instructed to Stargaze and look up.

I did this along with everyone else for quite a long period of time while the photographer was faffing about.

I held that position for as long as I could and then hit the deck as fast as a comet.

Crash.

Again, I lucked out and wasn't paid and ended up feeling like an idiot.

After that I went to see a doctor whose only advice to me was to carry a Mars bar (I kid you not) in my handbag, and to eat it at the first signs of a fainting episode.

I didn't do this, as the thought of choking on confectionery whilst in the process of loosing consciousness , seemed a little horrific to me.

I am happy to report, that since the Stargazing incident, I haven't passed out again.

I pretty much worked out that most of these fainting episodes are either down to excessive heat, low blood sugar, and the latter, to trapping a nerve in my neck.

Apparently if you look up for an extensive period of time, you can trap a nerve in your neck that causes you to faint.

So, armed with all of this knowledge, I now avoid standing for extended lengths of time in the heat whilst wearing an Aran sweater, make sure I eat something, and I do all my stargazing laying down.

And for now, I am happy to say, it appears to have worked.


Sunday, 2 June 2013

Oom Pah Pah By Holly Searle




There's a little ditty
They're singing in the city.............

I have noticed of late, a rather alarming stream of repetitive responses that I am hearing from men, whilst I am engaged in a simple and innocent exchange with them.

And it goes like this.

I will just be being friendly, having a plain and simple conversation with them, and nothing more, I promise you. And all of a sudden, out of the blue, they will say something along the lines of "Yes, I know, my wife/girlfriend/partner likes that too."

I didn't really think anything about it at first, but then, when it happened again, and again, and again, I mentioned it in passing to a female colleague that I work with, (as these exchanges invariably appeared to be happening at there), and she laughed and said she knew just what I was referring to.

But then it happened to me one evening while I was out with some friends. I was just being chatty with a chap who was part of the group, but someone whom I had never met before. I wasn't flirting, I was just being friendly.

When he suddenly did it as well.

So, I began to think, why do all of these men feel the need to verbally signifying their relationship status?

Whilst I may be single, I don't own a badge or a t-shirt that clarifys this. Neither do I have a tattoo on my forehead that blatantly points this out, believe me, I know, as I have checked. I don't carry a butterfly net either, one in which I intend to capture any unwittingly off guard males.

It's a funny one.

I want to say to them, "Look, I realise that you have a wife/girlfriend/partner, as you are far too clean and well kept, to lead me to think otherwise."

I want to explain to them that they are not displaying that Havishamesque air of someone who has not bothered to look after themselves, since they were jilted at the alter.

I want to say, "Look, I was just being friendly, I have not other ulterior motive, other than that."

I think that that, might make them think on. But now, because I have made a mental note of these exchanges, as soon as one crops up, it kills the conversation entirely. And the whole purpose of the innocent friendly non-sexual exchange between two human beings, simply becomes redundant.

However, I have started to think on, and have come to the conclusion that what is actually going on here is the following.

Maybe the man in question, is just a happy well kept chap, who has found his mate. In his brain he has long since lost the thread of the banter that would have once been a necessary part of his primitive discourse, and one that he would have had to relied upon, in order to find a one.

Fair play. I understand that.

Maybe, what these men are really saying is "Look, I have covered this already, and I am finding the fact that I am having a conversation with a rather pleasant woman, that I have no intention of whisking away, a little uncomfortable. It is confusing me, so I am going to have to put a stop to it right now, before my brain overheats, by telling you that I am taken."

I think that is probably it.

I really do.

It is the way, I think, that they find of distraction themselves from what they think is going on, as opposed to what they then translate in their brains, to be the on the spot actuality of what the situation is.

And as I can quite clearly see what they are doing, it all just puts me in mind of that rather lovely sequence in the musical version of Oliver where Nancy sings that rather wonderful song Oom Pah Pah.

She starts this tantalising tavern sing-along in order to create a diversion, so that she can get Oliver out of the place, to prevent Bill from involving him in a preplanned nefarious activity.

But, despite all of her table boarding, skirt shaking, cartwheel spinning attempts, Bill sees exactly what she is up to.

Well, I guess I am Bill.

Men, I appreciate your good fortune, I really do. But please, I implore you, just go with the flow with what is really happening, and not what you feel your repressed primitive nature is telling you it thinks is happening.

For if you do not, innocent friendly women everywhere, might just start shouting an unpreventable tourettic "Bullseye!" in an Oliver Reed Voice, every time you mention you have a wife/girlfriend/or partner.

They all suppose what they want to suppose
When they hear...oom-pah-pah!!

Men, you have been warned.