Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Beware - too much reading may damage your health.

It's very cold outside but I don't know this because the central heating came on at 6.30 am and as I get up from my pocket sprung mattress (Vi-Spring) an hour later, from under my two-seasons duvet (Guardian reader offer), I immediately throw on my fluffy dressing gown (White Company) to cover my just-cooling flesh and slide my feet into a pair of downy slippers (Accessorize), before shuffling across the thick-pile bedroom carpet to the bathroom - with its underfloor heating and warm towel rail - to turn the shower up hot before gingerly stepping beneath.

Then at breakfast I sit at the table with my feet nicely warmed by the underfloor heating, after I have made my Nespresso coffee with warm frothy milk and read an article from one of the two newspapers that is delivered daily to our door, which says: "You're a comfort addict, you just don't know it!" (The Times 20/01/15). 

Yes, I think, I may well be.

The article goes on to tell me that we've all gone soft. We can't bear even the slightest hardship. We're pampered to death with warm houses, soft beds and heated car seats (just so you know I don't have one of these, our car is knackered and I can't persuade Husband that we need a new one).

Maybe we should go camping again this year, I ponder, so I can come home and marvel at my comfy bed? Or maybe I should take more extreme measures and hot-foot it off to Ghana for a second time? The one and only time I went to Africa I returned determined to appreciate everything we take for granted here. You know, hot and cold running water, enough to eat, basic medical care, that sort of thing, (and incidentally the most incongruous experience of my life was taking a call on my mobile phone, as I stood in a dust-red school yard 500 miles north of the Ghanaian capital, Accra, near the Burkina Faso border, and a man on the other end telling me that my Ocado order was about to arrive and there were no substitutions), but anyway back to that article...

Apparently some new book suggests that excess comfort is lowering our immunity to almost any discomfort and "damaging our psychological health". It suggested, among other things, that we resist the temptation to reach for our mobile phones to distract ourselves in a queue and just embrace the boredom for once. Which brings me to yesterday when I took my iPhone into the Apple Store on Regents Street to have the screen mended and had to hand it over. Yes, HAND IT OVER.

"Being parted from your iPhone leads to anxiety!" (The Times 14/01/15), is another article I read recently, which I don't think requires much further explanation, and it certainly did lead to anxiety in my case. As red-t-shirt-clad Apple Store Girl (who looked about 12 by the way and was able to navigate her way around my phone in a manner I found not only astonishing but also just a little humiliating), reached out to take my phone from me, I suddenly realised that from thence forth I would not know the time, would not be able to contact Husband about our plan to meet for lunch, would not be able to check my diary about a meeting later on, would miss the text from a friend I was expecting, and that Apple Store Girl would, in fact, in taking away my phone, be taking away my WHOLE LIFE. Oh, and also I would not know when Apple Store Girl had just emailed telling me to come back to the store to collect the phone, which seemed like a bit of a flaw in her plan to me, Miss-I'm-so-clever-and-young-and-all-in-red-and-able-to-use-your-phone-far-better-than-you-ever-will.

So, I wondered somewhat aimlessly around central London waiting for my phone to be ready and having to resort to sitting in John Lewis actually reading the book group book I was meant to be getting on with for book group that night (The Narrow Road To The Deep North, bit harrowing for me, I am SO going to get thrown out, or blackballed or something), and when I got back to the store, three and a half anxious hours later, I was told by Apple Store Girl that all the data had been wiped but not to worry because you did back it all up on iCloud, didn't you? 

Yes I did. Ha.

And you can remember your iCloud account name and your password, can't you?

No I can't. Boo.

Which brings me to: "Say no to the nightcap if you want to sleep soundly!" (The Times 17.01.15), which went on: "… if sleep is being disrupted regularly by pre-sleep alcohol consumption, particularly over long periods of time, this could have significant detrimental effects on daytime function such as learning and memory process." Memory process.

Okay, so I've been cutting back on the booze, as you know, and now I need to also avoid becoming too pampered, lest I lose all immunity and turn into a loon, and to try not to allow myself to become too dependent on my mobile phone, and to try not to drink too much to preserve what little memory I have left. I think I can remember all that. 



And then today I read: "A daily drink cuts risk of middle-age heart failure!" 

So I think I should just stop reading.

Love E x


P.S. I got all the data back because clever clogs Apple Store Girl could look up my iCloud account details for me. They really were rather helpful in there. Drat.

Friday, 9 January 2015


I don't know about you but I'm struggling a bit with this back to routine malarky after the Christmas break. It turns out it's because I've got "social jet lag". I thought I was just being lazy but I read about it in the Guardian Pass Notes so it must be true. 

It's when "your bodily processes - metabolism, sleep, alertness and so on - run according to a daily timetable controlled by the hours of sunlight. These are called your circadian rhythms."

You know how I'm always going on about circadian rhythms? Well I am. And no they are not an Indie band. I go on and on about it to the boys - "it really is important to get out of the house and into the daylight, blah, blah, blah" - what little there is in South London in January - "to regulate your body clock and your mood and all that," I tell them. And now The Guardian agrees with me. So I must be right. Anyway, in Pass Notes it went on to say…

"During a period off work, such as over Christmas, the lie-ins may even settle into a new routine… but then it takes a while to shift your rhythm back again, and during this period people become tired, irritable, clumsy, disorientated, ill and generally not much use. hence: social jet lag." 

Got that? So while I just thought I was being a bit useless, falling asleep after lunch on the sofa and not getting anything proper done, spending hours faffing on Twitter, not ticking enough off my hefty To Do list or concentrating on pitching for more work, or finishing that novel, I have actually being suffering from a proper medical thing. So there.

Also, and this may in some way be connected, I have been trying not to drink alcohol since I read another article - this time in The Observer - about women my age slipping into bad habits and drinking too much and therefore banding together in sobriety clubs to try not to. 

Tbh I'm mostly just trying to cut back after the Christmas excesses, no booze for several days at a time in a bid to give my liver a break and feel a bit fresher, which I would have done, I think, had I not had that pesky Social Jetlag to contend with.

I managed Sunday through Wednesday without a drink, which I think is quite good. It's all about breaking that daily habit, isn't it? But then I went to see The Imitation Game last night (really good and Husband actually stayed awake, which he thinks they should put on the poster) and had dinner with Husband at a place called The Dairy in Clapham afterwards, which was lovely and you really can't be expected not to drink while having a lovely dinner with your lovely husband now can you? And as you know, if you are a regular reader, which I hope you are, I went 31 days without a drink back in August, so I can do it when I try. Honest.

And because of the social jet lag and the not drinking and general back-to-school/work inertia hanging over me like a pall, and probably over you too, I've not got much done this week, not much writing/washing/cooking/filing/tidying.

So I checked out The London Library in St James's Square yesterday. I have a writer mate who works there, has worked there for years, so I thought I might have more luck knuckling down to finish my novel in such a scholarly environment with other writers around.

The plan is to go there sometime next week. If I can get out of bed.

Love E x


 #Socialjetlag #TheImitationGame #TheLondonLibrary #TheDiaryClapham #Writinganovel