Ah I got you didn’t I …. you thought I was being mean and picky again!!!
Don’t worry, the Nutter is actually me! Or, hopefully not me … but we’ll see!
‘The Challenge So Far’, that I posted this evening, goes into detail about some of the responses I’ve had to the blog. One common response, which I may have omitted, is that people have been referring to me as nuts! In fact, today at work one of my colleagues approached me to tell me that her daughter absolutely loves the blog, and asked her if I’m ‘as nuts in real life!’ My colleague replied ‘Yes, but good nuts!’
As I said when I upgraded ‘Boring Fish’ to ‘Normal Fish‘, I am probably a bit abnormal for a girl my age! For a start, I’m obviously doing this Challenge. Though most people who know me well, would probably tell you that a Challenge like this isn’t all that abnormal for me!
Whilst I’ve never done a dating challenge before, I did actually go on Blind Date with Cilla Black back when I was 19! (For those of you reading this that are under 21, think Take Me Out, but with a botoxed ginger lady instead of Paddy).
I was on my Gap Year, and my excuse was that my Mum loved the show! I was Girl Number 3 behind the screen, and when asked what I did for a living and what that told the mystery man about me, I revealed that I loved ‘my job as a lifeguard‘, I looked ‘great in a swimsuit‘ and was ‘very very good at mouth-to-mouth’! In a twist, which none of my friends believed until the show was actually broadcast, the guy doing the picking got confused and got rid of me when he thought he was picking me! As Cilla said ‘You’ve chosen to get rid of Number 3, the Lifeguard from Berkshire,’ and I stood waiting behind the screen, the guy went ‘No, that’s the one I wanted!‘ They stopped filming, consulted the Producers (because technically he hadn’t seen me yet) and then decided that he’d made his decision, and had to stick to it. I missed out on a week’s holiday to Nepal (or ‘Nipple’ as the girl who was eventually picked pronounced it!) ‘Is that near Kenya?‘ she asked me, as we sat back down on our stools to re-film the opening shots. Grrrr!!!
For the most part, I’ve always been up for a Challenge. I grew up wanting to be a Blue Peter presenter, taking every opportunity life gave me. I spent two years saving up to do a month’s expedition to Venezuela when I was just sixteen, and then climbed Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania as part of my Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s award during Sixth Form.
When both my parents died of cancer when I was nineteen, it simply served to amplify that side of my character. I have the phrase ‘Carpe Diem’ tattooed on the inside of my wrist (Latin for ‘Seize the Day’), and it’s a motto I try to live every day by.
After university, still tempted by the idea of becoming a Blue Peter presenter, I decided against Law School and opted to do a Masters in Broadcast Journalism. As part of the course we were allowed to make documentaries on whatever we wanted. I flew to Soweto and researched home-grown charities in the informal settlements and shanty towns. Together with my friend ‘The Actress’ (who is one of my Los Angeles referees for this challenge!) I met an elderly couple who had adopted over 50 AIDs orphans over the years, and a man using every penny he had to feed the local homeless orphans, because his nieces had HIV and he wanted them to have friends who understood. After Africa, I then spent a month in the Philippines making a documentary about the journalists who had been murdered out there fighting for freedom of speech.
Inspired by my Masters, and still tempted by the Blue Peter ideal, I started a project on You Tube called ‘Challenge Me, where people could email me challenges, and I would film and edit videos of myself doing them. As part of Challenge Me I trekked to Everest Base Camp, ran the Rome Marathon, cycled from London to Brighton at three day’s notice, and did my Scuba Dive Master. I learnt how to play Roller Derby, volunteered for a month on an Argentinean Polo farm, did bungee jumps and sky dives, and walked 42 miles in a day.
I never became a Blue Peter presenter, but for a year and a half, I lived like one, travelling the world, completing random extreme sport and endurance challenges, and using the inheritance from my parents to create lifelong memories, which I knew I would never regret.
During my travels, I began to write. Most of the time I backpacked alone, and would spend anything up to 30 hours at a time cramped in the back of overnight coaches between destinations. Carrying books around can be tiresome, and so I began writing down my own stories instead, fuelled by the people I met on my travels, and the adventures I had along the way. By the time I returned to the UK, two years ago, I had written three novels.
I’ve spoken a lot about my friends’ reactions to this blog. And to be honest, the closest ones aren’t remotely surprised. They’ve grown used to my mad plans, and keen avoidance of the norm.
I still remember being in a backpacker’s hostel in remote Guatemala, and bumping into the younger sister of someone I went to university with. The next time I was in an internet cafe, I emailed him to let him know that our paths had crossed.
‘I don’t really get what you’re doing’ was his curt response.
After all, why should he? I was a 25 year-old Cambridge graduate, and instead of sitting on the milkround conveyor belt, and training to be a solicitor in a Magic Circle law firm, I was sharing bedrooms with 7 other backpackers each night, and travelling the world in defunct American school buses, accompanied by the local farmers and their chickens. My life was literally world’s away.
But do you know what, I really rather like that.
You only get one shot at life, so why not live as many different lives as you can while you’re at it? I’m quite often asked about the fact I did a Law Degree, then a Journalism Masters, and have ended up working in Finance. But I guess I just like to try as many things as possible. Gather as much life experience as I possibly can.
If my parents’ deaths taught me anything, it’s that you genuinely never know what is round the corner, so make the most of the opportunities you get!
If you want to do something, go out and do it! Don’t wait for someone else to come along with you. If they decide to, treat it as a bonus.
And so I guess that’s why I’m such a happy singleton. Because I grew up being independent and relying only on myself. If I want to do something I’ll go ahead and do it …. which is why, after a 20 minute Facebook chat with Signor28 this afternoon, I’m currently sitting googling flights to Madrid for a random weekend next month! And why when my friends in LA suggested they’d find American dates for the challenge, I jumped at the idea and started looking into flights to the States.
I’ve only got one life, and I intend to fill it with as many weird and wonderful experiences as I can. And that includes 30 blind dates with complete strangers!
Maybe that makes me ‘good nuts’, maybe it just makes me ‘nuts’?
I don’t know, but what I do know, is it makes ‘me’ feel a hell of a lot like the real ‘me’.
And not wanting to compare the silly Henley Boy situation to an actual proper break-up, but I know that any girl will tell you, when you get your heart broken, or bruised, or even just a little bit trampled on, ALL you really want, is to start feeling like yourself again!
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx