Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Life Choices: Ask Hannie's Granny!

I have this fun new game I like to play, when faced with difficult Life Dilemmas, that I call: What Would Hannie's Granny Say?

Now: to be clear, this is not actually my Granny. This is Miss Marple. However, I am confident that Miss Marple would have pretty much the same opinions on stuff as my Granny would, with a bit of sleuthery thrown in just for fun, and using this picture means I don't have to violate my actual Granny's privacy against her will. "Hey Granny, would you mind if I use a picture of you to illustrate a post about your attitudes to life on my blog on which I discuss things like BDSM and kyriarchy and how the world would be so much better if women had sex like cats?"

So! The rules of the game are pretty simple. First, you formulate your Intractable Life Dilemma, preferably in the most high-falutin modern fancy talk you can manage. Then, you imagine Miss Marple and/or my Granny making the facial expression pictured above, while saying, "blust, ha' you gone soft?"

For the remainder of the game I will be translating GrannySpeak into high-falutin modern fancy talk, with more swear words, to avoid charges of taking the piss out of people from Norfolk.

"Granny, I am in a quandry," I say, approximately once a year since the age of 15, in my mind. "Relationships are HARD. What dating situation would be most beneficial to my mental health? Is it possible to maintain desire and affection indefinitely in a long-term, monogamous relationship, and if so, how? Am I defective if I can't do so?"

Imaginary Granny response:
"Are you fucking nuts?" responds imaginary Granny, side-stepping the fact that I am, in fact, fucking nuts, because she doesn't know this. Every time I visit her and have a daytime nap or display some other exciting symptom of depression, she takes my dad aside and asks him Extremely Discreetly, "Is Hannah pregnant?" NO. STILL NO, GRANNY.

Anyway, back to Love Advice. "Are you fucking nuts? You want relationships to be fulfilling? You think being single might be better than being married? WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS? Of course you're going to get married, to the first person who offers and who you don't hate. You're worried about still fancying your paramour in ten years? It doesn't matter whether you fancy him at all! Women don't enjoy sex, not really, but you'll put up with it, because it's your duty, and because you want children."

"Granny, my job is B-O-R-I-N-G, for real. I'm stuck in this admin basement where I'm spectacularly underemployed, I can get through my work in about one day a week and I spend the other four desperately looking for something, anything, to keep me occupied; I want to do something more interesting, but I have no idea what - should I be an accountant? A solicitor? A writer? A mental health nurse? Should I move to Madagascar and devote my life to saving lemurs? Or move to Dorset and farm llamas? Should my career be Being Lemar? Or Mark Lamarr? I hope not the latter! How do you know what it is you want to do with your life? What if I spend the next thirty years in an agony of indecision and wasted potential and never amount to anything and never get to go HA, all those miserable years getting picked on at school were so worth it because now I have a fantastic career and have therefore WON? Or what if I do make a decision, but it's the WRONG decision? WHAT THEN, IMAGINARY GRANNY? WHAT THEN??"

She makes this face again.

This face combines derision, bewilderment, and barely-kept-in-check hysterical laughter.

"Are you actually serious?" asks Imaginary Granny. "You want work to be fun? Stimulating? Personally fulfilling? It's WORK, you idiot, not a fucking voyage of self-discovery. Does your work run the risk of giving you cancer from breathing asbestos dust in all day? Does it leave you screaming with pain from twelve hours straight bending over in the strawberry fields (and don't you dare sing that rubbish hippie song at me)? Has anyone you work with ever got hypothermia from working an illegal double shift in cold storage? No? THEN WHAT THE FLYING FUCK ARE YOU WHINING ABOUT? Also you should keep chickens. Free eggs!"

Now, this game can be dangerous. It is not for the faint of heart, or the unstable of mind (WHOOPS). It is also not very useful in actually solving those Life Dilemmas, because "in the 1930s people of the rural working class didn't expect marriage to meet their every emotional and sexual need, had substantially lower expectations re: said needs, and did whatever work would feed their families without expecting it to blow their minds" is not particularly good life advice: it is, rather, a very short history essay.

I do, however, find it refreshing, in moderation. It is a healthy reminder of the unimaginable social progress we've made over the course of the 20th century, and of how grateful we should be to have these choices. Plus, a gentle nudge not to get so desperately fixated on your own middle class white lady problems is always to the good.

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