Stockholm Library


They say that libraries drive you crazy
And you can lose all sense of self.
Leaving behind any concept of time
And your mind, right there on the shelf.

But in my case, it’s the work that makes
Me start to question it all:
Why I started? Will I finish?
Double, Grande or Tall?

I’ve been here six days straight now,
And I can’t really complain
About the lighting or the vending machine,
Or that enormous coffee stain…

But staring at this page again,
And the ache behind my eyes
From sitting at a computer screen
is how my motivation dies.

Enough is enough! I whisper to myself,
After all, I’m in the Quiet Zone.
I can’t take this anymore,
It’s time to head back home.

But there’s that knock on the door again,
And that guilty feeling comes back.
Every second not spend doing this
Feels like I’m losing all the slack.

And so, I read on in silence,
Hoping someday, I’ll be free.
Hoping to be back in the light outside
Stockholm Library.

 

Awkward Moment #20: The Blag, A Dying Art Form.


A question for my fellow language lubbers: why is it that as soon as people hear that you study languages, they automatically presume you to have encyclopaedic knowledge of anything and everything non-English, ever?

Seriously, has this ever happened to you? Let me demonstrate.
Exhibit A:

You find yourself at a party of a friend of a friend of that guy with the hipster haircut, when suddenly, mid-mingle, you are drawn into conversation.

“So what do you study?” A young chap asks, drinking a beer with a straw. Who even is this guy?

“Modern Languages,” you confirm, with a hint of pride in your voice as you smile and nod modestly. Yep, that’s how I roll. You know it.

“Wow, that’s so cool. Any in particular?” He enquires. Honestly. Nope, I speak all languages in the world ever. Moron.

“Spanish and Italian mostly”, you nod with a casual shrug of the shoulder. No big deal really.

“Amazing. So you’re fluent then?” He nods back at you.
Wait, what?

“Um, well I…” you begin, but it’s already too late.

“Because this one time I was on holiday and this guy comes up to me and says…”

Your stomach flips.
Shit.

The unforeseeable yet inevitable is now staring you in the face. You now carry the enormous burden of understanding and interpreting to perfection whatever it is that comes out of this guys mouth, no matter how massacred the pronunciation nor how ridiculous the accent. It’s like a Mexican stand-off with a Collins dictionary.

It could be in any dialect from any part of the world meaning absolutely anything. If you don’t perfectly understand every single world of the following and in doing so, decipher it with confidence and flare, you are deemed useless. You’ve let your family down, your friends down and worst of all, you’ve let England down. You are a pitiful excuse for a linguist, now away with you.

Voices begin raging inside your head as you try to concentrate on what he’s saying, almost certain that the universe has chosen promiscuous pronouns, vile verbs and toxic tenses to form the bulk of the phrase, not to mention throwing in a cheeky imperfect subjunctive, nestled comfortably between false friends (frightfully fiendish, those false friends).

So what do I do? I hear you ask.

You, my friend, must do what every great linguist since time in memorial has done before you in a woeful situation such as this. You make that shit up.

Narrowing your eyes, you listen carefully to what he is saying, attempting a pensive expression as if your mind were meandering the forests of genius and wordreference.com…but the words tumble from his lips and land on the floor in a puddle of confusion. Was that even a word? And what was that? Chinese?!

Beneath your cool, reserved exterior, your interior, with clammy palms, fumbles for a sentence – any sentence – to pass off as a decent translation.

“I see, right…well, it sounds…um, where exactly were you when you heard this?” This looks like a blag…might as well milk it.

“Just outside of Naples,” he says. You continue to mentally scratch your head. The silence is growing, he’s on to you. Stall him.

“Ah, yes of course, it does sound rather…Neapolitan.” Oh, good work. His eyebrows rise slightly. He’s intrigued. Keep going.

“…yes, and I think the emphasis on that last expression could mean that…” Pause, but remain pensive. Calm, cool, a cucumber…

“…yes? What could it mean? Was it rude?!” The tension is building, the anticipation is killing him. Go for something scandalous. Make him want it.

“It sounds like, ‘I need somewhere to hide the body…'” Nailed it.

“What!?! Surely not, I mean…” He laughs nervously.

“Don’t look at me; I don’t know what you get up to on holiday! After all, what happens in Naples…” Turning the tables on him, nicely done!

“You aren’t seriously suggesting…” He looks incredulous now. Quick, separate yourself from the situation.

“Of course not, after all…I just speak the language”. OOOOOOOOHHHHH. Take that!

You see? Handled with flare, confidence and even a few idioms. Like a pro.
Your tutors would be so proud.

Hard Knox.


Remember how tough life was in primary school?
Dodging the emotional land mines that were the 5 minute whirlwind romances. Having to hold hands with a buddy whilst walking to and from official school functions like lunch, or assembly. Life was hard back then, especially in those first couple of years, as any four or five year old will tell you.

I myself was proposed to in the unisex toilets of reception. I was washing my hands after a papier-mâché morning, and suddenly a second pair of hands appeared next to mine. The conversation went a little like this:

“Emily?”
“Yes?”
“Will you marry me?”
“Do I have to?”
“…yeah.”
“Well, ok then”. 

And it was love. Our nuptials were announced in a game of Chinese whispers and it was official. The date was set and the plans in motion, my friends even began making daisy chain bunting for the ceremony. Until…heartbreak struck.
Little over 2 hours later, he pushed in front of me in the lunch queue. I instantly felt a fool. I had been played by the biggest player of them all and completely taken advantage of. I broke off the engagement, vowing never to marry him ever again and storming off with my arms folded. Nobody messes ME around.

I have to admit, I was not the cutest of kids, but god damn, did I have style. How many kids do you know who can rock the coconut-box fringe-harry potter glasses-look? Let’s be honest, it doesn’t matter how hipster you think you are, it’s a gift. For a while, I even went toothless, after an unfortunate first ever visit to the dentist…

My itchy, woollen cardigans were too big for me (obviously rocking the casual, these-are-my-boyfriends-clothes-look), and my socks were unmercifully white beneath my limited edition leather sandals from Clarks. But nevertheless I still made a stand against the misogynistic attitude adopted by the boys, even if that engagement had been my best and only offer…

All the blokes came and went from my life in a flash after that. I was so lonely at one point I considered holding hands with just about anybody. There was the smelly kid (who either ran a marathon everyday or just didn’t wash), the sweaty palm kid (who I would always embarrass by screaming “Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeewwwww” and pulling away instantly), and finally there was the fainter (no longer an acceptable way of getting out of a date, guys). This lack of suitors also meant that my only date to the teddy bear picnic was Big Bear himself, and although he may have had excellent banter and fantastic stories, it just wasn’t the same. 

So next time, when you think those kids have got it all, think again – it isn’t all swings and roundabouts. Now, things are a little more mature, relationships are easier to understand, skin’s a little thicker. I’m not saying it gets easier, but we now have the gift of experience. When you get dumped at 24, it just wasn’t right. When you get dumped at 4, you are a social outcast. A love pariah. 

So look on the bright side – at least they don’t have sweaty palms!

Image

Cometh the Hour. Cometh the Rap.


John

  • Yo, Em-zy Emz, you thinkin’ yo’ fly,
    You got mad language skillz, spanish speakin’ ’till you die
    I’m hearin’ all that yo’ sayin’, like, my, oh my
    Wit’ mah fiddle an’ my folk playin’…
    …Um…
    What rhymes with my?

Emily

  • Hahaha that is the single most wonderful rap I’ve ever imagined.
    sky/shy/cry/high

John

  • We should rap duet.
  • Finish my rap, duet buddle.
  • *buddy
  • In fact, let’s have a duel. Right now.
  • C’mon, yo.

Emily

  • Bitch, please.
  • You must have a mental disease.

John

  • Ohhhhhh, yo’ pretty li’l white girl, you talkin’ mighty big,
    You sayin’ I got problems, when you rhyming like a pig,
    Yo’ skills be drivin’ me to drink, gonna have to take a swig,
    Yo’ powers come to nothin’, they depressin’ me to shiy-dt

Emily

  • Ooooooooh, yo’ be talkin’ like you rule the world, you ain’ nothin’ but a little girl
    Yo’ be sayin’ all this punk ass shit but yo’ head iz full of curls’
    Like goldilocks in the hood, all the porridge will make yo’ wanna hurl
  • You clearly won that one.

John

  • Wh-what, wh-what, what did you say!?
    Accusin’ me o’ fairy tales, and dissin my toupee?
    We arguin’ so bitter, girl, but I got a hunch
    This shit gon’ carry on when I’m-a-buyin’ yo’ lunch
    YO
    Fairy tales, never fail,
    Original work?
    You rippin’ off them kiddy tales that taught us Jill gets hurt
    Yo, I cut my hair short, keep yo’ info up to date
    ‘Cos if yo’ stuff ain’t to the point, you just inspirin’ hate

John

  • BOOM

Emily

  • BITCHES be doubtin’ my rappin’ skillz?
    get yo’ ass ready for some rhymin’ thrillz.
    fairy tales or not, yo’ got me doin’ drillz
    i’m like a fish on dry land, there ain’t no reason for my gillz
    YO
    I’m evolvin’,
    like Charles Darwin,
    the speed of my rhymin gettin’ worse is alarmin’
    so let’s leave this here before I call out prince charmin’!

Emily

  • THAT’S RIGHT.

John

  • I just got taken for a ride. Damn,
  • I.. damn.

Emily

  • Told you I had an inner black woman.

John

  • By the way, we’re making this a thing. This has become a thing now.

Emily

  • Ha, brilliant.

John

  • You don’t get any choice
  • You need someone to keep talking english at you when you’re in spain, anyway, or you’ll just forget it all.
  • It might as well be in the form of rap.

Emily

  • That is a very good point. All the Spanish and Italian might push out the English.
  • We cannot let that happen.

John

  • Don’t worry. I’ll personally take on that responsibility.
  • Because, you know, that’s how language works. Totally.

Emily

  • All the way. I’m actually going to post that on my blog. Right now. You don’t get a say in this.

…and that’s basically how it went down.

Starring: John Derbyshire and Emily Eccles. The whitest people you will ever meet.

More Putting of Faces to Names


Some time ago, you may have seen a post listing 20 random facts about myself, in an attempt to educate you wonderful people about the girl behind the glasses. I said I would continue when more things came to my mind, and I will. Right now. Here’s 6 more:

21. I have a birth mark on the edge of my right underarm.
22. I have a single silver ring on the middle finger of my left hand that I never take off. It was bought for me as an 18th birthday present by someone very close to me, and it is my most prized possession.
23. I have a teddy bear named Charlie that has literally been all over the world with me. My nan bought him for me when I was a baby. I took him to China and Argentina, and he will also venture to Spain and Italy with me.
24. I’m covered in freckles, which tend to multiply when exposed to sunlight.
25. I’m writing a book. Several, actually. Well, a book, a comic book/graphic novel, an anthology of awkwardness as well as a collection of short stories that take a sort of, Jane Austen route, you might say.
26. I have two editors, both of which are my best friends.

I’ll leave it there for now.

Em x

Chapter 23


I am writing this from my bed in my empty room at my house. All of the clothes, shoes, toiletries, books, DVDs, CDs, posters, photos, revision notes, stationary, teddy bears and odd socks have gone, but love and memories remain. I am the last one to leave out of my 3 housemates, and it makes me sad.

I’m waiting for Janet to pick up my keys, inspect the house one last excruciating time and then check me out. She’s 2 hours and 22 minutes late. Freakin’ Janet. So, like any other writer, I sat down and pulled out a pen…or in my case, an iPad. My notebook is at my parents’ house beneath a mountain of odd socks and posters.

There are so many memories embedded in these walls, some bad but the rest good. Some brilliant, some hilarious, some disgusting, some excruciating, some awkward, some life changing, some just plain wrong…but memories I’ll cherish nonetheless.

Today I move back in with my parents into a bedless box room, my bus pass expires at midnight at which point I will fix myself a stiff drink and have a little cry. I will miss my beloved house so much, it hurts. I’m still in it and I miss it already. For this reason, I’ve decided to start a new blog dedicated to the memories of my all-too-quick 11 months and two weeks under this small but awesome roof. I hope you find it as funny as I hope you find my everyday musings, which I vow will not be neglected in any way.

More awkward moments coming your way soon guys, you have my word. In fact, if you haven awkward moment of your own, please let me know, I’d love to hear about it and maybe even publish it on your behalf (names changed, of course. Absolute discretion).

Ciao for now.

Em x

Awkward Moment #2: What are friends for, if not emergency trousers?


One of the projects I’m working on at the moment is an anthology. An anthology of awkwardness, to be precise. It’s basically a collection of funny stories concerning awkward balloons, turtles, starfish, you name it. I’ve realised lately just how many bizarre situations I land myself in, and even my close friends land themselves in, so I figured I’d share them with you, quite literally, for kicks and giggles. Enjoy!

The following is based on true events, but the protagonist of this particular awkward moment would kill me for publishing it, so names have been changed (or rather, excluded altogether. Apart from mine, I’m proud to be part of this story :D).

I’m sitting at my desk, locked into a staring competition with my computer screen. God damnit, write yourself! I mentally scream at the blinking cursor. I realise that this will get me nowhere and I will eventually have to start doing something. I pull my notebook over and chew on my pen lid whilst constructing a spider-map of Italian Cinema and it’s influence upon today’s society. Then, typically, when I’ve just about managed my muster some motivation, it disappears with the flash of my phone.

“Cello…” I have several cheesy greetings for beginning and ending conversations.
“I need your help”.
“Oh god, is someone dead?”
“Are you at home?”
“Yes, why?”
“I need you to bring me some spare trousers. I’m in Sydney Jones”.
“…”
“Em? It’s an emergency!”
“How can you possibly be in a situation that qualifies as an emergency when the only solution is a spare pair of-” And then it hit me.“Oh come on, man really? In the library? Can’t you guys leave each other alone for 5 seconds?”
“NO! No, it’s not that. But I do still need the pants so if Josh could give you a lift in his car…”
“Why? What’s happened?”
“Em, I just need the-”
“Not until you tell me what’s happened”.
“Can’t you just act in the knowledge that you’re doing me a huge favour?!”
“Of course I can, but I refuse.”
“You’ll see when you get here.”
“I’m intrigued…”
“Just hurry up, ok?”. The line bleeps dead, and I fulfil her wishes and take a spare pair of chinos to her in the library, all the while receiving blasphemous messages telling me to hurry up.

As I walk through the scanners I call her, and she’s in the toilets on the top floor of the Grove Wing. I climb the various staircases, feeling that tiny bit guiltier for every person I see, at a desk or computer, lost in their work. Concentration has eluded me, making the library my least favourite place at the moment. Bunch of show offs.

I reach the toilets, and she’s there looking shifter than the San Andreas fault line. “Did you bring them?” she asks, a look of desperation on her face, as if I were carrying drugs. I hand her the bag, which she snatches and races into the cubicle.

It’s just a glimpse, I don’t believe it at first. They might not do their job properly but my eyes never deceive me. There, peeping out from the back of her trousers like it was a game of hide and seek, was the fleshy pinkness of a cheek.

My initial reaction? Spleen-rupturing laughter.

“STOP LAUGHING”. I ignore her completely. “SERIOUSLY EM THIS ISN’T FUNNY!”
“In whose universe could this ever not be hilarious?!”
“I hate my life”.

After I calm down and take paracetamol for my aching sides, she proceeds to tell me that upon entering the library earlier that day, she had dropped some books. As she bent down to pick them up, she heard the sound that nobody ever expects or welcomes. The rip ran all the way from her crotch to her arse.

The entire debacle makes my day, and I promptly head home and pick up my laptop, only to be stopped in my tracks by a message threatening the death of my first born if I publish it.
“What if I change the names?”
“Ugh, fine.”