Following up on our ancient traditions of wishery and ritual (like Native American’s performing rain dances and wishing for monsoons), when birthday’s come up, we begin to speculate about the kind of things we would maybe like to have in our wildest, coolest universes. We have a penchant to perform little “gift dances”, if you will. It is almost a prerequisite of having a birthday – “one must muse upon excellent parallel realities in which one lives in perfect world with 0% of the population starving and also owns three thousand pugs.” It’s a standard.
As you may have surmised from the topic of this article – it’s my birthday soon. Callooh, callay, she chortled in her joy. Feeling somewhat like Walter Mitty as I sit at my desk and muse upon the things that are greater and wilder than the sum of my current existence at this point, I dwell upon what I might like to receive/achieve in the upcoming years:
- Own a pug or a Samoyed. Just give me a dog. All of the dogs.
I am a massive “pet person”. Whilst growing up, my household always had a flurry of cats whisking in and out of its doors – kind of insultingly, in a way, as I’m allergic to cats and always have been, so it was almost like my parent’s were saying “get over it – we’re having cats anyway. You’ll just have to have an inhaler and wear a protective clingfilm lining. In our family, we don’t do allergies.”
However, I also didn’t mind as I, along with my allergies, had and always have been a massive fan of all that is cute and fluffy (helpful if one’s pet is also domesticated, so can distribute hugs and play-time with aforementioned cute and fluffy things.) As was likely, though, due to my sneezing hysterically in reaction to cats, my affections more pointedly turned to dogs, whom I can love without taping Kleenex to my face. Or more specifically, I turned to pugs and Samoyed’s.
A pug attempting to be majestic, with somewhat confusing results
Pugs have sort of become an internet sensation at this point due to the fact that they’re cute and sort-of-grim at the same time. They’re probably what Belle and the Beast’s kids would have looked like if Belle didn’t ruin it all by making out with him and thus turning him into a prince (so cliche). Naturally, as they’re sort of “misfits” in that sense, I want to have many of them. I kind of do this when it comes to… well, everything. We once had an aquarium full of beautiful fish, including one sharkfish who was a complete little bugger and ate all his friends and tried to commit suicide by jumping into the laundry basket twice – and I claimed that he was my favourite, as though my emotionally supporting this little bastard would act as some sort of therapy and make him change his ways, like Denzel Washington’s character in Flight getting over his alcohol addiction.
Similarly, I told everyone when I was young that brown was my favourite colour (as everyone had a stigma against the colour brown at school as it is widely associated with poo – “BUT ALSO CHOCOLATE!”, I would protest). Myself and my siblings were given wooden boxes to grow our own vegetables and flowers in outside and whilst my brother and sister painted theirs lovely shades of green and grew perfect rows of carrots and bluebells, I painted mine a stubborn brown and nursed weeds, the outcasts of the garden world.
Now this need seems to have translated to dogdom, and a pug I would love. Or a Samoyed. Ideally, I would be able to own both, and have a comedian-like double act of one ridiculous and one majestic creature playing and arguing all day long.
A Samoyed, noticeably better at being majestic with seemingly little-to-no effort
- Become a well-loved comic feature writer
Obviously I can’t wish for this to happen on my birthday. I don’t think that you can just walk up to UNILAD or BuzzFeed or The Huffington Post and be like “guys, level with me here. I’m great at writing and it’s my birthday. Have a heart.” I don’t know if that would really work out.
But this is definitely one of the things that I’m striving for in the upcoming years. Comedy writing (a.k.a., talking endlessly about things on paper whilst throwing in sarcastic or absurd comments) sort of comes naturally to me. Perhaps for my birthday I could request an avalanche of great stationary, or a nice laptop or a beer hat (something I’ve been asking for every year since I turned eighteen) all of which would probably contribute to inspiring funny and unique ideas… probably. At the very least I have another excuse to pester present-givers for a beer hat, that I need one to get my dream job. A responsible excuse.
- To see more countries
I have always told myself that it doesn’t matter how poor you make yourself – unless if by doing this you plunge yourself into an irretrievable debt from which you will a) go to prison or b) end up on the streets or c) not be able to afford your yearly supply of Doritos – after going abroad, because seeing a different country and widening your experiences will always be a memorable, useful thing to do. I can’t even begin to describe how Thailand affected me, but it certainly made me appreciate my fortunate and safe life. So even if you don’t end up loving your trip, you’ll have learned something new about yourself or at the very least be able to say that you’ve been somewhere, that you’re moving, that your understanding of the world around you has grown a jot.
Over the next few years I would love to go to more European countries and to Canada (creators of syrup and Billy Talent and full of people who can’t stop saying “sorry” – sounds perfect for me). I’ll go around and eat different food. Walk around on different soil. Eat good food. Pose touristically with statues and strangers. Eat amazing food.
Of course, this is an expensive gift which I do not expect anyone to fork out for me, so a stack of Canadian style pancakes as my birthday breakfast or a loyalty card for Aunt Annie’s, the soft pretzel makers, will do.
- A library
Okay. I know that all of these requests are fairly frivolous. But this is my BIRTHDAY RAIN DANCE, right? A birthday rain dance paving the way for future ideas, as I am determined that when I do have a house, there’ll be one room that’s my writing study-cum-library, and it’ll carry that lovely smell of pages and ink and ideas. So it’s a wish right now, but hopefully a reality later. I’ve dreamt of this reality since childhood, since replaying my favourite moment of Beauty and the Beast over and over again, when Belle walks into her library for the first time and looks around her like “Holy FUCK, reading all of this will take me a long time” (Note: I am not sure why I keep bringing up Beauty and the Beast. I haven’t seen it in years, but somehow it keeps being topical to this article. Also, I feel a strange affinity with Cogsworth.)
In case you having been living in a cave, this is the library in Beauty and the Beast. Probably a bit of a stretch to fit it into what will be my future cottage/hovel, but a girl can lust. I mean, dream.
Books are never a misplaced or unloved present of mine – in fact I am something of a “hoarder” (haven’t they diagnosed this to be an official “problem”, now? They seem to diagnose everything to be a problem these days. ‘Do You Like To Eat Above-Average Sized Bowls Of Cereal? Congratulations, You Have Brantaflakeamania’.) I treat books the same way as I treat calm and placid cats – lovingly, fervently and a bit cautiously, afraid of damaging it or angering it. Treat gingerly at all times.
- A tea party with Alan Davies, Stephen Fry, Nikola Tesla, Helena Bonham Carter, Boris Johnson, Imogen Heap, Mindy Kaling, Hayao Miyazaki, Heston Blumenthal, Willy Wonka, Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, Concetta Antico, Rupert Grint, the Queen, the Dalai Lama and Arnold Schwarzenegger
Can you IMAGINE how incredible this would be!? And the seating plan! Arnold Schwarzenegger would definitely have to sit between the Queen and the Dalai Lama. I would sit in-between Alan Davies and Mindy Kaling, with Imogen Heap and Stephen Fry facing. Obviously Heston Blumenthal would be the chef, creating a fairytale-like menu which we all would “ooh” and “aah” at before falling on it like refined animals. Here’s my breakdown as to why I’d have these guys as my dream guests:
Alan Davies – probably the most heartwarming soul on British television. He always makes me laugh and appears to be a very good listener on As Yet Untitled.
Stephen Fry – another adored British icon. Stephen’s brain seems to be so full of interesting and incredible knowledge that there is absolutely no way that he wouldn’t be the perfect tea party guest – entertaining and fascinating to the last drop.
Nikola Tesla – Tesla is potentially my all-time favourite historical badass. Doesn’t matter that he’s dead – if anybody could come back to life to attend this fictional party it’s Tesla (or Jesus. Or Rasputin.) He basically invented electricity itself, so maybe he could reanimate in some sort of Frankensteinian fashion? Tesla played with lightning like a Victorian Zeus and also invented a DEATH RAY, amongst other wild and controversial things. He was a bloody genius. I would like Tesla to be in charge of the tea party candles and do magic tricks from time to time. There’s just no way that he wasn’t a real wizard.
Tesla, pretending that he is a normal human with no magical properties whatsoever
Helena Bonham Carter – I think everybody has a soft-spot for this lady. Again, would invite due to the fact that she seems like a particularly interesting and artistic character, as well as appearing to be quite the quintessentially British lady (befitting for a tea party.)
Boris Johnson – Always good to throw a politician in your imaginary gathering. Boris always has a ton of interesting things to say and is very creative with his curses when he gets passionate about something. Might conspire to tip vodka in his teacup or something.
Imogen Heap – Genius creator of music gloves that allow you to play instruments without actual instruments and personal good-mood creator since 2008.
Mindy Kaling – Something about Mindy’s comedy speaks to me. I think she and I would spend the whole time giggling and bonding over Heston’s pretty food and shared world views.
Hayao Miyazaki – Miyazaki is basically the chief creator of Studio Ghibli and therefore probably a wonderful and inspiring person. Would spend the entire time picking his brain and begging for more movies, whilst nudging and winking at him and singing the Ponyo theme tune to try and be cute, but most likely will come off as annoying.
Heston Blumenthal – I need Heston to attend for his food. Sure, there are lots of good cooks in the world, but at my imaginary tea party I want THE BIGGEST COOKIE EVER MADE. Or an actual gingerbread house. Or a boar that he went and shot with an arrow in the Swiss alps himself (don’t know if boars actually live here but this is a world of imagination.)
Willy Wonka – Speaking of a world of imagination… Willy, you will tell me your secrets. ‘Fess up. Somebody needs to carry on your legacy and Charlie is simply too swept away by a life of fame to concentrate on it now. You must pass on the torch. To me.
Image of Willy holding back a wealth of great cocoa secrets and laughing at us less-intelligent plebeians
Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy – I would probably make Kermit and Miss Piggy sit at opposite ends of the table, as this would increase our chances of a potential food-fight breaking out. Also they would make for excellent dining entertainment.
Concetta Antico – this is an artist who has tetrachromacy (where you can see loads and loads of colours at once.) It must be a hard thing to try and describe but I would like to hear what Concetta has to say about it anyway.
Rupert Grint – I once heard a story that after Rupert finished filming the first Harry Potter film, he went and bought himself a bunch of pigs and an ice cream van. I would like to ask Rupert about this.
The Queen – Who WOULDN’T invite the Queen to their imaginary tea party!? The Queen probably has loads to say about her weird and cool life, or at least about how to raise dogs. Which would also be useful information to me. Also I’d want to know what hat she’d wear to my party.
The Dalai Lama – Who WOULDN’T invite the Dalai Lama to their imaginary tea party!? Probably the most voice concerning values of peace and love, which he spreads everywhere he goes. The Dalai Lama is a beautiful, beautiful soul and I believe even a few seconds in his company would provide me with enough therapy for a good few years.
Arnold Schwarzenegger – Would be fascinating to have all tea party guests line up and make observations on Arnold’s twenty-seven pack and biceps. We could all prod him and then attempt Terminator accents, and ask him to give us a free private plane to California and take us surfing.
I still keep thinking of people I’d like to add to this list – Wes Anderson, Amelie, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu… but will have to reserve for another article, from fear that if I don’t this one point will be the same length as a dissertation.
- Something made
It is especially touching, of course, when people make you presents for your birthday. Not like sock bunnies or a piece of blank paper which says “I owe you” or a glass of milk with a funny straw in. Like actual, effort presents. One particularly memorable year I got a box from my best friend full of photos of us, tiny quirky ornaments and handwritten in-jokes of ours that she had LAMINATED. Laminating is commitment.
I’m the cheesy type of person who likes loads and loads of photos of themselves with their friends and family and prospective dogs/actual owned dogs printed out, to cry over them nostalgically before arranging them into a scrapbook or strange eclectic pattern on the wall. Digital progression is all very well and good, but life was better when had proper, chunky photo albums as opposed to heartless albums on a desktop. Handmade presents are the best.
- To fistbump President Barack Obama
This is just something that I would really, really like to happen.
- To go on the Adam and Joe Show
I would like Adam and Joe to start up their show again and then interview me on it. I think it would be hilarious, and they seem like pretty nice guys. Plus I would be way too intimidated to be interviewed by someone like Conan or Oprah. Adam and Joe seem like they’re personable and funny enough to stop you feeling intimidated by them. And they’re genuinely really funny and maybe we could be friends for real afterwards. The gift which keeps on giving.
- To co-create a prank which would then be aired on Japanese TV
I think I have touched upon this before, but Japanese pranks are THE BEST. I would love to be able to think up one with a board of pranksters and then execute it. I would be the type of grandmother who’d always have that on DVD (the future’s version of VHS) and play it endlessly to my grandkids whilst laughing, as they sit there and smile politely every time whilst secretly wishing I’d fuck off.
- A beer hat
Just give it to me. I won’t give up.
So these are amongst the best and the brightest of my (yeah, selfish) birthday wishes. But these are mainly “Castles in the Sky”. If I’m totally honest with you – I’d like any of these things, sure, but I really don’t need any of them (well, obviously. Who needs to have a tea party, no matter how cool the cast?) I never ask for specific presents from Santa anymore because, frankly, I have what is vital to me in my life and all of these would only be bonuses. I am fortunate enough to not actively, desperately desire anything – and for that I am incredibly thankful. For that I don’t require anything else at all.
Except for the beer hat. I need it for wisdom.