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Thursday, January 26, 2012

I drink, therefore I am.

I was so smug when January started. I had quit sugar, wheat, alcohol and, consequently, fun. I was following a strict detox, as masterminded by this chap.

He warned the first week would be the hardest. Codswallop! It was easy. I flew through it. A doddle. I delighted in the oatcakes and the brown rice, I didn’t miss sugar and I certainly did not miss alcohol – I’d had enough of both in December to last a lifetime.

This is my December diet.

This is my January diet.

The first weekend of January, I met up with my mum and sister. I didn’t drink. I didn’t do my usual weekend habit of eating a lot of pudding. This will be easy, I told myself, I might even do February too. Smug as an arrogant bug.

The second weekend of January was a harder task. My beautiful friend Amy came to stay and there was no way I was going to be Little Miss Soft Drinks when I had friends giving up their weekend to spend time with me.

Surprisingly, we were relatively well behaved. A few gins, plenty of water. I didn’t get rowdy or accidentally break a plate, glass or vase, as is my usual want upon intoxication. Okay, I made the world’s best Nutella Cheesecake and had so much of it that I almost cried, but it was Saturday night. I was happy.

The third week of January, I broke. I started dreaming about sugary food. Cheesecakes and ice cream consumed my every thought – I was never like that (much) before the detox, so it was in fact the detox’s fault. Restriction led to downfall.

My cake making friend Adam cruelly emailed me this picture and this note: 'Can I make you a battenburg the size of your head as your wedding cake?' It was as much as I could do not to eat the computer displaying the image to me.

I met my sister for dinner in London for the third weekend in January. Tammi surveyed the menu – what an admirable array of cocktails, she declared.

As if I was going to have a tonic water. Pur-leese. I looked at the menu. But what I really looked at was myself. Suddenly, it felt okay to fall off the wagon because the wagon was beginning to look increasingly boring. I didn’t want to be sober. I didn’t want my sister to have less fun because I was sober – which, let’s face it, is true. When I’m out with someone who’s not drinking, I roll my eyes, write them off and talk to someone else. No one wants to be that guy. Least of all me.

And besides, I told myself as I eyed up a vanilla vodka, apple juice and berry concoction, it’s not wine. Wine has lots of calories and makes me shout at my boyfriend. It’s a cocktail, basically a few of my five-a-day and twice the fun.

So there I was, convincing myself that one cocktail increased my charm, wit and like-ability. Then the next thing I know, Tammi and I have sampled pretty much every cocktail on the menu and spent £185.

I didn’t just fall off the wagon, I bungee jumped off it and landed in a muddy puddle of alcohol and sugar. And je regrette rien, as they say in booze loving France. In your face, detox.

Any abstainers reading who think I should embrace sobriety because it really is fun and you don’t spend as much on taxis… don’t be ridiculous. Just stop talking.

Having successfully convinced myself that drinking is cool, I emailed my ‘I’m not drinking in January or February’ best mate Cesca.

‘Yes, er, I’m not doing very well at that,’ she reported back. ‘I’m totally shit at not drinking.’

And that’s why I love her and I love cocktails and spending a week’s wages in one night. I am no longer friends with tonic water. Because drinking makes my world go rosy. My detox has gone from the saintly avoidance of sugar, alcohol, wheat and, consequently, fun, to just avoiding wine. Much more feasible and, consequently, achievable.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Who Am I?

To be a Jones, or not to be a Jones, that is the question.

So, I’m getting mazzered in 252 days, which means that potentially, in 36 weeks, I wave goodbye to Kim Willis.

I did not choose to be a Willis. I could have been named anything and I’m sure I would have loved it. Except, possibly, a Wiper, which is an actual real surname belonging to a friend of mine. That name I don’t think I’d have worn as quite the badge of honour he wears it, but then, he wears red trousers and has turned Wiper into a part of his quirky identity.

But any other name, tagged at birth and never having known any different, I’m sure I would have loved. As it was, I was given Willis. It’s my dad's name, and traditionally in my country of birth, the United Kingdom of Crap and Boring Names, the father’s surname is given to descendants.

I grew up a Willis and that meant being good at sport, winning, hosting great parties, never cheating or stealing, talking too much and too loudly and having a penchant for boats. That’s what it meant to be a Willis and I was proud of it.

Now I’m 29 years old. I’m no longer age zero, accepting the reality of the world to which I was presented. I’m now very much defined by my name. You can Google me if you want, I come up as number one. Unless you’re in America, in which case some religious nut comes up as number one. But I’m chasing her tail.

When I was a little girl, it dawned on me that women changed their names upon marriage. Nope, I thought, the mutineer in me already stirring. My name isn't going anywhere. Unless I marry someone with the surname Slazenger. I liked the letter Z, see, and thought it was a cool enough name to lose mine for. But anything less than Slazenger, no thanks.

Only slight problem is I’ve never met a man with the surname Slazenger, let alone fallen in love with one. Which makes the whole name change thing tricky. The man I’ve decided to marry (alright, he decided to marry me, but I still had a say) has the surname Jones.

Now, apologies to anyone reading who has the surname Jones, but it’s not exactly exciting. Catherine Zeta added the Zeta just to jazz it up a bit. She probably shared my fondness for the letter Z and was lucky enough to have a grandmother with a zeddy name she could borrow.

Gareth’s name is Gareth Iwan Jones. That’s quite fun. I could nick his middle name and be Kim Iwan Jones. I’d need a hyphen though, so people don’t think I’m a boy. But then I’d still have a different surname to Gareth anyway, mooting the point.

I continued to flip between throwing caution to the wind and accepting Gareth’s name, and being an insubordinate woman who refused to surrender my identity, with all the gusto of the rolling tides, while Gareth paid not a blind bit of notice. He couldn’t care less what I decided to do.

I looked at friends who had recently married. Some had changed their name, some had double barreled and some had steadfastly very much not changed their name. I respected the name changers for the romance of the notion that you ditch such a crucial part of your identity for love. I respected the name keepers for the defiance of tradition and expectation. I didn’t respect the double barrellers. Come on people, pick a lane.

My musings continued. If we’re going to have kids, I’d like to have the same name as them. Like my mum, who, despite 30 years of divorce and countless marriage proposals, chose to keep being a Willis. I like that about her, we’re a family. Although she probably just did it because she has the world’s snazziest signature. What she’s done with the word Willis I can’t even begin to attempt. But then, I’m left handed, it’s as much as I can achieve to not smudge the ‘W’ by the time I get to the ‘s’.

Then, t’other day, Gareth and I were discussing it again and we hit upon an idea. He did not feel the same allegiance to Jones that I felt to Willis, so suggested we come up with a whole new name, just for us. What a fantastical idea! Combining Willis and Jones to make Jillis or Wones is just silly, and Slazenger got vetoed for having no sentimental meaning beyond my childhood penchant for the letter Z, so we decided to look into our family trees and see if there were any names we fancied bringing back from the grave.

I was as happy as a clam by the very spectacle that Gaz was so free spirited and unbound by ego as to willingly change his name to something with a bit more pazazz. I got to thinking. In my immediate family history I’ve got a Van Humbeeck, Ornstien, Osbourne and Le Seelleur.

Hold the front page, we've found a contender. Le Seelleur. How awesome. I know it’s got no Z, but it’s Le Seelleur! Gareth started to imagine what it would look like on his website, I started practising my new signature.

Nonchalantly, Gareth agreed it was pretty cool, but asked, would we have to spell it out to people ten times a day? Who cares, better that than having the same name as everyone else in Wales, I retorted. Le Seelleur. Awesome. I saw us a year from now, signing our names with nothing less than a fountain pen. We’d probably start smoking skinny cigarettes and watching subtitled films.

Then, my god damn future husband changed his mind. That’s right, he changed his mind. ‘It sounds like ‘The Sailor’ he said. ‘It’s ridiculous.’ Then he made a joke about calling our first born Sinbad and ruined all my fun.

And so I’m back to fretting about my identity. Panicking about changing who I am. Pondering if the kids would really give a hoot what their mother’s name was. Wondering if I can spell it Jonez.

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Monday, January 9, 2012

New. Improved. Me.

New Year’s Resolutions. What a clich√©. We want to be better versions of ourselves, we make promises and lists, and then, come about the 14th January, we let ourselves down. What a more harmonious place the world would be if we all just accepted our weight, our bitten nails, our mild alcoholism and our lack of charitable deeds.

There are a lot of New Year Revolutionaries in my gym. Pesky folk, irritating me by being on one of the mere four treadmills that I would like to be on, were it not for their influx. But at least I know that, circa the 14th January, they’ll have got bored of the gym. Not me – I’ve got a wedding in 266 days, the gym is my second home. I’m going to get so fit and fabulous I’ll make Elle MacPherson look a bit podgy.

Usually, I avoid resolutions. I’m a pretty good version of me as I am and any plans to improve can be made as and when they are needed, not saved up for society’s One Hit Wonder Eve.

This year, although it shames me to admit it, I’m fit to busting with resolutions. Turns out Kim Willis needed a bit of a spring clean after all.

Get super sexy for the wedding. That means perfect Halle Berry skin, flawless Kate Middleton hair, tiny Jessica Alba bum and svelte Jennifer Aniston arms. When your fiance asks you to spoon him at night so he can ‘feel the warmth of your big fat belly’ you know your fiance does not need to worry that Ryan Gosling might want to run away with his bride-to-be. December’s Egg Nog has been replaced by January’s carrot and beetroot juice and I’m slowly beginning to feel wonderfully smug.

Work really hard so I can afford to pay for the wedding. No dilly dallying, no procrastination, no meandering. No Etsy. (Alright, a little bit of Etsy. Definitely no Daily Mail. (Love to hate it. Hate to love it.)

Possibly gamble all earnings on Poker? If I won big I could ponder Etsy as much as I like... Hmm, there's certainly some mileage in the idea.

Read more. Absorb information, like an eager sponge. I’ve subscribed to the Week in order to be more intelligent at parties and be able to cope when the conversation steers away from Kate Middleton and towards Afghanistan. So far the only information I’ve managed to retain is something about the dead skin in your pillow. Maybe I need to read a book about how to retain information.

Stop buying clothes. I’m out of control. Gareth refers to my sister and I as ‘The Shopping Sisters’ for our incredible ability to shop whenever we meet each other, in a smooth, swift system which we’ve perfected over the years. In. Scan. Possibly Purchase. Out. No messing. My wardrobe gets passed on to charity shops at a terrifying rate. I need to savour the clothes I’ve got and avoid all contact with my credit card.

So that’s me, only better. The old me, with added glitter.

And one more thing. I truly despise giving up alcohol at any time of the year, but most of all this popular time of year, when everyone’s doing it. This is when I most want to drink, just to make an obstinate point. However, I’m on a reluctant White Month – a month in which no alcohol is ingested. (That’s the dictionary definition. Intravenous loop hole?)

This is because December was so utterly lavish and drenched in alcohol that I feel a White Month is all I can do to redress the balance.

So there we have it. In having four resolutions for the new year, I’m attempting to be a better version of myself and in so doing, like myself slightly less for giving in.

Oh well. Next year I’ll go back to having one resolution. To change nothing.
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