I do 30 day challenges. Or at least, I start 30 day challenges. Sometimes, rarely, I even finish them! But not often, because I'm lazy and forgetful. This month I decided I'd like to learn how to draw...
Life is short. Books are long. Some of them can't even be downloaded to your phone because they're made of old, dead tree. It's all very long-winded and silly, and you're a busy, modern-day champion of life. But never fear! The Hipstery is here to save you time and money by beaming books straight into your brain through the speedy medium of prejudice. Yes, this is us literally judging books by their covers. How clever of us.
This is a book about desire and disappointment. When Barry finds a magic anchor, he rubs it, and gets to make a single wish from the ghost of a pirate called Beardbeard. Noticing all of the things that Beardbeard can do with his magic pirate ghost hands, Barry quickly wishes for fingers. It is a bad decision, made rashly.
His wish comes true, but unfortunately the fingers he gets are fish-fingers, which all his fish friends find horrific and insane. For thirty pages, Barry swims around realising that being a fish with fish-fingers for fingers is completely unhelpful in the sea, because everything is slippery and there is nothing to really pick up or hold or throw or catch or squeeze. Trapped by his pride, however, Barry puts a brave face on his decision, even as it becomes increasingly apparent to all the fish around him that he has gained little useful dexterity in an ecosystem where all your body primarily needs to do is swim and wee. Barry gets increasingly unhinged, and secretly desires for nothing more than to return to his old life, free from the disappointing promises of magic. The book ends with the word Fin, which is an irony lost on its readership of early learners, aged four-to-six.
The book is an allegory for religion, but also teaches children not to rush.
Like a lot of people who browse the internet too much, I sometimes fall prey to a weird belief that I'm not stupid...
It feels like it has suddenly become a very trendy thing for smug freelancers and the self-righteous self-employed to moan about jobs – euurghh, jobs, yuck – and even to moan about the people who have them, like they're cowardly, uncreative, and worthy of pity until they finally see the freelance light – oh, those poor drones, heaving themselves to and from the office at the same time every day in an unpleasant metal shape, slogging away their existence...
"I don't want to go to school and learn. No one is going to catch me, lady, and make me a man. I want to always be a little boy and have fun" - Peter Pan.
I understand now why people don't like getting older. When I was younger, I didn't quite get it. At family birthdays, people would do that kind of happy but maudlin slumping complaining thing about how another year had gone by and they're getting old and I'd look at them and think that makes no sense, you're not getting old, you just are old.
This was mostly because I was a kid, and, therefore, stupid. In the same way that popcorn comes in two flavours, caramel and salt, as far as I was concerned, people were either young, like me, or old like adults and trees and rocks and stuff. It was a binary decision made by some higher power I hoped to please with handstands (I could do the more exotic one handed kind!) and the drawings of me and mummy and daddy standing next to our house, which I drew regularly and with great fastidiousness, particularly with regard to windows which were something of a specialism of mine. Noting my artistic talent and flair from gymnastics I was confident this higher power would reward me with eternal youth.
That plan worked just fine until it didn't. But luckily, by then, as the first people were telling me my hair was thinning on top, I was kind of done with that being young thing anyway, I had been for many years actually. Screw you, life. I remember exactly where that happened. Where I flipped from wanting to stay young and carefree, to actively wanting to become an adult. It was in 1990, during Ipswich Cinema’s matinee showing of Peter Pan. It was the birthday of a school friend who was young like me, but neither capable of one handed handstands, nor showing the artistic flair evident in my early crayon work. Middle management material, at best, whilst there was a distinct aura of Death or Glory about me.
Peter Pan is supposed to be a kids movie. It has all the trappings. Songs. Plot holes. A certain joyous peppiness. Crocodiles. Pirates. Fairies. I can see how other children were hoodwinked. With all that swashbuckling, plundering and general mischievousness. But I could also see the deeper allegories. What with my superior intellect, even young, 7 year old me saw the real message. It's okay to get old. There is no reason to fear it. People who try to stay young become tragic embarrassments like Peter Pan.