Husband told me that people aren't reading my blog for advice. So naturally I decided to prove him wrong. I asked my lovely followers and friends on Instagram and Facebook (I’m too old for Tick Tock) what they would like advice about, and they did not let me down. Here is a selection of responses that I will do my best to answer in a helpful, constructive, and friendly manner. All the names have been changed to minor Shakespearean characters to protect people’s identities and for my own amusement.
Peaseblossom, 268 years old from a forest outside Athens:
“I suffer from violent panto based flash backs that come on when a certain song comes on or I see glitter and I need help”
This is not an uncommon problem and certainly not one that should be taken lightly. Unfortunately, you will never escape the glitter. As well as being impossible to physically remove from your clothes, I’m convinced that stuff seeps into your veins and gradually makes its way to your brain to warp your grey matter.
With regards to the flashbacks, I suggest trying to retrain your brain and shift the associations from something negative to something positive. When you feel a traumatic memory rising up try to replace it with something happy like chatting shit with your favourite wardrobe mistress or the refreshing taste of a post-show gin and tonic.
Dull, 56 years old from Northern-Spain:
“How can I learn to do proper pull-ups on my newly installed pull-up bar without injuring myself?”
An excellent question, which I can definitely offer you some advice on. I will add a quick disclaimer here that I am not a coach or fitness instructor and I can only tell you what has worked for me. Please consult a proper professional person who knows what they’re talking about before doing anything crazy on a pull-up bar.
Tip one is definitely to warm the heck up! It’s tempting to just go for it and pull like a maniac but it’s very easy to injure yourself if you’re not used to doing pull-ups so warm up your shoulders, neck, and arms thoroughly. People seem to have strong opinions on their own personal warm up routines, so I’ll leave it to you to find yours. Just make sure you do find one.
Next tip is to get a set of resistance bands of varying levels of beefiness. You can chuck these over a pull-up bar, hook them under your foot or knee and use the help they provide to do pull-ups before you can do one completely on your own. As you get stronger you can use less chunky bands until you no longer need one at all.
You can also train pull-up strength by doing other exercises than just full pull-ups. Pull-up negatives are a good one to start with. This involves doing a bit of a hop or standing on a box to get to the top of the pull-up position then lowering yourself down slowly. You can also not do the full range of motion of the pull-up but start with a bent arm to make the whole thing slightly less work. For me, the hardest part of the pull-up is going from a straight arm to a bent arm. So, start off with your arm at 90 degrees then start with it a bit straighter then a bit more and a bit more and a bit more each session until you can do the whole thing from a straight arm.
Soon you will be stronger and ready to climb harder than ever!
Stephano, 42 years old from a distant island in a random sea:
“I have zero budget, no materials and I need 367 period costumes with a contemporary twist.”
A classic problem for creative individuals. I suggest you find yourself an unsuspecting enthusiastic young costume student who doesn’t know any better and tell them that this will be a great learning experience for them!
Alternatively, it’s time to start looking into more nefarious means of acquiring funding. Maybe an art heist or bumping off an elderly wealthy relative.
Fenton, 32 years old from Windsor:
“I have an itch and a burning sensation when I urinate. Can you advise me on what I should do?”
Seek medical assistance immediately and stop shoving chilis up there.
Timandra, 18 years old from Athens:
“I really want to try out feet-only climbing. Where should I start?”
You want to make your way to your local slab wall. This type of wall is the opposite of an overhang and usually tilts away from you by a very small number of degrees. Practicing climbing up the slab wall with no hands is a great way to improve your balance and awareness of your body position. Here is a video of hands-free climbing legend Johnny Dawes as inspiration for you:
Hecate, 102 years old from a rugged mountainside in Scotland:
“I'm stuck in a hotel room for 2 weeks and it's kinda boring, what should I do?”
As an anti-social introvert who spends a lot of time on her own and working from home, I actually have a lot of experience at entertaining and motivating myself to do stuff.
Exercise is one of my first suggestions as I find that moving my body around makes my mind feel better, especially when you can’t get a change of scene. Yoga is a good one friend as you don’t need a lot of space or equipment. Trying to learn a new balance position is a fun challenge and you can really feel the progression. I find it strangely addictive. I'm a fan of half-moon pose and I’m currently working on firefly pose as I think it may benefit some climbing muscles but there’s loads to choose from.
Start a blog. It certainly keeps me entertained.
Challenge your mind in a random (and probably pointless way!). Maybe try to memorise a poem. I like The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe but that's just because I saw it on The Simpsons and it's a bit spooky. I was going to copy and paste it here for you but it’s pretty long, so you’ll have to Google it.
And, finally, plan a nice surprise for someone. I organised an alcohol themed treasure hunt for Husband around Cambridge and it took a lot of work but was great fun. It will give you something to look forward to sharing with someone you care about when you eventually break out of your hotel room quarantine experience.
Lucetta, 22 years old from Verona:
“I really really want a dog but my landlord says nah. Any suggestions?”
Another common problem and a very sad one at that. It’s very hard to fill a dog shaped hole in your life with anything other than a dog.
Until you can have a dog of your very own, make it your objective to be dog-sitter in chief to all your friends, neighbours, and associates that have dogs. That way you get to take them for fun walks without having to do the less glamourous chores like the morning and late-night pee-pee and poop trips. Your friends will also always owe you a favour even though all you’ve done is have a great time playing with their dog. Everybody wins.
I will offer you some words of comfort on this subject as well. You may have to wait quite some time before you’re in the position to have a dog of your own. Husband and I waited many years before our circumstances made sense for us to get a dog. The waiting was rubbish but when we were finally ready to bring a dog into our lives we were settled and confident that we could give her the love and stability she deserved. At the end of the day, getting a dog is not just something you do for yourself. You do it because you want to give the dog a good life and be happy together. It will be worth the wait for both of you.
Alternatively, you could smuggle a dog into your place and hope the landlord doesn’t notice. If you go for this option, you need to be careful about the breed of dog that you choose. Don’t assume that size is everything when it comes to hiding dogs. Small dogs may take up less space, but those little lungs can make a lot of noise. You want to choose a breed of dog that is happy to curl up and sleep peacefully for the majority of the day. A dog that rarely barks. One that doesn’t jump all over people as soon as they walk through the door. Something pointy, gentle, and readily available at many rescue centres. I think you can see where I’m going with this.
Many thanks to everyone who sent in problems for me to give advice about. I hope my answers were helpful to you. If you enjoyed this type of post give it a like and/or leave a comment. I’ve really enjoyed writing it and would like to make it a regular(ish) feature if that would be of interest to you, my lovely readers. Until next time, that’s all from Agony Aunt JoJo. I’ll be back in a more climbing based form next week.