When I was 16 I had two periods within a few months where I spent a week or so in hospital.
Both occasions I was very lucky – far more so than I realised at the time. The first was during my GCSE’s when, instead of doing my exams with my friends, I opted for the far more dramatic path of developing Meningitis and almost dying. I spent what I think was around a week in hospital in a private room, and remember very little about it other than my doctor being Italian, and my brother doing impressions of the night I was brought in when I was basically dead, which he pretended to find hilarious so he didn’t have to admit he was frightened.
(Side note; Meningitis sucks, you might not get the rash – I didn’t – check out other symptoms here and get the bloody vaccination if it’s offered, particularly if you’re off to uni, it’s not just babies, and 17 years later I still have lingering after effects – and I HAD the vaccination!)
The second time was a few months later when – in the spirit of grabbing life with both hands (and to make my shaved head and leather jacket aesthetic work), I bought a crappy old motorbike and promptly crashed it, parking it upside down on top of myself – the accident itself left me bruised but not seriously hurt, but three days later my appendix ruptured and my Mum had another late night rush to the hospital to get me treated (though initially we both thought I had period pain and was just being dramatic!)
The first time I was in hospital, and in the weeks following, I got really into daytime TV – watching a lot of ‘This Morning’ type shows and awful documentaries that showed sad people doing sad face about sad things, or makeover shows, that kind of thing.
The second time I didn’t have my own TV, and didn’t have any money to rent one, which is what they did in hospitals then (do they still do that? Is that still how it works?!) and was on a ward with lots of lovely old dears who were, like me, post-surgery for various things, and we all had many hours of quiet time to tolerate between visiting hours. I finished the one book that had been brought in very quickly, and was B.O.R.E.D.
The lady in the next bed had a HUGE stack of magazines, and when she realised I had nothing to entertain me she passed them over – and it was all trashy things like Take a Break, Chat and Pick Me Up – and initially she handed them over saying “I doubt the stories are your kind of thing, but the crosswords might help you while away some time” and that’s where I started, but once I’d done those I read some of the stories, then all of the stories, then was thrilled when a lady at the far end of the room had some more so we could trade!
Thus began my deeply ingrained love of trash.
Trash TV and trash magazines – generally of the ‘true life story’ flavour rather than celebrity – and this now includes made-for-TV movies on the Hallmark channel – are where I turn when I’m feeling glum, when I’m poorly, when I’m lonely, when I have PMT, when it’s Wednesday evening and my kids are with their Dad, when I want a long soak in the bath, when I can’t concentrate on a book, when I have a deadline I should be meeting, basically whenever I can make an excuse to myself to indulge.
I am teased mercilessly for this by those close to me, and try to hide my dirty habits, but however many times I pretend that I’m classy, read classic literature and have a love of opera, I still pick up a copy of Take a Break most weeks, and have long since stopped pretending it’s for the puzzles.
So there you have it – my dirty secret is out! Who’s with me? Share your dirty secrets below – whether it’s owning a collection of My Little Pony figurines or actually keeping up with the Kardashians, I know I’m not alone in my shameful habits!