It cannot be denied that visually, clothes fall better on a slimmer frame, but there is slim, and then there is scary skinny.

 

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Ultra-thin, young models used in fashion shows could become the “thinspiration” of young people suffering with eating disorders.

The fashion world says it takes the issue seriously and “wouldn’t want to use very skinny girls” – but it has come under fire for using very thin and young-looking models to showcase collections, with women’s groups and body-image charities calling for the influential fashion designers to use a more diverse range of body types in their shows.

I know that some young women suffering from eating disorders take these types of photos and put them inside their wardrobe doors, using them as a goal to work towards.

These type of images do not cause eating disorders but they escalate and exacerbate existing conditions. There is overwhelming evidence that points to these images having a very negative and damaging effect.

If the appearance is of an extreme body shape or extreme youth, it still sends out a message to young women that this is what you should look like. The fashion industry does not just sell clothes but a whole look and style – and people buy into that.

The models look uniformly painfully thin and the image that gives to young women in particular is quite damaging.

Society is understandably concerned about the issues surrounding body image and eating disorders, and the dangerous and unrealistic messages being sent to young women via fashion journals. When it comes to who should be blamed for the portrayal of overly thin models, magazine editors are in the direct line of fire, but it is more complex than that. Designer outfits are created around a live, in-house skeleton. Few designers have a curvy or petite fit model. These collections are then sent to the runway, worn by tall, pin-thin models because that’s the way the designer wants to see the clothes fall. There will also be casting directors and stylists involved who have a vision of the type of woman they envisage wearing these clothes. For some bizarre reason, it seems they prefer her to be young, coltish, 6ft tall and built like a prepubescent boy.

It is too simplistic to blame misogynistic men, although in some cases I believe that criticism is deserved. There are a few male fashion designers I would like to personally strangle. But there are many female fashion editors who perpetuate the stereotype, women who often have a major eating disorder of their own. They get so caught up in the hype of how brilliant clothes look on a size 4, they cannot see the inherent danger in the message. It cannot be denied that visually, clothes fall better on a slimmer frame, but there is slim, and then there is scary skinny.

Despite protestations by women who recognise the danger of portraying any one body type as “perfect”, the situation is not improving. If you look back at the heady days of the supermodels in the late 80s and early 90s, beauties such as Cindy Crawford, Eva Herzigová and Claudia Schiffer look positively curvaceous compared to the sylphs of today. There was a period in the last three years when some of the girls on the runways were so young and thin, and the shoes they were modelling so high, it actually seemed barbaric. And personally, I’m not comfortable witnessing teen waifs almost on the point of collapse.

Health can come in all shapes and sizes. And I do want to see diverse bodies around me reflected positively in media, advertising and, yes, catwalks, including all kinds of sizes, shapes, ethnicities, abilities and more.

When by chance I met Clint Eastwood on a hotel bar stool.

 

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At a rather expensive hotel bar in the South of France my girlfriend and I where seated next to the actor Don Johnson famously known for the TV show Miami Vice. Not that I was with Don Johnson or his select group of friends. In fact, I was surprised that we weren’t asked to move away from the bar.

Then we found ourselves betwixt Don Johnson and his entourage and a young and famous actor who proceeded to talk to the Johnson entourage until the point came when it became so embarrassing that I said, ‘Okay, would you like to swap seats?’ It was that or slip away to the loo together and find our seats taken on our return. So much for being a gentleman.

After this silent game of musical chairs a couple proceeded to sit down at the bar next to me and both my girlfriend and I were, to put it politely, peeing ourselves with excitement. It was Clint Eastwood and a friend who we didn’t know.

Not wanting to appear like idiots, my girlfriend and I went into a quick ‘mind your manners’ huddle and tried our best to act nonchalant about this turn of events. So, I said, “Nice to meet you Mr. Eastwood.” At which point he smiled, and then happily engaged us in conversation about something and nothing whilst drinks were served.

I have always been a fan of a lot of his movies, but I was most impressed. He never once brought up the subject of the big ‘I am’. As he was leaving the hotel bar he shook our hands and then he mentioned that he would be screening a film of his for an event, and if we would like tickets to the screening, he would make sure that they were left at the box office under my name. I of course said that we would appreciate that, and it was a most kind offer of him to do so for us.

My girlfriend and I debated whether we should go to the Cinema and see if he kept his promise or not. We were afraid to go, because of the embarrassment and disappointment it might cause, to an otherwise fantastic memory of our encounter. After having a row about this issue, we arrived late to the venue and went to the ticket office and asked if Mr. Eastwood had left tickets with our name on it, expecting the worst. And lo and behold! He left us two VIP passes for us.

After meeting him I became an admirer of the man, and then the film-maker. Truly a nice gent.

Songs you feel you’d love to hear on vinyl.

 

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The vinyl record format was supposed to have been badly wounded by the introduction of CDs and killed off completely by the ipod-generation that bought music online.

But the latest phenomenon (once again) in a notoriously fickle industry is one nobody dared predict: a vinyl revival. Latest figures show a big jump in vinyl sales in the first half of this year, confirming the anecdotal evidence from specialist shops throughout the UK.

So, deciding what songs everyone must hear on vinyl, is like films we must see in 70 mm it becomes a process of rigorous debate and insults. So, I’ve come up with twenty I’d love to hear on vinyl.

And I’m asking what’s missing for you? Songs you feel you’d love to hear on vinyl.

So here I go and in no particular order of preference.

CRAZY IN LOVE

If Jay-Z and Beyoncé were slightly coy about their relationship before this single, it was pointless being in denial thereafter. Producer Rich Harrison sampled the horns from Are You My Woman (Tell Me So) by the Chi-Lites for the infectious hook and the sexual frission between America’s first couple (pre-Obama) did the rest. Perhaps the greatest single of this millennium, it will still sound great in 50 years, and there aren’t many songs you can say that about nowadays.

HEROES

Bowie’s greatest song concerns love’s ability to transcend anything, even the nuclear face-off between Nato and the Warsaw Pact. While recording the album of the same name in cold war Berlin, he glimpsed a couple kissing in front of the wall, finding inspiration in the juxtaposition of romance and barbed wire. Knowing the lovers helped: it was Bowie’s then-married producer Tony Visconti sneaking off with backing singer Antonia Maass.

KILLING ME SOFTLY WITH HIS SONG

The 1996 Fugees version was the bigger hit, but Flack’s original is far superior. Though she didn’t write it herself, she sings it as if her life depends on it, and the simple, piano-based arrangement underscores her quiet urgency. Flack started out singing jazz, and you can hear it here, in her restrained and elegant treatment. By contrast, the Fugees felt the song wasn’t complete without lumpen rapping, and their cover is well-nigh unlistenable.

SWEET CHILD O’ MINE

Axl Rose could go back into hibernation for another 17 years and still not better the rock majesty of Sweet Child O’ Mine. Slash’s opening riff, which he originally dismissed as filler, defines the sound of a band who could have ruled the world, and for a year or two, pretty much did. Rose wrote his “first positive love song” about his then girlfriend and, beneath the bombast and bacchanalia of the band themselves, it displayed a rare, tender glimpse into Rose’s psyche.

CONSTANT CRAVING

The song that made a cult Canadian les country singer into a Grammy-winning crossover chanteuse never mentions love by name. But there are few songs that convey the essence of desire so seductively. As the acoustic guitars, piano, accordion and Byrdsian twangs find a midway point between swagger and swoon, Lang’s lush voice sounds like a giddy dream of love‘s rapture. “Always someone marches brave. Here beneath my skin,” she croons, and you feel the fear that keeps the dream at bay.

I’LL STAND BY YOU

Classic pop ballads evoke that “Ooh, where have I heard this before?” feeling on first listen. Always a strong singles band, the Pretenders’ swelling tale of unswerving loyalty (“Nothing you confess. Could make me love you less”), co-written with Like a Virgin veterans Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, treads that fine line between wedding reception schmaltz and fist-in-the-air defiance with a consummate, understated ease. Even a Children in Need version by Girls Aloud couldn’t wreck this one, although they gave it their best shot.

YOU CAN’T HURRY LOVE

A much-loved example of the Supremes’ irresistible innocence, this Holland-Dozier-Holland classic remains a staple of any self-respecting girl-group DJ set. The lyric makes the case for patience and the sound advice of a girl’s loving mum, but it’s also about Diana Ross’s unique ability to express youthful longing, and the peerless Funk Brothers rhythm section of Benny Benjamin and James Jamerson creating one of the most imitated up-tempo dance riffs in pop history.

THE SHINING

Damon Gough’s early lo-fi EPs on the Twisted Nerve label he launched with Andy Votel had already made him a cult figure, but it was his debut album The Hour of the Bewilder beast that really signalled Badly’s arrival. On the opener, a cello and French horn give way to Gough’s acoustic guitar as he recalls meeting his girlfriend for the first time: “Remembering when I saw your face. Shining my way, pure timing”.

SHE LOVES YOU

The Fab Four’s biggest-selling UK single remains one of the most exhilarating examples of pop joy ever recorded. A high point of Lennon and McCartney’s early, shared song writing, the harmonised “yeah yeah yeah”s and wild “ooh”s became the early Beatles’ most recognisable sonic trademarks. But the lyric – inspired by a McCartney idea to write a song in the third person – is intriguingly odd, slyly suggesting that the singer has been doing the dirty with his friend’s heartbroken ex.

WARWICK AVENUE

It’s often suggested that only Americans can write songs using evocative place names. But Duffy’s debut single, Rock ferry, was an ode to self-imposed seclusion in grandma’s Wirral outpost and Warwick Avenue maintained this knack for giving her songs a sense of place. It’s a situation that’s easy to identify with – the writer running through her thoughts on a tube ride towards a meeting which will mean the end of a relationship – and Warwick Avenue has an equally familiar Bacharach-like swing. Thanks to a typically gutsy vocal, we’re left in no doubt that, for the song’s recipient, Warwick Avenue marks the end of the line.

YOU DON’T KNOW MY NAME

Co-written with Kanye West, this languorous, amorous daydream of a song eventually finds its happy ending. Keys sings as a frustrated cafe waitress, yearning for a regular customer who is blithely oblivious to her very existence. After wishing her days away with dreams of first dates and sweet kisses, she finally plucks up the courage to call him and unrequited love blossoms into a beguiling fairy story.

BLEEDING LOVE

Prompted by the personal intervention of monster US label head Clive Davis, Simon Cowell broke reality-show convention with Leona Lewis, eschewing his familiar convention of farming out winners to Scandinavian hit factories for an instant return on their recognition. Instead, he dedicated a year to turning her into an international star. The singer herself first heard Bleeding Love at writing sessions, under Davis’s direct auspices, with heavyweights in LA and couldn’t rid herself of its curious, thunderous hook. Was it about self-harm? Menstruation? Or the simple old wound of heartbreak? At her insistence, it became her first single, lending Cowell the one thing he had failed to secure driving a commercial juggernaut across culture: credibility.

UR SO GAY

Perry’s debut single carefully courted controversy: was it a shameless slice of tired homophobia or, as Perry would have it, a swipe at lame straight boys “wearing guy liner and taking emo pictures of [themselves] in the bathroom mirror”. While there’s a sense that – as with I Kissed a Girl – the shock-horror attitude is grafted on for effect, it did what all good pop music is supposed to so: get under people’s skin. Nice whistling, too.

ALWAYS ON MY MIND

The original version was sung by Brenda Lee in 1972, and Always on My Mind has since been recorded more than 300 times by a plethora of musicians. It’s the King’s version, however, sung with seductive intensity, that stands out. Recorded shortly after his divorce from Priscilla, there’s a mien of genuine regret running through the track like a silver thread. It’s the sort of confessional ballad that Elvis did so well. Pining, lovesick, full of sombre epiphanies but, here, he never resorts to sentimentality.

EVERYBODY HURTS

Though a song written with teenagers in mind, this stand-out ballad from the Automatic For the People album was an object lesson in how to attain universality without becoming vague or trite. Whether heard as a break-up song or an attempt to counsel against suicide (“When you’re sure you’ve had enough of this life – hang on”), Michael Stipe’s impassioned vocal offers a comforting shoulder to anyone lost and alone. The orchestra was arranged by Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones.

WITH OR WITHOUT YOU

A brooding, hypnotic song about the violence of love and lust – “On a bed of nails she makes me wait” – apparently inspired by repeated listens to Scott Walker’s Climate of Hunter album. It’s a deceptively odd song, with no clearly defined verse or chorus. Instead, the intensity slowly builds around a pulsing four-note bass pattern as Bono unwinds one of his most wracked vocal performances. An emotionally draining tour de force.

SAY YOU WILL

Knocked sideaways by what he called the “Shakespearean tragedy” of the death of his devoted mother following plastic surgery, and the split from his fiancée, West poured out his soul on his 2008 album, 808s and Heartbreak, showing glimpses of a hitherto unseen humility. In a complete departure, the rapper barely rapped on his fourth album, instead half singing, half talking, his voice given a cracked, ethereal feel by Auto-Tune, nowhere more than on the epic opening track Say You Will. It’s lonely at the top.

YOU KNOW I’M NO GOOD

The second single from the Back in Black album is an unusual heartbreak song in that the disdain and bitterness is reserved for its author. “I told you I was trouble” she warns, before “little carpet burns” give away her infidelity when she is in the bath. The version of the song with Ghost face Killah, on his More Fish album, is equally good.

AIN’T NO SUNSHINE

West Virginian singer-songwriter Withers was still making toilet seats in a factory when he recorded this first of his much-loved major hits. An elegant cross between down home folk-blues and uptown orchestral soul, Ain’t No Sunshine’s melancholy melody is perfect for its resigned images of a man alone in the dark, waiting for a lover who may never return. Withers repeats “I know” 26 times in the bridge because he hadn’t got around to finishing the lyric.

MASTER BLASTER

Wonder may have been in artistic decline by 1980, but he still possessed enough of his old brilliance to craft three-minute epics, if not flawless albums. Fuelled by his joy at Zimbabwe’s independence and his regard for his fellow great Bob Marley, with whom he had toured earlier in the year, this highlight of the patchy Hotter Than July is characterised by Wonder’s infectious optimism as he bids farewell to minority white rule over a thrusting, exultant reggae rhythm. Little did he know how Zimbabwe would later unfold.

 

Mods, punks, soul boys, goths, hippies: there was a time when all young rebels without a cause made it clear what tribe and music they were into by the way they dressed.

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Down the phone, Fiona is explaining what a bling girl is to me. “Basically, you go out shopping for clothes or jewellery or beauty products,” she says, “then you make a video and show viewers on YouTube what you got. You go through the items one by one. I guess what people get out of them is not showing off, like, how much money you’ve got or anything, but lifestyle: you get to see how one person lives, what their taste is.”

If you’re minded to sneer at a subculture that involves making videos about your shopping, then Fiona has a pretty intriguing argument. “It’s not just about showing what you’ve got,” she says. “It’s a whole creative process behind the videos as well, which is what I enjoy about it. Choosing the right music, going from the filming to the editing. Sometimes I even storyboard things, because I want certain shots, how I can present different items and things like that.” Besides, she says, it’s a genuine community. She thinks a lot of girls “turn the camera on because it’s a way to talk to people without having to go outside and face their fears”. I know that was the case with me: I turned on my camera because I was at home and was really bored. And it helped with my confidence in a way. There’s this community where you can talk to like-minded people.

I’ve ended up talking to Fiona because these girls and their videos are currently a remarkably thing – It seems a worthwhile thing to do. You hardly need a degree in sociology; you just need a functioning pair of eyes and a camera thingy. When I arrived at secondary school, the fifth and sixth forms, where uniform requirements were relaxed, it looked like a mass of different tribes, all of them defined by the music they liked, all of them more or less wearing their tastes on their sleeves.

That may be my memory suggesting they were more numerous than in reality, simply because they looked so striking. I definitely remember one of them turning up on non-uniform day wearing a giant banana costume and Doc Martens. You didn’t have to be an expert in the finely nuanced semiotics of teenage dress codes to work out that the bloke with the vertiginous dyed quiff walking around dressed as a banana probably wasn’t cut from the same subcultural cloth as the bespectacled cardigan-wearer carrying a copy of the Complete Works of Oscar Wilde. And that was just my school. Beyond its gates, style magazines were always reporting on weirder, more arcane subcultures.

In 2014, however, the only real teenage cults visible to an outsider, displaying their allegiances by their manner of dress, seem to be metalheads and emos. The former feels like the most deathless youth movement of all, still recruiting new young converts long after being a mod or skinhead has become almost exclusively the province of the middle-aged. The latter seems to have co-opted elements of most of the other spectacular subcultures – goth, metal, punk and indie – under one catch-all term. In the mid-noughties, it even managed to provoke a flicker of old-fashioned folk devil outrage when a newspaper proclaimed it the Dangerous Cult Of Teen Suicide. But that’s about it.

But now there’s a rather grumpy “tsk-kids-today” theory that teenagers are now so satiated by the plethora of entertainment on offer that they don’t feel the need to rebel through dress or ritual – and a deeply depressing one that people are too worried about their futures in the current financial climate to be creative. Previously subcultures were consumers … they were sort of puppets  – and were instead informed and controlled by a slightly older, university-educated generation.

But the most straightforward, prosaic theory is that, as with virtually every area of popular culture, it’s been radically altered by the advent of the internet: that we now live in a world where teenagers are more interested in constructing an identity online than they are in making an outward show of their allegiances and interests.

Once you start examining subcultures online, things become blurred and confusing, compounded by the fact that a lot of online subcultures seem to come cloaked in layers of knowing irony. In search of latter day youth subcultures, I’m pointed in various directions by various people, but I invariably can’t work out whether what I’m looking at is meant to be serious or a joke: never really a problem in the days when members of different youth cults were prepared to thump each other. There’s plenty of stuff that seems weird and striking and creative out there, but there’s something oddly self-conscious and non-committal about it: perhaps that’s the result of living in a world dominated by social media, where you’re under constant surveillance by your peers.

Welcome to online sexting, dating and love…Easter style.

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As we start our Easter breaks, and I find myself surrounding by chocolate of all different shapes and hues. I thought rather than you using luck or a mathematical equation to predict what kind of a love life you’ll have, here are some tips for getting noticed in the world of online dating.

Your online dating profile – can feel like a somewhat tricky task, but it doesn’t have to be.

It is however, important to get it right. There are hundreds of people in just the same position as you, so making sure you’re the one that logs in to a full inbox is all down to what you include (and don’t include) in your profile.

Don’t: Be shy. Be confident and go for it. If you’re unsure, ask a friend or colleague that you trust to tell you what they think your best traits are. Don’t be afraid to show off a bit, just be careful not to cross the line into the arrogant arena.

Be honest about what you want It’s vital to be clear about what you’re looking for in a potential partner, whether that be the kind of relationship you’re after (casual or serious) or the personality traits you find attractive in others. It won’t be seen as being picky or judgemental – everyone has a “type” to some degree.

Don’t: Tell fibs. There’s no use filling your profile with claims of how much you love to cook when in reality your solitary signature dish is something from the microwave. Highlight the things you really like, rather than what you think sounds impressive. Also, be honest when it comes to filling out your statistics. Of course, dating isn’t all about looks, but no potential relationship will get off to a good start if you turn up to a date weighing 24lbs more than you claimed.

Don’t: Be too brief. A profile consisting of one sentence along the lines of “Looking to meet someone nice, message me if you want to know more” is just lazy. If everyone wrote a profile like that, imagine how boring it would be.

Though do avoid an essay. While one-liners are ineffective, the same can also be said for excruciatingly long essays. You want to retain the interest of whoever is checking you out, so while it’s important to include interesting information about yourself, there’s no need to write an autobiography.

Photos! Sun hats and sunglasses in every photo are a no-no, as are too many arty pictures that don’t actually show what you look like. It’s a clever idea to have a couple that are clear, head-on portraits, along with a few that will portray your personality and the things you enjoy. A good photo can be a great conversation starter. Nude ones are optional.

And everyone enjoys travelling and eating out, so include things in your profile that’ll make you memorable and help you stand out from the crowd. Weird random facts about yourself or silly jokes might seem embarrassing, but actually it’s tiny things like these that will set you apart from the rest.

This is everyday sexism.

 

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Violence against women is at epidemic proportions. Some of it is driven by technology but the biggest problem by far is tolerance. A society genuinely committed to gender equality wouldn’t put up with this situation for a moment.

Most of us are repulsed by it, but what can we do about gender-based violence? Sure, the figures are terrible if you look, but I’m not going to throw figures at you. But if you were bothered at looking at the figures of violent crime against women it’s at record levels.

If that sounds cynical, it’s because I’m sick of a glaring disconnect at the heart of our culture. The criminal justice system is struggling to cope with the number of women coming forward with terrible stories of rape, beatings and – a relatively new one, this – online forms of abuse such as revenge porn.

Cue a great deal of male hand-wringing and a weary sense that perhaps violence against women, while regrettable, is inevitable. Just think of all the training, initiatives and public awareness work that’s been done in recent years, yet the picture just keeps on getting worse. Is there really anything that someone – police, prosecutors, legislators, women – hasn’t already thought of and tried?

There is, but it requires a dramatic shift in public attitudes. How many times have you heard people express sympathy with a man on trial for rape, asking why the victim had had so much to drink or agreed to go back to his hotel room? Public understanding of the law relating to consent is woefully lacking, and there is a persistent tendency to view women’s behaviour much more critically than that of the men who commit even violent assaults.

The same unthinking callousness is shown to victims of domestic abuse, who are often criticised for staying with violent partners even when they have nowhere else to live. A group most at risk of domestic violence are young women between 16 and 24. It’s attributed that their lack of awareness around domestic violence to, among other factors, ‘a lack of experience in constructing healthy relationships’ is the cause. Peer group norms could also make it “difficult for them to judge their partner’s behaviour as being abusive”.

But it’s clear to me that educating young men and boys to change male attitudes is a crucial step to ending violence against women in the next generation.

This isn’t to suggest that every boy is part of the problem. Indeed, many men will experience violence and assault themselves. Rather, it’s about the radical idea that men and boys have the opportunity to be part of the change, within a society that needs to see a dramatic cultural shift in the very idea of what it means to be a man.

Again, and again, when incidents of sexual violence are reported, society blames the victim. We hear countless calls to warn girls: don’t wear a short skirt, don’t go out late at night, don’t walk alone, and yet the rapes and assaults continue. Because contrary to widespread belief, it isn’t the victims that cause them at all. It’s time we started educating boys.

What to do in your 20s. See the world, protest and have sex with unsuitable people. But above all, be free.

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  1. Behave as if you’re invincible.

No longer a teenager, not yet an adult. Half-fledged. You are expected to be largely silly/useless/incomprehensible to your elders. Use this. It is freedom.

A moment that changed me: waking up with a bad hangover – and two women.

  1. Go to nightclubs, dance, have sex with unsuitable people.

Fall in love 10 times a day, or at least have sex. You’ve got no excuse.

  1. Postpone adulthood.

Do you know what you want to be when you grow up? Really? What is wrong with you? Yes, I get the financial pressure on today’s twentysomethings but some of this career stuff is frankly nonsense and always was. You find out what you want to do by doing it. Say yes more than no.

  1. See the world.

I spent months in Europe and had the longest affair of my life. I did every job imaginable to pay for these trips. They were often hard and lonely and dangerous and yet they formed me.

  1. Take risks.

You may well get attacked, beaten up or die of a drug overdose if you do any of the above. Don’t ask me to go into details: I am not your mum. Developing instinct and understanding risk are lessons worth learning. If you don’t want to take risks, get an allotment, a box set and a onesie.

  1. Protest.

Now you can get involved in almost anything you like. The world is only going to hell in a handcart if you don’t bother to learn how to drive a handcart.

  1. Get educated.

This is really difficult now as I am actually looking to go back to study again and the fees are horrendous. But read non-stop. Go to free talks and culture. Learn a skill. Indulge your passion. Understand that even if you are online much of the time, the power of words and images is a form of magic for you to harness.

  1. Stop looking for love.

There is no such thing as “the one”. There are several ones who will do for a bit. Most “love” is actually based on proximity (he/she sits near me). Your lasting relationships may very well not be based on your romantic connections. Trust me on that one.

  1. Go out.

Every night. All the time. Because you never know. This is the optimism of youth. It’s a beautiful crazed longing. Enjoy it.

  1. Sleep.

You will never sleep like this again.

  1. Stop comparing yourself to your contemporaries who are doing brilliantly.

Look at those who are not doing much at all. You are probably somewhere in between. If you have anxiety attacks or depression, try to talk to someone, if only on the phone. It’s really common and attitudes have thankfully changed a lot since I was young. It’s OK to be sad. It’s not OK to feel totally alone with this feeling.

Why job interviews are pointless.

  1. Remember: all job interviews are awful.

So are a lot of jobs. I wish twentysomethings could be paid a decent wage and have affordable rents. I squatted and then got a council flat … this is now like a fairy tale. You are going to have to reclaim your own cities. I believe you will.

  1. Stop thinking in decades.

Or life goals. Or targets or achievements. What are you, the irritating middle manager of your own life? Your friend got a first-class degree and a knobhead of a boyfriend. So what? Find your people. You will know them by instinct. Your people will not judge you. They will mostly tell you stupid jokes and bring round a takeaway.

  1. Understand that it is entirely OK to not like what everyone else likes.

Go your own way.

  1. Have a baby.

You are young enough for it not to be a big deal. Though it’s the biggest deal in the world. Make the baby portable so you can carry on as normal.

  1. Have at least one vile/heart breaking relationship.

We all do it. You will hurt for a long time afterwards but you will learn three things: that you can be completely wrong; that you can survive; and that you can leave.

  1. Do stuff that no one older than you understands.

I don’t know what that is, obviously – I just hope it doesn’t kill you.

  1. Don’t couple up because your friends have.

What are you, 35? Do you want to discuss conveyancing over sea bass? No! Even at my age I would rather go to a dinner party at Dignitas.

  1. Don’t dread your 30s.

Not much is different except you will be bombarded with dumb baby questions. If your biological clock is ticking, flush it down the loo or just do the deed.

  1. Don’t forget your parents were in their 20s once too!