On being a ‘grown-up’…

Good morning, you stupendously awesome lot. Thank you so much for all your help with our survey (what? What do you mean ‘what survey?!’ THIS SURVEY! Would you mind ever so popping over to fill it out? Ta muchly.) For those of you who have so generously given us your time and opinions, I’ll give you a wee sneaky preview of one of the overriding requests we’ve received from you…it seems that quite a few of you would like to read more of ‘our drivel’, as we so charmingly put it. You are in luck today, my friends. Aisling here, reporting for drivelling duty.

 If I have a drivelling face, I suspect that this may be it. Lucy took some ace shots of me looking quite pretty, but somehow my *real* face managed to make an appearance. Sigh.

Last week, Phil and I went to visit his family down in beautiful Devon. We wandered around the cathedral, shopped our (ok, my) little hearts out, ate amazing food in restaurants and at home and went to a stunning fireworks display in the village where Phil’s Dad lives. When we’d arranged to visit over the Bonfire Night weekend, I’d put in a polite completely non-negotiable request to go to a fireworks display. I was adamant, this year I wanted to go to a field where the faded paint lines of the football pitch are scuffed into oblivion by 500 pairs of wellies. I wanted to pay £3 to a jolly man in a high-vis-vest who’d make an inappropriate joke about my ear muffs. To pay another £3 for a styrofoam cup of mulled wine from a tea urn and to try really hard not to set a bad example to the little kiddies with sparklers by writing rude words in the air.

Bonfire Night is a battered relic from my childhood. It had much attention lavished on it in my formative years; I would wear new outfits for it, spend days giggling excitedly to my friends about it and dream of it for weeks, but it found itself wedged down between the headboard and the wall when I left home. A bit like Jessie the Cowgirl, when her owner Emily grew up.

Last year I had a wonderful Bonfire Night in a different-but-good-different kind of way. It was the kind of night we needed together, as a couple. (Readers, if you click through back to that post, note I talk of a girl called Fliss…) This year though, I was going to rescue that cowgirl doll from under the bed and do Bonfire Night the way it’s meant to be done.

It was magical. And thank goodness, I’d have been horribly disappointed if it had been a bit pants and no-one had commented on my ear muffs.

Don’t be silly, of course I didn’t take this picture. Lucy did. Duh.

We settled down to watch the action, Phil and I, his Dad and his stepmum, on a bench on the outskirts of the field. We didn’t join the boisterous crowd at the safety fence in the middle of the field for reasons many and good; to be near a seat (Dad’s bad back) and near the kissing gate exit to the the field (to beat the crowds to the village pub for steak and gin…). See? Good reasons. And besides, fireworks happen IN THE SKY. ABOVE YOUR HEAD. Not in front of you, stoopid. And as we talked and laughed and ooohed and aaahed and watched little boys use their coats as goalposts and their littler brother as the ball…I pondered. I pondered the magic of fireworks and how they bring so many hundreds of people to one place with the common goal of simply enjoying themselves. How a little bit of gunpowder and a large fire can make me so.bloody.emotional. I pondered how the pleasure I glean from Bonfire Night has changed as I’ve gained years.

I still clapped and giggled and found myself *really* wanting to throw stuff onto the bonfire…nothing has changed there. I found myself more aware of the other 499 people in the field. Of what had bought them there. I was curious about the conversations that had taken place as they wrapped up in fleeces and coats and hats with bobbles on, as they’d pulled on their Hunter wellies. I was vaguely disapproving of the ‘yoofs’ smoking and drinking cider behind the big oak tree. I had faint twinges of sadness as I watched young families enjoy themselves, toddlers on reins and babies in backpacks. But mostly I just enjoyed myself and lived ’in the moment’. I valued the evening for what it was; fresh air, excellent company, love, laughter, red meat and alcohol. 

I think you might be a ‘grown-up’ when you can enjoy the simple things. It’s a loose definition, that’s for sure. It’s certainly not the only qualifier I can think of, but I think it’s an important one. I’ve got the bank account, the 40 (ahem 65) -hour-a-week job, the 5 door car, the husband and the kittens. I’ve got a walk-in-wardrobe Harry-Potter-cupboard-of-wonder and friends I’d certainly think about throwing myself in front of a train for. All the signs are there. I’m a grown-up.

It’s just that sometimes, in my head, I’m still 17. Does that ever go away? Am I the only person that feels this way?
Categories: Family, Friends and Relationships, Life Experience
15 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Posted November 10, 2011 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Yes! A comment that will actually display as I'm not at work! Woo! Might have to go back and comment on everything else that has been so great this week… ahem. Anyway. The not grown up feeling? That's me all over. When someone asks how old I am I always go to say '19!' Before mumbling 'twennyseven'.

  2. Posted November 10, 2011 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    This bonfire night saw me excitedly purchase a £3 toy lightsabre from the funfair and then spend 90% of my evening running all over the park, having Jedi battles with my best friend. Grown up? Umm… I'll get back to you!

    NB: future Jedis, put handbag down before battling or you will lose.

    I think you're right about appreciating things more though. In between frenetic bouts of sabre-play (that sounds dodgy…) I did feel genuinely moved by the fireworks this year. Just by something so… beautiful, created entirely to BE beautiful. And go BANG :-D

    K x

    PS: yay for drivel! x

  3. Posted November 10, 2011 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    I still have hangups about fireworks thanks to those public health films in the 1980s that most of you lot will be too young to remember. I went to my first back garden fireworks display this year and watched through my fingers as my husband lit rockets, screaming at him "what will I tell your father when you explode yourself!" (His dad is a retired senior fireman who I had thought had instilled the fear of God into him, but clearly not after a couple of beers).

    Good drivel, Aisling! I feel don't feel grown up so much as OLD at the moment.


  4. Posted November 10, 2011 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Same as @prettiest hobo my brain seems to have forgotten that somehow I made it past the ripe old age of 18 to get to 27. What's fun is that people are usually surprised to find out I'm 27 – and it's not because I look youthful I might add. I refuse to grow up. Point. blank. refuse.

    @Penny – I think all blokes have that 'have beer must light fireworks in most ridiculous fashion possible' instinct. It's the same as the 'big fire must poke with big stick' instinct and the 'will BBQ come rain or shine' instinct… actually maybe that last one only applies in Scotland!


  5. Posted November 10, 2011 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Also @katielase I LOL'd a LOT at your comment *jedi-five*

  6. Sarah
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Haha, me too Penny. We went round to my dad's who is quite
    maverick with fireworks to say the least. Enough rockets in the kitchen to start a nuclear war…
    lighting themwith a fag in one hand and a drink in the other while not really looking. I had a flashback to those adverts.
    Aisling, 65 hours a week is pretty hardcore – how do you fit in all this good drivel too? x

  7. Posted November 10, 2011 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    For bonfire night this year James put on a back garden display up north at his parents with his and my folks, which was lovely right up until the point where all the parentals had too much to drink and then decided to lament us for everything from taking too long to restore Bertie to not having given them any grandchildren. And my mum hit me on the head REALLY HARD and thought it was hilarious – it still hurts!

    So, actually despite having spent the night being treated as though we were 13, we both came away thinking that actually WE were the grown ups.

  8. Posted November 10, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Aisling, I'm so with you on not feeling like a grown-up! It was my birthday last week and when someone asked how old I was I actually had to think about it first! The years seem to be disappearing in the blink of an eye and I still feel the same as I did when I was 21. I'm constantly wrestling with the concept that I'm officially an adult now.

    I used to give grown-ups a look of teenage disgust when they'd say they still felt 21 when they were in their 40s or 50s, and now I appear to be on the other side of that divide!

    Your Bonfire Night sounds lovely, Aisling! I missed the display in our village this year as I was still travelling home from work on a Friday night. :( Your description reminds me of all the fun family trips to see fireworks when I was a kid though. Lovely memories!


  9. Posted November 10, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    I attended my first bonfire night in Glasgow this past weekend and it was ace. I behaved a little like a naughty teenager at it too. Is it wrong to love being a little naughty sometimes? Because I do, and it was glorious standing atop a hill watching fireworks explode across the city and making new friends.

  10. Posted November 10, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    @Steff… LOVING the Jedi-five. Fabbo! :-D

    @Penny… I can't watch G light fireworks. Last time he did it I stayed indoors with 999 typed into my phone keypad just READY for when he exploded himself. He didn't, but it's as well to be prepared.

    K x

  11. L
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    I still think about what I'll do when I'm grown up. Which I've decided will be when I have a proper job. As I'm doing a phd this may be a while :)

    I want to have a jedi lightsabre battle!

  12. Posted November 10, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    L, having a proper job doesn't make me feel like a grown up – just an intern whose hung around for a couple of years!

  13. Posted November 10, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    Sorry Prettiest Hobo, that should read 'who's' not 'whose'. My bad.

  14. Catherine
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    Firework safety has really stuck with me over the years. This past 4th of July, I shouted myself hoarse telling my American friends never to go back to a lit firework!

    My own 'feel like a grown up' moment happened fairly recently when I found out my hair stylist was leaving the salon she worked at. I really panicked that she might leave the area and I would have to find someone else to touch my hair. Realising that I have a regular styslist (as opposed to taking whoever is available) for my hair really made me feel like my mum.

    On the other hand, last night I had cereal and ice cream for dinner, so maybe not totally adult yet.

  15. L
    Posted November 11, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Well then I may never feel like a grown up :)
    cereal and ice cream together?

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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