Before we get going on today’s blog, I must mention again www.markwatsonfans.com/tysic. I am now trying to follow everyone who’s signed up. Remember, keep filling in the ‘update’ box and we will all be able to keep track of each other. It’s immensely satisfying.
And now welcome to the first round of Can I Help You? If you’ve just tuned in to this blog, I do normally try to use it to do funny stuff, but increasingly I’m a deranged megalomaniac with delusions that I can help people achieve things and solve their problems. So a while ago I offered myself up as an agony aunt and asked for all and any problems. There were quite a few, more than I can tackle at once, so here are the first half of them. The others, I will come straight back to in the next couple of blogs.
What I must add is that I didn’t set this up because I think I’m some sort of lifestyle guru – I’ve done my best to give advice like I would to friends – but this is meant to be a kind of open forum for discussion. So if you feel like pitching in, add a Comment with your take. In almost all cases there will be better qualified people than me to answer them. So, go for it.
As you’ll see, I’ve sometimes bunched two questions together where they’re fairly similar. Here we go…
RACHEL my problem would be – how do i find a nice boy? i am capable of finding boys in general, but most are not nice. and the ones that are nice are taken. it’s very hard work.
SARAH My problem is similar to rachel’s. How to find a nice boy? Either that or if you’re feeling ambitious, how do you be happy? How do you learn to love what you have?
When I was at school, and then uni, I was definitely what you would consider a ‘nice boy’, i.e. not a twat, respectful of women, pleasant, would pay for dinner, etc. I had bad hair and clothes, but I wasn’t too bad as an overall package. I had very few girlfriends, though, and always got the impression that girls were mostly interested in ‘bad boys’. Time and again I would see unworthy men get girls who should have known better. Could women really be so easily led that the ‘treat them mean/keep them keen’ thing genuinely applied? I think nice boys have a hard time getting through to nice girls because many of the social exchanges of teenage/early 20s life are dominated by the confident and vocal.
Time has shown that most nice people do end up with other nice people, so if nothing else, I can confidently advise you to just sit tight and have faith. I, for example, ended up with a very nice girl and now she’s my wife and we have a tiny, restless baby. I would have been delighted and incredulous at this outcome when I was 20. I didn’t really do anything special to make it happen. I think although it seems like the most loathsomely smug of clichés when quoted by people who already are in relationships, it probably is true that eventually the ‘right person’ does come forward. So in both your cases, I would let time do the work. Nice boys are surprisingly common, but many of them struggle to emerge from the pool of louder boys. It does happen in the end, and you’ll spot them when they arrive.
Sarah’s question of how to be happy with what you have is a bigger one, which deserves its own appointment. I’ll come to it in the next instalment.
RACHEL I leave school in May and although I know I’m going to college and I know what I’m going to study, I suppose I’m worrying about what comes after college. I know it’s a little early to be thinking about that but it’s still bothering me Did you always know what you wanted to do or did it just come to you one day?
When I went to uni, I had no idea what I was going to do. I was keen to write, that was it. I had no notion of being a stand-up comic, I didn’t really know there even were professional comics, apart from people like Eddie Izzard who I assumed were picked by some sort of divine summons. I had no career plan. You definitely shouldn’t panic about it for a long time yet. You should go to college and see what appeals to you over the next couple of years.
RYAN WATSON I am a student at the university of Exeter; I study civil engineering and am in my third year. I have an A-level in English Literature (Grade = C). I am very optimistic generally, but on Friday my girlfriend of 3 years left me and now it feels like god is pissing on my delicate world, eroding it away like some sort of urinal cake!! Despite his satisfaction he is no doubt feeling, I have now to rebuild the walls of shit around me waiting for his return to finish the job. I think in my current mood I may be a bit of a hindrance to your optimistic message; however it may be a stark contrast that will ensure people appreciate your optimism on your return. Hope you consider my application until then I will be masturbating furiously over pictures of my ex girlfriend.
It’s a shame when God pisses on your world. He can be pretty indelicate about it. Keep going, Ryan. No-one called Watson is ever defeated for long. You’ll meet a girl called Kirsty who makes your ex look like a waste of space. Unless she was called Kirsty, in which case my choice of name is very unfortunate. Sorry.
MARIE As for how you can help me… well, I could do with some advice actually. I’ll have to do a fair amount of public speaking over the next couple of months, something which I’m not too good at. How do you recommend I cope with nerves – are there any tips you use when you’re faced with a massive audience?
LOUISE I have not so much a question but a request for tips on how to get over public speaking nervousness. My course consists of lots of presentations and I really dread them. Weirdly I get told that I came across as very confident, this might be because I learned to project my voice via ten years of drama classes but inside I feel sick, shaky and I feel like my face is on fire, I also speak very quickly which tends to end up on me stumbling through a couple of words or my mouth becoming very dry. Is there any way to combat these nerves which doesn’t involve getting steaming beforehand? Many thanks x
Public speaking is nerve-racking, no doubt about it. Comedians (like me) tend to still find it nerve-racking, it’s just that as a comedian you embrace those nerves and put them to good use as part of your job, in the same way that a surgeon probably still finds it nerve-racking to cut someone open, or a footballer to play in front of 80,000 people, but they try to use that energy to make them perform. So firstly, don’t try to deny the nerves. Instead try to use the adrenalin to carry you along.
Some general tips:
- Go slower.
- It’s going to be fine. You can’t kill anyone with a bad speech, unless possibly you are a militant revolutionary. In a year you won’t remember this. It’s going to be fine. Promise.
- Confidence is pretty much 90 percent of public speaking. You don’t actually have to be confident. Do your best to look confident and you sort of are. Smile on your way up to do the speech, for example. It makes you look like you know what you’re doing. Sounds stupid but true.
- If you make a mistake, carry on, it is irrelevant. Mistakes which seem glaring to you are barely, or not at all, noticed by others.
- See the audience as friends you’re chatting to, not people waiting to catch you out.
- Remember most people in the audience couldn’t do a speech to save their lives, and in most cases, admire you for doing it. Psychologically dominate them; the high status is yours, not theirs.
- An extension of this. Some people famously imagine the audience all naked, or on the toilet. This might backfire if you find yourself disgusted/over-stimulated. But there is a grain of truth in it. People are just people, like you. Be aware of that the whole time you’re talking to them. It’s going to be all right.
- You don’t have to be steaming, but one drink is a great idea.
MISHA There’s a nice girl in my english class who may not in fact be as straight as I’d previously thought.
How do I find out and then (if the rumour is true) do something about it?
Or. Trust yourself to build a relationship with her, gradually. Don’t put pressure on it. Just get to know her. You’ll pretty soon have a good instinct for whether she’s suitable or not. If it turns out she is, then we’ll talk again. Fine?
ABI I have nearly finished my second year of uni, all I have left is my exams. Now, I’m pretty sure you went to uni (Cambridge, I believe), and that puts you in good shoes to help me out. Do you have a preferred method of studying/revising? How about balancing work with some fun? I’ve tried various techniques (ranging from post-it notes all over the house to pouring my head over books), but can’t seem to find one that works for me.
I used to revise in quite concentrated, short bursts, say two hours. I would write key things down and read them again and again and then see if I could reproduce them without looking. An exam tip: in almost any exam there are a few major points which, if you have them down pat, you’ll be fine. Keep reading these things over and over again and then as soon as you get in the exam, write them all down.
So in summary, for me, sheer repetition was the key to revision. And also, timing. There’s no getting away from it, something you read 30 minutes before an exam is more use than something you read a month before. Try to step it up as you get close to the exam. Hitting it hard in the few days before the exam may be derided as cramming, but in my experience, it was more helpful than plodding on for ages six weeks before.
Also, yes, I think you should balance work with fun, but try to separate the two. I knew people who revised in groups, to make it more fun, but it never worked for me. You just don’t take stuff in. Revise on your own, then do fun things with friends, then go back to revising on your own.
TERRY Now to the question, I’m going to be travelling up to edinburgh on the first friday and leaving on sunday week, where can I find information on booking the night train up, as what information I have found has just confused me?
www.thetrainline.com is the definitive source, and you should be able to book the sleeper train from there. I think you can only book tickets three months ahead, though…
GEORGINA My question – do I go straight into clinical psychology in a really shit place where I don’t want to live for uni (I want to go to scotland but can’t for that degree) or do a bog standard psych degree asap in scotland, and then do a postgrad in clinical psychology after that when i won’t mind because i have been living in scotland for three years? I’m scared I’ll be lazy (which I am a lot of the time) and get below a 2,1 and that means I actually won’t be qualified enough to go for post grad clinical psych and then I’ll be fucked.
Sorry about the actually serious boring question but I have no clue as to what to do.
Never go and live in a shit place; it’s not worth it, not even for a vocation, you’ll be unhappy. Do the bog-standard degree in Scotland and use the fear of not getting a 2.1 as your incentive to not be lazy and qualify for your postgrad. Don’t apologise for the serious question, this is a quite serious feature.
KATIE I’d rather like to become a vegetarian, but I bloody love meat. I’m concerned about animal welfare (I don’t eat at McDonalds because I can’t stand what they do to the poor cows – I shan’t tell you, I don’t want to put you off), but I find it really difficult to stop eating meat because a) I quite like it, and b) my family are rampant meat eaters. My father also has many strong opinions on vegetarians – not one of them positive – and my inability to stand up to him also proves to be another massive obstacle.
So, Mr Watson, what should I do? Because I’d love to be a vegetarian, but I’m not sure how I’d handle the whole malarkey. Your opinion would be much appreciated and valued.
Very interesting. I am a rampant meat-eater myself. It causes me a fair amount of guilt, because of the meat industry and the cruelty and etc etc, but unfortunately, I really do love it and it plays a major part in my diet. During my little environmental project a couple of years ago I tried introducing one meat-free day a week, which sounds a bit feeble, but it does make a positive difference at least. There are some pretty meat-like substitutes which you can try to ease yourself into it.
As for the attitudes of others, I think you pretty much have to do what you think is right and everyone can – for want of a prettier phrase – get fucked. Your family can say what they like, but it’s not their life, it’s yours. I realise this sounds a tediously teenage-sulk sort of point of view, but it’s still true. It’s not up to them.
For a more lucid take on the same sort of subject, see Madeleine’s comment on the original Can I Help You? blog.