Raven Smith on growing pains

A creative illustrate interpretation of two men chatting on two escalators.

Our resident columnist ponders how far he's progressed, and what it'll take for him to finally taste Crab Pringles

By Raven Smith    Sunday 1 March, 2020

If you’re not moving forward, where are you going? Modern life is fixated on momentum. We all want to advance, to develop, to mature. The church of Oprah doesn’t encourage us to freeze like the mannequin challenge. Goop advises growth. Standing still as the grass grows under your feet is great for dairy cows, but it’s the death of human advancement.

Progress is our measure of personal evolution. Success isn’t a fixed point – we inch towards it, figuring out new goals as we travel. We’re betrothed to our future selves and the kind of people we want to be. Someone with a bigger house, a hotter wife and leaner legs. We move forward towards the life we expect. Skin less pored. Shoes more shiny. A penchant for immediate and searing hot takes on today’s breaking news. We want an optimised existence that maintains this growth. A well-orchestrated ‘natural’ progression that sees our lives improve exponentially. Once-ugly ducklings eating Pot Noodles transition into successful media types sipping picante de la casas. 

I’m not terrible at progress. Like most people, I love change as long as I’m in complete control. I don’t lie back and think of England, so much as google mini-breaks and winter sun. I measure my progression in Instagram posts and can scroll back to the smaller houses and less shiny shoes of my past. There are so many more things I’d like to achieve, but I find myself treading water. I’m yet to master a foreign language. Not even conversational Cockney. I can say hello in a French accent (you just drop the ‘h’), and the ‘voulezvous’ line from ‘Lady Marmalade’. Does that count? I haven’t done a DNA test, but always say ‘ciao’ when I meet people, so I’ve essentially got the appearance of Italian blood.

I’m still not dating George Clooney. Meeting him is the starting point. I wonder if there’s a way to bump into him… It seems unlikely while I sit in central London on a laptop. And I’m in my most threadbare joggers. I’d quite like to be wearing something less comfy when I meet my future husband. Speaking of which, I’m still not exclusively wearing Raf Simons day to day. This feels like a pipe dream, but writing it down is a type of manifestation.

No one has ever written a song about me. I’d like to be the Layla in ‘Layla’ or even the Britney in ‘Cry Me A River’. I’m muse to nobody but my cat. Having the thumbs to open cat food doesn’t feel song-worthy. 

I’ve never tasted the Crab Pringles you can only get in Russia. I think about that a lot. It’s important to eat locally, so I guess I’m going to Moscow. 

I want my obituary to mention my humanitarian work, but so far I haven’t done any. I’d like to be the gay Angelina Jolie of the UN, giving up the celebrity lifestyle to draw attention to landmines in a nearly sheer blouse. My personal A-list lifestyle is yet to materialise, though I’m at a point where I can afford organic milk. Angelina strikes me as dairy-free.

I’d like to be ultra smart and well-read, with the intellectual fluency of Jeremy Paxman and the librarian brain of Margaret Atwood. I’d read more, but I keep getting distracted by my phone. Imagine having a fountain of knowledge to excavate at dinner parties. Or casually recalling a stanza from The Odyssey. Or being able to remember all the jokes you’ve been told. Now that’s progress.
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