Getting starstruck, embarrassed by grammar, and feeling those vaccine blues… Here’s some different things I’ve been thinking a lot about this past month. Maybe there’s something here to interest you too?

HE’S A FAMOUS ACTOR AND YOU’RE A LITTLE RAT NOBODY

Who doesn’t love a rom-com?! Probably lots of people, but I don’t know them. Having said that, it can be hard to get a rom-com right – what’s the right balance of reality and fantasy? How do you overcome gendered stereotypes and well-worn cliches? Can you make it all believable, with genuine heart, and make it funny on top of everything else? This month, I really loved TV series Starstruck. It’s a contemporary, feel good rom-com that gets the balance right on so many fronts. And it’s star and creator Rose Matafeo is simply effervescent. Yes, it’s a lot like Notting Hill, but as I love that film too, I don’t have a problem with that. The hit and miss, on again, off again courtship of the two leads (played by Matafeo and Nikesh Patel) is both joyous and frustrating (in the right way) and I’m probably going to watch this again. Soon.

Quick mention of another choice pick from this month, the Netflix apocalypse comedy film Love and Monsters. Great fun, and while not strictly a rom-com, it’s pretty close as the whole reason the young hero leaves his cosy if somewhat cramped and monster-infested colony is for a girl he happened to have kissed before the end of the world. Basically. Great fun.

GRAMMAR ORPHAN

In Australia, like many English speaking countries around the world, there are generations of people who were never taught proper English grammar in any significant, meaningful way. It became unfashionable in the educational communities in the late 60s and many schools abolished its teaching completely well into the 80s and 90s before someone looked at the mess they’d created and thought to reinstate it again. Hence my inability to really know exactly what past participles, adverbs and subjunctive something-or-others are. I have friends and peers who are much more across this stuff – but only because they took up second languages and had to learn that language’s grammar to do so, and learning English grammar was then a by-product of that.

It seems an odd thing to be embarrassed about, but I am! I have no desire to learn English grammar properly – no doubt it would do my head in – but as a working writer, I feel strangely lacking. Clearly, it has had little impact on my chosen career path, so I’m not sure that it’s all that big a deal.

This month however, I got so frustrated with myself for not knowing the difference between practice and practise. How do I not know!? I’m in my 40s for goodness’ sake! I should know the difference, but I don’t. And it’s a struggle. Like the difference between effect and affect. Did a teacher at any point ever explain these to me? Probably, but most likely only in passing, so it never stuck. Ugh.

After posting this conundrum on the dreaded Facebleurgh, a friend replied with the way she’d been taught to recognise the difference. “Ice is a thing”, she said, as in, practice with ‘ice’ is a tangible object, like ice (or for those of you versed in the magic of grammar, a ‘noun’). I have not had it confirmed if this is indeed correct, but it’s in my head now, so here’s hoping…

CANCELLED HOLIDAYS & VACCINE SIDE EFFECTS

Australia’s response to keeping the coronavirus fairly well contained during this pandemic has been pretty darn good – mind you, we are a big island, and that helps a whole lot! Our government’s response to vaccinations however has left a lot to be desired. For a wealthy country with the means to get the population protected quickly and (relatively) painlessly so it can then help other nations, it has failed abysmally.

I am now one of the very few lucky ones to be fully vaccinated. And I can’t express how grateful I am for it. It is not lost on me just how privileged we are here to even be having these kinds of debates when you look at the ravages this earth-stopping pandemic has caused for so many around the world with seemingly no end in sight.

As a recipient of the Pfizer jab, the nurses administering the vaccinations did warn me that I may experience side effects after the second shot in particular. As I had virtually no reaction to the first jab, I wasn’t too concerned. But I am glad they warned me because – woah, nelly!

The day after the jab was ROUGH. Muscle aches and intense nausea started up around 10-11am (I’d been given the shot at 5pm the day before) and I basically spent the rest of the day in bed, too sore to move much and too unwell to stomach pain medication. I didn’t feel back to normal until about lunchtime the next day.

While that was far from a pleasant experience, I would do it all again in a heartbeat if it means being protected from the vagaries of Covid-19 and the chance to get back to a normal, unmasked existence. Plus, I had something to look forward to – some much-needed time off planned to begin on the weekend following my full vaccination.

Unfortunately for me, and about 6 million other people, Sydney went into lockdown due to a number of cases of the extra infectious Delta strain, so I had to completely cancel my plans to hang out by the ocean and read a book or two. Which was/is so disappointing as I don’t really do holidays at the best of times. And I really need some time off. But my fault for trying to relax in a pandemic! Oh well – not cancelled, just postponed…

I hope wherever you are that you can get vaccinated too soon. Stay safe lovely people x

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