GAIL's Neo Bankside Bakery

What three words would you use to describe what troubled you during your adolescence?

Anxious, naïve, and insignificant.

I just wanted to get to the next stage of life, you know? But yeah, I was very anxious. I always felt like my friendships were not secured. I felt really anxious when they didn't include me in stuff, but I knew it was stupid because things like that just happen.

It sounds like you were very aware of the impermanence of your life at that time.

Yeah, I felt like I couldn't fully rely on them. Like I was conscious of when I was happy. 

But for someone that comes across as very go-with-the-flow towards people, it's surprising that you were worried about that when you were younger. Do you think that it's become a habit to keep people at a distance?

I've noticed I don't like to make plans with people because of the chance that they'll say no. Not because it happened a lot when I was younger. Maybe it's because it never happened. I was around people with big personalities who always took charge and organised things, and I just tagged along. The pressure of making plans that people think are boring is stressful.

Is that the thing that made you feel most anxious? Social dynamics?
Yeah, you know when you're in a group of people and you realise, "oh I haven't spoken in quite a long time." I could easily do that and be very aware of it. And if I was with my mum in a social situation I'd cling on to her. I think my best friend and I did that too. We'd stay together quite a lot because it was easier for both of us. We did that after we finished school as well, we didn't really talk to anyone else post aged 18. Maybe that's why we don't message each other anymore, because we never did; we talked to each other all day. 

If you could go back would you talk to a bigger variety of people then?

Umm... no because I did talk to a lot of people. I could talk to maybe 80% of my year group at school, and people from other years. But I remember when my friend's mum told her "You can't call people 'popular' or 'unpopular'," and she'd reply "no but we're unpopular! It's not being rude if I'm calling myself unpopular."

(Pointing to pedestrian outside) That's a good backpack.

Was it a kanken? 

Yeah, that was like a comedy sketch. you turned around just as she turned the corner.

I saw it, nice colour.

Duck egg blue. Good stuff. 

Do you think you still judge people based on popularity?

(Chuckles) Yeah I rank them, yeah.

And does that affect who you talk to?

Yeah it does.

Like you’re subconsciously trying to climb a social ladder, or do you feel more comfortable with people who aren't popular?

I feel weird with both to be honest. I feel like I should have no judgement, but I do judge people. I feel like it's hard not to judge people though.

Yeah, I suppose judging people on popularity is very normal in some sort of form or another.

It's not helpful though. It's not useful. I'm not gaining anything from it. I’m just aware. I don't choose who to be friends with based on popularity. I think what I look for in a friend is a flow of conversation, because I'm okay with awkward silences but I'm very aware of them. I produce quite a lot of silence in conversation so I need someone to fill them.

I'm really interested in the first word you used, which was 'anxious'. For that to be the very first word you use to describe your whole childhood, that's almost an obsession with being stressed.

Well that's just what I remember. The things I remember from that period of time are school work and stress. Exams were difficult, and I wasn't clever, but I still tried to work hard.

For someone who comes across as very individual and confident, it sounds like you had a very quintessential childhood. 

I have a bad memory. If you asked me the same questions last year I probably would've answered them differently. Whenever I go home and people from my town try and reminisce with me I never remember the days they talk about. I always think "how could I forget that? That sounded like a big day."

But it's not just blocking bad memories out, it's good ones too.


Can you think of a specific bad day that you will always remember?

Oh man, that's tough.

It wasn't a terrible day, but I remember the emotion of when my... because I went to a lot of funerals of people in my town that I knew through my parents. My parents knew them really well. It isn't a bad day for me, it was just a lot. My dad read a poem at someone's memorial in the crypt of a cathedral when I was 16. I remember really crying at that, surrounded by people. It was only because my dad was reading it about someone he cared about. I'd never seen him very emotional before. It wasn't a spiritual moment but the environment had an impact. 

Another good funeral... I don't know if I should say 'good'... but another good funeral at that cathedral was for a man who my dad was very close with. There's this story of this man going to my dad when it was really raining, standing in a doorway, and telling my dad that my mum went into labour with me. And then me being at his funeral 16 years later. It was just a very surreal moment.

Did you think that moment changed your perception on life and death?

Maybe, I don't know. I'd thought about death in quite a casual way, I thought about it quite a lot.

How much is your relationship with your dad an impact in that story?

A lot, yeah. Because there was a person that my mum worked with who died and I wasn't impacted by that nearly as much. Maybe because my dad knew them for longer.

A lot of people have difficult relationships with their dads and to see them in a very big moment like that would impact them. But it seems like you're quite close with your dad.

I think I see my dad as quite young and immature. And jokey. To see him in a serious moment was... I don't know.

Is he the person you can rely on for comedic relief usually?

Yeah, I remember at quite a young age thinking "yeah he's my favourite parent." 

Finally, what would be the soundtrack to your childhood?

What Do I Do Now? - Sleeper

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