A year of challenges

So, like most people when December 31st rolls around I get all inspired to try something new… quit a bad habit, conquer a demon or just basically make myself an all round better person. Unfortunately, also like most people by about 10am on January 2nd this motivation has dwindled and I’m feeling like the same 31st December person (often still with the remnants of a hangover that the 1st January couldn’t quite shake off. )

However, this year I’ve decided to go about things differently and instead of coming up with my own ‘something new’, I’ve got a friend to tell me what I need to do. And rather than one new challenge, I’ve got 12.

Like all great ideas, this came about in one of my typical 2am Facebook chats with my friend Ben. I was saying how I wanted to start a new hobby and Ben said how this year he was going to try a new activity where he didn’t know anyone each month.

Inspired, I decided to hijack his idea and said we should each come up with a list of 12 challenges for the other that must be completed by the 31st December 2016. Ben agreed and at midnight on New Year’s eve we both whatsapped our lists (unfortunately Ben didn’t get mine till about 12pm on New Year’s Day as in a New Year’s Eve accident I managed to smash the screen of my phone, leaving me unable to text.)

The challenges varied in difficulty and embarrassment level but despite being written in isolation they were freakishly almost identical to each other.

The first of these I decided to tackle was:

“Go to an art gallery and talk to a stranger about the art”

Now this was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. I decided to do this one first as I was in London after winning a free trip to the launch of a rice pudding currently being promoted by Daisy Lowe. Okay, that might sound odd but if you watch my friend Ben’s vlog about his challenge this was all make perfect sense (link coming soon!)

Anyway, happy in London with some time to kill I thought I’d pay a visit to the Tate Modern. Like most people I was taken on the obligatory trip to an art gallery as a child, in a bid to make me ‘cultured’ (yeah that worked!) But, sadly beyond my year nine art class, when I drew a dodgy self portraits and tried to shade a distinctly flat looking apple, my art knowledge is extremely limited. Therefore, presented with a gallery full of, for want of a better term, ‘art experts’ I suddenly became very shy. This shyness meant that when I first arrived I spent most the time leering around paintings trying to bolster the confidence to ask someone a question, before chickening out and rushing to the next painting.

A good forty minutes of looking like some weird art perv later, I was really tempted to run away to Oxford Street, do some shopping and admit defeat. Thankfully, my extreme competitiveness (and slight fear of what Ben would say if I didn’t actually do my challenge) hit in and I tried a different tactic.

I spotted a friendly looking Tate Gallery assistant, who I figured would have to be polite…however dumb my question was – well that’s what I hoped anyway!

To my delight, I was right and when I asked the young girl standing next to a painting (which I swear was a blue blob next to a green line!) the as expected dumb question, “was there an order I should go round the gallery?” she replied by pretty much saying no but in a really sweet thoughtful way. On a roll, I then asked her what her favourite piece was to which she answered anything by an artist that I can’t remember the exact name but it sounded like jockovich – see what I mean about cultured? She then showed me the painting and left me to ‘observe’.

I then noticed a couple of 20 something year-old girls also ‘observing’ and I knew it was now or never, so I asked, “what do you think of the painting?”

Now, I know this isn’t the most ground breaking of questions. Oprah won’t be quaking in her million pound boots. Jonathan Ross won’t be stealing it. But the moment I asked, I felt immediately liberated. So liberated and free that I almost didn’t hear their response. Luckily, I managed to blag enough “mmms” and “I see” so I just about looked on the right edge of crazy.

And my first challenge was complete!

Now, while it was scary and I looked a little crazy… I am more than a little excited about completing the next one!

Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to keep you updated.







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