Book Chat Back-Chat July 2018

Despite being struck by severe End-of-termitis and being a bit slow on the reading front (and being sucked into the vortex that is Love Island), here’s the latest instalment of Book Chat Back-Chat from my daughters (aged 12 and 14), my husband and myself, over a meal of Tortelloni that virtually cooked itself. (Simmer for one minute? My kind of meal!)

Mrs H: So R, what are you reading at the moment?

R (14): I’ve just finished The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas. I really enjoyed it. It’s about a girl called Starr who lives in a rough part of Los Angeles but goes to a top school in a posh part of town. Starr is African-American and feels she’s two different people depending on whether she’s hanging out with her white school friends or her friends from her neighbourhood. The story starts when one of her oldest friends is shot by the police. The police make out he’s a criminal but he didn’t do anything wrong.

Mrs H: I enjoyed reading it too. Did it make you think about racism?

R: Yeah, like how racism can be really subtle sometimes. Like one of Starr’s white friends doesn’t realise she’s being racist, and when Starr points it out to her she refuses to say sorry.

Mrs H: And has it made you want to listen to songs by the late Tupac Shakur?

R: Mum, it’s just Tupac.

Mr H: Or Mr Tupac Shakur.

R: Mum, I’ve already got loads of his songs on my playlist.

Mr H: Get with it, Mildred. Anyway I’ve been reading a non-fiction book called Factfulness by Hans Rosling, who’s this clever Swedish scientist bloke. It’s basically about how we view the world very negatively, from watching the news and believing that everything’s getting worse all the time – things like poverty and equality, for example. But Hans Rosling has done tonnes of research and actually the world’s getting better in so many ways, but that doesn’t make an interesting news story. You see, the media don’t often report the good stuff, which leaves us all thinking that there isn’t any good stuff. But there is.

Mrs H: I’d like to read that after you. What are you reading, B?

B (12): I’ve just started I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith. I really enjoyed the first chapter. It’s a sort of love story set in a crumbling castle where this family live, but they haven’t got any money anymore. I’m going to take it on holiday.

R: I thought that book was so boring. I gave up half-way through.

Mrs H: Didn’t Uncle Ollie give you that book for Christmas last year?

R: Yeah, two years running. He forgot he already bought it.

Mr H: Glad I’m not the only one having senior moments.

Mrs H: Didn’t Dodie Smith also write 101 Dalmatians?

B: Dunno. Anyway, I also started reading a book from the school library called The Selection by Keira Cass, which I was really enjoying but I left it at school. It’s about a reality TV show where these girls have to compete with each other to get noticed by a rich prince.

Mrs H: Maybe we can borrow it from the library in town? So who wants to hear what books I’ve been reading?

[Silence.]

Mrs H: Anyone? Well I’ve been on a bit of a non-fiction roll lately. I’ve just read two books about meditation.

R: Oh my God, you’re turning into Grannie.

Mrs H: I’m most certainly NOT turning into Grannie. To be honest, I didn’t think I’d find these books interesting, but they were. One was called Not I, Not Other Than I by Russel Williams about a man who became enlightened just through working with circus horses – fascinating! And the other one (that Dad recommended to me) was called There’s Nothing Wrong With You by Huber Cheri, which is all about how harsh we can be towards ourselves without realising it. It’s written in a really simple way – I’d love it if you kids would read a few pages of it.

R: No thanks.

B: Bluuurgh.

Mrs H: But I’m sure, just like the majority of the human race, sometimes you tell yourself stuff like, “I’ll never be any good at that” or “Everyone else is cleverer than me” or “more successful than me” or “I don’t deserve blah blah blah”.

R: Yeah, sometimes.

B: Suppose so.

Mr H: I found it really helpful. We all need to learn how to be kind to ourselves.

B: Can I be kind to myself and not finish this yucky pasta but just have some ice cream instead? That’d be like two acts of kindness in one.

Mr H: Touché.

 

 

 

 

Book Chat Back-Chat

Despite everything I said about not joining a book club again, I still love to talk about books –especially with my family. Last night, over tea, Mr H, our two daughters, B and R, and myself discussed our favourite books that we’d read recently…

B (12): My favourite books that I’ve read recently are The Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter – especially Book 2. Book 2 was the most exciting cos it was really unpredictable – not like “oh my god that person is so bad how can you not see it?” You just didn’t know what was going to happen next.

R (14): Those books were OK but I thought they were predictable, although I did skip forward to read the last page when I was half-way through.

Mrs H (46): NO! You can’t read the last page first. That spoils the ending.

R: I said I read it when I was half-way through. And you’re wrong, it doesn’t spoil the ending – it just adds to the suspense. Don’t look at me like that.

Mr H (47): So, R, what’s your favourite book that you’ve read recently?

R: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series by Ransom Riggs. The books were so much better than the film which was like all three books squashed into one. The books were scarier. I also liked Twilight and New Moon by Stephenie Meyer, which I read after watching the films. And I loved the Murder Most Unladylike series which I started reading in Year 6 but carried on reading as they came out. I don’t care if it’s middle grade.

B: Murder Most Unladylike was rubbish.

R: Shut up – it wasn’t rubbish, it was really good.

B: You shut up! It’s my go. I also liked Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. It’s about a girl who writes fan fiction and has a big following on the internet and then she goes to college with her sister but they fall out with each other.

Mrs H: I read that one too. I found it a bit slow.

B: It’s brilliant.

Mr H: Does anyone want to hear my favourite books?

B & R: NO!

Mr H: So my favourite book that I’ve read in the last year is Wild by Cheryl Strayed, about a woman who goes trekking and camping on her own in the wild.

Mrs H: R, what are you doing with that wine bottle? Put it down.

R: Just sniffing it. It says it’s got a cherry and pepper aroma.

Mr H: Um, is anyone listening to me?

Mrs H: Sorry. Go on.

Mr H: There’s a film of it starring Reece Withoutaspoon which I think you girls would enjoy.

B: Dad, I think you’d enjoy Wonder by RJ Palacio about a boy with facial deformalities.

R: Deformities.

B: Whatever. It’s a really good book. Can I leave my courgettes?

Mrs H: No.

B: [Groans.] Mum, for you I’d recommend My Name is Victoria by Lucy Worsley which is like fiction mixed with non-fiction with a twist. Oops – I’ve given a spoiler away!

Me: I’m none the wiser.

B: And R, you should read the rest of The Gallagher Girls series. They’ve got them all in the school library.

R: Not happening.

Mr H: I think you’d all like 438 Days by Jonathan Franklin. It’s a true story about a South American fisherman who gets lost at sea for 438 days and miraculously survives.

Mrs H: Yes I loved that story. It was totally gripping. Right, my turn. The book that’s stayed with me the most is The Power by Naomi Alderman. I think all three of you should read it, although perhaps it’s a bit old for B at the moment. It’s about how the world changes when all girls all over the planet discover they’ve developed an organ in their bodies called a skein, which gives them an electric current that they can use to give people electric shocks. They soon realise this makes them physically more powerful than men – which changes everything. It’s very, very thought-provoking.

R: I’d like to read that.

B: I’d like to give people electric shocks.

Mrs H: [Presses fingers to Mr H’s neck.] ZZZZZap! Make me a cup of tea, NOW, man-slave.

B: [Zaps her dad]. Get me a chocolate biscuit, man-slave.

R: Man-slave, do you want to watch Love Island with us now?

Mr H: Very tempting, but man-slave seeks permission to retreat to his man-cave.

R: [Zaps her dad] You’re watching Love Island.

 

Why I won’t be joining another book club

Book clubs: friends, wine, Kettle Chips, book banter, Doritos, book banter, Thai Sweet Chill Sensations… What’s not to love? Well of course I love the actual get-together itself, but here’s why I won’t be committing to one anytime soon.

1. I’m a slow reader.

I always have a book on the go. It usually takes me a month to read a novel if I’m enjoying it, but if I’m not loving it, it could take me six or seven weeks. As I usually read two to three books on holiday, that bumps up my yearly average to about 14. So when I have to complete a book every five to six weeks for a book club, I feel like I’m racing against the clock. And if I’m not enjoying that book, it feels like homework. It’s all very well having a fun and fizz-fuelled book club night, but if the weeks spent reading in between aren’t such fun, is it worth it?

2. I usually don’t enjoy other people’s choices.

I get given/lent books every year by friends and relatives who are sometimes keen to discuss those books, and so I feel obliged to read them. A few years ago, Uncle Bill lent me Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behaviour and said he’d be interested to know what I thought. When I eventually got round to reading it, I found it slow and, while beautifully written, could’ve easily given up on it at any point. But I ploughed on as A) I wanted to please Uncle Bill, and B) Barbara Kingsolver was a well-respected author and I should probably educate myself by reading one of her books. The next time I saw Uncle Bill, we talked about everything BUT Flight Behaviour. Another year passed by, and it finally came up in conversation. I told him I’d struggled with it. “So what did you think of it then?” I asked him, expecting a torrent of wild enthusiasm. Uncle Bill pulled a face. “Naah. Didn’t get on with it either.” Seriously? Two months’ precious reading time. TWO MONTHS!

On the other hand, sometimes someone hands me a real gem that I otherwise might never have discovered, such as Anthony Doerr’s All The Light We Cannot See, which turned out to be one of the best books I’d read in years. But this is rare. 50% of the time, I plod through these lent/given books feeling little genuine enjoyment. So if other people’s book club choices are added to my already tall “obligated reading” pile, that leaves very little time to read anything of my own choosing.

Over the course of a year, I like to read a domestic noir or two, some magic realism, something funny and witty, a gripping true story, a story from a different culture, some YA, some wisdom-enhancing non-fiction, and something historical. I find some book clubs are a bit too high-brow for my tastes and some are so eclectic that hopes of expanding my reading repertoire soon turn to thoughts of how I can inoffensively A) drop out of the group or B) keep attending without reading the books.

3. I suffer from Obsessive Book Finishing Disorder.

Why not just give up on a book if I’m not enjoying it? Easier said than done. There’s always the chance it’ll get better and then I’ll have missed out on an awesome ending. I once yawned my way through Lionel Shriver’s So Much For That, but just as I was contemplating ditching it, it started to pick up about two-thirds of the way through, and the ending was in your face. I was glad to have persevered.

But it’s a gamble (particularly with literary books, which I’m generally not a fan of). Having loved All The Light We Cannot See, I rushed out to get another book by the same author: About Grace. The blurb sounded great and I couldn’t wait to get stuck in. But this was a polar-opposite reading experience for me. The story moved so slowly that I stopped caring about any of the characters. It was the first time I’d ever skipped entire pages in order to get to the end. (Which, again, took TWO MONTHS!) This was not long after I’d staggered through Flight Behaviour, so not only was my effort v pleasure ratio completely unacceptable, but my book tally for the year was a pitiful nine.

But back to book clubs. I was invited to one recently because I was reading the same book as my friend’s book group – Eleonor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. It was a lovely evening, the crisps were flowing. I’d enjoyed the book. There were different opinions about it – things I hadn’t considered, hence an interesting discussion with nice, interesting women, fizz, and most importantly, crisps. I was welcome to come again. But the next book choice on their list just didn’t seem my cup of tea, so I resisted the temptation and declined.

Would I join another book club again? Only if we don’t all have to read the same sodding book. Reading should be a pleasure, not a chore. And besides, I really need to avoid situations where I’m faced with overflowing bowls of crisps.

 

Things are looking up!

With my fellow shortlistees, junior judges, competition founder Caroline Ambrose and literary agent Sallyanne Sweeney at the Bath Children’s Novel Award Ceremony, Feb 2018

It’s been a long time since I talked about my writing journey, but there’s been a few sunny developments recently, so here’s what I’ve been up to over the last couple of years…

  • Jan 2015 – Decided to take a break from writing after my two latest projects (Blown-Away Man and The Adventures of Fartella Gasratilova) failed to find representation. Added them to my other self-published novels on Amazon and stepped away…
  • May 2016 – In an effort to hone my skills and develop a foolproof manuscript, I applied to the Curtis Brown Creative Writing for Children online course and got offered a place.
  • Spent the next 3 months developing my novel, The Reinvention of Rolo Rawlings (a YA comedy drama), under the guidance of award-winning author Catherine Johnson and my brilliantly creative writerly classmates. Re-wrote the first 5 chapters many, many times – taking it from a 1980s setting to the present day and from a diary format to a first person narrative.
  • March 2017 – Started the nail-biting process of submitting Rolo to agents.
  • Sept 2017 – Accepted an offer of representation with Lauren Gardner at Bell Lomax Moreton Literary Agency. Meeting Lauren and seeing her passion for Rolo was a surreal moment – especially after going it alone as an independent author for so long.
  • Dec 2017 – Had to pinch myself at learning I’d been longlisted for the Bath Children’s Novel Award.
  • Jan 2018 – Had to get the husband and kids to pinch me at learning I’d been shortlisted for the Bath Children’s Novel Award! In the end I didn’t win, but making it to the final 5 out of 750 entries was incredibly exciting and more confirmation that Rolo is my strongest piece of writing yet.
  • Feb 2018 – Am currently developing Rolo further under Lauren’s guidance and, all being well, hope to submit to publishers in the near future.

Back in January 2015 – after 10 years of gaining and losing literary agents, an endless river of rejections and some short-lived success at self-publishing – I hit a bit of a rockbottom on my writing journey. I knew I wasn’t going to give up, but I needed a break from trying. Now, three years later, I’m super-proud of Rolo and the response it’s achieved so far, and am looking to the future with fresh optimism. Watch this space… (she said, biting her nails…)

Creative courage and badass bling

As the countdown to Christmas gets underway, who better to discuss creativity with than Sarah Meredith, a Brighton-based jewellery designer whose mischievous and heart-warming brand Rock Cakes is selling like…well, hot cakes.

Your jewellery is bold, colourful and playful. Is “being true to yourself” an important element in your designs?

Rock Cakes is an integral part of my life, it comes in a close second after my family. I live and breathe it, and I think that shows in my work. The main ethos behind Rock Cakes is to spread happiness and make people smile. Traditional jewellery can be very safe and mundane so I try to pull in the opposite direction.

When I started Rock Cakes, I’d been suppressing my ideas for so long that they all just came flooding out. This was when I made the “Every cloud…” silver chains and some of the crowned animals and the crowned tooth — these pieces were effortless and are still some of my favourites.

I guess the playful element reflects how I think and behave. It can be challenging to keep that feeling going as the world around you changes — more pressures, less time, and a growing awareness of how other awesome designers are can give me a touch of designer’s block.

My self-awareness is growing: the more confident I become, the less I care about what people think and, in turn, the freer and stronger my work can be — but that definitely takes time. Being yourself within your work is really the only way you can have true uniqueness, create consistent interesting work, and stand out from the crowd.

Do you ever feel you’re taking a risk with a piece of jewellery — that maybe it’s a bit too… “out there”?

I think that risk-taking goes hand in hand with being successful at design and business. I’d say that I take risks frequently, some emotional and some financial. It might sound odd but I think it’s as much of a risk putting something out there that you’re not proud of, as it is putting something out there that people will think is weird or that exposes you a little.

My recent work has quite a lot of swearing in it. I’ve made a Christmas tree with an axe and the tree’s saying “fuck off”. He’s not really into Christmas — he thinks chopping down trees to drag into your house is ridiculous. I wanted to make some of these pieces last Christmas but I didn’t due to the swearing — I talked myself out of it.

I also make “Fucking Medals”. I enjoy making them and love people’s reaction to them, but I’ve received official warnings and had them banned on some of my online stores due to “bad taste”!!

Another risk I took was to make the planet ring in gold. I was pretty broke and it cost hundreds to make, especially as I wasn’t happy with the first one so we made it twice. It sold, so it was worth the risk but I could have been feeding my daughter beans on toast for weeks!

With time I think that knowledge and confidence suffocates risk. You learn what will and won’t work with your audience and which platforms you can’t sell certain products on.

Do you have any tips on finding creative courage?

Don’t overthink anything. If you have an idea write it down, sketch it out and act on it — trust your gut and literally just get on with it. Learning to be self-aware can build your confidence and, really, what’s the worst that can happen…? Overcoming the barrier of making what you really want can be huge. It can expose you, and lots of makers are shy and want to hide away. If you make something that’s precious to you and the reaction isn’t positive, it can hurt, so sometimes it seems easier not to do it. Some of my favourite designers are so true to themselves, I love the work of AdamJK and Cou CouSuzette — you can see they don’t hold anything back.

Do ideas for designs come easily? Or do you sometimes struggle to find inspiration?

I know what turns my creative head on. I’m a magazine, stationery, book and fashion junkie. I’ve been cutting and sticking magazine pages since as far back as 1998 — so I always have inspiration I can reference. I also love my own company. I’m very happy to be alone and this gives my brain time to wonder ­– that’s when things like Tupperware parties and sharks with severed hands pop into my head. I jot everything down and have a mega list of things that I want to make.

Did you always want to design jewellery? What route did you take to becoming a designer?

It was always going to be either medicine or art for me. Chemistry hurt my brain and art meant that I could party my way through the late 90s and chase boys — so art won. It wasn’t until I discovered metalwork on my art foundation that things clicked and I knew I wanted to study jewellery design at uni.

I completely immersed myself in my degree, I adored the work, the freedom and the parties, and graduated with a first — not that anybody has ever asked…

Getting my first graduate job at a jewellery store in Kensington was a harsh reality check. My days were filled with silver dip and glass cleaner, it was dull and I was frequently spoken down to. My second job was my lucky break: I worked for a jewellery designer in Notting Hill and made my way up through the company until I was the production manager and “second in command”. I got to meet some iconic people, set up a show at the Design Museum, work on a collection for H&M in Stockholm, browse vintage jewellery archives on Place Vendome in Paris, and I was in charge of buying stones worth thousands of pounds.

I was the middleman between the designer, customers and jewellers — which I loved, but it was bitter-sweet. I saw a different side of life, a very wealthy one, but I was pretty unhappy as it could be pretentious. I had to be kind of invisible when at work as there were strong egos in play. I was suppressing my creativity and myself. In hindsight, to be happy I needed to be first in command, not second, and the whole “fashion highbrow” was fucking with my head. After seven years I made a somewhat abrupt exit and moved to Brighton in 2008 where I set up Rock Cakes…

What has been your proudest moment in your career as a designer so far?

I guess my biggest challenge so far was being interviewed on The Bottom Line last year on Radio 4. When it comes to public speaking, I’m a rabbit in the headlights. When the BBC contacted me, my head was saying “no way” but I found myself replying “yes, I’d love to…” I was very nervous and it took me a few weeks to recover! I’m proud of myself that I did it, but I’ll never listen to it again!

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of jewellery design as a career — whether a school-leaver or someone considering a career change?

Practical advice is to go to art college or to an evening jewellery course and start learning. I’d also 100% recommend working for a jewellery designer or in a jewellery store — I learnt most of what I know when I worked in London. I was often out of my depth and learnt on the job which massively built up my confidence and knowledge.

If you want your own business, take advantage of online sites and social media. There’s no such thing as 9–5 anymore, and setting up a business is easier than ever — you can work a 9–5 job and from 7–11 to kick-start your own thing.

I’d also recommend joining up with your local creative community. Brighton is uniquely creative but there are Etsy groups across the UK. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people can be an awesome support and it’ll spur you on.

My final tip is to take an old-school notebook and pencil everywhere you go — write and draw your thoughts and ideas, cos you never know when they might come…

 

10 Tips to get kids reading independently at bedtime

When my eldest child reached the age of about nine, I realised that making the change from bedtime stories to independent reading wasn’t going to happen overnight. It was going to be a transition phase, and if I wanted my children to truly discover the joy of getting lost in a novel, I’d have to coach them. It was a slow process with a lot of reluctance along the way, but now at the ages of 11 and 13, I’m chuffed to have two book-loving kids.

Below are some of the things I tried out to help my kids discover what a brilliant experience it is to get teleported into a fictional world…

  1. CHALLENGE! I challenged them to read 12 chapter books in 12 months. If they completed the challenge, they’d win a prize such as a day out somewhere special or a voucher to spend in their favourite shop. Funnily enough, they told their friends about it which led to a bit of friendly competition!
  1. Keep it easy. We started the challenge with a chapter book that was well within my children’s capabilities, ie: 50/50 illustration/text. I didn’t up the difficulty level each time as I didn’t want to put them off. This was about learning to read by themselves – not accelerating their reading age.
  1. Start them off. I’d often read the first couple of chapters to them to get them started. Or I’d read a couple of pages every night and stop just as it was getting interesting. If they weren’t willing to read to themselves, I’d get them to read a few pages to me, then ask, “What do you think’s going to happen next? Why don’t you read the next few pages to yourself to see if you’re right?”
  1. Break it down. Suggest they read one chapter per night – or five pages if the chapters are long. Before they turn out their light, ask them what happened in that chapter. Which characters do they like? How do they think the story will turn out? Did they come across any words they didn’t understand?
  1. Strike a deal. Sometimes my kids would complain that the book was boring, so we compromised: they had to read to at least page 40 or the halfway mark before they could give up. If it still wasn’t grabbing them by then, they could choose another book. Usually, by the time they reached the agreed page, they were immersed.
  1. Know when to quit. If my kids reached the agreed page and still weren’t into it, they were free to ditch that book. I soon realised my children weren’t interested in many of the books I loved as a child. Once I read them a Famous Five novel and they forced me to abandon it at the penultimate chapter and begged me never to read them another one.
  1. Know when to get tough. For kids like mine who watch an hour or so of TV every day, asking them to read one chapter per night at bedtime is not unreasonable. I told mine if they could do it, then they’d get to stay up late on Friday and watch a film. If they couldn’t be bothered to give it a go, then no screen time the next day…
  1. Start a book log. Keeping a log of the books you’ve read and giving each one a star rating is a fun thing to do no matter how old you are. My youngest even wrote a blog for a while, writing a short review of each book she read. The rest of us all kept lists, which would get us talking – which books would we include in our Top 10 favourites? Which books would we take to a desert island? Which is better, the book or the film? Who is the worst villain ever?
  1. Talk to them about what you’re reading. Once, on holiday, I was telling my husband about the book I’d started reading (And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini). The kids were playing nearby but also listening to our conversation. “So then what happened to the little boy?” my eldest asked. I ended up recounting the first couple of chapters of the story. “Did he ever see his sister again?” the youngest asked. “I don’t know,” I replied. “I’ll have to read another chapter tonight and tell you tomorrow.” They held me to my word. By the end of the holiday, I had recounted the entire novel (leaving out anything too disturbing) to my kids – at their request.
  1. Never say never. For years it seemed like my children were the only kids in the universe not to be interested in Harry Potter. They point blank refused to even watch the films. Then, one rainy afternoon (aged 10 and 12 respectively), they got bored. I dared to suggest a Harry Potter film again. They were so bored, they agreed. Since then they’ve watched all the films and read all the books. My youngest has just read the Philosopher’s Stone for the second time and is urging me to read it, too. We’ve come a long way…

 

Skin: the final frontier

There’s so much more public awareness about all kinds of things these days – race, sexuality, disability, gender, mental health, bullying, to name just a few. And thank God for that. We’re making progress in the fight against stigma and discrimination. However, I find it profoundly disappointing that the level of ignorance surrounding acne remains the same as ever.

So here are a few things it might help you to know about acne. If you’re a parent who has kids that DON’T suffer from acne, please make them read this. I’m thinking of the kid in their class at school who does have acne and who could do with their understanding.

10 things you should know about acne.

  1. Acne is not caused by poor diet. FACT.
  2. Acne is not caused by poor hygiene. FACT.
  3. Acne is caused by a hormonal imbalance (a higher-than-average level of testosterone) that affects the sebaceous glands, making them over-productive. This isn’t something that can be solved by some amazing cleanser from Boots. We’re talking medication prescribed by a doctor or dermatologist.
  4. People who have acne usually go through a year or so of trying out various prescribed treatments, which vary in their effectiveness. Roaccutane, known as one of the most effective medications, usually requires at least 6 months of treatment and entails the risk of unpleasant side effects, such as super-dry skin and headaches.
  5. People who have acne are totally aware that they have it. You don’t need to tell them.
  6. You also don’t need to give them your advice – unless of course you’re a dermatologist or have had acne yourself. Suggestions like, “you should cut down on sugar” or “you shouldn’t wear so much make-up” come from ignorance – even if meant in kindness. People with acne get comments like this all the time. It’s not helpful. It’s the opposite.
  7. Acne tends to be temporary, even if it lasts several years. Ignorance, on the other hand, can last a lifetime if left untreated.
  8. People who have acne often don’t like to draw attention to themselves. So if they don’t seem to contribute much to conversation, perhaps they could do with some warm and friendly encouragement.
  9. A few zits does not equal acne. Moaning about your one spot in front of someone with acne is pretty insensitive.
  10. A person suffering from acne is doing their goddamn best to live a normal life, while feeling distraught about their appearance. You should be in awe of their courage.

And finally, people who have acne like to be looked in the eye, not in the skin. Be kind. Superiority or bitchiness are far uglier conditions to suffer from.