Harriet Walker: 'I'm unimpressed by the all-too-realistic size of my own life goals'

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The Independent Online

I've become very goal-oriented of late. My targets for this week include emptying the post-party recycling bin of its sticky beer cans; re-papering my entire flat with moth-killing pheromone strips in a desperate bid to save my posh coat from their busy jaws; and picking up the battery that rolled under the sofa about a month ago. (You can only see it when you're sitting on the other sofa, so there's never any upright impetus to move it.)

So imagine my shock when my ex-flatmate B, who's about to head off to do a ski season, after being practically mauled to death by lions in the romantic arena, announced her own to-do list at the weekend. "The two things I want from this experience," she intoned, spearing a grilled tomato with all the gravitas of a self-help book, "are to come back an amazing skier and to be able to change my Facebook picture to a shot of me skiing in my bikini." The tomato splurged forth its guts. "And I'm being pro-active," she continued. "I've bought the perfect bikini to do it in."

When I last found myself in a similar emotional hole, I symbolically burnt a pair of boxer shorts on our roof terrace; B helped me light the match. I was dumbfounded by her impressive mastering of her own existence.

"Well, I think that's a great idea," replied my other friend, A. "Now excuse me, I have to go and bake a steak and ale pie; I'm doing a dinner safari tonight."

If you don't know (and I didn't), a dinner safari is when three groups of women host a meal at three closely located houses and three groups of men eat a course at each home. If you ask me, it sounds like being stuck in a set of revolving doors and being marked on finesse as you flail about trying to escape. But I'm the kind of sloven who leaves used batteries on the floor for months, so perhaps it's best not to ask me.

After breakfast I pondered my goals. They were too nebulous, too mundane. On my way home to the recycling bin, I stopped near the market in Camden. "I will get my ear pierced," I decided, "the painful bit at the top, none of this mainstream lobe business."

But as I scanned the price list, a terrible atrophy came over me. Everyone else had someone to hold their hand while waiting. I was alone, clutching at others' dreams of scantily clad skiing and concept dining.

"Can I help?" asked a man whose face was riddled with rivets. "Oh, er, just some silver hoops please," I breezed. "Are they recyclable?"