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SELF-HELP BOOK TEST DRIVEThe Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving A F*ck by Sarah Knight (Little Brown)► Governments have a finite spending budget. You have a finite f*ck budget.► You cannot, repeat cannot, give a f*ck about everything,so first you’ve got to decide what you actually do give a f*ck about.► Do not beat yourself up for refusing to spend time/money/ emotion/f*cks on anything else. ► Assuming you’re human, you won’t have got your sh*t together to achieve everything on your f*ck list.► Is this because: a) you’re flaky. If so, you will benefit from the section SMALL SH*T.b) you’re immature. If so, you will benefit from the section TOUGH SH*T.c) you’re a bit like Sarah Knight. If so, you will benefit from the section DEEP SH*T.► Disclaimer: neither F*ck nor Sh*t will be of much use to anyone with actual major life issues. But that doesn’t matter, because F*ck and Sh*t are funny.Oh the hours lost trying to dressmy Caucasian daughter as a Zulu warrior princess in a culturally sensitive mannerCUT OUT THE CUPCAKESMEG CLOTHIER is the author of The Girl King and The Empress (Century/ Arrow). In theory she is working on her third book.Afriend gave me Sarah Knight’s first book for my 38th birthday. We drank a tonne of Pink Saumur, went to a midnight screening of The Force Awakens (best birthday ever) and the next morning I idled through The Life- Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck, basking in confirmation bias.As I’ve waxed mature, I’ve tallied up many things I don’t give a f*ck about. Namely: eye make-up, high heels, dancing, nightclubs, dancing in high heels in nightclubs, sunshine, sunbathing, planes, planes that take you to hot places where you might be expected to dance. Hen nights? Total clusterf*ck.When confronted by things not on your give-a-f*ck list, do not, Knight tells us, equivocate. Say a polite but firm no thank you. And don’t, whatever you do, feel guilty about it. Be NotSorry. As I was this New Year’s Eve...A rented house in the Forest of Dean. My BFF’s 40th birthday party. Many people, Prosecco and (horrors) a DJ. I sparkle through dinner, then slink into bed with my book. At 00.00 I switch off the light while everyone else bopped the night away.To be honest, I’m giving you F*ck from memory because I donated my copy to a needy friend. I was planning to buy another one when a shimmery hologram of Sarah Knight appeared in my study, and let me tell you she massively, and I mean massively, disapproved of me biking up to Waterstones,especially if it meant I’d runout of time to make Exploding Boreks for my tea. (I can’t tell you how much of a f*ck I give about Exploding Boreks. I mean, three types of cheese nestling inside puff pastry... Thanks for the intervention, Sarah. I owe you.)Which brings me to Get Your Sh*t Together, which I do have in front of me. Some people (not me people) might say that Sh*t is an overhasty follow-up to F*ck, hammered out pellmell to cash in on the NewYear NewYou market, as cynically as F*ck was hammered out to cash in on the Marie Kondo spark-joy bonanza. Not me. Why?Because one thing I definitely don’t give a f*ck about is dissing women who’ve got their sh*t together, especially women whose sweary SHOUTY prose style is so d*mn catchy. Knight wrote Sh*t in ten weeks. TEN WEEKS. Just a sec while I figure out how long I’ve been working on my book... Oh. Right.First step: decide what I do give a f*ck about.1. Finishing my book. Weirdly simple. Sit, write, repeat – times 10,000,000,000.2. Tending lovingly to my family. Weirdly time-consuming. Sarlacc of the Great Pit of Carkoon time-consuming. Oh the hours lost trying to dress my Caucasian daughter as a Zulu warrior princess for drama club in a culturally sensitive manner.Second step. Hang on – what? Figure out which ChipmunkI am? Fun! I love personality quizzes, but don’t get to dothem much because women’s magazines sit between hell and high heels on my thanks-but- no-thanks list. (Except for Tatler. I bl**dy love Tatler. It doesn’t give a f*ck about anything.)The quiz tells me I’m definitely not Theodore. Theodore is the friend who’s always 35 minutes late and never has your birthday present. Me? I own being on time. I am Empress of Effective Packing. My inner droid knows exactly which vegetables in the fridge are onthe turn.No, I am Alvin, with a touchof Simon. Which means I over- plan, over-schedule and delude myself that I’m indispensable – while secretly being a big fat sloth when I think nobody’s looking.Next step. I will take responsibility. It’s not the world’s fault you’re not getting sh*t done, it’s YOUR FAULT. So you and your husband agreed you were going to split child stuff equally, then he becamea barrister and you try telling the clerks you’d like him to collect the kids two days a week, blah blah blah... GET OVER YOURSELF. People have written books on their death beds. DO YOU THINK CHILDREN ARE AN EXCUSE? SHAPE THE F*CK UP! (I’m just off to recover from all that yelling. Don’t read Knight if you’re feeling weak.)Third step: Make a plan.1. Strategise. If I was a Theodore this would be about breaking stuff down into bite- size chunks; but I already have way too many chunks in my life. I’m addicted to the high I get from crossing ‘important’ things off my to-do list, so my strategy is to (a) lower my standards (do all those things have to be done?) and (b) delegate (do I have to be the one to do them?).2. Focus. My new strategywill create time for a newlean mean to-do list. DO NOT make birthday cupcakes for my daughter to take to school (what was the supermarket tray-bake invented for?). Win: 90 minutes. DO suggest husband books half-term week off work so I can write undisturbed in my parents’ house. Epic win: 4.5 days x 8am- 8pm = 54 hours.3. Commit. I promised my agent a draft by Easter. GULP.And finally, to ensure my commitment doesn’t waver,I shall abandon nicey-nice Positive Thinking in favour ofits punchy cousin, Negative Thinking. That’s me. Sh*t got together: nice and neat and tidy. Till next time. ❐in a nutshell...mslexia Mar/Apr/May 2017 55

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