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Five secrets to doing well in GrownUpLand

Comedians Mae Martin, Bisha K Ali plus Ned Sedgwick and Steve Ali are struggling to get their heads around the baffling business of being an adult. How do you secure your own home in the midst of a housing crisis? How do you make new friends in your thirties? How can you have a sex life when you still live with your parents?

The presenters of GrownUpLand tackle a new topic each week, from navigating Tinder to chasing confidence and coolness. They talk honestly about the issues they’ve faced, as a special guest candidly shares his or her own experiences and helps to answer probing questions from the listeners. Thankfully, the charming Steve Ali helps to put it all into perspective from his time in the Calais Jungle as a refugee from Syria.

So, what have our modern-day musketeers learnt? Here are a handful of top takeaways to help us all survive in that ever-elusive and hostile territory, GrownUpLand.

Comedians Mae Martin and Bisha K Ali plus Ned Sedgwick and Steve Ali get their heads around the baffling business of being an adult.

1. There are alternatives to sky-high rent if you're prepared to dip your toe in the water

“It’s very tricky… to afford the world,” states Mae. Even if you have your dream job and you have some money, can you ever buy a house? With the current state of the economy (especially with the amount of avocado on toast we’re expected to buy these days) it’s not going to be easy.

Is the solution to take to the water? Inspired by an episode of Radio 4's You & Yours, Ned sets out to experience life on a canal – to see if the humble houseboat holds the answer.

So, how does his week on HMS Sedgwick pan out?

“It was a disaster,” says Ned. It was dark, gloomy, about minus two, and the loo was just a “box”. But despite this, it wasn’t all bad. Living on a longboat actually could be a really nice life if you can get used to the lack of Wi-Fi. Ned also admits there’s a sense of community unlike anywhere else in London: “Everyone’s been incredibly nice.”

For houseboat owner Charlotte, finance, the alternative lifestyle, energy consumption and the ability to move around, plus the magic of being a bit closer to nature, are all great reasons to live on a boat.

Just make sure you have some extra warm clothing and maybe a head torch.

2. Don’t panic if you haven’t found your dream job. It might not exist yet.

Don’t have a career plan? Dissatisfied in the workplace? Don’t panic. It might simply be that you’re destined to do a job that doesn’t yet exist. It’s hard to believe, but according to one expert, an alleged 60 percent of eleven-year-olds will leave school to do jobs that haven’t yet been invented.

Resident fact-finder Bisha explains what some of these jobs might be, as predicted by “smart people of science.”

  • A Body Part Maker: someone who creates living limbs for amputees.
  • A Nanomedic: someone who will “create and assess very tiny implants that flow through your body and figure out what health medications you need.”
  • A Vertical Farmer: Soon we’ll need to start farming upwards to save space, and someone needs to be in charge.
  • A Child Designer: someone who will genetically design babies for new parents.

Feeling excited? Start preparing that CV...

3. Try curing a hangover with cabbages and cow’s tongue

We all love a board game but let’s be honest, says Ned, “sometimes the alcohol- and music-fuelled nights are the best.” Unfortunately, this has consequences: the dreaded hangover. And the older you get, the worse the after-effects.

Thankfully, Ned is on hand to investigate the most unique hangover cures from history – to help us all to function in GrownUpLand the day after the night before.

Try munching on some raw sprouts or cabbages to alleviate that nausea. Iszi Lawrence from Making History explains how the Greeks and Romans believed that the grape vine and the cabbage were “natural enemies.”

Another 17th-century cure (which sounds more like an experimental Masterchef recipe) is “a barrel of oysters, some anchovies and a cow’s tongue.” The famous diarist Samuel Pepys reportedly served this up to headache-y guests on New Year’s Day.

And finally, one for the men: try washing your testicles in salt and vinegar. If nothing else, says Ned, the water smells of fish and chips, which is delightful...

None of these options appeal? It might be time to cut back on the booze.

4. If you think house sharing is cramping your style, try living in a refugee camp

Has the housing crisis pushed you back in with your parents? Or forced you to share a flat with friends?

Today’s high rents mean that living in a multi-occupancy property is the only option for an increasing number of adults. Unfortunately, living in such close proximity with family members or mates can make having an active sex life feel slightly unsavoury.

Thankfully, Steve Ali is on hand to puncture the millennial bubble of woe with an insightful reality check. When he was living in the Calais Jungle the Syrian slept back-to-back with other refugees and volunteers in a makeshift room.

“If you’re finding sharing is killing your sex life,” says Steve, “I recommend going to a refugee camp and volunteering for a couple of weeks… When you come home your flat share will feel like a five-star hotel with a secluded beach while Marvin Gaye plays ‘Let’s Get It On.’ Also, you will have done some humanitarian work so you’ll really feel like you deserve some hot, hot loving good times.”

5. Find joy the grown up way by decluttering your life

“It is exhausting trying to be happy,” says Mae. “It’s like a full time job to try and excel in your chosen career, find true love, and have good friends.”

Is there a quick fix?

Marie Kondo thinks there is. The Japanese organisational consultant and author believes we can find joy and peace in our lives through decluttering. We should revise our relationship with everything we own by asking ourselves, “Does it spark joy?” If the answer is no, it’s time to get rid.

Mae is sceptical. Is streamlining our scarves the best way to find happiness? What about going to a theme park, having a glass of wine or going for a nice walk?

Ned gives the Marie Kondo method a crack but can’t ignore that the crisp packets and unopened Coca-Cola from the 2012 Olympics that he finds in his bedroom do in fact spark joy. And although his books about genocide might not bring him happiness, they do provide him with a better understanding of the world. All that this has done, says Ned, is make him more stubborn: "I think it just reminds me of someone telling me what to do.”

There’s only one way to determine whether the method will work for you: open that crammed wardrobe and start looking for joy.