I’ve realised something about myself this week. Something horrible and slightly disturbing, that I can only assume normally comes to surface after your past life regression therapist reveals that you were once that god forsaken horny German divorcee, who plied an impressionable Klara, the housekeeper, with Liebfraumilch, until visions of getting your filthy mits on her ‘Liebfraumilch’ and promoting her to the role of new wife were very much achieved. Fast forward four years and you’re naming your fourth child Adolf.
You know who you are Alois Hitler, you know what your penis did…
On my walk home from work on Monday, I had a fleeting thought about popping in to the 24 hour Asda to let Darren know about my weekend. It was at this precise moment that I realised I’ve become a female version of Alan Partridge; but more pathetic. At least Alan had his own en suite, and a big plate – I’ve only got a shared bog and a bowl.
You see, Darren is not my friend. Darren is in fact the guy who works the night shift in the electronics department in Asda, who I appear to have developed an unrequited friendship with. (But little does he realise, I’m the customer and I’m always right – so it definitely is a friendship.) What I initially mistook as shyness in his demeanour, I think might actually be fear. The midnight creeping of nocturnal shoppers does attract a mass of ‘colourful’ characters to say the least, so it would not surprise me if Darren found my bleary eyed ramblings to be somewhat uncomfortable, disconcerting and only very occasionally – threatening.
May I just point out that the previous comment is in no way meant to be interpreted as ignorant social commentary in regards to the ethnic communities that populate New Cross – it’s merely an unfortunate coincidence that most of the shoppers I’ve seen have the sort of eyes that scream “I’m only here so I have an alibi.”
Let me explain what led me to think Darren would give a toss about my weekend. It all began with what started as a typically disappointing week which rapidly escalated into an all too familiar theme of my life. It was my brother’s surprise 30th Birthday party last Saturday and I wanted to buy him a present. Obviously, I had glorious delusions of grandeur that involved personalised decanters, speeding around formula one racing tracks or spraying Champagne recklessly over ourselves like a Kanye West yacht party – but in Dudley; and definitely not in any unlawfully sexual way that would bring shame on the Bevan family name. Unfortunately, living unhappily nestled like a piece of forgotten popcorn in the bosom of a Barclays overdraft as I do, this was never going to happen – so I settled on buying him a computer game, book or a DVD instead. He likes all those things so I couldn’t really go wrong – or so I thought. I hold Darren entirely responsible for the inevitably disappointing gift I purchased. You might argue that perhaps if I knew my brother better then I wouldn’t have to rely on the knowledge of practical strangers for ideas of what to buy him – you might also want to shut the fuck up.
You and your bloody logic.
At first I picked up a book which had some sort of warrior on the front; my rationalisation was that the cover reminded me of the final scene in ‘The Legionnaire’ and my brother is a fan of Van-Damme (who isn’t?) therefore he would definitely love this book. Right? No. Darren was not impressed. After 45 minutes of deliberating gift ideas and fighting the urge to upturn every single one of his stock trolleys if he turned his snotty little nose up at one more thing I pointed at, he finally persuaded me to purchase a PS3 game. Too tired to argue with his blatantly weak sales persuasion tactics of “I dunno, he probably hasn’t got it”, and too embarrassed to openly recognise the stupidity in my decision to rely on his opinion about the taste of a man he’s never even met – I went along with it. Let me break down what happened in the next few days in a few short sharp sentences.
Card declined, feel bad. Remember train tickets home are pre booked, feel worse – want to cry. Realise you can’t go home empty handed, tell Darren to keep it to one side, walk home – sit on bed and sulk. Wake up late, go to bank, beg for money, get rejected – feel bad. Cry at bank, beg for money relentlessly, get money – feel better. Run (read: fast jog) to work, drop MP3 player down toilet – pre flush – feel bad again. Get nice voicemail about a job opportunity, feel good. Get free cake, feel even better. Get horrible phone call from bank, feel bad again. Ask for an advance at work, feel grateful and happy. Borrow money to buy present, collect present that night, walk home – feel content. Wake up, pack bag, walk to work safe in the knowledge that money is on the way. Get anxious about money, shamefully ask about money, get assured it’ll be transferred that day, feel good again – thank people a little too enthusiastically. Leave work, check purse, count last £4.50, spend on train ticket to get to station. Get on train, laugh at people getting bollocked by nutter, snooze, snore a bit probably, snooze – feel groggy. Get picked up by lovely big sister and spend evening with lovely mom. Sleep. Wake up on day of party, have excellent time with family and friends, eat meat, drink excessively, feel lucky. Find out brother already has game, curse Darren – move on to pub for evening. Offer to buy birthday drinks – feel generous. Card declined. Realise bank have stolen advance, cry in despair, in middle of the pub – feel like a twat. Drinks sponsored by various beautiful people for rest of night – feel like a twat still, but a drunken twat. Be loud and obnoxious. Pass out. Wake up, feel rough, remember have no money – feel complete and utter despair again.
So this brings us to Sunday. Whilst I did feel terrible that at the age of 26, there are paperboys who have a higher disposable income than me, I knew that as long as I could borrow enough change to get home from Marylebone station, then I could easily last the next 5 days without any money because I remembered that I had 15 left eggs in fridge. Now, maths isn’t my strong point, but even I can rustle up a simple equation that leaves me with:
15 eggs / 5 days = 3 eggs per day / 3 meals per day = 1 egg per meal.
And on the days when that equation just didn’t seem alluring enough, I could always rustle up a three egg omelette instead.
Plenty of people in the world have existed for much longer and on a lot less than 15 eggs and eternal optimism, so I might as well just get on with it. I mean, I’m not even entirely sure I actually have pelvic bones, so I’m not exactly going to waste away. And while we’re over here peering into the bright side of life – at least I know that the ‘Card Issuer Declined Diet’ always works. (That’s patented by the way, and before you get any ideas – so is my ‘Chilean Miners Diet’ plan)
I’m fully aware that I’m a bad dresser and incredibly scruffy – but Sunday was the day it really hit home. I don’t own any posh trousers or a single pair of smart shoes and with a job interview pending on the Monday morning, my mom took one look at my feet and uttered one of my all time favourite Babsy quotes: “Look at the state of your shoes. Your Dad would be turning in his grave – if he had one”. The next thing I know, we’re up the Shopping Centre and she’s treated me to a new pair of said shoes. Trousers. I needed trousers. I’ve only got one good pair of jeans left – and I say good in the loosest sense of the term possible. All my other jeans seem to have slowly disintegrated at the crotch over time and evolved into some sort of homemade chaps. For a long while, I persevered with them, but having to colour my legs in with black marker pen every morning was becoming rather tiresome and despite being petrified to walk up stairs or accidently stride too wide – I was convinced the permanency of the marker pen was very close to becoming a shite and rather unexplainable tattoo.
“Oh, what’s your tattoo, is it tribal?”
“Err, no – its Melanoma.”
Babsy came to the rescue once again, treated me to a posh pair of trousers and even subbed me a few quid for my train home. God love her. I felt a little choked as I got out of the car at the train station that evening, life was so much easier when you just wore whatever your mom put you in – even if it was a knee length pair of flowery Culottes; which I secretly loved! As we sat in the car, mom forced me to put my new shoes on – I think she was worried people might think I was a missing person loitering wild eyed around the train station. And as I sat with my feet disrespectfully resting on the dashboard we laughed heartily (well I did) about the time she nearly disowned on the spot in Totally Uniform because when I took my trainers off I gassed out entire families quicker than a bunker at Birkenau. Ahhh, memories – they made me feel nostalgic, happy and determined to prove to my mom that she did actually raise a fully functioning human being.
I woke up Monday morning, and my feelings of optimism quickly faded. It was raining, and I’d miscalculated my eggs. I only had ten. I know, woe is me. Not even my posh new trousers could cheer me up. Just as an added insight into the lavish lifestyle that I lead, these trousers were only £6 and yet I still refer to them as my ‘posh’ trousers; just imagine the state of the rest of my wardrobe. First problem – it’s raining off and on. Before yesterday, I didn’t even own a pair of shoes with a full sole in, so an umbrella is pushing it. By now, the change I had left over from Sunday meant my pocket was not so much burning, but maybe tepid with the heat of the £3.36 I had floating around in there. I couldn’t risk walking to the interview, because I’d probably get soaked, but its ok I thought, I’ll safely transport myself and my two eggs there by the luxury of the train; and I’ll still have £1.66 to tide me over for the rest of the week. Easily done.
To cut a very long story short, the eggs and I made it in and out of the interview unscathed; my dwindling optimism however, was in rapid decline. Let’s just say that as soon as the word ‘Paedo’ left my lips upon entering the building – I had a feeling I wasn’t quite in the right mind frame. I promise you that the context it was used in makes much more sense; I just haven’t got the time or energy to explain.
This brings me back to that fateful Monday evening when I really wanted to go and tell Darren all about the present mishap and overall ridiculous weekend – and that’s when the Alan Partridge syndrome kicked in. Darren wouldn’t care that my brother already had the game, and what was I expecting from him even if he did? A free game? A written apology?
Four months ago, I graduated with a masters degree and had my whole future shining brightly ahead of me, so since when did I become the girl that treats casual shop assistants like long lost family members? Now i’m scared to death that if I could afford to get buses, I’d be the one that lingers by the driver’s window discussing The X Factor like it’s world politics and then utters: “Thank you driver” in a creepily sing song voice as I arthritically step off it.
Boris Johnson, you beautiful ginger bear, your unyielding insistence for inflating public transport prices in London, just may have saved my mental health.
Loitering around the grand doorway of Asda, my mind triggered back to the £1.66 I was lumbering around town with me. It was 11pm on Monday night by now (please note that I don’t finish work until 10 – I’m sad, but I’m not that sad) which for me means it’s ‘WHOOOPS’ rack night and luminous yellow stickers are literally the only thing I can see. I’m like Vin Diesel in the film Pitch Black when I’m in a supermarket. Sometimes the ‘WHOOOPS’ rack is a bountiful feast of various rejected items all spearheading towards the end of their shelf life. Trodden on crisps, smashed up soup, or if you’re lucky – rotting fruit. (The ’WHOOPS’ rack £1 Challenge is also a specialised diet plan that I am in the process of patenting) But on this day it had surpassed itself – there was a whole shelf dedicated to Smartprice Chicken Roll for just 20 wonderful pence. 20p for crying out loud, for a pack of reformed meat slices – what more could a girl want?
As I stood there, my arms full with 6 packets of Chicken Roll piled clumsily on top of each other, I suddenly had a personal crisis. I could do the right thing, buy the 6 packets of chicken, and be able to have eggs for breakfast and then equally spread my Chicken Roll out between dinner and tea up until payday – and still have enough left over for an emergency apple later in the week if my body starts to sweat sulphates.
Or…I could spunk my last £1 on a scratchcard, win big and still have enough money left over for not one, but maybe two celebratory Freddo’s.
Tricky. Maybe this is it, I thought – maybe this is when life gets good? I could be one of those stories that you read in the paper and feel equal amounts of jealousy and disgust, when a woman has spent her last £5 in the world on scratchcards instead of Christmas presents for her 8 disabled children – and WON! I could be that woman!
I could even imagine the headline…
“Girl Snubs Ham For Big Stake”
One day…one day. Alas, as I looked down at my arms and then looked up and caught my reflection in the refrigerator mirror, I realised that day was not meant to be today. Oh no. And so I shuffled over to the self checkout, my arms heavy, laden with meat and my heart heavy with moral defeat. (My soul destroying scratchcard addiction is something we’ll address in my next post)
But, four days down the line… and I know everything’s going to be ok, because today is when life gets good; albeit briefly.
For, today is the day that the micro-pigs come and visit us in the office, and I defy anyone to be sad on tiny pig day.
Today is also Pay Day.
Thank fuck for that.
I’ll see you same time next month no doubt.
Oh and if you’re wondering – no, surprisingly, I didn’t get the job.
- Best served within the next half an hour