May 27, 2011
First let me set the scene. I'm temping in a reception of a classical music society. I answer phones, greet people and watch funny videos on YouTube. That has been the extent of my days for the last two weeks. Until yesterday....
2:00pm - Something's beeping. I'll ignore it and it'll go away.
2:23pm - Probably should tell someone about that beeping seeing as it seems to be coming from serious looking alarm. Nah - important admin to do (Facebook).
2:30 - Guilt takes over. Peer round corner of reception at alarm and urge it to be quiet.
2:31 - Shushing it doesn't work. Man...going to have to call someone.
2:35 - Work out who to call. Ask her whether anything is on fire. She confirms that it isnt. Am relieved - don't want any casualties on my hands especially as i have been pretty flakey with signing visitors in and out.
2:50 - Lady confirms that there is a fault but no-one can come out to fix it until tomorrow morning. Brilliant. She laughs about it. I dont.
2:51 - Figure i should be positive about it seeing as we are going to be in each others company for the next three hours. Try and locate a beat in the beeping. No beat identified, just erratic screeching. Begin to rock back and forth in my chair.
3:00 - Come to the realisation that classical waiting room music (especially jazz flute) does NOT compliment alarm noises.
3:15 - Frantically search behind reception for cd player - need silence, need silence. Kick locked cupboard containing cd player, it doesn't open and i hurt my foot. Man sat in waiting room doesn't look impressed. Whatever.
4:15 - Last hour has been the slowest of my life. Have taken frequent breaks from behind the desk to just glare at the alarm urging it to stop. Its green light just blinks back at me mockingly as it continues its high pitched assault on my ear drums and my brain.
4:25 - Imagine what would happen if i kung-fu kicked the alarm. Imagine electrocution and after much debate decide that it probably isn't worth it.
4:37: No Mrs Fletcher, i do not know what a 'vibraphone' is. In fact, i think that you just created it to play with my mind and you are in fact the evil alarm gremlin who is watching my mental breakdown with glee and who has managed to get his hands on a mobile to continue my mental torment.
5:00 - One hour to go, begin a tally of minutes to have something else to focus on. Realise that i am shaking in fury.
5:09 - Snap pencil in half. It feels good.
5:17 - Go and stand in the pouring rain for a bit.
5:30 - Try and claw my way in to alarm box - no way in. Tap on glass for a bit just in case. Try putting my cup on it and drawing around it with a very sharp pencil in the effort to get through the glass. It doesn't work. Kick the wall.
5:31 - 29 minutes til home time.
5:33 - Decide to pace a bit to kill some time.
5:34 - Departing office workers look at the pacing receptionist with concern. Want to hurt them, they dont know what i've been through.
5:35 - 25 minutes until home time.
5:40 - 5:47 - Stare at nothing but clock. Realise that it must be the longest amount of time that i have ever looked at a clock for. Wonder whether i have broken some kind of record for clock watching. That would be cool.
5:48 - Google it and i haven't beaten any record. Spend about a minute being gutted.
5:49 - Realise that there is more to life than a world record for clock watching.
5:53 - Enough is enough. I pack my stuff and leave. Stick both my middle fingers up at alarm - makes me feel better but realise i'm swearing at an inanimate object and that it might be too late to save my mind.
What a day. It got to the stage where if any actual human had looked at me wrong i would have flipped out and smashed stuff up. when recalling the tale to my housemates they were most amused. The hilarity that ensued when a car alaram started going off on our street and didnt stop for about 2 hours only added to their fun and games.
I came to work this morning and there was a blissful silence filling the reception. I breathed a sigh of relief and settled down at my desk with a cuppa and a gossip website. Even the persistent phone calls weren't going to affect my positive mood.
And then, the beeping began again.
It was like a bad dream. The workman was busy trying to figure out what was going on and the repair process appeared to be a system of trial and error. He would try some things that would emit even louder noises and then something else which would result in the beeps taking on a chirping quality that caused me to wince.
The workman eventually informed me that he had done what he could but that as it was faulty he couldn't promise that it wouldn't start again. I practically ran at him as he attempted to make his escape.
"Please tell me there is something that i can do to shut it up. Please"
He looked at me, slightly confused, and guided me by the arm over to the alarm. I didn't want to look directly at it. This monster of torment who had haunted my dreams, made me chew all my nails off and made me snap my favourite pencil. I was like a petulent child forced to face their enemy who they had earlier kicked in the playground.
The kind chap informed me that all i needed to do was open the hatch (evidently very easy to do if you notice the fact that there is a key) and press the 'silence' button.
Now wouldn't that have been nice.
May 9, 2011
As someone who recently came to the end of being employed there are definitely better ways to spend a Monday morning than fighting rush hour traffic to get across London in last nights clothes.
Okay, the sun was shining and that was undoubtedly lovely but when you are feeling rubbish about not having a job, hanging out on busy buses and tube carriages with smug workers nursing their Starbucks soy lattes whilst perusing the business section of whatever newspaper they choose to buy on their happy jaunt to work is not ideal. Don't they know that the Metro is free? Clearly not.
There i was in yesterday's clothes, which i had foolishly chosen in a hungover state, without considering the fact that i would have to cross London wearing them the very next morning. I also neglected to remember my toothbrush which was more unfortunate for my fellow travellers than for me.
I thought that the early start would be a good thing. I would be home by the time i would probably have pressed snooze until, fresh for a productive Monday of sending off perfectly worded job application after perfectly worded job application to people who would see my name in their inbox, exclaim "at last we've found her" and then proceed to offer me fortunes, champagne, diamonds and maybe a micro-pig for good measure.
Instead i was pressed up against suited and booted, employed folk who gave me looks as if to say: "seriously love, do you really think a Guns and Roses t-shirt and no make-up is really appropriate attire for the workplace?". You should have seen the pity in their eyes. At least it gave me a good reason to pop in the ipod, crank it up and for once not care about people hating me. They already did purely because i wasn't joining them in busting out my ipad to check the latest stocks and shares. Well that's what they want you to believe - I reckon they are sneakily reading Perez Hilton.
I emerged from the tube in a hideous mood, made all the worse by the power walkers striding down Brixton Hill chatting into their hands-free kits and sounding important. For intelligent, employed people don't they know that hands-free kits make you look crazy? Unless you're driving, pushing a pram or carrying a small child then they just seem a bit showy. It gives me a bit of a fright as well because as they approach me i think that it is me that they are asking to pick up their dry cleaning or re-schedule their meeting so they can play golf. In hindsight, i'd probably happily do that for them at this stage if they paid me enough...and threw in that micro pig.
As the lone person walking in the opposite direction from the tube, i was in such a bad mood that i wouldn't have been surprised if one of those thunder clouds you see over grumpy people in cartoons was directly above my head, just raining on me. To say that i was feeling sorry for myself is a minor understatement but then i realised that it doesn't matter where i am on a Monday morning, i'm miserable and at least at the end of my journey i got to sit on my sofa and watch One Tree Hill. I should count myself lucky.
April 6, 2011
Why is that one place that people seem to believe that it is a good idea to strike up conversation is the gym? I like a good chat as much as the rest of us, try and ask me a question on the street and, with the exception of charity workers who I avoid like the plague, I will stop for a second, consider the most appropriate and informative answer and I will practically sing it back to you. That’s the kind of helpful girl I am. Ask me directions and even if I haven’t the faintest idea, I will try my best to get you as close to that spot as possible or find someone else who can help you. But if you try and chat to me whilst I am red in the face, sweating and clearly out of breath then be warned, I will be rude.
More often than not, I will be listening to some angry rock music at full volume so whenever this chatty person decides to try and engage me in some meaningless banter there are a couple of reasons why this angers me. Firstly, I will hesitate because I don’t know them, leading me to risk life and limb by looking behind me (very dangerous on the treadmill) to check whether they are in fact talking to me. Then I will have to remove my headphones. This just plain interrupts my flow and can result in a tripping hazard. Two reasons why hatred directed at the interrupter is a certainty.
I don’t know whether you have tried to talk when extremely out of breath? It isn’t easy. The most I can do is utter one syllable on my out breath and then as I try and hurry more oxygen into my lungs, I may be able to squeak another if you’re lucky. There is no way that I am going to be able to engage my brain enough to say something witty or insightful so therefore men out there – don’t try and chat me up at the gym.
I’m not going to pretend that this happens a lot. I have pretty much mastered the ‘don’t even think of talking to me look’. It involves looking angrily into the distance and trying to sweat as much as possible. The way I see it, the more that you sweat, the more people wont even want to go on the machine next to you and this is my end goal – keep everyone as far away as possible.
Now we’ve all seen Sex and the City – where handsome men just seem to materialise out of nowhere and ask the ladies out on dates no matter where they are, coffee shops, yoga classes, book stores. This doesn’t happen in real life. If these men were hot I wouldn’t try half as hard when exercising. I would actually think about what I wear rather than just throwing on the first pair of holey leggings that I can find and some stained vest top, inappropriate socks and what can only be described as hideous footwear. I cant afford sexy exercise gear, I’d rather eat. Also, dressing badly for the gym has become another defence mechanism which I assure you, if you are thinking about joining a gym in Brixton, you will need.
So remember, to avoid pesky chatty people in gyms around the world. Wear hideous clothing, terrible trainers, look angry and sweat as much as possible. It’s a tried and tested method.
March 2, 2011
December 15, 2010
It’s impossible not to notice her weird fetish – a mere stroll past her desk will have you staring in wonderment at her shrine to potentially the most pointless animal on the planet.
The array of different pictures of rabbits that she has is mind boggling – there are cartoon rabbits, rabbits sketched in pencil on fancy paper and there is even a watercolour of 2 rabbits frolicking in a meadow surrounded by buttercups.
It is so weird.
Her collection of rabbit art also encompasses humorous birthday cards with rabbits doing slightly wacky things like eating giant carrots and wearing sunglasses whilst drinking cocktails. Those crazy rabbits.
The lady in question has also managed to accumulate an impressive selection of newspaper cuttings which involve rabbits doing things that are worthy to get in the newspaper which I find it hard to get my head around. It must have been a slow news day that day.
I have to confess that there is one article that does look rather interesting even to a rabbit sceptic like myself. Unfortunately I have not been able to get close enough to confirm my suspicions but from craning my neck to get a good look, the centrepiece of her ‘Wall of Rabbits’ appears to be an article about a swimming rabbit. Now that is what I call news.
I suppose it makes sense that rabbits would be good swimmers seeing as they have massive feet but I fail to understand how their little hands would help them propel themselves through the water. Maybe these animals that sit around all day munching slightly-rotten veg are in fact harbouring a secret passion for busting out the goggles and swimming cap and doing a few lengths to blow off some steam. These clumsy animals who make us laugh with the ineffective way that they hop around, could in fact be incredibly graceful when gliding through the water. I just don’t see it but it does make me wonder how much more exciting people would consider rabbits if they could swim.
The more I thought about this, the more I just couldn’t fathom that a humble bunny wabbit would be able to swim so I decided to go in. With zero fear for my own safety around the lady who is obsessed with rabbits, I sauntered past and casually started up a conversation about the newspaper article. I also took a second to notice that she was writing with a pen that, naturally, had a rabbit on the end. Seriously, I could understand the obsession if it were about an animal that did something, you know, a shark, a tiger, maybe a horse but I just couldn’t get my head around her rabbit fetish.
Then I glanced away from the creepy pen and read the article…..
Rather than it being about a swimming rabbit as I originally anticipated, it was about a rabbit who had become an internet sensation for his amazing ability to balance things on his head including tea cups, fruit and waffles. Don’t believe me? Check it out here.
Now, I get the obsession. I eat my words. That is awesome. Where can I get one of those rabbit pens?
December 14, 2010
I have just spent the last hour battling through the crowds hell bent on getting their festive shopping done even though there is not enough floor space in the whole area to accommodate the hoards of panic buying shoppers who’ve journeyed to London from around the country to snap up what is already available on their local high street. There are literally people everywhere and they all have a steely look of determination in their eyes which says; “get out of my way or I will trample you to the ground and then smack you upside the head with my 15 Primark bags”. Trust me, they mean it.
It’s like central London has been taken over by some kind of virus but instead of turning humans into zombies, it has turned them in to psychopathic shoppers who’s manners have been long forgotten.
Lets not forget that we are in England. We are known worldwide as having excellent manners. (that and binge drinking) Just watch any American film which has to briefly portray a room of British people and we are inevitably shown as tea drinking, crumpet eating posh twits who say please and thank you too much and more often than not, have suspicious facial hair. If those film makers could see us at Christmas time – they would seriously change their opinions.
I feel that I am one of the minority who have remembered that physical violence against ones peers is not the done thing and have clung on tight to the manners that my parents instilled in me. I know for one that if I bash into anyone on the street I don’t stop and glare at them menacingly daring them to stand up again just so that I can knock them down. Not like my fellow shoppers. No, I apologise profusely, even if I just grazed their handbag. My resolve is wearing thin though I tell you. If I trip over one more suitcase that someone has conveniently decided to bring with them to the busiest street in London, at rush hour, then I will not be responsible for my actions.
The relief I experience at leaving the office at the end of the day is short lived. Inevitably, the tube is closed because of over crowding which means I have to get a bus. Fine. I’ve lived in London a while now, I can handle public transport issues, it goes hand in hand with any commute. What I cant handle is people charging at you from all angles, lost in their own thoughts of what to procure their loved ones for Christmas and all the while staring in wonderment at the (largely underwhelming) Christmas lights. The lights don’t make me feel Christmassy – they make me angry.
If any of you were avid ‘Gladiators’ watchers in the 90’s then I feel that you will understand what I go through everyday at 5 o’clock. Recall, if you will, the game ‘The Gauntlet’. The rules were easy. The competitor had to get to the other end of the track. Simples. However, in their way were 5 angry Gladiators with various weapons just waiting to take them down. My journey home is exactly the same – apart from no-one is wearing a leotard. The Gladiators are replaced with shoppers and the weapons are replaced with shopping bags, trolleys, suitcases, bikes, prams and anything large that’s going to hurt you if you collide with it. At least at the end of Gladiators you won something. Here, the only thing that you win is your right to walk down the street and get home in one piece.
The weird thing is that the crowds just don’t seem to subside – in fact, they seem to grow on a daily basis. The one thing that I am grateful for is that my hatred of Christmas shopping and members of the general public led me to complete all of my shopping in a record 1 hour and 10 minutes. I can only attribute what must be an international world record to my daily training on Oxford Streets’ own version of the Gladiators. At least it’s good for something.