Excellent News! Nobody’s Perfect

I have four brothers. The eldest – Oliver, selfishly made life particularly difficult for the rest of us growing up, by being so goddamn brilliant. How rude. While I struggled to make a three legged cat from Stickle Bricks, he built the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World using matchsticks and wood glue. His Hanging Gardens of Babylon were particularly stupendous.

At eight years old, my extensive list of achievements included:

  • Playing a Daffodil in my school’s production of Alice in Wonderland.
  • Learning all of the words to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.
  • Mastering my three times table.                             
  • Drawing a Viking, whose immense moustache protruded from his nostrils.

When Oliver was eight – he started programming computers. By nine – he moved on to assembler programming (whatever that is). I just thought he was showing off.

Some people are simply destined for greatness. Oliver is one of them. Though don’t feel too bad – he can’t cook:  

Rumour has it Victoria Beckham has twelve toes, Brad Pitt is actually bald, Adele’s breath smells of cabbage, Dame Judi Dench once had an illicit affair with Billy Connolly and Sylvester Stallone can’t sleep without his comfort blanket.

Okay, so none of the above statements are strictly true, but for a brief moment, when you thought they might have been – weren’t you uplifted, just a little? By learning the flaws and mistakes of others – we feel a little better about ourselves (and sometimes a teeny bit smug). 

If it helps – Lily Allen really does have a nubbin.

As I face the formidable task of job hunting in this uncertain financial climate, I am comforted by the fact I don’t actually need to be perfect. Excellent news, given that I have the hand-eye coordination of a Muppet, coupled with the athletic dexterity of Moby Dick. I may not be made for waitressing, cheerleading or fire-juggling, but I can string a sentence together. I even know what an apostrophe is and I’m not afraid to use one. So somewhere out there in the job hunting abyss is an occupation with my name on it, something I am meant to do – that doesn’t involve spilling hot drinks, dropping people, or setting myself ablaze.    

I hear there might be a few openings at The Sun

I Was Young and Needed the Money

I once spent four and a half hours cleaning my father’s car, only for him to run his index finger along the bonnet and tell me it wasn’t spotless enough.

Admittedly, I hadn’t really removed any of the dirt, merely repositioned it. Considering the fact I had worked my way through a thousand gallons of water, two giant sponges, six bottles of washing-up liquid and 32 rolls of kitchen towel – this was something of a disappointment.

My parents were very keen to teach my brothers and I the value of money at a young age, and it is fair to say – they succeeded. Having persevered with the car for a further two hours, I was dutifully rewarded for my hard work, determination, blood, sweat and tears (so many tears) with what my father considered to be the going rate: fifty pence. I also caught a cold from being sopping wet all day, developed a rash from the industrial cleaning products and lost all feeling in my fingertips for three days.

Needless to say – that was the last time I ever worked for 7.6 pence an hour. It also marked the end of my short-lived car valeting career.

I was made redundant today, a scary prospect to say the least. To mark the occasion (aside from the obligatory job hunting) I thought I’d take stock of what I’ve learnt so far in my fourteen years of employment. Please remember, I was young and needed the money:

AS A WAITRESS – ONCE YOU’VE TAKEN A FOOD ORDER – MAKE SURE YOU PASS IT ON TO THE KITCHEN STAFF. They’ll cook it so much quicker that way.

CUSTOMERS DON’T TEND TO LIKE IT WHEN YOU SPILL HOT COFFEE DOWN THEM.

WHEN CARRYING 72 EMPTY PINT GLASSES STACKED ON TOP OF ONE ANOTHER, BE CAREFUL NOT TO TRIP OVER YOUR OWN FEET.

IF AN INTOXICATED CUSTOMER LOOKS LIKE HE’S ABOUT TO THROW TWO BEER BOTTLES AT YOUR HEAD – IT’S BECAUSE HE IS ABOUT TO THROW TWO BEER BOTTLES AT YOUR HEAD. That’s your cue to move.

DON’T BE A DOORMAT. If your obsequious boss frequently guilt-trips you into coming in early (unpaid), finishing late (also unpaid), cancelling your social life and mopping the floor with your tongue: leave.     

NEVER DATE THE BOSS. Especially when he looks like Phil Mitchell.

WHEN YOU EVENTUALLY GET A PROPER GROWNUP JOB – ALWAYS CHECK YOURSELF IN THE MIRROR BEFORE LEAVING THE HOUSE FOR WORK. You can just about get away with odd socks, but wearing your top inside out in the boardroom will start rumours.

IF YOU FALL ASLEEP AT YOUR DESK/CRY IN THE LADIES TOILETS/VOMIT IN THE WASTEPAPER BASKET, JUST ONCE – DON’T EXPECT YOUR COLLEAGUES TO FORGET IT. EVER. 

ANNOY PEOPLE LESS AND THEREFORE AVOID GETTING STABBED WITH A BIRO.

MINIMISE THE WEB BROWSER WHEN YOUR BOSS COMES OVER. Not everyone shares your appreciation of David Beckham in his underpants. (I am yet to establish why).

THE NIGHT BEFORE YOUR INTERVIEW IS NOT THE TIME TO EXPERIMENT WITH FAKE TAN.

BEWARE: “REPLY ALL”.

FOR SOME LIGHT ENTERTAINMENT – REPLACE YOUR BOSS’ MOTIVATIONAL POSTER “PLAN, PREPARE, PERFORM” WITH ONE FAR MORE CONSTRUCTIVE, LIKE “PLAN, PREPARE, POTATO”. I give it 3 weeks before he notices.

DO SOMETHING YOU ENJOY.

HAVE A PLAN E! This is mine.

Train Etiquette for those Less Travelled

I have decided to masquerade as someone very busy and important on this train by tapping away on my laptop. I am pretty sure however that if my ripped jeans and Primani snow boots don’t give me away, then my David Beckham screensaver will.  Nonetheless, I shall continue in vain, as the gentleman to my right really wants to talk to me – and his breath smells of feet.

I feel that I’ve learnt a lot about train etiquette on this brief four and a half hour journey. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it goes a little something like this:

BEFORE YOU PURCHASE YOUR TICKET – ENSURE YOU SMELL OF FEET.

WHEN BOARDING YOUR TRAIN – IGNORE ALL INSTINCTS TO BE POLITE AND/OR CONSIDERATE IN ANY WAY. It’s every man (and woman) for themselves. Pushing and shoving are actively encouraged. A swift elbow to the face should render any assailant unconscious. Where possible – arm yourself with a large umbrella / bicycle / Rottweiler.

IF YOU FEEL THE NEED TO HOLD A PRIVATE CONVERSATION ON YOUR MOBILE PHONE (REALLY LOUDLY) HEAD TO THE QUIET ZONE. They’ll love you.

MAKE SURE YOU DRINK LOTS OF FLUIDS BEFORE EMBARKING ON YOUR JOURNEY. You’ll get to experience the delightful facilities that your train network provider has to offer: A door that does not lock, loo roll as soft as sandpaper and a flush powerful enough to evacuate your colon.

BE OVERTLY RUDE TO THE TICKET INSPECTOR. He’s a lesser human being than you after all and therefore doesn’t warrant any courtesy or respect.

MID-MORNING – EAT SOMETHING INTOXICATING, LIKE AN EGG MAYONNAISE SANDWICH. The wondrous odour will engulf your entire carriage and everyone will think you are wonderful for sharing.

IF YOU NEGLECTED TO BRING A SNACK WITH YOU – FEAR NOT. So long as you’re willing to remortgage your house, then the onboard catering staff will happily sell you a Mars bar.

HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS? THEN COUGH, SNEEZE AND SPLUTTER. Do so with wild abandon and without tissues – preferably in the face of someone who is eight foot tall, extremely hairy, adorned with piercings and has “HATE” tattooed across her knuckles.

DON’T HOG YOUR MUSIC COLLECTION. Set your MP3 player’s default setting to maximum volume. If you haven’t perforated an eardrum, then it’s too quiet.  Of course the world will share your love of Van Halen / Mozart / Westlife / Justin Bieber.

WHEN ACCOMPANIED BY YOUNG CHILDREN, ENSURE THEY HAVE NOTHING WHATSOEVER TO KEEP THEMSELVES OCCUPIED. For goodness sake – don’t give them a colouring book, or feed them slices of mango – you’ll only show all of the other parents up. Feed them a giant sausage roll, family sized bag of Haribo, some Monster Munch and a gallon of full fat Coke. That’ll keep them happy. By kicking, screaming and pulling the hair of innocent bystanders they are merely “testing the boundaries” and such behaviour should be commended. Reward them with more sweets. If they do misbehave – also give them sweets.

BE NICE TO THE CRAZY WOMAN ON HER LAPTOP, WITH THE RIPPED JEANS, PRIMANI SNOW BOOTS AND DAVID BECKHAM SCREENSAVER. She’s probably writing about you.