Category Archives: My work

We just want romance. Honest.

When it comes to Valentine’s Day I am a typical female. Demanding with a touch of irrationality thrown in for good measure. Flowers, cuddly toys, fancy chocolates finished off with a cosy tête à tête in a swanky restaurant. I want it all. And I feel I have a license to be demanding after spending the last 4 years as a single girl. Now I have a boyfriend firmly in tow for Valentines, I don’t just want the lot, I expect it.

Valentine’s Day really is a time for reckoning, a time to judge a relationship and an opportunity to forge one. When I was 12, I used to fancy Joey who lived across the road. Even then Valentine’s Day was Judgment Day; if our love was meant to be, this was his chance to declare it, preferably by means of a red envelope grinning up at me from my letterbox. Needless to say, it did not happen and I awoke to the harsh reality that no matter how many Garbage Pail Kid stickers we swapped or Curly Wurly bars we shared, he probably did not fancy me after all. Then my mum started feeling sorry for me and began sending me cards. Each year she would sign my card with the name of whoever I fancied. This was sweet but also sheer torture. I remember them all. At 14 it was Chris who got the 281 bus with me, at 15 I went transatlantic with Joey from New Kids On The Block and now at 24 it’s Steve in Accounts. That last one, I am glad to say, was a joke.

But once you are older and you think Valentine’s are history, what happens? They raise the stakes. If you don’t have a boyfriend, a card is still fervently hoped for, from someone, anyone. If you do have a partner, then it’s got to be roses, cuddly toys, and meals out, chocolates, anything that shouts, “I AM LOVED. I AM CHERISHED” louder than the next person. Even if you are pampered with all the trimmings, there are still girls to taunt you who get all the above. AND taken away for cosy weekends in the country or for sophisticated little Euro weekend breaks. The kind of destinations you see advertised on the underground when you are most in need of a holiday.

This year’s Valentine’s Day took place on a Monday and even worse in the office. Roses were the main culprits and if some smug colleague had them delivered to the office then she instantly became a thorn in our side. We were the vultures, the rose maiden the carcass. The ride home on the tube evoked similar emotions as many a women clutched her bouquet proudly, fearful that another might grab it, fiercely warding off piercing stares thrown her way by flowerless females.

As for the men, I actually feel quite sorry for them at this time of the year. I mean, they must be under so much pressure. The funniest thing is walking past the florist in the evening and seeing the sweating, panting boyfriends fighting over the last half a dozen roses, knowing full well that the deceptive aroma of these beautiful flowers can make or break their lives. Or the mad rush over the weekend for that first class stamp, as precious a commodity as meat in the war.

But at the end of the day, all we truly want is romance. The presents, the meals and the roses are all nicely incidental but the thrill of romance is what it is all about. Being pampered in the name of love.
The cards, the flowers – these are things to take a lady back to the days when she was wooed and courted before forsaking her honour. In an age when quite often it takes no more than one Bacardi too many before woopsidaisy it’s, “How do you like your eggs?”, a hint of an effort is all it takes. We’re honestly not that difficult to please, no really. Having said that, if it means I never have to hold vigil by my letterbox again then I’ll have my eggs fried please, and runny in the middle.

Working Class Student

Being a bit of a new student I thought I would embrace all things student-like and get myself some new clothes with me Student Loan. Now, living all me life in Holloway, I thought I would go down the Holloway Road because the stuff down there is quality stuff – and all at decent, honest bloke kind of prices. Armed with my new Switch card in one hand and my girlfriend, Tina, on the other arm (she was pushing our kids in their buggy with alarm, dodging the dog shit and refugees), I strutted down the Holloway Road greeting my old mates from my school sitting in some of the greasy spoons eating their lunch.

“Oi, Dave!” they grunted at me as I walked past, “you fink you’re something special now you’re a student, don’t cha?”

“I don’t think I’m nothing, mate. I’m just getting myself a bit of an education so I can jump straight into management position at Kwik Save. You aint seeing me on some poxy checkout.”

Anyway, first stop was the shoe shop. Now I know, yeah, that one of the main buys for students is shoes. Tina told me so.

“Dave,” she said, plying the kids with chocolate to shut the fucking things up, “you must get some new shoes. Nice ones. To go wiv yer Ben Sherman shirts you got down the market. Gotta look like you know stuff and you aint full of shit.”

I wondered if that meant that she thought I was. But I aint one to question her. She’s only 17, three years younger than me, and does her job brilliantly. Our kids are only noisy when they want somethink. Which is often. But again I am losing track. Keep getting pestered. Right.

So the shoe shop, yeah. I found some class shoes with a tiny bit of a heel for added height and I thought, ‘Nice one. Bargin.’ Cause while they were £30 quid they looked like a lot of time and effort had gone into making them – they were genuine leather and everythink. And because they were quality, nice Italian stuff, I didn’t mind handing over the dollars – although Tina got in a bit of a humph ‘cause we normally only stretch to £25 at a push for some shoes. But it was a special occasion. Start of my HND, innit.

I buy the shoes, and at Tina’s insistence (read bossiness) decide to wear ‘em home to break em in like. The shop assistant bird said that ‘cause they were leather they wouldn’t need no breaking in so I reckon that Tina just wanted to show me off in my new shoes on Holloway Road. I think I looked quite fit in em. In fact I know I did. So we’re walking down the road, right, when my left foot begins to ache a bit. The shoe on my left foot is properly squashing my toes and I’m getting a bit concerned.

“Ere, Tina,” I say to the missis, who is munching on Wotsits that the kids sucked on for a bit but then decided not to eat. “These shoes, yeah, they feel a bit tight.”

“You’ve gotta break ‘em in like I told ya,” she said to me, scratching her arse and breaking one of her false nails off in the process. “Keep on walking, yeah, and they’ll feel better. It’s ‘cause they’re real shoes and not cheap tack off the market.”

Tina knows about these things. So I walk on.

A few days later, after I come to University, enrol and meet all the twats on my course, I stand in dog shit. Slippery brown muck all over the road. Well nasty stuff. I get home, yeah, and make Tina clean my shoes for me.

“Ew, yuck, they like, stink,” she says to me in a whiny voice that she ain’t used since she was about 13 and she got pissed off with me trying to poke her while her brother was in the room. She cleans the shit off ‘em, and when I examine the soles to make sure she’s done ‘em properly, I notice that one of em says ‘9’ on the bottom and that the other says ‘8’. I’m a size 9. I then realise why the toes on my left foot have been throbbing uncontrollably.

“Oi Tina,” I yell to the missis, who is watching Tricia and is bawling her eyes out ‘cause some couple have just tied the knot on the telly.

“Why can’t we get married on telly like them there?” she snuffles at me, looking at her engagement ring I bought her from Argos for £200 (that pained me, that did).

“Never mind this wedding nonsense,” I said to her, wondering why she keeps on finking we’re gonna get married, “my shoes are two different sizes! That’s why my feet have been hurting, innit’.

Tina looks worried. “You can’t take ‘em back, you know?” she says. “You’ve worn ‘em. You’ve trod in dog shit.”

This well badly pisses me off. “But I kept the reciept ‘cause they were a proper piece of class clothing,” I say.

“It don’t matter Dave,’ she states, sounding bored. “You trod in dog shit and they ain’t gonna let you swap a small shoe for a bigger one – even if they did give you the wrong size in the first place.”

This is shit. I mean, you go to a top shoe boutique, they give you one shoe a size too small and then you can’t take the shoe back, just ‘cause you have trod in dog shit? What is that about? The bloody owner of the bloody dog should be paying for me to get some shoes to fit for fuck’s sake. I don’t need no education to tell me that this is wrong, that this is an injustice or whatever, but I am fuming.

If being a student is about being someone who takes a stand and starts campaigns to end nasty shit then this is what I stand for. I am not gonna let poncy shoe shop assistants with their expensive leather shoes treat me, a working class lad, like this. Especially not when I have paid £30 for the shoes in the first place. I could have got imitation leather ones for a tenner down the market. And they would ‘ave let me swap ‘em no hassle.

Kitchen Sink Drama

As soon as I come in from work, it is there. As I watch EastEnders, it is there. As I ‘cook’ my dinner (usually just slinging a frozen monstrosity in the oven), it is there. What is there, I hear you cry, unless you’ve already got bored and gone to read something else. What is there? Well, I’ll tell you…other people’s bloody washing up, that’s what. I seem to have this knack that no matter where I live and whom I live with, they will invariably have an allergic reaction to Fairy Liquid, and will therefore never wash up.

Now I’m no clean freak, I don’t spend my free time scrubbing at the toothbrush holder into the early hours chanting “must be clean, must be clean”, but I quite like living in a flat/ house that is not at risk from infestations, and does not smell like a dustbin. It seems that yet again I’ve struck unlucky when it comes to the washing-up question. Who says that incest and menstruation are the last taboos (I read it somewhere)? If you ask me, the thing that nobody wants to talk about is whose turn it is to do the washing up.

As I stare at the piles of plates, pans, dishcloths and egg cups, I cast my mind back to the other beautiful residences I have…er…resided in, and wonder what is the only thing each place had in common. Apart from squalor and extortionate rents, the washing up ‘aversion’ is the key factor.

At my Mum’s, it was always me who bitched about having to wash up, pulling my best Kevin-the-teenager face and moaning that I didn’t like getting my hands wet. Never did I guess that years later I would become obsessed to the point of schizophrenic about dirty dishes. I can cope with mess. You know, the odd magazine here and there, a few shoes flung about etc. etc. But mess is quite a different thing from dirt. I cringe when I come in from work and have to play ‘spot the spillage’ on my kitchen floor as my shoes stick rigidly to it. I am close to tears as I spend half an hour looking for a certain knife only to find it underneath a pile of burnt baking tins, charcoaled pans and lard-covered cutlery. Needless to say the afore-mentioned knife will be covered in a non-distinguishable substance which will take me a further half-hour to scrub off.

I’ve lived in worse places, though. I doubt if anything could compete with Year 3 of university life when I shared a house with 6 members of a rugby team and a hockey player. I would wake to find that they had bought the entire crockery department at Habitat…. and cooked chips with all of it, leaving it strewn about the kitchen, which looked like the remnants of a Greek wedding crossed with a Crimewatch reconstruction. But that was not all.

If any of you have lived with sporting uni types, you may be aware of their penchant for ‘acquiring’ things after a night up the uni bar kissing each others’ testes (bizarre initiation ceremony) and drinking dodgy cocktails, mainly composed of whisky, vodka, something green and the team captain’s pubic hair (I kid you not). By ‘acquiring’ things, I mean the art of bringing home road signs, park benches, hookers (not the rugby variety), and even a dog once. To top things off, most of them were unbelievable exhibitionists, constantly walking around with very little on, having sex with girls in the kitchen! Loudly! At 2.30 in the afternoon! With people watching! Another favourite activity of one of them (you know who you are) was to invite any female friends I had round for a cup of vodka, sorry tea, for a ‘shag in the shower’. He was deadly serious! Some of them even considered it! It was an exhilarating experience to say the very least but 4 months was all I could stand so I moved in with friends where we had a washing up rota that actually worked!

My final student house was a nightmare for washing up and once we found new life forms growing on a plate that we had previously thought was patterned. I could go on all week about the flatshare ‘mares’ I’ve experienced but I reckon I’ll leave that for some other time.

And as for the washing up? Well, I could try the old tradition of putting it in the offenders’ beds, but that tends to escalate into violence. I could maybe fling each dish out of the window until someone washes them, but some of them belong to me. Maybe I’ll just give in and do their washing up myself… I DON’T think so, do you? I think I’ll just sit down and have a fag and chill as I wait for the dishes to actually become so infested with fungus that they turn on the taps and wash themselves. If only…

Give me a research grant now!

Having read all the latest research reports and statistics in the press (some of which you may have missed – you never know!), I’m able to let you in on the latest “amazing” discoveries:

1. Stairs are dangerous (shock! horror! probe!) and we should all take more care whilst galloping upstairs, use the handrail (gosh! and there we were, ignorant plebs, unaware of the use of the piece of wood at the side), fit carpets safely and ensure adequate lighting (yeah, I always hurtle up three flights in the dark out of choice, don’t you?).

2. Children have difficulty reading the small print in books. Well, huh? Surely this is good preparation for vast disappointments later in life when adults have difficulty reading the minute print on very dodgy contracts. Get them reading Postman Pat with a magnifying glass in the nursery, that’s what I say!

3. Consuming vast amount of fizzy drinks is NOT A GOOD THING and could even lead to a greater risk of osteoporosis. Given that people who drink effervescent colas by the gallon may not have a regular order with the milkman, could these two things possibly be related? “I think we should be told” as the late John Junor would have said.

4. Most mystics and astrologers base their careers on “barnum statements” that simply reflect what people want to hear. The professors of prediction are also less accurate than normal (if that’s possible) on Mondays (apparently) so don’t bother to read your horoscope on that day (according to research in the Daily Mail).

5. People who are poor have less money, status, power, and self-respect than people who are rich which leads to years of depression, a deep-seated loathing of the aristocracy, the senior management at work and anyone who can dare to afford a mink coat. (Actually I made this one up but I’m sure there’s a team of researchers making themselves very rich working on a hypothesis like this right now.)

6. The National Institute for Clinical Effectiveness (yes, really, a research body that deliberately chose the acronym NICE) is one of the most prolific organisations at spewing forth ream upon ream of piffling twaddle dressed up as important research for the benefit of the health of the nation that Old Wives and anyone with an ounce of common sense could have told them over a pint of beer for a fraction of the cost.

7. Research statisticians are grossly overpaid, over-indulged, under-worked, condescending, professors of the absolutely, glaringly, manifestly, self-evident humdrum everyday “phenomena” who plainly all graduate from the University of BORES (Bleeding Obvious Re-search Scientists) to a Utopian life of being paid to find out things we already know! What a life! Give me some of that please!

Have handbag, will travel

I can’t cope. My work security pass is at home, I can’t find my travelcard and had to buy an extra ticket this morning. My brain’s a muddle and I can’t find my favourite fruit flavoured gum. What can induce this state of non-functioning low performance in a woman? Well, I’ve just changed handbags, of course.

As any self-respecting ‘holder of the purse’ will attest, such decisions are not to be taken lightly. My decision came after months of lugging a kitchen-sink sized sack from pillar to post with all the associated worldly paraphernalia and detritus.

Much as I thought I couldn’t possibly live without any of the contents, my back and a hypochondriac self-assessed impending hernia told me that I would do myself a grave danger if I didn’t change forthwith to a more normal sized bag. Indeed, it had reached the stage where the weight of my bag was adding to my own bulk and slowing me down so much, I had given up on stairs and resorted to taking lifts and escalators everywhere – even for just one flight (shame on me!).

Unlike some (sensible) women who have two bags – a work bag and a weekend bag (who admittedly spend much of their lives transferring the contents of one bag to another) – I am a one bag woman and tend to simply fill up the handbag of choice until it falls apart at the seams or the handle comes off before inflicting my torture on the next innocent looking PVC holdall daring to cross my path in the handbag shop.

Why is it that sometime around puberty us gals decide that other than a small, pink, spangly pocket bag for the disco, we can’t survive without an army rucksack? We cram so much in because we feel at some time during the day we just might need any or all of the following:

(a) the citrus Wet One
(b) the mini calculator
(c) personal freshness spray
(d) Vaseline intensive care hand lotion
(e) hairspray and compact hairbrush
(f) diary, address book and notepad
(g) two decent pens, one broken biro and in case
of emergency an old kohl pencil
(h) lip gloss, face powder/ compact/ cosmetics mirror, selection of eyeshadows, clear, blue and black mascara
(i) one sachet of Lemsip for that life-threatening cold that starts in the middle of the day plus of course aspirin/paracetemol or nurofen (according to choice)
(j) plasters and emergency sewing kit
(k) a spare carrier bag in case the contents of the first bag expand at ‘lunchtime’ (for which read ‘shopping’ time) and we can no longer bring the contents home in one bag
(l) credit cards, phone card, library card, swimming card, supermarket loyalty card, lottery tickets and (just to be practical) a small book of stamps
(m) passport, driving licence, works security pass, travel card, train Network card
(n) small A-Z
(o) packet of tissues
(p) chewing/bubble gum or fruit flavoured chews not forgetting the indispensable folding umbrella, purse, cheque book, cuddly toy and bottle of wine (well maybe not the last two items).

Why? And how do men cope without these things?

Spot the plant in the Widders pot plot

At last it can be revealed by me – Super Spy Sharanski – that Ann Widdecombe and Melita Norwood are one and the same person. Only top M.I.3½ intelligence like myself were privy to the fact that after Norwood finished active service in the former USSR she was recruited by the Labour Party to infiltrate the rank and file of the Tory party.

Taking on the life and persona of devout Christian and abstainer from all pleasures, Ann Widdecombe, she was briefed on her mission: to cause maximum possible embarrassment to the Conservative party whenever trouble was brewing for New Labour (or whenever Alastair “darling” Campbell smiled at her nicely, whichever was the sooner, and often both).

Still not convinced? Well just take a look at the transcript of a top secret GCHQ-scrambled telephone conversation I taped a few weeks ago …..

Campbell: Hello, Ann … sorry, I mean, Melita, darling. It’s Alastair here!

Widders: Oh, Alastair, Alastair. How I long to hear your soft dulcet tones…

Campbell: Me, too, Melita dearest. But it’s that time again. I’ve got a mission for you!

Widders: A mission? For me? Poor,lonely, old, little me?

Campbell: But of course, darling. You are the best. Now, look here. The Labour Party have been getting completely slated in the press over the petrol crisis and the lousy inadequate amount we pay pensioners.

Widders: I know… it’s about the same as what we were paying pensioners when we were in power.

Campbell: That’s just it. Seems the electorate could take it from the Tories but have this fanciful notion that New Labour is going to do something about it.

Widders: And you’re not?

Campbell: Not unless Gordy can do some more creative accounting PDQ, we’re not, no.

Widders: So what are you going to do?

Campbell: We’re going to legalise pot – you know, cannabis, marijuana … soft drugs.

Widders: I thought you’d never do that – too unpopular with the electorate and everything.

Campbell: But that, my dear is where you come in. First of all, you’ve got to create a spectacularly embarrassing diversion for NewLab to take some of the pressure off the pensions and oil crisis.

Widders: By saying that nobody over the age of 15 should ever have sex?

Campbell: No… by starting an anti-pot smoking conspiracy within Tory ranks. Get that wimp Hague to suggest that anybody caught smoking dope in the street will be subject to random testing and on-the-pot-spot fines… something like that.

Widders: And then what?

Campbell: Wait for the row to escalate – you know, all the woolly libertarians coming out of the closet admitting they once lit a woodbine … that kind of thing. And when the public are completely fed up with it and have realised that the row over such tame drugs is ridiculous, THEN we’ll legalise it.

Widders: Oh wow! And what will the upshot be, Ally-pally?

Campbell: We’ll tax it, of course! And if Gordy gets his sums right we might even be able to increase pensions, by – ooooh – at least £2.35 a week!

Widders: Oh, Alastair, darling, you’re so clever? When will I see you again?

Campbell: Well, we’ve gotta be careful for the next few weeks, babe. Don’t want the press to realise we’re a double act, do we?

Widders: No, of course not.

Campbell: But soon after that, babe, I promise. I’ll take you out for a slap up meal at The Ivy or Le Gavroche – anywhere you like, Melita.

Widders: Oh fantastic! I’ll create the best diversion ever, for you, sweetie-poo!

Remember where you heard it first!

Confessions of a wannabe slut

Acting like ‘The Fox’, or at least how I think a person should behave when having to write under such a tawdry title, is an experiment I am inclined to give up on. My month-long investigation of slutty behaviour flusters my mind, as I am focused only when in the bedroom, and all over the place when at work or on social occasions where it is not acceptable to simulate sucking cock. When I wake in the mornings I lie disappointed under dirty sheets, bitter that despite the climax the night before I haven’t purged this feeling that is making me behave so recklessly. I may not know the name of the person I have spent the last few hours so vulnerably with, yet I still feel that I know them too much for the sex to be completely emotionless. If I can remember the colour of their eyes then I realise I know too much about them for the sex to be purely physical – subconsciously recording attributes about eyes you’re desperate not to look into is my downfall. I am failing as a slut, I admit.

Yet sometimes, in the morning, I find it amusing that it is I croaking out the wrong name to my bedfellow, and not someone who looks more suited to the role of a whore. Often, I discover that the men with whom I have been with do not mind my mistake. I think they realise that I am trying out a life not particularly suited to me, and are grateful that I am there in the first place. What I do find, however, is that if I do address a man as a previous fuck from earlier in the week they will return the favour and blurt out another girl’s name with excruciating honesty. It adds a tinge of sourness to whatever performance we may have put on for each other the night before and fragrants the smell of sex on our fingers with something a little less artificial. This is real life, and this is how sex is in my anonymous and dirty little city. Because being a slut in London is like being part of an exclusive club that you only belong to once your self-respect has reached humiliating lows, and your tally of fucks becomes increasingly high. It takes a certain kind of person to be able to mix the two extremes and look attractive while doing so – and despite my shortcomings, I feel I may be getting the hang of it.

Frequently, I pick up a man in a place where I know he will be an easy target – on a bus, a tube, or in a café where he and I are the only sexual actualities surrounded by screaming children. I will stare at him and know I need not speak, as the look we give each other is a code known to all sluts about town: one that cannot be learnt but is developed after weeks of undertaking unfeeling sex. We will make our small talk – all the while keeping one eye on each other’s lips – and then plunge right into it, turning from socially acceptable and respectable people into the basest of animals. We leave our culture behind us and get down to business, all the while searching for something so elusive that I find it hard to describe. Take away all the technology that us Westerners play with, all the conveniences, the packaged services and comfort wants, and you’re left with nothing. Left with an environment that we could not possibly cope in due to our dependencies on our information society substances. Take all of these away, and maybe you’re close to that feeling of carnal excitement that can only be had when the mind is emptied of all modern thoughts and education. A caveman type of behaviour, it is this that is our ultimate goal, and this that all sluts about town strive to find. Only can we ever find it if we look so hard in the first place?

Even though I admit I am failing as a slut in many areas, I find that when I have done it properly, my mind becomes muddled from being so overpowered from sexual attraction that physically hurts. My brain, conscious of the aching in my thighs and bruising on my breasts, becomes numb – yet is also overjoyed that I have managed to sleep with someone without looking at them or caring who they are. My body flips, as every nerve ending becomes erect just from looking at whatever man may be lying beside or underneath me, and my brain turns off. Completely off. Like my body can only be turned on if everything else – my emotions, my thoughts, and my sensibilities – are frozen. Does this robotic stance on reaching orgasm imply that in the future I will never be able to switch back to sex where I lie in bed and surrender my mind as well as my body? Or, to put it another way, if I master the art of serial fucking will I never be able to ‘make love’ again? I hope not. Because one of the men I have found myself sharing a bed with more and more captivates me. Perhaps it is because he is so seemingly focused on fucking without feeling that I am drawn to his expertise – ironically becoming attached to someone who can behave in a way that I wish I could. And even though I try to shake off these feelings that are beginning to cloud my head and my judgement, I can only think of him and his eyes. They are, I remember, a beautiful shade of blue. I would like to look into them another time while feeling like my orgasm will not be harmed from gazing so intently.

The Graduate does The Fox

I lift my head from my pillow, and find it aches. As I don’t drink, my headache is not a hangover, so what is it? Is it that after a night of sexual ecstasy with my latest ‘victim’, every endorphin in my brain has been released and has therefore left nothing but an aching void? Unfortunately, it is not. Is it the stress of my high-flying and very important job, involving proof-reading mundane articles and incinerating contributors as they hand in yet another sex quiz? Well, no. No, my head aches because of a different kind of stress which awaits me. I sit bolt upright in my bed, trying not to slip backwards on the leather sheets, un-cuff myself from the headboard and take a glance at what is next to me. It is of course, me being me, a man. Quite attractive in a glib, ‘what was I thinking?’ sort of way. I am now, of course, faced with the stress of getting rid of this sexual vessel so that I can:

a) get in the shower and wash the jam off
b) put my red gimp mask in the twin tub
c) go to work

After a few gentle nudges with my gilt-edged cattle prod, ‘it’ is awake, but unfortunately reluctant to leave. As I sip my third glass of otter’s blood, ‘it’ moans something about ‘a cup of tea’ and ‘getting to know each other’… Oh dear. I realise I may have bitten off more than I can chew here so I get one of the eunuchs in to eject him and, for the moment at least, my boudoir is my own.

Tugging on my thigh-length spike heels (well, I can’t dress TOO outrageous for work you see, people might get the wrong idea, or should that be the right one) and trying to ignore the cries of my various stalkers outside my window, I try and imagine what my life would have been like if I hadn’t embraced this lifestyle which I so enjoy. Would I be like every other young woman in her twenties? Trying to look sexy by the photocopier hoping my moronic boss with his gelled-back hair and peanut-sized member would notice me, maybe take me out for a drink, shag me for all of five minutes and then ignore as I burst into tears every time he asked me for a cup of coffee? Oh no, not for me the blonde lifestyle that seems to suit others so well.

Dressed at last in my finest red leather (PVC does nothing for me and squeaks like the brakes on a no. 9 bus), I leave my abode and saunter down the street…confident that every man is looking at me and wanting me… even the blind ones. It is an air I give off; more sensual than any perfume… It is the air of a sexually liberated woman. I sit in the office and swish my whips about and occasionally tap a key on the PC, chuckling to myself as the men in the office sit agog, drooling onto their cheap shoes. Which one will it be tonight? I may be a slut, but I’m still picky. My victims have to be able to keep their mouths open or shut when it matters the most, and I’m not interested in any man who gets all jittery when they see my tape measure. If I can’t hang thirty-six bagels from it, then you’re out of luck, ‘boy’.

Passing a relatively interesting day at work, posting inflammatory messages on the boards, as well as using lots of long words, flirting outrageously with anyone (I told you I was liberated), and eating both men and toffee muffins for breakfast, I make my way to a bar. It could be anywhere. I don’t care. As long as there is a man and a pint of Perrier, I’ll be just fine. I decide that enough is enough. I will be a predator no more. If there is one man out there who has the balls to come to me and lay down all the demands, then my faith in mankind might just be restored and I can cancel my subscription to ‘Which Nipple Clamp?’

Making my way into yet another generic, wooden-floored, metal-chaired meat market, I scan the room for possibilities. And there he is. He has spotted me and can’t take his eyes off me. He smiles a knowing smile, and makes such gestures with his eyes that even I, who sees all emotion as a weakness, cannot help but be excited.

He makes his way over to me…I feel a thrill I haven’t felt since…since the milkman came on to me. He has his hand outstretched. For once, I am not the chaser, but the chased. Is he really man enough to take the lead?

He is standing right in front of me. He lifts his hand to my face and then to my hair. I feel more sensual than ever before… His hand makes contact with my hair and he brings it down to my hand and spreads my palm. We do not speak. He places something in my hand. I look down to my hand and see in my palm a considerable chunk of toffee muffin. “That was in your hair, love. My boyfriend spotted it as you walked in.” And then he was gone…

Thanks… but no thanks

Rejection is always difficult to face, isn’t it? Whether it is the BBC saying no, you can’t be controller of BBC 1 just because you wear shiny suits, or being knocked back by yet another leggy blonde in the local Ritzy’s ‘nightspot’, rejection can have a serious effect on you…if you let it.

I haven’t had many rejections in the past few months, mainly because I haven’t really gone for anything. I’ve had the odd letter saying the usual ‘we had a number of high-calibre applicants and unfortunately blah di blah di blah…’ sort of crap, but that has been about it. I haven’t been on the interview ‘scene’ for a while, due to general laziness and just sitting ‘comfortably’, but recently, deciding it was time to ‘better’ myself, I went through the rigmarole of applying for the jobs…yet again.

After a few weeks of the ‘you have not been selected’ letters dropping through my letterbox, I was beginning to feel a bit dejected. Why aren’t I getting an interview? What is wrong with my CV? I pored over it and over it, applied for jobs I didn’t have a hope in hell of getting just so that rejection from the other ones wouldn’t seem so bad (there’s a sick sort of logic going on here, kids) and generally getting depressed and smoking truckloads of fags and reaching for the phone to moan to my mum and dad (you know the drill…’No-one loves me, everybody hates me, I think I’ll go and eat worms’, that sort of thing). This went on for a while, until, just like waiting for a bus, along come two at once!

I dragged out my suit and put on a nice shirt and tie, made my hair look as respectable as possible, practiced my lucid, intelligent answers to the normal load of horseshit questions that you get asked in interviews. So…feeling confident and looking OK, I set off for grilling number 1. It was a boiling hot day, and I felt all trussed up in the suit and so by the time I had made my way all the way down to Leith (I didn’t live there at the time) for the interview, I was hot, bothered and generally on bad form. I entered the office where maybe, just maybe, I would be working and presented myself to the bimbo/ secretary/ victim of sexual harassment who sat gazing wide-eyed into space.

I was made to sit on a plastic couch, near a water cooler that really needed a clean, for 15 minutes while the office manager was ‘ready’ for me. As I sat there, dying for a cigarette (I am ALWAYS dying for a cigarette), I observed the scene before me. It was like being back in England, and quite frankly, I didn’t like it. I couldn’t hear one Scottish voice, just loud, obnoxious Southern English ones. “Oh fahhhkin’ hell, mate, wotcha doin’ it loike that for?” I cringed as ‘ver ladz’ chatted about how pissed they had been the night before and how many times they’d managed to get their hand up the receptionist’s skirt. Nice one. “Can I really work here?” I thought.

When I eventually got to see the office manager he was flanked by a young lady who just peered at me throughout the interview and kept looking at my shoes and my hair and writing things down. The office manager (we’ll call him ‘Roland’… for that was his name) fired boring and at times quite personal questions at me, which I answered in a non-committal fashion. I did it all wrong. I wasn’t humble enough, yet too modest. I wasn’t forceful enough, yet too bolshy. I didn’t sell myself, yet I made myself sound too good for the job. At the end of the interview I shook their hands and walked out without looking back, knowing I would never see that office again. And I have to say, I wasn’t really that gutted…just angry with myself.

The other job was a place on a graduate scheme and when I went to the big posh hotel for the assessment the company turned out to be…the same one I had just had an interview with. “Shouldn’t be a problem,” thought I, “I’m sure I can blag it, and these lot are up from London anyway so they won’t have a scooby who I am.” Oh really Justin? Think again, arseburger.
Yes, you’ve guessed it; the delightful ‘Rolaaaaaaand’ was one of the panel, sitting there with a face stonier than the Giants’ Causeway, blatantly recognising me. What to do?

Well, I dazzled. I was confident, did the presentations with ease, was chatty, promoted myself more than Posh and Becks etc. etc. In other words, I was the direct opposite to how I was in the previous interview. Alas, an elephant never forgets (well, Roland was quite fat…I hope he’s reading this, by the way) and needless to say I didn’t get the position. Thanks for nothing.

So, one down, millions to go. I shall not be disheartened, I shall carry on. I will rise again like the career-hungry phoenix from the ashes of dead-end jobs. It’s not all bad…I hear they’re hiring at Burger King and I can flip a quarter pounder with the best of them.

The office nemeses

Every temp has a tale to tell. Admittedly, they’re usually quite dull tales, mainly centring around filing, making tea for 300 ungrateful executives, and accidentally stapling their fingers. Actually, temps should probably just shut up and keep their boring stories to themselves.

But while the work is NEVER interesting, temporary jobs do give you, as the outsider, an unparalleled glimpse into the office dynamic, and the intricacies of human nature. The downside is that, sadly, you grow to hate people. All people. After three years of on-off temp work I am a fully paid-up misanthrope. But hey! The upside is that I know my enemies. Within hours of starting a new ‘assignment'(oh, sure, it sounds exciting…) I can identify my potential nemeses in the office. And then I put them into their categories…

1) The Office Bore

The Office Bore probably thinks of himself as the Office Joker, or perhaps even ‘Japester’. He prides himself on his wacky, push-the-boundaries sense of humour, and still thinks it is au courant to make jokes about PC-language. For instance, the Office Bore is usually quite fat, and so will describe himself as ‘waistbandly-challenged’ or something. He will then stare you down until you are forced to laugh nervously.

The Office Bore probably doesn’t smoke, but can always be found hanging around on smoke breaks, forcing weary colleagues to listen to his Liam Gallagher impression and firing off a barrage of clearly made-up anecdotes. He affects the air of a world-weary cynic laughing at this crazy world. In fact he is a deeply insecure fool who hopes that, by using self-deprecating humour as a defence, he will pre-empt the cruel taunts that haunted his schooldays. He can also be identified by the ‘80s leather jacket (with batwing sleeves), which he wears to work over his suit. This is partly because he fancies himself as a bit of a system-bucking non-conformist. But it is mainly because 15 years ago he fancied himself as a bit of a rocker. He may well try and engage you in a conversation about The Alarm, or The Sisters of Mercy.

2) The Office Lech

A close relation of the Office Bore in that they have both gone months without a shag. But the Lech believes he could be lucky with the ladies if they just took the time ‘to really get to know him’. The Office Lech will appear at your desk within minutes of your arrival, ostensibly to ask if you’ve found the coffee machine yet. An alert temp will notice the ill-concealed sniggers of people working around her – they have seen the Lech’s moves before.

By midday the Lech will re-appear, asking if you’d like to go to the pub after work. Do I even need to say ‘don’t go’? If you are a trusting person (i.e. virgin temp) you still may not recognise the Office Lech for what he is. But you will when he repeatedly, and unnecessarily brushes past you in the corridors. The man is desperate for even a graze of tit, and he does not care how he gets it. Further confirmation will come when he starts dropping his ex-girlfriend, and how he’s still getting over the break-up, into the conversation. This is a double-pronged attack to make you both pity him (note to men: pity is not a sexy emotion), and see him as a sexual being.

You will later find out that he actually broke up with his girlfriend 18 months ago, and has since tried it on with everyone from the MD to the cleaning lady. One particularly persistent and pathetic Office Lech actually ‘stole’ my home phone number when he overheard me giving it to another colleague. The Lech has no subtlety and a hide of fibreglass – your only hope is to limit your conversation to monosyllabic grunts. Of course, he will still believe you want him.

3 The Pikey Slag

Despite the name, the Pikey Slag is not the Office Bike. In fact, she will probably be in her 40s (with grandchildren), smartly dressed (a lot of gold jewellery, particularly rings) and fairly efficient. You may notice her sharp tongue, awesome cigarette consumption, and regular use of expletives. But you’ll probably initially see her as an earthy, yet quite maternal type, always ready with a bawdy quip, and a lewd cackle.

You’ll even accept her blunt comments (‘Those shoes are a bit silly, ain’t they?’; ‘Did you pay for that haircut?’) as salt-of–the-earth humour. But listen closer to the tales she tells to her attendant bunch of Pikey Slags in training. A lot of her conversations will end with the give-away line: ‘So I turned round and thumped her one, didn’t I?’. By these words shall you know the Pikey Slag. Racist terms of a rare variety and volume will also pepper her hilarious stories of arguing with the neighbours (a classic pikey hallmark), accusing people of rear-ending her car and fighting over the last set of Pokemon cards for her grandson. Never attempt to call the Pikey Slag on any of her attitudes. She will get you in the car park, and as I said, the woman owns a lot of rings.

4 The Office Totty

Nothing makes the work-day pass faster than lusting after the Office Totty. Flirty emails and a bit of desk-side banter will certainly relieve the tedium of franking the latest company mail-shot. Distributing the mail is a lot more fun when there’s one recipient you’d love to play Postman’s Knock with… oh, who am I kidding? All your colleagues will be mingers. You’ll elevate one to the status of Mr Fit on the grounds that he sweats less profusely than the rest of them and doesn’t wear white socks.

Maybe he’ll have even made a couple of funny comments. Swoon! Yes, your standards will drop. No, you would never want any of your friends to meet him. But being cooped up with a bunch of strangers eight hours a day necessitates that you fancy one of them. Despite Office Totty’s distinct averageness, you will probably get a bit flustered around him, drink too much if you go to the pub together, and generally act like a less witty, even more desperate Miss Moneypenny. Bear in mind that Office Totty’s privileged position means he is something of an arrogant and fickle beast. It is ill-advised to snog him, even if in the real world you would have the upper hand due to your superior attractiveness. This is not the real world, it is the office and he holds your status and ego in the palm of his hand. Basically, he’s probably a one snog/shag guy. This is really a good thing, because if you started going out you’d have to introduce him to your friends. In the real world. Note: the female Office Totty is a highly irritating creature, who should just piss off back to wherever she came from, taking her long, blonde (dyed! Haha!) hair and make-up that somehow lasts all day with her.

I haven’t even mentioned the huge supporting cast of weather-obsessed women (who, at 4.30pm each day will settle down with a nice cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit if they’re being naughty) and balding middle-managers who will never learn your name, but will never fail to stare at your tits.

Well, OK, I have now. I hope neophyte temps might read this and be more alert to the pain they are expected to go through for £7.00 an hour. Be on your guard! But, though the dullards, pervs and knobheads who make up your average office will not add much joy to your life, they will at least provide you with rich comic material for your planned Bridget Jones rip-off novel. And if you should crack under the strain and beat your co-workers to death with their ‘special’ coffee mugs, remember: you are already at the bottom of the employment ladder. You can’t fall any further!!