Category Archives: Humiliation

The cycling pants of shame

London was not built for cars.  It’s a well know fact that driving your clunker through the city is the slowest and most expensive way to get around.

The fastest – and incidentally cheapest – way to travel is on two wheels.  It was with this in mind that I decided to brave the rough roads of London and embark on that momentous expedition:  my first cycle to work.

Previously I had only been able to gawp in envy at the fit elite – all honed arms, and sculpted thighs – as I trudged from the tube station, chocolate bar in hand.  Now I would be one of the noble few.  I could see myself wizzing past the commoners as they watched my bum disappear into a distant land of endless cool.

Being a cheapskate, I had acquired my little sister’s bike in exchange for paying our dad 40 quid to cover a window she broke (I’m not the only one in my family with the ‘oops!’ gene.)  However, my sister had originally bought the bike when she was 14 years old and into pink.  Florescent pink.

In spite of this rather embarrassing inconvenience, I was undeterred.  Armed with my little-girls bike and an oversized helmet my local bike dealer had duped me into buying, I set off into the unknown.  I was certainly prepared.  I had packed some spare underwear to ride home in, just in case I sweated more than usual.  Knowing that this was a distinct possibility (due to the fact I hadn’t exercised in about a year) I had packed the oldest, grimiest, most granny-like pants and bra I owned.  What a pro.

Things were going well.  The sun shone as I headed towards Paddington, a vision of enviable cool.  As I turned the corner into Spring Street, a rather attractive bearded gentleman shot me a grin.  ‘Amazing.’ I thought to myself ‘Even dressed up like a demented 12 year old, I’ve still got it.’

It took me about six seconds and a hundred yards to realise what was really going on:  My backpack had come unzipped.  My tights were wrapped around my back wheel.

My underwear was strewn back down the middle of the road.

Let me level with you.  Spring Street is littered with cafes and restaurants – basically involving quite a lot of people sitting outside, people watching.  Right now they were watching me.  Me, and my skanky underwear.

In a mad panic I threw my bike to the ground and ran back down the street, my oversized helmet bobbing from side to side as I picked up my abandoned items.  With every ounce of dignity I had left (er… not much, for those of you who were wondering) I jumped back on my bike and rode away.

It’s been three long and difficult years since ‘the incident’.  After therapy, prayer and a lot of strong liquor, I finally feel that I’m ready to move on.  So, at the end of this month I’m going to face my fear: buy a bike and re-try the cycle to work.

I’ll be packing good underwear.

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The fake Facebook me: an open letter to my FB friends

Hmm.                         Awkward.                         You see… I have a confession to make. I haven’t been entirely honest. My profile is a set up. I’ve crafted, sculpted and de-tagged it to death in an attempt to appear as smooth as possible – the ‘best’ version of myself. Who I want you to think I am.

I haven’t lied to you. Nothing on my profile is untrue. It’s what I’ve left out that has resulted in a less than complete picture of myself.

However, I’ve decided to cut the crap. That’s right, I am now on a mission to officially become A Bull-Free Zone.

Here’s what I would add to my profile info if I were being completely honest:

Movies

I like to give off the impression that I only ever watch super arty films with subtitles so tiny you have to endure the entire movie understanding almost none of the dialogue, but connecting on a higher level with what the director is trying to “say” through the subtly placed set props.

However, around 80% of the time, it’s actually quite unlikely that I’m watching a French language film with Arabic subtitles about post modernism in a post-colonial world. I’m actually watching Cheaper by the Dozen 2. And enjoying it.

Photos

Until recently I blocked all friends from seeing each and every photo I’m tagged in and limited access to profile pics and backpacking photos only. I have now seen the light and have officially Got Over Myself (it really is official – you get a certificate and everything.) If we’re FB friends, please do take a look. There’s a particularly fetching one of me lying in a crumpled heap on the floor.

Music

I would love you to believe that the first record I ever purchased was something uber cool like Blue by Joni Mitchell. But it wasn’t. It was Let’s Get Ready to Rumble by PJ and Duncan. I used to, and still do, have a big thing for comedy rapping. In fact, two weeks ago I subjected a car full of people to a rendition of ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ word for word. I’m still not sure if they were amused or just thought I needed help.

Activities

I do enjoy politics, music and reading, but if I were being entirely honest I would also add the following to my list:

  • Walking into lampposts
  • Skipping down the road when I think no one is looking whilst giggling to myself like a crazy person.
  • Aimlessly browsing the internet for hours when I should be doing something waaaay more useful. Like sleeping. Or reading Tolstoy. Or watching an Arabic-subtitled French film with a post-modern interpretation of the post-G8 consumerist culture in middle Britain.

Nope, I’m not entirely sure what that sentence means either.

Crumpled heap: Officially the best photo of me on Facebook


The day the dropkick died

If you could be any character from any film for one day, who would you choose?

For me, the answer is obvious.

Selene, the ass-kicking, werewolf-killing vampire from Underworld is my celluloid hero. In many ways I would make a crap vampire: I can’t even give blood without having a minor panic attack; I don’t like guns; and last week I got really freaked out because I accidentally squashed a beetle, so ruthless killing is probably out of the question.

But.

Selene knows how to kick ass. And she can do that triple spinny thing in the air before throwing a roundhouse to a guy’s head whilst simultaneously drop kicking yet another person’s bottom.

That used to be me. Well, sort of.

Six years ago my mum and I decided to accompany my sister to her first kick boxing class just to give her initial ‘moral support’. We got hooked. Soon we were kicking and punching our way through three hour-long classes a week.

My mum: Don't be fooled by the friendly smile. This woman could probably take you in a fight.

For the first time in my 23 years, I felt like a total badass. Embarrassingly, I still didn’t look quite as hardcore as my mum, who kicked my ass in every class. (Only because I let her, of course. I’m just, umm, really nice like that.)

My love affair with kicking lasted three wonderful years. And then disaster struck in the form of a twisted ankle, and it was all over.

Rather embarrassingly, whenever my friends ask what ended such a promising career of crime fighting, I can’t tell them that I got injured during a kickboxing competition, or because I tripped after dropkicking a mugger on the crime swamped streets of London. I have developed a nasty habit of telling the truth. Which is, unfortunately, this:

“I fell off my shoes”

Sympathetic friend: “Wow. You must have been really drunk! Or scaling an impossibly high wall in impossibly high heels. Or defending a helpless elderly lady whilst scaling an impossibly high wall in impossibly high heels… drunk.”

“No.”

Awkward Silence.

“I was sober.

At 7am.

At a networking event.

In the House of Parliament.”

In fact, I had just successfully networked with another person at the event. And I know this because we both felt comfortable enough to admit that we really needed a pee and so set off to find the loo together. And that’s what all the pro networkers usually do to seal the professional bond at networking events in parliament, right? So off we walked. And as we walked across the grand hall in our high heels, with no intervention from anyone or anything else, I somehow managed to fall off my own shoes.

So that’s it. In Underworld, it usually ends for a badass vampire because she is ripped apart whilst triple dropkicking through the air to avenge both a 400 year-old feud and the annihilation of her entire family.

For me it just ended because I needed the loo.

Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.


The Tuscan pizza of degradation

How not to attract a man, part 2

The sun was gently setting over the Tuscan vineyards as thirty hungry people sat down for dinner. A few friends and I were spending one scorching summer week working on a family-run vineyard in Italy. We had spent the day vigorously pruning and were ready to consume obscene amounts of food.

Every night Catty, the eldest daughter of the family, kindly prepared dinner for the workers. We would sit along a stretch of tables set up on the porch, eating by candlelight as the sun disappeared behind the mountains.

Tonight was pizza night. Ruth and I had volunteered to help out, although it wasn’t exactly an act of self-sacrifice – Catty had essentially given us a free Italian cooking lesson, and I can’t say that the presence of Catty’s hot brother, who was watching TV in the corner of the kitchen, was entirely unwelcome.

As Catty and Ruth cut up the steaming pizza and carefully placed the slices on wide platters, my job was to carry the food out through the beaded door curtains to my waiting friends.

Due to the presence of Catty’s brother, I was of course trying to execute this in as elegant a fashion as possible for me (i.e. – not falling on my ass).

My hungry friends were applying subtle pressure to hurry up and get the food on the table. In haste I dashed to the kitchen to grab the last platter and rushed back through the curtains. Somehow as I flew through the beads they managed to tangle themselves around my torso, jarring me backwards. The platter jolted, catapulting the pizza off the plate and onto the tiled floor in synchronised splendour. To add to this spectacle, several of the beaded tails tugged free from the ceiling and clattered down around me.

I looked up to notice HotItalianBrother gaping at me in bewildered confusion, as if to say “Who is this weirdo, and why on earth has she decided to destroy my house?”

The pizza lay in splattered ruin on the floor. Unfortunately I was unable to a) redeem myself by clearing it up, or b) run for dear life (the preferred option), as I was still entangled in the damn door.

HotItalianBrother continued to stare at me, baffled. Guessing he was probably not entirely won over by my slapstick charm, I decided that a quick exit would be wise. Then I remembered that I couldn’t actually move.

At least I made an impression.


How not to attract a man (and other fun stories)

Life. For most it passes by with the occasional fail. For some, however, (cue: me) life is a series of slightly humiliating disasters of hilarious, yet epic proportions.

For example, take my track record on interaction with attractive men. For some reason this area of my life seems to resemble a Will Farrell movie.

Rather than moan, I thought I would share my in-depth experience with the bloggasphere in the hope that some of you may avert dating disaster by following this one simple, yet highly effective rule: don’t. copy. me.

Over the next few weeks I will share a few of my most embarrassing moments in the hope that some good can come out of the more ridiculous things that I have done have happened to me (against my will. Through no fault of my own. Whatsoever.)

Part 1: The slide of horror

I was ten years old and on my way back from a walk in the welsh mountains with my trendy parents (yes – my mum and dad were cooler than me even then. Not a good sign of things to come.)

Upon passing a small park I begged my weary parents to stop and let me play for a few minutes. In retrospect I now realise that the park was, in the words of my mum,  “a bit run down” (i.e. a total dive/ death trap) but all I saw was the possibility of five whole minutes of unbridled fun rather than the fact that this was Not A Good Idea.

On entering the play area I realised I was not alone. There was another kid sharing the space with me, and not just any kid.

A Boy.

When I was ten A Boy was a big deal. Especially one that was a little older than me. I struck my best confident walk, striding up to the rickety slide that towered above me. I climbed the stairs tentatively, making sure that the wind didn’t whip my flowery elasticised skirt over my head. I made it to the top. He was watching. Result.

Throwing myself onto the slide I began to wiz down, trying not to bang my elbows on the large iron hooks that poked upwards along the sides.

Allow me to narrate what followed:

Young girl begins descent. Girl’s skirt catches on hooks. Girl’s torso flies through centre of skirt with technical flare.

At least this is what the onlookers remember. All I can recall is starting the descent with my skirt on and finishing in my underpants, skirt still half way up the slide.

I wish I could tell you that this is an isolated incident in an otherwise uneventful life. But we both know that I would be lying.

Next week : Part 2 – The Tuscan pizza of degradation


The moment of truth

I’m standing in the queue in Starbucks, waiting for my turn with the frappachino and herbal tea requests.  I’m here for a meeting.  In less than two hours I’ll be at another meeting with an MP – a former Home Office Minister who knows his stuff – and I’m exhausted.

I jolted awake at four this morning from another horrendous nightmare.  My job involves thinking about human trafficking and exploitation day in day out and unfortunately this is not without its side effects.

I also have another minor problem on my hands.  At 11am this morning I realised there was a small hole in my skirt.  Unfortunately this hole is located directly over the butt area.  I quite like my bum as it is, but my skirts do have to stretch a little to fit and tend to give way at inconvenient moments – for example, during 11am meetings with lots of men. (This is me we’re talking about – I mean, my skirt was never going to wait for an all-girl slumber party.)

I quickly excused myself from the manly meeting (walking backwards out of the room as normally as possible) and rushed to my colleague, Gemma, to ask for her opinion.  Is the hole noticeable?  Can I possibly get away with it for a whole 30 minutes in the presence of an esteemed politician?  Her contorted expression, trying to hold back a pained smirk, confirmed the answer as a firm NO.  Five minutes later, I emerged from the bathroom with a safety pin holding my skirt together.  Unfortunately this was not the world’s most sturdy piece of metal and within minutes I had an undone pin protruding out of my bottom, ready to puncture anyone who got too close.

So here I stand in Starbucks – exhausted, slightly traumatised, with a safety pin sticking outta my butt.  If I’m looking for a sign that something in my life has got to change, this is it.


Bad ass mumma

Something rather worrying occurred in my family six years ago.  My mother – my calm, middle-class, softly spoken mother – took up kicking ass as a hobby.

Growing up, my sisters had 21 facial piercings between them.  While they tattooed their ankles, I spent every Saturday playing violin in the local orchestra.  When they invested in dreadlocks, I invested in a maths degree.  When my bro developed a love for art house film-making, I developed a love for honey & marmite sandwiches.  While they had their fingers on the pulse, my finger was firmly stuck to the remote control for a Deep Space Nine episode marathon.

My parents were my one solace.  I could safely look at them and fool myself into thinking that by comparison I was vaguely cool.

Then my dad grew his hair long and my mum joined a club where people fly through the air for fun.  My sandwich-making skills hardly shine in comparison.  How very dare they.