Tag Archives: life

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.


Insomnia: Top 5 things to do to pass the time

It’s 5 am and I’m awake. In fact, I’ve been awake for about two hours already. On a Saturday.

Most people may be slightly vexed by this reality, but I’ve come to accept that this is just what my body does every now and again. I’ve found that it’s better to just roll with it and do my best to not drop breakables/ walk into stationary objects as the day progresses. I’m clumsy at the best of times, although when sleep deprived, the Rachel Disaster Comedy Show rises to a whole new level of humiliation.

Being awake in the dead of night gives you lots of time to think. While other sleep deprived people are probably considering the meaning of life right now, I’m thinking about this: There are many things that I’m tempted to do in life which I don’t have the guts or inclination to carry out in the full light of day. However, being awake while others are asleep presents the perfect opportunity to fulfil all those unrealised dreams.

I call it the ‘night-bucket’ list.

Here are my top five. I’ve actually already done a couple of these with friends… but I’m not telling you which ones. What would be on your list?

  1. Go for a run dressed in neon bright 80’s clothing, complete with visor and vile shell suit
  2. Plant flowers in obscure and run-down places
  3. Play a game of Frisbee with a glow-in-the dark disc.
  4. Jump the park gate (without, er, getting stuck at the top and having to be ‘helped’ down by a friend), climb the park hill and wait for the sun to rise over London

But most of all, I’m really tempted to stick this poster up all around town. It’ll either make people laugh or just confuse them entirely. Either way, it’s a win-win.

Lionel: What a legend.


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.


The inconvenient truth

I’ve just finished eating a wonderful dinner with my housemate, Sarah.  We bonded over the stir fry as Sarah recounted her childhood growing up in Germany and we laughed at the hilarity of me entering ‘jedi’ as my national identity on the 2011 census form*.

We decided to relocate to the lounge for a spot of TV.  As Sarah ran up the stairs she enquired as to when our other housemates would be returning.

I responded “They’re both away.  Ali’s visiting family for the weekend.”

Sarah stopped. “So it’s just the two of us, alone?”

I smiled, warmed by the fact that we could spend even more quality time together “Yup.”

She cocked her head to one side “So I could kill you, and no one would know for at least two days?”

This is the first thing that comes into Sarah’s head when faced with two days alone with me.

Fantastic.

 

 

*This is a joke (unless the person reading this is not a Government official, in which case, I totally did it.)

 


Small talk

I’m on the flight home from Stockholm (beautiful, but freezing, city) where I’ve spent the weekend getting to know some incredible people who dedicate their lives to combating trafficking and sexual exploitation.  When you meet people for the first time, the same three questions usually come up in conversation:  What is your name?  Where have you come from?  What do you do for a living?

The expected response is one of concise, uncontroversial chitchat.  However, for those of us who work with such somber issues, the opportunity to freak people out for our own amusement is hard to turn down. The old favourites of “I work in prostitution” or “I dabble in a spot of people trafficking” usually do the job.

So I’m sitting here, next to a very polite middle-class couple who I’m considering engaging in conversation.  When the inevitable third question comes up, I could just tell them that I’m a charity worker.  However, I’ve had quite an intense few days and I’m tempted to freak them out a little with one of the classic lines.

Or I could just go for broke and tell them I’m a hired gun.  It’s been a long week.