When I feel like being an adult, I buy The Guardian. I like to imagine myself sat at a large, sunlit dining table, with a cup of ridiculously niche coffee and some identity crisis of a cake by my side. Between bites, I’ll look at the upper reaches of the supplement’s style barometer, look down at my outfit, and nod.
“Sorry mate, you won’t be able to get any Guardians round here today,” the boy in the newsagent tells me in an end-of-days voice. “The distributers messed up and only delivered a quarter of the usual amount for this area.”
I feel suddenly desperate, and imagine UN aid trucks loaded with broadsheets screeching up outside the posh coffee shop, exasperated fathers in paisley dressing gowns scuffling as string-bound Guardians are flung into the street.
“Can you tell I’ve been taking elocutions?” the newsagent asks endearingly as I leave.
“Yes,” I lie.
Dammit, I thought it was just me who wanted to be a minor aristocrat.
Esther is writing our shopping list on an leaflet about starving children. I feel such love at these moments.
Song no. 1:
I did a poo
In your shoe
Coz I knew
You were gonna [shout this bit] WALK OUT ON ME!
Grandad: “I’m going in for my autopsy next week, Vienna.”
Me: “No grandad, it’s a biopsy. You’ll get a bit of a shock if you ask for that.”
Thursday: Induction for teacher training
The only empty chair is next to a loud albino Accountancy lecturer. But that’s ok, because I am a brown-bearded arty introvert so our energies 69 in yin/yang perfection.
Our sinister smiley leader speaks up.
“Right, everyone, choose an adjective with the same initial as your name. Then we go round the circle, and you have to say everyone’s name and word who comes before you.”
Christ, I hate this kind of crap. And what the hell kind of word will sum up everything I am and everything I want to be, a neat precis of my life so far?
An overexcited man brings me back to reality with a burst of boyish logic.
“I’m Mike. Everyone says I’m a maniac. So I’m Mike the Maniac.”
He grins, satisfied.
“I’m sorry,” interjects the leader, “I’m not going to allow you that. It has to be positive. Besides, it isn’t an adjective.”
“But I’m a maniac in a good way…”
“Nope, sorry, it has too many negative connotations. You can be Marvellous though.”
His face drops.
“I spose so. I’m…” He looks down at the ground. “I’m Marvellous Mike.”
The next person jumps in.
“Hi! I’m ebullient Emily!”
Half the room looks at each other in mutual incomprehension, that sideways school glance that makes it a sin to be studious.
I’m trying not to blink while I frantically remember what ebullient means in case there’s an impromptu test.
“Sorry,” she adds, intimidated, “I’m an English teacher…” She makes it sound like a hygiene problem.
All I can think is I HAVE TO BEAT THAT. I’m racking my brain for happy Vs, while trying to record everyone’s name.
Dammit, that means I can’t be Vicious or Vindictive. Vociferous? I can’t remember what that means, it might be bad. Vague? Vacillating? What if I want to be negative because I am? Why do I have to have a shitty smiley word that doesn’t suit my nature? I’m beginning to hate everyone in the room. One of us is leaving through the window.
I panic when it gets to me.
Great, for the rest of this stupid course everyone will know me as valuable. Like something you shove in a box under your bed or a workmate you hate but have to pretend to like to get ahead. What a shitty world we live in.
I’m starting to fancy Harry Styles. Peer pressure is a terrible thing.
Esther: “Darling, there’s a Groupon here to become a Lord.”
Me: “No thanks. I want to be a Viscount.”