Identity Crisis #3,044

Sunday 27th

It’s the Great British Bird Count this weekend. Look out your window for an hour and write down all the species that you see.
I ring my grandad and tell him about it because he’s got so much wildlife it makes me weep.

“There’s only about 4 goldfinches that come now”, he tells me, “not the usual 10. And the long tailed tits are away at the moment.”

That only leaves the great tits, bluetits, greenfinches, jays, blackbirds and dunnocks then.

I sit at my study window for an hour. A crow flies over the house. Two pigeons flop into next door’s tree.

That’s it.

I’ve had it with birds.

Monday 28th

Lisa accidentally put her foot through the floorboard in her living room. She lowered a steel ruler into the gap, gasping as the inches mounted up. All in all, there’s a three foot cavity under there.

“Just the right size for a monster,” she shudders.
‘Especially a gnashing, slithering legless torso,’ I want to add, but she’d be back living in our dog bed if I did.

When I get there, her and Esther are using it as a wishing well, clamping their eyes shut as they toss pennies into the void.

Tuesday 29th

I’ve booked a Man-date with George in the Manhattan Coffee House on Ecclesall Road. Last week, I got a bit confused and poured milk in my peach tea and it curdled but I drank it anyway out of sheer embarrassment. I’m playing it safe this time and having a hot chocolate.

“Let’s go and watch a film soon,” George says, “The Showroom do a deal where you have a meal and a glass of wine for 2 and see a film for £20.” “Yes, lets,” I say, as we sit on out little table sharing a slice of cake and looking for all the world like we’re on a date.

"I'm man enough to say it. I love you, man"

“I’m man enough to say it. I love you, man”

About once a year, I have a funny turn and shave all my facial hair off. Without fail, every time I do, I go into mild shock.
Today, after my man-date, it’s time to do it again. Loads of men are clean shaven, I tell myself, why not me?
For 2 seconds after I’ve done it, I seem to look ok. But then the realization dawns, that it is very far from ok and I have to go on a mirror tour of the house to confirm it. Dear God, I am a freak.

Wednesday 30th

I’m going through the stages of grief about my beard. Unfortunately, there’s no denying it, so I crack on with anger and resentment and self pity.

I start a manifesto about The Tyranny of Beards.

“For too long it has been them wearing us,” I write, “Once established, like parasites they erase all memory of the naked face. They demand absolute obedience and are only banished on pain of losing your very self.”

Thursday 31st

I’ve realized that the only way to make my mouth look normal is to keep it moving. I’m chain-chewing gum and licking my lips a lot.

I bump into an exam invigilator at work. He tells me the latest craze among students is to write answers on the food they’re allowed to take into the exam and then eat the evidence before they get caught. As we chat, I over-exaggerate my mouth movements a bit to much when I speak, so he makes his excuses and leaves.

Alrighty then.

Friday 1st Feb

It’s my day off. I’m having a lovely lie in, but there’s a knock at the door, so I leap out of bed and pull my trousers on. For some reason I have taken to wearing a dingy white vest that my mum bought me when I was a teenager. It’s not a good look.
It’s the gas inspector man, who no-one told us was coming. The house is a tip. There’s half eaten food on the table, and as he walks in, I notice my glittery 80s bellboy outfit (seemed like a good buy at the time), lying next to the washing machine waiting to be washed.
I figure the best thing to do is leave him to do his thing, so I go upstairs in houseshame (the opp of housepride). As I get back in bed, I tell Esther about the mess.

‘At least the living room is clean and normal,’ I say.
We both sit bolt upright;
“Oh Christ, the Christmas tree!”

It’s Feb the 1st and there’s a ginormous tree in there still.
I start to laugh hysterically while Esther hisses at me to be quiet.
The gas man shouts up to me so I go downstairs.

“I’m working from home today,” I tell him, trying to explain why I’m here and that I’m not a lazy student.

Then I notice the photos of me on the wall from my feminist performance artist phase. There’s a naked one of me as Marilyn Monroe’s centrefold, and lots of me in wigs and makeup. Working from home takes on a different hue.

I decide to change tack. Suddenly, an idea comes to me, how to make the weirdness into a positive experience.
“I don’t spose you get rid of Christmas tress do you?”

He looks blankly at me. It’s a bad idea.
“Funny you should say that,” he adds, “my mate does. Leave it outside and I’ll get him to take it.”
Result! I manhandle it through the door, but it gets hooked on the kitchen doorframe and he has to help me, “to me,” “to you,” we go until finally it’s out.

I’m normal goddammit!




More cocoa, Mrs Vicar?

Saturday 18th

Sample phone conversation with my Grandad:

“The female parson is coming round tomorrow for tea. I don’t like female parsons.”
“Why not?”
“They’re part of all this happy clappy stuff which is why I don’t go to church anymore; they have all these skiffle bands nowadays.”
“Skiffle bands? Like Lonnie Donegan?”
“No, you know people with beards and guitars. Hymns Ancient and Modern is what I was brought up on. I’m coming to religion a bit late, lad.”
“Maybe you should turn Catholic, it’s never too late to repent!”
“They’re even worse, it’s all dressing up and messing round.” There then follows a 10 minute tirade about how Catholics are rubbish Christians.

Tuesday 21st

I went for coffee with my boss. I didn’t really know what he wanted so I was quite nervous anyway. As I was took decaff latte to the till, worrying about whether it made me seem like a wuss, he said;

“Not having any cocoa?”
What could he mean? My brain worked fast. This must be manager-speak for caffeine.
“Uh, no- it makes me high if I have any…cocoa”
High? High? Why the hell did I use that word that suggests a totally unprofessional lifestyle of Class A hedonism.
He laughed uncertainly.
“I have to have a triple espresso to start the day.” I was really losing out on the man stakes.

With a thunderbolt of prickly sweat, I realised that when he said ‘cocoa’ he had meant ‘cocoa’ . I looked sadly at the little shaker he was emptying over his drink and thought whether I should explain the whole mistake, like “Oh, I thought you meant caffeine, like cocoa was the street-name for caffeine”.

Wisely, I chose to shut the fuck up.

Wednesday 22nd

At work today, I thought there was a Hare Krishna coming down the corridor. The ethnic bell noise got closer and closer but instead of yellow robes there was just a bloke and an iPhone with the ring set on ‘Bells’.

Thursday 23rd

When we get down to her house, Lisa looks gaunt and shaken.

“I didn’t sleep very well” she explains,
I woke up at 5am because the window was shaking in the wind. I thought it was fireworks, and started to think ‘why are people setting off fireworks at 5 in the morning? Has the apocalypse finally come?’ And then the man next door started using his hairdryer and I thought ‘Oh God, that’s not normal, something’s happening.’ Then there was a creaking and it sounded like  a burglar walking around the house so I tried to force Dom to go downstairs but he just turned over and snored.”

It wasn’t the apocalypse, it was just Lisa’s brain.

Friday 24th

On my way back from work I see two amputees on crutches walking side by side- one has their left leg missing, the other has no right leg, and they are walking so that their missing bits are next to each other (or not…). It looks like a Benetton advert, and I have to stop myself getting my phone out to photograph them. Those crutches wouldn’t be very nice in my face.