Are you an N or an F?

I finish my day at work and automatically ring Esther to find out what she’s doing so I can do it too. This reminds of the joke about when spouses Kenneth Brannagh and Emma Thompson were inseperable in the mid 90s:

Emm: “Where are you darling?”

Ken: “I’m in the shed”

Emm: “Oh, can I be in it too?”

Anyway, unusually for them, Lisa and Esther are sat outside Starbucks having a coffee. I jump on an 82 (not an 88 since I was prevented from boarding one for holding a coffee: “Is that a hot drink?” “No, it’s gone cold” “Well you can’t get on” etc) and hop off the stop before Starbucks, sauntering in my most relaxed-looking way up to the cafe.

“Half F, half N” confides Lisa to Esther as I sit down.

“More F than N, I’d say” says Esther, “He has got a clean shirt on”

I tuck my shirt into my trousers, flustered by the attention.

“Oh no, that’s definitely N, tucking it in like that” says Esther with satisfaction.

Finally, they explain that they have been playing a game where they judge whether people are Functional (have a job and relationship, good self esteem) or Non-functional (on benefits, mentally unstable, or intellectuals) from the way they look as they walk past. I notice a funny man sat in Starbucks window behind us- he has a shock of grey hair sticking vertically up, a huge round belly and a spotted handkerchief peering from a pocket in his white tucked-in tshirt.

“So what’s he then” I say with as much subtlety as I can muster (not much).

“Oh, him. He’s a double N” says judge, jury and executioner Esther.

Next, Lisa scurries off up the street mumbling “Do me”, before turning round after about 3 metres and coming back. She is trying her hardest to look normal, which means she is surging forward with a furious look on her face.

Without having to confer, Esther and I proclaim “definitely an N”, to Lisa’s bitter disappointment. Now Esther goes for a wee, and after about 5 minutes reappears behind us, having sneaked out of the side door. She is unsurprised to learn her N status too.

Ecclesall Road is wall to wall with Fs, usually rich students with box fresh clothes, or kept men or women perched like vultures in the window of Nonnas, draining spousal money in the futile pursuit of real happiness. I think rampant materialism is a sign of something missing.

But if this is what it takes to get status in this world, I guess I am a player too, but only on week days. I am a wekend hippie and a fairweather flakey. I’m proud of my N/F mongrel ways.


"Get on board if you think you're hard enough"

This post is dedicated to Esme Duggleby and the bus-sick expats in Deutschland.

Stagecoach buses are the Asda of public transport. Whereas First buses tend to attract a less fucked up commuter, the dregs fill the aisles of the 83 and the 88. I feel like I’m slumming it on an 82: I feel like an in cognito Baron on the 88.

Just on the way home tonight, a woman got on and hollered at the driver when he set off before she sat down. Then a little later, the driver opened his door to scream abuse at a car that had dared to pull out in front of it. I kept quiet and made sure I thanked him when I got off.

Got home and Esther had picked all her spots and was sat in bed looking bored. We made tea and watched the first episode of Glee season 2 tonight. I was grumpy as hell when I got home because:

1. I handed my essay in and felt nothing.

2. I had a pint and then realised it was pointless because I couldn’t get drunk tonight.

3. We made the mistake of going somewhere cool. In the Deaf Institute there was a guy in his early 20s who had a much better beard than I could ever grow. And there was a table full of art school girls all with the same haircut (fringe and brown bangs) and the same “I’ve just discovered charity shops/stolen my auntie’s clothes”. I seemed to be invisible to these people and it pissed me off. What, TinTin isn’t a recognized style icon? How dare you.

"Hey! Don't ignore me coz I'm not dressing Naval"

4. I knew that now I have done my essays, I no longer have an excuse not to do the tedious jobs I have been putting off.

This was one big mardy pants wearing my clothes. Anyway, me and Esther watched Glee and I suddenly realised I was breaking into a half smile goddammit!

The best line of the show was when Sue Sylvester called Santana’s fake boobs ” exploding sandbags” and told her “Now take your juicy, unripened chest and get the hell out of my office”. Sue is a lone voice against silicon in American TV, and I love the fact that you sometimes want to be her more than you want to be Quinn Fabray or Santana. This feeling is rare.

Sue Sylvester is my hero.