Last night, my brother and I were sprawling on the floor of my bedroom, sorting through small squares of brightly coloured paper. We were feeling artistic.
He held two colours up for my approval: a nice bright pink, and a very dark pinkish crimson – too dark for pink, but too pink for red; it’s one of my favourite colours (which must of course be because I’m a woman, and therefore used to the look of blood-coloured things).
I told him I thought they were good choices, and his earnest and heartfelt opinion was:
“I like pink too. I can like pink – it’s just a colour – and if any of the boys laughed, I would just tell them that they were silly and it’s a nice colour.”
He got a double high-five for being a very cool brother.
For a boy of six and a half (he’d be very cross if I missed out the half!), who is, like any child of that age, easily influenced by peer pressure, I think he’s bloody brilliant.
But of course he would be – he’s my brother!
Because I am nothing if not clear-eyed and level-headed, and after looking at my jeans collection, I realised I might have to make a few wardrobe adjustments.
Like throwing away the jeans that have ripped so far around that on one side, they’re practically hot pants. Need I point out that hot pants are not hot? In either sense of the word, actually, which is useful to bear in mind, as it is only March, which means “Winter” in the UK.
Actually, most months mean “Winter” in the UK, with the notable exceptions of January (which is uniformly grey, rather than cold, to trick you into thinking that the start of the new calendar year means that it’s Spring), May (which tends to have the hottest weather you’ll get that year, to really annoy students since they have to work through it rather than having time off like they usually do) and August (which feels like Spring again, just to confuse people).
But that’s not the point.
The point is that one of the largest piles of old clothes is the “You’re Not Really A Size 10 Anymore” pile.
This pile annoys me for the simple reason that when I was a size 10, I hardly wore these things because they were nice and I was never going anywhere special.
I have officially learned my lesson and after I have disposed of these clothes with my friends that are size 1os, I shall remember to always wear my nice clothes in preference to my ordinary ones. That way, if I change size again, at least I can console myself with the thought that I actually got some wear out of the interesting clothes, and the other ones were a bit boring anyway.
On the other hand, one of the other piles is the “I Know You Loved Those Clothes But They’ve Got More Holes Than A Cheese Grater”. So, swings and roundabouts, I suppose.
Oh, and on a different note, the porter came to me today, and, looking very nervous and not very happy, told me that he’d been thinking things over and what with him doubting my honesty and the fact I’d told him in no uncertain terms that he would never get my number, he’d decided he wanted to “keep to himself”.
I have to say, I’m slightly confused by this as I have been doing my best to treat our two “little chats” as unpleasant interludes – as in, I haven’t referred to them after the event and I’ve been careful to always be civil, so I say good morning and so on regardless of what has been said before.
Perhaps he thinks I’m taking the piss.
Perhaps I should.
All the same, I do believe in good manners, so I think I shall continue to say good morning, and if he has a problem with that, he can come and tell me. Although I’m not sure it would help our working relationship. And also I might end up kicking the little idiot in the balls with my new steel-toed boots out of sheer irritation.
The first is a quick feminist grumble. Because it turns out that being known as Teh Feminist is just as annoying as any other label.
It’s still a stereotype – and it’s like all of the general “female” stereotypes, plus a few more for good luck.
I mean, really. There is only one man in the world who gets close enough to my legs to know whether I shave them. So what exactly is the point in asking me that question?
Besides, by the time you’re that close to my bare legs, back away and you a) look like a bloody small-minded cowardy-custard and b) don’t get any. Which are two really bad things if you’re the kind of man that hears the word “feminist” and feels compelled to ask me if I shave my legs.
Funny, I was going to write something profound – but, as usual, it came out sarcastic. Ah, well, I’ll stick with it – it’s easier that way.
The second is a general woman’s grumble. I don’t think you’d have to be a feminist to think this way (much in the way that those mugs say “you don’t have to be mad to work here – but it helps!”).
One of the porters asked me out a few days ago. He’s not exactly a regular member of staff, but he’s a temporary worker and the porters that he is covering for haven’t been in to work for at least a month, so he’s somewhere in between, really.
I thought he was asking me for a pen at first, because that’s all that the porters ever ask me for. Don’t ask me why, because I ordered a box of 50 from our stationary department and within a couple of weeks they’d all gone. They must eat them or something.
Anyway, it turned out he wanted my number. And my response, without really thinking about it, was “I don’t think my husband would like that”.
Which irritated me anyway, because I dislike implying that I’m somehow at the beck and call of the big strong Alpha Male in my life.
But, regardless of my feminist sensibilities, it made him back off pretty effectively.
And then, today, as I was sorting the laundry (pretty good feminist I’m making today, huh?!), we had the following conversation:
Him [almost inaudibly]: why did you lie to me?
Me [briskly]: hmmm? What?
Him [louder]: I think you lied to me [pointing to ring] – I’m not convinced
Me [more brusque than brisk now!]: Good for you. Whether you believe me or not is your choice. As it happens, I was telling the truth. But I’m not going to argue. And you’ll never get a date if you accuse women of lying.
Him [sullenly]: I’m not really a porter. I’m a student.
Me [cheerfully]: That’s nice. I hope to be a student myself soon. But I already have a man in my life, and I don’t need another one. It would take up far too much of my time, and neither of them would like it.
Him:….. [preparing to leave]
Me: Good night. Have a nice evening.
Now, I know that legally I’m not in fact married. I’m engaged, and an engagement in legal terms – well, I’m not sure, but I don’t think it counts for much. But you know, in my head, I may as well be married. And he annoyed me by the accusation of lying.
So, what he was hoping for? I mean, if he thinks I’m making up a husband, there’s only one reason for that, and it’s because I don’t want to go out with him.
Calling me a liar after that is not going to get a grovelling apology, and nor is it going to make me spread my legs. Funny that.
Perhaps he hadn’t thought it through, or just wanted my attention, or got off on arguments, or something. Goodness knows. Please, though, if anybody can explain that kind of behavior – let me know. I’d be fascinated!
And lastly, continuing the work theme:
Today I was asked to look for some invoices. The task itself seemed pretty damned stupid to me, but not nearly as stupid as it got when I tried to carry it out.
I went to see our finance man, S. He had some, but not all, because I needed them dating back to the start of 2006. So he told me I’d have to look in the archived forms. They live in the basement. I have never been to the basement. He called a guy, P, to show me where they were kept. P reminded him that you need a key to get into that particular store. S phoned A – one of the managers – to ask for the key. It was lunchtime, so A was in the staff restaurant (there has to be a visible management presence at lunch, in case anything happens). I went to the staff restaurant to find A. He could not find the key, but told me he didn’t think it needed a key anyway. So I went back and P and S took me down to the store, which was locked. S called A to inform him that it did indeed need a key. A realised that he’d been thinking about a different store and had had the key all along. P and S went back upstairs – S to do the work he actually needed to do, P to get the key. P returned, and we battled boxes of plastic glasses, pinatas, an old ice cream freezer and the Irish flag to get to the archive boxes. We searched through all 24 and found…. nothing that I needed.
I gave up, went back to my work, and at half past two was finally able to tell my chef that I couldn’t find the information. He called S to ask him to help me search. S promised to find me. He didn’t. At four o’clock, I was finally told not to worry, and that it didn’t matter that much anyway.
It was made worse by the fact that nobody knew what I meant when I talked about a sign that said “beware of the leopard”. For the uninitiated, this is a reference to The Hitch-Hikers’ Guide To The Galaxy, and for the sake of humour, and because I don’t want to end my post with “aaaaaaargh”, I’m repeating it here:
* Arthur Dent has woken up to find that his house is about to be demolished. He is now lying in the mud in front of his house to prevent this, and arguing with the head of the demolition squad*
“But the plans were on display…”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a torch.”
“Ah, well the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying beware of the leopard.“
In the time that I’ve been out of blogland, my birthday happened. And it was a very nice birthday; I am now 20, and will not get funny looks for procreating.
Not that I intend to procreate just yet.
The nice thing was that my birthday entailed lots and lots of books. Lots.
So instead of writing, I’ve been reading:
1 – The Vagina Monologues – Eve Ensler.
Read this. Everybody should read this. I’m lending it to J because it contains some of those things that we need to know. Such as the fact that the clitoris has around twice as many nerve fibres as a penis – more than anywhere else in the body, male or female. Not only is that a useful thing to know, it’s also very nice!
2 – Bachelor Girl – Betty Israel.
I picked this up on my birthday holiday in a little sleepy town with a remarkably big bookshop. Wall to wall bookshelves on four levels, and half a shelf somewhere in the middle labeled Feminism. I was happy. And the book is one of those books that needs to be read quietly. It’s focussed on American women, but that doesn’t make it any less interesting or relevant. Just different.
3 – Never Hit a Jellyfish with a Spade – Guy Browning.
Because you’ve got to have some fun in life and laughing out loud on a train, scaring the man sitting opposite you always counts.
I have a few others still to go, which is nice. But I keep lending them to people – just as well really as my bookcase is small and I suspect that to accommodate my growing collection, if they were all there, I’d need to buy another one.
Also, I don’t like Reading.
It is Guildford, only squashed a bit flatter. And it’s Guildford – and therefore London – prices.
I’m not becoming a student for that.
So I rather suspect that I will be heading North in October.
Hopefully more regular posts now that life has settled down a bit, but with my sister stealing my laptop to ‘revise’ for her A-levels, using that ever popular medium of Facebook, who knows?