Friday, 17 August 2007

Another world

I’m starting to think that working for people with six figure salaries is not doing me any good. I see their extravagant lifestyles of Mulberry handbags, lunch at the Ivy and holidays to Hawaii and feel resentful of my Pret lunch, weekend planned in Milton Keynes and Zara slingbacks (though actually, the shoes are fab).

I guess that’s just the way things are when you’re a lowly PA. I enviously process my boss’s expenses for the month that to me are the evidence of a month spent wining and dining in London’s most exclusive and glamorous venues, which for her, are evidence of a month’s hard work maintaining working relationships (and that stone in weight she put on ha ha). But I do wonder if they are completely oblivious to how the rest of us live.

For example…

This week, one of the directors told me that he might be able to ‘catch a lift’ with his friend to Scotland for a meeting, and to ring his friend to see if there’s room for him. He didn’t explain that this was in his friend’s PRIVATE JET. Honestly.

Then, the legal director kindly asked me where I was going on holiday for the various days I had booked off. I told him I was going to Devon for a few days and then to Valencia for a week. ‘How lovely’, he said, ‘do you have houses there?’

Oh yes, I thought. Didn’t I ever tell you? I won the Euro millions lottery last year, but I thought it would be good to get a job photocopying, filing and making coffee, you know, in case I lose my humility.

Later that day he came into the main office area and said ‘Ah. Now you’re all hip, fashionable, young people right? (Me, my 38 year old colleague and the spotty 19 year old German boy on an overseas work placement) ‘I want to pay for a night at a trendy hotel in London as a present for my daughter’s 21st birthday. Any ideas? Lydia – come on, your boyfriend is in a band, surely you must know about things like this?’

My boyfriend might be in a band, but our only parallel to Kate Moss and Pete Doherty is his love of the ladies and my love of Rimmel eyeliner.

‘I have no idea, I’m afraid’ I said. ‘But (with a smile and a wink) I’d be very willing to do some research, in my own time; all I need is the company credit card.’

‘Excellent’ he said (with a smile and a wink). ‘We could do it together…’

Oh my god. I think I found my humility.

Monday, 13 August 2007


Apologies for the lack of post last week.

On Thursday the Legal Director accidentally split his trousers at the back, and then asked me to temporarily mend them using a stapler. Whilst he was still wearing them. It wasn’t a pleasant scene for the Chief Executive to walk in on.

I just need some more time to recover.

Friday, 3 August 2007

Hot wash

My boyfriend’s ground floor flat was flooded last week in the torrential rain we had, and so he came to stay with me on Sunday night. Given that I usually spend most nights at his house, I was quite looking forward to a week or two without carting round clean clothes and underwear.

I awoke on Monday morning to see through blurry eyes the vision of a half naked man ironing a shirt for work, and a cup of tea for me on the bedside table - so that’s why he set his alarm fifteen minutes early. Brilliant, I thought as he offered to iron my blouse, I could get used to this.

But some things never change. I went to check my washing pile on Tuesday evening and was amazed at how full it was. This was because the cheeky git had brought all the dirty washing round from his flat! I made a mental note to put all his boxer shorts on a hot wash and shrink them. That’ll teach him.

I’m not sure why but I actually feel quite threatened by the amount of skincare products my boyfriend owns…I’ve heard of metrosexual but this is ridiculous! I’ve actually been stealing his expensive moisturiser- this can’t be right.

Now he can’t get to sleep without listening to music for an hour. Of course I know this, but usually he listens to his iPod (also damaged in the flood). As I lay in bed on Wednesday night listening to Enya on my stereo, I realised the very first task of tomorrow would be to buy a new iPod online. Express delivery.

The final straw was on Thursday evening as we watched a DVD in my room. I was actually thinking how nice this was…until he remarked on how my room could do with a hoover. Right, I need to do something, he has to be gone by the weekend, I thought. I racked my brain all night – watching a whole Sex and the City box set? Bikini line waxing? Something had to work.

This morning though my prayers were answered, as he put on a pair of boxer shorts…‘how can these be so tight?’ he exclaimed worriedly, checking his profile in the mirror. ‘I must have put on weight with all the food you’ve been cooking me. This is a disaster - I have a gig tomorrow!’

I had an email earlier (an actual email, I mean, how are we meant to survive without Facebook today?) to say his flat was now in a reasonable state to go back to, and thanks for letting him stay. No problem at all I replied, I’ll drive your stuff round for you later.

Hmm, apart from that horrible Kula Shaker t-shirt perhaps…

Still, my skin’s never looked so good.

Monday, 30 July 2007


My mother came to London to stay for the night on Thursday, as she had tickets to see a show in the West End with a friend. Now don't get me wrong, housesharing has its bad points, but on the whole I'm very happy with my set-up in Tooting. The landlord is decent, the rent is low and the housemates are fun and tidy. Compared to some of the flea-ridden hovels I stayed in as a student, (one place bizarrely had a working shower in the middle of the hallway) it is a veritable haven.

But potentially seeing it through the eyes of my mother, I was suddenly acutely aware of the dirty fridge shelves, selection of drinking glasses from the local pub and economy toilet roll. I sacrificed the whole of Wednesday evening to scrub the place, only for my mother to remark how it ‘doesn’t take long to iron your pillowcases’ upon her arrival on Thursday evening. I reconciled myself with the fact she was drinking the cup of tea I had made her (even if it was from her own cup that she brought specially) and nipped upstairs to put any condoms in my room in an extremely safe place.

I hadn't banked on my housemate Charlotte coming home early from her night out though, and even worse, with a random guy in tow. My mother was most pleased however to finally meet Charlotte and her, ahem, 'boyfriend'. The last hour had been mentally exhausting and I soon suggested going to bed, settling my mother into my room, whilst I made up a bed on the sofa.

I was just drifting off into a peaceful slumber, when I awoke to the sound of panting. Oh my god. Surely Charlotte wouldn't be having loud sex with my mother in the next room? I anxiously sat up, wincing with every groan, and then, I suddenly heard a barking sound. Confused, I strained to listen more carefully...yes, it was definitely a 'woof' a 'miaow', what the hell was going on up there? The crescendo of this animal orchestra led me to the grim realisation that whoever Charlotte had brought home had a kinky thing for bestial noises during sex. This was beyond belief. There was nothing I could do but place the pillow over my head and wait for it to subside. It ended with growling. I could only hope that my hyper-nosy insomniac mother hadn't heard it.

The next morning my stomach lurched as I walked into the kitchen to see my mother kitchen having a cup of tea with Charlotte and her 'boyfriend'. 'Oh hello dear' she said, 'I was just saying to these two how I'm sure they can't have had a wink of sleep...not with the racket the foxes make around here.' As Charlotte made her hasty exit I sighed internally with relief. For once I was actually grateful for my mother’s sheltered ignorance. Only for her to turn to me and say 'don't think I don't know what that noise really's a shame you and your young man don't have such a healthy sex life, I might have grandchildren by now if you did.’

Mothers. You can't do anything right.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Mistaken Identity

I have to say I do wonder how we existed before mobile phones and the internet. I really am a communication junkie. This week I was looking on Facebook for an old friend from school, Helena, who I haven't seen since, well, school. A quick search came up with 3 possible matches, and I was pretty certain the one on the Bristol network must be her, she hadn't left our home town according to my mum. Our email conversation went like this...

Helena, hi! Last time I saw you was in school, must have been nearly 10 years! How are you?

It's so nice to hear from you, to be honest I didn't think you'd ever forgive me. I'm really glad we can put the past behind us.

At this point I grimaced. Oh god, she snogged my boyfriend at the time, but I'd never given it a second thought. He was a loser anyway, and he's bald with four kids now, from what I've heard...

Oh, don't be silly, we were so young, so anyway, what have you been up to?

Look that's really nice of you but it isn't something to be taken lightly. I betrayed you and I'm really sorry.

Oh, honestly I thought. Some people are sooo melodramatic.

Like I said, not a big deal, it was years ago. It's not like relationships are serious when you're sixteen!

Yes, but it was your dad. And I understand now why you were so upset.

Shit. This wasn't my old schoolfriend Helena. This was someone else. What was I to do? I pondered various responses for half an hour then finally replied...

Yes, I know, but Jesus teaches us to forgive, Helena. I've forgiven you and I think you should finally forgive yourself.

Yikes, I've deleted her as a friend. That'll teach me to mess with the past.

However, this case of mistaken identity didn't end there. My mobile phone broke this week, and I had to borrow a handset from my boss until my new one arrived. I hastily stored my most essential numbers in it, and drunkenly texted (what I thought was) my boyfriend on Thursday night after a few work drinks...

Fancy coming over? I'm wearing those heels u like ;-)

Gosh, wish I got texts like this from mysterious strangers more often!

Slightly surprised at the reply, (OK is the standard response) but tipsy and feeling flirtatious, I replied...

I'm mysterious and drunk, when will u b here?

If I knew your name and address I'd be right there...

Well you what u waiting 4?

OK then mysterious, just give me the address, I can do without your name...

This wasn't my boyfriend. He hadn't even made this much effort when we met. I checked my contacts again. Why were there two entries against my boyfriends name? Oh god, it's my boss's old phone, she must have some numbers saved in there too...and my boyfriend's name is the same as...her husband's!

Needless to say I no longer felt tipsy, but quite sober all of a sudden. And a little sick. Who needs technology? Not me...

Friday, 13 July 2007


When I described the events of last Thursday’s babysitting drama to my boyfriend, I kind of expected some admiration for the way that I handled the situation. Instead, to my horror, he gave me a knowing grimace and said, ‘yep, it’s as I thought. You would make a terrible mum, you would probably leave your baby on the bus, just like you did with your gym kit last week.’ I was outraged! Now it’s true, I do have a predisposition for losing things, I have seen the wonders of Mitcham Bus Garage, the chasms of the TfL Lost Property Office and Tiger Tiger in all its stinking morning-after glory, all in the name of reclaiming lost gym kits/coats/mobile phones. But I would like to think that I would be a little more careful with my own child. In fact I am accompanying my boss and her kids on a little excursion this weekend, that proves just how much I like children (and well, she is paying me).

In fact I think being a mum at around 33 would be ideal. By then I would have enough life experience to be wise, enough maturity to spend weekends at the Natural History Museum, and possibly enough money saved to consider private education. I am a little worried though that my body might not recover so well from the trauma of pregnancy and childbirth at that age. Perhaps the savings would be best viewed as an emergency tummy-tuck and occasional pair of Prada shoes fund (well you can’t be expected to sacrifice everything…surely?).

I observed my friend and her husband who have children at dinner decently, and they made a charming picture of domestic bliss. That is until little Emily suddenly announced loudly that she didn’t want a blue straw to drink her juice, she wanted a yellow one. I still cannot believe how the ensuing discussion descended into a full blown debate on her human rights (asserted by little Emily, who at four is already well on her way to becoming the next Cherie Blair) and inevitable tantrum and tears. Good god, I thought, I am never having children. Well, actually, I am never having coloured drinking straws in my house. And no Judge Judy either.

Friday, 6 July 2007

Make mine a triple...

When my boss said she was taking a day’s annual leave yesterday, I was looking forward to a relaxing day of checking Facebook at my leisure. But oh no, I was to accompany her on her day off and take her children to have their fringes cut at Daisy & Tom’s on King’s Road, while she went off on a mysterious trip to Reigate

Well, I thought, at least it’s a day out of the office, it should fly by and I’m pretty sure that I have watched enough Supernanny to keep the kids under control.

Not quite how it worked out.

The fringe cutting episode was thankfully evaded in the most part, as I left the poor hairdresser to deal with Freya’s demand for a Pob and chuckled behind my copy of Vogue. The hairdresser obviously had never heard of the naughty step. Max was as good as gold for the haircut, but then spotted a clownfish in the fish tank that he was convinced was Nemo from Finding Nemo. He had hysterics when I explained we couldn’t embark on a rescue mission to send him back to the Great Barrier Reef.

When I finally left managed to drag away a tear stained Max, I noticed with horror that Freya had a smug beam on her face, and a Victoria Beckham bob. My heart literally stopped for a moment as the colour drained from my face, how was I ever going to explain this to my boss?

I had also been given £50 to take the children to lunch, the two requisites being a) healthy and b) organic. However, the idea of MacDonald’s went down a treat, and there seemed to be a tacit understanding that it would be better for both parties not to mention this to mummy. Luckily, their precocious discretion didn’t stretch to the concept of money, and they seemed satisfied that £50 would just about cover two Happy Meals. I saved the remainder for a triple gin and tonic at the next available opportunity.

Frisking the kids for evidence, I confiscated two miniature Shreks that came with the Happy Meals and now nervously awaited my boss as we sat in Starbucks. At least the hairdresser had stopped short of the highlights. When she finally arrived, I awaited her shocked and outraged expression, but her face remained completely composed. In fact, not a single muscle in her face moved – so that was what she was doing in Reigate. Somehow her remark of ‘what has happened to my poor baby?!’ didn’t seem half as bad with the fixed smile on her face.

Thank heavens for fast food, Supernanny and Botox.