All the Symptoms

Since I discovered WebMD, my resolve to never visit another doctor, or hospital, has been stronger than ever. The only exception being when I nicked an artery, and realised that an industrial strength plaster wouldn’t cut it.


You won’t be laughing when I’m dead…

I’m scared of doctors. I won’t take medication. I hate hospitals. I could easily be patient zero in the ensuing viral apocalypse.

I was pretty sickly as a kid, or at least that’s what I was led to believe. I never felt that ill. I was an asthmatic child. This meant I was constantly being scrutinised by doctors, and my mother would have a panic attack when I played Hide and Seek, believing me to have silently suffocated in some corner of the house.

Fun Times.

Like I said I never felt that ill. But not being able to breathe and subsequently passing out may have warped  my judgement. During severe attacks, the GP would be called to give me a suppository.

Yes. You read it right.

Was the ass the quickest way to the lungs?  Maybe I could swallow the tablet. Surely if I was kicking and screaming it was proof I was able to breathe? But my best arguments never worked. I would spend the rest of the day breathing easily and sulking.

I learned to hide the attacks out of pride. I never trusted that doctor. He put all my ailments down to asthma.

Headache? Asthma.

Sore throat and fever? Asthma.

Need stitches out after you were run over? Maybe the car hit you because your asthma left you too weak to cross a simple road.

I decided to adopt the old “Physician Heal Thyself” motto. Ok, I’m not a physician, but apparently neither was my GP,as we discovered when we heard of all the malpractice suits came flooding in.

Being my own doctor I’ve discovered diagnosis is hard. So many illnesses have similar symptoms. Diarrhoea could mean food poisoning, Gastroenteritis, or IBS. All three are possible after eating questionable street food at 4am.

I’ll check another website for a second opinion. But sometimes their diagnosis is worse than Web MD and I end up bequeathing my music collection to my brother via Whatsapp.

Maybe I’m a bit of a hypochondriac, I accurately fit the Buzzfeed profile. I’ll think Dengue Fever, or premature menopause, before I check to see if someone left a radiator on.

Or maybe it’s just good common sense. How many hangovers have turned out to be meningitis or Swine Flu?


Maybe I’m indestructible?

I am currently wishing I had taken part in those drug trials I saw advertised on the tube last year.

They pay two grand a pop. And blindness and/or anal discharge doesn’t seem as bad as whatever it is I’ve got at the moment.

If I die may my epitaph read “I knew Dengue had come to Acton.”


The long road to insanity

The phenomenon of having to live with your parents again  after years of independence, is not something that I am experiencing alone. It’s pretty much standard practice for Londoners, especially with housing being priced the way it is. So when you are changing career and have no income you should thank your lucky stars that your parents will have you. You decide to use those years of worldly experience and let grown up you handle life with the folks. Unless they are my parents that is. No one is mature enough for that. My parents make me wonder how I ever managed to act like a functional member of society for so long. Maybe it’s adjusting to home life again. Indian families, have their own brand of crazy. I don’t know if they are crazy like my folks are though. There was a reason I left so young and so quickly. Sadly, had I put more thought into my escape I wouldn’t have been forced to move back because of finances. Sometimes I feel like I deserve a Pride of Britain award for not spontaneously combusting after a week in their company.

Many a laugh has been had at the expense of our torturous relationship. Friends want to meet my Dad, buy him a drink, think my mother is quaint and traditional. To these people I say: NO. There is nothing cute or eccentric about either of them. If I didn’t know better I would think they had been weaponised to make the enemy go mad in closed spaces. Maybe it’s me overreacting, I’m always being told that it can’t be that bad. I have decided to dole out the crazy in installments, so you can judge for yourself without the harmful side effects.

The never ending noise

As a talkative person who has been affectionately called a ‘big mouth” and inspired more inquisitive minds to wonder if I would ever shut up, I have a pretty good tolerance for noise. It generally doesn’t tend to bother me. I enjoy a good conversation, a stimulating discussion, an impassioned debate, just as much as the next person. Just not all day long. Definitely not if I am not needed to have said conversation. Much less so when it is screamed at me because the other participants are almost completely deaf. This is where my Dad is a viking. He doesn’t need an audience nor a conversation opener it would seem. He often starts in the middle with “So I told him…” It takes a while before I even realised the conversation is aimed at me. When he tries to have a discussion he thinks calling me a moron is helping to develop the debate. This is normally when I tap out and put my headphones on. He does get sulky when he can see you’re ignoring him, which often leads to very animated discussions with the television. When he and my Mum ‘talk’ it could be easily misinterpreted as an argument. The police have been called more than once. Occasionally he bursts into song which then makes my mother burst into song and we then have a Bollywood sing off at 9pm. Delightful.  Imagine this all day every day. I no longer leave my room if I am home without a sibling.

Practical Joker

When I was a teen it was the bane of my life. The fake letters in the post, the phone calls, the ‘hilarious caricatures’ where I was covered in acne and arm hair. What every sensitive 14 year old girl needs. My Dad can actually be quite a funny guy, but too often it’s at the expense of someone else and you need to remind yourself, he is a small old man whom you will gain zero satisfaction from killing. He is constantly making up songs about how I have no friends, or how I am stupid, but to a jazzy tune like Copacabana, so it can’t really be seen as cruel. Nothing sounds mean when sung right? Wrong. It’s actually the karaoke equivalent of “Why do you keep hitting yourself?” You can only be called an idiot 27 times in a row before you start developing a twitch. I know. I have tested it out. In an attempt to save my sanity I have started smoking again, Unfortunately unless I start smoking crack or dosing myself with Ketamine, it won’t be enough. My Mum feigns sleep, only having a sneaky peek to see if she can sit up and finish off the rest of the peanuts before he comes back to share his latest joke. He doesn’t need you to be awake to talk at you…

Over Sharing

Since I can remember being able to understand my Dad’s anecdotes about his reckless youth, I have begged my father to keep his personal life and sexual commentary to himself. He retells it like the Adventures of Emmanuelle, only it’s being told by a man who isn’t wearing his teeth yet. Player Player.  I doubt the film franchise would have had the same international success, had it been told by a wheezy, 76 year old Emmanuelle. No one needs to know that, nor do they want to picture that. The number of times I have wanted to stab myself in the ear after some comment my father has made about some scantily clad woman on the TV, or when he has managed to crowbar in a story of his sexual hey day, well I would have slowly stabbed myself to death. My cries of “Inappropriate!” are ignored. I am a prude, it would seem. According to him, once you pass 18 everything gets put on the table. Maybe this is why most people leave home around that age. Now I am back and using his electricity, the only way out of hearing it, is to get up and go. He’ll remember though. Next time I am hungover and unable to move on the sofa, he will pick up where he left off and there isn’t enough Rohypnol in the world…

Human compost heap

Both my parents seem to think that I double as a garbage disposal. They are both impulsive shoppers, easily swayed by a BOGOF campaign. My mother is the worst offender. She will come home after one of her walkabouts around London, with an bag filled with random snacks that have taken her fancy and will then proceed to push them on you like her life depending on your consumption of these goods. “Have you had a Battenberg?” She will ask this question seven times in a day, often minutes after the previous time and then finally approach me in all severity, pause the telly and instruct me that it is my job to eat all the remaining Battenberg as it now stale. After three hours. The same is done for any food in the fridge going off. Many a time have I walked into the dining room to see a plate with a stale cake, a watery looking piece of fruit, some hummous that I didn’t know we had and a packet of Golden Wonder, and walked back out before she could make me eat it. When I have returned later in the evening I can still hear her ranting about her ungrateful children and my dad’s inability to force us to eat food. The key is to wait until they’re asleep and throw the food into the recycling bin. She seems to be so much happier in the morning and if I fake stomach cramps I get a cup of tea thrown in to boot. Ironically when she gets food that we all love, we are all rationed one piece each and god forbid you should eat more than your share. Believe me, there is hell to pay when that happens.

Tomorrow we will cover drunken MJ impressions and learning shame. For now I have managed to convince myself to take a walk to the pub. It’s what a grown up would do.

Jobless in London

I wrote this nine years ago. Now that I am looking for a job outside teaching again, it all seems very familiar.

Well, I think that my job search has managed to go from bad to worse, today being the biggest disappointment since finding out Ben Kingsley wasn’t and then was Indian. It was a confusing childhood rife with misinformation. I blame Gandhi myself.

So I went for a job today, expecting to witness how a small ad company markets, plans and promotes companies with little money to spend on advertising. What I almost ended up doing was spend 20 quid to get myself down to Worthing to watch someone handing out Beauty Salon promos for no basic wage. And as a “personal task”, I was asked to get 20 people to do a dance for me.

Do a dance.

As much as the idea of approaching a complete and utter stranger on the broad walk and being able to say “Hello Sir, now you look like a man who can bogle…” appealed to me on a comic level, it wasn’t sounding a lot like advertising to me. I probably would have got on a train had it not been for another girl piping up, apologising for choosing to leave and giving me the opportunity to chime in and run off with her for a coffee and a bitch.

I should have twigged when I was sat in their office waiting, and caught a glimpse of their morning mantra/pep talk. People who scream and shout in order to prepare themselves for “sales battle” and then cant, and subsequently ruin, Ali’s immortal ” I’m gonna float like a butterfly, and sting like a bee,” are a bit too peppy for me. I’m more of a sarcasm and wine kind of girl.

I hope this spate of bad job interviews ends soon; it’s costing me a fortune in comfort shopping. Today I come away a little more jaded, but sporting some very nice Adidas superstars, next week I may return suicidal with a Louis Vuitton handbag. I think I shall make my mantra/job hunt pep talk “What doesn’t kill me, expands my wardrobe.” All that’s missing is another pervert, like the old Indian fella on the highroad, who told me that to be a sales assistant in his boxy underwear store I had to model the underwear. Right there and then. Never have I been more grateful that my dad is a) short tempered and b) owns a solid cricket bat.

I give up. I mean who do you have to stalk to get a job in this town? it’s not like I haven’t put myself out there, there has been a lot of putting out, and none of it fun. I blew my last job interview on the grounds that my interviewer didn’t think I would “fit into the team”. As far as I remember I tried to project myself as a hard working, affable, and enthusiastic. I must have been in Mexico way too long, because when I left London I was sure you got points for being professional. Ok, so I may have gone a bit overboard on the professional look, and was way more serious than I normally am, but in my own defence, I’ve been unemployed for a month now and if I was emanating a serious or even desperate vibe it was probably because I was sweating out the last of my deodorant stick, at the end of a travel card, in a suit that was about to fall apart at the seams. With that image in mind, I actually respect them for not giving me the job; I must have looked constipated and severe. Who wants that in the office? Even if it was a medical publishing company (yawn).

They tell you not to lie in interviews, and they’re right.

However, when that little pearl of wisdom was shared with us on careers day we all assumed the same thing: don’t say you can do, did do or have done things that you didn’t. Bit of a tongue twister, but it’s stuck with me for ten years so it must work. So, not telling them about my questionable extra-curricular habits, or pastimes which might paint me in a bad light, I assumed was just good common sense.

Ah careers week, I remember it like it was yesterday: all that time-wasting filling out a form with your career aspirations only to be stuck doing 9- 5 in Woolworth’s, because replenishing the pick and mix was preparing you for being a journalist. I learned about advertising by working at Wallis in Brent Cross, where the highlight of my day was Mark, one of the assistants, pretending to steam my boobs off with the industrial steamer. I was pretty flat chested back then, so it was more humourous than  paedophiley.

What did I know about the method to their madness? Did Mr Miyagi make any sense when he asked Daniel San to wax his car instead of teaching him to roundhouse Johnny to the face? No. But it all worked out in the end.

Anyway, back to my point: When they asked me what I did for fun, a mash up of tequila downing, frenetic dancing, rooftop smoking and endless walks of shame sprang to my mind, before I snapped out of it and told them I read and wrote occasionally. However, this seems to have been to my detriment. In my household, my parents instilled in me a “Don’t tell people your business” reflex. This kicked in whenever I was asked a personal question, and it was particularly active in interview situations. I mean, what did it matter that I drank my alcohol units and those of my other four family members on a Thursday night? How could that make me seem like a better candidate for selling the advertising in a medical journal? It was the medical journal that said it was bad for me!

How misguided I was. Had I known that they could see how well I interacted with others by how much of a party animal I was, I would have come to the interview in the Hooter’s outfit I bought off Ebay and got them to do jelly shots off me. More fool me. I thought I was applying for a desk job.

So how am I meant to sell myself to potential employers for a career in which I have no experience when the only thing I’ve got is my degree, teaching experience and a personality that you won’t really see until we hit a happy hour? It’s far more complicated then polishing the fixtures at Wallis and I don’t think throwing shapes is going to help me as much as it did Daniel. Maybe I’m just not the kind of person who likes to be measured by other people’s standards.

This is the moment when I realise that I can’t work for anyone else, and try to set up my own business, which then goes from strength to strength, ending with me admiring the cityscape from my penthouse, side by side with my gorgeous husband and a Martini.

Only I still haven’t figured out what I do that gets me a penthouse flat in London and a hot guy.

Call girl? Lottery winner? If they gave away penthouses for daydreaming I would be a real estate magnate. This lack of a grip on reality is probably why I put a on a suit and continue to update my CV. As much as I dislike the process, I don’t think I’m ready to work for myself. I may not be a fan of the whole interview dance and career changes, but it beats having the most laid back boss in the world who would let me watch reruns of Fraiser and eat French Fancies until I felt like doing something more productive, like eating mini Battenbergs and watching Only Fools and Horses.

Unless an opening for French Fancy eater opens up, I will just have to suck it up, keep ploughing through the ads and work on showing my personality sans alcohol.