Date: 14 March 2015. Spring is so close!
Location: Couch, Barnsbury.
Perhaps I'll take you through a typical few days, now that I've begun to have the luxury (?) of such things.
Let's pick up from last Thursday night. On Thursday we generally have a full team and, as we work in open plan and I'm 'easily distracted', this usually results in decreased productivity from me and I generally end up staying late, which I don't mind in the slightest. Around 7pm the only workers left on the floor are me and the guy from Digital who sits directly behind me, a Scot we'll call Archie as the character and his colouring both fit nicely. It was Archie's birthday, a fact I knew because he'd been ceremoniously gifted a giant box of chocolates by his team earlier that day. I'd eaten four already. Archie had spent the last five minutes on the phone:
'Blue Barbour jacket, iPhone 6 in the pocket…No? Right. Thanks anyway.' He was doing the unmistakable phone call rounds of shame. I smirked to myself but minded my own business. However, when he returned from the kitchen with a steaming mug of coffee half an hour later and collapsed back into his ergonomic chair with a 'not going home any time soon' sigh I had to comment.
“Sucky was to spend your birthday.”
“Isn't it that!” A pause. “But I'm off to New York tomorrow.”
We spun chairs in unison and chatted a few minutes. Then back to work. I tapped away on a tender proposal, he on … something appy. When his phone rung I could hardly help but listen in. “From where? Yep. You're kidding me! Mate, thank you. I'll come get them later tonight.” He hung up. Another pause. Then, to the computer screen, “Freaking BRILLIANT!”
I was grinning as I spun my chair back around. “A birthday miracle?”
I leave about an hour later in a weirdly upbeat mood for a rainy London Thursday. It's so nice to feel as though I' starting to make friends at work. Shut up, it was genuinely a worry of mine that I wouldn't!
The next day, Friday, I wake to my alarm at 7.05 as it provokes a muddle-headed sleepy debate: Workout at the work gym? Walk to work? Bus to work? On any given day they're all about equally likely. Today the middle-lazy option wins and I walk the 3km to work in my tall heeled boots, down nefarious Cally Road, weaving through the ever-expanding King's Cross complex, down Euston and into lush Bloomsbury. All the daffodils and cherry blossoms are out in Russell Square.
Outside Bupa House I walk past the glass walls of the gym and feel guilty for about a whole microsecond. I swipe in, grab an organic apple for morning tea and take the stairs to the fourth (lifts are frowned upon here!). I take my laptop out from my locker and plug it it. We're lucky to have permanent desks as we're on a hot-dealing floor. I feel bad for the poor marketing and HR girls as they scramble for desks every morning. Once settled in I dash upstairs (via the actual stairs) to the seventh for breakfast. It's Superfood Week this week so I toss up between a kale omelette and quinoa mango bircher and finally go with the latter as I'm impatient. We're utterly spoiled by our healthy restaurant and cafe and its expansive view over Bloomsbury, the British Museum and the skyline.
After breakfast I set to a sponsorship agreement, then have to field a call from a nasty American lawyer whose client wants access to our confidential deal memorandum — but 'can't' agree to its current terms. Put on the spot I have to negotiate on the phone in open plan in front of my boss. Basically, my worst nightmare. However, it goes ok and I'm soon onto fighting the next fire.
Right before midday my manager, an intimidatingly-tall, intimidatingly-English and intimidatingly-regal gentleman who is always immaculately turned out despite having two very young kids mentions that he's going for sushi and would I like to come? This is massive. Without fail he disappears out for lunch every day — while 90% of the building dines inhouse — and always silently. I accept too eagerly. He takes me down to Covent Garden and even shows me around a little: a vegan hippie joint, a great suit store, the best news agent. This last he, apologetically, explains he has to duck into. Inside he buys two fishing magazines. “My Friday ritual,” he explains a little sheepishly. I grin at being permitted this tiny insight into my enigmatic manager. He waves off the change but the little Sri Lankan cashier insists. “You'll need it to buy your lady lunch!” he laughs. Dying with embarrassment I rush out before I can hear the response. We get sushi and pretend that that wasn't super awkward.
Twitchy and unproductive I flee the office at 5.15. I have an hour and a half to kill before dinner so I mosey through Pret on autopilot, collect a sandwich and keep walking straight into the British Museum, dodge the Asian school trip and make a beeline for the third floor and 'Life and Death in Ancient Egypt'. Today I read up on amulet positioning and the evolution of the death cult in the presence of dozens of three thousand year old mummified corpses. So soon its 6.30 and time to dash. Unable to resist the Instagram-worthy mummy puns forming in my head ('pretty dead Friday night', 'friends were pretty flat tonight', or 'always wrapped to see the gang!'), I snap a quick iPhone picture of one of my favourite mummies — and something odd happens. My screen shows colour bars and the camera crashes. Utterly spooked, I turn on the spot and march out, down the grand core staircase and into the night.
I've agreed to meet Chandler and Monica at London Bridge under the glittery Shard. I must really like them both for this involves crossing the river. Lanky Journalist and his new lady-friend are saving us a table at a pub on Bermondsley but, when we arrive, they explain that they'd been give the option to 'wait til ten, or kill off two in the party'. We take the least bloody option number 3 and stroll the Beer Mile of Bermondsley St in search of burgers. We find these in the big back room at a local brewery. The space is lit with a hundred candles, decorated with old schoolhouse furniture (desks, a leather gym vault, globes) and it feels a lot like a school formal. With bacon cheeseburgers and beers.
Essentially, I'm the gooseberry on a double date but, thankfully it doesn't feel it and we laugh the night away.
Much later I take the Tube back to Angel walk home down Liverpool Road, my feet in those tall boots aching. Utterly exhausted, I snuggle into bed with a Lady Grey tea (no milk, because someone let her pint from last week go sour) and a terrible crime thriller novel. I'm too tired even to indulge in an hour of my latest obsession: Orange Is The New Black. I simply couldn't give it the love, abject horror and wrapt attention it deserves tonight!
I wake up to my alarm around 8am. A friend of Kennedy's is coming by to collect Kennedy's air mattress as she's about to move into an unfurnished flat. Been there, sister! I'm only too happy to pass the baton.
Later I cross the river yet again and step out at Waterloo. It's freaking freezing and the clouds promise rain. First stop is a hot flat white at the weekend market. Then I buy entrance to the Vintage Car Boot Sale in the shadow of the London Eye. This is exactly what it sounds like. Vintage cars. Vintage goods. I'm underdressed for the snapping cold of the day and the wind off the Thames so I'm impatient as I look for my dream end table. After an hour the cold wins. I retreat to the shelter of the food trucks and devour a bacon and mushroom butty and decide to head home. As I'm leaving I step aside for incoming crowds and stumble into a little vintage clothing stall by the entrance. There, glowing as if halo-ed, is precisely what I want. I barely even dare ask if it's for sale. When the answer is a simple' 'sure, I guess!' my eyes go wide like a cartoon character. Ten minutes later I'm proudly walking back to Waterloo with my prize under my arm: a gold and faux-marble 70s bar trolley. It's love (until I have to wrestle it through the Tube gates, when it's briefly hatred.)
Finally we're home just as the rain starts in earnest. I untie the trolley from its makeshift packaging (garbage bags) and set it proudly by my new sofa. I love it again. I'm frozen through, exhausted and incredibly proud of myself.