The Catcall Chronicles

Writing

**Disclaimer  – no man, woman or dog was hurt in the making of these chronicles, this is aimed to be lighthearted and is not intending to stick the knife in further to the topics of rejection or gender roles in relationships in any way. If you are of a sensitive nature then I suggest you turn away now. And never read my blog again.

 

If you’re still reading this then I appreciate that you have identified yourself on the side of (in)sanity. And with this, let’s begin:

 

 

We are all served our fair share of unannounced and unwelcomed wacko encounters, right? Whether you are in the shops getting bread, or bending down to tie your shoelace, sooner or later you’ll find the local clown leeching onto your waist all whilst  whispering sweet nothings into your ear canal.

 

If this is a rare occurrence for you, then let me tell you I am jealous, for my daily interactions with particular members of the general public would make  even the most paranoid and parodied narratives of life look lack-lustre, let me tell you. 

 

This time, let me introduce you to just one of my many types of unsavory encounters – ‘The Cat Calls’

 

Can I just start by saying –  don’t tell me to be flattered by the offensive and obtrusive interjection of a sweaty handshake or gummy grin from a bozo pursuitor. There’s utterly nothing about banal meet and greets that get me all ‘hot and bothered’ I can assure you of that. 

 

 

So with that being said, let’s say hello to the men of my monotonous walks home from work:

 

Mr. Comedy Club – This guy made my dad look like a schoolboy, let’s just say that I never 

knew geriatrics had such taste for juveniles. 

 

Mr. Russia –  ‘We will meet this weekend. You will shag me  for dessert. Simple.’

 

Mr. Burrito – A burrito in exchange for a list of STD’s a prostitute would be proud of sounds like a fair deal, right?

 

The Copiously Copulating Co-workers – Let me serve this food real quick, and then I’ll be right back to grope you, cool?

 

Mr. Stalker – ‘It doesn’t matter if you have a boyfriend, just send me some nudes’ the stranger expels in exasperation after unnanouncingly  chasing me down the street like the predator he was. 

 

You will have plenty of time to get acquainted with each of my Mr. Wrongs, but first it’s time for Mr. Comedy Club to step up to the mic:

 

Mr Comedy Club

 

This guy made my dad look like a schoolboy, let’s just say that I never 

knew geriatrics had such good taste in juveniles and such bad taste in jokes.

 

 I don’t know what was more jarring, the outreach of sweaty hand that looked like it had spent a lifetime on his genitals doing allsorts. Or the lick of his sweaty lip as if he was about to take a chomp out of mine. Both actions, as equally unsettling as he approached me on that busy evening on the Strand, London. 

 

At first I thought he was asking for directions, and naively, 23 year old me failed to abide by the ‘stranger danger code’. Instead I  proceeded to indulge in shaking his nut-scratching hand that little too long, as he interjected my evening jaunt back to my cesspit for a night of netflix and not much else. 

 

“Hi, I’m Paul…nice to meet you, and you are….?

 

To which I obliged and answered startlingly, giving him every detail under the sun.  My full legal title, the 4-digit pin to my debit card, even the code to the safe. But before I could tell him where I was hiding the dead body he rudely interrupted to chuckle goofily and ask me if I ‘lived around here’? 

 

Fuck sake, if I lived around here, doing the maths, I would need to be doing the ‘spread eagle’ for atleast 40 sugardaddies on a daily basis. This was ‘the Strand’, not ‘Old Kent Road’. He really was as dumb as he looked, I thought internally, as I prised a wry grin from my pursed lips. 

“No, no, not far though”, I seethed through gritted teeth, in desperation that this babbling baboon who was bamboozling me would get the memo and leave me the f*ck alone. 

 

I may have given him the code to the safe, but he wasn’t getting the address to the house. Serial killers lurk amongst us, afterall. 

An awkward pause followed my icy blunt response.  Time had legitimately stopped, his beady perverted eyes twinkled as he keenly waited for me to finish my cold reply with an address of where he ultimately thought he could make love to me from dusk till dawn before hiding my wispy body in a ‘hand-luggage sized suitcase’. 

 

A ground-trembling ‘beep’ of a road-raged taxi driver’s horn from the nearby road hastily brought me and Mr Comedy club’s little love affair tumbling back to reality. No sooner had I tried to step away inconspicuously from this car-crash of a conversation  than was this geriatric proceeding  to ask me if I had any ‘hobbies in the vicinity’. The choice of wording made it feel more like an interrogation than a flirtatious fondling of phrases. 

 

I almost threw up in my mouth, but managed to keep it down as the words ‘I like comedy clubs’ spewed out in substitution. A mistake which still haunts me to this day, 2 whole years, 10 months, 28 weeks, 10 days, 23 hours, 3 seconds and 1 millisecond later (now 2 milliseconds). 

 

With the uttering of these four words from my mouth, came a stark change in this man’s behaviour, like a shark smelling blood he latched on with no mercy. In a flustered frenzy he forced up every sound somewhat synonymous to that of ‘comedy club’, and how he ‘coincidentally’ loves every single one that  I go to here in London. Go figure!

 

As he went off on his spiel about all things unfunny, I had somewhat of an outer body experience. I pictured myself flying to the moon and back on the tusk of a baby narwhal, I pondered over whether to have fajitas or fishcakes for tea. I calculated exactly how many minutes of my life I had so far lost to his gibberish gabbling before ultimately, momentarily ofcourse, expelling my soul from my body via passing-wind (everyone’s favourite method). And indulging in a quick soul-flying whizz around The National Portrait Gallery. Before checking back in with my poor self who was now standing motionless as Mr Comedy Club was passing his phone towards me for my number, a surefire way to sign my soul away to a life of pure misery and doom as his 3rd wife-to-be. Thank God I zoomed round the gallery at lightning speed, for as I came back to life I swatted his phone away like the dirty bottle-green fly it truly was. But let’s be clear, this is no fly around shite, this is a perverted paedophile droning on and on in my face about wanting to take me out to a comedy club and then have some real fun afterwards. 

 

One was not amused at this proposal. And finally, as a true woman, who can multi-task, I coupled the batting of his phone with a ‘no’ head shake any nodding Bulldog on a dashboard of a Mini-Cooper sport passing over speed ramps would be proud of. 

 

My pupils now dilated in rage, nostrils flared from smelling his bullshit for one minute too long. He got the memo. His nut-scratching hand proceeded to place his mucky mobile phone back into his very shallow back pocket as his tail tucked coincidingly inbetween his legs.

 

 I had just rejected him. 

 

And in the process gained a new lesson for myself.

 

Don’t talk to strangers. 

 

Numbness now awkwardly introduced itself, filling the void of silence that now enveloped both him and I. My irritation dissipated from my body like waves drifting out to shore, only to be replaced with an overwhelming feeling of guilt.  

 

As he beckoned away from me guising a facial expression signalling simply regret with an edge of sadness, I too had felt sorry for my actions. 

 

Nobody had the last laugh here.

 

**Next time I get sent some love from Russia. 

The Wacky Walking Race

Writing

Have you ever had a silent race on a footpath with a stranger? Where you both take it turns  to overtake one another. Steadily and surely picking up the pace in a desperate attempt to outmaneuver your opponent.

I’ve had this too, but what I haven’t had is an argument with an old lady who is desperately trying to outrun me on a  residential road on my walk home from work. Well, atleast that was the case until yesterday.

Yesterday evening it was dark, 5.30pm was fast approaching and my legs were making a speedy getaway from the workplace. On my usual route home I walk through quite a nice middle-class neighbourhood which, to my finding, can act as a quite the backdrop to some not so nice characters. As I trot down this residential road, as I do every other day, I try to overtake  a fellow commuter – a short elderly woman, who was walking at a slow pace and had a grocery bag full of red wine.  This was a maneuver I should have never attempted, no sooner am I inches ahead of her than can I see out of the corner of my eye her grey haired head bobbing straight passed me as she jogs with vigor to get ahead of me. I found this peculiar but thought nothing of it and so attempted to get passed granny once again. Yet this time, before I even had the chance to get parallel to her, she spins her head round like The Exorcist to glare at me before 1, 2 3, going at full throttle running the street to get away from me.

In shock at her antics I held back out of fear that had I somehow managed to outpace the geriatric then she’d have taken it upon herself to do me in in such classy style with a bottle of red wine to the back of the skull. And with that image quickly flashing into my head I decided to detour up a side road to avoid that rather inconvenient yet very probably possibility. And in doing so, the old doll, now an ant-like size in the distance, shouts back –  ‘good riddance, piss off’!

Now, bearing in mind I don’t know this woman from Adam or Eve, I have not bumped off her first born, taken the last red wine bottle in the supermarket or told her she’s a coffin dodger, so what is her problem? Can I not walk own the street without being hurled abuse at?

But I guess this is nothing compared to getting your hair spray painted red by an absolute stranger as you wait for bus no.24 at your local bus stop. Later do you come to realise through the city news rags that your newfound hairdresser is actually an escapee of a local London asylum. But I guess that’s a story for another time…..;)

City life

Writing

Like mice,

Trapped in the rat race.

A maze made for manipulation.

Man against man, race against race. 

 

A breath.

Of fresh air at dawn.

As futile as asking the sun to,

Rise at dusk and set in the morn.

 

Private,

A word less chosen.

Only by those of land un-citied.

Cities keep the term unspoken.

Hunting

Writing

I’m currently looking for a new place to live here in London, having lived here for almost three years now, it’s safe to say I’ve done my fair share of moving around. From Golders Green to West Ham and places in between. I’m someone who likes change and I think as my rent will be put up even higher this year it’s time to move once again.

 

I’ve never seemed to have any luck with estate agents here in the capital, when I first moved here after graduating from university in Bristol I was quite naive and ended up turning up to places like Brick Lane and Hampstead expecting to view a property for £600 per month. Yet instead found myself stood up, the property never existed. I now have a better idea of what properties are realistic and what cowboy estate agents are trying to pull the wool over my eyes. Personally I find the rent here in London far too high, it’s pretty much extortion. But I guess with the attraction that the city has to so many of us, you’re always going to find people willing to pay eye wateringly high prices, after all competition for homes is rife here.

 

In addition to dodgy estate agents, I found myself in a rather unfortunate situation with flatmates too. I swear I’m cursed with property hunting. When I initially came to London I managed to stay with a live in landlady who was shady af. She only accepted the deposit in cash, never online (so there was no evidence that I ever paid her the money in her eyes, also she wouldn’t be taxed on it this way), I remember her also strictly enforcing that I had to deep clean the entire flat every week, if I failed to do so she would charge me a £20 fine each time. It’s not that I’m allergic to cleaning, I just don’t feel like I need to ‘deep’ clean weekly! Also I don;t know if this is legal but she said if I ever brought ‘visitors’ over she would charge me £15 per night! Hhahaa is she some pimp or seedy hotel owner? I never did bring anyone ‘over’ as she so vulgarly put it. The weirdest thing of all though was when I was awoken to the sounds of loud banging on my bedroom door one night, like after 11pm. I opened tn and to my surprise there were two men in leather coats speaking what sounded like an eastern european language. They asked me where the landlady was to which I distinctly remember her saying a few days prior that she was off for a few weeks ‘holiday’ (fitting timing). I told him this to which he replied ‘tell her I want my deposit back, I was the previous tenant of your room and she hasn’t given me my money back’. He then signalled to the apple mac which was on the table in the kitchen to which I said it wasn’t hers, it was another flatmates, which was true. He then told me  that he would’ve taken it if it was hers as a result of her refraining from returning his deposit. The scary thing here was that he did not come alone, another man was with him and that he had cut keys to gain entry into the property. Let’s remember he wasn’t standing at the front door he was inside the property. Shortly after this occurrence I left the flat and ofcourse I never got my deposit back either. This is a thing you have to look out for when renting, dodgy landlords aswell as estate agents who can try and steal your deposits.

 

After this rather frightening encounter I moved in with workmates from a media company I initially worked for when moving to london. All was fine until one of the guys came back high on cocaine with a bunch of other guys and proceeded to tear up the living at 3am in the morning, I was so scared I literally barricaded myself in my room out of fear of not knowing what they’re intentions were whilst off their heads. I was the only female in the flat at the time of this. And certainly didn’t go back to sleep once they made their presence known in the living room next to my bedroom. So you can see where this is going, I moved again. I often think to myself are my expectations too high for housing situations here in London, personally I don’t believe so, I just want somewhere which isn’t the size of a matchbox or has less light than a cave. Equally so if the flatmates weren’t trying to steal my money or peel the skin off their own faces while overdosing on class-A drugs then that would be a nice thing too. Not asking for much you know.

 

So on I go in my search for a new apartment, I’m a a seasoned veteran at flat hunting now, which is both a good and bad thing I guess. I hope you’ve never had to experience any of the things I did above, and that you’re home hunting has been smooth sailing. I think it’s time to get back on with the hunt then …wish me luck please, I’ll need it!!!!!

 

**If you ever need advice on some recommended places to live here just let me know! I’ve learned it the hard way hahah!

Career change - best books to read 2018 wordpress blog

Career Change?: 7 Books You Need To Read

Writing

The 7 best books to inspire and guide you through career change

Making the decision to change career paths is no walk in the park. I myself have found structure and strategy  in making career decisions through a range of literary sources. Below are 7 books I would best recommend to anyone who, like myself at a stage, may be confused, cautious or just curious the bringing the steps to a career change  into fruition.

  1. How To Find The Work You Love – Laurence G. Boldt

It is estimated that the average person will rack up 90,000 hours  of their life in a job so is it really that wrong to like what you do? No. Infact, I believe you should love what you do. Boldt addresses the need for courage to start the search for a new career, and offers strategic advice on how to tap into our own resources to figure out what we are good at and what we would really like to do. This is an incredibly important point as I feel so many of us just rush life and get lost in the hustle of the day, the demands of the world around us and don’t really take the time that’s necessary to think of what’s best for us as individuals. Surely we owe it to ourselves to put research into something which takes up approx. 1/3 of our lives?

  1. Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway – Susan Jeffers

Perhaps you  already know what career you would like to pursue, step 1 in the list is ticked off, but even with a passion for a role you may be still tentative to make the change. Will you enjoy the new role? Will your friends and family approve? What if the new role isn’t actually right for you, will you be trapped? Susan Jeffers perfectly uncovers the inner workings of our minds and why making decisions especially life changing ones such as a change in career can prove so challenging. She then flips this mindset on its head by offering  a ‘no-lose’ model to make the process of decision making a win-win regardless of whichever choice you make. Sounds too good to be true? Give it a read.  Jeffers shares additional food for thought on fear across a range of areas in our lives.  She touches on the destigmatization of positive thinking, how it isn’t as unrealistic as society would have us belief. How simply changing a few words in your self-talk can transform you from victim to a place of power. And so it can be agreed that this  book is not only relevant to our working life but every aspect of life which requires us to face fear.

  1. Black Box Thinking: The surprising Truth About Success – Matthew Syed

Although this book is not career based at its core, the extremely effective method of intertwining real life examples of when humans have screwed up  with core principles of psychology make for a book I just couldn’t put down. So how does failure link to a career change? It’s exactly that, will I fail at even finding a job, will I fail at the job itself? These questions are daunting and Syed couldn’t explain any better in his book on why failure is essential in life. Even if it means you get fired, this is still a poignant moment for you to learn and persevere.  His go to reference throughout the book is the  comparison between the attitude of the aviation industry vs that of the health care industry in facing failure. With the former facing it head on and with honesty resulting in one of the lowest mortality rates of any industry, the latter in contrast, focuses on hierarchy – a surgeon’s pride compromising honesty when operations go wrong, nurses feeling inadequate to speak  up against doctors. Syed’s core take home message is that in order to learn and grow we must fail. And that by trying to avoid failure you are infact worse off than if failing in the first place. This book can be applied to how you may feel when facing rejection letters, fear of interviews and fear of disappointing those around you. It definitely changed my attitude towards failure. Infact I look forward to failing (ok maybe I’m a bit carried away).

  1. Elon Musk – Ashlee Vance

A man of the moment, SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk knows a thing or two about changing career paths. A ‘.com’ businessman during his entrepreneurial infancy, which in the tech company’s  selling could’ve left Musk with a fat cheque and enough snorkelling holidays to leave him permanently pruned.  But oh no, for he’s the ultimate risk taker. Investing millions and pushing it into fields he wasn’t initially experienced in – aerospace, renewable energy and car industries. Through Vance’s eyes, Musk’s ballsy go hard or go home approach in pursuing passions and making change on scales much bigger than himself makes for an interesting read to say the least. Surely sending off your application on Indeed.com takes a little less effort then trying to get humankind colonizing the red planet, no?

  1. Man’s Search For Meaning – Viktor E. Frankl

Everything can be taken away from us except the ability to choose our attitude in any given circumstance. This is the core message Frankl emphasizes in this truly thought-provoking read – a Viennese psychiatrist who was held captive in both Dachau and Auschwitz concentration camps. The relation I make between his book and in changing a career is that so many times we base decisions off of the opinions of others or rely too heavily on external situations. Will my family approve, will they fire me? If your family don’t approve but from your perspective you love the job then that should just be accepted. If you get fired from the job you will learn skills on how to find another route into the career of your choosing. One’s own perspective on a situation can leave them feeling the victim or the power holder. And in no truer a situation than in the one of pursuing your career can this mindset be incorporated to bring the outcome of most optimal success.

  1. Get a Life, Not a Job: Do What You Love and Let Your Talents Work For You – Paula Caligiuri

With the message that ‘ employers no longer show any loyalty to their employees, it’s up to you to take control of your own destiny’, Caligiuri provides a very hands on and intensive approach to gaining the career of your desires. Practical steps including exercises and questionnaires in the book help dismantle the stigmatized airy fairy idea of ‘following your dreams’ and instead cements dream chasing as it as an achievable goal so long as effort is put in. For anyone who doesn’t want to be just a passive listener, this book should kick start you into action.

  1. Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type – Paul D Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger

Built around the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator (MBPI), this book plays matchmaker between personality type and job fit. So chances are if you’re of a nervous disposition then maybe bounty hunting isn’t for you, in contrast if you like using tax payers money to buy new sinks plugs and paperweights at the cost of a small family car  then perhaps take up politics. Either way the authors aim to take it to a personal level so you can show the world your true talents in your ideal role.

 

So there you have it, 7 and not 8 books which will get you in that dream job by Christmas (potentially). As you’ve came to the end of the article you may be thinking that several of the books chosen here aren’t strictly career focussed and that I’m taking you on some monk-like journey of self-discovery. To me, I see a career  as such a big part of my life that the intertwinement of self-discovery and career cannot be divided. So if you don’t like my cushy self-help books then stay in your miserable job!!!!! (joke(not)). In all seriousness, I know job-hunting isn’t easy, I got fired from my very first job at 21, so I can empathize. So I wish you all the best in your career endeavours, you can do it.

Places In London To Chat To Other Creatives.

Writing

Such a big city with big opportunities to get creative. So what places do I know of which offer just this:

1) The Southbank Centre – home to festivals, dance, comedy shows and exhibitions. You’re guaranteed to get those creative juices flowing at the centre. With wide open spaces you can meet with others for a coffee or even a rehearsal of your next show.  From panel shows on how to get a literary agent to workshops on how to play Gamelan instruments, you’re spoilt for choice!

  1. Go Think Big – I should really pitch up tent outside their offices, for I never seem to be out of them. They offer a real smorgasbord of events, activities and workshops for creative young people. Not so long ago they had a workshop on how to handle stress and an upcoming one is based on vlogging as two examples. The breadth they cover really does mean whatever creative flair you have will be encouraged to grow. Infact they even have what looks like a really good networking event coming up very soon here. Give it a go!
  2. MeetUp – so not conventionally a go to ‘place’ to meet other creatives but this site aims to get people together to create based on a similarity in hobbies and so focus groups are created which host events all over the city. From graffiti art walking tours to special effects makeup for horror films, the site has an abundance of groups to join and get creative.
  3. ERIC Festival – last but certainly not least, our very own ERIC! Having attended several of their festivals hosted at the Hospital club from music to musical theatre, I’d definitely recommended anyone who has a creative bone in their body to shimmy on down to their next event. You might even get a job out of it, that’s what happened to me! You meet a contact who could eventually become a colleague, you just never know!

 

I hope the above help you mingle till your heart’s content. In addition to these, London offers a real range of hidden gems also, perhaps venturing off the road most trekked on once in a while will lead you to a creative revelation. If not, just go back to bed. Kidding!

**Please note this article is intended solely for ERIC Mag, and I will link to the article on their site if/when it becomes live.