Taking Waterstock

I went into the office at Waterstones yesterday morning, with a view to hand in my notice. I remember sitting in my student living room with Joanne, prophesising that this bit of life, the bit where it actually starts, was going to terrible.

“It’s going to be terrible” – said Joanne, thinking it is going to be terrible.

“Yeah”- me, agreeing, but secretly thinking it maybe won’t be, because I’ll be famous by then.

What do I have to celebrate at the end of this month? Well, I’m not pregnant. I guess that’s something I can celebrate about. I think my pants had a party about it anyway, if you pretend that confetti looks quite a lot like blood. I bought a pregnancy test anyway, just to make extra sure I could celebrate.*

Grasping at straws like a hungry teenage mother in McDonalds, I have fallen into a depression that has left me crying every day.** Unlike the dog-eared pages of the books I am forcing back into random areas on shelves, I am dog eyed. Everything is grey. And like the books that undergo my shelving technique, I am equally as identity confused.

In the heavy rain yesterday morning, my mother and I decided in the car to make the final decision to hand in my notice at work. Actually I think it was raining, but it might have just been the fact that my eyeballs were clogged with tears.

I sprung it on the manager I like yesterday. Handing me a tissue, she said that I need to think long and hard about whether I want to quit. So let me explain to you a bit about why I want to quit Waterstones.

I’m not good at my job.  

I’m just not. I’ll compare myself to my co-worker, and high school friend who got me the job in the first place; Bronwen. Bronwen is really good at customer service. Also, she is incredibly intelligent, and can suggest any book under the sun if someone asked, particularly something really hard, like a book on post war minimalism or something. I can’t seem to recommend anything more complicated than Flat Stanley. Which, by the way, is an excellent read if you’re into protagonists like you’re into coffee- flat and white.

Bronwen has a charm about her which means she can talk to anybody at the till, even the cunts. Believe me, there are some, pardon my French, cunts, who seem to come into Waterstones with a personal vendetta against literature, me, the shop, Wimbledon as a general area, growing old, waiting in a queue that they’ve joined at the moment that someone else has gotten in the queue, and the fact I am the only person on the till, struggling with a refund on a receipt that expired several months ago for an elderly woman with a face that harbours the arthritic verve of someone applying mascara on Nemesis Inferno.

Meanwhile, I’m writing poorly crafted jokes into my phone about how Donna Tartt sounds like the name of a slutty kebab. Bronwen knows she can rise through the ranks and become a manager one day. I’m hiding books behind each other and mixing Sardinia in with Sudan because I don’t know where the fuck Sardinia is on a map- because it’s an island, is it its own country? I don’t know, which is why I probably shouldn’t be working at Waterstones.

And all the while I’ve been left with one harrowing realisation:

Nobody wants to hear my jokes.

There was a spider in my bedroom about two weeks ago, and Mark asked me to go and find something heavy to kill it with, and I must have scrabbled around for about two minutes desperately trying to find Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life, the flavour of a hilarious prop joke on the tip of my moistened tongue. He’s going to laugh at me being all witty, oh god it’s going to feel so good, and I then I’m going to laugh because he’s laughing but mostly because I’m so funny, and then we’ll both laugh so hard the spider will start laughing, laughing his little eight socks off. Except it won’t be an actual laugh, he’ll just sort of wiggle his pincers around, as is commonly accepted amongst spiders as a physical representation of the human act of laughter.

We’ll all laugh so hard tears will stream down our faces, well maybe just mine, because what am I like, honestly***, you couldn’t write it, and can you see the spider anymore no okay we’ll just sleep in the garden tonight

*Also, on that note, I’m beginning to assume hymens grow back, like that filmy layer you get on stale gravy. I’m not even sure if mine actually is still there or not anyway, or whether every time I have sex, it’s like someone poking their finger into one of those plastic packets with cling film used to cover raw chicken in tesco- like not actively piercing it but leaving a severe indentation?

**I realise this bit is quite sad, sorry about that. Perhaps some comedy might help you out here. I was mulling this over lunch and thought that you might like to hear some tweets that never made the cut for the twitter I don’t actually have:

-Do you like these buns? They’re like me; hot and cross.

-Brits aren’t really fans of ventriloquism, on account of being so tight lipped.

-Keep your cards close to your chest, unless its your community chest, and if so then place them back at the bottom of the pile.

-Donna Tartt? More like DONNA KEBAB (somewhere a spider excitedly flaps its pincers)

***Sad again, sorry. See above tweets for comedy relief.

Am I tired? Yes. A latte.

So here’s a quick update on my first week working full time.

I am tired. I am really, really tired. I have friends in the real world who talk about how tired they are but I sort of only half believed them, thinking that a full time job can only be so draining. Is a 9-5 job really that tiring?


I get up at about 6am because I’m too tired to work out how the trains function to get to work. I just don’t know which one I need to take. Time is really hard to tell. My brain is to time as what Dali is to clocks; all melty and fucked up. Often, when I think about time, I feel like I’m still in year six as little ten year old me, equipped buckteeth like grapple hooks, desperately fumbling around for a remote foothold of comprehension. A frustrated tutor looming over me whilst a little bit of pee runs down my leg as I gaze blankly at the page, a melty mushy mess of numbers slowly rotating, mocking. Even time’s embarrassed about being time, coyly covering its face with its hands BE BRAVE TIME SHOW US WHO YOU ARE.

Anyway, so I end up several hours early for work. Obviously I don’t go in early like a fucking nark (I’m not a keen pleb, get a grip) so I’m in Starbucks, every morning, when it opens, ordering a full fat latte.

Also, things have gone downhill with Jennifer and Vince. They moved in together a few months ago when things were getting pretty serious. They were still quite cautious about the prospect, tentatively rubbing along together. But now they’ve begun to suffocate each other, and they’re desperately trying to push the other one out. There’s a part of me that feels trapped in the middle, that can’t breathe. Jennifer’s even thinking about moving back in with her parents, to get a healthy distance. Is there such thing as couples counselling for thighs?

No, I’m only kidding, my body has never looked better, spackled with reptile-like scales and white confetti cellulite, like an internal piñata exploded inside me, in celebration of the stress carnival I have every morning. My jeans barely aid in constricting even the suggestion of a leg-like shape, like little conjoined overstuffed cocktail sausages. My legs look like two desperate snakes, eating parallel swollen cacti, slowly dragging their engorged carcasses into work.

I’m thinking about linking this blog to my Tinder profile.

I think that if I were to die right now, they would be able to tell how much weight I’ve gained through the curvature of my belly button piercing; slowly bending under the pressure of my stomach, being forced out of my body and over my jeans. If that doesn’t make sense, its because I don’t know how belly button piercings work- I just know its infected.

My skin is really great at the moment too, kindly adopting the texture of all the muffins I’m eating.


(Sugar packets for scale)

It’s shit. Everything is absolute shit. I’m not even funny anymore, really, I’m just annoying. Annoying with a big stupid face and a silly voice and a tubby tummy and a unibrow because I cant even afford the £5 to get them threaded by a woman in Nike Airmax.


Anyway, if I’ve gained anything aside from weight this week, it’s an immense respect for people who work in retail. The general human population has a profound absence of this. I get people come up to me and ask stuff like:

“Hi can you help me find a book? I don’t know the author. Or the name of the book. But I just know its got like a bunny that fights crime maybe or is it a goat I’m really not sure”

And I have to be like yeah, of course, let me just flip through the internal rolodex inside my brain to the section on small mammals, then to the employed civil service sector, and then combine the two to find the subsection about vigilante rabbits and maybe look in the kids section for twenty minutes before you suggest that it might have actually been Claude the Movie Star Dog.

I had one very small little girl come up to my till with her father to buy a miniature pony figurine (£5.96). She didn’t say ‘please’ when she handed it to me, and to be honest I wasn’t too fussed on the matter, but her father was furious and made me put the horse back. The little girl then threw the biggest tantrum I have ever seen in the store, at ME, screaming. I can’t describe it without getting a bit shaky but it was almost exactly like that moment in American Beauty when the mother tries to sell the house and then screams because she doesn’t like the blinds or something. But this little girl was filled with a real, crushing, trauma-fuelled suburban existential hysteria, because of me.

I would have fucking bought that pony right there if I could have done to make her stop; other employees are looking at me like I’ve just kicked a six year old girl in the vagina. But that pony is the same price as a pair of well-shaped eyebrows. Her father drags her out, and then returns to the shop ten minutes later with the little girl, in his arms, snot and tears streaming down her face. Holds her up so she’s face to face with me and she squeaks out a sorry. I tried to smile at her, but it was very difficult to, considering I had just spent the last ten minutes in the employee toilets, hysterically crying that I had ruined a little girl’s life and I am probably going to be a terrible mother and it’s probably because I’m stupid and fat and I can’t tell the time and I lied earlier and it was more like year nine.

In a job interview I had last week I actually used the phrase “I’m used to rejection” and I think it’s really working out well for me so far.