Some days, working in a busy London office can seem relatively normal. I nod to people as I slip towards my desk in the mornings, and I sip my instant coffee in a mug that isn’t mine, all in a happy daze that four days a week I am a working woman, just a bit broke. And I find that my work is totally amazing in a very mundane sort of way. There is such joy in fluorescent pink post-it notes and having your very own company-brand pen. There is overwhelming happiness in my Boots meal-deal cheese and onion sandwich. And sending e-mails with my signature and job title at the bottom makes me feel slightly important, to the point that sometimes I crave to screenshot it and send a text to my my mum saying ‘look mum! Look how professional I am!’ followed by the emoji of a sexy girl salsa-dancing in a red dress.
Other days, office life is a claustrophobic nightmare which gives me damn anxiety. As soon as the lift clangs shut on the ground floor, I know I’m alone, if only for a few moments. In the beginning I thought I was being filmed and I looked around for a camera – and sighed with relief when there is no Truman-show-prank in sight. Now I hurriedly swivel to stare at my reflection in the mirror and internally wish my untameable hair was a cool-kinda-scruffy rather than a homeless-kinda-scruffy. ‘I look like a fucking tramp,’ I whisper to myself, and no amount of confident reassurance can disguise the horror in my voice. I really should’ve put make-up on. This shirt has a spaghetti bolognaise stain on it. Why do I still have a stye on my bloody eye and how can I silently reassure my colleagues that I swear to God, it’s really not pink-eye?
I was originally going for the Juno Temple look wearing black mum jeans, a green Harrington jacket and docs – casually kooky and occasionally cute. But my jeans are too tight and my docs are shredding my skin to the fucking bone. Instead, I realise I’m the long-lost daughter of Rhys Ifans’ character in Notting Hill. A whirlwind of mistakes, but with some cracking pyjamas and one-liners.
A few seconds later and still too soon the lift doors spring open. I resolve to ‘fuck it’ and walk out, because it’s 9:01 AM and I need to naturally saunter like I’m on top of my life. Which I am, of course. Whatever gave you the idea that I wasn’t? Strangers eyes flicker over computers, morning small-talk drifts in and out of my ears and I’m smiling.
Yes, offices can be strange phenomenons, and even bubbles. And yes, I look like Rhys Ifans’ disgusting daughter. Only today, my dad is Gavin Kavanagh from the Boat that Rocked. I might just be the coolest kid in here.