Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Everything I Have Ever Cocked Up, 1983-2006

Apologies for the awful title, which I know makes this post sound like some dreadful piece of modern art (unless you like that sort of thing, in which case do feel free to consider this as modern art) or excerpt from a Nick Hornby novel.

I've always been wary of needless self-revelation on this blog; not least because it seems everyone I have ever dated, or ever wanted to date, now reads it.

But last week I managed to sabotage my life so spectacularly (no, I'm not going to tell you how) that I thought that I should probably commemorate that by raking over the coals of my previous cock-ups in as tawdry and self-pitying a way as I can muster - one a day until I feel cheerier, I think. Let the wallowing commence!

  • The Amsterdam Passport Fiasco

    You might not know this, but I have a morbid fear of both long-distance travel and racing against the clock. I cannot physically bear to watch that John Cleese film Clockwise, and I have problems with the Friends episode The One Where... They Can't Be Late for similar reasons. I leave at least an extra half hour to travel from my house to Paddington when I catch the train back to my parents' house, for example, meaning I have to entertain myself at the world's most boring station.

    This all dates back to 2003, when Matt and I decided to go to Amsterdam for a few days in the Easter vacation. Luggage packed, we arrived at Stansted with ample time to spare for our morning flight. In a few short hours I would be ogling prostitutes and soaking up the atmosphere of Europe's most liberal city. Everything was right with the world.

    Until, that is, we got to the check in desk. I was busy exchanging pleasantries with the woman behind the desk, and desperately trying to pretend we were going for 'cultural reasons' - I distinctly remember talking about the Rijksmuseum as if I gave a shit - when she said, "Oh."

    "Oh?" I queried.
    "Oh dear," she said. "Your passport has expired."
    No words can express the icy chill that gripped my heart. An impoverished student, I had spent the remainder of my overdraft on this trip (the rest had long since been 'invested' in M&S food and pints of Snakebite) and moreover, I didn't think it would be a fantastic idea to let Matt, aka the World's Most Laidback Man, wander the temptation-filled streets of Amsterdam alone. So I took the mature route and burst into tears.

    The kindly check-in lady offered to put us on a later flight (for free), presumably so that I would go and cry somewhere else. There followed a day of racing round London - which at the time I had no idea how to navigate - desperately trying to renew my passport in time to catch the later flight. In the end, I had to get Matt to take the free flight they'd offered us, and buy myself another one an hour later.

    However, that wasn't the biggest cock-up of the day. That award goes to my decision to get new photos for my passport immediately after my teary scene at the check-in desk. For the next eight years I will be saddled with a passport photo of me looking like a smack addict who's just gone cold turkey - huge swollen eyes, blotchy face, wobbly lower lip. Every time I go abroad customs officials look at it, then me, then look at it again. Then they titter as I walk away.

  • The Second Worst Thing You Can Ever Say To A Boy

    In my first term at university, I developed a raging crush on the rather lovely Bill, who could well be reading this (hello!). Anyway, I spent all eight weeks wondering whether or not he reciprocated my feelings. Every utterance was scrutinised like the entrails of a Roman sacrificial bull. Eventually, with only one day before the Christmas holidays left, I took the nuclear option. Chris (of Erica fame) was enlisted to find out the truth. It wasn't good: to put in bluntly, no. Chris, being the lovely chap he is, tried to break this to me gently - as I recall, by saying, "Yeah, mate - it's a no.".

    Everything was going so well until we went to Bar Med and two jugs of Long Island Ice Tea happened to me. I've got a shplendid idea, I thought - I'll jusht tell him that it's all ok. I'm jaunty. I'm cool.

    I tottered over. "Bill," I slurred, "I know.... I know... you don't fancy me - but iss....iss OK." Then, the jaunty finish: "I mean, in one sense it's like the stool has been kicked away from my universe... but.. but.. iss OK."

    I have never known a phrase with such amazing sobering powers. As soon as it left my lips, I knew that it was a) freaky, and b) not jaunty at all! And quite why I believed the entirety of existence to be resting upon a small footrest is a question for another time.

    Anyway, that's only a mid-range cock-up, because Bill and I still get on (in fact, do have a look at his mother's blog here).

  • The Great Fire of Bedminster

    I was, ooh, 16 or 17, and had gone with my best friend Emily to visit these guys in their thirties we had met on holiday (yes, in retrospect that does sound a bit suspicious, but in fairness we had met them at a Christian holiday camp). One of them, Adam, had rather a nice house in Bristol, and we had a lovely barbeque out the back. One of the artful candles onna spike that lit the garden toppled over, setting fire to some dry leaves piled up ready to go to the tip.

    Being the helpful soul I am, I snatched the nearest bottle to hand and doused the flames. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a bottle of triple-distilled vodka, which started what can only be described as a major conflagration. After some time spent running about, filling saucepans with water from the tap, Adam's garden resembled something out of a war zone.

    The next time I was invited I managed to burn his kitchen wall whilst fashioning a flamethrower from a bottle of White Lightning and some lighter fluid. Unsurprisingly, there was no third visit.

  • The Gay Boyfriend

    I'm not sure anyone's first relationship reflects well on them, and most would be willing to admit that they didn't choose as well as they would do now. I, however, made the reasonably grievous error of picking a paid-up homosexual as my first boyfriend.

    It lasted for two months - he now refers to it, charmingly, as his "heterosexuality holiday" - before he dumped me in the coat queue of Worcester's most chavvy nightclub. I distinctly remember the cab ride home, my lip a-quivering, listening to "Careless Whisper" and thinking - yes, I'm never going to dance again, guilty feet really ain't got no rhythm (which, come to think of it, is probably the most embarrassing aspect of the whole thing).

  • Saying 'Fuck' In Front Of My Mother

    Didn't happen until the first year of university. Hasn't happened since, and still live in fear that it might happen again (especially considering I now swear like a blind carpenter). Woke up sweating in the night for a week afterwards.

  • Collarbone surface piercings

    Another one to be filed under 'seemed like a good idea at the time'. Considering I've had such a cottonwool-swaddled middle class pantywaister existence, I do have a lot of scars. The majority of these are my own fault, including the rather obvious ones on my chest from two failed attempts at a sternum surface piercings. However, these at least looked good for a little while. My collarbone piercings did not ever, ever look good, not even when they were just done. They also involved comfortably the most pain I have ever volunteered for. All round, they were very bad indeed.

  • Getting engaged to a someone I met on the Internet

    Yeah, the title says it all, doesn't it? What a fucking brilliant idea this one was. In my defence, I was 16 and we had only just discovered the Internet in Worcester. I started a blog (my very first, which has now sadly slipped through the floorboards of cyberspace) in a body modification community - this being back when I was cool and pierced and whatnot. I used to spend hours talking to this guy called Shan in Oklahoma, who was divorced and had two kids called Willow and Bishop.

    This lasted for about six months, and I was seriously contemplating going out to visit this chap (look, I was young and naive, OK? All these fuckups are the reason I'm such a bitter old trout now...). Of course, in classic 'bloke I met on the internet' fashion, he turned out to be his wife. Or possibly both of them were in on it. Who knows. I think it probably turned out for the best: I couldn't say 'Oklahoma' without giving it the full musical-style "Ooooooh-klahoma", which I'm imagining doesn't go down that well with people who have to live there.

  • The Second Engagement

    Ah, my love life. What fruitful pastures for recrimination. Fresh from my triumph of picking a gay bloke to date, I moved on to a mental bloke. Several things should have tipped me off that we weren't compatible: the fact his favourite phrase was "fockingcontybollocksinnit" being only the most obvious. It lasted only nine months, during which time he ended up trying to finish a particularly spiteful argument by proposing to me. I should have slapped him quite hard for this piece of flagrant emotional manipulation. I didn't. However, I think it proves I was learning about relationships (even if at a rate marginally slower than a pigeon) that I sort of mumbled an acceptance. (Hey, this means I have been engaged twice, technically. What a femme fatale I am.)

    He then proceeded to take me to H Samuel (H fucking Samuel, I ask you!) to pick an engagement ring. Well, that was the final straw and after another three and a half months I showed him where to go, I can tell you!

  • Every Time Christina Aguilera's Dirrty Has Played In A Nightclub And I Have Truly, Truly, Believed I Can Dance

    This sums up my clubbing career for several years, and the smell of shame which pervades throughout my memories is probably why I no longer go clubbing.

    right, that's quite enough...


    Anonymous lb said...

    Better than Hornby.

    I think if I ever wrote anything in the same vein you'd end up with something requiring a Wikipedia-like amount of server space.

    6/13/2006 11:57 am  
    Blogger galatea said...

    Well, what started as a mild wallow is now reaching the dimensions of an Norse saga, only with less giant sea creatures.

    6/13/2006 3:39 pm  
    Blogger galatea said...

    Fewer! I meant fewer!


    6/13/2006 3:41 pm  
    Blogger Tamburlaine said...

    I realise that these terrible happenings in your life required much fortitude to face.

    Reading, however... I'm sorry, but it's really funny (particularly your setting fire to Adam's house and garden).

    Am I a bad person?

    6/13/2006 6:28 pm  
    Anonymous Erica said...

    You had a crush on Bill?! As in my arch nemesis, Bill?! Craaazy.

    P.S. Don't tell Bill I consider him my arch nemesis. It is an elaborate epic I've crafted in my brain that I'd rather not have his real-life counterpart interfere with in any way.

    P.P.S Hahaha, Bill for god's sake!

    6/14/2006 11:18 pm  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    erica, as in chris' erica? and you are mocking helen for fancying bill when you continue to date a halfgermangingerbeekeepinghistorian?
    only kidding!

    6/15/2006 6:18 pm  
    Anonymous galatea said...

    You omitted to mention his desire to learn the steel drums, despite being certifiably the whitest man in the world.

    6/15/2006 6:45 pm  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    so says the whitest woman....

    6/15/2006 6:48 pm  
    Anonymous galatea said...

    Look, 'anonymous', if that is your real name.. You sound like the kind of man who spends most of his day in tiny lycra shorts, so I am not minded to listen to your carping.

    6/15/2006 7:02 pm  
    Anonymous Erica said...

    This is true but Bill spent a whole year drawing robot dinosaurs. I mean, come on.

    I do feel the need to send Bill flowers now for all my mockery, but he did tell everyone in all of Oxford that I was an overseas sex slave!

    6/15/2006 7:02 pm  
    Blogger galatea said...

    Shit. Were you not? I always assumed that was how Chris had done so well for himself.

    6/16/2006 12:10 pm  
    Anonymous DC blonde said...

    Look, 'anonymous', if that is your real name

    Gold. Clearly you have an excellent source of cultural references.

    6/18/2006 3:05 am  
    Anonymous galatea said...

    Nah, that phrase was popularised by some complete twat. We all hate him so much he's had to emigrate to America. Sad, really.

    6/19/2006 6:21 pm  

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