All posts by Leanne


“So who is your favourite comedian?” It was nice that he clearly thought I was so hilarious that I would have a favourite comedian.

The fact is, I don’t have a favourite comedian. And another fact is I don’t tend to try to hide it, just like that time I was sat in the chair during a junior fashion PR job interview and was asked “So who is your favourite fashion designer?” (Actually, I think it may have been plural.) And it was nice that they clearly thought I was so interested in the fashion industry that I would have at least one favourite fashion designer.

I don’t have one.

“You don’t have a favourite comedian? Well that is quite absurd, Leanne, what with your hilaaaaarious grasp of the English language I thought you’d have quite the flowing list of comedy heroes.” That would have been the ideal moment to highlight the fact that to be your own hero you don’t need to look up to another hero, because where would we stop? There has to be a limit to greatness. Just ask God.

But I stared at the chopsticks on the table instead.

So here I was, sat opposite Petrov. Or ‘Trovz’ as he likes to be known. Obviously he couldn’t have shortened his birth-certificated name to the obvious ‘Pete’, or even ‘Trevor’, because that’d be too ordinary for someone so very extraordinary.

Anyway, Trevor – a boarding school-educated Russian native, who barely sees his LA-residing mother or army-ranking father. His relationship with his only relative in the UK, his brother, is so strong that he was planning to spend the next Christmas with a Muslim friend and her family. Trovz – so extraordinary that he had recently ‘chucked in’ the old lawyer profession in a quest to improve his Chinese, so he was fully prepared for his big move to a small Chinese village in the big new year.

Which didn’t make sense given we were sat in a Korean restaurant. I chose to not point this out since my request for a knife and fork, and exclamation that my bowl of meat resembled dog food, had caused enough offence already.

No bad Asian/dog/cuisine joke – it did actually resemble dog food.

“You can’t say that.” Yes I can, it looks like dog food. It probably doesn’t taste like dog food, luckily for you I’ve never felt inclined to eat dog food, but it has the aesthetic qualities of tinned meat in the pet food aisle. In my haste/confusion/disgust at TROVZ, I had chosen the meat bowl with no vegetables, so you can imagine how a bowl of chopped meat could be likened to Pedigree Chum. Yes you can.

So there I was, utterly culturally inept, poking at a bowl of Korean dog food with a fork, downing my glass of white wine as civilised as socially awkwardly possible, in possession of not a single comedy hero. And there he was, obviously totally culturally superior, chopsticks dancing between his fingers as he sipped Korean tea.

“So then, what are your extra curricular activities?” Oh I hate you Trovz. I hate you so much. Not only do you clearly ‘PLAY’ after work, but you also indulge in ‘Extra Curricular Activities’.

Dog food dutifully consumed, next came 58 minutes in the top room of a dingy, dusty pub, where I encountered three men in ill-fitting shirts and a lady who clearly didn’t adhere to the anti-feminist dictatorship of bra wearing. And endure, yes, painfully endure, their improvised comedy. Improv Com, one of Trovz’s Extra Curricular Activities, obvs.

And 58 minutes of good old Trovz slapping/smacking/attacking his thigh in appreciation of the good old Improv Com. I was able to block out most of it with disgust, dust, white wine and temporary loss of consciousness from a misplaced thigh slap.

This meeting reached a Thank God-ful ending with my leap from the tube carriage, one stop early, during his discussion of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autobiography and the fact that “you’d never expect a man like him to be a man quite like that.”

No, Petrov, but I think we can all expect a man like you to be a man quite like you.

An attempt to be a birthday cake

I don’t have a problem with fun, I really quite enjoy fun. But just as I am void of desire to punctuate that statement with a dreaded exclamation mark or a giant smiley face, I don’t feel the need to literally dress fun up.

I’m rather despondent in the face of forced and contrived ‘fun’. You know – community fairs, team bonding experiences, party games, fancy dress.

Fancy. Dress. That is where my main contention lies. Obviously there have been moments in life when I’ve fully embraced and actually enjoyed it, but that has been on my terms, decided at my own leisure, created with my own thoughts and creative ability. Not thrust upon me.

When this fun becomes ‘fun’, it’s usually as a result of some type of enforced wearing of a party hat or novelty devil horns. The quotation marks around ‘fun’ come to quite literally represent these devil horns. The ring leader of this enforced fun, thrusting a pair of devil horns onto your head in an attempt to demonstrate ‘naughtiness’, because ‘naughtiness’ is fun.

No. No it is not.

And do you know what else isn’t fun? When your invite to a birthday/hen/stag/party event comes with a command that everyone must dress in the exact same fancy dress attire.

Ever since I lost a fancy dress competition to a bunch of grapes, whilst I was stood on stage inside a cardboard box in an attempt to be a birthday cake, any fancy dress has been tainted with a tinge of trauma.

Because how could I not win that competition? We were at a high street’s 100th birthday party – why would a bunch of grapes win instead of a birthday cake? It didn’t make sense, and it still doesn’t make sense. And because that certainty wasn’t certain enough, I will now instantly recoil in horror at the very mention of the awful words ‘fancy dress’, because whatever I attempt will not be good enough.

Maybe you’d think that if we’re all forced to dress in the same outfit then there’s no competition. We’re all in the same boat, or the same costume box – strength in numbers, united we stand, or something. Nope, that doesn’t make it better. It brings to the surface the horrific memories of the group fancy dress moments that defined my childhood. Because when I wasn’t strutting across a stage in a cardboard box, I could be found in a homeless man’s second favourite belonging – The Bin Bag.

Along with my two sisters, once a year, I’d knock on strangers’ doors dressed in refuse chic. All three of us, wandering the neighbourhood in bin bags. Black bin bags. This was Halloween trick or treating for countless years – the bin bags, a bit of rope, a rubber nose and a plastic hat, made up the costumes for us trio of witches.
And it was a conflicting time for us, this childhood relationship with bin bags – because they were also brought out on Christmas day to contain our presents. Why is Santa using our Halloween costumes for our presents? What is all that rubbish doing in my Halloween costume? Why are you dressed as a bin, dear child?

As the years went on, my fancy dress attempts became more elaborate and desperate – I was soon led by creative intuition and began to raid charity shops for inspiration (via the bin bags left outside containing donations, of course). Little Sharon had invited me to her 10th birthday party and I had never visited a house so grand. The birthday party was fancy dress, and of course I deemed it appropriate to visit the local charity shop to purchase a tight PVC skirt, lacy black top, black ankle boots and to spray my hair green. No, I hadn’t shunned the bin bags to transform myself into a saucy witch of the night, I was a PUNK. As a 10-year-old child, a reclusive, nose-bleeding, bed-wetting, cat poem-writing 10-year-old child, I was dressed as a ‘punk’.

So here we are many years and fancy dress attempts later, on the verge of a nosebleed at the stress and outrage that I’ve been invited to an event where a costume has been enforced upon me. You could argue, after reading the narrative of a snippet of my childhood fancy dress horrors, that an enforced costume is a blessing in actual disguise, because surely there won’t be a group enforcement of the bin bag, and what could be worse than that?

I’ll tell you what can be worse than that – the enforcement of bulk-bought costumes. By all means, announce the theme and announce that it would be nice if we all dressed as a similar collection of characters. But don’t announce that you’ve got your hands on a pile of BULK BOUGHT costumes. A job lot. Grab ‘em while they’re hot, girls. All this material for one paaaand.

Because why, why, why, why is it necessary to extinguish the slightest glimmer of fun that does exist in fancy dress, that is the creation of your own disastrous masterpiece, by dictating that we must all wear the exact same garment? Purchased from an online industrial warehouse of ‘FUN’, and no doubt stitched in a Bangladesh sweatshop, wherein which poor building regulations and health and safety standards caused it to come crashing down, killing 256 girls and maiming another 167. Because buildings cannot be held up by ‘FUN’ alone, you know.

For the sake of human rights, and before the UN gets involved, please reconsider inflicting this upon us. For now, I shall dig out my old bin bag to become the apparent Anti-’Fun’ Witch that you probably now consider me to be.

Pin Scruffy to the tree

Oh look, another tree is crying (barking seems too obvious here) that another dog is missing.

Your dog has left you, Helen – accept it and move on. Just like how you have applied human adjectives to his being, Scruffy doesn’t think that you possess enough of his canine qualities – you don’t sniff his bottom or chase him enough, you don’t join him with the howling at Patch the kitty across the road, and he’s left you. There’s just not enough common ground to build upon for this relationship to continue.

I know it’s hard, we’ve all been tempted to pin a poster to a tree, calling out for the object of our unrequited love. But be strong, cut the communication. And that includes the poster making. Time really is a healer – soon these feelings will become rage and soon you will want to pin Scruffy to the tree instead.

Why on earth do you think that anyone who passes this tree will care about the fact that your one true love has left you? Why do you assume that someone will walk past this tree and think ‘Oh yes, I saw a very friendly dog who answers to the name of Scruffy walk past me the other day, because I’m regularly shouting out SCRUFFY at any given chance. Yes, the first thing I noticed was that distinctive tear-shaped marking on his stomach and that mischievous glint in his eye.’

Because nobody cares, Helen. Move on. Okay, fair enough, unless you’re on holiday the sight of a stray dog is a rare and wonderful thing and maybe Helen will one day be reunited with Scruffy…

…but a cat? How on earth do you expect anyone, apart from the deranged, to monitor all the cats in this area in order to keep tabs on the whereabouts of little Patch, Peter? I know you’re missing her, but how do you expect a passer-by to remember all the cats they’ve ever passed on their walk and to connect the sighting of that black cat over there with your poster they saw on a tree three days ago? Do you really think that anyone has that little going on in their lives they’re able to designate a special place in their mind to store all the missing posters they’ve seen?

Maybe you’ll be the lucky one; maybe a weirdo has already created a FOUND poster for Patch. Because there are those weirdos out there, rumour has it.

The RSPCA has recently reported that there has been a worrying social media-influenced increase in owners throwing out their black cats. Black cats don’t look as ‘gawjus’ in a selfie as their lighter-coloured counterparts, because black cats’ features don’t show up in photos, apparently.

So with all of these discarded black cats wandering the streets, there will be a disturbingly drastic surge of FOUND posters appearing on trees nationwide. How many trees will be lost to keep up with both paper demand to produce these posters and space demand in order to display these posters? It’s a scary thought.

But really, who actually takes the time to create a FOUND poster? Who thinks that they have the authority to create a FOUND poster? Who spots a cat, decides it’s walking in a ‘missing’ manner, picks it up, takes it home and sits it at their feet whilst they open Microsoft Publisher to create their dramatic announcement: ‘FOUND – Black cat, seems friendly enough, (no photo I’m afraid, he doesn’t photograph well). Call me.’

That cat you’ve just stolen from the streets was just enjoying an afternoon stroll. Yes, he hasn’t been seen in these parts before, but he just felt like a change of scenery.  But now you’ve snatched him from the streets and made him the star of your FOUND poster and subsequently he is now MISSING.

Or what if that cat was just one of those cats not deemed good enough for a selfie? Thrown out in a fit of rage after the selfie only received one lonely Facebook Like from a great, great aunt.  How long do you intend on keeping the cat for? Because nobody’s going to make a claim for that cat, so now what? Is the cat now your new pet or will you throw it back onto the streets after a period of time with no responses? Ready for someone else to start the horrendous FOUND poster process all over again.

Or what if, like Scruffy the dog, the cat walked out of the cat flap after deciding that he’s just not compatible with the owner – we want different things in life, there’s no point continuing, it’s not you, it’s me. Why are you now holding this cat hostage and forcing a reunion? What if that’s not what the cat wants?

Or what if the cat has voluntarily run away and, like that homeless man sat outside Sainsbury’s, he doesn’t want to be found. He’s run away after alienating everyone around him, following his slow descent into substance abuse. When you walk past a homeless person on the street, do you immediately pick him up and create a FOUND poster? ‘FOUND – Ginger male, friendly, yet distant, will answer to name of ‘Scruffy’.’ No, I’m quite sure you don’t. But you probably should. 

Waiting for a potato

“Are you okay, Love?”

Oh, so now you finally recognise my look of disdain.

That horrible bastard who is apparently incapable of carrying his coin purse above ground level has rolled its giant wheels all over one of my smallest toes – so no, I am not okay, Love.

Now feel free to continue telling me which platform we’re on and what is about to arrive, every two minutes, because I’m sorry, I forgot why I was here. I thought perhaps I was waiting for a potato to shoot out from that dark hole in the distance. Please remind me to stand behind the yellow line, because I don’t know where to stand. I need you to SHOUT that at me.

What you should actually use your megaphone to shout about is the fact that sometimes, just sometimes, tube carriage space runs out. I know that’s obviously a completely unreasonable idea for me to throw out there, because of course space is a relative concept, “Move down, Love” and space is only what you perceive space to be, “Move down, Love” and space is infinite and space only ceases to exist when you stop thinking “MOVE”. And if you demand, once more, for me to move down so you can fit yourself into the 250mm of space left next to me, then you will cease to exist.

Because sometimes, just sometimes, when I have formed a perfect face print onto the back of Nigel’s suit jacket, maybe, just maybe, there’s not enough space left for you to join us on this glorious journey. No, we can’t move down, you ignorant bastard, so why don’t you take two minutes out of your precious time and wait for the next ride?

That never-ending two minutes, hey? Don’t worry, there are endless activities to fill that wait – write a sonnet, knit a jumper, start a family, roast a hog. Just do not attempt to stand next to me.

Oh, so you’re going to consume a whole apple as you stand next to me, are you?

I’m sure it’s severely important you crunch your way through a whole piece of fruit during the 12 minutes and 37 seconds that you are underground, because you know, you couldn’t possibly wait to bite once you’re back in natural light. Go ahead and gyrate your teeth against its green skin. And, please, slurp your apple.

What are you going to do with that core then? You have a whole core to dispose of there, what are you going to do with it? Okay, there’s a Tupperware box. You have pulled out a Tupperware box out of your rucksack. Of course you have, because you have 6 minutes and 22 seconds remaining, you must fill that with some fruit. You’re basically halfway through your journey, it’s half time, so that must mean you deserve a slice of orange or two.

You’ve stood in your kitchen this morning and sliced up an orange. You’ve sliced up an orange and you’ve placed the slices into a Tupperware box. You’ve placed the box into your rucksack. You’ve consciously sliced up an orange and placed it in a Tupperware box and into your rucksack – your emergency half time fruit.

And you are sucking it, sucking the flesh, pulling at the skin. Slurping.

Now that baby over there is looking. He wants some. He’s clapping. Why are you clapping, Baby? You’re applauding me? You are staring at me and applauding me? So what do you want me to do? Clap? Bow for you? Smile? Expose my tongue? Now the mum is looking at me. She’s looking down at the baby, and looking at me, both of them expectantly, desperately willing a reaction.

Why would I want to clap along with your baby? WHY? Why are you actively encouraging me to stare at your child? You will tell that baby in the near future “never talk to strangers” but right now you’re encouraging it, willing it, willing me to begin interaction. Sorry, I was told never talk to strange babies.

And yes, it’s a baby, well done. I too am blessed with the ability to produce one of those. It is quite possibly the least thing you should be proud of – oh let’s be proud of something that 78% of this tube carriage can achieve. Shall I count up to 10 for you, shall I? Look at me, I can count up to 10, just like you, just like her with her face in the Tupperware box. I can count up to ten. Look at me counting up to ten. 1…2….3…4,5,6…7..8,9…

“Are you okay, Love?”

Butternut squash in the money slot

“Unexpected item in bagging area. Please wait for assistance.” Karen (the supermarket’s self service till is obviously called Karen, she has the attitude and general demeanor of a Karen): that was my hand, my hand was temporarily in your bagging area, I removed it as soon as I became aware and deemed it to be inappropriate for our relationship. Please may we cast that incident aside, next to Christmas 2006, into the deep pocket of memories best forgotten?

“Unexpected item in bagging area. Please wait for assistance.” Okay, Karen, I thought we had dealt with this maturely, like adults. I violated your space, and ceased the violation as soon as I became aware… oh here comes the assistance, I DO NOT NEED ANY ASSISTANCE.

Why must you enforce assistance upon me, world? If I was foaming at the mouth and convulsing in an attempt to stuff a butternut squash into the money slot then please, by all means, bring me some assistance. But when Karen is behaving like an overly dramatic, pedantic tell-tale-tit (that’s exactly the type of terminology Karen would use), WHY DO I NEED ASSISTANCE?

Sometimes I wonder if this world would be a different place if Karen was in fact Keith – “Unexpected item in bagging area. Please continue”. You make me sick, Keith – ASSISTANCE, I NEED SOME ASSISTANCE.

So if Karen upsets you so much, why don’t you take your basket to the actual humans at the till to be served, they ask me.

When I’m in the supermarket, I’ve usually just stepped off public transport so incensed by every single disgusting member of the general public that so much as tolerating a probably harmless “Next please” from Andrew or Sonja is out of the question.

Because we all know that it’s never a harmless “Next please”, don’t we. It’s usually a “Hello, how are you, are you having a nice day, oh is this porridge nice?”

Firstly, will you please stop analysing my basket and secondly, what? Everyone knows that porridge is never ‘nice’; we use it as morning fuel to avoid gorging on bread. It’s used as a beige gooey base for as many toppings as we can fit in the bowl to disguise its beigeness – it isn’t ‘nice’. Why the hell do you think Goldilocks had to attempt it three times?

At least you didn’t call me Goldilocks, I suppose. Oh, I see, you couldn’t call me Goldilocks because what you’re actually thinking is that I resemble the bear far more, and your customer service training manual clearly states that you should never call a customer a ‘bear’. But you are obviously calling me a bear, aren’t you? Daddy Bear, big old Papa Bear. Stop calling me fat, you bastard.

So yes, I can’t bear to walk up to the actual till because Andrew will call me fat, and it seems safer to trust a machine to not call you fat. Apart from your weighing scales, of course, which I currently have on full rotation around my bedroom until that bastard stops calling me fat.

So I place my actual item in the bagging area. Not an ‘unexpected’ item, a legitimate non-phantom item. It’s there, you can see it, the inebriated man behind me brandishing a packet of digestives in a desperate attempt at an SOS can see it, but Karen apparently can’t see OR feel it.

“Please place your item in the bagging area.” It is in the bagging area, Karen, it is in the bagging area. Yes, I know cotton wool is all light and fluffy and looks like a bag of clouds but I can assure you, Karen, even though that bastard over there called me a fat bear last week, this is not a bag of miniature clouds that I’m buying for myself and my fellow Care Bears to frolic on.

Second in my ‘What?’ question league, just behind “Is this porridge nice?” is “Would you like a bag?” Let’s see. I only have ohhh a basket full of goods of varying shapes and sizes, no, no, no, of course not – I plan to consume every single item in front of you as a depraved spectacle to feed your voyeuristic pleasures, as soon as I remove my card from the card reader, because I need to use that card as cutlery, obviously. Please excuse me whilst I wash down my porridge with a litre of alpine-flavoured toilet bleach.

Yes, I would like a bag.

And a temporary disposable bag by the way, not a bag for life. Why are you presuming that I will still be here tomorrow or the next day or the next day to continue shopping for life? For all you know, this bleach and porridge could be the staple ingredients for my last ever supper. Why on earth would I like a bag for life? Who are you, God?

No, you’re just Karen.