I’m rarely brutally honest with others. For example, I’d never tell one of my good friends that she bears more than a passing resemblance to a ridiculous felt puppet, like a kind of rejected Jim Henson Workshop creation. I wouldn’t tell her that now she’s heavily pregnant, that it’d be a really good time to put her tits away at work as it’s not a bloody nightclub and no matter how much of her mammary glands are on show, people still won’t like her because she has a nasty streak and is a bit too gobby. That’s a lie. I tell her both of these things to her face most days. And, if she’s not in the office, there’s always text, Twitter or Facebook to pass on my opinions and advice.
Don’t feel sorry for her. I recently stopped editing an organisation’s magazine. And, when the new editor’s first issue was published, she sent me an email telling me that she’d read it from cover to cover and thought it was the best issue I’d ever produced, knowing full well that I had nothing to do with it. She gives as good as she gets. She’s a bitch. I’m a bitch. Our friendship thrives and survives because of this. It works well.
Generally though, I don’t like to upset people, so I’m not one for being too blunt. Not to their faces, anyway. But I do happen to be brutally honest about myself. Too honest, some would say. You know how some people are referred to as being like an open book? Well I’m an open pop-up book. I’ll happily tell people about things that most people would want to keep quiet about. Things that most ‘normal’ people probably don’t even do. I give my internal voice an actual voice and just come out and say exactly what bizarre thoughts I sometimes have, and talk about the strange, embarrassing, and often pathetic things I’ve done. I have no self control.
I’m clearly an attention seeker (I do come from a broken home, kids) but I’ve got nothing to boast about – I have no talents or interests. I’m not particularly well read either, so can’t make intelligent social or political commentary for people to nod along to. I rarely raise an interesting point. But, what I do have, are loads of tales about what a completely self obsessed dickhead I am. And I don’t mind being a dickhead. I really don’t. It tends to get a laugh and I like to think I’m making people feel less bad about their own foibles, because it’s highly unlikely that they’ve done the kind of ridiculous things I have. I’m giving something back. While also getting the attention I crave. It’s win/win. But not everyone sees it that way.
“Why do you do it?” my friend Jim once asked me, in a genuinely concerned manner. “It’s like you’re happy to present yourself as some kind of caricature. You’re not really like that. You’re not an idiot.”
Jim and I became firm friends when early in 2011, he overheard me saying that I was going into hospital for an operation the next day. We barely knew each other, but he shouted across the crowded office:
“What for? Rhinoplasty?”
If you’ve read my previous posts, you’ll know that I love a good insult, and because I do look a bit like the Childcatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, I thought his retort, although dangerous (I could have been undergoing a serious operation for all he knew), was inspired. He had me at ‘rhinoplasty’, ladies and gentlemen. Since that day, we often enjoy a cheeky pint and share of bowl of chicken wings (£4.49 and 556 calories) at Wetherspoons in Paradise Forum. Which, if you know how much I like a bargain, suits me down to the ground. He is also northern. I’m a lucky lady. It was there where he broached the topic.
“I am an idiot,” I replied, as chicken fat dribbled sensually down my chin. “And I am a bit like a caricature of a real person. I don’t mind letting people know these things. They’re all true.”
“Even if they are, you don’t need to let everyone know. There are some things that perhaps you should keep quiet about.”
He had a point. Most people would keep quiet if they’d shat themselves in the street outside The Crescent Theatre in Birmingham at 4.30pm on a Friday afternoon in 2006. Why would you want to tell people about that? It’s not big and it’s not clever. It’s really not something that would necessarily crop up in conversation, but within the first few days of knowing someone I’ll have probably shared a plethora of tales that paint me in a less than positive light, alongside that one, which literally paints me in my own faeces.
I’ll tell them all about how I then had to drive home with my friend in the car, sobbing uncontrollably, asking: “What is happening to me? How can you even stand to be in this vehicle with me? I have shit running down my legs and it’s making me retch, so how on earth must you feel? I have been poisoned. Oh my God, I will be on CCTV, shitting in the street in broad daylight. It’ll be on Midlands Today. What if I have lost bowel control forever and can’t ever leave the house again?”
My theory about why that happened is that I think my ex-husband had given me powerful laxatives that day. We were in the process of getting divorced and I’d met him for coffee in town, so he could well have slipped a couple into my latte. His sister was a nurse so I imagine she had access to these things. He denies it. I’m still looking into the matter. It’s been a long investigation. I’ll keep you posted.
Most people who hear my tales of shame and idiotic behaviour seem to enjoy them, but I do sometimes see a look concern on their faces when the anecdote is something a bit more disconcerting. When I tell people that as a child, I used to jump up and down on my hand in a half-arsed attempt to break my wrist, because I wanted a pot on my arm (known in the south as a plaster cast, I believe), and that I faked an eye test because I quite fancied wearing glasses, then I can see they’re a bit uncomfortable as they imagine what kind of a desperate, attention craving youngster I was.
Well it’s the same, desperate, attention craving adult I am today. Just without the desire to break my joints or be a four eyes. And that is why I know I will enjoy sharing my anecdotes through this blog. It’s somewhat therapeutic. And, with any luck, my mate might read this and put a fucking polo neck on and give us all a break.