We were celebrating with dinner at Comme.
‘What’s the date today?’ I asked Damjan.
‘Joan! It’s your birthday.’
We were celebrating with dinner at Comme.
‘What’s the date today?’ I asked Damjan.
‘Joan! It’s your birthday.’
I was running late for my 10am meeting. I caught the wrong tram and had to jump off, double back and wait for the right tram.
So I was quite pleased with myself when I managed to get to the unfamiliar office at 10:03am. I was practically on time! Then I spent the next five minutes trying to work out how to open the gate. Was there a doorbell? Another entrance? A lock of some kind?
I looked next door and noticed it was a childcare. Oh! This was probably a child safe gate. It might have one of those ‘high up’ locks.
Sure enough, there was a vertical rod to pull up from the lock at the top of the gate. I struggled to get enough height and leverage through the bars of the gate to do this. This gate was practically Joan proof, as well as child proof.
Finally, I released the gate and rushed in, properly late for the meeting.
Damjan: ‘I liked playing with Lego.’
Joan: ‘I liked Lego too. I often made the same thing with my set. It was a fairground with a ferris wheel.’
Damjan: ‘What Lego set did you have?’
Joan: ‘It was just the bricks.’
Damjan: ‘You just had bricks?’
Joan: ‘Yeah, just the normal set.’
Damjan: ‘Oh… I always had the Technics.’
Joan: ‘Were they the ones where you got instructions?’
Damjan: ‘Yeah. I would rush to finish it. I thought the point was to make the toy and play with it.’
Joan: ‘Oh, but the fun would have been in the making of it.’
Damjan: ‘I guess I didn’t appreciate it when I was a kid.’
The next day, Damjan arrived home with a box of computer parts to make our new computer. He started assembling it straight after dinner.
Damjan: ‘It’s so easy and so much fun. It’s just like Lego.’
Joan: ‘But you’re just following the instructions.’
Damjan: ‘Yes! It’s just like Lego!’
I was going to Sydney for a workshop and it happened that a member of the Board group was also going. We met up at the end of the day before to check in online. This way we could sit together.
‘Bye, Joan!’ he said after it was done. ‘I’ll see you tomorrow at the Qantas Club!’
In dismay, I called after him, ‘I’m not a member of the Qantas Club…’
The next day, I had to loiter in the food court and wait for my colleague to arrive so that I could tail him into the Qantas Club.
When I went to visit Vera’s new home in London, I didn’t know how to get to her flat door. Neither could I work out how to ring the communal doorbell beside the main entrance to her building.
Also, I had left my mobile phone at work and couldn’t ring Vera for instructions, such is my genius.
Naturally, then, I waited for someone to arrive and I tail gated them to get into the building. Joan the burglar at work.
I hovered in the foyer, trying to figure out my next move. Vera’s flat was number 11. I logicked that it could be on the first floor but I couldn’t see a staircase.
There was, however, a lift. A woman walked passed me, pushed the lift button and entered. I rushed in behind her before realising that the lift was tiny. There was barely room for two people.
‘Floor?’ she asked graciously.
‘Erm, one.’ I was embarrassed. If I knew my way around, I would have walked.
Suddenly, there as a pizza delivery man in front of us.
‘Come in,’ my lift mate said graciously again. I gasped silently.
The pizza man folded himself in and with some experimentation, held the pizza aloft and above our heads.
‘Smells good,’ I commented during the pitiful interval between the lift taking off and stopping at the first floor. I darted out before they could reply.
Well. It turned out that Vera’s flat 11 was on the third floor so I had to find and climb the stairs anyway.
I was waiting at the Dominion Theatre, under the giant gold statue for the We Will Rock You musical by Queen. I reached into my bag for my pink glasses case. Surrounded by the Friday night crowds, I needed my glasses so I could look out for my dinner mate when he arrived.
I opened the glasses case and they were empty.
It took me half a minute to realise that this was bad news. I couldn’t remember when I had last worn my glasses.
As I stood there in the crowd, in the rain, I catalogued the possibilities. Work. But I had just tidied my desk today. Home. I would have to tidy that tonight. Shops. Surely I wouldn’t have put my glasses down while shopping.
After dinner, I went home, took down my laundry and folded it away, emptied my bags, and sorted my mail. No glasses.
When was the last time I wore them?
It turns out I have proof.
After the madness of the museum, Rebecca, Ian and I had tea at St Pancras station. So maybe, maybe, I had left my glasses at the wine bar.
This morning, I called the bar.
‘Hello. I may have left a pair of red glasses when I visited on Saturday night last week.’
‘…Yes, there are a pair of red glasses.’
‘Are they made of metal?’
‘It’s hard to say. They look a bit like plastic.’
‘I’ll come by to see if they’re mine, then.’
I had breakfast, got into street clothes, and went out with a giant umbrella. As I walked, I tried to avoid stepping on the dozens of worms on the pavement. The worms had been flushed out by the rain. Some lay stretched, curled, some where long, some were squat, some were round, and some had already been flattened.
I crossed my fingers. I often cross my fingers when I’m hoping. This time I crossed two sets of two fingers on my left hand and folded them over my thumb.
At the bar, the person in front of me ordered a large cappuccino and a banana. The bar had been open for breakfast since 7:30am.
When it was my turn, I said again, ‘I may have left a pair of red glasses when I visited on Saturday night last week.’
The manager heard my voice and came over. She had a pair of glasses in her hand. They were my red glasses.
‘They are metal,’ she greeted me, ‘But quite soft metal.’
‘With plastic arms for the over-ear bit,’ I said happily.
‘You’re a lucky person to get them back,’ said the other bar staffer.
‘Lucky, yes, and very forgetful. Thank you so much!’
As I walked back home in the drizzle, I could see the world and those worms more clearly then before.
I came home with something on my mind to ask Damjan. Picking up the phone, I dialled the familiar sequence of numbers and waited.
Beep beep… beep beep… beep beep…
‘I hope Damjan’s home,’ I thought. ‘He should be back by now.’
Suddenly, a girl picked up the phone.
‘Hello, this is Joan’s voicemail. If you leave a message…’
Oh… When I dialled the phone number I know best, I had called myself at work.
Taking my laundry out of the washing machine, I was shocked to discover that my clothes had turned blue.
I can’t figure out the culprit — was it the tea towel or my denim shorts? Neither are new but they were the only blue items in the load. Also, I had done my washing at the relatively mild temperature of 40Â°C.
It’s a mystery. I guess I’ll try hand washing the denim to see if any more blue comes out.
Luckily, there was nothing critical in the wash, mainly t-shirts, socks and underclothes. Initially, I had put a new red cotton summer dress in the machine but after some thought, I took it out because I was worried it might turn everything red!
Nice save, eh. And maybe otherwise, my clothes would have all turned purple!
It started on Friday night. I went to a nice quiet bar with my team mates to bid farewell to our team leader, who is leaving for hotter and more lucrative shores. At 11pm, the quiet bar turned into a thumping night club. So I checked my bag and jacket into the cloak room and boogied past the time that Tube trains stop running.
When I stepped out of the bar/club to take a night bus home, I discovered that my Oyster card was no longer in my coat pocket. I ran back to the bar but now that it had turned into a club, there were four burly bouncers at the door and a line of people waiting to get in. I was locked out.
To get home, I had to pay more than twice the normal bus fare by buying a fare from a ticket machine. Okay, fine, I deserved to be punished for being careless. But — I had no coins in my red wallet to feed the ticket machine! For a few minutes, I contemplated having to walk for 90 minutes in the middle of the night to get home.
I had an idea. If I could find a shop open, I could buy something to get some coins for change! Then I could get a bus ticket.
McDonald’s saved the day. I bought chips (yum!) and then had the coins I needed.
The next day, I bought a new Oyster card and loaded it up with a couple of pounds. After a weekend of travelling around London with friends, my Oyster card balance was Â£2.70 — enough for one more Tube trip.
I slept badly on Sunday night. I woke up at 3am because my feet were really cold. I got out of bed to put on two pairs of socks and still my feet were icy. I curled up in a ball and hung onto my feet. They must have warmed up because I eventually fell asleep.
Being tired the next day probably affected my thinking. I used up Â£1.50 of my Oyster credit to get to work. This meant that there was Â£1.20 credit left, not enough money to get back home but I planned to call Transport for London to transfer the Â£20 on my lost card to my new card. This they did for me — but it will only be available tomorrow. That was okay. I would top up my card with the 30 pence I needed to travel home.
Today, winter began in earnest, and rain bucketed down. I stayed in the office until 6:40pm. Monday is my dance lesson night. I had to get to Covent Garden for 7pm.
I packed up my desk, changed into my t-shirt and shorts, then stepped out into the night. Only there, standing at the front of the building, did I realise that there was no umbrella in my bag. I had left my umbrella in my weekend bag. Being tired this morning meant that I had forgotten to transfer things between bags.
Having missed my dance lesson last week, I was determined to make it this week. It was only 15 minutes walk. A little rain never killed anyone. So I headed off, grabbing the first free newspaper offered to me by a street spruiker, and held the paper over my face.
By the time I got to the dance studio, the paper was soaked through and my hair was dripping. At the reception, I reached into my bag to get out Â£4 for entry fee. My purse wasn’t in its usual place. I suddenly got a mental picture of my red purse next to my green umbrella at home. I knew it was fruitless but I dug around in my wallet some more while I thought about what to do.
I admitted to myself that I couldn’t go dancing today. So I ventured out back into the rain, unconvincingly batting away raindrops with my rapidly disintegrating free newspaper.
I very quickly realised I had another problem. The Â£1.20 on my Oyster card would not get me home on the Tube. I didn’t have even 30 pence to top it up.
I thought about begging.
Well, really, I was lucky I had enough for a 90 pence bus fare. Imagine if I hadn’t! I would have had to walk an hour through the rain with my bare legs sticking out from under my brown woollen coat to get home! Now though, I just needed to walk 10 minutes in the rain to get the bus, then another 10 minutes in the rain once I got off the bus.
By the time I reached home, my shoes were soaked wet. I was a drowned Joanrat and my feet were cold again.
I did something really quite stupid. I read in one of the free London newspapers that the reason why Kenyans are amazing marathon runners is because, like the ancient humans we evolved from, they runon their toes. That is, instead of first contact being the heel (‘heel strike’), Kenyans push off the balls of their feet.
Well, there is no greater authority than the London Lite! So last Saturday, I went to the gym, got on a treadmill, and ran for 10 minutes on my toes.
It seemed to work! I really did run faster with no extra effort.
Unfortunately, I seem to have done something awful to my ankle. I’ve been limping for a week.
Today felt better so I tried doing a bit of jogging — and had to hobble home from the gym again.
I guess I’ll avoid the treadmill for a bit longer!