Coconuts and condoms

On the way into London for my latest meeting with a recruitment agency, I feel my soul leave through my back passage. It wasn’t just my soul that went, I lost my umbrella too, though fortunately that took a different exit. I left the blinking thing on the train and it was my favourite, a cat one. The fashion accessory of every City professional.

I’m later than I wanted thanks to the trains and have to take a pit stop at Liverpool Street to re-do my mascara after reading a blog, that made me cry, just a little, on the way in. Though it’s ending was upbeat and involved a banana bread.

Naturally, in a rush, busting for a wee, the toilet pay machine won’t accept any of my 10ps but is for everyone else. Mine, are all spat back out even though I keep shoving the same ones back in just harder each time and spinning them at different angles. Are we still actually doing this money in a slot thing!

Fortunately, I’m on strong steroids for my asthma and have just had a Red Bull, and the combined artificial energy is propelling me along, so I am making up time. I’ve not had this much speed mid-week since I used to wear my trainers in the office on dress down Friday.

Sat nav got me so far to my destination and then gave up, basically saying you’re on your own from here, like a tour guide abandoning a tourist in a less than desirable part of town. I need more data or a phone with a better signal!

Furious at not having previously checked out where I was going on google maps, deciding to purely rely on my phone, I walk up and down in my yellow mac swearing under my breath, like an angry big bird from Sesame Street.

I stop to ask someone for directions, hoping to apportion some of the responsibility for finding my destination onto someone else. The stranger’s pleasant smile when I asked for help set an expectation, a binding contract even, that we were now in this together and he would personally escort me to the venue.

It turns out he had no clue either. He did give me a cheeky wink when he told me he couldn’t help though, which did go some way to alleviating my stress and forgiving him for breach of contract.

Road located, I continued walking round and round annoyed at the distinct lack of numbering on buildings. It’s raining so hard now my glasses are like looking through bubble wrap!

I get to my appointment with just enough time for my glasses to steam up and to de-mist and take a seat, feeling like a damp groundsheet.

Out comes the recruiter. His hair is the height of a six foot fence and his trousers are so tight he’ll never have to worry about bicycle clips. He must be half my age, a teenager. I’ve got shoes older than he looks. Great, my future is in the hands of a 13 year old!

In a far too excitable and energetic way (and I’ve had Red Bull), he introduces himself and tells me this is his first year of work post a gap year his mum just made him return from.

Then, and looking quite nervous, he asks me some questions and I listened to myself blurting out standard business terms in every response and hating myself for it. Each one met with furious head nodding and the word ‘superb’.

Like he knows what I’m saying. He was watching telly tubbies last week and I am pretty sure they weren’t watching videos of HR practitioners discussing talent acquisition while frolicking in the overly colourful teletubbyland!

The guy writes down notes on his Ipad. What’s he writing? ‘Superb’ repeatedly, or maybe ‘eh-oh’. Should I be helping him with his a, b, c and check his spelling?

I love the fact he has an Ipad. The only mobile device I had when I started work was a pen! In fact, the word ‘mobile’ was only ever used with the word ‘home’ after it. Email was not understood and used purely for jokes or inviting your friends to lunch, the only thing trending was luminous socks and download meant telling your friend you were having a shit time!

In fact, this whole meeting is making me feel very old. This youngster would never understand that dancing once used to involve sitting on the floor in a line for periods of time, tapping the floor either side.

Towards the end of the meeting, he tells me he has nothing for me. Great, Ribena will have to stay off the consumables list and be classified as a luxury item a little longer and cashew nuts will continue to be rationed, limited to Sundays only!

Polite exchanges, uneasy hand shaking and promises of, ‘I’ll call you weekly’, when you know he won’t, and I head home. That’s when it happened. I walked into a coffee shop, and having had no taste and smell for god knows how long, I lovingly accepted the aroma of coffee.

The steroids I’m temporarily taking for my asthma do this. They reduce swelling in my nose from a rare condition and allow me to smell and taste just for a while. When the steroids stop, it will go permanently again.

So there, in the coffee shop of a bookstore, I danced romantically with the aroma of she, who calls herself coffee. With the seduction of books in my slight periphery, she came to me, her smell belly dancing in a skimpy outfit. My breath taken away by the scent of her beans.

I sniffed that latte almost all the way up my nose! Hugging my cup and groaning in a way I should only do in private or quite frankly, not at all. I was a coffee pervert. Worse still, a public coffee pervert.

I only recognised this when the bloke who brought me my cheese toastie was looking at me weirdly, extending my sandwich out in his hand without stepping the required additional few steps to set it down. Like I was a complete weirdo and he didn’t want to come any closer. Just because I was dancing with coffee and sticking my finger repeatedly in my froth.

I don’t think the overly joyous explanation of, ‘I can taste’, spoken like someone just receiving a healing miracle from their god, and just what that meant to me helped.

As I left, I put 10p in his tip box by way of a thank you. Good luck using that if you need a ‘p’ at Liverpool Street!

On the way home, I did what I always do when ever I can temporarily smell and taste. I went to Boots (other chemists are available) to buy all things coconut. The thing I miss the most. And while walking around smelling everything (having also just enjoyed the delights of sniffing the Evening Standard), I saw a shoplifter filling his jacket with condoms.

I didn’t know what to do but decided to admire the fact he was clearly up for one amazing night. I didn’t want to be responsible for stopping that kind of potentially life changing and definitely life enhancing event. Particularly as I felt I’d just come close to it with my mysterious, exotic, belly dancing lover. So I left him furiously grabbing his preferred method of contraception and went back to sniffing all things coconut.




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