A tale from the night bus

Last Saturday I headed out and equipped myself with a weapon; a laser shooting gun that fired grenades, smart bombs and ‘standard’ red laser-y bullets. Oh yes, I celebrated my belated birthday with a round of laser quest, followed by a more adult trip to my favourite wine bar, the genius self-service Vagabond. Inspired by my boyfriend Luke, and after a 1am pitstop for coffee and cheesecake at Bar Italia in Soho, we rounded things off with two hours of karaoke; Alanis Morrisette, Little Shop of Horrors sound track, Barenaked Ladies – the works!

All in all, a pretty full night. And I’m clearly telling you all this because the last time I headed home at 4am was Halloween, and that was a party down the road where I’d consumed a small bottle’s worth of beer throughout the entire evening. I’m proud. But laser quest and karaoke and wine AND cheesecake? Of course I was asking for trouble…

I’d been drinking throughout the evening, but at a very slow pace, so by the time we got the N1 back to Luke’s flat in Greenwich, I was fairly sober – and entirely coherent. You probably wouldn’t be able to tell I’d been drinking, party outfit and time of day aside.


We headed straight up to the top floor of the deserted double decker bus and sat in the scenic bit; on the left at the very front of the bus. We took a celebratory photo. I sat by the window and watched the snow fall. A few stops in, more people joined us; a group of drunk students who spread themselves out across the seats in the middle of the bus and a pair of men, who sat directly behind us.

I just happened to be looking out of the window to my left when I noticed a hand – quick as a flash – reach through the gap next to the wall of the bus and wriggle itself next to my waist. I’ve gone over this moment many times in my head since; was he trying to tickle me? Steal from me? Reach further?

I turned around; “Why did you just touch me? You just touched me!” I exclaimed loudly, projecting my voice down the aisle. The man looked despondent for a moment. “I want you to move.” I said.

By now the man had worked out how to respond; by twisting a finger to his head as if to say I was crazy and miming a drink, to say I was too drunk to know better. “I have girlfriend, why would I do this?” he said in broken
English, his friend silent and passive next to him.

“You did touch me and I want you to move right now,” I exclaimed. I was not going to be fobbed off my a man accusing me of being crazy. He began to protest more. “I want you to move to another seat. I’m not having you sit behind me.”

By now the students were saying nothing. Although I spoke loudly, I had a strong sense of control and did not mind that they were watching. If I moved, I’d admit defeat and show weakness to these men. If I moved I’d look like I was lying. But I was going to sit this one out.

Less than a minute after I’d called the man out, he moved to the empty seat behind his. His friend remained in place, until a couple of minutes later when he too moved. Now all we had to do was remain on the bus for 15 more excruciating minutes and we’d be rid of them. And we did.

It was a small moment in an epic evening – and it’ll never be able to overshadow the night. But I won’t forget it in a hurry. I will never understand his motives either – was it a joke at my expense? Was it a kink? Was it an attempt to take my Oyster card? And the worst – does he do it often to other women?

If you advertise your beliefs in your outfit, be prepared to talk about them…

The other day I was sat on the central line, music in my ears (but not so loud anyone could hear what I was listening to… probably something I should have removed from my playlist years ago) when the woman opposite me got up at Oxford Circus, pointed at me and started mouthing something at me.

I removed my headphones. It turned out she wasn’t mouthing, she was actually speaking.

“Me too!” She said. I looked down. She was pointing to my feminism necklace. I got excited.

“It’s from… um.. Oh…” I hesitated, before realising that it was from Thrift Ola, which is run by the former owner of Lady Luck Rules Ok (sadly missed). “Google Lucky Dip Club!” I called after her as she dashed off before the train started moving again. Since then, there’s been a pleasing handful of people who have commented or shared that they too are feminists. The custom name necklace I’m wearing in the photo below is now out of stock, but you can order your own ‘feminist’ necklace with companies such as the brilliant Tatty Devine and their name necklace service). 


Once, in a branch of Carphone Warehouse, a guy pointed out my necklace and he confessed his mixed feelings about feminism. We had a perfectly respectable debate, where his chief concern was ‘how to approach women’ in clubs etc. I think that this is perfectly reasonable concern, but one can be easily addressed. Just be nice and respectful – it’s fine to go and say hello to someone, just don’t grope them, launch into aggressive sexual suggestions and so on and so forth.

On Monday I was walking through Kensington when a guy stopped me (saying a polite “excuse me”) said he liked my dress, asked me about myself and where I was going (in a non-creepy way). I genuinely was off to a gig with my boyfriend (I don’t really have many other reasons to be in that part of town), but I didn’t mind being stopped at all – I felt like I had control.

Now, I’m not suggesting that the male population needs to take tips from charity muggers and start stopping women in the street left, right and centre, but maybe the guy from the Carphone Warehouse should take note – respectfulness works!

More recently on the Central Line (that same Monday I ended up in Kensington) I was sat across from a man who wore a hat on his head with the bold (in both senses of the word) slogan that said “buy it or bang it”. I’m pretty sure this referred to women, although the phrase could quite as easily be applied to a fridge, among other objects. Obviously I didn’t ask him if he was a banger of white goods – I didn’t speak to him at all – but I doubt anyone will. If someone displays sexually aggressive misogynistic intent on their attire, it’s less approachable than someone wearing a one word representing a popular, if incomprehensibly controversial, ideology.

Now people have started talking to me about feminism in person, I’m keen to do it more often! I’m toying with ordering a Tatty Devine speech bubble necklace that says ‘talk to me about feminism’ to keep the conversation going…

I Am Home

My favourite EP of last year was, without a doubt, Cut(s) by London trio Ex Libras.

I’ve played this to all and sundry, taken the CD on road trips, linked to it on Spotify and popped it on in my room for guests. The reaction is unanimous: people love them.

Cut(s), a five track EP (six if you include a cello interlude), reworks tracks from Ex Libras’s debut LP, Suite(s).

The album, more guitar heavy and loaded with angst and experimental affectations, has been broken down into menacing loops and ambient riffs for the EP. It’s haunting and beautiful – the vocals soar and the tense-sounding bass wraps you up, while choral vocals and sprinkling of piano seem to follow you around even after you’ve finished listening. It’s an addictive record – so obviously I can’t help returning to it. Live, it’s just as I’d hoped.

The above video is for Teenage Eyes from Cuts(s). I’m rather hoping they’ll be playing this when they return to London’s Cargo on the 15th March. On a past visit they were recorded performing tracks from the original release. Here’s Underachiever, a track that was reworked as renamed as ‘I Am Home’ for the EP.

This video from Cargo looks so flipping’ epic I can’t wait for March now!

I remember once when I worked for Amazing Radio we did a prerecorded interview for Amazing Afternoons and both the presenter and I didn’t hit the record button… whoops. I think it was Amit from the band who we spoke to and he was ever so nice when I called back and asked if we could do it all over again! They’re such nice, thoughtful people! (And clearly very patient). Plus they record in a converted shed. Kudos.

See you on March 15th?

All Quiet on the South West Front

It’s my last day at Channel 4… Again!

I really hope to be back one day, but for now I’m heading off to Sky to work as an Online Editor. I’m not going to lie – I haven’t got much of an idea what I’ll be doing there, but I imagine it’s similar to being an Online Producer!

I’ve been running around london with my friend Tash for the past couple of weeks attempting to find a well-located flat (without damp or peeling wallpaper) where I can commute to West London from but it’s been an absolute nightmare. Properties go so fast – and for so much money – that we’re getting quite desperate. In one week I will technically we homeless. However, I’m lucky that I have a friend who said he’ll put me up for a while (thanks, Tom!).

Another issue I’ve found is that all of the agencies aren’t limited in what they can charge tenants – and what for. With such a limited market at this current time they can do whatever they like and there’s no regulation. One agency told us they charged admin fees of £175 per person (Dexter’s), another a week and a half’s rent (so that’s £450 if you’re looking at £300pw – I’m looking at you Ludlow Thompson) and others charge multiple fees – Haart charges £242 per property, plus £70-something in ‘referencing fees’ per person and then £130 for an inventory charge at the end of your tenancy.

And here’s the thing; agents are under a legal obligation to protect the deposit, they’ll give you a pretty standard contract with a few details changed (such as the landlord’s name) for the contract and they technically have to do an inventory too. How that’s worth so much is beyond me – I understand that they have a business to run but it prices new professionals out of the market.

I was going to put an offer in for a place with Tash that we found with Haart. This was a great little two bed in the Clapham area priced at £285pw between us.

Then we had to factor in the charges per person:

£121 property admin

£72 referencing fees

£926.25 (half of the deposit, which was six weeks’ rent)

£617.50 in rent upfront (for one month)

Grand total per person = £1,736.75

Ultimate total = £3,473.50

(I think it’s safe to say that that’s nigh on impossible for a recent graduate.) I have been housesharing for a long time and it would be nice to live with a friend I’ve known prior to moving in – but perhaps it won’t work out this time.

Back to the houseshare websites I go…