WORDS & IMAGE BY LAURA JANE
Pssstttt here is Part 1
The next morning we were lying in bed and I asked Mark if he remembered me telling him that I’d found out the beagle’s name the night before. He said “No” and I tried to make him guess it.
“Spice,” he said, and then: “Hypie.”
The next morning we sat in front of our bedroom door quietly murmuring the word “Pearl” to peak Pearl’s interest. Pearl ran upstairs. She was crying tears of black gunk. “Why are you crying this… disgusting shit?” I asked her and then apologized for calling her disgusting by burying my head into her velvet neck. It’s a couple days later and I just saw her a few minutes ago. The streaks of black tears were still stained on her fur because her good-for-nothing owner doesn’t take any pride in her dog not having its face stained with gothic-looking bodily fluids. Pearl’s owner is my enemy. My first London enemy.
I got dressed and ready and commuted to Stoke-Newington. I felt like hot shit because I had a job interview and trial shift at cool-seeming restaurants. I wasn’t going to Stokie for any reason that related to my trial shifts; sorry I just called it Stokie; it wouldn’t have flowed naturally from me if I’d said it out loud. I was going back to our airbnb to drop off a cream knit iPhone case belonging to our host that Mark had accidentally packed into my suitcase. It was not really the most thrilling escapade of my life. While I was there I packed all of our food we’d forgotten to into a plastic grocery bag and left swinging it back and forth listening to Shakey Dog on headphones and feeling like the first guy someone ever looked at and thought “What a very important person!” about. For no real reason (except that other peoples' lives are interesting), here is a list of the contents of the bag:
-bottle of cheap white wine (mine)
-bag of mixed nuts (mine)
-shaker of turmeric (Mark’s)
-bag of Lavazza espresso (both of ours)
-coconut oil (both of ours, but mostly Mark’s)
I took the tube to Sloane Square, where I had a job interview. I bailed on the job interview. I hadn’t realized how posh Sloane Square is, as it wasn’t directly called out in the lyric to A Well-Respected Man or Play With Fire, in combination my field guide to Londony poshness. The lady on the phone had mentioned that the place was quite “elite,” but I assumed she was lying. She mentioned that Hugh Grant was a regular. I assumed that Hugh Grant is chill and liked to chill at chill places.
But he isn’t, doesn’t; not this time at least. The vibe of the neighbourhood made me want the neighbourhood to not exist. I took out my notebook and, using my knee propped up on a low gate as a desk, wrote Nothing about walking past a Bottega Veneta store DOES IT FOR ME. I looked up from my scrawling and noticed that the doorman standing outside of the Bottega Veneta store had been watching me. He looked indifferent. I wanted to tell him, “This is the best thing you will ever see in your life,” but of course didn’t, because I am sane.
I walked past the restaurant, snooping, peeking. It didn’t look like a place I would even want to walk past let alone drink at let alone eat at let alone work at let alone general manage. Most of the diners were posh older women with dyed-blond bobs wearing floral-print or -hued shift dresses and jewelry more expensive than everything my whole family owns combined. And my family is decently well-off! But these were real rich people, like the Archibalds and van der Woodsens. The servers, still called waiters here, wore mint green ties and white collared shirts and floor-length aprons and waistcoats. “The kind of restaurant I want to work at exists in direct opposition to this place,” I told Mark, and then remembered a pact I’d made with myself after quitting Starbucks three years ago: “I will never work at a place that has a uniform again.” Never, again, and I’m a Clash fan: them’s fighting words. So that settled it. Mark and I sat down on a little bench right in the middle of Sloane Square and I phoned up the restaurant, which was only maybe fifty feet away from where we sat but I’m cowardly and, in such circumstances, who wouldn’t be?
I asked to speak to the manager and then said “Wait, no, actually- it’s fine,” and I told whoever answered that my name was Laura and I wouldn’t be able to attend my test shift. I lied and said I’d found employment elsewhere.