The Temp: Oh, to be teetotal
Wednesday 23 September 1998
7am: I obviously didn't scrape the mould off that cheese too well, as it is now coating the roof of my mouth. Then realise that my body has been pinned down in the night by Lilliputians, and I am unable to move. Drift back into partial coma.
8am: eyes spring open, feet hit floor. One of those sour headaches, like someone running their fingernails down a blackboard, grips the back of my skull, while someone thumps between my eyes with a rubber hammer. Run bath, consider coffee, realise I've got 45 minutes to get across town. Consider ditching bath but alcohol seeps out through your pores, or so my mother told me. If I'm not going to go into a new workplace smelling of meths, bath it has to be. Besides, the only way to get the black stuff from under my fingernails is to wash my hair.
8.30: No tights. There are five pairs, actually, but each has a large hole in the left calf from the square metal dustbin under the desk at my last place of work. Pull on suit and rip button off shirt. Oh-god-oh- god.
8.40: Run to Tube. Paranoia convinces me that someone is following me and ducking behind hedges when I look back. There is a high-pitched whine in my ears. Long for a sausage sandwich, but turning up to a new job and eating breakfast is black mark central.
8.50: Newsagent has run out of tights. Down into Tube, swipe on foundation on the platform. Strap-hang to Bank, then get a seat by elbowing an old lady out of the way. Blusher, mascara, eyeshadow. Draw a pair of lips on, the cupid's bow exaggerated to drag queen proportions by the lurching of the carriage.
9.10: Shop in station has only American tan tights. Almost cry, then buy them anyway. Run down Moorgate, catch heel in grating, tear chunk out of knee.
9.15: arrive. Announce myself to kindly-looking matron. "You're late," she snarls. "I'm sorry," I say, "I had an accident." Point to my knee, which is black and crusty with red bits. "My God," she says. "Haven't you got any tights?" I brandish my American tans and she says "Well, they're not going to cover it." "I'm sorry," I say. "I'll show you the switchboard," she says in that "and call the agency" voice.
As she brushes past me, she sniffs and looks suspicious. Leads me into a windowless room where a digital switchboard and a pair of headphones await. "You know how it works?" "Yes. Is the database up-to-date?" "Of course," she snarls. She turns her head away, then throws me a look of disgusted comprehension. Now I know she's going to call the agency. All I can think of is the extra Ibuprofen in my handbag. The phone goes.
She stands and watches as I take my seat, strap on the headphones, hit return and say in my sweetest voice, "Good morning, Alcohol Information Group. How can I help you?"
By opportunistic local hoping to exhibit the work
Fans will be hoping the role finally wins him an Oscar
What do gigantic horse heads tell us about Falkirk?
Finnish Postal Service praises the 'self irony and humour' of the drawings
The actor has confessed to his own insecurities
Allotments are the focus of a new reality show
Kylie Minogue quits The Voice UK
Review: Half of A Yellow Sun
Arts & Ents blogs
New Banksy art 'Mobile Lovers' removed with crowbar, hoarded in youth club
The best movies on Netflix: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Game of Thrones season 4 episode 2 breaks torrent record as fans watch online
Game of Thrones season 4 episode 2 sees fans jubilant over King Joffrey's 'Purple Wedding'
Paul Walker's brothers stand in for actor’s final scenes for Fast & Furious 7 movie
David Cameron: 'Jesus invented the Big Society – I'm just continuing God's work'
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage on Have I Got News For You: Ukip leader ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
- 1 Poveglia: 'World's most haunted island' up for auction...is anyone brave enough to buy it?
- 2 Refugee facing deportation from Sweden saved by fellow passengers refusing to let plane leave
- 3 Naked yoga: the bare truth - it's already big in the US, and has now landed here
- 4 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 5 Scientists warn we've hit 'peak beard': The more people grow facial hair, the less attractive it is