As I write this I’m on a National Express coach from the New Forest back to London, and there is a strong smell of urine and cheese puffs. My cup of tea is over-flowing, dripping onto the floor next to me. Coupled with the fact I left with a Tupperware full of banoffee pie from Ed’s dad’s birthday, but forgot to bring a spoon, so if I want to eat it while it’s still fresh I’m going to have to lick it out, I think I’m in for a messy ride.
It’s been so long since I got this coach. When I was at sixth form, my best friend and I would travel up every other weekend to stalk musical theatre stars and take posey photos outside Benefit stores (the novelty). Ten years ago, running for the midnight coach home on a school night, thriving on adrenaline from the Hairspray curtain call, all felt normal. These days though, I’m normally driving up, or rather Ed’s driving because I’d rather eat a loo roll than drive a big car and I’m eating chocolate raisins in the passenger seat and making a Delta Goodrem playlist.
It’s weird because I like to think of myself as a strong, independent woman, but this morning the thought of travelling back to my house on a coach alone suddenly got my stomach butterflying. I can talk about it rationally now, because something about the rancid smell, numb hands from the air conditioning, and sealed windows so I can’t jump out even if I want to, has made me feel calm again. Make of that what you will. But what was there to be anxious about, really? Putting the bins out alone in Bromley of all places? Needing a poo? Toxic shock syndrome?
Actually, probably the worst thing that could have happened, aside from, you know, a bridge falling on us, or a multiple car pile-up on the M27, is forgetting a spoon and watching my banoffee pie melt in front of my eyes. And I’m dealing with that JUST FINE. It’s been a mad couple of weeks, maybe that’s why my brain is in overdrive. So to save me waffling on for an entire journey, I’ll sum it up quickly for anyone who’s interested.
Highlights of the last fortnight:
- Three weddings in a row. I tell you what, I really do have the most beautiful friends, and getting to hang out with them so much has been complete bliss. And whether its Pimms ice lollies, an ice cream van, or a French magician, this lot have pulled out all the stops.
- Mollky; a Finnish wooden skittles game that, in all honesty, has changed my life more than finally getting the right contraceptive pill.
- Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour and Jesus Christ Superstar. Sometimes working in theatre makes you forget about the magic. You know how everything works, most of the people in it and still can’t afford an ice cream. But every now and then you experience shows that remind you why you started in the first place.
- Planning a killer Halloween weekend. I am so ready for autumn with my adventure team.
- Picking blackberries; it might just be the most therapeutic activity of all time and we now have a freezer full of them for whenever I have a rainy Sunday to bake an enormous crumble.
- Vegetarian food. When I decided to ditch meat for good at the start of the year, I told myself if I made it to the summer and there was a hog roast at one of the weddings, I’d let myself go to town. As it’s happened, there haven’t been any hog roasts so I didn’t have to make that call, but the veggie food has been out of this world. You run the risk of being given a strange mushroom pasta, or a goat’s cheese and caramelised onion tart, so when a plate of roasted aubergine with feta, ratatouille and potato dauphinoise lands in front of you, it feels like Christmas day. (with no dead turkeys.)
- GLOW on Netflix. End of.
- Having my best friend back from Australia and getting to hang out with her like nothing has changed. We also watched my dad’s outdoor film concert in the pouring rain and met a storm trooper. She is perfect.
Lowlights of the last fortnight:
- Sore nipples. That took me by surprise. After sending a hoard of emergency Whatsapps to friends to ask if anyone else had experienced three-day long dryness to discover none of them had, I couldn’t get to sleep worrying a) I was dying or b) I’d wake up and my nipples would have fallen off in the night and I’d find them under my pillow. Thankfully, after three days of no bras and some pretty intense moisturising, I went back to normal. Think I was allergic to my laundry detergent.
- Being cold. Whether it’s sitting under an air conditioning unit all day at work, or in Nandos next to a broken door that won’t shut, I am so over being cold and it’s only August. Three more weeks until it’s socially acceptable to start wearing two layers of tights.
- Period pains.
- Period pains at a wedding.
- Period pains on a coach.
- Period pains at breakfast with your boyfriend’s parents.
- Period pains on a run.
- Period pains and no ice cream.
- Period pains.
You know what? Writing that list has made me realise that whilst I might never want to drive a car larger than a Ford KA and am still not sure which bins go out on a Sunday night even though I’ve lived in the same house for two years, I am still a strong, independent woman. Yes I bloody am.
Over the last fortnight I have battled the worst cramps I’ve had in months whilst line dancing to Cheerleader, recovered from potentially fatal nipple itching, discovered chilblains can happen in August, and still managed to work a full-time job, organise an opening night, respond to a lot of ‘so when are you and Ed getting hitched?’ questions without having a nervous breakdown, finish a writing project, say no to shortbread (only once though – the rest of the time I ate a lot of shortbread), remember everyone’s birthdays, AND rescue a snail on the pavement.
You know what that means? I’m not only a strong, independent woman, but I think I deserve this banoffee pie, right here, right now. I’m diving in. With my face. The woman adjacent to me is eating a bag of radishes. That is over one hundred times weirder. Hope you’ve all had wonderful weekends, and if anyone else gets flaky nipples, I’ve heard it only happens to the best.