SHELL TOES, TRAMPS, AND MONEYSTACK SHOES

MONDAY 16 DECEMBER 2002

I'm on the train with my laptop. I can just see the little shell toes of my trainers peeping over the top of the screen, where they're resting on the opposite seat. My toes are all squished up because I bought size five even though I'm a six-and-a-half because they were ten pounds cheaper. I ain't rich yet. In the days I wear the boots with the long pointy toes, and I stash them in my desk drawer at night. My new trainers are shiny and white, not like the purple Converse that looked like a dog had been sick on them. I fell over in the mud in them last week, running through the stupid country fields for the train home. 'Gosh, I wonder what it would be like if I fell over' said in my head just as my legs disappeared from under me and my entire left side crashed down in liquid mud. My sister's suit, once grey, was now half-brown; and I travelled home on the train amid quizzical stares, and felt like I knew what it was to be a tramp.

The main activities on the train are as follows. Sleep. Stare at sheep. Write diary. Read Bust magazine. Read Jilly Cooper novels (I promise myself it's for an article for AMP). Drink coffee from Evil Starbucks from a little hole in the lid. Write stuff on laptop. Listen to Cds and ponder at the miraculously short life of my computer battery. Transcribe interviews. Suck thumb. Chew ends off hair. Admire squeaky-white shell toes of trainers. Dash to toilet 5 minutes before disembarking at East Grinstead to smear Clinique foundation and lipstick whatever haphazardly across face and spray self with scent.

But mostly just sleep. Curled up, facing forward, with my coat over me. the other day I was snoozing quite happily on the 8.08am train when I realised that someone had spilled a cup of coffee on the floor by my head, and it quite clearly looked as though I had lain down and slid my head off the seat and looked at the floor and thrown up. But I was too tired to move, so I just lay there.

I try to kid myself that it's alright, but it's not. Travelling for 4 hours a day is neither alright, nor, perhaps more worryingly, is it interesting. I mean even reception - disgusting, vile, suicide-inducing reception - had a certain hellish, tortured, can't get any worse, desperate charm. For the reader, that is. Not for me. Laughing at this creature trapped behind her desk, revealing her personality only through the holes in her tights, rolling her eyes, resting head down on hands and sighing as 'important clients' stood impatient before her, wondering whether the headphones cord would be strong enough to support her suicide weight in the reception area, banned even from email, dreaming of a life away from this, where important men would take her to lunch and tell her that that was the best review they'd read in years, and would she like to spread her dripping text across eight gleaming pages of their magazine and be taken away from all this: yeah, that had a certain fucked up twisted teenage glamour alright.

But this. Peeping at the shiny white shell toes over the shiny white ibook while the sun splashes yellow against my forehead. Peeping at the red cars and the green grass and the girls with prams and the dirty brown blocks of flats and the allotments. Watching them segue into fields, sheep, the sheer face of the quarry, the flat sleekness of the lake, a horse wearing its winter coat, the mesmeric curve of the traintracks just before East Grinstead. Deprived of the inverse glamour of poverty: or at least, I will be, when they wipe off this sign that spells out DO NOT PAY THIS FEMALE, NOT EVER. PLEASE LOSE HER CHEQUES AND ANY FORMS THAT MAY PERTAIN TO HER BEING PAID ON TIME, EVER, THANK YOU' from her face; released from the binge-purge boom-bust cycle of the freelance life, at least for a while: what now?

(OH MY GOD. I've just realised this sounds like I'm complaining! oh MY GOD! I ain't complaining! You're just all confuse cuz I've not got any makeup on. Hell, *I'm* just all confuse cuz I've not got any make up on, and I've been wearing a BLACK SUIT for the past THREE WEEKS. Hell, it's an easy mistake to make. I mean, if you met me, and you were all, are you miss amp, I would be most vehemently, well, I certainly am not that trampy miss amp, for all that my left side is covered in mud and that it looks like I have just thrown up off the seat; no, I am not that miss amp, I do not write with a profusion of 'z's and claim to know nothing about music and refuse to accept the existence of men, only 'boys'; I am not solipsistic to the point of narcolepsy and I am not violently ignorant of the leastest scrap of musical history and context; no, I am not she, what do you, what do you take me for, what, hm?

But. I ain't complainin'. I'm not complaining. I don't care! I'm going to go to Hennes. I'm going to go to Selectadisc and Rough Trade and Magma. I'm going to go to Nars and Clinique and She Umura. I'm going to go to, I'm going to drink mojitos and I'm going to wear SHOES made out of my moneystacks. I'm going to get my moneystacks laminated, right, four piles, and I'm going to get straps made out of more laminated moneystacks, and I'm going to tower over everyone, on these shoes made out of moneystacks, and if anyone pisses me off I'll kick them with my moneystack shoes, and

YOU WILL SHORTLY BE ARRIVING AT EAST GRINSTEAD STATION. PLEASE TAKE YOUR MONEYSTACK SHOES WITH YOU. THANK YOU.

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