Monday, July 14, 2008


In French the verb meaning "to miss" is a reflexive one. Instead of directly saying "I miss you", it translates as "you are missing from me" - "tu me manques". I have often thought how much more appropriate this seems. Missing someone is not an active state, but rather a lack, a continuous non-presence that triggers a sometimes near-physical emotional response.

There are people in my life who are missing from me. I don't dwell on this fact, because I have tried to develop a "well, that's just the way it is" attitude. There is no point, I know, spending my time and energy bemoaning things over which I have no control. I have plenty of other things with which to occupy my pony-addled brain.

There was one recent loss, however, that I felt really could not go un-lamented.

Instead of describing the details of this tragic affair I will just publish here the letter I sent on behalf of myself and my friend Harriet, to a well-known dubiously-researched free publication.

Dear Metro Paper,

As two young women with busy lifestyles and all sorts of pressures to deal with on a daily basis, we used to look forward to the cheery smile of our local Metro Man. He would stand outside Brixton tube station every morning, and as we would approach his eyes would light up and he would break into a huge grin. When he handed us our papers he would look at us as if each were the only woman in the world, and he was the only free paper distributor. Sometimes he would even shake his head in delight, sometimes compliment us on our outfits, sometimes comment on how beautiful we looked that particular morning. He put a spring in our step as we marched down the steps with the hoardes of our tube-bound compatriots. It made us happy: the commute less dull, the day less grey.

So you can imagine our dismay on that fateful morning when we walked to the station and realized that he and his fellow Metro Men had disappeared. What a shock to realize that no more could we look forward to a dazzling smile first thing in the morning, and that soon we would start having to rely on our friends and family to pay us compliments and boost our self-esteem!

Please let us know what has happened to him. Or at least tell us we're pretty.

Thank you in advance.

Léonie and Harriet

P.S. To avoid confusion: He has longish, dark hair and dark eyes. We never caught his name.

Sadly I have heard not a whisper in response to this plaintive missive. Nor have I seen distributor in question again (who was plain but endearing). Perhaps his potential was realized and he has been sent to work in youth projects, raising the self-esteem of disillusioned young people who otherwise might find themselves embroiled in a life of gun-crime, drugs or reality television! Perhaps my empassioned plea has changed the lives of thousands of people! Perhaps, just perhaps, I have made a difference.

Or perhaps the letter just makes me sound like a massive wanker and so they are ignoring me.

I am slowly getting over the disappointment and the urge to fill the void in my life by rushing up to strangers, shaking them by the shoulders and screaming "LOVE ME, LOVE ME!" into their terrified faces, before collapsing at their feet whimpering incoherently.

Sometimes life seems to just kick us in the shins without offering any reason, and we must just carry on breathing in and out, even without the hollow flattery of a slightly pervy newspaper man to buoy us through the days.


This weekend I am going along with Ben to a festival called Camp Bestival (at which he will perform), so I have started to write lists of what to take, what to wear, ways in which to look effortlessly cool etc. This is made trickier by the fact that my list-making abilities usually involve contemplating hard, then finally writing the word LIST at the top of a grubby bit of paper and underlining it twice before wandering off, only to come back and realize I have lost the bit of paper and must start all over again. I am hoping, though, that any packing I do for this weekend can be replicated exactly in a few weeks time, when I am going to visit Impish Sophie in Paris, from whence we will travel to La Route Du Rock festival in Brittany. I suspect that Sophie will manage to be very cool and bohemian and I will attempt copy her but fail a bit, like the try-hard big sister that I am.

In the meantime I will continue to live with the absences in my life, and only write letters when I feel that someone might listen. Someday they actually might.


Blogger Badass Geek said...

I can help!

Send me a picture of yourself everyday, and I'll compliment you.

2:41 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Leonie,
I was amused by your review of the rubber toy (though as a man feel rather diminished by the fact that they exist at all) and I suppose in the strictest sense it does make you a wanker.
How about doing one in the style of Jeremy Clarkson?

3:31 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a similar experience with our local town troubadour, "Guitar Red." Some of the local business owners don't exactly appreciate him, but every time I walk by him to get coffee in the mornings he calls me beautiful and works me into whatever song he's singing.

He's also the only man in my life who notices EVERY TIME I cut or color my hair.

He rather mysteriously went missing for a few months, and during that time there was a gap in my morning routine and my self esteem. Luckily, he made his way back, and all is once again right with the world.

5:38 pm

Blogger Wierdo said...

I feel for you and your lists. I am also currently making lists for this weekend.It doesn't help that before the festival I have to graduate and thus will have to smoothly and effortlessly (yeah right) switch from clever but sexy maths graduate to crazy wish-I-was-her drunken festival person.

Eaasy right?

Hope you enjoy yourself.

5:54 pm

Blogger Miss Devylish said...

Aw.. I'm very sorry for your loss and your lack of listing. I think that's about how I make my lists too. You should always start yours tho w/ '1. Pony' and then go from there. xo

9:08 pm

Blogger Léonie said...

BG - Alright, but it has to be a sincere compliment. The Metro Man always found something new to comment on, even if it was just the fact that I was running late. Which, in retrospect, might not be considered to be an actual compliment, but it was the way he said it...

Anon - In the style of That Tosser Clarkson would presumably involve being really arrogant and loud, and possibly sporting some outdated stonewash jeans? Yeah, ok.

Strictlyforpleasure - Hello! Wow, I wish I had a "local town troubadour". That's fantastic. I bet he went away to be in a Magical Travelling Troubadour Troupe, but every morning woke up with a strange sense of longing, desperate to know whether you had cut or coloured your hair, and after a few months had to rush back to get his daily fix of your beauty. That's what I would choose to believe, anyway.

Wierdo - Yeah, easy. Luckily we're all just really, like, naturally and effervescently beautiful. I plan on wearing a headscarf and being really thin and tanned. Have fun at your graduation, and even more fun at the festival...

Miss D - Yes, my lists always start that way, particularly for music festival packing. I need to get from tent to tent and to do that I need a small but friendly festival pony. xx

10:42 am

Blogger Marianne said...

I felt the same way when the scary blond man with the microphone at Oxford Circus hung up his Bible and left us sinners and winners to our own god; Topshop.

12:11 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We all have missing people in our lives--I have one that I've missed for a long time now and I miss her every single minute. It's getting by and living sometimes that's really difficult and with her gone I oft times am at a complete loss--so I know where you're coming from.
Have fun this weekend in Brittany--I loved living in France and I found Brittany very special when I took trips there.

4:22 am

Blogger Léonie said...

Marianne - His absence must then explain why Topshop feels to me like the seventh circle of hell. I have rarely been in there without stumbling about, lost, blinded by tears and self-loathing and clutching desperately at what I assume to be clothes rails but inevitably turn out to be the arms of the myriad anorexia-ridden teens who hang about in droves looking surly. When my sister comes over from Paris she always wants to do a Topshop Stop, but whenever I have accompanied her it has ended in fighting and recrimination. At least the mental God-botherer gave the experience some much-needed spirituality.

Anon - Thank you for such a lovely and sincere comment. I feel for your absence, and hope that you find a way of living with it and finding peace. xx

12:11 pm

Blogger Dazza said...

Hi there, just saw your name on Peachy's comments and as I've just read your piece in The Book... I thought I'd drop by... no time to read now, but will try and check things out properly soon.

Catch you later,


5:26 pm

Blogger Stew said...

The reflixivity of "manquer" is something I still struggle with after 5 years on france.
Take the Calogero song "Si seulement je pouvais lui manquer"

Est ce qu'il va me faire un signe
Manquer d'amour N'est ce pas un crime
J'ai qu'une prière à lui adresser
Si seulement
Je pouvais lui manquer

If only he could miss me

Even Google language tools gets it arse about face

12:39 pm

Blogger Stew said...

plain but endearing ....

... It must be me!

1:07 pm

Blogger Eloise said...

*Delurks* to say you are wicked - you make ramblings interesting, and really that's a compliment!

This post is the perfect mixture of the sublime and the ridiculous, especially this paragraph:

Sometimes life seems to just kick us in the shins without offering any reason, and we must just carry on breathing in and out, even without the hollow flattery of a slightly pervy newspaper man to buoy us through the days.

It really touched me somehow.

Hope you are having a great time x

11:25 pm

Blogger Huw said...

Phillip Howard. That was the name of the Sinner or Winner chap. I'd sort of failed to notice he'd disappeared.

Maybe your chap has been poached by City A.M.? I always imagined that was the pinnacle of free paper distribution.

12:08 am


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