Friday, November 21, 2008

Phone Fear = Pointless

On Wednesday morning I stepped out of the shower and heard my phone ringing. I loathe telephones, and usually have to give myself quite serious pep talks before picking one up. There are certain people, of course, whose calls I don't worry about answering, but even with friends it takes a few deep breaths before I will press the little green button.

I was a bit hungover because the previous night I had gone into town to meet my friend Martin's sister, Sarah, and her friend Lizzie. It was my blind friend date, but it hadn't occurred to me to be nervous. It was only when I was sitting on the tram into central Manchester that the thought crept into my head that, hang on, we might not get on. They might hate me! What if they don't like my jokes? I swept the thought aside (particularly the bit about the jokes). Meeting people face to face is never scary for me, not really. Picking up the phone terrifies me, but meeting in person is mostly not a problem. (Is anyone else like this? I don't understand it.)

I was right not to be worried. Sarah was lovely, and her friend Lizzie was great as well. They had been friends at school, but not once did they exclude me by talking about their shared memories without explaining contexts and bringing me into the conversation. Sarah is an artist, who also does voluntary work and does shifts in a restaurant, and Lizzie is a stand-up comedian and writer, who also looks after elderly people on an in-home basis. Within the first twenty minutes we had already come up with a plan to do storytelling for kids in Manchester, Lizzie having recently written a children's book that she had been planning on asking Sarah to illustrate. I told them about my experience as a storyteller in London, and we all laughed at the neatness of the situation. We sat in a bar and had a drink, and then wandered through town to the Christmas Markets, which had opened that day. Towering above the square is a dangerously obese-looking Father Christmas, resplendent in red and white. (I tried not to look for too long, as the image of his twenty foot frame rolling forward and crushing everyone below kept flashing before my eyes. I pictured the carnage: quaint wooden stalls flattened, pine needles piercing the fleshy stomach of Santa as rivers of mulled wine sluiced out, flooding the streets with red.) (This did not happen.)

We meandered through the throngs of people, found a little stall and sat down. Sarah spotted a beer stand and went to retrieve more drinks as Lizzie told me all about her experiences in Australia and America, where she had spent the last few years. After the markets we went to Canal Street, and sat outside a bar that was rather subtly named "Queer" to have more drinks and share some chips.

It was a lovely evening, I was so pleased that my first new friend date went so well. Sarah invited me along to a gig next Wednesday, as well, so I have the second date all planned. What does one do on a second friend date? It is all very exciting.

I awoke on Wednesday morning feeling the effects of the four beers I had merrily drunk the previous night. Buoyed up, but hungover, and aware that I had three songs to write in the space of two days. My phone rang.

I heard it from the bathroom but didn't rush through to get it. When I came back into my room it had stopped, but immediately started ringing again. Private number. Drying my hair, I let it ring. They'll leave a message, I thought, and then I can call them back. It carried on, and I let it. It stopped, and paused, and then started up again. I stared at it.

I walked over to reluctantly pick it up, by which time it had once again stopped.

A minute later the message tone beeped. I pressed the button to access my voice mail.

"Wake up, lazy!" a familiar voice said, all the way from Nepal.

My mouth dropped open as I listened to the rest of Ben's message.

"I will try and make it to a phone again, call you about nine my time, but we're going on our trek tomorrow so I won't be able to contact you after that."

He didn't manage to make it to the phone again, but nevertheless I spent the day carrying my phone about with me and regularly slapping my forehead at my own stupidity. Time to get over my phone-fear, I think.

That is one of the many ways in which I am an idiot. Another is the fact that, although I now live in Manchester, the only means I still have of earning money is down in London. There are many others, but tales of me losing things, booking trips for impossible times and forgetting stuff are not worth telling.

However, despite all this idiocy, my days are going well still. I managed to get the songs written to sing to that band (they had sent me the instrumental, I wrote the melody and lyrics). They seemed impressed, but they seemed to be a bit over-polite, somehow. I think they want a male singer. Instinct tells me that they are really looking to form a lads band, a salt-of-the-earth, northern set up. They seemed reluctant, somehow. I don't know, perhaps they didn't like what I had written, but I suspect it's more that I am just not what they had in mind. They have some other people to see and they said they would be in touch, but I think I might pull myself out of the running. Even if they do say that they would like me to be their singer, I think I would constantly feel that I was being too jazzy for them. (Jazzy in a musical way, rather than a "jazzy trousers" way.) I think my being female, and southern, made them feel a bit awkward. I don't want to be in a band with people who feel that they can't swear in front of me.

I am going to get in contact with some local libraries about the storytelling thing, and keep trying to find fun ways of earning some cash. Tonight I am going to meet a wonderful girl called Thea, and later my friend Luke and his boyfriend Ben are coming up to Manchester for the weekend. They are staying with Luke's friend Grace, to whom I will be introduced in another blind friend date sort of way.

On Sunday morning at 06.30 I am catching a bus down to London to run another kids' party dressed as a princess. On Monday morning I hope to go and meet the delectable Ms Robinson for a coffee before jumping on a train to come back here, and resume my search for meaning, music and money.


Blogger Ys said...

Aww no that's so sad that you missed a call from Ben. I too hate the phone; I think it's because you're never quite sure who it's going to be, and what they're going to want.

Well done of all the friend dates :) I haven't made a new friend in years!

9:07 pm

Anonymous Matt said...

Alright Lizzie

Good luck with it all. I moved up a few years ago and it takes a wee while, but sounds like you're having fun already.

Well done you.


11:58 pm

Blogger justme said...

Have fun in London. Ben will call again...
And don't forget to let me know where you will be elfing!

8:30 pm

Blogger Clarissa said...

You are here! Right now you are here! That must be why the sun is shining!

You and me share the phone phobia. I hate it. I will let it go on and on. The Mista finds this phobia of mine annoying. Sometimes we argue about it. I'd almost rather argue with the Mista about not picking up the phone than actually pick up the phone. x, c

1:11 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like you're doing really well with meeting people!

3:17 pm

Blogger i am not your freud said...

i like blind friend dates. especially if you have good references, they go pretty well. sometimes pure coincidence works too. i moved to austria about a year ago and if it wasn't for the internet, i wouldn't have met my best friend here.

9:19 pm

Blogger Léonie said...

Ys - Yeah, that's it. I like to be able to think about things before I respond to them, and when someone is pouring tinny questions at you it is impossible to consider your answer.

Matt - I am not Lizzie, I'm Léonie! But that's by the by. Hello, Matt, thanks for commenting. I am trying to get "involved" as quickly as possible but I know it will take a while. Any tips?

Justme - As soon as it's confirmed I will let you know. I promise.

Clarissa - I was there! The sun shone a bit and then it rained, which I think was my fault because I got cross. Maybe I am some kind of weather goddess? Hmm, that's one for the CV.

PJB - I'm trying, and luckily all the people I have met so far have been nice.

IANYF - Hello! Yes, I think it's a case of trusting the person who set the meeting up. I wouldn't recommend two friends met if I didn't think they'd get on. Sounds good about meeting your best friend through the Internet. Was it through blogging?

11:20 am

Blogger Jaywalker said...

Phone fear = shared by me. But you are WAY better at listening to your voicemail clearly, because sometimes I have to get someone else to listen to it for me.

And now I can't sleep for fear of fleshy santa, dammit.

2:17 pm

Blogger i am not your freud said...

no it was through some forum. i asked her some questions about the student visa thing in austria and then we kept on talking and we met up after i had arrived. i don't know what i would've done without the internet.

2:42 pm

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