Wednesday, 3 April 2019

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Excerpt from Bunny on a Bike:


‘Why Don’t You Ask Me I Might Say Yes!’

I wanted to be a bunny as soon as I saw the advertisement.  Why wouldn’t I? There was no question that it was the most interesting job prospect I’d seen so far. I thought: casinos, glamour, fast cars and millionaires.  But most of all I thought it would be better than working for a living.  So I told Carol and she said we would go to London together.  Easy.  After all, we didn’t have anything else planned for the rest of our lives.  We had both put in just enough effort to get our degrees and, having got this far, didn’t have a clue what to do with them.  Some of our friends were going to be doctors, solicitors or even teachers.  They knew what they wanted.  I hated them all. 
We met up at King’s Cross, eventually.  Carol had managed to get herself almost arrested for slipping past the toilet attendant but, in a stroke of genius, had invented a relative who worked as a toilet attendant in Exeter station and who had been given an award for the cleanest toilets in the South West of England.  Mary, the London loo keeper, thought that she had heard of auntie Georgina and asked Carol to make sure to pass on her regards, before pressing a free token into her hand and wiping a metaphorical tear from her eye, saying that it had been a great pleasure to make her acquaintance and that, when you got up in the morning, you never knew what was going to happen.
     ‘Why do you do it?’  I yawned.
     ‘What?’  Carol replied, as though I may have inadvertently changed the subject.
     ‘Make things so bloody complicated.’  I saw from her expression that she thought I was a dullard.
     ‘What would you have done, then?’ she turned on me.
     ‘Paid the woman!  I mean how much can it cost to have a pee?’
     ‘Ten pence.’
     ‘Really?’  It seemed implausible.  ‘Whatever happened to the spending a penny idea?’
     Carol gave me one of her blank stares before suddenly noticing the effort I had made with my appearance. ‘What the hell have you got on?’  She looked me up and down in what can only be described as a less than complimentary manner.
     I was wearing figure-hugging jeans and a tight tee shirt with ‘Why Don’t You Ask Me?  I Might Say Yes!’ written across the front.  I could understand her taking exception to the incorrect use of capital letters, but I knew that maths graduates were more or less unaware of punctuation.  My carefully selected attire kind of set the mood, I thought, the mood being, as far as I was concerned, one of extreme levity and foolish indulgence.  To add to the effect, I had on a pair of disarmingly conservative calf-length beige zip-up boots, cunningly worn over my jeans, as was the fashion for young women of a certain type, that type being acutely bimboesque.  I thought I looked brilliant.
Carol, in my opinion, hadn’t got a leg to stand on as far as dress code was concerned.  She was wearing a tatty kaftan coat and gypsy earrings in an effort, apparently, to be as inappropriately dressed as possible and thus give an uncomfortable edge to the proceedings: she didn’t agree with the concept of an interview.  There were a lot of things that Carol didn’t agree with so, to save time, I said that I thought she looked brilliant too. 
     In short, we were confident, provocative and loud, we were backward birdbrains about to learn the hard way that there was ‘no such thing as a free lunch’.  We had no notion of what it was like to have a job, apart from serving curry in the Students’ Union bar to salivating youths hoping for a post biryani snog and a grope; we were young, hopeful and out to impress with our individual ideas of what was inspiring in a world brimful of desperately dull people leading desperately dull lives. How could we be wrong?  How could the people at Playboy not love us?
     ‘Shall we get on with it?’ said Carol, looking at the over-sized watch on her wrist.
     ‘Whose is that?’
     ‘Dave’s.  I haven’t got one.  Didn’t want to be late.’
     ‘Is that a cow on the face?’
    ‘Yeah.’  She held it up for me to see. ‘He likes cows.’
London was a huge and shapeless odorous maze and we cursed, laughed and stumbled our way towards Edgware Road via the ubiquitous London underground, which seemed like something out of a Victorian history book. Or do I mean a book on Victorian history?  Anyway, I discovered, interestingly, that I was in fact claustrophobic, and taunted myself with the thought of being trapped in the dark, shiny tunnels, never being able to get up to the surface again.  My reflection looked so serious in the dark, glossy windows of the carriage while I entertained these thoughts that Carol found it necessary to practise her favourite grimaces until, catching my eye, we both started laughing. 
The other passengers were not amused, as it turned out, although this only served to bring out more of our loutish behaviour.  We finally left them in peace as we burst out of the sliding doors and exploded up the stone steps on to the street, quite exhausted and gasping for air, believing ourselves to be hilarious.  
     The tube station was not far from the casino and when it came into sight I thought it looked more like an enormous, ungainly office block.  It was on pillars, but not the classical kind, and it looked so, so wrong.  The windows were high up and masked by long curtains which, presumably, hid the bright, luxurious interior.  I suppose I thought the building would be grander, more ornate, dripping with wealth and sophistication.
     ‘What a dump!’ said Carol.
     She wasn’t wrong. 
     Then, we saw all the people.  There were hundreds of them.  Girls and some boys too, just standing there, in the longest queue I had ever seen.  It went along the side of the building, round the corner and on for at least a hundred yards. On closer inspection I noticed how the young trendies were dressed. Never had I seen so many fashion mistakes in one place.  I pushed back my dyed blonde hair and eased up my skin-tight jeans.

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