Three nights

On Wednesday evening, I was walking back to my hostel when a man approached me. He greeted me by asking if I was American. People often ask me if I’m American. I can only assume it’s because I’m so overweight. I told him I was Irish.

His face lit up.

“I’m from Dublin! Where are you from?”

“Cork”

“Oh, Cork is lovely! We used to go on holidays there. You’re a great big fella, aren’t you.”

Literally don’t know how to answer.

“Are you staying in a hotel?”

“No. I’m staying in that hostel.” I pointed at my hostel.

“I know that hostel. There’s an Aussie guy in charge there. [This describes every hostel in London.] You wouldn’t have a pound or two for me, would you? I’m trying to put together the bus fare to see my mother in Sheffield. She’s very sick.”

“I’m sorry. I really don’t have any money.”

We had got to my hostel at this stage and there was a young woman standing outside it. He approached her and asked her for a joint. I don’t know why he asked me for money, but asked her for a joint. I guess I don’t look cool enough to be walking around with a joint in my pocket. The girl shouted for her boyfriend, who came running and shouting at the man who was begging. He left and I went into the hostel.

I felt sorry for him. It’s been very cold and it’s not a good time to be on the streets. The hostel’s rate is cheaper mid-week and there was one homeless man in our room that night.

*****

The following “meals” cost one pound or less and don’t require the use of a kitchen to prepare them:

  • Sainsbury’s 6 small hot cross buns
  • Tesco 4 large cookies
  • Tesco 6 mini-sausage rolls
  • McDonald’s Cheeseburger

I’m beginning to get sick of all of these. Also, I will soon die of malnutrition.

*****

I was working late a lot this week. I have a project with a deadline this weekend. Luckily, all this work means I’m earning a lot this month. In February, I will make over five thousand pounds, which is good, especially since I only made about four hundred in January.

Anyway, I was coming home late from work again on Thursday. And I was beset by a group of drunk guys. I was walking downstairs to the Tube and they were coming up. One of them tried to give me a high five. Another roared, “What’s up, big guy?” and grabbed me by the belly and shook it.

It was all done in five seconds. But of course it left me grumpy for the whole night. I hate being “big guy” so much. I hate strangers manhandling me. I hate that people think it’s OK to pass judgement on my body in public.

And then I got back to my hostel and logged on to Twitter to try to distract myself and there were literally four tweets in a row calling Donald Trump fat. And I let it upset me far more than I should. He’s not even particularly fat. And even if he was, that’s not what makes him bad. Earlier in the week, I got pissed off when everyone on the internet decided it was fine to call Steve Bannon fat.

I know that when I’m out and about in the world, people see me and think that I’m a bad person, someone who “doesn’t look after himself” or “who makes bad choices” or someone who is ignorant or careless or weak-willed or some other moral judgement, that fat people are seen as worse people than thin people, and I agree a lot of the time.

I do hope someday I’ll get to be thin, like all of you. And then the world will be less scary. I hope.

*****

I was in bed early last night, but it didn’t mean that I got a lot of sleep. I was woken at 2:41 by a splash of water. The ceiling was raining on me. I lay there for a minute, telling myself that it would stop soon. It didn’t.

I got up and put on some clothes. I shoved my bed away from the water, closer to the bed next to mine, a bed where a man who eats very noisily late at night sleeps. Luckily there was no one in my top bunk last night, so I could move the bed quite easily.

I went downstairs. The young Australian on duty was very sympathetic. He excused himself from the group of Spaniards with whom he’d been playing cards and got a mop and bucket. He mopped up the puddle next to my bed and left the bucket under the leak. I didn’t notice at the time, but in order to deaden the noise of the drip, he put a towel over the bucket. This was hilariously dumb as it just acted as a transport system for more water to the floor.

I went back to bed and tried to sleep. I failed. The drip got louder. And then there were two or three different drips. There was water leaking through the mattress above mine onto my feet, regardless of how close I moved my bed to the noisy eater.

The dripping eventually got to the noisy eater beside me and at about a quarter to five, after two hours of it, he got up too. He went downstairs to get the Australian. The Australian returned with another bucket and a massive laundry bag. The laundry bag was full of dirty sheets, pillow cases and towels. He dumped the dirty bedclothes on the floor and used them to soak up the little lake that had formed beside my bed. There were now a number of leaks and the dripping was more of a clapping noise now. The noisy eater and the Australian argued about where the leak was coming from. The Australian said he had checked all the bathrooms above us and none of them were the source of the water and that there must be a burst pipe “inside the ceiling”.

I really tried to go back to sleep. And failed.

I got up to discover that I hadn’t moved my suitcase far enough away from the leak. All of my clothes were wet. I came to work in wet clothes, on a day when it’s literally snowing outside.

I just have about one more week of hostel life to survive. Pray that I make it.

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