Dolly Alderton’s Rules For Being A Better Man
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Today has been a terrible day.
I’m writing this on a late train back from Bristol to London and I’ve decided the whole day is a write-off. It’s been a stinker from start to finish.
As part of my job in TV, I had to go to Bristol to go film a short interview – I’d be there for no more than an hour. It took me seven hours to get there. SEVEN HOURS. I’ve calculated that today I could have gone to Barcelona, had a change of heart and flown back to London, changed my mind again then got onto another flight back to Barcelona and it still wouldn’t have taken as long as my trip to Bristol.
Firstly, the tube to Waterloo decided to stop. And not just for a couple of minutes — for a really, really long time. If it had stayed their any longer, I would have organised for my French Bedroom Company catalogues and School alumni newsletters to be sent to that address, somewhere in-between Camden Town and Euston, underground.
So I got out at the next stop and hailed a taxi. Of course the cab driver had all sorts of theories on the best way to attack the drive to Waterloo Station and took a route so meandering we were basically out in Watford.
I had one minute to get the train and was running like Christie at The Commonwealth when I accidentally bashed a surly teenage boy with my kit. I didn’t have a bag for the tripod so it was just in a very large Sports Direct carrier bag, which was not only unsightly but didn’t allow for appropriate purchase on the ever weakening handles. “TALL WANKER” he shouted at me before running away.
An hour into the journey and my phone ran out of battery, admittedly mostly due to my being embroiled in a bidding war on eBay for a cocktail bar for my living room (I lost). Of course I was on the only First Great Western Train that had no sockets. I was tipped off by a grumpy buffet trolley boy that there may be one in first class, so I went to sit in the empty carriage to charge my phone. A ticket inspector loomed over me.
“Now,” he said. “You know as well as I do that if you haven’t paid for a first class ticket, then you are not permitted to sit in this carriage”
“Of course,” I said. “I’ll just sit in the next carriage.”
“Oh you’ll just sit in the next carriage will you?” he said, chuckling. “And who’s going to keep an eye on your phone then, the tooth fairy?”
He had the sort of awkward British man humour that I absolutely loathe. The kind that is rooted in them being very dry while asserting their authority with totally unfunny quips leaving the person searching for a fitting reaction. Like when you go to a friends dad house when you’re young and you go to get a glass of water from the tap and he says: “there’s a 50p charge for that, you know!” and you just stand there uncomfortably.
The man then forced me into a rather pathetic scene where I had to stand staring through the glass door, watching my phone until we got to Salisbury. I was then granted permission to re-enter The Holy Chapel to collect it as the train was splitting in two and I had to go to the front carriages to get to Bristol.
Two hours later and I was not in Bristol, I was nearing one of many small towns in Devon. It turns out Old Chuckles – The Guardian Of The First Class Sockets – was so busy making jokes that he told me to get on the wrong train. I had to go on the two hours journey back to Salisbury then wait an hour for the right train to take me to Bristol.
Finally on the train to Bristol, I thought things were coming together. I may have been three hours behind schedule, but I was on the right train and sitting next to a pleasant, burly welsh gentleman who had such a intricately tattooed neck, I thought he was wearing a Liberty print polo neck. Suddenly, a very drunk man started shouting at the ticket inspector and tried to throw a punch at him. A guy stood up to restrain him and the drunk man pushed him against a wall by his neck. My Welsh neighbour jumped up from his seat and broke up the fight. The train was held for a further half hour while the police were called.
The Welshman came back to sit down. I was about to praise his courage and bravery when I smelt something strong coming from my bag. My quick-dry topcoat nail varnish bottle had broken and was coating my fingers, books, wallet and phone in a hard glass-like film. That was it. My eyes filled up with tears.
“For FUCK’S sake” I hissed. He turned to look at me.
“Oh no love. What’s the matter with you? Come hyer” he said, putting his arm round me.
“Oh god its nothing. I know this is incredibly pathetic seeing you just stopped a serious assault, but it’s just, there’s shit all over my shit and I am really, really late for a job because everyone has been an unhelpful nob” I gabbled.
“Oh come on babe, hyer you go,” he said, passing me a tissue and reassuring me it was alright. I was relieved. It was the first act of kindness in a day that was wall-to-wall tossers.
Now. I am not going to blame all the above on men, but I did encounter a hell of a lot of terrible blokes that day. Actually not just that day, the last 10 years. I meet them all the time – I thought they’d peter out as I got older but they seem to be cropping up more and more. The dating scene soil is at its prime richness for w*nkers and they’re cropping up all over the place. So I’ve decided to write a few words on how not to be one. Head to Page 2 and you’ll find them.