Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Bitter 'Bout Britters

Oops I Did It Again…

…I made yet another dim-witted decision. The only difference with this one is it’s probably the most ridiculous of all my bad choices and has brought to my attention just how many times I am left disappointed through unskilled judgement.

On Wednesday last week at around 5pm I was offered 3 free tickets to see Britney in concert. This came an hour after my flatmate emailed to tell me that she’d got a ticket for £5. I was pretty devastated, as by the time she’d checked to see if there were any more there weren’t so it seemed like fate when I was offered some free tickets just as I was contemplating suicide. However they were for that very night and I had already agreed to work on the door of the Moonfish Rhumba boys’ comedy night and because I’d let them down the last couple of times I didn’t want to do it again, not even for Britney who I have loved since the beginning of time.

The following day at work I was offered two more tickets but this time for the sum of £100 and for Saturday night’s concert. It was my chum Rachel’s birthday that night and I did not want to let her down so again I turned down the tickets.

On Friday the same guy offered me his tickets for £80 but still the birthday came first. Then the Production Manager came down in the afternoon and said, ‘Sonia, you like Britney don’t you?’ I groaned, I couldn’t take much more of having to turn Britney down. My luck was in though, lending truth to the phrase 3rd time lucky, as she told me that she could get me tickets for Britney on Sunday for £2 each! I nearly died.
She is a member of a thing called Audience Club where you pay a certain amount a year and then you only have to pay the booking fee for such wondrous things as Britney concerts. She brought me the confirmation email and told me that she didn’t have her membership card on her but they never check. This worried me somewhat as it would be just my luck that I’d trek to the O2 and then be denied a ticket but this was a risk I was prepared to run. There had to be a reason that I was offered Britney tickets three times in just as many days.

Sunday came around and Victoria accompanied me on what turned out to NOT be the giant mission I expected the defunct Jubilee line to cause. Nervousness about the impending potential ticket rejection accompanied us on our journey; Vic was more nervous than I was as she was more optimistic about our chances of getting our mitts on the ticks. Because I was 87% expecting to be denied I wasn’t quite so worried. We decided that I would go to the pick up point on my own as the pressure would be too much if I had to make up stories about where my membership card was. I had however decided I would be honest and say I didn’t bring it because no one ever checks it. I approached the ticket booth and stated I had booked my ticket on line and gave the name of my Production Manager. The lady asked if I had an email and so I handed over the extremely crumpled print-out (my attempt at trying to get the ink to come off where it said to bring the email ‘along with your audience club membership card’). Thankfully she didn’t ask for the card but she did ask me a question that will haunt me forever more, ‘Would you like VIP standing or 4th Tier seating?’ Alas, a choice had been bestowed upon me. Hmm, standing up close or sitting up top? It was a tough one. I shouted for Vic. She looked frightened. Had my attempts to blag tickets failed? When she got to the ticket booth I smiled and asked her what she thought. We deliberated for quite some time and then settled on seating. We screamed with delight when the tickets were in my hand. I was concerned they might chase us and say, ‘You are far too excited, can we see your membership card?’ but they didn’t so we went to S&M (Sausage and Mash) Café. As we ate I was being very quiet and I took this as not quite believing we had tickets to see Britney Spears. I had never been to a concert before so for my all time favourite pop star to be my first was beyond comprehension.

We finished our food and went to get a coffee and a scone (for me) and then made our way up to our seats. And that’s when I saw I’d made the wrong choice. Had we picked VIP standing we’d have been able to TOUCH the stage. As it was we were right at the top where, yes, we could see the entire stage but when you’re in a plane you can see an entire ocean and yet not the fish that are swimming in it. I told myself it was better where we were because it’d be a pain standing for a few hours. Then Ciara came on. I am also a massive fan of her for she is the most amazing dancer. And she was amazing from where we sat if in fact it was Ciara that was on the stage. It could have been any Tom, Dick or Harry apart from the fact she had quite a cleavage on her, which is saying something considering I couldn’t make out her facial features. For some unknown reason they hadn’t put the big screens on for the unfortunate ones in the rafters so it was like watching the TV in someone’s living room from out in their garden.

It wasn’t until Britney came on (could have been a random off the street for all I knew) and the screens didn’t that the misery truly overtook me and my mind was alive with all the other decisions I’ve made in my life that have left me disappointed. I’ve always known I don’t like to be given too much choice but never really knew why. It was at this moment I realised it’s because I don’t trust myself enough to make the right decision and because I never listen to my gut feeling I always end up making the wrong one. I was thinking about things so much that I started to cry. Thank goodness it was dark and I had a tissue in my bag. I didn’t want Vic to see me upset.

Vic kept saying she felt guilty for saying we should sit but I without doubt knew, and told her, that it wasn’t her fault. I should have heard the words ‘VIP standing’ and cut that woman off before she’d had a chance to say ‘seats on the roof.’ What on earth possessed me to even question which tickets would be better? A choice made from being cautious and practical (best to be comfortable) rather than trusting my instincts that I can’t seem to decipher anymore. It’s like I’ve ignored them so long they no longer speak to me or such inconveniences like logic and other people just shout over them.

When we went our separate ways at Tottenham Court Road tube Vic apologised again, and again I told her it wasn’t her fault. She saw my eyes fill up with tears, which set her off, and I felt awful that I hadn’t been able to hide my heartbreak. And I know that this must sound absolutely RIDICULOUS to anyone reading this but I don’t think I’ve ever been so upset, not even about a boy. I have to emphasise the fact this wasn’t just about Britney (the tickets only cost me £4 for goodness’ sake), it was about realising that my life isn’t what it could be because I’m an imbecile.

Now I see my quietness was due to subconsciously knowing I’d made the wrong ticket choice rather than not quite believing I’d be ‘seeing’ Britney Spears. My reason for being offered tickets so many times was now apparent. It wasn’t because I’d end up looking up her skirt but to teach me I need to get a grip where opportunities are concerned.

I walked home from Tottenham Court Road so I could have a good cry and when I got in I decided to write a list of all the rubbish decisions I’ve made and what influenced me to make them…

-Turning down the role of Mary in the Nativity play at one of my primary schools. I made this decision because I thought my mum and step dad would mock me for having a husband who was a boy. As it turns out they never came to see it and I had to deal with being demoted to the chorus where I was made to wear a bow tie.

-When I was about 8 years old I went to see my auntie’s friend be a contender on Gladiators. At the end the Gladiators came out and did a lap of the arena. We were in the 2nd or 3rd row and I remember catapulting myself across the rows in front shouting Cobra’s name as his cheekily pranced past but he didn’t hear me and I remember feeling utterly heartbroken. I just about managed not to cry on the way back – apparently I was more mature back then. I don’t think I’ve felt that way again until last night. To be honest short of throwing myself into the ring there’s not much I could have done to have won a smile and a hand slap from the man and that occasion wasn’t really about decisions but I thought it was a good example of feeling inconsolable like I did on Sunday.

I kept the rest of my childhood years pretty minimal in the bad decision stakes as far as I can remember. I’m sure I’ll think of more examples after I’ve posted this though.

Then came university…

-I was in the cheerleading squad from shortly after it was conceived so when it came to appointing a new captain a year or so down the line I was one of the few original members left. I wanted to put myself up for captain but I knew another girl (not an original) wanted to be captain so I stood down. Only afterwards when a few girls came up to me and told me they thought I might put myself up and were sad that I didn’t was I a bit gutted. Once the new captain was in power we were made to audition and although I got through I was the only original member left. It became elitist, we didn’t cheer at enough games and yet we were made to wear our uniforms on nights out even though we didn’t do anything and I was embarrassed to be on the team. Another example of making the wrong choice because of someone else.

-As many of you will know I have been single since the beginning of time. This could be partly to do with my awful choices where men are concerned. I made many a mistake where my heart was concerned at uni due to only liking inappropriate men - those with girlfriends, those with carrot dangling fishing rods but with no actual interest in ever letting me have more than a nibble and those who liked to stick their carrots in same sex rabbit holes. One day love arrived unexpectedly in the form of a Greek fellow who I was very good friends with and whom I worked with in a shop in town. I never fancied him and was definitely under the impression that he didn’t fancy me. In the summer holidays after my second year at uni we got chatting on MSN messenger and he told me that he’d always fancied me. I was dumbfounded – I had never suspected a thing. He then arranged to come and stay with me for the weekend and I was worried, as I’d never viewed him in this light. He came to visit, as a friend, and we got on like a house on fire as we always had and then he went in for the kiss. Internal panic need not have occurred. Kissing him was a joy and we spent the whole weekend snogging each other’s faces off. After that we were in constant contact emailing each other every day and it looked like it could go somewhere. And that is when I made the decision that I is at the top of my list of biggest regrets of all time (it has now been pushed down to 2nd place). I ended things before they could go anywhere because I thought having a boyfriend would interfere too much and annoy my friends. I have a habit of ending things before they’ve even properly begun (I can usually tell when something isn’t going to work) but this time was different. This time I knew I was making a mistake. It was all very amicable and we’re still friends but he’s now married with a dog so that nicely rubs salt in the wound. An example of not listening to my inner voice and doing something because of other people.

When I left university I was still a member of this model website where photographers get in touch to use you to practice taking pictures. A guy got in touch who lived in my home town and I went to meet up with him to talk about what sort of pictures he wanted. He was in his mid thirties and seemed a bit odd but I chose to ignore this and we set a date for him to take some headshots. I went to his flat on my own and I imagine I probably didn’t tell anyone where I was going. It was fine though, if a little awkward. The next time I went he wanted to do beauty salon shots so he asked me to put a towel on and a facemask and some cucumber on my eyes. I did as he asked and he took the pictures. When we’d finished he asked if he could get some massage shots. I asked him how that would work and he told me he’d put the camera on automatic so he could massage my back. Warning bells started going off and although I hate people touching me who I don’t know very well I didn’t want to appear unprofessional so I lay on the table face down. He pulled out some Co-op own brand baby oil and started to rub it into my back, the camera going off at regular intervals. This went on for an uncomfortably long time but again not wanting to appear unprofessional I stayed quiet. The massage then took a turn in the wrong direction. His hands started to move from my back down to my sides and up towards my breasts. This was where I drew the line. I flinched and yelped, ‘Have you got enough pictures now?!’ He must have taken this as some sort of invitation as he then said, ‘I can turn the camera off and carry on?’ My eyes must have been popping with horror. I told him that wouldn’t be necessary and ran to the bathroom to change. I called my friend Mark who I knew was in town but when I got through to him he was on his way back to the village where he lives. He must have heard the panic in my voice because he told me he’d come straight back into town and get me. I don’t think I could have been more relieved and I felt sick as I tried to tell him what had happened. I could smell the baby oil and I felt violated. The ‘photographer’ sent me a text message which I came across the other day when I was looking through the inbox of an old phone: ‘Sorry if you thought I was out of line but I did ask permission and stopped when you requested.’ Mark said that he was blatantly trying to cover himself in sending that text. Stupidly I never reported him. I really hope he didn’t get his mitts on anyone else or do anything worse. I can’t think of a more obvious example of not listening to my intuition. Even on the initial meeting I should have decided not to take things further. Ah well, you live and learn. But not me, apparently. Less than a month later I went to Huddersfield on a bus on my own, and I know I definitely hadn’t told anyone about where I was going, to meet another photographer but fortunately this time wasn’t as dodgy though it did still have its moments.

In October of the same year (it was 2005) I auditioned to be a character at Disney Land Paris and made it through the final audition even though I messed up the dance part because I was stood at the front and had no one to follow (my memory is awful where dance steps are concerned) but I improvised with some Brady Bunch style moves and they seemed to like it. They wanted us to leave ASAP but because I was saving to do a volunteer placement in South Africa the following April I asked them if it’d be alright to come after I’d done that as I worked out I wouldn’t be able to save enough money working at Disney. They said that would be fine and as I left I double checked, ‘So I’ve definitely got the job?’ and the man said, ‘Yes.’ So I went back to work in the Natwest call centre – the only thing that got me through was the promise of sticking a cartoon character’s head over my own.

When I was coming to the end of my time in South Africa I still hadn’t heard anything from Disney and I was worried especially as I’d sent them a few emails over the 6 months since I’d auditioned so they wouldn’t forget me. Finally they got in touch saying they’d never guaranteed me a place. I was mortified. I had made a decision based on practicality and other people (bastard charities!) and ended up losing out on my dream of being a Disney character. I swore I would boycott their films but this didn’t happen, as I’m quite partial to a bit of Mufasa. I don’t regret my time in South Africa at all – if I could have stolen some of the orphans I would have – but I’m sure had I gone to Disney in October I’d have scraped the money together somehow.

When I moved to London I met a guy when I was helping his friend promote a break dancing company. We arranged to go out on a date and because I was new to London I arrived a bit late, as I wasn’t yet used to the tube system. (Also I’m always late for everything, though I am improving.) When I got there he called me to ask where I was and I told him I was outside the exit. He asked if I could see various landmarks and I couldn’t. He told me to walk towards something so I did as he said and walked to where I thought he was talking about. He called me back and started shouting at me, and I mean properly going off on one. I was a bit upset and thought if he was being horrible to me at this stage I should probably leave that minute but, yes, you’ve guessed it, I didn’t and it turned out I was at the back exit rather than the front. We went on our date which was alright in the end but 5 weeks later he sent me packing on a bus in floods of tears after shouting at me again because he couldn’t tolerate the fact I see the good in people and that I say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and that was the end of that. Again me not listening to my instincts and being disappointed as a result. As it happens we’ve bumped into each other a few times since then and a few months ago we started going on dates again but although it’s been left open and he keeps asking to see me but I haven’t been making the time. I see now that I should probably just cut it off completely.

There have been countless other mistakes that I have made but this is already novelesque and I don’t want to cause you blindness from looking at your screen for too long. Many more boy related mistakes have been made, a more recent one was that I met someone who I was in constant textual contact with but I wasn’t sure if I fancied him even though I love ‘conversing’ with him. Then my friends met him and very much approved and thought it would be a good idea to go there and so I took this as good reason to pursue him. We kissed and I well and truly fell for him and then out of the blue he put an end to things before they’d even started. It was so unexpected as I’d not demanded anything of him and I told him it was like he’d punched me in the back of the head. It reeked of the Greek boy episode – this guy’s fear was palpable but he’d made his decision and I was left upset though I couldn’t be too angry with him given I’d done the exact same thing in the past.

But it’s the Brit episode that’s left me broken. It seems many of my disappointments have stemmed from trying to keep other people happy or caring too much what people think. I take full responsibility for this weakness – I am blaming no one but myself. Not wanting to let people down isn’t a bad thing but not trusting what your heart is telling you over someone else’s opinion is an awful thing to do. I don’t know how I’ll go about working out how to know what I should be listening out for within myself; I always get logic and instinct mixed up it seems. These examples might sound petty and insignificant but for someone whose favourite motto is ‘It’s better to regret doing something than regret never having done it at all’ it’s an example of mild hypocrisy. Things have got to change. I have to get a grip on my life. Good choices start today people! Today.

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