Dear Al Fresco Diners…

Dear Al-Fresco diners,

I know you’re cold, I’m cold too. I know you’d rather be inside, I would too. I know it’s windy, my hair isn’t like this on purpose. I know you want to sit beside a heater- so does every other reservation on the book tonight. Believe me, whatever your grievance, I know.

Unfortunately, I’m not Jesus. I’m not prospero. I can’t make the rain stop or the sun shine brighter. I’m not someone with any power to speak of, in any capacity. I’m a tired, frozen, broke-as-fuck junior floor manager desperately trying to keep customers, colleagues and chefs happy all at once.
I will offer you tea and fetch you another blanket. I will continue to smile even though inside, I am screaming.
Yes, I will remove the service charge if ‘the cold ruined the experience‘. It will break my heart to do so- having just watched the waitress who’s struggling to make ends meet, after a year of surviving on 80% of minimum wage- move mountains all night to try to keep you warm, but I will do it.
There’s very little I will not do to try to make sure you have a nice night. But controlling the weather is beyond my capabilities. Alas. Try not to hold me personally responsible for the state of affairs in the sky.

I’m sorry to have to say it, especially as it goes against all of my tight lipped hospitality instincts, but if you are that sensitive to the cold, if you knew the weather would be bad tonight (Which you did. Because I called you. To warn you. For this exact reason.) then perhaps you should have stayed at home. Ordered a takeaway. With a blanket. In the warm. God knows I’d love to be on the sofa watching gogglebox right now! It’s less than a week before you can come inside again. I’m looking forward to it every bit as much as you are. More.
Why not just wait?

And if you do want to come, weather be damned. Good for you! But come prepared. Bring an extra layer or five. Bring a plastic poncho, I promise not to laugh. And please. PLEASE. Bring some compassion. We’re doing our best.


Be Kind To Help Out

I wish to start with a disclaimer.  I love my job. Not in an Emily Charlton, Devil Wears Prada, I love my job’ way.  I truly love my job.  On top of that, given the current climate, I really love having my job.  It feels important to begin by making this clear.  

As an actress-waitress hybrid, both of my industries -the industries I love- have been decimated by COVID-19.  For me, back in March, shit got real incredibly quickly.  One day we were cracking jokes behind the bar, I was booking tickets to a friend’s fringe performance; a few days later we went into lockdown.  Oddly, as the weeks went by, it was the waitressing that I missed most.  I suppose there was a perverse logic to it: not knowing when you’ll next be onstage or in front of a camera is actually pretty normal for a jobbing actor or actress.  Being away from the restaurant for longer than six days felt like an emotional upheaval.  Unnatural, disconcerting, wrong.  I ached for service, I ached for my colleagues.  I ached for our barista-style coffee machine the way you would a severed fifth limb.  So when my company asked for volunteers to return to work, I didn’t hesitate.  

Opening a restaurant under normal circumstances is hard.  I cannot begin to articulate the complexity and scale of work that is necessary to ensure things run smoothly.  Reopening a restaurant post COVID lockdown was something else entirely.  To use the Tory cabinets’ favourite word,  It was ‘unprecedented’.  There was no scope of reference, nothing comparable to draw upon.  It was trial and error with incredibly high stakes.  We understood the challenge.  We would rise. 

After a week of preparation, deep cleaning, training, health and safety, re-programming, and adapting to a socially distanced workplace, we opened.  Sporting stormtrooper-esque visors that made my shaved head look like a shuttlecock, armed with buckets of sanitiser, and a track and trace QR code, we opened.  I expected it to be hard.  I expected it to be busy.  I expected it to be experimental and constantly evolving.   I expected things to feel both different and the same.  What I didn’t expect was to have to explain the very concept of a pandemic so many times each day.  

I bet Rishi Sunak is feeling pretty pleased with himself.  Eat out to help was a booming success.  But at what cost? I’m grateful for the extra tips, just as my employers will be grateful for the revenue, but my feet and back won’t recover this side of Halloween. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to socially distance an overbooked restaurant?  Six months ago we were ‘unskilled’ and unimportant.  Now, hospitality workers have become the sacrificial lamb deemed fair game if it sorts the economy out.  Thing is though, I’m knackered.

I understand that when going out for dinner you are spending money- and time- and thus expect to enjoy yourself.  I understand that it is my responsibility to ensure you have a good experience.  But jesus fucking christ, this should not- and on my watch will NEVER be- at the expense of the safety of me and my team.  Saying “No” in hospitality is hard.  ‘The Customer Is Always Right’ is ingrained into us from the very first shift.  We bite our tongues, clench our fists and graciously concede.  Even in the face of rudeness.  Even when we know we are right.  So I promise, I will never say “No” just for the hell of it.  There will always be a reason.  

And presently the reason is simply: WE ARE IN A GLOBAL PANDEMIC.

Current Customer FAQs

Why can’t I sit at the bar?  Because then you will be less than a metres’ distance from the bartender… I don’t mind!  He minds.  And you probably ought to mind.  Because of, you know, the virus????

The website would only let me book for six, but there’s actually nine of us.  Sir that wasn’t a glitch in the matrix, that was a mandatory booking restriction enforced by the government. The fact that you’re all from the same household (which frankly, unless you belong to a commune of hippies masquerading as middle class suburbans, you aren’t, I’m not stupid) is irrelevent.  I’m not allowed to seat groups of larger than six people.  Oh it’s only really for six, the other three are kids‘Yes, kids who breathe….’

I want the old menu.  My apologies sir, I am aware that our menu is currently reduced.   We’re only allowed three chefs in the kitchen at any one time to allow for distancing, meaning we can’t churn out the same volume and variety as we used to pre-covid. 

 No, I cannot make an exception.  Because we literally don’t have those ingredients in the kitchen.  It doesn’t make a difference how long you’ve been coming here sir, the menu is the menu, as a waitress I am powerless to change it.

Is it disgraceful? Or is it just a business doing their best, surviving by adapting in what is probably the most anomalous era for the hospitality industry.  

 By all means, you can speak to the manager, but he will tell you exactly the same thing I just did.  But he’s male and you’re a chauvinist so you’ll probably accept it coming from him.  

Can you take a picture of me and my friends?  Well that would involve me holding your phone, there’s a greater than 70% chance you use it whilst you’re on the toilet, so it’s a no from me on this occasion.  I’m not being deliberately unhelpful, but if I hold your phone, I have to go and re-sanitize my already blistering hands.  I can’t serve this food until I do so, so the food will get cold, the customer will be upset, the chef will get angry.  Honestly, your instagram feed is so far down my list of priorities right now, it barely exists… 


A friend asked me a few nights ago if there was a tiny part of me that enjoyed finally having a valid reason to say “No” after years of biting my tongue, but that honestly isn’t it.  It upsets me deeply that people put casual enjoyment and mere convenience before my basic wellbeing and safety.    I’m a waitress, but I’m a human being too.  At the end of the night I don’t fold away into storage like the outdoor tables.  I go home to the people who love me.   People who depend on me as much as I do them.  They are endangered by this flippancy too.   Please stop asking me to jeopardise my health, potentially my life, for the sake of your sea bass.  You may think I’m being facetious, admittedly I probably wouldn’t die.  But if I did contract COVID-19, or came into contact with someone who had, I would be forced to self-isolate for a minimum of two weeks.  I wouldn’t be re-furloughed, I would be on statutory sick pay.  In the UK SSP currently stands at just under 97 pounds per week.  That’s less than 400 pounds a month.  97 pounds per week, even in an industry as grossly underpaid as hospitality,  would be such a significant reduction in income that two weeks is all it would take to completely derail my finances.  Hurling me face first into debt and uncertainty.  Did this even cross your mind when you were throwing a tantrum because your mates couldn’t join you for drinks?  Also.  Let’s take a moment to re-examine that sentence.  I probably wouldn’t die.  Probably.  PROBABLY.  When did human life become so disposable as to bet on a probability. You sit at the high table whilst I pour the wine, yes, but we both breathe the same air.  Why is my life classified at a lower value than yours? 

The way people’s eyes gloss over you when you wear an apron worries me on a deeper level.  Though seemingly minor, it is dehumanisation.   The foremost three articles from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are as follows: 

1) We are all born free and equal

2) Do not discriminate  

3) The right to life, freedom, and safety.  

This document was adopted in 1948 out of a need to sufficiently define exactly what fundamental human rights consist of.  This was a direct consequence of the atrocities committed in world war two.  At first it struck me as sad that humanity had strayed far enough to necessitate such a document, and yet we are reminded every day in both tiny and vast ways that it was, in fact, 100% necessary.  When you violate my safety, you undermine equality.  No good will ever come of perpetuating the existence of an underclass. I wish to end as I began, with a declaration of love and gratitude.  For every entitled arse  demanding something I cannot oblige there is an angelic counterpart as lovely as the former is awful.  To the compassionate, gracious clientele I meet and look after every day, thank you.  Thank you for bearing with us.  Thank you for respecting the restrictions.  Thank you for checking in. Thank you for considering my safety and wellbeing. (It’s an alien -but moving- role reversal to be asked by a customer how I’m doing) Thank you for being kind.  I wish there were more people like you. 




No, I am not a student.

Are you a student?’ It sounds like a relatively innocuous question.  But it’s not, it’s loaded.  

I’m asked this question all the time in my job as a waitress.  Sometimes I say ‘No.’ and elaborate: ‘I’m an actress’. Other times I say ‘No.’ and leave it at that. The responses to both are equally frustrating.  If I say ‘No.’ They blink at me, tilt their heads enquiringly and eventually ask: ‘so, is this your full-time job?’  This sounds like another innocuous question, but the inference that comes with it is anything but neutral.  

There seems to be an unspoken consensus, within a certain demographic of the population, that it isn’t okay to ‘just’ be a waitress.  That it’s fine if you’re supporting yourself on the road to something better, but it shouldn’t be a vocation.  The other route confirms this theory.  ‘No. I’m an actress.’  Invariably followed by a relieved ‘We thought you must do something else.’ Or worse.  ‘We knew you weren’t just a waitress’.   When people say this, most of the time they truly believe they’re paying you a compliment.  So it’s well-meaning.  But it’s not a compliment. It’s insulting. We are no longer a nation that exists within the realms of 9-5.  We haven’t been so for a long time.  Yet there exists an outdated class system within the infrastructure of employment.  It’s dismissive, prejudiced, and inaccurate.  In a world where job security is at such a plummeted low, it is also unrealistic.  Isn’t it time we challenged this construct?  

It’s hardly surprising, however, that the upper middle class clientele of a Soho seafood restaurant often consider these jobs to be menial and unskilled when the authors of the Brexit settlement scheme, our own government, have deemed them exactly that.  And the double standard doesn’t stop there.  If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it’s that the way in which we classify professions within a hierarchy is utterly flawed.  Particularly striking is the way in which the government have begun celebrating frontline workers.  Rightfully so.  Every one of us owes them a debt of gratitude, but the timing of this newfound affection rouses my suspicion.

A recently resurfaced clip from 2017 claiming to show Tory ministers ‘voting againsts nurses payrises’ could suggest that this government hasn’t always revered NHS staff to quite such an extent.  In fact the ammendment that was rejected -by the DUP and all but four conservative MPs (the other 4 didn’t vote)- called for the public sector pay cap to be lifted.  Which although wouldn’t have directly resulted in a pay rise for anyone, would have put considerable pressure on the government to end the cap of 1%. They didn’t just vote against it.  They cheered at the result.  You can watch the footage here. Some of those very same politicians now clap on the street each thursday. The very same politicians who, four years ago, were at war with the junior doctors. Widely perpetuating the false notion that strikes were in aid of securing higher salaries rather than protesting contractual revisions threatening patient and staff safety. A view unsurprisingly supported by the tabloid press.  ‘The sun says Sack the Docs’.  The Sun are since demonstrating a previously unseen devotion towards the would-be sacked.  Shocking.  

Prejudice festers.  Especially sleepy, latent prejudice.  Throughout history, whenever prejudice has been allowed to thrive, destruction has inevitably followed.  A fickle, insidious prejudice lies at the heart of this double standard.  A prejudice exploited and controlled by both the media and the Tory cabinet alike.  The means by which we measure skill and worth change periodically to whatever suits best, and as a result ‘worth’ itself has become a commodity.

I could elaborate endlessly on just how skilled the hospitality profession is. But that’s not the point.  I never received such scrutiny when I worked as a Teaching Assistant.  Because working in education falls into the bracket of ‘worthy career choice’.  Shame we don’t pay teachers accordingly.  The point is: we have come to appreciate only certain types of skills.  If they don’t belong to a noble -or lucrative- enough faction, the world isn’t interested.  And yet where would we be today without the so called ‘undesirables’? 

I hope that going forward, there will be a newfound appreciation for those on whom we have depended.  I hope the cleaners, the checkout assistants, the postmen, the warehouse operatives will be accepted and appreciated for their role in society.  I hope people will take it upon themselves to challenge the outdated perceptions that govern our way of life. In the future, when I book a doctors appointment, I will do so only if I am sure that I really need it.  I won’t ever take for granted the frequency of Victoria line trains, or breezing into Tesco’s as and when I choose.  I will remain grateful to the people who make this possible.   I pray we are all brave enough to challenge our own prejudices,  and rely no longer on the governing powers to feed us our opinions in accordance with their manifesto.

I hope things don’t go back to normal.  I hope they change.  

Either way, please don’t ask me if I’m a student.


The BuzzGirl


We Are Not Helpless

Just before Christmas last year, I took an uber home from Oxford Street with two girls I had never met before. I never saw either of them again. Alas, this is not a story of the universe conspiring to form fateful, undying friendships.

I had finished work in Soho late, which wasn’t unusual. The underground was closed, so I walked to the bus stop outside the flagship Urban Outfitters to await the trusty N8, which would take its sweet time along the way, but would deliver me essentially door to door. Only on this particularly chilly night, the next N8 wasn’t due for another fifty two minutes. I checked citymapper and prayed, fleabag style, that one would ‘magically appear’, cresting the hill like a red behemoth beast. But it didn’t. It was already past one and I was due back at work at eleven. Just as I was about to despair, salvation came in the form of two similarly stranded girls, also bereft by the lack of N8. We decided in the style of true sisterhood to share an uber. I was the only one with battery on my phone, so I booked us a car and within minutes we were on our way. Uber being relatively new to me at this time (I held out, living in london without it for 3 years, because i reasoned -since proved correctly- that it would drain my bank balance) I didn’t know you could set a location with multiple stop offs, so set the destination for my address with the other two reasoning they could leap out whenever they spotted they were on home ground. Our driver, Andreas, was charming and courteous from the off. He called us, to say that he was waiting down a smaller side street, so we wouldn’t have to worry about avoiding traffic when getting into the car. He let us charge our phones, providing cables and usb sockets. Asked whether we preferred music or quiet. He was intrigued to learn as we chatted a little, that we were not in fact, friends on the way home from a night out. When we explained our situation and how the three of us had come to be sardined in the back of his car, he laughed, and seemed charmed at the idea of girls clubbing together to stay safe. ‘You’d never see three lads do that’. He was probably right.
Without any of us asking, and without charging us on the app, he quietly insisted on taking each of us to our respective addresses, even allowing the last girl to rebook him on her own freshly charged phone, for the last leg of her journey.

As I climbed the stairs to my apartment, I felt giddy and alive. Lying in bed, I mused on what a strange, benevolent night it had been. I would be knackered come morning, and yes the N8 would have been cheaper. But my faith in humanity, my belief in the power of good, was soaring. A stranger had gone out of his way, spared his time, probably put himself out of pocket, all to make sure three young girls got home safe.
It may seem like a small event now, inconsequential, as so many things do given our current situation. But it got me thinking; how many of our lives are different because of an act of kindness by a stranger?

It turns out, writing during this outbreak, is pretty tricky. Something I began writing two weeks ago is now not only irrelevant but inappropriate. The narrative has changed. Two weeks ago, we were laughing about this. How awful that seems now.

I’ve put pen to paper so many times to write about solidarity, friendship, the heroism of the NHS workers. But with the state of play shifting day in, day out, I don’t feel I can do any of these topics justice. It doesn’t feel right.

One thing that seems to be a recurring theme amongst most people. Is a feeling of helplessness. Of wanting to help, wanting to do something, but not knowing how or what. I am no doctor. I am no scientist. I don’t know what will happen over the next three months. I could tell you to stay positive, or to drink water, find a new routine. I could tell you to wash your hands. But who am I to say any of those things to you?

So what I choose to say instead is this: If ever you have depended on the kindness of a stranger, return the favour now. Stay home. Strangers everywhere, people you will never meet, need you to stay at home. Until far too recently, we as a country had no idea how important this was. But we do know now. And whilst the consequences of ignoring this quarantine might not be immediately visible, they exist, and they are devastating. But we are not helpless. The greatest kindness, we, the general public can do for those most at risk, is to put aside our personal wants and desires. And simply: Stay At Home.


The Buzz Girl


P.S. Should you feel compelled to do something

Londoners Calling

London is one of the most multicultural cities in the world. Approximately one third of londoners were born outside the UK. Across the streets of london, over 200 languages are spoken, by as many different races of people. So it’s surely no surprise, that after the election last month, morale in this city, was low.

So far, I’ve refrained from making this blog political. However, post election, in anticipation of brexit, I’ve realised two things 1) there’s little harm it can do now, 2) I don’t really care about the kind of people this is bound to alienate.
The phrase ‘Get Brexit Done’ was used so much in the lead up to the general election, it became a buzzword. How easily, and often people bandy this term around, is conclusive proof to me, as to just how many people view brexit as an abstract, distant concept that won’t really affect them. I see a different truth.

I work in a restaurant in Soho. I am one of three British members of staff, in a restaurant of perhaps 25. If anyone interpreted that last sentence as mere proof that ‘the foreigners are stealing our jobs’ stop reading now. Go for a walk. Evaluate the life choices that made you into such a prick.

In the last few weeks, the majority of my colleagues have been applying for their ‘settled’ and ‘pre-settled’ status. I wasnt born in london either, and it seems uncomfortable and incongruous to me, that some of these people have worked in this job for double the length of time that i have, they’ve lived in london for far longer than me, some of them longer than I’ve been alive, and yet they are the ones having to prove their right to be here. They are the ones subject to scrutiny. It angers me.

Maybe it sounds cheesy, but we are a family. A mismatched family of brothers and sisters that all found our way from completely different places. I cannot tell you how broken hearted I would be if this ever changed. How dull a place it would be, if this were not the case.

There are many who say that brexit will have little to no impact on those already living here. Again. I see a different truth. Already I see prejudice creeping into places where it has no business. To the man who jeered at my Romanian colleague ‘look out, brexit is coming for you’ when he couldn’t give you a discount on that bottle of wine you clearly had enough money to buy. You disgust me. You are everything that is wrong this country. I hope it choked you. If only this were an isolated incident. But it isn’t.
Between 2015/16 and 2017/18 the annual increase in racially motivated hate crimes was 27.5%. Nearly double the average variation of 13.6%. Coincidence? I doubt it.
And as for ‘Getting Brexit Done’. I wonder if the people using this phrase really understand what it entails? I can understand that if you live in a remote area, lacking in diversity, perhaps it isn’t immediately obvious as to how brexit will impact your life. Trust me though, it will. When you live in a city, it becomes painfully obvious only too quickly. What’s worse, is there seems to be some unspoken consensus that however detrimental a no deal brexit might be, at this stage, as long as its done quickly, its probably the better option. I know of no historically significant event that was made better by rushing, and I fail to see how this could possibly be any different.

I’ve often been told, that travel is the best education anyone could receive. I’m sure it’s true. And the reason for this? The people you meet along the way? Meeting these people, in this beautiful behemoth of a city, from so many different places, has been an education. Learning about each others lives. Realising how different and how totally the same we are all at once. Laughing together, getting pissed together, arguing together. During Ramadan, we were all of us counting the minutes until sundown, and those fasting could finally eat again. Slowly, gradually, I have built a repertoire of curses in multiple different languages. I remember one glorious day a few months ago, three of my spanish speaking colleagues translated the Macarena for me. My profound love of the Macarena stems from murky school discos where it was the only song I could muster enough courage to dance to, (you can’t go wrong). Turns out, back in 2002 they were dancing to it as well. These may sound like small things. Because they are. But small things are everything.

When I first moved to London, I fell in love with it in a way I hadnt anticipated. I felt there was a place for me here, a life for me to lead, full of colour and opportunities. I belonged. I can only guess that London is, in part, so multiculturally vast, because so many people share this love.
I feel bound to these people far more than I ever did to people growing up in my hometown. Maybe because unlike where you are born, we all chose to be here. In London, we are where we want to be, where we should be. To echo Derry Girls, being a Londoner isn’t about where you come from or what language your mother tongue is. Being a Londoner, it’s a fucking state of mind. It’s a way of life. A heartbeat. It’s understanding that a minute is a pretty long period of time when there’s a bus to be caught. It’s realising that Winter Wonderland is shit, but going every year anyway. It’s understanding that you never, ever, use district or circle line unless you absolutely have to. We all breathe that polluted air. We all fear bank interchange. We can all do the Macarena.
Let’s keep it this way.


The buzzgirl xxx

Table for One

For the vast majority of my twenties so far, I’ve been single. And no. This isn’t going to turn into an open discussion regarding the shortcomings of my various exes. However, I do believe one of the things I found most difficult when my first relationship ended a few years ago, was that in him, not only had I found love, I’d also found a fellow adventurer. A partner in crime. In simple terms, I’d found someone to do stuff with. From Gin tasting, to walking aimlessly through London parks, or simply going to the pub. It’s as though when you have a companion you don’t need a reason or an excuse. Because you are each others excuse. When the relationship ended, so did my enthusiasm for being out and about; and for a long time I used being single as an excuse for being anti-social. For being lazy. I did extra shifts at work, or I went home and watched Made In Chelsea with a family sized bag of Maltesers. I did the worst kind of stupid and got myself into a terrible relationship, simply because I was bored and sick of being alone. I then stayed in that relationship despite knowing it was unhealthy just because it enabled me in terms of having a life again. Its for that reason and one other that I don’t regret any of it, terrible as it was. It taught me brutally and unreservedly that being in a relationship with someone you don’t love and to whom you are incredibly ill suited is far more lonely than being alone. 

 I’ve always been instinctively hedonistic. But when you’ve been burnt a few times, there’s a safety to be found in the shadows. It’s a toxic safety though. Latent. Insidious. And in the longrun it’s more destructive than you could ever imagine. 

 In the immediate aftermath of my recent breakup. I found myself examining the bones of our would be future. Immediate and long-term. The cat we would never get, the flat we would never furnish. The painstakingly planned trip to China. Instinctively I began the work of dismantling it all. And then a thought struck me. What if I didn’t? What if I did the things I had planned and longed for with this man, but what if I did them alone? I found, to my surprise and curiosity that I wasn’t sad. I was hungry. This time around, the circumstances were different, or maybe I was different. 

 And so I went to China. I went to many places, sometimes with friends, but often alone. The first flight I took alone, I hyperventilated on the runway. For a time, I relied on my phone as a constant companion. A screen I could stare at to escape the scrutiny that existed only inside my head. Gradually, faster than I had anticipated, it got easier. I sat at bars in unknown cities without depending on social media to keep me occupied. The grappling agony when asking for a table for one subsided. I stopped caring whether people thought I was a sad loner for eating by myself. Truthfully, pretty much nobody thinks that anyway, and even if they did, what do I care? In all likelihood I’ll never see these people again in all my life. Sometimes I took a book. Other times I just watched the ticking over of my surroundings. I had conversations I would never normally have had. I met people, most nice, the odd psychopath.  I can’t remember the exact moment, but somewhere along the way, I realised to my infinite joy, that I wasn’t meant to share these moments with anyone. They were mine alone. There is so much empowerment to be found in going solo. I look back on this past year, and I am proud of the memories I have made for myself.  

Lying on my back in the blue lagoon watching the 3pm Nordic darkness draw in, sharing apple cake with two beautiful befriended Mexicans, sweating and swaying in the crowd of a berlin nightclub to the sounds of a rapper I’ve never heard of. Going solo is wonderful. 

 This is not to say I dont get lonely. I do. I get desperately lonely. Loneliness is the bitch that will drive you into the arms of a tinder hook up, chasing the fix of false intimacy. Loneliness will have you expect so much, too much, unfairly of friends. Loneliness is a funny anecdote without an audience. But the difference now, is that I know: loneliness will pass. To be lonely and to be alone are two very different things. I am the latter. But I refuse to be the first.

It seems to me there is such a lot of negativity surrounding being single. A stigma, of sorts. And there shouldn’t be. Relationships are tricky and rewarding, but so is being single. To give your heart to someone takes courage, but so does claiming it back. People talking about feeling it when something is right, but they don’t talk about admitting it when it’s not. Despite the heartbreak, and the dark times of the last few years, I feel so grateful for this solo period of my life. Without these moments I wouldn’t know the things I know now. I wouldn’t know (Despite occasional doubt I feel obligated to confess) that I am enough. If to the end of my days, I am this. Myself. No more, no less. I am still enough. So book the flight. Go for dinner. Shave Your head. Grab that drink. See solitude as the opportunity that it is, and not a fate you are resigned to. And remember. You are enough.


The Buzzgirl


3 Months Later- Five more things…

Exactly three months ago today, I shaved my head. I’m still not totally sure why I did it, but it’s the best impulsive decision I’ve ever made.
Less than a month earlier I was dropped by my Acting agent, which needless to say, was pretty fucking devastating. In looking for the positives, (searching frantically, desperately, maniacally for anything resembling positivity) I realised that for the first time in three years, I had total freedom to do what I wanted with my appearance. For me, this was always going to result in a dramatic change in hairstyle.

I began, (seriously why did I do this?) by bleaching my hair, by myself, at home. 40 quid, singed ears, and quite a few tears of regret later, I was left with a toxic neon birds nest of matted hideousness. I quickly dyed over the yellow mess with a patchy dark brown, but the damage was already done. My once silky soft hair was now crispy, matted, and so porous it took hours to dry and style.
I have a theory that in her adult life, every woman develops a belief that she can do hair.
A friend of mine once arrived uncharacteristically late to work, and subsequently explained he’d been getting an emergency haircut, in an attempt to reverse what his wife had done to him the night before with clippers. Repairing the damage cost him 30 quid. It’s as though we all of a sudden decide that hairdressers train for three years, not because they need to, but just for the hell of it. They pay hundreds of pounds for their scissors, sure, but your miscellaneous kitchen drawer pair will do just as good a job. Oh you can French plait? Then you’re more than qualified to cut in a fringe.

I would try to warn you against trying this at home, but the warning would be futile. It’s like we have to do it once, or in my case multiple times, to realise what a farce it is. I cannot preach this loudly enough:

Your hairdresser is worth every penny you pay them.

A photographer I model for sometimes had said in passing, a while back, how much I would suit a shaved head. I didn’t think too much of it at the time, but over the next few weeks and months, I couldn’t get the image out of my head. At the time though, it was impossible. I needed to a) look like my headshots and b) consult my agent about any major image alterations. (It was said awesome photographer who took my INSANE new headshots, thank you Rekha!).

A few days post bleaching disaster, I got to thinking about this again. I was sat on an aeroplane that was taking far too long to taxi. The ‘fasten your seatbelt’ signs had been on for a good 11 minutes but we were going nowhere. So I broke protocol, turned off airplane mode and messaged my hairdresser.

I have total faith (in all walks of life, but especially hair) in this man. If he didn’t think something was a good look for me, he just wouldn’t do it. So this response was the only encouragement I needed. As for worrying over having no hair, this was easy, Because the hair I had left anyway, was shit. Three months later, still no regrets!
I do have a few observations though…

Five MORE things that happen when you shave your head:

1) People are OBSESSED with telling you how difficult it will be to grow out this look. Yep, thank you for your stunning insight, Susan. I’m not actually planning on growing it out any time soon though. What would be the point in shaving my hair only to immediately grow it out again? I could just cut out the middle man and not shave it in the first place.

2) You suddenly find all the hair pins and bands that mysteriously vanished over the years, back when you had hair and really needed them.

3) You realise how fucking quickly hair grows. This is a weird one. It took me over a year to grow out a block fringe (after another fateful bout of over confident hairdressing) and yet with the buzz, I start looking like a dandelion puffball after a mere five weeks. I couldn’t even be mad at my friend when he said I looked like Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber. Because I did. I will never unsee this.

4) Strong earring game becomes a must.

5) You become the subject of both Nazi and holocaust victim jokes. Sometimes in the same sentence. Next level Taboo.

Bonus Thing!
This haircut gave me hope.
I know exactly who just laughed then, and you can shuddup. I joke about it, but losing my agent and then ultimately leaving the agency itself was really difficult. It’s one of the worst things in the world to spend years of your life training and fighting for something, only to have it snatched back when you finally get there. I work full time as a waitress. And don’t get me wrong, it is AWESOME! I work in a super nice restaurant and my work friends are amazing- seriously I love you all dearly- but its not what my heart beats for. Graduating drama school was the fight of my life, and it used up every ounce of energy, stubbornness and will I had. It was everything. And now I’m unsigned and my last audition was nearly a month ago. I HATE wallowing. But at the time, I couldn’t seem to help myself. And nothing would snap me out of it. Until I shaved my head. I felt a new lease of life pulsing through my veins. I felt invincible. I felt as though there was nothing to hide behind any more, and that made me completely free. Ironically, in the three months since cutting my hair, I’ve had more auditions and roles than in the entire year I was with my agent.

I do get that if you want to change your life, you should change your life. But sometimes that can be in the form of a haircut. After all…


The buzzgirl

He’s a Stud, She’s a slut.

Gender based prejudice is so socially ingrained into us, even the best of us don’t realise we are part of the problem. I learnt recently of a comment made by a friend, upon learning that I had slept with a co-worker, the third in a year.
I bet I’ve already baited some of you into proving my point. Three? In a year? Slut? Depends on your definition. To me, words like slut and slag are socially engineered (made up) words designed to hold women to different standards than men.
‘Wow, she’s working her way through’.
This comment, though no doubt made in passing, without realisation that I’d ever hear about it, is a perfect example.
And I suppose it’s fair enough. But how many women would a guy my age, or thereabouts, have to sleep with to earn the same comments, and the same judgement.
It infuriates me that people view sex as a characteristic of someone’s personality and not just a physical act. Previous comments include: ‘Wow, I didn’t realise you were that kind of girl…’
Didn’t realise what though? That I have a vagina or that I sometimes like to use it. Am I really a different person, in your eyes, because I like to have casual sex sometimes? Or worse ‘You’ve changed’. No. I haven’t changed. You made an assumption about me that proved incorrect, and now you’re punishing me because the truth doesn’t fit with your preconceived perception of me. I haven’t been deliberately hiding a secret side of my personality, I just don’t broadcast my private life. Because it is that, private.

I’ve realised that when I write for this blog, I often fall into the trap of hiding my emotions behind fancy vocabulary and contentious arguments. A method of self protection, probably. But the truth is, when I heard those comments about me, I felt really bad. I felt like I had failed. I felt dirty. I felt like a fuck-up that no one decent would ever want. I felt shit, basically.

I’m not ashamed of anything that I have done, sexually or otherwise. And shaving my head has definitely forced me to care less and less about what other people think of me. But I am a human being. I have feelings and emotions; I’m soft in the middle and my blood runs red. When you make that offhand remark I laugh along with you, because I’m one of the crew, she can take a joke that one, she knows it’s only banter. It’s true, I know you don’t say these things with malice. But it doesn’t stop them hurting.
If you’ve made a comment like that to me, or about me, chances are I’ve probably cried over it.

Make no mistake, this is not a ‘male problem’. Often, women are just as quick to judge other women. The trouble is, until you are on the receiving end, no one tells you how rotten it feels to be besmirched.

And I know I’m not the only affronted party. The last thing I want is to be non-inclusive, or to portray myself as the innocent martyr. I’m sure I have perpetrated comments of an equally harmful nature. I confess, as a teenager I used phrases such as ‘man up’ and ‘that’s so gay’, not realising what a harmful rhetoric this was. I understand that these thoughts and phrases are so latently interwoven into our vocabulary and our ideology, that they seem okay. But they’re not. Suicide is the single biggest killer in the UK of men under 45. In 2018, 84 men took their own lives per week. Considering how taboo the discussion of mental health is amongst males, imagine what the remark ‘man up’ could do to a bloke on the brink of mental collapse.

I accept to an extent that we are socially programmed to think the way we do. That decades –centuries– of double standards and unrealistic gender expectations are, in part, to blame. The sad truth is that this is the world and the society we live in. But we do have the power to change this. And we must.
I saw a glittering, shining light, at the end of the tunnel the other day. I was exchanging views with a friend at work, and he suddenly said to me: ‘Babe, I’ve no idea how many girls I’ve slept with, and do you think i ever ask a girl that question? It’s not important to me.’ I didn’t realise how much I needed to hear those words until he said them. But I did. I needed to know that people like him exist.
In my heart of hearts I know that it’s nobody’s business how many people I sleep with or don’t sleep with. But I want the world to know that too. I want to live a life where I am judged on the content of my character and not the intimate details of my private life. So, please, the next time you open your mouth to make a comment, or a joke pertaining to this: think about what you’re saying, think about the wider repercussions of your words. That is all I ask of you.


The BuzzGirl


Last weekend I went to a music festival. On the Sunday afternoon, several ciders deep, we were lazing sleepily on the sunny grass, slightly jaded from the previous two evenings exploits. A fellow camper friend commented in passing how in awe he was of the female body, and how at times he felt inescapably jealous of women, their bodies, their minds, their sexuality. I found myself completely astounded by this confession, as ever since puberty, I have felt constantly at war with my reproductive organs.

When I set off aged 18 to drama school in London, I became trapped in an endless cycle of UTIs. Here’s the thing about UTIs, a full blown urinary tract infection (frankly I’m done hiding behind letters to preserve the modesty of grown adults). They’re more painful than any other ailment I’ve suffered so far in my 22 years, yet no employer considers them serious enough to warrant time off work, doctors see them as low priority, and unless you’ve experienced one yourself (those who know, know) you probably wonder what all the fuss is about. But when you’re writhing around on the kitchen floor like a snake on acid, or you’re camped out in the bathroom with your duvet waiting for the most recent gallon of water to pass through you so you can bask in the golden but temporary relief that is urination; it’s hard not to feel personally victimised by the receptionist that marked you as a low priority or the nurse that wouldn’t give you antibiotics because you’ve had them twice this month already and he doesn’t want you to build resistance. The degradation of walking through a waiting room full of strangers holding a paper bag-wrapped piss pot, only to be be told what you already knew, yes it’s a UTI, yes you will need antibiotics. These antibiotics will probably give you thrush, from which you will be in extreme discomfort and pain, and for which you will eventually need yet more drugs. The best part? You will repeat the entire cycle again in less than three weeks time, and at at least six weekly intervals going forward.

Every time a healthcare professional quizzes me on wiping properly, or urinating after sex, I die a little. I understand, they are doing their jobs. It isn’t their fault, it’s systemic. But in 2019, why aren’t we doing better? Why are women still having to fight so hard for people to believe in our pain? Why are we not trusted to know our bodies? To understand our own bodies?

I could tell you twenty stories of a woman, in pain, being told that what is currently happening inside her body, is normal. Natural. Nothing to worry about. In essence being told: You’re in pain, yes, so you should be, and this is the way you will live your life. And every woman I know, has 20 stories.

Maybe this is where innate, angry, screaming feminism comes from. The injustice of the pain.

True, most of us can carry babies. And if I ever have children, maybe one day I will appreciate what that means. But right now it’s not enough. Right now, I cannot take comfort from that. Because right now, it’s lying awake for three consecutive nights, wondering about that broken condom. Its passing out on the tube because the nausea side effects of Regivedon finally got too much. Right now its Toxic Shock. Don’t get me started on sex.

In a world where Trump and his minions are infringing on the rights of our transatlantic sisters in the most invasive and brutal of ways, perhaps I ought to feel grateful that I live here in the UK where contraception and family planning is readily available. But I’m not. Why should I? Why should I feel grateful for what ought to be a basic human right?

Instead I feel furious. When I read that development of the male contraceptive has been halted, due to side effects that are an immeasurable fraction of what countless women suffer each day, I am furious.

When a school friend, after seven years of being told her period pains are normal, is finally given a diagnosis of endometriosis, I am furious.

When I hear someone, anyone, remark: ‘She must be on her period’. I. Am. Furious.

The worst part, the best part, the beautiful part. Is that I love being a girl. I love being a woman. I love what femininity is, the power it yields. I love my body, I love to feel strong, to feel fragile, to be sexy, and beautiful and visceral.

And yet I struggle so much with my identity as a young woman. Even shaving my head, was, to an extent a desperate attempt to subvert what society says it is to be a woman. And why? My theory is this:

I love my femininity, but in that, I am expected to love the pain. To be grateful for all the pain and misgivings forced upon my sex. To see pain as a necessary side effect to what is an otherwise resplendent existence.

And maybe if we are allowed to break away from the acceptance of pain, the resignation, that pain is ours to bear. Maybe then we stand a chance of seeing in ourselves, the same things my lovely, pure hearted friend saw, when he told me he was in awe of the female body.

10 Things That Happen When You Shave Your Head

Quentin Crisp once said, ‘Fashion is what you adopt when you don’t know who you are‘.  For me, it is- it has always been- hair.

From the day I realised, aged 13, that two and a half week’s pocket money could buy me a bar of Lush Cosmetics organic Henna (available in 5 shades), fucking with my hair became an obsession.  From ages 14-19, in photos, I am limbs, who-nose, FRINGE. It was my sight inhibiting, forehead-acne inducing, armour. From home bleaching disasters to lopsided bangs, I’ve done the lot.

I’ve never been able to escape the belief that when I finally find the perfect do, I’ll suddenly know who I am.  As Phoebe Waller Bridge recently epitomised, Hair Is Everything. (Anthony)

I know I’m not alone.  If you ever see a female over the age of 11 years dye her hair an alarming shade of red, or worse, shave a cross section of her scalp, leave her be.  Some serious shit is going down.

2019 has been interesting.  Shit has gone down. I am four days into a somewhat impulsive but #NOREGRETS buzz cut.  Here are my thoughts so far.

  1. Your head gets cold.
  2. People spontaneously burst into renditions of Sinead O’Connors ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’
  3. Male co-workers subconsciously start including you in the mysterious male handshake business.
  4. Inevitable lesbianism remarks.  
  5. Total strangers tell you you look like Annie Lennox. (100% a compliment)
  6. You develop a complex about the size of your ears.
  7. Each of your work friends tells one of a repertoire of four jokes, and each thinks they are original.
  8. An elderly relative prays for your soul.
  9. You join the secret worldwide clan of short haired women.  You smile at each other conspiratorially on the tube and some small part of you finds the sense of self you were looking for in the first place.  
  10. Hair ruffles.  Without permission. Without warning.  

Conclusion so far: It’s not the answer. But it’s something. What?

Dunno, but I’ll keep you posted x