I was wearing a chalkstripe suit and a Santa hat, climbing boots and a fluorescent orange bib that read “Yes baby, baby”. I wasn’t comfortable, especially with that comma in the wrong place. I had the feeling that everyone on the tram was looking at me.
I got off at Haymarket, the story of my life, and walked up the hill, past the toilets and the conference centre. By now I was sure that people were looking at me. I was sweating. It was hot for Edinburgh in April.
I crossed the road by the Malaysian takeaway just as the lights turned green. The bus driver revved the motor with what sounded like impatience but gave me a little wave, I think of apology, when I jumped a step and almost tripped over my feet. I walked on. He lived.
Can I have a glass of water, please? Half still half sparkling?
When I turned 34, I realised people weren’t taking much notice of me. So I had my ear tattooed. Yes, I know what you are thinking. People always ask me the same question. How did you decide which ear to tattoo? Well, I found it quite easy, in fact I didn’t have to decide, it just came to me, it was clear, it was obvious, it was balance. I’m left footed and I’m right handed so it had to be my left ear. Otherwise I would have felt unbalanced. I wouldn’t have known which foot to start walking with, or which hand to use to push the shop door open. Except for this morning of course.
It’s pretty unique I think, the shapes and the lines I chose with my skin art consultant – now that’s a job title – graceful, elegant, but perhaps somehow a shade menacing? I think it’s slimming too. Not that I’ve got particularly fat ears but there’s something antelope-like about it now…. Both ears now, that would be ridiculous. It’s a bit like… like rollup cigarettes. One very thin hand-rolled cigarette perched somehow on your bottom lip, near the corner – now that’s what I call cool. Two? No. Definitely not.
I never got on with rollups. It was the gum or the paper or my saliva or something. I once kept one balanced, unlit, on my lip for quite a while but then it somehow stuck there and I tore my lip skin when I peeled it off. And real cigarettes? No, no thank you very much. And I don’t suppose I could smoke in here if I wanted to, could I? No, I appreciate the need for rules. Rules are important, they shape you. But what was I saying? Oh yes, cigarettes. I once met a man who had got the sack from a cigarette factory. I didn’t take to him at all. I wouldn’t smoke. Drinking? Well, that’s a different question. I wouldn’t know where to start.
Perhaps I could have a top up on that glass of water? No ice.