16 Jul 2012

It was a thing that happened.

"Have you worn them in?" 

"...did you want to finish that or are you being purposefully elliptical?"

"I wish you wouldn't use such big words I don't understand."

"Worn them in what? A dress? A blizzard? A teenage mutant ninja turtle costume?"

"No, no, no. Have you worn them in and gotten USED to them? So they don't blister? You can't run with the Olympic Flame in unworn shoes."

I didn't know there were rules to this. I thought I could just wear my conver...shoe things that looked liked proper converses from New Look and be done with it. Surely that would be fine? They have a sole. They cover my feet. They have LACES. Shit gets real with laces.

I was in my uniform. In my trainers. Hair straightened within an inch of its sorry split-end life, and polos shoved down my trousers. Phone clutched. And still I didn't feel any sense of excitement or nervousness. The whole morning I'd spent in my pyjamas, feet up on the desk, watching the BBC live torch relay cam, trying to establish some sort of etiquette for what I was about to do. Do I wave? Do I hold it with two hands? Do I walk or run? I concluded that whatever happens, I was going to look like a prize twat. The only thing I knew I wanted to happen was for the crowd to sing Wings as I my 300m. Likelihood? Minimal. Hope? Great. And that's all I had. Hope that somehow I knew what to bloody do at some point during the next 3 hours. And for the love of baby Pete and his family including pets, DO NOT DROP THE THING. DO. NOT. DROP. IT.

"Done any training?" another torchbearer asked me. Mum, dad, and Matt, all donned in red, white, and blue had dropped me at the Town Hall and now I was surrounded by organisers, the mayor, torchbearers, and the media. Lots of the media. I stuck to the wall and tweeted my way through the waiting, until HUMAN CONTACT WAS REQUIRED OF ME. It was downhill from here. Oh, oh wait no. No it wasn't. My 300m was all UPHILL, that's right. Of course. *I* had the uphill stint. Me. Only me. 

"..I ran up and down the stairs a few times this morning...two at a time." I said, with some conviction. 

"You're young! You don't need training. Here hold this." And a torch was thrust into my hands. One of the actual Olympic torches. I fumbled with my polos, lipgloss, and phone (essentials, don't tell me otherwise), as the torch tipped sideways and had to be grabbed to safety. 

"Oop, I'll just take that. We're going to have the briefing now, then some media photos, then we'll be on our way!" Organiser Northern Tom said. I liked Northern Tom. "But YOU will be in the middle holding the torch in all the photos!" Oh yay. Two hands, I repeated in my head. Hold the bloody thing with two hands.

At 5pm, one hour before my slot, we left on the torchbearer bus. Around 16 torchbearers, Northern Tom, and the driver. Just us. Until we left the car park and started the journey to the start of Ingrave/Brentwood's route. I was still glued to my phone, texting friends and family about where to wait, when I heard gasps from inside the bus, and gasps from outside too. Hundreds of people had already lined the streets. Hundreds of people with chairs, banners, bunting, cameras, friends, family, strangers, burger vans, music, MORE PEOPLE. I didn't understand. I didn't know Brentwood had so many people. And I was running in front of them. So I bent my feet forward, wearing my new trainers in.

"Louise, look. Look outside. The people. Look! There are so many and they're here to see US!" Leah's 16 and we stuck to each other the whole time. I was passing the torch to her and we went to the same school. We were the double act. Comedy required. 

It was only then when the adrenaline rushed to my feet, awakening them from their eternal slumber to think "...what the fuck is going on. Louise. Louise what are you doing. Why have we got energy. Louise. THINK ABOUT THIS.", and I found myself beaming and waving frantically to the now thousands of people. 50,000 to be exact. 50,000 people.

"So how did you get nominated, Louise?" someone behind asked. He was the oldest torchbearer, in his 70s, and had tears in his eyes the whole time.

"Erm. Well I didn't, really. I sort of got asked by Coca Cola over a year ago after I won this journalism-ish award with Channel 4. I have a blog and I want to help young people realise that they don't have to follow the crowd. It's silly really. Really cheesy. But I try to be funny and stupid so they know they can be themselves really and not take any shit." 

He didn't bat an eyelid at my language, and put a hand on my arm.

"You're amazing. That's brilliant. You're inspirational, you really are. Well done Louise."

And that was the first time I felt worth it. Felt like I deserved all of  *waves arms around* this. I gulped and said my thanks, before it was my turn to get dropped off.

Mum's footage. I applaud my face.

They screamed. My own torch clutched to my chest, I stepped off the bus and the crowds were the thickest yet, and they screamed. My name. There were flashes, and shouts, and security guards. And music and floats with people who jumped off and hugged me, shouting through a megaphone to the crowd to cheer my name.


"Excuse me, can my daughter have a photo with you please?" A man had stepped forward and nudged his toddler forward. I instinctively crouched to her level and she hugged me, resting her head on my shoulder as the crowd awwed, and I let her hold the torch to have a photo. Then I was surrounded. Everyone rushed forward, throwing me their children for photos. Pushing each other to have their chance.


My family was crying as the previous torchbearer came into view, and before I knew it, I was holding the Olympic flame. The whole world, possibly, could have been watching me. That flame. THE FLAME. Don't blow it, Louise. No matter how tempting. Don't. Blow. My feet were freaking out, my hair had waved, trying to bend round to see the action, and my face hurt. I didn't know my face could pull those shapes.

And then I was running.

Up a hill.

With the Olympic flame.

On telly.

In front of 50,000 physical real life sentient beings.

I saw friends shouting and crying, I saw family running to catch up, and I saw strangers taking photos and cheering. And all I could do was wave, forget about my aching lungs, and scream "I LOVE YOU!!!" to everyone. If this was my moment, then I was going to make it Oscar award winning worthy.

And then it was over. Leah took the flame and I was back on the bus, still waving to people as we followed the flame to the finish. Every torchbearer on that bus had tears on their faces, waving and gasping and trying to mumble words that meant something to their feelings. But it was impossible. I can't explain it. To feel like part of history and part of, just, SOMETHING. Like you've been good, really. You've been a good human. You deserve good things, and this was the epitome.

I sat on the bus, torch clutched, cheeks stinging, feet throbbing with pride, not ache. It's all worth it. All of this. I'm not being egotistical, I'm being appreciative. I think I'm an alright human. Yeah. I'm not bad. And nor are you. And that's awesome.

3 Jul 2012

The friendzone and its self-absorbed inhabitants.

Once upon a time there was a girl. Let's call her Anthilofloraptus, because I can call her Anthilofloraptus because this is MY STORY. Anna, for short. Anna was a nice girl. She was pretty, smart, funny, and lovely. Anna had a lot of friends, and some of whom she was quite close to. One of those friends was a boy called Jakubromorph. Jack, for short. Anna and Jack were really good friends. Some might even call them best friends. They laughed together, they confided in each other, and they debated on whether Matt Smith and Karen Gillan WERE, indeed, secretly married. One day, in this troublesome tale of mine, Anna and Jack were joking around eating lumps of cheese and watching youtube videos of cats falling down slides when Anna turned to Jack and said, with all sincerity, "You know, Jakubromorph, you really are like the brother I never had." BLESS ANNA. How CUTE of her. How lovely, how genuine, how showing of their friendship. 

BUT SOFT, what light through my window breaks on the floor (or something. hope they have insurance. call autoglass)? Jack apologises and says he has to leave. Fair enough, maybe his grandmother is on fire. Anna shrugs it off. That night, she logs into Facebook and sees THIS:

Jakubromorph 'Jack for short' Halluzitath FRIENDZONED. Don't come moaning at me when you get treated like shit by other boys. You manipulated me and you're selfish. Have a nice life.

Oh dear oh dear. Jack didn't speak to Anna ever again, because she didn't want to be with him.


"Friendzoning is when you are expected to support a girl you really like while she searches for a smarter, richer, and more handsome boyfriend. There is little you can do to get out without feeling like a dick. All in all, one of the meanest things a girl can do."

The term 'friendzone' makes me itch, and I despise it. I'm gutted that you, boys who are spouting out friendzone bile, are in the 'zone' of 'friends' because, shit man, being friends is awful. Being someone to rely on, care for, joke with, have days out with, share with, is total crap. I'm really sorry this has happened to you all. Tossers. Maybe I'm reading too much into this term, and of course feelings can't be helped (apparently. i don't really take feelings that seriously. maybe i'm not sentient. new wave of human. what? oh yeah. friendzoning), but I see red every time I see complaints about being friendzoned. 'Girls are not machines that you put kindness into until sex falls out.' If you're only being nice to a girl, and therefore not being yourself around her, in order to have your way with her, then that's kind of shitty. You're not being nice to her because you feel like she deserves it. You're being nice to her in order to get something out of it. Whereas, in fact, she doesn't owe you anything. She doesn't owe you her body because you've been nice to her. Fuck off. It instantly devalues anything a woman can offer which isn't sex.

I'm not having a go at all boys/men who are gutted that a girl they like just want to be friends. That's natural and happens all the time. Rejection sucks, in all forms. To you, if you're not angry at the girl, I'm sorry. I'm sure you're a great guy for someone, but just not the right guy for her romantically. I hope you appreciate her feelings and continue to be a really great guy and develop an even more brilliant friendship. I'm having a go at those who after realising the girl doesn't want a relationship, proceed to chat a load of shite about her; about how she's a manipulative bitch who leads people on and just uses them to moan at. A girl exercising her right to say no doesn't mean she's putting you in a zone away from everyone else and just using you as a pet with a fence to separate you.

The term can be used both ways, but it's generally used by men, inherently making it a sexist term. Expected rejection reactions for men and women are different. Girls are supposed to be self-deprecating, and wonder what's not right about themselves. Too fat, too clingy, too not willing, too short. But men, generally (and i hate generalising, so i'm sorry, but i think it fits) are quick to blame the girl. There's something wrong here.

If a girl is told that she is only seen as a friend, that's it. In a way, I have quite a bit of respect for the boy when a girl is told that. That shows the boy doesn't want to get into her pants because he can, because she wants it. In another way, it's sad that the girl tries to be really really nice and acts differently around him to make him like her. No. Stop. You're doing it wrong. But when a girl says that to a boy, she's a total and utter bitch for letting him be nice to her. For letting them be on the same level, instead of being submissive to him. No, she just doesn't find you attractive. So boo you. You can only ever put YOURSELF in the 'friendzone'. Suck it up, and move on. She owes you nowt, she appreciated your apparent loveliness and shouldn't be vilified for not wanting a relationship. You're not the victim, and I can guarantee she feels a bit shit for not feeling the same way. But what do you want her to do? Pretend? No. LET IT GO.

Just because you're a 'nice guy' doesn't mean you deserve any girl you want. That's not an entitlement. It's just a part of the bullet point list of what a girl looks for in a guy. Funnily enough, forced niceness doesn't appear. If you like a girl like that, then let your intentions known instead of waiting for her to succumb to your front. Don't find fault in a girl who thought she had an honest friend. She's your friend, she LIKES YOU. You're not in the 'friendzone', you're in a FRIENDSHIP. You know, that good thing. She's done nothing wrong, you arrogant and egotistical knobhead.

Don't make girls feel guilty. It's not cool. I only dig the friendzone if it's got an electric fence and piranhas. I hope you can swim.