I peeled off my thin black ankle socks to reveal the perfectly round pink, fleshy hole that my newest pair of brothel creepers had eroded into the pillowed skin of my aching heel. I checked through my belongings, a leopard print back-pack and a Keith Haring carry-a-long, holding the valuable equipment I needed for my working trip, along with two cans of Tyskie lager, remnants of my drunken escapade the night before. I really need to stop packing drunk!
I tumbled off the Megabus Gold at Victoria Station, vaguely remembering getting on. It was 7.55am Sunday morning, I tasked myself with finding coffee and furthermore a place to freshen up. I had a busy time ahead. The night before was spent catching up with Niki and Kathryn, an unexpected turn in events seen us without mind and no sense. I disguised my puffy eyes with ersatz glasses and soothed my head with Ibuprofen. I had a few hours to kill before I was to meet Titi in a French brasserie near Putney High Street for brunch.
With an ‘a la Française” start to the day, les ouefs made me feel a little less sombre and a little more ooh la la! I felt rather ready to take on Nottinghill Carnival with Titi and her gang. My blisters mildly holding out under layer upon layer of second skin. I found the frivolities hard to bare, with an attraction of around one million people, making it one of the worlds largest street festivals, I felt predominantly squashed, penned in and panicky, my cans of Tyskie struggling to curb my feelings of anxiety. I left the guys to it and set upon a journey across London to put my head down for the night.
If the name was anything to go by The Dictionary Hostel should have been right up my street. A preconceived image of rows and rows of books, a quiet seated area and a dark wood bar, alcoves which are dimly lit with moody up-lighters, a place to recharge, refuel and focus on my task in hand. The reality was anything but and as I entered the secured front door I tripped over ikea bags filled with the belongings of my fellow boarders.
The Dictionary is situated in the hip borough of Shoreditch, East London. There are literally hundreds of cool bars, quirky boutiques and alternative coffee shops around. Sounding extravagantly appropriate the evening before I soon regretted my choice of dwelling. Finding much needed solitude in my bunk room, surrounded by five unoccupied, uncomfortable looking beds, I realised I must be getting old.
I get really nervous before working on a big job, although my social skills have profusely expanded over the years it still takes a lot to force myself into new situations or to meet unfamiliar groups of people. I worry a lot that my work may be viewed as sub-standard or unworthy, a feeling that’s often hard for me to shift. I like to take time to focus, to align my energies towards the nucleus of the given task, I often think back to a situation where those undeserving feelings have arisen and map out and mimic the outcome of my result. A short personal mantra repeated before sleep allows me to anchor my feelings towards the cornerstone and pivotal reason of the work I’m given. I also like to check through my equipment and kit, I meticulously clean them and prepare them neatly, it allows calm and clarity throughout me.
I arrive at the Old Shoe Factory, Hackney just before 7am, I’m greeted by Gary Gill and a friendly crew. The next three days I will act alongside Mike O’Gorman (freelance session stylist) as Gary’s assistant.
A high profile advertisement campaign seen us work long, laborious hours with strict guidelines and under supervision. We moved to and from an array of various locations around the east end. The more time I spend under Gary’s supervision the more I find myself growing and emerging as an accomplished stylist. With not one hair out of place, his method takes dressing and grooming to the highest level. The considerable hours spent in my cramped creepers renders agitation for my hurt heels and I gain abominable satisfaction, likening myself with religious chastisement of monks and priests, only good can come out of my mortification of flesh right? My inner faith believes so.
My second night is spent warmer than the last, under the roof of my great friends and fellow Dundonian’s Josh and Anna. They join me along with Dylan, who is also visiting for a much needed burger and wine at a modern gastro-pub on Homerton High Street. The young couple have spent the last few years carving careers in the Capital and their pleasant apartment in the up and coming suburb displays confidently the pairs creative and quaint characters. Not allowing me to stay elsewhere, my third and final night was spent with the trio and I’m grateful for their hospitality and kindness.
Three, thirteen hour shifts later, I made my bus with time to spare and I enjoyed reflection just as I did finding focus. Appreciative of my accomplishments and opportunity, I slept as well as the travel would allow, getting off at the Seagate bus station, now embarking on a long week of work in the salon, excited by my new found skills. Blisters well and truly on the road to recovery.