Friday, February 15, 2013

Type casting

You've got this image of me as the rogueishly handsome, witty, athletic sort and I don't blame you, that's just the way it is. But for me, I really don't like mentally slotting anyone into a type. In fact, I don't even like to think that there are types of people.

But there are.

I used to work at Radio Times magazine and on their website. Until a couple of years ago, Radio Times was part of the BBC. And I don't know what it is but the BBC attracts an awful lot of intense young women who are always named Charlotte.

They're always very clever, very quick, tend to have good broadcasting voices, just really smart people who are very switched on and aware of their whole careers. They're also always poorly paid so they pull off a very inexpensive fashion style, making a lot out of a little. Very arty.

Clever, arty, talented. This is exactly why I pursued Angela for so long. Um. I'm starting to regret where this story is going now. If you're reading, Angela, we'll talk it through later.



There was this woman named Charlotte.

Look, she was in the Art Department at Radio Times, okay? Arty, clever, so clever. Art and talent and cleverness, very sexy. And I am a man, it helped that Charlotte looked very good.

Now, it's not like I was hoping to do something. I was very luckily married. But there are just people who you would like to like you. You feel great when someone smart likes you. And talented and sexy.

And Charlotte seemed to like me. Let's be really clear here, you know she didn't fancy me, I want you to know that I knew that. Nothing like that, stop thinking that. This is a family show.

But we met in some production meeting, shook hands, I was actually a little knocked back by her. I mean, yes, I'll say it. Beauty. Kind of a verve, a vibrance. And I can't remember what the meeting was but I went in thinking some particular thing and I came out thinking another. She'd changed my mind about something. I love that. Inexpressibly great.

So the next day, I'm in the kitchen. At this point Radio Times was in a long, modern building. Did you watch The Thick of It? That was filmed in the Radio Times offices.

Open plan, long lines. If I stood up at my desk I could see one way up through the whole magazine, I could see right into the kitchen the other way.

So the next day, I'm in the kitchen.

And she comes in.

I start telling her how much I enjoyed the meeting.

And she said it.

It's not like I was asking her out, but she acted as if I were and – this was no act, this was heartfelt – as if that would be a shudderingly upsetting concept. Please remember that this is the day after I'd first met her and the day after she'd made such an impression me. And injecting disgust into every syllable, she said: "Who are you?"

I mumbled something, I don't know what, I was very stung. Slapped, actually.

A month goes by.

We're in the same office but we haven't had another meeting, thank god, and without any effort on my part, we've just not happened to cross paths.


I'm back in the kitchen.

And she comes in.

Smiles at me.

Asks me something.

I have no idea what.

I just remember blinking.



Don't understand.

But it's better.

Except, I must've said something really stupid then because later that same week, she was coming down a corridor toward me and stepped into an office rather than meet me.

I wasn't imagining this. Really, wasn't.

Remember the meeting? And the thing I was supposed to have an opinion about? That she changed? She'd still changed my mind, she was right, I was wrong, but now I was actually having to do whatever it was. Really can't remember. Something on the website. Something big. No clue. I've forgotten the work, I just remember the people.

And the last day of me and Charlotte. I remember the last day really well.


I finish. I hit the Publish button on the website.

And I stood up. Stood up at my desk to stretch. Looked up the room. And there she was. Charlotte. It was like that Pizza Hut advert or maybe Stardust Memories when all the Good People are over there, having a great time, and you're outside it all, watching. forever separated.

And I thought, bollocks to this. I don't understand how she's making me feel like a schoolboy, but she is and it ends today. Let it go, William, forget it. Enough is enough.

I took a breath, I looked at Charlotte one last time, and then I turned my back on her.

Turned my back on her, turned my back on the Art Department, turned my back on the whole thing.

And I stood there, facing the kitchen instead.

Where Charlotte was making tea.

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