I am very annoying. Like, the most annoying person I know. Maddeningly, infuriatingly, insufferably irritating. It’s lucky I don’t have an identical twin, because nine months in a confined space with a carbon copy of myself would have properly done my head in. My mother would have had to spend her life hiding from Channel 4 TV crews wanting to make a documentary about how I killed and ate my twin in the womb. Eventually she would have given in, selling her story to buy expensive face cream, fancy Christmas tree decorations and other weird shit women find mysteriously irresistible once they hit middle age. I would have become an outcast, forever shamed by a crime I committed before I was even born, a crime I couldn’t remember. My sad tale would become light entertainment for hungover students and housewives, like the victims of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and My Big Fat Fetish. Perhaps I would be the unhappy star of My Big Fat Nutjob Cannibal Foetus. I would make a living touring student unions as a freak and live in a car.
What I mean to say is that I don’t think I could be friends with me. I have many irritating habits that I think would grate on the nerves of someone as annoyingly intolerant as I like sandpaper. Fortunately, I have some smashing mates who are prepared to put up with me, in some cases for nearly two decades. Thanks guys, you’re fucking awesome.
Five reasons why I couldn’t be friends with me
1. I steal food when I’m drunk. I have no idea why I do it. I could have been out for the filthiest, most gluttonous night ever, but when I roll in steaming drunk at 3am I am gripped by an insatiable mania. Nothing is safe: crisps, eggs, crackers. Bread, especially, has as much chance as a wounded prawn in a piranha pool when I come home after a night on the piss.
But at least I replace shit in the morning.
“I.O.U. 2 x bread rolls. I’m sorry but I was drunk & they were carbs.”
2. I run away on nights out. I hate sleeping at other people’s houses. I like my own flat and my own bed, and if I’ve been out drinking I will try and get myself home by any means necessary. Never mind what other plans I’ve made, never mind that there’s a perfectly good sofa at a friend’s house ten minutes away from the bar. As soon as the night’s over and we’re outside, it’s like a little switch goes off inside my head and I become a real bastard homing pigeon.
Awhile ago I was talking to some dude outside a bar along with the other disgraces who had made it to the end. Perfectly normal conversation. Well, probably, but then again I can’t really remember, so who knows? What I do remember though, is seeing a bus going roughly in the right direction of my flat, yelling, “shit, that’s my bus!”, SPRINTING after it and hopping on, without telling my mates and leaving this bemused guy standing on the pavement. Of course the bus didn’t really go anywhere near home, so I had a bit of a walk once I got off it at about 5am. My phone (and satnav) was out of battery so I definitely took the long way round, but I have vague recollections of trying to jog – without success – to hurry things along a bit, and also possibly weeing in a bush. And there aren’t that many bushes in central London, so…yeah.
On another occasion I tried to get from Brixton (South London) home to Islington (North London) on night buses. It’s only about six miles, but I kept falling asleep and being shaken awake with varying degrees of care by bus drivers at the end of the line. FIVE BUSES it took me to get back. I may as well have fucking walked. AND when I got home I found I’d managed to sit in gum at some point, and there is no getting that shit out.
And the most annoying thing was I only had myself to blame.
3. I am really fucking messy. I can’t help it; I just like to spread out. All over the house. My shit is fucking everywhere, all the time, which means I am usually running around before leaving the house screaming “WHERE is my Oyster card! Who’s taken it? Have you got my Oyster card? I definitely left it in the hall.”
“It’s on the coffee table.”
“Is it? Oh. Okay, thanks.” Pause. “Has anyone seen my keys?”
When I got back from California recently my housemates weren’t in because they’d gone to Morocco. Travel-weary, jet-lagged and sweatier than a Weightwatchers-sponsored orgy, I arrived home to a pristine flat. “Wow!” I said to Maxine, who was equally as knackered and looked equally as shit, “I fucking love my housemates! Look, they cleaned the house for when I got back.”
A week later, Ellis told me that “we didn’t do any special cleaning, it was just like that the whole time you were away because you weren’t here leaving your shit everywhere. It was quite nice actually.”
4. I am horribly unsympathetic. I don’t mean to be, but after awhile don’t you find that people whining about their own misfortune is, well, really shit and boring? For instance, if you’re ill, I don’t care. So long as you’re going to emerge from the sick bay with all your limbs intact and still breathing, just stay the fuck home, don’t infect anyone else and get through those box sets you’ve been meaning to watch. Make the most of it.
Many people think this is a bit harsh, but it isn’t actually my fault. My parents, who on 99% of issues were pretty cool and liberal, were real hard-ass bitches when it came to what my father called ‘our malingering tricks’. If there was no tangible evidence and we were too ill to go to school, they said, we were also too ill to leave the house, read books or watch the television. Watch the television! There are people in fucking comas who are allowed television, but we had to to just lie there for a whole day, ‘focusing on getting better’. It worked though. We were rarely ‘ill’ without a bowlful of vomit or a temperature of 102° to back us up.
One time, though, in year ten, we had a maths test I had been dreading for weeks. I wasn’t ready. I probably wouldn’t ever be ready, I hated maths and couldn’t wait until I never had to do it again. The test was at 2:15pm on a Thursday. On Wednesday evening I shuffled into the lounge to report my symptoms: a headache, a stomach ache, a sore throat, ooh, is it me or is it a bit warm in here? (In hindsight I realised I overdid it by trying to cover all bases – should have just focused on one ailment rather than spreading myself too thin.) My temperature was duly taken (“97°, seems fine to me,”) and I was told to get an early night.
The next morning I readied myself for what was going to have to be the performance of my life. It was certainly going to be a tough gig. I slithered into my parents’ room trying to look as pathetic as possible, where I was subjected to a proper grilling on my symptoms, and eventually – after much whining and foot-stamping – was allowed to stay home. Victory!
Unfortunately, I underestimated my abilities to amuse myself with only my brain and by midday I was so bored I staged a miraculous recovery and begged to be taken in to school. My mother was not impressed, especially as it was a 90-minute round trip to drop me off, but at least I had an interesting afternoon. (Oh yeah, and I failed. But I sort of deserved it.)
The upshot is that my parents’ brutal sick leave policy has left me as uncaring and cynical as Agatha Trunchbull. When people claim to have the ‘flu when what they actually have is a tickly throat and a sleeve full of used snot rags, it fills me with the fury of ten thousand suns. And don’t even get me started on people ‘ill’ with hangovers.
5. I really enjoy winding people up. (Back story: My last name is Gibson, and almost everyone knows me as some variation on that. My first name is only used by my parents, workmates and those bastards at Starbucks. This is because I went to an all-girls school and there were ten other people in my year also called Emily, which is confusing, so by the time I was sixteen even some of my teachers were calling me ‘Gib’.)
Anyway, my friend Becky is really shit at badminton. Shit enough to get beaten by me three games in a row without scoring a single point, although admittedly I am six inches taller than her with with really long arms. Despite my natural advantages, after three flawless games I was so drunk on success I ran around the courts screaming, “she’s done it again, the Great Jibo has done it again!”
“Who the bloody fuck is the Great Jibo?”
“It’s me when I’m being especially brilliant. Shut up and adore me, mortal!”
“Fuck off. It’s just a stupid game of badmi-”
“You’re just jealous that you’re so shit and the Great Jibo is so, er, great!”
“DON’T TELL THE GREAT JIBO TO FUCK OFF, YOU WANKER!”
This went on all afternoon. For the rest of the day I referred to myself in the third person and gloatingly told everyone I came into contact with about my landslide badminton victory. I kept it up until Becky was thoroughly exasperated and looked like she might actually hit me. I even started a Facebook fan page for my divine self, but quickly lost interest when Facebook ignored my requests to have my followers listed as ‘disciples’.
Then I created a VistaPrint account.
VistaPrint is a custom printing service that lets you upload photos to be printed on cards, letterheads, T-shirts, mugs and all sorts of other crap. There are always loads of offers rolling around the internet for free business cards or whatever, so I decided to get some Great Jibo merchandise made up. Five days later I received a package containing:
– Great Jibo-branded postcards;
– Notepads headed ‘From the colossal mind of the Great Jibo';
– A T-shirt with the slogan ‘What would Jibo do?';
– A rubber stamp with the words ‘Property of the Great Jibo’, which I proceeded to use on all the pages of her meticulously over-organised lever-arch file, everything in the fridge belonging to her and every slice of her bread.
Then she did actually hit me. Which was fair, I suppose.
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