A weekly column in which Emily, Susannah and I contemplate life in our 20s.
At the awkward late 20s stage, only minorly disillusioned by living and working in London
This week I have been spending a lot of time answering the phone. When I was younger I would refuse, point blank, to pick up the phone, I just hated it so much – the thought of picking up and speaking into the unknown, to a disembodied voice who would most likely ask you questions you didn’t know the answer to, or how to answer. These days, I spend a lot of time on the phone at work and am very happy to answer calls, I don’t think twice and almost relish the possible challenge that might be at the other end.
People are different on the phone. They feel they can say things they would never say to someone’s face (often rude things), even more so if they do not know the person they are calling. Dealing with phone calls correctly is about ascertaining the tone of voice from the first Hello – are they trying to pick a fight, are they upset, are they a time waster – and it’s always about maintaining a tone of complete confidence, never ever giving the caller any reason to doubt you.
I sometimes wonder if the world of catalogue and online shopping has taken in the many lost souls who once upon a time would have attended church regularly, prayed often and even gone to confession. Nowadays with no one to listen, or no one listening without judgement, women in their hoards ring up online shopping companies and order anything and everything, cashmere jumpers, toasters, hair straighteners, dog beds. And there is always someone to listen. ‘Don’t worry about the hole in your cashmere jumper we can fix that’. ‘You don’t like the colour of the towels you bought? that’s fine we can exchange them for you’. ‘Of course you look great in those glitter eye lashes you bought, blue is definitely your colour (although I have no idea what you look like) and everyone is wearing blue this season’. They love it, they love to call, they love to chat, and there is always someone at the end of the phone willing to talk and help them with any queries they have at all, to listen, and to keep listening. And often they get hooked, I genuinely believe there are people out there who order more, just so they can chat more.
One of my current favourite phone caller curiosities is the use of phonetics. I will happily admit my phonetics are not excellent, and I have no problem if you say B is for Beta or F is for Freddie – these are relatable and fine. Although I do get a little annoyed if you incorrectly correct me, ‘Is that W for Whiskey?’ ‘Yes W for Winston’. But the best are the people put on the spot, who must have repeated their own postcode a thousand times, and when asked to repeat it say, ‘T for Cup of’…. kind of clever, I like that. But the real treat came this week in the form of the letter ‘K’. ‘Did you say K?’, ‘Yes, K for Knee’. WHAT?! I was so taken aback, I had an unusual prolonged hesitation in my postcode entering, ‘K for Knee’… of all the K words you could have chosen…..
And below four British Brands for this week 😍
2 and a half years out of University, and the glamour of London working life is fading rapidly
Six Of The Best
This week I have decided to write about some trendy, vacuous stuff that looks fun:
Pom poms please
On trousers, jewellery, hats, anything really. These babies are going to be EVERYWHERE this summer. So get ahead of the curve and get them while you can: Topshop Pom Pom Hem Jamie Jeans and @pom_bombs earrings.
In the garden
Spring is officially here. And what better way to celebrate than by dousing yourself in a new springy fragrance? Geranium by Diptique has notes of pink peppercorn, bergamot, rose & bourbon geranium (obvs). Feel smug, smelling sweet, fresh and springy – even on a sweaty morning tube. Geranium Odorata
Twelfth Night at The National
Even if (like me) your only real reference point for this epic Shakespearean saga is the film ‘She’s The Man,’ this revamp of the piece will leave you in stitches. A gorgeous, rotating set that would make even the snobbiest interior designer drool and costumes to complement, there was never a dull moment in the farce that ensued. Vintage cars, shipwrecks, yellow tights and a hot tub – what’s not to love? And for all the Green Wing fans out there – it is a dream to see Dr Caroline Todd and young Boyce reunited. Twelfth Night tickets.
Making a beeline
This gadget is very cool. I’ve yet to try it, but I really think that it would make all bike rides a lot easier. With beeline, instead of having to stop every five minutes to consult your phone – risking your life and your phone screen – you simply clip the device to your handle bars, type in your destination and a handy arrow will point you in the right direction. No more excuses for being late! They claim to make ‘smart navigation simple’ and I think I really do believe them. Beeline
Warm weather calls for ice-cream. Everyone knows that. This whacky ice-cream parlour, Chin Chin Labs takes its product VERY seriously. If you are looking for a 99 Flake, this is the wrong place. They freeze ‘mapcap flavours’ with liquid nitrogen to spectacular effect (or so it appears from their mouth-watering Instagram feed). Intriguing creations include stout served with a potato cake & seaweed wafer, cream cheese with red velvet fondant cake & a beetroot crisp, and rhubarb sorbet served with lemon curd candy floss. It sounds a lot like Florean Fortescue but real.
Caveat – I have not actually visited yet but am very keen if anyone fancies it? Chin Chin Labs
At the pub
After work, or weekend drinks in a summer pub garden on a warm evening. There is literally nothing better. Finding space in a nice garden can be tricky but once you do, and are settled in you will never want to leave. So get yourselves to the pub with an appropriately summery beverage, a couple of pals and hope that it doesn’t rain. Maybe even take a board game? The Leather Bottle
About to graduate from University, excited for intrepid adventures into the real world
In other news this week:
In a moment of madness I sent this email to an ice cream company.
From: Susannah Bray
Subject: Stockist Question 10:50am 24th March 2017
I was curious, as in need of a tasty treat, to where the nearest stockist would be to St Andrews, Fife?
To put this into perspective, I am quite aware this may not be an entirely normal thing to do, especially at 11am in the morning, but, apparently I wanted some ice cream. Also to reveal the ice cream in question is stocked in Norfolk. Yes, Norfolk, as I found out is slightly too far to go to get some ice cream. All I wanted was some Rich Butterscotch or Double Chocolate Chip.
Just to notify you, I do not work for their marketing team. Although if they wish to send me free ice cream I would happily accept.
When I was younger, as I am sure, as any of my family will tell you I used to have a slight obsession with ice cream. Most meals wouldn’t be satisfied without it, the said flavour of choice was Mint Choc Chip. My obsession probably realised itself on weekends or weeks spent in Southwold when we would go to visit my Grandmother. As soon as lunch was polished off, ice cream would appear, and then probably an hour later I would pester anyone to take me to the ice cream parlour for my fix of Mint Chocolate Chip, generally having being coaxed on a walk before.
But where the source of this unusual email comes from is the first ice cream course. As we would be served, straight from the freezer dollops of Norfolk County Ice Cream. And apparently this is what opened my eyes to the world outside of Mint Chocolate Chip – what an eye opening experience that was. I discovered that I could indeed eat all flavours of ice cream, and apparently I was dissatisfied with the quality of ice cream in Scotland, or the nauseating sweetness of the mass produced Hagen Daas or Ben and Jerrys. I expect a lack of cream might be to blame in their recipes or indeed, americanised sugar. If you aren’t aware my dissertation is essentially about how America is ruining the world, and therefore I tend to blame them for everything, realised or edible and sweet. Or perhaps I had been too often traumatised by people serving, Carte D’or Vanilla, what should be the bane of any pudding eaters life. Am an ice cream snob? Perhaps, but at least my ice cream buds are more developed than whoever decided that the French could make ice cream. No-matter how inviting your apple crumble is, all anyone will taste is the sweet joy if Uniliver happened to raise the tax on it. Please, leave the marmite and keep your shitty sweet slop.
Divulging from snobbery, after racking my brains, I remember the source of this ice cream being in Norfolk and therefore set out on an internet search.
Discovering the creamery was situated in Norwich, I hastily type this into google maps. A mere 437 miles one way (via glasgow obviously) is what I found, and after arriving back in Fife the day before, decided that this route was not for me. In perspective that’s 7h 54m drive time and £60 of petrol. Diverting from this route I next found myself on SkyScanner, with the ease and accessibility of Edinburgh airport only an hour away. A 5.50am 3h25m flight from Edinburgh to Norwich via Amsterdam seemed pretty reasonable, made all the more appealing as I had the option of 4 hours of Norwich sightseeing before my next flight, at, 5.20pm. The price also was fantastic, all for the bargain of £335. Faced with the issue that my pots of £300 ice cream would have melted by the time I got back to Scotland I decided to click the About Us button.
There, to my delight, I found:
‘Our ice cream is available in several farms, deli’s and retail establishments such as Waitrose and Co-op. You can always call us to find your nearest stockist or you can visit our factory shop where we keep the full range of both Norfolk County and Aldous flavours. We’ll be very happy to supply you and your family.’
The nearest Waitrose is in Edinburgh. And somehow I thought the Co-op in Anstruther would’t stock Norfolk Ice Cream. So contact it was. To my shame I decided to email them as I thought my desperate situation would come out better typed that with spoken word. Ice Cream madness apparently knows no bounds.
I have yet to receive a response.