Give yourself a round of applause: the art of a lonely lunchtime

The dreaded thing has happened. You have found yourself unaccompanied on your lunch break with nothing to do. Your choices are as follows: skip lunch and carry on with your work; retreat to the toilets and find a suitable cubicle; brave the stares from your colleagues/classmates/nemeses as you dine in the canteen alone, a lemon, abandoned, seul. Being the valiant soldier that you are, you opt for the third choice, and head out to the silent battle ground.

As a practised solitary diner, I can tell you it’s no mean feat. You will, inevitably, succumb to the lure of scanning Facebook stories on your phone that you have already read. Maybe you’ll send out a generic ‘How’s it going?’ message to your long-lost school friends. But I implore you, courageous warrior, not to give in. Instead, I propose some stronger and far less conspicuous techniques to master the art of a lonely lunchtime.

Firstly, it is imperative that you have a pen. Put it in your hair, behind your ear, why not go retro and put it in your hand? Wherever you store the pen, it is essential that you have one visibly on your person, after all, busy people are always writing, planning, or writing about planning.

This reminds me, the second vital instrument in your metaphorical toolkit must be a diary. In said diary you will have written all the important events/meetings/lunches that you have attended and will be attending. This is a failsafe way of avoiding the vacant, switched-off expression of an idle person. In fact, you have so many plans that this solitary lunch is simply your only time off schedule. You deserve a break.

And because this is your only chance to pause for the entire week, you decide to treat yourself. You plump for a cappuccino-to-go, prompting the tacit questions: where is that hub of activity off to next? How do they do it? What you do not reveal, however, is that you have previously made an arrangement with the barista so that when you order cappuccino, you receive a mocha, or better, hot chocolate.

So that leaves me with the final technique, utterly indispensable to the wannabe-busy-bee: the dash. It is likely that you will exhaust your supply of fake events and activities to write in your diary, and that ‘cappuccino’ won’t last forever. When this moment befalls you my fearless fighter, you must look at your watch, feign anxiety, grab your diary, put the pen back in your hair/behind your ear/in your hand (oldschool) and sprint out of the canteen. Once outside, find the nearest bench and park yourself on it. Finally, give yourself a round of applause for managing not to look like a total idiot.

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What does hiding behind your Masque reveal about you?

Have you ever been to a Masquerade Ball? Well I have, and I can tell you now it is Masque, not Mask. Any cretin who mentions the latter will jolly well be disposed of. Ho!

I do apologise for that rude remark, it would appear that I have exaggerated the anger necessary for differentiating between sophisticated Masque and slovenly Mask. However, this exaggeration is important to note. It seems that most of the guests at a Masquerade Ball find it necessary to exaggerate some part of their personality – or person – when wearing a masque. I liken this phenomenon to the loss of senses, literally. For example, it is agreed that a blind person will have a heightened sense of hearing compared with those who can see. A deaf person will have a heightened sense of smell. A masqued woman will show a little more breast than normal and a masqued man will assume his roving eye will go undetected. It’s purely logical.

Of course I’m joking. Women are perverts too.

The irony of this situation is simple. In an attempt to go incognito (humour me, I’m not suggesting a Romeo-and-Juliet-type suspension of disbelief that behind a masque you are completely anonymous), you actually reveal and project more of yourself onto others than you intended, is necessary or appreciated. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not stamping on your sandcastle. I do appreciate the fun of the Masquerade Ball. All I am saying is that just because part of your face is covered, it does not mean that my ears have stopped working. I can hear you. As for those of you taking an extra glass of champagne, is that really a good idea when your vision is already blurred? You may think you are unrecognisable, but here are some clues as to your identity: your clothes, your hair, your shoes, your voice, the bottom half of your face. All of which will henceforth be associated with attempting to pole dance on an oak.

Anyway, for want of a rant, this is what I have decided upon. So I implore you to think before you attend one of these wonderful occasions: what does hiding behind your masque reveal about you?

No, you are not a former member of the Sugababes: a plea for better time-keeping

Everybody knows that time-keeping is an essential skill. Most of us write that we are excellent time-keepers on CVs and application forms; the rest of us lie that we are. We also all know that if you are the leader of an organisation, your time-keeping skills will be scrutinized by all those whom you lead, especially those that arrive before you.

So, as a person who generally arrives at least ten unnecessary minutes before any event (except by birth, for which I was ironically late), I am well practised at tutting, finger-tapping and eye-rolling. After ten minutes of lateness (that’s twenty minutes of waiting, thank you) I even begin packing my things away and formulating a mental letter of complaint to whomever has caused me to wait. And that is why, as you can imagine, I was utterly enraged by the leader of one particular unmentionable organisation who left me waiting this week for FORTY minutes. Yes, I appreciate that radio is a busy business (well aren’t they all? It’s in the word for goodness’ sake) but really. In forty minutes I could have figured out how to set up the recording equipment myself and perfected five different characters to record the show as a one-woman extravaganza. Or, more realistically, I could have cooked myself a more pleasant dinner than the half-a-tin of microwaveable curry that I choked down in order to be on time to meet said leader.

What I am really trying to say is, I think we all need to be a bit more honest. That means, if you are not a former member of the Sugababes, don’t say that you are. Contrary to popular belief, there are actually slightly more women in the world than there are Sugababes replacements. Similarly, if you are not a good time-keeper, please do not lie that you are the Speaking Clock and accept a position of leadership that you are entirely unsuited to.