Social pariah: Charlotte Hogarth-Jones

“So who’s going in Charlotte’s car?” “NOT ME!” exclaim roughly 90% of the people around me, with a haste which is little short of insulting.

“Why not Charlotte?” asks lovely, naive Helen. She works for Kids’ Camp and collects family friendly, heartwarming Christmas films. She oozes charity and just general insane niceness from every pore. Mwhahahahah,a FOOL! I cackle to myself in my head a la Cruella De Vil.

Lovely Helen hops into the passenger seat, too polite to question the plethora of cumbersome objects heaving upon her dainty feet: a ‘good size’ casserole pot, doorstep version of ‘The Fairie Queene’, and collection of appallingly bad CDs. I’ll admit that I’m proud of the five minute journey from my house to the Co-Op. My long suffering voiture and I made contact with neither ‘friendly couple in love (avec chien)’, ‘unexpected street furniture’ or the ‘confusing cycle lane bit’. Indeed, as lovely Helen and I embarked for the return flight, I was feeling more than a little cocky at my Torville and Dean-esque grace. “I am a natural at driving actually,” I thought to myself. “I am actually probably better than the Stig!”

I swing back into reverse with a final flourish from my parking space, chatting to lovely Helen at the same time to prove my combinative talents and dexterity. “This is easy,” I think to myself, “as the parking sensors always do this bit for me,” crying “wheyyy!” as I swoop round… steadily, and at some speed, into a very small, hard, metal post, baring the paint stains of many previous happy-go-lucky drivers. “I think you might have hit something,” Helen meekly suggests. My car resembles something out of Scrapheap Challenge. “Yessss….”

At a summer picnic and in a Famous Five, spur of the moment type mood. I’ll admit that it’s a long time since I’ve played any kind of competitive sport, other than the occasional dance off at Willow, OBV. Nevertheless, someone proffers a football and in a sudden spurt of enthusiasm I think, “yeah, why the hell not?!”. My friend Ali Clark makes the schoolboy error of not removing his shoes, and ends up doing some hilarious, revolutionary version of the Cha-Cha Slide. Similarly, others expose their Jeeves-like tendencies, poshly proffering, “no, no, after you old boy” in what I assume are supposed to be ruthless, carnal tackles to the death. Indeed, I fancy that I’m actually doing OK-ish: “maybe I do have a hidden sporting talent after all.” Sadly my team players were somewhat less enthusiastic. “I’ve never seen someone cover so little of the pitch,” one plucky chap commented. “You literally didn’t go outside two metres squared for the majority of the match.” “But isn’t the idea to cover a very small area of grass but really, really well?” I suggest. “No.” “Ah.”

I’ve embarked on a little vegetarian experiment recently. Picnics, I have discovered, are one of the worst social occasions for those who are only being vegetarian for a tenner, and very grudgingly at that. Pork pies, parma ham, smoked salmon, a delicate Brussels paté – none of these even vaguely compare to spit Quorn, which I have been convinced actually is just made from recycled beer mat. Luckily I have some excellent, long suffering pals, who put up with my questionable driving but also with my bizarre gourmet forays with few jibes.

From within an M&S bag they produce a shining beacon, both of them lifting it in all its shiny packaging, holding it up to catch the rays of the sun, creating an almost biblical moment. “What is it?” I whisper.

There’s a dramatic pause and a long inhalation of breath. “It’s…..a quiche”.

Suddenly, I am filled with dread. There is very little I don’t eat. Here is my list: porridge (I am no Goldilocks), and things which taste and feel like egg. “I’m so, so sorry,” I plead with them, with a seriousness of tone that would suggest I’d just leaked a Paris Hilton-esque tape of them to their respective graduate employers.
“It’s ok,” they kindly reply, lowering both their eyes and the shamed quiche to the floor. It’s been a trying week, and vegetarianism has been more of a pain than the taste-bud liberation I had envisaged, due to a vehement bought of flu.

This is the final implosion. “EUURGHH WHAT HAVE I BECOME?!” I exclaim loudly on Heslington field and clasping my hands to my fringe.
As well as relieving my angst, I unfortunately seem to prompt many a happy barbequer to swing round, delighted to see some kind of open air performance… sorry folks, it’s only till Tuesday…


  1. Charlotte this is actual genius. the quiche moment actually made me laugh out loud in a revision seminar. thanks for that.

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