Social pariah: Charlotte Hogarth-Jones

Justyn Hardcastle

Justyn Hardcastle

Mecca Bingo. It’s the experience of a lifetime, and I don’t think I’ve been more excited in my whole entire life.

“Here’s your pen, love, it’s free and it smells like blueberries, I think.”

I inhale deeply. It’s the smell of delicious anticipation, thousands of pounds leading to a dream yacht staffed solely by semi-naked men off Gillette adverts, and pen. The fumes are getting to me but I try to concentrate on the instructions from the keeper of the pens.

“Blah blah, national card, blah blah, nationwide one line, two lines …” Meh, I think I get it, can’t be that hard to figure out in any event. Mmmmm, blueberry pen…

Three minutes and 20 seconds in…

“Wahey, bingo, BINGO!” I shout, practising my winner’s speech in my head (“I’d like to thank my friends, those at head office, the pen woman who will always have a place in my heart *wipe tear*”)

Bingo caller Dave from Shoeburyness appears sceptical at my beginners luck. “Have you got one line?”

“Yes,” I beam, proudly displaying my golden ticket and flashing a winning smile.

“FALSE CLAIM!” shouts security.

“Oh, but I thought, but I thought … one line is bingo, isn’t it?”

People who can barely move from arthritis are invigorated enough by my ‘epic fail’ to actively point and laugh. Some make groaning noises, muttering things like ‘timewaster’ and scoffing maliciously. Who would have thought a stampy pen game could be so cruel?

Rave D. Having my housemate pay the bills via morphsuit has definitely been worth it. Extravagant, yes, but I’m feeling a million lycra dollars in my modern day invisibility cloak. A ninja jump from door to Derwent is sadly delayed by a friend who appears downstairs, bleeding profusely from the face and muttering something about fisticuffs, local youths, and a bike through some petit pois. Scum, subhuman scum. Police arrive but don’t seem to be taking it too seriously.

“Oooh, jus ‘av a pint, you’ll be alright!” they chuckle. But what about catching the vagabonds, what about sending the squad out to comb the surrounding undergrowth for guerrilla warriors or white lightning clues?

“Can I take your collar numbers officers? What are you planning to do?” I urge, but for some reason I still get the feeling they aren’t listening.

“When can we expect to hear from you?” I persist. All of a sudden, it comes to my attention that my morphy arms are limply dragging behind me, long abandoned in the drama to allow use of the hands and now flaccidly trailing behind like empty flaps of morphy skin. Oh. I try feebly to continue, but if we’re honest, nobody takes a girl in a what is essentially a shiny and stretchy babygrow seriously. I am left with no option but to rehood half an hour later, heading into the science park, York’s lone crime fighting maverick under the cover of darkness …

“Five of your friends took the ‘Which Shakespearan Lady Are You? Quiz’” Facebook announces, and oh look, quelle surprise, they all got Juliet. Lying in bed, my hangover affords me just enough energy to regain my usual cynicism. “I bet everyone gets bloody Juliet,” I scoff to myself, “no-one’s going to get the three witches, are they?”

I fill out some mundane questions, all the while smirking to myself. That’s right Charlotte, beat the system, fight the power, expose these lazy quizmakers and quiztakers for the fakes they really are, they only tell you what you want to hear …

“You are Ophelia, you are lonely and depressed,” Facebook proudly announces to everyone on my wall. Ah bugger!What about being compassionate, graceful and having porcelain features?! “I fought the machine and the machine won,” I sadly concede, consoling myself with the comforting ‘remove’ feature that Zuckerberg so gentlemanly designed. Hah. Charlotte 1 – Facebook 0.

Later on … email from work asking about an important assignment. I’m on it like Sonic. “… also Charlotte, this is how you appear in public …” a colleague kindly points out. A screen shot of “Charlotte is now using the Shakespearean ladies tool” is attached, making it seem not only like I am an uberloser who should be wearing Eeyore sweatshirts, but also like I re-quizmyself on a daily basis, just to check that I’m still (not) Juliet, and not, say, an earthy wet-nurse, or a truly unexpected result like “you are no lady, you are Falstaff/a lady but OF THE NIGHT” etc. It’s like when I was cast as one of the three kings and I wanted to be Mary. How do you hide these things from newsfeeds?!

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