Simran Hans is a writer living in London.
5:57 My bed, Stoke Newington Not yet.
6:27 Not yet.
7:19 The rumbling, clattering sound of rubbish being collected momentarily wakes me. I check Facebook with one eye open and go back to sleep.
8:55 I suppose I had better wake up.
9:08 I’m scrolling Twitter, having rubbed the sleep from my eyes. My curtains are still closed, but I can see that it’s sunny outside. I reply to Miriam’s DM from last night and tell her that I haven’t seen Gertrud which she describes as “the best guide to fuckbois ever”. I ask if the film is a guide to spotting them or dealing with them.
9:36 Our house used to be an Indian takeaway, before it was converted into a split-level flat. We have the ground floor and the basement; it’s not glamorous, but it’s home. I pad downstairs and notice that the kitchen light is on. My housemate Dan must be up.
I stick the kettle on to make tea (Yorkshire) and assemble my breakfast. Two Weetabix (Sainsbury’s own brand), a squeeze of honey, milk. A dollop of the good yoghurt (Glenilen Farm, rhubarb & strawberry), a handful of the blueberries I bought for Dan last night, a sprinkle of pecan granola, the packet pinched from an event I worked on that was sponsored by a cereal brand. I take the bowl back upstairs to my room.
9:58 I drink my tea and Google a poet/DJ I’m harbouring an Intellectual Crush on. I saw him speak at an event a few months back and can recall being attracted to his apparent emotional openness. I don’t know many straight men that are comfortable discussing their feelings. The bluntness, the vulnerability, (and, ok, his face) is hot – especially after a short slew of experiences with men who have self-ascribed “emotional problems”. The crush is possibly exacerbated by the fact that I keep spotting him around Dalston; our proximity almost makes it a Crush Crush. He doesn’t know who I am, but we have two mutual friends on Facebook. I briefly consider engineering an introduction when I get back from New York at the end of the month.
10:00 Miriam replies: “deal with them”.
10:08 Time to hit my to-do list. I stick on NTS Radio; they’re playing Erykah Badu (‘Otherside of the Game’). I respond to emails and buy travel insurance for my upcoming trips to Toronto and New York. It feels incredibly adult. I text Stevie to brag about my grown woman behaviour.
10:49 I’m brushing my teeth over the sink when Dan crams himself into our bathroom to do the same. He’s got to get the Overground in 6 minutes, so I don’t mind. It feels sibling-like, sweetly competitive and reminiscent of the years I spent sharing a bathroom with my sister.
10:56 I text mum to find out her ETA. My divorced parents are driving down from Birmingham together to help my sister move into her new house before term starts. One tick on WhatsApp.
11:14 I call mum, but it goes straight to voicemail.
12:04 I manage to get through to dad, who tells me to get to South London for 2PM. This means there’s definitely time to stop by the Ethiopian coffee stall before I meet them.
12:05 Text from Stevie: “[four clapping emojis] Taking care of business”.
12:25 I’m still locked into NTS and eating the carbonara I’ve sloppily made for lunch. I’ve made do with the end of a packet of spaghetti even though I know it’s not quite enough food. It might’ve been good if I had prepared it less carelessly but I was impatient and didn’t let the pasta cook for long enough. I love cooking for other people, but can be lazy if I’m just feeding myself. Egg drips down my chin. I wolf down a salad too, kale and cherry tomatoes, and silently berate myself for creating so much washing up. I clean up quickly. I’m going to be late.
13:01 Shacklewell Lane I stop at an ATM and take out £20. I’ll need cash for the coffee – and if Manuela and I end up going out later. It’s windy, but warm. The sky has turned dark grey and looks like it could break any second.
13:04 A drop of rain splashes onto the bridge of my nose. Fuck. A second one on my lower lip. A third directly into my right eyeball. It starts raining lightly as I hit the bend where Shacklewell Lane meets Kingsland High Street.
13:10 Kingsland High Street I spot my crush aka the poet sheltering from the rain in Voodoo Ray’s. He’s with a very pretty white girl with extremely long hair. Of course.
13:12 Gillett Square I order the black coffee I’ve been thinking about for the past hour and a half.
13.45 The 149 to London Bridge The bus is crawling along the straight line that runs from Dalston through Shoreditch and The City all the way to London Bridge. I can’t read my book (the new Teju Cole in hardback, nicked from my housemate Christine without her knowledge) for fear of spilling the coffee, which is beginning to course violently through my veins.
13:59 The 21 to Lewisham Shopping Centre Why are there so many boats out on the Thames today? I wonder as the bus drives over London Bridge. It’s a miserable day for it. I skim two chapters of the Teju Cole before putting it back in my bag, defeated.
14:19 Tesco, Old Kent Road I’m in the self-checkout queue buying teabags and a small carton of milk when Fiorella messages me. She might be free later, but first she’s meeting some friends, including someone I haven’t seen or spoken to in more than a year. My stomach turns – I didn’t know he was in London. I’m annoyed that this news has provoked any kind of reaction at all, but I don’t bring it up. I tell her that we can catch up when I get back from New York, concerned that if I saw her tonight she’d be contaminated by his company or something.
14:36 My sister’s apartment, Camberwell I can’t wait to move my sister out of this flat. The hallway is filthy and warren-like; the inside smells of damp. I say hi to my sister’s housemate Amber, a flurry of curly red hair among boxes bigger than her. I kiss my mum hello but she seems distracted, so I stick with dad and spend the next three hours carting boxes to and from the car. A group of West Indian men my dad’s age are playing cricket in the park next to us, unbothered by the rain.
17:23 The back of my mum’s car, stuck in traffic on Old Kent Road Dad is driving. Mum is in the passenger seat; my sister and I are wedged into the back seat with an ironing board and a full-length mirror balanced across our knees. The last time the four of us were in a car together was my graduation, three years ago. “Nav, the pennies. You can’t just leave them lying around. You need to get a jar,” chides my immigrant mother, referring to the miscellaneous coins on my sister’s bedroom floor. “That’s two cycles [of lights] we’ve missed now,” dad groans. “I need to change ‘home’ on CityMapper. Home is different now,” says my sister. We talk about the best bit of London. Childishly, I ask my family to rank North, East, South and West London. My parents used live in North London and they still remember the Turkish restaurants in Green Lanes, Muswell Hill and the school my dad where my dad used to teach with fondness. Nobody chooses West.
17:59 My sister’s kitchen, New Cross The new house is nice. The kitchen is huge and there’s a bath! They have a garden! I think of the apple tree growing in the car park at the back of our flat. I’m jealous.
My stomach hurts. It’s possibly the peanut M&Ms I’ve been snacking on. As I make tea for mum, Amber’s mum, my sister’s new housemate Chloe and myself, I notice that my dad is the only man in the house.
19.54 ReynA, New Cross I order the lamb beyti (a kind of Turkish kebab wrapped in lavash bread, served with tomato sauce and yoghurt) and no wine because my stomach is still playing up. I hope it settles – I want to dance tonight.
Mum beams at me from across the table, her face softening. “I can finally look at you,” she says.
20:18 New Cross Station If I hadn’t been arguing with my sister on the way back to the car, I wouldn’t have missed the Overground by like 30 seconds. “Don’t tell me to fuck off when you won’t see me for a month,” I told her, even though I knew why she said it. She was so angry that I thought she might cry, but I didn’t apologise. I took the suitcase out of the boot and stropped up the hill to the station, too slowly.
20:32 Overground People seem annoyed that this train isn’t going all the way to Highbury & Islington like it normally does, but luckily for me it’s terminating in Dalston. My phone vibrates. It’s Fiorella, letting me know that she never made it out in the end.
It’s not busy, but it is Saturday and so nearly everyone is drinking, tin cans of beer and cider and pre-mixed Gin & Tonic clanking noisily. An androgynous looking woman is clicking her tongue loudly from across me. A kid with balloons inexplicably woven into her hair and a small dog tucked into her jacket dashes off the train at Canada Water.
20:50 Dalston Junction Station A man rushes to help me with my bulky-looking (empty) suitcase as I haul it up the stairs. I wave him away, embarrassed. “It looks heavy!” he tells me in an accent that sounds German, although I assure him that it’s not. I decide to walk home, despite the suitcase. It’s still raining, but I don’t bother with an umbrella. A car drives by, splattering my right leg with puddle. Annoyingly, I’m wearing light jeans.
21:09 Home, Stoke Newington There’s an envelope on the floor outside my bedroom door, addressed to me. I pick it up and flop onto my bed, sweating from the walk and damp from the rain. Inside the envelope is the new Craig David album! Well, an album sampler. I’m happy it’s arrived so quickly but annoyed that there are only five tracks, two of which I’ve already heard.
21:22 Manuela texts to tell me she’s on her way over and listening to ‘Gimme More’ by Britney Spears. This tells me everything I need to know about her mood.
21:26 I text my sister to apologise. I hate fighting with her.
21:45 I put the Craig David CD into my computer. I play it in reverse order, but the first (or last) track is a ballad so I decide to start getting ready.
22:09 Fresh out of the shower, I pick a perfume – Byredo, because we’re going out. I try to get into the Going Out frame of mind. I put on a green velvet top; short skirt; the new Travis Scott album.
22:30 Manuela is here. I miss living with her so, so much. I miss the easy rhythm of our then-daily life – writing, talking about our feelings into the early hours of the morning. Going out dancing just because we could. It’s harder now that she’s in East Ham – the distance has sucked the spontaneity out of things a little. We’ve been trying to recreate it by not deciding where we’re going to go until the last minute; two weeks ago we ended up in a jazz bar, last week it was a Carnival after-party. It’s not the same though. We’re lying on my bed, both of us seemingly too tired – or just too comfortable – to move. Eventually, one of us will have to go and get the wine, and we both know it’s going to be me.
22:44 My sister replies: “It’s ok, I’m sorry too xxxx”.
22:52 The bodega, Stoke Newington Our bodgea has more varieties of organic granola than Whole Foods. It is the bougiest corner shop in the whole of Hackney. I swiftly choose a Malbec, silver screw-top.
23:10 My kitchen, Stoke Newington Manuela and I are drinking wine on the sofa and listening to disco. Dan is sitting at the kitchen table trying to decide on which track he’ll lip sync to at a drag show he’s taking part in next week. Manuela suggests ‘Dirty Diana’ and Dan’s eyes light up. He’s got a Princess Diana mask in his room.
23:58 I’m two and a half drinks deep when ‘Honey’ by Mariah Carey starts playing. “You love this song so much!” says Manuela. I start laughing, because she knows, and I do.