Chasing Pavements


I left my family home two years ago, bound for London and ready for the first day of the rest of my life. University was done, finals results had been opened, and a job had been offered and accepted. I didn’t have anywhere to live, sure, and no means to pay for a flat even if I’d found one,  but that was okay because the streets of London are paved with gold. Everyone knows that. I arrived at Paddington one cat friend away from being literal Dick Whittington. Fortune was just around the corner. 

Flash forward to today, and I’ve just left my job. I’m Dick Quittington. It turns out the streets aren’t paved with gold at all. At least, not the ones I’ve been walking. In fact, on my last walk to the tube I nearly trod not in gold but in four separate shits, and if I’m completely honest with you I couldn’t tell you with one hundred percent certainty that they were all canine. It’s not the job’s fault I didn’t find my fortune, it’s mine. I spent two years walking down the wrong streets and what have I got to show for it? Empty pockets, shit on my shoe, and I still don’t have a cat. 

My job was actually really great, but I think to properly understand my decision to leave it you need to know only this: if, many years into the future, a publishing house commissions a biography of my life, it will be called ’Delusions Of Grandeur’. Take the fact that I’ve imagined the existence of that biography as evidence. For better or for worse - almost definitely for worse - that is part of the fabric of my personality. Two years into my job, though, and I’d begun to question myself. Maybe I wasn’t cut out to be the person I’d always thought I’d turn out to be: someone with ideas, with the ability to make them a reality, which will in turn lead to my coronation as Queen Of The World. Or something like that. I haven’t thought that much about it. 

Nothing if not a incorrigible egomaniac, I wasn’t about to let the delusion go. Who needs streets of gold when you’ve got the Midas touch? Laters bitches, I’m a boss now, I’m CEO, I’m chairman and chairwoman of the board all rolled into one. It’s actually really easy to get these kinds of jobs, guys, you just give them to yourself. Sure, when you work for someone else there’s actually a reason to get up in the morning, which is that they’ll fire you if you don’t. But when you work for yourself you can’t get fired, you do the firing. I fire things all the time. I’m Alan Sugar. Mouldy milk blobbing down the drain: fired. Pair of jeans I shrunk because I didn’t read the care label: fired. Housemate when she forgets to take the recycling out: fired. I’ve become fairly despotic. 

Sometimes, though, not being able to fire yourself is a real nightmare. When you feel like a putrid dairy product you can’t just pour yourself down the sink, pushing the congealed bits through the plug hole with a fork. You have to just sit with yourself, rotting, hoping you’ll be able to freshen up at some point. Some days I’m the colleague I call my mum to complain about. When I’m asked how my day’s been, and I reply, half in the third person, ‘I wish I could pour Anna down the sink’, people begin to question how I’m handling this whole self-employment thing. 

They needn’t worry. I might not be Queen Of The World (yet) but my neighbour has just got a really great cat. Sometimes we stare lovingly at each other through their front window, and if that’s not symbolic of finally being able to see what I want then I don’t know what is. Sure, we’ve never actually touched, but chill out I only quit a month ago give me a minute. 

Find Anna on Twitter at @annaerichmond