The 40 Year Old (I.T) Virgin
I’ve always liked the idea of being an ‘IT Girl.’ That’s IT as in rhymes with fit, not IT as in Information Technology. As a teenager flicking through the glossy pages of Vogue (in the newsagents, before putting it back and buying More magazine), my secret ambition was to be an It Girl (well I didn’t want my grammar school education going to waste, did I?).
I had visions of being an effortlessly chic and stylish siren, wafting in and out of parties, dry martini dangling from one perfectly manicured hand, on a cloud of Chanel number 5. It all sounded so glamorous, such fun – and so easy. You simply loitered casually around the swankiest bar you could find, primped and bouffed to within an inch of your young life, and your Prince Charming would appear in a puff of smoke (well, through clouds of cigarette smoke at least – you could smoke in bars in those days) and sweep you off your stiletto-clad feet…and into a life of elegant luxury.
Only that never happened. The slight flaw in my plan was the fact I lived in Bexley and not Bayswater, and the swankiest bar in town was….The Polo Bar. Where the men were chavvy rather than chivalrous. And not even men, it turned out. They were mostly pimply boy-racers named Dave or Steve, driving pimped-up Escorts and sporting snyde Ralph Lauren polo shirts with the collars turned up. You know the type: more no money than new money. The hours spent getting ready for a night out felt like a waste of make-up as soon as you got to the bar and had a quick scout about, talent-spotting. Jeez, the totty sure was thin on the ground. The fellas I seemed to attract like drunken moths to a flame were more Mr Potato Head than Mr Head of Finance.
I had a go at hanging around the King’s Rd for a while in my late teens, but the cliquey Hooray Henry’s seek out their own, and the Sloane Rangers could sniff out a Cockney (or Mockney, in my case, having been born in Kent) at a thousand paces – even (especially?) if it’s doused liberally in Erith Market knock-off Chanel. Or perhaps it was my Joker-style attempt at a brick red pout that put them off (I was channelling Heath Ledger’s interpretation of The Joker long before he was even a twitch in his dad’s pants).
So my plan backfired.
By my early twenties I began to wish I’d studied IT instead of Latin, as any hopes of living in a penthouse in Knightsbridge with a gaggle of daschunds and an oligarch began to evaporate like my cheap synthetic fragrance. It was looking like I was just going to have to fend for myself. How very modern, I sighed. I still dressed up like a Disney princess on a night out, ever the optimist, but alas I was just a donkey making an ass of myself in a sea of Shreks.
Since I wasn’t interested (or capable, probably) of being a doctor or a vet, and had zero interest in horticulture (I was more interested in hotty-culture), it quickly became apparent that Mr Chandler’s Latin classes would be as much use in my future endeavours as a chocolate fireguard. The other occupation best suited to a Latin speaker is a Latin teacher, and judging by his rhino-hide skin, horn-rimmed glasses and miserable downcast expression, Mr C’s career path wasn’t a line of enquiry I was inspired to pursue.
So it was an endless merry-go-round of beauty and make-up artist jobs for me. Yes, Dear Reader, I’m afraid I ended up working in Harvey Nics instead of shopping there. Ah, the irony! I think I was subconsciously hoping some of the wealth would rub off; that by making up the faces of the It-girls, one day I’d meet a sister-from-a-richer-mister whom I’d instantly bond with; she’d whisk me off to Bond St for shopping and cocktails, before introducing me to her trustafarian brother and heir to the family fortune, Tarquin.
But alas, it was not to be. Oh I met many a Tarquin, for sure, but he usually had a bejewelled Tamara on his arm, looking down her perfect aquiline nose at me with smug condescension. She’d give a visible shudder as I thanked her with my weak vowels (chucking in a bit of gratuitous rhyming slang just to watch her wince), before snatching her bag of pricey products and turning on her Valentino heels to clip-clop off for a (liquid, fizzy) lunch on the 5th floor (because eating in public is sooo vulgar, sweetie).
Fortunately, life on the shop floor doesn’t call for IT skills. There’s no need to be tech-savvy when your day-to-day business involves comparing the merits of various caviar face creams. We specialised in soft skin, not software. By evening we were out clubbing, not poring over computer manuals: I prefer techno to technology. I’m more familiar with fish ‘n’ chips than microchips…and if you mention gigs I picture music concerts. Which is why I come unstuck in the modern world.
I love to write, but when it comes to code and formatting – forget it. You may as well be speaking in Japanese. My eyes glaze over and I zone out. If I’m having trouble sleeping, I whack an Excel tutorial on YouTube and I’m snoring quicker than if I’d swallowed a fistful of Valium. You know you’re a technophobic dinosaur when your two-year-old nephew takes the ipad out of your hands with a sigh, before expertly flipping through the apps to find the one he likes.
My mind boggles when I’m blogging and I have a technical issue. Whenever someone praises my blog, I laugh nervously, terrified they’ll discover I’m a fraud: one-finger tapping it out on an ancient Amstrad. That’s a joke, by the way. I have a beautiful baby named Mac – well, her full name is MacBook – and she’s been keeping me awake all night just like the real thing. I look blankly at her while she makes noises at me, wondering when I’ll learn how to look after properly. These things don’t come with a manual, you know (oh no actually they do – I was confusing her with a real baby for a moment there).
Somehow, amidst the travelling, the partying and the chaotic noise of life, I forgot to tick the achievement box marked “PC literate” on my CV (Curriculum Vitae – see, fluent in Latin). Anyone will tell you I’m the most un-PC person, in all senses of the term. I’m a 40-year-old I.T virgin.
So if anyone fancies popping my Apple cherry, I’m all yours. No gooseberries allowed, just a right pear of sorts. I’ll whip out my Blackberry and let’s get fruity. I’ve got all-you-can-eat data on the Orange network so we can really go bananas. I’m not taking the pith, I’m just a bit of a plum on the ‘puter.
Sorry. I’ll stop.
It would appear my puns are about as good as my IT skills – and my fruitless attempts at becoming an It-Girl.
Pssst! If you’re a technophobe like me, you might find the following helpful…. 😉