One trend remains true in my life. Around May, I will inevitably end up at Twickenham, whether for the Sevens or Army vs. Navy. I never plan it, but I always manage to get there. These occasions bring out good friends, fancy dress and streakers — in fact, this year, I saw a record four in just one half, leading me to wonder if there’s any point to coming home late and watching Sexcetera when I know where I can get a live show.
We’ll get back to those streakers, who before they disrobed, were dressed as bumblebees, Tinkerbell and ballerinas. They actually have a point in this post.
But before that, I want to talk about what happens after rugby. At last year’s Sevens, the sun was shining, I was in the throes of a new relationship, loved up and beaming. This year, I was decidedly more single, in the rain, but in a festive ‘where else but England?’ mood. The streakers helped.
Call it the Laws of Attraction, but after last year’s Sevens, I ended up with a surprise trip to the BAFTAs (note to reader, your pre-formalwear menu should not include stadium hotdogs, but we live and learn); this year after Army/Navy, I ended up with an invitation to a Wetherspoons (oh, how the mighty have fallen). It was trumped by an offer of a surprise set-up in a West London piano bar.
In hindsight, I shouldn’t have gone. I’d had several pints at Twickenham and like Monica on ‘Friends’, my hair grows with the amount of moisture in the air. I was also trying a new trend that I don’t know how I feel about — bright skinny jeans (see Hosiery for similar effect), and they may have been a bit baggier than normal as I’m currently a bit skinnier than normal. The worst part? I was in flats.
So when I arrived at the bar, I had already decided that the night might not be a success. (Note that pre BAFTAs, I was imagining a mystery brunette making the best dressed list. See the difference?) Did my date actually throw up in his mouth when he saw me? I doubt it, but it doesn’t matter. When he didn’t laugh at my first joke (streakers are comic gold), it confirmed what I suspected: there was no there there.
I will actually never know what went down. Fact is, the guy was a gentleman. We had a lot to say to each other, he plied me with wine and stuck by my side. That said, it did feel like work and when a tall blonde in a cocktail dress approached, he looked more interested in her than his afro growing, smurf-legged friend. In flats.
So I dug deep. I stood as tall as possible. I flirted with the guy next to me to save some face in front blondie. But after a while, it was going nowhere, so I headed home. And it’s because life is a confidence game that I did.
Ironically, most people who meet me describe me first as confident. I wouldn’t. I think I simply don’t care about a lot of stuff, and that reads as confident. But confidence, in terms of true self belief, that’s harder to come by. Life knocks you back enough, so when you have a stupid night in Kensington and you’re without your confidence building go-tos — whether high heels or controlled hair — you can’t afford to squander what stores you’ve built. I figured it was better to cut and run. If the blind date did like me after all, I have to be confident he’ll find me. Whether it was my fault that it went South, or the blonde interloper, or just a genuine lack in connection, I can’t say. I wish I could turn this post into a thought piece on preserving confidence. I wish I could give you tips. But truth is, I’m not sure I have any. The only one I do have is that when it comes frivolous situations that make you doubt yourself, it’s just not worth it to dwell.
Instead, I’m going to take my cue from those streakers, as I promised I would. While you won’t see me naked on a goal line anytime soon, I do have to say that people, fueled by good friends, a good crowd and some liquid courage, can overcome whatever suspicions they have about what other people think. So make your choices wisely and stick with the people who build you up, buttercup. The kind of people who go with you to Twickenham.