9. Completion

When I went to pick up the house keys from the estate agents on a grey drizzly Saturday morning I felt in a rather neutral mood. Being stubborn and British I decided to walk the distance of almost two miles up hill to avoid paying for a bus or taxi, resulting in a matt of tangled, curly hair and a nose that continued to pour, even when I stepped inside the ultra clean office.

A man with overly gelled hair and patchy stubble directed me to a sofa while he consulted with a female colleague. All the staff looked like dolled up fifteen year olds, and I think no one could quite believe a young woman in unbranded jeans and a tatty Gap hoodie could possibly have bought a house from them.

The lady tottered over with a clipboard and let me sign for the keys. I politely smiled and said thanks, but she’d already gone. Everyone else was continuing to hit their keyboards in a monkey-like fashion, so I took my cue and left.

That was it. I owned a house, my house. I checked the envelope ten times over just to be sure.

“Oh my God.”

I was so overjoyed I didn’t know what to do with myself, so ended up marching straight down the hill in record time and landing back to the house I lived in. I dumped my bag, threw off the soaked hoodie and dashed around next door with nothing more than the key.

I held my breath as I inserted the key into the door and slowly opened the door. I stood there for a moment before walking in and sitting on the bottom step. I stroked the banister rail, like some prized pet.

“You’re mine now, and I am yours” I muttered.

With rain cold feet I ascended the first flight of stairs with ease and entered the bare living room and then the empty kitchen. Suddenly without warning I started laughing, then screaming, then running up and down stairs and into rooms and out of rooms. Slamming doors, apologising for slamming doors. Spinning round and round and round. I lay on my bedroom floor and took my breath.

“This isn’t happening, pinch yourself Alice, you just can’t have done this. Oh my God, what is happening? A homeowner? A homeowner…A homeowner! You. Are. A. Ruddy. Homeowner!”

I ran next door and grabbed my laptop from the top floor before rushing back round to my house. I turned it on and loaded Spotify, before blasting out Nina Simone, Arctic Monkeys, The Killers, B*Witched. Anything and everything which came to mind. I screamed every lyric from every part of the house until my throat was hoarse from all the yelling, before lying in a heap on the cold, dark living room floor.

Why? Because I could.


This article is part of The First Time Buyer Diaries. To view the entire series (so far) click here.



Evoking emotion in me is like filling a massive man-made dam. You keep pushing and pushing to go further, to fill it higher, until suddenly the walls break and water goes everywhere. Many lives and friendships lost, terrible mess, nightmare insurance claim.

Problem is I often don’t know when to stop. It’s like the world is challenging me to tip toe over the thick red boundary, to see the signs and ignore the warnings. To step over “the line”.

Within our family we’re pretty good at keeping each other in check. A slip of the tongue and down the phone you’ll hear me dryly saying “line! Line!” As if I’m  voicing a submarine siren or hitting a desk buzzer. I used to mimic the action, that was until people in public places started expressing concern that I was having a some kind of seizure.

“Line! Line! Line!”

Outside of family there’s no such restriction on what I say. Now obviously I never say anything offensive or plain stupid, I’m not Donald Trump, but that doesn’t stop me saying things that are a bit kooky and classically Alice. A throwaway comment that develops into a very strange trail of thought, carrying on and on until I look up and realise that, at best, no one is listening or, at worst, I get “a look” which says it all; “must remove from LinkedIn.”

Only recently have I discovered that I’m not alone in evoking stupid thoughts. Someone at work is equally resilient to being unable to locate the line. At first I thought “oh my God, another one exists! Yay!” now I’m thinking “oh my God, how does this end? Will the world implode if we share one pun too many?”

I’ll spare you the full detailed story that has developed between us because honestly it’s pretty weird (I know, even by my standards). This fictional life started with an innocent accidental wave on Facebook – 30 minutes later and it had become all kinds of Mighty Boosh.

To make matters worse, the colourful (and ongoing) contents were inadvertently brought from the safe confines of social media and into the office today. You can only imagine the looks (or non-looks) the pair of us were getting. I may have discovered the older, more ‘out there’ version of me, but I’m also discovering why “you can never have too much of a bad thing” isn’t a common saying amongst sensible people. The banter is wonderful, but the confused looks and hole-digging explanations? Hmm, that’s harder to put up with on a day-to-day.

Where is my conversation controller, my stupid stopper, my tame talker? Where is my internal, one word, monologue when I need it the most?

“Line! Line! Line!”


Written in response to the WordPress prompt Evoke


I get up, I work, I sleep.

That’s how my days pan out nowadays. Nothing much in between.

Maybe come the weekend I’ll venture out and explore the world, find a hidden corner of this town that I’ve yet to discover. I’ve yet to try out that bar on Elm Street, heard good things about it. Might be worth a try. Oh, is that an email? Better give it a look…

I get up, I work, I sleep.

On Becoming an *Actual* Adult

Have you ever had that moment when you stop momentarily in the middle of something (be it mundane or professional) and think “gulp, I’m an actual adult now”? For me it happens alarmingly often, and I never quite know if it’s a good thing or not. Seeing as I tend to get it whilst singing along to Horrible Histories songs or dancing around to S Club 7, it’s probably more likely the latter.

It’s funny how things which made no sense at one stage of your life can make complete sense years later when it’s too late to go back. Case in point, this video which I first viewed as a student. I thought then I knew what it was like to be an actual grown up, but hahahahahaha I was so wrong. (WARNING: video below contains adult content.)

Pulling things back in my defence for just a moment, can I just say Horrible Histories was/is awesome and, yes, it was used as a revision aid during my University degree finals…

(100% true story)

Furthermore, there have also been a few occasions where, in stark contrast, I realised that I’m actually more mature than I let on (yes, that was a serious comment).

Remember those children’s magazines where there were double page pizza spreads? I knew I was getting more mature then because by the age of nine I was choosing to enter in for the draws where the prize had the most monetary value or use in my life. Hobby Horses? Hah, no way, enter me in for the prize to win the designer riding clothing worth over £150 (another fun fact, I won that competition. Mumma Bennett thought it was a hoax at the time so didn’t tell me for days until she couldn’t ignore the calls anymore. That riding gear was amazing.)

Shortly after that I took a liking disc 2 of Now That’s What I Call Music and boom! There went my childhood. We all know that feeling. Overnight I went from listening to this:

To this:

From Darius and Steps to Amy MacDonald and Plain White T’s. No complaints here.

Yet years down the road, on a Wednesday evening, I’m sat on a sofa, covered in tea (as per usual), watching clips of Tots TV (I’m not even going to try and explain it – if you’ve never heard of it, YouTube it). And apparently I’m an adult? How, just, how?? It’s all a bit alarming really, I mean I have the following things (sorry not sorry if it comes across as smug):

  • A house
  • A car
  • A job
  • A 6″ 7 beast of a man
  • All the things referenced in Nina Simone’s “Got no, got life”

Basically all the things that naturally are meant to mature one into feeling more adult like. All I’m missing is a pet and/or spawn but then those things cost money and require more time and effort than a tea round for all the King’s horses and all the King’s men. Can’t be dealing with that.

So I guess I better accept it, I’m an actual adult now with actual human responsibilities. But does that make me mature? Hell no, another slice of cake please sir. Why? Because I’m an adult and I darn well can!*

*Just make sure that cake is billed to anyone else but me – I may be an adult but, owing to expenses outlined above, I (ironically) have no easily accessible money. Being an adult is hard!


The Hole in My Shoe

I was walking back from work this evening when I realised my foot was soaking wet. It is a wet evening in Swindon (as ever), and I thought it was due to that. Turns out I have a gaping big hole in the sole of my shoe.

Yep, that's a hole alright

Two thoughts crossed my mind when I saw the hole, 1) ‘great, another thing I need to buy’ and 2) seems like a good time to write my piece about how I got to be where I am. How I got from a sunny graduation in Southampton to a bedroom in Swindon with rain pouring down the window. Linking a holey shoe to that is something only my mind can do.

At the point of graduation I was was actually what you might call one of the lucky ones. I’d got the perfect graduate level job which, before you fill your head with misconceptions, wasn’t a job on a graduate scheme.

A tip to the not-so-wise, just because someone says and makes something out to be true, it doesn’t always follow it is. I sat through numerous humanity career talks during my time at University, either through choice or because they tacked it onto a compulsory History meeting. They all followed the same format.

Firstly, the speaker introduces themselves with some fancy title, e.g. ‘head of humanity careers’ or ‘assistant vice mentor of student career support, aid, engagement and publicity’. Job titles that scream ‘my line manager left me alone with the name-card creator one afternoon, and now I’m not allowed to be near fancy equipment by myself’.

Next, they’ll scare you. They’ll tell you the job market is at it’s worst yet (even if the day before jobs are up ten-fold), and that a degree isn’t enough to get a job. It’s at this point some careers folk may put on spooky voices. Go with it, it’s probably the only chance they get to use their redundant Drama GCSE.

But just as you’re quaking with fear they’ll offer you hope, that there is a way to save your career soul. Cue 25 minutes of generic information about ‘transferable skills’ and ‘internships’ and yada yada. You’ll want to bring either a notepad or a pillow because you’ll certainly need one or the other for this bit.

Apparently 90% of all graduate level jobs are found on graduate schemes. So, if they’re anything like Southampton humanities, careers will make everyone stand up. This forms part of a exercise to show you that even though 200 people can apply for a grad scheme, one by one (quite literally) you’ll be ruled out for the job and made to sit down. In the words of Augustus Waters/careers advice (delete as appropriate) ‘it’s a metaphor’. Eventually one person will get the job. All you’ll learn from this exercise is that you fall into the too-stupid-to-fill-out-the-application-properly group, and the person who gets the job doesn’t actually want to be on a grad scheme anyway.  Enlightening stuff.

Careers Advice Tom then says his farewells to a grumbling group of students. If ever there was a modern-day, poor-man’s Shakespeare, career talks take the mediocre biscuit. As useful as a cold cup of coffee.

So, as you can tell, I did not get my job by standing in a crowd of 200 people while my line manager yelled ‘be seated!’ like a Roman Emperor. I applied, was interviewed and, though triumphing at both, I got a job working as an Assistant Retail Buyer.

The day before graduation I travelled down to Swindon to look at house shares up for rent. It had to be the hottest day of the year, and I scheduled in several different house viewings at opposite ends of the town. I can only say I thought Swindon was smaller than it was. It was on that day that I pitched up at my current house, hot, sweaty, and exhausted. It was in that beautiful state I met Sheri (the Hospitality housemate). I’ll tell you more about her and my other housemates soon, but not now this second.

Deposit placed, contracts signed. On the 11th August 2014 I would formally enter full-time employment. By mid July I was one of the few graduates who knew exactly where they’d be six months from now. Starting the job hunt before the crowds and spending hours on repetitive experience questions actually paid off.

Ergh, look at myself, this turning is into a corny student-success story. Give me a folder and a university branded hoodie and I’ll turn into a state of permanent prospectus pose (which is a real condition. See those happy students on University prospectuses? Behind those bleached smiles and sparkling eyes, they’re crying. It might not be obvious, but they’re crying inside.)

That takes me up to August. Christ, 750 words and I’m only a month into graduation. Ok, I promise things speed up from here, keep an eye out for part two of this epic tale of this grimgrad’s prequel. Any thoughts on University career talks? Feel free to comment.

This could be the awkward moment when I discover only Southampton’s Humanities Department do poor career talks, and that everyone else’s feature flame throwers, dancers and John Barrowman on ice…