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Twenty-odd Questions - Emmy
29.08.11 by Dazzler

How old are you? 20 officially, both 5 and 76 mentally.

Where were you born? Washington, DC, USA.

Where do you live now? In glorious N7.

How long have you been couriering? Around two years, but with a break in the middle due to life indecision.

Hang Name? four-one-twoooooooo

Who did you ride for? I have no clue. It varies according to which company name I find easier to pronounce at that particular loading bay. I always get asked to spell ‘Reuters’, so it’s usually ‘A-Z’ or ‘Mach One’.

What was your first bike? It was a Christmas present from my parents. White with rainbow polka dots, pink and purple handlebar streamers, training wheels, and a coaster brake. I used to ride it around the courtyard outside the apartment complex we lived in. I don’t remember it being love at first sight though; I didn’t seriously get into cycling until much later.

What do you ride now? A cream-coloured and slightly stickered-up Surly Steamroller named Bolivar.

What’s the best docket you’ve ever been given? A helper docket moving an office from one end of Covent Garden to the other. 100 quid for the day, plus a 20 quid tip. Weirdest was having to take two tiny cakes from a restaurant to an architect’s firm with the explicit directions that they MUST NOT GET SQUASHED.

What’s the worst thing about being a courier? Working a very slow day in the driving wind and sleet with an aching back, your hands and feet gone completely numb, and the cold is working its way into your chest where you know it will stay, give you the uncontrollable shivers, and make you pre-hypothermic. And then you get a puncture.

What’s the best thing about being a courier? The people I’ve met. This job allows me to see a fascinating cross-section of London that I’d probably never get to experience otherwise. I’ve also made the best friends I have ever had thanks to this job, which is something I am incredibly grateful for.

Describe your childhood in 3 words. Somewhat culturally confused.

What is your earliest memory? Enacting legendary battles across the living room floor with my Dad. The plastic lizards and model horses would attack but the Lego warriors would bravely defend their castle, always (somewhat) winning in the end by screaming ‘Banzai!’ and jumping off the battlements in a final suicide defense.

Who are your heroes? My parents and my closest friends.

What’s on your music player? I don’t listen to music when I’m riding but at other times it’s David Bowie, Dresden Dolls, Seasick Steve, Bruce Springsteen, Queen, Chemical Brothers, British Sea Power, Alela Diane, Jarabe de Palo, Pixies, Nick Drake, los Aterciopelados, Wolfmother, Calle 13, Cocorosie, PUSA, Iron and Wine, The Organ, Smiths, Le Tigre, Gaslight Anthem, Be Good Tanyas, MEN, Gogol Bordello, Peaches, Silly Wizard, etc. The list goes on.

What’s the best piece of clothing/equipment you carry? My Chrome trousers. They are fucking amazing in every kind of weather. Hard-wearing, water resistant and, when they do soak through, they dry in a flash. Pockets in all the right places and, best of all, a reinforced crotch.

What advice would you give to any wannabe couriers? This job is both easier and harder than you anticipate. Always carry a waterproof jacket. Always work on Mondays. Have an emergency calorie stash somewhere in your bag.

What’s the best lunch deal in town? My homemade PB&J, it’s the American way.

What’s the best chat-up line you’ve ever given to/received by a receptionist? Said to me in a very tiny and cramped lift – ‘You have amazing legs. Can I touch the scars on them?’

Favourite place to stand by? I’d rather not, really. But the Calthorpe Project off Gray’s Inn Road is great. I wish my backyard had looked like that when I was growing up.

What made you become a courier? I moved to London knowing no one and nothing about the city. I needed I job fast, so I walked into the Cyclone office on Whitfield St. Amazingly, they gave me a job, even though I couldn’t find Baker St when looking in the A-Z. I told myself I would only be doing this temporarily but I got addicted and I’m still here.

In a parallel universe you would be… in the VSO or the Peace Corps.

What one thing would improve the quality of your life? A dog, and the space, time and money to take care of one.

Who’d play you in the film of your life? Ellen Page in a crew cut and thick glasses.

What would be your catchphrase? HUGS!

What has your been your proudest moment/greatest achievement? Moving to London. Best decision I’ve ever made and I’ve never regretted it.

If you could go back and edit the past is there anything you would change? I wish for a lot of things, but I don’t regret anything I’ve done. All my past actions have made me who I am today.

It’s the dream dinner party – what 5 people are there? Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer, Nigel Slater, Iain Sinclair, and Mary Wollstonecraft.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever done? I briefly worked in a posh restaurant’s kitchen. My main duty was to chop tomatoes, onions and avocadoes for the guacamole. I cut my fingers so many times that the guacamole was mainly seasoned with my salty blood. Never order the guacamole.

What is the most important lesson life on the road has taught you? Eagerness, politeness, and a smile will get you far.

How would you like to be remembered? As a kind and generous friend.

When were you happiest? I’ve been happy in so many different ways and in so many different places that I don’t really know how to answer this. Right now, I think. I’m happy now.

What’s your favourite movie quote? Not from a movie, but from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series:

Everyone has a secret world inside of them. All the people in the whole world. I mean everybody. No matter how dull or boring they are on the outside. Inside them they’ve all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands, maybe.

What would your superpower be? The ability to read minds, although I’d most likely regret having that superpower.

Freedom is… Your own self.

You have a time machine – where would you go? 3 July, 1973. Hammersmith Odeon.

You are allowed to pass one new law – what is it? I’d like to see a lot more mutual respect amongst people, but that’s something that would lose its validity if enacted into a law.

How do you relax? Baking cake while listening to Radio 4 or NPR.

Tell us something about yourself we would never guess. I’m a citizen of three countries on three different continents.

What was the last book you read? I usually have several books going at once. I’ve just finished Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy (which was excellent) and have started The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin. I am also making my way through London Orbital by Iain Sinclair.

You’ve got one youtube link – what is it? This!

Tell us a joke. Why did Tigger stick his head down the toilet? Because he was looking for Pooh

  1. hopfully you headbutted that gezzar in the lift (sic)


    — curly    1 September 2011, 01:57    #
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