Saturday, July 21, 2012

What Are You Still Doing Here?

In case you haven't stayed in the loop - and why haven't you, by the way? - Work in Prowess has moved. In fact, it hasn't just moved, its grown. Its shed its old .blogspot moniker like a snake sheds its skin, or like a toddler discards Duplo bricks for the earth shattering, trachea endangering world of Lego. Work in Prowess is no longer a 'me' - Caroline O'Donoghue, your lovely waiter for this evening - but a 'we', a rag tag bunch of bandits gallivanting around the internet like it ain't no thang.

So get over to the brand spanking You won't regret it.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Spider-Man

I like to think that there are definite pros to going out with me (breasts, weekly blog mentions, good with dogs) but I'd be a fool to think there weren't obvious drawbacks to the Mr. Caroline experience (leaves wet towels on the floor, incapable of speaking at the appropriate volume, seems to never go home).

However, I think the most obvious drawback of going out with me is I'm kind of a dickhead. I'm not trying to be funny. My mother called me yesterday just to tell me I'm a dickhead.

And not just for the terrible things I do and say, like (in this case) not returning her calls, or (in other cases) breaking up with two different people in the same Waterstones, but also for my general lack of taste or respect for anything. I only like about three albums, and will only watch about four kinds of films, and all of those films are The Royal Tenanbaums. And this used to worry me.

Let me explain.

There are more articles on what being in a relationship 'means' then there are articles about how uncomfortable Johnny Depp is with his hearthrob status, and to reiterate any of that information here would be a waste of your time. (Although did you know that Johnny Depp was on the original 21 Jump Street, but hated it so much he got himself fired, just because he was so uncomfortable with his hearthrob status? Yes. Of course you know. Everybody knows.)

However, to get to the heart of this post, it's necessary that I talk a little about what I think relationships are about. But because that is boring, I will keep it brief. Relationships are about spending the majority of your free time hanging out with one person.

And that's only if you win! Almost every relationship everyone has will lose. You can put as many reasons on why this is as you like, but the one that makes the most sense to me is this: "Darling, hanging out with you has become a bit shit."

When Chris and I met, we spent so long having the "No, YOU'RE CUTER." conversation that it took me a while to recognise the glaring error in our relationship.  Essentially, we had nothing in common. Chris likes Transformers, explosions and Michael McIntyre. Caroline likes being a giant snob about everything.

Obviously, everything important is there. We like each other, the same people, drinking beer and eating lunch. However, I became concerned that my constant "What is it with you and explosions already?" would prove a drag, and decided that it was time to get on board with at least one thing. I decided that one thing should be Spider-man.

Because every new relationship trying to stand on its shakey calf legs needs a 'thing', Spider-Man became our 'thing'. Admittedly, Spider-Man has been his thing since he was ten, so he had a bit of a head start. So came an onslought of Spider-Man, in his every precious form. What started with the Sam Raimi movies on quiet evenings in became the cartoons on hungover Saturday mornings, which eventually became the comics when there was just nothing else around to read. And somewhere along the way, I just got it.

I love Peter Parker. Actually, I suspect I might be in love with Peter Parker. Further, I suspect I have always been in love with Peter Parker. If I might venture one theory more: I think I am Peter Parker.

This is probably where die hard fans will be keen to correct me: No, Caroline. You are not Peter Parker. You are a blogger from Cork who works in a recruitment firm. I know, guys.

Peter Parker is himself, and he is Spider-Man. When he is Peter Parker, he spends all his time getting stuffed into lockers or acting the spaz at Oscorp or The Daily Bugle. He's a good person, ish, which we know because he likes to pick up stacks of bills that are stuffed behind depressing-looking kitchen appliances and frown at them. Mostly though, he's kind of a spaz. If he's not being a spaz, he's being Spider-Man, who needs to make jokes just to feel even vaguely secure.

It's these elements of Spider-Man's character that sealed my interest, beyond just trying to be a slightly more interesting girlfriend.  I know I'm a Johnny-come-lately to this whole scene, but I think it's a big part of the reason why, after fifty years of insect-based puns, people still love Spider-Man.

Spider-Man uses humour as a crutch. Fighting bad guys is scary, and he needs to put something in-between who he is and what frightens him in order to be able to deal with it. As I'm prone to doing, I'm going to take myself as a case study.

I find things scary.  I've been a grown-up for almost exactly a year now, and I still feel like I'm faking it. All my family and everyone I've ever known are a plane ride away, and that is something that never stops being scary.

Every now and then, whenever I find myself standing alone in the middle of Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square, one blistering thought occurs to me: If I dropped dead right now, I wonder how long would it take for my family to find out. Sometimes I find myself so homesick, feeling so completely alone and so horribly out of place that my foremost instinct is to curl into the foetal position and eat a whole jar of Nutella with my hands. And sometimes, that's what it comes to.

But most of the time, I make a joke. I write a blog. I do my best to get on with it, and remind myself that everything I've done - skipping graduation, moving country, taking a succession of terrible jobs and terrible apartments - was my choice.

I keep making jokes, and I keep writing blogs. I try to build up a ridiculous persona of a sassy Irish gal just trying to make good in the big city. Because at the end of the day, every single one of us needs a persona to put between themselves and what frightens them.

It's either that or you pee your tights.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Hey, Jessica Biel: What the Hell is in Your Handbag?

Its been a very busy week for Work in Prowess. For one, we launched our official Twitter feed! For two, we decided to start calling ourselves a we now. Yes, that's right. In a mere couple of weeks, Work in Prowess will drop its humble dotblogspot moniker and evolve like a mighty Charizard into a fiery dotcom. This will mean a lot of things, things with vast ideological and moral reprecussions, but mostly it will mean the following.

1. Work in Prowess will look so, so pretty.

2. Work in Prowess will not just be the half-formed thoughts coming from me in my bedroom, but will facilitate the half-formed thoughts of many different people from over a dozen filthy bedrooms.

3.  Me and all these bedrooms will be able to cover so much more material that the possibilities will be truly endless. My hope is that the end result of this will be a women's lifestyle website that will talk about what you actually want to read about. So, that's two parts brain farts, one part "Was Halle Berry's Catwoman that bad, really?" and several additional parts "I'm a girl, and this is what that is like."

The first thing I wanted to do before officially launching the new site was to find out what people wanted from it. So I asked what people thought was missing from the female media landscape.

And got this response:

Because I will not ignore the cries of the people, I decided to track down a celebrity to look inside the handbag of. And what celebrity is more captivating, more definitive of our generation, of pop culture at this very moment then.. uhm.. Jessica Biel?

WIP: Hey, Jessica! Thanks for coming in today to show us all the things you put in your handbag, when you carry your handbag.

JB: Thank you, Work in Prowess. I've been a fan of you and your sister company, the internet, since the very beginning.

WIP: Thanks Jessica Biel. That is very sweet of you to say. So what kind of handbag do you have with you today?

JB: I have a brown handbag.

Here is an artist's rendering of Jessica Biel's Brown Handbag

WIP: Cool. What kind of shit is in it?

Jessica Biel: I literally have no idea. The first thing I've pulled out is a bunch of unwrapped cough sweets with bits of my hair stuck to them.

WIP: Ugh, that is the worst.

Jessica Biel: I know, have you seen my hair?

WIP: You have tons of it. I relate. Humidity is an ongoing daily struggle for us both.

Jessica Biel: Hey, look what else I've found in here. Applicator-less tampons.

WIP: Jessica Biel uses applicator-less tampons?

Jessica Biel: No! Not even. I was in Pasadena? Doing this movie? And I was on like, the rag? And the only place I could get tampons was this weird-ass Mexican drug store. And literally all I could find was these applicator-free tampons.

WIP: They look like bullets!

Jessica Biel: They feel like bullets. Do not mess with them. I'm telling you, WIP, I do not know how those Mexican women deal with that much hands-on experience.

WIP: Hahaha. So, Jessica Biel, what were you doing in Pasadena?

Jessica Biel: I was their filming my new movie, Hitchcock.

WIP: Hahaha.

Jessica Biel: Excuse me?

WIP: Nothing, it's just for a second there I thought you said Hitchcock. Like you were in a movie about Alfred Hitchcock.

Jessica Biel: Why is that funny? I am in a movie about Alfred Hitchcock.

WIP: Because.. you're Jessica Biel.

Jessica Biel: What is that supposed to mean?

WIP: You're not really an actress are you? You appear in films. You appeared in Valentine's Day. You appeared in New Years Eve. The only thing anyone remembers you for acting in is Seventh Heaven. And they made your character smoke a joint and then we never saw her again. You can't be in some biopic about Alfred Hitchcock. You have no place there.

Jessica Biel: Hey, I just found a bunch of loose nails in here.

WIP: What?

Jessica Biel: It's from my new movie, Nailed! It's about a girl who gets a nail in her head.

WIP: Pardon?

Jessica Biel: I know! Fun, right? Then she goes mental and falls in love with a hapless young Senator, played by Jake Gyllenhaal!

WIP: You're being serious, aren't you? This is a movie that is really happening, isn't it?

Jessica Biel: Along with Playing The Field.

WIP: It's a rom-com about sports, isn't it?

Jessica Biel: Oooh, look! Vaseline!

Jessica Biel will be appearing in Nailed, Hitchcock and Playing the Field, which are all movies that are actually happening, sometime relatively soon. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Be Nice To Strangers

There's a lot of things about being a girl that I find frustrating, and I don't think I'm alone in this. It's not that I'm not happy with being a girl (Who wouldn't be happy with having a pair of tits, for crying out loud? Tits.) it's that how women are represented in pop-culture tends to piss me off. We live in a world where the depth of  a female character is represented by the fact that her name is Alex and she runs an organic bakery and she doesn't trust men, intrinsically, maybe because she's had a terrible experience but probably because they're all fundamentally shit.

But this has been pointed out countless times, and reiterating it here would not only do a disservice to much better phrased and more original arguments, but would also undermine the number of fantastic female characters being written by exceptionally talented writers all the time.

Like this one!

And this one!

And all of these ones!

The thing I find most frustrating however, is that women seem to like being portrayed as being totally lame. They self perpetuate it in their own media by writing terrible articles about men and saying terrible things about other women. I should point out here that when I say terrible, I mean that in the 'utterly morally bereft' sense, and also in the 'universally boring' sense. They're not even coming up with new insidious things to tell us every week. It's literally the same bullshit over and over again. This is perhaps best explained by the illustration below, which was not done by me, but which I really, really wish was.

Because all of this crap exists, and because it exists in such volume that it completely dwarfs anything awesome made by women at all, it's really important for me to believe that it's the media who has the problem. This is obviously ridiculous, because blaming 'the media' is like blaming 'the economy' or 'society'. Things that we like to think are autonomous bodies completely separate to us, but really only exist because we tell them to.  It's our actions that determine their outcomes, and this is what brings me to the point I really want to make. Which is this:


There was probably no need to put that in capital letters and bold print. There was also probably no need to use the word 'fucking' quite that explosively, and Mum, I know you're reading this, and I know you're composing a five hundred word email on why I shouldn't have, and I'm sorry. You are right, you did not raise me to say such things. 

Obviously, the notion of being lame is completely subjective, and if there were a definitive list of lame things that women do and if I was allowed to write that list, it would include things like Katy Perry, cupcakes and nail art. But this wouldn't be fair, because I know lots of smart, fun girls who for some reason, genuinely enjoy nail art, cupcakes and.. that other thing. And far be it from me to question that. 

I also don't want to imply that it's only women doing lame things, because men do a ton of crap things too, but right now these things don't really concern me. 

However, I can think of one way in which women can improve their public image drastically, and it is so simple that I'm surprised it isn't handed out written on stiff card the moment we hit puberty. 

We need to be nicer to strangers. 

We need to stop acting like men wanting to talk to us is such a massive pain in the arse. When a man we don't know tries to start a conversation with us, and he does not seem like an immediate physical threat or someone who's going to ask us if we want a free moustache ride, we should be nice. We should not post facebook updates about how some 'creeper' had the audacity to talk to us. And at all times, we should realise this: it is really, really hard to approach someone you like the look of. 

When someone takes time out of their day to try to make you feel good, try to be a little more gracious. Even if you have no interest in that person whatsoever. Stop acting offended, and stop acting like they're wasting your precious time. 

There are more nice people in the world then there are assholes. If you believe otherwise, you're in for a pretty miserable existence. 

There are more not-rapists then there are rapists. So shut up about rapists already. They are a threat, yes, but they make up a relatively tiny percentile of the population. And do you know how seldom rapes happen in Waterstones at 2pm on a Saturday? Almost never. 

You may use the retort that "He's only talking to me because he wants to sleep with me."

So? You'll find the majority of conversations that happen between strangers can be boiled down to "Hey, can you do this one thing for me?" And whether that one thing is directions or spare change or a place to put his genitals, at the end of the day, you don't have to do it. But you can politely decline, and you can say "Have a nice day" afterwards. 

Women need to stop acting like sex is something men need to trick them into. Sex and your ability to have it is not the statue that Indie swaps for a bag of sand in Raider of The Lost Ark, only to be chased by an angry boulder seconds later. 

You are not the statue, and you are not the angry boulder. The look on your face when someone well-meaning talks to you should not melt the face off a dozen Nazis. You are just a human who another human is trying to connect with. 

You're not the Ark of the Covenant, either, but that should be obvious.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

How To Be Tolerated

It’s Tuesday, it’s 11am, and you’re at your desk. That bender who sits opposite you is powering through her workload like a Chinese hamster, and you still haven’t managed to ‘fire off’ that email you’ve had the intention of firing since nine thirty. Your finger has been on the trigger, but you know, are you more of a ‘best regards’ or a ‘yours sincerely’ kind of person? The truth of the matter is, you don’t really care.

You don’t care, because in six months – a year, tops – you’re going to blow this proverbial popsicle stand. Because your band, blog, stand-up routine or Harry Potter slash fiction website is about to go global, and when it does, your colleagues are going to rue the day they ever asked you to file an invoice. That extra tab you have perpetually open on your work browser is your ticket out of here.

As someone who continuously has to ask themselves "Do my endeavours make everyone wish I was dead?" and "Am I an actual dickhead?", the issue of being a smug 'creative' type lies very close to home with me. It's basically my dream to be recognised for my *cough* artistic struggle, and while that has yet to happen, I feel like I have a good idea about how that's supposed to go. The following is a list of pointers on how to make a legitimate claim to creativity, without everyone hating you and the metaphorical horse you rode in on.

DO: Self Advertise

If Facebook, Twitter  and whatever the most relevant social network is by the time this hits press has taught us anything, it’s that if you’re not self-advertising, you might as well not exist. If your project has a name, then it needs a Twitter account. If it has a fan, then it needs a Facebook fan page.  Not only does this let everyone know that you’re there, churning out brilliance, hour after hour and year, but it also lets you form connections with those you would otherwise consider your rivals. Although many mistake Twitter as an outlet exclusively for logging the quality and consistency of your stools, it actually gives you unique access to the world’s most prominent creative geniuses. And their stools.

DON’T: Spam Your Friends

At the same time, there is no need to be a dick about this. Oh wow, you’ve made a new blog post? Yeah, you mentioned. An HOUR ago.  Your band has a gig this Saturday? I think somewhere between the e-vite and the Facebook group you involuntary registered me in, I heard.

Do not be the reason somebody receives a Linked-In Reminder. Try not to use the word ‘reminder’ at all. Don’t update just to tell everybody you thought of a really cool t-shirt design today. Try to post tangible, informative updates. Don’t be a dick.

DO: Attend Open Mic Nights

Open Mic Nights, while famously wanky in nature, are the perfect place to foster a fan base for yourself, not to mention a perfect platform to try out new material. Every open mic night also has at least one semi-successful artist that shows up for an ego boost, and it is your job to pick this person for contacts. It won’t be hard to figure out who this is. He or she will have a disproportionate head-to-face hair ratio.

DON’T: Leave Once You’re Finished

Seriously dude? Come on. This is not why you came here. You are not going to get five minutes at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival by doing the same routine every week and then pissing off. You will get those five minutes by getting pissed with a guy-who-knows-a-guy, who then introduces you to that guy.

DO: Expand Your Operation

You’re one talented son-of-a-bitch, so it stands to reason that you’ve got a few friends that are equally as talented. This is where you need to start calling in favours. Your flatmate does web design, and his girlfriend has a decent camera. No matter what you’re pursuing, both of these people are invaluable to you. Think of everyone you know with well-worded status updates. Would they like to write for your website? Of course they would! They’re flattered you even asked.

DON’T: Make Empty Promises

If you can’t pay someone now, don’t imply you ever will be able to. Buy them a drink, grab them around the shoulders, and say “Hey kiddo,  wanna see your name up in internet lights?” To this, they will say “Why mister, I don’t know.” To this, you will respond: “You and me kid! You and me will take on the world!” If it feels appropriate, break into a song and dance number. If it doesn’t, then don’t.
Either way, let your friend know that you are willing to give them all the credit for the work they put in. Make them as excited about your project as you are. But make it clear from the beginning: you may never have the money to physically pay them back.

DO: Be Self-Deprecating

You’re not the first person to write a short story about a thinly veiled ex-girlfriend masquerading as a heinous sea creature, and you won’t be the last. Why not laugh about it? That shit is funny. If you think something you’re doing is even remotely cliché, either change it, or acknowledge it. Cliché’s exist because they serve a function, and just because you’re using one doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with it.

DON’T: Undermine Your Work

“I wrote this in like, ten minutes. And I had a cold. And a fidgety arse. It’s a bit shit.” Yeah, now I really want to hear you talk about it.

DO: Take Advice

The person who sold their internet start-up within a year of creating it is worth listening to. The person who earns their entire income from their t-shirt business is worth listening to. Even if they’re product is CLEARLY inferior to yours, they have done something you are not doing, and they need to be listened to.

DON’T: Take it Too Seriously

Like absolutely everything (unless you’re feeling particularly religious) success is just a well-timed accident. The people who have it can’t guarantee it, and the people who deserve it may never see a shred of it. So relax, work hard, and most importantly: don’t be a dick about it.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Brief History of My Friend-Making Skills

Every now and then, to shield myself from the lonely nights and my own crippling ego, I like to pretend that Work in Prowess is a much bigger deal than it actually is.

The thing that is extremely helpful in this endeavor is the nice comments, emails, facebook messages and tweets I sometimes get from the people I loosely refer to (mostly in my own head, and seldom out loud) as my 'fans'. In this context, the term 'fan' means 'people who click a link when I ask them to'.

I don't respond to most of the feedback I get from people, but only because it feels awkward to. In case you've never attempted to, it's extremely difficult to respond to a compliment in writing without sounding like an utter douchebag.

Dear Reader,

Hey Reader!


Thank you so much for your feedback on Work in Prowess. It's very rewarding for me to see that other people are enjoying my work. 

What the hell is that? It reads like a bank statement, or a reminder about an impending enema.  


Awesome, thank you! That's so nice of you to say! I hope my blog encourages you to start your own!

And I hope this doesn't sound like I'm a child molester trying to groom you. 

What I'm trying to get across here is: it's difficult. There's nothing in the world I enjoy more than nice feedback, but unfortunately I get incredibly sheepish when it comes to replying to it. That's why my favorite kind of feedback - and this might happen once or twice every couple of months - always looks a bit like this.

Hey, Work in Prowess Lady!

Your blog is funny. We should hang out.

Yes! We should hang out! We should always hang out. I love hanging out, and I am always in the market for new friends who are willing to give me compliments. Here are some things I can offer you as a friend.

Unconditional affection. Company on long car rides. Licks on the face.

I will keep you company while you do your thing. I will sit on your couch and make passing commentary on how well you're doing on your video game. I will be hungry when you are hungry. Not hours before, or minutes after.

Here are some things you need to offer me as a friend, in return: All of my needs.

And when I say all of my needs, I really mean all of them. As my friend, you will be responsible for feeding me, driving me to my appointments, and constantly reassuring me that I'm an OK human.

This won't even be the first time this has happened.

Friend: Some old lady that lived on my street.
Time of Friendship: Ages 4-7
Need fulfilled: Shoelaces, occasional snacks

There are some things that, as a kid, took me longer to figure out than others. One of these things was my shoelaces.  I don't know what about them I found so puzzling, but I sense that it was because I lacked the dexterity to handle what is essentially two pieces of string, and the wherewithal to bend down. Was I going to let that stop me from having lone, sad little adventures around my estate? Of course not.

This was where the old lady came in. I would roam the streets like a rabid terrier, notice my shoes were untied and ring this lady's doorbell. She would answer, I would wordlessly stick my shoe through the door. She would tie my shoe, and I would invite myself in for a biscuit and some juice.

I don't know how the old lady felt about my visits, but I like to think that she enjoyed the company.

And now she follows me on Twitter!

Friend: Every person within a four mile radius of our trailer park
Time of Friendship: Ages 6-9
Need fulfilled: Cereal

I grew up in the nineties, when holidays abroad were no longer a luxury, but a given. Eeee-very-mutha-fucka got to go to Spain or France on their holidays. Not us, though. The O'Donoghue version of a holiday was six people in a three bedroom mobile home for three weeks. In Kerry. For my English readers, Kerry is kind of like the Irish version of Cornwall. In that, three days a year, you get this:

The rest of the time, however, you get this:

With age, I have learned to appreciate the beauty of Kerry. But back then, I hated it more than I can possibly hope to convey. The rain kept us inside most of the time, where we brewed a feverish hatred for one another. I dealt with this by wandering into the mobile homes of others, and asking them if they had any children who were about my age. When they said no, I just hung around anyway, and asked if they had any good cereal. A couple of hours later, there would be a knock on the door, and inevitably my mum or dad would be there, apologizing for  me. By now, I would be sitting cross-legged on a strangers floor, eating cereal and watching cartoons.

Friend: Every housemate I've ever had
Time of Friendship: Ages 19-21
Needs Fulfilled: Food, clothing, company.

By now, it has become quite obvious that my life so far is nothing more than me hanging around different peoples houses, patiently awaiting their charity. However, I have also managed to do this in my own home.

I was nineteen when I moved out for the first time, and it was a beautiful time. I was the poorest I've ever been, but that doesn't matter in Cork the same way it matters in London. You can walk everywhere, you could get a bottle of wine for four quid, and you can basically spend your every waking moment drifting from one pleather student sofa to the next. I made some terrible mistakes in that year, and I wouldn't take back a single one of them.

I'd like to say that I 'grew up' in that year, but that would be a lie. I didn't learn to cook. I didn't learn to 'clean' in the real sense, I just learned how to make things look absent of dirt. However, I did learn to utilize the pity of others for my own material gain. I would gaze at Billy as he tried to eat his dinner, until eventually he shoved the plate on to my lap. I would wander into Ryan's room, try on his jumpers and balefully declare that he had 'all the nice things' until his nice things were my nice things. By the end of our year together, I was waking up Billy in the middle of the night because I was bored and wanted to watch puppy movies.

By the time I moved to London, I had utilized the pity of others so much that I managed to stay 'temporarily' in my friend Danny O'Dwyers house for SIX MONTHS.

Friend: Chris Thomas 
Time of Friendship: Ages 21-22
Needs Fulfilled: Misc

I think it's important to note that as I've been writing this, Chris has brought me a pain au chocolat, a cup of tea, and a packet of crisps.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Salad Bar

Near my office, there is a very large Sainsbury's. And in this very large Sainsbury's, there is an incredibly well-stocked salad bar.

I don't know if this is the only salad bar in the area, but the mystique around this particular salad bar implies that it is the only one of its kind, ever. Truly, it is the one salad bar to rule us all. Around 11.30 every morning, people from the neighbouring offices start whispering about the Sainsbury's salad bar. They shiftily begin putting on their blazers and remind one another that "We better get there early, if we're going to beat the queue."

They divide into packs of three and four. But wait, Pete is still on a call. Pete wanted us to wait, because he wanted to go to salad bar, too. Pete has been talking about the salad bar's Coronation Chicken all morning.

But wait, the pack responds. Pete knew what he was getting into, when he took that call.

It was Pete's decision to make that call.

Pete can just go to the salad bar later. Fuck Pete.

And so, like a wounded soldier, Pete is left behind. The pack carries on. At this point, with all the procrastinating about whether the pack will wait for Pete or not, it is now 11.55. The salad bar is in full swing. There is a queue looping around Sainsbury's. One member of the pack wonders aloud if the salad bar is worth waiting for. And couldn't we just go to Subway?

Her lack of faith in salad bar is snarled at by the alpha members of the salad pack. She breaks off. The pack is now down to two.

There is now a queue of sixty people waiting for the salad bar,  standing with plastic bowls, ready to scoop Moroccan cous cous, stuffed red peppers and goats cheese into them. There is no talking in the salad bar queue. There is only hunters, ready to pounce. Irritated, they tap lethargically on their iPhones, absurdly well dressed and bored. Then their time comes, and they move through the ladles of salad swiftly, balancing different flavours together in accordance with the diagrams they have been drawing all morning. They pay their £2.99, and they bring their bowl back to their office, where they will eat it at their desks.

I have observed this trend for several weeks now, and have always found it to be particularly bizarre. I couldn't figure out if people were militantly planning their day around cherry tomatoes and croutons because they enjoyed the structure of the routine or because the croutons were really that good. So on Friday, I decided that I had been working in the area long enough to finally succumb to the charms of the salad bar.

I stood in line. I tapped on my iPhone. I adjusted my blazer, now clammy from standing too near the sausage roll heating tray. I slammed different kinds of salad into my plastic bowl, with an amateurish lack of skill on how well the tastes went together. People behind me sighed at my indecision. I paid, went back to my office, and ate my salad bowl at my desk.

It was absolutely delicious, and completely worth it.

Drawing: Natalie Dee