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Life: A User’s Manual

Nicole Dalamagas’ guide to being an idiot

Written by . Published on September 28th 2011.

Life: A User’s Manual

THIS isn’t a Perec review. Or tips on how to find the right career path, or fulfill your dreams or find your fortune. In fact, I’d say this is my way of showing you what not to do, from someone who is an experienced professional at fucking everything up.

You see, nicotine and I have a beautiful relationship. I free it from its white, papery prison, and in return, it suppresses that side of my personality that might otherwise shout at old ladies on the bus or trip up blind people in the street or make the interns spit-shine my shoes.

Mrbump I’m assuming that this is going to be the first in a series of the wanes and woes of my life, without sounding too apathetic. This first chapter then, as I shall call it from now on, was brought on by one, huge, crashing epitome of what has been a particularly abysmal week. Before I begin, I’d like to just take a second to profess that I’m not in any way mentally handicapped. Nor am I criminally insane or on any kind of medication. I’m also very capable and possibly even talented at many things (prospective boyfriends take note). But unfortunately, no matter how hard I try to shake it off, the sad fact remains that I was simply born lacking. Lacking any common sense, spacial awareness, good judgment, logic, sophistication, coordination or extended concentration. 

I guess like with most things, its best to start from the beginning. For anyone that has met me, you’re probably accustomed to seeing me smoking one cigarette with another at-the-ready in my hand and at least two packets, four lighters and a pouch of tobacco in my bag. However last Monday, for some God-awful reason, which I can’t even remember at this point, I decided to quit the killing sticks and start a new, ‘healthy’ lifestyle. As it turns out, this was far easier said than done. You see, nicotine and I have a beautiful relationship. I free it from its white, papery prison, and in return, it suppresses that side of my personality that might otherwise shout at old ladies on the bus or trip up blind people in the street or make the interns spit-shine my shoes. Consider it like Pandora’s box or The Mask. A non-prescription Xanax, if you will. My one, true pleasure in life, my best friend, my soulmate, cruelly taken away.

Fond childhood memoriesFond childhood memories

This very same morning, I also awoke with three, enormous, spider bites on my leg. And I mean huge. Second kneecap huge. The persistent itching combined with the lack of nicotine didn’t do much for my mood as you can imagine, and at one point I even sent a ferocious e-mail to a friend, telling him to go and defenestrate himself. I stared out the window as walking cigarettes casually strolled on past and found myself salivating slightly and even considering tackling a passing smoker to the ground and stealing the Marlboro right out of her wrinkly, pursed lips. 

Itchy, anxious and now somewhat delirious, I left the office and decided to head home. As the day went on, the swelling had become worse and worse and now one leg was the size of a small Redwood. Could things get any worse, seriously? Did I kill a bunny rabbit in a past life or something? 

Perhaps so – when a bus finally arrived, it was not only packed with schoolchildren, but also then terminated due to a fight between two drunks on the upper level and I had to walk back from Dalston Junction to Stoke Newington, dragging my leg like a cripple. The persistent heat, the lack of nicotine, the raging itch, and now to top it all off, my period, all combined to create a fever, and I spent the rest of the evening stuttering nonsense on the couch and shaking paraletically. 

The rest of the week has taken a much similar turn, going from one ridiculous occurrence to another. I have fallen over at least eight times; I haven’t been able to find my glasses for a week; I’ve almost been ran over by a cyclist; I’ve been splashed with rainwater by a passing car; I’ve six new bruises and three spider bite scars; I cut my fringe a little bit wonky; I’ve spilt my coffee every morning; I’ve bumped into every wall I’ve passed.

And then, last night, as I finally thought ‘fuck it, I’m going to go and buy a bottle of wine and some cigarettes’, it literally began to rain the second that I stepped out of the front door. As though it was just hovering above my head like a leaky tap. I picked up speed slightly to avoid the downpour, and began to tell my friend, who was stood to my left, about the horrible week I’d been having. As I hurried along, engrossed in conversation, I ran smack bang into a low-hanging tree and was knocked completely unconscious.

Slipping in and out of reality, laughing hysterically, but bawling on the inside, I had reached another level if idiocy. I proceeded to stand up, although not of stable mind and mutter a few incoherent ‘I’m fines’ before stumbling into the local newsagent, hand on head, legs like jelly, eyes lolling into back of head, trying to buy Tootsie Rolls and a Dib-Dab. I was met with bemused glances from the Turkish shopkeepers.

Tara Palmer Tomkinson aka A Waste of the World's TimeTara Palmer Tomkinson aka A Waste of the World's Time

When I eventually came round, I had an epiphany. A lifetime of stumbles, spillages and social misdemeanors all culminated into one, revealing portrait. I had slid down the slippery slope of stupidity, that same, piss-coated slide that has also been graced by the likes of Margaret Thatcher, Tara Palmer-Tomkinson and the entire cast of The Only Way is Essex. Close equivalents exist in every walk of life – they are often the loud, slobbering imbeciles who seem too loutish to do any real harm, that is, until you wake up one morning to find one of them has taken your job.

Fortunately, the media loves stupid people. Turn on your television and you will be hard-pressed to find a human being with even as much as an average level of intelligence. Shows such as Educating Essex, Big Brother and The Inbetweeners are full of them; Roan Atkinson even built his career upon stupidity. So are we as a nation becoming less intelligent?

Perhaps. It has to be said that stupid people breed. Stupidity may in fact encourage reproduction. Most married people, in particular those with children, will often spend many a dark, gin-fuelled night, looking up in the heavens with big, bloodshot eyes wondering - what on earth came over me? I was really stupid.

 And perhaps then we need stupid people in order to perpetuate the human race. Have you ever spoken to an Intenet boy wonder or brain surgeon or nuclear scientist? No? That's because they are completely incapable of social interaction. Most of them spend their days in Games workshop or locked away with a Beano in the basement of their mother's house, crying into her bosom like demented mole rat.

Head Lecturer at LSE UniversityHead Lecturer at LSE University


And then there are the 'hip' geeks. The Shoreditch geeks. But we all know they are just idiots in disguise - their glasses don't even have real lenses. So what I'm saying is this: knocking myself out on a tree that day was actual quite comforting. It was a collision with reality, a cold, slap of rain waking an uneasy sleeper. Now I know I'm an idiot, I can jump on the bandwagon and exploit it. Expect me at X Factor and Britain's Got Talent auditions around the UK and look out for my latest reality TV hit, The Only Way is Dalamagas.

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