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My Stories || Working Girl

My Chicken Story Stories

Let the river run

Let all the dreamers

Wake the nation.

Come, the new Jerusalem.

Carly Simon from the film ‘Working Girl’.

I would pull on my socks over my black tights and put on my trainers, before slipping quietly out of the door.

I was living in East London. Leyton. My route to work took me up Dunedin Road to the main street, where I’d turn right towards the underground station. It wasn’t here I’d start singing Carly Simon’s words in my head. No, I was too busy waking up.

The clang of the shop front shutters jarred my head, making me wince, and the fumes from the cars, the stale takeaway smells, filled my nose.

Approaching the station I’d take out my travelcard, feeling a bit smug, like a proper Londoner. Despite being surrounded by proper Londoners. It was easy to get a seat at Leyton, unless there had been a delay further down the line. We entered the train above ground, the doors would beep and we’d set off, building speed. Soon the darkness would enclose us, my inner ears tightening with the difference in pressure. I’d feel a fission of excitement each time. Obviously I was new to the city. That world weary tube traveller thing hadn’t happened to me. Yet.

I’d alight at Liverpool Street Station. A station I’d only known throughout my life as a strategic place to buy on the Monopoly board. I’d walk and walk. I was heading to my temporary job. I made good progress in my trainers and Melanie Griffiths would pop into my head, Carly Simon’s vocals on a loop.

Now, almost two decades later, whilst I still love the song, still enjoy watching the film; at the end, when the camera pans away from Melanie in her new office, the office she has fought so long and hard to achieve, well, I shudder.

To me, it looks like a prison.

And I thought that was what I wanted.

My Chicken Story Stories is snippets of my thoughts as I pull together the first draft of my memoir.

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5 Comments

  • Reply Amelia May

    This is wonderful. I can picture it all so well. Xx

    Keep Calm and start writing –
    23millymay25.blogspot.co.uk.

    24th September 2016 at 1:50 pm
    • Reply Helen Redfern

      Thank you Amelia May!

      26th September 2016 at 7:58 am
  • Reply Kayte

    Oh Helen this is beautiful – so much atmosphere, such sense of place, so relatable. All non-Londoners travelling in London know that exact feeling. Lovely, lovely writing. I’ve never kept a diary and at times thought I might forget things, but this style of writing is what is so great about memoir – weeks and months clumped together in a haze of memory, at once homogenous and distinct.mthis post makes me want to be a better writer.

    Also, I am so in love with how perfect your notebooks always look.

    25th September 2016 at 10:07 pm
    • Reply Helen Redfern

      Kayte, thank you so much. Your lovely comment has set me up for a week of writing. x

      26th September 2016 at 7:58 am
  • Reply Lady Eve

    I read this with the biggest smile on my face. Years ago, when I was a thrusting young PA, Melanie Griffiths’s ‘Working Girl’ was my role model (after the haircut, obviously), my guide through some very hard times in a job I hated, my inspiration. Now, all that feels like a lifetime ago. It’s not that I cannot imagine living that kind of life again; it’s knowing that I absolutely do not want to, ever. Now, I say that the closest I’ll ever get to an office again will be laptop in a bothy, with a cat and a kettle.

    I know your memoir has come a long way since you wrote this (I’m only now catching up with your blog in a kind of pick ‘n’ mix binge) but still wish you all the very best with it.

    23rd February 2017 at 3:25 pm
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