Monday, 2 April 2012

Meet: Daphne

(Playwright, Fashion Journo, Blogger and the beautiful girl I'm lucky enough 
 to call my Girlfriend)

I met Daphne on a warm September evening - do you remember September 2009? Weather wise it was one of the nicest Septembers I can remember and in terms of my personal life the best and most significant. 

I'd just moved to London and was loving it. Although I was also finding being in a big city full of so many things to see and do and no friends to enjoy it with boring and massively frustrating. 

Finally the night I had been waiting for, for over a year arrives. The opening lecture of my MA Creative Writing (Plays & Screenplays) Obviously I arrived late - as I did for many of my lectures - and a little flustered. I found an empty seat, took too long to sit down and get settled and scanned the room. Male, male, too old, male, not my type, Jackpot! A beautiful tanned face with big dark eyes and long dark hair.

Except that's not strictly how we met because we didn't speak for the first 3 weeks! - but eventually classroom flirting turned into secretly dating, which became openly dating and two and a half years later we're still together and I'm happier than ever. 

Now, I have to inform you, Daphne is slightly mad (hopefully she won't mind me saying that). She says the craziest things all the time. Quote of the day: "When you flush the toilet you're supposed to come out. I've been hiding for ages." (She had been hiding in the wardrobe waiting for me to come out) And so over the last couple of years, Daphne has had me in stitches multiple, multiple times by telling me hilarious (often quite ridiculous) stories about herself and her life. None of which, I don't think, have tickled me more than this one. Hopefully it will tickle you too.

So here's Daphne's story accompanied by a (much funnier than mine) intro - I'm supposed to write the intro! - but then she's my girlfriend, so it's practically her duty to ignore everything I say. Right?!

Daphne Economou and the Deadly Chav.

Most people who don’t know me, try to place my accent. American? Irish? Do I hear… Liverpool? No, no you don’t, get your ears cleaned and never talk to me again. My accent is a hybrid actually, I had an Australian teacher, a love for American TV, British music idols, many English friends, one pseudo-Welsh boyfriend and a Greek family and upbringing. Before we start with my story, let me clarify this, I now understand the British culture, I have adapted. I can’t stop myself from saying please and thank you like my life depends on it (and while it’s all the rage here, in Greece waiters think I have OCD), I put milk in my tea and I almost accept that the one and only thing y’all eat EVERYTIME there’s any sort of an occasion is a roast dinner.

Rewind six years, however, and none of this made sense to me. My accent was as Greek as it gets, my skin had a hint of the Mediterranean (as in tanned not hairy, thank you very much) and my knowledge of all things British could be entirely summarized in this sentence: ‘you like fish and chips and to get drrrrrrrrrunk, no?’. Adding insult to injury, I lived in the tiny posh slash chavtastic slash brilliant town (or maybe city because of some cathedral rule?) of Winchester in a house of four and a half residents, three and a half of which had not socialized with many foreign people before. One housemate actually, although good natured, never quite grasped that I was human. She referred to me as ‘The Greek’, described me to others as ‘a Greek’ and pretty much pictured me as a cat with a Greek flag print on my fur. When, in the summer, she came to Greece (to make sure it wasn’t an imaginary country, perhaps) she literally ate exclusively chips and bread for two whole weeks. She then died of constipation. No, sorry, she didn’t, that was a terrible joke.

Anyway, I’m rumbling and my editor will get cross. The story I was asked to tell is about Chavs. As I mentioned, Winchester can be quite chavy, especially the parts of it students can afford to chill at. And what to you looks like a chav, to the untrained Greek eye is just a guy who must go to the gym a lot and is in dire need of a dental hygiene lecture and a shampoo bottle. So, when my half a housemate, Will, came in our house terrified one evening because ‘chavs’ had bullied him, I was baffled to say the least. Will looked at me like the ignorant token foreigner I was. "Do you not know about Chavs?" "No" I said, semi-ashamed. At this point, Hayley butted into our conversation "they’re the people with the traksuits and the big earrings." Oh yeah, I had seen them. "They are horrible" Will and Hayley chanted in unison (not really, but it would have been entertaining). They looked at me in the eyes and laid the horrific facts out. "They will shout things at you. Never look at them. Especially not if they talk to you." And never EVER talk back to them. ESPECIALLY with your accent. They steal and spit. They killed a man outside Tesco the other day because he told them to be quiet." It suddenly all made sense… they don’t go to the gym a lot, they wear tracksuits to run faster and the rotten teeth are from all the spitting and OH MY GOD their hair is dirty because they don’t have time to wash it in between murders!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Fast forward two chav induced nightmare filled days, Hayley offers to give me a lift to the One Stop. The little drive goes smoothly. We listen to two verses of a song and the beginning of a bad Fearne Cotton joke and we’re there. The glorious One Stop. I get out of the car, unaware of what is to come. Take two steps. Then I see them. Trainers, tracksuits, bad teeth, bulldog, shit hair. My internal monologue goes into overdrive. "don’t look at them, don’t look at them, not with your accent, not with your accent, wait… they can’t SEE my accent, shhhh just don’t look, just do…" "MISS?! MISS?!" I hear a voice through two brown broken teeth. "shit, shit, shit, SHIT, I’m going to be the man at Tesco." Despite trying not to, I look up. They are actually talking to me. I can see the headlines ‘Chavs Murder Foreign Girl After She Rolled Her ‘r’s At Them’. They look as threatening as I expected. Short, angry. I turn around and look at Hayley with terror! Hayley is unfazed, she probably hasn’t noticed THE CHAVS, I think. I run towards the car keeping my composure. They talk to me again "Miss, Miss will you..." That’s it, their voices trigger my street wise defense mechanism, unable to control it, a scream escapes my vocal chords ‘CRIMINALS!! THE CRIMINALS SPOKE TO MEEEEEEEEEEEEEE’. I get in the car shaking. Hayley looks at me blankly. I expect her to share my panic and drive away at full speed. Instead, she takes a moment to realise what has just happened and wets herself "you absolute moron!! They are eight year old kids walking their dog."

Written by Daphne Economou
(she's a brilliant writer isn't she?!)

Be sure to check out her hilariously amazing fashion blog

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