Some years ago, I took a train and somebody jumped in front of it. It was a hot summer morning, a beautiful morning, in the south of England and I was taking a train from London to the coast, rushing through the best kind of countryside: rolling hills and shimmering crops, giant white horses etched in chalk onto hillsides, stone circles rotating through glades of bluebells, gangs of young men growing hot and overexcited, bake offs.
The average 20-year-old checks their phone 90 times a day. But Layla was not average. She posted the video as she waited for the toaster to ping and checked the view-count three times in the two minutes it took her to finish breakfast. The internet replied with silence and that stung a little, as it always did.
For most of us, this is the start of an antagonizing annual cycle that begins with earnest calorie restriction and a gym membership. Then we give up. I call this the New Year, New Body trope, a mysterious and torturous actualization that demands self-starvation and encourages eating disorders.
‘D’you want a hand with that?’ he says, a hand-rolled fag hanging from the corner of his lip, unlit, of course.
She pushes the crate of milk bottles onto the flatbed of the float.
‘Don’t often see a lady doing this job.’