When I kicked a psychopath

Comedian Sofie Hagen

“I think we’re all psychopaths,” a close friend of mine told me. Then proceeded to tell me about all the times she has cried over someone else’s misfortune. I don’t think she knows what a psychopath is.

I grew up with a psychopath. My grandfather. He is not my real grandfather, not my flesh and blood, thank god, he never reproduced. My grandmother left her first husband (also a psychopath) for him and they moved far away from everything together and brought my mum. She was a single mother with two kids, so I spent a lot of time with my grandmother and him.

I think that’s why I became slightly obsessed with psychopaths. I remember the moment it happened. I was telling my second psychologist about him, about the things he had said and done and how I had felt and she froze. She showed me her arm, which had goosebumps. She started telling me about how insanely dangerous it is for a child to be around that kind of person. I was never in physical danger, but mentally, I’d been through one hell of a ride. She then smiled slyly and said, “I’d love to sit down with him and pick his brains.” and I fear she meant it literally. She gave me two books about the subject of psychopaths and made me read them – so if nothing else, I would be able to see the warning signs. Because as she said, “you might find yourself trying to fix your childhood by being attracted to a psychopath, in the hope that you can make him feel empathy.”

OH BOY WAS SHE RIGHT. I met a full-on psychopath and fell in love. One day, he would tell me that I was the most beautiful woman in the entire world, that he had never felt this way before, that we had something special that no one else had. I was young. That’s how you think people talk the first night you spend with them. Cut to three years later. I’m kicking him and slapping him. Not in a cool, dramatic way as in the movies. It is making absolutely no impact. I have no strength. He’s standing in front of me with a puzzled facial expression and a slight sneer every time my kick actually does a bit of harm. I’m trying to keep him from a 15 year old girl, he wants to have sex with. She asked me to help her. There are people around, but no one sees it. His eyes turn even darker and colder than they ever have been before and he says, “I genuinely hope you die. I want to kill you right now. I want you to drown.”

I kick him again. I’ve given up trying to psychically trying to harm him. Now I’m just kicking because I have no words. And I feel like I have to protect the 15 year old girl – because I’m over trying to fix my psychopath grandfather through some pompous dickhead and I’ve moved on to trying to fix the scared-shitless child in me through a poor 15 year old girl who was at the wrong time at the wrong place. I walk her home. I can hear him threatening me, as we walk away. When I can no longer hear him, he texts me the threats instead.

Four weeks later, he called me. He had joined a support group. He apologised because they had told him to. I asked, “for what?”

He paused. “For… everything.”

I said, “Tell me one thing you did. Just name one thing you did that you apologise for.”

His voice went from being pretend-sad to being coldly furious, “You’re ungrateful.” he said and hung up. He genuinely had no idea what he had done.

When I met my next psychopath, the immediate feeling of excitement and attraction quickly turned to actual physical disgust and fear. He tried hard to manipulate me, but I was 25. I knew the tricks. At one point, I told him, “You’re a psychopath.”

He said, “Oh, not this again.” and proceeded to tell me about all the people, medical professionals included, who had given him that diagnosis. He rolled his eyes at them and at us. He then asked me, “I don’t understand why that girl over there wasn’t interested in me. I told her all of my best anecdotes.”

I said, “Did you ask her anything about herself?”

He squinted his eyes and looked confused. It had never even occurred to him.

My grandfather would tell long anecdotes from his job. He worked in a factory. Nothing exciting ever actually happened. But at 4pm, my grandmother and I would have baked him cookies, made coffee and served it all for him at the living room table and we were sitting facing him, smiling, looking excited to hear him talk. He would start talking. If we interrupted him – by either looking away, coughing, laughing too much at something that wasn’t that funny, not seeming interested enough or sipping the coffee too loudly – he would the story over and this time, talk shower. Whenever I see someone being tortured on TV, I almost envy that it only takes seconds to pull out a toe nail.

We could sit like this for hours. Once I made a joke – not just a joke, a callback. To something he had said in the beginning of the story. It was funny. I was a child(-genius, some would say) and I was so proud that I had thought of a joke. All hell broke loose. He closed his eyes. Slowly. Took a very deep breath. His forehead wrinkled in concern and he tightened his fists. The disappointment he felt was massive. I had let him down. I had made him feel less important than he felt he was. Then he said, in the most self-righteous tone I have ever heard, “I guess I’m going to have to start over, now that no one listens to me.” and he did. From the top. Slower.

But I had listened to him. In great detail. He didn’t know how hard it was to do a call-back. I didn’t do another callback till my 2015 Edinburgh show, which some journalists said was, “too callback-heavy”. Well, I’ve heard that one before, mate. Get in line.

We would watch TV at night. They had horrific, new leather furniture which squeaked when you moved. And if you did – move, that is – he would turn up the volume so loudly that it hurt our ears. When we’d sat like that, without moving, for sometimes 2-5 minutes, he’d turn it down again. If we’d move and the furniture would squeak – the volume would go up again.

He once brought me a massive cake and said, “If you love me, you’ll eat all of it.” I was five. Today I’m fat. I WONDER WHY.

Psychopaths are dangerous because they use people as pawns. If you accept their behaviour and their worldview is being correct, you’re in a shithole of danger. You will allow yourself to become second priority. You’ll accept that you exist to please them. If you don’t give them that power, they cannot cope with it.

The last time I visited my grandmother and grandfather, I refused to let my grandfather drive me. I took a £50 cab. At this point, I hadn’t acknowledged him for about 13 years. If I call their house, I politely say hello and then ask to speak to my grandmother. I am polite. He knew all of this – so he went to his car and sat there for the six hours I spent with my grandmother. It was all a game – he assumed I would eventually feel so bad that I’d go and get him. Instead I had the time of my life with my grandmother, who is 92 years old and frankly, also sick of him.

My grandmother was ill when she was around 89 years old. She was scared. She told me that she was religious, like it was a secret. I realised it wasn’t because it was secret, but it was because it was private. To her. And she told me. Not her asshole husband, even though he was also in the room. She said that she knew that when she died, she would be with her sisters and mother and father again. I told her that it sounded lovely. My grandfather, her husband of 30 years, looked her in the eyes and said, “That’s stupid. When you’re dead, you’re dead. Nothing’s there. You turn into dirt.”

And that’s a psychopath for you.

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I’m doing last year’s callback-heavy show “Bubblewrap” at Soho Theatre on May 6th and 7th. I’d love to see some of you there.

If you haven’t heard it yet, go listen to guiltyfeminist.com

Or my very own podcast comedianstellingstuff.com

It’s my party and I’ll take a fucking selfie if I want to

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 22.39.01

A journalist wanted a photo of me from my teenage-days. I went on Facebook to start looking. I quickly realised that I have never uploaded any photos from my teenage years. Oh well, I went to look through old folders and real-life-photo-albums (yes, I know, I’m an ancient 27 year old. We also had dinosaurs back in the early 2000s.) but sigh – none was to be found. It dawned on me. I have almost no photos of myself from the age of 15 to 21.


Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 22.36.10In an age where Instagram is a thing, that would seem ridiculous to a lot of people. But I know why. Back then, our phones had the game Snake on them (bring that back!)  – but no camera for selfies. Actually, ‘selfie’ was not even a word. A thing. Sometimes you would try and turn a camera around and pray that the photo would look decent 2-3 weeks later when you would go and pick it up from a counter in the mall, after it had been developed. It never did look decent.

So I did not take selfies. I hated how I looked. I was a teenager, but I was also a fat teenager. A fat teenager with constantly static and flat hair, a pointy nose, pimples and years of bullying in my personal baggage. My self-hatred was almost to be expected. No one took my photo because they knew how I would react. One bad photo and I would be in a fetal position for days.

I am still fat, my hair is still constantly static and flat, my nose is still pointy and I still get pimples and I still recall the hurtful words from the bullies. But – through years and years of therapy and contact with the body-positive online community, of reading about mental health, of learning to love myself and my body and my little pointy nose, I can honestly say that I love the way I look.

Ever told people that you think you look hot?
It is frowned upon, usually. People lift an eyebrow and make sure to let you know that arrogance doesn’t suit anyone. It is not arrogance. It is a personal struggle ended. It is a defiance against the beauty industry and horrible kids all having done their best to break me and my spirit. All having been part of the force that sent me to a Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 22.33.33psychiatric hospital at the age of 17. When I say I love myself, that is a fact. When I say that I love how I look, that is somewhat of a miracle. No one ever told me that. I am not repeating a large group of people’s praise. I am repeating the sentence I had to tell myself repeatedly to not end in a bottomless depression-pit which I would never leave. If a fat woman with pimples, a pointy nose, flat and static hair, says to you that she loves herself, that’s a goddamn fucking brave thing to say, an important thing to say – and the truth. I think I am beautiful, therefore I am beautiful.

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 22.31.59So I take selfies. I take loads of selfies. Sometimes I wear make-up in them, sometimes not. Sometimes they are taken from an unapologetically flattering angle, sometimes they are not. Sometimes I take 40 and post one, sometimes I just post the first one I take. Sometimes I filter them to the point where I’m almost unrecognisable, sometimes I leave them untouched. I take selfies in which I am smiling, I take selfies in which I am genuinely crying. My Instagram-account is full of them. Every selfie I take is a fuck-you to a culture that wants women to loathe themselves, so they are too busy buying mascara and push-up bras to, oh I don’t know, ask for a raise or consider running for president. Why not stop spending your time and energy on hating selfies and selfie-sticks and the consumers of these? All it does is magnify your own insecurities for the world to see. What does it say about you if you need to criticise people celebrating self-love or attempts of self-love in a world where we’re all taught to be insecure? Why not just be happy that I look fucking gorgeous in a photo, that I think I look fucking gorgeous in a photo and that I tell people that I think I look fucking gorgeous in a photo?

Maybe take a hard look at yourself. Figure out why you need to bring others down. Hey, you know a really good way of looking at yourself? Take a selfie.

Remember that the second episode of our podcast The Guilty Feminist is out now. Find it via iTunes or through our website guiltyfeminist.com. And if you are anywhere near Leicester, I am doing my 2015 show ‘Bubblewrap’ on the 5th and 7th of February 2016.


The Guilty Feminist

I was the reason a man lost his job just before Christmas.

Growing up in Denmark, we would read Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales like The Little Match Girl about a poor little child who tried to sell matches and ended up freezing to death while she is looking at a family celebrating Christmas through their window. So naturally, that is how I have been imagining this cab driver ever since I found out he had probably been fired. Standing outside my window, looking in, freezing to death.

Men have groped me on the bus three times. Cab drivers have been sexually aggressive and threatening twice. I’ve been followed home, I’ve been pushed up against walls, I’ve been forced to kiss strangers and worse. I have never reported any of them. All the classic excuses: what if it was my fault? What if they didn’t mean to do it? What if I misunderstood? And, most importantly, what if no one believes me?

All these excuses made sense to me. However, when these things happened to friends, I would furiously demand they contact the police. All their excuses sounded ridiculous, like they were blaming themselves for something that was completely out of their control. But when it came to me, the excuses felt right.

Last week, I ordered a cab through an app. A man in a car showed up and drove me to Gatwick Airport. It was 4am and I’d not slept so I hoped he would not talk to me, but he was well-rested and chatty. It was fine. At first, he complained about foreigners, which seemed like such a cliche at first, but then it just felt weird, as he himself was an immigrant, he told me. From India. I said I was an immigrant from Denmark. I disagreed with his points without being as aggressive as I usually would have been when meeting a right-wing person – after all, I was in his locked car in the middle of the night.

Then he asked me if I had a boyfriend and I made one up. After all, I was in his locked car in the middle of the night. We arrived at the airport. Before he opened his door (and mine) he asked if he should pick me up, when I came back to London.

“No, thank you. I will take the train.” I said.

“I can pick you up.” he said.

“No, I am definitely taking the train.” I said.

“You can give me your number and just call me whenever you need to,” he then offered.

“No, that’s OK,” I said, “Uhm… You can take my email.”

After all, I was in his locked car in the middle of the night. I wrote down my email and gave it to him.

“I can email you and you can let me know if you want to be picked up,” he said.

“No, I’ll be taking the train, but thank you,” I said.

We both got out and I took my bag, shook his hand and flew to Denmark. I thought nothing more of it. Until I received a text from him a few days later, offering to give me a lift back to London. I ignored it. Then he sent an email. I ignored it. The next day he started calling me. I blocked his number from all platforms.

I don’t know if it’s because I recently turned 27, because I remembered having said “no” so clearly so many times or if I just felt particularly empowered just then, but I sent screenshots in an email to the app’s customer service. I told them everything that happened in detail and added, “I am sure he is a good and harmless guy. All I wish is for you to let him know why this is not OK. That it feels scary. He probably just doesn’t know.”

“Most of us have tried to reject a man, only to see the actual rage and surprise in his eyes, like we didn’t have the legal right to do that to him. But why wouldn’t he think that? That’s all he has been taught.”

The message came the next day. “We have removed the driver from our app, we apologise and here is a refund.”

Then the wave of guilt washed over me and I crumbled. I started seeing this poor cab driver standing in front of my window with a matchbox and one single tear rolling down his cheek. I felt like the devil right then and there. He is probably a father of 10 starving children. He was probably just trying to earn an extra buck. What if I had ruined his life? What if I was just a prude? What if I am just Cruella de Vil and he’s a puppy Dalmatian?

I threw it all up on social media, which is the perfect place to find out the worst possible thoughts that people can have about you. People said in unison: You said no. This is not OK.

And I know they are right. Had it happened to a friend of mine, I would have agreed. But the feeling of guilt, oh, the guilt.

The guilt interests me. Since the incident I have heard stories from vast numbers of women. Women who have been sexually assaulted and didn’t report it, because they were scared. But also from women who have been sexually assaulted and did report it – and were overwhelmed with guilt. Police officers who told them they were overreacting. Friends telling them that they had now ruined a man’s life.

The only possible theory I can think of, is that maybe, just maybe, it’s because in the back of our minds, we know that sexism affects all genders. Men have been taught that it’s OK to keep pushing women to get their way. If she says she doesn’t want a cab ride home, show up in front of her window with a boombox and an 80s pop song and she’ll be sure to fall in love with you(r cab).

Men have been taught that they can ‘earn’ women and they ‘deserve’ women. Most of us have tried to reject a man, only to see the actual rage and surprise in his eyes, like we didn’t have the legal right to do that to him. But why wouldn’t he think that? That’s all he has been taught. This might be why we feel bad. Because they are, apart from assholes sometimes, also just victims.


SONY DSCMy go-to feminist friend in all of this has been Deborah Frances-White, the amazing Radio 4 star comedian. We have had countless debates about the guilt part of being a woman, a feminist – a human, even. So much so that we have decided to face this head-on in a new podcast recorded in front of a live audience.

Click here to listen to the first episode of The Guilty Feminist: Nudity.

First posted in Standard Issue Magazine.

How to Start Doing Yoga (for people who are never going to start doing yoga)

First posted in The Standard Issue Magazine.

Just bought another book about yoga. I already had four books about it, which I have not yet read. The stress about not having read them made me buy another one to learn how to deal with the stress. It makes perfect sense.

I swear, if buying books about yoga made you flexible and free of stress, I would have both legs wrapped around my neck while baking my own homemade, gluten-free bread; or whatever it is that stress-free people do.

I decided to get help. And who better than the incredible online yoga phenomenon, Jessamyn Stanley?

yoga4Jessamyn, 27, has over 80,000 followers on Instagram, where she uploads photos daily of her doing yoga in her home. We are best friends. Okay, we’re not, but I have definitely liked most of her photos and I have a major crush on her awesomeness.

Talking to her seemed like the perfect plan. Not only would I get to procrastinate even more instead of actually going to yoga, I would also have the perfect excuse to talk to someone who is an inspiration.

“I am scared of going to a yoga class.” I tell Jessamyn when we Skype from London (me) to Durham in North Carolina, USA.

“What scares you?” she asks.

“Well,” I sigh, “I haven’t moved my body in 10 years.”

“Listen, first time I did yoga it was horrible. It was Bikram yoga and it was so hot that when I left the class, I got nauseous and I thought: I am never doing that again,” she says.

“Later on, my ex-girlfriend and I had split up and I was kind of a mess. A former classmate of mine had a Groupon for a yoga class and it totally changed my life.

“I was never athletic before. I don’t like to exercise. But it was just a way to not be stressed out. To refocus my energy.

headstand“It’s such a huge part of my life,” Jessamyn continues. “It’s the way I’m able to cope with everything. It really transcends being healthy and exercising. I always wanted to lose weight. But I like cheeseburgers. I like French fries. It will not change.

“I just wanted to be able to feel better about myself, about things that didn’t have to do with my weight and once I stopped thinking about losing weight, I actually started to lose weight. I really don’t care anymore.

“Now I just feel so good about everything. Does being smaller make you better? Funnier? Or smarter or more interesting? Yoga is therapy on a level I can’t explain.”

Jessamyn makes good points, but my inner screaming anti-yoga-voice has other ideas. I tell her: “I have found 10 excuses to not do it already.”

“Alright, what’s number one?” she asks.

“Well,” (I know I’m going to sound like a stupid teenager) “what if I’m the fattest one in the class?”

“It’s the way I’m able to cope with everything. It really transcends being healthy and exercising. I always wanted to lose weight. But I like cheeseburgers. I like French fries. It will not change.”

“You probably will be. I’m usually one of the largest people and the instructor will usually look at me and think I’m the person they need to help. At first I get defensive but then I think: if someone has decided to become a yoga instructor, I have to believe that they actually know the true purpose of this.

“It does not have to do with size. But other students don’t and won’t feel that way and they will contribute to an environment that is not comfortable.

doing the splits“All we can do, as larger-bodied people, is to just be present and go to classes and wear your real clothes and make sure that people know that we’re out here, because that’s the only way that they’re going to learn.”

“What if you fart?” I say as the voice in my head gets more and more panicky.

Jessamyn is quiet for a second. I’m not sure if she is going to laugh or yell at me.

“Oh my god,” she laughs, “I have peed on myself. I have farted. Oh god, so much pee! If you fart – no one is going to say anything. Farting, peeing, it’s fine… shitting? That’s more complicated to explain. Especially if you do it quite early. I wouldn’t recommend it.”

There goes another excuse. I am running out. “Are they going to ask me to be upside down in the first class?”

Jessamyn smiles: “You don’t know what your body is capable of. Your body is so incredible.”

I sigh and realise I have to get down to basics. “What do I wear?”

“If you’re going to a regular non-hot class, I recommend leggings and a form-fitting top,” she says. “Don’t wear baggy clothes. It’s so important that you can feel and see your body and be intimate with it, so don’t wear baggy clothes.”

“All we can do, as larger-bodied people, is to just be present and go to classes and wear your real clothes and make sure that people know that we’re out here, because that’s the only way that they’re going to learn.”

“But…” I pout, “why even bother? Why do it?”

“There are a lot of different ways to move your body, but it’s rare that you get a physical exercise that’s also therapy and that is also spiritual,” Jessamyn answers. “I’m not a religious person but I do believe in the universe and it puts you in connection with that. It’ll open a part of yourself that you probably don’t even recognise has always been in you, and it will provide more comfort than anything else in the world. So if you want that… I think that’s a reason to do it.”

“Good point.” I say out loud while mouthing “I love you” into my hand, so she cannot see it.

crab-style poseThe voice in my head has gone quiet, which can only mean one thing. I start searching for yoga classes in my area.

I thank Jessamyn, who laughs and offers: “If you ever need motivation to practise, let me know and I will give you motivation to practise!” I thank her again, even though it sounds more like a threat than a friendly offering.

And then I book a yoga appointment.

Follow Jessamyn on Instagram: @mynameisjessamyn; Twitter@JessNotJazz; and her hashtag #SizeDoesntMatter

somebody please put this baby in a corner already

“Do you have a table for one, in a corner?” I asked the waiter who met me at the door. I had high hopes for this restaurant, as their toilets were perfect for crying in. Let me explain. First of all, they were on a totally different floor, far away from everything. No music was playing. The stalls were completely closed, no huge gap above and under the door, so people can hear you weeping “God oh why, oh God why me” or whatever you decide to cry out on the given day. Neither can they hear a plop, if that was to happen. No, completely closed off. Good, decent lock on the door. A good coat hook on it as well. It was big enough for my ass to feel comfortable on the seat without half of it having to rest on the bin for Embarrassing Lady Stuff. And it was quiet – no queue. No other people in there. It even had automatic hand dryers, which is perfect for when there are a lot of people there – and you have to blow your nose or do the plop without anyone hearing. It was even on the top floor, so the cellphone reception was excellent. This public bathroom was a five star bathroom and I spent a good 20 minutes in there, taking deep breaths (after flushing) and trying to get my head together again. I had spent six hours straight amongst people, loud people in particular. I needed a small space, alone, to clear my head and close my eyes. To let my guard down, just for a bit. And this bathroom stall was perfect. So I had high hopes for the restaurant itself.

“Yes, of course!” the waiter answered me and I was not surprised – I already knew it. Based on their toilets alone, I knew that this restaurant was one of the only Social Angst-Friendly restaurants in all of England. I followed him to a table that was… Oh… Wait… In the middle of the room?

“I mean, it’s a table for one, but it’s not in a corner,” he said, laughed a bit and placed the menu on the table, “Enjoy and let me know if you need anything.”

“A FUCKING TABLE IN A FUCKING CORNER IS WHAT I NEED!” I almost shouted at him and maybe I would have, had I not been at a high level of social angst. And then again – had I not been at a high level of social angst, I would not have needed a table in a corner in the first place.

It is just that corners are amazing in the same way that bathrooms are amazing. I would say – the more walls that surround you without including other people, the better. Instead I was placed right between two dates.

I do not really remember the meal – I ordered, ate and paid within twenty minutes and rushed out. I had 1,5 hour left of the two hours I was meant to spend relaxing. Instead I had been tensely scribbling notes down in my notepad whilst listening to ‘No Such Thing As a Fish’ podcast whilst texting two or three friends at the same time whilst taking shallow breaths and swallowing food. I. Needed. A. Corner.

Just. A. Fucking. Corner.

My friends always think I am silly when I do not wish to sit in the middle of the room. “THE BOOTH!” I always demand when possible.

Rare times I am okay with being around people. I think it is when I am either in my own comfort zone, for example, when I am on stage doing comedy. I am fine with the audience. They are all shutting up, facing the right way (usually). Or if I am at a party where I know everyone. Or if I am particularly confident or with someone I trust immensely. There are only three people like this. They are all in Denmark.

Usually, if I do go to a party, I will excuse myself at least once an hour, to go somewhere and sit. Often toilets in pubs are horrible, 1 or 2 stars max, with huge gaps under the stalls and usually one or two of the toilets are clogged, so there is only one left and girls are standing in front of the mirrors screaming to each other. Horrible.

Instead I find a corner (oh, corners) or a staircase or an alleyway outside, nearby. Then I take deep breaths. Tweet about how much I hate people and parties and being not in my bed. Text a friend. Put music in my ears. Fifteen minutes later, I feel like I have to go back and plaster a smile on my face and pretend I am listening to conversations – where chances are, I’m focusing on not being in the way of people walking close to me or on how the voices around me seem to get louder and louder.

When I take the night bus home, I try and get the front, right window seat on the upper deck. That is the most corner’y seat. There is usually not a seat behind you and in front, there is a window. It is the best seat on a bus, if you don’t want to be close to people. Tubes are no go, especially during rush hour. There are always people using the tube. If I have to go, I always sit in the front or rear carriage, up against a wall, as far away from people as possible. And then I hold my breath till I’m over ground again.

When I was a teenager and my boyfriend and I would throw house parties, I would make it my ‘thing’ to always sit in a corner with someone, on the floor, and have a chat. I loved it. “Come on, let’s sit on a corner and talk.” and people would be drunk enough to think it was hilarious. I just thought it felt safe. I spent New Years of 2006 doing the dishes (mind you, it was a house party that we were throwing – I didn’t just break into a kitchen at a restaurant) because the kitchen was bright, quiet and I could be alone. I was happier than I have ever been at any New Years party ever.

I have never been diagnosed – well, I have, but not for this. No one has ever told me I have social anxiety, agoraphobia, socialphobia or even that I am introvert – the one thing I know for certain that I am. I use “social angst” because it works better than saying “I would rather not sit by the table in the middle of the room, as it makes me uncomfortable”. Then people look like they have sucked on a lemon for an hour and sigh, “What?” and then you have to explain that you give public toilets a star-rating. “Social angst” sounds horrendous, it is horrendous and it makes people shut up.

Cars. Cars are incredible. Tiny, little boxes, sound proof even. I was recently stuck on the M4 for five hours because there had been a car accident. The other two comics in the car immediately got bored and nervous about not making the gig we were going to. One of them got so restless, he left the car to go for a walk.

I was saying things like, “Eurgh, come on already, how long can this take?” whilst thinking: “This is my psychological vacation.”

I enjoyed it, probably more than anyone has ever enjoyed being stuck on the motorway. When one of the comics jokingly said, “There was once a car queue in China that lasted for three weeks!”, part of me secretly hoped that it would happen to us. Three weeks in a tiny, confined space with one two people? Stick a toilet in there and you may have just found yourself a six stared vacation resort.

I am not sure of my limit – it depends how high my level of social angst is on the given day. I have been standing in a backstage room with seven wonderful comedians, whom I would all refer to as my friends and yet, when it came to saying goodbye, I panicked and just left. Instead I texted them all a bad excuse – had to run for my train or something like that. The thought of having to interrupt their conversation, get their attention and then say goodbye made my throat dry up and my eyes flicker. So I bailed. Other days I can say goodbye just fine. Other days I cannot even make it to the gig. This is quite rare though. Gigs are my safe space.

I have sometimes been able to be alone in a crowd. Few times. Front row at concerts is good. You’re stuck between people and the music is louder than everything else. You get to jump up and down till your feet start bleeding and then some more. You sweat and let go of the tension.

Or, of course, if you’re drunk – in the nice way. Where you do not give a flying fuck. That usually only lasts till you get either drunker or less drunk or someone says something such as “Why are you drawing stars on the bathroom wall?” or “That guy whose leg you are dry humping probably finds you really annoying” and then it’s back to reality, cruel, cold reality where being surrounded by people makes your gut tense up, your breath become shallow, your muscles tighten, your body language close up and your head hurt.

I am not sure if it is social anxiety. It could be one of the other diagnoses I have been given through my life. Laziness (“come on, just because you don’t want to get on the tube at rush hour? shitty excuse!”), anti-social (“you never go to parties, how are you supposed to make friends?”), weird (“why are you sitting in a corner? people are dancing, come on!”), boring (“you just have this dead demeanor around people!”), stupid (“you just said nothing and kept looking around the room, so we assumed you didn’t know anything!”) or simply just arrogant (“you didn’t say goodbye to anyone, you just left, like you thought you were better than all of us!”).

I have been called a “diva” many times. And I guess I would be – for if I was ever to be famous, like really famous, Madonna-famous, my first demand would be that I always had a corner table ready for me, wherever I went. And I would only dine in restaurants with Social Angst-approved five star public toilets. But most of all, I just want a fucking table in a fucking corner.