It’s always fun telling people at dinner parties that I work as a cycle courier. Quite often they’ll simply look at me in disbelief, or as if they’re trying to calculate how this perfectly ordinary-looking woman, with her blow-dried hair and ability to discuss the Man Booker shortlist, could possibly metamorphose into one of those hooligans they’ve seen blazing through junctions.
Occasionally they’ll ask, “Yes, but what do you really do?” It’s as if they’re trying to find a way of explaining me to themselves. I don’t look like a cycle courier, so there must be more to me than that. Am I a PhD student doing this to make ends meet? Am I an actor researching a role? Am I an unfortunate soul who simply can’t find any other job, and thought this might be a more glamorous dead end than working in Tesco?
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Emily Chappelle is the author of What Goes Around: A London Cycle Courier’s Story