Thought Catalog

How To Make Money In London

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“Hi I saw your ad and would love to meet you later today, I live in Blackheath in SE London, have my own place, I can pay your travel over if interested? Please get back x”

“Hi darling, sent you a message earlier, forgot to give you my mobile no: xxxxxxxxxxxxx Prepared to give you more than £200 per hour if interested? xx Btw I am an ok looking guy!”

“ok sounds great when is a good time? we can meet at the nearest tube station to you i dont have a phone btw we’ll have to coordinate over email but would love to meet asap, emily”

“Hi Emily, thanks for getting back, I am based in Blackheath and would love to meet you about 7 tonight if that’s not too late? I am not near a tube station but could meet u at Blackheath railway station or arrange taxi? Pls get back”

“i can meet you at blackheath. 7 tonight is fine”

“Ok I will meet you at the railway station at 7, how will I know you? And can you confirm that you are not part an agency, i’m not interested in that. Sorry to ask  ”

“i’ll be wearing the big sunglasses as in the photo and i’ll have a black plaid shirt on and a black skirt w/ black tights and black heels. how can i confirm it? here’s a link to my facebook page if that makes me seem more real. will you pay me at the station and then we’ll go back to your place? how much do you want to pay if not 200 pounds?”

“Thank you for your honesty, I will give you the £200 at the station, then extra £100 at my place. Could I also buy you a drink when you get to Blackheath?”

“okay it sounds fine.  a drink sounds great too. thanks for not giving me a hard time. looking forward to seeing you x”

i stared at the computer screen.

i am i really going to do this?  i guess i don’t have any choice.
i have about 12 pounds to last me for 10 more days in london.

what did i do to my debit card?  the last time i remember having it was when i was buying a ticket to portsmouth at waterloo…

how could you be so irresponsible, marie?

but, i’m fixing the problem now.

there’s nothing else i can do, having not told any of my family or friends that i was going to england.

anyway, i want to make my own money, now that i’m 20.

_____

i looked up how to get to blackheath railway station.  i felt annoyed that i couldn’t just ride the tube.  i had to go to london bridge, and then take a train from there.

it was 2 PM.  i got off the computer and went and tried to nap in my hostel room.

starting from 4 i changed my clothes, brushed my teeth, straightened my hair, put perfume on, and tried to hide my huge dark circles with concealer.  it was a lost cause.  i figured i would just keep my sunglasses on until i was back at his place, when it would be too late for him to change his mind.  i wondered if i was cheating him, by getting 300 pounds to have sex with him.  i wondered why he would offer to pay more than i asked.  i thought it was a bit suspicious, but i figured since we were meeting in public and he was paying me upfront it’d be okay.

_____

i left the hostel at 4:30.

as i was walking to the tube station i heard whistling from across the street and turned to look.  it was some australian boys about my age from my hostel, waving at me.  i ignored them.

i rode the tube to london bridge station thinking about how i had met my friend there a few days ago, and how now i was going back under such different circumstances.

on the tube there were three school girls absolutely plastered in make-up talking at length about their diets and other girls at school.  they all had incredibly grating  voices, even more so than most english women.

“i was good yesterday, but this morning i had toast.  oh but then for lunch i had cherries.”

“cherries are good, but the toast …”

“the other day i ate sooo much i had …”

“did you see she dyed her hair ginger and black? yeah, like that’s attractive.”

“she’s sooo fat, it’s hilarious!”

they all started giggling at length and it was so grating and i was so hungover

i couldn’t take it and switched compartments at the next stop.

as i was getting off the train one of them said, “that girl looked really weird.”

how can people like that actually exist?

i wondered what the guy would be like.  i wished i had asked him to send me a picture.  he had seemed like the nicest and was the most serious (i had annoyed with and ignored the guys who asked me to send them tons of pictures and write paragraphs about “what i was into.”)

i was worried i wouldn’t be able to talk to him or that things would be really awkward, but i decided i’d buy beer at a convenience store and chug it before i met him, so i’d be tipsy and less nervous.

_____

the train to blackheath was annoying.  i had a headache from being hungover, and it was absolutely packed with loud italian tourists who kept yelling and laughing almost right in my ear.  i held my head in my hands.  “i can’t stand these fucking people,” i whispered.

but then i looked at an adorable little black boy and smiled at him.  then i felt a bit sad.

my train arrived at bleackheath station at about 6 pm.  i walked to a convenience store and bought two stella artois.  there wasn’t really anywhere i could sit and drink it discretely, so i guzzled one can in front of a trash can, and figured i would save the other can for a bit.

a lot of people gave me looks.  blackheath was really pretty and really rich looking.  everyone was pretty and well dressed.  i felt uncomfortable.

i wondered where to wait for the guy.  i decided just to lean against a wall near the exit of the train station.

two teenagers came up to me, one a very cute girl.

“do you get served?” she asked.

“what?”

“do you get served?” she asked again, more slowly.

“i don’t understand what you’re asking me, sorry.”

they walked away.

i realized she meant that she wanted me to buy her alcohol.  i sighed realizing i would probably never get the chance to get  a cute 15 year old english girl drunk again.

i saw a kind looking business man waiting in front of the station across the sidewalk from me, smoking.

i went up to him.  “um, can i get a cigarette off of you, please?”

“what?”

“may i have a cigarette, please?”

“um, sure.” he said and gave me one.

“thanks.”

i needed to smoke because it was 6:30 now and the whole thing was starting to seem more real to me.

i tried to comfort myself with these thoughts: i won’t get hurt because it doesn’t really make sense to think that will happen.  most men want to have sex with cute 20 year old girls.  very few are sociopath serial killers.  caroline had sex with tons of guys from craigslist and nothing bad ever happened to her.  and england isn’t nearly as violent…

and then i started to think: and anyway, i kind of don’t care if i get murdered.  i guess that’s an immature thing to think and if something actually happened i’d be terrified, but right now thinking about it, i don’t care. i guess it’d be bad if I got murdered and then they told my parents the situation but…

i was mostly anxious about him not finding me attractive or not showing up and me being out of money, or not having anything to say and it being really awkward.

i looked at myself in the reflective window of the train station.

“don’t worry, you look beautiful,” some old man said as he walked past me.

i leaned back up against the wall, checking the clock constantly.  i looked at every guy who walked towards the station, wondering if it was him.  i was again mad at myself for not asking for a picture or at least a description.  but i also figured it was probably for the best so i couldn’t back out due to his unattractiveness.

then finally at about 5 minutes past 7, a bald middle aged man in a banker’s shirt and khakis came up to me.

“hello, it’s great to see you, emily.  i was worried you wouldn’t turn up!”

“hello, nice to meet you.”  i said politely, and shook his hand.

“i have to go to the cash machine, but i’ll be back in about five minutes okay?”

“okay.”

i wondered if he was really going to the atm or if he thought i was unattractive and was running away.

but, no, he came back quickly.

he seem very excited.

he lead me to a pub.

“i was trying to imagine what black plaid would look like, but then i saw your sunglasses and realized that it must have been you…”

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    • dip

      bret easton ellis meets xanga in the worst kind of way

      • Chris

        no way

        this is awesome

        • dip

          to each their own i guess

        • Chris

          nice. glad we did not get in argument. to each their own, we guess

        • xtos

          that back and forth was sweat

        • guest

          “sweet” sweat or “I paid for it” sweat?

        • xtos

          ILL NEVER TELL

    • Graham

      “i took the taxi back to hendon central tube station.” the fact that I know this place grounded this in reality. Good, and sad.

    • Richard Janesin

      slut

      • PERFECTCIRCLES

        Not helpful.

    • jane

      “anyway, i want to make my own money, now that i’m 20.”

      lol.

      • http://twitter.com/AKAGoldfish Dickey El Shavaz

        Spoken like someone who was 20 back before the bankers destroyed our economy.

    • GFT

      Nice pacing and authentic seeming. Old guy sounds like a person from craigslist.

    • PERFECTCIRCLES

      “i thought then that not having to endure that kind of horrible stress and fear was worth whatever happened with this guy. and that i just want lots and lots of money and expensive things so i don’t ever have to be afraid of what’s going to happen to me again, no matter what i have to do to get it.”

      Yikes. Surely true, but yikes.

      • http://twitter.com/godworm Nicholas Cox

        Yes, this passage will really stay with me.

      • http://twitter.com/AKAGoldfish Dickey El Shavaz

        Pretty much life under Late-Capitalism in a nutshell. No wonder this piece is freaking people out. Easier to shoot the messenger than realize there is no difference between their lives and the life of a sex worker. Truth like that tends to gnaw at people.

    • xtos
      • http://twitter.com/AKAGoldfish Dickey El Shavaz

        Why not?

    • guest

      i keep trying to think of how i want to say this, but i guess all i can really say is that i think this is just sloppy, trite, ill-conceived. it's like a rambling, self-affirming journal entry.

      • http://staugustine2.wordpress.com/ STaugustine

        Your Inner (or Outer?) Puritan doesn't make a very good literary critic. I don't think you understand what the word “rambling” means.

        How many times did you cross yourself and pray to Cheezis after reading this?

        • guest

          i didn't, and have absolutely nothing against prostitution. this is just poorly written.

        • guest

          I like your ironic absence of capitalized letters.

        • guest

          what does capitalization have to do with any criticism i've posted? oh, it doesn't.

        • http://twitter.com/AKAGoldfish Dickey El Shavaz

          Wow, you really are dumb.

        • Some Guy

          So, let me get this straight. No capitalization in a comment is somehow worse no capitalization in an article? An article by someone who claims to be a “writer.”

        • Blah

          Tell it to Hemmingway.

        • guest

          it's irrelevant to what i was saying. i wasn't attacking marie's stylistic choices in this piece.
          ultimately i think that she has the potential to be a better writer than she is now and this piece, regardless of how she wants it to be read, lacks complexity and depth. if she identifies as a writer i assume she wants to grow as a writer as well? criticism is integral to development as any kind of artist, duh.

        • http://chrysler5thavenue.blogspot.com chrysler5thavenue

          It's a story describing what happened from the point of view of the  character it happened to, presumably the writer herself.  What more depth is there supposed be?  It's reality described to you, to glean whatever you want from it. The point in writing isn't to display how good a writer you are, it's to communicate.  She's not an inferior writer because her character's thought process lacks whatever “depth” you expect her to have, whatever “depth” is.  If you want more depth, look for it in yourself so you can fathom those you consider less deep.  You're a pretentious imbecile.  Don't bother replying to me if you read this.  Read the story over, and realize I'm right.

        • Frances

          So typical of you to use the Puritan card but then I guess that's all you've got to say. Something can be sexy and risque and also insightful and artistic. Someone brought up 'Belle du Jour', which is a good example.

      • http://phmadore.com P. H. Madore

        That's exactly what it is, but in a good way: it's a thought. This is Thought Catalog. The 7 people who liked your comment are all dumber than you, though.

      • Jonjonz91

        well, it is. and it's a damn good one at that. no one said it's a 'proper' piece, whatever a 'proper' piece is.

    • Rachel Butters Scotch

      I really enjoyed reading this.

    • http://profiles.google.com/amaviena Amanda Viers

      nice story. worried about the editing quality of TC in that there were spelling errors. WTF. Wish you didn't have to do that. Hope you never have to do it again. Hang on to your debit card.

      • http://somuchtocome.blogspot.com Aja

        I'm in the camp of a lot of the other readers. While this was an interesting read, it makes me worry for you in the same way I would worry about a friend of the family if they told me this story. Because not every guy out there will be as nice and sane as the gentleman you picked. Please take care of yourself.

    • superspecial

      More women and men do this kind of thing than most of you may ever realize!

      I'm one of them :)

      • http://phmadore.com P. H. Madore

        Amen. I know guys who've used more prostitutes than me, think I don't know about it, and frequently give me dirty looks when they find out — because, you know, I just have a habit of telling the straight truth to people I like.

    • Joe

      I'm glad that you got lucky enough to have a nice man to… um… “hire” you. I wonder if most male clients are like that… This was so interesting to read and it makes me kinda want to do it too, now! It sounds weirdly romantic. Conflicted??

      • Nic

        Take a gander at the Belle du Jour blog.

        • Frances

          But she had to! She lost her debit card! This shit is waaaay too trashy to compare to Belle du Jour. Needing some old loser to pay to fuck you to feel attractive is not what motivated the character in that film.

    • http://twitter.com/adamhump adamhump

      PICS!!!!

      • http://twitter.com/adamhump adamhump

        damn… regret this comment after reading… good job

    • http://www.calvinmarkus.com peter

      uh, wow, okay, damn

    • http://twitter.com/dwcalderwood Daniel Calderwood

      nvm

    • FredHampton

      Seems kind of dark to me, kind of like it cheapens sex. I wish people didn't have to do this.

      • Frances

        Some people actually find themselves in circumstances where they have to which is why this piece is such utter crap.

        The awkward flab contorting american apparel ad photo suits this story perfectly. American apparel is like a discount halloween costume store. Everything is slutty and unimaginative.

      • http://staugustine2.wordpress.com/ STaugustine

        I think you're “wrong” but your name is excellent

    • http://www.facebook.com/TomSmizzle Tom Smith

      Excellent article, I really like your writing style.
      If you are back in the UK for a significant length of time again you will get another chance to buy underage kids booze, don't worry.

    • tyler

      I really love the way you write, morbid and dark yet very personal. There is so much potential in you, and honestly I think you shouldnt have to put yourself out like that. I somewhat wished these were all fiction

    • http://staugustine2.wordpress.com/ STaugustine

      Wow. Great piece. The interesting thing is how close this was to being a typical tale of going home with a stranger from a pub. What's the difference (except, in this case, the stranger was unusually generous)? The odds are probably much higher, in the States, that he'd be a bone-collecting psycho.

      • http://twitter.com/AKAGoldfish Dickey El Shavaz

        In other words, in the states it also wouldn't be that different than just picking someone up at a bar.

    • http://twitter.com/ttirevehsoj Joshua Everitt

      Heh, Portsmouth. I live there.

    • Sweetcat

      That could have been me writing that piece. I wonder if every girl feels that way her first time getting paid?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steven-Timberman/922794 Steven Timberman

      Beautiful use of line breaks. More than anything, you know how to begin and end a scene. Even with all the spelling errors and somewhat trite language, I couldn't stop reading. Addictive and entertaining – what more does one need?

      Plus, I'm an American living out in southwest London who happened to pull last night. There really is a strange, almost morbid fascination with America here.

    • http://avantgardebagpipesolos.tumblr.com/ Omar De Col

      read this with high levels of interest throughout

    • Fern

      It's funny reading this as a slightly older person because I remember what it's like to be twenty, the physical incarnation of a male fantasy, and how easy that is to exploit.

    • http://phmadore.com P. H. Madore

      I've been on the other side of this when traveling. Backpage.com is better these days, you meet nicer women through it, and younger. Anyway, I don't see what's wrong with it, and I'm sure a lot of these comments are all judgemental and stuff. Sometimes you just want to fuck and you don't feel like having any complication. If you're nice to a girl who's selling herself, she will treat you very well. Treat her like you're not paying her. And so forth. Anyway, I hope you published under a fake name because people will hold this against you for a very long time. Now I'll read the rest of the article.

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