Help! I wore dungarees for three weeks in a row and now I’m trapped playing heads down thumbs up in the back of Miss Phillips’ year 8 class
Jessica Bridgewater, 28 from Bristol, is talking to me with her head on the desk, and two PVA covered thumbs in the air – now fully assimilated into Miss Phillips’ year 8 class.
“I’ve been wearing dungarees for three weeks straight now,” she tells me, her face muffled through desk. “I’ve got to keep my head down so I don’t know who’s pinched my thumbs.”
Looking at her current desk – covered in pen-line willies and threats of who fancies who – it would be difficult to believe she used to have a career as a marketing assistant, working from an office complex drowning in organic coffee cups and Apple products.
After cooling off from the embarrassment of guessing the incorrect thumb-tweaking culprit, we sit on a wooden bench in the playground. “It started on my 16thday in the dungas.” She tells me, swinging her feet. “I was just living my regular 28 year old Netflix-subscription-owning life, and the next thing I knew the man in Tesco was asking me where my mummy was. He just sort of assumed I was 12. And in a way, I started to, too.”
Due to her adult-sized legs, and her swinging velocity, she is lifting her knees up to her dungaree chest pouch to avoid their drag on the floor. She looks like an estranged niece of the BFG.
“That afternoon I went to Abigail’s birthday party,” she sips from a Capri Sun. “She’s literally the coolest girl in school and there was jelly and a bouncy castle and I didn’t have to fix the printer once or make small-talk because I no longer work in marketing and people think I am twelve years old.”
I clock a collection of Lego and gel pens stashed in her dungaree chest pouch, making her look like a painter-decorator-Tom-Hanks-from-Big.
“Am I called names on the bus for being weirdly tall for a year 8? Yes. Do I have to sit cross-legged on a filthy canteen floor every morning? Damn right I do. But, because of the thick pouch and t-shirt combo that a dungaree provides, I don’t have to wear a bra, and that rocks!”
Jessica tells me she is “acing Numeracy,” possibly due to her 2:1 degree in Economics from Edinburgh University, and has unexpectedly taken a shine to Literacy. “I’ve reinvented myself”. She points smugly to a ‘good reading!’ sticker affixed to her, “and regular appraisal feels truly rewarding.” She pops a ChupaChup in her mouth.
“I want pink dungarees next, and blue ones – I’m going to have to save up LOADS though as I used to earn £28,000 a year with holiday, but now I only get £2.50 a week if I empty the dishwasher and wash the dog.”
The whistle blows for end of break. “I’ve gtg now – we’ve got an assembly on bees, and I’ve done the Papier-mâché wings. Never a dull day, eh?”
She gives me a clumsy hug, tells me I’m her best friend, and skips off inside.