Thursday, 23 December 2010

In which I consider what I've learnt this year

It’s traditional at this time of year to take a look back at the past 12 months and ponder the wisdom that the year’s imparted.

In some shape or form, I seem to have spent most of 2010 on a date. So whilst I can’t say that the year’s taught me too much that’s been particularly useful, I can at least say that I’ve learnt the following about dallying and dating…

- If he mentions the ex on your first date, run. It doesn’t matter how dreamy those big, blue eyes, his heart’s elsewhere. Leave now before yours gets squished. (Seriously - run. It took me three dalliances before I realised that a mention of the ex on a first date would soon be followed by an “I’m not over her, sorry” phone call. Learn from my mistakes, people.)

- It’s not just other people’s exes who can turn things upside down when you least expect it. One’s own can do the job rather well too.

- If you get too drunk when handing your number over to boys, you’ll have no idea who they are when they call. Or when your friends email you photographs of likely contenders. You’ll hate yourself slightly. You’ll hate your hangover more.

- Being alone is always better than being in the wrong relationship. Some people won’t understand this. Bugger those people.

- Don’t be fooled by charisma. It’s not the be-all and end-all.

- I used to believe there was nothing worse than a mediocre date. There is: a bad date.

- Being kissed by one’s client makes for an awkward evening.

- It matters not how much you hate a thing: hypocrisy is an easy trait to acquire. Especially in the matter of snogging in public like a teenager.

- Attraction isn’t a matter of choice.

- Being chatted up via the medium of porn isn’t an experience I wish to repeat.

- Prior dalliances are wont to be grumpy when you tell them about current dalliances. Even if you’ve never dallied in an official capacity. Go figure.

- I like my men to drink whisky, eat steak and generally be men. Shortlist agreed with me. Hurrah.

- There are things men need to know about dating a younger model.

- Having a boy bring milk and cookies to the office when you’re having a bad day will cause gossip.

- Being dumped by text message isn’t cool.

- Dating the uppermost of the upper classes has its ups and downs. And mustard corduroy.

- I thought certain things were deal breakers. Then I thought some more and reconsidered.

- Dirty text messages are great. But only when they’re properly spelled.

- Jewellery on boys isn’t something I approve of.

- Not having sex can be as hot as having it. (Yup - this one surprised me too.)

- It doesn’t matter how well things are going: you can wake up one day and be less appealing than an accountancy exam.

- I located all the aspects of the perfect first date and the irresistible man. Who knows - 2011 might be the year to track ‘em down…

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

In which I am inspired to crossness in the middle of the night

After one of the busiest Friday nights I’ve had in a long time, I was sitting on my sofa in the small hours recently having terrible trouble keeping my eyes open.

At the other end, apparently taking absolutely none of the hints that I’d quite like him to leave so I could go to bed, was a man I’d not seen in 10 years before we’d run into each other on the last train out of London a couple of hours earlier.

We’d chatted on the train journey, and then he’d walked me home from the station before lingering on the doorstep until, out of a sheer lack of ideas, I invited him in for a 2am cup of tea (I know. No good deed goes unpunished).

We’d done the usual what we’re up to; where we’re working; why he had a large bump on his forehead that he was nursing with ice from a paper cup chats (overenthusiastic goodbye from a colleague at the Christmas party, apparently). At about 3am, on the second mug of coffee (or, in my case and truly rock ‘n’ roll, Home Counties fashion, a second mug of decaffeinated Earl Grey), the conversation turned to love lives.

“Yeah, I’ve been married just over a year now,” he said, taking a gulp of coffee. “I’ve just bought her a couple of kittens to stop her getting ahead of herself. What about you? Partner?”

“Nope,” I said, shaking my head. “Just me.”

Auld Acquaintance frowned and tilted his head at me. “Really? What, so you’re not married?”

“Heh, no. That’s what I meant by ‘just me’.” I looked at him slightly askance, and warmed my cold, tired hands around the cup.

“Oh. So, you’ve not got a long-term boyfriend, or anything?”

“No, I’ve just come out of a thing, actually.”


“I’d far rather be by myself than in a relationship that’s not right.”

“Huh. Ok then.”

It was getting wearing. None too subtly, I changed the subject to something hopefully less likely to make me cross. Like Piers Morgan. But, some minutes later…

“So, why don’t you have a boyfriend? We need to sort out your love life.”

No, really. And, hang on a cotton-pickin’ minute there, buster.

Why? And sort out? And WE?!


Ignoring the fact that I don’t happen to think that being in a relationship is a marker of success, I’d go so far as to say that even if I did, having a decent career and owning one’s own home in one’s mid-twenties probably doesn’t define a person as a total failure; or that subjecting someone to such a line of questioning at 3am when they’ve invited you into their home and fed you coffee is downright rude, WHY DO PEOPLE THINK THAT’S AN ACCEPTABLE QUESTION?! (And, actually, one that’s surprisingly difficult to brush off without resorting to the Bridget answer of “because underneath my clothes my body is entirely covered in SCALES!”)

I wouldn’t dream of turning to a married man at a party and asking why exactly he and his wife didn’t have children, and were they only sprogless because he was firing blanks (mainly because I tend not to be allowed to talk to married men at parties, but the sentiment’s still true).

Thankfully I managed to restrain myself from asking him the same question as I extricated him from the sofa at 4am and threw him out into the darkness, where frankly he can stay for the next 10 years, or until he learns some manners, whichever comes sooner.

Friday, 10 December 2010

In which I am less appealing than accountancy exams

The ending of a dalliance – especially one that had been travelling in a rather promising direction – is never a delightful experience.

The conversation itself is about as pleasurable as root canal.

You miss the little things you incorporated into your routine that are no longer there – the daily text message at 7.30am, wishing you a good day; the person on the other side of the bed when you wake up on a Monday morning.
Detritus of life left littered around the house is no longer just stuff on the coffee table, but something that gives you a nudge of guilt because you really should send it back, but don’t really want to (because, ahem, you’ve not got round to watching all the DVDs yet).

There’s the faint embarrassment of other people when you’re at a party on a Saturday night and they ask how the boyfriend is, only to be met with your reply that he’s no longer in the picture.

None of which is ideal, but none of which is as disagreeable as having to own up to The Mother.

Things had been going uncharacteristically well with The Northerner. I still had niggles about his jewellery and pro-death penalty approach to life, but he’d displayed no lingering emotional attachment to any of his exes and didn’t seem averse to becoming a frequent fixture at Blonde Towers, to the point that Colin was quite happy to curl up and sleep on top of TN’s head in the middle of the night. Unprecedented behaviour in a male of the species in Quite Some Time.

And then the cracks began to appear. Or rather, one crack appeared, repeatedly.

“I’m really sorry – I’m going to be stuck here for hours yet. Can we do another night instead?”

“Sorry, I can’t do Saturday – I’m going to be in the office all weekend.”

“Do you mind if I do a bit of work when I come over? I’ll just shut myself in the study and get on with it. It won’t take me very long.”

And the cracking:

“I don’t know if I’m going to be able to make your birthday – I’ll be in the middle of exam revision.”

As women go, I’m not particularly high-maintenance. I don’t make outrageous demands; I’m not prone to throwing strops; and I’ve even been known to send boys to the pub to watch the football whilst I cook late Sunday lunch. But what I do ask is that someone has the time to see me. Which, ultimately, TN didn’t. It’s fair enough – if someone considers work and accountancy exam revision to be a better use of their time than getting laid, then that’s their lookout (although I won’t pretend I’m not just slightly offended by the notion).

But I do wish it didn’t mean that I’m faced with the unenviable prospect of telling The Mother that yet another dalliance has fallen by the wayside and that her eldest daughter is still unwed at the ripe old age of twentysomething. That I’ll have to face the sighs; the horrible sense not of anger, just disappointment; and her quite obvious fear that I might never find a nice man and Just Settle Down.

Maybe I’ll just not mention it.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

In which I am rudely interrupted

It used to be that the postman always rang twice. Now, they don’t bother ringing at all - they just stick a “Sorry you were out” note through the letterbox and hold your new Figleaves goodies to ransom because you can’t get to the post office between the hours of eight and five past every other Tuesday, which is the only time it’s open for the public to be able to rescue their hostaged parcels.

Other people, however, do.

It was whilst I was otherwise engaged one recent evening with The Northerner that the doorbell rang.

“Who on earth is that?” I mumbled through TN’s kisses.

“Dunno - leave it…” He ran his hands through my hair.

“Mmm, I should get it”, I said, “just in case…” I kissed him on the head, got up off the bed and scrambled around for some clothes. Throwing on my hastily discarded top, I ran down the stairs and flung open the front door to reveal two small children from across the road.

“Hi, we wondered if Marley was at your house? We can’t find him.”

Not for the first time, I cursed the inclination of their cat to spend its days (much to Colin’s chagrin) snoozing on my sofa.

“No, ‘fraid not,” I said. “I’m sure he’ll turn up, though.” With which, I shut the door, and scurried back into the waiting arms of TN.

Some moments later, when I had thoroughly forgotten about the interruption, the bell went again.

“Oh, seriously?! Nope, not this time…” I ignored the ringing. Or, I tried. It got louder, and more persistent.

“I think you’re going to have to answer that,” TN whispered into my ear.

I swore graphically as I fled down the stairs, TN laughing as I threw on his shirt from the floor, failing to do up the buttons correctly as I got to the front door.

“Hi, Blonde… Oh.” The children’s mother stood in the doorway. “No, you know - never mind.” She took one look at me and smirked with all the subtlety of a house brick before making her excuses and scurrying away at top speed.

“What was that one then?” TN asked as I curled back into him.

“Don’t know,” I said. “She didn’t say.”

“I’m not surprised,” TN chuckled, smoothing my hair and running a gentle thumb under my eye, wiping away rather a lot of smudgy black eyeliner. “Come here…”


Lying in bed the following morning, having been prodded, poked and finally given up on by the cat, and finished off large mugs of tea, TN and I had been contemplating getting up for some time. The prospect of a very lazy Sunday stretching out in front of us, however, had proven too tempting to resist. So in bed we still were.

Having read the papers cover to cover and contemplated listening to The Archers, we found a variety of ways in which to amuse ourselves before deciding we probably couldn’t stay in bed all day. With TN merrily singing away in the shower, I pulled on a dressing gown and started to make my way to the kitchen.

When the doorbell went. Again (even for the sticks, this is a frightening number of times for the outside world to encroach on one’s weeked).

Not really thinking it through, I opened the front door. I opened the front door, at ten to one on a Sunday afternoon, in a particularly revealing silk dressing gown, flushed cheeks, hair backcombed all by itself and enough kohl around my eyes to make Alice Cooper’s make-up look positively restrained - to a Jehovah’s Witness and her small child.

She looked at me, pushed a leaflet into my hand, and hurried away down the drive to the inquisitive tones of a small girl asking why the lady wasn’t wearing proper clothes. She may as well have asked how quickly I was going to hell.

Why can’t everyone just leave a card?

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