Friday, 27 May 2011

In which I fall flat on my face

I think I speak for womankind when I say we all have things we’d like to change about ourselves.

It might be that we’d like to have a slightly thinner nose, or different boobs, or Pippa Middleton’s bottom, but whatever it is we’d like to change, it’s safe to say that we’re never entirely happy with our lot.

There’s a whole host of things I’d quite happily swap around, but the first is rather more fundamental than wishing my eyes weren’t quite such a mish-mash of colours. I’d really love just a little more grace.

It’s difficult enough being thought of as elegant when you’re the wrong side of 5’4”: it’s even harder when you’re the clumsiest person known to womankind. As things stand, I’m more often than not highly embarrassed and nursing some sort of stain or bruise.

But I would dearly, dearly love to have grace and poise; to be able to drift elegantly into a room and sashay back out again without being gripped by the fear that I’ll fall over my feet halfway round.

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll be well aware of the frequency of tweets that involve me and some sort of spillage – whether it’s Diet Coke down my top; coffee on my scarf; or cous cous in the keyboard. And it’s not just at my desk that my malcoordination shows.

Working in a basement comes with its problems (the lack of natural light, and having to stare at a wall all day, for two) but for a gal as clumsy as I, the stairs prove a particular challenge. Ours up to the ground floor are winding and exceptionally steep in that way that stairs can only be in converted houses. And, not too long ago, in an attempt to sneak out quietly, I managed to make a total eejit of myself by falling not down, but up them on my way out of work. Planting oneself squarely in the carpet in front of a room full of people still sitting at their computers is decidedly not smooth. And, for the record, neither is my leg – whilst the large and purple bruise seems to have vanished, the bump hasn’t.

It’s not just at work, either – at home there’s more likely than not to be slutty red nail polish on the white bedlinen (painting your nails in bed: not wise, kids); and the number of times I’ve almost fallen down the stairs whilst performing a slalom with the cat is unthinkable.

At a recent Blonde Towers dinner party, just before the arrival of my guests, I managed to break six side plates in my attempt to remove them from the cupboard, resulting in a distinct lack of matching crockery (that might be a peculiarly middle class dilemma, but it is a dilemma nonetheless).

I look at other, more graceful women and think that I would love not to spend my evenings falling face first into the Soho pavement in front of people I’d really rather not fall face into the Soho pavement in front of. I would love to glide round place like a swan, no feather out of place, serene and beautiful. But sadly, I’m rather more familiar with the frantic scrabbling that goes on under the water in an attempt to get from A-B.

But if I were able to get from A-B at all, gracefully or no, without breaking something in the meantime, that’d be good too.

Or, y’know, Pippa’s bum. Whichever.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

In which I leave the decisions to someone else

It’s not entirely unreasonable to say that when it comes to men, I do sometimes make very bad choices. There have, of course, been a couple of notable exceptions, but not enough that when I tell my friends there’s a date in the diary, they don’t cringe slightly and only just resist asking to see a CRB check and a full name and date of birth for an in-depth Googlestalk. But given my somewhat chequered dating history – coke problems; girlfriends; gay – they’re within their rights.

So it’s probably not vastly surprising that my friends now seem to be taking it upon themselves to pick the men for me.

Of late, as previously documented, I’ve rather fallen out of the dating habit, and haven’t really been in the right frame of mind to perform the usual trick of acquiring Potential Un-Suitor-bles on my travels.

It’s turned out not to be such a bad thing for the bank balance; the social life; the sleep pattern; the work performance or the levels of alcohol consumption, but not good for convincing the mother that she doesn’t need to wring her hands in panic at my perpetual singledom.

I’ve been enjoying my few weeks of almost-enough sleep (sadly the commute from the Home Counties precludes there ever being enough entirely); enough free evenings to make the gym membership worthwhile; and proper catch-ups with friends and ex-colleagues, and I haven’t really been missing the merry-go-round of mostly disappointing men.

But, although I might not be keeping my eyes peeled, my friends apparently are: whilst sitting on the sofa post-gym, mid-manicure one evening, I picked up the phone to find a message from The Redhead.

Am in the pub chatting to a guy who’s handsome and Tory. His drink’s gin and tonic. Have given him your number.

It’s good to know that my friends have identified the sort of man they think is suitable for me to date – and that, having done that, they’re able to locate one with ease.

Hi Blonde, came a message some hours later. Handsome Tory here. I’m not quite sure how to go about this, but just wanted to introduce myself and say hi…

Thus it would appear that not only is The Redhead able to locate and approach The Right Type of Man, she finds the specimens that know what to do when given a girl’s number, which – in my recent experience – isn’t always the case.

And, given that Red is (or, at least, is putting up a bloody good show at being) blissfully happy with a new(ish) chap who most definitely strikes me as one of life’s Good Guys, I’m quite happy to trust her judgment on this one.

So much so, in fact, that I might relinquish all future dating decisions, and let The Redhead pick and choose my men from here on it. Because, frankly, she can’t do any worse than I’ve done up till now.

Friday, 13 May 2011

In which I'm reticent to get back in the saddle

As anyone who’s ever taken riding lessons will know, if you part company with your steed, the most important thing you can do is get straight back on again.

It was a piece of advice that, when I was younger, I followed to the letter. Which was just as well, as I had a penchant for riding recklessly, at speed, and occasions where the ground hurtled towards me as hoofbeats disappeared into the distance were many.

I distinctly remember one incident in which I was charging through the Home County countryside under the pretence that I'd lost control - a situation that happened with massive frequency once I’d learnt that parents and instructors were more likely to respond sympathetically to “he bolted” than “I wanted to break our personal best”.

Pony and I were having great time careering all over the shop when I, having misjudged the situation, pointed him at a small ditch. Strides were misplaced, and suddenly I was flying straight between the ears before landing, spread-eagled, in middle of a vast outcrop of nettles. Despite being stung inside and out (nettle rash on one’s tongue is not advised), I clambered back aboard, and away we went.

‘Straight back in the saddle’ isn’t a bad approach, by and large. So long as your injuries aren’t too much more than a case of badly bruised pride, it’s a good way of ensuring you don't lose your nerve and find it impossible to ride ever again.

I feel that much the same could be said for one’s approach to dating. Whatever the outcome of a previous date, one should get back on the metaphorical horse before the last experience mutates in the mind and suddenly is remember as some terrifying hydra and you refuse to go on any future dates for fear of having another experience so terrifying it’s something straight out of Greek mythology.

Which is what seems to have happened to me.

There has been a dearth of dates recently due solely to the fact that the last one was so ghastly I was toying with the idea of joining a convent just to ensure I never have another experience like it. It makes me cringe to think of the evening, and is definitely still too vividly unpleasant to commit to paper, virtual or otherwise (I’ll share it with you at some point, just not right now). Thus the love life has got itself into something of a rut.

And I’m well aware that best thing to do would be to brush myself down, dust myself off, look past any scrapes and grazes and just get on with it. I can hear the voice of Martina, my old instructor, in my head telling me I am fine, stop being silly, and make sure you've got him on the right bloody leg this time.

And yet, the thought of another evening spent in quite so much discomfort, fighting the overwhelming urge to flee, wondering what the hell I’d done to deserve being put through such torture somehow doesn’t appeal.

Because you might bounce when you fall as a child, when you’re older, everything’s a little more painful.

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