Part 124: Brass Instruments

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When I started this blog, I made a pact with myself; I promised I would never use it to tell embarrassing or mean stories about people I’d slept with, on the basis that doing unto others as you would have them do unto you is a sensible dictum by which to live your life – despite the fact it’s from the Bible (Luke 6:31). And I have pretty much adhered to the terms of that pact – although, I’ll hold my hands up and admit that I’ve been mean about my bad ex-boyfriend in almost every post I’ve written. Still, I don’t feel too awful about that because I know him well enough to know he’s flattered – not least because I always attempt to infuse my reminiscences with affection as well as bile. And, anyway, he should count himself fucking lucky. I could have been worse.

The thing is, I’ve decided that there’s not much point in writing a sex and relationships blog if, on the rare occasions I do let a man inside my bedclothes, I keep all the gossip to myself, and lie to you by writing about how I only watch QVC and eat cheese in my pyjamas. It’s not honest, frankly.

And also, I need an outside perspective.

Because the other thing is this:

Men keep playing brass instruments at me in sexual scenarios and I don’t know what to do about it.

I say keep playing. In truth it’s happened twice* – but that seems like an above average amount, especially considering that my sexual career has had more or less an eight year hiatus, due to – well, if I knew that babes, I wouldn’t be writing this.

The first time I was faced with a brass instrument in the bedroom, it was probably the most erotic thing that had ever happened to me. I was seventeen. I was naked. My (now ex) boyfriend (no, not that one) pulled a trumpet from under his bed and played it with his breath and his finger-tips – as though it were part of his body, or mine. It was beautiful, spontaneous and seamless. He was very excellent at the trumpet. I swooned and promptly submitted to all of his sexual advances. Of course, because I was utterly infatuated with him, and because it was the early 2000s and, like most of my generation, I was smoking an obscene amount of hydroponic weed, I might have misremembered this event.

Perhaps because it was some twelve years later, and I didn’t know the bloke that well, perhaps because he preceded it by telling the story of how he’d once pulled an unlikely artefact from a girlfriend’s vagina (and then, for reasons I don’t understand, he took her picture from a drawer, and showed it to me. It felt, from the manic look in her eyes as she grimaced into the camera lens, as though she were sending a warning, telepathically, from the past), or perhaps because he chose to play Baggy Trousers, the second time I was faced with a brass instrument in the bedroom it was not the most erotic thing that had ever happened to me. It was really, really weird. Was he trying to impress me, or was he – using a subtle, baffling form of ridicule – taking the piss? It didn’t help that this time the brass instrument was a tuba; a heavy, unwieldy, tuneless thing – as favoured by Harold off of Neighbours – almost the size of me.

It is testament to his good looks and the sedative power of a strong jaw line that I did not ask ‘what the fuck are you doing?’, and leave immediately.

Is it cruel, writing that? Am I an unspeakable bitch? I know I’m probably breaking all sorts of sex-related, unspoken trust rules – although if you are going to insist that women you don’t know behave impeccably after they sleep with you, it is probably best not to play the tuba and talk them through a wodge of hot ex-girlfriend photos, while they sit next to you in their underwear, wondering where the fuck it all went wrong, and whether, perhaps, their bad ex-boyfriend might consider a reconciliation, if they promise to get pregnant right away.

How is one supposed to respond in brass instrument related sexual encounters? I think this is an important contemporary question that needs answering, and I’d be grateful if you could concentrate your considerable intellectual powers upon it for the next hour or so.

I will be on the sofa, eating cheese and watching Diamonique Jewellery with Alison, patiently awaiting your response.

*I have just remembered a third brass instrument related sexual incident from way back in the day – when I was unwittingly present as my mate shagged a saxophonist called Malcolm. (He had a massive, black and white picture of the Twin Towers on his living room wall – and I recognised them, so it must have been some time just post-9/11.) This, however, is not my story to tell.

*Image by scottchan at freedigitalphotos.net

Part 123: Undercover Policemen

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If you are as alert and tapped into digital culture as I am, you’ll have noticed that the algorithms Facebook uses for targeted advertising are crap. Like, seriously – have you ever clicked on the cheap looking classifieds that make up your sidebar? Or those ads that pop up beneath the lie that your friend has ‘liked’ some corporation or another that, in reality, she would so never like? Of course you haven’t. No one has. It is a mystery to me that Facebook turns a profit. Or maybe it doesn’t, actually. I’ve never looked at its annual accounts, which might or might not be freely available online – although who’s got time to check between masturbating, sourcing recipes for coronation chicken and keeping up to date with the Oscar Pistorius trial?

The extent of Facebook’s advertising failure dawned on me the other day, as I stood at the kitchen counter, sucked the soft flesh from a clove of garlic I had roasted the night before and stroked my thumb over the screen of my iPhone with a cold, dead look in my eyes. A website called ‘Uniform Dating.com’ had targeted me, advertising itself with a montage of soldiers, some holding guns.

Facebook has me all wrong, and it should know better, considering that I spend approximately 85% of my waking life posting pictures of baby mammals and misguided status updates all over it – at least seventeen of which, over the years, have included my mantra ‘no actors, no army’. (Although, to be frank, I’m not that strict about the actors bit any more; lately, artists in all their guises are doing it for me, since I discovered some of them have massive penises.)

I’m not into uniforms. Unless they’re worn by members of sports teams (and even then, probably not – what with the tendency sportsmen have to shag better looking women behind your back and shoot you in the head when you go to the toilet at night). Men who wear uniforms are generally stupid, compliant or conventional; often, they are all three. And that’s not my thing, thank you very much – even though I have always nurtured a fantasy about giving birth to a hot, stupid man’s baby so that I can say ‘let’s hope she has Daddy’s looks and Mummy’s brains’, and make all my friends laugh.

I know what I want and what I want is not a man in service of the government. Before you accuse me of snobbery, I’ll point out that some of my best friends are police officers and I’ve almost certainly got off with more soldiers than you’ve had hot dinners – but that doesn’t mean I want to marry a man in uniform. Which is why the recent news about undercover police officers infiltrating activist groups, pretending to be anarchists and impregnating earnest, dowdy eco-warrior women terrified me.

Alright, I’m not likely to join an activist group in the near future – due to apathy and the fact they’re probably really strict about recycling. (I’m also not big into dreadlocks on white people.) And while I’m aware that undercover police officers don’t wear uniforms on a daily basis, I’m pretty sure they’re still required to wear them in emergency response situations and for ceremonial purposes. But either way, the whole undercover scandal just goes to show that even when you’re really careful about selecting a mate with shared political and hygiene values they might turn out to be lying scumbags, with a secret life involving a wife and children in the home counties.

I’m not sure it’s worth it, babe.

P.S: I’ve just remembered about firemen. I’ll make a concession for firemen because of the bravery and also because it’s more of a safety suit than a uniform, when you think about it.

*The bloke in this image – “Soldier With Gun In Hands” by imagerymajestic at freedigitalphotos.net – is hot, granted, but you can’t be swayed by that. After a point you’ve got to imagine the bullet in that gun tearing into a human being’s flesh – and then you’ve got to have a good long try at reconciling your libido with your morals. But maybe your morals are more right-wing than mine – in which case, go for it.

Smeetings

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A bit of everyday wisdom, offered with tedious regularity to single adults and, latterly, wurkin’ it in abbreviated form as the title of a popular dating website (with which friends of mine have had success – although: no, thanks, it’s not for me) is the metaphorical truism ‘there are plenty of fish in the sea’. (I call it a metaphorical truism both because the phrase is a metaphor and also because, in reality, the depletion of the oceans’ resources due to human greed has resulted in there being hardly any fish in the sea. Which, as well as being ecologically alarming, has had a detrimental effect on my battered cod roe consumption – by which I mean, can you get it any more, and if so where?)

People want to tell you it’s easy to meet eligible, solvent, stable, stimulating men – either because they’re undiscerning themselves, or because they’ve been in a relationship with the same person since their teens or early twenties and therefore have no idea about the current dating landscape and should, frankly, work on finding topics of discussion that will not require offering romantic advice to their single friends. Although, who can blame them? Had I been having sex, exclusively, with the same person for a decade or more, I too might be eager to respond to stories from the front line in a way that would make me feel like I was still in the game.

For the record: it is not easy to meet eligible, solvent, stable, stimulating men. Especially not ones who are good-looking enough that you’d consent to see them naked and fascinating enough that you’d consent to meet them for a fourth date. And, crucially, also attracted to you.

It is not easy to meet eligible men full stop. (Although, I have found it easier since I started wearing liquid eyeliner and smiling more often. Habits which coincided with each other, for reasons I don’t have room to expand upon here.)

Thus, when a company called ‘smeeters‘ (a contraction of ‘single meeters’ or ‘social meeters’ or, possibly, depending on what you’re in this for, ‘sexual meeters’) contacted me and asked if I’d like to try out their services I said ‘yes. Go on then. Why the fuck not?’

This was the deal: I was invited to select two single female friends and take them along to a designated bar, where we’d be introduced to three single men, provided with one free round of drinks, and left to our own devices.

Weirdly, when I met my girls to brief them on the evening, drink a bottle of cava and eat cold meats, there was a smeeting going on behind us. This suggested that smeets are a fledgling ‘thing’ and that I might, for once, be riding the crest of a fashionable wave – as opposed to standing at a beach bar, drinking a Bloody Mary, watching it crash into the sand.

‘Let’s relax and enjoy it’, I told my single friends, Cecilia and Dionne (whose requests to appear in this blog under the cover of pseudonyms I’ve refused, because their real names sound like pseudonyms anyway), ‘but we must also remain dignified. And we must not drink too much booze. And none of us are allowed, under any circumstances whatsoever, to have sex with any of the men, because then I’ll have to write about it.’

And we all nodded, and we sipped on coupes of cava and we threw back salami – which the venue we’d gathered at had, inexplicably, chosen to serve on a chintz patterned cake stand (when did London so wholeheartedly embrace twee, and please, can it stop?). And we knew that we had never gone anywhere without at least one of us breaking at least two of the rules I’d set for the evening, and that, in any event, should one of us decide to fornicate with a stranger, especially if that one of us was me, there is no way I would write about it, and post it on the internet, where it would be read by mum.

Our smeeting was fun.

No, really. Apart from a minor hiccup when the barman mistakenly told us we’d arrived a day late, and nearly caused us to leave before we’d begun, it exceeded expectations. Dating with your mates in tow is a simple but genius idea – primarily because it shortens the odds of anyone being awkward or visibly nervous or very badly behaved. Things that are, in my experience, highly likely when it’s just you and a stranger sat in some dank venue making small-talk, with the unspoken potential of the future looming between you.

My friends looked dazzling, as they always do. Cecilia with her sparkling earings and long legs draped in dusty pink silk and Dionne all sheer black skintight blouse and cleavage. I must say, I wasn’t looking too bad myself – what with the requisite smile and the eyeliner and a wicked set of tiger patterned nail extensions that made me feel fierce and that drew compliments from no less than five people. Which is no mean feat for nails.

And the men! I know you’ll want to hear about them. They were, like my girls, charming, laid-back and good company. The smeeters people certainly did a better job than I am usually capable of on the not choosing total arseholes front.

One of the guys (Craig?), was a jolly, quintessentially English tennis-coach-turned-something-in-an-office type, and the other two were Canadian. One of the Canadians was called Mike and the other one, Colin, was a sturdy ice-hockey playing former high school jock. All big shoulders and white teeth wholesome maple-syrup manners.

I, obviously, broke the ‘don’t drink too much booze’ rule within fifteen minutes of arriving, and therefore did not listen to Colin the Canadian’s protests that he had in fact never played ice-hockey (or much sport at all). Rather, I spent the entire evening referring to him as an ice-hockey player, because I was pissed, yes, but more significantly because my fantasy about him was more important than his actual real-life personality – which I think is the definition of objectification.

In hindsight, objectifying pleasant men in public might not have been a high point in the history of my dating behaviour.

But fuck it. What are you gonna do? I mean, there are plenty of fish, right? And it’ll only cost me fifteen quid to smeet some more of them.

* In the interests of not being a corporate whore, I should probably point out that I did not pay anything for my smeeting. I got it free on the proviso I write this blog. I’m not sure how I feel about paying for dating services (I’m still holding out hope that someday, someone I meet via conventional means might be tempted to buy me dinner) but Cecilia and Dionne reckoned it was decent value, and say that they’d definitely do it again.

Part 122: River Phoenix as Chris in ‘Stand by Me’

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The other day I was sitting in the hairdressers – having accidentally dyed my hair an alarming shade of orange I was forced to undergo an intensive procedure, involving bleach and scissors and resulting in a pixie crop that appears to have taken its inspiration, colour-wise, from the fur of an ageing labrador. There I was, flicking my big blue eyeballs between Facebook and the weathered pages of an old Glamour magazine, when my stylist asked me a question and inadvertently caused me to reveal repressed teenage yearnings, which explained an awful lot of things about my terrible romantic decision-making processes, and potentially set me on the path to emancipation (by which I mean sex, with someone who isn’t more or less a scumbag).

‘So,’ he said – lifting the tinfoil to check whether my hair had achieved the desired shade of yellow – ‘what’s your type?’ This was not completely àpropos of nothing, as we had, some moments before, been discussing our respective romantic failures. (It is possible, in hindsight, that he was trying it on, subtly – however, I didn’t register if he was because 9am scalp full of bleach is not my most sexy, self-assured hour.)

‘River Phoenix as Chris in Stand by Me,’ I said. And then, after a pause: ‘Oh God. I really mean that.’

Listen, if we became friends and you asked me – on a night out in a restaurant say, or over tea in my living room – about my first love, I would tell you the story of when I was seventeen and walked into a church hall (for secular purposes) and experienced metaphorical fireworks as my soon-to-be-boyfriend did a roly-poly off a plastic chair. But that would be a lie. My first love was Chris from Stand by Me, the 80′s movie about four boys from Portland, Oregon, who go searching for a dead body in the woods.

As is usual when it comes to first loves, he has remained my relationship archetype well after the point where I should have got over it.

Not that you can blame me. As you’ll know, if you’ve ever watched Stand by Me, Chris is a pretty special guy. Tough, resilient, spontaneous, unpretentious, witty, honest, loyal, kind, smart, unafraid of confrontation, protective of the people he loves and very, very good-looking.

(And that bit where he says to Gordie, ‘it’s like God gave you something, man. All those stories you can make up. And he said ”this is what we’ve got for you kid, try not to lose it.” Kids lose everything unless there’s someone there to look out for them. And if your parents are too fucked up to do it, then maybe I should.’ Oh GOD! It’s like: who wouldn’t want to marry the man that boy grows up to be?)

He also dresses remarkably well, considering that he wears one outfit for the entirety of the movie. You can’t go wrong with a white t-shirt and jeans, as far as I’m concerned.

Every single time I have dated, or snogged, or slept with a person I’ve done so because they’ve reminded me of Chris, in one way or another.

This has led to some questionable encounters. For example, I once made out with a soldier who I had just seen drink a pint of urine, because he had shaved head, like Chris, and that was what my brain focused on.

But I am 30 now. I have to get real if I want to make babies, and getting real requires being honest with myself, and with you. Chris is a child and also fictional. And, by the end of the movie (when we discover that he grew up to be everything you ever wanted a man, as his adolescence suggested he would), dead. None of these are qualities I genuinely want in a lover, if I think about it sensibly.

A new archetype is required, in order that I make the necessary leap into proper adult attraction, to men with whom there’s a future. I’m thinking a cross between George Clooney and Ross out of Friends might do it. (Although I’d like to point out that I have never been sexually attracted to Ross out of Friends, in any way whatsoever.)

*Image from starstills.com

Valentine’s Musings

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Remember that episode of Eastenders where Tanya buried Max alive in Epping Forest, and then, almost immediately, drove back and dug him up – monologuing a litany of his misdeeds as he choked on lumps of dirt and sobbed into his soiled shirtsleeves?

I’ve been thinking about that today.

I don’t know why.

*Image by gubgib at freedigitalphotos.net

Part 121: Serial Monogamists

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There’s a friend of mine, who I’ve mentioned here a couple of times before, both by her actual name and using the pseudonym ‘Bonny’ – when I’ve wanted to divulge the more intimate details of her sexual past, which she wouldn’t want broadcast over the Internet, if attached to her real identity.

Bonny is what you would call ‘experienced’, romantically.

She has had a lot of serious boyfriends. Like many, many, many. I just counted the ones I can recall – trawling my brain (addled this week by an overdose of 7up, Haribo and tangy cheese Doritos) for their bland faces and the names I never bothered committing to memory because I knew they were not long for Bonny’s world – and I reached well into double figures, before I was distracted by a text message.

(When someone you’ve recently slept with texts that they think you’re a ‘great person’ with whom they could be ‘good mates’ that indicates you were crap in bed, doesn’t it?).

(And should I take the offer of a friendship at face value? And, if so, do I want, or even need, more ‘mates’? Isn’t my social circle complex enough?)

(And do friendships even happen by people asking for them? Isn’t the making of ‘good mates’ conventionally more… sort of…organic?)

(And while, yes, I’d almost certainly have sex with him again, should the opportunity arise – what with my biological clock being about to explode and a lack of any serious alternative offers on the table – (or maybe not, who knows, he was pretty weird) I find myself wondering whether this is a man I can be bothered wasting platonic energy on.)

(Does this mean I’m more discerning about choosing friends than I am casual sex partners? Might that – in any way – be a good thing?)

Bonny is a classic serial monogamist, like Darren Day, Rod Stewart and Ian Beale off Eastenders.

Serial monogamists are very easy to identify: not only are they always, with sporadic gaps of three to six months, maximum, in committed relationships, but they are also wildly romantic – gushing endlessly over their latest beau, making ill-advised plans for a future together, proclaiming the intensity of their love to anyone who’ll listen and bouncing back in record time when the inevitable happens and it all ends in tears, one way or the other (a thing they never wasted energy worrying about while the relationship was happening, because they also tend to be naive optimists, and anyway, it’s the 21st Century – there are plenty of fish, advertising their availability on Tinder).

I find serial monogamy depressing.

I want romantic love to be a real thing that is, like a diamond, precious, rare, strong enough to withstand extreme pressure and prone to flashing ostentatiously, when it catches the light. I certainly don’t want it to be a thing you can do over and over and over again, with just about anyone – like tennis or sex. A thing that you can pack in whenever you start losing, or it begins to feel unseemly.

Being in love with an endless string of people feels like cheating to me.

And even though it looks like a lot of fun when Bonny and Rod Stewart do it, I’m not sure serial monogamy can be worth it, in the long run. It certainly hasn’t worked out great shakes for Ian Beale – although he is with that Denise now, isn’t he? And she’s hot as and very worthy of love – what with having been held hostage in next door’s basement and tortured by her murderous ex the last time I was paying proper attention.

But who am I to judge?

I just reckon, if you’re going to sleep with loads of people, you might as well do them all at a similar time. Mix it up a bit.

And stop falling in love.

It’s driving me mental.

*Image from 10incheslab at freedigitialphotos.net. I don’t know why! I just thought it was cute!

Part 120: Sue Ellen

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I used to own a T-shirt with the slogan ‘I Love Sue Ellen’ embossed across the front. It was dusty purple, made from that thin, soft cotton that feels like luxury – even though it costs next to nothing and is likely fashioned into garments by oppressed children, from scraggy old bits of fabric found discarded on the floors of Third World factories. And it used to cling to my boobies in a very fetching manner, and rise up to reveal my midriff, which, at the time – due to exercise, youth and genetics – was toned and washboard flat.

I fucking loved that T-shirt. Although I have absolutely no idea where it is now. It has gone to the heaven of lost things, along with all the earrings I have ever purchased and that sky-blue Paul Smith stiletto I misplaced a few years ago, when I threw it at my brother, on Plumstead common, during a drunken fight in the snow.

But I digress.

The thing I want to tell you about is Sue Ellen. You know, the character off Dallas. Married to JR Ewing (him of the oil baroning, massive Stetson hat and philandering). Let’s ignore the fact that this is an ancient cultural reference and get to the important point: what a woman.

If I could be anyone when I grow up, I’d be Sue Ellen.

That face. The pearlescent teeth. The permanent, unchipped manicure. The lingerie business. The alcoholism that never quite got the better of her. The shoulder pads. Those watery great eyes that lull you into thinking she’s fallen for it, but then there’s a golden flash and you realise: shit, this bitch has a gun in her purse and she is not afraid to use it.

The only thing that would dampen the experience of being Sue Ellen, as far as I can tell, is the disastrous relationship with JR – the man she loved, for her sins, but who didn’t know how to love her back (and also that stint in a mental institution, and the subsequent postnatal depression). For example, despite the fact he had the world’s sharpest woman waiting at home, JR kept shagging about with lithe, dumb, younger women and making up daft excuses that Sue Ellen was too smart to fall for, but that she sometimes pretended to believe, as women are wont to do, because dealing with an unfaithful lover is a massive faff. As she proved when she embarked upon a revenge affair, and fell pregnant, and was never quite sure if her husband or his arch nemesis was the father.

Poor, beautiful Sue Ellen – made to deal with having her self-esteem smashed to bits on a regular basis – which, of course, was JR’s method of control. In betraying her, he made himself the main thing about her life. He became the sun around which she was forced to orbit. And that was sad, because, as I’ve proved, she was capable of so much more.

If only JR had been brave enough to be with her properly, and love her without the drama and cruelty, as she deserved to be loved. But that was never going to happen, except when it did and then it turned out to be a dream (don’t fret too much babe, that happens to me most nights).

No-one can convince me that Sue Ellen wouldn’t have been better off single. Just imagine the life a woman that fabulous might have led, if she hadn’t married a podgy smooth-talker who couldn’t keep his dick in his pants. It’s a good job she’s fictional, and can therefore remain a role model for ladies like me, who haven’t quite decided how to live yet.

And let’s not forget, she divorced the bastard in the end.

(Then the horrendous 2012 series went and ruined it. But we won’t discuss that here because: for fuck’s sake.)

*Got the image off Google. Via virginmedia.com. I’ll take it down if you own the copyright and ask me. Don’t bother suing – as ever, I’m skint.