Part 142: Endless Endings

barnacles

I’m shit at break-ups. Like most people, I’m selfish, bitter, resentful and insecure – especially when some cad has fucked me over. Like most people, magnanimity is not my gut reaction to the violent severance of once-tender bonds. I’ve been known to indulge in weeks or months of self-pity, break-up sex and desperate drunken text messages that can only wield disaster. Just the usual. Move along please, nothing new to see here.

But it isn’t the initial distress that’s the worst thing about break-ups. The heartbreak and all that, that’s just part of life. We learn from it, we grow and we become something better than whatever it is we were before – something stronger, sharper, hotter.

The worst thing about break-ups is ex-partners who just won’t fuck off and leave us alone. Even when we’ve explicitly told them that that’s precisely what they should do. Ex-partners who can’t comprehend that it is far more romantic to let us miss them and wonder what might have been, than it is to stalk us, like the wild-eyed protagonist of some predictable thriller movie. Ex partners who, from the moment we try to excavate ourselves from their lives, cling to us, like barnacles to a slimy rock-face.

I’m talking a small but significant retinue of men – ex-boyfriends, blokes I had one night stands with, friends I snogged at a house party in 2008 – who contact me on a regular basis, years later, just for… I’m not sure what it is they want. To check I’m alive? To suss out whether sex might be on the cards, ever again, at some point in the future? To plug an emotional gap that their current/recently terminated relationships no longer fills?

Do they even know, these ghostly ex-lovers, emitting nonchalant, sexually charged platitudes, what they want, when they message me in the dead of night, their backs turned in the half-dark against wives and girlfriends and new-born children? Do they know what they want as they clutch at the gossamer wisps of the past via Facebook and whatsapp, Twitter and email, text messages and the comments section of this blog?

I don’t flatter myself that the break-up behaviour of my exes is any sign of my innate desirability. Years of singledom have stripped my ego bare in that department. The hot-backed boys I want to sleep with flock away like startled birds at the first flutter of my eyelashes. I do not get new romances very far off the ground before they crash and burn like a Virgin space mission. I have looked in the mirror and Cindy Crawford has not looked back (physically, I’d say I’m a cross between Kathy Burke, Audrey Hepburn and Bianca out of EastEnders). But it does appear I endure, after you’ve been there and seen it without make-up.

It’s well beyond your common or garden variety break-up insanity, this behaviour my exes exhibit. It is not the kind of crazy that stops somewhere between a week and a year after you part ways, depending on the depth and length of the romantic connection. It’s the other kind of break-up insanity – the kind that never ends. Ever. Probably not even after you’re both dead.

I find this terrifying.

Especially at night, when I can’t sleep. Especially when I attempt to soothe myself back to slumber by googling notorious murder cases. Will this be me one day – a Wikipedia entry, finally, but only because I’ve been hacked down or strangled by a rabid, snarling version of a man I once desired? Because isn’t that what they do, these men who won’t leave women alone, in the end?

Or maybe I do flatter myself. It could be that my mates are correct and I am, after all, a narcissistic drama queen. Perhaps it isn’t only me. Perhaps this is just how men behave now, once they’ve slept with you and eschewed long-term commitment. It is entirely possible that this is a technique they learn at some etiquette school for bastards. The endless reminder that, guess what, he’s still here, and you slept with him once.

Ostensibly benign text messages out of the blue, with no indication of the motivation behind them. And then, a sexually charged email, followed by abuse, followed by silence, ad nauseam, until the end of time.

This is not okay, men of the world. Life has moved on, my darlings, and we’re different people now, with longer pubic hair, full-time jobs and killer fingernails. You need emotional articulacy and clear motivations if you’re going to stay in our lives.

And so my answer to that perennial question, ‘but why are you single?’, has to be: ‘break-ups, babe. I can’t fucking handle ‘em.’

*Image is “Mussels And Barnacles” by Karen Shaw (see what I did there?) from freedigitalphotos.net

Part 141: Danish Sperm Donors

Sperm attack

Let’s face it, when I do eventually find a man who loves me back he’s not going to be hot like a Danish sperm donor. Have you seen them? All dreamy, creamy skin and fair hair and blue eyes that pierce you like a Californian sky. The descendants of Vikings. They’re wiry and muscular, or else built and outdoorsy; men who look like they could withstand a storm and erect a shelter from the debris after. And they’re so considerate as well; considered and considerate, articulate and kind. I think kindness is the main thing I want in a sperm donor, which is why no one I’ve slept with up until now has been in the running for father of my children.

Danish sperm donors, according to a programme I caught the tail-end of last week, are the last word in artificial insemination. Not only are they hotter than your average date, but the sperm comes cut-price, on ice and ready for insertion. It was all I could do to stop myself ordering several vials for immediate fertilisation purposes. Yes, there is every possibility I might end up with a child who has a few hundred siblings, and thus – what with the world getting smaller – a distinct possibility of one day having sex with his or her own brother. But that’s a small price to pay, and anyway I could warn my children of the dangers, or bring them up in a religion that advocates celibacy. Or one of those cults where they’re only permitted to shag the charismatic, elderly leader, who would at least have the advantage of definitely not being related to them by blood. I’ve thought it all through.

Not that I’m ethically down with sperm donation. We’re falling into the seas as it is. You can hardly move for bodies on the DLR in the morning. I watched a programme last night about the crowds at Victoria Coach Station and it was clear that we’re all fucked unless a lot of us die and even more of us stop breeding. But, like everyone, I don’t want to forfeit my life or my gene pool to save the world. I’m not going to top myself for ecological reasons. I’ll leave that to other suckers. And I’m not going to adopt an orphan either. The thought of a brand new baby that looks like me and hot bloke I’ll never meet is more appealing than the thought of a malnourished toddler who someone else has already fucked up. I want to damage my own children, ta very much, no matter the consequences for society, or, indeed, my children themselves.

So it looked like it was going to be Danish sperm, for a couple of days, until I thought about it properly and changed my mind. I know I have the outward appearance of a sensible, stable adult; a serious job, crows’ feet, shoes I can run for the bus in. I drink Martinis with a twist. I can cook a banging kleftiko lamb and I occasionally attend dinner parties hosted by enigmatic homosexuals in renovated townhouses. But that’s all an illusion. Behind closed doors I’m a mess. I live in my parent’s spare bedroom amongst wet towels and mouldering crockery. I still eat quavers. My phone bill is regularly more than £150, despite the fact I have unlimited minutes and a dwindling circle of friends. Last Friday I passed out drunk on the pavement next to Soho House. I may very well be unemployed come the end of the summer. Now is not the time to bring a child into the mix.

And that’s always the problem with life. Now is just never really the time to do anything that requires commitment to another person who might make you deal with your shit, or clean up theirs. Which is why I’m avoiding babies, and, of course, men. Unless you can find me a Danish one. They’re well fit.

*Image is “Sperm Attack” by jscreationzs at freedigitalphotos.net.

Part 140: Scented Tampons

rose

The last time I wrote about periods my mate Kaya texted to tell me that I had ruined her morning commute; the phrase ‘gooey fresh lady blood’ coupled with the sickly, sticky fragrance of her new body lotion had sent her over the edge. She’d launched herself from the top deck of the bus and onto the street to vomit. She wanted to let me know that this was an experience she did not wish to repeat.

I tell you the above story for two reasons. Firstly, because it serves as a warning to Kaya (you’re welcome), men and other similarly weak-stomached readers: you will not make it through this post unscathed. Secondly, because it recently came to my attention that someone, somewhere, has taken the stomach-churning experience my mate had on the top deck of that bus and turned it into a marketing opportunity.

There is now a ‘scented tampon’, and it is the most repulsive thing I have ever known.

It wasn’t my fault I ended up using them. I was cocooned in my bed, foetal, like a prawn, with my legs tucked up to my stomach and my head nuzzling my cleavage. I had the essentials: nurofen, hot water bottle and a big wodge of toilet paper stuffed down my knickers because, you know, I’d come on out of nowhere (or rather, I’d not paid sufficient heed to iperiod notifications) and I couldn’t be bothered to walk to the corner-shop. Fortunately, (or unfortunately as it turned out), my mother popped her head inside my bedroom, saw my plight and offered to fetch me some tampons from ASDA, and some more nurofen while she was at it.

Mum doesn’t have periods any more, due to the menopause, so she buys tampons like your boyfriend would, if you had one – blindly chucking any old sanitary product in the trolley, figuring this one is as good as the next. Which is most definitely not the case.

It must have been a bloke who invented the scented tampon, right? A woman would have known, in advance, that the meaty smell of sloughed off womb is in no way improved by a base-note of rosewater. It’s like if your Nan dropped potpourri in the beef stew, except worse because it’s located inside your genitals.

Had a woman thought of proposing the scented tampon at a meeting of fellow professionals, that little voice in her head, conditioned by years of rom-coms, women’s magazines and men never calling when they said they would – that voice that means she has to care what other people think of her – would have gone ‘no’. ‘That’s a shit idea’, it would have said, ‘and you’ll be embarrassing yourself if you suggest it’. The voice would have been correct.

So it must have been a man and it must have been a good-looking one, who has had success with the ladies and has therefore grown a titanium ego that repels criticism, even from the voices in his head.

And this is why, ladies, I often think we need to stop boosting men’s egos by having sex with them, marrying them and giving birth to their babies. The more I think about it the more I am convinced that a period (no pun intended) during which women boycott all men except gay ones would be really quite beneficial for human kind. I’ve been at it for the last decade or so and it has enhanced all parts of my life, unless you count the sex and emotional fulfilment ones.

Think: if we just fucked them off they wouldn’t be able to sell us dangerous and disgusting merchandise, or perform disappointing cunnilingus, and it would do wonders for population control. And then, once we let them back into our bedclothes they’d be so grateful and gagging for it that even the worst ones would try to be kind – and if they didn’t, ha! We would have got our shit together and fashioned a great big bonfire to thrown them on in case they got us pregnant and ran off with our best mate, or didn’t text us back, or invented any more terrible feminine hygiene products.

Which would serve them right.

*Image is “Pink Rose” by artur84 at freedigitalphotos.net

Part 139: Ordering the Crab

crab

In the spirit of fuck, I’m in my thirties how did that happen I better get a wriggle on if I want to have babies (which I do, possibly), I’ve been dating. I say ‘dating’, what I mean is that I’ve been exchanging messages with blokes on Tinder who a) offer graphic descriptions of their penis and what they’d like to do to me with it, b) ask if I’m ‘naughty’ and c) cease communication once I agree to meet in the flesh.

It’s shit, obviously. But I’m not taking it personally. You can’t. If you want to meet someone and have babies and if it has become clear that isn’t going to happen by conventional means (bar, club, friend, friend of a friend, brother of a friend, work, holiday romance etc.) then you need to approach the whole mating exercise in a calculated, clinical way. This is where I’ve been going wrong in the past: expecting that spontaneous attraction would yield results. Up until now I’d taken last-minute cancellations, ignored text messages and unfulfilled promises personally – I thought they were symptoms of my innate undesirability, rather than the behavioural traits of selfish emotionally stunted man-children who deserve to be ceremonially eliminated on a large, raging bonfire.

How things have changed. Can you tell how chill, laid-back and open-hearted I’ve become? I’ve dumped the unwieldy emotional baggage I’d been dragging behind me and I feel free, giddy and slightly reckless, like if one of those homeless men you see in LA, pulling along sixty shopping trolleys tied together with bungee cord and bits old rope, were to just let it go.

I say ‘dating’, I mean one date. And when I say ‘date’ I mean blind date, set up for a popular television programme, because it turns out that’s the only way single men will agree to meet me. But as I said, whatevs. I’m cool with that, because you learn something new from every experience* and what I learned from this experience was: don’t order the crab. Especially not on a blind date. Especially not when he orders the battered cod. Especially not when the date is being filmed by hundreds of Dalek-height cameras with rotating robot heads.

It was a whole crab, still in its shell – which I wasn’t expecting, obviously. I haven’t had a great deal of experience with undressed shellfish. I had whole soft-shelled lobster this summer and the proper method of breaking it open with dainty silver pliers and pulling out the flesh with a spear was patiently explained to me by hospitable Americans who don’t expect anyone to be cultured. But my memory of the technique is quite hazy because I was shown it after six Manhattans. Now, I was in a decent restaurant with white table cloths and po-faced Eastern-European waiting-staff in stiff black aprons, and the crab-shell was like rock, and every time I tried to break into it splinters of rock-shell kept flying off and landing on the floor and the surrounding tables and hitting my date in the face.

And all the while my hands were becoming sticky with crab-grease, which the luke-warm water in the finger-bowl was not satisfactorily removing. And every time I tried and failed to release any meat from the carcass my date gave me a sympathetic grimace and asked if I wanted a chip. Which I did, but I couldn’t say yes because you can’t order the crab and a salad and then eat all the chips off your date’s plate like some cliché of a famished anorexic movie star.

Fuck. This is why I don’t date.

I laughed it off, as you do, hahahahaha – and he was very gracious and didn’t turn it into a big deal, by which I mean even though I could see the glaze of horror settling over his eyeballs he did not make things awkward with a public display of revulsion. And it’s not as though I wanted to tear his clothes off with my teeth or bear his firstborn son or anything. But it remains that there is a bemused man on the loose in London, telling friends and acquaintances the story of how he went on a TV dating show and the woman ordered crab and didn’t even know how to eat it; he’ll tell them how she kept stabbing at the shell with the delicate silver pokey thing and that she ended up abandoning her meal, drinking mint tea and making feeble jokes about how she should have gone for the steak. And they’ll all laugh, hahahahaha. ‘Poor you,’ they’ll say, ‘sounds like you had a lucky escape’. And I’ll be at home, still sans baby, eating stilton out the fridge with my hands. This is what comes of dating.

Laterz.

*You don’t, of course, mostly you’re just reminded of things you already knew, such as that you probably don’t fancy kind, well-meaning community arts workers who wear hemp, and that 11am is no time to be dining in a restaurant that serves venison with a red-wine jus.

*Image is “Roasted Crab” by koratmember at freedigitalphotos.net.

Part 138: Insomnia

Insomnia

Yesterday, I was all ready to go with a post about how shit everything is. ‘It’s cold, and I’m tired and full of a perpetual cold and I just want to crawl inside a warm, cavernous space and sleep until springtime, like a grizzly bear,’ I wrote. ‘The serotonin levels are catastrophic, even though I’ve been eating chocolate and watching Russell Brand’s Trews and masturbating, often simultaneously. It is very hard to maintain perspective. I keep googling ‘painless suicides’ and then realising I’m not going to top myself and having a cup of tea and a biscuit and a little lie-down instead.’

And then I went all dramatic, ‘nothing good will ever happen again. Ever. That’s it for me. I’ve had my chance. My twenties are over. There’s a boil under my right breast. I’ve got piles. No more sex (def no anal). No more delicious all-nighters with hot backed boys I only just met. No more lingering kisses that make your tummy turn over. It’s just misery from here on in. Misery and cold and endless endless darkness. Even the concept of summer seems like a distant outlandish utopia, like a lie the government made up to keep us from revolting.’

But last night a miraculous event occurred. I felt sleepy. I climbed into bed. I shut my eyes. I slept all night long without waking because of the jagged, terrifying nightmares, the sudden urge to pee or the grinding, metallic noises that the pipes emit when a poltergeist is moving through them. And when I woke up this morning I felt positive and well-balanced. And while, alright, it was still cold and dark and really fucking miserable outside, inside my body it felt warm and settled and euphoric.

I haven’t slept through the night in, literally, years – unless you count all those times I’ve passed-out blind drunk, which I don’t because comatose from alcohol consumption is not sleep, according to my doctor. And, despite the fact that I’m tired all the time, that my friends have nicknamed me ‘dormouse’ because I’m always falling asleep under piles of coats at parties, I’ve never put two and two together before and realised that all my problems, all those insecurities about my face and my spreading waistline and my sexual desirability are caused by a lack of sleep.

No wonder I’ve been single for just about ever. I have been manic, nauseous and intermittently suicidal for well over half a decade, and it’s all because I’ve been knackered.

No wonder I’ve been a total bitch hell-bent on drawing attention to other people’s flaws. No wonder I’ve cried at multiple bus stops. No wonder I’ve wished death on all the telephonists who’ve ever called me about my outstanding debts. No one can function like a rational human being on three or four hours disrupted napping.

I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in about eight years and I’ve not even moaned about it, really – which, when you think about it, makes me the Mother Teresa of not sleeping through the night. Except that my not sleeping through the night has done nothing to enhance the well-being of others. Still, despite the fact that that was a terrible metaphor, you catch my drift. New parents are always bleating on about how they have to get up a couple of times a night to feed the baby. Even though feeding the baby means they get to squeeze a fat milky cherub thing they’re biologically programmed to love. And here I’ve been all these years, wide awake but exhausted, or tearing through horrific, disjointed dream-scapes before jolting awake and scrolling Twitter to make myself feel safe and connected to the world – even if that connection is virtual and, therefore imaginary. And I have had no sympathy whatsoever.

All these years, I’ve been alone. And not because, as I believed, other people were all cunts. But because the ceaseless fatigue had turned me into a monstrous, bitter, bloated, unlovable nightmare. I was the cunt.

Who’d have thought it?

But with one night’s sleep under my belt I feel human and full of the joys that don’t normally arrive until spring. I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do with this newfound humanity, but I thought I’d share it with you, my darling readers, because you’ve subscribed to read a blog about my life and, right now, this is as exciting as my life gets. I can even give you some advice, in case that’s what you’re after: you want to be a kinder, happier person who people will fancy and ask out on dates (even if only so you can turn them down and feel smug about that)? Get more sleep. That’s all there is to it.

*Image is “Thoughtful Insomniac Cartoon Lady” by debspoons at freedigitalphotos.net

Part 137: Face for Radio

retro radio

I know, I know, I promised I’d start posting weekly blogs again and I know that you’re probably disappointed because, as it turns out, I lied. But fuck you. I’ve been in a bad way. It often happens at this time of year. Can’t write, can’t eat, self-esteem jumps out the window and I realise I haven’t been laid in so long that my virginity has potentially grown back. If, in fact, I ever lost it. Who can tell, through the haze of time, what’s real and what you’ve made up in the recesses of your brain to give your life momentum?

Christmas is a long, cold drag, and this year I’m like the Grinch, except more sweary; hating my Facebook friends list from A-Z, refusing to shave unsightly excess bodily hair and locking myself away so as not to deplete my already dwindling social circle any further. I’m not eating glass, but I am crunching on whisky-soaked ice cubes with alarming regularity.

So, you see, I haven’t written any blogs this month because I haven’t had anything nice to say; by which I mean that I only wanted to slag off everyone who had ever wronged me and some people who had done nothing to me at all, except get on with their lives and post self-satisfied updates about the best bits of it on social media. However, I realised that writing bitter, bile-infused missives about friends, acquaintances and the girlfriends of men I want to sleep with was unlikely to endear me to a public audience, and so I paid heed to the old adage and, rather than say something horrid, I didn’t say anything at all.

You’re welcome.

But now I’m back and I want to tell you about this problem I’ve been having that is nothing to with the vapid lifestyle-PR of morons. That problem is my face.

You probably haven’t seen my face recently, due to me not having left the house or posted pictures of it on here, so you’ll have to take my word for it: my face is bad. Which isn’t always the case. It was stunning for about a week-and-a-half in August. It was bearable for most of the autumn. But now, it’s like the face of a plasticine animation; except if that plasticine were, instead, shit.

A thing has happened over the past month, wherein my face has, in a reverse yuletide miracle, aged both forwards and backwards; so that not only have I got jowls and crow’s feet, but I also have bulbous great baby’s cheeks and teenage acne, which will just not fuck off, even though I have spent six weeks cleansing with a terribly expensive sonic cleansing device.

To make matters worse, I made the tragic mistake of appearing on a daytime television show (favour for a mate, don’t ask), with a hangover, unwashed hair and no make-up; so that even my own Nan called to tell me how dreadful I looked, broadcast to the nation with my greasy skin and glassy, gormless eyeballs. A stranger on twitter described me as looking like a member of Wheatus. And I have to say, I could see his point.

Of course, it is utterly objectionable that I should even care about my face. It’s not as though I am a fashion model, actress or similarly employed professional (escort, Harrods’ floor assistant) who has to rely on her looks for money. I just read books and write convoluted cultural analyses for a living; it would make no difference if my face fell off and got eaten by the dogs. Except that then I’d probably never get laid again because, as it turns out, men are bothered by looks – which is why I ain’t getting any, even though I have razor-sharp intellect and breasts like firm Seville oranges.

It’s not easy, looking like the back of a bus.

And before you start (Mum, I mean you, if you’re reading) I know it’s not all in my head. My face has definitely gone to pot. It can’t be my personality that’s keeping the lads at bay because what with the rock-bottom self-esteem, the hatred and the bitter, tarry, Christmas bile I’ve been spewing, I’m fucking excellent company. My personality is like a mash-up of Joan Rivers, Janice Soprano and Princess Diana. Who wouldn’t want to tap that?

What I’m saying then is this (except Mum, if you’re reading, I don’t mean you): Fuck being single. If you fancy waking up to an ugly face in the New Year, I’d be well up for that. I’m not joking. Let’s do this. You got my number. You know what to do. (Although you might want to give it a few days – I’m on my period.)

*Image is “Retro Radio” by sippakorn at freedigitalphotos.net Continue reading