Remember Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother? I know she’s been dead for a while now, but somehow she manages to stay semi-relevant: present somewhere in the periphery of your consciousness, barely there but not quite gone, leaping suddenly into view when you least expect her. Or maybe it’s just me. For example, I was on this date a few weeks ago, glugging white wine in a pub in my new hometown — laughing softly at his nervous jokes; tucking loose tufts of hair behind my ears, trying to perfect the ideal combination of wit, empathy and hotness that might one day snare me a husband — and there she appeared, in a framed photograph on the wall; smiling and pulling a pint like she always used to do on special occasions, when they wheeled her out for the cameras. She was just how you remember her, dressed in a pastel two piece and matching hat, funny little pointless veil covering the top part of her face — though nothing, unfortunately, shielding us from the horror of her teeth. ‘Who’s that old lady?’ Said my date (who is not that much younger than me actually, it’s just that he didn’t grow up in England, so we can forgive him — I mean, we’ll have to, it’s slim pickings out there and as I might have mentioned I want a baby very very badly and none of my gay friends are willing to help me out with that).
I love the Queen Mother as much as the next person — as in, not that much, but with a grudging affection. She kind of reminds me of my favourite ex-boyfriends (who, similarly, arouse affection despite also being the worst), what with the gambling and the bad teeth and the daytime drinking and the possible, unsubstantiated Nazi sympathies.
Still, as much as the Queen Mother reminds me of my bad exes (and so I get that she is, on some level, sexy), in a funny old way, she also reminds me of myself (as in yes she’s sexy on some level but you wouldn’t marry her, would you? The woman’s deranged and you aren’t a shy, unprepossessing second-in-line to the throne with a stammer and an overbearing mother — although, if you are, hi babe, I don’t think we’ve met). We look remarkably similar; with our thin lips and our fat, heart-shaped, plain-yet-almost-pretty faces; with our slight-yet-sturdy build and the twinkle in our big blue eyes and our fondness for wearing colours that don’t really suit us. All those pictures where we’re holding a half-finished pint aloft like right old goers. My teeth aren’t anywhere near as horrifying, admittedly, but if I carry on smoking, drinking and only visiting the dentist once a decade in the way I do, it really won’t be long before I can compete with the QM in that department.
What’s my point? I barely know, anymore. You try writing a sex blog for four and half years and see how coherent you are. I suppose what I’m trying to tell you is that even though I am quite often baffled at how I’m still single after all these years of trying quite hard not to be, every now and then I catch a fleeting glimpse of myself in the mirror and the shadow of the Queen Mother moves behind my face and I get it. I mean, sure, I’m passably good-looking, I can do all the things you need to do in bed so long as I’m with the right partner; I can change a light bulb and cook a butter chicken curry and run a half-marathon with barely any training. Yes, quite often at parties I make a roomful of people I’ve only just met laugh out loud, I do kind things for strangers (although, full disclosure, I did, recently, after an unsatisfactory customer service exchange, send a Direct Message on Twitter to a woman from my phone company that simply said ‘My God. You are bad at your job.’) and sometimes I volunteer for charity. But I can’t blame all the men for not wanting to impregnate me, because it doesn’t take age-progression software to know that one day I am going to wake up and look like this:
And, unlike the Queen Mother, I won’t even have the cushion of wealth and breeding to soften the blow.