Part 35: Being Crap with Money

Alright, I’ll admit it. The collapse of the economy was all my fault. I’m one of the irresponsible people who got a mahusive overdraft and six credit cards, spent all the money on shiny things from Accessorize and then went on holiday to LA instead of paying my creditors back.

I regularly fall into arrears because I decide to buy custom-made evening gowns for functions I haven’t been invited to rather than paying my electricity bill. Quite often, I’d rather buy a pair of sandals than eat dinner, do so and am then forced to live on one meal a day for the next fortnight. I’m not even being ironic to prove a political point here. I really am this fiscally negligent.

Does this make me a terrible person?

Is it bad that I don’t care?

As many cleverer and more eloquent people than me have pointed out: money doesn’t actually exist. It’s just a figment of our collective imagination, around which we have unfortunately decided to construct the world. Its power lies only in our belief in it. We are all complicit in a big old rigged game that I personally have decided to start cheating at. Fuck it, I’m my father’s daughter and as a part-time public sector worker earning a salary that equates to less than the hourly minimum wage the odds are stacked against me ever rolling in legitimate riches.

Fortunately, I am both irresponsible and carefree enough not to give much of a shit about the consequences of personal economic laxity.

Of course, there are loads of people who want to make me feel guilty about occasionally spending the little money I do have on things that delight and thrill me, rather than on staple necessities. Usually, these are outraged Daily Mail commenters or media and political figures who have absolutely no idea what it’s like to eek out a pleasurable lifestyle on a pittance. As far as I’m concerned they can suck my dick, being as they are complicit in my reckless financial attitude by sanctioning a system in which consumerism is king, but where the privatisation of essential services means we are expected to spend all our wages on surviving – while a few rich CEO types writhe naked on piles of bank-notes, masturbating and laughing at the misfortune of the 99%. They earn their money you see, and so have a right to enjoy it. The rest of us, obviously, just walk around with our heads up our arses and then riot in the streets like feral criminals when the going gets tough.

While I am not that bothered about living in debt, embracing potential bankruptcy and dying in shameful poverty, I can understand that this is not an attitude potential lovers will necessarily embrace. Other people tend to want things like a good credit rating and a mortgage and enough money to buy dinner – especially if they’re thinking about making children, who, I agree, need financial and emotional security I am not currently equipped to give. And I understand the point of view of responsible people, because I’m fairly liberal and try not to judge others’ need to socially conform too harshly. Plus, if I do ever decide to enter into a relationship, it will probably need to be with one of these commercially solvent types – I’m not ideal squatter material and I like my men to pay for shit.

I’m not ready to end my own personal, small scale, inevitably doomed attack on the system just yet though. For a start, I’ve got at least 18 months of financial paucity ahead while I complete my PhD. I’d like to remain both housed and stylish during this period. For another start, I’m not sure all the rich capitalist types have learnt their lesson. The whole ‘occupy’ thing seems to have died down without any noticeable change to the system and, despite my support for the movement, I was unable to get behind that in any physical way due to an extreme aversion to camping and dreadlocks.

I imagine at some point I am either going to win my one woman war against the man or have to sort it out and pay back what I owe. As I’m not totally willing to drag anyone else onto this sinking ship with me, it’s probably best that I stay single until I can change my attitude towards filthy dirty cash, pay off my debts and be less crap with money – unless, in the interim, I manage to pull one of them CEOs and cross over to the dark side.

Part 34: Pubic Hair

Since my very unfortunate mishap (for those of you who haven’t been keeping up with each groundbreaking entry of my blog: on Monday I accidentally flashed my overgrown bikini line to colleagues by wearing a shorter-than-short playsuit to work, and bending over in the staffroom. I know OMG, right?), I’ve been having a good think about pubic hair, in the way that my generation tend to have a think – by conducting Google research, feeling like an expert for 15 minutes, and then immediately forgetting the results. What I discovered is that pubes are a hot topic. They’re very zeitgeisty – what with everyone shaving them off, and neo-feminist warrior women growing them back and telling everyone else they should also grow them back and making a point about the role the shaven haven plays in female subjugation via reports rehashed from multiple sources that little boys are so overexposed to porn that they get all freaked out when they see a real live fanny with hair on it. It’s overwhelming, the amount of people who actually care about the subject, and so I thought I’d better chip in with my say on the matter before the moment passes, and I miss my chance.

Here are three of my most vivid pube memories, in chronological order:

– Feeling inadequate in year seven, when, during registration one monday, Danielle Mahoney and Sophie Morgan each plucked a single pube from inside their knickers and measured them with a plastic ruler to prove who was more pubically developed

– Nearly amputating my lady parts when ‘trimming up’ in the presence of an ex boyf – who fortunately had the presence of mind to shout ‘STOP!’ at me very loudly, thus ensuring that I avoided performing an accidental self circumcision on his bed sheets (if you’re reading this, thanks again for that)

– Watching a male stripper with white y-fronts, brylcreemed barnett and a pipe perform an unusual routine at a hard-core gay club in LA (we never saw his manhood but were treated to teasing and repeated exposure to his impressive genital mane) and the boys getting very aroused by what they called his ’70’s porno bush’.

I offer you these memories because they provide a neat illustration of my changing attitude towards pubic hair over the years since I’ve had it. The first example demonstrates the very competitive nature with which girls in my school viewed all outward signs of puberty: we wanted the biggest boobs, and the heaviest periods, and the longest pubic hair. If we couldn’t prove we had any of these things, we’d be ridiculed. I’m not sure why – I think it had something to do with sex (and the girls who had the biggest boobies and the heaviest periods certainly did reveal their prowess in this area, by all having babies by the time we sat our GCSEs). In those days, I longed for pubes to grow. I wanted flowing locks of them that would increase my popularity and make boys look at me, instead of at my friend Laura.

The second example illustrates the way I treated my longed for pubes in early adulthood: with disregard. Unhappy that they existed, and ashamed if any of the curly hairs peaked out from the edges of my underwear, I waged a constant wax and shave and trim battle against the bush. But no matter how hard I fought it still won by looking scruffy and misshapen, itching like mad and growing back within a couple of days. I was not a happy girl.

The third and final example illuminates my pubes renaissance, which took place last year. Wow, I realised, pubes are well sexy!

Unfortunately, my pubes renaissance has occurred at a time when the vogue for trimming has been absorbed into western society as the norm. I first noticed that the pubic hair removal fashion had reached alarming heights when, a few years after I became sexually active, even the men started shaving them off. I wasn’t too bothered at the time, but it’s started to feel like a problem. Pubic hair is impossible to see in modern Britain. Even on so-called medical programmes designed to teach us about the human body in all its gory glory – yes, pubes are too embarrassing for Embarrassing Bodies; a programme where members of the public whack out their crusty, pus-filled genitals for doctors, and the nation, to inspect. Something is very wrong here.

I know that not everyone will agree with me on the sexiness of pubes, and that those who know me personally will suspect I’m just saying they’re sexy because I’m too lazy to attend to the grooming required to keep my overgrown hair in line with current fashions. However, this is not the case (well, it’s not entirely the case). Having lots of pubic hairs is sexy for a number of reasons: 1) a healthy tuft of hair-down-there is a sign of normal, adult development; the girls in my school were correct, pubes do suggest that you’re a grown-up person who is ready to engage in sexual play 2) fluffy, wiry pubic hair adds another texture (besides the softeness of skin, the stickiness of sweat, and the hardness of nails/teeth) to sexual activity, which is, after all, a sensual medium 3) a decent sized bush suggests that the bearer is confident, comfortable in his/her own skin, and not bound to oppressive and uncomfortable grooming fashions 4) pubes are so pretty (except when they become detached, and get stuck in the soap).

A few people have asked me how long I’m going to keep this blog going, and whether I’ll soon embark on a relationship that might necessitate its termination. Well, here’s the answer: when the people of the western world start growing their pubic hair back again then I will consider rejoining the couples circuit. Turns out I’m in the neo-feminist warrior camp; plus, I don’t want to have sex with an insecure, fashion conscious lady-boy who is so worried about conforming/the size of his penis that he has to shave off all that nature gave him in order to feel desirable. So, until such time as we can embrace it again, pubic hair is a reason to be single. Thank you, and good night.

Part 33: Splitting the Bill

As you can probably tell from the fact that I’ve been sitting on my arse writing this shiz every night for over a month, it’s been a while since I was entertained by decent fella*. Well, that’s perhaps an exaggeration, depending on your definition of ‘a while’, but it’s certainly been a while since I went on a date and didn’t have a moment of awkward when it came to deciding who was supposed to pay for what.

I know that most people have a pretty strongly held opinion on the ‘who should pay’ thing. Everyone I’ve ever met is willing to discuss it at length, until it comes to the point when they’re actually on a date and the bill arrives. The obvious problem is that it doesn’t do to announce one’s payment preference too crudely, in case it ruins one’s chances with a person who has already indicated, by virtue of agreeing to spend some time alone with you under the guise of romance, that they would not be entirely adverse to the idea of sexual intercourse.

This is why I’m a bit jealous of the gay community, who I understand operate a policy of 50/50 unless the date was clearly instigated by an invite from a particular party, in which case that party pays. This seems fair enough, offering room for both equality and generosity, and not creating potentially uncomfortable moments that might lead to any sex that may occur later on being a bit terse and resentful – demonstrating, yet again, that the gays have it sorted.

Unfortunately, I am not gay – and, as the heterosexual community have yet to come up with any straightforward (oooh, that was almost a pun!) way of approaching this issue, I’m going to give you my preference up front – confident in the knowledge that it will secure my single status.

This is the deal, gentleman of my future: it’s 2012, I’m a feminist who likes nail varnish (a radical feminist, if the state of my bikini line – which I just realised could actually be seen, in all its unshaven glory, by colleagues and strangers in the outfit I wore to work today – is anything to go by), I’m all into independence and doing it for ourselves and that, but if we go out I still want you to pay for dinner, the first drink, and my taxi home. Especially if you’ve been invited to get in it with me.

I don’t know if all the other single ladies agree with me here, but as far as I’m concerned splitting the bill was not what we meant when we asked for equal rights. It’s fairly low down on the priority list, equality wise – coming somewhere below having to lift heavy boxes, and pretend to enjoy Match of the Day. The way I feel about it is, yes, I want equality, but how about if paying for dinner bothers them so much the men, as a collective, get together and pack it in with the condescension, objectification, domestic violence, rape, taking all the wages, fighting all the wars e.t.c, before they expect us to pay our own way? Otherwise, that’s not feminist victory, it’s just maintaining the status quo, and voluntarily giving up the only incidental perk that oppression has afforded us.

I’m aware that many men reading this, particularly stupid ones, will be going ‘gold-digger!’ in the back of their tiny minds, and shaking their heads at this evidence of the shallowness of evil woman. I’m not really in the habit of excusing myself, but hear me out for moment: I don’t want your money, long term. I’m not really that bothered if what you’re paying for is a quarter pounder with cheese from Burger King, or a steak at the insanely priced restaurant chain Gauchos (that’s a lie, I obviously would care about that, fairly extremely), the point is the gesture, the demonstration via money that you give a shit, and both want to, and know how to, impress a lady. This should all be done with good grace and authority, with no hint of the fact that paying for dinner has either pissed you off, or made you feel smug and superior. Both of these things will tarnish your chances of getting sex later on.

As I read back over what I’ve written above, I realise that my dating imagery is wildly unrelated to the recent ‘dating’ realities I’ve experienced. Namely, those which involve meeting someone when you’re both half cut in a bar, and waking up unable to remember who paid for what, or indeed where you went, or going out for a quiet pint with someone you’ve been mates with for ages and don’t really mind buying a drink for anyway. Still, the reality of my own life has never got in the way of my making a point before, so allow me to say this: I’m declaring splitting the bill a reason to be single. Until men can agree that it’s right and proper for them to pay on the first date, we ladies should all stay indoors sulking, dining on cold leftover Chinese food, painting our toenails, and writing bitter, tongue-in-cheek blogs that will spark the next sexual revolution. Come on girls, let’s do this.

* Soz for the cringey ‘fella’ lingo, but I’ve been watching documentaries on East End gangsters for the last three days and the vernacular is rubbing off on me.

Part 32: Wigs

Have you ever donned a ‘crazee’ wig in an attempt to convince other people that you’re humorous? I really hope you’re able to give the answer ‘no’ to that question. If not, then we need to immediately assess our relationship by considering whether this is the correct forum for you to be seeking counsel. Wig wearers: I’d like to frankly suggest that you do not have the necessary strength of character to thrive alone. It’s a tough world and it looks like you might need protecting from it. Perhaps you would be better off signing up to e-harmony and pairing off with a gentleman who likes cats and lives with his mum.

I consciously realised my hatred of wigs quite recently, when I attended a party where another guest had come dressed in a unitard, goofy false teeth and an Afro wig. This person attempted to conduct a jovial conversation with me over wine, presumably hoping that I’d think of him as a ‘character’. He was totally unaware that by deciding to come to a party dressed as a wanker he had forfeited his right to converse with stylish people. Thus he was duly dismissed as I crawled out of my own skin in repulsion.

I just cannot understand what kind of brain dysfunction needs to occur in order for someone to wear a wig in public with the certain belief that other people will think of them as wacky and eccentric. It is rather disturbing to me that this happens at all and very disturbing that it happens often enough for me to witness it in person.

Wigs are not amusing. They are massive and hairy and a little bit disgusting. They are only acceptable when used as functional items and, even then, only in two circumstances: if you’re a female attempting to cover involuntary baldness or if you’re a drag queen. Wearing a wig in almost any other situation is paramount to covering your naked body in a massive sandwich board painted with the words ‘I’m a moron’ and walking up and down your local high street greeting strangers with a gormless, inane grin. Yes, people might laugh, but they’ll also be thinking that you are an unparalleled knob-cheese and cringing as they cross the street to avoid you. That’s just how the world works I’m afraid.

I offer this advice readers, because I’ve recently had some disturbing wig-based experiences which I feel ready to share with you.

In the past fortnight two of my previous sexual partners have posted pictures of themselves on Facebook wearing ‘crazee’ wigs.

As you can imagine, this has been a pretty alarming blow to the ego for me, suggesting as it does that I do not possess impeccable taste in lovers and that, in fact, I might as well not have bothered seeking out hot, fit, well-dressed, reasonably educated men and just fucked the chuckle brothers instead.

I have suspected deep down inside for quite a while that being single is the thing. Indeed, I’ve even posted my best arguments to that effect on here, for your consideration. This wig business though – it’s properly confirmed my suspicions. How can intimacy ever be a good idea?

Even if you get to know someone well enough to share bodily fluids, a few dates and a bed, they might still decide, if you’re ever invited to attend a fancy dress party together, to go dressed in a clown’s wig, flares and neon 1980’s sunglasses. Of course, this would necessitate you dumping them forthwith and vigorously scrubbing any part of your skin they had touched with coal tar soap and a nail-brush. But no matter how clean you got, or how far away from the offending lover, the damage would’ve been done.

There’s a line in Irvine Welsh’s ‘Porno’ when a character is outraged at being given a compliment by foolish and moronic acquaintance. ‘I firmly believe’ he says, ‘that a good character reference from a witless moron is far more damaging to one’s standing than condemnation from the hippest ranks of the cognoscenti.’ I offer you this line not only because it’s a truism that is useful to remember in general terms, but also because it sums up how I feel about men. It is far better to be rejected by (or indeed, to reject) the hottest, most eligible bachelor in the city than to have sex with someone who later puts on a wig and lols at their own reflection.

It is definitely preferable to remain single forever than to affect your social and sexual well-being by accidentally hooking up with a wig-wearer. Trust me. I’m not sure how long it’ll take to get over the damage those Facebook pics have done, but I’ll certainly be stepping out with more caution, date-wise, in the future. And I shall be refusing to engage in sexual relations again until I know a guy well enough to find and burn any offensive items he might be hiding at the back of his wardrobe.

Part 31: The Hot Hot Sunshine

OMG – this weather!

For any readers not currently residing in the UK, or keeping abreast of our changeable climate via the internet, let me explain: since November we Brits have been experiencing icy, wintrous conditions which necessitated jumpers, scarves, gloves, coats, thermal underwear, misog faces and 24/7 central heating. Then, all of a sudden, three days ago, the sun popped his luminous great head out from behind the clouds and began pounding us with relentless, sexy heat. This turn of events has sent us collectively mental; stripping down to nothing, parading our milk-white flesh on the street, barbecuing 2-4-1 own brand burgers in our front gardens, forgetting to apply deodorant, cramming into outdoor spaces and sipping ice cold bottled beer with a slice of lime, as the rays of the mighty sunshine caress our blissed-out faces.

Basically, we’re trying to cram all outdoor, summer type activities into this one week, in case the weather turns again (which my iPhone tells me will happen next Thursday) and we have to spend the remainder of the summer keeping a stiff, British resolve and grimacing stoically through predictably unpleasant climatic conditions: shivering in linen jackets at outdoor weddings, conducting family picnics under a massive golf umbrella in the spitting rain, relocating to a static caravan due to flash flooding.

All this heat has reminded me that being single in the hot hot sun is most glorious. And not just because you can perv over all the bare naked flesh without feeling guilty. Although, now I come to think of it, that is a rather large facet of sunshine enjoyment for those of us who get tingly pleasure by looking at attractive nude things with our eyeballs.

The problem with the occasion of sunshine in a country which is more accustomed to gloom is that every person has an individual and specific hot day idyll – the template for a perfect sunshine day that they are determined to live out at all costs, should the weather gods decide that the sun will bathe the earth in a warm soupy heat on a day that coincides with no work-based responsibilities. These perfect sun-day prototypes are usually a mixture of complex conditioning factors such as gender, upbringing, nationality and personal taste. No two are exactly alike. Having a perfect sun-day with a partner is therefore totally unfeasible, as one or both of you will have to compromise and therefore spend the day harbouring a seething resentment that you are essentially wasting what might be the one and only opportunity you will ever have to live out your very own movie-style day of perfection in real-life spacetime.

I know from bitter experience that compromising on days when the hot hot sun shines is not ideal, even though it’s been a long while since I’ve had anything resembling a functional relationship. I was reminded on a family holiday last summer, when my father’s ideal sun-day – which involves the extended family playing competitive sport type water/ballgames with rules invented and changed at will by him; followed by a barbecue, beer and a game of yahtzee – was forced upon the rest of the family, who in our defence, bore the event with extreme good will. Nonetheless our umbridge at missing out on an opportunity for personal fantasy fulfilment was not completely eradicated. Leading to my Dad being thrown, fully clothed and intoxicated on red wine and happiness, into the pool by the rest of us as a punishment for being too smug after winning that game of yahtzee, and my mum getting very cross and telling everyone off in a shrill voice for being drunk and dangerous.

The main reason that the sunshine is a reason to be single then, is because being single allows you to completely indulge your own sunny day desires when the rare chance to do so befalls you (so long as you aren’t away with your family). My go-to choice for a sunshine day involves wandering an outdoor craft-market, dressed in a cotton sun-dress and low-heeled sandals, stopping for an ice cold coca-cola and a read of a good book in the local park, staring occasionally up at the clear blue sky. Unfortunately, I did not get to indulge my sun fantasy on this most hot of hot days because I got so pissed after work last night that I spent the entire day today in the flat with the curtains closed; huddled into a ball on my bathroom floor, projectile vomiting into the toilet and taking occasional breaks to read about 1960s gangsters online. My drunkenness is also the reason why there was no blog post last night, despite my determination to post one a day until I get to 50 (50 posts I mean, not age 50). Imagine how cross my boyf would’ve been, had he existed, at having to waste this precious opportunity to indulge a sunshine fantasy listening to me retching bile in the ensuite. Happily though, there is no boyf and the day was not completely wasted because I’ll now be confident should any pub quiz include a question on East End organised crime. Every cloud…

By the way: was I the only person in the world who didn’t know that Ronnie Kray was gay?

Part 30: Being from South East London

Back in the day – when the world was a simple place and Facebook groups stood for something you could believe in – there used to be one called ‘I’m from South East London, that means I’m better than you’. Before all the tedious people point it out, yes, I’m sure there were similar copy-cat groups for other places, but that doesn’t matter; they were wrong and the South East London one was correct. Being from South East London does, immediately, make you superior to all human beings who are not, in every way possible. Which isn’t to say that I don’t get along with people from all over the world. I’m not completely xenophobic – my own parents are from the tan-tastic county of Essex and I don’t hold that against them. They can’t help it (and I’ve given them a few amazing points because they had the wisdom to move away and to birth and raise their children in an area more conducive to greatness).

I know, it’s totally not fair that having the good fortune to hail from a few tiny square miles on the edge of a seething metropolis should afford one so many advantages in life, but what can I do? Not only are we hard (yes, harder than our cheeky cockney cousins having it up across the river – you would just so NOT see an SE Londoner make themselves a figure of ridicule by dressing in all that pearly queen gear), we’re also smart: witty, arrogant, cunning, straight talking (we call a cunt and cunt, lol*) and totally able to see through what my Dad’s mate Paul used to call ‘Billy bullshit’. Most importantly – at least in terms of the theme of this blog – we are well fucking gloriously sexy. There’s no point in hating. I don’t make the rules. I just observe them, and write them here for you to read about.

Now, since I’ve moved away from South East London (no, I’m not sure why I did it either, something about my career and a doctoral scholarship), the sexy thing’s been a bit of a problem. I’m going to be frank with you. I’ve only had, maybe, one sexual encounter, ever, with a man who wasn’t from within the few miles that I consider my homeground (alright, fine, two – but I’m not proud of it). Suprisingly, it wasn’t completely unsatisfactory and in fact for the novelty alone I’m going to say I would even recommend a bit of postcode variety to others. But still, something within me deeply mistrusts anyone who has never been on the 177 (which is, incidentally, my favourite bus route). This makes finding a partner in the north rather burdensome. Most Yorkshire men have never needed to get from Plumstead to Peckham** on £2.20.

What makes the task of finding a lover even more difficult is that being from South East London is a very specific thing. I’ve met a few kind of kinsfolk since I’ve been in this grimy northern city, but they aren’t totally part of the SE massive. It’s not enough, I’m afraid, to have moved there in adulthood or to be born there and then move somewhere else as a pre-teen. Mind you, you don’t have to be a British National to be SE either – we’re a culturally and ethnically diverse people (as you will know, if you ever attended the anti-racist festival on Plumsted Common, when it was good, between the years 1995 and 1999). I discussed all this at length with a friend and we decided that what fundamentally makes you proper SE London is going to a state school (posh people are immediately excluded on the grounds that fuck them, they don’t use buses) somewhere between the ages of 11 and 16, in one of the five boroughs (Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, Lewisham, Southwark). Although, obviously, if you lived or went to school in SE18, that gives you bonus street-cred.

Very few real SE Londoners live anywhere else – why would they want to? And that perhaps explains why I’ve struggled to meet anyone suitably amazing since I’ve moved away. Then again, I probably haven’t been trying hard enough – having taken the view that once you’ve had caviar cod roe just won’t do.

Recently, I’ve started to realise that this is all very snobbish; yes, I’m from the actual master-race, but this doesn’t mean I can’t at least try to appreciate the slightly diminished riches other human people might wish to offer me. If I stopped aiming so high, perchance I’d find contentment with a brooding, bearded stranger. But- nah, fuck that. My parents didn’t move all the way from Basildon to Woolwich so I could marry some northerner with membership to pigeon fanciers anonymous (just jokes, I know some of you prefer ferrets). Looks like my SE London heritage actually is another reason to be single. Well, it’s either that I’m just too amazing for love or it’s my post-modern semi-ironic conceit holding me back: apparently, people don’t really like it when you think you’re better than them. Who’d a thought it?

*I like how having a blog means I’m not subject to editorial censorship, but as I realise some of you might be offended by the ‘c’ word I put ‘lol’ after it to make it seem light-hearted. Didn’t work, did it?

** I do know that the 177 runs from Thamesmead to Peckham, but I’ve decided alliteration is well lol, and therefore made a (nonetheless accurate) alteration. I gotta take my pleasure where I find it.

Part 29: Periods

I am having a period right now, which is something you might not want to know, but which I’m telling you anyway. I do realise that with that opening sentence I have shape-shifted in your mind, from exotic, red taloned Lipstick Queen to hideous feminist stereotype – the hairy lady who wants to tell you about her period, for reasons you quite can’t quite understand. But bear with me, I am going somewhere with this.

Single ladies: we don’t talk about our periods enough. Or at least, you don’t, I’m assuming, if you’re anything like 100% of the women I’ve met who are not me or my lesbian sister. It’s not the done thing, or so I’m led to believe, to talk at length about menstruation to people who aren’t your gynaecologist. Especially in situations where a man might overhear, and be grossed out by the thought of gooey fresh lady blood.

Alright, it is acceptable to ask another woman for tampon, and to refer to the crippling pain you’re experiencing by way of explaining why you look like ten types of shit. But this is not enough. This is not discussion. It is avoidance, it’s euphemism. It makes us look like we are embarrassed to be women, with healthy, functioning wombs.

I talk about my period all the time. I am obsessed with it. The novelty just doesn’t wear off. Right from that first premenstrual moment when the smell of bacon frying half a mile away makes my tummy turn, and the Sam Cooke track they’ve dubbed over a rose-bush montage on the Chelsea flower show makes me sob helplessly, like someone recently bereaved, I HAVE to share. And why not? The period is a miracle. A wholly bodily experience, which has never been anything less than thrilling to me. A consciousness altering, corporeal, physiological wonder that happens every three weeks*, like magic, unless you’re growing a baby, or have stress, or problems with your womb, or are elderly.

According to the Bible (or at least the interpretation of the Bible I’ve digested somewhere in the course of my, not inconsiderable, education), the period was bestowed upon women as retribution for giving in to the temptation of sin in the Garden of Eden. It upsets me a large amount – and confirms to me that the Bible was made up by an unattractive man with too much time on his hands, and not enough imagination to use it for masturbation – that menstruation is equated with punishment, as I have found my menstural cycle to be one of the most complex sources of pleasure my body is able to provide. I hope, by the end of this posting, you’ll be kind of agreeing with me, even if you also conclude that I might actually be mental.

Period appreciation is hard to do when you’re in a relationship because you have to half-sympathise when your partner gets cross because you can’t have sex without laying an old towel down first. Us single people, happily, don’t have to deal with such tedious concerns.

Where to start with period pleasures? We’re usually so conditioned to think about periods as the baddie that we don’t stop to applaud their cunning trickery. Like when you and all your mates go on holiday together and have a period at exactly the same time. How do they do that? How do they know? (I’m pretty sure it’s something to do with the moon, although no one has yet been able to explain to me exactly what that something is. If you know, do use the comment section below to share, I’m seriously interested). You’ve got to give the period praise here, and feel sorry for it. I think it knows that other women are very annoying and exists as a kind of scapegoat we ladies can use to bond over, and in the process, avoid scratching one another’s eyes out.

To appreciate the period only insofar as it serves as a uniter of the women is quite reductive though. The main source of wonder, at least for me, lies in the way the period gives you that heightened sense of being alive. The sensation of being a creature of the body. The hurty boobies and buzzy hormones that make you go all trippy, the fervored, sweaty sleep with dreams that form into half awake realities just beyond reach, that delicious, dull ache that the patriarchy like us to call pain, but that is really a kind of extended love hum emitted by the womb -encouraging you to take it easy with a hot water bottle, a mug of warm milk and a bubbly mint Aero.

If we could just lie there and enjoy it, instead of being forced to get up and behave like rational robot men, I swear we could get rid of all the period negativity and make each monthly visit from the womb fairies a celebration of being a human body alive in the world. Even the bleeding, which isn’t really blood but a majestic, metallic life force that we carry within us, and which, if we choose, we can capture in a moon-cup and have a little marvel at over tea with our hippy lady friends.

So Yeah. The period: what a babe. And having time to lay back and finally admit that you enjoy it is a total reason to be single.

* Yes, the conventional wisdom is that they’re monthly, but – as you know, if you’re a woman, and probably don’t, if you’re a man who is unschooled in female reproductivity – what that means is that you start a period – which lasts maybe five to seven days – and then you count 28 days from that first day to get your due date for the next one. Meaning that three weeks or so after you finish ‘bleeding’, you’ll be having your period again (can I get a ‘woop woop’?).

Part 28: One Night Stands

Everyone knows that the freedom to engage in casual, meaningless sex with strangers at will is pretty high on the list of reasons to be single. There’s not a huge case for me to make here. Sexy lovely sex with hot randoms – what’s not to love, right? It’s the euphemism everybody thinks you’re using when you say you’re enjoying single life, or that you’ve moved on from your ex. ‘Oh’, they think – a bit jealously – ‘she’s having all the sex’.

I don’t know about you, single people, but I am definitely not having all the sex. You’re forgiven for thinking I am, because I like to use sexual metaphor to make joke (it’s funny init?), but I’m not. No, really, I’m not (I know! Look at me! I don’t get it either).

I’m not drawing attention to my lack of sexual liaison because I’m worried you’ll think I’m a slag. If anything I hope you do think I’m a slag, a little bit. It’s one of the more perverse of my many perversions that when I am called a slag it gives me a thrill. ‘Ooh’ my inner-voice says, ‘that person thinks you’re sexually promiscuous, and therefore a lot more interesting and free-spirited than you actually are’. My inner voice admires wantonness and indiscretion almost as much as I do and keeps trying to convince me to engage in more of it. Maybe I should listen to her.

No, I draw attention to my lacklustre sex life because I wonder if it’s just me that’s perplexed with the social expectation surrounding the frequency and quality of sex you’re supposed to have as a single. It’s the media who are to blame for my concern here.

A great big red statistic on the pages of a two-week old ‘Stylist’ magazine I found under some wet towels this morning suggests my lack of sexual activity puts me well in the minority. ’58% of you have sex at least once a week!’ it shouted, until I tore it into little pieces and told it to go fuck itself.

Obviously, some single people are having all the sex and enjoying it. One of my favourite friends, who is also my old housemate, for example. In the short while we lived together she had more sex than I thought was possible, with more people than I thought existed. A particularly memorable moment was coming home from work early one rainy Wednesday afternoon to find her dressed in a silk kimono, breathless and pink-faced in the kitchen, whispering ‘there’s a man upstairs, and we’ve just had sex ten times!’ under her breath as she stirred hot chocolate into a Winnie the Pooh mug. You’ve got to give credit to a person who is so totally and completely willing to indulge her every bodily desire. But, even though I admire her, all that shagging about looked like proper hard work. I wondered why she bothered with sex when one could derive equal amounts of pleasure from just going outside and smoking a quiet fag in the sun.

I don’t mean to give you the wrong impression. I am having some of the sex, occasionally. And it’s alright. In fact, it’s varying degrees of totally amazing, depending on how much you fancy the person and how pissed you are. But sexy lovely sex with strangers is simply not one of my favourite things. It definitely comes behind form-filling and eating the crusty burnt bits out of the bottom of the grill-pan when no one’s looking. I can’t be the only one.

What I find especially disagreeable is that the best thing about the one night stand is also the saddest: it’s fleetingness. The mutual agreement that this connection you’ve made with another human being will – no matter the intimacy, inhibition and velvet-sharp sensuality of your encounter – end, abruptly, with an embarrassed departure and one or both of you never calling or texting again. It’s too depressing. Too much like opening your soul for the purpose of letting a bitter, chilling wind inside. This is not wise behaviour, especially not for people (all of us) who are only pretending to be shallow in order to avoid engaging with the oily black reality that is waiting somewhere deeper, ready to pull us under.

Sorry, I appear to have gone dark and maudlin there. That was unexpected, but explains, possibly, my reticence to embrace the one night stand as the most best of bestest things for a single person to do. Still – we live in difficult times – it’s always worth seizing the pleasure of the fleeting moment when it presents itself. There’s no point in being single if you’re just going to sit indoors and fail to engage in any unwise behaviour that might be both fun and totally heartbreaking. Just remember, you don’t have to do it too often. Sex isn’t, you know, the only thing.

Part 27: Pre-Nups

I’m normally well into legal bureaucratic shiz. I genuinely can’t get enough of it. My fourth favourite thing to do, after reading, taking hot baths, and looking in the mirror, is filling in forms. Oh golly! Ink and heavy cartridge paper and the satisfaction of a good job well done. Just writing about it makes me go all gooey and start using the lexicon of the morally upright characters in Malory Towers.

Even better is when the form-filling needs to be done by hand, like the census. Oooh yeah. Taking a Parker pen (stationery buzz) pinching it between dextrous fingers; applying just enough pressure to form the letters authoritatively, but without tearing the page; watching the ink make pwetty, dancy shapes inside the formal boxes. It’s just like when we used to do handwriting class in primary school. The anticipation of that gold star always did make me go all tingly. Which is why ‘the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog’ is still my favourite sentence (if you’re ever thinking of wooing me, HOT TIP: whispering those words into my ear-hole, like an endearment, will almost certainly get you access to my bedroom and permission to fondle my soft, naked flesh).

It’s not just the physical sensuality of the process of official documentation that I enjoy. It’s the weight of it. That sense that with a few strokes of the mighty black pen (got to be black ink, doesn’t fade with age) I have contributed to the immortal trail of recorded facts from which historians will construct my biography in years to come.

This is why I have mixed feelings about the pre-nup: that contract a rich American partner will ask you to sign if you agree to marriage, but they don’t really trust you (or themselves), to make an actual lifetime go of it.

Clearly, it’s total affront to the institution of marriage, if you buy into that kind of thing, to expect anyone to sign a form relinquishing all rights to their future spouse’s money, property, assests and so on should they decide to divorce. Also, signing a pre-nup will make those historians conclude that you were a total pussy.

I mean, if you agree to marry a rich person their wealth is obviously going to be a lot of the reason why you said ‘yes’ to their proposal in the first place. Nobody ends up with a rich person by accident, or because of love alone. It’s always a toss up between the nice guy, and the guy with the nice flat on the Thames. Nine times out of 10, you’ll go for the latter. Rich people know this, especially the men. That is why they bother to make all that dirty cash. So they can have sex with all the beautiful ladies and one day marry one. No one needs, or even really wants, a private jet or a gold-plated car. These are just items that have replaced our primitive urge to pull down our underwear and flash our great big genitals at potential sex-mates (happily, there are still places where you can go if you’d rather see a prospective lover’s sex organs than his wallet before agreeing to date. I can give you some tips, if you’d like).

But what to do? Engaging in a pre-nup will no doubt involve a lot of form-filling, which as I’ve hopefully made clear, is a delectably erotic way to pass your time. If you’ve decided to marry a rich person for money alone – and I’m not advocating it – all the sensual ink spilling that the bureaucracy of a pre-nuptial agreement is bound to require will certainly serve as a fool-proof way of ensuring things don’t go to seed in the bedroom. Then again, if you’re marrying someone for money alone I would suggest it is unwise to sign away all rights to that money should you get bored of their tedious ways and wish to leave them at some point in the future. As ever, relationships present a double-edged sword.

For me, the temptation is bound to be too much should I meet a rich capitalist cad who wants me to engage in a pre-nup to secure betrothal. I’ll be forced to sign away my rights the moment a future lover gives me a pen and an official document to complete. So yes, I really better had not pair off until romance is inserted back into love, and all this delicious legal nonsense is left for matters of business and government, rather than those of the heart.

Part 26: Flat Caps

A horrifying trend has emerged in recent months. A trend I had only noticed subconsciously – as an instinctive, barely perceptible reaction occurring somewhere in the compartment of my brain that coughs ‘what a dick’ when I see strangers attired in daft garments – until yesterday, when someone pointed it out on twitter. The flat cap has become a cutting-edge fashion accessory. A must-have wardrobe staple favoured by mockneys, hipsters, and other assorted twats.

Since the revelatory tweet I am suddenly aware that over the past few weeks I have suppressed a number of disturbing encounters – all of which have one thing in common (see if you can spot the theme here. CLUE: it doubles as the title of this post): a wink from a man playing football in a flat cap in Greenwich Park, an offer of a drink from a student wearing drainpipes and flat cap in the union bar, a youngish, passably good-looking man walking his dog in the rain in Armley dressed in shorts and a flat cap. WTF? Last time I checked flat caps were the domain of pensioners who puff on Woodbines and race ferrets. I might be a bit out of touch, but seriously – who decided to bring the flat cap back as daywear?

Can you let me know? I’d like words.

The flat cap appears to be part of a larger movement that’s been taking place in recent years whereby by otherwise eligible members of the human species attempt to turn themselves into a-sexual wallies. You know what I mean: plaid shirts with ties. Skinny jeans. Ironic horn rimmed specs. Guitars that nobody knows how to play sat ostentatiously in dusty corners of ex-council flats in Bethnal Green. Prison tattoos on skinny, rent-boy looking lads whose most formative experience of institutionalisation was at Charterhouse. I kind of made my peace with it until the flat cap thing, but really. It’s gone too far. Something needs to be done.

You know that a trend is not a sign of anything good when it’s readily embraced by your parents. A few weeks ago my Dad, returning from a jaunt to Ireland, grinning like a podgy middle-aged cat-who-drank- all-the-Guinness, sauntered into the kitchen of the family home, a flat cap hand-woven from Emerald Isle wool perched proudly atop his head. ‘Looks smart, dunnit?’ He asked his brood of sniggering offspring (the answer: no).

I am not sure if the hipsters have ever seen a 52-year-old overweight ex-wrestler don a flat cap and leather jacket in an attempt to stay relevant. If they had, I’m pretty sure they would seize upon the Zippo lighters they usually reserve for preparing heroin and burn their own, immediately.

Perhaps we should use this sartorial moment to heed the advice of Dame Vivien Westwood: ‘you have a much better life’, she says, ‘if you wear impressive clothes’. I make her right there. Dressing like you’ve thought about it, but not too hard, in well cut, flattering ensembles does improve the quality of your daily existence. This is because a) flattering outfits get you compliments from other people, which boosts your self-esteem, and b) impressive clothing commands attention from colleagues and peers – which means you’re listened to and respected in a way which is not necessarily commensurate with your skills and experience.

I can attest to the valuable part that decent clothes play in a fulfilling existence, because, despite being super-stylish, a few years ago I fell into an unfortunate romantic relationship with an insecure person who dressed like a postman and preferred me to wear shapeless sack-cloths. While I would always advise others against listening to the demands of a psycho-lover, I’m embarrassed to tell you that I ignored my own advice for a while and did, indeed, wear shapeless, colourless, tent-cum-couture until a friend took me to one side and had sharp, persuasive words. I’m going to be honest: I was proper miserable in dour clothing.

I suppose the rest of the world deciding to dress like knob-ends is quite good for us stylish single people. It means that we seem even more stylish in comparison, and reap the social and financial benefits. The problem of course is that a lot of the qualities you’re probably looking for in a partner are embraced by hipsters. They tend to be a bit bohemian – liberal and artistic, spontaneous, arrogant, sensitive to women’s rights and animal welfare – and well read. Also, quite a lot of them have rich mummies and daddies, which will be useful should you need to secure a deposit on a mortgage.

Whatever the qualities a potential lover might have, I demand that you stay single until the abomination that is the flat cap is erased from the fashion-palette of all under 60s not affiliated to the hunt. The flat cap is absolutely a reason to stay single, because just think of the lasting damage it will do to your libido if somebody you’ve had sex with turns up wearing one. I know, it doesn’t even bear thinking about.