Part 90: Secrets


The concept of a secret is just utterly romantic. Even the word, all by itself alone, conjures drama and possibility and feeling. Secret. It’s a great imagery. Some sparkling void that is so beautifully terrible it is kept tucked away, like how I used to keep my costume jewels locked in the belly of a plastic rabbit, when I was a small girl with blonde curls and a burgeoning anger management problem.

The thing about actual secrets though (as opposed to the idea of them) – well there are lots of things about secrets. Number one being that I can’t keep them. Sorry, I just can’t. Not my own, not my ex-boyfriends’, not my boss’s, not my mother’s nor my best friend’s nor my taxi drivers’*. Which doesn’t stop people from telling me all their darknesses and then adding, after it’s already too late, ‘but you must promise not to tell. It’s a secret.’


As if.

I always tell. Telling is my thing, which is why you came to me. Think about it. Telling is what you must have wanted or else you would have spilled your guts to someone with a greater propensity for compassion and more self-control.

The second, related, thing about secrets is that they really are very destructive. A secret, despite its rakish beauty, is an awful lot like a lie with better street cred.

This creates an obvious romantic paradox; the paradox being that those people with the worst secrets tend to exude an air of mystery and danger, which is very attractive and will make you want to be inside them, while, at the same time, the existence of a secret anywhere in the vicinity of a relationship means things are bound to come tumbling disastrously down, one way or another.

Secrets have a habit of shattering one’s sense of security like nature shatters fine ornamental plates in an earthquake. Which is something most of us could do without. Life is hard enough, as I’m sure you’ll agree.

Secrets also make it very hard to take anyone at face value. Almost all the people who aren’t me have at least one great big life-defining secret that they are not about to tell you. Yes, as we’ve already discussed, this makes them more interesting than would otherwise be the case – but it also ultimately means you are going to have to invest time and potential heartache in discovering whether it’s a real secret (like, they once had sex with their brother, when they were really drunk) or a trivial self-pitying insecurity that no-one else cares about.

Usually it’ll be the latter, which is often worse, romance wise.

There is nothing more disappointing than discovering that an exotically mysterious acquaintance is just suffering from low self-esteem caused by sporadic bacne. Unless you happen to have watched EastEnders in that period when Phil Mitchell became addicted to crack.

What I’m saying then, is that – unless you’re willing to date me, as it appears literally no-one is – secrets are a reason to be single.

And thank God, because I thought I’d more or less run out of reasons to be single and might have to engage in a bit of reflexivity. I am not quite ready to face the fact that the only reason to be single is (number 91, perhaps?) that nobody wants you. That would not be a hilarious blog and would involve astronomical amounts of self-pity. So, I imagine, it’s a thank God from you, too.

*The one exception to this rule being if you tell me you’re pregnant before the 12 week mark. That’s a sacred secret, for obvious reasons. I’ll keep that secret because even I’m not (often) cruel enough to tempt fate in such a careless manner.

**For the uninitiated, today’s image is of a Keyper; the plastic rabbit I used to lock my valuables in as a child. I do not own the copyright to this image. I took the picture from this tumblr. If you do own the copyright, and don’t like that I’ve used it, ask me very nicely and I will take the image down. Please don’t bother making an effort to sue me. I have no money to speak of and I’m already snowed under with neglected life-admin that urgently needs attending to (yes, Barclaycard, I mean you).

Part 89: Nail Polish


Unlike you, who, I don’t doubt, spent the weekend poolside with a crowd of friends – sipping margaritas in swimwear as the sun turned the chlorinated water soaking your skin to a shimmering film, I have spent the past few days alone. Activity included lying naked on the rug in my living room, watching QVC and gnawing on a French stick, which grew ever more stale as the hours crawled by.

The straits are dire. My bank account is scarlet. My social life is barren to the point where calling it barren is an exaggeration bordering on the extreme. Fortunately, I have a generous and caring mother who insisted on wiring over £5 so I could purchase a cheap bottle of white to take the edge off my despair. Perhaps she was also hoping to atone for the sin of calling on Friday night, drunk and gleeful, to tell me that her colleagues had seen my picture on her iPhone and mistaken me for her older sister. What larks.

Of course giving wine to a daughter whose mental health is so fragile she has failed to bathe or dress herself for thirty-six hours might not be textbook Good Parenting. But at least the ingestion of alcohol forced me to look away from the TV and attempt to compose text messages to all the men I’ve ever slept with. Just jokes. You’ll be pleased to hear that I was diverted from that particular endeavour at a crucial point by the notes in the notes app on my phone. I found large amounts of fascinating stuff there, including one note that was actually quite beautiful. It’s the opening for a poem I might write (or, potentially, it’s a line from poem someone else has written that I’ve unintentionally plagiarised. A thing which has definitely happened before). It goes like this:

I miss you every day. And every day, thorns grow into my heart like creeping vines.


Every time I look at it I feel sad and melancholy. My mind makes pictures of the faces of all the people I’ve ever loved and lost, my heart withers and I immediately need something superficial and soothing to calm the void threatening to tear strips from my gossamer soul.

All I can say, after the weekend I’ve had, is thank God for nail polish – say what you like about it, but it is far more effective than therapy, in my experience, for temporarily sorting your life out.

And nail polish is not just a savior because it comes in bright colours. Or because of the solvent effects of inhaling its fumes.

We are not gibbering, mindless children.

Rather, as I discovered on Saturday night, it is the process of nail varnish that encompasses its profundity, and provides meditative respite for the disturbed mind. A process that involves holding one’s breath so as not to smudge the second layer recently applied to the index finger, blasting the tips of one’s tootsies with a hairdryer – realising this has caused fatal wrinkling and starting over again,lying upon the sofa with one’s hands held out from one’s body, fingers tensed, waiting, waiting, waiting – until no more waiting can be born, reaching for the remote control and finding a barely perceptible dent has appeared on the newly sky-blue nail of one’s opposable thumb.

Nail polish teaches us a very useful thing, which can be applied to all areas of our lives, but most obviously to dating. That thing is patience. And the fortitude to keep on keeping on when it all goes tits up. As it inevitably will, before – AT LAST! – perfection.

Nail polish also teaches us that the process of creation is far more pleasurable than the result of the creative process. Which is an insight that I’m sure can be applied to single life if you think about it really hard, in a distracted manner.

Finally, let us not over-look the fact that nail polish teaches us how to be ambidextrous so that we don’t wander around with one hand looking as though it has been painted by a club-fisted cave person. (That last lesson is not really applicable to single life, but you never know, it might come in handy if you happen one day to acquire an insatiable lover.)

Part 88: Sexting


When I started this blog, just over a year ago, I presumed its existence would be short-lived. I fully expected that announcing my single status to strangers on the internet – and reminding everyone I already knew that, not only was I available, I also had a great sense of humour and incredible breasts – would result in an avalanche of interest. I anticipated that all the eligible bachelors who had secretly held a candle for me would rush forward in a great swarming crowd and beg for my hand in sex and love. But not marriage, because I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about marriage. Except that I’m happy for gays to do it, if they so wish.

As you can see, from the fact that I’m still here, there has not been a great swarming crowd of interest since I started posting about my single life on this blog. In fact, the only interest I’ve had, sexually, in the past year or so has come from a minor celebrity who I won’t name, but who I kind of know and who DMs me on twitter every now and then asking for pictures of my bare naked feet. Which proves the blog has been good for something. Even if that something is only the power of its header image to arouse damaged young men.

Due to this colossal lack of interest, as you may have noticed over the past weeks and months, my fervour for promoting single life has wilted (if one’s fervour can wilt). My ice heart is melting and I want someone to love me RIGHT NOW. Preferably someone who’ll be willing to make babies with me as quick as poss – because no-one’s getting any younger and my womb is secreting hormones that make it difficult to pass small children in the street without biting their fat little faces.

But I digress. I am still writing this blog and you’ll be pleased to hear there are still things about relationships that I find totally gross – to the point where it makes me not want one.

Like, for example, sexting.

I thought sexting was something only teenagers and caddish premiership football players indulged in. Until a recent holiday when I caught a glimpse of the first few lines of a very racy message about dirty, lacy knickers and erections on a friend’s i-phone. This friend is not a teenager, nor is she a caddish premiership football player. She is a cherubic, red-headed woman with a very important job. Conversation with her and careful snooping during conversations with other friends, colleagues and acquaintances has revealed to me that sexting is not just for teens. It’s what most couples do now. It’s a proper thing, and, unlike anal, it is not a thing that it is considered reasonable to object to.

What can I say?

I don’t find sexting hot – even though I’m quite into literary erotica. It is an entirely unpretty practice – stringing together genital synonyms in the hope that they’ll get you sex later on. It’s detached. It’s seedy. And, most importantly of all, it’s just not cool, man.

I might get that sext while I’m shopping in Morrisons, or arguing with my boss, or visiting my ageing grandmother in hospital. I don’t want uninitiated titillation just because you feel bored and horny.

And, let’s be frank, you’re probably not a good enough writer to produce anything other than horror with your sextual words. A point proved to me a few seconds ago, when I turned to the date my housemate has brought home and started discussing the topic of this post. ‘Oh, yeah,’ he said, ‘I know what you mean. My friend once got this sext that read: YOU HAVE A NICE BEAVER AND CAN I SHAG IT? That was bad.’

Yes, housemate’s date. That is bad.

So, consider this a warning, if you’re thinking of asking me out. (And, if you are, can you hurry up please? I’ll probably say yes and I’ll even let you touch my feet). No sexts. Or pictures of your erect genital. I’m not really into that.

Part 87: Sociopaths


I’ve got this friend of a friend who’s a psychologist or a psychotherapist – I can never remember which. (To be honest, I’m not sure I know the difference between the two professions, if there is one. Nor do I have the time or the energy to find out using Google. I’ve got a PhD to finish. You’re lucky I’ve even shown up.) Anyway, the exact nature of this friend of a friend’s job is beside the point. The reason I’m introducing her here is because, at dinner parties, she asks all the guests probing questions, from tests she uses to diagnose patients at work, and then offers us advice on our mental and emotional health.

I’m not entirely sure of the ethics of this practice, but it can be quite a laugh.

This one time, she got us to imagine and describe a horse. Mine was a teeny little white one that could gallop on the palm of my hand. I was able to hold it so close to my face that I could hear its baby horse breaths. Friend of a friend told me I was desperate for emotional intimacy.

And then failed to offer any avenues for advice or support in order for me to follow up this diagnosis.

So, you know, this woman is probably not the last word in psychiatric care. Still, there was this other time when she did a test that was really quite fascinating.

There we all were, sitting round my mate Amy’s dinner table; drinking warm rosé wine, talking about sexy bachelors and the occupy movement, when friend of a friend – àpropos of nothing – announced it was time for a round of testing. The next few minutes went something like this:

“You’re at a funeral. You look across the room and catch the eye of someone you really fancy. How did the person whose funeral you’re at die?”

Silence. Blank faces. Little sips of rosé.

“Well, what if I tell you that the dead person is the guy you fancy’s sister?”

“Oh!” I said immediately, propelled out of my chair by the obviousness of the answer, “she died because I killed her!”

Silence. Confused faces. Little sips of rosé.

“Yes! I killed her so I could see him at the funeral.”

It turns out, according to friend of a friend, that the test we’d been subject to was a well-known psychopath test.

I had passed, with flying colours. (Albeit in a totally un-clinical environment).

Mine was the textbook answer a psychopath would give.

Everyone looked at me with round, scared eyes. And then we drank some more wine and argued about politics and played that game where you guess the celebrity on a Rizla stuck to your forehead.

And the world was beautiful.

Since this incident, however, I have harboured secret fears that I might really be a psychopath – or a sociopath; which, as John Ronson’s excellent book The Psychopath Test points out, is pretty much the same thing.

My secret fears, and the subsequent researches I have undertaken in an attempt at self-diagnosis, have demonstrated that I’m not, actually, a sociopath. I’m far too neurotic and loud noises make me jump. (Sociopaths are notoriously fearless).

However, my researches have also alerted me to the ubiquity of sociopaths in the general public. And, more importantly, to their tendency towards the character traits of charisma and cruelty. A devilish combination, which – as I’m sure you’ll agree and as I have definitely pointed out before – is extremely attractive in potential romantic partners.

The thing you must remember though, is that sociopaths are just not that fun as romantic partners in the long-term. Yes, their promiscuity and massive levels of self-confidence make them excellent physical lovers (by which I mean: they’re good at sex), but they will also enjoy exerting control over you and – even if their cruelty doesn’t lead to violence – their emotional indifference will eventually wear you down. You’ll become a muted mouse version of your former self, and your mouth will sag and your dreams will shrivel – like grapes into raisins – and you’ll find you’ve sacrificed your happiness for charisma and blue eyes.

I don’t have to tell you that this is unwise.

You are better off finding a solid, stable prospect who is less witty and good in bed, but who demonstrates his kindness of heart by calling his Nan at weekends and by telling you you’re beautiful and meaning it. I realise it will take a while for you to adjust your libido so that it accommodates this kind of behaviour, but I’ve got lots of tips in my archives for ways to enjoy single life while you do so. This is the internet, so you can browse them for free.

Aren’t I just endlessly giving – and not in the least bit psychopathic at all?

This entry is for @Robot_Cooper. Who I know off twitter, and who saw the rival blog ‘Dating a Sociopath’ on the Cosmo Blog Awards shortlist and insisted I cover the topic on here to secure his vote. Look, Robot, I’ve done it.

Feel free to send over other suggestions for blog titles – via twitter, email or the comments box – and I’ll do my very best to write something just for you, dear reader.

*Image by imagerymajestic at

Part 86: James Franco

You remember a few weeks ago when I said, ‘no actors, no army‘?

Well, fuck that. I wrote those words before I knew about James Franco. I mean, I did know about James Franco – in that my friend David had shown me his picture on Google Images and said, ‘isn’t he fit?’ But I didn’t know about him – in that I hadn’t paid attention to just how perfect his teeth were (not Hollywood perfect, I’m English, that’s unnecessary), or those lips; how they can suck you right inside his face and allow you, for the briefest moment, to brush against his soul. (Even when they’re shouting words about ejaculating over a porno magazine in a really bad movie that also stars Seth Rogen.)

James Franco is, it’s become clear, the real reason I’m single. Ignore the crap I’ve been telling you about blow jobs, heartbreak and The Sopranos. James is what I’ve been waiting for all along.

It’s like what my Nan always says: love appears in your life only at the precise moment when you stop looking for it.

Before you start judging me, as I know is your wont, I’d like to point out that my ardour cannot be dismissed as a celebrity crush that has no basis in reality – I’m a grown woman who is far too worldly-wise for that. This is actual love. Seriously. It is. James and I could be together. Consider: I’ve got a mate who lives in LA and I visit him sometimes and we hang out in fairly up-market places. I’ve got another mate who does costume on big Hollywood movies. So, you know, our paths will cross eventually.

Also, it’s not like I’m an entirely unattractive prospect. I’m sharp as nails, intellectually. I’ve got big blue eyes and a D cup cleavage and a very pert pair of buttocks. I look delicious in leather trousers and I always wear toe-nail polish. Alright, yes, I’ve gone all 1970s with my bikini line, but James Franco seems hipster enough to cope with that. And – I’ve thought about this – even if it freaks him out a bit at first, it’ll be good for him to learn compromise.

And we’ve got loads in common, according to Wikipedia and some things I’ve half remembered from newspaper articles. Like me, James is a PhD student with a large loving family who kind of does but kind of doesn’t believe in God. He did well at school, but had a few raucous teenage years when he did unwise things, like drinking 20/20 and smoking weed. He teaches at a university. Some people think he’s a bit arrogant and dickish. He was a vegetarian for ages and then started eating meat again, for no real reason. He writes. And listen to this – I’ve just remembered it – my mum once told me that she was going to call me James if I had been a boy.

It must be fate. I have NEVER found a man I’ve had this much in common with before and I’ve been single for a really long time. It makes all the terrible dates with amateur drug dealers and the ones cancelled an hour before we were meant to meet because he ‘broke his arm’ feel worthwhile.

Now it is simply a case of sitting back and waiting for James to enter my world. While, obviously, pretending I’m doing no such thing, so as not to scare him off. In the meantime, I’ll be practicing meditation, continuing to engage with the optimism that has developed as a pleasant addition to my mood palette and putting my trust in the universe, which I’m sure has no motive for ruining my life.

Hang on in there readers. I’m sure fate has a plan for you, too.

A Self Indulgent Interlude

Hola Blogfans,

Forgive me for disrupting the established order of things over here at Reasons to be Single. I should probably also say welcome, welcome warmest of welcomes to those of you who have arrived via the Cosmo Blog Awards shortlist. I hope you’re totally loving what you’ve found. (These are hyperlinks to my favourite posts – I warned you in the title that this would be self indulgent – if you’re wondering where to start, Dreams, Rap Music, The Sopranos, The Hatred. I will be expectantly waiting for regular readers to post their own faves in the comments section to help you further).

Anyway, I’ve broken the carefully honed structure that it has taken months to develop, just this once, because I can (the blog is MINE*), to ask you – pretty please with cherries on top and those little silver balls – to vote for Reasons to be Single (that’s me) in the ‘Sex and Relationships’ category of the Cosmo Blog Awards, in which, if I haven’t made it clear, this blog has been shortlisted (woo!).

Those of you who’ve been here before will know that I hardly ever ask you for stuff*. I am a giver and I’m very self-reliant. But I do also like to win – as I don’t play competitive sports I rarely have the opportunity to do so in the Real World. Unfortunately, unlike sex and cooking, winning this award is not something I can manage all on my own.

And look at me, look: I’m being very polite – do please vote for me – even though politeness is a thing that is incredibly hard for me to do.

You can vote by clicking on the pink thing below, and completing the voting form.

nominate me

Normal service will resume on Thursday.

All the love,
Kate. x

*Apart from that last time when I asked you all to nominate me to Cosmo – thanks to those who did, SUCCESS!

**That was a reference to the Brandy and Monica song I linked to in the Music post the other week. Props if you got that. I’m not sure I would have.

Part 85: Heatwaves

summer 2

Every so often, if you live in the UK, you’ll be privy to conspiratorial predictions. Rumours half-heard in staff room whispers as you make your morning tea, snatches of conversation artfully eavesdropped on public transport, phone calls to your mother about the possibility of Dad cooking trout on the barbecue when you visit home next weekend.

“Apparently,” you’ll hear the people say, sotto voce, in stifled, disbelieving tones – like starved wartime housewives sharing word of a channel to black market venison – “we’re about to have a heatwave.”

Us Britons love the thought of a heatwave. Of stripping down to nothing but flesh and sheerest cotton, of drinking Pimm’s and/or ice-cold larger on greenest grass, of emitting tinkling laughter as a good-looking stranger – following the path of a badly thrown Frisbee – stumbles into our orbit. It’s our go-to fantasy backdrop; the only time we conceive of ourselves as in any way sexy, as a nation.

Of course, when rumours of a heatwave materialise into reality – and particularly if that reality lasts longer than a week – we tire quickly.

There are things we forget about hot weather – like, that it’s quite uncomfortable and that it encourages all the bitey insects to gate-crash your garden party. And that Pimm’s is not really the greatest alcoholic beverage – it takes ages to get you drunk and it tastes, mainly, of cucumber.

Also, there’s the beach and the park and the barbecue in your parents’ garden, but then what? What do you do in a heatwave – other than sit there and apply sun cream? Nothing, I guarantee, that wouldn’t be more pleasant in milder weather.

This is why the heatwave is such a great metaphor for relationships, which seem like an inspired idea until you start one and remember stuff you forgot when you were single. Like, that regular sex gives you cystitis and that men are never as competent with a screwdriver as you might have hoped (and no, I did not intend that as an innuendo).

The relationship, like the heatwave, also throws up the difficult question: what do you do once you’re in one?

Of course, I know what I’d do: sex and then, hopefully as a fortunate consequence, birth a baby with little fat hands to bite. But after that I mean – after the wedding and the baby and the sex. The day-to-day – doing the washing, organising Christmas, falling asleep on the sofa in a delicious shaft of sunlight – these things are, obviously, simpler and more pleasant sans lover.

Or maybe I’m just saying that to make myself feel better. Who knows? I’ve lost all perspective. We’re in the middle of a heatwave and, instead of frolicking in the sun with all the shirtless young men, I’m typing words on a laptop in the hot-box my bedroom has become.

My mind – which, as you’ll know, is usually razor-sharp – has turned into a lump of play-doh, sweating tackily in the heat. Great fat flies have descended upon my apartment like an apocalyptic swarm of locusts and I do not have the emotional strength to swat them to death with a rolled up Closer magazine.

To top it all off, my flatmate has eaten the Cadbury’s Crunchie Rocks I bought to see myself through the week and swanned off on a date with a dentist. And there are no Mini Magnums left in the freezer.

So being single. Erm, yeah. I think you might be best advised to tune in later in the week, by which point I’m confident both the rain and the courage of my convictions will have returned.

*Image by Victor Habbick at

Part 84: Rejection


There’s this woman I know. She occasionally reads this blog so I’m going to hide her identity by giving her green eyes, black hair and six feet of height. I’ll make her rake thin with no boobs, freckles, a snub nose and pillowy lips that look purple even without lipstick. Or maybe I’m double bluffing and she really looks like that. You’ll never know.

This woman – I’ll call her Jo – is one of those people who radiates a general air of being good fun. She’s interested in other people, pretty in a non-threatening way and she’s also really funny (I don’t quite understand how because she never swears or says horrid things about other people).

The first time I met her I knew I wanted to be her friend. For a while I was. She came over for dinner and we went bowling and out to bars where we drank sour white wine and whisky. We exchanged sex stories and heartbreak stories and watched classic movies at the cinema and, even now, we tell each other we look gorgeous whenever we meet – in spite of the fact that, in reality, we almost always look washed out and tired and wear crumpled old bag lady clothes because we can’t be arsed to use an iron.

Recently though, for reasons that she has avoided making clear to me, Jo has decided I’m not the type of person she wants to spend social time with.

She’s done it subtly – by forgetting to invite me to things, missing my phone calls, taking ages to reply to text messages and, when I suggest going for a drink, saying she’s sorry but she’s busy or she’s tired or she’s promised her boyfriend they’ll snuggle in bed and watch Twin Peaks this weekend.

I know, what a bitch right?

Mind you, I can’t say I blame Jo for rejecting my friendship. My brother (he’s really called Joe, incidentally) once told me that if I wasn’t me and I met myself I’d totally hate my personality. He wasn’t being cruel – he hasn’t got it in him – he was stating the obvious. I’ve got a lot of the character traits I deplore in others. I’m vain, temperamental, blunt to the point of rudeness and I never fucking stop talking. I swear all the time, call everyone ‘babes’, smoke other peoples’ fags, shout at waiters and wear dresses that reveal both legs and cleavage to weddings and serious meetings at work. I write a blog. I ‘borrow’ money from my parents and never pay it back. I get so drunk at parties that I accost strangers and tell them the same story over and over again, or else I corner them and cry about being all alone. Or else I fall asleep on a couple of chairs I’ve fashioned into a makeshift bed.

So, Jo’s rejection isn’t surprising to me – it feels inevitable, in a way. And it’s not like I’m heartbroken because a) I was only mates with her for a few months and b) I’ve still got friends who, bafflingly, find my company amusing and delightful.

It’s just that Jo’s rejection reminds me, right as I’m beginning to think that I might like to have sex again, that rejection does not feel good. Romance is pretty much made of solid rejection. Especially after your early twenties when all the attractive and unfussy have paired off leaving a pool of flawed, desperate daters who are after either perfection or sex without commitment and are unwilling to settle for anything less.

Ugh. It’s all so difficult. And right now – on the second day of a particularly brutal menstrual period, eating a Weight Watchers yoghurt I’ve stolen from my house-mate’s shelf in the fridge, my self-esteem the size of a little baby mouse, staring at a phone with five unanswered text messages, contemplating creating an online dating profile that reads: I WANT BABIES – I have no confidence that I will be able to cope with inevitable romantic rejection at all. Unless I’m the one doing the rejecting – though I’m going to have to learn to flirt and start wearing a lot more make up if that is ever going to be a realistic possibility.

*Image by pakorn at

Part 83: Music

You know the Leonard Cohen song, ‘Hallelujah’? Yes, you do, that Alexandra off the X-factor released it as a single after her spectacular win in 2008, which caused all the nerdy little music purists to get their knickers in a twist because Jeff Buckley once released a less commercial cover and – until the nerdy purists launched a campaign against the X-factor version – hardly anyone knew about it.

Alex had loads of candles in her video. (Did Jeff Buckley? Probably not. I bet he didn’t even have a video.)

Anyway, I mention ‘Hallelujah’ here because I always wonder if Cohen wrote that song for me. I mean, he probably didn’t because I’ve never met the bloke, but still – there’s this one line that really sums me up. It goes, ‘you don’t really care for music, do you?’

‘That’s correct Len,’ I want to say whenever I hear it, ‘I don’t, really. Although I will make an exception for this song and 90’s gangsta rap. And, alright, if you really push me, Madonna’s Immaculate Collection and “Cocaine Blues” by Johnny Cash.’

Don’t get me wrong, readers, music is pretty hard to avoid and I don’t actively mind it. It can even be fun – like Britney Spears’ ‘Radar’ and that song about smashing car windows when your lover’s been unfaithful that Mercedes sang in Glee. Some of Tracy Chapman’s lyrics make me cry.

And when we have a family party I sing ‘Harper Valley PTA’ with my siblings doing the backing vocals. I’m not heartless. It’s just, this is the thing: when I’m listening to music I prefer the words to the melodic noises, and also, I don’t define myself by it.

As teenager I was not an ‘indie’* or, the only alternative at my school, an urban RnB diva with anger management issues and South East London swagger. (We didn’t call it swagger then, we called it attitude, but that doesn’t offer the requisite alliterative humour I was trying to achieve in the previous sentence.)

Although I could bear the Cranberries and even quite liked Usher, Jennifer Lopez and that song ‘Case of the Ex’, they featured more as background concerns for me.

Music was not the main event – it was the soundtrack to the feature film of my youth**. It was the mood – the atmosphere in the club, the colour of my friend’s jealousy, the memory of fleeting kisses with youths who tasted of pineapple Bacardi Breezer and wore jeans, loafers and Ben Sherman shirts. Or, more often, it was being switched off because it was annoying.

I’ve never listened to a Top 40 chart show on the radio of my own volition – in fact the only time I ever listen to the radio is when someone else is driving me to a place in their car.

Okay, I do like to have hip-hop playing when I do housework, but I totally fail to understand why anyone pays to hear music played live. Surely it’s always better on a CD or iPod or similar – where technical processes have edited out the bum notes and you can listen in the privacy of your living room instead of in public with many tens or, sometimes, hundreds or even thousands of people singing along and drowning out the sound of the professional performer you have paid to listen to?

As we’re on the subject of live music, I’d also like to say this: I swear, one of the only joyous things about approaching one’s 30s (without a lover, children, any money or assets to speak of) is that it becomes acceptable to refuse invitations to music festivals.

To be honest, I don’t know why anyone who has been to a music festival with me once bothers to invite me again. It’s an environment – loud screamy music, the outdoors, broken showers, other peoples’ poo sticking up in mountainous peaks from rancid portaloo basins, warm cider, mud, friends of friends overdosing on Miaow Miaow – that brings out the very worst in me.

I just sulk and cower in my tent until whoever has driven me there is ready to go home. I don’t know why I’ve said ‘yes’ to attending more than one. I suppose I was hoping music festivals would be like sex and get better with practice. I was wrong.

Like everything, not really caring for music has romantic consequences. For example, almost every online dating site has a quiz bit where they ask you what music you’re into. And all the hot blokes list stuff like, ‘gigging, guitar, Glastonbury’ under ‘interests’. Even in the real world an alarming amount of eligible, proper adult bachelors try to engage you in discussions about bands and albums and clubs and send you links on SoundCloud to songs they’ve written in their bedrooms.

All this makes me scared that, if I were to start dating, I would be forcibly made to engage with music as though I were some kind of ‘fan’.


Is that clear? Is there anyone left who wants to date me now I’ve revealed this fairly unattractive character trait? I mean, I know there wasn’t anyone who wanted to date me before I revealed it, but think about it: the girl in that Leonard Cohen song sounds quite hot, if a bit fucked up. And she’s just like me.

*I think this was the 90s version of the ‘emo’. (Do people still say ‘emo’, or is that passé now as well?)

**When I was about 15 I thought that ‘The Soundtrack to My Youth’ would be a brilliant title for my memoirs. I still think it’s quite excellent – snappy and you can see it appealing, commercially, to quite a big cross-section of the consumer public. However, it does rather imply that the contents of the memoir would feature music more heavily than would actually be the case. It would mainly feature stories about me getting drunk and saying embarrassing things to strangers and elderly members of my extended family. Which is why no one has offered to publish it. Yet. However, I am feeling benevolent and loving and generous so if you are currently writing a music-based memoir and are struggling for a title feel free to steal mine. Seriously, have it. (I would like a credit in the acknowledgements though.)