Part 108: Looking Fabulous, Regardless

Ugh.

Ugh. The past few days have been totally shitty.

I’ve got what we in South-East London call ‘the right fucking hump.’

The sunshine has withdrawn himself from the atmosphere and been replaced by howling winds and plipping plopping raindrops. The clocks have gone back. The people have turned grey-faced and sour and dressed themselves in terrible lumpen autumn-wear – a collective look that in no way contributes to a culture of sexy. Yes, I’ll concede that the leaves, having dropped off the trees – as is their wont in late October – add a pleasant splash of colour to an otherwise bleak, post-industrial landscape, but those raindrops have turned the fallen foliage to a sludge that I have to wade through to make my way home, in the dark.

Shall I go on?

Yes, I think I shall:

My bank account has finally imploded on itself. The washing machine broke, mid cycle. The fridge is empty. After finally reaching a place where I could envisage bestowing kindness upon another human being my potential for altruism has been impeded, yet again, by the bullshitters and cads and bores who clog up my social networks, virtual and real. My thesis sits on my desk, unfinished and incomprehensible – along with mouldering crockery and half-formed lesson plans. I’ve got a chronic pain in my left leg that might turn out to be a terminal illness. To top it all off, there is no one I can legitimately punch in the face, so I have accrued bad karma by wishing divorce and bankruptcy on my frenemies instead.

And I still can’t get a single man to take me for a drink, despite the fact that, since the despair arrived, I’ve started looking like fembot.

Which is the silver lining to all this – if you consider the fact that one can be the most fabulous person in any given room and manage to leave without a date or any phone numbers a silver lining.

Luckily, I do.

Here is what I have learnt, after many years of back-to-back disappointments and the resultant mental health crises they have induced: one must look fabulous, regardless. As a single white female looking fabulous is the only thing that stands between you and other people’s pity. And looking fabulous is very easy to do if you are blessed with a perfect breast-waist-buttock ratio and you own a pair of Dr. Martens, a skin-tight black dress, mascara, liquid eye-liner and Laura Mercier’s stickgloss lipstick in the shade ‘poppy’.

Of course, inner peace is, obviously, preferable to skin-deep perfection. But one can’t have everything, particularly when one is trying to write a PhD and, in any event, one cannot afford to leave the house. At least looking like what Robyn once termed a ‘scientifically advanced hot mumma’ will help you regain momentary optimism when you glance at your reflection and think: the shit can’t last forever.

Maintaining a fine balance as you oscillate between despair and optimism takes guts. It takes resilience and courage and hairspray. Looking fabulous, regardless is what you learn as a single woman; it’s a lesson that will prepare you for life’s hardships – in way that regular sex with a man (who will, almost definitely, sleep with someone else as soon as he gets the chance) will not.

And I promise that if you do take my advice and make sure you look fabulous, regardless, it will eventually pull you out of your funk. This is because you’ll be able to take selfies where you look like a Vermeer, and post them on the internet.

Like this:

Vermeer

Part 107: Backing Off

back off

“What the fucking fuck,” I typed at my mate Rob one night – via Facebook – after a few too many Margaritas had induced a chronic bout of self-pity, “is wrong with men?”

I decided to ask Rob this because he has been known, in his lifetime, to behave like a wrong ‘un. Here’s all you need to know about Rob to understand what I mean: after I won the Cosmo Blog Awards he messaged me asking if I would review my stance on blow jobs. He was worried, he said, that now I was an influential blogger my tongue-in-cheek outright rejection of them might impair his ability to get oral sex during one night stands.

If anyone can give me insight into the more dastardly behaviour of the males of the species, it’s Rob.

“Um…” He typed back – an answer which was not, unfortunately, unexpected.

And then: “You’ll have to be more specific.”

“One minute they’re all over you. Asking for your number and telling you you’re beautiful and then, as soon as you show an interest, they back off.”

“Yeah,” Rob said. “That’s what we do. We’re backing off all over the place.”

“Why!?”

“I don’t know what to tell you. We get all excited, and then we back off. Sorry.”

Rob is an authority on this matter. He is so much of an expert on backing off that he does it to friends as well as to would-be lovers. That is why I believed him when he added the following: “Don’t take it personally. It is definitely never your problem.”

“ARRRRRGH!!!!” I typed. “NO! This is not good enough! I must have a better explanation.”

Rob did not have a better explanation. He could only tell me that it had something to do with the effort versus reward ratio of any given encounter, and try to persuade me that he had, in the years since we have kept regular company, changed his ways.

My exchange with Rob got me thinking about the general lethargy of men. Or at least of most of the men I meet, and all the ones I am periodically attracted to. They have rejected the idea that romance should involve even a minimal amount of effort on their part. Yes, they get all manner of carried away and exhibit the requisite energy when they first realise you might be up for sex with them, but then, it just, sort of, fades away.

And it isn’t only the horrid lazy ones who back off. I know this because one time my brother, who is – and I am in no way biased here – not only good-looking, but kind and hardworking and honest and loyal, came home from a club and told me he had met, “the girl of my dreams. I swear Kate she was incredible. Long brown hair, massive eyes. Really funny as well.”

“Amazing,” I said, “Did you get her number?”

“Yeah.”

“Have you messaged her yet?”

“No.”

“When are you going to message her then?”

“I’m not going message her!” He said, rolling his eyes to indicate that I had got the wrong end of the stick.

“Why the fuck not?!”

“She lives in Brighton. It’s too much effort.”

Maybe the men have it sorted. It is possible they are correct. Romantic love is probably not worth the effort, if any effort whatsoever is required to get it going. Accepting this supposition as truth, however, is not likely to end my current stint of involuntary celibacy.

So, please, men of the universe, can you take a pro-plus or something? I’m thirty in less than two months time. I am only willing to wait so long before I take matters in to my own hands.

You should probably know that I am liable to give up on this shit fairly soon, turn to Ann Summers for carnal stimulation, and solicit sperm from one of my gay friends. And it will be you lot who lose out here. (If you’ve seen in me in a leopard print bikini, you’ll know what I’m on about). You will only have yourselves to blame.

I would like to sum up by telling you that I never wanted to write a blog about how I’m single because men are dicks. I realise that this is crass and predictable. But I am afraid I have inadvertently done just that. It’s not my fault though – blame all the boys who have acted unchivalrously towards me. Blame yourself, if you are man who has in any way contributed to my mistrust of your sex. And know that I am willing to be proved wrong. If you can be bothered.

*Image by adamr at freedigitalphotos.net.

Part 106: Giles Coren

A wise person – no, I can’t remember who – once told me, ‘if you know what you want, you can have what you want.’ Well, I’ve decided that what I want is a posh person to tell me what’s what. In the past, I’ve resisted taking advice from posh people, due to my working class aspirations and the fact that dinner parties with minor members of the aristocracy were more fun when I could bring a £5 bottle of Pino Grigio and have everyone think I was too plebeian to realise this was considered uncouth. But no more. I have reached an age where naiveté is no longer attractive. One must be razor witted and good-looking if one wants to move up in the world. Which I do.

So I need a mentor, and I’ve decided that Giles Coren is the man for the job.

In recent months I’ve developed a bit of thing for Giles Coren. Not a sex thing. He’s not my type and, even if he were, I have long since realised that lusting over men you haven’t met is a pointless waste of time, unless they’re James Franco.

My thing for Giles is more akin to my thing for Tina Fey – in that I want to be him. Or a fantasy version of him I have created with low self-esteem and the knowledge that not only is he quite wealthy and well-educated, but also has a talented, attractive wife and two bouncing baby children.

Giles has clearly made some Good Decisions, life wise.

You know how before Christians act they ask themselves, ‘what would Jesus do?’ Well, my version of that features Giles in place of Jesus and (until my recent stint of PhD enforced sobriety) gin in place of Christianity.

*

Now, before I continue, I would like to take a time out, during which I urge that those of you asking yourselves, ‘who the fuck is Giles Coren?’ retire to Wikipedia and return here better informed. The rest of you can make a cup of tea and get yourselves a kit-kat or a home-baked treat.

*

Welcome back.

Right. What I want is for Giles to give me his number so I can ring him up and get definitive answers on matters about which I am uncertain. For example, I am pretty sure Giles would strongly disapprove of me starting this paragraph with the word ‘right’, which is, even I’m aware, a meaningless affectation. I’ve only stopped myself deleting it so I could use the above to prove my point, which is this: Giles knows what he’s on about, and, even when he doesn’t, he delivers his judgments with the kind of conviction that I need in my life right now.

I want Giles to make decisions for me. Decisions which will result in success in my life and my work. Decisions I am unable to make on my own due to a genetic inadequacy. For example, if Giles were to agree to mentor me I could ask him whether I should hold out for the dream romance I’ve had mushrooming in my mind for six years or so – and which I’ve written about here, indirectly, on more than one occasion – to come true. Or whether I should pack it in and sign up to Plenty of Fish before my womb dries up. I believe Giles could give me very reliable advice on this. He could also advise me on the correct usage of ‘that’ verses ‘which’, which I still struggle with despite having read Gwynne’s Grammar cover to cover, twice.

I’m not entirely sure why I respect Giles’ opinion as much as I do. We are, socially and politically, poles apart. Giles would, I have no doubt, find my militant stance on private education (I’m anti) trite and pretentious. Also, he drinks gimlets in the Groucho with famous people and, although I did go to Shoreditch House one time, I am more likely to be found in the Malt Shovel, Armley, drinking sour white wine with manual workers and the unemployed.

He is right though, most of the time.

Thus, Giles Coren, though not exactly a reason to be single, would definitely prove useful in making sure I don’t stay that way forever.

If you’re reading Giles, and considering taking on the mentoring position I’ve described above, you should probably know that it doesn’t pay anything, cash wise, but that I am very good company and would be willing to attend any dinner parties you throw – and I promise I will spend at least £12 on all bottles of wine I bring to them.

Another Self-Indulgent Interlude

Katie in summer

As you (probably) all know by now (it’s not as though I’ve been modest about it) I recently won a Cosmo Blog Award. This means, obviously, that I am now famous. Like any famous person I will do pretty much anything to keep myself in the limelight. Therefore I recently agreed to be interviewed (yes, they asked me I swear), on my blogging and my, ahem, ‘style’, for the online magazine The Muse.TV. If you are just crazy to know more about me then do check out the interview, here:

Part 105: Catholicism

window

I’ve always been drawn to Catholicism, even though I don’t necessarily believe in God – or, more specifically, in his baby Jesus incarnation. Although I am willing to admit life would be a lot easier if I did. Still, even without Jesus, and even factoring in the papal stance on condoms and the paedophilia and the wayward, perverted clergymen, there is a lot to be said for Catholicism.

For example, all the women in The Sopranos are Catholics, and I’ve already told you how I feel about them. And I like candles, and the way Catholic churches drip with glamour – none of that po-faced Protestant pre-fab; no greying widows putting on a brave face in beige twin-sets, no sermons led by a clean-living, well-meaning brunette from the Home Counties. With the Catholics it’s all twisted Irish priests and frankincense and gold goblets and scarlet window panes that dapple you in pinky sunlight while you sit in the pews and, between sobs, beg whoever it is that controls this shit to give you a break.

Also, I’m a big fan of the Virgin Mary in her chic blue headscarf – I’m sure I don’t have to remind you that La Madonna’s credentials include being impregnated during an Angel visitation and giving birth on a Donkey, both with minimal fuss. This is what being an independent woman is all about, as far as I’m concerned.

But, despite its merits, I haven’t converted to Catholicism yet. There are a number of reasons for this – such as that I don’t really want to be Christened, due to the fact that not being Christened has sometimes got me attention, and also I firmly believe that if you’re going to subscribe to fidelity as lifestyle choice (which I so will if I’m fortunate enough to enter into a sexual relationship again in this lifetime) then both partners better properly commit to that lifestyle choice or else someone is getting his penis removed, with a sharp thing and no anaesthetic (even if only metaphorically).

Mainly though the reason I have not yet converted to Catholicism is because I once met a woman who told me – after I had waxed lyrical about Mary and her blue shawl and the pretty dapply light refracting through the stained glass windows – that it was inappropriate to choose a religion based on its imagery. And I thought, ‘okay. Breathe. Let’s be fair: I don’t like you much because you’ve made me look a fool and you have a terrible condescending voice that is in no way made more endearing by your backwards Yorkshire accent, but yes, you’ve got a point. One should not choose a religion based on its imagery.’

Having conceded to this truism I realise it’s not only religion I’ve been choosing based on imagery. It’s men as well. I now accept that this is unwise, and might well explain why romances rarely work out for me. It is not a good idea to go for men with strong features who exude an air of reckless danger, who don leisure-wear outside of their own homes or the gym, who drip with Catholic glamour in the form of crucifixes and stained glass eyeballs, especially once you are over the age of nineteen.

Just as I am an atheist because my instincts towards religion have been highlighted as wildly immature, so too I am single because my instincts toward potential romances stalled somewhere around late adolescence. Fortunately, however, though my libido and theological drive remained nineteen, the rest of me grew up – the result being that I am too sensible to give in to my damaged, glamour-hungry instincts. Thus I am destined to be single until emotional maturity arrives. Which is definitely a good thing because I have been socialising with couples lately and, while I might love one or two of them dearly, and while there are of course exceptions to the rule (yes, Amy you are the exception to the rule and the proof, thank God, that there are men worth waiting for) I would probably engage in self harm if I had to stand beside a man smiling in a simpering manner and making small talk about my domestic future with bitter but, admittedly, fabulous single people who held both my ambitions and my dress sense in contempt. Singles who were, you know, both intellectually superior to and better looking than me.

It’s like I always say: you can’t have it all.

Image by artur84 at freedigitalphotos.net

Part 104: (Not Being) Nicole Scherzinger

I have grappled with understanding the precise nature of my existence for some time and, while this has led to existential despair on more than one occasion, the mental anguish my philosophical musings have caused me is nothing compared to the turmoil I feel right now. I don’t know how much longer I can cope with not being Nicole Scherzinger.

No, really.

I actually cannot comprehend what God was thinking of when He put me inside this pasty, five foot body that, alright, is perfectly proportioned, thanks for that – but that moves awkwardly, is prone to acne and that almost no hot strangers want to touch, when He knew how to make a caramel coloured, gazelle limbed one that moves gracefully and is so desirable that all humans have to physically restrain themselves from licking the TV screen whenever it appears.

I can only conclude that God is insane, or that He doesn’t, in fact, love me, like the Bible promised He would. Or else I can vainly hope that He’s got something fabulous up His sleeve that He’s waiting to surprise me with later. In which case I might be willing to forgive Him, so long as He hurries the fuck up in delivering His gift, and makes sure He remembers to include the receipt.

Nicole Scherzinger is not so much a reason to be single as an explanation for why so many of us still are. Remember back in 2005, when she sang, ‘don’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me’ and we all went, ‘whatever, babes – my boyfriend loves me just like this’? Well, I am ruing that day now because I finally realise, being eight years older and having thus got eight years wiser to the ways of men, that yes all the potential boyfriends do wish I was hot like Nicole.

They wish you were too. Unless you happen to be my friend Marie, or Nicole herself. In which case – run along. This does not concern the beautiful people. I am certain you can find something better to occupy your time. If I were you, that something would involve a mirror.

I am fairly sure that if I was hot like Nicole or Marie I would be asleep in a post-coital embrace right now, if I wanted to be. Rather than tapping at a keyboard and wondering why all the men I want to have sex with keep getting together with toothy, well-behaved brunettes, emigrating to the other side of the world and failing to reply to my text messages.

I’m going to ignore the fact that, in reality, I know (because I read the celebrity pages of the internet) Nicole is suffering from a severe heartbreak caused by the end of her relationship with that guy who drives fast cars. It does not fit with my current world view to acknowledge that none of us get out unbroken, no matter how closely our doe eyes resemble chocolate whirlpools or how much our skin tastes like salted caramel. I want to buy into the dominant cultural belief that promises I can have love and fame and money and sex, loads of it, every night if I have the energy, should I only be beautiful enough. It is a very straightforward worldview that means I don’t have to look at my own behaviour too closely, or make moral judgements about other peoples’. I can just work hard and save for an operation that will chisel cheekbones into my face. And then I can have all the boyfriends, if I want them. Because I’ll be hot like Nicole.

PS: You may or may not have heard that, last week, I won the Best Sex and Relationships category at the Cosmo Blog Awards. Get in! I love winning stuff, so thanks if you voted. I am officially an award-winning blogger now – which means you are obliged to post a link to this site on your Facebook page, and to email all your friends about how funny and fabulous I am. And if any of them are charismatic, single, solvent, stable men who know how to use an apostrophe (I’m not that fussed about any of the last three of those criteria, if I’m honest) then you might also want to give them my number.