Part 115: Football (or Deeds Not Words)


The Suffragettes – who I have thought about a lot recently, due to Christmas providing time for my brain to think excess thoughts, unrelated to the usual (you already know the usual: work, (lack of) romance, illnesses I might have, the terrifying unpredictable future, whether I should get a dog or not, Paula Yates etc.) – had a slogan, that they used to sew onto banners and paint on posters and scream at passersby during marches: ‘Deeds Not Words’.

It’s a slogan I like a lot.

In fact, if I were going to get a tattoo (which, you might remember, I am most definitely NOT going to do), it would be ‘Deeds Not Words’, in big bold letters, (possibly in Garamond font, or maybe Calibri, I can’t decide) across my forearm, so I could hold it up whenever I suspected someone was using bullshit to avoid taking action, just as a subtle reminder, before I punched them in the face (or smiled in a strained manner, with my mouth but not my eyes, while I imagined doing so).

Now, I don’t give serious romantic advice very often – primarily because I am aware that the ridiculous state of my romantic life means you would be unwise to trust any relationship wisdom I might think I posses – but bear with me. I’ve decided to tell you about ‘Deeds Not Words’ because I have recently been reminded of a romantic lesson that I think I ought to share, despite the fact it is glaringly obvious.

That lesson is this: a person’s actions betray their true feelings far more precisely than words that come out of their mouths, or through their fingers and into your eyeballs via the various mediums of technology we now use to communicate.

For example, football.

No man who is really into you will make you watch football for at least the first year of your romance. This is a relationship truth. (And, although, yes, there are women who are into football, we all know they aren’t the hot, charismatic ones men really want to go out with.) Thus football behaviour is a fantastic relationship barometer.

I will now illustrate this point with a story:

I’ve got an acquaintance, this straight, single bloke who is good-looking, well-spoken and charming. He runs his own business and has a big, modern apartment in a decent part of London. A couple of weeks ago I saw him at a party, and, as a lithe single woman is wont to do when faced with an eligible, solvent bachelor – especially when her cleavage is artfully exposed and she has downed a margarita and two glasses of prosecco – I asked him about his love life. ‘I’ve been doing Tinder*’, he told me, ‘but it hasn’t worked out so well.’

Then my straight, single, good-looking acquaintance described his behaviour during his most recent Tinder exchange and totally proved the point of Deeds Not Words as applicable to football. He had met a woman on Tinder, he told me. I presume he had found her attractive because they’d been on a few dates and, when she asked what he was up to one evening, he said he was ‘tired, but you’re welcome to come over for dinner, if you want to.’

So she did.

His words, I think you’ll agree, gave his date the impression he was interested – setting up second and third meetings, replying promptly to text messages, always signing text messages with an ‘x’, telling her stories about his life, inviting her to his house and so on (I’m willing to admit, on reflection, and due to the protests of my straight, single, good-looking acquaintance, that if a man uses the word ‘tired’ in a text message replying to your date-solicitation, it’s not a great signal re: the future). But, when she arrived at his flat for dinner, he made her watch Liverpool Swansea, telling her, ‘come on, it’ll be good for you’. And, if that wasn’t Deed enough, when she retired to his bed, my straight, single good-looking acquaintance told me, he didn’t follow her in right away because, ‘I wanted to watch the Arsenal highlights on Match of the Day.’

‘That’s when it should have been obvious’, he said, ‘I wasn’t that into her.’

And in my head the little voices went totally mental, ‘ha!‘ they shouted. ‘We knew it! How many times have we told you?! Deeds Not Words! The Suffragettes knew their shit! That’s how they got the vote and laid the path to emancipation that has led to you writing this blog under a pseudonym!‘

Deeds then, especially football related ones, are often a reason to be single. After all, no woman who possesses self-esteem should need to date a man who wants to watch the Arsenal highlights more urgently than he wants to touch her naked, silken flesh.

Remember this wisdom, if you decide to date again. (As I will, certainly, be doing.)

*Tinder, for the uninitiated, is a dating app that describes itself as ‘like real life, but better’ (not difficult, Tinder copywriters, if your real life is anything like my real life) – it is, in essence, Grindr for straight people – and so, inevitably, more about the subtle, endless mind games and less about the mindless spontaneous sex. Which is unfortunate. In my next life, I’m coming back as a gay man. Preferably one who is alive in the 1930s so I can get it on with a young Tennessee Williams. (Yes, I believe it’s possible that we’ll reincarnate in the past, as well as in the future, because, as Jack Johnson once sang, ‘there’s no such thing as time’.)

*Image by John Kasawa at


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