Part 150: Rylan’s Teeth

ryland-clarke I’m afraid I have nothing more to say about dating. You have sucked the dregs of my wisdom on that subject. I am but an empty husk blowing my way through reruns of Seinfeld, tubes of Pringles and occasional yoga classes. There are no new experiences to report. The last ‘date’ I went on was for the purposes of reality television – and you already know all about that disaster. My recent attempts at flirtation have sunk, like the proverbial lead balloon, without a trace. And I have finally realised that I like myself too much to spend a glorious summer trying to interpret possible meanings of the ‘x’ at the end of a badly punctuated text message. I am celibate until further notice. Tinder is erased. Ditto Happn and my account with

I am not currently open to applicants (unless you happen to be tall, dark, handsome, into theatre or some other branch of the arts, amusing and kind, with left-leaning politics and a job doing something worthwhile – such as nursing, or teaching, or writing, or planting trees, or building sustainable housing or researching ground-breaking treatments for cancer. I’d also be open to a criminal lawyer. But no-one too earnest. And if you can’t give as good as you get in terms of an argument, then darling, it is never going to happen. No? Not for you? Then move along please, there’s a rather long queue forming and I haven’t got all day).

So let’s change the subject.

Have you been watching Celebrity MasterChef? The food’s not up to much, they keep making the contestants work in professional kitchens with tedious results, and if I recognise one ‘celebrity’ per episode, it’s a miracle – but OMG, Rylan’s teeth!

I mean: have you seen them? He has taken the predictable route of the recently famous and invested in questionable, expensive dentistry that has left him with teeth so white they could illuminate your late-night summer garden party, like a set of neon fairy-lights, or the moon.

They are huge and startling. Great big comedy gnashers that just simply will cause him problems at some point in the future. Because how could they not? If the bleach doesn’t poison him, the veneers, surely, will fall off, one by one, into a mug of tea, or a tumbler of whisky, or his dinner. Or else he’ll become so disoriented by the weight of his new molars that he’ll accidently chomp off someone’s genitals, when he only meant to give a little nip.

I am transfixed. I am drooling in anticipation of the inevitable disaster with an unambiguous Schadenfreude, driven by the kind of moral laxity that fuels our contemporary media culture. It’s fascination tinged with pity and horror, admittedly – but I try to keep a lid on the pity because otherwise I might have to ask myself some serious questions about what the fuck is happening to the human race, and how do we make it stop?

It is always the case that a sudden, drastic change in appearance is borne of some seismic life shift. Like the time I pierced my nose because I had recently begun puberty and it was only right that I should violently assault my body, with a gun, the way it was assaulting me. Or that other time, when I got my heart broken into tiny, jagged pieces and dyed my hair green because I didn’t understand about chemicals and it took two and half years to grow out, which was about the length of time my heart took to heal. Give or take a decade.

And don’t be fooled: a sudden, drastic change in appearance is a sure sign that someone’s life has recently got worse. Except if the change makes them look comparatively amazing, as in the glow of a wanted pregnancy, recovery from serious illness or that bit in Death Becomes Her where Goldie Hawn takes the eternal life potion and turns up at her book launch five stone lighter, in a floor-length Jessica Rabbit dress, with dewy, come-to-bed eyes and breasts you could trampoline on, if you were a baby mouse. Although that latter example proves that even changes for the better can have unanticipated and tragic results, so long as you’ll take your proof from camp comic fiction.

Thus, is important to address sudden, drastic changes in appearance in a timely fashion, finding the appropriate balance between ridicule and concern, and reminding ourselves and our loved ones that there’s more to life than looks, you know – even if we do live in shallow times.

And as I’m always striving to be a better person (lol) let me say this:

Rylan, daring, if you’re reading – and I really hope you aren’t because despite my reputation as a relentless bitch, I don’t think you need to feel any worse about yourself than you already do, and actually, babe, I think you’re great; especially since that Grayson Perry thing contextualised your cultural and social significance and memorialised you in technicolour for future generations – come round mine. I’m good at dealing with ‘issues’, and I’ll show you how to be fabulous with greasy hair and period stained pyjama trousers (hint: this only works when you’re streaming the latest episode of Dance Moms). I’ll even teach you how to view a no-make-up selfie in a way that doesn’t make you want to shoot yourself in the face, although you’ll need to bring gin for that – and a couple of those cheesecakes you made in your debut MasterChef round. They looked good. And what with my extended romantic drought, I could certainly go a cheesecake.

*I got the image of Rylan, above, from If you own the image and resent me using it please be reassured that I make no money whatsoever from this blog. Or email me if you want it removed. You’ll find my details in ‘contacts’.

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