Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Fuck you very much, NHS

I am a life long, stalwart supporter of the NHS.

I have had eight operations on various parts of my anatomy, one of which was an emergency style thing, and I have generally been treated with kindness, compassion and efficiency. 

I mean, there was that time where I had to wait over a year for my gall bladder to be removed after the consultant 'ticked the wrong box' at the assessment stage. And yes, it did nearly go gangrenous. Oh, and the time they nearly sent me home with a UTI when my appendicitis was actually turning into peritonitis. And the time they told my dad he had a virus two days before he died at home. Apart from all of THAT they've been pretty good. In that they (eventually) removed the organs I needed to have removed and I didn't die.

They are, after all, mostly people just trying to do their best under difficult circumstances, slashed costs, time pressures and, of course, the personal problems they're inevitably dealing with because they are but human.

I have been waiting for quite a while for an operation to burn off my endometriosis. This involves general anaesthetic and laprascopic surgery. I've had it done before. It's pretty unpleasant, it's true. But until I have this done I can't start my treatment plan proper for an illness that is basically - and I don't actually think I'm being dramatic in saying this - ruining my life. A while ago I was given 1 May as the date for my operation.

Because they won't let you go home on your own and you have to have someone to look after you for 24 hours after general, I had to bother my mother. Again. And no, they really really won't let you  go home on your own. I asked them whether a taxi man counted and apparently not, unless he stays overnight and, frankly, I can't afford that. Could you imagine the meter? So, ma organised time off and agree to come and stay for a few nights.

I had to book it off work and they were kind enough to sort that out for me - you have to have a couple of days off afterwards. As I now work for people who are generally lovely and not massive assholes like others I could mention, that wasn't a problem.

Oh, and then I had to organise a complicated operation to remove Fatman from my house for long enough so the estate agent can come round and do what is apparently a necessary inspection. I have been in this house for about five fucking minutes. Much logistical nightmareness later, I had it all carefully in place.

I attended the pre op assessment yesterday like a good girl, even though the hospital had fucked up the times and it caused me yet more trouble. I haven't slept properly for a few nights because I'm all keyed up and anxious and worried and scared. So this morning when I woke it was with a sense of relief - it's the last day I have to worry, it'll all be over this time tomorrow, I can start getting my life back etc etc.

Sooooooooo, when the hospital called at 9.30 this morning I just knew that it wasn't going to be good news. And because I have the luck of the truly, truly DAMNED, it wasn't good news. A secretary cooly informed me that I had been removed from the consultant's list in favour of someone more important. And no, she can't tell me when it will be rearranged for. And, yes, she quite understands that it's a nuisance but really, what can she do?

I cried. In the office. In front of everyone. Although it transpires that most of my lovely co-workers didn't notice, so immersed they are in developing apps and suchlike. Which is a good thing. It wasn't my finest moment. Managed to get hold of my mum before she actually got on the train to come up here and cancelled my time off at work.

So here I sit, upset, angry, miffed, scared that no one will ever help me EVER with this illness that is plaguing my life every two weeks out of four. My symptoms of agonising pain,getting sick to my stomach, blacking out and haemorraging for 7 days every month aren't considered important by the consultant - so who the hell IS going to help me?

I did pull myself together. I stopped crying. AND I gave much thought to the fact that it must be someone in a much worse condition than me and who am I to get in the way of their treatment and it's not like it's going to kill me and I have lived with it for five years already so, really, I should just shut up. But I thought I'd had my last period that would make me want to curl up and die. I thought I would start to get better from tomorrow. And now I have to wait. All over again.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Feel the fear...

Literally: "a fear of open spaces"
Clinical: " a fear of open spaces, especially those in which getaway may be difficult, which leads to avoidance of the situation. Being in a provoking situation usually leads to an anxiety attack. There are three basic elements: phobia, avoidance, anxiety. 

I just watched what is possibly the most depressing stop motion animated short of all time. It's called Dog and is about a young boy, his ailing dog and his agoraphobia and deeply depressed dad. It's actually too depressing to recount here. I don't want to write it down for posterity. What I want to do is rewind time to the moment before I watched it and not watch it.

But it did make me think about agoraphobia and depression. Bear with me. I haven't made much of a secret about the fact that I suffer on and off with bouts of depression. Sometimes it cripples me and sometimes it just pushes me more towards my nihilistic leanings. Sometimes all I want to do is lie down somewhere quiet and dark and not think anymore about anything. And other times I'm OK and I like life again.

I have made rather a secret about my struggles with agoraphobia though. Mostly because I find it crucifyingly embarrassing. Not so much now, but when it first hit, when I was about 16 I could have died from the humiliation. To have endless panic attacks when in completely innocuous situations - at supermarkets, at concerts, at gigs, and eventually just in the street - is extraordinarily humiliating and terrifying to a teenager. And only slightly less so for an adult.

When it narrows your world to just your house and then just your bedroom then it becomes life threateningly frightening. And this is what happened to me. When I was 19 I had a nervous breakdown and I found myself unable to leave my house, and for a while my bedroom, without having a panic attack. For those who have never experienced any form of mental illness or depression this will sound ridiculous.

And in every logical way it is ridiculous. Whoever heard of someone not being able to walk down a street without having a panic attack severe enough to cause people to stare? Whoever heard of someone who can't attend a concert because more than likely their panic will supersede their interest in what's on stage and they will be forced to leave? Whoever heard of someone so terrified of everything that they struggle to go to a restaurant? Or a bar? Or to London? Or to any city that's bigger than a very small one?

Whoever heard of someone becoming so distressed in Sainsbury's that they start shaking, sweating, hyper ventilating and have to run outside? Whoever heard of that?

After a lot of therapy and some prescription drugs I learned to deal with it and was able to go outside again. Ever since that time, it's never got that bad again, but it is always here. When people ask me why I don't to move to London I lie. I say it's because I hate cities and anyway people in London are mostly wankers and who cares about all the culture and art and that? It's because there are very few streets in London I can walk down without suffering from a panic attack that is akin to severe vertigo. My throat closes, I can't breathe, I shake, I feel like I will be sick and/or pass out. Over the years I've become used to refining my life into manageable chunks.

I police where I live, where I work, where I socialise and am incredibly OCD about being in control of where I go and who with. I rarely eat out as the panic tends to rise as I try to swallow food in public places. This ebbs and flows though and sometimes it's fine.

Panic disorder/agoraphobia/whatever you want to label it is an ever present dark cloud. You spend your life trying to run from it until you realise that turning to face it is the only way to deal with it. Admit it. Tell people. You'll most likely find that a lot more people than you think can identify with at least some of it.

I still struggle immensely with it and often have to leave a situation - whether it's a party, gathering, pub or just a shop - because I start to panic. I still find it embarrassing and frustrating. It's especially tricky when therapy helps but it's impossible to pay for privately, and the NHS waiting lists are over 12 months.

I found great comfort in reading that Freud himself suffered from it. It's common. It doesn't make me insane. It doesn't make me defective or defunct. It does make me face fear on an almost daily basis and I reckon that could be construed as a positive. After all, people who are scared of nothing at all are not brave, are they?

I know now that I won't let it get as far as it did when I was 19. I understand it much more now, and I am more pragmatic. I don't know if I'll ever beat it completely, but I'm not going to stop trying.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Long story...

It isn't. It's an incredibly short story. And it goes thusly.

Earlier I was messaged by a young man on OK Lupus. I didn't actually notice how young he was because I was rather distracted by his picture, which is this:

I asked him which one he is. He said the one on the left. I stared at his abs for a bit. We chatted. Well, I say chatted. I had to decipher his textspeak, but we managed. He kept saying how hot he finds older women and that he just wants to settle down. I'm sorry but sometimes I'm shallow, OK? I thought, ah well, not to worry, I can teach him how to read, write and spell later. Let's just meet up first. And maybe he'll let me stroke his abs.

He nags me for my number. I say no. I said: "If you really are the guy in the picture then you'll be scraping women off you on a daily basis."

Yes, folks. The penny had started to drop in my sex starved brain. But wait. He says that he will prove who he is by sending me pictures. OK, I say. You do that. He does. Thankfully it was just a shot of him bare chested, rather than a dick picture (I really hate those. Guys, there is NOTHING attractive about a picture of a cock. Just don't send them anywhere, ever.)

So the picture is of a young man with nice abs. But it's manifestly not the same guy. I drop the original picture of the three guys into Google and it's all over the web like a tramp on chips. He's lifted it from Men's Health but then sent me a picture of his real self. Did he think I wouldn't notice? I mean, what's the point? If, god forbid, we had got as far as meeting then how would he explain it then? Would he think it wouldn't matter? I mean, what is going ON here?

I should have known by the very Abercrombie & Fitch vibe in that picture. I mean, they're clearly American. They're all white teeth and six packs. They are not Craig from Catford. Or whoever he really is.

While my abdomen-licking fantasies crashed down around me, I started to see the amusing side. I asked him what the hell.

He said: "Long story."

It's not though, is it? It's really short.

Bullshit bingo

When I were a lass my dad would come back from work and tell me stories about how middle management at Severn Trent were such wankers that he would entertain himself in meetings by playing Bullshit Bingo. And that was the early 80s.

If he was only alive today to see how management-speak and cretinous fuckery with words inexorably increases year on year, decade on decade, he would be extremely snarky about it I would imagine. One could argue that, as industry in the UK became more meaningless during the 80s and 90s until eventually most people found themselves working in call centres, middle management or recruitment, there grew a need to create a language to make people feel like what they do for 40 hours a week matters in any way, shape or form.

And lo, managers sat around with consultants running ideas up the flagpole, singing from the same hymn-sheet and thinking outside of the box until, in some sectors, it's near on impossible to find anyone other than the kid who does the post that speaks like a normal human being.

Instead of doing something, we have to 'action' it. Instead of thinking about something, we have to 'blue sky' it. 'Going forward' is inexplicably added on to sentences. Innocent people are being forced to call themselves 'brand evangelists' and everything, but everything, has to be 'incentivised'. In meetings at one of my recent places of employment, in meetings I would often hear certain managers saying "we'll discuss that offline". We were 'offline'. In that we definitely weren't 'online'. So what she meant was "we'll discuss that in secret away from the proles". And I think she thought the proles wouldn't understand her ever so subtle diss.

A 'holistic approach' and a 'bespoke solution' are common when speaking to clients and making them feel like the special snowflakes. People have to 'cascade' information, instead of just, you know, saying it. New employees have to go through the 'onboarding process' and it all has to be done by COP. That's 'Close of Play' because we are having so much fucking fun, aren't we? Yes, we are. And by infantilising words maybe you'll feel like you're not actually tied to a desk as an invisible part of a massive conglomerate which will make your redundant at some point, no matter what its spiel was about career trajectory going forward, and that actually you're in the equivalent of a grown up wacky warehouse where everything is SUCH FUN. After all, leveraging the supplier pipeline and creating synergy is your overall aim in life. It's what you dreamed of as a child, right? You didn't really want to be an astronaut, you wanted to spend your life living the fucking corporate dream, wearing horrible nylon clothes from Next and kissing the arse of psychopaths and assholes. And using words like 'facilitated' and 'bandwidth' when you're not talking about actual bandwidth. RIGHT?

You have to live the corporate values, walk the corporate path and follow the corporate roadmap. I have actually seen corporations pay tens of thousands of pounds to produce 'collateral' or, as it's also known, 'glossy bits of paper' with cartoon maps drawn on to represent the corporate 'journey' to drum it into them that they need to be 'on board' with the 'vision and values' devised by some random people who have been paid a lot of money to create this elitist smoke and mirrors shite.

So if you're ever lucky enough (like I am now, actually) to find yourself in a job that doesn't subscribe to talking like David Brent's retarded brother, and would prefer to use its money to, you know, pay its staff instead of spunking it on expensive bullshit projects to justify its ridiculous elitist internal structure, then embrace it. Embrace it and never let go. And if you do find yourself somewhere where your soul is slowly dying, find ways to bring it down from within.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

What is it exactly that's putting you off?

I made a resolution that I was going to stop sharing dating site stories on this blog because they must be repetitive for the reader. And I also don't want to put any hopeful single person off. I mean, just because I have the luck of the damned on internet dating doesn't mean everyone will. I do still know loads of people who have met their other - and in some cases, far better - half online.

But as we know by now I am finding it more of a long lasting and disgustingly fascinating experimental thing. It's sort of like watching a slow motion car crash that transcends time and space. It forms a distraction from my endless work - have I mentioned that in addition to my full time job I'm now doing part time freelancing, which is great but it genuinely means I'm writing 80% + of the time I'm not asleep? And I'm just about to start a novel writing course as well, so I can fill that remaining 20% right up. But I need distractions every now and again, which is where Reddit and OK Stupid come in.

So, basically, I broke my resolution. Much like all of my other resolutions. I pretty much only make them to break them.

And the other night I was idly flicking through when I saw a profile picture that took my fancy. He looked quite hot (as much as one can tell from a tiny picture) and he lives in Leeds and he seemed pretty amusing and could spell. This is basically my entire criteria when browsing OKC profiles. And I'm increasingly flexible on things like distance - I've had some lovely chats with men in New York and California and Australia - just about the right distance for the kind of relationship I want to have, to be fair.

So I messaged this guy. He messaged back. We began some mild flirting. I made a cup of tea. We carried on with a bit more flirting. Nothing heavy, just pleasant.

And then he said: "I should tell you something, but you'll judge me for it."

And I said: "..."

And he said: "I'm married."

And I said: "Are you separated?"

And he said: "No."

And I said: "Then HELL yes, I'm judging you."

He blethered on about how apparently his wife is just fine with it, even though she doesn't know about it and he won't tell her. But she's pretty much totally fine with him doing what he wants. I mean, not to the extent that she'd ever find out or anything, and, really, he just wants to find that missing spark. He wants to have some fun. He thinks he deserves to have some fun and he'll never leave her and of course he loves her but he just, you know, needs to spend 'time' with other women to fulfill that part of his life. In fact, he said, he thought it would help his marriage because, and this is clearly the most important thing, he would feel happier and therefore would be nicer to his wife.

I said nah, you're alright mate and went to bed to watch Jonathan Creek (do NOT judge me until you've watched it, it's marvellous).

And then last night he cropped up on the chat thing. Despite the fact that I had extremely clearly said that I didn't want to meet him and wasn't into it, here he was again. And here it is (I'm white, he's green). His "yes, we did" is in response to me saying: "I'm pretty sure we discussed the fact that I'm not going to meet up with you last night"

Let's just go through that last panel one more time. He seems to think the fact that I messaged him first negates EVERYTHING else I said in our first conversation. And he also seemed to think that the fact that subsequent to approaching him first, and his later disclosure regarding the facts, vis a vis that he is married, had changed nothing. WHAT IS IT EXACTLY THAT'S PUTTING YOU OFF? he sez.

What, about the fact that you're married? Well, the thing that's putting me off about the fact that you're married is the FACT THAT YOU'RE MARRIED and posted yourself on a dating site as single even though YOU'RE MARRIED. You UTTER TOOL.

Back to Jonathan Creek. I'm up to Series 4, episode 5. It's ace.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

It's a midlife crisis...

If you immediately thought of Faith No More then you're probably already a friend of mine and, if you're not, then you definitely should be. It's a refrain that I cannot get out of my head at the moment. Because, and this isn't a surprise for many people I'm sure, I think I'm having one.

I don't mean I'm driving an open top Porsche and dating a 19 year old. Because I can't drive and 19 year olds don't do it for me. I just mean that, with my birthday approaching, I have none of the usual excitement or general birthday joy. I just have a sort of blank, blind panic.

It's just a day. It doesn't change anything overnight. I mean, every day we're getting older, inexorably shuffling towards the grave. Just because I've counted another 365 days off my allotted lifespan doesn't change anything or mean anything significant, but there's something about turning 37 that's scaring the living shite out of me.

I'm assuming it's because it's desperately close to 40. And, although many people shriek: "Life begins at 40" it's important to realise that they're saying that because they are in their 40s. What else are they going to say? "It's pretty much all over, get ready for the last few years?" or "I adore being older, achier and wrinklier" or "Being single in your 20s is liberating, 30s is joyful, 40s is terrifying". No, of course they're not. They're going to spout nonsensical and meaningless phrases in an attempt to stave off the inevitable sense of failure and panic they're almost definietly actually experiencing.

Although that could just be me... It stands to reason that a person in their 40s who is, say, a massive success in their chosen field, or very very beautiful, or has married someone they love and is making a home for their family, or has created a book, album, song, painting, something... then maybe they are genuinely happy to be in their 40s.

But then we're constantly warned not to measure our lives against the outward appearances of other people's lives. After all, their Facebook facade most likely doesn't reflect the reality. But what if it does? What if most people don't feel like they're living backstage, constantly waiting for their cue? What if most people do know where they're going and what they want - maybe it's that purpose that makes a life worth living?

I should confirm here that there is nothing wrong with my life. I'm lucky to have made it to 37 with only the few organs needing to be removed, and relatively common and non life threatening chronic illnesses to contend with. I'm lucky that I didn't marry or buy a house with my ex boyfriends - that would have been a lot worse. I'm lucky that I still have one parent left. And I'm lucky that I get to be alive every day.

I have a job, a home, a cat and a heartbeat. That should be enough, shouldn't it? So why is it that the older I get, the less clear everything becomes and I find myself wondering what magic instruction manual everyone else seemed to read at just the right time - the one that told them how to narrow down what they want to achieve out of life and then helped them meet the one person who wanted to be with them to do just that and then showed them how to make their life meaningful and fulfilled.

I feel a certain amount of guilt that I am wasting my privileged, relatively healthy life and there are millions of sperm that didn't even make it past the first hurdle. All the miracles that needed to occur to give me this chance and I have spent a good portion of it crying because a boy doesn't love me. That's quite astonishing when you think about it isn't it? Think of all the things I could have achieved if I had ever, just once, applied myself. Like if I'd actually tried in school, college or university and chosen a vocational degree that would actually help people instead of twatting about with words because I find them easy to organise into an entertaining order.

And, although that's given me a way to earn a living, it doesn't really help anyone or change anything does it? I don't actually do anything that helps people or makes lives better. I just bumble about and read books a lot. Is that enough?

Maybe I should start my 38th year with an actual plan. A plan that involves writing down what it is I actually want to achieve before I shuffle off this mortal coil. Before I get too decrepit to do it at all.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Thatcher... coming atcha

If I hear the phrase: "Thatcher the milk snatcher" or "Ding dong the witch is dead" one more fecking time I'm going to punch someone in the face. It'll just be the nearest person. Hopefully I'll be dead on and get one of the oh so clever fucktards who are banging on and on and on via social media, because y'know, we've all got a VOICE now.

Well, you know what? Just because everyone has a voice, doesn't mean they should always use it. There has been much debate about whether people who didn't live through Thatcher or, indeed, seem to have barely heard of her until this last week, should be 'allowed' to have an opinion on it. Most people seem in favour of them loudly voicing said opinion.

And me? Well. I get annoyed when people spaff on about stuff they clearly don't understand. I just do. And yes, of course, everyone HAS an opinion, even if said opinion is based on nothing more than copying other people, or saying what they think they should say. But, here's my tip: if you don't understand what you're on about, just don't bang on about it.

See, it's taken me a while to write my inevitable Thatcher blog because it took me a while to figure out what was making me so skin crawlingly irritated about it. And I think I narrowed it down to what bothers me the most: the mob mentality. That's what makes me uncomfortable.

And it's not because I'm a Tory. In fact, I have actually never voted Conservative, even when they were very much 'in' (that did actually happen y'know. In fact, that's how Thatcher managed to remain in power for so long, because people kept voting for her. She didn't do it all by herself. Millions and millions of people voted for her. The comparisons to Hitler and Bin Laden are fucking ridiculous and people need to get a grip. Clamping down on the unions - whether you support it or not, privatising services - whether you agree or not, the Falklands conflict - whether you were in favour or not - shouldn't be in the same opinion pieces as the words 'Holocaust' and 'genocide'. It's a cheap, easy shot.

Because whether you like or NOT, and I GET that most people don't, Thatcher and the Conservatives were there for a bloody long time. Before that Labour were there for a bloody long time. And after that Labour were in again for an interminable amount of time, during which, can I just add, they carried on most of the Tory policies. And then I voted Lib Dem and something weird happened and then Cameron. Anyway, my point is, world leaders are devious, scumsucking, greedy, avaricious, selfish, cruel, manipulative and most likely psychotic. That's how they got there.

She was no different to those that came before or came after and will always be there, time after time, ad infinitum. Guess what? You're NEVER going to agree with what the last government did, and you're probably not liking what this one is doing. That's how it is.

As you can probably tell, politics is not my forte. I was born before Thatcher came into power, and from what my parents told me, the 70s were no picnic either. She and her government informed my formative years. She was always on the telly. So was Gerry Adams with his voice dubbed over. And Reagan, talking about Star Wars a lot. It was a confusing time to be a kid.

I was 14 when they pushed her out and then Major came in and then I discovered drugs and booze so I don't really remember much else for while. ANYway, I think my point is that if you have an opinion that is based on experience, knowledge, research, interest then voice it. Educate yourself and voice it. One day I too will educate myself and voice my definitive political opinions. Mostly it seems to me to be so subjective, so personal, so emotive and so confusing that I just don't KNOW. I want people to be nice. And I want to retain the welfare system. But I don't want knobheads abusing it. Does that make me a fascist? I mean, really?

I'm glad so many people are glad she's dead, but express it intelligently, don't just get shitfaced and dance in the streets like a despot has just been toppled by your revolution. Because that's actually NOT what has just happened. Express it like a human being. She may not have had any compassion. She may have been evil incarnate, but does that mean a mass howl of delight goes up at her death? Her political career ended in 1990, and yes, her legacy lives on, as does every other PM's. She damaged this country, undoubtedly. So did Blair. So is Cameron. I can't remember Major. He was so boring.

The Twitter reaction just bummed me out. It was infantile. Juvenile. And bandwaggony in the extreme. It's kind of like the Princess Di outpouring but in reverse. Everyone was howling then in 'grief' and 'despair' for a woman they'd never met, now everyone is howling in delight. It's weird. And it makes me feel outside of the popular consensus. Again.

And people, no, this doesn't mean I'm a Tory. It doesn't mean I don't get why people are glad. It means I don't get why people who clearly have no clue at all about who she was, her policies, her effect on the country, her effect on them and most likely don't EVEN VOTE to change what they can change NOW are whipping up a frenzy.

It boggles my mind. As does the decision to spaff a gazillion pounds on her bloody funeral. I'm not sure what it would take for our current government to get a clue.

Oh god, see? SEE? Now my brain hurts and I'm all confused and I've been reading people's thoughts about this all week - people I respect and admire and I don't like the fact that I don't agree with them all the time, and I don't like the fact that I feel like I have to defend my non-celebratory mood.

Let's see Tory greed die in this government, THEN we should dance in the streets.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Terribly Clever

I was food shopping today. 

This is one of my least favourite things in the world. Just below travelling on buses and just above having to talk to children. It's a thing I just fucking hate, in fact. It's tedious, expensive and involves other people, as well as being ultimately unsatisfying. I never know what I want. People are always in my cocking way. I have to wait in queues to then be treated like some kind of global warming loving scumbag because yes, I do want a plastic bag actually, sorry about that, I know it's not the way of the middle class ideal, but I need a bloody plastic bag. You know, to put my shopping in? So I can carry it?

Particularly in my food shopping hellish nightmare of choice today, that most middle class of middle class emporiums, Marks & Spencer. M&S cashiers have perfected that particular disappointed raised eyebrow look usually displayed by my mother when I do/say/wear something she doesn't approve of.  

"The 5p bag or the 10p bag?" raised eyebrows over half moon glasses. 

"5p please."

"I'm not angry, just disappointed," they say with their sad eyes. And then take a full five minutes to dig out the secret bag stash from behind the counter thing and slowly peel one off before ostentatiously unfolding it for me. While a queue full of people who have brought their fancy bags for life and therefore are definitely going to to heaven, tut and tap their feet behind me. 

I already know that my shopping won't fit in it and at some point in the next five minutes I will have to ask for another one. 

Marks & Spencer's a weird one isn't it? Do you remember the days when only rich old people bought their food from there and every single thing was excruciatingly expensive? It was like a status symbol, buying food from M&S. Now it's pretty much one step up from Sainsbury's and one step down from Waitrose. 

Ah Waitrose. With its gold plated shelves and hand reared cabbages. With it's Heston's Ready Meals at a tenner a go and its recent appointment of ROYALTY as general advertising whore. Well, sort of royalty. Well, she's met some royalty. And her sister got knocked up by an actual royal. So she's the next best thing, yah? And she does look marvellous in a dress so she's eminently qualified to tell the proles what to spend their tiny pay cheques on while hoovering up a humungous amount of cash for doing so. 

Poor M&S, forced to alter its proposition and stock, gasp, other brands and introduce an economy range. Its economy range is akin to Tesco Finest by the way. It isn't economy in the slightest. But at least they're trying.

Posh food saved M&S from total collapse in the 90s, when everyone suddenly woke up to the fact that their clothes are bloody awful. They offered an alternative to the general shitty supermarkets we were all used to. Made it feel like a treat to schlep around a brightly lit hellhole covered in grannies and babies to buy really expensive cake. 

But the thing that caught my eye today, in the new, all inclusive M&S that sells Coca Cola and things for under a pound, was one of their own brands. I think it's new. I don't know. I don't normally pay attention. But this brand caught my eye. Because it's called  Terribly Clever. 

Let's just absorb the utterly revoltingly tweeness and upper class twattishness of that for just a second. Terribly Clever

It brings to mind women who talk like they're BBC continuity announcers from the 40s and buy Cath Kidston tea towels and wear beige and sensible heels. Who bray when they laugh and think that Ant and Dec are winningly cheeky. Who went to Cheltenham Lady's College and have managed to persuade their husband of 30 years that they don't ever shit. 

The brand appears to be aimed at really busy and terribly important people who need someone to put some oats and sugar in fancy packaging for them so they don't have to have the utter faff of actually mixing ingredients themselves. They just need Terribly Clever Crumble Topping. Or some mixed spice in a dinky little bag that's called Terribly Clever Spice Rub Marinade Specially For Special Lovely People Who Are Just Too Busy And Rich To Do It Themselves. There's Terribly Clever Roast Potato Seasoning which consists of, erm, salt and pepper and some spices. Because having to reach into three separate jars of things you already have in your cupboard takes so much time away from one's pampering regime. 

And it's all packaged in carefully old fashioned tea shoppe style, made to look sort of like brown paper and using a old fashioned font. And if you squint your eyes and turn your brain off it sort of looks wholesome and, well, almost organic. And then before you know it you're at home having bought a fancy bag of Ready Made breadcrumbs for five times the price of an actual loaf of bread. 

Presumably it's aimed at the same people who buy bags of ready chopped onions and ready made gravy and ready made pancake batter that just needs water adding. I'm just waiting for the day they start selling Ready Masticated Dinner so I no longer have to go to the effort of chewing it myself. Or maybe cut out the middle man and sell jars of Ready Digested Meals that you can take home and simply pop down the toilet, without even breaking a sweat. 

It is, in short, mental and I thoroughly disapprove. But I didn't have any choice but to shop there. Morrisons is too far away. And besides it smells of feet and has way too many pies. 

Friday, 5 April 2013

Breaking up...

... with internet dating. It's a thankless wasteland of wasted time and endless fuckwittage, a fathomless pit of disappointment, and quite possibly a window display of damaged goods, most of whom don't seem to actually want to make any kind of connection, except a horizontal one. OK Stupid is basically an online knocking shop.

And every time someone seems to stand out like a beacon of normality and then seems to actually be quite funny and cool and, well, like someone I might actually want to date, it turns out they're not. It has to be said, this doesn't happen often. But it does happen. You start flirting and chatting and ooh look he's funny and you get on and you get a bit more interested and he seems keen because, I mean, who texts you that much if they're not actually keen? And you set up a date and... at the last minute he bails. And it stings. Even though the massive likelihood is you wouldn't fancy him anyway, or he wouldn't fancy you, or whatever. It still stings.

The problem lies with building up a picture of someone through texts and emails that turns out to be about as accurate as the idea that Jesus was a perfectly toned hottie with designer stubble. It's a false image. You can build this person to be anything you want in your head. Right up until the point you meet them. Or not, in this case.

Although, on the bright side, I'm now in the completely enviable position of being able to actually categorise the likely outcome of internet dates:

1. The awkward date

Main characteristic:  a total lack of chemistry and mutual attraction.

It should be noted this is the most common. You chat for a bit, meet and realise you have more attraction to your best mate. Who's female. And you don't actually fancy girls. But you definitely fancy girls more than you fancy this one. And when there's no chemistry and attraction, charming jokes become opportunities for rictus grins and tumbleweed spotting.

These dates rarely last above an hour, such is the skin itchingly uncomfortableness of the entire experience.

2. The non date

Main characteristic: blowing hot and cold before eventually weaseling out of long arranged date

The weaseling out can come from either party. But in my experience, it's usually compounded by a very keen male being keener than a keen thing. Right up until just before the date. When they bail with little or no explanation.

It's irritating as fuck, ego bashing and basically a dick move.

3. The one sided date

Main characteristic: a total mismatch

This is when one person obviously finds the other attractive, but it's not reciprocated. Shares many characteristics along with the awkward date, but can differ in that conversation flows OK. One person generally comes out of it feeling like they've made a new friend. The other goes home to eat cheese and, presumably, crank into their pillow.

4. The fighty date

Main characteristic: a battle of wills for superior intellectual status

I have found that, because I mention in my profile that I like some books and don't like it when people can't spell, some dates take this as a challenge to continually challenge my knowledge. It renders the date akin to a GCSE exam, with me continually finding myself defending my stance on authors, politics or religion.

Debating can be fun and sexy. But when you're being browbeaten by someone who just wants to make you feel like they're more intelligent, it rapidly becomes dull and deeply, deeply unsexy.

5. The successful date. 

Main characteristic: I have absolutely no idea. Try asking those twee cunts on the Match.com advert.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Just trust your gut

That feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when a new boyfriend says something that's sort of off. D'you know what I mean? It's like being punched in the gut by a tiny fist, which then twists around and sends adrenaline rushing round your veins, while your brain does an excellent impression of a fish being starved of oxygen. 

Mine with my last boyfriend was when he dropped this one on me after about four months of what I had thought was the perfect relationship: "I don't normally go out with people who look like you. My ex girlfriends have all been a size 8."

I was a size 12 when I met him. And was a size 12 when he pulled this lovely comment out of his ass. I froze and asked him what he meant? Did he mean I was too fat for him? Does he not fancy me? 

He naturally shut me down immediately and then carried on being his normal self, all charming and loved up. 

My inner dialogue was going apeshit mental by now: But he's so lovely and he isn't like that and he can't have meant it in that way and, SHUT UP telling me that he has just shown me exactly who he is. Just shut up. What I'm going to do instead is spend the next two years in an emotionally stunted relationship because I can't face the fact that the guy that I decided was my prince charming has the emotional range of a sprout.

You'll either know exactly what I'm on about or you're one of the ones who did actually meet someone who is genuinely nice and lovely and you're probably at home fucking right now actually and not reading the meandering ramblings of a very single woman. 

But that was The Moment when I should have just packed up my size 12 stuff, grabbed my toothbrush and waltzed out of his life. Because in that moment I knew everything I needed to know. But I had to suffer the next couple of years or ridiculousness. Of name calling. Of being made to feel like the fattest, ugliest woman who has ever walked the earth. Of being made to feel ashamed about everything, from my clothes to my pubic hair (see last post for more on that). 

But this isn't about what a cocknugget he was - and, no doubt, still is - this is about me not trusting myself enough to take heed of the voice inside me. The voice that was looking after me. And just walking away. 

And I definitely should have done so when he told me that the reason he cheated on me was because "You wear hoodies sometimes. I deserve a woman who dresses better." Yup. That really happened. By that point, sadly, I'd metaphorically chloroformed the voice inside me because I so desperately wanted to believe in what I thought I wanted. 

If I had listened then, I would have walked away after the fourth month. Interesting isn't it? Once you're out of the situation and nothing about it hurts you anymore and, in fact, all you feel is a kind of mild contempt, how easy it would have been to just walk away. 

Similarly, I've had a recent experience with a friend. Someone I thought was a good friend, and then my gut started telling me that actually she's most likely stabbing me in the back. But I ignored it for months because I don't want to be paranoid/uncharitable/a dick. Naturally, it all came to a head and I was right all along. So that was a good six months wasted in uncertainty and sadness when actually, if I'd just admitted to myself that yep, she is a dick, then I could have just walked away. 

This made me look back at jobs, at people, friends and boys and every single time they showed me who they were very, very clearly. Some of them even told me. And I still knocked that little voice unconscious and tried to make something out of nothing. 

Amazing isn't it? The clarity you can get afterwards. 

I have actually been putting this into practice on dates recently. Which has proved extremely time efficient. One date lasted 20 minutes, and that included small talk with at least four passing dogs. None of this waiting around business for me. My gut tells me within about five seconds whether I would ever want to do the naked dance with them and, if not, walk away. Boom. Easy. Friend makes you feel like shit for no good reason? Walk away. Gut feeling that the new guy might be a massive penis. That's right, WALK AWAY. Unless he has a massive penis. Then stay for a bit. 

At the moment my gut is telling me that I seem to take an inordinately lengthy time to learn very basic things about human nature, people and relationships. Most people probably had this figured out by the time they were on to their second relationship. But I'm a late developer, always have been. And, well, better late than never, eh?