I'm 49 and feeling menopausal. Apparently it's called peri-menopause, or peripause. What this really means is that on a good day I cry at the John Lewis advert with the boy and the Christmas gift for mum and dad, and on a bad day I want to throttle the gal sat next to me on the train for tweezing her eyebrows in public. I have a child who is sweet and beautiful and smart, and nuttier than a box of rocks. I am single - as in unmarried, unattached and at times feeling just 'un'. I've got near-constant chatter clogging my head, and not in a schizophrenic kinda way. I thought an online journal might be a good place to deposit my middle-aged chatter. Here goes...

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Drink. Stalk. Bitch.

… A true tale about being stalked...

When you’re 23 and just out of uni and land your first proper job and have a bit of cash to spend on knocking back a few pints with mates, you tend to have all the 'joie de vivre' that comes with being 23 with a bit of cash, and so you knock back a few pints with mates every night for a great many years, pulling and shagging and having a laugh and knocking back as many as you can get down your neck before the bell, until you meet the one you want to shag above all others and so you ask her to marry you and she becomes the one person on this planet of persons who bubbles your squeak, but you keep knocking back those pints with abandon and go home smelling of hops every night, and in time your beloved bubble feels so despairing at your epic bingeing that she leaves you for someone else, someone who promises her all the things you once promised but failed to deliver, and your life suddenly goes tits up and you console yourself by knocking back vast quantities every night, and the anger at losing your house and your kids to the bitch who promised to honour and cherish becomes so overwhelming that you try to quell your rage with a string of women who, in time, also abandon you for pastures greener, so you start to neck it with all the ferocity of a man with a death wish, until your rage becomes so consuming that you hole up in your home watching TV and eating kebabs and knocking back pints, because going out and meeting yet another bitch who will show interest and then leave you fills you with so much anger that you give up on humanity, and on yourself, even though you yearn for a warm body to cuddle, someone with whom to lock eyes and lock genitalia, someone to caress, and you end up wasting away your life with only a Stoli to comfort you through those long and lonely nights in front of the TV, until one day you see a woman at Canon Street Station who locks eyes with you as she passes, so you smile hello and she smiles back, and you take that as a sign, so you go after her and plead your case, reassuring her that you’re not following her but are merely taken with her pretty smile, and so you ask her to nip into Starbucks on the corner for a quick coffee, and she agrees, and in those 10 minutes you mind your manners and act the part and convince her to meet you at the weekend for an extended coffee chat, and so she gives you her business card, and later that night, at home by your lonesome, you start thinking about the woman who looked at you on the street, the one with the pretty smile, and you dial her number and hang up when she answers, and you do it again a few hours later, and then again the following morning, and all day the next day, because she’s a bitch after all, just like all the others, and so she phones you a few days later and leaves a message on your answerphone cancelling your impending coffee date that weekend, and you become so incensed at this bitch's almighty transgression that you wait for her on Monday morning, at the very exit of Canon Street Station where you first saw her, positioning yourself in such a way that she can’t help but see you as she passes, because you’re going to show that bitch just what a bitch she is, and so you glare at her as she passes you, arms folded, hardly able to contain the malice in your heart and the contempt on your face, and moments after she walks past you phone her mobile again and hang up when she answers, and you phone her at work, too, repeatedly, the bitch, and she becomes so alarmed that she changes her home number and starts taking a different route to work, looking back every few paces to ensure you’re not following her, and you care nothing that she is unable to sleep, is having palpitations and anxiety, and is terrified of leaving her desk and her home, and worried for the safety of her child, because you are a law unto yourself and she is a cunt, just like all the others before her, and you’re going to punish her for being a cunt…

January is National Anti-Stalking Month. This is an account of my January 2014…


InstantCheckmate blog about stalking

National Center for Victims of Crime

Types of stalkers

Thursday, 2 May 2013

God Bless America: home of the gun-toting child

I feel a rant brewing – a disjointed rant at that, coz there’s a lot of chaos trumpeting inside my head today. I’ve been feeling a rant brewing since yesterday, when I read about the five-year-old boy in Kentucky who shot dead his toddler sister with a .22 calibre rifle his parents bought him as a birthday gift – a rifle marketed at children. It’s called The Cricket. How cute. It even comes in kid-friendly colours and patterns – pink and swirls and everything!

You see, in GodBlessAmericaLand it’s not illegal to give your five-year-old child – who is likely still wearing pull-ups at bedtime, and who can’t yet write in cursive and who likes a bedtime story and Lego and wears light-up shoes on his feet and has training wheels on his bike – a deadly weapon. No sirree. It’s not illegal; in fact, it’s positively encouraged.

But that same five-year-old boy won’t be able to buy a pint until he’s 21, coz it’s illegal. And he may well be attending school in one of the many states that have banned the teaching of Evolution and replaced it with Creationism. And he’s likely living in a district that has banned the Harry Potter series from all public libraries because of the sorcery it promotes.

And that little boy stands up in class every morning on cue, tucks in his seat, looks up at the flag suspended above the blackboard, hand on heart, and pledges his allegiance to the United States of America… One Nation Under God, Indivisible, With Liberty and Justice for All.

Justice for all indeed. Just look at places like Detroit, a city with a huge concentration of minority children who can’t receive an education coz the city is closing 50% of its state schools over the next four years. But it doesn’t matter, does it? Coz educating kids in Detroit simply isn’t important in the greatest country on this God-given Earth, especially not if they’re black. They’re American, for fuck’s sake – that’s gift enough!

But it’s not all about jingoism and religious fuckwittery in GodBlessAmericaLand. No sireee. We’re a free country. So much more free than everywhere else – coz we’re allowed to arm our kiddies. Uganda likes to arm kiddies as well – but they’re invisible children – and Hollywood celebs love to speak out about armed children in foreign countries coz it offends every fibre of their plastic-surgery-laden caucasian heads – understandably. It’s only OK to arm a child if you’re American. Remember that. Only if you’re American. Coz we’re great. We’re the best.

We objectify our girlies by encouraging them to wear skimpy costumes and a face full of make-up, parading them at beauty pageants, teaching them to shimmy and shake their arses in front of often middle-aged male judges looking to crown the next Little Miss Thing. 

That same little girlie who we teach to entice onlookers by exuding sexuality on stage will struggle to terminate a pregnancy in the event she gets, GOD forbid, raped by, say, her father or neighbour, coz even a child conceived from rape is a gift from God, apparently. That's what Rick Santorum told Piers Morgan, anyway. And so terminating a pregnancy is impossible in many states coz it's illegal. Still, that girlie can take comfort in the fact that America is a free country, the greatest country on Earth, and life is so much worse everywhere else. Just think, she can even buy her child-born-of-rape a rifle when he or she is five: how cool is that?!

And so, when I read about mass shootings in primary schools in America, and kids killing kids, and poor black children dying from a tooth abscess coz their mum didn’t have health insurance, and when I read about the elderly being dumped on skid row in Los Angeles by hospitals that refuse to treat them, I thank the my lucky stars that I am raising my child in Great Britain. 

LA Times: Five-year-old boy shoots dead his baby sister, click here
Guardian on Kony's child soldiers, click here
Kony 2012, click here
Harry Potter ban, click here
Giving up on poor black kids, click here
Child beauty queen credit here
Rick Santorum says even a child born of rape is a gift from God, click here
Anderson Cooper investigates 'hospital dumping' of homeless, click here

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Guest blogger tells of online dating, bad dancing and making a 'display'

As promised, a young reader who often contacts me via my blog has kindly taken the time to send me his thoughts on dating, and I share them with you here. Tell me a story and I'll publish it. Promise.

My search has taken me past a lot of female profiles - a lot. Pretty much all within a certain age band, but otherwise a fair selection.

I've seen similar things in profiles and, of course, certain phrases appear time and again. As Peri has observed, a lot of profiles are similarly written. There is one kind of opening, I think as good as any other, that brings a slightly wry smile. It goes something like:

"I've been happily single for a while but I thought it was time to try new things..."

"I've heard loads of stories about how people have found love and so I thought I might..."

"My friends have persuaded me that I should give this a go, so..."

Or even:

"I'm not too sure what I'm doing here, but I've been told that..."

Fair sorts of introduction, a decent step away from implying anything bad about online dating and not really excuses, but they are a sort of explanation and feel like a way to save a little dignity. 

Coupled with phrases such as the classic, "We can lie about how we met," I get a sense that a good few folks feel that a serious attempt at online dating is a bit shameful.

I appreciate it might be a bit of a step to put oneself on display, and I certainly feel that there can be an undignified kind of scramble to grab attention. Plus it seems that the whole online thing can be a rather raw experience, one for the thicker skinned.

However, a few weeks ago, on an evening out, I was reminded of something.

Some of my colleagues and I went out for Friday drinks and letting our hair down. We were at a busy pub for the youngish, with at least one small dance floor. There was a typical crowd of small groups including couples and singles. Unsurprisingly, before too long, a few people took to a bit of dancing.

Now, far be it from me to say that the dancers and others weren't just enjoying themselves, after all, with some encouragement from our intern, I did venture on to the floor myself, but there was some pretty obvious and smile-inducing display going on. At least one lone pair of girls were there too, fending off a bit of attention, if not actually trying to find some.

On mentioning our evening on the Monday, and admitting to trying a bit of dancing, or "jiggling" as a colleague put it, I did say that my innocent eyes had nearly popped out at the slightly desperate spectacle: the group of lads strutting their stuff and the few more that milled around the edge of the dance floor. "Like pigeons in the park" was what my colleague said.

OK, OK, it was all pretty normal and not at all awful. I just couldn't help finding the lighthearted yet slightly self-conscious show as faintly ridiculous and quite funny. I guess not such a bad way to meet and socialise, but more than a bit hopeful in an environment that's not conducive to easy mixing and normal conversion. Plus, it's just not terribly sophisticated and, I'm sorry, the jiggling was anything but dignified.

And so I was reminded that dropping into somewhere typical with a bit of hope is, for many, not super rewarding. Apparently, it's avoided just as much as online.

Oh yes, and in these days of camera phones, you may be on embarrassing display anywhere (it was looking at the flash and not the drinks wot done it).


Peri's photo credit: I found the dancer pic when I Google-searched the words 'bad dancing' and this blog came up - Vito Fun. Have a look the blog. He's a photographer from Park Slope in Brooklyn, and his photos are excellent.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Online dating: you've broken me

When I started this blog, I had only just embarked on what would eventually become a dispiriting and pricey journey to find someone with whom I might connect: someone with whom I might have an enduring, loving, respectful relationship. I had no idea, while I was choosing a template background for PeripauseForThought, that my father in New York would die, that I would lose my best friend in London to all manner of hallucinogenics (see Alcoholism, sodomy and that thing called tough love), and that a balding mystery man on Guardian Soulmates, with a half-head of unkempt black hair, well above the 53 years he claimed in his profile, would put me off internet dating for good. I don't know why his email was the final straw, but it was.

What started as a goofy blog about the eloqwankers on Guardian Soulmates evolved into a full-on, heartfelt blog at times, one that reveals way too much about what’s going on inside my head and heart – and that’s not necessarily a good thing.

The last time I was on Guardian Soulmates, I had an active profile for about 10 days and then deleted it outright in an act of self-preservation. In those 10 or so days, I contacted 12 men. I met one of them, who turned out to be adorable and smart – and spent an inordinate amount of time talking about having cheated on his first wife. I avoid cheaters – even adorable ones: they tend to be insecure, and insecure people wreak havoc on the lives of others.

Everyone else I contacted viewed my profile and did not reply. One man did, though, and this is what he said:

“Thanks for your email. I’m sure you’re a lovely person, but you just don’t do it for me.”

If I’m honest, his candor jolted me - and I'm not sure why. So, at long last, I’ve decided that my aging skin is not thick enough for online dating and I am planning to content myself with the one person in my life who loves me more than anyone, who respects me, and values me, and needs me, and for whom I will always be beautiful, and lovely, and funny.

My son.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Alcoholism, sodomy and that thing called tough love

It's called tough love. You know – it’s that thing you're suppose to do when someone you love is doing themselves a harm, and you’ve been watching them do themselves a harm for so long you’re now spent. That’s when you’re supposed to do tough love, apparently. When that someone you love, your best friend, is so full of self-loathing he goes to saunas in London’s Vauxhall and participates in group sodomy for the benefit of a baying crowd of often married sodomiser-onlookers waiting to take their bareback turn on your vulnerable friend, who is reeling from a day-long binge consisting of two bottles of Sauvignon, one bottle of Vodka, and the G he took before consenting to get fucked up the ass in an act of self-hatred.

Tough love is the thing you’re supposed to do when your best friend phones you at 3am crying, lost somewhere in the backstreets of Vauxhall, without house keys or a wallet because one of the onlooker-sodomiser-barebackers coerced him into going to an ATM machine to withdraw money to party and then lifted the bank card out his hand as if from a mere toddler, PIN logged in memory, ready to siphon out as much money as he can before the sun rises over Trafalgar.

Tough love is the thing you’re supposed to do when you go to your best friend, the friend you love so dearly, and find a curled-up wretch, covered in bruises yet again, with a sore anus, complaining of diarrhea and bellyache, crying because the dominatrix he is convinced he’s in love with – the one who plies him with copious amounts of Vodka and MDMA and G, and whom offers him a level of sadistic sexual activity that few empathic and self-respecting women could ever muster – is yet again fucking with his head and telling him he must sever all ties with his teenage children if he is to have a relationship with her. 

Tough love is the thing you’re supposed to do when your friend, the friend you love so dearly, phones you in the middle of the night, incoherent and sobbing, and you learn that earlier in the day he was signed off work for three months and told to clean up his act.

Tough love is the thing you’re supposed to do when your friend says he fears that cleaning up his act is an insurmountable task because his gamma levels are out of all proportion, and the chronic diarrhea is impossible to stave off, and the night shakes and tremors make it impossible to sleep, and the only thing that offers solace and quells the shrieking demons inside his head is yet another swig of Stolichnaya.

Tough love is the thing you’re supposed to do when you realise you are spending yet another child-free weekend lying in bed next to your best friend, caressing his sweaty head and scratching his back lightly with your long nails while chatting aimlessly so as to distract him from the shrieking inside his head.

Tough love is the thing I did last night, when I arranged for my son to sleep over his father’s house so that I could go to my best friend late in the evening with several shopping bags of groceries and possibly coax him into a bath to help wash off the stench of faeces and vomit that has replaced his usual Bulgari aftershave.

Tough love is the thing I did last night, my sharp intake of breath nearly winding me, when stood before me was not the 6ft tall, lanky, blue-eyed high-flying banker with a penchant for risky sex in the toilets at Brown’s that is my best friend, but instead a trembling half-man in soiled boxers, with bruises down the back of his legs and inner thighs, and a cut on his face, and swollen toes with a burgundy hue and missing toenail, and nicotine stains on his rigid fingers, smelling of faeces and vomit, a trail of blood from his sliced toe and chards of broken glass only just visible from beneath the innumerable empty bottles and cigarette packets on the floor.

But this time, rather than mop his brow and hold his hand and scratch his back ever so lightly, I stood, immobilised, in the grip of his embrace, the desperation of his clasped arms around my neck nearly taking my last breath between silent long sobs, listening to him whisper ‘thank you’ in my ear repeatedly and feeling his tears on my shoulder-neck.

And I did the tough love thing at that precise moment, when I stepped back and locked eyes with my best friend, the one whom I love so dearly, and the realisation slapped me, that he will die soon, and that the pain of watching his demise in such a degrading way is more than I can possibly bear following the death of my dad only months ago.

So I abandoned my best friend last night, the one I love so dearly, and turned to leave, tears cascading from my bottom lashes onto the stairwell as I raced down the stairs, my wee heart pounding so hard it would surely break, worrying he may collapse and I won’t be there to mop his brow and caress his head, and that he may die, and I won't be there to hold his hand and tell him I love him. 

Tough love is the thing you’re supposed to do when your best friend refuses to honour the appointment you made for an initial assessment at The Priory Roehampton and you realise there is nothing more you can do but watch him die. Slowly. Painfully. Dishonourably.

Tough love is the thing that makes you feel like a cretinous fucker of a human being for turning your back on your best friend and withdrawing your unconditional love when he is most in need of it. 

Patient.co.uk - liver function, gamma levels
Al-Anon - for families affected by alcoholism

Here's a link to a truly inspiring blogpost, sent to me on 25 February by a single mum fighting her own demons and addiction – Gappy Tales

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Guardian Soulmates – all cats, no pussy

Every so often someone will email me via this blog to tell me a story. And that's exactly what happened recently, when I received an email from a man in an undisclosed location, who wrote a beautifully crafted and HILARIOUS email about an experience he had ages ago with a lady he met online who put the "eek" in freak. I replied and asked him to be my guest blogger – to tell us about his experience of online dating – and he obliged. So, Dear Obliging Mr Anonymous, I thank you for this delightful contribution to my middle-age lament about looking for love in all the wrong places.


I’m not normally one for New Year’s resolutions, but starting a new year as single, unattached and unloved by all but my cat for the first time in my adult life… this tends to focus the mind. So, I registered with Guardian Soulmates, determined to find lurve. Or at the very least, coffee for two, and the possibility of an awkward kiss goodbye on a pavement.

I’ve followed Peri’s adventures with some interest on this blog. It’s been like listening to myself speaking. (Single ladies reading this – I don’t do that, the talking to myself thing. A little modest swearing at the Today programme in the car on the way to work in the mornings, but no long, involved dialogues with myself. Just saying). While reading about some of the frankly hideous men on Guardian Soulmates is enough to make me want to emasculate myself with a pair of my son’s safety scissors, actually trying to find a normal woman on Guardian Soulmates who’s not a pathological liar or plain rude is proving more difficult than I’d expected.

Examples will follow. But for now, let’s rewind to a few weeks ago and set the scene. I was actually greatly heartened and encouraged by Peri’s experiences. If the typical man on Guardian Soulmates was such an utter shit, by comparison I was already ahead of the game. All I needed to do was a) not swear at anyone, b) not define my perfect woman as something unattainable, like a feral foreign faerie, c) not be a pretentious, lying hipster, d) be lightly amusing, and last but not least, e) not look like Joseph Merrick. Easy.

And you know what? It worked. Truly, Guardian Soulmates is a very cornucopia of attractive women who were prepared to ‘like’ me and then swap a few emails. Unfortunately, it’s not taken long for the penny to drop – for every fickle, rude and downright scary man on that website, there’s a fickle, rude and terrifying female counterpart who’s as mad as a barrel of badgers.

Really, the only notable difference is the fact that these women all have cats. I know, it’s a cliché, but trust me on this; it’s true. Mind you, I suspect that the truth is that a lot of the men do too, but they’re just not owning up to the fact that the nearest thing to daily affection they have is a cat waking them up in the morning by licking their face with a raspy, fishy tongue. I speak from experience, here. And who hasn’t woken up alongside a person like that, come to think of it?

Just me? Oh. 

Anyway, let’s not get sidetracked on the cat thing. It’s a given. Point is, the whole damn website is infested with outwardly normal-looking folk who, given half a chance, will scare you off before you even have a chance to meet them and discover that they’ve lied about their height / weight / age / nationality / marital status / whether they’re a vegetarian or not.

And it makes me wonder… could it be that using the Internet’s actually just a really crap way to find love? Because we all lie on the Internet, right? We’re actively encouraged to. From the little things like making up usernames for websites we register on, to the big things like not entering your precise date of birth and so forth. So when you’re selling yourself on a dating website, the temptation to lie is enormous. Or at the very least, to tell the car salesman version of the truth; you know, the one that flatters the thing you’re selling by not mentioning the dodgy alternator, the knackered brakes, the fact that you’re still married and sharing a bed with your legal spouse…. the little things.

But it’s not just the lies. It’s also the truths that are a problem. The way that, late at night when you’re emailing that seemingly perfect match, you’re way more candid than you’d be had you just bumped into that person in a bar. Face to face, we have those mental filters that filter out, well, the mental bits of us. Sat staring at a screen, they seem to go missing.

I’m not making excuses for the genuine fuckwits. There are, alas, plenty enough of those out there, male and female alike. I suppose I’m just pleading for people to be a little more mannerly as well as honest, up to a point. Don’t lie about the big, important stuff. Really, I am going to notice the tan line left by the wedding ring you’ve taken off before we meet for coffee. But do, please, spare one another’s feelings by not being needlessly, brutally and cruelly honest.

And hold the cats.


Sorry about the Lanvin ad. I'm not plugging Lanvin - it was the only sexy cat lady pic I liked on Google Images. Peri x

Sunday, 16 December 2012

America – it's not so beautiful

The handful of people who read my modest wee blog may have guessed that I am American – Italian-American, to be exact, in the truest sense of the word. Yup, that’s right. I was raised in the land of big cars, big buildings and big arses.

But I’ve been in wee Blighty some 18 years, so I figure I am in the unique position of understanding both nations and the cultural peculiarities of each better than most people. And I say that without any arrogance whatsoever. I say that as a mere observer.

Much as I’d like to poke fun of my night sweats and hair loss and floppy titties, and lament the tedium of online dating ad infinitum on this here blog, and maybe make one or two of you laugh, I’m not. Not today. I can’t today, coz I have an important something on my mind – the mass murder of 20 children aged six and seven in Sandy Hook primary school in Connecticut.

There will be lots of crying over this, collective sorrow the world over, but not least in the United States of America. And there will be community prayers, and candlelight vigils, and 20 mums in particular buckling in agony, vomiting, unable to breathe and possibly wishing for death themselves on learning that their child is stone-cold dead on the school floor with a bullet through the head. It's more than a parent can bear.

When my son was six, he was building camps in the living room with sheets, clothes pegs and chairs, and learning to play footie and playing with Lego and still watching Pippin the dog in Come Outside and flinging himself on furniture while pretending to expelliarmas me with a twig wand and tablecloth cape. He wasn’t cowering in a corner at school terrified and weeping, whispering my name, with eyes shut and hands clasped, hearing his teacher say ‘I love you all’.

I used to worry about him getting bullied at school, or not eating his packed lunch, not learning cursive, or perhaps wetting himself during PE. I never worried about him going to school and possibly getting his head blown off by a mass murderer. And the reason why that worry never plagued me while I was at work was because he was being educated in England, not in my own GodBlessAmericaLand, home of God, guns and televangelists.

The most devastating aspect of this recent shooting is that soon enough it will happen again, and we will, again, flood Twitter and Facebook with heartfelt comments about the tragedy, and intellectualise about it again on Newsnight and in The Guardian with centre-spreads and many column inches dedicated to understanding the American psyche – just as we are doing this very weekend.

So I’ll give you the nutshell explanation, as an American abroad. Sandy Hook will change nothing in my country because, from a cultural perspective, Americans value the right to bear the arms that can blow off a child’s head more than they value the child whose head has been blown off. It’s our God-given right: it says so in the Second Amendment. The mere suggestion of outlawing guns in the United States threatens our liberty, our deeply held belief that we are a free country. Oh the land of the free, and the home of the brave so go the lyrics. Remember Whitney’s spine-tingling rendition?

American commentators – mostly the God-bothering ones – will say, “It’s not the guns that are bad; it’s bad people who do bad things with guns.” So, make no mistake, in GodBlessAmericaLand guns are good. They’re sexy. They empower women. McDonald’s kiddie parties are soooooooo yesterday. Kiddie parties at gun ranges with real live ammo are de rigueur today. 

Guns are also very lucrative for the American economy: we’ve happily flooded Mexico with Made in America guns, and Afghanistan and Iraq, and countless other dictatorships. It doesn’t really matter that those Made in America guns have killed countless innocent people the world over and at home – peddling guns is a goldmine. Gun-running and pumping up an entire nation of prepubescents with Ritalin help keep our pitiful economy afloat. But I digress…

Charlton Heston once said something like this: “I’ll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.” And the nation whooped and applauded that pithy public sentiment.

So, on this day, when the world mourns the death of 20 innocent children and six adults in an American primary school bloodbath, Americans can take comfort in the belief that it was God’s will, because God doesn't give us more than we can bear, apparently. Importantly, Americans can feel proud that we, unlike civilised nations the world over, are superior to the rest of the not-so-free world, because we have the Right to Bear Arms. We're cool like that.

I've listened to this song several times this morning - it reminds me of the many sweet moments of my childhood, and of my lovely dad who passed away recently, and of pledging allegiance to God and country by way of a flag. And so, in memory of the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook massacre, I give you Ray Charles singing America The Beautiful.

Credit: The gal and gun pic came from here, much as I hate to credit the site, and the other two were found on Google Images.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Lady guest bloggers share their Guardian Soulmates experiences

One thing my modest blogette has taught me is that there are an awful lotta funny, charming, lovely people on the planet, going about their lives, minding their own business, looking for love online, hoping to meet 'the one' or perhaps just someone with whom to share a bucket of popcorn and a kingsize slushy, but who are instead meeting freaky stalkergals, women who claim to be shaped like J-Lo but look more like a Space Hopper, men who've got the playergroove down to a fine art, or failed dates who simply want to have a go at you for politely declining their overtures. I had one of those myself, in fact: he emailed a 3,000-word rant to tell me I am ageist and judgemental after I politely declined to see him again when he disclosed he is actually 61, not 50, as he claims in his profile.

Anyway, two magnificent ladies in particular, whom I have never met, have taken the time to tell me their experiences of Guardian Soulmates, and I've published their stories here - as promised - verbatim:

The bloody fantastic alcoholic
I could not sleep the night before my first date due to a mixture of excitement and nerves. We had had an absolutely bloody fantastic email exchange prior to meeting and I had very high hopes about this one. However, I took one look at him and could tell from his ruddy complexion that he was an alcoholic. He then proceeded to work his way down the wine list, and we ended up doing shots. On a school night! Unfortunately, in trying to keep up with him I ended up seeing double and telling him my entire life story. But it doesn't matter because he won't remember anything anyway. I am still a little bit devastated about that one :-(

The pervert
My second date wanted to bring his dog with him so we had to find somewhere dog-friendly (not easy in Central London). I had a nice time, we met for coffee on a Sunday morning and had a good old natter about anything and everything. However, afterwards I received an absolutely filthy text from him which actually made me feel sick. Delete delete delete.

The old man
We met at a lovely restaurant but within about 5 minutes of meeting he asked me to take my hair down (I had it in a ponytail). Is that not a bit of an odd request from someone that you have just met for the first time? He also admitted that he had lied about his age by a whopping 10 years - he was actually 52 and not 42. When I asked him why he did it, he said that if he had put his real age I would not have "come out to play", which just sounded a bit creepy.

Sshhh... keep your voice down!
Something strange happened to me today. I went out for dinner with a friend and when I got home I had an email from a man who had been sitting on the next table to us and had recognised me from Soulmates! He said that he had overheard our whole conversation, so he didn't need to ask me any questions if we ever went out! That was very bizarre. He also added that I was much prettier than my photo, so of course I have forgiven him for listening in to our conversation.

The shaggerman hazard
A final word of warning to the ladies out there. A male friend of mine who is doing internet dating told me that he usually doesn't like the women but he sleeps with them anyway. So please be careful!

Goddammit – I was expecting AWESOME!
This chap randomly sent me the below mini-lecture a few days after we met, unprompted, just completely out of the blue. He apologised later, and it turned out his reasoning was because I was 'a cool girl not interested in him'. So he thought he'd have a thinly veiled sort of go at me and place blame, instead!

"You are such a shy thing. The blind internet date scene isn't easy at first, I'll admit, but really all you have to do is talk about yourself. What you like; what you love; what gets you out of bed.... if you or your date don't like what they hear, enjoy their company (if they're not knobs) and politely move on. Not talking just undercuts yourself. Personally I thought you were pretty hot. But I've little idea of who you are. You said you are awesome. It's probably true. Project it."

Let's talk about sex, baby...
This is a text message I got from someone the day after I met him. It's hilarious:

"Morning. Nice to meet you yesterday. I got the feeling you would like to try some of the sexual practices I was talking about? If I'm right let's sort a time when I get back."

If we'd talked about sex I'd have still thought this pretty arrogant and charmless, but the thing is, we hadn't! I'd mentioned my insomnia and he started talking about buddhism, telling me I had to reconnect with my body and place myself in my stomach. I tried and described the feeling, then he said that was related to tantra and it was the same principle, except applied to your genitalia. That's the most we talked sex as I didn't particularly respond to this, as by then I thought he was full of shit anyway—not to mention leery, the way he was examining me from different angles, literally– and about 10 minutes later I ended the date. Anyway, I responded to that text with a polite thanks but no thanks, and he told me to take care and wished me luck. At least he's honest about what he's looking for, I guess.

The contrarian
There was a guy I walked out on because he was the argumentative type who likes to debate every little thing. The line for me was when he wanted to argue about what my body type is; apparently a lady of my stature cannot have curves, and this person I'd only just met, observing me in clothing that didn't give much away, knew better than me what I look like naked. That's how important creating and attempting to win an argument is to this person. The look on his face when I said I was leaving was a picture.

Somewhere... out there...
My work life makes it next to impossible to meet new people, so I figured this would be a good way to massage that bruised ego, remind myself I'm attractive again. This has worked to a degree, but the problem is that it also reinforces the idea that I might not ever meet someone lovely to be with at all. The more I meet people, the more I know I want more than just that alone, and the more I do so, the more aware I am that I'm not finding it. I'm painfully aware of this every time I log on, and it's pretty horrid... I've been lucky and have at least been getting some attention on there so I dread to think how it feels for some of the people who've also commented on your blog, who aren't getting responses.

If you've read this far, I invite you to tell me your story.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Single women – all sugar and spice, and everything nice

I seem to have caused some upset. Indeed, I did. I upset one gentleman who read my blogpost about the abundance of asinine Guardian Soulmates profiles of deluded middle-age men who seek a dainty dryad to polish their knob, or a young waif with whom to frolic. Well, the gentleman in question posted a comment saying he felt riled by my blogpost, so I promised him that, in the interest of fairness, I would dedicate a blogpost to girlie-twattery.

"The anti-male stance of this blog post really riles me. I think you should do yourself a favour and check out the female profiles too." 

So I did! I set myself a task. Over the past few weeks, I've been trawling the public search on Guardian Soulmates - you can only view a handful of profiles at a time without a subscription - reading countless profiles of hopeful ladies in seductive poses, with silky hair and smiley faces, bright eyes and gleaming teeth, all seeking a companion, someone to father a child, a life partner, a best friend, someone to enhance their already 'fulfilling' life.

Problem is, I failed in my mission to find twattery, or any of "the 6th form poetry, searching for unrealistic partners" to which the gent above refers in his comment. I read approximately 20 profiles and lost the will to live after profile five: not because I don't bat for the gal team, but because, much to my disappointment, all the gal profiles I read say exactly the same things. I figure the girlies have all read the same 'How To' guide on profile writing, and it shows: everyone has a full life; everyone is happy in their own skin; everyone loves travelling; everyone has amazing friends; everyone has been to the Far East; everyone seeks that missing piece to complete an already rich puzzle.

I live life to the full and family and friends are important to me… 
I love living the single life but am ready to find someone to share it with…
Spending time with friends and family is important…
I enjoy spending time with friends and family…
I absolutely adore my life and friends…
Family and friends are the most important thing to me…
I think my friends are amazing people and I love being with them…
I have a close knit group of friends in London who I love to hang out with… 

Get the picture? I am comforted to learn, however, that my sisters are all as comfortable in a pair of Louboutins as they are in jeans and trainers, don't take themselves seriously and love new experiences. 

So, if you were a man seeking your nymph - that intoxicating faerie who will turn your life on its head - you'll struggle to find her on Guardian Soulmates, because where boy wants an eco warrior, girl wants a moonlit stroll on the beach; where boy wants a siren to savour, girl wants a cuddle; where boy wants an adoring plaything, girl wants to cozy up on the sofa with a glass of wine and a DVD. Women seek love, it seems, whereas men want someone who will be enraptured by their poetic affinity, a firecracker who wishes to save the world from the ills of itself and, importantly, lives for art in all its guises.

When Soulmates-surfing the lady profiles, I realised the only thing that differentiates one replica from another is physical appearance, unless, of course, you happen to find this little gem of a profile, which belongs to a stunning 26-year-old woman who is either peddling herself as a sperm receptacle, or has learned by trial that her sexuality trumps all. I want to applaud her chutzpah as much as I want to slap her for perpetuating the objectification of women. But maybe it's a generation thang...

I'm horrendous, but let's not get too angry about that, it only makes me more irresistible… Look, at least write me a love-limerick or something, eh? Don't make it too complicated, though, or I'll get in a mood, and I won't let your peen do a smile inside me.

So, the message is surely this: women are, in the main, happy, self-sufficient and seek an addition to their already rich universe; men wish to be the centre of someone's universe, as long as that someone is exceptional, because mediocrity has no place.

It's no wonder so many of us are still alone.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Male guest bloggers speak out about ladyguardians

On Monday, 22 October, I invited the gentleman readers of this blog – all three of them – to share their online dating stories, on the promise I would publish them verbatim. Inspired by a reader named Tim, I thought my little experiment might reveal the kind of twattery to which men are subjected by the fairer sex. So, here we go...

Short male – age 38
Decree nisi, parent, IT professional
A while ago, I decided I'd give online dating a try. With a little assistance it wasn't hard to get going, but it took longer to fully appreciate a few realities not always apparent. If Peri permits, I could comment further, but for now I confine myself to one little story.

Picture me, having figured out that, without much in my favour, lining up dates is going to be hard. But I do receive friendly replies from an appealing petite professional 34 year old, and we arrange to meet after work.

I cynically suspect this might be some brief screening (it wasn't), but I am optimistic. On the day, I make a quick list of my favourite films, books, re-read her profile etc. I reach the location, she is running a little late, I wait and then see a single woman using her phone.

We say hello and talk as we wander to a coffee shop, she wears sunglasses and I feel a little more distance than I was expecting.

She sits still and quietly, is polite, but it's awkward. I try, she also tries. Maybe I am not the most sparkling company, but I am sociable, and while I'm a little serious on this occasion, there's just nothing there.

She likes to eat most things. What doesn't she like? Celery. She asks if I prepared for the date, I say yes, that I'd thought about what I'd wear, and her? No, she doesn't prepare for dates.

It is painfully, painfully hard going. She says trying to have a discussion with me is like pulling teeth (I am thinking a similar thing).

I imagined it might be hard to charm someone, I had no idea it would be a challenge just to talk. This woman was friendly enough, but was just a different sort of person.

So, a lesson learned: there are good reasons why someone might be single.

5’7” – age 31
My story is brief: 8 months, 3 dating sites, 100+ messages sent, less than 10 replies, 0 dates

Details unknown
I was on GSM for around 4 weeks about a year ago. The really baffling thing was when women added me as a favourite, but then didn't bother to reply when I sent them a message. Maybe they hadn't paid, but in that case why bother adding someone as a favourite if you have no intention of following up?

Details unknown
I arranged to meet a woman I met online – a teacher – at 2pm one Sunday. She turned up paralytic drunk. Then she disappeared for 25 minutes to buy some ciggies and as soon as she got back suggested we have sex in the public toilets. I told her it wasn’t my thing, saw her to the bus stop and said ‘Cheerio!’ 

This last story/lament/rant came by way of a comment to my blogpost entitled, Guardian Soulmates: heavy on wankery, light on love. The gentleman who took the time to write explained he felt riled by the anti-male stance of my blogpost. So, in the interest of fairness, I’ve decided to dedicate my next blogpost to the fanciful twattery found in ladies’ online profiles.

The anti-male stance of this blog post really riles me. I think you should do yourself a favour and check out the female profiles too. Many are full of terrible 6th form poetry, searching for unrealistic partners. Many, but not all, same as with the men. I joined quite recently and I made a point of checking the male profiles to get an idea of what the general gist of these things are and I found the same mix of nutters/buffoons/idealists as there are in the female profiles.

Just like in real life, you have to be discerning. Out of the 100s of "matches", I maybe am attracted to a small percentage. Isn't that the same in reality? You have an office with 20 members of the opposite sex, you fancy perhaps 1 or 2? 

I've never used online dating before: I've been married for 8 years (now divorced), had two other long-term relationships and have been encouraged by friends to give it a shot. I was warned that most (if not all) women will put up photos that are years old. 

Apparently there is a recommended photo, where you look up to the camera, therefore hiding any double chins. These photos are rife. But hey, you know what? I'm no spring chicken, but I still try to put up photos of myself that are flattering, who wouldn't? A photo of me in my pants with my beer belly isn't going to win any fans (because, like you know we ALL look good naked, right?)

I know of many people who have had successful relationships thanks to online dating (hence my friendly encouragement). I'm not looking for a quick shag. I'm not looking for a muse. I'm not looking for someone to make me cups of tea in bed. I'm looking for a good friend, someone to have a good laugh at the world with and share it's delights (and it's downers). So stop tarring all men with these cherry-picked, offensive, obviously deluded profiles.

 There are genuinely good men out there, so stop putting the fear of god into everyone.

The drunk lady was found on Google Images, and the jelly bellies are available from Cutcaster.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Dear men: please share your experience with online dating and I will publish it

I goof on 'da boyz' quite a bit in this blog: but not all boys, mind – just the ones on dating websites whose profiles reflect a propensity for verbal wankitude. On occasion, someone will email me via this here blog, and it's a guarantee that email will not disappoint. In fact, most of them restore my faith in humanity and confirm that the world is full of truly splendid people who fly under the radar – quiet gems who'd enrich our lives if only we gave them a chance.

I received an email from a lovely man named Tim who reads my blog. Tim has inspired me to try a little experiment. While I don't have massive numbers of followers, I do have a fair few, so, thanks to Tim, I'd like to give any men out there who read my blog, and care to participate, the chance to tell their online dating story. I promise to publish it verbatim, although I might correct your punctuation... coz crimes against grammar have no place here.

Here's what I propose:
Tell us about an experience you've had with online dating - either good, horrendous, funny, absurd. You might not have actually gone on a date, but may have some experience with dating websites. Importantly, please be truthful.
  •  Email your story to me via the blog at peripauseforthought@gmail.com
  • Do not identify your date's online username, coz even freaks have a right to anonymity, but do state her age and give a general description so we can visualise her
  • Please submit your story with a headline; for example, my headline for this post is, Dear men: please share your experience with online dating and I will publish it 
  • Describe yourself briefly: man, age XX, builder, scientist, or whatever you wish to tell us
  • Please keep your story to about 350 words or thereabouts if possible. I promise not to censor
If I receive any I will compile them into a blogpost and publish them this weekend. I promise not to identify you.

I thank you from the bottom of my weeeeee heart and am really looking forward to this. If it works, it'll be funny, I'm sure! 

Peri xx

PS - I nicked the pic from this website following a Google image search. I have no idea where they got it, but I don't want to commit copyright infringement or some such, so I decided to credit the site...