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 from 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 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, 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, 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.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Life after death

I am bereft, missing my father so much I may stop breathing. When I close my eyes I can see his gaunt face and sweet eyes searching for mine – that impish slow smirk on recognising my face. I hear his voice calling out to me, calling my name – his gruff baritone voice, at once ominous and soothing.

I miss his lemony scent, and leaning against him on the sofa as he fingered my hair and kissed the top of my head. I miss the feel of his soft lips and prickly moustache on my forehead, the way he’d mispronounce bicycle and his impromptu rants about Mexicans, private healthcare and rubbish collection.

Everyone says grief grips you long after, when you least expect it, when you accept that you will never again hear your Babbo’s baritone voice, or smell his lemony neck, or feel his soft lips and prickly moustache on your face. That’s when the gaping chasm in your heart swallows you whole and you can no longer see for the tears cascading from your eyes onto your keyboard like a dripping tap.


So you try to quell the pain by wrapping your lonely arms around your sleeping child, spooning him, weeping quietly into the back of his neck, while he breathes deeply, innocently, knowing that some day you too will inflict upon him the kind of anguish you yourself feel today, and hoping he may have someone in his life who makes his grief slightly more bearable.

Monday, 20 August 2012

There is no God

Death is nothing like it’s portrayed in films. My Babbo wasn’t lying on his back peacefully, surrounded by his loved ones keeping vigil, speaking quietly to one another, caressing his forehead, kissing his palms. Instead, my Babbo was lying on his back anything but peacefully, crying out for the mum who abandoned him many decades earlier, holding me around the head and pulling my face onto his forehead, crying into my hair, begging me for death, vomiting a frothy stream of faeces into a bucket on the side of the bed, soiling himself and apologising for the indignity. Always apologising for the indignity.

Had my Babbo known he’d spend his last breathing days in a state of distress, and anguish, and despair, and agony, and clicking bones, and nappies, and humiliation, he’d have topped himself on first hearing the word ‘terminal’.

There was no bright light at the end of a tunnel for my father, no fluffy clouds, no cherubic faces of those gone before him, welcoming him, no serenity, no bearded man in a kaftan, arms outstretched, calling him home. There was only indignity. And sorrow. And anguish. And agony. And soiled bed linen. And humiliation. And love. There was love. Familial Love. Earthly love. Unconditional love. Accepting. And abundant.

There was no God casting a celestial glow above my suffering father’s deathbed. There was no God, because there is no God.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

I am dying, and I want my mum

“Mum, please come get me. Where are you, mum?”

These are the words a man of 80 cries out in his sleep – a man of 80 who was abandoned as a child by his mum. A man of 80 who doesn’t know what it’s like to feel his mum’s warm breath on his neck while she presses her nose behind his ear and takes in his sweet smell of milk and sugar and buttery rolls. A man of 80 who doesn’t know the caress of his mum’s hair on his cheek, who doesn’t know the feeling of his mum’s lips on his forehead, or the feel of his mum’s heart pounding in his ear while she holds him close to her chest and strokes his back ever so tenderly.

It’s what a man of 80 cries out when he’s begging the god of all things merciful to deliver him from the agony that has wrenched his internal organs and made it so he can no longer contain his bowels, and he soils himself and all the bed clothes and floor, leaving behind a trail of liquified faeces as he wobbles his way to the toilet, where he can lock himself away, weeping, pleading for an end to the humiliation that engulfs him.

So shaming is his cancer that he can no longer make eye contact with the ones who love him most, and so he cries out for the one who loved him least. He cries out for her, his mum, in the hope that she may, at long last, come to his side and hold his hand. That she may, at long last, put an end to the pain that consumed him, and tainted him, and wounded him, all his life.

And so, in his last days, while my lovely dad clasps his hands to his chest and slips in and out of drug-induced euphoria, he cries out for his mum, the one who abandoned him, in the hope that she may, just this once, come to him and kiss it better. 

Saturday, 16 June 2012

O mio Babbino caro

I used to wonder at my parents' relationship: why they stayed together when all that appeared to keep them together was a thread – and a seemingly frayed one at that.

I used to watch my mum decades ago and wonder about the duty that kept her bound, the obligation that kept her rooted in place, and the role she played without bitter lamentation when, from where I sat, it seemed to warrant at the very least some complaint, some kvetching.

And now, 55 years after my mum and dad first met, my dad is gripped with pain – the kind of pain that keeps him wedged into the corner of the sofa and wrapped in a blanket even though it’s 97 degrees outside. The kind of pain that keeps him awake and taints his every thought. The kind of pain that makes walking a pace seem insurmountable.

And when I find his skeletal self perched against the end of a chair at the kitchen table, sat alone, holding his side and rocking gently, with his eyes closed, and moaning ever so quietly so as not to attract anyone’s attention or, worse still, anyone's pity, I am overcome with sadness.

Love offers solace and makes everything that much brighter. And if we are very lucky in life, we have it in abundance - the kind of love that’s profound, that never wanes, irrespective of distance or circumstance. The kind of love that lives in your core – is visceral. The kind of love that makes your every organ screech and your eyelids burn hot when you lower them, knowing you must accept that which you dearly wish weren't so – that you will lose your dad, your Babbo.

It’s the kind of love that is familiar and warm and constant and safe. The kind of love that smells of lemons and cane sugar, bread rolls and mint. It’s the kind of love you know you can't do without, knowing full well you will eventually be forced to do without it.

And so on that day, the day you accept that you are going to lose your dad, the grief will engulf you like a tsunami of despair, and you will hang your head and weep, unable to formulate a thought or utter a word. And you’ll lay in bed night after night, motionless, unable to sleep from the chaos inside your head and the sorrow pressing your heart, at once deflated and terrified.

And when you see your mum lock eyes with your dad and caress his chemo-stubbled mellon, you’ll suddenly realise you got it pitifully wrong. You will not witness any of the quiet tolerance you were convinced defined their 55 years; rather, you’ll see an impenetrable union being severed, ever so slowly and methodically, by the relentless demon that is cancer.

And you’ll see anguish in your mum’s eyes as she searches your dad’s opaque baby blues for a glimmer of hope where there is none. And you will be privy to the tender silence between them and their increasing moments of quiet knowing. The growing lump of woe in their throats, pulsating in their clavicle, knows that words are no longer necessary, because they possess, in abundance, the kind of devotion that comes from half a century of loving, unconditionally, the person they promised to keep.

And while you grieve over the crippling demise of the dad you love, and need, and long for, and wish to cuddle, you will be thankful for the not inconsequential mercy that is your mum – a bubbling cauldron of compassion and adoration – for being the one person on this planet of persons able to make your Babbo’s remaining days a little more bearable.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Guardian Soulmates: heavy on wankery, light on love

I have a theory. It came to me two nights ago, while perusing the Guardian SoulDestroying dating site, affectionately known as Guardian Soulmates. I guess I wanted to see if anything had changed since I deleted my profile some months ago. I wanted to see if any new hopefuls had registered, and if all the men who months ago sought a nymph, a muse, a faerie were still active on the site, still seeking a nymph, a muse, a faerie. It's no surprise that many still are. Then I read this in someone’s profile. This is how he describes himself:
I am a Londoner, born and bred. I’m driven by a strong analytical mind and spontaneous motivations, coupled with a non-invidious surety of manner. This inspirational conduit forms my empathy and enthusiasm, which in flux promotes trust and positive transference to others. I’m a profoundly passionate person, with a deeply expressive nature as such transfixed by the euphoria and beauty of external intoxication…
I’ll spare you the rest. More importantly, I’ll spare ME the rest.

Perhaps I’m becoming too cynical for my own good. Perhaps I’m too Aspergic in my approach to life and have little tolerance for that kinda dumb-ass waffle. Or, perhaps, the gentleman in question, like so many of the gentleman on Guardian Soulmates, got smacked in the head by a thesaurus while at grammar school and has a jumble of adjectives coursing through his head which he has yet to assemble into an intelligible sentence.

Then I had my epiphany, aided in part by Mr Non-invidious above, who seeks a woman who is sassy, stylish and sexy, in addition to being creative, enigmatic, romantic, witty and virtuous. Yes. That’s right. He seeks virtuous.

Now, there's a word I never thought I’d read in anyone’s profile. Virtuous – one who has never been soiled by the hands of another, nor poked by his heat-seeking johnson. A chaste lass – intact, pure.

I’ve come to realise that the cocking wankery you read in Guardian Soulmates profiles is typical of a certain type of man: pushing 50, no interest in kids, never married, seeks siren.

These middle-aged men, many of whom lie about their age (and I know they lie coz the few I have met for coffee have skin like a crocodile’s arse, not the supple wrinkle-free smoothness of their profile pic), aren’t seeking a life partner. They don’t want to share their lives. They merely seek a play thing. A muse. I think it’s a simple case of life trying desperately to imitate art. Methinks they suffer from FNS, also known as Film Noir Syndrome – and I’m not so sure there’s a cure.

I suspect they may be failed – or only marginal – artistes, with romantic notions about being a tortured soul, sitting at a bay window in a cold flat, typing their bestseller on an MacBook, while a nubile vixen in a sheer linen nightie writhes and purrs like a kitten on the bed adjacent, legs splayed, calling to them – preferably in a foreign accent. Oh, yeah, and from what I've read in Soulmates profiles she needs to be slender and quirky, and a veggie, and have a job in the arts, have left-of-centre politics, a low carbon footprint, no kids (aka baggage), keep fit and have discovered the cure for Motor Neuron Disease while writing a screenplay - in Esperanto - about the Heidegger Polemic.

These middle-aged – and ageing – men seem to want the adoration of a young waif who will render them more successful in their own minds, for they have perhaps failed at becoming a Jackson Pollack, Martin Scorsese or Hanif Kureshi. They fantasise because, I suspect, reality is too painful to face.

So, it makes perfect sense that someone like me doesn’t fit their ideal: middle aged, single mum, floppy tits, does the school run, works long hours, darns socks, eats Happy Meals, cleans the toilet, bakes muffins, goes to gigs, prefers the Curzon, listens to R4, detests mental masturbation.

And then it occurred to me today, while reading about the difficulty of Online Dating With a Disability in the Guardian’s Life & Style section, that online dating just might destroy the spirit of those who are not fortunate enough to meet someone with whom they are simpatico. The article was bittersweet, for sure, but the comments it attracted by countless people who have tried online dating and came away disappointed, licking their wounds, were sad. Just sad. This comment in particular touched me:
I too have questioned humanity following Guardian Cell Mates and other well-known dating sites… I've decided it's all bad for the psyche, so I'm spreading my love to the very REAL and lovely people in my life, cos I think that a loving relationship may never happen for me…
Maybe she’s right. Maybe we middle-aged ladies should abandon all hope of finding someone who might love us as we are and focus instead on those friends and family who already love us as we are.

Disclaimer: Painting nicked from here

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

My funny Valentine

It's half term and my son is away on a school trip to France. It's also Valentine's Day, so I sent him a text this morning that said: "Hi Bebby. It's cold without your warm little body to cuddle. Will you be my Valentine?"

His reply was instant, and this is what he wrote: "Maybe". Cheeky little sod!

Valentine's Day is a lot of horseshit, isn't it? I detest contrived gestures, especially of the romantic kind. I can think of nothing worse than being handed an extortionately priced bouquet of roses by a significant other on Valentine's Day. I would rather my significant other give me a handful of wildflowers on a random Sunday in June, for example. That's certainly a more heart-warming gesture and suggests some spontaneity. Some creativity.

My son's father was brilliant at loving gestures: he'd wedge Post-It notes between plates in the kitchen cupboard, and I might find his love notes a week later while dishing up lunch for my son or setting the table for dinner. Or he'd send me on a treasure hunt: I might lift the toilet lid and find a note instructing me to open the fridge door, and then another inside the fridge door sending me to my car, and then one on my steering wheel instructing me to check the oven. 

After laughing my way through the house, I'd find my treasure: a grow-your-own Jesus, a wind-up Nunzilla, and sometimes even a poem. We never celebrated Valentine's Day, in fact: there was no point, because life with him was like one perpetual Valentine's Day - only funnier.

I tried to be as creative as he, but it just didn't come naturally. I once wrote him a long letter telling him how much I loved and appreciated him, how he had changed my life and filled it with joy. I thought I'd slip my letter into his suitcase before he left on a business trip, but when I unzipped his suitcase and slipped the letter between some clothes, I found condoms. I'm allergic to condoms. We never used them. Not once. And so my world came crashing down around my ears.

What Valentine's Day does manage to do rather well is remind all those people like me, who have known love, and lost love, or possibly never had it at all, that there is no one in our lives who thinks enough of us on this official day of love to buy us an extortionately priced bouquet of roses.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Man seeks feral, perhaps foreign, faerie

I took a little break from online dating, coz, frankly – and I KNOW what Oprah, psychologists and my mother would say on the matter – a middle-aged woman with a child is not the most appealing potential anything for middle-aged men seeking their muse. And I say muse because that’s a word that appears in so many Guardian Soulmates profiles. So does faerie. And quirky. And edgy. And enigmatic. And eccentric. And feral. Yes, I said feral.

See, I came back to Guardian Soulmates recently and once again started to feel out of step with the world – what with everyone on GSM learning Esperanto, reading Proust to wayward teens and digging wells in Africa with their bare hands – oh, yeah, and writing a screenplay – I started to question my very existence.

Many of the GSMs not only seek a woman who is 10 years younger than they are, they seek a muse who is intrigued by life, lives on the edge, and has an appreciation of the absurd. Well, to be honest, many of the profiles on GSM are fucking absurd: does that count? And if you think I’m being too cynical, here are a few extracts from the “What I am Looking For” section of typical GSM profiles – man, age 46-53, London. I have changed their usernames, coz it seemed only right.

Username: Erudite7, age 48 (looks 53). Seeks woman, 30-40
“Intrigued by life's intricacies” or “a love of foreign films and Henri Cartier-Bresson” will catch my attention every time. Life at the edges intrigues you, but doesn't define you. You will not be looking into the camera in your main photo, nor smiling. Rather there will be a wistful look, possibly a knuckle to slightly parted lips. You might be a bit feral or foreign, or both. You carry a book with you as you walk, or a camera, or writing pad and pen to capture moments and thoughts. You move with grace and ease, and gentle steps. Measured. An impish smile, then a slight frown – a countenance that hints of something lost but not understood, as if you misplaced the wings you didn't know you had. A faerie. You probably live in woods somehow.

Username: ExposureLatitude, age 49 (looks 55). Seeks woman, 35-45
Somebody who enjoys their sensuous self. You need to be able to keep up with me, or be willing to learn how to keep up with me. You wouldn't have to try that hard to be cool, because you just are. I am not prescriptive but my only prerequisites would be a hatred of Bono, Hollyweird and celebrity culture. You should have the ability to transcend the snobbery of British culture. You will hate Hipstamatic masquerading as art/good photography, except for the few cool shots on places like Flickr. Give me that and I will let you read to me in bed on a cold Sunday morning.

Username: Boho13, age 49 (looks 55). Seeks woman, 28-45
I am looking to meet someone who has a healthy smattering of the following characteristics, which I consider to be aspirational: fiercely independent, opinionated but articulate, culturally flexible, adventurous, direct, a doer, a risk taker, highly intelligent, actualised. She should be someone who strives to meet her own standards and who implicitly rejects convention. Someone bohemian. This list is not intended to indirectly convey any hubris in my view of myself, it simply lays down what I want... nothing more, nothing less.

Here’s my reality: I am a single parent so exhausted at the end of a long day at work, and having to collect my son from the childminder hoping to get home in time to cuddle and read the Cherub series to him before bedtime, that I haven’t got the time to contemplate whether I am culturally flexible, let alone pour myself a bowl of cereal. I've never reflected on whether I am eccentric, enigmatic or quirky. I'm simply not that self-aware. And I may be wrong but I figure anyone who says they do not take themselves seriously, or who claims to be quirky, edgy or bohemian, is likely to be anything but.

I have alternate weekends to myself, at which time I certainly do not immerse myself in the observations of Francisque Bouillier. Instead, I live. I don't merely exist - I live. I go to gigs at Koko and the Roundhouse, films at the Curzon and performances at the Old Vic Tunnels. I roam around Grand Union Canal, Camden, Highgate Cemetery, the Tate and Kew Gardens. I even watch X Factor, paint my toenails red and eat McDonalds. 

I don’t look like Audrey TauTou, nor do I resemble Shrek, but I do have saggy boobs, a much floppier belly than I have ever had and crows feet. I don't meditate, commune with Mother Earth, seek glory, work as a life model, wish to live in a yurt, and have no interest in jacking it all in and retiring on a kibbutz. I am. I just am - and that doesn't seem to be enough for the vast majority of middle-aged men on Guardian Soulmates. 

So, while I haven't given up on online dating altogether, I have removed my profile from Soulmates because I started to question humanity. I stopped finding the profiles interesting. I stopped feeling that GSM was a pleasant diversion with potential and starting thinking instead that it is merely full of pretentious wankers who have spent way too much time watching French Indie films.

Disclaimer: I nicked the feral lady pic from here

Monday, 5 December 2011

Beware of the runaway pecker

I read a story today in the Huffington Post about a 69-year-old woman in California who allegedly tried to cut off her 62-year-old husband's penis with a pair of scissors. He's been treated in hospital for "injuries to the penis". Ouch. Ouchy ouch.

What could possibly have induced a near 70-year-old woman to try to sever her husband's johnson? Was it a failed Lorena Bobbitt-inspired act, the infamous case in America of a woman who severed her husband's penis outright with a sharp knife as a result of his alleged extramarital affairs?

This got me thinking about my date last week with a man I met on an online dating site. He described himself as 48, artistic and separated from his wife. After a uneventful email exchange, we agreed to meet for coffee: I didn't fail to notice that my 48-year-old artsy gent had a face and hands more crinkly than an alligator's scrotum, so I'm guessing more like 58 - but I digress.

It transpired over coffee that my "separated" coffee date from an online website was actually a "still-married" coffee date – as in, still living with his no-longer-together wife of 22 years. They had not had sex in two years, he said. They were staying together for the kids, you see. It was purely a financial decision, you see, coz after all he grew up in that big house in Hampstead and liked his creature comforts. He simply wasn't prepared to give up his quality of life, you see. He said he and his wife have separate lives but put on a good show for the sake of the kids.

I wondered about logistics, naturally. All intimacy needs to take place somewhere other than his home, obviously. And weekends are out of the question, he said – coz of the kids, you see. And holidays are spent as a family, to keep up appearances, you see. But why should he deny himself love and intimacy - basic human needs - just because he made the ULTIMATE sacrifice to remain a good dad, to continue providing for his no-longer wife, and to carry on playing house for the sake of the kids? I couldn't help but think: WHAT A TOSSER.

Such was my displeasure, that when I pointed out he had wasted both my time and his, because 1) he is married; 2) I do not date married men; 3) he lied about his living arrangements in his emails; 4) he is married; and 5) MOST IMPORTANTLY, he is married, he pleaded his case and sought clemency.

Artsy man held my gaze, eyes wide, shoulders drooped, imploring – scrutinising my face for some glimmer of empathy. And while I can appreciate how lonely it must be to live in the shadows of a life that once was, keeping up appearances for the kids and laying next to a warm body that exudes no warmth for you, I wondered if my date was perhaps not suffering from the "cake and eat" syndrome. Or perhaps, and this is more likely the case, his no-longer wife was none the wiser that her husband is a sneaky lying cheat.

And if my hunch is right - that his no-longer-together but still sharing-a-bed wife of 22 years knows nothing of his clandestine meetings with an assortment of mystery women with whom he seeks sexual intimacy and love, safe in the knowledge that he will return to the comfort of his big cozy house in Hampstead, break bread with the kids and later crawl into a warm bed, next to the warm body of the woman to whom he professed his undying love two decades earlier – then he should consider himself lucky - really really lucky - that he's not married to Lady Scissorhands in California, coz if he were he might end up losing more than just a house in Hampstead.

PS - This is not an endorsement to try to lop off your husband's - or anyone's - penis I might add. Just sayin...

I nicked the severed penis pic from the Angry Harry website

Friday, 25 November 2011

Middle age, saggy boobs and blogging

I've got a lot of chaos inside my head at the moment – may lose my job, boobs are sagging, hair is falling out, have no money, no significant anyone in my life, am a single parent, have menopausal symptoms that range from achey boobs to wanting to smack the gal opposite me on the train for tweezing her chin hair in public (that's not unreasonable, right?) and my boobs are saggy. Did I mention that? My boobs are saggy. They look like sacks of strained ricotta. If they get any floppier they'll be bouncing around my feet when I walk.

I worry. A lot. About a lot of different things. Namely that I'm losing my hair. That I may die alone, bald and with too few Depends to hand, surrounded by cats and furballs. That I am past my sell-by date. That I am in danger of becoming a freak, coz at 47 I oftentimes would rather spend my day wandering around London alone than accompanied by someone for whom I care nothing.

I'm sort of stuck in limbo: at an age where I'm too old to be a groupie, throwing my underwear on stage at Guy Garvey from Elbow while he sings Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver, or better still flashing him, and too young to write the words "loves to curl up on the sofa with a glass of white wine and a DVD" on my dating website profile.

Sometimes I just wanna have a chat with a like-minded someone about… oh, I don't know… the fact that David Cameron has a face like a smacked arse and is ruining this country, that X Factor REALLY is hilarious, that Tracey Emin has absolutely no talent whatsoever, that flossing should be compulsory, that chip butties should be banned, that vulvodynia is more common than I think but not something about which many ladies are prepared to chat, that I'd rather eat in a cafe than a restaurant with white linen tablecloths, and that the thought of spending yet another child-free Saturday evening eating dinner alone fills me with more despair than I can express.

So, in the absence of someone with whom to chat about all things great and good, and not so good, I've decided to start a blog. I know... those of you who are interweb-savvy are likely thinking I'm seven years too late.

I haven't got a plan, but I plan to write about stuff. And I hope you like it.