Thursday, 21 March 2013

the talk

Communication is important, this is received wisdom.  So why is it that when we're dating, the words "we have to talk" inspire such dread and nausea in the most staunch and strong stomached of us?  It seems to affect the male gut more than the female.  I suspect women have a perverse love for "the talk".  Women get emails from their friends in the build up - "re. tonight . . . good luck with the talk!", "is tonight the talk?!" or worst of all, "I hope he turns up for the talk!".  This post is a survivors guide to the talk, how you can all get through it quickly and with no harm done.

Once you've got the talk on the agenda time is of the essence.  You both know that the talk is already taking up time that could be spent doing something more pleasant and in addition to this, after a certain amount of time (I'd say a minute and half) the female voice actually becomes white noise to the male ear.  So, get your points in early and if you see him drifting off, break flow to launch a seek and inflate mission on his ego, pay him a compliment and bang! he's back in the room.

Be structured in your approach to the talk; go away, think about what you want to say, what you want to hear (and what you don't) and come back with  structured Q&A.  Don't expect a lover to understand you immediately and completely solely by virtue of their position in your life. They cannot read your mind and you should be more thankful for that than embittered!

Do not use sexually affectionate gestures or innuendo.  This just confuses.

Do not get drunk. You'll end up fighting or fucking.

Do not cry.  This wastes time and encourages physical contact (a hug) - you could end up fighting or fucking.

But this is to over complicate the talk, because at its heart it is almost always the same.  It's about wanting to know what the future holds, wanting to be reassured as to ones desirability and usefulness and it's about getting attention.  If you bear this basic set of needs in mind along with the above advice about communication, you should be able to get through the talk with the minimum of emotional mumbling and tyre kicking.  It's also worth bearing in mind that the talk should not be taken too seriously, if things get deep, the talk can lead to a break up, or worse, marriage and/or kids. Remember, it is possible to reassure but not commit when put on the spot.

Finally, having convened and completed the talk, there should be at least a 6 month gap before the next one.  Otherwise you may find yourselves moaning that 'ALL we do now is TALK, we're NO FUN anymore, it's all TALKING'.

Right then, off you go, suitably armed for your next big chat.  Personally, I avoid them like the plague.

early 2012

Note: There is a sister talk to the one described here, that's the break up talk, the dumping talk.  But that has a whole different personality and, as I've written before, is a conversation best had by text message.

Monday, 5 December 2011

product recall: you said you were fine

When it comes to the conversation that sets up the way forward for someone to have more than one lover, how do they ever really know if when the other person is saying 'yes' they are fine with 'it', 'it' is 'OK'; this isn't what's really going on in their heads? Buyer beware . . .

And I do love this tune . . .

Sunday, 4 December 2011

you said all men were motherf*ckers, then you ran off

me: "er, I had a great evening, but remind me, how did it end?"

him: "you said all men were motherfuckers and then you ran off"

That difficult second date, eh? It’s taken me a while to sharpen up the hazy bits from the night and I’ve identified the tipping point as this: I do not want an open sexual relationship, he does. I could be living in Utah the number of men I meet who are looking for safety in numbers. As he talked about it, I thought, I’ve heard all this before. Then, having lost the power of rational debate to red wine and cocktails and realising I wasn’t far from home, I scarpered.

There is a definite trend for having or wanting multiple partners, or being supportive of your partner if that’s what they want. How nice. Perhaps sex will become like having a cup of tea, just friends getting together for a nice bit of sex now and again. Yawn. You’ll be reading a lot of articles on this soon (GQ, Marie Claire etc.). I’ve identified this trend through entering the murky world of internet dating. Once I’d corrected a profile point I didn’t know would be quite so public and got rid of all the bondage masters wanting to tie me up, I realised 75% of the people showing an interest in me online were looking for a non-monogamous sexual relationship.

What is going on? Zeigeist sex or something deeper shifting? So far this trend appears to be a middle class one, and age specific (late 30s and 40s). Not so much the doing it, as the talking about it. Sanitising it, owning with talk of openness, self-discovery, self absorption. I was in such a relationship for over 2 years and I learned that the relationship needed so much managing it rubbed itself out. It was far more complicated than we had the time or the inclination to deal with.

Which is why, fuelled by White Russians and general annoyance, I bolted down Bethnal Green Road when the subject came up this time.

angry bird on the wing
december 2011

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

back to basics: breaking up schoolgirl style

Like many city dwelling women of my age, I have behind me a trail of broken relationships. Some not so much broken as butchered, some driven to suicide and some dead from neglect. But now is not the time to get all Quincy over it, now is the time to share some observations and opinions on the art of the break up - the artfulness and the artifice. And the heartache too, boo hoo.

I wrote before in praise of breaking up by phone and I got some criticism for this being immature. I wasn’t bothered (immaturely enough). In the throes of a break up people are self absorbed and what they really want to do is pout and stamp and get what they want, just like children, whether they are the dumper or the dumped.

The only time I recall it not being like that is back in the schoolyard where we stuck largely to the practice of proxy. You sent your best mate over to tell the dumpee that you didn’t want to go out with them anymore. Generally, if you were lucky, they would get off with each other soon after that, and you would get to look like the victim. So young, such players.

Well, I'm gathering evidence to back up my drive for more childish behaviour in relationships, and it seems we're heading that way anyway. I met an old colleague this week and asked how her husband was. She has many affectionate and very funny tales of married life. Turns out this week he’d unfriended her on Facebook. Her own husband had stormed upstairs after an argument and unfriended her.

‘What did you DO when he unfriended you?’ I cried - somewhere between laughter and outrage that we've come to this. She said she texted her best friend and asked her to log in and check hubby's Facebook page. Best friend texted back that hubby was venting on his 'page'. At this point the poor unfriended young wife didn’t know what to do - this was ridiculous, and she couldn't even post on his 'wall' to say so. ‘So what DID you do?’ I cried again - trying to look sympathetic, stifling a widening smile. She had the grace to look down as she started to giggle herself and tell me that she texted her Dad and grassed her husband up for bullying her online. Her dad then texted her husband to say “get off that Facebook and go and talk to your wife”.

This is an example of why my generation should not be in charge. We have exploited all means of communication until we can barely speak, we are the Peter Pan generation, still needing grown ups to sort things out for us. However, in the everyday and political world we have to sort things out ourselves, because apparently we are the grown ups. I'd argue that the only sphere in which we can regress and indulge our immaturity is that of the close personal relationship - i.e. a relationship which is familial or romantic.

I don’t even want to get into the familial - it breeds contempt . . .we’ll stick with the ‘romantic’.

Through social media we get to go properly retro and indulge our inner teenager by honing our post break up stalking skills all over again. Remember phoning them and hanging up, just to see if they were in? Making your friends call and talk to their mum to see when they would be in? Asking your mum to say you’re out when you’re not if they call you? Finding out through a vast network of underage drinkers and dancers exactly which parks, youth club discos and parties they would be at and who they would be with? All done by word of mouth, your parents' land-line or, when out on manouvres, a phone box.

It’s all here for us again and twice as easy on Facebook and the like. But we haven’t really got the free time for it now and it’s such a solitary venture. Still too many of us spend too much time tethered to the past of daily contact by lurking online everyday. It’s different to how it was when we were kids, your computer won’t get bored and force you to move on like your friends did. It’s not as physically active as hiding in bus shelters or rushing in order to time your walk past a specific chip shop and you don’t get to get off with anyone else along the way, suddenly forgetting all about the original object of your obsession.

A grown man or woman sitting alone tracking their ex’s every move is not as cool or as much fun, or indeed as social as carrying on like you’re in your very own soap opera with an assorted cast of like minded, like misguided friends. I have to say, this kind of carrying on does still work well for most women of all ages. We learned it young. Looking back, my little friends and I were like a mini detective network when we hit the streets in the hours between homework and curfew. There were some rather good women led detective series on TV back then and we could count amongst our influences Cagney, Lacey, the Bionic Woman, Charlie and his angels and Juliet Bravo, no wonder we were good.

I’m not advocating an end to nosing around in the context of a relationship, far more people do it than would, or should, admit to it. People are curious and intuitive beings and long may we remain so. But we are also more secretive than we care to admit. We now seem to prize openness and privacy equally. There is conflict here and this is not helped we when resort to the digital representation of the relationship as was or as is. It feels real yet what you're doing is adding yet another layer to an already nuanced situation and the distance leaves room for delusion, making it harder to move on.

So, moving on. There is a lot to be said for offline, face to face-it, confrontation, bleeding heart in hand or bloodied knife in fist. Eastender style. Letting off steam in stream of consciousness screaming matches (streaming matches?) that in any other context would have you taken off and sedated or diagnosed with Tourettes. A huge argument can crystalise feelings, it can focus the mind and you can realise how much you do or don’t care about someone when you or they lose it. It can also stave off or expedite a dumping, but that’s a really dark level of game playing. That’s old fashioned emotional blackmail, new-fashioned passive-aggression and something that deserves its own post.

These arguments should never come to characterise a relationship, that is exhausting. I think the big ones should be infrequent, dramatic and lead to the right outcome. For example, I once pulled a radiator off a wall; we broke up.


with a little bit of Kat Slater
November 2011

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

post feminist or good cougars gone bad?

6pm last Friday at work, my FD and me, catching up about our love lives. Naturally, we are doing this in the ladies loos. There's a gorgeous girl, at least 10 years our junior, at the mirror applying perfect make up, listening to us - in fairness, she can't help but overhear as we're both pretty much going at it full steam.

FD: "It's never gonna work, he's a CEO and I'm a Financial Director - we're both used to getting our own way."

Me:"It's never gonna work, not while he's still seeing someone else, I'm 40 now and I know I want more."

Gorgeous Girl: Excuse me, how old did you say you are?

Me: 40

Gorgeous Girl (to FD): And you?

FD: 35

Gorgeous Girl: Oh god, so you two are saying it doesn't get any better?

FD & Me (look at each other, then at her): No! No, it doesn't!

Me (quite loudly): Seriously, it gets worse! Get married at 30, no matter who he is!

FD: That's a bit extreme, Bird.

Me: Or get out of London?

FD: That's better.

I shrug and we leave Gorgeous Girl to work it out herself, in silence, the only sound the tumbleweed of paper handtowels and the lost marbles of romantic hope rolling across the floor of the ladies in our wake.

Bah hah hah! (sorry)


Saturday, 24 September 2011

genderation house, my genderation

This interests me . . . and I've yet to finish a new post of my own, so I've nicked someone else's. I hope you enjoy it. From an original (with occasional stylistic and grammatical edits from me) post on house music and sexuality, quotes from an uncredited Jamaican in New York perspective and then from the perspective of DJ Ripley, an Englishman in London.

New York: "I would go to Red Zone to hear DJ Dmitri from Deelite spin. It was a mostly people of color crowd, and people would just be there to DANCE, go to the bathroom to wash their faces and gulp water from the pipe, then go back and dance some more. Then there was the dancing itself, where gender became a blur. Drag queens would go from voguing to uprocking and breakin. Girls in baggy pants and baseball caps would do the same. And men I knew were hetero would have fun busting into a runway strut and a fierce vogue...

After living in Jamaica, to see such a celebration of gender fluidity was stunning - and more importantly, liberating. Judith Butler theorises gender to be performance, and we all tried it on, supported and ritualized fluidity, away from the gender police. It gave me, a hetero man, the permission to try on various masculinities, to be more comfortable being andro, and to try movements where I could explore being more butch or more femme. I had officially escaped the confining box of hegemonic masculinity, and wore my fluidity naturally with pride."

London: "Obviously my perspective as a white man in London wass different, but certainly the gender/sexuality fluidity of techno and house music parties/clubs was part of what made that scene so exciting for me. A lot of the squat techno parties I went to in the early/mid 90s were androgynous in a fairly masculine way, i.e. men and women all dressed in jeans/black clothes/combat gear. Then there were the glam house clubs I frequented where I saw much more of an emphasis on dressing up, but still in a very playful way, boys and girls with glitter, sparkly clothes and make up. There was a mixed gay/straight vibe and many straight clubbers were going to gay clubs like Heaven.

I recall feeling that this was beginning to freeze over in around the mid-90s. There was a resurgence of 'blokeism' in popular culture, with lads mags extolling a lowest common denominator masculinity of football, cars and breasts. On the dancefloor more and more blokes were turning up in nobody-could-mistake-for-camp Ben Sherman shirts. For women the playful adoption of a 'glamour' look became more like a compulsory 'club babe' dress code. It was no surprise that within a few years, cliched boys with guitars rock had began to push dance music back to the margins.

And just to prove this trend wasn't just in my imagination, here's a letter published in Mixmag in 1995:

'I am becoming increasingly aware of and concerned about promoters insisting that women (babes) should be dressed to thrill. I think that women (babes) are being pushed away from the dancefloor by these essentially male promoters and treated as a commodity, by which I mean that a better looking female crowd induces a greater number of men, more media attention and a hipper status... to get into a venue we are told not to be geeks, to glam it up and to look gorgeous. Does this mean I have to wear high heels, restrictive clothes, a wonderbra and to visit the hairdressers for the latest stylish hairdo? I like to dress up, it gives you a sense of occasion, but I can't dance in high heels, I need to wear comfortable (which does not mean drab) clothes, and just tie my hair back. So far I've had no problems entering clubs, but the way clubland is heading how much longer? Is it soon to become a distasteful sight to see a woman (babe) out of it and saying fuck off to all the men, she's here for herself" (Elizabeth, Hastings, Mixmag, June 1995).'

Thanks to John at Uncarved for alerting me to this discussion.

Whole thing originally posted by Transpontine, gratefully reposted by the angry bird.

London, September 2010

Thursday, 15 September 2011

leaving mr rochester

I'm very excited by the new Jane Eyre adaptation and so I give you one of my favourite quotes from this wonderful novel about love and personal freedom:

"Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong. I have as much soul as you and full as much heart. And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you.

I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionality, nor even of mortal flesh: it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God's feet, equal, as we are."

Jane to Mr Rochester, Chapter 23. Swoon, sigh, head held high.

AB xx

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Where's the street-wise Hercules?

The young woman who sits next to me at work asked me today what advice I had about how to assuage "boy trouble". I said it depended on the nature of the trouble. She said "oh, there being no good ones around". I paused. Then out it came "Resign yourself". There was an implied, northern accented "love" at the end, likewise a dramatic pull on a fag. My inner Bet Lynch at the fore. Poor girl was crushed.

I'd like to think I redeemed myself by sending her the lyrics to "Holding out for a Hero"* by Bonnie Tyler a few hours later.

AB x

*Where have all the good men gone
And where are all the gods?
Where's the street-wise Hercules
To fight the rising odds?
Isn't there a white knight upon a fiery steed?
Late at night I toss and turn and dream
of what I need

Monday, 23 May 2011

wrap it up, i'll take it (otherwise forget it)

Sexually transmitted diseases. Yuk. Ick. O my god no! That's what we think, we think of scabby nether regions and discharge (milky, greenish or otherwise) and we think dirty and promiscuous. It's not really like that. Perfectly nice, 'clean', non-promiscuous people are contracting or managing STDs all the time. And you can't always tell who they are, even naked - neither the scabs nor the discharge are there constantly. So ask yourself, is unprotected sex really worth it?

It's hard to play safe, I know, and it seems it's harder for men than for women. I struggle to think of any straight man I know who prefers using condoms to not, they all say condoms dull sensation or won't stay on. I feel sorry for men on this front and I really do hope for more developments in latex soon. I've heard from some men that without a condom things feel more intimate, they feel closer to us. How sweet that they love us so much they want to give or get the clap in celebration. Then there are the men that think pregnancy is the main female concern. Boys, we have ways of dealing with that and you pulling out makes no difference. Also, in the time you're in there, swooning with the intimacy of it all, you could be contracting or passing on chlamydia and messing up both our fertility levels.

The good men don't quibble, don't hesitate. They carry condoms and they have them by their bed, they can stay hard and put them on in a jiffy (pun intended). They can get over the dulled sensation by using their minds and other senses. They are truly sexy, truly good in bed, they take sex and it's many consequences, temporary and permanent, good and bad, seriously. These are the good guys because they are the ones who really love to f*ck, and they value themselves and you. They are often the ones that don't demand you worship their penis during sex too, but that's a whole different topic.

Regular sexual health checks are a good idea, as is insisting your new partner is tested before engaging in unprotected sex. However, you also need to trust that partner implicitly to only have unprotected sex with you and to agree to future tests. It's a numbers game. You may only sleeping with him or her without using a condom, but if he or she is going bareback elsewhere then they are bringing a little bit of that person back with them, and if that person in turn is sleeping with someone else and not using protection then that's a little bit of a complete stranger you're sleeping with. And if that complete stranger in turn is sleeping with . . . well, you get the picture.

I am surprised still when I have to explain this to men. Many of us have behaved recklessly in the past and those of us who have got away with it should be thankful and mindful, rather than think ourselves invincible. When someone says use a condom, just do it, and be grateful you're sleeping with someone who cares.

I never even got round to writing about HIV/AIDS, it hasn't gone away you know.

Lecture over.


Sunday, 15 May 2011

the look of 'dumped' (with apologies to Dusty Springfield)


The first in series of 'as it happens' photographic records of romantic incidents.

Please feel free to contribute your own images too, no suicide or sex shots though. Raw emotion is what I'm after.


Wednesday, 27 April 2011

i'm f*cking paul weller (with apologies to sarah silverman & matt damon)

There's enough cougar town talk out there to convince women that youth is the way forward, real age gaps of 15 or 20 years, but I'm not sure. It frightens me, it feels wrong. I mean, after the initial 'oh my god, what will he FEEL like? what will I feel like to him?' moment, what next?

What if his youthful looks throw my ageing ones into sharp relief? Would I be forced to meet him only in half lit rooms and dark streets? How quickly would I would tire of explaining such things as Joey Deacon and why I attend 1980s themed parties dressed as a striking miner? Would he would steer conversation to things vague or technical, littered with 'awesomes' and peppered with positivity, things equally incomprehensible to me?

And physically, oh physically! So many of them are so slight, almost ethereal, like they haven’t 'filled out’ yet. (Did I really just write ‘filled out’? That's no way to talk about your lover, unless you're a catholic priest.) I prefer a lived in look to baby smooth clear skin, a solid body with a few scars, a body that hints at a lively past and a current exercise regime. And with that past a man my own age can often bring a certain gravitas to the bedroom that most boys cannot.

Early experimentation is no match for experience gained over many years service dedicated to The Cause (of good sex). And when it comes to a man's attitude to ‘that sort of thing’, I'm used to that of British men around my own age, men who grew up on porn and rejection; Cosmopolitan and lads’ mags. They grew up dirty-minded and grateful; obsessed with making women come and with sex in general. And at the same time us 'girls' were reaping the benefits of the previous generation's good work on contraception and women's liberation and were demanding the right to play too. Result! Rule Britannia!

Which brings me to Paul Weller. A hot 50 something, he's respectable but still rock and roll, he dresses well (very well), he’s handsomely lined of face and he has no pot belly; he’s talented, he’s hard and you know he still has the moves (if you doubt this,see him perform then get back to me, yeah?). And yes, I have the biggest crush on him. He is my poster boy for my generation's men - sexy, smart and sarcastic - just add flat stomached and well dressed to that list and the young boys can just jog on. It really is that simple.

Right then, that’s what I’m up to currently - daydreaming about a life with Paul Weller. . .Back to more general gender generalisations soon. Now, what's this wedding everyone’s been at today?

Sarah Silverman "I'm Fucking Matt Damon"

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

sorry? what's that? you're breaking up

Is breaking up by phone really so cowardly, dastardly, bastard-ly? I don’t think so. I think it’s efficient and kind. You decide what to say, write it down maybe, then dial, deliver and ‘do one’. No need to see a look of hurt, or worse still, relief, flit across the face of the one you once loved. No need for an awkward hug if they cry, and no danger of being suckered into sucking face as you lean in with a tissue. Do it by phone and everyone gets to keep their dignity. The finisher and the finished get to process what just took place without their victim or their temporary nemesis still in the same room. This will, sadly, rob me of hours of pleasure spent watching couples break up in public places, but perhaps I’ll learn to spot people breaking up by phone.

Sometimes the rejected will call back. Repeatedly. Switch off your phone. If you think they’ll come banging on your door, then be out, properly out - go somewhere. Don’t just try hiding - you end up behind your own sofa in the dark while some crazy-in-love person is banging your door so hard that the police may come. Oh, and make sure you’re not with your new lover when the old one turns up - that’s messy. Another tip re the calling back type is do not delete their number - you'll end up answering an unknown caller to find it’s them. You will probably be giggling at something else when they call and your joy will make them angry. You could re-save their number as Do Not Answer. It works for me.

Many people will be cool with a straight explanation on the phone, as we get older we should be, we’ve learned by now that things don’t always work out so why drag things out? Be nice, be honest and be somewhere else. But be careful too, if you’re not sure then don’t go burning bridges. Finishing by phone also offers some time out, time off the air, you can always call back to test the water, it may be less choppy after time apart. More so than if you finish face to face, when it’s too easy veer from the script in our head and deliver the tension driven diatribes and asinine accusations that so often characterise the traditional break up and cannot be taken back.

Finishing by phone is by no means the most cruel way to leave. I actually knew a guy who left to get a packet of cigarettes and came back 2 years later - it would have been kinder had he called, surely? And an otherwise lovely friend of mine favours a small aircraft with a banner attached to get the message across as her ideal clean break, a stunt best pulled at a family wedding or large public event apparently.

So, the rule for breaking up in general? Keep it clean and keep it kind. Here endeth the lesson, call me.


Thursday, 10 March 2011

back seat diving

If you're thinking of going down on someone in the back of a cab, should you:

a. ask the driver first and offer him 20 quid, thereby allowing him time to get his mobile phone and film you (not good)

b. just get down to it and rely on the recipient being able to get out their wallet and start throwing 50s at the startled driver, or

c. just hope the driver enjoys the ride too.

A fairly modern, and mucky dilemma. Answers on a £50 note please.


Tuesday, 1 March 2011

picture this:cinema dates

Dates at the cinema have a specific position on the relationship time-line. Too early can be bad, because it implies you already have nothing to say to each other; as a first date it can be seen as trying to get someone into a dark room where they can't make a noise (or is that just me?); and as a blind date, it makes no sense at all.

But a trip to the flicks further along the time-line is dangerous too. You may have already reached the stage where you don't mind telling each other how you feel about things, you may have spent the last few months doing little but talk about your bloody feelings. This can make deciding and debating which film to see very difficult, especially if you just don't feel like seeing the same film.

I once (relationship timeline: 3yrs in) carried such a debate all the way to the cinema. I was still undecided (Blade 3 or The Royal Tenenbaums) when we hit the foyer. I had, unfortunately and typically been debating this alone, in my head. He was in no doubt as to what we would be watching, throwing his best Wesley moves as we waited for popcorn. So my genius, but totally out of the blue to him, idea of "hey! why don't we see different films, it will be fun?" did not go down well. He sulked behind me as we walked into to see ‘my’ film and we quickly reverted to gender stereotypes: I was annoyingly enthusiastic (effusive, puppy like, shrill) until the film started, he remained resolutely unimpressed (monosyllabic, miserable, distant) throughout. We didn't go to dinner to discuss the film afterwards. Or to the pub. It was a Saturday night and we went home. We got more DVDs after that. (relationship timeline: 5yrs remaining).

In the early days you will watch anything so long as it’s together. It tends to go like this:
‘do you want to come to pictures?’
‘oo lovely, what are we seeing’
’don’t know yet’
‘great, I’d love to come’. Debate done.

Here are 5 specifics in praise of getting the cinema dates going early:

1. You’re tired.
You’re in a new relationship, the adrenalin is flowing, the midweek nights of going out and staying up late and possibly all nighters spent ‘on the job’ are all taking their toll. It’s dark in the cinema, so you won’t look as rough with tiredness as you actually are. You can also have a little sleep, you can’t that do that at dinner or in a bar, or on the job - it’s embarrassing, and rude.

2. More darkness.
You can ogle or gaze adoringly without getting caught. You can use sideways AND full on glances to assess the territory, if you know what I mean. If you have yet to get physical, the darkness and the seating arrangement can lead to some nice pressing of knee against knee, with no direct eye contact or need for verbal rejection, just a knee moving away, no-one else saw it and no harm done. If you get a firm but slow knee press back, what a result. I do this to people a lot on London buses in the rush hours and in daylight, but then I’m ruthless in the pursuit of romance. Restraining order ruthless.

3. You can get drunk / high / frisky.
Yes, you can do all this later down the line too. But if you’ve never suggested it before your partner (if that's what they now are) may be a little surprised. If your relationship is near the fail stage, you may be accused of being an alcoholic/a drug fiend/a sex addict - delete as appropriate, and with bitterness. Whereas, in the early days it’s fun. Or it’s a helpful way of finding out quickly that s/he doesn’t really like getting pissed or pervy at the pictures.

4. Future romance.
Because in-jokes come thick and fast in these early, giggly days, you will easily quote bits to each other again and again, cracking up every time. These are things that will sustain you in the later months and years. Better to have cheesy lines than ‘god, remember that time you went mental in the foyer?’.

5. It’s not all about you.
You get to talk about something outside of the wonderful but intense world you are busy creating. You get a break from the giddiness of telling your best stories, and wondering if s/he likes them. You get to listen the professional storytellers for a while and save some of your own stories for dates to come. Plus, you can learn quite a lot about a person from how they react to a film. Laughing at rapenmurder scenes, a nazi-induced nob twitch, crying when a character breaks a nail - all signs of whether you will get along or not.

So, let’s all have more cinema dates with people we hardly know . . . please . . . anyone . . . please? I’ll watch anything . . .


Monday, 28 February 2011


Newington Green, North London 1797:

"After their marriage, they moved into two adjoining houses, known as The Polygon, so that they could both still retain their independence; they often communicated by letter. By all accounts, theirs was a happy and stable, relationship".

That was Ms Mary Wollestonecraft and Mr William Godwin. Granted they were of a dissenting nature anyway, but it worked for them romantically.

Like-wise, Tim Burton & Helena Bottom Carter.

And Woody Allen and Mia Farrow - however, it could be argued it just gave him more space to get it on with their daughter . . .

I quite like the idea of us living 'together' as couples across the way, over the road, next door, the flat above. Is this weird?*

*if it leads to you marrying your adopted daughter, obviously, yes.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

brown babies

Things are changing, I might be a mum! Aaaah, by the power of my super-fertile blog title. No, more the power of the Powers That Be.

Adoption guidelines are changing. Single women can adopt (guideline up to 45 years old) and they can adopt a child of any race. This is big news, this could rearrange everything - without rearranging our bodies. Imagine a non-patriarchal home-life, just a mum able to concentrate on being a mum and, when the kids are asleep or away, herself. I think this is the most exciting part of it all, it frees a woman up to enjoy her life, knowing she can plan for a child without being at the mercy of hormones or romance.

However, this being my tiny, frightened, ex-colonial little island home, the hot-spot of the debate is the the race/heritage issue. I agree it is important a child knows their family history, and where that fits in the history of the world, whether they are adopted or not and whether that heritage is single or mixed. It broadens their horizons. My heritage is part working class Irish stock (horizons not so broad but I know we were treated like dirt) and I live in London where there are many mixed family and friendship groups. Could this shift on policy increase the chances of an eventual a utopian outcome where every family is mixed?

But we must not use this shift to shore up the notion of the UK as a racially harmoniously mixed society (multi-cultural was all a bit of a mistake apparently, like private pensions - oops, sorry, they say) - because it is not. As I listened to the debate yesterday there was throughout an assumption implicit that a black child adopted by a white couple will be immediately snatched and kept from any cultural references other than those of the adoptive parents. I would argue that there are differences between black and white households in the UK, particularly those of the the older generation, so the guidelines should be - will the kid have access to both households? Is this over simplifying things? We must not offer children platitudes, tell them it doesn't matter what colour they are, it does because it's who they are, they could be told it doesn't matter insofar as it will not hold them back, that they should not see colour, not be frightened of difference. Most importantly, we must show them by being like this ourselves.

I think this is an area where many women my age can pay forward some of the fun we've had as we've prolonged our own adolescence, either not looking after the kids we've got, or delaying having any as we wait for the right person, the right time, the right job. If we have been negligent as adults so far and are now ready to be parents, it's cool we have the opportunity to take these kids, whatever they look like, and show them a good time too. And there’s no reason we can’t still do it in pairs. We don’t have to pair up with a father, or live together, just 2 adults, 1 child, it’s a division of labour, without the labour.

Right, time to flick through the social services catalogue. Wonder what the maternity leave is? And the returns policy...

Saturday, 19 February 2011

can't believe she phoned when the football was on?

I can. Here are some possible reasons:

1. she didn't know
2. she knew and wanted to annoy you
3. she wanted to see if you loved her enough to pick up
4. worst of all, she didn't care

True, that's how we operate.

Nuff love my brothers,


roue, but not ruined

Around 18 months ago, I was asked if I was familiar with the word roue, the implication being it could apply to me. I was not familiar with it, and on hearing the definition laughed out loud, enjoying a brief moment of pride.

So, dictionary definition:

"roue" . . ."a dissolute and licentious, [. . .] lecherous dissipated male"

And, re-defined by the Marquis de Sade as a certain kind of woman, an older, cynical, prostitute* woman. Nice.

So why did I laugh? Because if it implies that reaching a state of dissipated licentiousness is the result of long service in the field of sexual and romantic relations and a few brushes with moral laxity, then yes, I'll take the label. Or maybe I laughed because I am, indeed, une grande roue.

My sex life is 25 years old this year. I have frittered away much of the currency there is to be earned by choosing carefully when to put out, and in exchange I've gained a lot of empirical evidence of what men of my generation think about sex, and women. I have many anecdotes and have learnt a few tricks myself. I have enough experience to expound a few theories on sex and gender and how we go about things as men and women. I've done this in my head, on stage, across pub tables and, the worst crowd, at middle class dinner parties. I've also made it very hard for myself to play the game.

Rather than stress about this, I invented a new game, I’ve rewritten the rules of engagement if you like. I moved from gathering evidence to testing it. We live in an age of sexual tourism and that includes the way we drift in and out of each others lives and bodies. And so I have spent the last 5 years on a non-girlfriend tour of duty, through 5 lovers and half a boyfriend (I fell into it). I’ve learned a lot.

I’ve learned for example, that sex is powerful but our attitudes to and desire for it are largely based on it just being very nice, comforting and for some, definitely worthy of addiction. It is also intense and historically private and so, anarchic and subversive. That's why it has to be regulated and constrained in the contexts of romantic love, fidelity and public health, because it feels so good and because it is also especially in the 3rd context, hazardous. I think this leads to many relationships being veiled in lies and fraught with danger, which is emotionally exhausting and character draining. It’s a life played out according to some faded social blueprint for control. Familiarity can breed contempt, sex can make us think we are closer than we are. I suspect still more so for women than for men. So, I’d rather stay non-girlfriend until I work this imbalance out, I cannot simply accept this is ‘how it is’.

Please keep looking, and please, as dark as it gets, keep laughing.


* I'd like to state for the record, so far my roue existence has not resulted in the exchange of hard cash. Hard drugs in my younger years maybe, but never hard cash. I'd have made a fortune.

on sleeping together

For a long time, since The Boyfriend 5 years ago, it's been hard to find a libido that nightly matches my own and although it has its place, I don't want an all too regular peck on the cheek and straight to sleep situation just yet, if ever. I understand that sharing a bed can be nice, cosy, and convenient, and cocoa and a good book in bed is one of my favourite solo pursuits. But to spend months on end with a warm (or hot!) body sleeping next to me and no action, well, what's the point? This can happen when you become a Girlfriend.

Add to this the potential of snoring, duvet hogging, sweating, other people’s alarm clocks and my own nightly impression of a washing machine on its spin cycle, and all that early days la la stuff of falling asleep spooning, waking up smiling is easily forgotten as tiredness and irritation take over. Good sex can ensure a post orgasmic deep sleep will kick in before the snoring, duvet hogging etc. gets going. An alternative can be drink, or drugs, but is any relationship or shag worth turning to drink or drugs? Even if that’s what got you into it in the first place.

A word of practical advice: if you do fall into this kind of situation, it's key to be able to get home easily. It's hard to sleep when you're thinking "what the fuck am I doing here?". I once dated a disaffected Marxist with a nice line in dates and wry political banter but zero sex drive. I used to leave his flat in the mornings tired and tetchy to seethe my way across the river from South London. Apologies now to those commuters I glared at, I was tense with a sexual frustration bordering on aggression.

It is still considered more rude for a lover to leave or be asked to leave in the night, rather than stay until the morning. I think it is time to turn this on its head. If there is any rule it should be, make us breakfast or call us a cab. If you chaps are in the slightest doubt about wanting to wake up with us, don’t put us in the position of seeing that doubt in the morning - it only compounds our own doubts. When it comes to our generation, you guys are rarely ‘all that’, more often ‘what’s left’. And women, we can leave too. On a high, without having to hear or say the words ‘I’ll call you’. See how quickly the cliches roll in?

And don’t reference the leaving afterwards, if you do speak. Either side can find themselves saying ‘I missed you this morning’, and they may not mean it. Bang! You’ve started the day on a little lie. Lovers beware, be aware.

Of course, it is nice to wake up together, that’s what holidays are for.


Monday, 28 September 2009

on being in love

Here's a nice one, I have an urge to spread some joy. This is how I felt the last time I was in love. Yes, it happens to me too, in degrees. As determinedly anti-romance as this blog may seem, let me state for the record that I heart romance. A world without romance, without being in love, would be a cold and grey place.

I have loved being in love. It’s happened a few times and it’s been one of my most favourite states of being. It is such fun getting there, pushed along by romantic settings, moments or actions, sometimes it takes just one loving gesture, sometimes a series. I love it when I catch myself smiling, walking along the street, thinking of when a lover last touched me, or grinned at me. Sometimes just feeling I am loved and or in love with someone makes my whole world seem brighter, more exciting and my life feel more lived.

Sure, falling out of love, the pain of hot tears washing scales from eyes, is not so good. But you keep going. I'd hazard that people don’t really die of broken hearts. It’s a muscle. Am I the only one who remembers those diagrams from 3rd year biology classes? Aortas and stuff? Anyway, I'm meant to be spreading joy. Point being clumsily made is, don’t let the threat of love’s flight put you off letting it into your life. Or giving it out to others – who knows what joy they will getting from being loved by you?

Love your lovers. Even if you have more than one. Even if you have no idea what the future holds, or how long this will last. There’s a reason they are called lovers, not fuckers. Being in love is something to be enjoyed, to revel in, to claim as your right. Being in love cannot be bought and it cannot be sold. It’s organic and it’s beautiful. Being in love should make you smile more.

So, don’t be dictated to by past experiences, your own or those of anyone else, and don’t be ruled by society’s dos and don’ts when it comes to love. You, your lover and the time you share are all that matters. And when you feel like you’re falling in love – don’t be scared, just accept it, it's life and it’s yours. Life is too short to turn down being in love.

Sometimes is hurts but look after yourself, let romantic love come and go of its own accord, and you should be fine. Make it part of your life rather than your reason for living and it will sustain you, make you good. Leave everyone as you found them, if not better. And one day, you may not leave them at all.

Aaaaah. Get me.


Friday, 25 September 2009

why would you?

A co-worker of mine is planning her wedding. Another is a newlywed of one year.

They both seem to spend an awful amount of time on the phone cajoling, nagging or bribing their partners to do things. Seemingly innocuous things that their partners seem very loathe to get off their apparently lazy arses and do. It's not always like that, sometimes, when the blokes actually have done something as asked, I hear incredulous voices quizzing them as to why the fuck they did it the way they did. The boys get an earful, the girls get upset.

So, I ask you . . . why would you?


Wednesday, 23 September 2009

vive la France / rule Britannia #1

Comparing messages to The Tearaway, one from his married French MILF lover and one from me, your London AngryBird:

See if you can tell which is which:

"Imagine my hand on your neck and my lips behind your ear"

"Imagine my hand on your cock and my mouth on your balls"

Vive la difference . . . I blame Zoe Ball, but I'll come back to that.


Thursday, 27 August 2009


"A hungry man is an angry man." Bob Marley.

"A tired man is a proper pain in the arse." Me.

When a man is tired and preoccupied with work he is completely disabled. He loses the power of rational response - cannot contribute to nor follow conversation, cannot physically move from the sofa. He becomes Stephen Hawkin, but able only to apply his vast intellect to Sky Sports and MTV Base. When a woman is tired she puts on more make up or goes to bed. Granted, she may get snappy, but that’s just another example of women striving to keep the lines of communication open.

Anyway, I only bring this up because I recently fell foul of a reversion to type on both sides and bugged a guy to come over when he was way too tired and I was a little too hyper. It was an exhausting waste of both our time. Neither of us got the evening we wanted, neither of us got laid, and neither of us got any sleep as the A13 seemed to have been re-routed past my my bedroom window that night. The constant drone of traffic in the rain did nothing to alleviate the mood and he left in the morning. Early.

Twat, he should never have come over.