Sunday, February 13, 2005

Finding direction

Which for any one who has known me can attest that it is something I lack in quantity. I have always just thrown myself into anything and everything I do with no real sense of what I want to achieve, no road map to keep me going in the right direction. And so I believe this last year has been all about showing me to this place now, a place where I actually am questioning what I want and why I want it. Who my role models are and why. When I go out on a date for the first time with someone new what am I expecting? And what do I want from the relationships I make?
I have had lesson overload of late and am trying to trawl through everything, find the clues that are there and that will be my touchstone for a continuing education.
I'm not entirely sure as to where I should start then, maybe men, romance and internet dating as it seems to be my favourite past time and also the one thing I keep messing up with such grace.

I have been on a lot of dates in the last several months, and I have been extremely lucky with the men I have dated. In truth I have dated more men I have met through the internet than men I have met in the flesh in the last 10 years. Yet it is not information I volunteer wholeheartedly, instead only letting a select few of my colleagues know as there is still somewhat of a social stigma with internet dating. Many of my closest friends would never dream of taking part in it themselves; instead observing my chaotic dating regime from a safe distance as one would a road accident. Which is a pretty fair analogy, really. They're the ones who get the post mortems and who in the case when I fell a little too hard for someone, the ones who wiped away the tears and coaxed me back into the dating game.

A new male friend Kittsy, whom I know only through the fact he is dating my good friend Tiki (and yes, they met online) is of the opinion that internet daters are the dredge of society. However, he for one has found love or at least a sense of happiness with Tiki. And I wouldn't describe either of us as dredge of society, instead disagreeing wholeheartedly with his particular theory. I may be somewhat unlucky in love, but I am most definitely not a dredge. As it is I have dated a doctor, a barrister, a financial analyst, an artist, an oil trader, an award winning art director... All relatively harmless, all successful, charming, witty, and handsome; just not suitable for me. Yet all of them have shown me something new, and helped me little by little regain that ragged self esteem.

I am however ever sceptical about it, yet I can't deny that thrill when I'm in the start of something new, that anticipation, the nerves, the excitement – and I think that's where it all starts to go a bit downhill. Because the real thing never seems to be as good as my imagination and these men are reduced to their simple mortal states. And who can really compete with the vision I have in my mind, the man I have built through images and 4 hour long phone calls - even I have no idea what happens after that.

Despite my jaded cynicism, I can't quite seem to break away from it, where else can you date men you have already vetted for religious beliefs, newspapers and choice of leisure activities? Sounds cold and clinical but I'll be damned if I meet a man I like, only to find out too late that he's a Tory with a guilty pleasure in reading the Daily Mail. Better to save yourself from the heartache and know for sure before you commit yourself to that first date.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Where the FUCK is Rochester

It's in Kent, my dear. It's one of the Medway towns.

She said, sliding the map over to me.

How the hell had I ended up here? In Rochester?


It had started several months earlier, I had seen his profile and despite he not meeting the majority of my criteria something about him appealed to me.
We mailed.
We texted.
He had a meeting in London...
Would I look to meet him afterwards?
Nervous apprehension, sweaty palms, outfits discarded and revisited. He had me already, in his words. So we met up steadying nerves and loosening tongues through pints of lager and hand rolled cigarettes. The attraction seemed mutual, and suddenly it was last orders.

I'm a bit tired and as I've said, more than a little tipsy, the kisses had gone to my head and the beer had made me giddy. And so I text Knickers to let her know I'm on my way home, as I always do as she tends to get worried about me when I'm on a new date.

She gets a bit worried and sometimes I don't blame her because I have this thing, you see, where I know I'm hammered. And I know how to get home. And so I stare straight ahead and pretend I'm sober. Probably doesn't fool anyone but me. There is nothing quite so obvious as the drunk who's trying to look sober. Especially if it's a woman.

So as the train pulls into my station, I gather my belongings as gracefully as I can, and follow the rest of the pack off the train.

Wondering why Bromley South looks a bit different tonight.

And to my horror, I realise it's because Bromley South is not Bromley South.

It's Rochester.

And I have no idea where Rochester IS. Let alone how the hell I'm going to get home as I've just watched the last train back to London pull out of the station.

So I call my local cab firm, ask for a cab from Rochester. The operator laughs, quotes me £80.

Eighty pounds STERLING? As it is payday's 2 days away and all I have is £15 in my wallet.
I call Tiki in panic. She laughs, mutters something to Kittsy, I can hear in the background

"Where the fuck is Rochester?"

I try the cab office, downstairs, in a semi drunken state make my way to the desk.
"Where the fuck is Rochester?" As politely as possible.

It's in Kent, my dear. It's one of the Medway towns. She said, sliding the map over to me.

So here I am. Stuck. In a Medway town in Kent. And the next train is 5 hours from now. And as I prepare to settle in for the night, luckily the woman in the cab office takes pity on me, makes me tea and invites me into the office. And then my phone rings.
It's Knickers.
Sleepily. "Where are you babe?"



Suddenly awake.

"How'd you get there M?"

"Um, I don't think the train stopped."

"How are you getting home?"


"What time's the next train M?"

"Uhmmm, ermmm..."

"M babe? Where the FUCK is Rochester?"

I hate to think of the sub conversations that then went on from that simple phrase.
It's been bad enough retelling it and I've promised I'll never make fun of anyone who falls asleep and ends up in some far flung commuter station again.
And I had to promise Knickers I'd bear her first born child as she was the one who had to crawl out of bed, get in her car and drive the hour and a half to find Rochester station, collect me from the warmth of the cab station to take me home.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


It started last night, I'm sure of it.

There were 16 men in total, probably more, but 16 I know I can definitely put a finger on for letting me down last night. Wayne Rooney started it, with his tempestuous little tantrum and the remaining 10 players, 5 subs and Sven then contributed to England's abysmal performance against Spain last night. I love football, and I wholeheartedly support England - even over Wales
Sorry Mom and Dad but it's more to do with the fact I know the England players.
I mean, who plays for Wales?!



But last night I couldn't even muster up the energy to watch the end of the game, it was that dismal.
So there.
That's my first disappointment with men, a whole bloody team of them. Followed this morning by God (HE made it rain, and today I potentially have a "date"), the engineers working near Shortlands who have dug up the pavement making me walk on the road and through muddy walkways, (not great for suede boots - fashion before function, my friends) the bus driver who sprayed me before failing to stop despite the frantic waving of arms, the train driver who arrived late into Blackfriars station, the man in front of me in Pret who counted out his coins to pay for breakfast (thus indulging the London impatience in me) and the bus driver who braked suddenly causing me to spill latte over my boots...

And so, into work and despite the hot web designer I'm currently pursuing's "I'll be back in later to reply to your mail" there has been no communication from him. Hmmmm...
And my new bible "He's just not that into you" taught me I never ever need to chase a man so that's what I'm doing.
Taking a back seat and letting him come to me, which has worked alright for the moment but I'm not so sure that British men are used to this tactic, and I know that I'm not used to it. I'm used to bowling in there headfirst, and going after what I want.
So here I am.

Not really waiting all day for his email. Which when it finally does come is to cancel at the last possible bloody minute.
But really.
I'm not disappointed.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Fairy tales

It really is a funny old thing; love, relationships, fidelity. As it is we've been reared on a diet of idyllic fairy tales, our understanding of love nurtured at an impressionable age, expectations gleaned from stories of beautiful damsels in distress and the dashing men who rescue them. A somewhat rose tinted glimpse of perfection, the hope that we too will meet the perfect man, fall in love, forsake all others and marry The One. Happily Ever After.

But for me, this raises a pretty fundamental question; are we really destined for just one person?
One lover to the end of our dying day? Or has the rate at which the population is currently expanding given us a lot more choice than just The One?

I'm not entirely sure that we are monogamous creatures.
We are after all only animals, despite the expensive grooming and cloth. Or is that all just smoke and mirrors? Morally when we commit to love and treasure someone, we should do just that. We commit to remain faithful, mentally and physically to just one person.

For the rest of our lives.

Pretty bleak prospect, eh?

According to a press release by the BBC 11% of single people, and 11% of people no longer in relationships think that adultery should be the 8th deadly sin; whereas only 5% of those in stable relationships agree that it should be added. So does that mean 95% agree that cheating on our partner is not a sin?

As it is I'm not married, nor am I in a relationship. And I can't remember what it feels like to be in love so count me out of that equation. My inability to develop lasting relationships with members of the opposite sex are legendary.

At 30, I've only ever had 2 serious relationships. Obviously neither was The One, but that never stopped either of them breaking my heart in different ways. And in both, there was infidelity. My first love cheated on me, and I felt betrayed by the man who swore he loved me with his whole heart. I never got over the betrayal, yet when I turned to another man in my last relationship, I felt only a fraction of guilt I should have. And the next man I tried to have a relationship with after that? I'm loathe to admit that that also ended with me being tempted by the charms of someone else.
To this day, neither ex knows that I cheated on him; through my actions I found the courage to leave both of them very quickly afterwards.

So does this make my actions any more, or any less wrong because I was miserably unhappy? Especially as the most confusing thing about it is that morally I knew that what I was doing was wrong, yet at the same time I am struggling to see the cardinal sin in it all. I certainly never went looking for an affair, maybe just a way out. After all, I am a romantic at heart and I believed those fairy tales.

But what these stories never prepared me for was that the damsel in distress sometimes finds that forsaking all others for her perfect prince is not so easy as it seems.