MONDAY, 1 NOVEMBER 2010
Ms R is starting to think Stephen Fry has some sort of Tourette’s. Now, most of the time Ms R tolerates the loquacious, look-at-me by ignoring him. Admittedly since the big dough boy has ingratiated himself on to every piece of bandwidth this is getting difficult, however the will at Ms R Towers is strong.
This is a man of many contradictions, most of which he fails to understand himself. A man who loves to be loved. A man who needs to be loved by people he has never met. Witness his foot stamping on his beloved Twitter when someone disagrees with him. The pattern is always the same. Fry declares that the world is ‘unkind’ and threatens to leave Twitter whereupon thousands of people he’s never met beg him to stay and he sniffs, gets his nose wiped and he returns, safe in the knowledge that he truly exists. Fry would never cut himself off from Twitter; it would be like checking himself off the machines in intensive care.
Anyway, poor Stephen who is ever so easily offended gave an interview recently where he opined that ‘straight women don’t like sex.’ He went on to back up this insight, gained from being a gay man, by saying that they use it to secure love. There are number of questions here:
The question of whether women enjoy sex
The question of why people have sex which is a huge complex one that has spawned essays
The question of Mr Fry’s desperate need to be loved, as demonstrated by him once again threatening to leave Twitter after the newspapers reported his comment.
It was, said big soft Stephen, only a ‘joke’. So who was supposed to get the laughs Stephen? Can’t see the target market for that one but hey you’re above all that aren’t you? You don’t even have to explain and frankly it’s just NOT FAIR that this time you had to.
What is especially wonderful about Fry’s delightfully, naive generalisation is his attempt to support it by suggesting that if straight women did enjoy sex then they’d go out cruising on Hampstead Heath and look for it.
But Stephen we don’t need to. The way the universe works and always has done is that if a woman wants sex she only has to sit in a cafe or bar with a certain look in her eyes. Five minutes or so later she will have an offer of sex. She can make that a certainty by employing particular body language if she wishes. There is often no need to even dress like a slut. Because that is how straight men are programmed. If there’s a chance they’re in.
There was a subtext in there too: Fry appeared to think that women don’t do really ‘dirty’ sex, you know the kind of stuff he and his mates call ‘naughty’. What did he mean? Anal? (Ms R stifles yawn).
Perhaps Mr Fry only socialises with the kind of Arabellas and Mimis who regard sex as a chore to be undertaken as a duty to their husbands? Or, more accurately, he knows SFA about the subject. Which brings us on to the next point: why people have sex. Well sometimes they do it because they want a handbag. They need a place to sleep after the party. They want to feel good, however misjudged that might be.
Each encounter, even within a long partnership, has its own story. We don’t always know our reasons for sex, especially when we’re younger – we think it will make us feel better or give us confidence but it has the opposite effect. As for enjoying sex I can assure Mr Fry as I’m sure my readers will that straight women love to get down and dirty just like animals, for no reason at all. I’m sure that not all the ‘naughty’ gay sex that Mr Fry has is enjoyable. I suspect that it is done for all sorts of reasons too, self-esteem being high on the list. But it is Mr Fry’s own need to be loved that he seems blissfully unaware of. This is a man with an insatiable, and fragile, ego. The combination of the two is deadly. Simply put it means he can dish it out but the poor bloke can’t take it. Hence, every time someone vaguely questions him he spits the dummy and threatens to deny the world of his utterings.
This might be a good time to carry out that threat. It seems that Mr Fry is in danger of believing the publicity and while we can ultimately laugh it off, one daren’t think what the backlash would do this man who so desperately craves love and attention.
SATURDAY, 16 OCTOBER 2010
It is actively and vigorously acknowledged by men who have a pulse that a bit of slut is rather exciting. It is not this blog’s intention to ask why: Ms R is a Woman of Experience and has personal knowledge of male reaction to said sluttiness. She fully expects that her readers have been round the block, and up against a few doorways in their lives, and do not need any 101 prepping.
Ms R had an unintentional recent reminder of the slut effect when she answered the door to BFF (Best f*ckingf*ck- well for now) wearing a white vest top under which she was wearing a red bra. BFF suddenly had a twinkle in his eye. It wasn’t the usual glint but a different one. What happened then is a mad tumbling blur which Ms R shall leave to your over-active imaginations. Afterwards BFF said “You looked a bit slutty with red bra straps showing.” It was, he said, just the right amount of slut. Moreover, the fact that Ms R would never step out with a bra strap showing was itself a turn on. It was unexpected.
Women teetering in six inch stripper heels and leopard skin corsets en route to their workplace should take note. We are not talking about piling it high and selling it cheap. Unfortunately fashion editors – a breed of women who know little about sex – have decreed that this kind of dress is ‘sexy’. Since most women are girls, they have slavishly followed with the result that we now have pavements populated with a lot of breast and bum that nobody really wants to see. Sure men will look but it’s a look that says “I’d do her now in the gutter. And only once.”
If that works for you, Ms R is not getting in the way. But here at Ms R Towers we have always extolled the allure of the inner slut. The inner slut doesn’t need to put a corset on. She has mastered the art of having a perfectly intelligent conversation and knowing exactly when to insert the sentence “I’d like you to take me home and fuck my brains out” before returning to said conversation.
The inner slut doesn’t greet at the door wearing suspenders and black lace. She already wears matching underwear and sometimes, just sometimes, none of it matches in that careless, “Oh I forgot” way which shows an uncustomary lack of control. French women have always done this kind of thing naturally – slightly smudged mascara, bedhead hair but otherwise impeccably dressed.
The inner slut knows how to drop hints before she’s dropped her clothes, even before she’s said a word. The inner slut loves being a woman, respects and likes herself but in the right moment can do porn actress with authenticity. The inner slut is the inner woman who allows herself to emerge in the hands of the right man.
SUNDAY, 5 SEPTEMBER 2010
Would you go down the chimney for a lover?
This is not Ms R’s sad attempt at innuendo but a real question. Californian GP Jacqueline Kotarac decided she had to confront her on again/off again lover. He didn’t answer the door, having apparently slipped out the back way to take a trip. Determined, and blind in the way that scorned lovers are, she climbed down the chimney where she got stuck and died a horrible, slow death worthy of Balzac’s pen.
Unless of course you’re the one who always does the dumping first – probably with a curt text these days – this is an issue you’ve had to deal with. Wanting to make a point when you’ve been unceremoniously thrown off the loved up bus is pretty standard behaviour. Climbing on to someone’s roof and going down the chimney is not. It is simply Victorian in today’s uber connected society.
What couldn’t she have said via those fifty texts an hour favoured by the modern, dispossessed young lover? Technology means we don’t need to get covered in soot to make them sorry.
Thing is, when have those attempts to get the last word in ever really yielded anything except more heartache for the person trying to do it? Ms R will honestly raise her hand here and say that in terms of any relationship of significance (so we are excluding one night stands, people you only dated a few times or met on holiday etc etc here), no attempt to tell him that he was heartless/wrong/lower than a people trafficker have made her feel better. It never does, does it?
Readers have probably discovered that the range of communication possibilities provided by our digital world have prolonged the suffering. Instead of the landline call which is met with an answering machine when you try to reciprocate, or the public goodbye, we now feel compelled to try all the possibilities before concluding that this chapter is now closed. As long as we can find a way of reaching them, the logic is that there is life in it yet despite the fact he or she has told you there isn’t. So you do what precisely you can’t do with emotions – you rationalise them.
He/she has not been themselves lately. They did this in a moment of impulse. Did they not see how rosy life was together? Gosh the sex was amazing, what else did they need? You never ran out of things to talk about. And so on. You decide they need to be reminded of this and what follows is the kind of stuff you would kick a friend for but which you are now doing.
“I miss you.”
“Want to have lunch and talk about it?”
“I think we have a lot to share and I know you do too.”
“You know we still love each other.”
There is no reply. But that doesn’t stop you. You start to get angry. You accuse them of leading you on, lying, cheating, everything including being a serial killer. Not surprisingly this does not promote further conversation. Most people usually give up at this point and seek solace in drink or ill-advised one night stands ‘to get him/her back.’
But some just go off the deep-end like our Californian doctor. Obsession and love are frequently too close to call, so that is no surprise. But what, really what could she have needed to say that she couldn’t do on Facebook?
TUESDAY, 31 AUGUST 2010
Yesterday Ms R received a text from a young man of her acquaintance. He’d wanted to take her to dinner over the long weekend but something had got in the way. Was it another rung on his career ladder? No. It seemed that his friends had decided to split up and he’d spent all weekend talking to them. Learned readers know how dangerous this territory is. Frankly why not just blow yourself up and be done with it?
“But they are close friends,” he told Ms R.
“Aha but the closer they are the less you should interfere,”opined Ms R. “Remember I am a Woman of Experience and this is one experience you do not want.” He chose not to heed the warning, so Ms R gave him a crash helmet, a cyanide tablet and bade him farewell.
Ms R has never found herself in this situation, largely because her wise Lebanese mother told her that it is impossible to get involved without being seen as taking sides. Given that her mother comes from a war-torn country, this is good advice. Exactly what do you gain by getting involved in people’s lives. Those of you less inclined towards the examined life might say, “But he’s just being kind. He wants them to stay together.”
Ok smarties but to what end? What is in it for him if his friends stay together?
“Why nothing Ms R. He just wants to see them happy.”
But they are not happy, and experience tells us that if the sore has come to the surface now, it’s been around for a while. You see while this young man may feel his intentions are good, Ms R suspects that he, like others who choose to walk amongst emotional IED’s, wants his life to stay the same. His life has been a conventional one: school, university, finance job, career ladder. Same group of friends to ski with, go to the beach with and see at each other’s weddings. Think about it. If these two upset the apple cart, they rupture his certainty. For some people the thought of any change is too much.
“But we always go to Bob and Kate’s on Saturdays for nights in with a DVD.” See what I’m saying? Because when Bob and Kate are no longer together, it kind of makes things awkward doesn’t it? Who do you invite? Who do you leave out?
As Ms R has told him, it’s life. And it’s only life. I’m not saying it’s easy. And I’m not saying it’s trivial. But when people find that it’s not working for them, it really has nothing to do with the rest of us. That doesn’t mean not being supportive. However in situations like this what they really want you to do is listen while they make their own minds up. Not to make up their minds for them, which is what Ms R thinks this man wants to do. He wants to ‘mediate’ and make it better he says. He cares about them. Maybe. But perhaps he cares about knowing his place in the world even more. And right now they’re messing it up.
WEDNESDAY, 18 AUGUST 2010
Elizabeth Gilbert was feeling unfulfilled. Alarm bells, albeit ethnically-sourced ones – probably Peruvian – were going off in her head. She had no passion for anything. Could it be that she was a spoiled, self-obsessed bore who lacked the maturity to understand this was simply life? No, that wasn’t it at all. She deserved better. Predictably, while she was stamping her feet, her husband got fed up with her and decided to go back to school.
“Grr,” said Elizabeth. “I’ll show him that I’m more unfulfilled than he is.” She told him he had contributed to the rut in her life. Ah yes, when in doubt, transfer responsibility. Anyway of course they got divorced and Elizabeth then advertised her insecurity by shacking up with a younger guy, a struggling actor. No clichés there then.
But something was still wrong. Getting laid while eating noodles out of containers wearing the actor’s dirty T shirt, was not as exciting as it had sounded. It wasn’t, you know, alternative enough. Elizabeth immediately rang her publishers and got a $200,000 advance for her daring plan. She would go on a spiritual pilgrimage during which she would visit randomly chosen places like Italy and Bali. What an imagination! Nobody had done this before and written about it. Aided by a heaving bank account, Elizabeth would rediscover herself by renouncing Western values. After she took the money.
And then the clichés started tumbling over each other. She met healers, soothsayers, gourmets (well you can’t starve when you’re searching for spiritual enlightenment) artists (natch) and a ‘loveable’ Texan. She prayed in India because you can’t pray unless you’re actually there. Then she went to Italy to eat pasta. There’s lots of pasta in the US but it’s not the same because in Italy you can eat carbs without the guilt. Plus in Italy they eat with love, allegedly. Then– reader, this is really too delicious – she allowed herself to love again. She gave herself permission. And she did it in Bali. With a Brazilian stud. Now leaving aside the fact that getting laid in Bali proves nothing except that the guy has slept with everyone else except you, does anyone get the feeling that this is all just a tad too convenient?
“But Ms R,” you say, “That sounds like a very valid attempt to fight her own ego.”
I must say at first I thought it was nothing more than a parade of self-absorption. And now I think it is. This is the self-entitlement card, played large, with all the advantages of middle-class wealth. It is the deification of the dangerous notion that there is always something better out there and all we need is $200,000 to find it.
Ms R doesn’t know about you but this sounds far more like selfishness dressed up in a commercial, spiritual coating. The really worrying thing is that women are falling for this thinly disguised call to arms. And the danger is that some, not all, will stop actually living their lives and start spending too much time thinking about what these books tell them they are supposed to have, which may well be an illusion.
Eat. Pray. Collect.
SUNDAY, 8 AUGUST 2010
Ms R is still here. Not that you cared. Ok you might have cared but it’s not like you were worried since you have many things to worry about even if your life is not as bad as a kid making clothes for Gap.
Ms R had stuff that was bothering her and then she decided that the first thing to do was give her life some colonic irrigation. That got rid of three people and a few activities. The path is clearer now but still precarious, though there do not seem to be any IED’s on it. (Gosh how fashionably referential I am).
Heart and soul have been lightened by a trip to Aix En Provence where as well as seeing a blindingly blue, luminous sky, Ms R was gladdened to not see any badly dressed persons. Life-affirming? You bet.
For now Ms R Towers is pensive and thoughtful. Some topics have arisen however they have not sufficiently ignited passion.
FRIDAY, 25 JUNE 2010
Ms R is currently bemused by what passes for summer clothing in London, the number of people who acquire Brazilian citizenship during the World Cup and letters in the newspaper signed by people who are Well Known and who Normally Act or Sing or Do Something Artistic But Who Feel They Must Be Political.
You can practically guarantee the appearance of a multi-signatory letter when the G20 summit rolls around. So it did. Yesterday. It doesn’t matter which paper or what it said. What matters is that it was there, an earnest 300 or so words about fairness and poor people signed by the likes of Scarlet Johanssen and Colin Firth. I don’t know about you but hell I’m convinced. These people all signed it ergo they must care. If we apportion the words between the signatories that gives them an investment of about 0.0075 in each letter. But now we’re being churlish. They just don’t have the time to instruct their personal PA to write their own letter.
What intrigues and amuses Ms R is how these letters come about and how they are passed around. How do they start? How do they decide what goes in? Does each celebrity sit there agonising over the words and pass back their comments.
“Colin I think you’ve been a bit passive there. I’d probably use a stronger word,” says Scarlett. “I really can’t sign if you say that. There’s just so much riding on this I can’t commit my signature to it if you use that word.”
Colin Firth throws up his hands in despair, cancels promo tour, filming and talk show and decides he will concentrate on the letter until he gets it perfectly right. It is difficult getting consensus from all these people with their promotional tours but he is determined that this 300 words will matter and will change the world. A conference call is suggested. All the celebrities drop everything they are doing and sit in, anxious that this should be absolutely spot on. There is lively discussion and like all conference calls it goes on for hours but they don’t care: they have to get this right because their names will be on it. Finally after some heated exchanges and overnight phone calls it is ready the next morning. They are excited especially when they are phoned by the editor to say the letter is definitely going to be published. Wow.
Someone says it would be great if they could get Bono to sign. But he can’t. He’s to busy to allow his name to be used. But he sends his love. And peace of course.
It is perfect: generic, trivial, dull and uncompelling. But oh the signatures are something else. Trailing down the page they cling to the end of the letter as if they really cared. As a symbol of how concern is packaged so that ‘we’ all take responsibility but very few people take any, it is perfect.
PS: Ms R is of course available to any celebrity who wishes to pay her vast sums to write Letters of Concern about any matter.
MONDAY, 17 MAY 2010
Ms R has never been one to cling. Ok there might be an exception if she were say scaling a cliff and not clinging would result in certain death. But in matters of relationships, when someone calls it a day they have usually been thinking about it for longer than a day. If he/she says they want to go then the advice from Ms R Towers is that life is too short to mess about: simply point out that once they leave to ‘find themselves’ they are not coming back. For a start do you want to spend the rest of your life with someone who has suddenly decided they are not who they are supposed to be but have no idea who that is? Ms R had to deal with a similar thing when she split from her husband. He didn’t know who he was. He was lost. Ms R had spent enough years watching him looking for himself. Now she had to look out for herself.
Laura Munson didn’t quite see it that way. When her husband told her he didn’t love her anymore she didn’t believe him. According to her, “Those are just words.” This was a writer who’d had 14 novels rejected. Clearly she figured, “Ok I’m going to get a book out of this one.”
Her solution was to give him ‘time out’ reasoning that it was what you did with toddlers when they were out of sorts. The idea was that if he went and did what he wanted he would return more fulfilled. So that summer he just came and went as he pleased. She didn’t ask. He just came and went for days at a time. Therapy was of course involved.
Now it takes a certain kind of woman to have “I don’t love you” thrown in her face and to turn that into a totally different proposition, one that goes, “You are tired poor thing. You need a rest.”
Some readers may think this admirable yet you have to question what the marriage was like up until that moment: the woman is clearly a control freak and it doesn’t take much to see that she is one of those women who think infantilising a man is the way to keep him. There are women everywhere who are happy to excuse the behaviour of a grown-up adult with “He just doesn’t know how to handle it.” And so by putting themselves in the role of responsible adult and taking responsibility away from their partner, they hold it all together and play happy families.
On one hand you have to admire their ability to cut emotion out of the deal and take the high ground. But where does that get you? Into the role of mummy or teacher who will tolerate everything. He knows he has permission to do whatever he wishes and the only consequence will be a toddler type telling off. Hell, most blokes can live with that. It’s a license to trash the nursery and still get cake.
Anyway Munson got interviews. She got publicity. She finally got the book deal she wanted. She got a picture of her with her husband looking happy and fulfilled. She is being hailed as some sort of guru.
Maybe. But Ms R can’t help thinking she’s backed herself into a corner where he’ll do it all again. Still she’ll always have the book deal.
MONDAY, 3 MAY 2010
Ms R met the first man she lived with at an advertising party. Ok that wasn’t so hard. I mean if you can’t pull at an advertising party in the eighties you don’t deserve to be here. She met her tall, blonde, tanned travelling husband on a beach in Broome, Australia. He was naked. She was reading Hunter S Thompson and he told her he hated it. And then after that, perhaps the lover who has mattered most, the one who cared about her not just her sexual prowess (and is still in touch though he is back in America) picked her up in a restaurant after she glared at his two Blackberries. With a Southern drawl and attitude borne of living in San Francisco for 30 years, the lawyer man decided that her glare deserved dinner.
Of course not everyone is outgoing and moreover may not be able to spot the opportunities even if they arise. And so we have the interweb. Latterly Ms R has been trying to help out a friend in her 30s who has recently broken up with someone. Said friend Miss H is very smart, attractive and frankly very witty. However she takes some time to reveal this in public so Ms R has decided that maybe the interweb dating thing might be good for Miss H. Plus then Ms R gets to screen them all first and have some fun.
Ms R figured that by now internet dating in Britain might have reached the stage it has for her American friends- fairly mature and direct, established even. No, it has not. It is a wild west out there and Ms R is wondering if she should subject a fragile Miss H to this lawless land where nobody says what they mean and it seems has no idea who they really are. Ms R’s scientific investigations, conducted while wearing a white lab coat of course, have revealed the following.
- ‘Likes the finer things in life’ – a dusky Asian babe looking to swap sex for shoes and anything else.
- A man who likes the ‘finer things in life’ is hoping to get a dusky Asian babe without having to buy her too many shoes.
- He’s just ‘looking for fun’ means he has a girlfriend.
- ‘Discretion assured and expected’ means he has a wife and she’s caught him out before.
- A woman with curves in ‘all the right places’ is not sexy and voluptuous. She is overweight.
- ‘Bubbly’ is not lively. It is a very overweight woman who will do weird shit in bed to prove what a great personality she has.
- Looking for ‘an honest woman’ is usually a bloke whose best mate slept with his girlfriend.
- Looking for a ‘loyal woman’ means that no matter if he sleeps with your best friend you’ll forgive him.
- She wants to be ‘spoiled’. Amateur hooker.
- Men who say they ‘hate football’ (and sport in general) are outright liars. If Ms R were to extrapolate the number of ads she has read with this phrase then England has only maybe a hundred football supporters. This is a really pathetic attempt to either appear intellectual (flawed logic boys).
- ‘Tactile’ men and women are best avoided unless you like people who cling like limpets
- When he says he likes ‘kinky sex LOL’ move on quickly. This is the lowest of the interweb food chain. If he liked kinky sex he’d be on a kinky sex site not a normal dating site. But he’s nervous so he’s put LOL in. Best to avoid all acronyms.
- ‘Enjoys nights in and nights out’ means nights in. With a DVD.
- A man who is ‘a tad under six foot’ is 5ft 9″
- A man of ‘average height is really 5ft 6″
- ‘Short cropped’ hair is bald
- ‘Likes theatre, galleries, museums, ballet’. Oh yes and you have subscriptions too I’ll bet. Who is Harold Pinter?
- “I look young for my age.” She dresses like her teenage daughter and he wears inappropriate combat trousers and trainers that nobody over 25 should be seen dead in.
- A man who prefers the company of much younger women ‘because I get on with them better’ has big insecurity issues usually stemming from being rubbish in bed. Or he’s a pervert looking for a girl who’ll wear short white socks and a school uniform.
Ms R (who likes men who like sport) feels that while some people may have success with this it is an awfully hard way to meet people and she might be better off taking Miss H out with her and demonstrating the fine art of chatting. To subject her to this land where the goalposts don’t just shift- they get stolen- might be too much.
TUESDAY, 27 APRIL 2010
They are in every gym. Evidently they have texted each other in order to emerge from their respective change rooms at exactly the same time. It has been timed to the second. There are no coincidences in this place.
You would not be watching except for the fact that they spend most of their time walking around so you cannot avoid seeing them. Every now and then he pats her on her bottom. Encouragement? Nope. Affection? Probably not. Ownership? Now we’re talking. Because the last thing this is about is exercise. This is his king of the jungle moment and she is merely there as an admirer.
Regardless of her figure, she appears to have spent her lifetime avoiding the development of any kind of muscle. It is bad enough watching her ten desultory minutes walking on the treadmill. It is more excruciating watching him hit the button up to Level 17 as he shows her how fast he can run. And so he does, for all of 30 seconds. Phew. That was big. He gives her a kiss on the cheek as they head for the weights room. This is is Big Gorilla moment. He loads a huge amounts of weight onto a bar while she stands back looking suitably impressed. You know he has overdone his limit but it is too late: her adoration is palpable and he must now lift and squat. Three reps. Oh yeah, like he was just demonstrating. He can’t do anymore because he must pat her on the head and hand her two weights, each weighing about six ounces.
He stands behind her helping her lift her arms up and down. After an agonizing six reps she points to her upper arm. It is time to pretend it is too hard for her now. He takes this opportunity to show her his own not terribly well developed biceps. She is impressed, squeezing them with a look on her face comparable to the 1950’s housewife discovering a Betty Crocker instant cake mix for the first time.
It has been all of about fifteen minutes. Already it is time to do the abs. They set up mats together and begin doing sit ups. After ten she has had enough. But not him. Oh no. He is going to get a 20Kg weight, hold it to his chest and go up and down if it kills him. And it nearly does. Meanwhile he instructs her that after such a tough workout she must stretch. He shows her how, correcting her when he feels she gets it wrong which is often. She is grateful. We know this because she pats him on the bottom. The air is thick with the syrup of their mutual insecurity.
They depart for the change rooms. He kisses her in case she forgets him while she showers. Again the texts must have been doing overtime for they emerge, showered, dressed and unexercised. He takes her hand and leads her home. You never see them again. You see others like them but they don’t last. They never do.
SATURDAY, 17 APRIL 2010
Ms R is not sure how many times a blogger is allowed to repost as official rules do not exist for such things. However last week she received a panic text from a good friend: “HELP THIS IS THE MOST BORING DATE I HAVE BEEN ON. WHERE ARE YOU?”
So Ms R..while she recovers from sleeping in a strange position (alone) and therefore postponing the post about this unfortunate event gives you the dating post that had them nodding in recognition 3 years ago.
And then we’ll have another one.
The Last Date Saloon
As a woman in her forties who has had enough dates to know what constitutes a good one, Ms Robinson is not inclined to let a bad one proceed any longer than it should. She is thinking of one such date with a man called Mark last year. After forty-five minutes, Ms R realised she was bored. She should have known but when she had met him in a bar a week earlier he seemed ok. But now her life was starting to flash before her very eyes and she’d only had one vodka. At 8.45, she excused herself. She had to kill this one off. So she was honest. “Look Mark, this date isn’t working for me. It never will. So I’m going to go ok. Bye.” Hell, life is short, why waste it?
Dressed up and with nowhere to go, Ms R made her way home feeling, understandably, unsatisfied. What would have been preferable is a place for disappointed datees, people like her to go to. A kind of Last Date Saloon where people gathered when their date had dumped them, they’d had an argument or they hadn’t got what they expected. Here they could tell their stories of woe and hopefully save the evening in one way or another. It would be like Cheers except nobody would know your name.
Upon arrival at the Last Date Saloon you would have a brief assessment and then be allocated to an area of the club where you would find people just like you. In Self-Pity you would be automatically surrounded by women with smudged mascara and runny noses, all saying things like “All men are bastards”, “Why do I attract the fucking losers?” and “This always happens to me.” Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” would be playing on a loop in the background.
Inevitably someone would announce that she’d had enough and wanted to become a lesbian at which point a dateless lesbian would reply, “Honey it’s not that good for us either.” There would be lots of cheap, warm chardonnay, chocolate and crisps. There would always be one woman crying in the corner, inconsolable. A life member. Occasionally she would get hysterical and one of the employees would remove her and put her in No-one Can Hear You Scream.
Like the women who were employed in Self-Pity, the men who worked in Not Again Mate would be full time employees who knew exactly what sort of comfort to offer. They would wear rugby shirts with their collars up and say things like, “I know mate, they speak another language” and “It’s not you, it’s them, who knows what’s in their heads?” Endless pints would be on offer.There would be lots of back slapping, endless sport on the screen above their heads and porn movies to watch. The Bloke Who Gives Good Advice would be there saying that the only way was to “Treat them mean and show them who’s boss.” Lots of men would be sat around him nodding at his sage advice.
A busty, overtanned, ertsaz blonde wearing a skimpy dress, high heels and a fake Louis Vuitton bag would walk past now and again. Each time she appeared, a man would say, “Now that’s what you want. A bit of totty.” On cue, they would all mutter things like, “Give me five minutes with her” and “I’d wear her out.” The blonde would smile at them no matter what they said. Eventually one would say, “Now that kindof girl makes me feel really good about myself. Why can’t they all be like that?”
More analytical souls could head for Date Replay where they could role play their date and figure out what went wrong. “So should you have asked for anal sex on the first date Bob?” The crowd waits while Bob struggles with his answer. Angie meanwhile cannot quite work out why she should not have told Michael that she really liked him. Soon she will end up in Self-Pity.
Of course, like Ms R after her date, many visitors to the Saloon will just be looking to continue their evening. Happily they can go to Pick Me Up where the hardier, hornier souls are just looking for a good time with someone else’s date. Just like real life really.
THURSDAY, 8 APRIL 2010
Ms R is tired. Tired of winter, tired of stupid people (there are rather a lot round this year) and today, very tired of women taking their clothes off and telling us how they ‘finally’ feel good about their bodies. Like the astrology page, this is now a regular feature of every women’s magazine going. Ms R does not buy them, however sometimes in Tesco, when she is lost and looking for peanut butter, she passes the magazine section.
Inevitably 98% of the covers will be trumpeting the good news (for it is) of some vaguely public figure, telling us how she is “finally” happy with her body. How she has FINALLY got the body she “WANTED.” How she feels so pleased about it she is taking off her clothes and being photographed under strict lighting conditions and then having the life airbrushed out of her. But this is it: this is finally, unequivocally and in no uncertain terms the point at which she has the body she wants. Until the next photo shoot.
Now a word to the wise: Until you are about 35, this should not even be an issue. Because frankly you have the body – whether you like it or not – and should be working on the brain and maybe even getting a personality (just an idea). And if are over forty and still obsessing you that you are not slim-boned, can’t get rid of your fat ankles, don’t have longer legs or a really tight small arse because even Dr Liposuction couldn’t do that for you and never will, then can you please stop trying to make ‘ordinary’ women who can’t afford Dr MakeMeTight identify with you.
But most of all, can you stop with the word ’empowerment.’ Because you don’t have it. You never had it. And you will never have it. This word, once associated with brave women making choices about their bodies and their lives – and I mean things like abortion – is now sprinkled like marshmallow fluff on the magazine pages where someone over 40 has taken her clothes off and bless her, put her newly empowered nakedness on the table. It is so ’empowering’ for her and by implication, for us to see her doing it. Is it? Is it really? The idea that this is some sort of achievement, a pinnacle of her life is just wrong. In fact it’s more than that; it’s infantile. Reader you might argue that this is an attempt to show that women over 40 are still attractive but show who? Who reads women’s magazines? Women. Men who think women over 30 are dead will always think that and the rest, well you can call me.
Seriously what is there to admire about the woman who does this? What is there to emulate? And what is empowering? It used to be that a woman’s power lay in not giving it all away – verbally and visually. In that lay the mystery, the challenge and the knowledge. It still does.
SUNDAY, 7 MARCH 2010
It used to be such an easy question with a straightforward response that usually went ‘yes’ or ‘no’. But now, well all Ms R can say is if you poke the ant’s nest, be prepared for the kind of wriggling that would put a Thai stripper to shame.
“So anyway are you married?”
“What does kind of mean?”
“Well it’s complicated.”
“Have you split up?”
“Well yes. yes that’s it..”
“So you’re separated?”
“You could say that.”
“Right so you live in a house on your own?”
“Well there are children with me.”
“The children live with you? Not her?”
“Well sometimes they’re with her.”
“In her house?”
“In the house. When she’s around.” (Note how house becomes neutral not ‘ours’ or ‘mine’ like it’s just there)
“When is she around?”
“Oh you know she lives there.”
“All the time?”
“So you live with your wife in the same house?”
“Yes..but we don’t live together anymore..it’s just the house we have. We lead separate lives.”
“And the children.”
“Oh yes they live in the house.”
“Does she know you’re not together anymore?”
“Well not exactly. But you do.”
“Hang on, hang on. You still sleep in the same bed?”
“But that doesn’t mean anything. You know how it is.”
Does she know it doesn’t mean anything. Have you discussed it?
“Uh well not exactly…”
“So she doesn’t know any of what you’ve just told me?”
“No, well it’s all a bit messy really..”
“And you think that makes you not married?”
“Well we’re not married as in married”
Do your parents, children or any of your friends know that you don’t think you’re married anymore?
“No I don’t think so.”
“So actually you are married?”
“Well if you put it like that I am.”
TUESDAY, 2 MARCH 2010
It sneaked up on us like so many things do: shiny leggings, the organic con trick, Bono, Sting, woollen bits of string around wrists, chicklit, third wave so called feminism. And now, we are stuck with it. Exactly. We. When did I – or you for that matter – become We? When did our thoughts, opinions, prejudices and sexual preferences all become those of a lumpen, lazy group?
“But I am still me,” you are thinking. No you’re not. According to pretty much every journalist and commentator you and me are We. Back in the days when we were all young, beautiful and foolish, writing was about keeping a critical distance. About not making assumptions. And most definitely not about WE. After September 11, 2001 they told us we were all Americans now. I quickly checked my mail. Had my Greencard application come through? No. I was definitely not American.
It goes back further than that of course. To the death of Princess Diana and the mass outpouring that suggested all our lives had been greatly affected. That was how they reported it. We all mourned for the ‘People’s Princess’. In truth my then husband was utterly pissed off because his Observer wasn’t delivered on time. We (both of us) were waiting for our newspaper actually which kind of messed up our morning but probably not everyone else’s.
That society has become tribal in so many ways is undeniable. That globalisation has created common trends is also true. But this kind of lazy writing disguised as up close and personal is both irritating and profoundly stupid. Read the London Times and you will discover that we are all having affairs, swinging regularly, eating organic, worrying about how much TV kids watch, agonising over the internet and intensely debating the sexualisation of young women. The best part is that having used ‘we’ throughout the entire article the journalist can only ever cite three or four people who vaguely agree with this national or global phenomenon they’re describing
There is nothing that exemplifies the We culture more than when women write about women for women. For me (and that is I) it is utterly insulting to read that as a forty-something we are invisible, over the hill and pretty much dead to the world. Apparently because we don’t have children we have regrets and I (we) spend all my time thinking about finding my perfect partner and we hate being wolf-whistled and so on.
I read this rubbish knowing I am the antithesis of everything they say and I am confident in that. But what makes me want to find the writer and twist her arm up her back, is the sheer basic error she has made in assuming that being a woman is a collective experience. And if there is one experience in the world that is not we, it is that one.
SATURDAY, 20 FEBRUARY 2010
First a caveat: though I am technically here I am still not sure where I am. The emotional earthquake at Ms R Towers has been going on for some time. At first I thought it was just the winter blues but no, nothing is that simple at the Towers.
“Come on Ms R you can do this,” I repeated to myself often within earshot of people. It didn’t matter since everyone probably thought I was talking into my phone or urging on a minor competitor at the Winter Olympics.
Anyway the moving men had been in my brain shifting furniture for a while. While I – not too immodestly – have a decent sized brain there were only so many permutations. Anxiety, despair, fear, self-loathing, the weirdness of being alone in a crowd, they did them all. I paid them to leave but unfortunately the currency was no longer valid. And then all the walls came tumbling down and along with it a complete deconstruction of the past year or so. And with it more anger, self-loathing, fear and ultimately the worst kind of despair: the kind that paralyses you physically as well as mentally.
There are always triggers that we refuse/are unable to acknowledge. Mine was a him; a man I thought cared about me but I soon realised in a limited way. I tried to move away from it as some of you know and then foolishly thought I could handle it. Meanwhile he’d increasingly compartmentalised me into ‘just for fun.’ You know he wanted the bits he couldn’t get in his life he’d made for himself. I would keep my distance.
Not so long ago he emailed and said he’d seen films I should see (the kind of films a man only sees with a woman An Education, It’s Complicated….) Why? I should have just told him to not be so insensitive (at the very least.) I didn’t: I guess I just didn’t have the energy for it and knew it was dead. But I was internalising it which I very rarely do and the repercussions of this are pretty visible now.
And then people, two weeks ago a silly misunderstanding with my best friend. I apologised, twice, three times, four times but she is not speaking to me. So by last Sunday I was in rubble. No, I was rubble.
The other issues have to be resolved of course but right now I just need to find a small happy place where the arrows aren’t all aimed at me. Right now I am struggling to find a safe step. Sometimes the moving men stop and let me have a rest for one or two hours and I get some work done. I hate that my writing is suffering. I hate not achieving.
I should hopefully be back on form to assassinate characters and probe the absurdities of life soon.