The Fifth

I started my blog five years ago today.

It was hot outside – though not as hot as today – and I was sitting in my tiny, muggy top-floor flat, baking gently on Gas Mark Bored. I was probably wearing just my underwear, which would be a terrifying proposition now, but back then I was 34 and ran every day and hardly ever ate because I had forgotten how to cook for one.

I don’t know for sure, but, if I know me then, there will have been washing up in the sink.

I was feeling sad and a little bit lonely and like everything was possible and yet nothing was.

I remember a thing on Twitter a while ago where people would tweet about what they’d say to their 16-year-old selves. I wouldn’t say anything; 16-year-old me would not be interested in anything anyone my age had to say, but also, any words of encouragement I would have for this awkward teenager would feel false. I’d be too much of a coward to tell him how hard things were going to be, and that being himself probably wasn’t an option for quite a while. How to explain to someone enduring the 1990s in Yorkshire that things would one day be really great, but for a long time they’d be awful? He’d give up, he’d never try. He wouldn’t believe.

So instead of time-travelling to my badly decorated wankpit of my teenage years, I’d instead transport myself to 2010, the day I started the blog.

After I had told 34-year-old me to stop screaming at the amount of grey hair he would have in five years’ time, and explained where that runner’s body had gone – “Have you been eating BREAD?!?” he would no doubt yell in horror – I would ask what he was planning to do that day, whether he’d thought any more doing that blog.

I know he is having that conversation in his head already, because I had it myself, of course. The blog had no aim other than to make my best friend, who had just moved thousands of miles away, laugh. She would ask about my dates – I had only been on a few at that point – and on hearing my replies, say I should keep a diary of them all. I wasn’t interested in making it public, really – I was already going pretty well in my freelancing career and the blog didn’t fit in at all with my other work.

But maybe I could be anonymous and speak freely and, of course, with my own anonymity preserve that of the men I dated. I was coming home from these dates disappointed both with the guys and with myself, play-acting my way through three hours of drinks, which I did with tens of unsuitable men, and after I shut the front door behind me, I would have nobody to talk about them with, so all my self-doubt and sadness whirled around in my head, and I couldn’t see it changing any time soon. The present can be blinding.

I have always written my way out of dark and confusing places. It couldn’t hurt to do it one more time, could it?

So what would I say to the 2010 me, about to sign up to WordPress and put it all out there for precisely nobody to see for their first few months or so?

Would I tell myself not to do it?

Would I warn myself that people would accuse me of wanting to be Carrie Bradshaw (a fucking ridiculous thing to say – Carrie Bradshaw is an idiot – and mostly levelled at me by people who have never read the blog or misunderstood it)?

Would I tell myself that it would make people angry, even those who’d never been on the dates? Would I warn 2010 me that men would proposition him, or want him to write about them?

Maybe I should tell myself how divisive it would be, and how people may not understand that it wasn’t about making me sound superior, that they wouldn’t read closely and see that the blog was as much about my being a disaster as anyone else?

Would I mention that the bad dates would get darker and the good dates sparser, that sometimes I would sit staring at a laptop with a tear in my eye trying to make sense of what had just happened?

Would I remind myself these were real people’s lives and that I would at times come across as selfish and spoiled and blinkered and judgemental and stupid and sneery and self-absorbed?

Would I perk myself up by talking about all the brilliant people he would meet – virtually and in real life – because of it, and how lots of them would read it and identify with it and love it and root for me and give me encouragement to try just one more date?

Would I say how  eventually it would lead to falling in love?

No, I wouldn’t say any of that. Why should the 2010 version of me get a break? I’d find all this out soon enough.

I’d say just that he should definitely do it. The whole point of writing is to be read; I’d definitely remind myself of that.

But make it funnier, I’d say. And don’t call it “Guyliner” – you’ll come to regret that one day.

Then I’d tell him to put a fucking shirt on because he was making me envious.

And hopefully, because although this is a slightly sad, historical version of me, it is still me, I would tell my future self to fuck off and mind its own business, because I am going to do it his way, thank you very much, and if you don’t like it, you can ping on back to the future and sort out those fucking love handles, you thirsty old dog.

If you’ve read my blog over the last five years, thank you.

30 things that always happen during Wimbledon

Wimbledon fortnight starts Monday, one of the Top 10 shrillest sporting events on the face of the Earth.

Despite the fact it is a magnet for braying upper middle-class Aga enthusiasts and certified poshoes who think even the Queen is too common for the Royal enclosure, I love Wimbledon. It’s really easy to watch – just the right ratio of dullness to nail biting tension. Plus tennis players are much more bangable than football players.

My ‘love affair’ with Wimbledon properly began as I waited to start my second year at university. Rather than pay summer rent and leave my student house empty, I lived in it. I couldn’t find a job, so I spent two blissful, scorching weeks lying on my belly, eating strawberries, chain-smoking Marlboro Lights and watching Wimbledon on the old black and white TV that had once sat in my grandma’s kitchen. It is about as hedonistic as I am ever likely to be.

So Wimbledon is great and harmless enough, especially now they have (begrudgingly) sorted out that equal pay row, but something happens to the UK in general while it’s on which makes living here kind of unbearable.

People do strange things. And here are 30, love.

1. Ridiculous claims about strawberries and champagne in the papers.
Without fail, on the first day of Wimbledon, at least one newspaper will feature some totally bullshit story about how much champagne and strawberries are consumed during the tournament. Perhaps, if you’re lucky, they’ll tell you how many times these strawberries could fill Centre Court or how many oceans the champagne quaffing could drain.

The figures are a) always bullshit and b) totally impossible to verify. I will give £5 to anyone who attempts to fill Centre Court with strawberries. Five. Pounds.

2. Cameras will zoom in on a tennis player’s girlfriend or wife every time he swears, misses a point, coughs, looks at the umpire, takes a sip of his drink, anything.
Female tennis players’ husbands and boyfriends will be roundly ignored unless they are obviously pissed watching. And as for gay players’ partners – ha, forget it, baby.

3. Pimm’s will all of a sudden be inexplicably more fucking EVERYWHERE than it was before.
You didn’t think it were possible, but there it is. Its logo, sickly sweet smell and distant yelps of “Pimms O’Clock” slowly pressing on your cerebral cortex until you black out mid-July.

4. You’ll miss the match you really want to see.
Because there’s nobody British in it, so it is taking place in a makeshift tennis court behind Pizza Express and there are no cameras.

5. You’ll refuse to queue for on-the-day tickets.
Most Londoners have got a super-keen friend who suggests this; every year you will put them off with “Maybe next year”.

6. Your super dull and unadventurous friends will tell you “Maybe next year.”

7. You’ll have to endure that Facebook friend who’s got amazing tickets right next to Murray’s towel without even trying and doesn’t even like tennis.

8. Spurred on by this, you’ll load up the site for the ticket ballot.
You’ll then close the window as the form looks too complicated.

9. You’ll have an argument with someone about whether Novak Djokovic is hot or not.
(He’s hot FYI.)

10. Someone you previously thought was a cool person will make a joke about all female tennis players being lesbians.

11. Virginia Wade’s 1977 win will be mentioned.

12. Sue Barker.
Look out for her conducting interviews doing that half-laughing, “sorry to bother you but can you tell me if I’m on the right road to get to Merthyr Tydfil” voice she does when she clearly hasn’t watched the match she’s talking about and instead was on a different court, dreaming about Ilie Nastase.

13. It will rain.
If it doesn’t, people will actually be disappointed because there’ll be nothing to moan about.

14. There’ll be a joke about /a clip of cliff Richard singing in the rain that time.

15. Someone will shout “Come on Tim” during a Murray match.
And we’ll all pretend we’re not the whitest, most desperate people on planet Earth.

16. Endless commentary and bitchy press coverage of Judy Murray.
Her crushes on other tennis players, her appearance on Strictly, how she’s an ogre or over-protective or steely or whatever. And very little about the sacrifices she made for Andy and the hard work she put in to get him where he is.

17. There’ll be loads of “wry sideways look at Wimbledon” listicles.
A bit like this very one you are possibly still reading. There isn’t any scape from these. You can click on the x and shut down the page and go about your business but eventually you’ll find your eyes sliding over another one. They’ll all mention the rain. Rain.

18. You must endure Wikipedia pub quiz wankers.
They will tell you the little-known fact that everybody knows which is the tournament isn’t actually held in Wimbledon itself but somewhere called Southfields nearby. You’ll give zero fucks.

19. If Andy Murray smiles, everyone will go on about it like he just pulled a stream of courgette ‘spaghetti’ from his arse.
If he doesn’t? Same. Nobody is quite sure why we need British tennis players to smile a lot, but apparently we do so Andy is just going to have to fall into line on this one.

20. There’ll be an “umpire incident”
John McEnroe’s frankly embarrassing tirades will get a mention or, if it rains, shown again for an entire day.

21. A presenter will froth wildly over how much the most modern of the courts cost to refurbish.

22. There’ll be a shock Round 1 exit.
It will be the person you had a bet on.

23. Ironic Union Jack face-paint on people who take four seconds to pronounce the ‘a’ in Bath.

24. BBC Weather’s Carol will test your patience.
The queen of relentless cheerfulness will give a weather report right next to a tennis court while it’s being white-lined, essentially getting in everyone’s way but hey it’s Wimbledon.

25. This song will not be a hit. Again. Even though it should be.

26. There will be a Beckham.
The camera will not be able to tear itself away from whichever Beckham or Royal has turned up to the final, even though they’re only there to break in their new shoes.

This is probably going to be Brooklyn’s turn on the rota to look bored and stylish in the VIP enclosure.

27. Someone will tweet a joke about not knowing who the Duchess of Kent is
Disclaimer: before I published this I had to google to double-check HRH was still with us.

28. The commentators’ bantz will be off the scale and massively misjudged.
Either that or they will bang on about their own careers, like the world’s dullest PowerPoint.

29. Greg Rusedski will show up to comment on Andy Murray’s successes.
And it will be more awkward than that bit in Spiceworld: The Movie where the pregnant former member shows up to rehearsal and bores everyone to death with her maternity chat.

30. “Come on Tim.” Again.


Image: Flickr
GIF: Can’t remember, but it’s great, isn’t it? Here’s another one:


Give me death by skinny jeans over bootcut misery any day

It has been in the news this week that skinny jeans can kill you. But what a way to go.

Thanks to the sterling efforts of Darwinism, a young woman in Australia almost threw a seven in her spray-ons after she did one too many squats helping someone move house, rendering herself immobile for hours when her calves swelled up.

Before you laugh yourself out of your very own drainpipe slacks, remember she was hospitalised and it was all very serious and that kind of thing. She’s recovering now.

When I was at school, skinny jeans were for the spindly goths only.

Skinny jeans have exerted their deathlike grip on calves up and down the country for a very long time now, decades even. When I was at school, skinny jeans were for the spindly goths only, bridging the gap between massive DM boot and knackered old plastic leather jacket perfectly.

Everybody else in sixth form – which was uniform-free, how modern – wore an array of average jeans, all far too baggy and all far too long. With nobody in that era expecting to be able to grow a nice arse until way past their 25th birthday, fit and form weren’t important – so long as they weren’t what the goths were wearing.

As something of a stick insect during my teenage years and most of my twenties, I feared skinny trousers anyway. These were the days before it was massively fashionable to have a sylph-like frame and look like you had a severe phobia of sandwiches.

Girls wanted to be thin of course, plus ça change, but boys wanted to be athletic – not in the 2015 way, where everyone locks themselves in the gym to look like Popeye mid-transformation, oh no.

Boys weren’t supposed to be thin in the nineties. Being slim was creepy and unattractive.

Athleticism in the nineties was looking vaguely like someone who may or may not – if you squinted in bright sunlight – look at least 25% of the way to having a bit of a ‘chest’.

Boys weren’t supposed to be thin, they were supposed to be stocky, or dead-eyed and sporty like Tommy Hilfiger adverts. Being slim was creepy and unattractive.

All you floppy-haired boys standing at bus stops with your vintage brogued-toes pointing inward and sporting your ladies’ size 6 jeans would’ve been burned for firewood in 1994. You wouldn’t have made it. Skinny men were frightening. Nobody understood why you would want to be that way.

And if, like me, you couldn’t help but be that way, baggy T-shirts and jeans made out of two sacks were your saviour. Your emaciated, undesirable frame would remain a big secret until someone accidentally agreed to have sex with you and, under the covers, would run their hands up your ribcage and be shocked to hear the first notes of The Blue Danube as if played on a glockenspiel.

If you’ve been a skinny bloke all your life and suddenly acquire a rounder arse, you feel like the most powerful man alive.

But eventually, thanks to pizza, beer and an ever-slowing metabolism, bodies fill out and you realise that people want to look at your arse. If you’ve been a skinny bloke all your life and suddenly acquire a rounder arse, you feel like the most powerful man alive.

Perhaps all these issues with dictators begin the day they get out of bed, smooth down their pyjamas and realise God has left a peach in the back of them – you’re invincible. You’re 25% more fuckable now. A whole 25%. It’s Christmas. Invade a country? Don’t mind if I do, old bean.

And so, as this was, ooh, about 1996, you had to move on to bootcut jeans, sometimes also called bootleg jeans – it depends which discount retailer you were foraging the rails of at the time. Alas, the bootcut jean giveth, and it taketh away just as quickly. I may be gaining a sweet clinging sensation to my newfound posterior but oh my goodness, where the fucking hell have my feet gone?

I’m a size 7 shoe and in trainers they look even smaller. On some days, depending on my bootcut–shoe ratio, I would look like I had no feet at all. People must have thought I got from A to B on casters, trundling here and there as my proud bootcuts dragged along the wet pavement behind me. Horrible, horrible jeans.

People must have thought I got from A to B on casters, trundling here and there as my proud bootcuts dragged along the wet pavement behind me.

And so when it became OK to be thin again, and skinny jeans stopped being quite so spray-on, I tried them once more. And I have never looked back really, aside from a horrifying year when my favourite retailers inexplicably widened all their hems. It’s OK – I had counselling.

Being hench is back in yet again, of course, but as long as you haven’t overdone the leg days, skinny jeans are the best friend your pins will ever have.

Arse looks gooooood, your legs are as long and lithe as they are probably going to get and, best of all, normal sized feet, unless you are Krusty the Clown.

If they’re in danger of killing us, so be it – I would rather die with my shoes on show and my trim ankles out for all to see than in a swathe of material, doll-toed and over-denimed like a B*Witched tribute act.

Sure, bootcut jeans never killed anybody in the traditional sense, but social death, or an unwitting existence in a style tundra, is just as terminal.

If I can still feel my legs, I’m doing it wrong.

More like this:
Why supermarkets make the singleton sad
The post-breakup bachelor pad survival kit
The first crush is the deepest
Why I hope Madonna never, ever puts it away

Image: Flickr

Know your dating enemies: Texting

Apparently in the olden days, our phones were used for speaking to each other. Like, actual voices piping down the… what is it – airwaves? Line? Cable? Anyway, whatever. Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away called the past, people would regularly use mobile phones – or just phones, as we now call them – to talk.

It was an awful experience. Either you would “screen” calls to avoid answering to somebody you wanted to avoid, or you would accidentally “pick up” and spend excruciating hours saying “uh huh, yeah” all the while wondering whose talk plan minutes this awkward chat was wasting – because things like that mattered then. Ha, minutes. Show me one person who needs more than 38 seconds of talktime a month and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t know predictive text has been invented yet.

Thankfully, to save us all from saying stupid, rash things like “Yes I will marry you” or “No, actually, the second series of Game On is much better than the first”  (‘90s refrence!) someone invented texting. Its built-in functionality of helping us swerve any human contact or giving extra time to come up with the most fire responses possible have endeared it to our hearts for ever and most of us would now rather see the voiceboxes of an entire generation ripped out and tossed on a bonfire than lose one of their very own texting fingers.

Giving way now to iMessage, WhatsApp and that proprietary Facebook one whose invasion was more aggressive than Napoleon without any breakfast, texting is our favoured way of communicating and long may it reign.

Sadly, every god must have his flaws and every hero must have her downside and texting – or messaging – has the biggest one of all.

Employed at the wrong time, in the wrong mood, texting can make you look like a massive dick. Your best friend with the huge tits or pal who has leg weeks instead of days is no match for the cockblocking expertise of a simple text message.

And the worst thing is that you do it to yourself.

You will experience angst over lack of reply
A text message is like a cat – probably overfed and ginger and vaguely planning to take over the world when they have worked out how to milk a cow – and this cat has stunned a mouse and is keeping it teetering on the brink of death just long enough to mess with it. Guess who the mouse is? Yes! It’s you.

You’ve sent that text to the person you fancy or went on a date with. And you wait. And wait. Meanwhile your tiny mouse head is getting batted this way and that by this psychotic feline. When, you wonder, will sweet death come? Please, please just put me out of my misery. And you are frightened, not because no reply may ever come, but because you know, beyond all doubt, you are going to debase yourself and send another text to check they got the first one. Yes you are!

And… well. Either the cat will get bored and slice your head off, you’ll get a text back when saying “thanks but no thanks” or worse, you’ll just get a “hey” (no “x” or anything) and you are back to square one.

You will try to do sexting
Just don’t. You’ll get it wrong.

Writing sexily about the sexiest of sexy sex isn’t easy and almost always comes off about as pant-moistening as the instruction manual for a blender that you actually threw out four years ago. Don’t believe me? I have E L James on line 2.

You’ll either try to be too dirty and scare them off or not be crude enough and make them think you’re going to bring them a cup of tea in bed instead of a great big cup of D.

Sexting only really works if you have no intention of actually meeting up and having sex with this person.

You will get the “new number who’s this?” reply
Scorch the earth. You have been evicted. None shall pass.

Almost nobody, save for those who still cling on for dear life to their Nokia 3210, actually loses numbers these days. The Cybermen finally got into their contacts and it is bad news for you – you have been deleted.

You will send a sext to the wrong person
And then when you do finally craft the perfect sext, it goes to the wrong person.

Maybe as you carefully typed out the list of “what i’m gun do 2 u wen i see u” – no doubt your tongue lolling out the side of your mouth in furious concentration – you were thinking who definitely shouldn’t see that text. You will then send it to this person. Gua-ran-teed.

You will send a mistimed joke
Nothing screams “unsexy” than trying to be funny over text when you don’t really know someone that well.

Jokes on Father’s Day, for example, may backfire if your date’s relationship with their daddy is frosty or, even worse, is communicated entirely through prayer and tombstone.

You will destroy your potential as a Scrabble partner
As we all know, dick and boob size and ability to shag amazingly directly correlates to how well you can spell.

Or so you would think thanks to all the prim and proper grammarians out there who think that knowing how to spell onomatopoeia makes them somehow the world’s greatest gift to sex.

We are all human and at the mercy of the most vengeful deity of all – autocorrect. You’ll make a mistake. You’ll use the wrong “its” or type “your” for “you’re”. It happens. And for a disturbingly large portion of the population, it will immediately rule you out of ever banging them.

Personally, I’d rather knock one out on my own than slither into bed next to someone who doesn’t get that spelling isn’t for everyone, but hey.

You will text too much
Everyone has their own level of appropriateness or acceptability when it comes to the number of text messages they are willing to receive a day before they go running to the police station, and it is absolutely impossible for you to guess this.

More than four or five times a day – and especially if their level of texting doesn’t match yours – is probably going to get you labelled a psycho.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with being into someone and wanting to chat to them a lot, but we have all read too many sanctimonious dating blogs (HIYA!) and all those books about dating rules, and pored over listicles about the modern age, rendering us all cynical, suspicious carrier bags filled with self-doubt and air.

There are only two settings when it comes to messaging – “stalker” and “distant”. Pray you find someone who finds either of those prospects remotely fuckable.

It’s a weird old world out there, the chances are pretty lofty.

More like this:
X offender – the minefield of kisses on text messages
A beginner’s guide to breaking it off: The text
31 things you will see people do on dating apps
29 social media truths we’d never say out loud

Image: Flickr

11 ways guests will ruin your wedding

Considering its romantic intentions, a wedding can be one of the most stressful experiences of your life.

If you’re a single person, they are a stark reminder of just how single you are. If you’re part of a couple, it’s either another tightening of the vice like pressure of arranging your own matrimony and if you are already spliced, you’re furious at how much nicer this wedding is than your own.

But it’s worst of all if it’s your own wedding day. Why? Because your guests ruin everything, they’re the worst. Around two months into the planning, you’ll wish you’d eloped to Anglesey after all.

1. Seating plan
Where to seat everyone has more political charge and potential for disaster than inviting Vladimir Putin to a summit in the back room at G-A-Y.

Exes don’t want to sit near each other, your family hold grudges over arguments involving people who are now all dead and your single friends will badger you to seat them next to someone hot and eligible.

All you want to do is relocate all tables but the top one to “the sea” and let them battle it out with the waves.

2. Presents
Guaranteed: at least 50% of the people coming to your wedding have bitched about what to get you.

Ask for money and you’re a grasping mercenary who’s out for all they can get.

Have a wedding list and it will be pored over by your so-called pals, all outraged by your choices. “What the hell is a cow-patterned egg whisk?!” they will spit, over the course of hundreds and hundreds of emails dedicated to slating you for your materialism.

If you ask for no presents at all, your friends hate you even more because they think “Well we have to turn up with something!” They will all show up with a Dualit toaster (the cheapest one, not that really cool one).

Fail to specify any present rules or gift lists, of course, and you will be blamed for leaving everybody clueless. And they will all arrive with that bloody Dualit toaster again.

3. They bitch about the venue
Either it’s too far away or it’s too boring or it’s been done before or it’s too tacky or it’s not nice enough or it’s too posh or it’s too rough.

Guests are all smiles to your faces, but once your brocaded lacy back is turned they are piling on the snark about the wedding favours  – “Almonds in netting, how very 1996 wedding reception in a working men’s club” – or whingeing that the staff aren’t topping up their prosecco quickly enough.

4. They bitch about the cost
If you dare to have your wedding more than 10 miles away from where you grew up, you are in line for endless jeremiads from your so-called buddies.

It’s the greatest day of your life and they’ve had about a year’s notice and yet still your social circle will complain about having to pay for a hotel room or buying a train ticket to witness your nuptials.

It’s not quite clear why people do this. Perhaps they expect you to throw your head back in girlish laughter and say “Well, if you like, I can cover your expenses as part of the wedding. What’s a dangerously strained credit limit between friends?”

Of course, you could always point out that they are perfectly within their rights to refuse your invitation – they’ll immediately say they wouldn’t dream of missing it. Then they’ll bitch you out for guilt-tripping them into coming. You can’t win. Go to Gretna.

5. Free bar
Another no-win. Have a pay bar at your wedding and you’re “tight”.

Have a limited free bar which converts to pay bar after a certain amount of time and you are unwittingly letting your friends know the exact state of your bank balance.

And have a totally free bar and your mates will, without question, rip the piss.

They’ll harangue the bar staff to give them triples, grab three beers per person at once, and slur “just leave the bottle” every time someone who even vaguely looks like a waiter passes them.

The best revenge is to introduce a really complicated voucher system that entitles them to a certain number of drinks in impossible combinations so they eventually give up and go home. Hand them a Dualit toaster as they leave.

6. They will get too drunk
Only pregnant people, former alcoholics and that auntie who is determined not to have a good time don’t get wasted at weddings. Everyone else you know and love will mortify, horrify, shock and sadden you with increasing severity.

You daren’t drink too much yourself because eventually the event manager or wedding planner or maitre d’ – or whoever it is that’s fleecing you to coordinate the whole shebang – will approach you and hiss that one of your guests has done something illegal.

7. They will ruin the photos
You should write at the bottom of every invitation that anyone doing the following will be sent to look after the children’s table:

  • Bunny ear fingers behind someone’s head
  • Comedy hand hanging out of trousers like a penis
  • Same as above but someone pretending to fellate or shake hands with it
  • Cross-eyes
  • Tongue out
  • Pretending to take bridesmaid from behind
  • Pretending to be sexually attracted to the vicar/priest/celebrant
  • Tongue out
  • Belming

8. They will heckle the speeches
Someone always does.

9. They will mention your exes

10. They won’t turn up
Every wedding has somebody who says they are desperate to see you get married, so you accommodate them, wrestling with table plans and agonising over the cost of one more meal and all the wine they might consume.

You’ll never see them again. Their empty space at the table starts to look like a pile of burning money as you watch their meal be laid out forlornly, going cold.

You can hear another button popping on your bank manager’s shirt even from all those miles away.

11. They will shag your brother
Always. If you don’t have a brother, they will probably hire one, just so they can shag him.

More like this:
27 things that happen to single people at weddings
17 things that single people do that makes couples want to kill them
Falling leaves, romantic walks and endless parties – autumn’s no season to be single
31 things you will see people do on dating apps

Image: Jillian McGrath, from Charm City Wed

Take a long hard look at your selfie

I have no issue with selfies – those up close and personal, carefully crafted self-portraits that no Instagram account should be without.

If there’s nobody around to take your picture, and you want to savour the moment or are feeling your look, why not snap away? And if you’re with a bunch of mates and want all of you to be in the photo, where’s the harm in bunching in tight, camera in the air and adding it to your portfolio?

But there is one snag with around 75–80% of selfies I see. It’s your face.

No, you’re not ugly. I don’t care about your spots or your HD brows or your contouring to make your nose smaller.

It’s that grimace. That faux-coy, mock-embarrassed selfie pose.


You know the one. There may be the hint of an eyeroll, or a slight smirk or, in extreme circumstances, a full on look of disgust at being caught on camera.


It’s an “I am way too cool to be taking a selfie so here is my ironic face” expression that is, frankly, disingenuous bullshit. You’re not too cool – you’re in a selfie. Coolness is impossible. And unless your phone is haunted, you took the damn thing.

You do like having your photo taken. You’re not embarrassed at being in a selfie. If you were, you wouldn’t take them. Why so ashamed? It’s like saying you’re shy and then turning up to your sister’s wedding dressed as the Eiffel Tower.

You go out in a public place, grimace at a camera like a dog trying to remember a dream it had, click away, post it on your social media channels – no doubt hashtagging it with #shameless – and then sit back and wait for the likes to roll in.

And when they don’t, because sometimes they don’t, you go out and take another one. Probably with a pout this time. Pouts are sexy. You don’t at all look like you tried to kiss an iceberg and got stuck. Go get that duck face promo.


In an age where some of us are spending five hours a week puckering up for selfies, why are we pretending we’re mortified by them? “Oh I can’t believe I’m pointing a camera at myself; I’d better look like I’m totally above it all.” Don’t you want to look fabulous? Shouldn’t you be pulling your hottest expression?

Selfies are supposed to be a confidence booster – you could at least tell your face.

Have you ever, across a crowded room, seen somebody make a face that is somewhere between “edging past a sleeping person on a train who’s covered in vomit” and “easing out a fart at a funeral” and thought that you really, really have to ask them out? No.

Endless shots of your marvellous mug, and thanks to your gonzo-style photo skills, there’s little room for scenery.

Your face is all we have. Make it a good one.

Image: Flickr

Never date the ageing teen rebel

You don’t get many men falling over themselves to tell you about their childhood when you first start dating. People who had idyllic ones don’t usually feel the need to wheel them out to make conversation.

Unless we had a very bad one, or grew up with celebrities or politicians for parents or something, there’s very little to say about one’s childhood beyond the usual bewilderment at how all the chocolate bars were bigger and everyone got smacked on the legs in the supermarket. The teenage rebel however, idolises his childhood self.

Whenever a date would say “I was such a little shit at school” or a “I was a real tearaway when I was younger”, I’d cringe, steeling myself for a good hour of exaggerations, tales of pathetic, totally invented rebellions and grim attention-seeking that only a child would think were in any way cool or interesting.

As a teen, of course, most of us wallflowers and squares wished we had the pluck – not to mention the attention – of the classroom troublemaker. The nearest I got to it was some unremarkable, try-hard backchat in French lessons. I look back and am mortified by it now. In no way would I ever have considered using this to impressa date 20 years and 11 average grades down the track.

Teenage rebellion always seemed a really soulless path to me. At my school most of the rebels were also colossal bullies – usually, of course, the result of genuine issues at home.

But while for some it was an angry cry for help, others played up safe in the knowledge that somebody would bail them out, that there would be enough money to propel them forward again.

Rebellion was never an option for me; I had no family estate to fall back on. Acting out led to failing exams which led to never being able to leave our hometown, and I was counting on being able to do that as quickly as I could. And I was the only person who could make that happen.

I would have been no good at being a rebel anyway, not a proper one. I looked 11 years old until the age of 22 and was so risk averse I would walk miles and miles home from school every day rather than brave the bullies on the bus.

And rebels need disciples, fans, acolytes. I wasn’t particularly popular so nobody was ever going to clap and cheer my drivelling attempts at anarchy. So I gave up and left it to the experts and smoked in private by the dry stone wall. The cigarettes tasted better with nobody to impress.

But teenagers are stupid and can see no farther than the end of their parents’ grovelling letter to the head, so I forgive the tousle-haired sham heroes of chemistry who set exercise books on fire with Bunsen burners or the Danton of CDT, bravely climbing on to the table and telling Miss Robinson she has nice tits in the name of revolution.

When they bring their adolescent mutinies into the present day and expect your jersey trunks to twang in appreciation, however, it’s time to let go.  No-one ever dreamed of screwing the boy who made a dinner lady cry.

Like most of us, he grew up to be nobody in particular, so your misty-eyed date harks back to the days when he controlled a classroom and had all eyes on him because now he has no such luck.

The irony is, of course, that this is almost always made up. The banter he quotes usually belongs to some other hapless soul from your date’s class whose bad behaviour ruined their life for ever, while your bragging date would cower in a corner wishing it were him being punished with week-long detentions – the fastest way to legendary status this side of shagging JFK and necking a load of barbiturates.

The real rebels and rowdy troublemakers at school don’t look back on it fondly and expect a medal – they’re either glad to have left it all behind or, sadly, are still defined by it and dealing with the destruction it’s caused.

Missing it in adulthood, the faux-teenage rebel hankers after that elusive “cool” factor. And he was never so cool as he was when he was telling the headmaster to get fucked back in 1999. Even though it never happened.

He wants you to be wowed by the thought someone so ordinary and upstanding – a few Tube stops short of dull, really – could have been this daredevil maverick. “But you’ve turned out so well,” he wants you to gush. “You’ve really turned your life around.”

But if you stop to think about it, which you should, you’re impressed by the idea of someone being cool when they were still a child. And what’s cool to a child – ignoring uniform rules, underage drinking on the school bus, acting up in lessons, lame underdeveloped backchat – is actually super boring and pathetic once you pass the age of 18.

Your teenage rebel’s greatest hits are far behind him, and can never be replayed. What future for the boy who longs to wallow in his exaggerated, cheap thrill of a rebellious past?

Time for expulsion.

Image: Flickr


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,197 other followers

%d bloggers like this: