The Perils of the Internet

January 9, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Posted in internet, love, men, relationships | 3 Comments
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Ah, the Internet (or t’internet, if you’re feeling affected). It’s revolutionised our lives, allowing us to browse shoes, men & car insurance deals effortlessly. It was J D Salinger’s dream, surely? For with the internet, one need never leave the house: just buy your food and friends online (don’t forget your vitamin D tablets).

But, and I concede that this is not an original point, I fear that poor old E M Forster, beloathéd of A Level English students everywhere, would have a (quietly British) fit. Only connect? Only disconnect, more like. Because the internet has reduced us to window shoppers, browsers of the browser; there is no need to pay up or or fully commit to anything, whether it be a pasta bake or a person. Not only have we been reduced, but our emotions and actions have also: we can like, follow and unfollow, block and unblock in seconds.

Internet relationships are unique, and I have been intrigued by them ever since I read The Powerbook by the wonderful Jeanette Winterson, surely a prescient novel given the fact that one in five people now meet online I have tried online dating, and I am trying it now, but mostly, I am bored by it all. I know that many have found love online, and good luck to them, but it is such a cutthroat process: it’s so easy to scroll through hundreds of people and not be interested, as though they were merely a pair of shoes. Don’t like the photo? Ignore the person. Simple.

I left Facebook because people have started to use it as a ranting forum, and I am considering leaving Twitter because dirty messages and declarations of love from strangers don’t really do it for me, thanks very much. For the internet is an enabler, like alcohol: it can make us too impulsive for our own good.

So Long…And Thanks For All the Writing Material

July 16, 2012 at 8:13 am | Posted in Honesty, love, men, relationships, women | 3 Comments
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There were some poignant but funny reasons for ending a relationship in this Guardian Weekend article: not a recent piece, but one that has been waiting patiently, in the nook of my coffee table, to be discussed. They were taken from The Breakup Project, a truly democratic website which allows you not only to sever ties with that no longer ‘special someone’, but also with the rather more abstract concerns of death, God & fear of rejection. My favourite was this one:

We break up because communists always break up with me. We broke up because you are so busy being a communist, you forgot how to be a person, how to treat people. We broke up because there hasn’t been a revolution yet.

If I ever met this man or woman (but somehow, I think it’s the latter), I would ask her these two questions:

1) Just how many communists have you dated that you are able to utter the phrase, “because communists always break up with me”?

2) Are you going to stop dating communists now?

Karl Marx 1, matching Ikea bedside tables 0.

But I think the one to which I could relate most was this:

We broke up because you love the feeling of falling for a girl more than you loved me.

What touches me so much about that sentence is the way the tenses move from the present to the perfect. This is you now, this is the behaviour from which you can’t escape; that was you then and can only ever be you then.

Here are my most bizarre reasons for ending relationships:

We broke up because you were obsessed with World War Two, and I wasn’t.

We broke up because you wanted a civil partnership, and I had to break it to you that, being in a heterosexual relationship, we didn’t qualify for one of those.

We broke up because you ran away from the chavs in Coventry city centre. And then told me I was ‘just perfect’.

We broke up because you thought that aura photography was an actual career.

And the most bizarre of all:

We broke up because you had a vitamin D deficiency.

So come on, spill: what are the weirdest reasons for your relationships ending?

To My Darling Mum, Tess

March 18, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Posted in Children, family, love, motherhood | Leave a comment
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Dear Mum,

We’ve not always seen eye to eye, have we? And I think that as well as having very different ideas about raising children sometimes, we clash in so many other ways: I can think of nothing lovelier than a holiday filled with history, bookshops and shopping; you would rather sun worship on a Florida beach for two weeks. I love to cook and have enough cookbooks to cook something different every day for the rest of my life. Yet I must have inherited this from your mum, Cicely Hannah, because dad does all the cooking in your house. In other food news, garlic to me is as essential as salt; to you, it means vampires, crucifixes and halitosis.

Then again, you keep all your receipts and diligently note all your transactions; I check my bank balance as often as I go to church, and might as well gamble my money away. I have an English degree, but you are much better at crosswords than I will ever be. You singlehandedly raised my sister and my brother when their dad lost interest; I, on the other hand, have a fantastic support network of you, dad and Asher to help me raise Jude.

So mum, on this day of all days, I take my metaphorical hat off to you and raise a G and T: your life has been so much harder than mine, and yet here you are, sacrificing a quiet childhood to watch Bob the Builder and play Cor Blimey with your youngest grandson. Mum, I love you so much and am eternally grateful to you for your love in return.


Amy Jessica

I don’t half love ’em

February 26, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Posted in Childhood, family, love | Leave a comment
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I read a very interesting article in today’s YOU magazine about the rise of the half sibling in Britain. I have written about being a quasi only child before, and have also defended my right only to have one child in a 2010 post. But I have not yet written about my siblings Christopher, Kelly and Jools.

They are half-siblings, of course; though the fact that I only share my mother with Chris and Jools and my father with Kelly has never bothered me. The fact that they are all half-siblings makes it less of an issue, perhaps.

That’s not to say there haven’t been issues. My sister Kelly and my mum had, shall we say, a fraught relationship until a few years ago, and all three of my siblings would probably agree that they envy the stable childhood I experienced. But, until the age of 10 or so, I don’t have many memories of my siblings. In fact, I’m closer in age to my my nephews Michael and Tom than any of them, making them seem more like brothers and Chris, Kelly and Jools more like extra parents, or older friends, depending on where I’m at in my life. Jools and Kelly have certainly always offered great advice, particularly when it comes to parenthood and property, having tackled both of those milestones oh so many years before I did.

So for me, it really doesn’t matter that my siblings are ‘only’ half (please don’t call them step – then you will upset me!). I know plenty of people who are ‘full’ siblings and don’t even talk to each other. Perhaps sharing only one parent helps: being that little bit separate biologically has meant that we get on much better than we might have done.

The dreaded V-Day is almost upon us….

February 9, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Posted in love | 4 Comments
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…so to ‘celebrate’, I’ve decided to list my favourite literary lovers.

1) Cecilia and Robbie in Atonement. So gorgeous, and so goddamn tragic (though the casting of Keira Knightley and James McAvoy as the star-crossed lovers may be partially to blame for my use of the former epithet). And Robbie writes a very dirty love letter.

2) Antony and Cleopatra. She pretends she’s killed herself, so he kills himself; he dies in her arms, so she kills herself. What could be more tragic than that? Perhaps Shakespeare inspired The Smiths? ‘To die by your side, would be a heavenly way to die…’

3) Jude Fawley and Sue Brideshead in Jude the Obscure. Yeah, so there’s suicide here too, and a nasty scene with a pig. And – SPOILER ALERT – they don’t ultimately end up together. But Jude loves Sue, and Sue loves Jude, and but for a bit of fratricide, they might have stayed together.

4) Humbert Humbert and Lolita in Lolita. You might not like it; in fact, you’ve probably not even read it and have already decided that he’s a pervert, pure and simple. But this IS a love story.

5) Hanna and Michael in The Reader. Hmmm…suicide, murder and an unusual coupling…can you sense a pattern here? Despite her sadism, despite her war crimes, and especially despite her illiteracy, I believe that Michael never stops loving Hanna.

Enjoy your V-Day, happily or unhappily single or paired up. And maybe try to have a normal, boring relationship, unlike this lot.

The Birdsong backlash begins…

January 24, 2012 at 11:33 pm | Posted in books, History, love, relationships, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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It was inevitable, really.  Most critics have praised the BBC’s Birdsong production, so one grumpy old man journalist had to fight popular opinion, didn’t he?  It’s like Harry Potter and the Twilight Saga: many people will hate them simply because so many people love them.

So what, exactly, was David Aaronovitch’s problem with the production? Well, for starters, there were too many posh people, apparently.  Let’s not forget that ‘Other classes took leading roles in the First World War’.  Except no one’s forgetting, David: what about the character of Firebrace? Not exactly a toff, is he?

His second issue is with the fact that there are lots of ‘lingering glances’ and ‘slowly melting eyes’ before the love affair between Stephen and Isabelle begins.  What’s the matter, David? Do you need the actors to enunciate what they’re feeling every five minutes?  Can’t you decipher what is being implied? Poor David.  You’ve obviously not seen Lost In Translation.

He also questions whether Wraysford ‘would […] really be thinking of his Grand Meaulnes time with the heroine before final curtain down’. Do any of us really know what we’re going to be thinking just before we bite the bullet? I’d like to think I’ll be thinking of the people I’ve loved, and – stop reading now if you’re a prude – I may even recall a time I slept with one of them.  Sex is a massive part of life, David: deal with it.

I also disagree with his argument that casting directors are only scouting for pretty boys now.  Redmayne is a really talented actor who can convey more meaning in a glance than many can in a soliloquy.

Finally, ‘if I were a woman enjoying passive oral congress’ with Eddie Redmayne, I’d be grinning like a lush in a winebar. Face facts, Mr Aaronovitch: you’re wrong about this Birdsong.

Note to self…

January 23, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Posted in love, relationships | Leave a comment
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…do not attempt to turn a love triangle into a square.    Step away from the Geometry Master software.  Good girl.

All the single ladies, all the single ladies….

January 22, 2012 at 10:38 am | Posted in friends, love, men, relationships, singledom, women | Leave a comment
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Last night, I was talking to someone about the singledom stigma.  When you break up with someone or have been single a while, the old familiar clichés start to be recited: ‘You’ll find someone’; ‘Plenty more fish in the sea’; ‘It’ll happen when you’re not looking’; blah blah blah Botox.  It’s as if some people are so scared of being alone that they confuse the state of being alone with loneliness, and they project that fear onto you. It really doesn’t bother me being, to all intents and purposes, single. I would far rather be on my own than with someone for the sake of it. But sometimes, I wonder if I’m in the minority there. This article was the inspiration for this post:

Que sera sera…..

January 16, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Posted in love, music, relationships, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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….and here is the antidote to earlier’s cheerless tunes. Doris never fails to sort me out, but in her absence, here are some other fabulous offerings:

1) Pulp, ‘Naked’. One line in this never fails to crack me up. You know the one.

2) David Bowie, ‘Modern Love’. The sentiment is unfailingly refreshing, and the tempo is gloriously 80s.

3) Hole, ‘Celebrity Skin’. Such a song to sing your heart out to.

4) Elbow, ‘One Day Like This’. For making me want to get up in the morning.

5) MGMT, ‘Kids’. Just for being amazing.

I think that I might be in love….

January 15, 2012 at 6:26 am | Posted in love, technology | 1 Comment
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….with my IPhone. I am regarding it as a child would a very beautiful, shiny new bike.  I am looking at him and I cannot believe the things he can do (Nobody does it better….).  I am in awe of his sleek edges, his ironically mechanical sound when I type, his QWERTY keyboard, his text messages wittily displayed in speech bubbles in the manner of a graphic novel.  And I would rather play with him than sleep the soundest sleep. Something very strange is happening to me.

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