Category: relationships

Oct 19

What women’s hearts desire

Whether we know it or not, this is what women’s hearts desire.  Drawn by D.W. Kellogg, sometime around 1833-42, he attributed it to “A Lady” and warned of the dangers to those who travelled in the land of a woman’s heart.  I think “Tenting Ground of Uncertainty”, “City of Moi-Meme”, “River of Drain the Purse” and the mole traps in the “Province of Deception” are my favourites.


Oct 05

Wear your hair just for him and other ridiculous relationship rules.

“Men don’t pursue women who are pursuing them.”  These words of wisdom are from Christian Carter, dating guru, and author of How To Catch Him and Keep Him (a title that contradicts all his advice, but that he presumably thinks is what women want to hear).  He was so tickled with his edgy take on the “don’t call him he’ll call you” rule of relationships he had to say it twice to a roomful of eager women sat with notebooks and pens poised to take down every one of his “dating secrets from a male mind”, most of which appear based on the assumption that it’s all your fault if you haven’t found The One. You’re just not doing it right with the result that any man you approach is traumatised on a daily basis by such things as asking him how his day went, talking about anything even remotely related to emotions, or failing to read his mind.  When you first see him you’re not allowed to engage him in conversation unless it’s with a coquettish “is this seat taken” followed by an unneeded trip to the loo designed to intrigue though god knows how, or a fake question that makes you sound like an idiot and him feel superior.  If you do actually get to talk to him, in between loo-breaks and questions you already know or don’t need the answers to, conversation has to be kept frothy and frivalous and you must never ever suggest you want to see him again.  Such behaviour constitues pursuit and that “violates some secret natural law in the world – a psychological, social imperative for us humans and it’s completely unconscious”, says Christian.  Indeed.  It’s so unconscious, givers of relationship advice have to keep reminding us just how important it is.

“If you have sex with him on the first date, he won’t respect you.”  This piece of advice harks back to a more chivalrous (and, possibly, completely made-up) time when the concept of women initiating sex was as revolutionary an idea as the earth being round.  It’s based on the assumption that men want to have sex all the time and women will only have it if they’re cajoled, forced, drunk or loose enough to give in to a man’s demand for it.  It’s part of the virgin-whore cliche that I’ve never entirely understood, but I think means we’re either regarded as a prude or a slut.  Why anyone would give a shit about being called either, I don’t know.  What does concern me slightly is the assumption that neither women nor men have any autonomy over their sex lives – when there are innumberable, and more serious, ways in which to gain or lose someone’s respect, having sex before picking out wedding china seems pretty insignificant.

“Show him that you care just for him/Do the things he likes to do/Wear your hair just for him.”  This, from Dusty Springfield, possibly the most accommodating, forgiving woman the world has ever heard, is how to get your man: total reinvention of yourself as his ideal woman.  I’m not sure what sort of humanoid creature you’d end up being if you replaced your personality with everything he wanted in a woman.  I imagine it would be a pretty boring and how far would you take it?  You’ve already ditched your friends, taken up an interest in paint balling, and got a new ‘do.  What more does he want?



“Let him take the lead.”  So says The Rules, a book I think should be banned and every copy burnt.  Apparently, men like to feel in charge and that they’re the ones running the show.  If you follow The Rules’ way of doing things (please don’t), you’ll spend your time making him think he’s in charge while quietly undermining his authority in ways he might not notice at the time but will provide him with ample grounds when you end up in a divorce court because the woman he married turned out to be a person and not the android she pretended to be till she’d got him up the aisle.  The Rules claims to have many success stories from women who’ve followed it and got that man.  They don’t have any little-while-down-the-road followups, though, so the world will never know quite how things turned out when she stopped pretending to be too busy to talk for more than three and a half minutes on the phone and he stopped pretending to find her amateur theatrics irresistible.

“Play the damsel in distress to get what you want.”  I don’t know where this bit of advice comes from, but it won’t go away.  Whining, pouting, baby talk, fake crying and generally acting like a nitwit to get a man to do what you want never seem to go out of fashion.  I don’t really know who benefits from such antics.  In the time spent warbling “pwetty pwease with sugar on top”, she could have learnt how to change the lightbulb, fix the wheel bearings, unblocked the shower drain and, quite possibly, run for Parliament.  Men, surely, don’t feel so insecure they need to be reassured constantly of their ability to carry out the most basic diy by a woman with the vocabulary of a preverbal infant who then oohs, aahs and claps her hands in delight at her man’s competency with a picture hook, nail and hammer.  Or maybe they do.



Sep 29

Tiny Pants

When I was 17 my aunt told me that men find nothing sexier than white cotton knickers. I got some Marks & Spencers finest – 100% cotton, not quite granny pants but not far off. They didn’t have the “I must have you now” effect I was hoping for, though that may have been more to do with the fact that they’d been carted round Thailand for a month at the bottom of my backpack. Slightly mildewed knickers and a blister on my bum two inches across from snorkelling with no sunblock may not have been the most alluring sight, but he could have pretended to go along with the game.

Now that I’m all grown-up and feminist, I’d regard with suspicion men who found white cotton knickers, in particular, sexy because I associate them with children. Aside from a single outing, I haven’t done any field studies so I might just be dissecting a man’s taste in pants when it doesn’t actually mean anything. Since I’ve been buying them, knickers have shrunk in size and grown in stature. Now they’re known as lingerie and seem designed to do anything but be something you get out the drawer and stick on. They’re frilly, lacy, crotchless (I still don’t get the point of those), and sheer, designed to squash in your stomach and festooned with Hello Kitty, Playboy insignia and days of the week.

The strangest development in the knicker department is, surely, the c-string. It’s a piece of plastic, shaped like a C with a small patch at the front and a long, thin bit round the back – basically a g-string with no sides that, as if by magic (or a great deal of buttock-clenching), stays in place. It promises no panty-lines, no tan-lines, and total invisibility. Grand promises, indeed, but I don’t think having invisible pants would make up for suffering an all-day plastic wedgie. As if the concept, itself, wasn’t inventive enough, the makers have come up with all sorts of embellishments on the front. For just a few pounds, you, too, can have a fluffy, sequined merkin that – OMG! – perches on your cooch with, apparently, nothing to hold it in place.  And they’re not just for girls. Men can sport them in all sorts of fancy designs and colours, too. This cute little lacy number is said to be a big seller. I’d asphyxiate laughing if a man dropped his jeans to reveal that. Might have to stick some white cotton knickers on to get him back in the mood after being humiliated for his choice in drawers, but I would ask no questions.


Sep 15

Pathologising Passion

Did you know that wearing socks in bed may improve your sex life?  It’s true: in a study, 80%  of people wearing socks came, compared to 50% of those with no socks on.  Brain scans carried out during sex (there were no diagrams so I’m a bit hazy on the details of how, exactly) showed that different areas of the brain are active in men and women during sex: in male brains, emotion centres are deactivated and the focus is on sensations transmitted from the genitals to the brain; in female brains, the response is more complex, combining emotions, physical sensation and the relaxation of brain areas processing anxiety and fear.  The more hyaluronic acid a person has in their face, the more attractive they appear.  After a break-up, brain scans show that the same parts of the brain light up when someone is shown a picture of their ex and thinks about time they spent together as when they experience physical pain by having a hot probe touch their arm.  A study during which men watched porn with a device attached to their penis that measured arousal, showed that homophobic men are most sexually aroused by gay male porn.  60% of normal people have ongoing “sexual desire” problems and 80% of women say they make their loudest ohs and ahs when they’re not enjoying sex and want their man to hurry up and come so it’ll be over with.  Exploring your date’s “Sociosexual Orientation” (i.e. why they have sex) can help you decide if there should be a second date or you’re likely to be fatally incompatible in bed.

I know all these things because I read about them in scientific studies which, of course, means they must be true.  They’re quite interesting in an anecdotal sort of way, but I don’t really see why the studies are necessary or quite what the point of them is.  Scientists have their say about every single aspect of our lives, from what we eat and how much exercise we do to how much sleep we need and how many compartments there should be in our recycling bin.  Now they’re dissecting sex by attaching devices to penises that measure girth (increased girth being a sign a man’s turned on) and immobilising people’s heads in CAT scans so they can see which bits of their brains light up most during sex.  I admire people who take part in these studies because I’ve no idea how anyone could get turned on immobilised in a room full of labcoats, but the results are hardly likely to be reflective of people who aren’t under scientific scrutiny.  Who’s to know what’s going on in the brains of people who are just frolicking in their bedroom?  It could be that, left alone, people’s brains light up all over the place – not just in localised spots that indicate men feel no emotion during sex while women experience a gamut of them.  Tying desire to evolution already took half the romance out of it and now we’re supposed to have sociosexual orientations that determine why we have sex, none of which allows for just fancying the pants off someone, and a barrage of statistics telling use what, why, how and where we’re doing it.  We can’t even keep our socks on without there being some scientific reason for it – it’s got to be because, if I wear socks, I’m 1.6 times more likely to come than if I’ve got bare feet.  These statistics and percentages serve no purpose, aside from the faint possibility they might make one of the 80% of women faking it in deafening tones feel a bit better because she knows she’s not the only one having crap sex.  I don’t think there’s a place for science in the bedroom (or wherever your sociosexual orientation dictates you like having sex).  It’s one of the few places where we aren’t likely to run into science and all its predictions/explanations/investigations – unless, of course, you’re sleeping with a scientist in which case, frankly, it’s your own fault.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s my bedroom and I’ll keep my socks on if I want to – or not, if I’m willing to risk a 37.5% drop in the likelihood I’ll come.



Sep 06

Boiling Bunnies

Last week someone I went to school with started texting me because he got my number from somewhere and was bored. Bored of his job, bored of his marriage, bored of being fat, bored of his wife, bored of being asked about the accusations that had led to the loss of his previous job – bored of pretty much everything in the life he’d chosen to live.  He asked how I was and said why didn’t we pretend he was having an affair with me because it would be so much fun.  The brief was pretty straightforward: tell him what I wanted to do to him then get all “oh yes big boy” at what he wanted to do to me.  I carried on working and let him ramble on, working himself up into a right state with this really quite complex scenario, most of which seemed to involve me standing on a railway platform waiting for him, dressed in a fur coat and no knickers.  I don’t wear fur, but I let it pass because he seemed to be enjoying himself.  Then he phoned and said he was going to get a ticket and catch the train up, his wife would never know, and he could get the last train back and say he’d been working late.  It would be perfect, he said, he hadn’t seen me for years, but he still fantasised about the time we got off with each other at school.  He either thought I was someone else entirely or just remembered it differently.  I vaguely remember there being a lot of saliva and him dislodging the wire on my bra, trying to shove his hand in it, not out of passion but because it seemed to be the most accessible bit of me.  Such finesse.  Anyway, almost twenty years later and, lucky me, I get to make his fantasy come true.  Then I said what if I didn’t want him to come just for the afternoon, what if I wanted him to stay longer.  He would go back to his wife and I’d have no say in when I might see him again.  I might start to like him or, even, fall in love with him and what would I get in return for my sexual and emotional involvement with him.  Standing around waiting for him on a freezing Edinburgh railway platform with no knickers on would hardly quell my feelings of adoration or soothe the ache of longing for the relationship I knew we could never have.  He’d have me on tap and I’d have more dislodged bra wires and the occasional naughty text.  Thrilling.  He suddenly had a concert his kids were playing at and, oh shit, he wouldn’t be able to come after all.  I haven’t heard much from him since.

I had no intention of having any sort of anything with him and was about to tell him it was stupid and not to get the train because I didn’t want to see him, but I thought I’d give him a glimpse into how things might turn out for me if he did.  It had, apparently, never occurred to him that I might want something other than the occasional shag when he could get away or that I didn’t want to be his bit on the side to ease the boredom of domesticity.

I’ve had two relationships with married men and, while I don’t regret either of them – they were both lovely men – I wouldn’t have another.  The fact that the man is married adds nothing to the relationship: he may get a frisson from the danger of getting caught or being naughty, but for the woman, it brings no perks.  Now that we’re all modern and equal in our right and responsibility to earn our own income, a man no longer has any financial responsibility towards his mistress so the single perk there might have been – being a kept woman – has been done away with.

The perception of the mistress has veered between veneration and disgust, depending on social mores.  There’s been a fairly recent trend for laying some blame on the man, but they usually wriggle out of it with statements issued by publicists about sex addiction, as though pathologising it made it all right.  “You’re addicted to sex?  Don’t worry – we have the perfect rehab programme to help you overcome that.  The focus is on learning to love yourself – not just your penis.”  The wife is pitied, quite rightly, because she’s got a cheating bastard for a husband.  The mistress receives very different treatment.  She is tabloid fodder, at once villified and exploited as a source of sex secrets – his penchant for stuffing an orange in his mouth and a pair of tights over his head or a one-time “romp” in a hot tub with a bottle of flat champagne and some soap suds, for example.  Then she’s forgotten – or she cashes in on her fleeting fame, sobs on talk shows and designs a range of handbags like Monica Lewinsky.

Thing is, the mistress has done nothing wrong.  She signed no contracts; didn’t stand in front of an officiate and promise no other to take.  She’s just a woman having a relationship with a man like any other.  I’ve heard women say they like the challenge of bedding a married man, but they give the mistress – the woman who’s trying to have a relationship rather than a one night stand – a bad name.  Being the other woman is a shit deal. For all the promises to the contrary, you’re the least important person in his life.  Yes, he might say he loves you and he might promise you the moon and the stars, but one thing he won’t promise you is that he’ll leave his wife.  Married men seldom do.  They have the ease of a wife at home and you on call for sex and whatever else you might give him.

There are articles in their thousands about women having it all, wanting it all, trying to have it all, feeling guilty because they think spending time thinking about having it all makes them a bad mother.  Aside from the occasional feature-length article about a stay-at-home dad, no one seems to be suggesting that being a working father makes a man a bad parent.  Men aren’t being bombarded with criticism of their life choices or having the fact that, selfish cows, they would rather go to work than spend all day at home with their children.  The affair is the male equivalent.  Even if the wife’s a shrew and the mistress the heartless bitch they’re generally assumed to be, the man is having it all and getting away with it.  Unless, of course, the mistress starts asking for more.

We’re not talking the pitiful combustion that was Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, here.  Being of generally sound mind and vegetarian, I would no more boil a rabbit than I would eat one.  No, it’s more likely to be outrageous things like seeing more of him or having phone calls returned a week after they were made rather than a month or just not at all.  Some of the happiest times in my  life were spent with married men, but these moments are so fleeting, like a string of fabulous flings – intense, vital, all-absorbing, but a little while after you can’t quite remember why.  Being the other woman is all about hope.  It’s entirely misplaced and a waste of energy, time, passion, and feeling.  You have to lose that hope to move on.  It’s disappointing, but it’s necessary that you do.  You’re wasting your life, hoping for a glance here, a little love there.  If you were with someone who treated you like a married man will, you’d ditch him.  For all he might enjoy and care about you, he’ll never love you.  Not in any way that means anything.  You’re both an indulgence and an inconvenience and you have to be prepared to be treated as such.  He won’t leave her and, even if he does, you have to wonder about the priorities of a man who would be so self-indulgent he’d disregard the happiness of both women in his life.  To paraphrase Martha Wainwright, you know he’s married, but you’ve got feelings, too.





Jul 02

Whatever happened to the good old-fashioned roll in the hay?

Sexuality is, to put it mildly, a convoluted subject. From a process of reproduction, sex has become something of labyrinthine complexity. It is far more than just our sex organs. Whether we’re aware of it or want to, we bring to sex our pasts, desires, preconceptions, prejudices, morals, insecurities, and emotions. There are expectations of both men and women – everyone wants to be thought of as good in bed, but what that involves has become increasingly demanding. We’re all to be porn stars. Girls as young as eleven are pressured by their peers (their female friends as much as the boys) into replicating the sex their boyfriends have seen in porn. Admit you like the missionary position and you might as well declare yourself a Puritan and get thee to a nunnery. No, we’re all supposed to be as limber as a Cirque du Soleil contortionist. Sex isn’t just a fun way to spend the afternoon, it’s a competition. We try to be better than the last lover – or, indeed, anyone the other person has ever had sex with. Sex is to be mind-blowing, ne’er before known heights of ecstasy, unforgettable and impossible to surpass. We count our orgasms, rating our lovers by the number of times they make us come in a night. Even if we wouldn’t want to venture into the world of slings and hardcore S&M, we’re blasé about the more extreme sexual practices because that’s the fashionable way to be. We buy into the highly lucrative concept that our sex lives need to be spiced up – thrilling at all times. At the mellow end of the market are scented candles and a romantic dinner; role play and dressing up usually make the list; then there’s a little light bondage of the Ann Summers handcuffs and whipped cream variety; and sex manuals are a must, though nothing of the boring old Joy of Sex sort – they have to be fun fun fun. On and on it goes in the quest for the perfect shag.

No matter how modern all this might make us feel, there remains the double standard between men and women regarding sexual mores. There are no derogatory words for a promiscuous man, but innumerable ones for a woman. How many men a woman has sex with and how soon after meeting shouldn’t be worth even mentioning, but it is the subject of countless, and constant, debates. Living by The Rules or by one’s own ought to be a given, but women frequently lie about the number of lovers they’ve had and the extent of their experience, downplaying both to their partners. I don’t think anyone quite knows why we do this, why we have such contrasting views of male and female behaviour, but it’s a practice that every generation adopts, to a greater or lesser extent, and has done so over centuries. Porn encourages us to act like a slut in the bedroom, but apparently we’re not supposed to actually be one out of it.

I’m not arguing in favour of mediocre sex. No one wants that. I don’t think men should, à la Christian missionaries, pray for god’s forgiveness for taking carnal pleasure and their wives’ bodies be concealed by full-length white nightdresses with a hole embroidered in the shape of a cross over their vaginas. Sex is supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to be about people – real life ones, not the ones pornography, magazines, adverts, and billboards tell us we should be. The anal sex her boyfriend saw onscreen shouldn’t be a part of an 11-year-old girl’s life. Her life should be about her – what she wants to do and what she enjoys – not what porn told her boyfriend she ought to be. You’d think we’d grow out of that, but the idea that sex is a performance to impress our lover surrounds us and, inevitably, affects the way we view ourselves and those with whom we have sex. In attempting to emulate the moves of a porn star, women are understudying to others paid to fake orgasms and pleasure. Role play is one thing, but if women are faking it, in whole or in part, all to seem like the person they believe their lovers want them to be, then it begs the question of who everyone is sleeping with – the person we know or the one they’re pretending to be for our benefit because that’s what they believe we want and, possibly, what we’ve come to believe we want, too. It’s no wonder we’re confused.


Jun 29

How to relocate someone’s shoulder, find a handsome man and live happily ever after.

read on


Jun 18

Romancing Traditions

Courtship rituals have long been an interest of mine, in their many peculiar permutations and, Hallmarked-out, I decided I’d do a little reading up on them. Started on Valentine’s eve, actually. I appreciate the irony of sitting in reading about courtship on that particular date – with a lack thereof. With all the fuss (and furore if, heaven forefend, a man should forget the date), I was intrigued to discover that, in modern-day West civilisation, we get let off remarkably lightly.

The card is bought, the flowers arranged, the champagne on ice, the restaurant is booked, the jewellery glitters, the perfume is sweet, and the chocolates so pretty in their heart-shaped gold-wrapped box. You’ve done it: every tradition fulfilled, every symbol of a romance that time will not fade, and every token of love everlasting is there to see. You could do no more.

But, really, you could. Flowers, cards, jewellery, chocolate, dinner, champagne, and perfume are perfectly nice. They’re pretty and pleasant – a delightful way to say ‘I love you’ – but in romance of yore, they would have won you neither maiden nor squire.

Devotion required a little more than a bunch of flowers, a card, and some chocolates. It had to be proved via feats of remarkable invention and questionable sense. You could, for example, raise a rooster til it was 11 months old then chop off its head, cut out its heart and eat it. If you could get hold of a wild duck or dove, your intended would be equally impressed, though only if you pointed at the ground and held their shoulder while you swallowed it. It would take a little more if all you could get your hands on was an owl – to impress with an owl’s heart, you’d have to cut it out, dry it, and carry it round in your pocket. Attempting to woo a gentleman, a lady could win him by secreting a teaspoonful of ground fingernail into his beer. He would have to come by the web of a wild gander’s foot to dry, crush into a powder, and sprinkle in the coffee of the woman whose affections he sought to ensure she would both marry him and stay faithful. To make himself irresistible, a gentleman could pull out some of a lady’s hair, hide the dried tongue of a dove in his bedroom, or chew a piece of gristle while standing on his head. Continuing the livestock theme, if you and your friends wish to know who will marry first, put a cat on a quilt and fling it up in the air. Whoever it lands nearest will marry first. Or have her eyes scratched out. If you meet THE ONE at a party, whisper his or her name twenty times (it has to be done in front of him or her so try to find a way to work it into the conversation) then before you go to sleep (most likely alone) wish twenty times that you’ll be together forevermore and you shall. Assuming the muttering hasn’t put them off. Should you have any concerns about your husband’s fidelity, simply cut a lemon in half, rub the pieces on the four corners of your bed then put them under your pillow. If you dream of him, he is faithful; if you don’t then all this Valentine palaver is for naught. Should you want to prove your undying devotion to your husband, run three times round the block with your mouth full of water. If you succeed, he will know that your affections are true. Presumably, choking, asphyxiating or spitting it all over him for making you take part in such a ridiculous activity when you’ve already made your feelings perfectly clear proves he’s better off without you.

Going to such bizarre and strenuous lengths to prove one’s feelings does sound more impressive than stopping by the shop on the way home to pick up some flowers, but I’m not sure that all the muttering, gargling, heart-swallowing, hair-pulling, and cat-flinging is indicative of devotion so much as serious disturbance. Ground fingernails and gander’s foot don’t sound half as appetising as champagne and chocolates; and if we all sought out an owl, duck, dove, goose, or rooster to fillet every Valentine’s, they’d soon become endangered species. Personally, I’d rather not come across the dried tongue of a dove in a man’s bedroom and would be perfectly happy with a card. I suppose it depends on just what sort of feelings you wish to convince your beloved.



Jun 09

The painful process of finding a mate

‘Darling, there will be gorgeous men aplenty,’ he said.  ‘We’ve invited all the lovely men we’ve ever met just for you.  There’s one I think you’ll really love.  He’s a composer, bit older, said most of his compositions are ‘atonal’.  Don’t know what the fuck that means, but I think you can make the word ‘anal’ out of it which might be a good thing, you know, or something.  Come, darling, it’ll be fun and you know how much I love you. You have to stop wishing you were with that Texan.  (I did, many months ago, though the spectre of him striding, like Action Man, towards me still looms in my dreams.)  We know you don’t eat meat so David’s made a seafood curry.   See you at seven.’

I should make the effort.  I really should.  James loves me.  He really does.  And what source can you trust more as a good judge of a possible mate than the recommendation of your best friend.

I did look at dating sites (see previous post, ‘Want a date?  Keep your cleavage in shot and your pets out’ for some statistics on just how to make yourself irresistible or put people off entirely), but contrary to what the enormous advertising campaigns promised, there weren’t thousands of ‘hot men’ who, with just a moment’s electronic matchmaking would display themselves (sometimes a great deal too much of themselves) to me with perfect compatibility on every level of my being.

While I’m on the subject of the advertising campaigns, just quite what the dating companies think people are interested in, I’m not sure.  For about a week one ran a tv ad exhorting men to sign up to meet the thousands of ‘hot women’ just waiting to be wooed – too many, in fact, for the men already signed up to cope with.   The women pictured were cartoons dressed like they were en route to a fetish fancy dress party – dominatrixes; nurses in uniforms so miniscule that, yes, they might be the stuff that bed-bath dreams are made of; cheerleaders; and bespectacled, cane-wielding teachers.  Then for weeks and weeks they ran a similar campaign pleading with women to sign up and get their fill of, if the cartoons were to be believed, muscled, dog-owning doctors and the occasional workie the likes of which I’ve never seen but wouldn’t mind doing so.

I signed up for a trial membership, entered a few details (don’t want kids or do god, but do like brunettes) and, week after week, was sent the profiles of men who met, say, 98% of my criteria.  All blonde, all god-loving/fearing, and all hell bent on having kids.  Quite what the glaring incompatibilities in the remaining 2% were, I don’t know.  ‘Knightinshiningarmour’, ‘justanicefella’, and ‘bigdownbelow’ – we shall never meet.

There are groups for like-minded people that meet regularly in my area.   There are the normal (too energetic, in the main) and there are the dominatrix vampire/zombie lovers.  It’s not a pretty prospect.

So, the party it is.  I might as well be prepared, I think, so to the beauty salon I go.  This is a place I used to love – something about the intimacy and chat.  There’s nothing a beautician hasn’t seen – there isn’t a place on the human body from which she hasn’t removed hair, no quantity of body fat she hasn’t muscled essential oils into, no manner of aesthetic neglect with which she isn’t familiar.  What she is possibly not so familiar with is tears.  She only got to do one side of my bikini line till I said I’d well exceeded the medically recommended number of painkillers in preparation for what might be a little sting, but – short of her wheeling out a morphine drip – I could take no more.  I limp home snivelling and, hobbling about the flat, tread on Minnie’s tail.

I check her tail for any signs of damage (none), press a cold flannel to my bruised, welted thigh, and slather it in rescue remedy cream.   The fact that I can only sort of lean on one leg when either standing or sitting without risk of blood loss through chafing rather limits what I can wear.  Winceyette pyjamas would be nice.  Anyway, I get there.

It’s a little late on so everyone’s drunk and all the food is gone.  James has his usual drink-induced Tourette’s – repeating the same phrase that wasn’t funny the first time over and over – and John is dry-humping David’s leg.  He lusts after David – secretly when sober and lustily when drunk.  Everyone lusts after David.  He used to be straight, but then gayness found him and now he and James are the coupliest of couples and I hate them both for finding each other.

‘Darling!  This is Robert!  The man I was telling you about.  Robert, this is Kate.’

There stands before me possibly the vilest man I have ever seen.  He waddles towards me, grabs my hand and kisses me on the cheek.  ‘I just have to go to the loo won’t be a sec and I’ll be back,’ I tell him.  I wash my hands four times and clean the side of my face twice.  When I come back, he tries to flog me a copy of his cd for a tenner which I decline, never having been a fan of atonal.   Then he sits at the piano and jerks about like he’s got some sort of involuntary muscle movement condition (for a moment I think maybe he does and try to feel a little sympathetic till he stands up and I see it’s all for effect), banging the keys with every ounce of strength in his upper body.  He’s no Beethoven.  But then no one is.  I’d bring Beethoven back from extinction along with Orson Welles, if I could.  He’s one of those creative types who mistake mess and banging crashing about for passion.  Or maybe I just don’t get it.  He stops, thank god, and starts telling me about his website.  I make some suggestions – talk on a bit about ideas while turning my head to the left every time I breathe in to avoid breathing the stinking air he exhales.  Wilfully techno-incompetent, it seems, he nods at my breasts as I try to time my breathing with his, roughly breathing out when he does, holding it and breathing in once the air might have cleared.  It doesn’t.  He goes back to assaulting the piano and I leave.

‘What the fuck were you thinking?  He’s vile and he smells and his music’s shit, James.’

‘Sorry, Kitty (my moniker ever since the boys met a still most manly transsexual called Kitty and decided it would be hilarious to call me after him-her – think he was mid-op so I’m not sure which pronoun to use).  I really thought you’d like him.  I know he’s not got any muscles or anything, but he’s a bit older and you like that, don’t you?’

‘He’s 5000 years old with no concept of personal hygiene.  Having lived so long, you’d think he’d have picked up on that.  I think I might just head off.  My thigh’s started to throb and itch.  Lovely party, darling.  I love you and thanks for trying even if whatever in all hell was going through your head when you thought I might fancy him is I don’t know what.’

I come home and lie on the sofa with the little ladies.   Minnie bruxes softly on my chest while Georgia plays in my hair.  When I stand up I find rat bedding and tissue in my hair (I was en route to being made into a nest, it seems) and shit down the back of my neck.  Minnie’s only little and hasn’t quite mastered the division between places to shit and places not to, but it’s fine.  We have our bedtime biscuit together, I settle them in their nests, and limp off.  I’ll be crazy rat lady spinster forevermore.  It’s lovely and what’s a little rat shit between friends.


Jun 09

Want a date? Keep your cleavage in shot and your pets out.

You know it’s been a while when you have to search out your passport for the date of entry stamp to see what year it was when you flew across the ocean to see the last man you had sex with.  It wasn’t quite long enough for my virginity to have grown back, but certainly long enough to show that I was making no effort whatsoever to find a man to bed down with.  I thought I ought to do something about it and looked to the most immediate of resources for those on the look-out for a mate – dating sites.

Handily, there was a statistical study in a weekend supplement.  From a slightly cobbled together newspaper report, I discovered that, in dating site shots, women with cats get 24% fewer hits and women showing cleavage get 43% more. Possibly, you can offset the crazy cat (or rat, in my case) lady image by getting your breasts out.

For men, get a dog and you’ll meet 50% more women. Show your muscles and you’ll meet 45% more. Don’t know if the numbers combine, but maybe sitting a dog on your rock-hard abs will get you 95% more hits than a skinny dogless guy could ever dream of.

It says that women doing something ‘interesting’ are 48% more likely to have an online conversation with a man who contacts them. If you really want your cat in shot, possibly, being pictured trying to wrangle him down your cleavage would count as interesting. I think so, but then I’m not a man so I don’t know how they’d interpret it.

Roughly half the men I know are frightened of rats, but I don’t know whether, if I joined a dating site and had Georgia and Minnie in my picture, I’d get 50% less hits.  (From the picture above, you can see they’re adorable and not at all terrifying or carriers of a bubonic plague.)  Possibly the way in which I described the part they play in my life would influence the statistics.  While they are of intelligent and appealing companionship to me, the only time they’ve ever been involved in an encounter with a man was when I set Georgia on a friend after he’d told me, if I weren’t ‘such a slut and a doormat’, I’d be with The Texan I’d lusted after forever and ever (wrong on all counts, but gin does give you the clarity to pronounce yourself judge, jury, and executioner on all matters of other people’s relationships, don’t you know).  Anyway, Georgia zipped along the sofa and onto his lap; he shrieked and hid in the bathroom until I assured him she was safely back in her cage.  He now calls in advance of any visits to make sure she’s not on the prowl, with nothing better to do but launch herself at his throat, draw and quarter him.

‘Online flirting’ (whatever the hell that is) gets you 7% more hits so maybe a bit of cleavage, fluttering my eyelashes and making Georgia and Minnie look especially fluffy would make me a less terrifying proposition.

If I test it, I’ll let you know.  Any tips on persuading rats to nestle snuggly in a Wonderbra while not obscuring my breasts would be gratefully received.


Jun 09

Mythical Love

Mythical tales of love are many – countless, perhaps – and have a tendency towards the melodramatic at best and the tragic at worst. A few weeks ago, in an attempt to remain in keeping with the celebration of love that is St Valentine’s Day, I searched the scores of mythological lovers for a happy tale. The best I could come up with is one that bore a golden age, Ovid’s tale of Halcyone.

Daughter of Aeolus and wife of Ceyx, when her husband perished in a shipwreck, Halcyone threw herself into the sea and drowned. Out of pity, the gods changed them both into halcyon birds (later to be known as kingfishers), then forbade the winds from blowing for seven days before and after the winter solstice so Halcyone could lay her eggs in peace without the threat of storms. In a further act of perilous spousal support, the female halcyon bird is said to support her mate when he tires flying over the sea by carrying him on her wings.

Though her tale is tragic, the birds named for her are beautiful and the days of rest the gods gave her, too, are halcyon.

Now, halcyon days are golden. They tend to be associated with times of peace, prosperity, and tranquillity; family picnics at the seaside from which familial bickering is absent; and days in which joy is abundant and strife forgotten. Depending on your disposition, this is either a nauseating prospect best dispatched to the same spot in hell as Hallmark’s wonderful mothers, true friends, devoted fathers, and forever-mine lovers; or remembrance of such days fills you with the glow of repose, idle nostalgia, and hope. It really depends who you ask.

In the search for golden moments, fiction is as good a place to start as any. Writers tend to have something to say about it. To name a few: Lucy Maud Montgomery, sent Anne of Green Gables off to spend many a halcyon day in “the golden prime of August” in the lodges and harbours of Prince Edward Island. Fyodor Dostoyevsky declared them to be “frightfully dull” leading to such desperate boredom that it “sets one sticking golden pins into people”. Jack London only found them with a drink in hand. Arthur Conan Doyle brought a certain flamboyance to his idea of bliss with the “strange tales of fortunes made and fortunes lost” and “stirring adventures” of the pioneers. W. Somerset Maugham sided with Dostoyevsky after being charmed by a woman into married misery. And Charlotte Bronte’s Professor mistook female subjugation and repugnance for a “halcyon mien”.

So, tragic little Halcyone, leaping from the rocks, knew nothing about the dastardly, plundering writers who would either venerate or take her name in vain. All she wanted was to see her man. Preferably in human form, but feathered and with the promise of immortality was the only deal the gods were offering that day.


Jun 09

Spark gone out of your relationship? Just get your man to scowl.

A recent study declared that, when ovulating, the majority of women prefer to look at a man with a “low pupil-to-brow ratio”.  The study didn’t specify whether this was the glower of Heathcliff or the lumpen brow of the Neanderthal so it’s difficult to know whether the expected follow-on from the look is a life – or, at least, a night – of maddening melodrama or one spent crouched in a cave grunting and fashioning hunting implements from bits of flint.  I suppose it depends on taste, level of commitment desired, level of communication required (the likelihood of needing couples’ counselling is probably slightly higher with a highly strung foster brother than a caveman, though both are likely to be poor communicators), and mood at the time.

Presented with the images of two men – one rugged; the other barely pubescent – the female subjects decided the former would be more likely to satisfy their sexual desires as he looked to be more dominant.  He of the masculine prominent jaw line, thinner lips, smaller eyes, larger nose, and lower brow (whole new meaning to the expression) was considered a more attractive mate than a wide-eyed boy.  Not hugely surprising.

Their husbands and boyfriends were not impressed.  It seems that, when at the “high risk” stage of their menstrual cycle, women were more likely to take a critical look at what exactly their men had to offer and set it against the possibility of future happiness surely there behind a chiselled jaw line and large nose.  Quite what the scientists carrying out the study meant by “high risk” is unclear – they didn’t clarify their terms.  High risk to whom exactly?  Surely not to the women themselves if their ovulation days were spent evaluating their relationship and wondering just where their lives were going.  Not to humankind, either: masculine facial features, the scientists concluded, are the result of high testosterone and men with a high testosterone level have better genes, stronger immune systems, and are likely to produce hardier children.  Really, in choosing to ditch her weak-chinned, high-browed, button-nosed boy to run off with Action Man, she’s only doing her bit for the survival of the species.

In response to the possibility of losing them to the more handsome alternative, men became more jealous and possessive of their partners, attempting to assert greater dominance in the relationship.  These aren’t hugely attractive attributes so if – as the study concludes – they’re the most common things men come up with to convince a woman they’re everything she could wish for in a mate, it’s hardly surprising the testosterone-high, better-looking guy gets the girl.

Quite where this all leaves us, I’m not sure.  Science says it’s all subconscious and the result of aeons of evolution.  Could be that years spent playing with Ken has left us believing he’s the ideal man.  He’s missing a few vitals, but the study only looked at the most appealing faces – it didn’t extend to the crotch.  I really don’t know, but I do know that if the flame is waning between you and your mate, don’t look to therapy, lingerie or pills.  Just get him to scowl.


Jun 09

Illiterate Troll Anyone?

Giving in to peer pressure from my mum and various other people who’ve never tried it yet claim it’s the way everyone meets these days, I signed up to an online dating site a little while ago.  I filled in a few forms, ticked some boxes – provided so much information it started to feel like some secret service background check - posted a picture, wrote a little bit about myself and what I was looking for, and went to bed.  I got up the next morning to 13 winks (emoticons ‘to break the ice’) and 5 messages.

It was a horrible sight – it almost put my rats Georgia, Minnie, and me off our breakfast.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a sorry display of the male species.  Not all in one place, anyway.  A gallery of trolls is the only way I can think of to describe it.

Now, I know I’m no Helen of Troy (before she was ravaged by age, mutilated and hanged, obviously), but is this it?  Is this what I get for all my efforts and is this really all that’s out there?  Did I shave my legs for this?

In two days (two hours, actually, but I thought I’d make some pretence of a clinical trial so gave it a little longer), my theory about them has been proved: online dating sites are populated by sad, ugly bastards who’ll hit on anything in a carpet winking of new sign-ups. They actually all put “anything” in the bit where you write what you’re looking for.  There’s not an iota of originality (or literacy) amongst them nor any sign that they’ve read my profile.   If they have, quite which bit of the description I gave of what I’m looking for they think they fit, I don’t know.

If I wanted a florid-faced, morbidly obese, 71-year-old midget, looking like he’s on the verge of a stroke, wouldn’t I have asked for one?  It’s hardly the funny, manly, taller-than-me thing I had in mind.

It seems this isn’t the point, though.  The simple fact that I’ve put a picture and a few stats on the site is carte blanche for PantherXX to offer to show me a good time (maybe he could, though hefting around that gut might make the mechanics a little tricky), Darren37 to tell me he’s the only good man on the site and he’s already taken but his wife won’t mind (very charitable woman, apparently), Dick to say he’s after that ‘speshil sum1′, and men I’d cross the street to avoid looking at to send me pictures of themselves oozing out of singlets.  It strikes me as a little arrogant.

Maybe I’m being harsh and maybe the men are just being friendly and maybe I should look beyond the (frightening) looks and try to get to know the men behind the walleyes, manboobs, and hair so rigid with gel it must surely be bulletproof.   Trouble is, between the many many clichés and txtspk, it’s rather difficult.

Looks just are important.  They could compensate, for a moment or two, for an apparent inability to read or spell, total lack of interest in anything I’ve got to say, and a most likely unwavering belief in their own gorgeousness.  But you can’t get away with an Adonis complex unless you’ve got the looks to support it or a certain something.  And not one of them looks remotely like Matthew McConaughey.  I realise that’s setting the bar pretty high (and, in their defence, I didn’t specify it in my ‘wants’), but it’s my profile and I’ll set the bar high if I want to.

Thrilling though getting hit on by trolls is, I’ll give it two more days to disprove my theory and I’m off the site.

My little lady rats, Georgia and Minnie, have just appeared, come to see what I’m up to and when I’m going to give them half my dinner.   The best company a gal could ask for calls.


Jun 09

A G-Spot The Size Of The Moon

Last week I read an article about the peculiar things people do to their bodies with plastic surgery. There was the usual lunacy: women injecting a neurotoxin into their faces; collagened-up bloody, swollen pouts; Macrolane-filled breasts (a sort of injectable jelly it takes your body 12-18 months to absorb, leaving you with plain old mammary tissue); laser hair removal; earlobe reshaping (quite how bored, body dysmorphic, obsessive, or surgery-addicted you’d have to be to decide that your earlobes were imperfect I don’t know); a laser inserted under the skin to liquefy fat so it can be sucked out along a cannula; spikes rolled over the skin to ‘stimulate skin repair’ (presumably from the damage caused by the spikes); skin tightening via radio-frequency energy; fat sucked out your belly and injected into cheeks.

Then there was one that made me wonder if there is any part of the human anatomy that is to remain as it exists in nature: g-spot amplification. I’ve heard of labial trimming, as it’s called, thanks to a documentary about a woman who’d presumably spent enough time squatting over a mirror to know that her labia were not as she’d like them to be. The camera only showed her head during surgery, everything below the waist discretely covered by a surgical gown, though her mother was down there narrating. Things like “Oh yes, that’s much prettier”, “Maybe just a little more out of the right hand side”, and “Oh you’re going to love what he’s done down here, hon”. I don’t know which was more peculiar, really – the surgery or the mother-daughter relationship.

What I didn’t know was that surgery had moved on to re-form the inside of the vagina. In this procedure, collagen is injected into the g-spot to enlarge it, the idea being that this will then make sex more enjoyable and orgasms more frequent.

Anatomically/mechanically/geographically I’m not sure quite how this works. Whether the idea is that the greater the surface area, the higher the chance of the g-spot being touched during sex – improving the odds as it were – or if it’s supposed to make it easier for the man to find it, minus his periscope and head-torch, I don’t know.

The case study in the article was a woman who’d been with her one and only partner for five years and, during that time, had never had an orgasm. The doctor told her the procedure wouldn’t work on someone who’d never had an orgasm (he didn’t elaborate and I’ve no idea why this would be) so she said she might have had one once, she thinks. Personally, I’d be casting aspersions on the boyfriend at this point, but I wasn’t there to comment or glance. Perhaps an additional extra could be a brief anatomy/technique lesson from the surgeon who, it appears, knows where the g-spot is.

It’s hard to know whether it’s just a way of enhancing what is already supposed to be a fun way to pass an afternoon or if it’s yet another way that scientists have found to exploit women’s bodies and their insecurities about them. Isn’t it enough that the sculpted and the airbrushed are paraded as the ultimate objects of desire? Must we also assume that their insides possess the same perfection?

Apparently, the procedure has an 80% success rate in America. Quite how that’s measured, I’m not sure. I don’t know whether it’s that the women have 80% more orgasms (though 80% of nothing would still be no orgasms at all, or even less than nothing) or it’s that 80% have orgasms or that 80% of the time they’re having sex the women have orgasms. Either way, it costs from £800 and the enlargement only lasts six months. I’d have to be getting some seriously good lovin’ when I got home to make that worth the money.