New Year, Old News

2015 has arrived in the usual unexciting, mundane New Year’s kind of way. January offers little and takes a lot; we get a new series of Celebrity Big Brother’s human hamster cage in exchange for giving up Cadbury’s chocolate and bad men or Cadbury’s chocolate on bad men depending on your taste buds.

In the dying months leading up to a new year we indulge in alcohol, yule logs and Bruce Forsyth’s ghostly face only just visible on the latest Strictly Come Walking. We allow ourselves to parade around in reindeer onesies with wine-stained teeth safe in the knowledge that next year, we could run for the president of the United States of America.

In December, we decide to make ‘New Year’s Resolutions’. It takes a while to start writing as our E.T looking hands fiddle with a pen that we haven’t held since 1997 until we get into the rhythm of writing. Optimism begins to flow as we imagine marital bliss on the beaches of Mexico having secretly eloped with a bigamist George Clooney. We see our dreams coming true because a new year allows for change and we can morph ourselves into anything; we could wake with Kim Kardashian’s buttocks.

Most people opt for the obvious; dieting or sucking on anything other than cigarettes. Others decide it is time to throw caution to the wind and do obscene, nearly-time-to-be-sectioned kind of things like botox and growing moustaches. Just remember that we have to be realistic when deciding; Madonna’s armpit hair was grown for artistic purposes and should never be imitated as part of our New Year feminist empowerment.

With the lists ready and January coming to unpack a hamper full of success and orgasms, we wait patiently until it begins. We cram in any last minute gorging of cheesecake and One Direction because after, we shall no longer be these sad, depressing, I-heart-Harry kinds of people.

All of last year’s disappointments are left behind as we try to forget exes, the World Cup and the continued existence of Kanye West. We can disregard the momentary joy we felt that Take That might finally be breaking up and the chance that X Factor would fall further than Louis Walsh’s reputation as a talent spotter. 2014 is long gone and we no longer have time for it.

So here she is one and all. Her majesty, January, with nothing but rain keeping you wet when you would rather it came from elsewhere. We’re only a week or so in and we could still marry Prince Harry, travel to Jamaica on a banana boat and befriend King Kong but maybe one less tube of Pringles on our hips may be a slightly more realistic prospect.

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The Best First Date Advice You’ll Ever Get

First dates are like losing your virginity; painful and awkward. Forget the rules Sex and the City taught you – happy hour cocktails are out and an influx of what the ‘urban’ kids call ‘banter’ is in.

The issue is that most people find a date on Tinder. This dating platform is where you ‘swipe right’ if someone looks remotely like a human or ‘swipe left’ if they’re deemed below par. It sounds simple enough until you’re interrogated by the Karma Sutra police about your ‘experiences’. Ignore these nymphomaniacs immediately and stop posting pictures of yourself delicately nibbling a banana.

Once you have arranged the date, be sure to prepare yourself mentally. The person you believe to be ‘Robert Daley’ is probably ‘Ken Bridge’ who likes to collect toy soldiers and watch Countryfile. Any photograph that has been ‘cropped’ or distorted in any way means they are either acne-ridden, twenty years older or are simply Frankenstein’s brother.

More importantly, have a plan in place if you’re stood up otherwise you will be left with nothing more than a peanut-sized ego. Just think of it this way – either they turned up, saw you and left or they couldn’t prise themselves away from the Vaseline pot.

When the first date arrives wear appropriate attire; clothes are a good suggestion. Meet in a place that is bustling with people so you can run away if a monobrow replaces the man you were meant to be meeting or if he turns up wearing socks with sandals. Greet him with a polite smile and silently judge his entire existence.

There is nothing worse than going on a first date to a restaurant so most people generally decide to go to a restaurant. Always say no to a curry house; spicy foods and a nervous stomach is the perfect combination for an hour in the lavatories.

With the two of you sat opposite each other at the table, you can determine if the person in front of you looks like a married father of four or if he’s a suitable match for the rest of your life. If you’re sat across from someone who is sporting double denim, enjoy a slurp-fest of a dinner because you can’t possibly take that bad boy home for ‘coffee’. If the heavens have blessed you and Ben Affleck’s lookalike shows up, stop drooling before it stains your dress and get your act together.

Discuss anything other than what your ‘type’ is; if he has nasal hair sitting on his top lip, he knows he’s not your type. Forget mentioning exes or what horrendous heartbreaks you have powerfully overcome; it’s boring and no one cares. This is your ‘swipe right’ match so find out more about each other; preferably if he’s a Dexter-style serial killer or a completely normal person.

After the date, say your goodbyes and keep your lips to yourself. Remember all those scary news reports you’ve been reading lately about Ebola; no sharing bodily fluids until the new year. Take yourself home and shower the date away with some strong disinfectant. If you had a good time, you can feel optimistic about the prospect of further dates, a wedding and eventually marital flatulence. If not, you got out of a night in front of Eastenders crying into a bucket of KFC hot wings. After all, just because he’s your ‘swipe right’ it doesn’t mean he’s your Mr Right.

I Saw My Neighbour Naked

I saw my neighbour naked. There were nipples bobbling, a free fall of pubic hair and a hint of a vaginal lip. I didn’t know whether to scream, faint or declare myself blind forever. All I did know was that I had seen a forbidden forest and things were never going to be the same again.

My neighbours have always been an acquired taste. They’re the type to knock on your door just to say ‘hi’ which I’m sure hasn’t been legal since the 1960’s. They like to leave jigsaws by the front door in case anyone is feeling, in their words, ‘adventurous’. It’s as adventurous as discovering a verruca. They like to put the post in alphabetical order for all those that, I can only assume, can’t read their own name.

One such neighbour that lives directly below likes to announce what he’s eating as he’s eating it. I always get slightly concerned when the word ‘fish’ is screamed. Next to him lives a couple that seem to be able to set the fire alarm off using only two slices of bread and a piece of ham. At the bottom of the stairs are a group of souls that regard themselves as ‘hippies’ which I’m sure is a more politically correct term for having a gang bang. On ground floor, there’s a man that seems to dial an 0800 number for all those lonely nights and next to him is a woman that is more Sweeney Todd than Nigella Lawson in the cooking department. The house smells like dead people.

This is all part of living in a block of flats in an area where foxes are allowed to sit on your doorstep whilst your neighbours strum a guitar singing Kumbaya.

I, too, have my faults. I like to play Westlife at a night time to remember the glory days of the nineties. I can also hold my hands up and admit that I have cooked a fried egg or two at an inappropriate time on a Saturday morning however, no one has been scarred by the sight of my au naturel under parts.

I always knew she was one of those ‘open’ women who shared their deepest darkest secrets with the entire population from the moment she moved in.

“I just love watching Countryfile.” She said on introduction. I bowed my head in embarrassment, had she no shame?

After this came the washing machine incident. My clothes were in the middle of their weekly spin, enjoying themselves no doubt, when they were stopped by her. She wanted to know what was in the washing machine. It doesn’t exactly take a trip from the phantom of Einstein to reveal what was in the machine but she had to be sure. When I came down to see her fondling my sopping underwear, it became one of those socially awkward situations where there was nothing to say but ‘erm’.

“Lovely bras.” She said, smiling with her I’m-a-pervert style lips.

This could only mean one thing, she was either simply commenting on my fantastic taste in women’s lingerie or she was having a jolly old time with my smalls.

I decided to let that slide. After all, she hadn’t done the worst thing in the world and stolen my two pounds out of the machine door. But then came that fateful Sunday evening.

All was well in the house. I was enjoying a repeat of Golden Balls and everything was just as appropriate as a church sermon…until the screaming began. It was a high pitched scream as though she was in pain but enjoying the rollercoaster of life at the same time. I pondered whether to ensure her safety from what could possibly be an attack from the jigsaw maniac or ignore the rude interruption of my programme. Suddenly, without a thought for my own wellbeing, I hurtled across to her flat with my dressing gown floating in the distance. This was finally the moment that I could be a caped hero. What greeted me next was only for Hugh Hefner’s imagination. I saw things that fully grown men would weep at having come face to face with and I, for one, was ready to weep. As I squinted my eyes and slowly walked backwards, some Golden Balls that didn’t quite match what was on my television appeared.

After that, I remember nothing. It’s like a sordid cloud of smoky perversion sent me into a coma. When I woke, I knew I never wanted to see nipples darting towards me ever again. I knew I never wanted to help a neighbour in need ever again. But mostly, I knew I would never trust someone that liked Countryfile for as long as I live.

Marital Flatulence Saved My Life

I nearly died on the London Underground. Forget ‘don’t cross the yellow line’, I had my near-fatal experience once I’d stepped onto the train and hugged the safety that I thought had surrounded me.

It was the morning rush hour; prime time maniac mode for all those rushing to work with their flies undone. I should have known better than to risk everything for a trip to Krispy Kreme’s but I didn’t know what awaited me. I took a seat next to the door and settled down to a competitive game of Candy Crush thinking that I could get to the next level before someone sat on my lap. Unfortunately, a heavily ‘curvaceous’ woman decided it would be a treat to place half of her cellulite-ridden body parts onto my hip and half onto the buckling chair beside me. I wanted to scream out in pain and manoeuvre the sagging skin so it was no longer swallowing my bone structure but the looks from the I-have-an-office-job suit and ties in the corner silenced me.

I remained static; partially warmed by her body heat and partially cold as the blood drained from my body. As the train halted and opened its doors to that fateful passenger, I was concentrating on getting the conker to the bottom of the Candy Crush bucket. Forget the nineties; this really was on par with the menacing shapes of Tetris.

            Other people barely acknowledged his existence; he was just another contributor to the increasing stench of body odour that filled the carriage. He was middle-aged in a way that said he would be thankful for any female attention regardless of explosive acne or similar Adam’s apple styled necks. I looked at him for a few seconds purely so I knew he wouldn’t be able to see through my shirt with that predator-like x-ray vision.

It took five or so minutes for him to unleash it. It was a moment of panic for us all as we threw our heads back in horror and winced. We were wide-eyed and gasping for breath as though intoxicated by the fumes. I was willing for someone to pull the emergency lever just so I could escape and feed clean air into my system again. The oxygen was scarce and flooded with a vomit inducing quality that made me fixate on this dire excuse for a human being. He had a bewildered look on his face as though he’d been caught with an erection by his mother and if I had been his mother, I would have been ashamed.

It was the largest onion Cornish pasty I’d ever seen. He was cramming it into his mouth so hard that it was falling in great lumps down his shirt and onto the floor. Children were screaming, parents were cradling them with sympathetic noses, elderly women were woken by the avalanche of crumbling pastry and I sat there knowing that soon enough, there would be no oxygen left. It was a full frontal fight until the end; a classic game of old school survival of the fittest and I wasn’t going down without my Krispy Kreme doughnut.

This was the only time in the entirety of my life that I have wished for nasal hair. I would have loved to fashion a jungle of thick pubic-like hairs dangling from my nose so I could somehow fend of the fatality-factor of the pasty before it entered my system. I looked over at the smug sixty-something man opposite. He knew he had an advantage; sniffing away and enjoying only the gentle swishing of his greying forest nostrils.

The train stopped in a tunnel and my life flashed before my eyes. It was all the times I had breathed in so freely without thinking my lungs were crying inside. I saw beautifully clean walks along the beach where my mouth was parted and I tasted nothing but the salt of the British sea. I almost forgot myself and tasted the chunks of onions sweating with grease that had sat halfway onto his tongue and halfway onto his bottom lip, embarrassed to be seen.

Eventually, the train dragged into my station. I leapt up from my seat as though Usain Bolt had morphed into my twenty one year old self and hidden his penis. When the doors opened, it was like a rebirth; fresh out of the womb smelling life again for the first time. I stumbled off with relief and a newfound respect for life. I could have died on that train and if it wasn’t for my ability to hold my breath when my husband casually let out wind, I wouldn’t have made it through the ordeal. God bless marital flatulence.

 

 

Tip-ping Me Over the Edge

I refuse to tip in restaurants and I’m not sorry. Why is it after we’ve paid a David Cameron style wage on food that we really could have just microwaved at home, we’re supposed to hand over ‘loose change’ to someone who has barely acknowledged our existence for an hour? Hold me hostage and feed me meat-filled burgers until I pay up because otherwise my purse will stay firmly shut. It’s become this strange legal kind of mugging where they stand before you ready and waiting as though you’re drowning in money and they have to somehow relieve you.  

I can understand that waiters and waitresses have a difficult job; cleaning up some mutated spaghetti mess is hard for even the no-gag-reflexing individual. However, they’re not the only ones that ‘serve’ people. In retail, you don’t walk up to a till point and add a tip to the payment of a crop top, in fact you’d be completely outraged and stroll out with an air of ingratitude. So I’m struggling how after a quick Mr Muscle wipe of the table and a plate of chips I’m expected to hand over my flat keys as a substitute for my lack of tip just so I can escape through the side exit.

The worst part of the whole ‘dining out’ experience is the expectation at the end. It’s an Oliver Twist style moment where ‘more sir’ really wouldn’t be an exaggeration. We all want more money but by giving me a glass of coke and a toothy smile really isn’t the way to go about it. Here’s a prime example of exactly why I’m not willing to give up my week’s earnings on someone who probably chucks hangers on me when walking out of a high street fitting room.

When I was out for dinner the other evening, I requested a vegetarian meal. As abnormal as that is for a waitress to hear that vegetarians really do exist and they’re not just an urban myth, she asked me if I was ‘sure’ that is what I want. Pondering this for a whole second of my life, I proceeded to tell her that yes, after eleven years of Quorn and Tofu, I was extensively sure that my choice was one that I would not later regret. When she left, we waited for forty minutes without our drink order although I’d asked numerous times emphasising the ‘please’ in case I got the whole saliva-in-burger drama. When the dinner arrived, it was a chicken dish that smelt of farmyard manure and a breaded Chicken Run character. After huffing and puffing like an overheating, constipated fish, she eventually replaced it with a salad that I, once again, didn’t order.

            At the end of the meal, my Nan decided to tip six pounds for her ‘enthusiasm’. She had as much ‘enthusiasm’ as a funeral director in a labour room. I kicked up what can only be described as a ‘hormonal’ raucous until my Nan told me that ‘its rude not to tip’. I need this explained to me because for the love of all that is food, I was given a bird to eat.

Call me the wicked witch of the west but my point is true; service is service and it shouldn’t be one rule for one and one rule for another. Receiving great service is a joy but it isn’t one that deserves reward because at the end of the day, they’re getting paid. You may argue that it’s ‘stressful’ and ‘busy’ in restaurants but it is too, in a shop or in an underground station or on a bus. These people don’t play the puppy dog eyes and almost splutter into your soup when you give them nothing. It’s not about politeness because I will engage in conversation in the very typically English way where we evaluate the ‘awful weather’ and I will always say my please and my thank you. But I wonder, when did a heart-felt thank you become a metaphor for I’m-a-tight-fisted-pessimist? It’s about time we all admitted that it’s tipping us over the edge.

 

A Vow of Alcohol Celibacy

There is nothing worse than alcohol. I’ll be the first to admit it and I’ll probably be the last. Everyone talks about vodka-induced nights out as though they didn’t end with their hair dripping half way into a toilet but the reality is just that. It’s about time we all admitted that tequila is the leading cause in those dreaded wake-up-to-find-a-hairy-beast-of-a-man one night stands.  

The issue is that alcohol always starts as a good idea. No one thinks they’ll end the night half-naked at the bottom of their stairs because a striptease really did sound like a great idea. You believe that the world is, for the first time, your oyster. You can have anything you want regardless of expense or logic. If you want to dangle off the side of Ruby Blue’s balcony at half three on a nipple-decreasing Tuesday, you can do it. It’s only after drinking enough to sink the Titanic that you begin to understand that dribbling without knowing it is the least attractive thing since the mankini. It’s at this moment that you start to forget why tongues weren’t created for sordid kisses at the back of Yates and your friends despair at ever having known you.

In the process of drunkenness, we seem to lose all self-respect and do things that no human should ever do with or without a mature adult’s consent. I have unfortunately lost all dignity and bared my unshaven forest-like hairs on my thighs to an elderly gentleman on the ninety four bus. Others tend to scream their way into the Guinness World Records for being the most intoxicated person since Justin Beiber’s arrest.

I can’t deny that I have been one of these people. I have been all Bambi legs and Mr Bean dance moves whilst trying to chat up the Tottenham Hale bus driver post-Weatherspoons. I have been denied access from Leicester Square Burger King for being, in the burly security guard’s words, ‘drunk and disorderly’ and I have been known for the odd shot contest that ends with me hugging a chair and declaring my undying love for it. However, this happens once a year and for this, I am truly grateful.

For some people, hangovers are a myth. There’s no passing of the bucket or crying into the toilet bowl of shame; just a casual shower to soak away the memories of the night before.

For others, we wallow in self-pity and suffer in no silence. The day consists of head-pounding, toe-curling, vomit-inducing pains that make you want to give up life and surrender forever. It is a time when not even George Clooney’s naked self could bring you back to earth as you once knew it.

It is because of these reasons that I refuse to wear a vagina-skimming miniskirt and drown my tonsils in anything that has a percentage sign on the bottle. There will be no smudged mascara down my cheek and I refuse to sit on Santa Claus’ knee at the Christmas party. It’s all so mortifyingly embarrassing that someone has to take a vow of alcohol celibacy and declare themselves married to the joys of middle-aged hot drinks like Ovaltine and warm milk. I do take this vow.

 

 

Soul-Filled Shame of the Ex-Factor

Exes are like a flaccid penis; laughable, embarrassing and hard to forget. Some generous people can be friends with their exes like they don’t have a vivid image of them naked on their mother’s sofa with a so-called sexy g-string on. I, for one, am not one of those people.

I struggle with the fact that there are men out there that have seen my au-naturel state at four am on a Saturday morning spluttering through a kiss with saliva dripping onto their pre-bearded chin. I think back to them stroking my hairy legs and telling me how beautiful I am when the sanest comment would be to compare me to the finally-found Big Foot monster. It’s almost unbearable to think of my seventeen year old self canoodling a hormonal boy that re-inacted a scene from the 40 Year Old Virgin and couldn’t quite get that trusty genital-raincoat on. Memories like this should be locked away with similar cringe-worthy I-hate-myself moments such as drunkenly fondling a middle-aged barman who was trying to keep my legs from behaving like Bambi.

Of course, back in the day I had some pleasant times with these exes. We shared a laugh or two. We watched a film or two. We broke a heart or two. But now the decade of my twenties has hit and I realise that their existence haunts my memory, why did I find the shaved Nike tick on the side of his nearly-bald head a turn on?

When I think back over my impressionable years as a teenager, I remember thinking that texting the word ‘babe’ was the ultimate flirting technique. If that was followed by the ever-anticipated ‘x’ kiss at the end, that was it; life as you knew it was over. Being single back then was like a race for the sexually-deprived; who can kiss someone’s peeling dry lips first?

Other memories include some images that could fill a sex-for-dummies book which, if it doesn’t already exist, may just have to be in the pipeline. One ex thought it was a marvellous idea to light some candles one fateful Valentine’s day and surprise me with a ‘night of pleasure’. Unfortunately, he ended up burning a certain area and was sat with a bag of ever-so-attractive frozen peas whilst I revelled in the pleasure of his grimacing. Another brave warrior of a nearly-man tried to seduce me with his cutlery skills in the kitchen and ended up buying me Kentucky Fried Chicken as a ‘surprise’; I’m a vegetarian.

The most embarrassing thing about remembering these men is how I behaved and I’m sure they’d probably all agree too. I was the dictionary definition of a joke; I wore socks with sandals. They were the times when I thought Westlife were the sexiest thing since the creation of man and I owned flared trousers. I am appalled. However, the main issue was that I had a heart that always sought after teenage love like it was going to be one giant orgasm for the rest of my life. It wasn’t, I have to add. I was always the one to jump on the romance wagon and declare my undying Romeo and Juliet lets-get-married-and-be-ridiculous together love for them when really the only thing we had in common was our choice in Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

Sometimes, when I’m out and about in the bustle of London life I fear the ex-factor. They could stroll out from some unknown sidewalk and shout out how my virginal skills in the bedroom were somewhat unfortunate to the tourists ready with their cameras to ‘name and shame’.

When I see a figure of a man that looks like it could be one of those exes, my heart stops. Not from the thought of his hands all over my body and failing to ‘find the spot’ but from the sheer horror of having one of those awkward conversations. I’d rather dive head first into the Thames and be run over by one of those supposed ‘Cruise’ boats than have to indulge in an I-remember-how-your-nipples-looked kind of silence.

I have tried in the past to be all hugs and kisses how’s-the-family with exes but somehow it’s always ended with me feeling slightly repulsed when I try to tuck into a small vegetarian sausage shortly afterwards. I don’t wish any negativity onto them but I do wish that they could forget my sordid past of, brace yourself, denim on denim.

*This piece is meant as light-hearted fun and of no disrespect to anyone*