...Why do people at airports pretend it’s not early? Struggling with my luggage and the online boarding card app, I tried to coherently confirm that I’d packed my bags myself, whilst gulping my triple shot flatwhite. I’m never out of the house before 6am and I’m really not good at it. But now I found myself faced with two options: Crying into my coffee or I buying a guidebook...
“We’ve all bee in a situation with a boy trying to force himself on us and in the end you just think ok fine, whatever.”
When a teenage girl said this, last night, on BBC Three I felt myself clenching my fists and swallowing hard. Is that the sad state of sexual education and understanding for my generation?
But then I remembered. I remembered being afraid of being called frigid. Frig-id. That double-ended spikey word, that stuck straight into your ribs, as it was spat from the bully’s mouth. I just wanted to fit in. I just wanted him to like me. I just wanted to be a grown-up.
Being a freelance writer also means that you inadvertently become a cliche...
I shrieked from behind the dimly lit bar, turning the heads of a handful of locals, moping over their mid afternoon drinks. Blushing I furious emailed my response between pulling a couple of pints.
Of course I was happy to meet up with my ex-boyfriend first love, whom had not only broken my heart, but pretty much broken my life for a long time while I was studying at University.
I wanted/want to be a writer, so I reasoned this was a pretty tiny catch in order to achieve a seemingly mammoth goal.
Trembling I dialled his number, the conversation had little time to be awkward as I rocketed straight past the 'How do you dos' and launched into 'you're the only person in the world whom I can ask to do this for me' and 'I will be eternally grateful' and 'I'll make you sound good...'
I'll even split my fee with you if you want!
You don't need to do that...
He replied sounding amused.
I'll do it. But I would only ever do this for you, because it's you.
Feeling like that the cat who got the cream everything was set out. There was a date for a lunch with me and the ex, a photoshoot straight after, I'd emailed my height, dress and shoe size and agreed to write my side of story of one of the most defining relationships I'dd ever experienced. And I'd be doing this for one of the best known, most widely circulated, magazines in Britain. I had to grip onto the side of the bar to keep me from floating off into the clouds...
Here's the whole story:
I met him during that awkward stage at Uni when you’re adamant you’re an adult, but not quite sure what that means.
It was in a karaoke bar, although, neither of us were singing. The kind of joint that attracted students on the basis of £1 shots and triples the same price as singles.
He was introduced to me as ‘Charming James’, 22, blonde, with great arms and well… he was charming… However, he looked nothing like the Mr Right...
When I was little I used to wonder how everyone did it. How they became ‘Grown Ups’. In maths class I used to duck down in my seat, bury my head in my textbook, for sheer embarrassment of being asked a question I just couldn’t understand how to answer. I used to wonder how on earth I would ever get clever enough to go to university or have a job like an adult.
But it turned out growing up wasn’t something I had to focus on doing. It was a sneaky thing that just sort of happened to me.
I was turning 25, an age I had always supposed meant that I would be an adult. I would understand and have a place on this earth. When I was younger I suspected I would indeed be married with a career on the side, a London town house of my own and, the thought of children wouldn’t be a terrifying monthly gasp of fear.
Well at 25 my perspective’s changed, a lot, although some expectations are a little harder to shift.
That night I heaved myself off the sofa, defiantly closing down twitter and instagram for the last time that evening. I tip toed quickly, through the dim light of the lounge to my bedroom. Turning on a second light there, before scurrying back to switch off the first. I’m still afraid of the dark...
Where was it? The zing, the ‘ooh la la’, the butterflies, the jitters? Where was the spark? That illusive little creature, which makes a great friendship, conversation or flirtation ‘Pop’!
Drunk and deflated I forced myself into a brisk ‘don’t even think about mugging me, I’m quite sober and confident thank you very much’ march home.
I reached for my phone to make the all-important 2am drunk phone call to an ex boyfriend who is now just an ‘Oh you know, we’re just friends, no, no, I would never go back there’ kind of guy. Who at the same time fluffs my ego and, cushions my fall, after many a failed date.
“But he owns a house!” I wailed. “I’m supposed to like this kind of guy! He did the tiling in his bathroom and he can DRIVE!” I rounded off, my tone more aggressive than was necessary and, my priorities a little fuzzier than usual...
Match.com launched their #LoveYourImperfections campaign earlier this year to fight for authenticity and self confidence in dating. So when Match got in touch to ask how, as a dating blogger, I embraced my own imperfections, I was excited but a little stumped.
If you’d spoken to a younger Janey you would have gotten a very glum and angry answer.
‘How do you love your imperfections whilst dating?’
She would have stared you down and snarled something to do with her nose being too big and her chest too flat.
You wouldn’t have wanted to date her either.
So now, as a slightly older me, I thought I could tell you about how I dress for my shape. Or think about the parts of me I like, rather than the bits I don’t. Or how I’m honest about loving Radio 4, because I know that’s much more likely to find me a ‘real match’. But really, any magazine on the stand can tell you that.
So instead I wanted to tell you why I don’t think we should even categorise parts of us as ‘Imperfect’.
...As a woman, I entertain a frustrating love/hate relationship with the 'Rom-Com'.
Single, female but a human being, I find it hard to identify with female characters who’s soul aim is to get the guy! Let alone when her aim includes changing herself, during the journey towards that primary goal.
I know I know, I’m a dating blogger, but I think of My Place Or Yours as a sitcom or soap opera. A half hour a week of concentrated guff on just one topic. In my case dating. But just like all the other people in the world, it's far from my all and everything which makes me, me. But, films span a little longer than a half hour slot, so I want a little more from my Rom-Com women. Please.
he only way I can describe Man Up is as a wonderfully entertaining, completely unrealistic but surprisingly believable, 88 minutes in the dark. For me the whole thing hangs on Lake Bell's incredible performance. Not only does she manage to pull off 'slightly dowdy british spinster' she also makes fancying Simon Pegg believable!..
He was blindfolded.
I thought about it long and hard, what it might be like. I could just kiss him. Just walk over, lean up to his mouth and, kiss him. He wouldn’t even know the kiss had come from my lips. But I couldn’t move.
In a basement in Dalston, on a Wednesday night, 40 single people took a deep breath at the same time and began to say yes without saying anything at all. Lead by Adam Taffler, founder of the silent dating scene in London, Shhh Dating were throwing a party to get even the most tongue-tied flirting.
Beside me, my wingman, brought along for the soul purpose of getting out of his comfort zone, the theme of his very own blog.
The words ‘It’s like a gateway drug’, hung in the air between us, drumming their slow thud of anticipation. Naively I thought, do your worst, wondering what naughtiness lay beyond the gates.
Just as he had before Adam laid the ground rules:
“Treat this as a silent space… it’s more fun that way.”
Next to him stood the only woman I had ever seen actually wearing and pulling off (to her credit) a yellow dress and sheer black stockings with, ‘yes you can just about see them every time I lean over’, suspenders. Her name was Marti and she would be on hand to guide us girls through the latter portion of the event. But lets not jump ahead just yet...
One thing I should say from the off:
This post contains (moderate) sex references. We’re rating the following as 12A.
But the kind of 12A for which you’d cross legs whilst watching and wish your parents weren’t in the room.
So, Dad, close down the blog and switch off your laptop. Thanks.
Ok, I think we’re alone now.
To me the idea of casting men as ‘Players’ (And, let’s assume we all know that the word ‘Player’, popularised in the late 80s within western culture and HipHop music, means: A man who not only has, but takes his pick, of sexual partners) is a little ridiculous. It’s old fashioned, it’s anti-feminist, it’s creating the idea that women are less in control of their sexual goals or that they in fact have less sexual goals to begin with. Let me tell you, none of this is true, and as I found out, it is extremely naïve to believe that anyone has the energy to really pull off being a ‘Player’.
But last week I decided to have a little time off from my feelings and just generally do whatever I wanted. Or as it turned out, whomever…
The problem with this first idea is the second, in that; it wasn’t a ‘little’ time at all. I went on a dating binge and it completely took over my week.
Reading about myself in a magazine was a bit of a novelty. Sure unless you’re Kim Kardashian, or some overegged minor celeb, of flimsy entertainment TV fame; it’d be novelty for anyone. Oh wait; I kind of said the same thing twice, didn’t I?
But I write about other people all the time. Sure they’re not usually named, but often, usually, they know who they are when reading back my internal judgements, and inner ‘what I really think of yous’.
“I was relieved, she was very attractive,” said The Blind Date, which is the kind of review dreams are made of for an insecure ego-oxymoron like myself.
“We had instant chemistry.” He said, and as I read, I nodded. We had.
Friends of mine begun to joke:
“If you get married you’ll have to get it framed!”
They said, cutting out the article to slip into their own purses, to show as many friends and work colleagues as possible in a bid for ultimate embarrassment. It was sickening of course and I laughed it off. But, the side of my brain more taken up with rom-coms and women’s magazines, had to wonder.
There’s something about being set up on a blind date that just reeks of desperation. I know I’m the Dating Blogger with a supposedly open mind and ‘try anything once’ attitude, but there’s still a stigma attached to the whole, 'I’m single and my friend had to find me a date', thing.
So how does that stigma look when a Journalist contacts you on the off chance that you’ll say yes to a blind date, which will then appear in a magazine? Will the readers be able to smell the desperation emulating off the page? Or could you pull off being a 'Why not?', 'try anything once', type of girl? The same type of girl happy to have your love life splashed all over page 14?
As I climbed out of my Uber and timidly wandered into The Schoolhouse in Battersea, the venue for the blind date, I hoped I’d be able to pull off the latter.
There had been just the right amount of time to build up optimum nerve levels for the date. Charly Lester, Dating Industry Expert and Journalist at Time Out London had dropped me a casual text a few days before asking if I’d be up for the set up. The catch being my face would appear in one of London’s most heavily devoured magazines.
So like the million times before I thought, ‘What the hell’, and proceeded to answer Charly’s questions on the type of guy I’d want to be set up with.
‘Kind of, just someone with a sense of humour? Generally easy on the eye, with some brains..?’
This Sunday the 8th March is International Women’s Day and as a woman and proud feminist I thought it needed a little acknowledgement here at MyPlaceOrYours. The day is a call for recognition of the achievements of women and celebration of women’s rights. But to also realise the gaps between women and equality, which we still face in society and around the world. It’s a day where the UN will assess where we need to go next and it’s time when we can all consider where the women in our lives stand.
When you’re a single girl living in the privileged world of London (and yes it is it’s own world) it’s quite easy to be a feminist. I rely on myself because I have to. I see myself as, as strong and capable, as any other and I value both the men and women in my life equally. I have no favourites.
But with International Women’s Day popping up on all my social media streams and between every other breath on the News of late, I have been forced to think about the women in my life. One in particular. And it made me realise that she may in actual fact be my boyfriend...
The one thing I never thought I would miss whilst watching Fifty Shades of Grey was an ‘Inner Goddess’.
Like many in 2012 I jumped with both feet onto the bandwagon and into E L James’ ‘Red Room of Pain’ to discover just what all the fuss over Christian Grey was really about.
Then two or three chapters in I was almost appalled to find that I enjoyed reading the smutty little best seller on my morning commute. Relived that I’d had the good sense to use my kindle rather than openly admitting to buying my piece of the madness, I was even more thankful when I found that I couldn’t put it down. I even began to make peace with the naïve representation of BDSM: Anna, mostly tied to a bed with poor sentence structure...
Grinning at him, I held my very favourite baby blue little handbag up to his face, wobbling on the spot.
“I threw up in my bag.” I giggled with a shrug.
“You’re really hammered aren’t you?”
I agreed and allowed him to help me up from the behind the neighbour’s wall from where I admitted to have been ‘hiding’.
Apparently I had invited myself to my ex boyfriend’s flat for the night...
The way we consume information is changing, it’s been slowly happening since the Internet was born. Scarily this coincides with the time that I began discovering and asking questions outside of the reaches of Mum and Dad. I’ve never picked up a reference book, I don’t own a dictionary and I rarely buy a printed newspaper.
Most of the things I need to know are available to me at the click of YouTube, a scroll of twitter and the discovery of a blog space.
The people now teaching me are like me. The information they’re telling me is filtered through the sources I’ve not yet reached. A lot of them call themselves Experts in their field. But if I’d gotten there a day or two earlier would I be an Expert too?
The word ‘Expert’ what does it mean?
Oxford define an Expert as:
Noun: A person who is very knowledgeable about or skilful in a particular area:
‘an expert in health care’
‘a financial expert’
Too bad Oxford never thought to classify ‘Dating Experts’
So much of my Twitter feed and the books that I read (for research, I promise) are written by people proclaiming to be ‘Dating Experts’.
Now dating is my sport, but largely I’ve largely side slipped the ‘Experts’, preferring to take on a more trial and error dynamic when dating and writing. But, when I spotted Matthew Hussey he seemed to come pre-approved and wrapped up in logic. Well, it was certainly more than his blue eyes which drew me to his website...
...He greets me with a kiss on the cheek, because, we are meeting up to have sex. We are sophisticated adults who are unfazed and able to handle this kind of interaction.
He takes me to an off license to buy wine. He gets impatient when I can’t decide over white or red. This turns me. Oh dear. Then he says something I’m not listening to, about the wine I think. It turns out we’ve decided on white and are now striding down the pavement towards his apartment.
We’re making awkward conversation and it occurs to me that I don’t care that he’s a web designer and I don’t care about telling him what I do.
Standing out of place in his kitchen I tell him he has a nice apartment, because I think I should, more than I actually think that he does.
I drink the wine far quicker than I would like, entirely betraying my cool. We continue talking even though there is little point. Although it’s not necessary to on this occasion, I find that I like him. Hard working and practical, strong and ambitious. I don’t so much listen as he talks as get a sense of his words. I don’t need to listen here, I need to be aware and I need to be willing, which I am...
This time of year always provokes reflection. December 25th is an Anchor for most of the World. Christmas is mandatory, whether you’re a Pagan, Christian or just really big into Coca Cola. Of course the New Year automatically gives permission for a ‘New You. You know, the ‘You’ you decided you would definitely be in 2014 after you were really determined in 2013, because you had made that deal with yourself back in 2012… that you. I’ve tried, but there really is no escape.
However you spent it, I’ll bet Christmas still descended into madness. Even when we said the words, ‘lets just do little presents this year’, back in November I still ended up carting home 6 separate ‘bags for life’ full of over priced goods in matching wrapping paper. Yes I have six ‘bags for life’. I try.
This year I spent £5 on my Niece’s Christmas card. She can’t read. (Because she’s four.)
But more than the presents and the cards that no one reads, the one thing that I can never get away from at Christmas, is family...
...Before the date we were casually talking. I was about medium excited and he was coming off as a low to medium ‘catch’. He only had three photos of himself so it was really hard to gage whether or not I actually fancied him and if he had all of his original teeth.
I decided to tap his name into Facebook. He’d just revealed he was French, which I should have cottoned on to as his name was spelt just so. When I found him on Facebook his surname had one of those seemingly intelligent accents over one of the vowels… If letters can appear intelligent.
I recognise that name I thought. Why?
I never usually Google a date. There really is very little point. Apart from the amusing truth that there’s usually a porn star with the same name, and you get to see a strangers ‘dick pic’, there is very little to glean from the Google search.
But not this time...
...That night we both started to work the other out, and actually began debating the big stuff, long after our glasses were empty sitting in the deserted pub garden.
"I'm just not a Feminist"
I declared blazon with self indignant rightness and aware of how bold I sounded. We were shivering now, long since turfed out into the late August blanket whether. It was gone midnight but neither of us wanted to say goodnight. He laughed at me and told me that everything I had said to him that evening was exactly why I was a feminist and indeed completely wrong.
Oh but I love a man who can prove me wrong... Wait, wasn't that my point?..
Because we're all Stalkers, aren't we?
I know for sure that I am, and super great at it at it too. I know it's not a unique talent or a particularly classy one, but I'm proud of it none the less, even if it does confirm me as a Psycho.
Once I have your surname it's game on.
I would usually begin at Facebook, the worlds largest data base of narcissist. If your privacy is a little loose from here I can figure out who your best friend is, where you get coffee, who you work for, what you did on Saturday night. scarier still what you're planning to do on saturday night...