1. A few months ago I had a falling-out with my only proper ‘ring them up and go for a pint’ friend in the local area. This was very much for the best, believe me, but since then, for a combination of reasons, I haven’t been going out in town at all. I socialise virtually never, and I take a weird pride in the fact that this degree of self-inflicted solitude would very likely cause mental health problems in a normal person. It’s interesting to know this about myself. If I wasn’t so insistent on being able to walk to the shops, I could be one of those forest rangers whose whole job is to spend six months sitting at the top of a tower looking for fires. Or a biologist at a research station in Antarctica with only penguins to talk to. Or JD Salinger.
2. I do still go on the odd date, of course, mostly for comic relief. My last date involved a heated argument about whether institutionalised sexism exists. Basically this dude thought that women experience no overall disadvantages at a social level, and that any suffering endured by women due to pervasive unrealistic beauty standards is our own fault because a) it’s mostly women writing for fashion magazines and b) it’s up to every individual woman to just rise above and ignore this stuff. Nothing I said even made a dent (why wouldn’t he know better than me about the lived experience of women, right?). In retrospect I’m not sure why I didn’t just get up and leave, but I have this stupid residual built-in female desire (which I’ve obviously just made up in my silly little head) not to be perceived as hysterical and overreacting. I wonder whether he tells black people that racism doesn’t exist. Anyway. There will not be a second date, but maybe I’ll send him a singing telegram from Germaine Greer. Or a PUNCHING telegram! Do those exist? If not it will be necessary to invent them.
I actually did make it to a second date with one guy who was funny and cute and smart and nice and who had great taste in music, but he turned out to be the worst kisser in the whole wide world. (It’s true! I found him later in the Guinness Book of World Records.) It was so bad that it triggered my fight-or-flight reflex like AUUGHHH WHAT ARE YOU DOING GET OFF ME. Damn shame. I might keep that one as a friend, though, since I’ve got a vacancy in the friend department and a very empty social schedule.
3. I may have officially given up on my French pen pal. Writing to her really was helping to improve my French, but she was just so, so awful. After Brexit she sent me a horrible schlocky pop song that she said expressed how she felt (sad, apparently!). She never pointed out any of my French errors, even though I asked her to and that was like the whole point of writing to a French person. She never responded to anything I said about myself or my life. Most of her messages seemed to consist of copied and pasted Wikipedia articles about France or Alsace (where she lives) or places she’d been on holiday. She never, not even once, NOT EVEN ONE TIME, made anything resembling a joke. That’s always the final nail in the coffin for me: we may have different views on religion or politics or life in general, or you may believe in chemtrails or think the moon landing never happened or that 50 Shades of Grey is a good book, but I will nevertheless attempt to carry on a polite conversation with you; but if you don’t make even the slightest attempt to take the piss? That’s it. I cannot relate. Go bother someone else, you weirdo.
4. Here are a couple of sample yearbook covers I did at work. I had fun making these.