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Dreadful Nonsense

"I've read your blog. it's really funny. you should write a column." - Jon Ronson

26 September 2006
I have a habit, of an evening, of sitting backwards on our sofa, legs tucked underneath me and with my back to the room, staring directly at He Who Only… as he watches whatever sport he’s managed to find being televised. I’ve learned through a process of trial and error that this is the best way of eventually breaking his concentration, ruining his enjoyment of said sporting function, redirecting his attention to me and at the same time appearing to be endearing.

This is one of only about 20,000 little things that He Who Only… has to tolerate on a daily basis while having the pleasure of co-habiting with me. I’m beginning to wonder when his patience will finally run out.

So I’ve started to ask him this at about 2 in the morning, every morning, just as he’s drifting off to sleep, while prodding him hard in the ribs and simultaneously kicking his ankles. He has yet to provide me with a coherent answer, but only responds in what sounds suspiciously like muffled sobbing and a broken spirit.

On Saturday afternoon, though, I surpassed myself in the Lets-See-How-Much-I-Can-Throw-At-Him stakes, in terms of overemotional and incoherent mood swings. I was struggling with my last essay, a beautifully crafted question that basically said “tell us all you understand about the entire course in no more than 2,000 words and by God make it interesting”, to which I was in the middle of replying “God, oh God, I don’t know anything about a course I’ve been studying for eight months, my life is hell and I’m obviously retarded”.

The essay, in short, was not going well.

Having struggled with the question for most of the week and not gotten past the point at which I was supposed to be laying the grounds of my argument - the main thing that was blocking my progress was that I didn’t have an argument, because I didn’t understand the question - I had decided that, instead of angrily reading the same sentences over and over again while glaring accusingly at my text books for not growing mouths and telling me the answer themselves, I would go down the shop, get some bread, make some toast and to hell with writers block.

I went to the shop. I got some bread. I came back. I put bread in the toaster. I poured myself a healing glass full of chilled diet coke, talked myself down from the ledge, decided to give up on the essay for a couple of hours, calm down, not be grumpy and everything would be fine. Toast popped. I opened the flip down lid of our new squeezy marmite, stared at said lid, threw the marmite at the wall, stamped my feet, screamed a wide range of profanities and burst into tears.

Lid was covered in ants. In our flat, if it’s not the mice, it’s the ants.

I went totally crazed. He Who Only… came rushing into the kitchen, assuming some kind of terrible accident had befallen me. He found me weeping over some unseasoned toast, gibbering about ants and mice and flats and essays. Instead of slapping me round the face for being hysterical (as I’m sure he would have liked to), he told me he’d clean the entire kitchen and put down more ant spray.

This he did, while I lay face down on our bed, weeping about the hand that life had played me and being entirely ungrateful for the fantastic work that even then was happening in our kitchen by my long-suffering better half.

I repayed him for his kindness later that evening by spending a good ten minutes making a high pitched shrieking noise directly in his ear while he was trying to watch the Ryder Cup.

21 September 2006
Letter to the two fat men on the tube this evening:

To the first fat man: Thank you so much for not breathing in at any point during the journey between Chancery Lane and St Pauls stations. This meant, since you were facing me and I was up against the doors, that I was forced to stand for the entire duration of that journey pressed right up against you. Thank you so much for spending all of that journey breathing directly down across my face, which meant I got to smell the special stink of your intimate breath, an experience I'm sure I only share with the girls you definitely kidnap and kill on a regular basis. Thank you also for using every single movement of the train as an excuse to press your crotch up against me. I am very grateful there is sufficient bleach and disinfectant in our house to wash off that particular memory, although I think I will now have to burn my trousers. Thank you particularly for miraculously finding room to step back when we got to St Pauls in order to let those two other men get on to the carriage, which meant that, for the journey between St Pauls and Bank station I got to be in the middle of a delightful fat-man sandwich, with both of you pressing up against me in what I can only imagine is the most fun you've both had in months, or even years.

To the second short fat man: Thank you, too, for your participation in the man-sandwich. Thank you for deciding that, despite the fact that there definitely wasn't room in our carriage, you were arrogant enough to think that your journey of two stops was so important that you (a) couldn't possibly wait for the next train or (b) consider walking the short distance to get rid of some of your flab. Thank you too for using your time standing directly behind me to cough into my neck and onto my back. You made this experience all the more enjoyable by raising your hand in such a ridiculously slow manner that you managed to both bash me in the small of the back each time you did it and not actually reach your mouth in time to cover the spray of spit and phlegm that kept hitting my neck and the collar of my shirt. I am definitely going to have to burn that shirt, and I have already immersed my entire head and neck in a vat of bleach.

I hate the tube.

In an effort to cheer myself up this evening, I accidentally started watching a stream of New Kids On The Block videos on YouTube.

Oh my god, y'all. I'd forgotten how GREAT the video for The Right Stuff is. Please bear witness to the genius:

- The side to side kicking dance that looks totally brilliant.
- The hilarious underage driving pranks.
- The picking up girls on the side of the road and then playing hide and seek in a graveyard.
- In. A. Graveyard.
- The fact that, at that stage, they had only mastered three of the five dance moves that followed them through their career, and so the editor of the video had to keep looping the same lame dance steps.

Also, peeps? Confession time. Watching that over again just now, I have to say that I TOTALLY fancy little Joey McIntyre. Who, I seem to remember, was fourteen tiny years of age when that was filmed. Does that make me a paedo? Please don't tell the tabloids.

20 September 2006
Whenever we go on one of our jolly jaunts, taking an outdoor constitutional in order to avoid the pull of the public house for that little bit longer, myself and He Who Only… have developed the terrible habit of gambling on anything and everything that might come up. For example, through trial and error over the last few months, we have come up with the perfect recipe on which to pass an enjoyable couple of hours while taking some hard-needed exercise. It goes as follows:

We each choose a number, depending on how many dogs we think we might see while out on our walk. So, for example, I wager we’ll see 9 dogs, and He Who Only… guesses we’ll see 13 dogs. By our Official Rules, that means that if we see 8, 9 or 10 dogs, I’ll win. If we see 12, 13 or 14 dogs, He Who Only… is the victor. If we see less than or up to 7 dogs, nobody wins. If we see 11 dogs, nobody wins. If we see over 14 dogs, nobody wins.

If it is the case that we’re both wrong, we have a tiebreaker, which is to play pooh-sticks half way through the walk, standing on a bridge that crosses over the canal. We play best of three (or, as on one memorably occasion, best of seven if we keep drawing or one of us is deemed to have cheated in the stick release).

Over the course of the last few months, Official Rules have emerged. We have developed two clearly allocated points, the first of which is where the Dog Count officially begins, and the second at which the Dog Count officially ends. The Official Rules of which sightings count are also quite strict. Rule One: if we think we might have seen (and counted) the dog before, the dog doesn’t count. Rule Two: if the dog is so far away in the distance that we couldn’t guess the breed, the dog doesn’t count. Rule Three: if you see a dog out of the corner of your eye, but you’re very close to going bust, and the other person doesn’t see the dog, and you don’t point it out, the dog doesn’t count.

I am well in the lead in terms of our yearlong gambling competition, of which the results of the Dog Count are counted towards. This is mainly because I am very good at the pooh-sticks part, and we usually both go bust in terms of dogs. It’s very difficult to guess how many dogs we’re going to see. A lot of the time you don’t see any dogs at all at any point and then you get to the bit where you’ve walked through the forest and you’re heading for the bridge and suddenly there are a billion dogs everywhere, walking around in massive packs with actual numbers floating above their heads so that you can’t help but count them all. I usually win at pooh-sticks because my arms are shorter than He Who Only…’s, and when we stretch our arms out over the edge of the bridge in order to release the sticks (strictly after the count of three and certainly not before), mine hits the water slightly closer to the bridge than He Who Only…’s through no fault of my own. But sssssh, don’t tell him.

I’m telling you all of this because, on our last walk, I was for triumphantly beating him on the Dog Count side. We had picked numbers that meant there was no dead middle ground, and we were sitting squarely on my exact prediction. I’m not usually one to crow about my triumph, being as a rule very modest in success, but on this occasion I was being particularly smug. Since we had already passed the point at which we usually don’t see any more dogs, I felt I was on safe ground to start metaphorically rubbing it all over He Who Only…’s face, since there was no way I could lose.

Just after I’d performed my victory dance for what I think was the third time, we spotted a fat black Labrador carrying a bottle in his mouth. I stopped dancing. This meant, of course, that one more dog would put me over the top and straight slap bang onto He Who Only…’s winning numbers. I was very quiet for the next five minutes, pausing only occasionally to shake my fists in front of me in an attempt, I told He Who Only…, to ward off any future dogs that may be lurking just around the corner.

My fist waving seemed to work. Heading towards the bridge that marks the end point of the Dog Count, it all seemed to be wrapped up in a large bow for me. I was ecstatic. I think I may even have broken into another victory dance. Winning this round of the Dog Count would put me two ahead in the overall score for 2006, and a two-point lead at this late stage of the year left me in a fairly comfortable position.

I noticed a dog out of the corner of my eye that was a little too far away to see, but heading in our direction. I increased my pace, hoping that I could rely on Rule Three (That I Made Up Myself And Probably Isn’t An Official Rule) of the Dog Count, and started virtually running towards the bridge.

“Oh well,” He Who Only… sighed, as it looked like I’d be breaking out once again into the victory dance. I raised my hands in the air, in the first step of victory dance, as he stepped under the bridge and I followed behind him, inhaling so as to begin signing my victory song.

At that very moment, at the absolute final moment on which there could appear a dog to ruin my score, a small brown mongrel sauntered past us. There was no owner. There was no sign of a lead. The dog seemed to appear as if from nowhere. It seemed, I pointed out with great suspicion, to have been released especially. The victory song died on my lips.

He Who Only… didn’t stop doing his victory dance for about ten minutes. He paused only for one moment, and that was just to shout “Blog that! BLOG THAT!” at me.

Bloomin’ dogs.

18 September 2006
It’s my birthday soon: the entire world is aware of that. I start panicking about my birthday approximately three months before it actually happens. It is now less than 50 days to my birthday, and the real sweats are kicking in. Couple that with the fact that this particular birthday is one in which both numbers of my age are changing - this hasn’t happened for about 10 years - and it’s increasing the feeling of panic within me. I thought turning 24 was painful (I can’t remember why anymore, that seems like such a long time ago), but that was as nothing compared to the raging dread that’s roaring ever closer as each day ticks by.

To clarify: I’m not afraid of being old. I’m actually quite looking forward to my dotage, sitting in a chair surrounded by people who have to clean up the puddles of piss I leave wherever I go, being able to shout at young people on the street, getting seats on the bus, wearing head-to-toe purple for absolutely no reason and being state-sanctioned to dye my hair blue. It’ll be brilliant.

No, what I’m afraid of is of people thinking that I’m old. I love that people still guess that I’m about 24. I love that occasionally I’m still asked for ID. I adore that beauticians still refer to me as having “young” skin. I can’t get enough of people telling me I’ve still got my whole life ahead of me, and clarifying for me that your 20s are the best decade of your life.

(I’m starting to be told that that’s not true, incidentally. Apparently being in your 30s is the new being in your 20s, all care- and child-free, unencumbered by mortgages and pension schemes, mainly because my generation are totally refusing to accept responsibility for their own dotage.)

But anyhoo. To mark the occasion of my passing into a new decade of my life, I had decided to rip a page out of Stephen Fry’s book, have some kind of breakdown and take the next train to Belgium. It turns out, that’s an expensive way to have a breakdown. So I decided instead of some kind of outlandish sojourn to France instead, because that’s close enough for a train, but far away enough to be a foreign holiday. Turns out, that’s also an expensive way to have a breakdown.

He Who Only… then had an astonishing flash of inspiration as he knocked back his fourth pint of booze yesterday afternoon outside a pub. He suggested, and who was I to argue, that we should go to Centre Parcs, since he had such a brilliant time there when he was seven. We stumbled back to the Nest’O’Love just as soon as we had finished another couple of drinks, and checked out the website.

I think the main elements that sold it to me were (a) the open fire in the chalet, (b) the clay pigeon shooting and (c) the falconry.


For my birthday, then, I plan to make the birds do my bidding. How fantastic!

I’d be very curious to hear from anyone who’s been to a Centre Parc before, and preferably those who have been as adults - although childhood memories may suit just as well. Responses via email or comments. A great many thanks.

15 September 2006
I was reminded tonight by this post on Dooce.com that I promised a photograph of my bruise. Well, now, it's Friday night, I've a big essay to write, I've had something to drink, and I've discovered...

...it's REALLY DIFFICULT to take photographs of the inside of your own arm. Especially when the batteries of your camera are running out. For example:

1. Don't wear a top that you stole from your sister last time you were home in Dublin and you know she'll start yelling at you when she sees it on the internet and realises it's gone:

2. Don't hastily change top, then try to use a flash in the mirror, cos that's just not going to work:

3. Don't be wearing your pygamas while trying to take a photograph you're going to photograph for the world to see:

Sigh. It's been a long week. And I've lost some blood, people.

14 September 2006
So, thanks to my miracle foot pain of no particular explanation, I toddled off this morning to get some blood taken out of my arm and put into a variety of containers, in order for lab technicians to work their mojo magic, examine their crystal balls, throw their bones and roll their dice in order to find out exactly what, if anything, is going on down there. (In my feet.)

Through my life, I had three closely held and well-nurtured phobias: (1) flying, (2) heights and (3) needles. Couldn’t stand any damn one of them and I used to have constant nightmares when I was younger about them, particularly in the run up to anything that would inescapably involve having to participate in facing down one or more of them.

But then, I ridiculously got a boyfriend who lived in a different country to me, and inadvertently began a course of immersion therapy in which I was constantly exposed to having to fly at least twice a month every month for eight months: 16 flights later, and I was able to board a plane with the minimum of fuss (but the maximum of superstitious baggage and sedatives).

Heights still bother me to a degree, although I will now carefully edge my way over to look out of a window if I’m standing on a fifth floor or above (but still can’t venture out on to balconies - I think my urge to hurl myself over edges is still a bit too strong).

Needles were my final nemesis. But then I remembered I’ve got two tattoos, and that needles aren’t scary, and so I’m all about the invincibility now.

However, I still have a slight problem, in that my veins don’t realise I’ve recovered from the phobia, and they still faint dead away at the sight of a hypodermic. I have what is known in the business as “weak” veins, easily collapsible, and the main reason I will never make a good heroin addict. As such, I’m routinely used as a pincushion by phlebotomists, who usually go twice in the left arm, three times in the right arm and then return in despair to the left arm before any blood is actually extracted. On one memorable occasion, it had to be pulled out of my foot.

So yesterday morning I was very much looking forward to being prodded and poked, mainly because at the end of it all I would have a nice selection of fabulous bruises, all the better to freak people out with, and maybe even get some money if I pretend to have an illness and they organise an impromptu fundraiser in order to send me to Disneyland before I die. But no such luck.

I sat and waited for 20 minutes and then my number - we were given numbers, it was like some kind of sick raffle - was called, and I went to receive my prize. The nurse didn’t look at me as I sat down, and I tried to start up some kind of small talk which she steadfastly ignored and, almost without warning, jammed a needle into my arm, whipped out some blood and strapped some cotton wool on. Looking at me for the first time, she said “leave that on for about five minutes.” I started laughing.

She finally looked interested, and cocked an eyebrow at my obviously weird response. I told her no one had ever been able to do that before, that I’d been told since I was really young that I had bad veins.

“You have very good veins,” she said, “very good. They just didn’t know what they were doing.”

I’d like to nominate that lady for a knighthood, please.

So, disappointingly, I’ve only got a slight bruise, about the size of a 10p piece on my arm, instead of the entire-length-of-forearm marks I usually get after blood tests. On the tube on the way home, I had my MP3 player turned up a little too loudly. A very loud moment in the song pitched up, causing me to violently shudder as one of my ear drums came close to bursting, and I shook my head to move the headphones slightly. The woman standing next to me looked over, looked at me oddly, then looked at my arm, and then back at my face, and then down at her feet. From her expression, I take it I looked at that moment like a very unusual junkie. Hoorah.

13 September 2006
I went into Boots in my lunch break to pick up some cleanser, so that my three-step skin routine isn’t interrupted unnecessarily (because, ladies and gentlemen, your skin is your best friend). I managed to deflect the Clinique sales lady with a curt and insistent “no thank you” to her offer of help, because any time a Clinique lady “helps” me, I end up spending about £5,000 on moisturisers I seriously don’t need. I love me a moisturiser, though. I’m a sucker for new things I can rub about my person.

Wandering off wondering what I was going to do with the rest of my lunch hour, I accidentally walked into the make up section and started staring blindly at the mascaras on one counter, while thinking of all sorts of other things - ponies, flowers, butterflies, the usual things girls think about. As if from nowhere, a frightening thing dressed in a feather boa and incredibly ugly shoes loomed up behind me.

“You have the same colouring as me!” she shrieked into my ear. Dear Lord, I thought, I hope not, staring at her ultra-orange complexion.

“Can I help you?” she asked, with all the false bonhomie of those people who stand on the high street with clipboards.

Caught in a moment of weakness, I said I was looking at the mascaras. She immediately grabbed me by the arm and dragged me off to the side.

“We’ve got a new product that was just launched today!” she yelled, pushing me on to a stool with one arm and sticking something into my eye with the other, “It’ll make your lashes look about ten feet long!”

I looked desperately around, trying to attract some assistance, but soon stopped doing that as she continued to stick things in my eyes. “It suits your complexion!” she yelled again, “I’m wearing it right now, and we’ve got the same complexion!”

Tears streaming down my face, I blinked her briefly into focus, looking at the dead, buckled spider legs that were apparently attached to her eye lids. “Really?”, I murmured.

“Yes!” she exclaimed. “Are you Welsh?”

I was stunned.

“Hm?” I said.

“You must be Welsh!” she said, and stuck a mirror in my face.

I immediately noted two things:
1. I had mascara running down my face as far as my chin.
2. What mascara had managed to stay on my eye lashes, was, as she had promised, making them appear to be about ten feet long.

“You’re very pale!” she was continuing, grabbing a tube of something else, and smearing it all over my face in one swift move that I didn’t see coming, and that I was completely helpless to prevent, “we’ve got the same colouring! Black hair, blue eyes! Are you Welsh?”

“I’m Irish,” I muttered from underneath the cake of makeup she was applying, noting that her hair was not in fact black but actually grey with some badly applied hair dye over it.

“SO AM I!” she screamed triumphantly, grabbing another six bottles and emptying them all over my head.

She continued to gibber away at me about the importance of eye gel and moisturiser and colouring, and being Irish and Welsh and pale, and telling me she could cover up the “terrible” dark circles under my eyes, and constantly making reference to how young I am in comparison to her, seemingly oblivious that we were in fact almost exactly the same age. I let her carry on because at that stage I was too frightened to move and was in any event having an out-of-body experience, floating up towards the ceiling and looking down on myself as this horror of a women threw completely inappropriate colours all over my face. All I was thinking was, I have to go back to the office looking like this woman.

“There!” she screamed, finally finished, and thrust the mirror in my face again.

I was astonished at the result. I looked, for once, not like I’d just crawled out from under a stone, but actually healthy and alive. The ridiculous colours she’s been producing actually complimented my skin colour and did not, as I had first feared, make me look like Coco the freakish killer clown.

I was so relieved I bought £50 worth of cosmetics then and there.

I’m such an idiot.

11 September 2006
Note to all ladies in London who are still insisting in wearing those long stupid white peasant skirts: we can all see your big fat white granny pants underneath them. It's disturbing, especially when standing behind you on the escalators, and I'd like you to stop.

I went to the doctor today, who said I was some kind of medical miracle. I've got some strange pains in my feet that she absolutely couldn't explain. We kept going through the same questions over and over again.

"So they're very sore in the morning?"
"Even if you're not been out the night before?"
"And they hurt after about 20 minutes of walking?"
"Steady walking. I can meander as much as I like."
"Right. But your ankles aren't sore?"
"Or your knees?"
"And they don't get swollen?"
"Are they cold?"
"Not really."
"Do they turn blue?"

At one point, she just sat there staring at me, and uttered the phrase "Huh".

I get to go for blood tests on Thursday morning, so unless the nurse is a MIRACLE WORKER with a needle, I'll be posting up some fabulous bruise photos on Thursday evening.

In a terrible reversal of fortune, He Who Only... is currently crippled with back pain, having played some sport in the manner of an 18 year old, forgetting that's he's slightly north of that age these days. This means that he is, at this very second, lying on the floor with his legs stretched out staring at the skirting board and waiting for the ibuprofen to kick in. Now I know what it's like to live with someone who's being "brave" and "stoic" while occassionally bursting out with brilliantly grumpy expletives when trying to pick something up, I understand that he is a man with infinite patience, considering how often he's had to put up with that behaviour from me.


09 September 2006
Right now, I'm supposed to be sitting in a lecture room in LSE, listening to a French woman telling me how to study for my final exams, and giving me hints about what they're looking for in our last scary essay. This class is one of about 5 I'm attending in the next couple of weeks, in an attempt to pass my course. However, I'm sitting at home, reading Popbitch and listening to Jonathan Ross, with a headache induced from the embarrassment of crying in public. Let me tell you about my Saturday morning so far:

Woke up to the sound of He Who Only... leaving to go play cricket for the day. Lay in bed thinking of how much I want to stay in bed. Slouched out of bed, grumpy. Showered. Discovered headache. Threw things in bag. Left house.

I missed the train by about 2 seconds, so I sat on the ground, feet pulled under me, curled over my bag listening to Penn Jillette in an attempt to cheer myself up. Train arrived 15 minutes later, and I slumped on working out how big I was going to make my Starbucks take out, and deciding today was a double espresso day.

About 7 minutes into the journey, just as I was starting to cheer up, ticket inspectors arrived in my carriage. At that very moment I realised I didn't have my oyster card with me. I didn't have may credit cards or cash card with me. I didn't have my wallet with me. No purse. No change. Nothing.

The inspectors were, obviously, very suspicious of the fact that I claimed not to have a jot of ID on me at all, and not a penny in cash. I filled in their little form with my name and address, and they both threw me those looks of judgment inspectors give you, like boarding a train without a ticket is the same as coveting your neighbour's oxen. All I could think about was the fact that I had absolutely no money on me whatsoever.

He called up whatever place he calls up to clarify my address is real, spelled my surname down the phone to whoever he was talking to, and then his tone changed again, as I suddenly remembered I've already been caught before without a ticket - that time I forgot to put my weekly travel card on over the weekend - and he is now being told down the phone that I've put down a false address, because the Nest'O'Love doesn't appear on all databases yet, being a new building.

I'm starting to get a little anxious at this point. You can be slapped with a fine for £1,000 for your second offence. I wanted to go home to bed and hide under my duvet. I scrambled around in my bag and got my notebook out, in which I keep every piece of information I'll ever need, and showed them my oyster card number, but they weren't really interested, because suddenly I was looking like a more interesting case. He sternly started filling out his forms, and asked me again for ID. I told him again that my ID is with my oyster card, my credit cards, my purse, my wallet, my everything.

I started to panic then about how the hell I was going to get home, if I couldn't even pay for a ticket back from Liverpool Street, and at that point I gave in to the inevitable and started crying.

The classic female diversionary tactic, and not one that I whip out deliberately, but it's amazing what a few tears can do to dissolve any tension. His demeanour changed instantly, and I swear to you reader, he started flirting with me. A man who, moments before, had been about to give me a huge fine and a summons to Court, was now asking me if I'd be okay to get home, telling me which platform to go to, explaining to me the appeals procedure and asking me if I had a boyfriend, all at the same time. He was touching my upper arm in support, and I thought for a moment he was going to give me a hug. It was such a weird moment.

We got off the train, and he started telling me it wasn't his fault. He told me everything would be fine. He even walked me onto the train home.

I am deeply embarrassed to have started crying in that situation - it was a stupid mistake that I'd made because I'd been too fuzzy headed this morning to work out if I had everything with me, and it was easily rectifiable, because all I have to do is fill in a form and I shouldn't receive a fine, but they were being so strict with me while filling in the forms and giving me those looks that you'd usually reserve for people who spit in the street that I couldn't hold up under that pressure. I'm a grown woman, I shouldn't behave like that.

The power of shedding tears in front of strangers is amazing. He went from prosecutor to protector in one swift move. He even apologised for doing his job, and told me I was making him feel guilty. What a ludicrous morning.

UPDATE: The inspector called me at about 12.30pm to make sure that I got home okay. I must have been looking pretty hot round about when I was bawling my eyes out.

01 September 2006
It's always good to start any post with a photograph of a toilet door:

We were out for He Who Only...'s birthday celebrations. He's old, but I'll let you into a little secret: he's not as old as I am. But ssssh, don't tell anyone. Particularly not him. He's under the impression I'm about 25. Don't tell him any different, it'll ruin the dream.

But that's beside the point. At said celebrations there was a gathering of friends old and new, and it was all highly enjoyable but relatively well behaved stuff. A gathering on a week night will always have that effect on the participants, and so booze flowed, but not too freely, and we all managed to return home with the correct partner and all of our underclothes intact, as is befitting of a gathering of people in their late twenties. Dignity, at all times.

Now, the one tiny beef I had with the whole gathering was the fact that, sprinkled around the participants, were one or two ex-ladyfriends of He Who Only...'s. I'm not the jealous type - that is to say, in the course of a day I can allow He Who Only... out of the house in the full knowledge that at some point during said day his gaze will alight, however briefly, on a lady of the fairer sex. I am, though, safe and happy in the knowledge that he will not, no matter how tempted he is, run off with this fair maiden, leaving me bereft in a flat full of mice. Of this, if of nothing else, I'm perfectly sure.

However, I am second to no one in my hatred for all things ex-ladyfriends. I would go so far as to say my feelings in this relation are bordering on the psychotic. Last night, at a rare quiet moment, I texted my good friend Mrs Bishop, asking her if she would defend me in Court if I went on a crazed killing spree and destroyed all evidence of each of He Who Only...'s exes, in an attempt to allow me to sleep more restfully in my bed. She advised against it, explaining that although it is a truly natural and understandable emotion, these things don't tend to play well in front of a judge and a jury of peers. Therefore, the ex-ladyfriends must continue to live.

I did have a little chat with some of the other ladies who were present at the evening, those ladies who have never, to the best of my knowledge, been anything other than utterly platonic with He Who Only..., and I was very comforted to know that they, each and every last one of them, also hate their boyfriends ex-ladyfriends with a vengeance that matched (and in one case even surpassed) my own. It's nice to know that, even in the most secure and comfortable relationship, there is still some craziness lurking just under the surface.