60. A Rush of Blood to the Head.

Ms Double-Barrelled has loads of followers on social media but that’s not because she’s interesting, popular or famous for actually doing something. She doesn’t create anything. Her unusual name has opened doors her entire life, and she’s easily found online by people who like lazy, posh girls who show their tits. It was slightly embarrassing for her parents on the first day of nursery when there was another little girl there with the same rockstar first name as hers, but Mummy made sure that the other little girl didn’t get into the same school as her unique darling.

She only took her clothes off because some scum had papped her sunbathing, and those photos didn’t show her at her best. Anyway, Lily said that’s how to get famous, and it worked for a bit. Then there was a bit of amateur solo camming, for the lols, when she ‘went off the rails’  after she split up with her druggy actor boyfriend, but it was enough for the red tops to reprint tamer stills from the site and infer that her titled MP father was “furious.”

Whenever she gets a new follower, she routinely and meticulously dredges through their lists of followers and cherry picks the best ones to add to her own list. The sycophantic cycle continues as her new followees are delighted that she not only ‘remembered’ meeting them at some random party they both attended, but actually reached out to them. They must invite her to their next gathering.

Once the Sun and the Mirror got bored, and she failed to be considered for ‘TOWIE’, let alone ‘Chelsea’, nepotism got her a part as a regular extra on a new teen drama. Despite no experience, she assumed she would get a lead role, so thought she’d try her hand at lifestyle vlogging instead.

Her new boyfriend, Buddy, is one of those juicing, vegan, barefoot, fitness types who says “Namaste” a lot. He was one of the instructors at a yoga retreat in Costa Rica, where she want to chill just after Christmas for dry January. He quit his yoga gig, and immediately moved into her Clapham flat with her. He has persuaded her to start her own youtube channel. Her face. His idea. A no-brainer, as they say. She doesn’t know his hit rate with the ladies is at least one client per retreat, because he’s so discrete. It’s been a very successful way to supplement his income for the last few years. Now he thinks he’s found the perfect mark, and it won’t do either of them any harm. All publicity is good publicity, right?

They’ve got a plan to “do Coachella and Burning Man, definitely Cannes, maybe Ibiza and Goa because they’re ironic, and some of the cooler, more intimate festivals in England, but only if the weather is good and they get a yurt.” She likes the idea of swanning around, being filmed just being, and not lifting a finger. Her PA will do all of the organising and they’ll hire someone to sort out the filming and do the techy stuff. Her accountant will take care of all of the expenses she can claim, like the travelling and clothes. Right now, she’s got more important things to worry about like the colour scheme and perfect name for her ‘brand’ and whether she should do a before-and-after fitness video. Telling people about what she is going to do, rather than just getting on and doing it, is the most exciting bit of any new project. Being seen and talked about while the idea is still fresh.

She can get loads of freebies to promote on her channel, from her equally clueless toff friends who pretend to run viable businesses in central London. These include flower shops, cupcake and artisanal bakeries, sex toys and boutique lingerie shops, birch/coconut water and small-batch gin pop-up shops, travelling tearooms aka afternoon tea, at events, cruise wear and coffee shops. Someone she knows has even got a food van at Kings Cross. She could never imagine why on earth would someone work that hard for so little? None of these ever break even.

Buddy has got his wholefood energy ball range to promote. Once he’s networked the fuck out of her friends and got his face on a wellbeing book cover, he’s outta there. Either that or he hopes to get paid off by her Daddy who doesn’t want a former escort in the family. Plan C is to continue with the sex work, albeit raising his game so it’s at the high end for fewer clients. The jackpot would be as companion to some titled old sugar mommy, but he needs to work his way up first. Failing that, he plans to get in on the ground floor when cannabis is legalised, but that looks like a lot of work.

This temporary rush of intense hormones when you think you are falling in love can lead to some very regrettable decisions, especially if you’re bored, stupid and used to getting your own way.

45. Cuckoo

There was just under an hour’s wait before my train and I really needed a rest and something hot and restorative. I love London, but it can get overwhelming pretty quickly. A sit-down lunch, I thought, but I didn’t want to spend too much, get looks of pity from strangers for eating alone, nor get booted out of the restaurant as soon as I had finished. So, I settled for one of those Vietnamese Street Food noodle bars that have sprung up everywhere. Cheap, tasty, quick. Light enough so I wouldn’t fall asleep on the train and end up north of Sheffield.

I am so over a posh burger.

It was quite busy, so I was seated next to a couple of men on a long communal table. I ordered a one-chili rated chicken and mushroom Pho with a coconut water. Occupying myself by playing on my phone, like everyone does these days, I couldn’t help but overhear them talking. I tried to be discreet but figured if they didn’t want to be heard, then they wouldn’t have had this conversation in public.

The Scottish man sat next to me had recently split up with his wife and it appeared he had moved in part-time with his friend, the man he was dining with. Fortunately, his ex had no intention of going back to the States, so he felt he wasn’t going to lose his children.

“Thanks fer renting oot yer back room tae us. Ah’ll no be there half the time.”

“It’s no problem mate. It’ll be like the old days. PS4, a couple of beers and a pizza.”

“We cannae afford tae sell the hoose an the weans are all settled in at school.”

“Jeez. Nah, you don’t want to be messing about with catchment areas now, not now they’re in school and house prices are shit. I thought we were going to get negative equity at one point.” He took a swig of Saigon beer. “How’s it gonna work then?”

“She calls this ‘birds nestin’, if ye can believe it. Ahm there Monday an Tuesday, she’s goat it Wednesday an Thursday. An then we take turns every weekend.”

“That’s actually a bloody good plan. I’ve never heard of it before. Less disruption for the kids and you get half the time each with them. And there no chance that their PE kit will be at the other house. Is it a California thing then?”

“Aye.”

They pause for a while to finish their beers and reflect on what’s been said.

“We agreed nae partners can come over, what with the weans an aw.”

“I bet that’s the last thing you want right now. It’s definitely over then?”

“Aye right, nae chance we get back together.”

“Sorry, mate.”

“Naw, it’s aw in the past. It’s for the weans sake.”

This seems such a civilised, if not temporary, solution to a desperate situation. To allow all parties breathing space and time to adjust. I hope it takes off in the UK and becomes as regular as weekend Dads taking their kids to the park and Maccy D’s on Sundays.

I thanked my waiter as he brought me a huge bowl of steaming hot noodles, then smiled sympathetically at one of the men as we made eye contact when they got up to leave.

*Thanks to ma pal Joni Hunter for the brilliant translation into Glaswegian.