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.

58. Not on a School Night.

People, jobs, houses and food in real life are hardly ever like they are on the telly. So why do so many believe that the sex they have will be exactly like it is on screen? The most popular misconception (ha! no pun intended) is that people go out for a massive dinner and loads to drink on a date, and then find they are completely, intimately, perfectly compatible their first time with each other.

All we ever wanted as teenagers was privacy. We had so much free time but no-where to go for an hour of uninterrupted, guaranteed privacy, without annoying little siblings or parents poking their noses round the door without knocking. Couldn’t parents remember how they felt when they were young? This was biology and wasn’t illegal. We were over the age of consent and were a loving, committed couple who genuinely cared for each other. No drama, but respect and adoration. Wasn’t this exactly the kind of first love you hoped for?

Teenagers are going to have sex. You can try to think you can stop them or you can give them a little space now and then.

When we were happy, flirty, relaxed, and the kissing went on for ages, we were sometimes tainted with anxieties or alcohol. Too much pot made me feel lazy, hungry and sick. Safe experimentation. A real Shakespearean tragedy.

The opportunities at college were endless and fun, but does anyone ever really make the most of those few years? After college, not so much. I have no interest in any form of identifying potential partners where choosing someone based on their looks is initially the most important factor (niteclubs, internet dating) I think I’d miss out on too many people I’d find fascinating.

Goalposts move again. We now have as much privacy as we like, but no time.

I haven’t had a shower today.

I’m ovulating in a couple of days, so it will be amazing then. We should wait.

I was supposed to have an early night tonight because I’m really busy tomorrow.

We should have done it before I ate so much food.

It’s timing, luck and being open to trusting someone with your heart. I know people who say they want to meet someone, but appear (to me) to be afraid of making any moves or looking as if they are even interested, because they’ve been hurt and disappointed, so now want to remain in control. The one who is least invested in the relationship holds the power. They make potential partners prove their worthiness, or play passive aggressive emotional games. Isn’t risk a part of love?

Holding out in case someone better comes along is a waste of a chance at building a life with someone you already love. If ‘the one’ did exist, then it is a miraculous coincidence that so many people find their one and only soul mate, who is exactly the same age as them, living in their very own home town, maybe even at the same place of work or school. What are the odds on that?

Sorry, but meet cutes are for teen drama Sunday afternoon rom coms. I’ve never heard of anyone ever meeting their dream partner like this.

“She felt a jolt of electricity as their hands lightly touched when they both reached for the same avocado from the display in Wholefoods. Shy blushing smiles over soya lattes an hour later, they made plans to meet up for brunch and walk their dogs together at the weekend.”

*clicks fingers in the air twice* Hello? Your life is not a Molly Ringwald film.

No-one could ever possibly know us like we do. No two years are ever the same. We make our own rules for ourselves that are no-one else’s business but our own. Why would we ever compare our lives to other people? If we do make comments then it’s usually “thank god we’re nothing like them”.

“No it’s not like any other love.

This one’s different because it’s us.”

‘Hand in Glove’ by The Smiths 

And if we all do end up in ‘San Junipero’, then we can all live out our parallel lives for eternity, with those travelling on other paths that we’ve met in this life.

19. A Letter to My Younger Self

I watched Amanda de Cadenet’s internet TV show series, ‘The Conversation’ a few years ago, and her advice to her 14-year-old self was to “keep her knickers on a bit longer.”

Like the song, mine will be too few to mention.

I will love. I will be loved. I will be in love with someone at the same time that they are in love with me. This will happen more than once. I will love someone who does not love me back and that will be agony. I will have my heart smashed a few times. Twice by the same person and I will still consider going back to them again.

I will definitely hurt people with things I’ve said. I will wish I could go back and do things differently. Sometimes, those words were bad timing and said out of jealousy, fear, anger, sleep deprivation, hunger, pain, lack of caffeine or nicotine withdrawal. Like me, those people might still be haunted by how those words made them feel, but not recall a single thing about the person who said them.

I will not report my assault to the police. I will choose not to go to the sentencing of my burglar. I will want to be able to potentially walk past him in the street, not recognise him, so not be reminded of what he did to me, and all those nights of sleep I never had.

I will be brave to leave, but cowardly not to give a proper explanation of why.

I sincerely hope that I will not be “the one who got away.” If I was, I will not want them to tell me.

I will win easily. I will lose badly. I will not try. I will wish I tried harder.

I will cry and laugh. A lot.

People will tell me that the best sex is with someone you love and who loves you, or that there’s no place like home, but sometimes I will want have to find out for myself. See the world with my own eyes. Listen more. Be curious and open.

Dita Von Teese:
“You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s
still going to be somebody who hates peaches.”

My weight and what I look like will always be irrelevant.  There! I have saved myself a few years of worry.  The world’s perception of me is will not be how I see myself. Comparing my day to day life with other people’s edited hightlight reel on social media will not be healthy. It will always be conflicted in my own head.

Enjoying my own company will be my favourite thing to do. I will be told by many people that I am a brilliant friend, annoying, generous, kind, fun, honest, open, compassionate, perceptive, with incredible insight and perspective but be weird enough for people to be cautious and intimidated the crazy bitch. Not everyone will like me and that’s ok.

No-one will ever know what other people are going through. It will take me a long time to realise, identify, accept, and work through my personal mental health and issues of anxiety and depression. When that cloud melts, and my thoughts become free, I will be more creative and find myself with an abundance of time to think about other things. The flip-side is that more of my life will now be behind me than in front.

“When my head clears, I will have more time.”

I will never blame my parents: they were young and did the best they could at the time with what they had. Peri-menopause hormones will give me the experience of being  a 14-year-old girl all over again, yet that time round, I will be able to see around the corners of decisions I might make. I can change the ending if I know the consequences in advance.

If I could name three things that I would do differently, they would be these.

  1. Not to take up smoking. Not because it is bad for me, but because it is expensive, smelly, really hard to give up, and my circle of friends will become mostly those who smoke.
  2. To get a job and save money for a long-term plan. (travelling, car, house deposit for security) commonly known by women as a ‘Fuck-off Fund” or “Running Away Money.” Spending money as I get it, or that I don’t have, will give me fewer life choices. Debt will cripple me with worries and stop me doing things.
  3. To cultivate a transferable skill that I am good at, to open up my opportunities, so I can possibly live abroad. Get fluent in a language, learn an instrument, how to cut hair, to drive or play sport.

Sometimes I will want to dip my toe in and sometimes I will jump right in. It’s my life. I cannot tell my younger self how my life turns out, because if I had the chance to live it again, circumstances would be very different.