Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Baby on Board

What I Saw.

I have never liked being told what to do (just ask my parents and ex boyfriends!) but I find being told what to do by strangers even more irritating. Things that should come naturally with good manners and common sense are shoved down our throats with ridiculous signs.

One thing I find particularly annoying are the Baby on Board badges and signs.

The car sticker gets my goat because it assumes that you usually drive around like an absolute nutter, crashing into cars, bashing into lamp posts until you suddenly see the Baby on Board sign in the car's back window and miraculously drive carefully and like an angel. Grrrrr!

The Baby on Board badge only began showing up on public transport a few years ago and irritated me immediately. When I see a pregnant woman on the tube or bus, I stand up without thinking about it. Ditto for old people, ill people, people with children, people on crutches, blind people, in fact anyone that looks like they really need a seat. It's something most of us do. Of course, there are those people... and we've all seen them, that spot the "in need of a seat" person, quickly drop their eyes and look everywhere but in front of them. "Oh God Oh God Oh God", they're thinking, "I've only just got this bloody seat and I've got ten stops to go, I don't want to get up. Someone else will get up. Oh look, someone's got up, phew!" These people are ill mannered and selfish and should be made an example of by the tube police (if only). They should be forced to stand under the armpit of a sweaty builder - who has just finished his 18 hour shift - for the duration of their journey! That would make them stand up next time!

But I always think when I see the badge on a pregnant woman that they are telling me what to do when I would have done it anyway. The selfish people that don't stand, are just as likely to see the badge and ignore that as well as the person wearing it.

I then emailed several friends of mine that are pregnant and asked them if they wore the badge when traveling around London. Two of them do, the other one doesn't. The two that wear them, told me the badge just makes people more aware, that they can offer them their seat without wondering if they actually are pregnant or not. She meant, to stop mistakenly assuming they were just fat, rather than pregnant! Ohhhh! I must admit, I have sometimes had a momentary panic before offering my seat... what if she's not pregnant, she's just fat, then I've totally humiliated her in public. So then I thought, wouldn't it be better to have a badge that said "I'm not fat, I'm pregnant" or for fat people that get offered a seat "I'm not pregnant, I'm just fat". Haha.

Then the other day I saw the ultimate badge wearer. They got on the tube with a "baby on board" badge, sat down and started to read their book, oblivious to the reaction of everyone around them. The whole tube stared, some laughed, some frowned whilst I, very quickly and secretly, took a photo... and yes, it was most definitely a man!

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

What are your non-essential items?

I should rephrase that... What are your non-essential items, but that you can't live without?

I've never thought to ask myself this question before. I've always been quite resourceful and haven't thought that I've ever really NEEDED anything in particular... apart from my life saving medications and lip salve. Who on earth can survive without moisturised lips! When I've travelled in the past, I've been a light packer, managing to survive on basics and finding what I needed the other end, whether it's visiting a city in western Europe or a third world country. But as I get older I seem to pack more and more and more stuff when I go away, even for the weekend. I spread everything out on the bed, make lists, tick things off lists... but to my surprise, my pile of non-essential items seems to grow with every trip.

Yesterday, I was delivered an item I would never have imagined existed, until I found it on the internet! That in itself sounds incredibly dodgy but don't worry, gentle folk, it is not x-rated, illegal or deviant in any way. However, its quite hard to describe in a few words. But having used it last night, all night, I woke up to such miraculous results that I will never leave home without it. But more of that later.

When I visited my parents last weekend, I realised I had packed things that others would think highly unnecessary. My non-essential items included:

Ear Plugs. Even in deepest, darkest Hampshire, surrounded by the dulcet tones of the occasional owl hoot or cow moo, the whistling of wind through trees or rain on leaves... you still cannot block out the sound of two parents snoring, or the sound of creaking floorboards as aforementioned parents also go to the loo five times a night. Ear plugs are at the top of my non-essential item list, especially when visiting unknown destinations where you discover your carefully chosen hotel room is, in fact, overlooking the night market or local discotheque!

A very close second is my hot water bottle. I simply cannot live without it. I have terribly cold feet... a bizarrely hot body (well, thank you Sir) but bloody freezing tootsies. There is nothing worse than trying to go to sleep when you can't feel your extremities. I've even been known to use it in summer!

Olbas Oil. Again, this is an odd item because it is usually associated with colds and flu, but I just love the smell... I think it stems from childhood when I always seemed to have catarrh or allergies and would sleep through the night with the help of Vics vapour rub having been rubbed vigorously into my chest. I then discovered Olbas Oil and with just a few drops on the pillow, I would be deeply relaxed. Weird I know but that little bottle of delight now comes with me every time I go away.

Make-up. No need for any explanation here.

Toiletries. Now again, I used to make do with shampoo and moisturiser. That was it! Now my make-up and toiletries bag is almost the same size as my carry-on case...! For men out there of a sensitive nature, who like the allure of a woman to be mysterious... look away now. My contents are as follows: Body scrub, exfoliator, razor, shower gel, face mask, shampoo, conditioner, hair treatment, hair dryer, hairspray, shine serum, make-up remover, cotton wool pads, cotton wool buds, toner, flannel, baby soap, face serum, day moisturiser, night cream, body milk, tweezers, hair brush, eye lash curlers, hand cream, vaseline, nail clippers, foot buffer, nail file, nail varnish and breathe.... nail varnish remover. And you thought it was all natural... you sweet things. It takes a lot of work to look this natural!

So now that brings me back to my purchase from the internet. The one thing you cannot stop or reverse with creams and potions, good sleep, great diet and good exercise is getting older and getting wrinkles. Unless of course you have the money for surgery, but to be honest, I would rather look like a crumpled pillow than be stretched out of all recognition. However, every morning for the last few years, I have looked in the mirror after waking, and to my dismay I have noticed not only a few crows feet and laughter lines but an increase in chest creases. Haha... men will not have an iota of what I am talking about unless you have man boobs. Skinny or flat chested women will not have a clue either, for that matter. It happens to women of a certain age that have a fairly ample bosom and that sleep on their sides. You sort of squeeze everything together in your sleep and awake unable to iron them out. They do tend to disappear after a few hours but as you get older, I am told, they become permanent and your d├ęcolletage is no longer this beautiful smooth area dying to be smooched but a sort of crepey area.... ooh no!!

So, with such an immense problem as this, weighing heavily on my shoulders, I turned to the experts... Google. Google came back with a very popular solution. Sleep on your back! Well that's all fine and dandy but if I was able to sleep on my back I would have done so by now. I just cant do it. The last few nights I have started off well, shoving one pillow under my knees and two either side of me to stop myself from rolling over but after about 30 minutes I have to go on my side. I went back onto Google and suddenly found a website offering a new product that was so weird I thought it must be a spoof. This product is called the Decolette. It is a triangular piece of clear silicone measuring about 7 inches across and 4 inches deep. It is about 3 millimetres thick. You peel off the backing protection and you adhere this piece of silicone to the space in between, and above, your boobage. I swear to God, I am not kidding. It was delivered yesterday and when I opened it, I made a loud derogative "phfffffff" noise as I realised I had clearly been conned and had just paid a man called Olaf in Bulgaria £20 for a piece of sticky plastic. But no. I was wrong. This morning, verging on hysteria, I tiptoed into my bathroom and removed the plastic from my cleavage and there is was... smooth and clear as a twenty year old's, no lines, or wrinkles or crease marks. I giggled and kept staring for a good few minutes. It's a miracle I shouted.

I know for a fact, as soon as some of my friends finish reading that last sentence I will have a few requests for information. Until then I'm thinking about buying ten of these triangles and sticking them all over my body!! Why stop at the chest!

Friday, 15 February 2013

Number 5

So at the end of my last blog, I had left the ball in Number 5's court to see how he would play, after he had proved to be a bit rubbish at communication....

Well, over the next few days, Number 5 not only fouled a couple of times but he missed some penalties, received a yellow card and then conceded the game.

Suffice to say, our fourth date was highly peculiar. I had been invited to dinner, then ended up eating alone after he confessed to having eaten a sandwich before he left home!! He then announced he needed an early night at 8:45 pm and left. There are many many many other oddities that happened, but the evening left me feeling that this was definitely not right. A few days later I rang him and invited him for dinner at my house and he went very quiet and then completely changed the subject. It was just odd, so I sent him a quick email asking him if everything was ok and received a gargantuan letter back. He listed a whole host of insecurities and problems, from trust issues to laziness, and ended it by saying he would probably frustrate the hell out of me with his ambivalence and lack of effort, and that I was better off without him. Sad and a real shame, but true.


I tried not to wallow in my misery for too long and after three long days, decided the best solution was to get back on the horse, so to speak.

I have lined up three more dates...

Number 6 is a financier.

Number 7 is a pharmacist and a musician. He's also only 5'6" tall! Oops. I had hastily read his profile and excitedly seen 6'5", not the other way round, haha. So let's just hope we're sitting down on the date.
And Number 8 is... oh God, I have no idea. In his profile under occupation, it said "Other". So for all I know, I could be meeting up with a Chippendale or a horse whisperer! Actually a combination of the two would suit me fine!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Internet dating and the modern man.

Over the last four weeks I have realised there are certain requirements for Internet dating... A heart of stone and the sensitivity of an earthworm being two of them. 

I have already talked about dates 1-3 which were utter disasters. Number 4, the property developer, turned out to have a lunchtime drinking problem and had managed to fall out with everyone in his family and most of his friends. Not a good sign. Number 5, the charity director, is ongoing. 

What I've discovered though is no matter how much a man comes across as traditional, the rules of dating have significantly changed. You can spend hours on the Internet reading articles entitled... 'How to find a man and keep him' or '10 things NOT to do on a first date'. Some of the advice is fairly obvious but there are rules that apparently we must adhere to in order to have a successful date and therefore a good relationship. 

Here are a few written by women...
Don't be late.
Don't talk about your ex boyfriend.
Don't text or answer your phone.
Don't allow your eyes to wander.
Don't eat like a bird.
Don't get drunk.
Don't let skeletons out of the cupboard.
Avoid confrontation.
DO NOT have sex.
And here's my favourite one...
Don't let crazy out of the box. 

Haha... That a tough one for me. I have had so many strange things happen to me and have so many odd stories that its really difficult not to let one out. But there's a fine line between entertaining and loopy so I'm told. 

But then I looked at men's advice for women on a first date. Quite a few are the same as the above but here were a few extras...
Don't date work colleagues. 
Don't talk about yourself the whole time.
Don't talk about marriage and kids.
Don't dress inappropriately.
Don't pretend you're someone you're not.
Don't be too touchy feely. 
Don't talk about controversial issues. 
Don't expect a man to pay.

My god... So basically trying to remember all that stuff and still be natural is a nightmare. And to be honest, half of the above may apply to a small percentage but most of my friends did not meet their partners by sticking to any sort of rules. Many friends of mine met their partners while drunk; a few had sex on the first date and yes, 'my God!', they're still together. I have one friend that met her husband at work but hated him for the first six months arguing at every opportunity; in fact I know quite a few couples that met at work; one friend was at a dinner party and spoke to her now husband about her ex-boyfriend 'the arsehole' the whole time. It didn't put him off. 

So no matter what you are told, what to say, how to behave, what to wear... it all really boils down to one thing, chemistry. You either click or you don't. There's a spark or there is nothing. I know pretty early on in the date... usually the first half an hour, if its working or not. And if you're comfortable with someone, then honestly I think all the do's and don't's go out of the window.  

So with date number 5, we broke quite a few rules... We talked about religion, argued about politics, discussed previous relationships, told quite a few crazy stories and drank a bit too much. Ooh, bad bad rule breakers! But guess what... He didn't run a mile, he did call and we are going out. 

The only massive hiccup in this otherwise lovely beginning is the bloody internet. It's always there in the background. If you've met someone on the Internet, there are a few things that you can't escape. Firstly, you have no idea how many other women your date is looking at, speaking to, emailing or seeing. There are no rules about being exclusive, about signing out of your online profile, about replying to messages. So you happily have date after date and then you realise they are still logging onto their dating site. Insecurity bubbles up and you think... Oh ok, there was me thinking we were getting along brilliantly and that it might go somewhere but here you are checking out other women. Are you seeing if there is something better on there or are you just enjoying the attention, having your ego massaged by women looking at your profile? Hmmm. 

I have had quite a few (sorry girls) conversations over the last week about just this. What is he doing? Does this mean he's not interested? I've been tying myself in knots trying to figure it out. 

And then the other evil of all evils... Texting. When did texting replace human contact to such an extent you spend half your time trying to work out how to interpret the message? You can't type irony or sarcasm or a teasing, playful voice. Some people use those smiley faces when they have written something sarcastic and put it at the end of the sentence to reassure you that they are being amusing. For Gods sake! So if you are texting backwards and forwards and then suddenly it goes quiet, what do you think? You might leave it for a day but then the insecurity rises again and you think... Why hasn't he contacted me, did I say something wrong, was I inappropriate, did I not text him back and he thinks I don't care? My friends told me to wait, not to leap to conclusions, that I shouldn't make myself so available, not to put all my eggs in one basket, to just be patient and maybe get online again... and under no circumstances text him! Step away from the phone. 

I read another article and it said for a woman to keep a man in the early stages of dating she should remember three simple words: Distance, Mystery and Novelty. Fine... I would be aloof and alluring, I would wait for him to phone. Men like the chase right? They like a challenge right? Two days later I was a mess. No phone calls, no texts, no nothing. I crumbled on the third day and asked him what had happened. Guess what? While I was going insane with analysing this and that, he had assumed that I wasn't interested because I hadn't texted back. I hadn't replied to one stupid text, therefore I was done with the relationship, I had moved on to another man already and was shacked up with Hugh Bonneville in a villa in tuscany. Sorry did I just say that out loud? 

Anyway, so it seems Modern man = Mr sensitive. Girls are not the only ones wondering what has happened and reading through texts and emails trying to figure it out. Wether this modern male is for me, I'm not sure. I do like a man who can make decisions, take control and be confident. I don't like having to plan all the dates and do all the chasing. As my friend put it... Jules, it's slightly undignified. So, I have left the ball in Number. 5's court. We shall see if he plays.