So here’s a list of the things you’ll find in my purse. And when I say purse, I mean a giant handbag you could house a family of meerkats in.
1. A copy of “The Rules”, with “Fuck you” scrawled on the cover with a Sharpie.
3. A miniature bottle of whiskey stolen from a hotel room.
4. A copy of “Eat, Pray, Love”, with the title crossed out and replaced with the words “Cry, Eat, Get Fat Bitch”.
5. Enough concealer to hide the debt of an African nation.
6. Fake ID. “Of course I was born in 1982…I’ve spent a lot of time in the sun.”
7. A secret chocolate bar.
8. A copy of “Pride & Prejudice” with the words, “This is not based on a real story” written across it.
9. A page torn from O Mag on ’10 Steps to a More Successful/Happier/Healthier You.”
10. An accessory bought on a whim that would only look good on a teenager in a pop band.
11. Some kind of mysterious drug bought from a man in a car park.
12. At least five lip glosses that claim to plump and pout.
13. Heel arch insoles.
14. Thumb-drive with script/novel/play on it ready to hand out to interested parties.
15. iPhone. Naturally.
16. Nipple spray. I don’t know what this is but if it existed I’m sure I’d buy it.
What have I missed?
I’ve tried really hard to not find you totally and utterly irritating but to be fair, you make it absolutely impossible.
At best, I can block you out of my brain by focussing on naming all the American States or the capitals of every European city but then you appear on the red carpet, or worse, you open your mouth, and I immediately want to throw my breakfast in your face.
I’m not an angry or violent person but you have this uncanny knack of pressing every possible negative button that lives within every woman on the planet. Or at least, mine.
You are beautiful. That’s not the issue.
You are rich. Not an issue either.
You are married to a rich man and have two creatively-named kids. Again, good for you. Not a problem.
So I can only fathom that it’s the saintly, gooey, bucket of bollocks myth you have woven around your charmed life that makes me want to heave poached eggs in your general direction.
The gluten-free kids, the holier-than-thou health regimen, the cookery books inspired by your dad, the lifestyle website that makes Martha Stewart look like Lindsay Lohan.
It’s such a giant pile of sanctimonious guff, the very thought of it gives me permanent frown lines.
I’m just not interested but you keep foisting it upon us. There are probably four other women on this planet who have similarly charmed lives who might be curious, but for the rest of us you’re the equivalent of aspartame; sugary but not quite the real thing.
And then you wear THIS dress with the sheer side panels to the Iron Man 3 premiere, and love, if I were you I’d duck right now because my first meal of the day is about to be launched in the general direction of your dewy visage.
Gwynnie darlin, you might be the epitome of good living but I’ve worked out that you’re actually bad for my health.
Last night, I ate my mum’s chocolate.
She left it in my fridge.
I told her that doing so would be a big mistake.
My wide eyes added extra emphasis to the word “big.”
She said, “I’m sure you’ll be able to control yourself.”
And then she left.
Two hours later her chocolate was gone.
You can’t say I didn’t warn her.
And what woman in her right mind lets another gate-keep her chocolate?
I slept very well.
And you know what, I’d do the same thing again.
She’s just knocked at my door. This should be interesting…
Margaret Thatcher was a grocer’s daughter, a fact people always like to mention often because it makes her “one of us”.
She was the British Prime Minister for 11 years and oh yes, a woman. Maybe a little like one of us then, but only a little.
She was also the woman who broke through a crusty glass ceiling and then like her accent, covered it up again so quickly that no-one else could get past it.
Margaret Thatcher was my mum’s wet dream. As a teenager, I thought she was the devil incarnate.
Thatcher first rose to prominence when I was at junior school, as the ‘milk snatcher’ who stole my break-time mini bottle of milk. She wasn’t PM then, she was just beginning to sharpen her claws.
By the time my child brain was developing any kind of political radar she’d already devastated many mining communities, crushed the balls of most of her Cabinet, and thrashed the Falklands with her legendary grit and determination.
She was hailed a hero (not a heroine, that would be sexist).
But as I write this today, there are more people out of work in the UK than in the past 20 years, our economy is seemingly beyond repair, and oh yes, latest figures show that there are, for the first time, more people living by themselves. Our communities have been shattered by her singular brand of greed and capitalism.
What I see is a woman who yes, achieved something admirable in reaching the top of her profession but by doing that – and not putting in place anything to help other women do the same – she failed every woman in the country. If you were a child of Thatcher’s era and you are female, you should be very angry indeed.
She was our British Dream, like the American one but with picket lines instead of picket fences.
You have to see her in light of where women were in history at the time she was voted PM to understand how “Thatcher’s children” have suffered because of her demonic determination to privatise our world.
Thatcher was elected in 1979 when I was 11, and by then the feminist movement meant that women had freedoms beyond just wearing short skirts.
My mother, born in 1939, was married in 1960. She hated it. She married because she had to. Because society expected it of her. There was no other choice at the end of the Fifties.
She was taught to rely upon the man as the main bread-winner even though she was more than capable of working. She wanted to work. She wasn’t allowed. She didn’t really want children. She had them.
My parents lived through the Swinging Sixties acquiring maybe one or two puffs on a neighbour’s joint, the tragic loss of a baby son, and a handful of affairs culminating with a detached house in a seaside town, a new Bentley and a drawer full of cash from the sale of their London home.
For my mother, this was hell. By the time Thatcher came along, she like many women of her generation, were ready to embrace a new poster girl.
But for me and other young women in the Eighties, Thatcher was already an old lady and not to be trusted. For a war baby like my mum, she was the answer to all her problems. And if she couldn’t be that, mum tried to convince me that she was the answer to all MY problems.
From an early age I was told never to rely on man, never to trust a man, to make my own money, to make my own way, my own living, my own choices and my own destiny.
These are not necessarily bad things to be taught. By they are if they are only options being presented to an impressionable mind. On their own, they are frankly, devastating.
I was not the only Eighties teenager who thought that I could do it all by myself. The imagery of the Eighties was very much in step with The Iron Lady. Women had their Dynasty should pads, high hair and presented themselves as warriors. We were expected to be everyday Ripleys, crushing the boys at their own game. We wore sombre grey suits from Next to work one day, and slutty Madonna lace to seduce our Fred Perry wearing wide boys, the next.
We didn’t care who we hurt because we were Thatcher’s children and this is what we were supposed to do. Best of all, we did it by ourselves.
But here’s the rub. Margaret Thatcher didn’t do it all by herself. Thatcher was married to a very rich man. She had two children and an enormous support network.
My generation who were taught to be like her, were in effect, nothing like her, carrying a toolbox that looked very different. We were Working Girls through and through. We gave sex away and never allowed ourselves to be looked after. Our safety nets shrank like the size our our mobile phones.
Like millions of other girls I was taught to concentrate on my career, buy property and leave having babies til as late as possible. “You can be Prime Minister,” my mother’s generation cried in unison.
But no. No. We couldn’t. Life so didn’t want to play that little game.
“It’s so much better to have your own money,” said mum, who it has to be said bettered herself under Maggie. Yes it is. But when the recession hits and you’re all alone and the money stops flowing. Who’s going to be around to help you out?
Because we’re not all the Prime Minister you know. We’re women who are soft in parts and need to be loved. We need our communities around us. We need the very thing that Thatcher took away from us.
Ironically my mum, now in her mid-seventies and still reading the worst newspaper on the planet (you know the one I mean), says, “The best thing I ever did was have my children.”
It was a different story 30 years ago. “Don’t have children, they’ll drag you down. You need to be free to make your own way in the world. Do what you want to do.”
Well I did, and so did many other women. And we are here. Alone. Struggling. And wondering how a life that promised so much has morphed into such a difficult journey.
Today, as a decent human being, I will give a nod to the 87-year-old Baroness who ended her days tending roses alone under police protection but I will also look around at this harsh world she crafted like an Elnett Machiavelli, and spend a moment remembering how she ripped away our hopes and dreams.
One of them being the dream of a life where you can love and be loved because for many women today, her legacy means they will be watching her funeral on the news, at home alone, wondering how the bills are going to get paid, if their jobs are safe and who is going to look after them when they get old.
Sadly for us, the grocer’s daughter opened up the doors to her shop, but didn’t let anyone else in.
Singles everywhere will be thwacked over the head with another giant bill to pay, while they wonder how the hell they’re going to afford buying their friend’s wedding gift this summer (or baby shower/engagement/bachelorette gift), or the outfit for the wedding, plus travel expenses to get to the wedding and worse, the Single Room Supplement they will no doubt be charged for staying at the wedding hotel.
Being single should cost you less but the reality is that we pay over the odds for everything. Surely in an age where gay couples can marry, strangers can carry babies for women who can’t, and having multiple wives is still legal in certain parts of the world, being a brave, lone warrior in a dirty, cruel world should be embraced and celebrated. (Too much?)
But nothing is more heinous than the ‘Single Room Supplement’. Apart from the fact that it neatly sums up every negative attitude society has towards singles, it is merely an evil, out-moded form of branding.
The only other thing that comes close are the many official forms, where you are forced to fill in your so-called “marital” status.
This is 2013 not 1813. I don’t have a dowry. My father isn’t ‘giving me away’, and I don’t require a chaperone (only when I need to visit CVS on Sunset after midnight). What should my ‘marital’ status matter to anyone?
The argument for them is thus (are you ready to be irritated?): Holidays are priced per person based on two people sharing a twin or double room. When a single (gasp!) person books, tour operators levy an extra charge, because, they say, they are simply passing on the extra cost charged by hotels for single occupancy of a double room, or because a single room is more than half the price of a double.
I asked my mum what she thought about ‘Single Room Supplements’ as she travelled extensively after separating from my dad. She said, “I think they’re wrong. Single people take up less room.”
I understand what she was saying (and from her POV, she’s a petite lady) but the reality is that there are more lone travellers than ever, and although it may not seem that way, apparently we have more money to spend (note to self: check bank balance as must be some mistake last time I looked), and are willing to spend it on seeing the world.
Yes, like a good yeasty dough, we are on the rise.
And it’s not just the vile Single Room Supplement that targets our demo. If you’re able to work and have no kids, you get no tax breaks. Churn out a few kids, get a crappy husband and hey presto – you’re entitled to the respect of the western world and money off your tax bill.
Gimme a break. No really, gimme a tax break. And give it to me now, Sheldon.
The next time I book a hotel room for one, I want the general manager to roll out the red carpet for me. I want champagne on ice in my room. I want chocolates on my pillow. I want a Billy Wilder box set on the shelf. And want a room with a view of the ocean. Don’t you stick me over the parking lot because I’m single. Don’t make me face the Chinese restaurant, the brick wall or the water tank belonging to the office building next door.
Because you know what, you’re lucky to have me. I’m very particular about who I share my life with.
This post was written as part of the #UnmarriedEquality and #SinglesBlogfest along with dozens of other bloggers who are posting about the same topic today. Tax Day was was chosen as a symbolic reminder that income taxes are one of the many ways singles don’t get the same benefits as marrieds. Thank you to @spinsterlicious for inviting me to join in the discussion.
A more detailed report on the economic burdens assumed by single people was recently published in The Atlantic.
I’m back. Hiiiiiiii.
It’s been a while I know. And I probably should apologise but I see no need. I didn’t ask you to read this blog
*drops microphone, walks off stage*
*walks back on stage, coughs nervously, picks up scuffed mic*
The world I see around me has forced me to revisit this blog. Because there is still an entire generation of women of a certain age who are dealing with so many hardships, I cannot sit on the sidelines and say nothing.
I re-read my last post this morning. It was cautiously optimistic. It hurt me actually. I was so honest about my debt, my loneliness, my homelessness, my hopelessness, it brought tears to my eyes. I’m in a better place now. Not great but at least I can sleep through the night (thanks to my handy ‘sound of the ocean’ app).
My debt is now under control, I’m still single (MUCH more on that in upcoming posts), and I’m not in any way making enough money still. My profession is dying. In my head, it continues to crash to the ground in slow-motion, like a giant toppling oak tree. Shame.
No, what drove me back into the arms of Spinny is the increasing army of women who have cried in my arms recently. Those disenfranchised dollfaces who are struggling to make sense of their middle years. Not all are single. Some are married. Some have kids. Some would love kids and are too old to have them. Some have cancer. Some are bitter. Some are sad. Some have lousy marriages. Some can’t pay their rent next month. Some are so angry they just want to punch the crap out of anyone who looks at them the wrong way.
Most just don’t know what the fuck went so wrong.
I don’t have the answers. I can go over and over my life and point out the mistakes IN RETROSPECT. But what good does that do? It passes time, but so does reading a good book.
So I’ve come back to inspire, amuse and maybe help you through this dark passage (and believe me, you being there helps me too).
The world is a mess. Our lives reflect that.
This is not what we were promised.
Remember the ‘you can have it all’ mantra?
Oh Cosmo. Have it all. Yep. Excuse me while I wrap a corset around my middle from laughing so hard MY SIDES ARE FALLING OFF.
What is ‘our all’? You can have maybe one or two of the following: health, sex, love, money, success, friendship, good skin, great tits, a big house, a nice car, security, happiness, contentment, an iPad mini…
All? I don’t think so missy.
Our ‘all’ belongs in the pages of a glossy women’s magazine from the 1970’s. A relic from the past covered in cobwebs, cigarette ash and spilled martinis.
So if we can’t have it all, what can we have?
Our tears? Yes. Let’s own our tears because they are CONSISTENT and they prove our STRENGTH. They prove we can still FEEL and be human.
If you are my friend, I will let you cry in my arms.
Your sweet little dollface will never be disenfranchised from me. NEVER.
I promise, I cannot make it right, but I will give YOU my ALL. It’s not what you were promised but it’s what you’re going to get. And if you’re my friend, I expect the same back from you. If we are disenfranchised from life, we CANNOT be disenfranchised from each other.
Let’s work this out together.
*drops scuffed mic, which is now more scuffed*