I am unfashionable among my smarter friends for two reasons. I quite like Liz Jones, and I watch the X-Factor with enthusiasm.
The man I left London for judged me for reading Liz’s columns. Every week he would pick up You, read the back page, making increasingly outraged harrumphs, and then regale me for a few hours about how shallow and self-obsessed all media types are.
I stand guilty as accused – I’ve kept this blog going for 5 years with an endless stream of tales about me and my life – but I take the view that if you don’t like something, don’t read it (or watch it, for the X Factor). And don’t judge someone else because they do.
Liz takes stick for being shallow and for moaning about her single life. But being single is difficult, especially for women. Not because we’re not emotionally complete without a man, but because there are some jobs which require either physical strength or 2 people. I have an armchair I would like the council to come and take away, but it’s upstairs and I can’t get it down on my own. My chain needs adjusting but I can’t get the Africa Twin on its centre stand without help – apparently there’s a knack, but I haven’t got it yet. If I had a man around the house, or even a lodger, the job would be done in two shakes.
I usually recognise something in what she has written (though I promise I have never done this). This week I recognise the whole column, because we share a problem slightly more serious than not having anyone to hold the ladder while I try and clean the gutters:-
She’s writing about her new partner:-
“How about a bath together,” he says. “That would be something to put in your column. You could write about how I displace so much water because I’m so fat.”
“Ha ha. I wouldn’t do that.”
“Yes you would. You did it to your husband.”
This is true…I wrote about my husband because I didn’t really care about him. My column, my opinion. was more important.”
I don’t write as much here as I used to. I have become worried about trampling on the people who make my life the incredible adventure it has become. The people I used to write about as strangers have become my friends. Is it better to write from the heart, publish and be damned, or to say nothing because words can bruise just as much as tarmac, even by accident?
Liz then worries that she’s become addicted to misery, because “happiness isn’t interesting.” A post I actually wrote here.
And then they go out where she used to live in London. “I have a flash of my life if I’d stayed here: I could walk to Waitrose and the cinema. I’d be clean and happy. I start to sob.” I’ve done the same, in the back seat of a black cab heading from the Embankment to Euston, because if I’d stayed in London I’d have been able to walk under the fairy lights strung between the trees outside the Royal Festival Hall and get a night bus home, instead of having to book expensive hotels and worry about missing the last train.
Graham says that everything happens for the best. I live in the countryside now. I shop at the Co-Op. I have time instead of money. This weekend I went to the Dirt Bike Show, next weekend I’m going to see friends, then it’s the NEC show, and in less than 2 months I’m going to be in Australia. That doesn’t sound too bad.
Oh, and the X Factor? I help run a jam night. We welcome anyone on stage who wants to give it a go. Some people are amazing, some are just enthusiastic. The X Factor is a silly, manipulative entertainment show but it takes a lot of courage – or, I suppose, iron-clad self-confidence – to get up on a stage and sing. So knock the judges, or Simon Cowell, but not the contestants. They’re singing live every week and some people will watch and be encouraged to think “I’m better than that.” And hopefully they’ll find a lovely local jam night or music venue and get up on stage. Sharing music is a Good Thing. Unless it’s you with your mobile phone on the back seat of the bus.