Sunday, September 14, 2014

"Wish me a lonely Christmas and spare a thought for the millions of women like me"

This is from 2009 but my God, this one is bizarre. All I can say: self-pity makes a stinky perfume.

It's from the Mail Online and was written by Liz Jones.


"As you all head home to your families for the holiday,spare a thought for the millions of women like me for whom it's the hardest time of year,says LIZ JONES.

"Loneliness is a resilient, persistent little beast. For most of the year, those of us who live alone can rub along pretty well.

"We tell ourselves everything is fine, that it's better to live alone than in a loveless relationship, that we enjoy the peace and quiet and the freedom, and the ability, as Jo Wood told me in the week before her decree absolute came through, 'to sleep like a starfish in the middle of the bed'.

"We are beholden to no one. Even that other big examination of whether or not you have passed life's fulfillment test - the summer holiday - can be cleverly crammed for: you can relish the opportunity to choose your destination with supreme selfishness, content in the knowledge you will be able to finish that book on the beach without interruption, or book one of those 'activity' holidays - walking in the Himalayas, learning to cook like a peasant in Puglia - that cleverly masks the solitude.

"To my mind, having seen the fatigue etched on the faces of parents waiting with their brood by the luggage carousel, this is far superior to the enforced camaraderie of the family holiday that frequently disintegrates into bickering.

"But Christmas is a different kettle of seasonal salmon altogether. There is no escaping it or ignoring it. For what seems like months it has been mocking those of us who don't have children, partners or friends close and loyal enough to forsake the bosom of their own families to be with you.

"'What are you, 12?' I hissed the other day at my best friend Karen, a 40-year-old married mum, when she told me she was 'spending the Big Day with my mum and dad'.

"Everywhere you look, you are reminded you are a pariah, that you have failed to even dampen life's litmus test of happiness.

"For the rest of the year I can be smug about my child and man-free status - I have a small carbon footprint. I don't have to cook for anyone. I can be eccentric and lazy.

"Come Christmas Eve, though, I begin to panic, to wish I were less like Carrie Bradshaw, chaotic and selfish, and much more like Kirstie Allsopp - rosy- cheeked, capable and cosy.

"This is the time of year when we all take stock, and no more so than at the >end of yet another decade. Ten years ago, on Christmas Day 1999, I was single, living alone in a small London house with two cats.

"I was 40 and had never been loved, let alone married. My status was pretty close to that of Susan Boyle's. She, too, lived alone, in a flat with a cat. And in our modern society, nothing denotes failure, promotes so much hilarity and derision, than that.

"On New Year's Eve 1999, the biggest night of the century dating-wise, family-wise, friendship-wise, popularity-wise, I was stood up by a prospective boyfriend.

"I spent the evening watching Doctor Zhivago wearing a pore- cleansing strip on my nose. I had reached rock bottom. I had failed to acquire all the baggage and clutter that everyone else seemed to have.

"'What is wrong with me?' I remember thinking to myself on Millennium Eve as I watched on TV all the more normal people cavorting merrily.

"Half a million pensioners will spend Christmas Day alone. Three in five over-55s say they wish they could see more of their family

"I vowed that night I would change, that I would do what all the glossy magazines told me to do and 'put myself out there'. I would take risks, join in, learn to trust and love, and not be so damned self-absorbed. "But after a decade in which I did manage to live with a man for seven years, when I did get married and acquired a bit of clutter (in-laws, his friends, his mess) though not children, I'll still, in the words of that immortal song by Mud: 'Be lonely this Christmas, lonely and cold.'

"My attempts at normality were doomed: I tried, I failed and instead I moved to the countryside, where I thought there might be more of a community (in London, I never did find out the name of the girl who lived next door).

"I was wrong, as it turned out, and have found I can go from one week to the next without speaking to a soul.

"I have written my three Christmas cards: to my mum, who lives 200 miles away an has dementia; to John the postman; and to the dustbin men, a lovely trio who often bypass my house because I have so little rubbish.

"I have done my Christmas food shop. There I was in my local supermarket, surrounded by harassed mums with lists longer than their arms, trolleys groaning. It made me feel more alone than ever. I stood in the queue, the only person with a basket.

"Contents: one bottle of vintage Cava, six sprouts, two potatoes, one onion, Cox's apples and nuts in shells.

"I sobbed a bit lobbing these into my basket, as I knew I would never be able to crack the almonds without the help of my former husband.

"Everywhere you look at this time of year, those of us who live alone are deemed wanting. The inevitable footage on the TV news of traffic jams on the motorways makes me wail: 'Why is no one driving to see me, laden with parcels and food hampers?'

"It used to be the traditional ad for Marks & Spencer that made me feel most inadequate - remember the one from last year, where people who look like models and pop stars (scrub that, people who are models and pop stars) turn up at a country pile to sit in front of a log fire and exchange cashmere?

"This year, it is the ad for Coca-Cola that has me burping bile. You know the one: the handsome teenage son on his gap year somewhere far-flung and exotic, homesick for his dear old mum. The handsome dad, who returns home to sweep his long-haired daughter into his arms.

"I comfort myself that scenes like these are mostly a lie. Twenty somethings might return to the fold to sleep in their single childhood bed, but they'd probably rather still be traveling or having sex. They have gone back home because they have run out of money and want a hot meal and someone to do their laundry.

"You know that if a dad did actually just turn up on Christmas Eve, there would be a shrewish woman waiting in the wings, all too ready to heap opprobrium ('Why are you so late?' 'Who do you think is going to get all this food ready?' 'Why can't you even sign the gift tag?').

"While the evidence at this time of year screams the opposite, to be alone is more normal than we think.

"Through choice or by accident, more women than ever are living alone: the number has doubled in three decades.

"Just over half of all women under 50 have never been married, double the figure of 30 years ago. Dubbed the 'freemale' in the lifestyle pages of magazines and newspapers, this is a breed of woman who has actively rejected the notion that we are destined to grow up to nurture, to be wives and mums and carers.

"And while I would count myself firmly in this camp, having always put my career and my own selfishness first, there are certain things that still trigger a lump of doubt in my throat: James Stewart hugging his brood of children beside a Christmas tree in It's A Wonderful Life, say.

"But then I tell myself that in real life, the children would be fighting, Jimmy Stewart would probably be having an affair with his PA, while Donna Reed would be a secret online gambler.

"It's important to remember that we will all be alone at some point in our lives, particularly if we are female, because of the simple fact we tend to outlive men.

"My mother had a loving husband and seven children, but my father died a decade ago and the children all left home and, apart from (poor) me, had families of their own that took precedence.

"I know she misses the endless pastry-making for mince pies and the 'bringing in of the cheese board' late at night, but I'm sure she does not miss the expense, the mess, the endless chores and the inevitable tensions and arguments.

"While we all think that loneliness for the elderly is a particular problem at this time of year, I was surprised to learn from the Samaritans that it is younger people - those aged between 18 and 24 - who feel the most isolated.

"This is the group that feels too big for its old family, too young still to have put down roots.

Relate, the marriage guidance service, fields more calls at Christmas, but interestingly - and comfortingly for those of us who are forced to train our dog to pull the other end of a cracker - these calls are more often about conflict created by the pressure cooker of familiarity over an enforced few days together, rather than about loneliness.

SINGLE LIFE

"In the next 20 years, there will soon be more single people than married couples in Britain

"The best Christmas I ever had was when I was not long married. Leaving behind my passive aggressive husband, who never bothered to enter into the spirit of the festive season, I volunteered at the Celia Hammond Animal Trust in Barking, East London.

"I spent the day scrubbing cat cages, refilling water bowls and feeding the animals a special festive lunch: salmon pinwheels from M&S.

"At this time of the year, women far too often regress to a Fifties role of carer and nurturer, which makes the atmosphere do what it always does: simmer with resentfulness and martyrdom. Being alone should be seen as an opportunity: to follow your passion, whatever it might be.

"This Christmas, having received not a single invitation to join them from family or friends - I suppose a single, childless, aging, vegan woman plonked in their midst is not everyone's cup of eggnog - I am going to attempt to live out the rural ideal and spend the day feeding my animals.

"I have 17 cats, all of whom worship at the altar of St Michael, my sheepdog. There will be sheep nestled like something from a nativity play, horses breathing steam with icicles in their manes.

"And lonely as I may be, the thought of doing just that will, I'm sure, make many women, who are desperately trying to make everything perfect for a family who remain resolutely ungrateful, turn an appropriately festive shade of red and green."

7 comments:

Amethyst Dominica said...

In retrospect, Liz Jones should have been a little bit wary when her high school class voted her "Most Likely To Be Found in a Squalid Flat Eaten By Her Cats."

Glen Filthie said...

When my daughter came out as a militant gay feminist/hipster - she did it with the guns blazing, the hate flowing, and the drama at toxic levels. It broke up our family and even threatened my marriage. My in laws rolled over right away...and then demanded that I come to heel and celebrate their grandchild's depravity - or I was out of their family. They sent that long, rambling ultimatum by email and I responded to it with a one word acronym: FOAD. They were astonished and outraged apparently; but I don't care. We no longer speak.


Christmas is now awesome. The Ghost Of Christmas Past is for me - a bunch of pasty faced liberal intellectual poseurs extolling the virtues of Marxism and their politicians over Christmas dinner.


Now we go skiing in the mountains, the wife doesn't have to dress up and I don't have to listen to bloated gas bags preach their idiot ideologies and put on airs of moral superiority. It's a win for everyone.

You fuggin women and your manginas ripped the modern family apart and rebuilt it in your image - and expect the Christmas Holidays not to take a hit?

Merry Festivus, you rancid cnuts - and have a non-sexist new year.

Anonymous said...

It's too bad large groups of women seem incapable of forming and maintaining stable voluntary societies like men's fraternal orders. Lonely old bachelors and widowers can at least pass their time drinking and playing cards at the Odd Fellows' Hall, the VFW, or the Knights of Columbus, in the company of married guys who want to get away from their wives for a few hours. It ain't heaven, but at least you have some friends who can invite you over to dinner on lonely holidays. It'd be nice if spinster cat ladies had the same kind of support network, but I imagine if women set up such an order without men's help, it'd turn into a catty, drama-soaked mess and collapse within the first few years.


As a Catholic, I see a lot of ladies like this at confession. They've hardly any real sins to confess, I'm sure, but they go in and spend what seems like an eternity in the booth. Mostly, they just want a man to talk to for a while, and it's Father's job to listen to even the most trivial of concerns. I guess I'm sympathetic, but I wish they'd at least go to the back of the line so the rest of us can get in and out before they start their marathon chat sessions.

Bob Wallace said...

I see a lot of older retired guys playing cards and drinking at taverns.

Anonymous said...

That's a lot of cats.

Anonymous said...

"I see a lot of older retired guys playing cards and drinking at taverns."

Yeah, if you spend most of your time at just one, a tavern is as good as a social club. One of my late relatives used to bring his washed-up wino friends from the pub over for the big family Christmas dinner every year. They were smelly and not very nice to look at, but at least they weren't alone on the holiday.

Wouldn't do any good for spinster cat ladies, though- they wouldn't hang around the tavern crowd for ten minutes without finding something or someone to complain about.

Take The Red Pill said...

"...All I can say: self-pity makes a stinky perfume."

I'd bet that her 'perfume' reeks of old cat urine.
Can't say that I feel sorry for her, as how her life was all a result of her own choices.