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Why John Lennon is no hero of mine

Does a great songwriter make a great man? I was thinking this just this morning as I sat smoking cigarettes and listening to my copy of Lennon and Ono’s ‘Double Fantasy’ album on the day when he would have celebrated his 60th birthday. If you’ve got a finger hovering over the skip button on your remote and can manage to get through the album without having to listen to a single Yoko Ono travesty, it really is a supreme recording. But does the fact that Lennon wrote tunes like ‘Watching The Wheels’, ‘I’m Losing You’, ‘Beautiful Boy’ (all included on ‘Double Fantasy’) and tunes like ‘Imagine’, ‘Mind Games’ and ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ make him a truly great man?

I personally don’t think it does. I have to admit that I’m no real expert on John Lennon – I’ve read the odd book but I’m certainly no Beatles obsessive – but I’m not taken in by all this Lennon-was-a-great-man propaganda. His music is legendary but he strikes me as a bit of a c**t.

As a very young child, he was given a straight choice of living with his mother or his father when they split up – a terrible decision to force on any child – and he chose his dad. Then, when his mother turned around and walked off, he burst into tears and ran over to his mum. He didn’t see his dad again for 20 years. Now, I don’t care how strong a person you are and I don’t think Lennon was very strong at all, that has got to hurt. So, for John Lennon to walk out on his son Julian while he was only a child disgusts me. You would have thought that of all people, John Lennon would have understood just how much something like that would have hurt Julian and yet he still went and did it.

In fact, the leaving of his first wife Cynthia for Yoko was no more dignified. According to a recent Lennon documentary, he simply shacked up with Yoko without a care in the world. Cynthia was on television saying that she returned home from a holiday to find a half-dressed Yoko and Lennon together in their home. And that was that. John had chosen Yoko and to hell with his first wife and their son Lennon.

If walking out on the pair of them wasn’t bad enough, John fell so under the spell of Yoko that he deemed it perfectly acceptable for the new woman in his life to telephone Cynthia and inform her that is she wanted to speak to John about Julian, she had to come through Yoko first. This led to Julian not seeing his father John for four years. Now, I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t exactly paint me a picture of some great revolutionary figure. That simply says to me that John Lennon was a weak man who allowed a manipulative woman to steam into his life and tear apart any relationship he had with his son. What a prick.

I’ll continue listening to his records – some of the greatest ever recorded – but on what would have been his 60th birthday, I won’t be shedding a tear for a supposedly great man. Paul McCartney was never as talented as Lennon but he appears to have been a far greater man. His relationship with Linda sounds like possibly one of the greatest love stories of all time and he certainly never walked out on his kids. Maybe Mark Chapman did get the right man after all.

The perils of Christmas

Yes and here we are again. It’s nearing. Sniff up. Can you smell the pine? (Or turkey, depending on your personality type). The only time of year we can get away with kissing someone who actually remembers when chips were ‘fourpunce’ and blame the whole affair on a parasitic plant that grows on branches. The only time of year that we actually sacrifice a week’s worth of nights on the town so that we can make a mad dash to the shops and buy that articulate, hand crafted, ‘made in Northern Indonesia’, vase for your Gran. The only time of year that ‘Mistletoe and Wine’ can be played on the radio without you taking cover in the Outer Hebrides, or that Slade can be played and seen as fun.

Yes you quite easily guessed it. Christmas. A little too early you may say, but for some of us the saving process begins now (apart from the afore mentioned dash for vase). It’s the present buying that always gets me, I’m terrified of getting someone a present that they look at and think you’ve just taken a walk down to the nearest skip and hand picked it for them. A present they’ll show to mutual friend who will laugh and wonder if you inherited your taste from Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen.

Usually this can be solved by slotting some money into their card, but is it enough? Will they think you’re the cheapest person on earth? Or worst of all, what if you give them too much? They open the card, turn around in complete shock and say how you didn’t have to give them all that. Damn right I didn’t, you think, bloody give me some back then! Thing is even if you did win the title of buying them the present they least wanted on earth, you’d never know because everybody has that look that’s solely kept for Christmas, never used at any other time of year. The shock horror ‘wow this is the present I most wanted in the whole world since I saw it in a magazine when I was five’ accompanied with huge cheesy grin, sparkly eyes, and clasping onto said present as if the tooth fairies about to come and steal it off them. You know when you’re really not liked, as you receive the card with Mary and Joseph on under a star, you know, the crappest one out of the box of 40 that you save for the person you hate the most. Ah the stress…

So very soon, the shops will be putting their decorations up, (obviously that rule doesn’t count for supermarkets in which case Christmas starts mid-July) the lights will be out in the streets, and town will still be busy with shoppers at 8pm. Personally as much as Christmas can send your stress levels soaring above Mount Elbert, it’s my favourite time of year. Everybody gets along, and there’s this air of festivity. Plainly, I think it’s fabulous.

As Christmas’s go, last year was my worst. Not for any unbelievably distressing and emotional reason, nobody died, I didn’t sink into clinical depression, nobody bought me the hamster song, but for one reason. Last year was the year I realised Christmas just wasn’t the same anymore. That defining moment where you wake up at 5.30am and don’t run downstairs, marvel at the array of presents, then go jump on your dad’s head. You wake up, raise your head the required four degrees to see the clock, and lapse back into concussion again.

It’s very sad when the highlight of the day is no longer tearing the wrapping off the presents, taking an informed look at it for a couple of seconds before tearing into the next one. The highlight is going back to bed. Once the magic of Christmas is gone, it’s gone. But then it comes in other ways, after all those years of taking, you start to give and seeing your nieces face light up at her Steps doll, or your boyfriend’s grin at the discontinued album you managed to get hold of for him from somewhere out of space, they become the things that matter.

Just before I pack up and go buy some selection boxes from Safeways, always remember, as Sunshine Magazine said:

‘Whatever you want for Christmas, you’re not getting it’.

Welcome to the real world

I was a student once. I’m not one anymore (is this sounding obvious to anyone yet?), but at times I wish I was… and then sometimes I am glad I’m not… I’ll explain.

When I want to buy something from a shop where a student discount is offered, naturally I long for the days of lectures and assignments. However, when I finish work at 4 or 5 and have the rest of the evening to myself without worrying about something I needed to finish or lectures I really don’t want to be at, I thank my lucky stars.

It is a bit of a shock being a ‘civilian’ after being a student for so long. Gone are the days of popping into a pub on a Tuesday at 12.30 for a quick drink and then staggering out 12 hours later with a daffodil in each ear and a bar stool up your arse. Instead, it is a big fat hello to going to bed straight after the ‘11 O’clock Show’, living only for weekends and paying TAX!

At times I feel like a second-class citizen because I’m no longer a student type. Some clubs up here in Edinburgh get a bit shirty if you’re not a student. My argument always sounds the same, “But students smell terribly and wreck the place.” And although the bouncer never answers, I know the real reason it is a students’ only night. Students (for the first week of term at least) have a big, fat grant cheque, a big, sexy student loan, and they like to spend it as quickly as possible. I know – I’ve been there.

To be honest though, in my latter years as a student (I was one for five glorious years), I never considered myself to be a typical student, but in this day and age is there such a thing? Granted in my first year I probably did some very stereotypical student-y type things like shaving all my hair off, wearing clothes with questionable fashion credibility and drinking cider (yes, honestly! I know, I know…), but I soon changed my tune about that one.

In my second year I became the total opposite, wearing sort of preppie clothes and going to play (well watch, mostly) pool and going to house parties and getting drunk (but on vodka this year).

By the third year the dodgy clothes and Pulp Fiction obsessions were far, far behind me and I became obsessed with expensive clothes and the like. This has stayed with me (except now the clothes don’t have to be expensive… in fact, it’s better if they’re not, due to spending my entire wage on tuna sandwiches).

For my fourth year I was in Belgium on my placement year, so I was very un-student like (more of that some other time, perhaps). As for my final year, well I was so busy going out to trendy bars and the like, that I didn’t have time to be a stereotypical student.

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, the days of students wearing tie-dye, dreading their hair into makeshift Eiffel Towers and protesting about bombs are more or less over. Mind you, if you hang around a Students’ Union bar long enough you’re bound to see the odd throwback wearing a tablecloth and drinking Scrumpy Jack.

Students are a much more mainstream breed today. That is not to say that they are dull, far from it in fact. It is a taxpayer’s prerogative to hate students, but I don’t. Students can be exciting, and quite resourceful – I mean, I lived on fish fingers and canned plum tomatoes for I don’t know how long one hot summer. However, not every student in the land had to be so resourceful with the pennies. The average student at my university had a big car, loads of money, great clothes and a class A habit. If you look at it that way, I’m not really missing much. I am kidding myself here, aren’t I?

So there’s only one thing for it…pass me that post grad prospectus somebody, I feel another couple of years of government funding coming on. Mmm, how about a Masters in egg painting?

Travel Sick

Travelling. Hate it. Not the round the world sort, but the sitting-in-a-sardine-tin for hours sort. Be it by car, train or – god forbid – coach, you can count on it that I’ll be sulking because it takes too long. I reckon even when they’ve got space rockets whizzing from Edinburgh to London in 3 minutes, I’ll still gripe about it.

Living in Edinburgh is fabulous apart from one thing; it is miles away from everywhere. There is nothing else in a decent radius except for Glasgow, and even that journey takes 45 minutes on the ‘fast’ train. Yes, contrary to what English people may think it is not possible to drive the entirety of Scotland in half an hour. So, to get around in this country, you have to get on trains (eek), cars (boo) or even coaches (hell no, I haven’t got anything to WEAR in that sort of transport).

My usual trick for getting around is by train. I’ve got a couple of months left on my Young Person’s Railcard so I’m managing to pay student-type fares just now. This cannot last. The rather un-lovely age of 25 is just six and a half months away (I can’t POSSIBLY be that old! I haven’t even gone through my good-looking stage yet… Perhaps it has been and gone and I was asleep at the time. Life is cruel!), so after that I’ll be paying full bloody whack so I had BETTER have a decent job by then or I’ll be ripping heads off.

I prefer the train for many reasons, including; if you speak in a posh voice and complain about getting cramped you can get an upgrade to First Class no probs. It is always fun to watch the small man with the ‘buffet’ trolley get stuck in doors/ fall over/ spill tea in someone’s lap or face. You can meet some interesting people (OK, well… once I met an interesting person) but of course, there are down sides to travelling by train. What sort of column would this be if I didn’t bitch about something?

More often than not I choose to sit in the smoking carriage for my trips back to Leeds, ‘forgetting’ how much it stinks and how bizarre the people can be in there. Once I got on the early train from Edinburgh to Leeds and counted three drunks in the smoking carriage…at 8.30 in the morning! Where had these people been? I don’t know… but, ‘luckily’, they decided not to torture my head for the journey but pick on some rather unassuming student types instead. Saying that, the smoking carriage is always ripe for a bit of excitement (just yesterday I witnessed a Scottish couple hitting each other over the head with Bacardi bottles) whereas in the non-smoking sections… Well, what is it with these people?

On a recent journey I noticed that the dolt on the other end of the phone when I was booking my ticket had put me in non-Marlboro accommodation when I had clearly requested the opposite (I think his brain cells may have been on a tea break). “Not a prob,” thought I. “I can just nip through to the smoking bit every hour or so for a quick fag”. Oh really? Not if the anal retention team in non-smoking had anything to do with it. First of all I looked for my reserved seat only to find a Geordie in it. When I said it was OK he could sit there as I could see another seat further on with some more attractive people in the vicinity, he started to bellow down the carriage that I could “take the f**king seat if I wanted it.” I did not respond. I simply sat down and pretended to look for something in my bag. Unfortunately, as it had been some time since I dared enter the holy land of non-smoking seating, I was not prepared for the tutting and looks of disdain as, every 45 minutes or so, I made my way back to the carriages of sin where all the smokers sat and caned fags and got rat-arsed on cheap vodka and brandy miniatures.

The smokers eyed me suspiciously as I sat down gasping on a cigarette. I could almost hear them calling me ‘part-timer’ as they argued loudly, discussed people they didn’t even know, farted, and sang. Back I would creep towards the no-fun zone, where everyone was silent and looked at you as if they wanted to blowtorch your eyes out if you stood on their toes.

It was after this experience that I resolved never again to be parted from my special club. Even though I would arrive at my destination stinking of fags and probably drunk, it was worth it just to have a decent journey instead of travelling shoulder to shoulder with the Stepford Wives. Smoking may be bad for your health, but on a 3-hour train journey, it’s the only thing that’s going to save your sanity!

Dying for a fag?

News that US tobacco firms have been fined £97bn for causing the cancers and other diseases suffered by half a million Florida smokers gladdens my heart. The fact that Philip Morris believe the amount of punitive damages would put all tobacco companies out of business would also be hugely gratifying, if it weren’t for the small caveat. The rider is that lawyers for the tobacco companies have no intention of paying the money: they intend to drag the matter back and forth to appeal for as long as they can.

However, every time a damaging report about smoking appears, at least one liberal journalist (Ann Leslie, Matthew Norman, Victor Lewis-Smith) rushes to the defence of nicotine addicts, on the basis that they are heroes for the billions they contribute to the Treasury and for dying young and thus not collecting their State pension. Indeed, on the very day that The Mirror reported “Smokers Win £97bn” on page 4, Victor Lewis-Smith was doing his best on page 6 to throw a smoke screen over the dangers of the carcinogenic, killer weed.

Two of these “witty” (woolly) libertarians – Messrs Norman and Lewis-Smith – are not even smokers anymore, having already been cajoled into giving up by their wives, doctors, social ostracism or even, perhaps (whisper it), fear for their own lives. It’s very easy to sit on the liberal do-nothing fence as an ex-participant, saying “oh it’s all right really, no harm came to me” (after all, you’ve given up, nonce-heads!) and that smokers actually save the country a PACKET (ha ha ha ha ha – I haven’t stopped laughing yet).

Yes, smokers do die young and very often fail to collect their pension, do not pass go, do not collect £200 etc. I can attest to this having lost my 40-a-day mother to lung cancer two years ago. She was 54 years old. Had she not smoked, I believe she may have lived at least 20 years longer, being that her mother did reach the allotted three score year and ten.

At a conservative guess, I would estimate that my mother puffed her way through more than 500,000 fags during her lifetime and continued to do so right up to her very last day. When successive governments raised the levy on cigarettes, taking her favourite brand beyond her fiscal reach, she did not smoke less but merely changed brands to cheaper, smaller, nastier fags to satisfy her addiction. In the last few years of her life she was spending around £40 a week on cigarettes and, despite living in semi-retirement with my older (pensionable) father, she insisted on taking a part-time job, solely for the purpose of paying for her habit.

I remember as a teenager my brother and I trying to blind our mother with science we had learned in the biology lab, with pictures of diseased lungs and statistics proffered by the Department of Health – all to no avail. She was not interested and continued in her intractable, impervious belief that “it’ll never happen to me”.

Only it did. And it happens to hundreds of thousands every single year. While teachers force feed kids about the dangers of (illegal) drugs they don’t always highlight the fact that of drug-related deaths the single largest contributor is nicotine. There is an average five deaths a day from Class A and B drugs, 100 a day from alcohol and 300 from nicotine. We spend £12 billion a year on fags in the UK, which is a damned expensive way of killing ourselves.

Why Frank & Pat Should Get It On!

Lost love, missed opportunities, broken heartstrings, unrequited passions. Been there, done that. But I still want ‘big Frank’ and ‘fat Pat’ to get back together in EastEnders!

Surely we all know that they were destined to be together, they are the (real) loves of each other’s lives and their second marriages to Roy and Peggy are little more than marriages of convenience?

Now that the scriptwriters have tantalisingly tempted us with Frank and Pat’s brief indiscretion in the sun, I hope they’re not going to go and ‘wuss out’ on us and leave it with Pat forever bleating: “I can’t, Frank, I can’t; it’s wrong; Roy deserves better”.

That’s boring and that’s what happens in real life (most of the time). Dull, boring, sober, married people denying their feelings and precluding themselves from ever fulfilling a true grand passion in favour of the monotonous security and conformity of the car, the mortgage, the pension, plan and social propriety.

Fiction and televised drama should allow us to escape from the mundane mores of real life and let us see what might happen if we could all follow our heart’s desires: what if Frank and Pat were to elope to Gretna Green? What if Peggy and Roy ended up providing mutual support and consolation for each other and found that they were better suited?

What if Frank and Pat were to remarry and continue living in Albert Square and resume joint helmsmanship of The Queen Vic? What if that meant they could finally be truly happy, and start living instead of just existing, walking round Albert Square always giving each other soulful glances of “what could have been; what might have been”?

What if … this was the biggest ratings booster for EastEnders in years?

Don’t let us down now scriptwriters – there has to be an affair! We want the tears, the tantrums, the recriminations, the drama and the romance!

We’ve already had to suffer Cracker giving up his mistress and going back to his (pregnant) wife for the sake of the family. Please don’t let us endure more months of Frank continuing to humour the giggling midget who props herself on a bar stool every night (instead of serving behind it) while he looks wistfully across to Pat… and Pat having to suffer the ‘worthy’ and ‘decent’ (but lifeless) Roy.

There are no young children involved and as far as Janine is concerned, can you imagine anyone WANTING to ‘stay together’ for the sake of Janine?

Pur-LEASE!! Elope to Gretna Frank and pack your horrible, malicious little strumpet of a daughter off to Manchester! You know it makes sense!

We Woz Robbed!

Wednesday last week must have been a busy day for burglars in south west London. Not only was my own little flatshare above a shop in Clapham trashed and robbed, but a few miles down the road in Richmond so was the “£5m Georgian mansion” inhabited by Jerry Hall.

That, of course, is where the similarities between the tall, blonde Texan and me end. After all, the thieves netted only a mediocre haul worth around £700 from all 4 rooms within our flatshare, but gained a bumper booty of around £7,000 from Ms Hall’s home.

Another major difference is that the police were on the scene of the Richmond raid within 10 minutes, after an alarm sensor was tripped. No such hi tech devices in our little pad and a miserable one-hour wait for the patrol car, outside in the cold and the rain on a dreary Wednesday evening for me.

Ms Hall’s robbery also made the papers, whereas my personal loss did not. And two days later when Ms Hall went back to work, her return (to the West End Stage as Mrs Robinson in “The Graduate”) was treated as triumphant and heroic. My return to work was treated rather less auspiciously.

I’m not about to say “I feel violated” or that I felt sick that my personal space had been invaded, or that I couldn’t sleep in the flat that night (all of which I have heard as common responses to being burgled). But I was damn angry.

Angry at myself for having left £150 cash in my flat (yup – call me an idiot then), angry at the landlord for having never provided adequate security or locks, but mostly angry with the thieving bastards who ruined my day (whoever they may be).

Angry that they had the cheek to wander into our home in broad daylight and get away with it (with none of our neighbours having heard or seen anything, as always) and that they seemed to know so much about where our stuff was and when we would be out – an aspect that is horrifyingly frightening.

Annoyed with myself for not being insured – although when you live in bedsits and flatshares at the lower end of the property market very few people are – as was the case in our flat, apart from one chap from New Zealand who will be able to claim on his travel insurance (Lucky him).

And, lastly, annoyed for having become part of the “crime statistics” which I have so far managed to avoid in life. Despite having lived in London for over 10 years (on and off) I’ve never been burgled or robbed before, so this has been like a slap in the face for ever thinking “oh it’s all right really; I’m safe; I know how to handle myself” etc.

For the fact is that while I am at work for 8 or 9 hours a day, my ”home” is obviously not safe and never could be unless I was working from home the whole time and never went out – anywhere, ever again! Do we really have to live like this?

The ninth gate

The Ninth Gate, directed by Roman Polanksi (Pirates, Bitter Moon, Death and the Maiden and winner of the 1999 European Film Award for Life Time Achievement) stars Johnny Depp, Frank Langella and Emmanuelle Seignier (Polanksi’s wife).

Depp plays an antique book collector who discovers a demonic conspiracy whilst trying to find two copies of an ancient scripture that boasts it has the power to summon up Satan. In fact, the books are supposed to be illustrated partially by Beelzebub himself. This horror fantasy takes us through gothic locations in Europe, demonic sex and an almost Arthur Conan Doyle methodology to uncover the truth of the books. Depp sinks deeper into the bizarre occult, escapes death at the hands of an albino and discovers corpses everywhere he goes. Seignier appears at the shoulder of Depp’s character ‘Corso’, seemingly to help him along his quest, but her presence as guardian angel or demon is somewhat ambivalent.

The film has good ideas, similar to End Of Days or the excellent Devil’s Advocate. Themes such as the evils of man, ultimate sin, sacrifice and worship (and this doesn’t mean your average Friday night out on the town) are always going to attract audiences. But as the plot unravels there are so many moments of nothingness. Depp (seemingly content in the gothic fantasy genre, Sleepy Hollow, Edward Scissorhands) is miscast and his character is not particularly heroic. Seignier meanders through her role with little to say (as her English is poor anyway) and an annoying smirk on her face – her character never really lives up to its potential. While the special effects are dodgy and production is cheapskate. It will probably pull fair crowds just for the Depp factor but the only ‘Ninth Gate’ I was looking for at the end was the one leading me out!

Polanski Gossip
Roman Polanksi has stayed away from doing publicity about this film in the UK as the US Government are still pursuing him on allegations of statutory rape that he was alleged to have committed. Apparently, the incident happened at Jack Nicholson’s mansion whilst the two were working on Chinamoon in the mid-Eighties.

The Leeds Three: a special case?

This week three Leeds United players, charged in connection with an assault on an Asian student, pleaded not guilty in Leeds Crown Court. Former England under-21 captain Lee Bowyer and defender Jonathan Woodgate, previously capped for the full England team, pleaded not guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent and affray following the incident in Leeds city centre last January. They were joined by reserve team player Tony Hackworth and two others, neither of whom are footballers. Add to this Michael Duberry’s charge of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, and you have a fair old charge sheet, even by West Yorkshire standards.

Since the incident there has been as many questions raised as those answered. What does the incident say about the individuals concerned? How does it reflect upon the professionalism of our current crop of young England stars? And finally what does it say about Leeds United?

The England team camp and the players’ club have chosen to act in differing manners. England have decided that the individuals should play no further part in international proceedings until the trial is over, while all four have continued to represent their club. Leeds, particularly, have behaved with the utmost dignity, especially in light of proceedings in Turkey less than six months ago when two supporters were stabbed to death.

Since the antics of Gazza and long before that Georgie Best, we thought we had seen just about everything from our overpaid, under-loved footballers. Drunken soirees the night before matches, legs akimbo in gutters etc – so this is where my £400 a year goes! Stan Collymore set an unenviable precedent with his altercations with Ulrika-ka-ka but this trial is the first to include hints of racism and it is this which has caused so much interest.

Just what happened that night would probably never be known, other than by the people who were there. Since the incident, the rumour mill has been working overtime in a small Northern town such as Leeds (joke). Player one’s best mate, player two’s girlfriend, player three’s dog have all had their story spread over town since the incident occurred. A court of law and a bunch of lawyers will eventually decide the difference between fact and fiction.

None of which answers the questions raised initially. If it had been Joe Public carrying on in this manner, do you think they would still be employed, let alone taking home tens of thousands of pounds each week? I doubt it very much. With most jobs these days, you are expected to act with at least the smallest amount of decorum. Phrases such as ‘bringing the company into disrepute’ are often used in sackings over far less trivial incidents. So why, when these footballers should be setting an even better example to the youth of today, are they still playing football each Saturday afternoon? Surely, these guys have a public duty, which should ultimately be maintained by their club.

If it had been members of the general public, such as you or I involved, you could be pretty sure that things would have been different. And you could definitely be sure of one thing – not too many of us would have their trial adjourned until the end of the season.

Do you like my new image?

Since discovering – by accident, mind – that New Flatmate has been displaying her specialist telephone skills in some of Soho’s spunkiest telephone boxes, I have decided that enough is enough. I am moving out; but not before taking my landline with me and demanding that I get a cut of New Flatmate’s profits or else her parents get one of her calling cards in the post. In retrospect, I think I may have been slightly naïve in thinking that New Flatmate spoke to many different men on the phone for hours every night without charging them for her time. Because, in the most simplistic and basest language, she’s a phone-slut. She makes a living not from temping, as I would have believed, but by using my phone number as a wankline. If anyone is interested, New Flatmate charges sexually frustrated men £50 a shot for the pleasure of hearing her say things such as ‘ooh baby’ and ‘I’m not wearing any knickers’. Easy money, yeah, if you have the guts to charge for it (which, unfortunately, I don’t), but it’s not exactly the nicest thing to take a call from a man who is desperate to be stimulated orally when you think you’re answering a call from your similarly-voiced grandfather.

When I confronted New Flatmate about her calling cards (after laughing especially hard at the doctored image of her breasts – they are not that size) she had the guts to admit the truth to me. Her ‘business’, as she lovingly calls it, remains a bedroom operation only – with her records of who she speaks to crudely carved on her headboard. “This sub division here,” New Flatmate said almost proudly, “is where I keep records of the number of men who want me to pretend I am a ladyboy.” She pointed to another section. “And this one,” she gushed on, “is my total tally of how many men I have spoken to since moving here.” I counted about 70 different notches. And began to feel queasy. But from inspecting her headboard (her ‘inventory’ as she so wittily put it) it is clear to see that business is booming, despite my efforts at trekking around the red-light district removing the sticky mess of cards advertising ‘hot phone action’. And while I really don’t mind what New Flatmate gets up to in the privacy of her room, it is time I moved on.

I think, when it comes down to it, I am slightly jealous that New Flatmate has this exciting double life in which she can make men completely submissive just from caressing them with her voice. You just listen to her talking and it’s an immediate ‘phwoor’ – she’s mastered the tone and huskiness of her voice so much that she can bring a man to some frenzied state just by saying his name. And that, I shamefully admit, is what bothers me the most. You see, I’ve always secretly hankered after looking less like a nice, respectable twenty-something girl and more of a sexual, oozing creature – one that just has to do a kind of dirty, post-coital smile to bring a man to orgasm. I’m going to start smoking again just to add to the image of me being a slut about town, and instead of looking like butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth; I’m going to let it drip down my chin. But not before asking if there are any men who would like to lick it off. I’m going to properly reinvent myself – with plans to walk around respectable areas of London with my ‘just got outta your bed’ hair, and scarlet love-bites bruising on my neck – my own personal tally that could put New Flatmate’s headboard to shame. I want to tarnish my whole image so that people can finally see that maybe I’m not as innocent and as decent as they would believe. And while it may seem like I’m pressing the self-destruct button on myself and my carefully honed ‘nice’ persona, it is in image only that I plan to look like a harlot – because I just don’t have the guts to go the whole hog like New Flatmate does in the dead of the night.

Although this may seem like an extreme reaction to the discovery that New Flatmate is capitalising on her sexual inhibitions, I think the whole issue of reinventing myself runs deeper than that. For so long now I’ve been achieving things on the basis of hard work, while at the back of my mind I always knew that I could get even further if I simply applied a slash of red to my lips. I plan to adopt a philosophy where pouting and playing hard to get ensures that I get further ahead, fucking my way to the top without having to open my legs. While I may seem in the midst of a nervous breakdown, I feel more focused than ever – sod The Boyfriend, sod social etiquette and damn anyone who dares to think that I’m making a fool of myself. Because the fact remains that I’m not – how can I be when I am simply manipulating what men want for my own gain? I think I would be more egotistical if I believed that people would want to be near me for who I was inside than rather how I looked, but I think if I can combine the two, and make such a wicked package out of both – I can’t go wrong. Right? I mean, Jesus, this column shouldn’t be called The Fox for nothing.