Do you remember the feeling of waiting interminably for a phone call from the boy you met the other night? The ‘will he, won’t he call’ anticipation – like a tidal wave of emotion; an initial surge of optimism accompanied by giddy euphoria, slowly tapering off to an unrelenting hopefulness by day 3, followed by mournful depression and plummeting the depths of defeat by day 5. Anyone who waits beyond day 5 is a loser – if he hasn’t called by now, it ain’t happening. Well, even though it’s been a long time since I’ve forayed the dating scene, I feel a bit like that now.


Well, today is that 5th day equivalent of the 5 day rule, since I submitted my meticulously scripted manuscript to a willing publisher. Willing to risk a perusal that is, rather than willing to risk a publish.


For what has seemed like the longest 4 days known to man, I have been busying myself with the business of going about my usual routine by day, ousting aside hopes and fears of a dream to be fulfilled or dashed. By night, on ceiling patrol in the wee small hours, with no excuse or distraction, pessimism pervades the solitary silence. My writing is set for a destiny of loneliness and abandon; cast aside for more interesting, clever, beautiful or simply more commercial literary offerings – fated for unrequited love.


To be fair, this is as kindly a publishing house as ever a writer is likely to come across: they promise to reply in a week (and they do); plus the reply is personal with even the bonus of constructive criticism (though all that registers is a big fat veto). A seeming chasm away from the months (yes, plural) wait endured for a reply from other industry insiders; capped off with a standard Average Joe ‘thanks but no thanks’ letter – prompting me to wonder whether my writing has even met the discerning gaze of anyone outside the mail room.


But the conclusion remains unchanged regardless of the means of delivery. Again, I am faced with the reality of rejection and wonder: at what point does the repetition of rejection render itself numbing? Surely a definitive reply is infinitely preferable to being consigned to a life sentence of unknowing. Or is it? Perhaps I’d rather live forever in hope than suffer a speedy execution.


As with all prior instances of scorned woman syndrome, and the accompanying hell-like fury unleashed, I will consign this unworthy recipient to the mounting debris of similar ilk, dust off my feather quill (laptop), and soldier on. But this fighting talk isn’t sounding too Herculean anymore. Once upon a time the thinking would follow the path of: just as I found Mr A, there will be someone who will appreciate my writing likewise for what it is. Now, I think of those doomed for a lifetime of lovelorn loneliness – like them, my writing is conceivably destined never to meet its yearned for Other Half: its desired mass readership.


Jostling with the jobless at the local gym

[This article was first published on 16 April 2009, on]

One of the first things to go, in my post-redundancy existence, were my multiple gym memberships – one had inspirational instructors, a spa, pool and a really good masseuse called David; another was within spitting distance of my desk and allowed me the unparalleled privilege of sweating, spinning and sparring alongside my colleagues. In exchange, I now have just the one membership – at the local authority sports centre (oh how the mighty have fallen). Goodbye to sun salutations in a swanky yet serene surround.

In an attempt to redeem myself from a weekend of frenzied Easter egg eating, I am enduring the drudgery that epitomises pounding the treadmill miles. Observing those around me in the similar pursuit of physical exertion, I realise that the men outnumber the women with a ratio of at least 6 to 1. In the weights area, there is no need for random ratio guesstimates – it is a mass of men and not one representative from the female camp.

So actually the ratios are a bit like those found on the average investment bank trading floor; though the ratio in the weights area is more resonant of the IT help desk. And indeed the average City gym echoes these gender biases.

It occurs to me, while still on my mindless mission to nowhere, that there really is no huge difference between the testosterone-fuelled muscle mania in this less than salubrious local authority fitness establishment, in the heart of the East End, versus its infinitely more plush City counterpart. Regardless of which end of this diametrically opposed spectrum you take, both are essentially filled with members of the male species intent on proving the potency of their physical prowess and pumping weights with a vigour and vanity to rival the model on the cover of Men’s Health.

Another observation gleaned over the months and miles spent on this treadmill is that in the hours of the week typically associated with work, there is a surprisingly constant flow of fitness-seeking faces. The audible grunts from red-faced, vein-popping weight lifters continues unabated. I can only assume that these are my fellow jobless casualties of an economy teetering on the brink. On second glance the majority don’t strike me as City types, past or current. If they were revealed to be local gang members this wouldn’t be entirely unbelievable.

For not wholly unselfish reasons I am hoping for an imminent end to the pesky job cuts over in the City – the prospect of queuing for my turn on the hamster wheel is a dreary one. Still, out here it’s more common to take to the streets for a proper bout of fistee cuffs, rather than in the cosseted confines of the gym with padded gloves and a personal trainer paid to dole out enthusiastic boot camp style encouragement. The average macho (ex)banker might find this real Fight Club rather illuminating. Plus, a street fight doesn’t need an upfront joining fee – though at the same time, it’s not followed by a steam room session, a massage and Molton Brown toiletries to boot.