Punching

This is a word young people use to describe someone who is ‘punching above their weight’ ie going out with somebody who ‘could do better’.

Presumably ‘could do better’ is a purely subjective assessment, but personally I think it’s pretty easy to spot the punchers.

I am resolved never again to get involved with one.  I don’t think Ex was punching, but I do think the majority of the men in my life were.

As a result of them living off me, expecting me to provide a lovely place for them to stay, food, drink, and fine-dining, just because I am richer (work harder) than they are, I have turned into an arch anti-feminist.

A feminist man, on the other hand, by definition finds it  acceptable for the woman to be more successful than he is, so then she can pay for him and look after him – handy!

Living the first thirty years of my life in the middle of what most people would assume to be the centre of male chauvanism – Eton College, one of the last remaining all-boys schools – I have been lucky enough never once in my life to have experienced the faintest whiff of it.  I’m sure it still exists in some places, but I do think the feminists are terribly vocal and rather unattractive in their views about what must be a relatively minor problem these days.

Well – ooops. This attitude of mine is beginning to get me into trouble.

Last week I had dinner with two barristers.  One of them had been at Exeter University with me; the other was Cambridge- educated; and all their children went to Oxbridge.

Conversation flowed with energy, warmth and enthusiasm, until I mentioned the jolly A’levels my daughter Faye, who wants to be an actress, is taking (drama, film studies and music tech). And how, to my delight, as a result of her achieving her dream (or, more likely, becoming a waitress) she will never have to pay back her student loan, so it becomes a generous gift from the government.

On top of which she will be able to respect a nice, mediocre, gentle, kind, moderately successful husband who will look after her, she can be an involved stay-at-home Mum and caring housewife, and live happily ever after, just as nature, over the millennia, has decreed.  As opposed to a lonely, bitter, manless, childless, over-achieving, stressed-out Cheltenham Ladies College/Oxbridge-educated terrifying merchant banker who makes men quiver in their boots.

The merry atmosphere froze, and we drove home in silence.

This Thursday we have Faye’s school’s parent/teachers meeting, where I shall be facing some renowned ‘FemiNazi’ who teaches Faye her fourth subject (probably to be dropped at the end of the first year), English Literature. Faye achieved a ‘7’ in English at GCSE, thanks to excellent teaching and elder brother Will’s input into her ‘The Inspector Calls’ coursework essay.  A knowledge of famous written works, we informed a reluctant Faye, will add depth and breadth to her overall knowledge and understanding of the Performing Arts.

Poor thing has found herself in a class of only eight children, two of whom achieved straight 9s at GCSE. These youngsters devour books for breakfast, for fun! It takes Faye a month to plough through just one! She is completely out of her league, indoctrinated by my old-fashioned thinking, and yesterday, the FemiNazi  bully made her cry.

I am enormously looking forward to a jolly good row on Thursday evening.

Meanwhile, I am so over-educated, over-achieving and over-competent that I have inadvertently emasculated almost every man I have ever gone out with.  And now, reduced to scouring Encounters and Muddy Matches nationally, I still cannot find a single man of any appeal. My new skinny brownness, not to mention my up-my-own-arsedness, is not going to help with this punching problem.  I’m hoping that Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine’s ‘Week of Love’, focussing on on-line dating every day this week, might help further reduce the taboo, and that some decent men might finally sign up.

So I think I might have another go on Tinder. Although round here I shall probably find myself swiping cows and ponies left and right, as opposed to actual human beings.

My dermatologist friend’s daughter is about to marry somebody she met on Tinder.  Both are Cambridge graduates.

Oh no.  I have discovered that neither my mobile phone nor my ‘Google Notebook’ are up-to-date enough to accept the Tinder ‘app’. Excuse me while I just disappear pop out through the garden gate for a minute, to shag a sheep.

“Divide and rule, a sound motto. Unite and lead, a better one.” Goethe

“Whoopsadaisy!” yelled Matt, as the Honda CM 125 reared up in the dark, and described a perfect backward somersault.

“Perhaps Si should ride it back?” suggested Will.

“YIKES!” shouted Antony, flying over the handlebars of our new E-bike, and slithering down lane towards home.

I had just received one of the most joyous phone calls of my life – a dream come true after two decades of failure.

Will and his two mates – best friends since they first met at prep school over a decade ago – had been visiting The Forest Inn at the end of our lane, for a drink and a game of pool. Matt, wearing a bandeau, had gone there riding Will’s scrambler, and the other two were on the E-bikes. “We’ll be back about nine to cook you a steak!” they shouted merrily, as we passed each other in the lane, my horses remaining remarkably calm in the general milieu.

I was a bit worried that they might upset the locals and my B&Ber who was dining there, with their posh, loud, excited voices.

The call was from Will saying, “We’ve joined up with Si, Rob and Jez, and after a bit more pool we’ll all be coming back to the Bothy to chill.  So I’m afraid we won’t be doing your steak.”

It’s taken twenty years, but finally, unbelievably, at last, thanks to our jolly pub up the road, Will seems to have been accepted as part of the local community.

Chippy People

I’m losing my nerve re going public with this blog malarky.

To do so, one of the things I suppose I’ll have to do is post about it on my Facebook page. My page currently boasts 268 so-called ‘friends’, most of whom I would imagine are Faye’s mates from the local pony club, and at the moment it’s listed under my maiden name – Mary Nicholson.

On the one hand, there’s boring close friends and foreigners witless with monosyllabic complacent me me me posts from my comfortable middle-class home, moaning on that I’m too broke to buy a new horse or something, and that none of my on-line dates feel comfortable discussing private schools, hunts, and yacht moorings.

But it’s rather different, putting yourself out there in front of people such as those following Rachaele Hambleton’s occasionally extremely dark posts – where women can’t actually afford to feed their own children; or are living in genuine fear of having their throats cut, or of their children getting stabbed to death by their abusive crazed fathers.  Despite all her selfless campaigning, Rachaele still receives some unpleasant and very negative messages. Yet hers is a completely different scary alien world to the comfortable, privileged, easy, complacent, smug place that I inhabit – what on earth are these sorts of trolls going to say to me? Perhaps they’ll stick a bomb under my car?  Do I really want to get involved, and be completely shafted as a result, by people who aren’t interested in reading jolly, life-enhancing, lightweight drivel about how posh people ‘live the life’, by chippy women who prefer to stick a pin into everything? My skin is not very thick.  This might turn out all to be a very hurtful, self-indulgent, waste of time.

Dating Site for Posho’s at Last!

It’s called ‘Toffee’. Set up last April by a brave lady called Lydia Davies, and immediately, predictably, lampooned by endless (privately educated) journalists writing for things like the FT and the New Statesman.  Who, in my opinion, have completely missed the point.

We’re not simply on the hunt for posh, wealthy, idiotic, Hooray Henry’s, Henrietta’s and Sloanes.

Around 5% of the UK population is privately educated, and, in my all too many years’ experience at the dating game, it is almost only those 5% who understand where I’m coming from.

“How would you cope at a dinner party where everyone’s comparing their children’s private schools, their hunt, and where they keep their yachts?” I’ve started asking anyone ‘messaging’ me on Encounters.

“I can’t think of anything worse,” is the normal answer.  So good.  Nobody’s time or money has been wasted on stuffing unnecessary calories into my mouth.  While that sort of evening is by no means taking place every night of my life, ultimately, it’s deal breaker – for both parties.  Anyone partnering me to such a thing will have to be bloody clever/interesting/funny/eccentric/open-minded, if they’re not familiar with the private school thing, if it’s going to work.

So. Toffee!  The answer to my prayers! What I’ve been looking for, for practically ever!

Well the first problem is, you can only get it by signing on to an app, whatever that is, on an up-to-date i-phone.  Eh? How many privately educated people like me have got those? Why restrict the service to so few?

This has meant I’ve asked darling Faye to sign me up on her Dad’s hand-me-down. She started asking me questions about how much I like sport, Henley etc. So of course I said I love the whole lot, just to make me have loads in common with everybody on the app.  I had to say what my favourite starter, main course and pudding are, and if I were a drink, what would I be? All this, trying to use the titchy keypad on Faye’s phone. It’s driven me demented and prevented me from contributing anything individual or witty.  And you can only use one pic, of your face, like Tinder.  And, like Tinder, you have to ‘right’ or ‘left’ swipe.  Anyhow – we managed to wade our way through all of that and cough up the requisite £4.99 til at last I found my posh matches! Three of them! All in their forties, educated at very minor schools such as Shiplake, and living 200 miles away from Dartmoor.

Faye is so unkeen about all of this that I havent succeeded in getting her to look up people of her own age yet; but maybe the real problem is that we’re on holiday in Spain’s Costa del Sol; so the likelihood of a single Old Wykehamist, Harrovian, Etonian, Radleian etc, apart from me, being within a million mile radius, is almost certainly zero.