A single person’s guide to surviving Valentine’s Day

It’s that time of year again, folks, when love – or, more often, thinly veiled resentment – is all around us. Love is in The Card Factory, on the forecourt of your nearest petrol station and up the special offers aisle of supermarkets across the nation.

In the past few decades it has become common practice for us unloved singletons to mourn our out-there-somewhere soul mates on Valentine’s Day, but I say the time is nigh to be metaphorically slapped around the face with a wet fish; nobody ever fell in love with a frown, as they say. So, as February 14th approaches, here’s my definitive guide to showing Cupid that he can, quite frankly, fuck right off.

1.Take joy from the fact that this year you won’t have to muster your best faux-pleased face upon receipt of a truly shit gift.

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2.Know that you won’t be feeding ‘The Man’ by purchasing over-priced confectionery. Make a point by spending an equal amount on normal chocolate. Eat said definitely-not-made-with-love chocolate with an acute awareness that you could afford to gorge on far more than your coupled counterparts.

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3. Look at your parents. This applies to even the most blissful of matrimonies. Just observe how gross and bumpy people become when they stay together forever. Ew.

4. Take a gratuitous selfie. Be grateful that you can do a Beyoncé and ditch your Michelle. Allow a best friend (Kelly) in the shot if you really feel the need for an excuse. Watch the likes accumulate and #humblebrag on Twitter.

5. Have a big wank. I’m talking a curtains drawn, headphones in, lube at the ready, taking occasional fag breaks kind of wank. Sometimes known as the epic wank.

6. Watch a film where someone’s partner cheats or maybe even dies. Thank your lucky stars you don’t have to worry about that shit. If stuck for movie ideas, opt for any J-Lo film ever.

7. Wear your ugliest, comfiest pair of pants. Revel in them. Give zero fucks.

8. Learn a new skill so that when your friend bemoans “Simon took me out to that new restaurant but I think the oysters gave me food poisoning”, you can boast that you spent the night learning how to throw authentic artisan vases. Single life is so enriching.

9. Remind yourself that, for thousands of women, the consequence of a great V-Day is excruciating pain, heading their way in approximately 9 months.

10. Ruin a wedding. For those of you still struggling with the idea of being a dried up, lonely, old wench, this is guaranteed to banish those blues. There is little more vomit-worthy than a conceited Valentine’s Day wedding. Head to your local church or registry office and light an effigy of Cilla Black. You’ll leave feeling like Carrie Bradshaw on crack.

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I’d rather be single.

It’s been a good six months since my last relationship and lately I’ve noticed my friends stepping up the pressure to get back in the dating game. Though their intentions are kind – they really do just think I deserve a decent big spoon – it seems odd to me that they regard being single as such a terrible situation. Yet, I thought we were past all that idealistic Bridget Jones bollocks about coupling up in order to find happiness – Mark Darcy died, people, the dream is over!

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Now, I’m not a commitment-phobe, I don’t hate healthy relationships and I do ultimately hope to settle down with one special person. But every time I go on a date, even a good date, I go home feeling even more certain that right now I want to stay single. Why? Because I’m in a fucking awesome relationship with myself at the moment. For the past four years I’ve done the serial monogamy thing and I’ve done the LTR thing. The only thing I haven’t done is learning to be interesting and fun and alive without a partner in crime.

As a 22 year old I’m in a really lucky situation – I have a secure job, I have a great support network and I live in a city offers me everything I could want or need. I enjoy having nobody to answer to come the weekend and I like not knowing whether I’ll even be living in the UK in 6 months time. In short, I’m having fun.

And on the topic of, erm, fun… I’m not breaking any blog boundaries by admitting that I like/need sex, just like any other sane human being. Perhaps if having sex required having a boyfriend, this would be a massively different blog, but it doesn’t. It simply requires having access to gay bars and, if we’re being really honest, having access to certain apps. #Overshare.

The truth is, I wonder if people these days are so concerned with having all their shit together – which, in terms of image branding, is epitomised by a happy relationship – that they would rather be in a relationship with the wrong person than have to actually develop a life and a personality. I remember that after my last big break up, I felt like a complete shell of a person – I literally had no interests or, really, opinions as an individual. I’d invested more in being one half of a duo than I had in being me. I never want that to happen again, hence why right now I’d rather enjoy some me time than some us time.

So, for those of you stuck in the BJ era (Bridget Jones, you goons), I’d like to request an armistice between my relationship status and your pitying eyes. I am okay. Most single people are okay. I will occassionally eat ice cream but that is because I like ice cream, not because I am sad about being ‘alone’. When the time is right, and the guy is right, I’ll get back on the boyfriend wagon. For now, though, I’d rather be single.

How to be yourself in 2014.

As a fresh-faced 18 year old in 2009, I remember being racked with nerves when Goldsmiths university summoned me for an interview at their south east London campus. Until then, I’d spent my entire life in the small rural county of Shropshire, where literally nothing exciting has happened since Charles Darwin was born there in 1809 – and no one ever mentions that he escaped the wilderness at the earliest opportunity. I wasn’t cool and I wasn’t well-travelled, or even well-read. How was I supposed to impress a bunch of academics in the big city?

It was my Mum, as always, who gave me the most valuable advice: “just be yourself.” So, instead of pretending to be an aloof artiste (as I had practiced, using Meryl sodding Streep as a muse) – I just accepted myself as an excitable, little goon. And it worked.

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A mere 5 years later, however, being yourself isn’t quite so straightforward. Social media allows us to create entirely different personas from our real world selves and it’s easy to get our various identities confused. On Instagram, for example, we have filters to appear glamourous 24/7 – and you can crop out that damp patch on your bedroom ceiling. But the truth is that nobody is round-the-clock fabulous. We all have those moments when we trip slightly on our way to work or we accidently spit on our crush mid-conversation.

Life is full of not-so-glitzy events and, as far as I’m concerned, it’s how we react to those situations that make up our true selves. Those situations are the stuff of good conversation and those reactions are what can make us seem either loathsome or adorable. You might look stunning with a Sierra filter but I’d find it hard to be attracted to someone who can’t deal with – and laugh at – life’s imperfections.

I guess I’m writing this blog because it took me 21 years to realise that it’s okay for people to know that I’m never going to be cool. I can be geeky, vain, crude, partial to pop culture and excessively polite. I don’t know about cool bands or cool clothes and I certainly don’t spend my weekends at cool warehouse parties. It’s just not me. And since I stopped trying to be someone else’s idea of awesome, I can honestly say I’ve never been happier.

So my point is this: image brand the fuck out of yourself on Twitter et al. but never forget to be a real life, bona fide, full-of-flaws person. If you’re really brave you could even take a chance and be a little less perfect on the internet, especially as there’s a generation right behind us who are going to have some pretty unrealistic expectations of the world.

Life is more than being cool and, to end on a hearty cliché, nobody does you better than you.

Another blog on new years resolutions.

Look, guys, I know I’m being amazingly original in writing a blog about my new years resolutions but try not to pee your pretty little Lick panties – there’s probably at least one similar post out there, right?

Yeah, I know, resolutions are made to be broken but this year I really do have a good feeling about the promises I’ve made to myself. I don’t know what it is but over the past few months I’ve been feeling pretty empowered about life so if I’m ever going to achieve my goals, I’m guessing the time is now. And even if I don’t stick to all of the below, at least if I stick to one then I’ve made 2014 a better year than the previous snoozefest.

1. Commit to Culture Sundays, even if plagued by a hangover. When you enter the cash-cushioned world of full-time employment it’s suddenly extremely easy to see how people become boring. You work all week, go for drinks at the weekend and spend Sunday doing chores. Before you know it, you haven’t been to a museum since you were a student and your brain stops asking for culture fodder.  That’s  why this year I’m going on a weekly visit to a cultural institution, even if I really can’t be arsed. Interesting people do interesting things.

Culture Sunday #1: Saw this dead Roman guy in a museum. They found him in a well. Grim.

Culture Sunday #1: Saw this dead Roman guy in a museum. They found him in a well. Grim.

2. Visit a different city every 8 weeks. I’m trying to be realistic about this so as much as I’d love to make it a monthly ritual, I don’t want my resolution marred by an angry phone bill. One trip every 8 weeks is achievable. I have friends scattered across the country, from Brighton to Edinburgh, and this year I intend to visit them all.

3. Go on a fucking holiday. Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve been abroad? Five fucking years! That’s ridiculous. In 2014 I’m buying a tiny pair of Aussiebums and getting that shit all over Instagram when I finally set sail for sunnier climes. Summer 2014, come at me.

4. Appreciate everyday food and be grateful for it. Since I started the 9-5 I have really neglected my culinary skills and I’ve forgotten to actually taste the food in my mouth – I just shovel it in like a crazed Jack Russell. We may only be 5 days into January but this has already proved a great resolution. Setting aside the time to cook not only gives me ample opportunity to practice my bum-wiggling to Lady Bey, it also means I’m maintaining a healthier diet. I’ve also been eating my meals in silence, which is a great way to give myself some time for reflection.

5. Increase the intensity of my workouts. So far my workout routine has been going reasonably well and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been proud of my progress, but I can give more so I’ve decided in 2014 I’m bulking more than toning. I’ll be The Incredible Hulk by June… or something mildly similar.

And that’s it, folks. Nothing crazy, no ridiculous targets – just achievable life goals. Oh, and I’m supposedly not drinking for the whole of January, but, well… it’d be boring to stick to all of my resolutions, no?

Dear Internet, I am not a chode.

Starting a new blog is never a particularly pleasant experience. It’s a bit like your first day in the office when you want your colleagues to see how cool and ‘together’ you are, but when you speak you just end up sounding like an over-enthusiatic goon, or you make an entirely inappropriate joke in which you equate eczema to parmesan and then you notice the girl you’re speaking to rolling her sleeves down to hide the actual real-life eczema on her arms. That happened to me once. Of course, as with any digital medium, you do have the ability to edit an introductory blog post, but to that I ask: what’s the point? In the words of the mighty Bey, “Perfection is…hm.”

The internet is rife with seemingly perfect people. Instagram filters allow us to make ourselves and our surroundings seem constantly flawless, follower-counts on Twitter can deem us Z-list celebrities and Facebook – well, we can ignore Facebook; Facebook is so 2009. The internet (the world) does not need another perfect person, so I have no problem starting this blog and knowing that I might just sound like a complete and utter cock. I just hope I’m a reasonably likeable one – a pleasing 7 incher rather than a grubby little chode, if you will.

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Now, as much as I’d love to appear ‘edgey’ – I did spend 3 years at Goldsmiths Uni, you know – I can’t ignore the fact that you may have absolutely no idea who I am or why my inane thoughts might interest you enough to come back to my little piece of cyberspace. So, I best tell you about myself, which I’ll do in the most quick and painless way I know how: bullet points.

  • I’m a trainee accountant by day (yawn-but-kerching) and a writer by night (yay-but-can’t-afford-shoes).
  • I’m interested in people. We all put some pretty bizarre projections of ourselves out there in the public domain but there’s nothing quite like cracking that shell and finding out someone’s backstory. It’s never boring and it’s never without hardship. Everyone should make more of an effort to be interested in people.
  • I’m proud to have had my writing published in Europe’s best selling gay magazine, Attitude, where I worked in-house for a few months but essentially ballsed up because I had one of them there quarter life crises. I’ve also had a few pieces commissioned by The Guardian, which has been nice.
  • I believe that you can be shallow and deep at the same time. I don’t have time for people tweeting “I hate materialism.” on their iPhones. Liking shiny possessions does not a bad person make.
  • Vanity is my sin. All creatives must at some point face the fact that they want to be known for their work because they think their work is good. I think my work is good, but I also understand that at 22 years old I have an insanely huge amount to learn. It’s also vanity that leads me to post selfies on Instagram – #realtalk #teamgay.
  • I am currently the happiest I think I’ve ever been. Last year through up some horrible LIFE MOMENTS but today I can say I am truly grateful to have experienced them. For the first time ever I actually understand the importance of just being yourself and making life into your very own adventure.
  • Last but not least, and as you’ve probably already guessed, I’m not a huge fan of boundaries. I like humour, honesty and depth. This blog will lack boundaries. Sorry not sorry.

And that’s me in a nutshell. Sometimes I’ll post ramblings like this on here, other times I’ll vent about the trivial (bad dates, my allergy to chubby children etc.) or the political and sometimes I’ll post whatever hilarious gifs I’ve been looking at instead of doing the day job I’m paid for. So, unless you’re my boss, hopefully you’ll be here again soon.

In a bizzle, homies.

Dan x