Monday 26 February 2018

A splurge to remember

I'm constantly amazed at how much some people spend on weddings, and what they could have done with all that money instead of splurging it on a single day of celebration.

I see the average cost of a wedding is now £27,000, which includes £4,354 for venue hire, £3,630 for the honeymoon, and £3,353 for the food. I guess it also includes a special car to arrive in, a photographer, the wedding dress, wedding favours and umpteen tips for the service providers. That's a staggering amount to mark the fact that you love someone.

I'm not criticising those who choose to splash out so much on their "big day". It's their choice and nothing to do with me. If they want a super-ceremony they'll always enjoy looking back on, why not?

But personally I can think of much better uses for £27,000. Like building up a deposit to buy a home. Or several luxury holidays. Or updating the kitchen. Or buying a new car. Or regular visits to a favourite restaurant.

When Jenny and I finally married, after cohabiting for many years - because her occupational pension would only go to her spouse if she died - we didn't want an elaborate ceremony. We had a hefty mortgage at the time, and money was short. And anyway, we knew we loved each other and wanted to stay together, and we didn't see the need for a lot of fancy razzamatazz to prove it.

So we had a very simple ceremony, with two old friends as witnesses, and then took them for a slap-up meal at - yes - our favourite local restaurant. Total cost of the wedding was the marriage fee, whatever that was, plus the restaurant bill of around £80 at today's prices. Not exactly ruinous!

A good job we didn't have confetti. That would have been another fiver....

Monday 19 February 2018

Filling the gaps

Am I a voyeur? Of course not. Perish the thought. How disgusting would that be? But hang on, what do we mean by voyeur? There are several different meanings.

It can mean taking a sexual interest in naked women (or men). You can rule that out. It can mean enjoying someone's pain or distress. You can rule that out too.

But being a voyeur can also mean taking an unhealthy interest in other people's lives. In which case don't we all do that from time to time? Aren't we all prone to be rather too curious about people, even when it's something that's strictly none of our business?

I want to know why someone's marriage broke up. Or what caused their death. Or whether they've had plastic surgery. I'm curious about all those little details that are glossed over. I'm just curious period, and inevitably that curiosity may verge on the intrusive.

I can't see what's wrong with that. Curiosity is a natural human trait. It's better to be curious than indifferent. After all, I'm not saying the person has to satisfy my curiosity. I'm not forcing them to reveal something they'd rather hide. If they want to keep quiet, fine, they're entitled to their privacy. I'm just saying that I'm curious and want to fill in the gaps.

The most obvious example of voyeurism is of course the insatiable pursuit of celebrities, the desire to know every tiny detail of their lives. Why do we need to know all this? Isn't it enough to enjoy their acting or music or whatever their talent is?

If a celeb is involved in some sort of scandal or dubious behaviour, then my curiosity is aroused. But otherwise I ignore them. Their private lives don't interest me.

So I'm a sort of voyeur. So sue me.

Thanks to Kylie for the inspiration

Monday 12 February 2018

One or two?

The endless argument about which is the best lifestyle, living alone or living with someone else, polarises a lot of people. Some reel off all the benefits of being on your own while others say no, no, it's much better to cohabit.

Having spent long periods both on my own and living with someone else, I see the perks and drawbacks of both. But the abstract argument about which is best misses the point, because in reality it's a question of what suits your particular personality. Gregarious types like company, retiring types want solitude.

Personally I much prefer living with someone else. I like the company, the emotional support, the private jokes, the shared experiences, the joint decision-making, the reliance on the other's expertise, the hugs and cuddles. And the bed's a lot warmer!

When I lived alone (for about eight years), I liked the independence, the simplicity of only considering myself, the ability to freely indulge my own tastes, the lack of distractions.

That doesn't amount to much though compared to cohabiting. Being on my own may have been great in some ways, but I was aware there was so much missing. Especially the emotional support, shared experiences and hugs and cuddles.

Living alone is probably okay if you have a big social network - plenty of friends and family to give you the benefits of company - or if you spend a lot of time travelling and you're not at home very much, but if you only have one or two friends, as I had, and you're always inside the same four walls, then it's not such fun.

But I know people living on their own who are perfectly happy and would hate to share their space with anyone else.

Whatever floats your boat....

Friday 9 February 2018

Thoroughly endearing

Okay, that's enough of the introspective burblings. Yes, I'm full of neuroses but I have plenty of normal, healthy traits as well. In fact I have some highly laudable ones. I uncovered an old blog post in which I listed all my charming and endearing qualities. I think it's about time I dusted them off and gave them another airing:

1) I don't harbour malicious thoughts about friends, loved ones or workmates.
2) I don't hurl anonymous abuse on Twitter.
3) I'm not interested in porn.
4) I'm not misogynistic or homophobic.
5) I'm deeply disturbed by all the poverty, violence, misery and oppression in the world.
6) I've never had an extra-marital affair.
7) I like fluffy kittens and cupcakes.
8) I mind my own business and try not to judge other people's lives.
9) I don't gossip, and I'm good at keeping secrets.
10) I don't annoy the neighbours with loud music or all-night parties.
11) I deplore machismo, male posturing and the rape culture.
12) I've never been to a prostitute.
13) I do my share of the housework.
14) I'm a good listener.
15) I don't hide my emotions.
16) I'm not easily offended.
17) I'm not the jealous type.
18) I like teddy bears and ice cream.
19) I'm not an angry or bad-tempered person.
20) I do all my own laundry.
21) I take off my high heels on delicate parquet flooring.

The first person to accuse me of being smug and boastful will get a clip round the ear.

Monday 5 February 2018

In the shadows

Unlike so many other people, I'm not an attention-seeker. Or at least, not as an adult. Of course as a child, like most children, I sought attention non-stop. I wanted everyone to look at my new toy or laugh at my hilarious joke or adore my brilliant drawing. But somewhere along the line I began to find the attention annoying rather than enjoyable.

Nowadays I habitually shy away from attention. I don't want people hanging on my every word. I don't want people scrutinising me and judging me. I would rather keep out of the limelight and not be noticed. I find too much attention embarrassing and awkward.

I'm always astonished at those people who have such a craving for attention that they don't care how awful or childish they look, how stupid or rude or insensitive. As long as they're the centre of attention, they're happy.

So why do I avoid attention? What made me want to hide in the shadows? Well, for the reasons given above, for a start. Because sooner or later I'll say something stupid or rude or insensitive and wish I'd never opened my mouth. Because I'm much more likely to say something clueless than something smart. Because someone out there will be forming a negative opinion of me. Because attention-seeking is a competitive sport and I'm not a competitive person.

I suppose it's partly a family thing. Most of my family are and were unassuming attention-avoiders, keeping themselves to themselves, and I must have picked up the habit. The only blatant attention-seeker was my father, who expected an audience at all times and got furious if we ignored him.

Which is one of the drawbacks of attention-seeking of course. If you're not getting enough attention, you're liable to sulk and throw tantrums until you do. Or do something totally crazy just to get everyone's eyes on you.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to run away and hide.