I named my blog The Seven Year Bitch as, when I first opened this account, I intended to write about the trials and tribulations of my divorce after seven years of marriage and thought it a reasonably witty title. I planned to capture the exciting adventure I was about to embark upon and document some of the bizarre goings-on from the years I had spent as a ‘Mrs’. These included the time I was abandoned in Tenerife, merely for going missing for an hour and then telling my husband to ‘fuck off’ upon my return, which he duly did, and the day I was subjected to a terrifying assault by Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Cornflakes (both contents and box), which wasn’t that terrifying. Yes, incidents that thrilling. I’d explain about how I was so miserable and clearly desperate for attention, that in the latter years of the marriage, my mild hypochondria had seen me develop such terrible imagined illnesses as a brain tumour, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and bowel cancer. I’d write about the day I went to see the doctor for the latter to be investigated and he’d asked me to position myself on the surgery’s bed. And how I’d then nervously taken my knickers and tights down and got on all fours, with my arse in the air, because I assumed that might be the easiest way for him to carry out his exploratory work. I’d share how I’d cringed with shame when he drew back the curtains and said: ‘No, not like that’ in an annoyed, and slightly disgusted, tone. How was I to know that doggy style wasn’t right for an anal examination. How? How would I know?
I’d then pen, with hopefully a dry sense of humour, self-deprecating charm, and a reasonable grasp of the English language, obviously helped along with the use of Microsoft’s Word synonym finder, details of my quest to find a new man. I anticipated attracting readers from far and wide, keen to keep abreast of how I was getting on, and rooting for me quietly, behind their laptops. And, after a few weeks, The Seven Year Bitch would be picked up by a publishing house and I’d become a best selling ‘chick-lit’ author, in spite of the fact that even the phrase ‘chick-lit’ makes a bit of sick appear in my mouth. The book’s main character – me – would be the new northen Bridget Jones, but for the working classes – a much grittier, realistic story, with Mike Leigh directing the film that would later be made. Oh yes, I set my sights very high. Very high indeed. However, here we are, another seven years on, and none of the above came to pass. Primarily because I didn’t write it, of course. I’m lazy. I lack motivation. But I also realised that women who like those kind of books want to read about characters they can aspire to be, they want a nice bit of escapism. They want it to all come good in the end. Many of us have read books where the protagonist starts off as a pathetic, bloated mess, with a shitty job and not a sniff of love and romance. I can relate to all that. We then follow her through promotion, weight loss, an amazing makeover, culminating in her finding, and keeping, the perfect man. Nice. When the Bridget Jones books and films were released, you couldn’t open a magazine without stumbling across a feature about how ‘real’ the character was and how women everywhere could really identify with her. I couldn’t. And still can’t. Here’s why:
Bridget ended up with Mark Darcy, the human rights barrister. One of the best jobs a boyfriend of mine has ever had was a team leader at a repairs call centre. He also looked more like Colin Montgomery than Firth. Oh, and he was a right wanker.
Despite Bridget’s constant struggle with weight, I don’t recall the chapter or scene where she applied for an Evans store card or ordered the Simply Be catalogue. At her heaviest she was 9st 3lbs. I think that was my birth weight.
Bridget was born in the Home Counties to middle class parents and moved to a shabby-chic flat in central London. I grew up in a terraced house in Cleethorpes, born to a mum that worked at the KP Crisps factory and a dad who managed the local branch of William Hill bookies and happened to enjoy gambling (very handy). I now live in Birmingham.
Bridget worked in publishing and then landed a job as a TV presenter. My CV highlights include packing fish fingers and arranging for the fumigation of wasp nests.
It’s not just Bridget though. It’s the same with all these books aimed at women. They’re all set in London or LA, never Leicester or Leeds. The heroines work in international law films, the media or run huge corporations. They’re never a Gala bingo caller or spend their days serving Billy Bear luncheon ‘meat’ behind the deli counter at Morrisons. They wear beautiful designer clothes that I would never be able to fit into or afford. It’s all Ghost dresses and Manolo Blahniks. They carry Gucci bags and wear bespoke jewellery, often described in minute detail. I’ve never read a detailed narrative about someone dressed in a Dorothy Perkins polyester skirt, teamed with a top from the Hennes sale and shoes from George at Asda. Incidentally, that’s the outfit I’m wearing as I type. That’s a lie. I’ve actually got a dirty dressing gown on and pyjama bottoms that appear to have fallen out with my slippers as they’re half way up my bloody shins.
Even when the heroines of these novels are having a shit time of it, their shit time is still mightily more exciting than the majority of my life has been so far. Films like Dirty Dancing and Pretty Woman didn’t help either. First viewed during my teenage years, when I was at my most vulnerable and impressionable, they gave me the idea that love could conquer all and that romance would be a fantastical fairytale of hearts and flowers. That regardless of whether you’re a big nosed clumsy teenager or a dirty ginger hooker, you’d still find the man of your dreams. These films raised my hopes and expectations to such an extent that even up until I reached my thirties, I was still feeling rather disappointed with my lot. Like I’d been short-changed. And filled with complete bullshit.
So, it’s clear that I didn’t have, and still haven’t got, what it takes to become a best selling author. But I thought I’d come back and have a go at becoming a blog wanker. Which is a lot easier. I’m nearly 38. I have no children or hobbies. What else have I got to do with my spare time? I think it’s rather telling that I can’t even be arsed to change the blog’s name, so I’m not particularly hopeful that I’ll even write any more than this initial outpouring. We’ll see.