Saturday, April 14, 2007

Chapter Two

It’s dark when I get home - both in my head and in my flat. It doesn’t get any easier, coming home to an unlived-in living space, nothing different from when I left it nearly twelve hours earlier. The curtains still open, my washing still pressed and wet against the porthole window of the washing machine. It’s been a disgusting day – not helped by Danny-the-chav-Mullins and his ‘cracking bird’ line, nor helped by the fact that Maria Delaney wouldn’t give me an inch of independence with the ‘Women Who Surrender Their Lives For Their Pets’ piece; and I’ve still brought it home to re-edit it. Of course, Angela Johnson loved watching the events unfold through her slitted eyes. It was all made worse by the fact that the Girl About Town columnist, Victoria Harris, has been signed off-sick for 2 months. It seems she’s been ‘about town’ a little too much - checked into rehab for coke and alcohol addiction, is the rumour. Mind you, working for Delaney would drive anybody to drugs and drink!

I kick off my shoes in the kitchen and root through the cupboards for something resembling dinner, but I’m too tired and sad to bother. A shiny packet of noodles hits the pan of boiling water for 3 minutes and, hey presto, another meal for one! As I walk into my lounge I can’t help but think of Danny and what a joke he really was. Thank god I didn’t sleep with him – that would have made things even worse! Then I remember the picture messages that he’d text to me last week and how they were rather appealing. Is a chav who isn’t wearing ANY clothes still a chav? As I scroll through the messages I find the photos that he’d sent of himself in the shower and feel a slight twinge of regret somewhere between my pelvis and my ribcage. At least, I think it’s regret – it might be hunger. He looked quite good in the nude – the white foam sliding down his pallid belly and the distinctively attractive soapy bulge hidden beneath the suds that gathered between his legs…...

My ansaphone is flashing silently in the corner of the room, like a mute child wanting attention and I’m ashamed to say that it rushes through my mind that it might be him, having second thoughts and begging to take me to The Ivy tonight as apology. I press the flashing green button and hear my mother’s voice, loaded with her new, fake American accent,

“Hey, baby? It’s me, baby. Your mother! Honey? You just gotta get over here soon – it’s simply loaded with gorgeous men. Much sexier than those pasty patsies in the UK. So, babeeee, when ya comin?”

She’d never called England ‘the UK’, until she moved to L.A. 2 years ago with her new partner. But then again, in the last 2 years my mother has adopted many new characteristics – a new accent, tanorexia, fake nails, fake hair colour, a plethora of new ‘friends’. No, I’m insane to even think that Danny will be having second thoughts. It’s only after looking at those damned shower pictures that’s made me like the idea of him again. I know that, deep down, I’m simply suffering with D.S.S. - Dumpee-Sickstomach-Syndrome- also known as being emotionally unemployed.

I don’t bother with the telly and take my bowl of noodles to bed with me – nothing like snuggling up against a cold ceramic bowl to make you feel lonely between the sheets. I strip down to my knickers and climb between the stark duvet, balancing the noodles on my knees as I twist back and struggle to plump the pillows behind me. In a way it’s completely self-indulgent eating noodles alone. It’s slovenly and hedonistic to dangle the noodles from a fork, a full arm-stretch over your head, and direct them down into your new-born-chick open mouth. My mobile bleeps and I suck in a stray noodle quickly before reaching down to my bag and pulling it out. 3 new messages – one from Jennifer and 2 from my friend Tamsin. But I’m not going to talk to them tonight. I’ve still got to write up the piece about ‘How Body Language Affects Flirting’ and I can’t be bothered to explain how another relationship has failed.


By 11.45pm I’m still wide awake. Despite laying here, in the dark, with my eyes closed, sleep isn’t coming. Instead I have a couple of small movies playing out inside my eyelids, and they’re not very entertaining. My Crap Efforts At Dating has just finished and now How I Attract a Legion of Married Men began about 3 minutes ago. It’s giving me an appetite for popcorn, and it’s extremely uncomfortable viewing, watching the last six months concurrently makes me realise how dire it’s all become.

Married men. In a way, they guarantee great sex – they’re experienced and road-tested, probably bored with their ‘twice-a-week’ and desperate to prove to themselves that they’ve still got ‘it’. I’ll never forget the slick lines of Adam, (who I didn’t know was married until after he’d shagged me senseless. For 2 months!) “Have you got Star Wars pants on babe? Cos your arse is out of this world!” His technique was mind-blowing and left me flushed and disorientated for 2 days. He was a mortgage advisor and would leave messages on my mobile and house phone, his fake-posh voice saying, “Hello madam. I am a mortgage advisor; do you want to see the benefits of a large endowment? I’ll be round at nine – I want your knickers off ready!”

He really wooed me and I fell for him in a big way. He was smart and stylish, funny and clever and a real metrosexual. He couldn’t walk past a Banana Republic shop without buying something, he owned five pairs of sunglasses – all of which made him look like David Beckham in the Police sunglasses ad, he made the perfect Sunday roast and only ever wore Calvin Klein boxers. He was perfect. And then I discovered that he was married.

There was Pete – the really nice guy with severe acne scars. It was a problem eating with him – his skin was like cottage cheese with a fork drawn through it and his idea of eating-out led straight to McDonalds. Then the gorgeous James. Tamsin had said from the start that he’d be a hard dog to keep on the porch – and she’d been right. I’d caught him on the steps to Oxford Circus tube station kissing another woman when he thought I’d gone to Barcelona for the weekend with the girls. He hadn’t figured that I’d forgotten to update my expired passport and only realise at the last minute. The look on his face when I tapped him on the shoulder, mid tonsil-massage,

“Sophie!” his eyes bulged with horror.

The smack around the face didn’t make me feel half as good as I’d hoped.

And then there’d been the prospective ‘great date’ who wilted as he became progressively drunk. I drove him home and when he invited me in, I accepted - against my better judgement, but it was more to make sure that he got home, rather than a preamble to anything else. He disappeared immediately after opening the front door and so I stood, puzzled, in his dark hallway. “Go through to the lounge!” he yelled, an excited urgency to his muffled voice which came from another room somewhere. I stood in the doorway and he reappeared, leaping onto the sofa in grey y-fronts and yellow t-shirt. Like an excitable puppy he threw something across the room, “Catch!” he yelled. So I did. And the split second that I clutched the tumbling bumper box of 18 condoms, his fiancĂ©e returned home! I turned to her, both of us equally stunned, and handed her the box as I said, “poor you,” and made for the front door – quickly!

The clock in my bedroom flashes an ominous 12.23am as my mind continues to race with these moments of horror as I then remember Jonny - the body builder who could only get turned on at the thrill of getting caught 'at it'. He fancied himself as a Schwarzenegger type and shaved more than just his face. He also exfoliated and moisturized, religiously removing every hair from his body from the ears down. I didn’t particularly like the bald body look, especially when his chest hair began to grow back – it was hedgehog stubbly and scratched my boobs to shreds! He had to go. Along with Ronny – who was addicted to internet porn – his computer was virtually humming with subscriber-only websites and downloads.


Chapter Three

I wake up only four-and-a-half hours later at 6.15am looking like a bloodhound…..

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter One

For some inane reason I don’t seem to be able to remain with a guy for long. It’s either me – getting bored with him, or them, dumping me.

Either way it’s just not working.

It was the same before I moved to London. OK, so compared to places like Russia or Australia, Dublin is a village, but somehow it was getting to the point where all my exes knew each other. Definitely time to move on, and when I was offered the opportunity as features assistant on Woman to Woman magazine I wasn’t about to refuse. So here I am, sitting at my desk and having an all too familiar conversation with my sister Jennifer.

Dater-of-Dublin’s-elite Jennifer.

I-Know-How-To-Handle-Men Jennifer.

Nothing like me.

My voice is pleading, desperate for Jennifer and her head-screwed-on approach to agree with my flimsy reasoning.

“Danny Mullins is a complete chav!”

“Valid point Sophie,” I can imagine her nodding in agreement, knowing all too well the punch-line that’s coming, “but not a good enough reason to break his heart.”

“Break his heart? We’ve only been on four dates. It’s no good – he has to go. He buys all his clothes on the market.”

“Bad. Very bad. But still not a valid reason to dump him. You do know that ‘handsome’ is not the sole criteria, don’t you Soph?”

“Of course I do!” I hiss into the mouthpiece. My editor, Maria Delaney is on the warpath today and it’s more than my life’s worth to let her catch me on a personal call.” But it isn’t just that, Jen. His breath smells.”

“Jesus! Well that’s inexcusable! Sophie Regan, what the hell are you waiting for?”

“I know.” At last I could relax, content that I had finally made my

voice-of-reason sister see sense. “I’ll tell him tonight.”

My relief is short-lived though, as Maria Delaney’s voice calls out, a shrill ricochet slicing through the air of the Woman to Woman offices and I slam down my phone in the knee-jerk reaction that I’d finely honed over the last few months since I’d been appointed as Features Assistant.

“Sophie? Got a few minutes please? I need an update on the ‘Women Who Surrender Their Lives For Their Pets’ piece.”

“OK, OK,” muttering under my breath I grapple for the relevant papers on my desk, accidentally knocking the huge elastic band ball that I’d been working on for the last few weeks, down onto the floor. I watch it roll, as if in slow-motion, across the nylon carpet, stopping beside the wicked-
witch-of-the-west-stuck-under-the-shed feet of Angela Johnson as she sits, prim at her desk.

“Bugger!” I hiss to myself, knowing without doubt ‘AJ’s’ lowly opinion of my writing.

“Sophie!” Maria Delaney squeaks once again from her Editor’s office, “Are you coming or not?”

“Coming!” I say in a businesslike manner as I grab a handful of papers, deciding to sort them into something resembling an order on my short journey from desk to Maria’s office. As I break into a trot, my synthetic shoes creating sparks on the carpet, I look back at my phone as it flashes and blasts out the “I need a hero” ringtone from my bag. As desperate as I am to nip back and check who’s calling, I know it’s more than my life is worth to upset the boss. The caller will have to wait.


“And so, em, Sophie. Well, it’s, em, it’s Danny. Er, I really wanted to tell you this to your face, but, well, as I’ve got your voice-mail. It’s like this Sophie. You’re a really nice girl and all that, but, well. It’s not you babe – it’s me. I can’t commit just to the one woman, you know? I’m too young for all that. And you know babe? As for the word ‘monogamous’? Surely babe, it's no coincidence that it sounds so like 'monotonous'! So, please don’t be down babe. Like I said, it’s really not you, you’re a cracking bird. It’s just me. Sorry Sophie. Bye.”


“Who the hell does he think he is!” I’m yelling down my mobile at Jennifer, blatantly ignoring the pinstripes at Paddington station who are surreptitiously trying to appear as if they’re not listening to my conversation. “A cracking bird? A bloody cracking bird! I’ll crack his bloody head if I ever set eyes on him again?”

Jennifer was trying to placate me.


“Sophie, try and calm down. It’s the end result that’s important. You didn’t want to see him again. You wanted to call it off, and now it is.

Called off.”

No!!” I’m shouting. I realise that I’m shouting, but I can’t stop. “That’s the whole point. I wanted to call it off. And he got in there before me! That bloody Burberry-capped chav with the smelly breath actually had the nerve to tell me ‘not to be down’! I bet he thought all his birthdays had come at once when I agreed to go out with him anyway!”

“Sophie, try to calm down. People must be looking.”

“People?” deranged now, I hold out my mobile to the crowd of dolly pegs who are suddenly overly interested in the huge London Transport poster advertising the Philosophy Course. “No! People aren’t looking! People are too busy trying not to laugh at the idiot who couldn’t see it coming! That’s it Jennifer! No more men! Never, no more!”

“But Sophie…”

Too late. The train pulls in and I cut her off. Seriously. No more men.

And if you only knew the horrendous experiences I’ve had in the last 6 months, you’d be crowning me ‘queen of the singles’ for making such a fabulous decision.

Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five

'Sophie' - as an authoring tool!!

Sophie must be a popular name when forward thinking about publishing and reading!

By pure coincidence The Institute for the Future of the Book have just released the first version of Sophie - a project that they believe will transform the way we read and write on-screen.

As Staying Single is innovative, in terms of being published across a variety of media - blog, email, SMS, podcast/audio - The Institute for the Future of the Book have quite clear vision for where books and publishing will lead.

Click on this link for further thought-provoking info on Sophie, or go to

There's a downloadable alpha version of Sophie, along with a timeline of events - with The Institute for the Future of the Book saying,

"To be honest we're betwixt and between about releasing Sophie now. On the one hand, it's definitely not ready for prime-time and we're not particularly happy about releasing software with so many bugs, minimal documentation and incomplete features; on the other hand, Sophie is real and promises to be fantastic . . . so we didn't want people to think it was vaporware either.

Our plan over the next several months is as follows:

June - a much more robust version of the current feature set
August - a special version of Sophie optimized for the OLPC (aka $100 laptop or XO) in time for the launch of the first six million machines
September - a beta version of Sophie 1.0 which will include the first pass at a Sophie reader
December - release of Sophie 1.0."

Have a look and see what you think. I've just downloaded this alpha version and am looking forward to having a play around with it over the next few weeks.

What do you think?