It's Friday night, and instead of being wedged in a pub drinking battery-acid white wine, I'm at home in a pair of men's pyjamas, alone. I look like Waynetta Slob, but feel like Greta Garbo in Grand Hotel.
I have decided that what I need is less debt and more sleep - in other words, a night in - so I have said 'No' the party, go away to the people and get lost to the social obligation.
My friends are out doing what most fully-fledged members of society do on Friday night after work - socialising with their peers. This makes staying in doubly hard, as I suffer from fomo. Fomo (fear of missing out) is an increasingly common syndrome which affects idiots. Despite being well aware that very little of consequence ever happens at a party after 2am (other than some guy will do a bad Damien Rice cover on guitar, someone will break something and the host will go to bed) fomo sufferers blindly believe the opposite. If you have ever confiscated someone's phone when they try to call a cab home, or pleaded with the DJ to play another song while they pack their gear, then congratulations, you can add fomo to your list of non-fatal modern day hang-ups.
Tonight, I am determined not to be swayed. I remove every scrap of make-up from my face and squirt a dollop of conditioner into my hair. I am woken at midnight by my phone, and briefly consider joining my friends until I look in the mirror and see my bleary-eyed sausage-meat face staring back at me.
Wide awake, I turn on my computer, to work. An advertisement for two pairs of moccasins for the price of one flashes up. I hate that just because I am on the Internet after midnight on a Friday night some algorithm has determined that I am the type of person who appreciates a good deal on soft shoes. For inspiration, I Google Greta 'I want to be alone' Garbo. Turns out that wasn't just a line, she never married, never had kids and lived and died alone. I wonder if she ever had fomo?
It's official. I've gone mad. I know I've come late to the whole game but I'm demented. I wake up every morning, wondering if it's Monday or Thursday.
Why? Because of the Lidl and Aldi offers. Pathetic of me. One of my closest friends has had the bug for quite a while, and I was always fascinated as to how she managed to get there before they were gone. Or hear about them in the first place. People would admire her latest kitchen implement and inquire as to where she purchased and her reply was always "the middle aisle". No need for further explanation.
I suppose when I was working full-time, I didn't have the luxury of being able to visit on a regular basis. But now I'm out the door like a shot on a Monday and Thursday. And like the guy in the song I have 'a shed that's full of s**te'. Except it's wonderful s**te. Cherished s**te.
Mixers, blenders, mini choppers, garlic-crushers, sets of coloured knives, egg timers. ... you name it, I have it. And given that I don't cook it really is a joke. But they do look nice and colourful as decoration in my kitchen. And it creates a whole Delia look.Sets of cheese knives to bring to a dinner party with the bottle of wine. And then when I'm on my way out the door, I can't bear to part with them and bring After Eights instead. Cake tins in all different colours. I've never made a cake in my life.
When my son moved out, he just went to the shed as if it was a supermarket and took his pick. He deems one of the spare juicers very efficient. I'm delighted for him. And as for Home Store and More ... when I hear the ad telling me 'when they're gone, they're gone', I'm out the door like a shot again. And that could be any day of the week. So when people ask me how I'm spending my time now that I don't work, I'm slightly embarrassed to tell them what I do.
Now I've stopped short at buying the jodhpurs and cycling gear. After all, I don't have a horse or a bike. Now there's a thought...
There can be few worse things than having a loved one go missing, especially a child. Losing someone to death is atrocious, but to lose them with no answers and no closure must be all but unbearable. It remains a mercifully rare event, and those tiny odds perhaps make it even worse. I hope never to know and pretend not to be able to imagine their suffering. Yet for every tragedy there are people who see an opportunity to bang their own drum.
On September 12, in Australia William Tyrell, aged 3, was playing with his sister on his grandmother's veranda. His mother and granny went to the front door for five minutes and when his grandmother came back William had disappeared. The inevitable, and often very useful, social media campaigns began and soon filled with comments.
Most expressed sympathy and wishes of hope, but, as always, a sizeable minority used someone else's tragedy to make themselves sound fabulous by comparison. Whether just saying it, "I would never leave my children unattended," or prefacing it with sympathy, "I'm sorry for these people but what were they expecting?" the message is the same: "You are somehow at fault for this awfulness and it will never happen to me because I am better than you."
The supreme example is the Madeleine McCann case, mentioned by at least a few dopes every time a child disappears as an excuse to roll out, without repercussions, their insults, accusations and unsubstantiated conspiracy theories, (and of course the implicaton that they are superior carers and humans.)
With the best intentions in the world every parent makes mistakes, most get away without serious consequences. Many serious consequences happen as a result of nothing the carers might have done. Tragedy is so often just pot luck, not superior caring skills. Even when it isn't, surely using someone else's agony to publicly state your superiority actually proves the opposite?