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Out there: How to cope with life in the emotional jungle

At 3am on a Saturday morning I find myself in a long queue for the men's toilets in a sweaty pit of a nightclub. Outside, it's like a scene from a Frankie Goes To Hollywood music video - muscular men with their shirts off dancing like Madonna would if she could.

Back in the line for the loos, the man in front of me takes pity and lets me go ahead. When I'm finished, I walk outside and look for my friends. I spot my gay friend dancing on the stage, having a whale of a time. My straight friend is standing in a corner, clutching his can of beer, looking vaguely terrified. After about 20 minutes, I decide to leave; it's late, I'm drunk and my chances of scoring are nil. The next day, I wake up and wonder about the friend we left behind dancing. Until pretty recently, my circle of friends has largely consisted of heterosexual, white Irish people, but in London, I've made a few new gay friends.

For that reason, and because of the upcoming Irish referendum on same-sex marriage, I've started to think more about being gay and what that means, or if it means anything to me. The answer I've come to is, no. Not only do I not mind what other people get up to in their bedrooms, or the back of a Volkswagen, I truly don't care. If you want to have sex only in the missionary position with your hands rigidly by your sides like an Irish dancer, off with you! If you want to do something else, fine by me! I'm astonished that other people (countless organised religions, anti-gay campaigners) care so much about who other people are doing it with.

I know some people are genuinely concerned that the 'sanctity' of their own marriage will somehow be eroded by same-sex marriage but that makes no sense, unless you believe anyone else's loveless marriage will make yours unhappy too. However, I do care about the right we all have to be treated as equals under the law. So, hopefully, the referendum will pass in May, and then I can go back to just worrying about my own sex life again.

Once a Luddite, always a Luddite

By Eleanor Goggin

I came into this world a Luddite a long time ago, and I've decided I'm going to go out of it a Luddite. I've tried. I really have tried. Somebody was incredulous recently that I still operate from a computer in my house. A non-transportable one. Tablets are things you take in the morning for blood pressure, I told her.

My son very kindly gave me a new laptop for Christmas, and set it up for me. And then left me with a list of indecipherable instructions. I look at it in my bedroom every morning and promise myself I'll sit down for the day and get the hang of it. It has remained an ornament. My son also changed something on my home computer, and now every time somebody sends me an attachment I save it and it disappears into thin air. Then I scream for my daughter. She comes to help, berates me for pressing the 'x' on the right hand side of the screen all the time and then I get defensive and walk away. Lots of childish behaviour.

I got a new cable TV system the other day and was told it would be delivered and I was to install it myself. Foolproof, they said. As I opened the box, I rang the suppliers for help. "I'm old and an eejit", I explained to the very nice guy on the phone. "That's what I'm here for Eleanor. To help eejits". A nice helpful guy with a sense of humour. Sometimes it's better to come clean and do the helpless older female trick. Same when you get a puncture. Don't even feign an attempt to do anything constructive.

I think he was beginning to lose the plot when I couldn't get the remote to work properly. It involved a lot of holding down keys simultaneously and entering codes and then letting go of all keys and pressing a different one within three seconds. All a bit much for me. But we got there. I was downloading something the other day and pressing a thing that said 'run'. It wasn't working. My son was apoplectic. I was pressing a set of instructions with a picture. I just wonder where all the stuff I saved is gone.

Frazzled without a fringe. Hair matters.

By Aine O'Connor

As time continued to creep steadily by, etching its cruel way across my face and body, I decided it was time to remedy the wrinkly forehead by either going for Botox or getting the fringe cut back into my hair. I'm afraid of pain, and dodge it where I can, so the fringe seemed the easier option. Easier and cheaper.

I've had a fringe for most of my adult life, and a few years ago decided to grow it out. I had some half-baked notion of a curtain of hair falling saucily across one eye, and so undertook the torment of clips and slides that is involved in growing out a fringe. Like plaits, there are only so many ways a woman in her forties can use clips without looking somewhere between deranged and delusional, but after a few months, I got there.

Once fringe-free, the curtain of hair did indeed fall across one eye. And drove me bleeding mad, so I ended up with it stuck behind my ear. Every time I saw a picture I hated it, but I hate so much in pictures of me the details of hairstyle got lost in the list of Things To Dislike but At the Same Time Not Care That Much About. Because who's looking anyway?

The fringe is back and no-one, bar the housemates, has noticed. A few people have looked at me, squinting, wondered if I changed the colour or something but no-one has noticed the fringe. This is, the Girlchild tells me, because I look like myself again.

And true enough, as soon as I got it, I felt more normal. More like me. The one other person who noticed commented that I looked "less frazzled". I am no less frazzled - it's a haircut after all, not a personality transplant - but if I look it, maybe that's half the battle?

As time creeps steadily by it etches its cruel way across face, body and mind. You forget what you know because you know it so well. And I have long known that even an item of clothing that feels wrong can wreck my day but somehow I forgot, or forgot to care. Who's looking anyway? I am.

Sunday Indo Living