Love, sex, dating, blah, blah, blah: revisited

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve had a few conversations on the topics of love, sex and dating. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that these are topics I’ve covered quite a lot. However, these recent conversations have compelled me to revisit the subjects as, more than ever, I’m completely, utterly, cunting perplexed by them.

A couple of weeks ago I was in a pub with a female friend of mine discussing whether we, as women, should actively chase a man we fancy and want to date. From a personal point of view, I’d love to be able to do that. I’d love to be able to say ‘I really like you and I’d like to go on a date with you sometime’. So why don’t I? My friend put it beautifully: ‘We have to look after our dignity’. I grew up believing that if women actively chased men, they were either (a) clingy and obsessive, or (b) sluts. Of course, now we live in the 21st century, equality and all that, but the mindset has been ingrained in me. There’s also the fact that I’m a fucking emotional retard with the courage of a cocking hamster. One of my major character flaws is that if someone tries to have a really serious conversation with me, I deflect with jokes. It’s how I deal with any uncomfortable situation. Another character flaw of mine is the complete inability to read subtext. On the rare occasions I’ve lost my head slightly and asked men out on dates, men who I thought fancied me, they’ve all come back with a resounding ‘no’. So, not something which has done wonders for my confidence. And are men happy with women asking them out? Or do they still like to be gentlemenly?

And then say you do get into a relationship, what then? In my blog post ‘No sex please, I’m British’, I talked about my utter confusion about sex, when it should happen in a relationship and a trillion other issues I have with the subject. One thing I do know: I’m far too old, lazy and just damn not interested in one-night stands. I was talking to a friend on Saturday regarding one-night stands. This friend has friends who are happy to go to a Polish nightclub, not being able to speak much Polish, and get off with some Polish person, who can’t speak much English, then go home and shag them. As, for them, being able to talk with one another isn’t deemed important. Fair enough, if that’s what you’re into. But surely that must be really fucking awkward in the morning? Not only do you wake up with a monster hangover, feeling like a badger’s died in your mouth, after a night of probably shit sex (see blog post ‘No sex please, I’m British’), with someone who really didn’t look like that last night in the club, they then can’t understand you when you tell them to piss off home.

I’m not saying I don’t want to have sex. I love sex. I’d just rather it be with someone I felt comfortable with. Which means dating someone for a least a little while instead of jumping into bed on the first date. Something else which attitudes have changed towards. As an adult, if you’re dating someone it’s naturally assumed you’re going to have sex with them right from the beginning of the relationship. Which would be OK if I wasn’t worried about them fucking running and screaming for the hills after catching a glimpse of my naked, wobbly body. I need to make sure I’ve snared them with my charming personality before I let them into the boudoir.

And snaring is bloody hard to do. There’s always the chance that you’ll go on a few dates with someone, and they realise there are more shitty things about you than good things. One of my favourite comedians, Jon Richardson, said once in a routine that dating would be so much easier if you saw someone you liked, gave them a laminated list of what you’re good at and what you’re shit at, and then let them decide if they want to see you or not. At least then they couldn’t complain about your flaws, because they already knew about them.

So what am I looking for? I always thought I’d find someone who was a cross-between Charlie Brooker and Ben Fogle. Weird combo, I know. Charlie Brooker for his wit, talent and humour; Ben Fogle for his sense of adventure and inherent sweetness and kindness. I suppose I want what everyone wants: someone who I can talk to, someone to hold, someone to travel and share adventures with. It’s just asking them out which is the fucking problem…

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Oh, I’m sorry, was I saying the word vagina too loudly?

Just before Christmas I was in a pub with some friends.  Talk turned to travelling and visiting places in Poland.  I mentioned that I want to visit Rzeszów.  Now, for those that don’t know, Rzeszów is a town in the south-east of Poland, and, from what I can gather, it’s famous for one reason, and one reason only: it has a massive statue of a vagina.  Well, I’m pretty sure it’s not supposed to be a vagina, but that’s what it looks like and that’s what everyone refers to it as: the vagina statue.  

When I disclosed my desire to visit Rzeszów, one of my friends shouted: ‘There’s a massive vagina statue there!  I’ve seen it!!!’.  Followed by another friend shouting, ‘Yeah, I’ve seen the massive vagina too!!’.  At which point, a woman sat at a table behind us turned around and said: ‘Excuse me, but can you please be quiet, I can’t hear my friend’.  By this point I’d had a couple of beers and started ranting about the fact that people like her piss me off.  I’m sorry, but if you’re in a pub, on a Friday night, it’s going to be loud.  You want silence, fucking go home.  My friend then pointed out that it was probably the word ‘vagina’ she took offence to, rather than the fact that we were being loud.  And, obviously, the question she asked is a lot less pretentious than ‘Excuse me, would you mind not saying the word vagina?’.  However, I’d’ve had a lot more fucking respect for her if she had asked that.  Pretentious bitch.

I’m not saying you should go round saying the word ‘vagina’ everywhere.  I wouldn’t go to the cinema and start shouting it.  Or even in a restaurant, for that matter.  I understand that in most places such language would be deemed inappropriate.  An old teacher of mine recently put a post on Facebook about how he had been in a restaurant, and a table nearby, full of people in their mid-forties, were having a rather loud conversation about faeces and shouting obscenities throughout.  What cockbags.  Even a foul-mouthed fucker like myself wouldn’t do something like that in a restaurant.  I save those conversations for the pub.  Where, I think, it is OK to use such language.  You can’t use it in work, you can’t use it in most public places: the pub is the only place where you can.  (Well, of course you can do it at home, but, what, we’re supposed to become fucking hermits if we want to be loud?)  

My old teacher did say something to this table of utter dickweeds about their choice of language.  Good for him.  People should be told when they are being knobheads and disturbing other people.  As for the miserable cow who spoke to my table on that Friday night, she needs to grow some fucking balls. You have a problem with the word ‘vagina’, you say you have a problem with the word ‘vagina’.  Don’t dress it up as something a teacher would shout at a five-year-old in a classroom.

So, next time you get pissy with someone in a pub for being loud, remember: you can always go home.  Or to another pub.  Don’t bring the mood down by whinging about someone letting their hair down.  The pub, after all, is the only place they can do it.        

 

Mój polski jest bardzo fatalnie (My Polish is really abysmal)

I sometimes sit and think about why I moved to Poland.  There are many obvious reasons: the culture, the people, the atmosphere, so many interesting things to do (I’m obviously talking about Kraków, not Koszalin).  However, there is one massive reason why I wonder why I stay here.  And it has nothing to do with the country itself.  It’s my own complete inability to speak the language.

My Polish is fucking shit.  Of course, I can get by.  I know the essentials, like how to order a beer and how to ask for something without mushrooms.  I can hold a very basic conversation about interests and hobbies.  I can teach people who have just moved to Poland how to swear.  But as for sitting in a pub or restaurant and having an in-depth conversation, I have major problems.

I have a couple of tandem partners, and when I’m having a conversation with them, I find speaking in Polish…not easy, but I can cope.  They are very patient with me, waiting while I figure out what to say and correctly me very gently when, inevitably, I make mistakes.  My biggest problem is speaking Polish in a group.  If you’re speaking with a bunch of Poles in a pub, the conversation goes back and forth between them like a ping pong ball, and while I understand 90%, by the time I have constructed a sentence, the conversation has moved on about five topics.  And then the whole process starts again.

Tonight I went to a Polish meeting arranged by a Facebook group I belong to, Language Exchange Kraków (for anyone in the Kraków area who is interested in learning a language, you can find tandem partners and conversation groups for most languages on this page.  I have met many great people through it, and highly recommend it).  I have been to a number of English meetings through the group, and recently they decided to give Polish meetings another try.  The meeting was a success, with about twenty people attending.  Well, it was a success apart from one thing: my Polish.  As hard as I try, I just don’t think I can hold an interesting conversation in this language, and then I get embarrassed if I’m having to ask someone to slow down their speech every five minutes.

So why do I struggle with the language?  In my defence, it’s a fucking difficult language.  The amount of conjugations is staggering and, although the grammar is pretty easy to understand in theory, there’s so much of it it completely hinders you in practice.  Pronunciation is pretty simple once you learn the alphabet and consonant clusters, but then when you see a word with nineteen consonants and three vowels it’s quite hard to get your teeth around it.

Of course, there is one other reason why I struggle so much with Polish.  If I’m being completely honest, I’m a lazy fucker.  As much as I’m happy to go to the pub and attempt to speak, when it comes to studying at home, learning new words and grammar, I always have something more important to do.  Such as sit on Facebook for hours looking at friends’ photos.  Or watch repeats of ‘8 out of 10 Cats’ on Youtube.  Or read about random shit on Wikipedia.  Or watch a film.  Obviously far more important things.  I know that my attitude towards the language has to change if I intend to stay here indefinitely, which is the gameplan at the moment.  Maybe my friends need to kick me up the arse a bit more.  Maybe I need to kick myself up the arse.  So, if you meet me in the pub, force me to speak Polish.  Then maybe one day I will speak like a native, and score a point against all the Poles I know who speak English better than I do.

Speaking to my soul – the thoughts of two heavy drinkers

I’ve loved stand-up comedy for as long as I remember.  I love the way that comedians see ordinary things in a completely different light to how the average Joe Bloggs sees them.

I also love alcohol.  I’m by no means an alcoholic, but a nice glass of red wine/cider/beer after a long day is a great way for me to relax.  Of course sometimes it’s more like five or six drinks, and we all know what that means the next morning.

Last Thursday I went to see Seann Walsh and Josh Widdicombe film their upcoming DVDs at Hammersmith Apollo.  Already being a huge fan of Josh Widdicombe, I was extremely excited about attending this event.  I didn’t know much about Seann Walsh before last Thursday, apart from the fact he has done the obligatory round of panel shows needed to get noticed on British TV.  So he pleasantly surprised me when he did a routine which, without meaning to sound poncey, spoke directly to my alcohol-loving soul.

Walsh, like me, likes a drink.  Or ten.  The majority of his routine revolved around drinking copious amounts and what happens as a result.  What really struck a chord was when he started talking about the anti-drink-driving and responsible drinking adverts.  In recent years these adverts have become pretty graphic.  I remember one where a guy was dressed up as a superhero and he was climbing a wall, only to fall off it.  The camera then shows you a normally-dressed guy who had been drinking so much he had thought he had super-powers, with his legs bent the wrong way, neck cracked and his body twitching.  Pretty horrific stuff.  Has it stopped me drinking to excess?  Has it bollocks.  And of course you have the adverts showing car crashes with all the passengers covered in blood.  Enough to put me off my tea, but to stop me drinking?  Nope.

Walsh said there was one reason why these adverts do not stop excessive drinking, and one reason only.  It is because they do not show images of the one thing that would make someone think twice about having a drink: the hangover.

I’d never really thought about this, and I know Walsh was saying it in order to be amusing, but the more I think about it the more I realise he could be right.  If presented with a picture of someone, in Walsh’s case, holding a list of things to do with none of them crossed out (in my case it would be someone waking up in their bath at 5 o’clock in the morning feeling like a badger’s died in their mouth and having no recollection as to how they got there.  Story for another day), would it make a difference to how much they would drink?  I think in most cases it would.  At least until they actually went to the pub for one drink.  That’s when you start thinking ‘One more won’t hurt’.  And you keep going until you wake up the next morning with no idea what happened after 11pm and wondering how you got that massive bruise on your arse.

So is there anything that will stop people drinking to excess?  Maybe not, unfortunately we are a species which constantly thinks ‘It will never happen to me’.  Which is why, my friends, I’ll see you down the pub later, just for the one.