Category Archives: Memoirs

A note on society since the referendum

Many, many years ago I used to blog politically. It manifested itself as an obsession with news, recycling stuff that I heard through the rumour mill (which I really shouldn’t have done), voicing an opinion on anything and everything and talking in very broad ways about things that I had yet to understand.

I let things slip away from me, pretty badly. I even neglected other parts of my life to tread down a path that I wish I hadn’t. I wrote things that I shouldn’t have and have always wish I’d redacted. I wished I’d apologised for them since and shown a modicum of tact and discretion. To this end, when I started this blog I swore it would just be about my musings, thoughts and philosophies. I would just write about whatever ideas fell out of my head from time to time, steering clear of the dark path that I once walked down and essentially share what limited wisdom I had with anyone bored enough to hear about it.

To that end I have stayed off the subject of politics. There is something that I have wanted to discuss for a while but given that it has been a political issue (or is at least perceived as a political issue) I have given it a wide berth. Brexit.

Now, let me be absolutely clear on this point. I do not want to discuss the merits, or lack thereof depending on your point of view, of leaving the European Union. It’s an argument that we’ve had in this country. The decision has been made and so I don’t think that any further discussion on it is needed or wanted. What I would like to comment on though, is what it appears to have done to society.

To give you a bit of background, I didn’t vote in the referendum, nor did I campaign for one side or another. I was, and still am, staunchly leave. I won’t go into my reasons why because, as stated previously, I don’t want to discuss politics on this blog but rather society instead.

The reason why I didn’t vote was because during the election campaign, I was living in the quaint Breton city of Rennes which is in North West France. Wednesday night in the bars and pubs around Place St Anne in Rennes was socialist night. When I was living there it was a hotbed of the far left. The then president, François Holland, was, on the advice of the EU and his economy minister (now President Emmanuel Macron),

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 A “quiet pint” on Socialist night at the “Artiste Assoiffé” in Place St Anne in Rennes – May 2016

trying to bring in things like zero hours contracts, extend the working week and generally trying to severely erode workers rights, which had been hard fought for in France, in a bid to lower the astronomical unemployment rate which is roughly double that of comparable countries such as the UK and Germany.

There was a fairly uniform view on the reforms or “Loi travail” or “Loi El-Khomri” as they were called and it led to strikes, protests, all sorts of shenanigans. As a hard left socialist, I stood in solidarity where I could. The only coverage that I saw of the referendum was on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. It was interesting to see the people that I’d been on anti-globalisation marches advocating remaining in the European Union and all the ex-pats living in France advocating leaving. I remember being sat in having a few beers with my flatmate one evening and I was cycling through the channels. I’d drifted onto a news channel called BFM or it may have been France24, I forget which one exactly, but they were having a debate on the referendum in the UK. Very quickly it deteriorated into a shouting match between the five people on the panel. I turned to my flatmate and said “This is exhausting. I can imagine it is what everyone in the UK has been going through these past few months.”

Shortly after the result came in on July 10th I moved back to the UK. It felt like I’d returned to a different country. I think everyone has always noticed a gradual change in direction that occurred from roughly late 2015 but because I was in France, I only saw the hugely contrasted change. When I do discuss the referendum, I usually comment on a few specific pages. One of those is Chuka Umunna, a Labour MP vociferously arguing that we stay in the single market. I got into a discussion (linked here) and things got onto the subject of the tensions between the two major camps of the referendum, leave and remain. He was a “remainer” and was saying that he’d found the leave side to be very threatening. I suppose every thought I had on it since I first observed that contrast over a year ago came out as I retorted:

See, all I’ve seen is everything the other way. People who would describe themselves as both liberal or democrats or socialists coming out with the most horrendous slanders against those who hold a different opinion to them. Anyone who does is either elderly, uneducated, was lied to and is gullible, racist, xenophobic, a bigot or (and as a true socialist this grates me) is of a different social class or is in poverty.
 
They always have their reasons and if they ever try to debate or reason with the those who voted remain, they get shouted down, not with facts but with one of the above slanders. They get called fascists. Wouldn’t you start to feel angry/violent is someone called you racist or thick whenever you voiced you opinion? Collectively lowering the bar for all of us when reason and fact state that you were correct? Every man has their limit and they are the very emblem of tolerance and reservation because they’ve had to put up with this in the fifteen months since the referendum and intensely in the nine months that preceeded it.
 
For a lot of people, it’s thoroughly frustrating that they rejected what Peter Shore referred to in a 1975 Oxford Union debate as an absurdity. It’s nonsense. It’s deluded craziness and has been shown not just to be deluded craziness but also a ticking bomb primed to go off at some point within the next ten years. When someone won’t accept the base facts of the matter and then calls you names, in essence it shows them up to be the infantile, stupid ones, but true to Dunning-Kruger effect form, people who voted remain seem to think they have some sort of intellectual or moral superiority without any evidence to back up that being the case. Those who voted remain would describe themselves as open minded, accepting and non-judgemental but when someone says they voted leave, their idea is that only staying within the EU is a good thing for us (for reasons that I’ve stopped listening to, such is how whacked out they are) and far from listening to their reasons and entertain civilised effective debate, they realise they’ve got nothing so they just resort to name calling. It’s a sort of thinking that calls itself “progressive”, “liberal” and “left wing” but in fact is anything but. It is ripped directly from George Orwell’s 1984. “Anyone who disagrees with us is a thought criminal and is therefore fair game for ridicule and derogation.” It’s a mindset that says “I’ll do anything for the working class. Anything, apart from, y’know, mix with them and find out why they voted the way they did.
 
And what of those who were right? They don’t want to call remoaners stupid but merely to try and get through to them, to show them what we see, that the EU are not your friends, they weren’t looking out for you when they laughed David Cameron’s miniscule promises out of the room which caused this in the first place, they weren’t looking out for YOU when the campaign was going on and they offered nothing but vitriol and disgust at the notion that we would make our own choices and they’re not looking out for YOU now. It’s in a forlorn effort to try and take away the pain and discomfort that you feel as if to say “Don’t worry, we headed for a better place, just trust us on this one. It adds up for us. Try and see that this is what’s best.” but like a rejected, sociopathic, narcissistic spurned ex-girlfriend who has just realised that her ex-partner is now wise to her tricks, there go to place isn’t constructive rationale but rather aggressive contempt.
 
The reason I think detainment or detention is perhaps the only option and definitely a purge of some sort should happen is because there are people who are intent on spoiling this when they have no reason to. They haven’t changed their views and it’s almost as if they’re programmed in some way to disregard everything to achieve their objective of us staying in the EU or spoiling the country if we don’t. I think treason and sabotage are often thought of in quite antiquated ways. We tend to associate them with capital punishment but while they’re still criminal offences, they no longer carry that penalty. I would consider trying to subvert and insurrect what is now quite clearly the democratically expressed will of an overwhelming majority of the British public in favour of a foreign power, well, I don’t see that as anything but treason. Lock them up and shut them up to save our democratic system itself. The rights of the many are more important than those who try to redact their rights by choice. No one forces remoaners to act that way. They do so through choice. They don’t need to. They choose to. The autistic army would retreat off social media and finally leavers can get on with doing what they intended to do when they put that “x” in that box, making this country a better place.
Now I think if we look at the level of discourse we can see that it has changed from mild mannered discussions to something altogether more sinister and I suppose my question would be, when did this happen? When did it take place? What marked polarity or event happened in our society to polarise people in such a way and is there really any way to bring them back together?

I have no conclusions on this but it has certainly given me something to think about.

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Sorry

Sorry. Far from being the hardest word, it’s actually one of the easiest. As an eighteen years old translator for BT, I was told “Don’t be afraid to say sorry.” Since then, coupled with an appreciation of what I may have done wrong, it has gotten me out of several scrapes.

Throwing one’s hands up and saying sorry is a huge strength. People see it as a weakness. I’ve never understood that. To have that ability to self reflect, acknowledge your wrongdoing and move on from it takes a lot of courage. Those who can’t simply don’t have that bravery.

It’s difficult for someone to stay angry at someone who has apologised. It’s difficult to continually castigate them for their actions if they already realise that their actions were wrong. It’s difficult to hold something against someone if they realised they made a mistake and will endeavour not to make it again.

However, on the flipside of that, an inability to apologise can lead to all sorts of problems. If someone doesn’t say sorry when they have done wrong, people will pursue it. It will follow them. It will haunt them. The aggrieved person will go after them until they hear that five letter word coupled with an appreciation of wrongdoing.

I see people damaging their life chances, isolating themselves from their friends and family, lowering themselves in other people’s estimation and all because of the inability to utter that five letter word. I couldn’t count on both hands the amount of people I no longer speak to simply because of their inability to acknowledge wrongdoing or say sorry.

To this end, I would share this one piece of advice: don’t be afraid to say sorry.

David Miliband once gave me a piece of advice, and I urge everyone to take it on board.

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Myself and David Miliband at the Mechanics Institute in Nottingham. 1st August 2010

Politicians peddle in, well, I will refrain from using the word, but I think you can guess it. When people go to Prime Minister school, they come out and give vague answers to complicated questions specifically so it looks like a sound bite that can be repackaged by the media therefore there is very little, if anything, that can be taken from what politicians say. David Miliband was a prime example of this. I saw him a few times when he was on the campaign trail in the 2010 Labour Leadership Election. He gave me one piece of advice that I have always carried with me and today I had to put that advice into action.

Listening, truly listening

He was recalling his time as Foreign Minister and talked about when he had to speak to his American counterpart who, at the time, was Hilary Clinton. He said this:

Whenever we had an issue or something to talk about, there was something that set her aside from every other politician I’ve ever met. Most politicians sit there and they are not listening to what is being said, instead they are just waiting for it to be their turn to talk. Hilary Clinton always did something different. She would get out a writing pad and a pen and paper. Instead of constantly butting in and saying what she had to say, she would write down what I was saying, her thoughts and would wait until I had finished speaking before she shared her conclusions. The one thing I got from that was that she was listening, and I mean truly listening, to what I had to say.

Today I had a conflict that was the result of a breakdown in communication. I tried it and it actually worked. I listened. Paid attention and respect to what the other person was saying and managed to resolve things. I would share that with anyone.

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Online communication: No substitute for the real thing

I remember about five years ago, I used to hang around with this guy. He was a neuroscientist who worked in the psychology faculty of Nottingham Trent University. One day he had some of his students doing an experiment and they hadn’t finished so he suggested I take a saunter around. That was when I saw the poster. It was offering an MA or MSc, I forget, in Cyberpsychology. It then occurred to me that our interaction with technology is changing the base of our psychological processes. I regret to say, by and large, it isn’t a positive change. I also notice that young people who have grown up with this technology have an entirely different thought process to anyone who didn’t grow up with this technology.

The ex-girlfriends

Last year, I was in an extremely abusive relationship with a girl. The bulk of our communication took place online. When we were together, I mean in each other’s company, it was really good, but then she’d go home and we just communicated online. I found it horrible, unbearable at times. It was impossible to have sound discussion with her. Don’t get me wrong, there were other factors, such as her schizophrenia, an unplanned pregnancy, my lifestyle at the time, etc etc that all contributed to the breakdown of the relationship but I noticed that none of those barriers could be overcome as there was a irretrievable breakdown of communication between us.

These problems prevented us from progressing the relationship. This is because relationships never run smoothly. Relationships are peppered with problems. The success or failure of any relationship doesn’t hinge on the what has gone right but more on the ability, or lack thereof, to deal with the problems.

The problems and traumatic situations that arose out of that relationship were best solved when we spent time together. Problems can’t be sorted out online because online communication is incoherent. We would periodically block each other on various social media platforms as a means of punishment. So rooted was our relationship in doing that I was frustrated that I couldn’t have a proper conversation and problems couldn’t be addressed (as an OCD sufferer I have to solve problems) that what would happen is that I would walk to where she lived (about seven miles from where I lived) and walk back, just for the sake of seeing her for fifteen minutes. It alleviated the stress, the anguish, the angst and the anxiety that communicating principally online brings about. A fifteen minute conversation in person had coherency, context, tone and sentiment.

Bizarrely, it mirrored the relationship previous to that one the year before. In that instance I was in a relationship with a girl who lived about 100 miles away in the Roman Spa town of Bath. All through the week we would speak to each other through a variety of social media platforms and conversations were disjointed and fractured. She would absolutely beg, or close to it, to phone me. Sometimes I simply wasn’t up to a phone conversation, but on reflection she garnered tone and a sense of calm from it, something which doesn’t come across in messages over web.

If we rewind to my last “serious” (though in hindsight I probably should have given it more gravity than I did) relationship before both of those, it was again, a long distance relationship. She lived in London and I lived in Nottingham. She would call me everyday, sometimes for upwards of an hour. I found it exhausting. Even though we spoke by telephone regularly, she would constantly relay her problems to me. It was frustrating knowing that I was miles away and in no position to help. It was crushing, emotionally.

The France Situation

I find myself in a situation at present that is not dissimilar but at the same time hugely different.

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Me in France doing French people stuff.

I’m in another long distance relationship. This time it is with a French woman. Being the social creature that I am I have a new and emerging social circle in the city where I live. I don’t live there though, yet. I know my way around the city I live in and can successfully navigate Paris with some proficiency at street level. I was really enjoying France, not least because of the people I had around me. My partner, my friends, I wouldn’t go so far as to say my family, but my home life was good. My life is so good in fact that I’m thinking the next move may be a permanent one.

When I was over there, life was good, but some base in reality is always needed. I had to come back for work. As much as I missed all my friends in Plymouth, am missing people in France like crazy. The main form of communication that I use to communicate with people in France is what’s app. I notice, almost immediately that there is a disconnect there and I wonder about how changed and diverted things are from the essence of the relationship that was originally started given that now the relationship is principally a digital one.

The first example is with a friend. I’m not going to go into detail but one friend that I’ve spoken to since I got back, I said something to. There was an abundantly clear lack of context which led to a huge misunderstanding. Suffice to say that this misunderstanding would not have happened had we actually been face to face. When people communicate digitally, there is no context to what they are saying. It’s not that something can more easily be taken out of context, it is that it isn’t out into context in the first place.

The second example is a good one, and I can be a bit more specific here. One of, if not my closest friend in France, is also the person that speaks the best English. I try and speak French to her and she tells me to stop. Ironically, she has never been to England or an English speaking country. We can chat for hours. She was a real pillar to me in France. Now our messages don’t follow a linear path, there are always fractures and splinters. Think about it this way. She sends me a message which I pick up when I wake up, I respond. She picks that one up a bit later. Then I pick that one up when I’m about to start work, and so on. Can you imagine periodically returning to the same conversation, over the course of a busy day, every few hours and remain focused on the attention you’re supposed to give that person and your interaction? Of course not. It’s impossible. The conversation ends up fractured with no conclusion or end point, along with the lack of fluidity and the other things that one can take from a conversation either by phone or in person.

The third and final example is my partner. Aside from the obvious that one misses not being in her company, people often turn to their partners for support and reassurance. I am in another country, pondering a huge move to another country, and that really scares me. Sometimes I look too deeply into the messages she sends and when problems do arise, they are impossible to resolve and will be impossible to resolve until I return to France. There is also another thing. My partner doesn’t have the best command of the English language. My French isn’t perfect either, not by any stretch of the imagination. Our bodies have an unspoken communication with each other though. I’m not talking about anything sexual or even about body language. It’s really difficult to explain or describe. I think when two people don’t share a language fluency, they have to communicate in other ways. Say for instance when we are brushing our teeth before bed, we may be silent but more often than not there are a series of glances, small actions, I may reach for the mouthwash, she may turn off the tap I’ve left running and these things form a conversation. Sometimes when we’re doing something more, like playing pool or digging up vegatables on the farm, these small, almost insignificant actions make up a conversation. That’s why being away from her is unbearable. I suppose it is that that highlighted to me that while messages back and forth are ok, there really is no substitute for being together and in person.

It’s all Greek to me…

This is a phrase that I have heard a lot in recent weeks.

I have a Greek friend and while her English is impeccable, she does struggle with a couple of bits. One day she received quite a complicated legal letter and she said, in Greek, “I don’t understand this.” She then followed it up with the phrase “Είναι όλα τα κινέζικα για μένα.”

The one word I could pick out of that was “κινέζικα” which in Roman characters would be written Kinezika. Kinezika is the Greek word for “Chinese”. Given that China or the Chinese had nothing to do with the letter she received I asked her. I said “Chinese, what has that got to do with anything?”. She replied “It is a phrase we have in Greece. We say “It’s all Chinese to me.” It means that it might as well be written in Chinese because I can’t understand it.”

Of course at this point I burst out laughing and she had no idea why. I of course explained it to her. It turns out that the phrase “It’s all Greek to me” is, ironically, of Greek origin, except there they say “It’s all Chinese to me”. So there you have it. The next time someone tells you that it’s all Greek to them, you can then say that the Greeks say the same of the Chinese.

The most productive, and in my view the best, way to make an ex jealous

I have never had a relationship end well. There has always been some kind of drama. There are people out there who, upon ending a relationship say “Oh, it wasn’t working out so we decided to go our separate ways” and when I hear that it doesn’t seem to make sense to me. I suppose if they could let go of a relationship that easily then it probably wasn’t worth them being in it in the first place. In the aftermath of a bad break up, there is, at least in my experience, a desire by one or both of the partners to make the other one jealous. I would say that this is a completely normal reaction. The reason I say it is normal is because it is something that I have constantly found.

A long time ago now, maybe seven or eight years ago, I found the perfect way to make an ex-partner jealous.

Background

A couple of nights ago I went to the usual pub quiz with the boys. The night had ended but I still had a hankering for a pint. Plymouth being the way it is, I was still able to get a pint midweek at a bar. Allow me to explain. Plymouth has been a 24 hour city for a long time. If you want a pint at any time, night or day, there are always about four or five places open, any day of the week. I digress. I got chatting to a delightful young lady, and she, along with a couple of friends/colleagues of hers was discussing a choice of dress.

She asked me for my opinion of it. I didn’t know what to say. I don’t know what her frame looks like. I try not to visualise those things when speaking to a young lady. The dress was very revealing and highly sexualised. Anyone who knows me, knows that that sort of thing isn’t really my cup of tea. I passed thirty this year, I’m a Catholic, in some aspects I’m a feminist and while I have a specific opinion of what I would and wouldn’t find attractive on a woman, I wouldn’t dream of sharing that opinion. When a man makes any comment about what a woman is wearing, he really is playing Russian Roulette with five bullets in the cylinder. My mum always said “never make fun of a woman’s hair, clothes or menstrual cycle” and I would said that that is good advice but I wouldn’t know, because I’ve never been stupid enough to make fun of a woman’s hair, clothes or menstrual cycle.

When the girl in question showed me the dress. It looked hot. I could tell that someone like her, wearing a dress like that would draw the eye of all the men in the room. That goes without saying. I saw the photo’s of her wearing it and she did indeed look stunning.

Back to the point. She asked me a question, very frankly. She said “Do you think it will be enough to make my ex-boyfriend jealous?” I have to confess, I was a little shocked. My experience of this young lady was limited, granted, but I thought that her charm, demeanour and looks would be enough on their own to make any former partner of hers keenly aware of their loss. I resolved, but not before the day she wore it, to tell her how I always go about making my exes jealous without the need for such a dress.

Jealousy

Jealousy often drives us to do things that we regret, or moreover things that we will come to regret once the haze of jealousy and anger has subsided. I could indeed share many stories of ex-girlfriends whose actions, driven by jealousy, has caused the break-up of a relationship. Likewise one might think, “I will make my ex-jealous by kissing/flirting with/sleeping with this person.” This is a bad reason to make an emotional connection with someone as it is borne of hatred and not love. Because things done to instigate jealous feelings are usually exacerbated anger, they are almost universally negative. When an ex-partner has been violent with me because of their jealousy, when they have checked my phone or invaded my privacy or my past, I have always pitied them more than anything.

The reason why I haven’t judged them though is that I too have been guilty of those same offences. It’s not for me or anyone else for that matter to judge those who feel jealous. It happens. Don’t get me wrong, I have never raised my hand to a woman in anger, nor would I ever invade a partner’s privacy, but I have been jealous in the past and it has led my mind down those dark path’s but I wouldn’t begrudge another for feeling like that and acting accordingly.

I needed to find a way to channel that though, to focus on it, and soon I found a positive way to make an ex-girlfriend jealous.

The productive way to make an ex-girlfriend jealous

This came about around a decade ago. I was in a relationship with a young lady. By all accounts she was a nice girl but she certainly wasn’t the one for me. We were together for five years. We had a semi-detached three bedroom house in suburban Nottingham, all mod cons, she was a hairdresser, I was a local government administrator, life was good, or if not good, certainly not unpleasant. We even had a couple of cats. I did, however, grow frustrated. Frustrated with how things were. Frustrated and depressed. I constantly felt like I was playing a part in someone else’s life. The relationship, as one might expect, broke down. I’m not in the habit of berating people online, not least because the lawyer in me says they don’t have the opportunity to defend themselves, so let’s focus on where I was at the end of the relationship.

After a while in a relationship, things can get a little stale. I don’t use that as justification for my apathy, but it is difficult to inject passion and excitement into your life if you don’t get that from your relationship. I would idly spend my weekends on the sofa playing PlayStation games, occasionally switching it off for Simpsons or to go to the pub. The week had become a Monday to Friday nine to five affair that offered me no excitement. I had lost all the things I once desired in life. I no longer had any clue as to what I wanted. I’d built my entire life around my girlfriend to the point where I didn’t have any friends, at least not in Nottingham, no interests of my own, no life of my own and my life with my girlfriend has just become a painful laborious slog that I used to fill the time in between trips to Plymouth and an endless plethora of staycations that I used to glean a lot from but that a girl in her early twenties would have found mind numbing and boring to say the least. We were horribly mismatched and by the time I finished with her, I have to admit, I wasn’t much of a catch.

I tried the usual ways to make her jealous afterwards. The destructive ways. Going about with other ladies. Partying. Then about four months after the relationship finished I realised how I was going to handle things. It was a breakthrough, at least for me.

You see, she’d fallen in love with a unique, driven individual who enjoyed a modicum of success. Why not take that to a whole other level while at the same time living out my life as I want to? I knew the information would eventually filter back to her, as these things do.

Part one was to get myself a new job. I had been thinking about this for some time and I needed something that would challenge me and make me successful. Surely if my ex-girlfriend heard that I was doing an important new job, she’d be really jealous and I’d be happy. That’s precisely what I did. I got a job at a business data agency. I got my drive back. Soon the money was rolling in and I was off.

This was me in 2008, a few months after the break up, in my new job. I'd just been given a bottle of moderately priced, non-domestic champagne as a thank you for some recent work I'd done.

This was me in 2008, a few months after the break up, in my new job. I’d just been given a bottle of moderately priced, non-domestic champagne as a thank you for some recent work I’d done.

Of course that is only one part of it. The other is that when a relationship breaks up, the inevitable factionalisation happens. I have noticed this wherever I have been. When someone is in a couple, they both begin to isolate themselves from people they were great friends with when they were single. In addition when have couples friends. Friends that are also in a couple to do couples things with. My only friends independent from my girlfriend at the time were couples friends and without them, I had very little going on. So, I started to massively socialise. A far cry from the no hopers and hairdressers (my ex-girlfriend was a (very good) hairdresser, I grew to loathe them and to this day I will only get my hair cut in a men only barbers) that my ex-girlfriend used to knock about with. I used to do Capoeira, and constantly socialise with old friends of mine that I hadn’t spoken to for years. I consistently found myself in completely different surroundings with completely different people. My new partner lived in Bethnal Green and opened up my eyes to new worlds, new ideas, upcycling me from the rut I had once fallen into.

The constant travelling. The constant moving from place to place. My own home fell into a state of disrepair and I had to move on from that. I ended up in a posh flat. Soon it was Athens, Brussels, Luxemburg, the Runton’s, here there and every.

By the end of all of this, I wondered what the application of my jealousy and revenge was. I’d become a new person, a different person, with a hugely better life and one day, not long after, I was pondering about what her life must be like and how things must be now. I then realised that part way along my journey I had lost the desire to attempt to make her jealous. The changes that I’d made and the life that I’d led since those days in 2008 where I was was stagnant and complacent, those are things that I should’ve done. I shouldn’t have done them with a view to making her jealous, I should’ve done them for me.

This, therefore, is my advice: when you are thinking of making an ex-partner jealous, one way to do that is to give yourself away, show how sexually desirable you are, spread gossip about them and rumours about yourself, but all of that is completely unnecessary and usually negative. The best way to make an ex-partner jealous is to go out there and succeed in the world. Get the good job. Get the travelling under your belt. Meet the right people. To play the short game of jealousy boiling it down to attraction is one thing. To play the long game, to fully realise your potential and live your life the way that you want to live it is a a complete other. To have your ex-partners looking at you six months later or six years later and think “I backed the wrong horse” is not only a better feeling but a lot more productive, not least because you have the fruits of your labours to show for it.

I have a slight confession to make. While I broke off all contact with my ex-girlfriend shortly after the end of the relationship, I can’t really see her being jealous. The reason for this is that she had, at least in her view, moved on to better things, or so I am led to believe. It’s not a life I would have chosen, the settled down, married and kids one, at least not at my age, but she chose that and I believe, if I know her as well as I think I do was that that was what she wanted in her early twenties. Not my thing, but yeah. This is the piece of advice I will leave you on. That is the best way to make your ex-partner jealous. Even when I realised that I needn’t do these things for her, I saw that I needed every bit of self improvement, every bit of personal development, every minor victory and major accomplishment, not to make her jealous but for myself.

The betting shop, the supermarket and perceived child negligence

Today, I found a betting slip. I looked up the result and apparently it was a winner. I went to the shop and it was £1.60 so I put a couple of 50p bets on. Bizarrely, they all won and I’d won about a tenner so I put another slip on for a couple of quid and left it at that.

I then played a joke. I was chatting to the girl in the betting shop shop saying how it had been my lucky day and she agreed. I then said “excuse me, I’ve got to make a call.”

I then stepped away from the counter and pretended to be on the phone. I said “Baby, you’re not going to believe what happened, you don’t need to pick mould of the bread tonight… Yes I am in a bookies, but listen… Hold on, just listen to me… I was on my way back from the pub and I popped into the bookies for a cheeky 50p… No, wait, wait, wait, hear me out. I won a few quid so I can afford get some baby formula on the way home…”

It was at this point that one clerk said to the other “Google the number for social services”

I turned to the cashier and was like “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! It was just a joke. I’m don’t have kids, I’m not even on the phone.”

I’d love to claim this joke as my own but I got the inspiration from a friend of mine.

A friend was having a party about a decade ago. He went around the supermarket and first put a load of things in a trolley. Baby things. He put dummies, nappies, baby formula, wipes and so on in the trolley, family foods, General toiletries, about £40 worth. Then he went to the alcohol section. and put about £40 worth of booze in the trolley. At the check out he said he didn’t have enough money and he said to put the baby stuff back. The look on their faces was priceless. The difference between my joke and his? I told them mine was a joke.