Alan Partridge: I loved your article in the Guardian, by the way.
Tony Hayers: Really?
AP: I loved that phrase you used, it was very clever: “Revolution, not evolution”.
TH: No, it was the opposite: “Evolution, not revolution”.
AP: Well, whatever. Because that is me: I evolve, but I don’t… revolve. Or vice-versa.
—I’m Alan Partridge (S1E01, “A Room With an Alan”)
Right, first of all, I should acknowledge that I’ve had a partial title and the opening quote for this article ready for over a month now; I was going to focus on just the “self-analysis” aspect, but events today have inspired a greater reach. Don’t worry, I’ll find a way to mention Gwar as well.
Anyway, you’ll want to know about my work placement: suffice to say, it’s going all right, although it’s a gruelling 90-minute journey from home, and my shift lasts 8:30am to 5pm, which means I’m up at 6am and not home until after 6pm. It’s necessary for me to go through this madness, however, because I’m learning how to work as an IT tech support kinda guy — gaining confidence on the phone and dealing face-to-face with students who have computer problems, and writing tickets so I can record what happened and what I’ve done. I think I’m doing well: I had an irate woman asking me if I could get someone who knows what they’re doing, but I remained calm (oddly, this didn’t even require conscious effort on my part) and fixed her problem, and she was very nice in the end!
However, while the people there are nice (including a big, jolly Canadian who has an even longer commute than me, despite living 15 miles from campus — the M25 really does suck!), I know full well I don’t want to be there forever, as even if I were permanent, I’d have to move closer and thus be farther from the action in London. And I’m not ready to move out of the house where I live now, because I have a decent landlady (and, until we lost him, her husband was a good landlord as well), which is like gold dust in the rental world, and I feel comfortable living here (my drummer housemate seems to trust me more, for one thing — probably because I kicked Virgin Media’s butts until they fixed our connection). Unfortunately, a house move (the prospect which almost destroyed me in 2011-12) may not be avoidable…
Aside from work, I’m getting better at climbing (did a 6a today) and have two good friends I can go with (“best mate” and a Sri Lankan female friend I met recently, and sometimes a Harry Potter-esque guy from the Midlands comes to the Session); my personal trainer also continues to be amazed at my progress, and how quickly I went to bench-pressing 55kg from barely being able to lift 50kg. However, it seems the reason I can’t shift that final bit of flab around my midsection is that I’m still indulging in an archaic practice called “having dessert” after dinner: even a healthy Greek-style yoghurt, it seems, isn’t good for me! So no matter how far I’ve come — to the point that I’ve changed my breakfast and lunch beyond recognition — I still have to make sacrifices of things I enjoy. It’s not enough that I’ve not had pizza in ages, or that I spent most of August feeling hungry because I would only allow myself to eat almonds and maybe a banana during the day: I have to reduce my evening intake as well, to purely savoury foods.
(Okay, admittedly I ate too much last week, thanks to my agency having mistakenly led me to believe I’d be paid £5 a day for my lunches during the placement — and the onion rings and milkshake I had for dinner on Tuesday probably didn’t help!)
So I’m changing my career, and I’m adapting my health — two good improvements I can make, as could anyone if they put their mind to it. Unfortunately, the thing that matters most to me is the part of my life where I seem to have made no progress at all. Indeed, today I feel like nothing’s changed since 2010, when I was also training for IT, and felt worthless at singles events — but I’ve changed so much, so how can this be?
Here’s what happened: after climbing with “best mate” (yes, otherwise I’d have spent the day playing StarCraft, fair enough), I ran off in order to attend a “singles yoga” event in Islington; since the Northern Line’s all but closed (hopefully for the last ever time… yeah, right), I used the Piccadilly Line to go down to Caledonian Road. Already you’re sensing something’s wrong, I’m sure… I did indeed walk down to my old homestead (noting no changes other than the front door now being red instead of blue), in the hope of finally burying that whole part of my life — the first couple of years there were all right (especially 2008, when I started taking Japanese classes), but after that, I experienced what can only be described as a slide into darkness.
(It may interest you to know that the music I heard when I was walking was… er, the Bee Gees. Ah, but as I was walking away on the next leg of my journey, on came the classic Gwar song, “The Years Without Light” — singularly appropriate to my time in Cally Road, don’t you think? If nothing else, perhaps it refers to the upstairs bathroom with no windows…)
The event itself, halfway to Upper Street? Well, it wasn’t an actual yoga session (apart from some meditation and saying “ooommmm…” — were we singing along to young Dave Lister’s anti-crypto-fascist song?), but rather an introduction to a dating site based around yoga. Fair enough, but I’d come in a T-shirt due to thinking we were gonna be doing downward-facing dogs and such! At least there were plenty of cute girls there (outnumbering the guys), but alas… I did manage to talk to a couple, but I felt like they weren’t interested, and that I was surplus to requirements. This is precisely how I felt in 2010 when I went to singles events, and ended up wandering around nervously; in fact, back then there was a crazy Kiwi girl who told “good housemate” (who was there as well) that I was a “creepy guy” who was “following her around”. On this occasion, I spoke to a red-haired Aussie and her cute American friend, but felt like they were only paying lip service to me, rather than being genuinely interested.
So it’s apparent I still need to change and get more confident. The question I ask is: WHY? Why am I always the one who has to change? I still hate and resent the lie of feminism — women want all the rights of men but none of the responsibilities; even women who are confident and come onto me seem to change totally when I try to respond in kind, and although my dating coach is trying to encourage women to ask men out (which, as you know, has happened to me many times), she still thinks men should be dominant. Female friends of mine have similarly said they want the man to be the one who decides, and basically be in control.
It’s the old love-shyness thing again: women, gay men and lesbians who are shy can always count on someone from their sexual preference to ask them out, but straight guys are expected to be the confident one 100% of the time, and if we aren’t, we’re worthless to society. Why can’t I find a woman who will meet me halfway, why do I have to be the one to travel 99% of the distance? And all the dates I’ve had over the past year feel like nothing, simply because none of them have led anywhere: I’m still single, and still feel like I’ll never find someone special.
Most of all, I’m sick of feeling like I don’t deserve to find love, that I’m still somehow “wrong” and need to change stuff about myself — like putting away childish things, or having more interesting things to talk about; at the same time, I’m sick of socialising all the time, especially if I’m effectively working for 12 hours a day (including commute — no, I don’t care that other people cope with that, they’re not me!), and I really wish I could stay at home in the evenings again, instead of making all these futile attempts to meet someone. After all, which is better: to devote so much time and effort to no avail, or to not try at all and spend my time doing things I actually enjoy instead? Hell, I wish I’d climbed for longer with “best mate” this afternoon, instead of going to a part of town I’ve long found to be, well, sinister (because I almost died there, spiritually if not biologically).
Anyway, don’t worry, I’m not giving up going to social events or being a member of dating sites: this has just been me venting, and I’m sure you’re used to that by now (if you’re still reading). I’m sure I’ll get more confident, and that I was just having a “bad day” (the weather getting colder, too much protein, bad luck in terms of female company etc.). My life is, in every measurable way aside from (perhaps) distance from central London, better than it was when I lived at Caledonian Road — I really have changed things, including my health and my social interactions, and soon my career.
I’ll still join this dating site, and I’ll still go to my usual yoga class on Tuesday, for the first time in several weeks (hopefully not getting onion rings and a milkshake for dinner!), but for now, I just want to get over my lousy afternoon by relaxing and not worrying.
Oh, wait, I still have to make dinner… and clean the lounge. Argh! Why, why, why…?
What’s that? You want to hear the Gwar song I mentioned in my aside? You are never satisfied, are you?! Very well, I’ll make a bohab of you yet…