There were, on reflection, many good reasons why I moved to London. Aside from my surprise acceptance onto a monstrously good postgraduate course, there was also the fact that I had been evicted from my home, was barred from most of more salubrious drinking establishments in town, and we won’t even mention those terrible two weeks I spent believing I was in some way the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler. Aside from an occasional, fleeting desire to invade Poland, you’ll be pleased to know that I have since made a full recovery: and I owe this recovery, in part at least, to London town.
In retrospect, most of my malaise seemed to be down to being spurned by some girl or other I felt it was achingly hip to have a crush on at the time. When you realise it’s not going to happen, it’s not unlike the emergence of a new government in Soviet Russia. The old order wants to hold on for as long as it can, but before any real change can take place, there’s a six-month tussle in which nobody knows what the hell’s really going on. I had my six months of internal struggle and when I woke up, I had moved to London. Propping up my favourite bar in Piccadilly Circus, one of the other regulars, a rich and talented musician who shall remain nameless, asked me why I was moping around looking moody all the time – ‘some girl’ I replied, nonchalantly. He asked me how long I had been this way. I told him. ‘For Christ’s sake’ he replied, as if this was the most absurd thing he had ever witnessed. ‘You worry about it for a week, then you go out and get yourself a new one. Don’t you know anything?’
And there you have it. London doesn’t care, not unless it can make a quick buck out of it. London has seen it all before, your miseries, your hang-ups, your minor complaints and your major neuroses. There’s no time for self-indulgent whining here: you just have to get on with it. London will lend a critical perspective to the young artist, writer, drunkard, or aspiring dictator. So in the spirit of this newfound straight-shooting, no-bullshit attitude, I’d like to lay out, in very simple terms, exactly why you do need a relationship: You will die younger. Take this from a terminal sufferer of singleton’s disease – a malady of which the principal symptoms are late nights, hard drinking, poor diet, high stress, low self esteem and random bouts of crippling fear. A recent study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Health stated that bachelors aged between 19 and 44 were more than twice as likely to die than their married peers. Ominously, the authors of the study said that ‘loneliness is the killer rather than alcohol or cigarettes.’
You will feel incomplete. If you’re part of a couple, you will always have a go-to guy, somebody whose job it is to back you up. Peter and Jordan. Posh and Becks. Cannon and Ball. Will Self and his thesaurus. All examples of famous pairings where one would be a virtual cripple without the other. Singletons – who laughs at your jokes? Who cooks you breakfast when you’re hungover? Who tells you that you’re not getting fat, or that your terrible pieces of artwork have some kind of critical merit? Your partner, that’s who.
You will get less sex. Even if you’re some kind of hyper-cool, ultra-confident sex-maniac who’s hung like a stallion, it’s pretty unlikely you’ll come home to a warm bed every night. Of course, old married couples might not be getting much, but the ‘new committers’ all seem to be at it like bunny rabbits, if anything I’ve seen is to go by. As a confirmed singleton I’m pretty confident I’ve slept with more people than most of the new committers I know. But when you consider that I’ve only slept with most of those girls once, well, the tally starts to look less impressive. I’m lucky if my undercarriage gets a two or even three month servicing. Singledom is only a viable option for coke dealers and movie stars.
You will lose money. Couples live together, cook together, cadge off each other, are more career focused, find it easier to get on the property ladder, and seem to share absolutely everything. Do you know how much it costs to rent alone these days? Have a look, and then tell me if you think you’re still better off being single. Of course, if you can find someone who already owns a house you can shack up with, that’s even better. Particularly if, for example, you’re a talentless piss artist who will never earn any money. Because that’s what it comes down to: money.
Let’s face the facts. I also hate these bastards who somehow, at the grand old age of twenty, settle down and seem to have their lives stitched up – while you’re older and aging and still trying to find your uncertain feet in the quagmire that is the Real World. But I am under no illusions about it – I am incredibly jealous of these happy couples, who seem to find more to youthful enjoyment than just the get-me-through-the-day lifestyle of the terminal singleton. It happened to me as it will happen to you, one by one: your friends will pair off and leave you standing on the touch-line, the geeky, knobbly-kneed kid nobody wanted on their team. Then you will be lonely. Deal with it. Me? I moved to London, the cynical capital of the world, and began to embrace the Scarface mentality to beating loneliness: ‘first you get the money, then you get the power, then you get the women.’
And if taking advice from a murderous gangster flick is a little too extreme for you, then here’s some very good advice I got from a man in a bar. He said, ‘you wait a week, then you go out and get yourself a new one.’