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Friday, September 12, 2003

The following is a typical advert from the personals column of the London Review of Books. At 75p a word, this would’ve cost £16.50…

Woman, early forties, London, seeks distraction from a nice sit-down and a cup of tea. Interests: the arts, psychoanalysis, tennis, cycling. Box no. 16/07.

Nothing wrong with that (apart from the psychoanalysis bit, obviously). But consider instead the neighbouring ad, weighing in at approximately £380…

People who use museum postcards instead of letter-paper; people who own garden composters; ticket collectors who cannot accept the idea of the bloke in the kiosk at the station disappearing to the toilet at the exact time you've arrived to buy your fare; mechanics called Andy who get stroppy over the phone if you call during their lunch hour, fully expecting you to know that they take lunch between 10 and 11 in the morning; Islington intellectuals who have named their children 'Billy' or 'Eddy' despite knowing full well that they will never spend any time in William Hill's waiting to hear what the going is like at Haydock; people from Belway estates in Swindon who have named their children 'Mariella' or 'Giles' despite knowing full well that they are going to spend most of their adult lives in William Hill's waiting to hear what the going is like at Haydock; people who shoe-horn obscure French novelists into any conversation; people who take over-sized stroller pushchairs on the Northern Line at rush hour and get shirty when other passengers refuse to dislocate their limbs and fold themselves up in the corner to make room; newspaper supplement journalists who begin every article like they're writing a novel in the hope that a literary agent will snap them up; literary agents who snap up newspaper supplement journalists believing that their opening paragraphs would make an excellent start to a novel; the girl at Superdrug who never tells me how much my items come to but expects me to succumb to the power of her mind and make me look at the little screen on her till instead; postmen who make a concerted effort to bend packages with 'do not bend' clearly stamped across the front; people who go to public schools named after German saints and attend Rocky Horror Picture Show-themed leavers parties at the end of their final term then bore everyone they know for years to come about what a 'seriously good larf' it was; Bob Wilson; thirtysomethings who listen to Radiohead, believing that Thom York's depressing introspection has revolutionised the British music scene and made rock energetic once again without realising that Dire Straits fans were saying exactly the same thing about them in the early eighties; people who buy organic mushrooms; people who subscribe to magazines and get excited every time a new one lands on the doormat; people who have doormats; people who applaud the linesman's offside flag; people with espresso machines bought from Index for £19.99 that make you drink the stuff whenever you go round then go on about the difference in quality and how you can 'really taste the bean' although it's no different from Mellow Bird's but takes four times as long to produce; people with more than one cat; people who have bought radiator covers; people who frame museum postcards sent by people who use them instead of letter-paper; people who own a copy of Michael Palin's 'Pole to Pole' on DVD. Everybody else write to man, 37. Box no. 16/06

You have to say, that is £380 well spent. If I was a woman I’d reply like a shot. After getting rid of one of my cats, naturally.