Every time I’ve watched Sex and the City (i.e. once) I’ve marveled at the sheer implausibility of Carrie Bradshaw’s job. She spends a week or however long it is twatting about in “the city”, has some vaguely philosophical musings about the “meaning” of it all, throws in a few rubbish metaphors (similarly to how one throws a pair of Manolos into the walk-in wardrobe after an evening on the martinis) and then gets paid to write it all up. Women’s magazines are vacuous, yes, but surely they’re not quite that bad.
Well, turns out I’ve been wrong all this time. The “twatting about” columnist role not only exists, but over at Marie Claire it’s out-Carrie-ing Carrie (which deserves some sort of pun on “carry out”. Probably linked to those “carry-out” boxes of Chinese food people eat in offices in American TV series because they’re, like, too intense and on the job to go home and cook some fish fingers. Can’t get much further with that one, though, so I’ll leave it for you as a “self-assembly” joke. Which won’t even work anyhow because the correct term is “take-out” and not “carry-out”…).
Anyhow, the “twatting about” columnist supremo turns out to be one Lindsey Kelk, who in her “The girl can’t help it” piece (pp. 89-90) really shows us how it’s done (mind you, Linz, I seriously think you can help it, but let’s leave that for now). Should you not believe how bad it is, this, I tell you, is the actual opening paragraph:
For the past, ooh, seven years, I’ve been so busy, I’d completely forgotten what it meant to take it easy. Between working, writing, moving to the US, dating inappropriate men and making sure to test-drive every cocktail New York City had to offer, I really hadn’t given myself a chance to breathe. And so I was more than a little surprised to find myself at a loose end this month. My new book was finished, I was single, I wasn’t scheduled to travel anywhere, to move apartments or, really, to do anything. It was strange. I didn’t like it.
Hmm. I believe you, Lindsey. Honest, I do. And okay, look, I’ll be straight. I read this and I do feel a twinge of envy, and regret. I haven’t always been the way I am now. Once upon a time I too was single, jobless and childless. Alas, instead of seizing the day, as your column goes on to suggest, I stuck to claiming JSA and feeling a bit lonely, what with having no money to spend at the pub. And then when I did get my weekly payment, rather than blow it on cocktails, I managed to get myself further into debt paying the phone reconnection fee and buying Tesco Value pasta. Let’s face it, I’ve been a fool. So perhaps I should live my life vicariously through you.
And boy, does our Lindsey carpe that diem! At one point she even tells us “you would have been proud of me”. I am, Lindsey, I am. You are one brave woman, getting up off that sofa and grabbing life by the bollocks:
When I ventured outside, the sun was shining, Park Avenue’s fur coats had gone back into storage and I didn’t need my tights any more. Exciting. And so, armed with my Chloé shades (I’m an expert at online sale shopping), I tiptoed out into New York City to see what she had for me.
And crikey o’reilly (did I just make that up?), did New York have a lot for our Linz (and, indirectly and vicariously, for us):
Any opportunity that came up, I said yes. [...] [I] now know how to navigate an Italian taxi strike without speaking a word of Italian, interview Vivienne Westwood, play blackjack, successfully sell meth (theoretically) and wear coral. And quite frankly, until you’ve started your evening singing I Touch Myself in a karaoke bar in Hicksville, New York, and ended it in a hot tub in the snow with a lovely cup of tea, you’ve never lived.
I, it appears, have never lived. Although I can wear coral. And I can sing I Touch Myself in a kitchen in Gloucestershire, so it’s a start.*
This is of course a glossy magazine and it’s all “aspirational”, so columns such as Lindsey’s are hardly worth getting in a tizz about. Except then comes the bit when it’s extended into a broader, philosophical point about how we should all, each and every one of us, just sodding well go for it. And that’s when it really starts to get on my M&S bra-supported tits. We all need to say yes to everything! We all need to make the most of the opportunities which we apparently all have:
Even when things look like Breakfast at Tiffany’s to the outside world, you might be feeling more Big Mac at Accessorize. But who can eat a Big Mac every day and feel good about themselves? OK, who can eat a Big Mac and still feel good about themselves without ending up on The Jeremy Kyle Show?
Well, actually, Lindsey, isn’t it about time you gave the little people a break? I can take fluffy, boastful, aspirational columns full of designer labels and “casual” references to how ace the over-privileged author is due to her incomprehensible ability to not only be granted amazing opportunities but to also take them. I can take that. What I can’t take, in the same column, is sneering directed at Jeremy Kyle Show guests, people apparently “feeling good” on their Big Macs and not in fact ground down by the fact that they can’t afford to buy their kids new shoes, let alone afford martinis in Manhattan. I mean, seriously. Fuck you.
Ahem. Perhaps I’m being unfair. After all, Lindsey’s column isn’t all about boasting pointlessly. It’s about helping us work out what to buy next, should we not be Jeremy Kyle Show poor. What we all need, girls, is a Tangerine Tango bag from The Cambridge Satchel Company**:
The way I feel about this Tangerine Tango satchel leads me to believe that I will, one day, be a fabulous mother. I love it.
Lawks-a-mercy! (That’s a good exclamation, too). I am, right now, looking at my sons. They are nothing like Tangerine Tango bags. Perhaps I should put some fake tan on them or something. Would that make me “a fabulous mother”?
Actually, I’ve come up with an idea. You know those pretend electronic babies they give to scummy Jeremy Kyle girls while they’re at school, to convince them that “actually, love, it might look like you have no other opportunities, but don’t have a baby. You can’t even hack that”? They should give them a Tangerine Tango bag instead. Then the girls can take the bags away for a week, and when they come back they’ll say “hey, I don’t want to be a mum after all! I want to be a “twatting about” columnist with a Tangerine Tango bag!”. Then the careers advisor will smile and take the bag back off them, saying “actually, that job does exist. But it’s not for the likes of you.”
* I love myself, I want you to love me, when I get down, I want you above me, I lose myself, I want you to find me, I forget myself, I need you to remind me... Quite impressed with myself as I wrote all of that from memory. The Divinyls would be proud of me!
** General tip for life: Never purchase anything from The [something retro and twee] Company. It’s overpriced and the company’s run by twats.