I’d Rather Live Alone

Today’s special. Why? Because it’s a Leap Year and it’s February 29th.

Maybe it’s a sign of the times (or my age), but this year, my Instagram feed’s been jammed with stories about women deconstructing traditional gender roles, and proposing to their partners. Surprising as I only follow 65 people.

I’m writing about it because today, my friend’s girlfriend proposed to him. 

It’s sweet. Empowering. Different. 

Yes, it’s a proposal.

They’ve been together for years, and as far as I can tell, enjoy a sturdy relationship. Like those two obscurely shaped bricks in Tetris, or two non-integers that you can mash together into an integer. It’s like she’s 8.56874125486342, he’s 21.4312587451, and together they make 30 (I had to give him the bigger number because he’s my friend, not because I’m sexist).

I’m trying to express my emotions with maths, because right now, I’m not wearing any socks and I’m afraid I’m going to get stuck in all the sentiment

Anyway, immediately after seeing the hint of a proposal in the Instagram story, rather than wishing my friends good luck (?), I started thinking about myself.

Actually, I started thinking about a question everyone’s started asking me. 

When are you going to move in with your girlfriend?

Well, When’s It Going To Happen?

Mum and Dad, are you reading this? Great.

Probably never.

Honestly, I don’t think it’s going to happen unless the following three points are satisfied:

  1. We continue going out 
  2. My girlfriend’s deported (it might happen)
  3. I get a proper job, stop living like a bum and have a magic aneurysm that reforms my behaviour

It’s not because I don’t like her. No, I tolerate her completely. 

If I didn’t, right now instead of writing this, I’d be spending my time making up wild new excuses about how I really like her, but there’s no way that I can see her. Not because I’m a coward, but because I’m a pragmatist. Finding a new girlfriend’s a total hassle.

I mean, I can think of some excuses already, but if I started using them it’d be clear that there was no trust in our relationship, and it’s definitely the most trusting relationship I’ve ever been in. Also, I’d need to have something else to do instead of hanging out with her, and I don’t like the idea of climbing or croquet classes.

Oh, you want to know what the excuses are because you’ve been dreaming of going out with me? Just this once, I’ll pretend you’re not joking. Go on, read away:

  1. My flatmate’s overdosed. I’m sitting at his bed in the hospital. No, sorry, you can’t come. You know that they charge Europeans every time they enter an English hospital, right?
  2. I had a really mad dream about that pirate slide at the playground. You know, the one that whispers, “Shiver me timbers!” Wait, you don’t remember? Well you’re one beastly buccaneer. I need to get it all down before I forget the second act’s epic sea shanty. It was pretty long. Pirates of the Caribbean long. So it’s probably going to take me at least six months.
  3. I can’t find my keys.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, we both tolerate each other, but don’t feel compelled to move in together.

But that probably isn’t a very clear expression of that.

Imagined Cohabiting Calamities

I have a lot of preconceptions about living with people. It’s easiest to explain them with a Bobblehead. So just imagine I’m holding one in front of you now.

Ok, let’s begin.

How often do you take out your favourite Bobblehead and admire it? (I’m waving the bobblehead at you). What was that, only once or twice a week? Exactly. That’s no time at all. 

Now imagine your favourite Bobblehead wobbling over and staring at you all the time. 

Offensive, isn’t it? 

Already you can probably hear it chastising you for not washing your clothes, hanging towels on wardrobe doors, watching Adventure Time, writing trash that you never publish, waking up earlier than you should (on occasion), and using mouthwash.

Maybe this doesn’t happen when you live with your girlfriend or boyfriend, or whatever. I wouldn’t know. I’ve never really lived with one.

I don’t know what my apprehension is, but ultimately, it seems like living with another person requires you to sacrifice some independence, and I guess it’s all about what that independence means to you.

Most likely, the value I put on my own independence is ill conceived.

But I just don’t understand why I’d want to give up the freedom of living on nothing but peanut butter sandwiches, spending all my time listening to three Death Grips songs on repeat, and staying up way, way past my bedtime writing nonsense. Isn’t being able to do those things the definition of being an adult?

Is it a selfish perspective? Probably. But maybe, in certain situations, it can be zero-sum. I don’t know, it’s hard to know exactly what other people think.

What About Her Feelings?

Empathy isn’t my forte, but as far as I can tell, our feelings are aligned. 

She’s been pretty blunt and said that if we moved in together I’d annoy her. She also seems to value time alone. The only cohabitation advantage she’s conceded is that her bed would be warmer.

A condition of cold is more of an issue to her than you’d believe, so given she’s so frosty about the idea of us moving in together, there must be something to it. 

But it’s cool. I guess that’s one of the reasons why I tolerate her. It’s nice that she tells me what she thinks.

Disasters All Around

The sudden appearance of the question also seems to coincide with a few of my friends experiencing harrowing breakups. The type of breakups where they’ve found themselves sharing the same bed as their former spouse for months, because they’re renting somewhere together and aren’t loaded enough to move out immediately.

I’ve also spent the last month watching my sister’s relationship breakdown with her significant other. And before that, watched her vegetate for over a year, and use him as an excuse for her self-inflicted inactivity.

It’s totally risk averse, but I don’t want that for myself, or someone that I tolerate.

Were Franz Ferdinand Ever Cool?


Also, there’s that song on their third album in which Alex Kapranos espouses the benefits of Living Alone.

I like that song, and that seems as good a reason as any to stand by something.

So yes, right now, I’d rather live alone.

In addition to liking that song, I also respect it. So, instead of ruining it by listening to it too much, it seems better to only play it like twice a week. You know, if not the second guitar might start to annoy me, or the song might not be as enthused with whatever I was doing that day. 

It’s the type of thing that you don’t want to wear the magic out of.

But You’re Engaged

Wait, no, I’m not engaged.

My friends are engaged. 

The header’s an expression of that. 

They’re different to me, and that’s why I like them. 

It’s probably why living together has worked for them. But I guess it seems like maybe now, if your goals aren’t necessarily nuclear, then the convention of living with your boyfriend or girlfriend shouldn’t be as big a deal, or a necessary step in a relationship.

I don’t think it detracts from what other people have. It’s just different.

So anyway, congrats on the engagement guys. I’m pretty sure you don’t read my blog, but at least I can now point to something and pretend it was full of heartfelt sentiment.

The Perils of Co-Working Space

Today, I’m spending the whole day working in some shared office space. 

It’s a precursor to actually paying for some desk-space on a full-time basis. Like um, popping your cherry as a freelancer. Is it still ok to say ‘popping your cherry’?

Now, I’ve only been here for three hours, but already it’s been a nice change. 

The office is in an industrial estate, so I’m at complete liberty to pretend that I’m a mechanic. More importantly, my sister (my current flatmate) has absolutely no idea where I am. That means today, I do not have to pretend that I’m sorry about the state of the bathroom, or that I have to endure another discussion about the rapidly diminishing state of her mental health. I also don’t have to listen to her scream at the mirror, or lumber around the house like a barrel of laughs that had all the laughs taken out

If you’re wondering which sister, um, it’s the other one. Yeah, I have two sisters and it’s not the one you think it is. 

Anyway, I’m not saying this is going well just because my sister can’t scream at me.

No, I’m also being very productive. I mean, this is the first time I’ve posted anything on my blog since January. Who knows what I could achieve if I actually had some clients?!

However, while I’ve enjoyed my first three hours hours here, I’ve also found that having not worked in a proper office for over seven months, I’ve completely forgotten how to behave in a professional environment. 

Given this is probably a common post-working-from-home condition, and I’ve had a lot of time to think about it, here’s some very well considered advice on surviving in an office. 

Remember these lessons when you’re next at work, or you’ll probably lose your job.

1. Etiquette Is Important

One of my potential co-workers brought in vegan cookies. 

It was a really sweet gesture, intended to welcome me to the co-working space. 

Now, these were big, round cookies. The sort of big round cookies that are definitely bigger than your face, unless your mother had an affair with Moonface from the Faraway Tree. 

A picture of Moonface explaining to your father just how many fucks he gives – thank god you didn’t inherit his apathetic demeanour

So yeah, BIG cookies. 

And what did I do? 

I waddled up to the table, stacked high with cookies and grabbed an entire cookie in my greasy hands.

As soon as I touched it, I knew I’d made a mistake.

Yes, I shouldn’t have taken the whole cookie. I should have broken a bit off and just eaten a quarter. But instead, I took an entire cookie and ate it all – and loudly at that. 

My consistent chomps reminding dearest, co-worker no. 1, that it was a mistake to give me something nice.

This incident happened at 10:45. Since then I’ve been feeling dreadful. Not because the cookie was bad. It was great. But because I feel like a selfish prick. 

I’ve even emailed apologies to my girlfriend, seeking absolution for what an ass I’ve been. This hasn’t really done anything to help the situation though. I mean, she didn’t buy the cookies, and as far as I can tell, she’s not part of the freelancing vanguard (unemployed wretches).

Maybe if they invite me back I’ll bring in a bag of baby spinach and we can all share it. I’ll even promise not to get mad when someone takes a really big handful, or accuses me of not washing it properly.

Rule 1: If someone brings really big cookies into your co-working space or office, don’t eat an entire cookie. Unless you hate the person who brought in the cookies or your co-workers. Then you should totally do it. Also, if you have a face bigger than a really big cookie, eat the cookie – everyone probably hates your father already, and that’s genetic. 

2. Chairs Will Squeak

This isn’t an issue for everyone, but the chair I’ve been allocated squeaks. It squeaks every time I move, and hell, I move a lot.

Right now I’m not sure if the squeak indicates pleasure or pain. Just one thing’s for sure, whenever I move, it happens. I mean, maybe the emotion can be slightly less one dimensional? I mean, swivel chairs operate on two planes, do they not?

But back to the topic.

So, I suffer from a pretty serious condition called Ants In My Pants.

That means it’s medically acknowledged that if a chair has wheels, I’m have every right, and need to spin in it, push it back, and just be a general nuisance. 

However, I’m afraid that my new workies (potential co-workers) won’t understand my condition, or might even be annoyed by it. That’s why I’ve been trying to keep my back as rigid as possible, while keeping rotations to a minimum for the last forty five minutes.

It’s absolute torture.

I also want to remove my shoes, crack my toes, neck and fingers, take off my shirt and push this chair’s lumbar support back so hard that it snaps.

It’s a real issue. That’s why I’ve decided that as soon as everyone vacates this room, I’m going to swap this chair with somebody else’s.

Assuming that they invite me back, I will also invest in some socks that look like shoes.

Rule 2: If you end up with a squeaky chair, swap it with someone else’s when they least expect it. Also, it’s 2020, we really need better professional support for those who suffer from Ants In Their Pants.

3. You Must Look Busy

When I work at home there’s absolutely no need for me to look busy. 

As my own supervisor, I know it’s totally fine if I spend entire afternoons standing in the garden thinking (no, not smoking, who the hell do you think I am?!).

However, right now, I feel compelled to impress the three people in the room, that I totally do not know, but I’m temporarily sharing this space with. I’m doing this by typing as furiously as possible. That’s right, I’m currently smashing my keyboard so hard that the succulent next to me is quivering. Finally, a living organism is impressed by my might.

I’m not actually doing anything useful though. 

That’s because my desk is positioned at a great angle and no one can see my screen – so the joke’s totally on them

It’s a strange situation, because I actually do have work to do. However, it’s been three hours and I really don’t have any intention of doing it. 

Why? Because I know that if I start doing something useful, there is no way that I can maintain writing over 120 words per minute, and all three of the people around me won’t continue to be as impressed. 

So yeah, that’s why I’m writing this stupid blog post and working on the script for a brilliant new film called Drag Snails – as ever, great job Henry, great fucking job.

Rule 3: People’s opinion of how good you are at working is much more important than whether you’re actually working (who didn’t know this one already?!)

4. People Will Do Anything To Make You Feel Less Important Than You Truly Are

As I’m typing this, it’s slowly dawning on me that I really haven’t achieved anything over the last three months.

Sure, I released 2019’s bestselling zine, Watch Out! Your Dad’s A Tory, and developed some economic models for calculating the cost of policing in England (yawn), but I haven’t really done anything else.

Wait, maybe if I include writing and recording a very, very good song dedicated to my girlfriend’s best friend for her thirtieth birthday, I can convince myself that I’ve actually done a lot. If anything, I’ve done way too much.

I mean, this list is probably very intimidating for most people.

Bones a’ creakin’

Mortgage lending

Hungover for days but

You ain’t even been a drinkin’

Stronger lenses

Friends a’ married

Breeding conversations

Ain’t no longer bein’ parried

Excerpt from Thirty Candles, Hungry Hungry Henry

Until I remembered this great song, sitting in a co-working space for three hours had started to damage my perspective of myself.

Despite achieving more than most people probably achieve in a lifetime in the space of three months (becoming a bestselling author, legendary songwriter and arguably a revolutionary), the co-working space was making me feel like I hadn’t achieved anything at all.

It was a strangely humbling experience, as I’m sure you can tell.

Rule 4: Try not to let other people’s less important achievements diminish your super important and impressive achievements. If you do, they won’t let you work with them any more.

5. Never, Ever, Avoid Invitations

I just turned down an invitation to lunch. 

Why the hell did I just say that I didn’t want to have lunch? 

Everyone’s going to think that despite my intimidating muscles (ballooning paunch), that I either cannot afford lunch, or am desperately trying to cover up that I can’t eat conventional food and only gain nourishment from broken hearts.

Damn. Who knew?

Rule 5: Always accept invitations to eat and make sure you always eat the same type of food as your co-workers. Declined invitations make people really suspicious of you and may lead them to believe that they’re better than you are.


However, yeah, working in an actual office is great. 

I mean, I haven’t spent all day pretending to be busy by re-washing my clean clothes and watching YouTube videos about John Romero to ‘be inspired’.

So I guess I’d like to commit to it.

Assuming they accept me, all I need now is a full-time intern to act as my receptionist and for the next four hours to be more successful than the last three.

Oh yeah, and for my potential co-workers not to catch on to how actually, they probably don’t want to work with the type of bastard who would spend their first day in their co-working space writing about how they’re not really the type of person anyone would want to work with.