Now, before you write this off as a literary version of the opening credits to Bridget Jones’ Diary – in which Renée Zellweger delivers a very convincing but somewhat tragic lip sync of ‘All By Myself’ by Eric Carmen – I feel I should offer a disclaimer.
I love being single.
I know – it’s shocking. I also know that some people won’t even be able to hear that sentiment due to the sheer distance between them in their cohabiting bliss, and me on that shelf cluttered with dust and broken dreams that they’ve mentally put me on, but it’s true.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not adverse to being in a relationship. I love that too, in fact. But I like that, currently, my free time is completely my own – that I can be utterly selfish in pursuit of my ambitions and that I don’t have to share my tub of Hagen Daaz with anyone. I know these things won’t last forever, so they feel even more precious now that they’re mine for the taking.
Of course, being single doesn’t make you the pariah it once did (if this had been a Jane Austen novel I’d have been packed off to be a governess at some country estate by now) but it’s not without its difficulties.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the bad dates and awkward questions from families that provide the headaches – believe me when I say that singletons have learned to navigate these with expert ease. The foibles faced by those alone actually surface in much more subtle ways.
Let me just put this out there: London hates single people.
First off, there’s the issue of joining the Shared Ownership or Help to Buy schemes. Whilst these claim to help first-time buyers get on the property ladder in one of the most expensive cities in the world, what they fail to mention is that you need to be earning a small fortune to do this alone.
A couple of years ago, bright eyed and bushy-haired (pre-Dyson hairdryer), I looked into joining them, only to find out that my measly sub £80K salary would not suffice to cover the costs. Of course – they would dispute this, but once I added up the mortgage repayment, the rent and the cost of paying for bills alone, I was looking at a minimum monthly outgoing of £1,300. Feasible if you’re in a couple, but eye-watering if you’re not.
Then there’s that god-awful ‘Two Together’ railcard. Whoever thought of that clearly has a dart board covered in people’s Tinder pictures on the back of their office door; rewarding those who travel in twos with a whopping 30 percent off, this just screams discrimination. Not only are single travellers fated to endure the hell of sitting next to a stranger, (which is always more like Dumbo than Brief Encounter) but they have to pay an extra third for the privilege.
Without meaning to, single people are pretty much solely responsible for all the food wastage in London too. No matter how many times you divide and reduce a recipe, it is almost impossible not to end up with enough to feed the five thousand, or at least the entire street. As such, we are doomed to eat the same homemade tarka dahl three times a day for at least a week, until the mould starts to spread or we give up and shove it all in the already bulging freezer. RIP to all the buried tubs of ice cream that I can no longer get at, by the way. You were good while you lasted.
Before I end up sounding like the ‘bitter’ (the preferred signifier for single people) and twisted Miss Havisham, I should reiterate the fact that I do actually love being single.
Solo travel trips, meals out spent reading, and self-care Saturday mornings have become some of my favourite pastimes, and meeting friends’ new partners and all their hot single friends is truly a joy.
As Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj once so eloquently put it, ‘I’m feelin’ myself’ and all the opportunities that living in the best city in the world can bring.
OK – so perhaps London doesn’t hate single people that much. Just enough to keep us on our toes and encourage us to strive for our full potential.
Now excuse me whilst I go and rearrange my freezer.
Foundry Fox Disclaimer: No coupled up people were harmed in the making of this piece.