Do you ever have those days where you just think ‘I genuinely could not have made this up?’. Sometimes I think my life is one big bout of that. If you ask most people who know me, they would tell you mine is definitely a life less ordinary.
Over these virtual pages, I hope to capture some of the random insanity that is my life! But for now, I’d like to tell you a story. It’s a true story, and one only a handful of people know.
You see … I’m a dating blogger. Or rather, I’m known for being a dating blogger. I’m actually a former dating blogger, now recognised as one of the nation’s dating ‘experts’. And while I’m quick to stress that my expertise covers the dating industry, and not the ins and outs of romantic relationships, it’s fair to say there’s a reasonable amount of interest around my relationship status. When I started my last relationship, I got emails of congratulation from complete strangers all around the world. And so … despite quite literally earning my career from writing about my love life, there was one story I couldn’t tell.
This time last year, I was living with my boyfriend. We hadn’t been living together long. It had all been a bit sudden, after I’d been kicked out of my flat by my landlady (who ironically had just broken up with her boyfriend, and needed to move back in). We’d been living together three or four months, and the cracks were beginning to show – not helped by the fact we were sharing a tiny studio flat.
In the surreal reality that is my life, I got a phone call from the BBC TV show Newsnight. The dating app Tinder was midway through a Twitter row with the magazine Vanity Fair, and they needed a dating INDUSTRY expert to come on the show and commentate. I rang up my boyfriend to tell him the news. He told me he needed to get up early the next day and wouldn’t be able to watch it. Disappointed, after the filming, I arrived home, crept into bed, and made sure not to wake him up. The next day, I woke early to see him off to work, and was surprised when he didn’t ask how the TV show went.
Confused, I checked his iPad history to see if he’d watched the show after all (we didn’t have live TV in the studio flat). The iPad history didn’t show Newsnight. What it did show, was that while I had genuinely been telling the nation about my relationship with him (yes, that was actually something Evan Davies asked me about) he had been on the dating site Plenty of Fish, asking random women, significantly younger and blonder than me, out on dates. M*ther F*cker. He had actually had the audacity to cheat on an online dating expert, on online dating sites. The irony was, I had found him out within 6 hours of him setting up the account (and cracked his password within minutes).
It was six in the morning. And two days before my brother’s wedding. Our plan for that week was to meet at his parents’ house that evening, spend the night with his family, and then borrow a car to drive to the Cotswolds for two nights for my brother’s wedding. What the hell was I going to do?
I toyed with the idea of messaging him. Maybe I could set up a fake profile and catfish him. Maybe I should email all the women he’d messaged and tell them what a lying, cheating bastard he was. A hundred options raced through my head, and I felt sick, and dizzy, and like I was still asleep. I sat down on the end of the bed, and remember trying to work out what the hell I needed to do. And then I rang some of my friends.
This is the part where things get even more insane. Because my closest friend, geographically, who also had a car … is famous. As in 00s girl-band famous. The kind of famous that gets recognised in the street. We met when I was working as a journalist at the Guardian and interviewed her. And so, one of the most surreal days of my life became even more bizarre, as I called on this friend, and she turned up at the flat. Together with one of my best friends and her husband, me and this former pop star, who had been on posters in my little sister’s bedroom as a child, gutted my boyfriend’s flat of every single one of my possessions. The TV, the kettle, the bedding … you name it, we took it.
I felt like a robber – stealing my own stuff out of the flat I had called home. We worked stealthily. I had a plan. I would gut the flat of my belongings, and then carry on with the weekend if nothing was wrong. And then on Sunday, after the wedding, I’d pretend I needed to head off to a friends, and leave him to head home on his own, and discover the bare flat.
Within an hour or so the flat was empty. It wasn’t hard – it was tiny and most of my stuff was already in storage. As the 00s popstar left, my friend’s husband turned to me. ‘Charly! Next time I’m in the presence of a celebrity, can you please warn me?!’
Welcome to my crazy, God honest, life!