Writer, photographer, "rapper" and general technophobe takes on the internet in what could be a very, very messy fight. But it's alright: she's harder than she looks, and she's wearing every single ring she could get her hands on.


Thursday, 30 April 2009


When the most important things in your life are in your head, the imagination can be a dangerous thing.

Like anything, the more you use it the stronger it gets, and mine can now stand up without me. Not only do I have fictional characters from my writing roaming around in my head - picking things up and touching things when I have told them not to - but they've been joined by imaginary men, created from online dating websites. In tentatively sticking a toe in the cyber dating water, I've taken what I normally do anyway - which is create a fictional character out of a few cursory facts I've picked up and get romantically interested in that instead - and then created men in my head that are so tangible that I've found myself taking them like little outfits on dates, holding them out and expecting the men to slip into them.

Which they haven't been able to, unsurprisingly: they simply haven't fitted. Three online dates, and not one has been anything even remotely approaching the man I created in my head. Which is not only disappointing, but leads me to a disturbing conclusion: where have the men in my head gone, if they don't actually exist in the first place?

"The thing is," I explained to my grandparents yesterday (they are very understanding about the whole online dating thing, although I suspect they find it all a bit pathetic. Because it is, mainly). "Well, the thing is, that these people I create in my head are so real, that when I turn up and they're not that person, I spend the first hour of the date in a kind of mourning. I literally spend the first drink at least missing the person I thought they were going to be, and realising that they are essentially dead because they were never there to start with. And I can't get over it: it's like dating during a funeral. I'm too busy waving goodbye to the man I created to talk to the man in front of me."
"And what were they like?" Grandad said: "as people?"
"Lovely. Not my cup of tea, but really lovely. But even if they were my cup of tea, I'm not sure I'd notice. I'm too busy comparing them to a cup of tea in my head."
"Mmm," Grandma said. There was a pause. "You know what you need to do?" she said. "You need to knit your own. That's what I did with your grandad."
"And look how well I turned out," my Grandad pointed out.
"Well," Grandma said, pulling a face. "You're not nearly as well behaved as you were supposed to be, but you'll do."
Grandad winked at me.
"I do prove to be a bit troublesome now and then," he admitted, and then he got up to go and get me another biscuit.

The thing is, I do knit my own. I knit my own soulmates out of thin air, and then feel remarkably surprised when they evaporate: even though it happens every time, and every single time they disappear like steam.

Almost every time, anyway. Last year I met a man who didn't disappoint me. When I held the little man-suit I'd knitted out, he didn't just fit it: he filled it, and then brought his own little matching hat and shoes to go with it. Everything about him was perfect, and every thing he did or said was better than anything he had ever done or said in my head in the six years I had already adored him from afar. Even the yellow smoker's plaque on his teeth was adorable, and the fact that he still wore invisible braces, aged 26, was somehow a delightful bonus: the curtain in front of the magician.

And the only time he ever disappointed me was when he got up at 4am, left, and I never saw him again.

I wasn't who he thought I would be, apparently.

The problem with knitting garments for your heart to step into is that every now and then you'll discover that somebody is holding one out for you, and you don't even realise it until you can't get it over your head.