The Gentle Joy of Speculation Even in the Face of Nothingness

August 7, 2011 § 17 Comments

Along with several other books that I have brought with me on holiday, I have been reading Caitlin Moran’s book, How To Be A Woman.  She is fucking funny.  Many things have made me laugh but her riff in her chapter entitled  I Am In Love, about how women all are obsessed with the idea of love and relationships (I do not deny I may be a wee bit guilty) is so spot on.

At one point she writes: “You can always tell when a woman is with the wrong man, because she has so much to say about the fact that nothing’s happening.”

Like many of her thoughts, this is brilliant.  She might have added, not only a woman WITH the wrong man but a woman who is INTERESTED IN the wrong man.  I fear I have had an awful lot to say about men who have not been interested in me and with whom nothing is happening.  Take all the ones I’ve mentioned in this blog so far, not least the Smidgen.

I think I can learn a thing or two from Caitlin’s light-hearted wisdom, and it might be a start to shut up a bit about the men that ain’t goin’ nowhere, with me at any rate.

There again, half the fun is the speculation, no?  Even if in one’s heart of hearts one knows there is, really, at best not much happening and at worst, nothing happening at all. In the absence of anything, speculation makes for an agreeable sport. The work I do is partly about trying to understand human nature, and curiosity and speculation is the fuel of those in my profession.  I spend my life asking people questions about themselves; for hours I can hear about a person’s relationship with his or her spouse/partner/sibling/child/great aunt/colleague or whoever and never tire of listening.  In the same  – anthropological? – vein, I have spent many an hour wondering what on earth could be passing through a particular man’s head at a particular time, longing to be a fly on the wall of his mixed-message brain.  Often, of course, I am forced to conclude that he is Just Isn’t That Into Me.   But the speculation in itself bestows a certain frisson, and pleasantly passes the odd hour in a plankton’s otherwise emotionally uneventful day.

§ 17 Responses to The Gentle Joy of Speculation Even in the Face of Nothingness

  • Lydia says:

    He will be thinking about sex, food, work or sport, probably in that order.

  • Nina says:

    yes, started same book too, haven’t got to that chapter, but love the quote! so true!

  • asjbendall. says:

    “Never judge a Banana by its skin”, similarly you can never write the book of a married couple, and woe betide you if you try to intervene in a married couples row, because they will both turn on you! Also if a Duck looks serene on the waters surface, you never know just how fast his/her little webbed feet are moving. Just a little like your Plankton, you may be playing too clever a game with your fellow followers, without any realiseation for what open memories you may be reigniting with some of your followers. I AM CONFUSED WHY SOME OF YOUR FOLLOWERS ARE SO KEEN ON ANOMITY, as long as you give honest opinions and facts of yourlife then together we can all, learn and improve our individual lifestyles, and maybe find out, why my chickens have stopped laying; why a riot took place in London last night; why my Courgettes all look like Marrows; why so much rain after so little; why we are enjoying entering in to friendly banter with you and your fellow followers. Bambi, 8 years to clear you decks unbelievable, but obviously true. Sarah Hague as I said France has many positives, including paid adventure still with your own identity. Stormwind you really are like a Para Reg Tom always with a down to earth explanation, gently slipped in at the right moment in the days Plankton. Did the Times let you have the book free for your article, or is it on your Head Sheds boor reading list, I thought you were on holiday!

    • Sarah Hague says:

      asj, I’m not a plankton. I was, but have since found a very wonderful man (early 50s), so am not any more.

      However, I was in Plankton’s shoes for a few years and know what she’s going through. I catalogued my experiences with online dating on my blog. It was quite a laugh, quite bizarre and often dispiriting. Still, it worked in the end, and hope never to have to resort to it again!

      • asjbendall. says:

        Your reply is apprieciated and it completes your individual Jigsaw, it does not however answer why my chickens are not laying! Your analysis in future of the Planktons opinions, will now be judged by me”,As been their, Done that, Got the “T Shirt”. Thankyou.

      • Bambi says:

        Sarah, has this wonderful man any nice brothers (early 50s)!!!!!???

      • Sarah Hague says:

        ‘fraid not, Bambi.

      • Bambi says:

        Pity! Uncles, maybe, Sarah? (Lest I be accused of being ageist. Though I do think I should cut off at 85, or I might appear to be just a gold-digger)!

  • toyman says:

    Never judge a banana by the skin?
    That is exactly how it is judged………………….
    Green, yellow to black and yellow;then just black…

    We all hide behind silly names to avoid ridicule, this is England home of the ruthless hacking tabloids…………nothing sinister!

    Any opinion is judged by the masses, who are always critical…….

    Sarah I too found a friend, this place is not hopeless and as I am writing this she called, makes me feel like I no longer have time to blog; but I am not counting my eggs just yet, plus I enjoy the Plankton.

    • Bambi says:

      Umm….”this” is not England…..(though we also have our share of hackers where I come from……)

      But I agree. I too simply enjoy the Plankton.

  • Chris says:

    Gor blimey, this is all getting very twee and middle class on ‘ere, ain’t it ? All the ethereal belly button gazing and wistfulness etc., spiked wiv the odd judicious use of the ‘ F ‘ word. Nah I’ll tells yer wot I speculates on in a woman. The ability to wear 5 inch heels and short skirts. Age, facial features etc. immaterial. There, that was a short wish list, weren’t it ? Wot a delightfully uncomplicated bloke I am !!

  • Nina says:

    asj: what was all that about?
    Chris: I hope to meet someone who appreciates a bit more about me than the ability to carry off 5 inch heels and short skirts

    • asjbendall. says:

      Nina, if your living in London stay safe tonight, there having a go in Enfield, will give my reply tomorrow when things quieter and have time, your views are great, take care.

    • Chris says:

      Nina,I am sure you do and that is entirely reasonable. I just got kinda bored with the tweeness of all this Plankton stuff !!


    What is the difference between the wrong man and the right man. There are wrong women too in my experience!

    • Redbookish says:

      Rory, of course there are ‘wrong women.’ But to state the bleedin’ obvious (because, let’s not be middle class & twee here! ) Ms. Plankton is a woman, whose preference is for men. So she’s talking about men.

      No need to get so worked up.

  • I read Caitlin in The Times- I’ve not read “How To Be A Woman,” though earlier this year, I did read the first book that she wrote when she in her teen years way back in the 1980’s- And yes, she is very funny, very clever and witty-

    -I do find that I have to read a lot of what she writes with a dictionary by my side, she uses a lot of British words that have never found their way into usage in the American version of our “common shared” language yet, moreso than a lot of the other Times staff writers- But yes, once I get the American language translation of what she’s writing, it is very clever- She’s sort of invented her own very unique writing style, I know of no other writers whose styles are readily easily comparable to hers…

    Apparently, her parents pulled her and all of her brothers and sisters out of the schools back in the 1980’s, they were all home- schooled. Perhaps the absence of any English, literature or writing teachers contributed to enabling her to develop her own style, limited only by her own imagination, and not by any conventional teaching methods… That’s my guess at least…

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