In which SuBo and I are doing fine solo, thanks.

Printed 30/04/09.

Lauren’s least favourite things about summer: white linen trousers. Sand in suncream. The sticky trail of Calippo juice running down one’s arm and pooling in one’s elbow crease. Sweat (my own, other people’s). Entire days of television programming given over to sporting events. And couples.

Couples, if you hadn’t noticed, are suddenly everywhere. If you hadn’t noticed, it will be because you’re in a couple, and too busy nuzzling each other on the bus while I wretch. Couples, like hayfever and a new Big Brother series, are one of those unpleasant side effects of summer that everyone forgets about each year until it quietly takes over the world.

It’s panic-dating – the sun is out! Quick, grab the nearest, vaguely eligible target with which to publicly canoodle! The early birds will stake out claim on every park, grass verge and floral-mounted roundabout while the couple-come-latelies (the ones who had visa issues or previous marriages to wrap up before the frolicking could begin) will have to content themselves with tube platforms, supermarket checkouts, Starbucks queues or anywhere else inappropriate and far too near my face.

Obviously it isn’t love itself, in all its glorious and indefinable splendour, that I object to. Love is fine. Love is very nice, I’m sure. I fully accept that while I still can’t commit to a 4-pack of tinned tomatoes (“what if I don’t NEED 4 tins? What if, 2 tins in, I suddenly start hating tinned tomatoes?”), other people can devote their whole lives to the mutual support and adoration of each other.

What I object to is when they’re mutually supporting and adoring each other while they should be functioning as proper members of society. Such as, and this may just be because I’ve never seen The Notebook and am therefore only half a woman, but why the incessant hand-holding? There are 80 people charging down Tottenham Court Road towards you, can you not see the potential issues? Is the plan really to snare unsuspecting single pedestrians into your web of pavement passion? Because I’m telling you, the next couple whose conjoined arms I ricochet off like a shuttlecock will either break hands temporarily, or have them politely broken for good.

If I’m seeming a little more bitter than usual this week, it’s because I am. Not just because of the number of entwined couples I’ve had to step over in order to go about my business this week (seriously folks, what can you POSSIBLY find sexy about the Post Office? Is it the smell of dust, adhesive labels and despair?). No, it’s also because the plight of the singleton has taken an unprecedented knock-back over the last couple of weeks, in the matronly shape of Susan Boyle.

I know, I know, how dare I? Because if we Brits love anything more than mocking life’s unfortunates, it’s pretending to love life’s unfortunates as a compassionate cover for actually mocking them. It’s a cruel, cruel practice, and I believe it’s only fair now that everyone who’s declared Susan a ‘legend’, ‘inspiration’ or actually had the audacity to cry is now browbeaten* into buying every album she releases until Leona Lewis looks like a shoddy precursor. That’s what I think.

But while Susan herself is meekly doing her bit for the case of uncoupled women it’s the newspapers that have let the side down. They’ve been using that heinous word – the word that should have been eradicated years ago, but somehow has lingered on like the ghost of antifeminism past: ‘Spinster’. Uggggh. How have we made it to the 21st century still using a word like spinster? Men get ‘bachelor’, with all its pleasant connotations of Cuppa-soup, while women get verbally locked away in attics to weave blankets and grow large facial warts. Susan Boyle, thank you journalists, is not a spinster. She is a lady. A lady who dreamed a dream. And, just maybe, that dream is to be able to get a latte or post a parcel without tripping over a snogging couple. Let’s respect that.


*’Brow’ being the operative word there, Susan’s own pair providing subtle endorsement of the new Budget this week in their tribute to our own Chancellor of the Exchequer.