The Sofa or the Road?

If you were going to make up your own religion from scratch, what would you put in? What would be your symbols, your icons? Would you tell everybody who joined what they had to believe? Danny Wallace, who started Join Me (It’s not a cult it’s a collective) didn’t have anything at all at the start, except curiosity about who would respond to a random advert inviting joiners.

After he had a few hundred people, they started asking him what the plan was, and so he told them to perform random acts of kindness on fridays. Obviously there are similarities with organised religion : Friday is a significant day in at least two world religions, and for both Siddharta and Jesus there was a certain amount of idea development at the beginning.

Mine, assuming I am starting my own church (to be honest, I am the biggest non-joiner I know, so the chances of me even joining a church, let alone starting one, are remote at best) is the Sofa or the Road : I use the symbolic duality of these two familiar places,  to examine and refurbish my daily life, and now, with its theoretical publication on the net, and readership of one (it’s me) I present it to the world :

The Sofa

A place of refuge and comfort, symbol of home : a place to be with friends, chatting, eating cake, drinking tea, a place to lie when you are tired or poorly or hungover or depressed ; propped up and cuddled with cushions and blankets. Its dark side is that it can also be a place of loneliness and retreat  from the world : a night on the sofa with a takeaway and some rubbish telly can be a glorious rest from a troubled and/or busy world, or it can  symbolise  isolation from society,  lack of friends, fear of rejection. The sofa can become a trap : easier to be there than out in the world : your sofa will never start a fight with you, call you a failure, scorn your declaration  of love, run you over (and if it does, you can justifiably take it back for a refund).  Some sofas have wheels, but this does not make them ‘road’worthy : try getting one of those things moving : they resist, they complain, they make you heave, they will even rip up the carpet in their desperation to stay put.

The Road

Like a fucked up face : My Own Private Idaho

Main character in it’s own genre of movie : hard, ugly, uncomfortable, cold, grey, dirty, dangerous. All of these things, plus exciting. On the road you need your wits about you, there is no protection from the elements, or from the unpredictable public, who own the road.  It is everywhere that is not home : if you are on the road, you are vulnerable but you are also open : things happen on the road : you meet people, you see things, your brain is working overtime knitting new synapses to understand everything your senses are pouring in. Exhilarating, unfolding under your feet, every few minutes a new view, a new experience in the world.

Like Yin and Yang, everything can be tagged as either sofa or road : and its not just about where you are : going on holiday is Sofa, because it is safe and comfortable and predictable, staying in your house for years, and digging tunnels under your neighbourhood, like the Moleman of Hackney,

is pretty Road by anyone’s standards. Sometimes, and this is part of the beauty of it, the tag seems counter-intuitive : Renting a house is Sofa, because of the lack of risk : if it burns down, move, if your neighbours are burglars or party animals, or you have cockroaches : also move, and it’s someone else’s problem. Lose your job, and the state will help with your rent. Having a mortgage is Road, even though it seems established and sensible, because of the  risk embodied in handing over control of  crucial aspects of your life for 25 years to a bank, which being an inhuman corporation, lacks capacity for empathy or mercy, should it become necessary in order to save your family home.

Whether something is Sofa or Road a lot of the time depends on who you are, and what you have done with your life up to now : but here is a list which will start hopefully to illustrate the principle:

Road v Sofa

Divorce v Secret affairs

Random Trip v Holiday

Local shops v supermarkets

Adsa v Waitrose

Thrift v Splurge

Freecycle v Ikea

The Pub v Facebook

Don’t Trust Mother Nature

Aaaaaaaaaagh! Cybele : Roman Mother of the Gods?


I was in Walthamstow the other day, and I saw these two office workers with over-gelled hair, and cheap grey suits, and I loved them, because one was so gangly and hilarious, and the other was so stocky and chippy.

When I say I ‘loved’ them, really I mean I laughed at them, and fully recognised that I wouldn’t have gone out with either of them, because I instinctively knew that they had nothing for me, and I : (peri-menopausal, cantankerous, quirky) had nothing they would have understood as even  relevant in a female. There would be proper women, though, with straightened hair and tanned cleavage that would maybe fit their bill, just as I have categories of men that I am by nature predestined to fancy, no matter what their actual personality : and here is an in no particular order list :

1.Tree Surgeons

I know that I am not the only woman suffering from serial tree-surgeon fancying, but I do have it quite badly : i do a sort of meerkat thing at the sound of a chainsaw : “oo! chainsaw! tree surgeons!!”

In case I need to explain : Tree Surgeons are all muscly (it’s a physical job!) they climb up trees and do nifty things with ropes and cool tools : Ladies, I give you the Silky Big Boy :

A long, well balanced, multi-purpose folding saw for greater reach. Lightweight, with a thicker and strong aluminum handle and longer blade, this is the largest Silky folding saw.

Have you ever read a sexier description of a piece of hardware than that? These men also tend to be chilled out, fun loving, with  environmentalist leanings, and an appealing propensity to living life in the here and now. I am so genetically predisposed that even the nasty run-in I had with one a few years ago, of which the outcome was my single motherhood, has failed to cure me even slightly.

2 Vicars

This picture is what I got from a Google Image search for ‘attractive vicar’ : so don’t be offended if this is you or someone you know! Google says you got it going on! Loving the nativity!

My propensity to fancy Vicars (yes, the ludicrous collars, yes, the weird robes) is not, as you might think, the product of any kind of religious upbringing. But maybe the (clang! freudian) clue is in their title of  ‘Father’ : what I am channeling here is the kindly, avuncular, grey-jumper-wearing loveliness of a nice country vicar : think of someone like : OO Tom Hollander in that tv series, filmed in Hackney.

Mmmm, Dog collar...

3.Medical Staff

Luckily I don’t get operated on very often, but there was one time when I had an embarrassing problem in an embarrassing area, and I took it to UCL, where I was gifted with a really pretty gorgeous man, dressed in those strangely attractive V-necked turquoise scrubs. Oh the wry irony of whipping off my knickers at his behest, but for purely diagnostic reasons. This happened to me again, only recently ; I was having my face moles removed at the Homerton, and they had drawn big arrows on my face, in biro, pointing to the area (and probably written ‘I’m with stupid’  as well!) and then sent me out to the waiting room : to be laughed at? I was blogging on my netbook, as you do, when A Gorgeous, Tall Black Surgeon with a posh voice came and started talking to me. We could be married by now, possibly, if it hadn’t been for the foolish biro.

I also like Paramedics (especially on motorbikes : see below) and male nurses, but strangely not dentists. I also don’t especially fancy firemen or policemen, although I know they are popular with many other women.

4 Motorcyclists

Not mopeds. Or pizza delivery men. Not sensible upright-looking bikes with windshields, but those motorbikes that you have to straddle leaning forward and hang on for grim death once they start off. Oh and this is the only situation where an outfit composed entirely of leather would not only be acceptable, but really very welcome.

5.Hippies with dreadlocks

White men with big dreadlocks : they have to be a bit attractive as well, obviously, and I am not especially drawn to hippies per se, but I will always leer at a good set of pretend dreads (I also like dreadlocks on black men, by the way).

Now, in case, you are wondering where this pleasurable meander through my sexual proclivities might be taking us : here it is : I google image searched my fancying keywords and this is what I got : could be my ideal man….

I can see a tree up there...

Except unfortunately this is actually a woman.

And that is what you get if you are trusting Mother Nature (or Google) to find you lasting relationship happiness. She doesn’t care whether you can talk to each other, or still be friends after thirty years of marriage : her job is done once you have met someone and fancied them enough to do the nasty. If you want someone you can stand to be with you have to exercise a bit of restraint as well as a lot of judgement, and be prepared to put in the time making sure your candidate is suitable. That’s why, if you aren’t a vicar or a tree surgeon, don’t have dreadlocks, or a motorbike, or work in a hospital : still, you could be my perfect man.