Earlier this month, this blog of mine turned six years old.

Even typing that sentence, as I just have, on my actual MacBook, feels weird. Blogging doesn’t exist anymore, not like it used to. We’ve gone from no one having a blog, to everyone having a blog, to now – where it seems as if we’re back at a nobody again.

I’ve managed to write at least a couple of posts every year that this site has been in existence, but I’ve come within seconds of deleting the whole damn thing on several occasions. If no one writes blogs or reads blogs anymore, then what is the point of owning one? But then I remembered, that has never been the point. I’ve never written a word in the hope that someone else would read it (okay okay, apart from a handful of thinly veiled passive aggressive rants aimed at my evil ex, but there’s at least one more of those to come…) – it’s always been for my own self-absorbed interest.

I’ve never hit ‘delete’ because I knew there’d always be a point when I feel like writing something again. And lucky for you (or just me, when I read this back in a few minutes), that time is now.

Whilst everyone has migrated elsewhere on the internet and are busy abusing their ‘friends’ on Facebook, trolling ‘celebrities’ on Twitter and slipping into each other’s DM’s left, right and centre on Instagram, I’m going to use the relative quiet of this space here in the corner, to get some of my thoughts straight. It’s nice to have somewhere where there’s not quite so much yelling. Oh man, there’s just so much yelling.

I don’t need facts or figures or graphs or studies to persuade me how to vote on 23 June. I don’t need TV debates or experts. And I’m getting pretty good at ignoring the utter crap that the tabloids publish on their front pages.

Whether Britain should remain in or leave the EU isn’t a matter of weighing up the arguments and pondering both sides, because it’s more than that. It’s emotional, it’s innate.

I’m an EU resident currently residing in an EU country and I want it to stay that way.

I live in London, which – as I’ve said before – is one of the greatest cities in the world. One of the reasons that I love London is the diversity. I don’t get annoyed hearing the many languages spoken here and seeing the many faces living here, I feel enriched by it. Yes, London is hard work sometimes, but it’s people make this baffling and beautiful place what it is.

London’s offices, homes, bars, shops, buses, trains, hotels, restaurants, hospitals and streets are filled by people from all over the world. And a heck of a lot of them from all over the EU. My life is made better by the many different people I live with, work with, run with and socialise with. I don’t want anyone of them to feel like they aren’t welcome in London or anywhere in Britain.

On the flip side, I also want to feel welcome across Europe. I have travelled to countries within the EU numerous times, and this has increased dramatically within the last few years. I think nothing of jumping on a flight and exploring a different city for the weekend. Or running a half marathon in one of our European neighbours. I’d spend a few days in Berlin, Paris or Barcelona as easily, probably more cheaply and definitely more frequently that I would Leeds, Liverpool or Manchester.

This makes me extremely privileged, but this is how I chose to spend my salary. Others may save for a place of their own, I go on little adventures that I am lucky enough to have within only a few hours of my doorstep.

But this isn’t just about the future of budget airlines or keeping millennials boredom-free at weekends. It’s about the fact that me, and many other people, have grown up in Britain but also feel European.

It’s in the books I read, the language lessons I take, the sports I watch, the dreams I have.

I will genuinely just feel very sad if we vote leave next week.

And if we do, I’m moving to Spain (whilst I still can).

Most of the time, I like to think I’m a pretty sensible, level headed single person. I don’t freak out when spending long periods of time in my own company, I usually remember that soul mates don’t actually exist and I read articles like this one that make me realise that third wheeling can be really quite fun (and also funny). And more often than not, I feel bloody smug that I’m going home to nothing more than a green tea and my Miffy pyjamas.

But sometimes, weeks like last week happen. And last week, two things happened to not knock my balance right off.

Let’s talk about those things.

The first thing

The early part of the week marked the anniversary of the night I met the person I spent 97% of the last year madly in love with/perpetually confused by/crying over. Often I was all three at the same time. It was the most awesomely spontaneous, crazily passionate yet emotionally tumultuous relationship I’ve ever been in. And the great weekend that started it all was flashing all over my Facebook timeline, a reminder of that thing I used to have. In the words of Justin Bieber, FEELS.

The second thing

So, what else is a girl to do when moping over her ex, but to head into her iPhone for a string of disappointing and disjointed virtual conversations?

I matched with a guy on Tinder, totally my ‘type’ (y’know, the type that you think is your type, but in reality you have never dated anyone like that…) We started chatting; it’s all going well. He mentions the usual – where he lives, where he works, interests, his football team… and then the penny drops. I know that there is probably more than one Spurs season ticket holder within a 5 kilometre radius of my house, but in that moment I just knew. This guy had already been on a date with one of my friends.

I also know that the chances of this happening aren’t actually that slim – there are only so many men of a certain age, in a certain place, on a certain app at any one time. But these two things combined sent me into one of those OHMYHGOD-I’m-the-only-single-person-left-and-it’s-gong-to-be-this-way-forever panics.

In order to alleviate this panic – and also because I’m a maths-loving, curiously minded, highly analytical person (as well as a bit bored and being left to my own devices for a little bit too long), I decided to try and work out the actual chances of me and my bestie matching the same dude on Tinder.

Strap yourself in folks, stats are coming you way

Yes, I actually went on the Internet and looked up official government statistics. I’m not apologising, this was a really fun way to spend my Saturday afternoon (DORK).

Here goes.

• There are 8.2 million people in London – 4.2 million female, 4 million male

• Of these Londoners, 1.6 million people are aged 30-44 (this the closest age bracket to my own age that I could use)

• 804,000 of these people are male

• 314,000 of these men are single and have never been married

• When you add back in divorced and widowed (if you don’t mind the baggage), this goes back up a bit to 353,000

• BUT then, you have to take off people that aren’t married, but are co-habiting (SINNERS!) – this takes off quite a few, so the number drops again, leaving…

• 195,000 single men aged 30-44 living in London

• HOWEVER, this doesn’t account for men that are coupled, but not co-habiting, and also makes no assumption as to sexual orientation (both of which will drop the number further)

• Then of course, you have to take off: men that think that rugby is better than football, men that aren’t feminists, men that think that tying a jumper around their waist is okay (or whatever list of non-negotiables you’d personally like to apply to your pool of potential partners)

So, making some very, very rough estimations (this is where it turns from actual hard facts to just me guessing…) there are about 115,000 men of a certain age, in a certain place…

…but as for on a certain app? I tried to find some figures to suggest how many users of Tinder there were in London (yep, this thing went DEEP), but came up blank. Judging on my experience though, I’m going with ‘quite a lot’ of those 115,000.

So, my conclusion is this: although I have just proved to the internet that I am actually quite crazy, there is still a relatively good chance that there is at least one person that might find it at least a little bit endearing, maybe even something more.

Ahhh, thank you maths.

(For those that are interested, the number is ever so slightly lower when the same logic is applied to women. For those that are really interested, I have all the data in a spreadsheet. And I have data sources. Oh, and we should probably date.)

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Bought these for myself on vday, just FYI

Over the last few months, the exact same scenario has swept through my group of friends like some kind of love life epidemic. As the months have passed, it’s picked off each one of us (myself included) that have been (un)fortunate enough to embark on a new relationship.

We’ve all met and fallen for lovely, charming, funny boys, we’ve all been on dates that turned into sleepovers, and we’ve all eventually reached the point – a few months in – where we’ve all been smitten and ready enough to want to commit further to the blossoming relationship. Then it all goes a bit weird, the boys get a bit less keen, the messages get a lot less frequent and we hear the dreaded words “you deserve better”.

And do you know what, I’m SO sick of hearing those words. I’m sick of my gorgeous, smart, successful, witty friends being told they deserve better. I’m sick of spineless, commitment phobic boys in their late twenties freaking out and breaking our hearts, only to merely brush themselves down and do it again to the next woman.

The breakup cliché used to be “it’s not you, it’s me”. I used to hate that, I used to think it was a massive cop out. But on reflection, at least it recognises where the full blame lies. It acknowledges that it is nothing to do with the woman. It actually takes some guts for a man to admit that a relationship ending is entirely their fault.

“You deserve better” is the opposite. It is cowardly. It helps project some of that blame onto the woman, making them think that they asked for too much or that they had unrealistic expectations. It forces them to settle.

And they shouldn’t. All these women want is someone to be on their team. (Both myself and one of my close friends began to use this phrase completely independently of each other.) We don’t want or need a Prince Charming. We don’t want endless free dinners or to be whisked to the other side of the world. We want a partner. We want someone who’s going to be on our team through the amazing times and the shit stuff. We earn our own money and can pay our own way; we want someone to sit across from us at dinner or on the plane next to us and challenge us, inspire us, and to just be with us.

I know it can be done. For every amazing single friend I have, I have three more that are happily the girlfriend of or married to equally as brilliant, loyal, intelligent, supportive men. I know couples whose relationship I am deeply envious of, who have the team thing nailed.

So boys, instead of telling us we deserve better, how about just being better. Instead of making yourself feel okay about being a shitty boyfriend, look to your friends who manage to be great ones. We don’t deserve better, we just deserve what you promise us in the beginning. And if you can’t manage to do that yet, then just leave us all the hell alone until the day that you can.

  
Last year, I visited Spitfire Scramble in my unofficial role as chief-bringer-of-banana-bread to the Team Naturally Run and Run Dem Crew teams. This year, after what I can only assume was a bump on the head or a large glass of red (let’s be honest here, I’m going with the latter), I agreed to be on one of the three teams that RDC again took along to the race. 

In an astonishing feat of organisation, I managed to retrieve my sleeping bag from my parents’ house and buy myself a new tent several weeks ahead of the race. All that was left was to fling ALL my running gear into my housemate’s borrowed rucksack (apparently you can’t turn up to a campsite with a suitcase, *cough* Alex *cough*) and trek on out to Hornchurch via an hour long stint on the District line. 

The weather turned out to be wonderful – we had sun and clear skies for the entire weekend, which undoubtedly made the whole thing much more enjoyable. In fact, lolling around in a park in Essex was a lovely way to spend a couple of days. For me, it was a shame the running had to happen. 

Spitfire Scramble is a 24 hour relay race in which teams of one to eight people aim to complete as many 6-ish mile loops as possible. We were three teams of eight, which due to illness, injury, parenthood and fatigue slowly dwindled to three teams of five as time wore on. 

The course, which was largely gravelly, then a bit fieldy and ended by being a teeny bit foresty, was entirely within Hornchurch Country Park. I don’t really love running off road so this was a bit problematic. I did my first lap around four hours into the race, at 4pm when it was still pretty warm, but at least it was daylight. I sort-of enjoyed it, taking just over an hour to complete the lap.    

 

By the time my second lap rolled around, it was past 11pm, dark (really dark) and there’d been reports of kids hanging around in the park and generally making a nuisance of themselves. Our teams agreed to run all their night laps together (so in mini teams of three), but I still wasn’t keen so decided to give up on my laps until it was light. 

After this, I managed a broken 7 hours sleep (probably one of the only people in the park that night able to say that), only waking up to find myself more and more freezing and having to wrap myself in more and more layers. By the time 5am came, I was so cold I wasn’t getting out of that sleeping bag for love nor money. Running didn’t have a chance. 

I finally ran (read: mostly walked) my second and final lap as the penultimate one for our team, around 10am on the Sunday. One of our teams had managed to keep going all through the night, and as a result were our highest placing team in the overall competition by quite some way. The rest of us were feeling a little less competitive and favoured sleep and mid-table obscurity.

 
This was a great event – it’s still small enough to feel inclusive and friendly, but had built on some of the feedback from last year with better catering and more and closer toilets. I had a great bunch of teammates, and for me hanging out with them, getting to know them better, chatting running and drinking beer was the best part. 

It was interesting to also have some teams that were going for the win taking part too. Every so often, you’d here them talking tactics in the information tent, although I’ll ignore that they got a bit sexist by the end of the race, for fear of a full blown rant. 

All in all, SS was a really sociable way to enjoy running, it was something different and it (and my new awesome little tent) made me remember I actually quite like camping. Where shall I take it next…?