petite anglaise

February 21, 2007


Filed under: navel gazing, single life — petiteanglaiseparis @ 7:57 pm

As I sat on the métro on the way to see some girlfriends yesterday, a bag containing chablis, Nutella and maple syrup wedged between my feet, I couldn’t help thinking back to happier versions of Mardi Gras, and in particular the 2006 edition, in honour of which I threw a pancake party and invited a few friends* from work to my old apartment. It was the first and last time many of them got to meet the man I referred to on this blog as Lover (a pseudonym to which a few readers strongly objected, but I felt then, as I do now, that given just how much time we spent horizontal, the name fit very snugly indeed).

A few days later Lover brought my dreams of an idyllic life together in the Breton countryside crashing down around my ears. I picked myself up, carried on, and so much other stuff happened shortly afterwards that I really didn’t know how to feel anything other than numb for a while.

What this means is that I’ve now been single for almost a full calendar year. It’s a state of affairs without precedent, because after much racking of brains and counting of digits, I can say with absolute certainty that the last time I was single for a Whole Year was in 1988. Although to be fair, at that time I’d been single for a total of fifteen years and was breathlessly awaiting the arrival of my first proper boyfriend.

How do I feel about this? Well, of course I’d rather be happily alone than with someone who was wrong for me. And yes, messing around with few strings attached seemed like fun for a while, but now just strikes me as utterly pointless. As for online dating, I check in to look at my profile from time to time but can rarely muster up sufficient enthusiasm to actually reply to my emails, let alone drag myself out on a blind date.

I know that this year without a special (adult) person by my side has been really good for me, in some ways. I’ve built new friendships, invested a lot more in existing ones and spent lashings of quality time with my daughter. I’m sure I needed to be alone, for a while, and that I’ll appreciate sharing the good, the bad and the ugly with a special someone all the more because of it, when the time comes.

But am I truly happy with this state of affairs? Is single the best thing since the invention of Nutella? Is single the new size zero?

I’d be lying if I said I loved it. Single still doesn’t come naturally to me and I doubt it ever will. So please excuse me while I go and comfort myself with a large pot of leftover nutella, a useful side effect of which is that size zero will never, never fit.


  1. *I use the term “friends” loosely, having now had the pleasure of reading the materials my ex-employer will be using at the tribunal.

    Comment by petite — February 21, 2007 @ 8:03 pm

  2. You got a mention in the Telegraph today:

    Way to go, Petite!

    Comment by Lillian Brown — February 21, 2007 @ 8:12 pm

  3. The grass is always greener on the otherside petite! Great blog by the way:)

    Comment by seattlite — February 21, 2007 @ 8:14 pm

  4. Turned to your blog as I am facing unexpected disciplinary myself – handled in much the same way by my employer for a mistake which was not mine alone, but for which I am carrying the can. Can totally relate to the shock wave feeling when they tell you, when it comes at you out of nowhere, when the panic comes over you in waves. Why do we care so much about work?

    Comment by mary jo pearson — February 21, 2007 @ 8:27 pm

  5. Sounds to me like your first year off in nearly 2 decades is probably a good thing. I’ve been single (as I’m sure I’ve mentioned many times) for over three and a half years. Sadly I didn’t have a great run of relationships before that so I sympathise with the part of you that is looking for someone again.

    Comment by Ignorminious — February 21, 2007 @ 8:28 pm

  6. You are an incredible woman worth the mention that the Telegraph gave you. I enjoy reading your blog because you are so humorous…especially with the every day things.

    Good luck and good writing.

    Comment by WONDER WOMAN — February 21, 2007 @ 8:30 pm

  7. i am going through a bad relationship, divorce is on the cards, and frankly i think that maybe the lesson that i have to learn is to be able to stand up and make my own decisions…but i am at the same time incredibly scared of being on my own, yet don’t want to be in my relationship…..confused big time…..

    enjoy your nutella, i just had a rusk with tea, after having a swim in my pool….38 degrees celcius…warm …..sorry just to make you jealous!!

    Comment by Suzanne — February 21, 2007 @ 8:41 pm

  8. Hi
    I just would like to say some thing about the material you’ve just seen, the testimonies of your “friends” your ex-employers will use against you.
    I don’t really know how to put it but there: I sued my parents and they showed the judge some incredibly violent, full of hatred, and completly untrue testimonies from my “friends” (from school), my teachers and nearly all the members of the family.
    It crushed me so hard it’s hard to say, may be if I say I had to start living with some permanant blade stuck in my back would clarify.
    It turned out, as I learnt 3 years later (so very recently), that my parents:
    had forged some documents (knowing I’d be so mortified I’d never go and check)
    threatened some people to write stuff (younger members of the family)
    and bribed some others (ex-friends from school).
    The blade is still there. But rather than having been pushed in by say, all the people I once knew when I was young, it’s mostly there because of the very 2 people who were so enthusiastic about ruining their children’s life.
    So unless you know how the testimonies got written, keep a little hope you were not betrayed by as many people as you may fear.

    Comment by Bennett — February 21, 2007 @ 9:19 pm

  9. I think some single time is good after a prolonged period in couple-dom.

    It’s why I think that Kylie Minogue should have some alone time after breaking up with Olivier Martinez….

    You clear the cobwebs of relationships past, collect your thoughts and redetermine what it is you want because so often in a relationship, if you’re like me, I put others first. When I’m getting into a relationship is when I’m most focused on what I do and don’t want…….

    All the best Petite.

    Comment by Kasey — February 21, 2007 @ 9:20 pm

  10. Well, I don’t really remember anything salacious from your blog, at least nothing that merits getting fired. No foul language; no naming of the employer; and the “sex scenes” were more innuendo than anything else. So I hope the employer comes off looking ridiculous in the tribunal and you get some money from them.

    Anyway, looking forward to the book. By the way, another blogger called “Anonymous Lawyer” got a six figure book deal from his blog, although his stuff is fictional and purely mental theatre.

    By the way, I “tagged” you, if you are interested :)

    Comment by homeimprovementninja — February 21, 2007 @ 9:24 pm

  11. Regarding your footnote in the comments: I can only imagine what you are hinting at, and it makes me sad. Hang in there and good luck.

    Comment by clarissa — February 21, 2007 @ 9:25 pm

  12. Those “friends” probably just grabbed the chance to bitch & let’s face it, they didn’t get the book deal… Being single has its good & bad sides. It’s hard but it won’t be for ever… and little ones make life worth living in the meantime !

    Comment by Kate — February 21, 2007 @ 9:53 pm

  13. Votre ancien employeur va utiliser des témoignages de vos anciens collègues, ses employés, recueillis par ses soins? Quel crédit peut-on accorder aux dires de personnes qui ont tout intérêt à demeurer en bons termes avec l’entreprise où elles travaillent?

    Comment by Choubine — February 21, 2007 @ 10:51 pm

  14. Bennett: How does one go about suing one’s parents? (genuinely curious).

    Notoriety comes at a price they say…I hope all works out for the best in March.
    Being single is probably giving you the space you need in order to see everything around you with lucidity. No one encumbering your thoughts and all that…

    Comment by Karma — February 21, 2007 @ 11:33 pm

  15. I’ll be coming up to a year in two months time.

    I was going to say other things but I am actually feeling a bit sad now.

    Thank you for writing this blog, writing about Tadpole and your life in France. It has often made me smile. I am not convinced that being single is the natural happy state but it is one we have to live with for the moment and one that may, this year, resolve itself if lady luck shines in the right direction. Good luck Petite.

    Comment by Daniel — February 21, 2007 @ 11:40 pm

  16. Choubine is right. Your ‘friends’ may well have felt they had to say certain things to keep their jobs – although it would have been nice if they had stood up to the pressure and supported you on principle. How could they forget the Nutella crepes so quickly??

    Comment by Peg — February 22, 2007 @ 12:18 am

  17. sorry to hear this tribunal is getting murkier. that must be a bad feeling. thinking of you.

    Comment by mad muthas — February 22, 2007 @ 12:23 am

  18. There are plenty of sad, scared, lonely, misfit personalities around. Some of them will befriend you. The dangerous ones don’t really have friends, but ‘targets’. You can’t know who is dangerous until circumstances change sufficiently for them to become envious, or morally self righteous, or plain vindictive. Perhaps you become too successful, or too vulnerable, or too remote for their fragile mental equilibrium. Given an opening, like pariahs, they pounce. They simply cannot understand their own destructive behaviour, nor do they try to.

    If the experience makes you feel angry and rejected, more cautious of people, this is where you should draw on wiser characters and with luck, your family.

    And remember, lawyers follow the money.

    Comment by andrew — February 22, 2007 @ 2:47 am

  19. Reading stuff like this just makes me feel pity for you. How sad.

    (1) that you think people at work will be ‘friends’ when their jobs are on the line (anyone with emotional maturity ditches the concept of work and friends).

    (2) That you are so dependent on a boyfriend for self-fulfilment.

    Comment by Dr X — February 22, 2007 @ 3:52 am

  20. Today is my 2nd day of being single. l feel the same way. l would rather be alone than miserable with the wrong person. Not everyone has this courage.

    Oh! Please be sure to leave me some of that nutella!!

    Comment by Cleopantha — February 22, 2007 @ 5:04 am

  21. Karma: I sued my parents on the same legal basis Ségolène Royale sued her dad when she was young. Clearly when you sue your parents you look for some legal aspects that fits a court room, but in a lot of cases it doesnt exactly fit you personal reality. If I could have sued them for what really mattered to me, it would have been: malevolence, threats, humiliation and permanent lying. Instead I sued them for financial support to study. It’s easy to sue your parents if they studied law, comes from a family of lawyers and only talks to you about your legal rights “we only owe you 1 symbolic €/year…..”

    Comment by Bennett — February 22, 2007 @ 9:07 am

  22. #1 don’t forget they want to break you and discredit everything you say, to provoke you and to isolate you. Keep very calm and get used to the idea of betrayal. The world’s largest religion is based upon betrayal and resurrection: it is meant to inspire us to overcome life’s horrors.

    Anyway, set your course and don’t let squalls blow your ship onto the rocks. Trust has to be earned and is often too freely given

    Comment by Voyager — February 22, 2007 @ 9:19 am

  23. Love has a way of finding you when you least expect it.
    I have no doubt it will find you.
    Best of luck in court.

    Comment by Mad William — February 22, 2007 @ 9:28 am

  24. Single is great for the “single” times but having someone is even better. I got married two weeks ago to my ex-partner and mother of my son. Separated for 8 years, some turbulent times but now, at he ripe old age of 41, am happier than ever.

    Cloud & silver lining comes to mind. Hope everything pans out. You certainly deserve it!


    Comment by JNH — February 22, 2007 @ 9:41 am

  25. Tragically I haven’t found the courage yet to be single rather than in a relationship where I am truly miserable. But I have no choice but be single and I am bereft. How do people do this? Unfortunately sometimes we can’t choose who we love and no matter how much logic tells you to be alone, get on with your life etc etc, every fibre in your emotional body is screaming ‘I don’t want this!’

    Comment by featherduster — February 22, 2007 @ 10:12 am

  26. This is the Babelfish translation of Choubine’s post for the not so computer savvy…

    Will your former employer use testimonys of your former colleagues, his employees, collected by his care? Which credit can one grant to the statements of people who may find it very beneficial to remain in good terms with the company where they work?

    Comment by PeterG — February 22, 2007 @ 10:21 am

  27. I feel ‘pity’ for Dr X. How sad that he thinks a ‘dog eat dog’ mentality constitutes emotional maturity. Some of my strongest friendships came through the work place. As for Petite needing a man for self-fulfilment – rubbish!!! But any warm blooded human prefers to have someone to share life with!! Petite, don’t give up on the internet just yet. Wait for an email that really stands out! I did and it’s working thus far! Good luck.

    Comment by Sister Louise — February 22, 2007 @ 11:17 am

  28. Everything it is giving with a good meaning in our lives…look at the bright side everytime…and shoot for the happiness…He will come along when you will least expect…And talknig about “friends”…mine don’t even read with interest my blog…the envie has no limits or time?!

    Comment by Momo — February 22, 2007 @ 11:30 am

  29. ?

    Comment by adrian — February 22, 2007 @ 11:57 am

  30. Gosh I hope my children don’t sue me in years to come for keeping up the mysteries of Father Christmas, tooth fairies and Christmas Fairies. I may need to be worried with five of them.

    I know that it sounds trite Petite, but I’m sure the right man is just around the corner…..

    Comment by Sally Lomax — February 22, 2007 @ 12:54 pm

  31. JK Rowling was able to find true love after being a single mother and unemployed. I was glad to see she found someone who cared about her and not the money from her book deals. A girl can never be too careful these days. I know you will find someone.

    Comment by Elle — February 22, 2007 @ 12:56 pm

  32. Dear Nutella-eating Petite
    It won’t last for long so enjoy it while you can. As an old married woman (well, old-ish) I love it when my husband goes away, I have long baths, hang out with the children, get into my pyjamas and watch Desperate Housewives. Bliss!

    Comment by Helena Frith Powell — February 22, 2007 @ 1:18 pm

  33. I feel the same way about ‘single’. I think a lot of people do but are too shamed by their need to say. They shouldn’t be.

    Comment by suburbanhen — February 22, 2007 @ 1:42 pm

  34. Like Sister Louise, I find Dr X’s comments rather sad. Why should he consider it ‘immature’ to have friends at work? At most of the schools I taught in I found friends who have remained very close right through to retirement.
    It is possible that Petite’s old firm has put pressure on its employees to say bad things about her but that’s a different matter. I just hope their underhandedness is exposed.
    As for feeling the need for a fulfilling relationship – surely that’s a very normal and ‘mature’ part of human nature.
    PA you are very brave to share some of your innermost thoughts and feelings and many of us can relate them to our own personal lives. We just don’t have the ability to express them so eloquently.

    Comment by sablonneuse — February 22, 2007 @ 1:50 pm

  35. Dr X- Why waste the energy in commenting?

    Be strong in the face of two faced people Petite- I remember having the same thing happen to me, a girl I thought was my friend in the workplace ended up talking about me to a manager. It was really upsetting, but I never knew if she had really done it or whether the manager made it up (the manager was a real bitch)…

    How good that now you are self employed!

    Comment by destinationmetz — February 22, 2007 @ 2:21 pm

  36. Think back twelve months to when you were sitting on the edge of the bed, coat still buttoned, face buried in your hands as your future disintegrated around you.

    Look what has happened since.

    You have plenty to be proud of, and nothing to be ashamed of. Try to carry that with you on 21 March.

    Comment by Damian — February 22, 2007 @ 2:41 pm

  37. ……..and as I face the outside possibility that my marriage may be failing, and the possibility of being on my own after almost 20 years, I have come to the conclusion that I CAN face it. I keep the words of Jonathan Larson running in my head:

    “Why, do we stay with lovers
    We know deep down, just aren’t right?
    Why, would we rather put ourselves through hell
    Than sleep alone at night?”

    We are working on salvaging it, but there is this looming blackness in the background that keeps rearing its head………

    Comment by Dave of the Lake — February 22, 2007 @ 3:07 pm

  38. Being single can be a bit lonely, but even with the joys of being part of a couple, I personally feel nothing competes with the excitment of those first kisses and dates and, you know, other stuff! I know it’s difficult, but try to look for the silver linings Petite!!! x

    Comment by Girl About-Town — February 22, 2007 @ 3:25 pm

  39. Excellent post ! I espacially liked the introduction of your article when you are talking about nutella.
    Good continuation.

    Comment by Easy dating — February 22, 2007 @ 4:15 pm

  40. How “wrong” does a person have to be to be “wrong” for us? Are we ever willing to compromise?

    Comment by Lost in France — February 22, 2007 @ 4:42 pm

  41. I can see that you’ve had lots of comments & am not sure if I can add anything useful. Somehow, this ‘single space’ after having shared a life with someone (good or bad) seems to have a duality about it. On the one hand, the freedom & simplicity is wonderful, whereas the counter point of the lack or sharing & time on your own can be quite flat – it seems to me that no matter how much time we spend with friends & family, there’s always that empty point at the end (or beginning) of the day where we’re on our own.

    Although it may take some effort to kick-start the process, you may find that the conversations with someone new (through the online dating) actually provides a useful source of energy and a new perspective helps clarify things.

    Comment by Mark — February 22, 2007 @ 4:44 pm

  42. Bread or spoon?

    Comment by Doug — February 22, 2007 @ 4:47 pm

  43. Bread or spoon?! Fingers for sure.

    I have been ‘attached’ for four years now, and I’m only twenty two, but I think its because we both have our own lives. I wouldn’t be with somebody that I didn’t love, but I still admire singletons. The overwhelming desire to just ‘be’ with someone would get me everytime.

    Comment by Sharon — February 22, 2007 @ 7:32 pm

  44. Dr X = enormous prat.

    Really sorry to hear the tribunal stuff is getting so murky. Hang in there…

    Comment by Elisabeth — February 22, 2007 @ 8:09 pm

  45. Hi Petite…
    Hard and empty as loneliness is, it’s better than a lot of other alternatives. I’ve just had a very perspective altering experience (and written about it on my blog)–it’s so easy to fall into the self-pitying trap and fail to see the beauty and the blessings in life. Hope lovely things are headed your way…

    Comment by EmilyAnne — February 22, 2007 @ 8:33 pm

  46. “Is single the new size zero?” What a perfect Carrie Bradshaw headline!
    As far as your ex-employer and co-workers are concerned – a famous countryman of yours once said: Living well is the best revenge. How true. Best of luck at the tribunal.
    Can’t wait to read your book!

    Comment by Dana — February 22, 2007 @ 9:45 pm

  47. I just passed the 4 year mark of being single, bar one short disastrous blip! I agree with you, one of my dearest friends just met someone and gushing down the phone, announced *I have found the missing link.*
    I don’t want to be in a relationship for the sake of it, and like you the internet dating thing has become a chore as opposed to fun. I have taken these years and figured out who I am, and what I want. The result is that I am discerning about whom I spend my time with. I get lonely, yes but single does come a little more naturally to me, but I can admit I’m not so sure I like it. I’d like to start sharing my life with someone who is phenomenal enough to be entrusted with it, find that missing link.

    Good luck with your tribunal, and I am sorry to hear about your “friends” .

    Comment by ladymissmarquise — February 22, 2007 @ 9:51 pm

  48. Never mind The Daily Telegraph…do you realise you’re actually in The Bath Chronicle today (great photo too). I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that appearing in this particular newspaper means that you have officially arrived!!

    Comment by Sue — February 22, 2007 @ 10:00 pm

  49. Oh Petite, I know exactly how you feel. After three and a half years of singledom I am happy to admit that sometimes all I really want is a big non-platonic manly hug. However I always live in the hope that anything can happen tomorrow!

    Comment by Catkin — February 22, 2007 @ 10:28 pm

  50. Just been watching “Coupling” on the Comedy Channel…maybe you could meet someone like Jeff ? He seems very outgoing…. have you watched this BBC comedy ?

    Comment by Voyager — February 22, 2007 @ 11:03 pm

  51. Singleness after the relationship of your life (especially one where a child was the product of this love) only leads to paranoia and unhappiness. The important thing is that the child escapes unscathed and happy. But the stress…

    Comment by adrian — February 22, 2007 @ 11:29 pm

  52. Of course we’d all rather be happily single than unhappily attached. But I’ll bet I can guess what the majority of people would choose if they had a straight choice between a good relationship with a person with whom they have a mutual feeling of love, respect and sexual attraction or being a single person with a set of loving, respectful, platonic relationships. Both have value, and a person is lucky if he/she has both in his/her life.. but the former is what most of us really want deep down, no matter what protestations we might make to the contrary. I’m not saying you can’t be happy as a single person – but I just think that nothing beats being with someone you love and knowing that that person loves you back. And therefore it is something most of us would seize given the opportunity.

    Comment by nikki — February 23, 2007 @ 12:57 am

  53. Ah, I love the Nutella. On crepes- yum..

    Comment by creative-type dad — February 23, 2007 @ 7:06 am

  54. I guess the first few months of being single after a long relationship you are both excited to have found yourself again and sad to have left a life full of habits & little rituals behind… A year later though you are ready to have a meaningful relationship again and now is the time to go out and try to meet as many people as possible. Oh and have fun of course!!!

    Comment by May — February 23, 2007 @ 8:31 am

  55. Voyager, are you joking ? Jeff ? he is a total idiot with a permanent Bad Hair Day.
    Agree on all comments re Dr X = sad loser.

    Comment by Kate — February 23, 2007 @ 9:02 am

  56. Imagine what it must be like to work with Dr X.

    Comment by Damian — February 23, 2007 @ 11:43 am

  57. Well you’ve not made it into the King’s Lynn News yet. Loser!!!

    Comment by JonnyB — February 23, 2007 @ 12:21 pm

  58. Dr X works in a morgue.

    Comment by Parkin Pig — February 23, 2007 @ 12:28 pm

  59. It’s sad, but people who call themselves “friends” too often aren’t.

    Catherine, you are a tough woman, and you will overcome this attack, I’m very sure.

    But future has also a bright side, of course. I read the BT article… great! You are getting famous, hon.

    And: Film rights!! Magnificent!!

    Do you know already, if the book will also be released in German?

    Stay cool.


    Comment by adventurer — February 23, 2007 @ 12:28 pm

  60. The film stuff is pure speculation at this stage, the journalists do tend to run with things like that and blow them out of proportion. I met some people, we’ll see, maybe one day…

    German, yes. That’s all signed.

    Comment by petite — February 23, 2007 @ 12:38 pm

  61. “Voyager, are you joking ? Jeff ? he is a total idiot with a permanent Bad Hair Day.”

    He was great with the Israeli girl, and seemed to get on very well with Chrissy even though he did have a wooden leg. Jeff is the star….but I suppose you think petite is more like Sall and I think she’s more like Jane

    Comment by Voyager — February 23, 2007 @ 7:31 pm

  62. I always take solace in remembering that,,,,,nobody can kick you off the planet. Not a company, not a gender. Despite all of your trials petite, you’re living a life many would gladly trade with you. It’s you and tadpole against the world!!!!! You should get matching super girl capes and stuff. Also? Tadpole is being shown that her mom is truly independent and capable in her own right. Another silver lining.

    Comment by beaunejewels — February 23, 2007 @ 9:30 pm

  63. You almost sound like Carrie Bradshaw, admittedly with the city but without the sex! Looks like you have proven to yourself you don’t need a man, you can make it on your own. Hopefully this self-reliance will attract the right partner, if being partnered-up again is what you wish for.

    Comment by Ariel — February 24, 2007 @ 2:22 am

  64. My company recently fired my colleague after he handed in a formal written complaint about being bullied by his manager (who is completely immoral and also a drug addict). It’s getting rather ugly, and very very illegal.

    Comment by Morgan — February 24, 2007 @ 4:58 pm

  65. I’ve been single for 2 or 3 years now. I lose track. I quite agree that it’s better to be single and happy than with the wrong person.

    But I’m not so sure I really know what’s wrong any more. I can be happier with someone who is great, but not exactly the right person, than I am being single and going through year after year of dating, trying to date, not meeting people, meeting people, liking people who don’t like me, not liking people who do like me. It all gets a bit much eventually.

    I think being single for a bit is good for people who are always in a relationship. Gives perspective.

    I think most people would just like to meet someone they are happy with and enjoy being around. The benefits of being single are not that great when balanced against that.

    It is however to be single than to find the person who you want to be with.

    I realize I’m rambling. so I’ll stop now.

    Comment by Adrian — February 28, 2007 @ 9:13 am

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