Husband Dodging – Sunday Times Style Column


I’d hate to be a wife. After the Choccywoccydoodah cake, the Liberty wedding list, the Thai honeymoon and the tax break, really, what’d be in it for me? I don’t want the money, I don’t want The One. The dilemmas that haunted Jane Austen (then Bridget Jones) are alien to me.

A new HarperCollins survey (commissioned to coincide with Joanna Trollope’s reimagined Sense and Sensibility) found only 6% of us would marry for money. The last Office for National Statistics survey revealed fewer than half of women are wives, the lowest proportion there’s ever been.

I thought I’d found The One recently. It petrified me. Would it mean I’d have to stop smoking in bed? Writing at 3am? Or picking up boys on the night bus? Would I have to start lying about the amount I spend on gin? Or begin taking an interest in the thread count of sheets?

Like most girls my age, I don’t get Elizabeth Bennet. I hate Bridget Jones. Who’d want to be either, when you could be Rihanna, Peaches (the rapper, not the Geldof), Angela Merkel or one of Girls. How did these boy-obsessed loners pass for icons among my mum’s generation? I walked out of the Bridget Jones film as a teenager. A decade later, I still don’t understand what she was moaning about. To me, Bridge is as dated as Austen, and as boring. Why doesn’t she go to a gallery? Go travelling? Try Tinder? Or get a decent job? Instead of driving herself insane thinking about boys. Maybe now Darcy’s dead she’ll move on. Maybe, even better, someone will kill Bridget too.

I don’t want Mr Darcy; I have Dalston Superstore. I don’t want a meringue wedding dress, I want the iPhone 5. And a raise. I do not want to get married for ever; my phone’s only on an 18-month contract. I freelance, I rent. I could replace everything I own. I expect my Ikea bed to break and my Primark wardrobe to fall apart in the wash. Commit to a husband? Are you mad? I’m not even sure I can make dinner tonight.

There’s a name for girls like me: Princess Pans. Like Peter Pans before us, we never want to grow up. We’re selfish, narcissistic, commitment-phobes, spoilt and jaded (4 out of 5 ain’t bad). We watch reality shows. We think we’re cool. (And yes, that’s important to us.) We live in Dalston. Or in a warehouse. Or in Brighton, with a fridge full of make-up and a bedpost axed with notches. We don’t want to marry heroes. We have One Direction. We’re not looking for eligible bachelors. We prefer boys in bands. We have enough sense and sensibility to know we don’t want to be wives. Instead we’ve taken Gloria Steinem’s advice and become the men Austen wanted to marry.


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