Sunday, July 01, 2007

Nirpal Dhaliwal - Watch Part Thirteen

It’s back! Because you demanded it! Well, because one of you expressed a vague interest in it’s continuation…

Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven, Part Eight, Part Nine, Part Ten, Part Eleven, Part Twelve.

Yes, it's Nirpal Dhaliwal Watch! (incorporating Liz Jones ‘My Ex-Husband is a Bastard!’ Watch)

True to his word about not speaking openly about his impending divorce Nirpal has been quiet over the last few months, presumably spending time moving his stuff in to mates flats or finding himself a new place to live. There are a few digs and barbs in other article though.

For starters, we have Nirpal exploring his bisexual side…

G2: A fine bromance: There's a deep mutual attraction but sex just doesn't come into it . . . Nirpal Dhaliwal on why every straight man needs a gay best friend

The Guardian (London); Jun 11, 2007

Gays are a guy's best friend. Friendships between straight and gay men are increasingly common. Such celebrity couples include Little Britain stars David Walliams and Matt Lucas, and Alan Carr and Justin Lee Collins, presenters of Channel 4's The Friday Night Project.

I’ve watched The Friday Night Project. It should never be used in any argument about anything, ever, unless perhaps about how the promoters of eugenics might have once had a point.

The striking thing about these partnerships is their equality; Lucas and Carr are not camp jesters playing alongside a straight man. In both cases, the respective halves enjoy a natural rapport, wholly comfortable with each other's very different masculinity. The genuine affection these men share, and the ease with which they engage with each other, hints at a shift in the British male identity.

The latest edition of the Collins English Dictionary even contains the word "bromance" (n. Informal. A close but nonsexual relationship between two men. [c21: a blend of bro(ther) + romance]). Bromance only really refers to a gay-straight friendship. Close friendships between men of the same sexuality have never been an issue. It is the unconsummated intimacy of the bromance, its obvious but transcended sexual dimension, that makes it a relationship worthy of its own unique title.

At the age of 33, I have come to realise that I am a bromantic kind of guy. Most of my closest male friends are gay, and not by any design. I have made these friends through the general course of my life over the past few years - through work, going to yoga classes, and travelling.

In my early and mid-20s, I was good friends with an older, militant black lesbian. When we went out we would often end up in a joint full of gay guys, where I would invariably get hit on. I thought we went to these places because she felt more comfortable in them, but later I realised her plan was to queer up the uptight Asian boy and broaden his horizons. I will always be thankful to her for that.

I've snogged a few men, and enjoyed it. In each case, they were beautiful and charismatic. One was an American film director, who invited me to a festival in Turin where I hooked up with a fabulous, cabaret-singing New York drag queen. They were fun, warm and intimate experiences that thrilled my ego and made me feel gorgeous.

But they didn't turn me on. Even quite plain women can get me hot and bothered when I am making out with them, yet those studs had no such effect. I am pretty much straight, and those men proved it to me. Having tested my sexuality and been sure of what it is, I have no issues with homosexuality and can throw myself into a bromance with no misplaced hopes or fears.

A true bromance happens between men who know themselves, who are over their issues and just want to hang out with other intelligent and open men. There is a mutual attraction in a bromance (why else would people become close friends?), but the fact that there is no sex is liberating for both involved.

All male rivalry is basically sexual, and given that gay and straight men are not competing for the same people, friendships between them provide a space in which egos can be left aside. My friendships with straight men have often deteriorated because of rivalry, and from talking to my gay pals I know that gay men are just are competitive. Bromances offer men an opportunity to discuss sex without worrying about one-upmanship.

Sex dominates my bromantic dialogues. Like most men, we are obsessed with sex. Whatever else straight men talk about - cars, football, politics - is just a substitute to avoid the envy and dissatisfaction that arises should they honestly discuss their sex lives. I talk about women much more with gay men than I ever have with straight ones. And given that women speak far more openly with gay men - and that gay men actually listen to them - my gay pals provide many useful insights into the female mind.

We have deeper chats too. Straight men who discuss their emotions generally do so in banal psychobabble cliches. Hanging out with gay men, I talk about my relationships and feelings in a complex way with someone who understands the male condition. For my gay pals, a bromance allows their blokey, grounded side to come to the fore. In many ways, we are more ourselves with each other than with those who share our sexualities.

Bromances are the future for men in this country. We have a shared biology and a basic outlook, compared to which our choice of sexual partner is merely a detail

…But actually touching their cocks or anything? Ewwwww!

After an opinion piece on the latest Big Brother and the race row soon after it started, Nirpal set’s his sights on cougars, and is able to draw on exhaustive personal experience:

I've got a bit of a thing for older women
Evening Standard (London); Jun 20, 2007;

ON MONDAY, I met Vanessa Feltz.

Perfectly groomed and wearing a glamorous evening dress, and accompanied by her handsome 34-year-old partner, Ben, she was the epitome of what is now known as a "cougar" a successful older woman openly proud of her penchant for younger men.

We chatted about relationships, and she stated that she "loves sex".

For an older women who loves sex, a healthy, athletic younger man is the obvious companion.

Having been married until recently to an older woman

Really? I had no idea!

and having been involved with a few in the past, I know the feral attraction between them and younger men.

It's about sex, and not much else.

My lud, I refer the court to exhibit A: I gave her a manful bravura performance that night, and at the height of her passion, I asked her: 'Who's the boss?' The question threw her. Initially she wouldn't give me a reply, but I enticed it from her. 'You are,' she finally gasped. 'You are!'

And with the greater power and freedom that today's women enjoy, cougars are becoming an increasingly common phenomenon.

Cougars prove that female sexuality is just as one-dimensional and animal as the male sex drive.

They're not interested in younger men for their money, experience or intellect: they know full well that younger men have none of those.

Well, at least Nirpal is admitting that he has neither money, experience or intellect.

They relish their looks, virility and stamina. Having made their own money and carved out their own careers, and hence freed of any dependency on men, they can choose a man purely for pleasure.

In my experience, it's far easier to get into bed with a woman who's significantly older than it is with women my own age. Women in their twenties and thirties, unless they're drunk, often analyse a situation to death, wondering about a man's long-term suitability as a partner, so will keep a man waiting. But the cougar doesn't mess around. Being much older, she doesn't kid herself about what the future might hold, and gets down to business in no time. Every older woman I've hooked up with has slept with me on the first date.

The same is true for the men I've known who've had similar experiences.

But though she's easier to have sex with, once a man's involved with a cougar he'll find she has just as many hang-ups as younger women do. My relationships with older women have taught me that experience can never cure women of their neuroticism.

They are just as fraught and worried about their attractiveness and whether their partner loves them as any teenager, and, in addition, they have a paranoia that's all of their own about their age.

As soon as my wife fell in love with me, she was convinced our relationship would fail because of the age gap. Her pressure for reassurance alienated me far more than her age ever did.

Yes, Liz’s need for reassurance made him sleep with other women.

Nonetheless, I do love and admire cougars. They are the latest pioneers in the feminist revolution, nakedly proclaiming their unfettered sexuality. But when it comes to relationships, they pose the same laborious difficulties for us men as all the rest.

I’m beginning to suspect that Nirpal’s ideal partner would be a non-operative female-to-male transsexual, male in all respects except he doesn’t have a willy. Or perhaps a mute woman who lives with a gay man.

Meanwhile, over in Liz Jones’s diary, Nirpal is making desperate attempts at the start of May to win her back…

LIZ JONES'S DIARY ; In which I start to plan my new life

The Mail on Sunday (London); May 6, 2007;

He keeps saying, 'You'll miss me when I'm gone.' 'No I won't. And I honestly, honestly believe that you will be happier without me. You will be able to marry a nice Indian girl, and have children, and live a normal life.' 'You are already planning your life without me, aren't you?' he said sadly. 'Yes, I am. I can't wait, to be honest.' He still has not given me a date when he is to move out, or agreed to a divorce, or said anything at all about the email I sent him, telling him we would sell the house, split the difference, that he would not, under any circumstances, get custody of Sweetie, who he regards as his cat, and that could he please move out as soon as possible? Instead, he has been making an effort. He has been changing the cat litter every morning, emptying the dishwasher, folding the laundry and bringing me, on two occasions, a mug of coffee with two biscuits in bed. It is amazing, isn't it, that once you start detaching, and telling him to move out, saying that you no longer love him (I actually told him this to his face), he suddenly realises what he is about to lose and backtracks rapidly?

But, you know what? I am not about to give in, or take pity on him, or think, 'Oh dear, I will never get another man; I will spend the rest of my life sitting with a plate of pasta in front of Frasier.' I am actually rather looking forward to not being criticised every day ('What's that then?' he is fond of saying as he squeezes my muffin. 'You don't get that on Nicole Richie'), to padding down to the kitchen in the morning and not finding a mess, to not living in fear of reading his text messages or opening his email and finding the latest missive from FWD, when my heart will lurch and I will question myself, wonder where I went wrong, over and over again. I am looking forward to not having to sit through yet another meal in a restaurant in silence because we have nothing left to say to each other.
No. In fact, in secret, I have indeed started to plan my new life. I am going to get a horse (a rescue horse, obviously) and I am going to move me and the cats and the goldfish to the countryside. I am fed up of trying to live a perfect life, and endlessly wiping the smears off the cat flap, and dressing up in ridiculous ChloE platforms and putting my face on just to shop for more products in Space NK.
I want to let my roots grow out, and not worry about Brazilian wax regrowth, and about getting an appointment to have my eyelashes dyed. I want to give up, in a way.
I want to live in the middle of nowhere and never see a soul. I have tried having it all but it isn't all it's cracked up to be. I have spent the past seven years anxious and alone and always trying to be someone I am not. It has to stop.

And so, on Sunday, I got in my car (I told my husband I was going to see my mum; I know, I feel incredibly guilty and I am sure he didn't believe me), and drove to deepest Hertfordshire to see a former racehorse that had been abused and had fallen on hard times. She is called Lizzie and she is seven years old. I have been gazing at her photograph on the internet for what feels like months. For the first time in years I am excited, and am doing something he doesn't know about, and that isn't about me or about men or about shopping in Prada or getting my windows cleaned, it is about something else. I think I have been trying so hard to be something I am not, which is stylish and sexy and well travelled and interesting and part of a couple, that I forgot what makes me happy. I was willing to give it a go but it didn't work. I got out of my car, walked up to the field and I saw her. She raised her head, and it was love at first sight.

In what is surely life imitating one of those painfully unfunny farces, Liz ‘n’ Nirps still have a holiday to Africa to endure.

Liz Jones's diary ; (1) Africa, part one (2) 'I'm going to regret being horrible to you when you love me so much,' he says. 'I'll never find someone who loves me as much as you do'

Daily Mail (London); May 20, 2007

It takes 26 hours to get to the island off Mozambique. After a ten-hour flight, another two-hour trip on a tiny plane and then a two-hour speedboat ride, we arrive on the beach looking as though we have been shipwrecked; my hair resembles Bridget Jones's when she arrives for her mini-break. We are shown to our lodge, one of only ten on the island. It is inches from the Indian Ocean, with muslin nets around the huge bed, hammocks, a huge slab of marble in the shower. It is so beautiful, and so far from the life we have left behind. We have dinner, and walk in the shallows, looking up at an inky sky speckled with millions of stars, before falling into bed exhausted, the only sound the pounding of the waves. It could be perfect.

Except that he is almost silent.

The next day, he gets up at 6am to do yoga, and I go for breakfast on my own. He then swims and showers and smokes cigarettes and is finally ready to join me at about 6pm. We go to dinner. He looks miserable. As we walk past the bar, he says he is going to have a drink and a cigarette because he needs 'some space'. I stumble to my room, feeling my way in the dark, because he keeps the torch. When he finally gets back he says, 'I want a divorce.' I sit up in bed. 'But why are you saying that now? Why didn't you agree to leave when I asked you?' 'I can't stand it here, it feels so oppressive.' 'Will you leave tomorrow?' 'Yes.' The next morning, I wake up and he is staring at me.

'Have you told the office to book you a flight?' 'No,' he says, 'I will do that now.' He wanders off, and I go to sit by the sea with my book. He waddles over. 'Have you booked it?' I ask him. 'Yes, I can leave tomorrow.' I then ask him why he has chosen the first couple of days of our two-week holiday to tell me he is leaving, and he puts his head in his hands and says that he hadn't planned it. 'I do love you, you know,' he says. 'But I will never write another book while I know I have you to look after me. Every time you do something nice or take me back I think you must be so desperate that I behave even more badly.' 'But I do it because I want you to be happy. Which is why I asked you to leave. We bring out the worst in each other.' We sit talking for hours, lunch comes and goes and the sun disappears into the ocean.
'This is how we fell in love,' he says. 'In Jamaica, just talking and gazing at the ocean. Can I stay for the rest of the two weeks, and we can talk like this?' I had quite come round to the fact he would be able to get back early to be with the cats, relieving our cat sitter of her duties, and so I say, 'No, you will have time to sort yourself out, and find somewhere else to live. I want you to leave on the 19th and post your keys through the letter box. And please, when you empty your chest of drawers, I want you to close them carefully because you know how Sweetie loves an open drawer, and you might squash her and kill her.' He nods. 'I am so going to regret being horrible to you when you love me so much,' he says, starting to cry. 'I will never find someone who loves me as much as you do,' and he grasps my hands in his.

I wrestle them free. 'I still want you to go,' I tell him.

'I am such a sucker for a pretty face,' he says, and I stiffen. 'What do you mean? Recently?' 'Yes,' he says. 'Have you slept with anyone since September, when I found out you were back in contact with Daphne?' He nods. 'In Mumbai, last month, at the literary festival.' 'Who was it?' I stammer, feeling the nausea rising in my mouth.
There is salt on my face but I can't tell if it is from the sea spray, or because I am crying too.

Back from holiday and life goes on:

LIZ JONES'S DIARY In which I email the cow-trollop-baggage ; I had some good news last week and automatically reached in my bag to phone him. Then I realised I don't have any one to tell things to any more

The Mail on Sunday (London); Jun 3, 2007;

I spent the rest of the two weeks on the island off the coast of East Africa in shock. I couldn't quite believe he had gone, that it was all, finally, over. I expected him to call me but the only text I got was a terse, 'The cats are fine.' I kept going over everything he had told me. I had asked him why he behaved so oddly and childishly on holiday, and he had said, 'Because as soon as we go somewhere you clam up. Look at when I was in the bar talking to Stacey, you didn't say a word.' The reason I never say anything in social situations is because I can't hear what anyone is saying, especially if it is someone I don't know well, or they aren't right next to me. My friend Kerry knows this and will translate as we go along.

That my husband failed to notice this after seven years just about sums up our miscommunication, doesn't it?

I would like to say I was all happy and relieved, and spent the time frolicking in the surf and shagging diving instructors, but instead I felt deflated, and incredibly rejected. I felt frustrated at not being able to be proactive while he was in my house packing his horrible boy things, and so I did two things. I contacted my solicitor and asked her to write to him telling him I was divorcing him on the grounds of adultery and giving him a deadline to move out. And I found out the email address of the woman he slept with at the Mumbai literary festival and wrote to her. I told her that my husband had said she came on to him, despite knowing he was married, and had sex without a condom. I know it was all my husband's fault, but I do believe women who sleep with married men are nothing better than trollops. (I have since found out she has a boyfriend, and therefore is a cheating whore-baggage-cow-type person.) I couldn't wait to get home, and when I unlocked the front door, and was able to do a quick head count of the pussies, and saw our joint credit card cut up on the table (there was no note, not even an 'I am so sorry' after seven years), I felt incredibly relieved, but I couldn't help but feel it had all been for nothing. That I had tried so hard, and been (on the whole) so nice and supportive and patient, and still I had the word 'reject' stamped on my forehead. My cleaner rang me and told me he had done some strange things before he left. 'Like what?' I asked her. 'He took your car to be valeted and changed the bed.'
Blimey, that's a first. And at that moment a small part of me thought that he might have changed his mind, that he wanted me to forgive him again. But I can't.

I don't know why he felt he had to tell me he had slept with a cow-trollop-baggage, but at least the image I keep playing in my head of him kissing someone young and slim prevents me from phoning him and asking him to come back. It is weird to be on your own, but the oddest thing is that I don't actually miss him, he had become so strange and distant. I had some good news last week (a business deal thing), and I automatically reached in my bag to phone him and then I realised I don't have anyone to tell things to any more. I heard from a mutual 'friend' that he had moved to a bedsit in Shoreditch, that his mum was sure it was for the best (and I thought she liked me!), and that he was wondering when he would meet someone new(!).

And, despite everything, I felt sad and jealous and bitter and angry. He must miss the cats, mustn't he? I have nothing to do for the next six million weekends. All my girlfriends are married or have live-in boyfriends. I lost so many friends because they couldn't stand my husband and now I am too proud to go begging their forgiveness.
Things, I suppose, can only get better.

That’s the spirit! Although Liz could do with reminding herself of that, a week later, when she finds herself feeling lonely.

In which I find out why we never had sex

The Mail on Sunday (London); Jun 10, 2007; LIZ JONES; p. 82

Hmm, well. I have felt better. In the two weeks since I flew home, alone, from my hugely expensive holiday and returned to an empty house (bar the fur babies, of course) I haven't heard one word from him. Not a phone call, not an email or even a text message. After seven years together I find it odd that he can cut me off like this, without so much as a backward glance.

Doesn't he at least want to know how I am? I am doing that awful, sad thing of always being prepared: I waft around my immaculate house in a floaty top and skinny jeans, makeup on, feet oiled, candles lit.

Whenever I hear a car outside I peek out the window oh, that I wasn't a minimalist and had some curtains. Whenever I get home I feverishly dial 1571, and I can usually be found sitting on the sofa in the kitchen nursing my mobile phone. I don't know why I am feeling so bereft, because I don't want him back; it is as though I am grieving for the life we could have had.

The only thing that is keeping me sane and preventing me from phoning him, is remembering all the times he hurt me. The time, when we were both going to New York (me to work, him to secretly meet FWD), and I asked if we would see each other, and he replied, 'Probably not.' The time I phoned him from an earthquake zone and he mumbled in an irritated voice, 'What is it?' as if I was about to ask him to buy Fairy Liquid. The time, returning from the Kitab literary festival, he blamed his bad mood on my being boring when I had phoned him from the Oscars, when in fact he had just had unprotected sex with a young, slim, Indian dirty-cow-trollop- baggage.
And then two things happened. I bumped into one of his yoga friends when I was outside Space N K, and he told me my ex-husband had said it was strange but on his first day of 'freedom' (you'd think I'd made him work down a mine) he had been thinking what it would be like to become a dad. I felt as though someone had kicked me in the stomach as I pictured the file labelled 'adoption' in my desk drawer, and the time my gynaecologist told me, as I came round from the anaesthetic, that I could still have children my husband was late coming to collect me, and didn't even buy me a single daffodil or ask for the lab results.

Yesterday, bored and lonely, I started tidying up the desktop on my laptop and I found a file that my (then) husband had emailed to himself, and downloaded on to my computer when we arrived in Africa. His plan, I now remember, was to work on his second 'novel' each afternoon. In all the excitement I'd forgotten about it. So I opened it. My heart was beating and as I read it tears poured on to the keyboard. So, this is what he really thinks of me I have to manage the tension between us, not let it get out of hand. Right now, I have nowhere else to live. I could calm her down, and make things better. I could reach out and touch her. I could press my body against hers, wrap her in my arms, kiss her neck and breathe slowly against her skin.
It works every time. But I won't do that. And I know how much it hurts her that I won't. Knowing this gives me the closest thing I have to happiness. So much warmth has passed between us, yet only the spite can move me now. I haven't had sex with my wife in months. I don't see the point. I lost interest in her a long time back. If we ever, rarely, have sex I close my eyes and think of someone else often a friend of hers. She has some cute friends. I'd have sex with them, no problem.

So, after that extract from Nirpal’s ‘tricky’ second novel we’re pretty much up-to-date. I’ll see you next time for more of Nirpal’s passive-aggressive snark and Liz’s living out her princess fantasies with her new horse.

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