‘Ang on a minute

I mean, everyone’s got one, right? Er, wrong. I’m 45, gainfully employed and have never been a homeowner.


In fact, I’ve just never been rich enough – at least not to buy myself a flat in London. Mine is a situation for which I take full responsibility: ten years teaching and researching at university was good for the mind, but unhelpful to the bank balance.

Hannah Betts?

Isn’t this the bird who just told us a few months back that she was sober for the first time in 20 years?

And we’re not talking about american style alcoholism but proper “Jeebus God, what happened the last two days?” stuff?

For, increasingly, there were things I did not love. The “scrapes” I got into in my 20s were less amusing in my 40s; moments in which I injured myself, alienated friends, and subjected myself to dismal humiliation. The “lost time” (never “blackouts”) that startled me in my early 30s became my routine way of getting home. And I was tired – stultifyingly, deadeningly tired.

“Alcoholic didn’t buy house” isn’t much of a story, is it?

50 thoughts on “‘Ang on a minute”

  1. She’s in her 40s? So, the same age as me. So, she should have been buying a house in the early/mid-1990s at the bottom of the market and about to pay off her mortgage.

  2. @jgh, quite. But I guess her thirst prevented that, both mentally and financially. In essence, she drunk her house instead of buying it.

  3. I haven’t cared to hitch my financial future to a partner to benefit from a joint income – the other standard route.

    Which isn’t to say that I haven’t tried.

    Meanwhile, also at the Mail, oestrogen continues to wreak its havoc on another tiny mind:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3694642/Is-just-computers-drive-brink.html

    A month ago I wrote an entire book in Microsoft Windows on my Apple Mac [sic].

    I sent my work to my editor and after it came back I spent seven hours re-ordering the text and was three-quarters of the way through the 70,000 words – on the history of women in Britain, in case you’re interested – when a multi-coloured spinning top appeared. Nothing worked.

    I moved the mouse here and there and the only place where the spinning top became an arrow again, allowing me to do something, was on a list including the words ‘Force Quit’.

    Ah, I thought, shut it down, open it up again and then all will be well.

    It wasn’t. The application Word had gone from the toolbar. The entire document had disappeared.

    And this is a bad thing? BTW, dear, it’s not called the toolbar.

  4. Which isn’t to say that I haven’t tried.

    Can’t think what’s putting off a chap from handing over his entire hard-earned wealth to help her buy a house…

  5. “It wasn’t. The application Word had gone from the toolbar. The entire document had disappeared.”

    Luckily you backed it up regularly. You did back it up regularly, didn’t you?

  6. Bloke in North Dorset

    If Word is installed correctly and not interfered with it creates automatic backups that can be restored when reopened.

    Why on earth was she using Word on an Apple anyway.

  7. Another victim of un-free software. Try using emacs next time! LaTeX should be more than adequate for all her typesetting needs.

  8. “Why on earth was she using Word on an Apple anyway.”

    Because people like her wouldn’t be seen dead using a PC. Let alone a PC running Linux & an open source word processor.
    If one didn’t play one’s part in subsidising multi-billionaire IT moguls what would one have to write about?

  9. I know plenty of keen drinkers who managed to get on the housing ladder. Being a functional alcoholic isn’t a barrier to home ownership.

  10. It’s a great shame she’s not allowed to move out of London.

    My wife and I know a few women like this – had roaringly good times in their twenties and thirties, now utterly fucked and not in a good way.

  11. @Richard Allen

    Or Scrivener. Only an amateur would try to write a book in word.

    And doesn’t this read like a “Dog ate me homework” excuse?

  12. Interested,

    But… but… civilisation ends at the M25.

    I’m always puzzled by freelance writers living there. If you’re writing for Time Out, I can see the reason, but some of them are just writing about stuff based on stuff they’ve read on the internet. You can write that from Buckie.

  13. Bloke no Longer in Austria

    It is odd, I’m slightly older and am on my third house, with only a few grand of capital to pay on my mortgage ( interest is nearly nil ). But I also spent most of my 20s in a drunken haze.
    I have a lady friend, same age as me who rents a room ( not even a whole flat) at over 1000 squids a month. I hope that she has some pennies saved up for when she is inevitably made redundant.

    Ricahrd Allen – ha ! emacs ! Only girls use emacs. I write everything with vi and format it with sed afterwards.

    :wq!

  14. My wife and I know a few women like this – had roaringly good times in their twenties and thirties, now utterly fucked and not in a good way.

    The online dating sites are chock-full of women in their mid-30s who made poor choices in their 20s and nobody told them (or they bought the feminist bullshit and didn’t listen) that for a woman the 30s are a lot different from the 20s. The worst ones are those in their early/mid 30s, because they haven’t cottoned on yet and they still have the attitude as if they are in their 20s.

  15. Bloke no Longer in Austria

    Actually, despite Meissen Bison’s …er… doubts… she’s not a bad looking bird, how come she “never cared” to nab a banker ?

    Also where is he livng ? That looks a pretty impressive front porch.

    The smell of BS is strong with this one…

  16. > “The online dating sites are chock-full of women in their mid-30s who made poor choices in their 20s”

    To be fair, plenty of them got screwed over by boyfriends who dumped them when they turned 30. Should’ve put a ring on it. Or “accidentally” fallen pregnant.

    On the flip side, a newly-divorced 50-something man today has his pick of 30-something girls.

  17. Richard,

    Why does it matter that the commissioning editors are in London? They’ve got phones and internet in Buckie (or Spain or Thailand). And for the odd time you need to meet, get on a plane or train. Sure, that’s going to be a cost, but it’ll be a fraction compared to rent, even if you do it once a month.

  18. To be fair, plenty of them got screwed over by boyfriends who dumped them when they turned 30. Should’ve put a ring on it. Or “accidentally” fallen pregnant.

    True, there are a handful of half-decent ones who are either single mums (through little fault of their own) or have come out of a relationship they ought to have gotten out of a lot earlier.

    But they tend to be outnumbered heavily by the ugly, the deluded, and the feminists (but I repeat myself).

  19. On the flip side, a newly-divorced 50-something man today has his pick of 30-something girls.

    Yeah, except a lot of these 30-something girls have retained the attitude which kept them single in the first place. I once invoked a Facebook rant half a screen long from the (fat, feminist) friend of somebody to whom I said “It’s not meeting the right person you need, it’s addressing the serious issues which are keeping you single in the first place”.

  20. The Meissen Bison

    BnliA: mine was more a reference to her apparel than her physique.

    As far as banker-nabbing goes, Tim N, has probably got the correct answer: the banker needs to be complicit in the nabbing.

  21. she’s not a bad looking bird, how come she “never cared” to nab a banker ?

    If a woman is over 30, not bad looking, and single there is likely to be a very good reason why she is still single and that reason will become very apparent shortly into the first date. Half the trouble is they’ve seen their mates nab a banker and, despite her having left it too late, simply ramp up their expectations and demands beyond all realistic levels in order to shore up her own ego which won’t let her settle for the loser sat opposite her.

    I can’t remember where I read it – might have been at Chateau Heartiste – but some woman pushing 40 complaining that the dates she was meeting online “were just not on my playing field”. What the dozy cow didn’t realise is that yes they were, this is her playing field now.

    My wife makes little secret of the fact that she got married at age 29 because she thought “I need to find somebody while there are still decent guys available”. Sadly she ended up with me, but she had the right idea.

  22. Bloke in North Dorset

    “Anon, the commissioning editors are in London.”

    Tim seems to get plenty of gigs while living in Portugal and working in Czech, or are you implying she needs to use the casting couch to get work?

  23. She sure likes to pout.

    Even in London you can get on the housing ladder with a University job, even if you are a boozer. But you have to be thrifty about the boozing. What you can’t do is go all out paying for taxis everywhere, drinking in expensive places and having fancy dinners all the time as well.

    (Actually, as a good-looking woman who likes to dance on tables you can often get this sort of stuff paid for by men.)

  24. I think for ‘women’s writing’ a lot of the freelance journo work is done on the basis of knowing the right people and socializing with them.

    Also, Tim writes about more theoretical, economic issues. Easier to do that from abroad. A lot of Hannah Betts’ material comes from the life she livesin in London, or at least southern England.

  25. I’d get much more if I were floating around London. There is a great deal of meet and greet in getting the foot in the door in the first place. Especially magazine work which is rather better paid.

  26. “To be fair, plenty of them got screwed over by boyfriends who dumped them when they turned 30. Should’ve put a ring on it. Or “accidentally” fallen pregnant.”

    That’s also about the blokes they pick. That bloke working in an office driving a Mondeo might not be as exciting as the guy who plays in a band, but he is going to be committed to you.

  27. It’s not my area, but if she’s been a freelance journo for 20/30 years and hasn’t made enough contacts by now – enough that the occasional visit to the smoke for a party or a funeral or a leaving do will keep them up to muster – then she is shit at networking and/or probably not a very nice person and/or just simply being outcompeted by better writers.

    Anyway, either she needs to meet and greet more people and get paid better so she can live in London and buy a house, or just be a vastly better writer than she seems to be, or retrain (ha) and get a better-paid job so she can live in London and buy a house, or move out of London.

    She’s fucked if she plans to carry on as-is.

    Freelance journalism based on my limited knowlege is simply not secure enough or well-paid enough to buy a house in modern London, unless you are Tom Wolfe or of similar ilk. When she started out, and you could buy property dirt cheap, a different matter. (I know a bloke who bought an ex-council mainsonette in Dalston in about 1992 on a £52k mortgage and simply surfed the property ladder all the way up so that he ended in a mansion in Barnes with virtually no mortgage. But then he wasn’t piss-addled.)

    Beyond that, what I don’t get is how these people manage to miss the point so hard, so often?

    The whores of Fleet Street will keep her fed just enough to churn out ever-more gruesome misery memoir until they finally tire of her.

    ‘How I used to be a middle-class journalist but now scrape a living on the checkout at Lidl’

    ‘How I used to have a great lifestyle on the checkout at Lidl but now clean bogs for bankers’

    ‘How I used to love wiping up bankers’ piss but now live in a tent on waste land off the North Circular’.

    In a real sense, it’s a modern morality play.

  28. ‘That’s also about the blokes they pick. That bloke working in an office driving a Mondeo might not be as exciting as the guy who plays in a band, but he is going to be committed to you.’

    Having precisely this kind of discussion with my daughters right now.

  29. That’s also about the blokes they pick. That bloke working in an office driving a Mondeo might not be as exciting as the guy who plays in a band, but he is going to be committed to you.

    As I’ve said on here before, there is a middle ground: my pals in the Royal Marines (officers) are pretty exciting guys but still make good husbands. I know enough of them in the oil business, too.

    The problem is, they were all snapped up by smart women before they turned 30. And part of getting smart as a woman is to have your heart broken by a couple of assholes in your early 20s and *learning from it*.

  30. @BNLiA

    “Ricahrd Allen – ha ! emacs ! Only girls use emacs.”

    I know – I was suggesting it for a girl. What, did you think I used emacs? I use cat like a normal person.

  31. @Interested

    “Having precisely this kind of discussion with my daughters right now.”

    Hah! I look forward to this with mine. My sister always seemed to be dating some niche (I.e. Shit and poor) musician, but she’s now expecting her first with her new (wealthy and successful) radio personality other half.

    I suspect there’s a lesson in there somewhere, something about there being no money in actually being a musician, but plenty in the media coverage of music.

  32. She is also lying or ignorant.

    Tenants cannot be ejected at 4 weeks notice.

    Much of that stress is self-inflicted.

  33. Bloke in Costa Rica

    I still rent after having lived here for years. It’s not necessarily a bad idea. I pay less in rent than I would for a mortgage; enough less that I can actually save. I’ll probably to be able to buy somewhere for cash on retirement which will, admittedly, probably not be for thirty years.

  34. Matt Wardmann said:

    “Tenants cannot be ejected at 4 weeks notice.”

    Good point, I’d missed that. Notice period is 1 month for tenants but 2 months for landlords, isn’t it? (Assuming shorthold tenancy, which it almost certainly is).

    And that’s the notice period; actual “ejection” (assuming she means physical eviction) would need a court order and bailiffs which would take even longer.

  35. Tim Newman

    ‘The online dating sites are chock-full of women in their mid-30s who made poor choices in their 20s and nobody told them (or they bought the feminist bullshit and didn’t listen) that for a woman the 30s are a lot different from the 20s. The worst ones are those in their early/mid 30s, because they haven’t cottoned on yet and they still have the attitude as if they are in their 20s.”

    If your dating in your early 40’s you most get an absolute army of these.

  36. Hannah Betts was a few years ahead of me at Glasgow University, a regular writer for the Glasgow University Guardian, lets just be polite and say there is a reason why she is broke and single.

    If I were impolite I would say she was a bit of a see you next tuesday.

  37. I know plenty of keen drinkers who managed to get on the housing ladder. Being a functional alcoholic isn’t a barrier to home ownership.

    I’m proof of that particular pudding 🙂 One of the reasons I bought a house so early in life (18 months after starting full time work, mid 90s) was because I knew even then that I was a spendthrift drunk and probably always would be. Enforced saving was the point.

  38. I have, entirely seriously, been told by an American alcohol “counsellor” that a guy who, once a week, has three drinks (his Sat night out) and only those three drinks in a week is an alcoholic because his drinking is regularised behaviour.

  39. Ohh, those ‘experts’ are all over here. We just treat them like crazy relatives and nod politely while zoning them out.

  40. @ Thomas Fuller
    So, had her editor chosen to delete the file from his computer? Or had the ee-evil computer simultaneously deleted it from there through a secret internet connection?
    I’ve had computers crash on me losing all the data not backed up onto floppy discs (90s) or an external hard drive (C21) but they have never deleted files on someone else’s computer.

  41. John –

    Odds on her editor is just as much of a ditz and her (bound to be a woman) computer is compromised. (Maybe a diseased Word macro, whether or not the editor also uses a Mac.) So when she sent the file back to Jenni it was infected. Or maybe Jenni’s Mac is crawling with malware anyway; or it could simply be that Word for Mac is so bloated and unwieldy that it just crashed.

    Publishers are about 15 years behind the times and many of them say they want text in Word format. That’s one reason why Scrivener, LibreOffice, etc., can save as .doc or .docx. Even Pages (native Mac word-processor) would have been more reliable: that can save in Word format too.

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