Good Morrow all my friends (and also to those who read this rubbish and hate it). This week's sermon is on a subject close to my heart, the accepted social phenomenon of single living known as ‘Singletons’. With so much pressure to be in a relationship around Valentine’s Day, this month my words are directed at those who have no one to take out to an over-priced restaurant this pending week, or waste good money trying to impress with cheap trinkets and supermarket flowers. Even though God's house is still popular for "binding the knot" the divorce rate is a frightening reminder that not all marriages made in heaven will last the course on earth. Ever since the wretched Bridget Jones first coined the term ‘Singleton’, it has been a byword for "larger birds that can't get a fella without drugging one" and the "socially maladjusted"
with limited interpersonal skills. Is it fair to moniker a complex sociological group with negative stereotypes?
I think not! I am not a fat bird, and my social skills may be odd, but that is not why I am single. My life is far
removed from the antics of Mizz Jones, I devote my time to observing the word of God and not as a
witness to birds in big pants.
According to recent research though, I am selfishly wasting natural resources by living alone. Apparently I owe it to the planet to cohabit, share water, electricity, DVDs of ‘Friends’, housing, and recycle my collection of classic Ron Jeremy prints. Singletons are now officially recognised members of the hidden underclass, topping the poverty league, above children and old people. Our emotional support structures are said to be formed through family, friends and other singletons, enforcing how alone and sadly isolated we have become. Even Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco are adapting to market forces, their marvellous ranges of value meals created with the sad single "cant be bothered to cook for one" and "just bung it in the microwave" individual in mind. Gone are the days when advertisements concentrated mammoth revenues to perpetuate a dream of togetherness and family ideals. These days advertising tells us how great it is to be on our own. A rose-tinted view of being single sells, but is it all so wonderful? Sunday mornings can indeed be all about reading the papers in bed with a one-night-only conquest, but that’s mostly an advertiser’s fantasy.
The reality is remembering where I left the car last night, did I really spend that much, and why is my alcohol-swollen brain trying to escape through my nostrils? Most of my congregation are singletons. The places they frequent are full of similar "happy cases", found in night-club bars, the fruit and veg aisle at Lidl or an adjacent pew. We exercise, shop, socialise and do all we can to fill our lives with meaning. Even at Our Lord’s Birthday, the annual single peoples’ hell of Christmas for one, singletons can smugly look forward to a New Year where resolutions are based on me, I, but never ‘us’. We can put up the façade that all is wonderful in our fun-packed single worlds, but deep down we know there is something missing, and the upcoming Valentine’s fiasco just compounds our desire for a change in life.
Why is it so tough being on your own? Ann Summers, the science of onanism and a good wrist action can take care of any sexual needs. One can eat in a restaurant solo without looking like an escaped loony or even holiday under the guise of exploring one’s inner self and no one notices. Perhaps that's the key to it all, not being noticed, having no identity other than me. Couples can bounce ideas, meaning and even personas off each other for good or bad, but what does being on one’s own mean? I am often bemused by the angry faces of ‘loving couples’ arguing in public. I gain perverse satisfaction that I don't have to endure such grief as God's single, humble servant. But then I realise something profound; the only difference between me and them is that I have no one to argue with. Even the Lord gets tired of constant bickering at evensong.
There is a level of spite and name calling in life that only being in a relationship or hanging around drunk
teenagers can provide. Being single means you have no one to spitefully hurt or be hurt by, unless one
picks on other singletons, but then you would be truly alone with no friends, a solo misanthrope at the
Arguments end in splits, divorce and acrimony. Marriage vows say nothing of a life after marriage; it's just based on trust and insane levels of optimism. In hindsight, and taking into account the rich trappings of single life, the closeness imbued by a damn good row with someone you love just isn’t enough to justify coupledom.
I won’t be a singleton all my life; I’ll no doubt find someone to give all I can offer on a Valentine’s Day in future. But who is there for me? Internet dating, which is sad and saddening (although I have looked and there are a few online candidates who could give me a run for my subscription), is one possible way forward. Online shopping for a future soulmate lacks any integrity, and one has to be pretty short of options to consider it the practical way to meet the partner of one’s dreams. Even though I can probably draw from a wealth of emotional baggage to match any prospective candidate, being a singleton has its advantages. Bridget Jones spent her time locked in self-analysis smoking fags and that search for ‘the one’. I have no such illusions of solace in coupledom. For me ‘the one’ does not exist in the future; she is firmly in my past, but continually bounces back at every opportunity, providing me with a rationale to be on my own and reminding me I am a loser to boot.
Being single on Valentines Day is neither good nor bad, it just depends on how you deal with it. What we fail to admit are the reasons we are alone in the first place. Like all the other singles out there, I’ll never admit to my failings. That's a truth no one wants to hear, least of all me. I have grown used to the idea of being on my own, becoming selfish and self-absorbed,
not missing the compromise of couple-y living. Being single is about discovering a lost self that was swallowed
whole by the couples’ ideal, of finding out who one is rather than who one was.
I will pray for all the singles searching in vain for the couples’ ideal this Valentines Day.
I will pray for all the couples yet to experience the happy single life.
Being single isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be, but neither is being in a row-fuelled relationship. Mizz Jones may have been right, and all we need is hope, but I’m not so sure hope is enough anymore. Society likes couples, even when some couples don't like each other. Singleness can be seen as failure, and some people would rather be with someone they don't love than be on their own. Now that really is a sad life.