Tuesday, November 21, 2006

London's Lonely Hearts

I am often surprised by the musings a ride home on the Tube can spawn: last night being a case in point. Amidst the system-wide delays, I had time to troll through the FT Weekend which I nicked from work's reception. The best part being the FT magazine, or 'The Economist Lite' as it should be rebranded.

And this week's cover, I was surprised to see, is devoted to the U.S. export, Second Life, "an on-line society within a 3D world, where users can explore, build, socialize, and participate in their own economy." In Second Life you can buy and sell things, sleep around, start a business, walk, fly; and most peculiar of all - it has its own official currency. Not to mention that there are over 1 million inhabitants. I will refrain from a tempting 'Bowling Alone' tirade about how modern society must have denied these people a first life, because I am sufficiently ignorant and may decide to be the next member. But suffice it to say, suspicions are cast.

Suitably unnerved, I next cast my eye to an article discussing a different craze, the West Hampstead-based 'Cuddle Party.' Another illustrious U.S. creation maintained as 'structured, safe non-sexual workshops" which have attracted 10,000 people. The FT journo revealed them to involve Twister-style romps where you end up on a pile in the floor, while massaging each other, holding hands and eating grapes. I don't know about you, but if I want to simulate Ancient Rome I watch Russell Crowe in Gladiator. And for the other bits there is always Eyes Wide Shut.

Sufficiently disturbed by the time I got home; I took to The New York Times, hoping that maybe 2,000 miles away life was more familiar. And sure enough was yet another article about London's emotional deprivation as evidenced by the personal columns in the London Review of Books. The article reveals how the ads present applicants' warts and all; from drug addiction to incontinence. My favourite starts,"a self destructive, jacked up on Viagra." I suppose the motto being that nested in the peculiarly English tradition of ironic sentiment we may find that elusive 'someone for everyone'. And that, to me, is a better rush of Oxytocin than any stranger's cuddle on-line or in-person.

For a compilation of some of the best ads check out, "They Call Me Naughty Lola: Personal Ads from the London Review of Books." Perfect for that passing-time-in-the-loo book present at Christmas.


Blogger That's so pants said...

Second Life - It's hard to imagine anything more ludicrous than voluntarily entering a completely unnecessary property transaction.

6:56 pm  
Anonymous Deborah said...

Where did you find these lunatic phenomenons? Oh you did say the FT. Hard to believe there are so many nutters roaming the Big Smoke. Damn these things are so mainstream as well. What is going wrong?

7:08 pm  
Anonymous max said...

It's great that you're using your blog to have a go at people spending their life on the internet :)

See you in RL!

7:12 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh - Cuddle Parties??!

You are kidding

Please please say this is April's Fools!

7:28 pm  
Anonymous honkman said...

As you say get a first life FIRST. Sad people though. What about the Cuddle Parties? Surely they are a disguise for other things? The London Review personals are hysterical. Thanks for the link :-)

7:34 pm  
Anonymous Frank N Stein said...

Ace subject. How do you dream up this stuff CS? With respect.

7:48 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good spot. I'm still awash with the good effects of oxytocin. My cuddly colleague, Suz, who runs Cuddle Parties in San Francisco flew into town for a short business trip. When two Cuddle Party facilitators meet, some oxytocin is bound to flow!! After some lovely reiki** and a mini Cuddle Party, I'm still feeling like a human mush-ball. And in just seven hours time, I'll be receiving a massage from my trading buddy, T. What a great life !!!

7:49 pm  
Anonymous Henry said...

The FT magazine covered Cuddle Parties? So basically word is out to 434,000 more, including 23.5% of chief executives in the UK and readers who spend an average of £672 when buying a watch (so say the facts in the FT circulation info!).

Chr^st, the world is doomed!

7:51 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


What is the common theme here today people? The Americans are f^cking with our heads. Resist these demented instruments of destruction.

8:06 pm  
Anonymous Keith said...

I have to agree a lot of this is scarcy sh^t.

Cuddle parties - where to start? And that second life thing? Surely somebody has scammed the system. Wouldn't be hard to do with all those already screwed up people.

8:08 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Top book suggestion. Should beat that other disappointing title "Everything is shit"

Going on my Crimbo list.

8:12 pm  
Blogger ems said...

I always check the lonely hearts column first when the LRB arrives. Some of them are totally incomprehensible though.

Like the shot of the bookshop - it is fantastic and well worth a visit. The range of books is superb and the staff know what they are talking about.

8:21 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sad sad commentary on modern life am afraid
oh go on..just give a hug

9:27 am  
Anonymous Bill said...

Are those cuddle parties part of that whole touch deprived movement?
Damn Yanks!

9:28 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My second life IS my first life. the people the places I have been to in my second life make up for all the regret and pain I endured the first time around. I have met incredible people, bought my first house and even raised a family. Things I was never able to do in the life granted me.

10:37 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have heard of Christmas parties, but cuddle parties??

10:41 am  
Anonymous Sandra said...

This ad is the best:

I wrote this ad to prove I’m not gay. Man, 29. Not gay. Absolutely not. Box no. 2205

Where did you find this CS?

11:04 am  
Anonymous Ella said...

So c'mon CS is it West Hampstead you are always heading to on the Jubilee Line :-)

11:14 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great blog here. Excellent tips and humour style.

Found you listed on The Guardian.

1:22 pm  
Anonymous Samson said...

Are you all too embaraassed to ask - so is there sex allowed at these so-called cuddle parties? Or what? Sounds like one big leftie swingers convention to me. If there was ever a reason to bring back the Tories it is to bring down crap like this.

2:26 pm  
Blogger Tanya said...

One life at a time is more than enough to deal with!

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