The flat phone rings at an unearthly hour, jolting me out of a deep sleep. Ignoring the persistent ringing, I pull the covers up over my head and attempt to fall back to sleep. But this is not to be. The alarm kicks in, and I can’t ignore that on a Monday morning. Hauling myself out of bed, crawling down the corridor I arrive at the phone and play the message back.
“Hello Tanya,” my Dad’s voice says. “Just to let you know, your article’s in the paper today.”
Logging into Facebook, I see that various friends and relatives have already seen my article in the newspaper and online. This is great, of course it is – for many years I’ve dreamed of writing for this particular newspaper – but I don’t want certain people to see it. The article has a huge photo of me and is entitled ‘Shall I tell My Tinder date I have cancer?’. It’s a good piece and I’m pleased with it, and proud of myself for writing it. There are, however, three people whom I really don’t want to read this article about how I’m too fat, mad and cancerous to get a boyfriend, despite compulsive dating: Seb, Seb’s mum and the Captain. Plus, of course, any of my Tinder matches who are possible future dates. Should’ve thought of this before writing it, obviously.
Arriving at the office, late – after buying the newspaper with My Article in it and telling the chap in the newsagent “There’s an article by me in here” – I notice a new email in the work inbox from Dad. Great, he’s sent the link to the piece to his ‘Family and Friends’ email list which includes Seb and Seb’s Mum.
At lunchtime, I call the parental home.
“Hello, Tanya,” Dad says. “I’ve emailed the link to the article to everyone.” He sounds so pleased with himself.
“Thank you, Dad,” I say. “Couldn’t you have worked out, though, that I wouldn’t want Seb and his mum to see a piece about how many people I’m dating and…”
“Your mother told me to do it,” Dad says. “It’s nothing to do with me. Your mother told me to send it to everyone. Anyway: they could buy the newspaper.”
“It’s possible that they don’t read that newspaper,” I say. Seb almost definitely doesn’t buy a newspaper everyday. “Anyway: now they’re going to read the article and if you hadn’t sent it to them it’s perfectly possible that they’d never have seen it.”
Walking back to the office in the rain, I’m close to tears. The last couple of times I’ve spent with Seb have been great. It really seems that there’s been some progress: we’ve had a couple of snogs now, the first for about five years. And now he’s going to read about how many other chaps I’ve been dating and – argh – even worse, the link to this blog is in the article. He’s going to click on it and read all the sordid details of my experiences with these internet randoms.
I have no idea what is the best thing to do – perhaps I should send him a message saying: “None of the chaps mean anything: it’s just research”. To be fair, I’ve already said that to him a few times. Maybe it’s best just to leave it and hope he doesn’t read the article which is behind a paywall anyway.
Argh, it gets worse, I realise. The link to the article is up on my Facebook wall – so Arjen can read it. He’s not going to want to see me now either. At least Seb has deleted himself from Facebook for the moment.
And, of course, the Captain is bound to read that newspaper. Can see him now, eating his boiled egg and soldiers at breakfast, drinking his cup of tea, opening his newspaper and then catching sight of the huge photo of me under the headline ‘Shall I tell My Tinder date I have cancer?’. He splutters a mouthful of hot tea all over the paper and deletes my number.
What sort of idiot assassinates themselves in print, I think as I cry in the office loo. There’s no way of blaming anyone else for this: it’s completely my own fault that the ghastly details of my private life are all over the newspaper. Suppose had better move abroad. Not that am allowed to go anywhere…