Hats off again to the University of the Blindingly Obvious for bringing us the latest sums regarding single people. The new research was sponsored by the women's magazine Grazia and uSwitch, a company that aims to save customers money on its household accounts. Perhaps they are planning to give up on the whizzy bill-calculation software and the terribly informative articles about playsuits and celebrity bad hair days, and start offering online dating instead.
For the news, unsurprisingly, does not show singletons in a happy light. People who live alone, uSwitch points out, spend more money on living essentials than people who live as couples, and in an inexplicable coincidence are less happy as a result. Mortgage or rent payments, heating, lighting, food bills and that annoying half a glass left at the end of a bottle of wine that you have to throw away costs the average singleton £250,000 more over a lifetime than her shacked-up friend. And who'd be happy about that?
The annual Women and Work Survey commissioned by Grazia, meanwhile, has been reported under shock headlines such as "One in three working women takes home more money than her man". (Unspoken shadow headline: more women than not still earn less than men – 20 per cent less, according to the Office for National Statistics.)
But it also reports a new phenomenon: The Toxic Sisterhood, or childless working women. Nine out of 10 women believe that those without children "resent the flexi-hours and time off mothers can have", it found. (Again, this is a matter of perception; of the non-parents surveyed, only 25 per cent of these unsympathetic witches actually do think that that mums rely on colleagues too much to "cover their workload".)
The rise and rise of living alone is of course going to test governments' imaginations. As British people marry later and live longer, single-person households are expected to increase by more than two million by 2020. That's two million more homes using electricity and gas; two million people who are more likely to admit themselves to A&E; two million who are increasingly naffed off by each new tax break offered to married couples.
It's not only the Tories who seem to take the Bridget Jonesian line that underneath their clothes all single people are secretly covered in scales. Five years ago, Gordon Brown announced: "We have created stability ... and now we must ensure that the benefits go particularly to young couples who want to own their own homes ... who never thought they could get into the housing market." Young single people, presumably, can sleep rough.
But there was good news, too, for singles last week, also reported in the form of an entry for the Knock Me Down With Feather Prize. "Singletons" are leading the trend for "cooking for one", read one headline about a 140 per cent rise in sales at Debenhams of single-egg frying pans, cutlery sets for one and cute little teapots.
An egg of one's own is the right of every single person in Britain, who is, after all, paying for it. So let's stop at the Big Society and Citizen Service, and not add a state dating agency to cut costs. After all, there's only one thing worse than being single and feeling isolated; and that's entering into a hasty coalition for expediency's sake and then rapidly realising that you're with the wrong bloke.
Talent will out: Eliza, you are the real deal – and I was really wrong
Listen very carefully, because you may never hear me say this again. I was wrong. Just once. It didn't feel good. I'd rather it didn't happen again.
I was wrong, it turns out, about Eliza Doolittle, the 22-year-old singer of 2010's most infuriatingly catchy summer pop song, "Pack Up". I was cynical, I was elderly and I was a little bit of a bitch. When I first saw Ms Doolittle (real name Eliza Caird) performing on TV with her long legs, short shorts and brilliant but uncredited soul-voiced co-singer (the magnificent Lloyd Wade), I instantly assumed that she was a talentless pop clone put together by a huge record company who had spotted the gap in the market left by Lily Allen's impending retirement. I have since discovered that she is, er, not.
Doolittle is the granddaughter of Sylvia Young, the founder of a respected London theatre school but was never allowed to go to stage school herself. She has been writing songs since she was 12, but was too embarrassed to let her family hear her sing. She starred in Les Misérables as a child, had a publishing deal at 16, and worked with the influential producer Jonny Dollar shortly before his death. Oh, and she co-wrote every song on her self-titled album. Damn.
Not only is she young, pretty, talented and self-effacing but the lyrics to Doolittle's current single imply that she's also completely oblivious to what people (like me) may say about her. So, I implore you, do not go and look up this song on YouTube, because you will never get it out of your head. Unfortunately, it is already too late for me and I'm rushing out (begrudgingly and with building resentment) to buy the album.
Shall I compare thee? Yeah, cool!
Among writerly and journalistic communities, a tool has overtaken self-googling as the new onanism for the mind. The website I Write Like (http://iwl.me/) invites users to enter a chunk of their sparkling prose, and analyses it for similarities to that of famous authors. It received 100,000 hits in one day after appearing on the literary blog Galley Cat. Initially, writers are flattered by comparisons to Defoe, Dickens and Henry James. "My news story reads like Kurt Vonnegut!" one reported. "My restaurant review is Chandleresque." Then they get carried away. "I entered a TV script entirely in French ... I am Nabokov." "A speech from Hamlet apparently resembles James Joyce." There's only one way for this literary narcissism to end, and that is in finding that you write like Dan Brown and logging off in a sulk. (NB This piece reads like Cory Doctorow.)
Dave just can't take the heat
Admittedly, there are bigger issues raised by the PM's trip to the States (BP, Megrahi, our soldiers in Afghanistan), but they all play into a wider problem with David Cameron: what kind of man has his hot dog plain?
Never mind Call Me Dave's pained expression when the New York Mayor treated him to the snack. Forget that this is clearly a man raised on organic delicacies who thinks that street food is for the filthy poor. Pretend that he wasn't warned about the photo-op but didn't just say that he's not really into hot dogs, thanks. (This would have made his subsequent suck-up claim that Britain was the US's "junior partner" in the Second World War in 1940 sound a bit weird.) The fact is, we're being led by a man who can't take his mustard, and who probably has chicken korma if he's forced to go for a curry. Britain's doomed.Reuse content