Lucy Caldwell: The Story So Far...

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The Independent Online

When my best friend Alice was five she asked her mother how you got babies. "Well," her mum said, "you just be yourself and be nice to people and you'll make lots of friends. And one day, one of those friends will ask you to marry him and then you'll have babies."

This story came up one night when we were out with our other best friend, Amalia, discussing the year that's passed, and our hopes and dreams for the year to come. And we realised that between the three of us, we'd only ever asked a boy out once (and that was when Alice was barely 11 so it didn't count).

Now, Alice is a willowy blonde and Amalia a doe-eyed Swede and neither of them is ever short of admirers. But - we decided - as 25-year-old women living in the 21st century we should, dammit, be plucking up the courage to pick up the phone ourselves, instead of whiling away the time in ivory towers waiting for stray princes to come riding by. So in a flush of resolve we decided that that would be our New Year's resolution.

After we'd toasted this and replenished our glasses, we fell to wondering how you actually went about asking someone out these days.

We came up with a hypothetical scenario. If a girl was to meet a guy on - say - a GQ photoshoot, and he was really sharp and stylish and intelligent, then instead of sitting around dreaming (she's a dreamy type of girl, this girl) or hoping he'd call, she should do something like finding out his e-mail address and e-mailing him. But, we agreed, that's a bit boring.

Then, in a flash of inspiration, it came to us that - and this scenario is entirely hypothetical, of course - if our heroine happened to have a column in a national broadsheet she could make it into a sort of billet doux. The guy in question would surely be won over by such a breathtakingly gutsy scheme, we agreed, and we congratulated ourselves on our sheer (if theoretical) bravado.

Almost immediately though we realised the flaw in our masterplan. There could be no guarantee whatsoever that the intended recipient would happen to read that column, in that paper, on that particular day. We were stumped. And we were also well into our second bottle of rosé at that point, so we ditched the entire project and decided to go dancing instead.

I concluded, then, that as far as New Year's resolutions are concerned, perhaps I'd better just stick to something like attempting to read War and Peace. It's a trusty old one: it's done me for the past three or four years, anyway. Oh dear. Happy New Year.