Rhodri Marsden: Love, heartache, self-pity – and the art of sewing on a button

Life on Marsden

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I received a message the other day from a woman telling me that if I so desired, she'd be prepared to ask her fiancé's permission to offer me a "mercy fuck".

This can be blamed at least in part on this column, which seems to have become a weekly instalment of self-pity in the face of romantic failure, for which I apologise. It was never meant to be this way.

But in my defence, the subject of heartache is probably more scintillating than me telling you about my recent attempt to sew a button on my jacket, which happened last Thursday and which I'll get to in a minute. (This will allow us to do a bit of A/B testing.)

Button-sewing doesn't erect a flashing neon sign on memory lane, you see, but the helpless feeling of being spurned by someone exercising their own free will certainly does. That's one of many reasons why the world's greatest balladeers rarely address the topic of button-sewing in song.

Incidentally, since the button-sewing incident I've experienced an unexpected and upsetting knock-back from someone. It's extraordinary how such events can cause an adult mind, with all its talent for remembering how to knock up a crème brûlée or arrange travel insurance, to immediately regress to teenage petulance.

That radical readjustment of your expectations from "something" to "nothing" is brutal, particularly if it's caused by someone saying "I didn't mean to lead you on". That's one of those phrases I hoped I'd never hear again, along with "Oi, what do you think you're looking at?" and "I think you're going to need a new boiler".

So I got upset, because it didn't seem fair, we got along so well – but one thing age has taught me is that there's nothing you can do in these situations. Shoulder-shrugging acceptance is your best bet. I mean, you could ask for a second chance, but liaisons that resume on the basis of begging are fatally compromised. And you could ask "Why?" – but who enjoys hearing a detailed list of criticisms of their personality? I certainly don't.

So, anyway, yes, the button-sewing thing. Well, a button came off, so I sewed it back on, and felt so absurdly pleased with myself that I stood up as if I was expecting a round of applause. That's what it's like to be a man.

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