My guide to love and relationships: avoid at all costs My stocking filler guide on how best to say no

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The Independent Online
We've all heard of The Rules: Time-tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr Right, a recipe devised by two American women for luring men into marriage. Two American men have retaliated with The Code: Time- tested Secrets for Getting What You Want from Women - Without Marrying Them, a vicious vengeance tract on how to avoid commitments. Both fine stocking presents.

What both books sadly ignore is the fact that men and women are not made for each other. They're not suited. Mixing the two only produces conflicts of interest, and babies. Who needs these? From Romeo and Juliet, Tess, Jude, Emma Bovary and Anna Karenina to Gazza, Pamela Anderson and that tenant of Wildfell Hall, heterosexual entanglements have led to nothing but trouble. But the answer is at hand for all love cheats and their victims, cold men and overly passionate women.

Why bother? Here's a guide to avoiding sexual relationships altogether, my very own Impasse: Time-tested Secrets for Remaining Totally Immune to Sex. There need be no more arguments about the exact nature of your relationship, no more worries about each other's sinister pasts, no more sharing the housework, no more joint bank accounts, no in-laws, no condoms, no pushchairs, no more shit-bag infidelities. Here are my revolutionary recommendations:

1. Be neither "a beast" nor "a creature unlike any other", as suggested in, respectively, The Code and The Rules. Try being a human being for at least 10 minutes a day.

2. Don't have sex on the first date. In fact, don't have the first date.

3. Wear clothes that accentuate the negative.

4. Look weird and/or gloomy whenever in public.

5. Avoid eye contact.

6. If forced to endure a friendly approach, be overly effusive at first, gradually toning down your manner to one of abject frigidity.

7. If No 6 fails to deter your admirers, start babbling about trivialities such as cat litter or Europe.

8. Vehemently complain about all previous partners.

9. Resist the temptations of the telephone entirely.

10. Discuss your impasse ad infinitum with your shrink. This will get you nowhere.

11. Assure all acquaintances that your dog, goldfish, career or recycling efforts take up every spare moment. Ignore their attempts to look pityingly on your single status.

12. If, by accident, alone with a suitor, fall over or drop something. This works almost as well as gruesome descriptions of the genetic abnormalities of one's ancestors. I once dropped my handbag and it ruined everything. My companion was an ex-Moonie and rather punctilious.

Assess your date carefully, then transgress. It's easy to do once you know how.

BAN this, ban that. Let's ban the News. As Lord Wakeham says, there's very little of it that's in the public interest to know. Most of it is none of our business, just gossip. And we'd probably be a lot happier if we knew less about what's going on in the world. Old ladies raped, Hutus and Tutsis slaughtered... What's a movie like Crash compared to the stuff on the News, which is not only vile but real?

For all the malevolent effect of violent films and toy guns, the Tasmanian killer Martin Bryantwas influenced not by fiction but by the Dunblane tragedy. He was corrupted by watching the News. There's altogether far too much global communication.

In an effort to reduce violence, the Co-op banned Action Man from its shelves. Then he came in through the door of a Birmingham branch, in the form of police marksmen, making News. They'd have been better off with the dolls.

IT'S not just Whisky and Soda, the dogs of Chris Patten, Governor of Hong Kong, which are threatening British Life As We Know It (or at least the quarantine laws). Our undercover reporters have turned up worrying evidence of a canine conspiracy planned for the mainland this Christmas. At least one hundred Dalmatians are involved. How long our dogs have been preparing for this moment isn't known, but communication systems are now primed at a peak of efficiency. Listen to them bark! And haven't you noticed the increasing number of dogs on the move? They have mastered the public transport network. Not only has Lady Annabel Goldsmith's pooch, Copper, been found travelling alone on buses, disembarking at its favourite pub, but a collie named Sammy takes trains, and recently travelled alone from Ledbury to Great Malvern.

Then there are the rowdier elements of the movement, who have somewhat given the game away. Roy Hattersley's dog, Buster, obviously wanted to make a name for himself among his fellows by killing a royal goose. This is what has worried the police most, according to sources. So peeved are dogs by the monarchy, they are taking the matter into their own hands, or paws. If Fergie doesn't shut up, the rebellion could be nasty.

But Fergie is not in control of herself, as she explained to Ruby Wax (who, compared to Fergie, seems a model of decorum).

Fergie once took some slimming pills, and hasn't been the same since: "What I realise now is that suddenly I got changed into another person. I think very strongly about this, Ruby ... I think this is what we call toxins..." But, not to worry, now she's "much more aware of all these feelings and things ... I often say the Francis of Assisi prayer which is: `Seek to understand, not to be understood. Seek to love, not to be loved'. And I seek to all that kind of stuff." Note that Dalmatians have infiltrated the Fergie household. Everything is ready for the coup.

BEEN thinking about Loyd Grossman. Exactly how many appearances on Through the Keyhole and Masterchef do you have to put yourself through before you can issue your own spaghetti sauce? A strange world we live in, in which Salman Rushdie is censored and Loyd Grossman and Bob Monkhouse aren't. Everything seems to go right for these two. You long to prick them, like souffles, to let the air out.

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