How to get a life

New YorkNew York




Annabel had gone to the States and come back with this book called “Get out there and get yourself a life.” She had insisted she read it.  Despite her hatred of self-help books and their self righteous advice that only seemed to work for the writers she had gone through it and decided it needed another title- “Get out there and get yourself a man.”


The writer Kim Bradley thingy … something double barrelled who had been a high flyer in the stock exchange had met Mr Right – a brilliant neurosurgeon; decided that the cut throat world of the New York Stock Exchange had lost its attraction,  got married and lived in some gigantic house somewhere in Boston. Sounded like one of those irritating afternoon TV films made in the eighties.


Anyway when Kim had turned 36 her mother had been diagnosed with something serious and had said don’t let me die without seeing you happily married.  This had been enough to stop Kim from sitting down and waiting for Mr Right to come to her. She decided to get off her derriere and go track him down.


She had accomplished this by drawing a list of all the places where men liked to hang out or where they just could be found. She would list the American example and had helpfully included the English equivalent just to increase the transatlantic appeal of the book to other singletons across the pond. –


  1. Train stations/Greyhound buses/ Public Transport/London Underground
  2. Churches
  3. Supermarkets/Retail outlets/The Mall
  4. Hospitals
  5. The Jailhouse/The Police Station/Fire Station/Army Barracks
  6. Sports events i.e.- Softball/ Basketball/Football stadium
  7. Sorority Events/ Alumni Events for Universities i.e. – Association of Lawyers/Doctors/Engineer yearly balls
  8. The School/Cookie mornings/PTA Events
  9. The Library/Internet Café
  10. Bars/The Pub/Discos/Raves/Restaurants
  11. Theatres/Cinema Houses
  12. Self –help seminars/ Business world/Seminars/
  13. Banks
  14. Car Shows


By the time she got to 14 I was in tears. Of laughter.


“Ooh…number 5 looks promising.  All we need to do is to hang outside the police station down the road and look for any of the old Bill to emerge and go up and say to any fit officer….Excuse me…but I’m really lost and I need you to show me the way…


Annabel looked hurt.|” I should have known you will turn the whole thing into a joke….look do you like spending every Friday night at home watching Friends?


I thought long and hard. “Its better than hanging outside ….|”I snatched the book and read the list again in a mock American accent…”Train stations, churches, the Mall, hospitals, the jailhouse….Wow…my mum will like that …looking for men in the jailhouse…I can see shades of Jailhouse rock in there girl…..


Annabel’s lips were a thin red line.


Or whatever.  According to her mother she was too choosy or not doing enough to make herself look presentable.  Short of asking the next eligible male she saw on the street to marry her she didn’t know what else she was supposed to do.


She was 39 and she should be anxious about her ever advancing biological clock, the fact that she had been single for the past 15 months and that in the past few years she had only had one date which had ended in disaster – he had forgotten his wallet at home (or so he claimed) and his phone kept ringing during the date.


Not good.


“I’m out of here.”


“Enjoy the party.”


“I did invite you but you have to be such a party pooper!”


“It’s Friday. I want to sit down with my hair tied up in a scarf, in my old baggy dressing gown and eat lots of ice –cream while I watch footie.”


“You are such a stereotype.” Annabel walked off. “Except for the football.”


The Girl who loved too much – continued


Chris was a funny guy. We had gone to University together and dated briefly. It hadn’t worked out but I had introduced him to Sandra – the love of his life with whom he had 2 beautiful children. Sadly he lost Sandra to cancer and was widowed 7 years into the marriage.
It was a funny thing. Chris fancied Betty and Betty liked and respected Chris. They worked in the same office. Now where things could go after that I wasn’t too sure but it was worth a try. Anything was worth a try. Betty was a sweet sensitive girl who loved kids and Chris was a now a middle – aged workaholic with two confused hurting children below the age of 7. His heart was in the right place and for a man who had been through quite a few things in life, he had still remained his sense of humour, optimism and sense of fun. I liked that. I felt that Betty needed someone who did not take life too seriously, loved children and wanted more.
What I wasn’t too sure of was whether Chris fit into the ideal man image that her parents had embedded into her subsconscious.
They wanted a young professional who spoke Twi and knew the culture – I didn’t know how they would cope with a tall, fair English gentleman with two children who didn’t speak any other language but English and whose only contact with Africa had been a package holiday to Egypt in his teens.
How would it all turn out. I guess we would find out after my get together.

What’s love got to do with it?

The swell of rousing music fills the air as a gasp of appreciation escapes from some lips.  Others crane their heads to get a better look at what is going on. Photographers hustle, for good vantage points to get a good picture.

The young woman leaning on her father’s arm is accompanied by a train of ten couples dressed in turquoise satin and cream suits respectively. Their steps are co-ordinated as they move in slow steps to the mellow notes of To God Be the Glory for the great things He has done.

The young bride is dressed in a long white dress heavily embossed with diamante beads – off the shoulders and revealing much more than it should, in keeping with the latest fashion. The dress, like her shoes and the pearl and gold tiara is from abroad. It is that kind of wedding where a lot of stuff comes from abroad – the outfit, the wedding cake, the invitations and the guests. There are dignitaries, family, colleagues, old schoolmates, lovers…friends, enemies …everybody who is ‘somebody’ has packed themselves into the church.  They are all present to witness this young couple take their first steps into the well and tested road leading to matrimony.

The old Pastor who has seen so many stand before the altar and make vows that are legally, spiritually and emotionally binding, gives them a reassuring smile as the procession ends and they stand in front of him.

The brides father reluctantly relinquishes his second daughter to her groom.

The Pastor begins to read the vows, those irritating little details that are meant to have an impact on two individuals and that of generations to come, but no one seems to  be listening. The bride is actually a very beautiful girl under the layers of chocolate soufflé powder mask, but it is a hot day and her bridesmaid dutifully brings out her handkerchief to wipe away the sweat running down her face and spoiling her make up. She doesn’t want her first pictures to look anything but perfect.

Someone is arranging her veil and another is making sure that her silk train doesn’t get too rumpled. The Bride is wondering whether all those haters and backbiters that swore that this day would never happen, are getting a good look at her and how beautiful she looks and regretting being so nasty to her.

What about another key player on this life changing event – the Groom?  No one seems to really pay much attention to him, as he stands tall and handsome, clutching the hand of his new bride and looking into her eyes like a man who has just paid dearly for a new car, and wonders whether it’s going to last the distance of a long journey.  He shuts out the voices of his single bachelor friends that are echoing in his head and tries to ignore the rising fears of what might lay ahead, by looking ahead to the honeymoon – no sorry I meant holiday to come.

He is a very modern 21st century kind of young man, so he doesn’t have the delights of the marital bed to look forward to, having sampled and exhausted the charms of his beautiful bride long ago. He is thinking about the tourist attractions in Hawaii, as there is nothing left in his wife that is worth anticipating. He has sometimes wondered in the past, why every woman has to make such a big deal over an event that lasts a few hours, yet alters a man’s destiny forever.

He hopes that she is worth the colossal sacrifice and expense he is making to marry her.  His mother had pleaded with him, asking him to ensure she was pregnant before marrying her but he had decided to go ahead.  He felt a bit guilty and sorry for the girl. They had been together for almost seven years and he had been her first.   So he felt obligated in a strange kind of way to make her his wife.  As for children, she was in her late twenties, a good time for motherhood.  There was loads of time.

There is another woman whose pride and joy on the day is slightly eclipsed by that of the Mother of the Bride. Yes. It’s the Mother in law.  She is a regal and authoritative as a queen as she surveys the crowd in the church.  It is truly a great gathering, one that has cost thousands of pounds and dollars. As she dances down the aisle as her son and his bride make their way out, she sends up a silent prayer to God that this very crowd will congregate here for the thanksgiving of her grandchild, in nine months’ time.

Three years later…

The pretty young bride hardly smiles nowadays. The slim girlish figure is more rounded but the light in her eyes has gone. She had certain expectations when she got married and in five years every one of them has been dashed. She didn’t marry for this. For Better for Worse…and it has been for worse.

Sometimes, she remembers the words of that timeless song from Tina Turner.

What does love have to do with it?

Part two to follow.