New Times,
New Thinking.

28 February 2014updated 28 Jun 2021 4:45am

Lez Miserable: I like being a solitary, wonky human pillar at gigs

I strongly recommend the occasional bout of aloneness.

By Eleanor Margolis

Amid a cavorting meat festival of bodies, there is a sort of human pillar. Its arms are hanging down by its sides; it’s a bit wonky, like a semi-complete game of Jenga. It’s me at a concert. No one knows who the weird, stationary person is and that’s the way I like it.

“My name is Eleanor and I go to gigs alone,” I say to a group of fellow music loners who exist in my head.

“Hi, Eleanor,” they reply, welcoming me into the most depressing gathering of people since the last annual Justin Lee Collins fans’ boat trip.

It’s not just gigs to which I drag my solitary arse. I willingly accompany myself to restaurants, the cinema and art exhibitions. What I love most about doing stuff alone is the lack of pressure to look like I’m having a nice time. At concerts, I don’t have to dance; at restaurants, I can stare into my soup without having to make conversation; at exhibitions, I don’t have to try to sound intelligent. Without the need to opine about how “post-Dada” a painting is, I’m free to look at it, see, for example, a pair of tits and chuckle to myself without scrutiny. And when I take myself on a date, I’m pretty much guaranteed to get lucky at the end of it.

It’s not that I don’t have friends – some of my closest friends are friends – but in a world rabid with communication, alone time is underrated. Nothing beats that feeling of being on a plane, 30,000 feet in the sky and completely uncontactable.

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Aloneness is often stigmatised and unfairly so. It doesn’t necessarily equate to loneliness – I mean, we’re all alone, right? It’s not that I find anything particularly spiritual about “me” time; it’s more that, every so often, I enjoy shutting the hell up and noticing things.

I recently sat alone in a park and watched two amorous pigeons go at it for hours. It took a generous shot of self-restraint not to tweet about it; just to be still and appreciate the disgusting, randy birds being fluttery and disjointed. It’s a pity that society is so quick to brand someone who sits hunched up on a bench, watching animals fornicate, as some kind of sticky, pathetic ne’er-do-well.

I can’t help feeling unqualified to dish out advice but allow me this one exception: while we have constant access to one another through all sorts of technology, I strongly recommend the occasional bout of aloneness. Maybe you will learn something about mating habits; maybe you’ll have a moment of life-altering clarity. And the next time you see someone sitting solo in some buzzing corner of public life, looking pensive and possibly slightly eerie – don’t pity her. She could be having the time of her life.

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