This week’s Blind Spot query comes from my former colleague Jacques (not his real name — in fact, I’ve worked with surprisingly few men called Jacques), who wonders how to tell his newly-besotted pal that his WAG is bad news. “I don’t want to burn the witch,” Jacques writes, “I just want to point out her crooked nose and green skin.” Well, quite.
The first thing you need to know is this: a bad egg, like a good onion, has layers. Not all rotters are created equal. The schema of poor form has gradations. And there’s a thin line between plain ghastly and downright beastly.
As such, the correct response to bad-eggery will differ on a case-by-case basis — and you wouldn’t use a sledgehammer to break a walnut (though I dare say the marble countertops could take it). Consider this, then, your handy cut out and keep guide to bad eggs and good conduct.
‘She’s just a bit dull’
Symptoms: Owns a plum-coloured Karrimor raincoat; thinks Cards Against Humanity is incredibly daring and fun; always inexplicably has to go visit her grandmother the next day; still writes Facebook statuses; gets out an app to ensure the bill is split evenly; asks for ‘sulphite-free’ wine.
What to say to your friend: Nothing, actually. One man’s boredom is another man’s salvation. And anyway, isn’t this all a bit of a projection? It sounds like you’re more concerned about your own dwindling party here, fella. As you get older, you realise that different friends are good for different things: some are perfect for a very sensible hot chocolate on a Monday evening; some are better to smoke 40 Silk Cut Silver with on a balcony in Battersea at 4am while talking very quickly in political soundbites you just read in The Week. Horses for courses. It’s nice to have both. Sit tight and wait for his mid-life crisis to kick in after one M&S Meal-for-Twos on a Saturday night too many. He’ll soon be back in the game.
‘She’s pretty basic’
Symptoms: Lots of chunky knits; Same pose in every Instagram photo; has birthday at The Prince in West Brompton; always at a bottomless brunch; likes houseplants and grey marble; re-training as a yoga instructor; rejected from Made In Chelsea three times.
What to say to your friend: Again, words won’t help here. If you really must intervene — say your pal is being forced to spend more than three hours per week contorting with a camera phone while she cocks her head coquettishly (her new favourite word) next to the Annabel’s flower wall — then actions may be better. Take him to the Hay Literary Festival and introduce him to some political-charged beat poets. Or take him to your local book group and introduce him to some political-charged beat poets. He’ll soon realise there’s more to life out there than Love Island re-runs and BooHoo.com. (At which point, you may have another problem on your hands entirely. But one thing at a time.)
‘She’s clearly a sociopath’
Symptoms: Easy charm; immaculate appearance; general aura of perfection; deeply successful; incredibly considerate with his parents; universally loved; dead eyes; killed a Golden Retriever at aged eight.
Course of action: Say nothing. You don’t want to wake up one morning and find the family dog floating silently in the swimming pool, do you?
‘I’m pretty sure she’s cheating’
Symptoms: Intra-banquette canoodling with old flames; long work weekends away with the handsome equity partner at her chickpea start up; kissing other men’s mouths.
Course of action: Horrible situation to be in, chap. But probably best to step in and tell your friend, when all is said and done. The question to ask yourself is: what would you expect your friends to do for you in the same situation? That’s right. Good luck out there.
‘She’s a nasty piece of work’
Symptoms: Judges you on the ski-resort you go to; feigns a panic-attack anytime someone criticises her; has lived with 23 different housemates since she moved to London and is sworn enemies with every one of them; gaslights your friend into leaving your boys’ WhatsApp group; bit of a shin-kicker; doesn’t have a real laugh.
Course of action: Kill her with kindness. The nicer you are to her, the more irate she’ll get (remember, she trades in bad energy and faux tears). Be more and more pleasant and forgiving, until one day she explodes in a shower of vitriol and unforgivably nasty things said about your younger brother who has, to be fair, put on a bit of puppy fat recently. Your pal will have the rose-tinted glasses ripped from his eyes immediately, if not before — and all will be well in the world.