I remember sitting on the loo at about 4am some time in September of 2007 with my laptop open on my knees. I was checking to see if anyone had already written anything about their experiences as an ugly man trying to find love, because I’d just had a dream in which someone suggested I do it. It hadn’t been done. So for the next three months, every morning on the hour-long bus-ride to work and every evening on the hour-long bus-ride home, I wrote about Stan – his early sexual experiences and stuff about his childhood. I figured I’d start it in January and keep it going – if I could – for a year. From the moment it came into my head, it seemed like exactly the right thing to do.
Having said that, from the moment it came into my head, I knew it was weird. And I knew it smacked of something unethical. It was basically saying the thing that was not so, and I was and always have been very much against that.
But I liked the idea, and I needed something to write. And the internet was dead to me because of a gargantuan business fuck-up. And I relished the idea. So I did it. And despite some very harsh words over the last week and a couple of lost acquaintances, I don’t regret it at all.
Thankfully, all but a very, very small number of the people whose reaction I really cared about – which is to say a few long-time commenters and a few people with whom I’d communicated in email but never revealed myself to – have accepted the truth without umbrage or rancour. And I’m genuinely sad for those that haven’t, but I don’t think there’s anything I can do about that. I’m hoping that in time they won’t feel too badly about it.
I was going through all the comments and replying individually but in the end it got on top of me. So hearty thanks to the well-wishers and apologies and condolences to the miffed and bereaved.
Before I move on properly, however, there have been two criticisms that I should probably address in detail.
1) Financial Malfeasance
The charge of fraud has been addressed most vehemently – and yeah, go on, most hatefully – here (scroll) and here. This excerpt is from the second link, a blog called IV written by a man who’s had it in for me for some time:
‘…if some cunt from off of the Internet invents a fictional character, writes sob stories about how hard up that character is and THEN installs a fucking PayPal button so people can unwittingly donate money to that fictional character without them knowing it WAS a fictional character, then he’s a con artist too. By inviting his entire (and in some cases, bewilderingly loyal) readership to donate real money to his pedestrian little creation, this arrogant, pompous, trumped-up little carpetbagger has shown himself up for what he really is – an unscrupulous swindler.’
The story of the PayPal button is not quite that straightforward, however. It was installed after I wrote the Bingo post. Specifically, as I explained here, it was installed after the excellent @rishil sent me the following message.
‘Where is your donate button? I want to put money in there for this awesomeness of a post.’
So I put up a donate button, from which I’ve probably made about £130.
Now – a quick digression. Over the last week, a few people have said things like this to me:
I showed this to a friend last night and he was actually quite indignant. ‘How can they say it’s all fake?’ he said.
Which was when I realised that I should probably make the point more stridently that it wasn’t all fake. In fact, most of the stuff on the Bête de Jour blog is absolutely true. It’s stuff that happened to me. I just happened to be wearing a disguise when I wrote it down. Most if not all of the actual made-up stories took place in the first year. The rest was mostly spot on.
So Stan moaned about having a pain in his stomach for over a year because I had a pain in my stomach for over a year. He moaned about having a proctologist’s finger in his bottom because I had a proctologist’s finger in my bottom. He lived with his gran for four months because I lived with my mum for four months. And he moaned about being skint because I really was skint.
I mention this because of this chap Napoleon’s claims. This from the blog post quoted above:
‘So the vaguely-famous blogger Stan ‘Bete Du [sic] Jour’ Cattermole has come out and revealed he’s not a hard-up, ugly-as-old-balls, thirty one year old loser, but is in fact a non hard-up, ugly-as-old-balls, forty year old office drone and former teacher.’
(And loser, I’m sure he meant to add.) I don’t mind the abuse – part of me actually likes it – but the misrepresentation irks. (I know, I know, I do see the irony.) But the fact is, I’m 42, I’m only a temporary office drone (please, God) and I am definitely, indubitably fucking hard-up. (Oh, and I never claimed to be either ‘homeless’ or ‘starving’ either, you silly man.)
So, back to the donate button.
It never even occurred to me that there might be a problem with accusations of fraud, as I always thought the money that people donated they donated because they enjoyed the writing, and not because they felt sorry for me because of things I’d written quite a long time previously.
But – of course – I could be wrong.
So, if any of you who did donate feel that you did so under false pretences, please drop me an email and I’ll happily refund your donation.
I say ‘happily’. It won’t really make me happy. Because I’m skint.
In the meantime, if any of you would like to give me some money because you enjoy my writing, please feel free to click on the donate button in the sidebar. It would be very much appreciated.
Alternatively, if any of you would like to donate to the Stan Cattermole Relief-fund for Obsolete Figments (SCROF), there’s a button for that too. (Actually there’s not. But it’s an amusing thought. Well, it amuses me.)
Alternatively, if you’re not satisfied with my explanation, please feel free to get the police involved. I can’t help feel that any publicity from the subsequent trial would do wonders for sales of the book. Also, if I go to jail, I won’t have to be an office drone anymore! And I can write a book there. Like Hitler. (Damn. Hoist with my own Godwin.)
2) Sexual Malfeasance (tinged with Intellectual Rape)
Here the accusation – ‘talking to girlies in character… that’s just wrong on a number of levels’ – seems to be that I am an internet sexual predator who has groomed ‘girlies’ or perhaps in some cases, even grown women, into having sex with me. By pretending to be ugly.
Well, it’s true that I have been to bed with a few women on the back of the blog. But I swear, in every case, they had all seen my real face before we took our clothes off.
You know how silly this is?
‘A man was arrested today for lying about his appearance on the internet.’
It’s that silly.
But what’s the worst-case scenario here? Surely it’s that I pretended to be ugly so that I could con women into feeling sorry for me and liking me enough to forgive my lies and sleep with me anyway. That would be pretty sordid, I agree. Thankfully, that’s not what was going on. For a start I was in a serious relationship from when the blog started until March of last year. And yes, she knew all about it, and no, I never cheated on her (or lied to her at all actually). And no, Wellington, the blog had nothing to do with why we split up.
Incidentally, every woman I’ve met through the blog turned up on Friday and was very nice to me.
Right. I’m think I’m pretty much done now.
There will always be those amongst you who just can’t accept that there wasn’t something nasty going on and I will always be sorry about that, but like I said above, I’m not going to pretend I regret it because the good things that have come of Bête de Jour far outweigh the bad things. In my opinion. To wit, I’ve made some really fantastic friends over the last two and a half years, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. Also, I happen to know that I helped some people through some particularly tough times, and that would never have happened if I hadn’t pretended to be someone else for a while. And also, perhaps more than anything else – I had fun. And some of you did too.
I’ll end with one of my favourite comments, which, as I’ve posted my least favourite comment above, I figure I’m allowed to. It’s this, from elsie_em:
‘Pablo may not have died but my cat did, and when I read those posts I cried and cried, and then I felt much better. Actually, that’s sort of how the whole thing made me feel.’
But now I’m moving on. Feel free to come with me.