Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Why not upgrade relationships every season?

Catherine Townsend - Sleeping Around

When, at the last minute, my girlfriends invited me to join them at the Cannes Film Festival, I imagined that we would be sleeping in a fabulous suite. Instead, we were crashing on the floor.

Still, despite the fact that I had no cash, no plan and no party invitations, I was determined to have a fabulous time, and find some hot leading men.

Then disaster struck. First, I dumped tea on my laptop, and it died. Then, at check-in, I was told that I didn’t have a seat due to overbooking, and I was the only one who hadn’t used online check-in. So my girlfriends boarded the flight, and I was left at the counter until the very last second, when they called my name and I raced on to the plane – only to find that I’d been upgraded to business class, and was sitting in the same row as Quentin Tarantino!

When we got off the plane, he was whisked to the fast-track passport queue with his entourage, so I slipped on my giant sunglasses and followed them through. And that’s when I realised the number-one rule of Cannes: if you don’t have it, fake it. I felt guilty about blagging my way through everything, but soon realised that everyone else was doing it, and started to relax.

In fact, it seems that everyone in Cannes is looking for the Bigger, Better Deal – in business and relationships. Despite all the stunning women, it’s a testos-terone-soaked environment where success is measured in terms of size – whose yacht is the biggest, whose party gets the most celebrities, who has the most money.

My friends and I hit a glamorous rooftop party, where I told a restaurant owner that I’ve written a book that’s coming out in June. “How many people have you slept with?” he barked at me, before introducing his lovely, and much younger, date as “my soon-to-be ex-girlfriend”.

He was horrible, but later that night, lying in my sleeping bag, wedged between a bed and the wall, I had to ask myself if I’m really so different. My girlfriends and I are used to upgrading our phones, laptops and handbags every season – so why not relationships? Everyone has their fantasy BBD, that imaginary perfect man who ticks all our boxes, whom we mentally measure everyone else against. Mine is a 35-year-old entrepreneur who is charming, successful, and has ridiculously white teeth.

I finally ran into him in Cannes, and we flirted outrageously. I thought about heading back to his place, but decided to head home because I was drunk, and not sure if I wanted him or the 1,000-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets in his suite.

I suppose I should follow my mum’s advice, and stop trying to make meaningful connections at yacht parties and enjoy them for what they are. Sipping champagne in a Jacuzzi may be a completely superficial experience, but as completely superficial experiences go, it’s one of the best.

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