The best advice to deal with public embarrassment is definitely the reassurance that ‘the worst experiences are the best anecdotes’. At those times when you realise that you’ve actually made a really bad decision and that you may become a BNOC (Big Name On Campus) for all the wrong reasons, it can be a small comfort to think ‘at least this will make a hell of a story one day’. Dolly Alderton resorted to this nugget of hope as she recounted the tale of how she once took a £200 taxi to Leamington Spa at four a.m., all to see a boy who she had a gigantic crush on. “The anecdotal mileage in this will be inexhaustible” was what she thought while she hurtled down the M1, as she writes in her new book, Everything I Know About Love.
The excruciating crushes and bad dates are acting as debris that orbit the central theme of female friendship
Alderton (already an award-winning journalist, TV writer & director, co-host of the podcast The High Low and the ‘Millennial Nora Ephron’) has now written her debut book filled with satire, wisdom, self-deprecation and heartache. The pages are a curated collection of tender moments that track the writer’s emotional journey in the world of love. Some of the stories demand laughter as you cringe at her adventures on MSN (the pre-cursor to learning how to flirt online as a tween), and relate to the interludes of the book, such as the recipe for the “Got Kicked Out of the Club Sandwich” which is best enjoyed while “shouting about that dickhead bouncer who said we were too drunk to go back in and that we were ‘letting the rest of the group down’.”
These moments of the book are particularly prevalent for students. Alderton returns to her time at university – made even more comic by the fact that she studied here at Exeter. “A student-body stand against the removal of curly fries from the Student Union Pub’s menu” does not seem surprising in the slightest when considering how those curly fries at The Ram are still an Exeter Uni staple. Her description of a classic Lacrosse Lad™ is also painfully still applicable too.
As well as laughing over how Alderton bought five quid rosé bottles in clubs (reminds me of how my mates and I like to spend our student loan on stock-buying £3 bottles of Silver Bay for prinks), you also can’t help but wrench over her more delicate moments. The need to fulfil the role of a boozy student; the intensity of being emotionally intimate with people who are only fleeting in your life; and a particularly painful chapter simply named ‘Florence’, are all sections of the book that feel more as though Alderton has presented her bleeding heart on the page than a mere scramble of letters. Such raw confessions are dealt with complete care that they can’t help but insist on empathy from the reader.
The pages are a curated collection of tender moments that track the writer’s emotional journey in the world of love.
While the men in her life feature a significant role in the book, Alderton has written more of a love letter to all the women in her life. The excruciating crushes and bad dates are acting as debris that orbit the central theme of female friendship, which proves to be the greatest teacher in learning how to love and be loved. Alderton provides – not quite a guidebook on how to steer the turbulent times of the teens and twenties – but more so a collection of fables that will make you feel less lonely when trying to navigate relationships with others, as well as yourself. Or at least make you feel slightly less stupid about those drunken texts you sent at TP.