As one of the oldest members of the Youth Task Force - and easily the most fogeyish - I'll have to approach this 'relationships' blog a little differently.
I can't really talk about my previous dating experiences, because that would just end up reading like an encyclopedia of catastrophe - although while I'm on the subject I may as well apologise to the following: 1) The girl who I never called because she wrote her number on a banknote that I accidentally spent on booze. 2) The girl who I never called because she wrote her number on my arm and I forgot it was there until after I'd washed it off. 3) The girl who I spent weeks making up stupid nicknames for because I'd forgotten what her real name was and she never bothered to mention it again.
So instead I'll have to talk about the relationship I'm now. It's easily the most serious relationship I've ever been in, and that's excellent. We've been together for a few years, we live together and I don't think she's realised what an intolerable arsehole I am yet. Nobody tell her, please.
And because we both appear to be in this for the long-haul, it means the issue of contraception is a little different for us. We'll both turn 30 next year, so it won't be long before we have to make a bunch of big decisions. Do we want kids? If we do want them, when do we want them? Are we ready for them?
For me, right now, I still need to be convinced. Here's why:
*We're both horrific workaholics - as a freelancer I panic every second that I'm not working, and my girlfriend's still in the middle of her never-ending medical training - so we've both got a pile of professional goals to reach before we'd even have time to think about children.
*My girlfriend has a niece who she likes to buy horrible outfits for. Off the top of my head she's made this poor baby dress up like a fairy, a flamenco dancer, a teddy bear and - since yesterday - a Christmas pudding. Read that again. A Christmas pudding. I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I ever had a child who was made to dress up like a bloody Christmas pudding, so a baby's off the agenda until she's got this weird little fad out of her system.
*I'm quite clumsy and careless. This year I bought a goldfish. The goldfish died. So I bought another goldfish. That goldfish died. So I bought a plant. The plant died. Given my track record of accidentally killing things, I'm not sure that a baby is such a good idea, really.
Of course, it'd be easy for me to keep making these excuses and putting parenthood off until the day I die, so eventually the time will come when we'll have to take the plunge. But the important thing is that we've made the choice to wait until we're ready instead of allowing a baby to take us by surprise with no warning and dictate the rest of our lives to us. And we're old - I shudder to think what my life would have been like if a baby ambushed me as a teenager.
PS: I do realise there's a chance that one day I will have kids, and that those kids might end up Googling my name and finding this blog. So, if you're reading this in the future and I'm your dad, I want you to know that I was only joking when I said I might accidentally kill you. I probably won't accidentally kill you. Probably. Now clean your room or something.