How to be shit at gossiping, by a man

DOES the minutiae of people’s personal lives somehow fail to grip you? It might be because you’re a man. Here Martin Bishop explains how to be useless at spreading tittle-tattle.

Cut to the chase

Don’t waste precious time fannying about with whispered speculation. Go straight over to the subject of gossip at work and say: ‘Molly, am I right in thinking you’ve been carrying a torch for Jamie but he wasn’t interested and now there’s a really awkward atmosphere between you? Sarah informed me of this just now.’ You will soon find people stop pestering you with gossip.

Deal only in facts

You’re a man. You like facts, you like quizzes. Grey areas are not your thing. You’re like the forensics detectives on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Unsubstantiated rumours that Alison gave Pete a blowjob at the Christmas do are no use to you. Tell the gossips you want hard evidence that would stand up in a court of law – video footage and traces of semen.  

Have too much empathy

You wouldn’t like it if people gossiped about you if you came home pissed without your key and defecated in the garden. So when your neighbours dish the dirt on Gary down the road, explain the bigger picture to them, eg. ‘Everyone makes mistakes. Can you say, hand on heart, you’ve never abused alcohol yourself? And look at all the terrible things happening in the world.’ You’ll actually get quite a lot of sadistic pleasure from watching their guilty faces as you put Gary’s anal mishaps in the context of Gaza.

Take gossipy phrases at face value

Gossips invariably preface their muck-spreading with the words: ‘I shouldn’t really be telling you this, but…’ Take this completely at face value and say nothing gossipy, ever. If people accuse you of sitting on the fence, say you’re just doing what they told you. This will be incredibly confusing, but probably more interesting than finding out if Lucy in marketing is pregnant. 

Be too blokey to care

If there’s an office mystery circulating that requires extensive analysis to discover the truth, give up immediately. The most you’re like to find out is if Steve’s wife has definitely left him, and there are more pressing male issues to address, such as Sydney Sweeney’s opinions on superheroes and the question you’ve been turning over in your mind for weeks – who swapped chairs with you when you were off? Now you have to sit where their bottom once sat, the bastard.

Miss the point of gossip entirely

Gossip is about the vicarious thrill of possibly knowing someone’s dark secret, and the feeling of power from them not knowing you know. It’s a lot of mental effort, so just go up to Nathan at work and say: ‘So Nath, was your recent doctor’s appointment for VD? Which one? Herpes?’ Well done, you’ve got things out in the open – which is a lot healthier than keeping secrets – and everyone knows where they stand. Especially Clare, who, if gossip is to believed, recently slept with disease-basket Nathan.

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The middle-aged person's guide to losing friends

IS your life cluttered with friends you’d prefer didn’t exist? Or require a minor effort to occasionally meet? Learn how to lose them like a middle-aged pro.

Go ‘no contact’

Not talking to people doesn’t need to be limited to your exes. People you share cherished memories with can also be weeded out of your life by going ‘no contact’. They might not get the message at first and bombard you with texts, but stand firm and eventually they’ll lose interest. No more pesky ‘human warmth’ to get in the way of important TV-watching!

Adopt a new personality

Your friends like you for who you are. Exploit this weakness by pretending to be the absolute opposite when you bump into them. Hang out with a bunch of woke types? Start banging on about how great Brexit is and reposting Laurence Fox’s latest tweets. Mix with gammons? Tell them you’ve gone vegan and are transitioning. You’ll be alone in no time.

Move away

Sure, you’ll need to uproot your whole life and find a new place to live, but what’s the alternative? Continue being around people who want to see you and enjoy your company? No thanks. Spend some time researching the remotest and most affordable location then start packing. If anyone asks why you’re moving to Jura, use the bullet-proof excuse of saying it’s for work. You’ve become a sheep administrator.

Never be there for them

Has your mate got divorced, lost their job or embarked on a mid-life crisis? This is your time to shake them off by being of no use whatsoever. Even a consolatory sad face emoji gives them an in, so don’t send one. It’s a cowardly move usually made by shit boyfriends, but your utter failure to meet the basic requirements of a relationship might even prompt an otherwise bluff, blokey, don’t-give-a-shit male friend to ditch you.

Get married and have kids

An extreme step, perhaps, but one that always works. With a partner and kids you’ll have no time to hang out with friends or do anything fun for at least 18 years, by which point everyone will have long forgotten you exist. It’s expensive as f**k and will leave you shattered, but the results speak for themselves.