A Gritty Issue

I had an affair*. My wife knew about it – and some days she even encouraged it seeing how tired I was after working all day. It lasted 20 days before coming to an end.

“Just go take a lie down,” she would say to me sometimes. I could not believe my luck. How open minded of her.

But what started off as an enthusiastic, lavish affair suddenly turned sour as the mistress became ever more demanding – jealous for my attention, she drew my eyes with increasingly obscure encounters, more and more ways to partake and that longing, whining ‘I can be better, baby’ that became so familiar in those 20 days.

We met over 58 times in 20 days. My wife was busy with her work and didn’t notice that my appetite was spiralling out of control.

I think what really turned me off though, in the end, was that she was beginning to get the wrong impression. If you had asked, she would have described me as a ‘dark, gritty, suspenseful, intense’ kind of character. I just couldn’t take it any more and that’s when I knew that I simply had to cancel my Netflix account…. why… what did you think I was talking about?!?


Netflix launched on 9 January 2012. While waiting for an appointment in town on that day, I signed up to the service with every intention of paying beyond the trial. It only took me 20 days, though, to rescind my agreement to carry on past the 30 day freeloader period.

While it’s true, as I’ve already said, that I watched an ungodly amount of film in that time (about 20% of all the time in total), my spiralling movielust was not the reason that I cancelled. Nor was it the exhaustion of the catalogue of decent films, although that must have played a part. In actuality, it was my increasing awareness that I might not actually like myself if what Netflix said about me was true.

After my watching of a very wide variety of films including some comedy, some family, some drama, some intellectual, an awful lot of world cinema, a couple of gangster films and some other stuff too, the best way that Netflix could describe my taste was: “dark, intense, suspenseful, gritty.”

How had Netflix possibly managed to work that out about my personality without ever having spoken to me. Was it a problem with their algorithm? Were they just over tagging their records with reminders that I’d watched stuff like Donnie Brasco and had also rated Lord of War and Pulp Fiction with high scores of enjoyment? This perplexed me for a long time. I cannot picture myself as dark or gritty. I’ve never even smoked a cigarette!

It was just this week that I finally solved my quandary. Groupon were offering a six month subscription to LoveFilm for under £10 – an offer I should probably have turned my nose up at. After I clicked ‘Purchase’, I set about making a list of things that I would like to see with my new found library of 7,221 films all available for instant streaming:

Four Lions, a comic look at the human side of martyrdom. Submarine, seen twice already, a gritty film noir about unhappy marriages and teenage insecurity. Together, a Swedish film about a commune in the 1970s where bourgeois values are challenged but relationships are shattered. Zombieland, a comedy about post-apocalyptic America which looks at the best way to utterly decapitate someone who has serious health problems. Vicky, Christina, Barcelona a film which largely romanticises affairs and stabbing your ex-husband… you’ll still accidentally fall into a peaceful menage-a-trois with a Hollywood actress.

My two mistresses agree: I am a dark, gritty, suspensful and intense person. Maybe I should just stick to reading books instead? Surely that can’t be nearly as revealing about my character…. what’s on my bedside table? In Cold Blood by Truman Capote – a darling tale of two small time criminals who blow the faces off a rural family in the 1960s and then spend the rest of the book on death row. GREAT!

* If you stopped reading on the first or second paragraphs, I should just say, I did not actually have an affair… it’s what people sometimes call ‘The delayed drop’. Guess it must be my suspenseful side coming out?!