We've all got them. Toxic friends, or Frenemies as they were described in Sex And The City, who shake your confidence and spread upset and paranoia wherever they go - all the while pretending to be your best pal. Now, a hilarious new book seeks to warn against 'the utter gits in your life'. So how many of these stereotypes do you know?
Your husband has run off with a hairdresser and frozen your joint account. You've got two children to provide for and your guaranteed-to-make-you-a-million business proposal is lying in shreds.
Luckily, you can rely on your friends to help you through the crisis. Except this one - Miss-Fortune Teller (MFT). Sure, she'll be the first one on the phone when your bad news leaks out and, because you're vulnerable and trusting, you'll spill the beans.
You'll confide, you'll cry, you'll complain, you'll cry, you'll catastrophise, you'll cry.
Stop it. Right now. Because MFT is on the other end of the line, biting her knuckles with glee, barely able to contain her excitement at the good news that you are having such a bad time. She delights in your disasters.
As soon as she's got all the depressing details from you, she'll be on the phone to her other 'friends' - sharing the 'good' news.
No matter how disappointing her life is, at least it's nowhere near as bad as yours. Schadenfreude doesn't even come close.
Heaven help you, though, if you manage to crawl back from the edge. You've found a new man, settled the children, moved up a postcode and people are falling over themselves to invest in your Big Idea.
What's more, the hairdresser has dumped your ex! MFT will still do everything in her power to put you down.
MFT on the phone, looking skywards, absolutely furious.
You: 'I can't believe how it's all turned around, he's gorgeous and it's all going so well. We love the new house. The garden's huge - did I tell you we've got a nest of baby blackbirds?'
MFT: 'Mmmmmm, Lovely. So, is your ex helping with the mortgage?'
You: 'Er, no, we're renting.' MFT: (phew) 'Oh, that's OK then, so long as the landlord doesn't want to sell in the near future, I suppose.'
You: 'Well, they haven't said. But the main thing is it's great for the schools and we're close to town. No more school run!'
MFT: 'How early do you have to get them all up to walk there? You're up near the retail park that's closing down, aren't you? Where we are is the best of both possible worlds, of course: it's almost rural, yet it's a ten-minute commute to the City.
'I can be in the West End in no time, but always, always glad to get back to my own little home. Can't beat your own bricks and mortar. How are you all finding it being there together?
'Must be difficult, someone new coming into the family - I always wonder how men cope with that sort of thing . . .
'Anyway, great to talk to you, got to dash and get myself dressed, we're off to the opera tonight (Beat that - you cow).'
Suddenly your sought-after postcode feels like the fag end of the Monopoly board, you're looking at your big-hearted, lovely, liberated new man and wondering if you've let Dr Jekyll across your threshold, and you realise your only chance of a big night out is taking bread down the garden to the birds.
What she says: 'I'm always here for you.' (Only if it's bad news, though) 'Poor you - what a shame.' (Ha ha ha ha ha) 'That's great, so it's all worked out then.' (Damn!)
Glossy Mag Hag
The Glossy Mag Hag thinks she's Carrie Bradshaw (played by Sarah Jessica Parker) from Sex and the City
She lives her life according to the Ten Commandments handed down by the editors of glossy magazines.
Her world is one long round of spas, shoes, lip gloss, pedicures, colonic irrigation, yoga, pilates, Botox, detox, big bags, little bags, skinny jeans, flared jeans, straight hair, curly hair, smock tops, tight tops, Primark and Hobbs. And that's just on Monday.
She hasn't got a life; she's got a lifestyle. She thinks she's Carrie Bradshaw from Sex And The City, and she's so shallow she might evaporate. She doesn't 'do' loyalty, she's not 'into' emotional support.
Her idea of friends is Friends. If she says 'I'll be there for you', don't take it as a heartfelt gesture; it's just something she heard Rachel say to Monica. You will remain her friend only as long as your bag complements her shoes.
If you have the misfortune to live in the real world, where people get ill, lose their jobs, put on weight or suffer from depression, her only concern is: 'Has this been covered in a magazine?'
Breast cancer? Tick. (There's a lovely designer T-shirt to show you care.) Homelessness? Tick. (Princess Diana did that. Make sure you don't get too close though.) Global warming? Tick. (Great concerts and a fab opportunity to show off designer wellies).
On the other hand . . . Bowel cancer? I don't think so. (There's nothing sexy about colons.) The elderly? Hmm. . . maybe (Vintage is in). Economic migration? (What the heck does that mean?)
What she says: 'It's bang on trend.' (This could be anything from a sandwich to a car.) 'I'm loving it/It's so now, so then, last season, five minutes ago/Purleeeeze/I've so gotta have it/Shoes, shoes, shoes, shoes, shoes.'
The Misery Vampire
She's the friend who is there for you in the bad times, when you're lonely, scared, depressed, poor, helpless, hopeless and hapless.
She understands life's a struggle. How fantastic to have such an empathetic pal.
But the empathy lasts only as long as you're sliding along skid row together. Sure it's nice to have someone in the gutter with you, but she's got her foot on your neck so you can't look up at the stars.
She has a vested interest in keeping you miserable, because her own life is as bleak as it's possible to get.
The mistake you made was in assuming she had your best interests at heart. You were the bird with the broken wing.
But she's not taking you to the RSPCA - she's keeping you in a box and watching you suffocate.
You admit you can be slightly 'negative' at times; she'll diagnose it as a depressive episode. You confess you sometimes 'fail to see the bright side'; she tells you that you're bipolar.
Still, at least you're in this together. Well, you are until Dame Fortune smiles on her, then she's out of there - like a rocket.
'Hang on!' you cry after her ever-diminishing figure as it disappears over the horizon. 'Isn't it supposed to be us against the world?'
'You're joking, misery guts. I'm out of here.' What she says: 'Life's a bitch, and then you die.'
Commander in chief
This 'friend' treats her chums like cannon fodder. You think she's your best friend. And then she's not. And then she is again. And then she's someone else's.
Normal idea of friendship: you meet someone; you like them; find you've got something in common - they iron their knickers, you iron your knickers. Bingo! Friends for life.
CiC's idea of friendship: she's the puppet master; you're the puppet. But you'll have absolutely no idea that she's pulling your strings.
This is how it will start. You've already got friends - good and loyal ones. But she'll outfriend them. Quickly, quietly and efficiently - by appointing herself your Chief Buddy.
Suddenly, a woman whose existence you weren't even aware of last week is Always There For You. She's the one constantly available for a late-night pep talk.
Here she is, popping up at your hospital bedside, clasping your elbow at your Dad's funeral. Before you know it, you're as dependent on her as a tramp on cheap cider.
Just as well, because she's stealthily dispatched all your other friends like a commando on night patrol. But this isn't so bad - after all, she is such a great ally.
Hold on! Who's that she's having fun with at your favourite cafe? Isn't that your former best friend - the one CiC steered you away from because she's 'two-faced'? And why haven't you been invited to her mulled wine melee?
'Don't you like me any more?' you ask. Oh thank goodness, a beneficent smile lights up her kindly face as she says: 'Is that what you thought? Don't be daft. We're like sisters.' Phew, you're still her number one friend.
But hang on. Now she's blanking you. Ah no, here she is on the doorstep with a bottle of wine.
In out. In out. It's the hokey cokey and she's playing with you and your friends for her own entertainment.
What she says: 'You're my best friend.' (You're not.) 'I'll never tell anyone that.' (She already has.)
Got a nasty cough? 'I knew someone who died of that,' says The Spadist. Your husband's just walked out? 'Well, you have let yourself go.' Suffering from a bout of clinical depression? 'You do bring it on yourself.' Family just been wiped out? 'You'll get over it.'
Sounds familiar? The s(p)adist doesn't just call a spade a spade, she calls it a JCB digger.
Her cutting barbs will have you crawling away to a corner or taking the bait, leaving you to face the charges of wounding with intent. Either way, she wins.
She'll tell you that you have to be cruel to be kind, when, in fact, she's just being cruel.
She maintains she's speaking for everyone when she tells you that, yes, you probably are unemployable, or no, you're not imagining it: there are massive bags under your eyes, and yes, it's your child the others don't want to play with.
Except the reason no one else says it is because it's hurtful, mean and insensitive - and usually makes people cry.
What she says: 'I'm not a people pleaser.' (We know) 'I'm not scared of offending people.' (Like that's a good thing?)