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Jealousy.

10 May

Jealousy is a funny thing. It seems to be something we’re born with, a sort of self protective possessiveness that makes one positively a pain in the backside to everyone around us, not least, the object of our possessiveness.

It starts young, how often has one heard the small firstborn child screaming at the mother about their newborn sibling:

“You love her more than me, you don’t love me any more, I hate her, put her back!!”

Followed by sobbing and tears until mummy finally manages to convince #1 child that she loves them both equally, perhaps in different ways (because they are both different people), and that although she is paying more attention to #2 child at present, that is because they are too small to do things for themselves and so need more attention.

Eventually #1 child calms down and warily watches mummy and #2 child, observing how mummy, although giving a lot of her time and attention to the new baby, still has time for them.

Over time, #1 child realises that mummy was telling the truth. She does love both of them equally, but in different ways, and child is happy, because he hasn’t lost his mummy, he just has to share her a bit, and in return he gets a baby sister who, although a bit annoying at times is actually quite cute.

Jealousy resolved.

Then child starts school or nursery. At first he meets lots of new people and makes new friends every day.

But in time, he meets a friend that he likes to play with every day. They like the same games, they watch the same TV programmes, they’re ‘best friends’.

However one day, friend starts to play with another child at break. Child is distraught, goes home to mummy and cries, “my best friend doesn’t like me any more. He played with another boy at lunch time and now they’re best friends instead!”

Mummy tells him not to be silly, his friend is still his friend. If he’s playing with the other boy tomorrow then just find someone else to play with or join in with them.

Child is unsure. His friend has always been his friend. He doesn’t want to share, but he doesn’t want to find a new friend. This one was perfect.

So maybe not the next day, perhaps the one after, he ventures over and starts playing with his old friend and the interloper. As he does so, he realises this new boy is actually quite fun, different from his old friend but a good person to play with. And his old friend doesn’t hate him, he hasn’t replaced him with new boy, he just has two friends now instead of one.

In the same way mummy can love two children, friends can have two friends.

Jealousy resolved.

As child grows up, he finds himself becoming interested in girls, and one girl in particular.

He’s never had friends who are girls before but he thinks he might like to be friends with this one. He starts to talk to her, she’s a nice girl, well brought up and they get on well.

They start meeting up down the park, holding hands, going to the cinema, until a few years later they’re ‘adults’ and boyfriend and girlfriend.

Girlfriend has a lot of girl friends. They do girl stuff together like boy does boy stuff with his friends.

Boy and his friends talk about girls a lot, girls they fancy, girls in magazines, on TV. Girls in general.

Then boy sees girlfriend with another boy. They’re talking perhaps, nothing bad, but boy doesn’t like it. He’s meant to be the only boy she likes talking to. If she wants to talk then why doesn’t she talk to her girl friends. Does she like new boy more than him?

The next day he asks girlfriend what she was doing. Just out with a friend she says. Just talking.

Boy doesn’t like this.

He’s too old to talk to his mummy now, and so he talks to his friends.

“Well if it were you talking to another girl,” they say, “what would you be doing that for. You only talk to a girl if you want her to be your girlfriend.”

“He’s just a friend,” girlfriend says, “we just talk about stuff.”

“Well why can’t you talk to me?” Boy says, “do you like him more than me?”

“Of course not,” girlfriend says, “he’s just a friend, you’re my boyfriend.”

“Well if you loved me you wouldn’t need to talk to other boys,” boyfriend says. “I don’t want you to see him any more.”

Girlfriend is confused. Boy has never complained about her talking to her friends before. She has two choices, to stop talking to her friend, or not.

Choice 1
Boy: so what happened to that so called friend of yours?
Girl: I stopped talking to him. Wasn’t that what you wanted?
Boy: well if you were only friends you wouldn’t stop talking to him would you? Cos you weren’t doing anything wrong were you. So you must have been up to something.
Girl: *confused*

Choice 2
Boy: so why are you still speaking to him? I told you I didn’t want you to speak to him.
Girl: he’s just a friend
Boy: and I’m your boyfriend. It’s me or him.
Girl: I love you, you’re my boyfriend, he’s just a friend, I have lots of friends, I don’t understand the problem.
Boy: the problem is, I don’t want you to talk to him. If you love me like you keep saying then you’d pick me over him. So I guess that means you don’t love me.
Girl: but I do! *confused*

Jealousy unresolved.

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Mirrors

14 Apr

Now I have to say, when it comes to mirrors I’m not your typical woman.

I don’t really have mirrors in my house. I have one attached to my wardrobe, I had no choice, but I avoid looking in it. Reason being, I think it makes me look fat, same with changing room mirrors, when I see a photo of myself I’m always shocked by how much slimmer I look!

I have a mirror to put on make up, but I usually concentrate on my eyes, how steady is my liner, how even is the shadow, that kind of thing. And bear in mind I probably wear make up two to three times a year… That gives you an idea of how often I look in a mirror.

So imagine my shock when I took a full view of my face at a beauty counter this week.

I mean, I have an idea of what I look like, I know where everything is positioned, I know the vague shape of things, what I hadn’t expected was the sudden appearance of lines!

In my head I’m still working from that image of me at 15. To see wrinkles and lines was a bit of a shock. But still, when I pass a mirror in a pub, I think I look okay.

So this beauty assistant gives me the full makeover, foundation, concealer, blusher, mascara, aiming for the natural look. It takes almost an hour.

Afterwards, I go out, I walk down the street, I catch a glimpse of myself in a window and I can’t believe it!

I go to the nearest pub and examine myself.

I look old!

With all this makeup on I look my age, if not older. It’s like having my mother staring back at me.

In distress I grab a handful of wipes and scrub the excess from my face. Okay, so I’m not perfect, I have red cheeks and combi skin, I still (at 29) get the occasional spot. I have darker patches around my eyes from where I’ve worn glasses in the sun for 15 odd years.

But still, I look younger without makeup.

And in my mind, I’m not old enough to need that heavy makeup yet unless I’m playing dress up!

So many people hide their skins natural beauty beneath a layer of foundation and powder in their teens and their twenties and I just want to scream at them!

The odd spot isn’t the end of the world, your skin colour being slightly uneven isn’t life threatening. Why hide your natural beauty beneath a thick layer of ‘natural’ makeup?!

Chuck on a bit of mascara and some shadow if you need to but that’s it. The boys won’t notice your imperfections, and if the girls comment on them then you need to consider if they’re really your friends.

Make the most of being young, because one day you’ll look in the mirror and spot those wrinkles and realise that at almost 30 you’re supposed to be an adult. And that’s no fun at all!

And now for something completely different

23 Oct

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how well anyone ever knows anyone else.

And then this Friday I visited a certain Halloween attraction near East Grinstead.

One of the ‘haunts’ as they called the individual attractions was called Hell-ements.

The concept of this attraction is very simple. You put on an executioners hood and follow a rope through a maze representing each of the four elements, earth, wind, water and fire. Throughout your journey your soul is judged and at the end, if its considered pure then you’re allowed to leave.

As you walk around this maze there are people who are paid to scare you. To make strange noises behind you, to whisper in your ear or jump out and startle you.

Because you can’t see, these things are all rather effective scare tactics and the special effects for the elements are fantastic, they use large fans to create wind, speakers to make it sound like you’re crossing a bridge high above a cascading waterfall, if you ever get a chance to visit I’d highly recommend it.

The link for the attraction can be found here.

But apart from being a thoroughly enjoyable night, it got me thinking. What if someone could know you, really know you, see deep into your soul and unlock all those secret things you keep hidden away in the depths of your mind. What would they find?

Would they say you were a good person? Or would they judge you and find you wanting.

This is a departure from my usual writing, there’s no sex for a start, but despite that, I hope you enjoy it.

Happy Halloween 🙂

JUDGEMENT DAY

“This was definitely one of Graham’s better ideas,” Gemma said with a grin as they waited in line for their second ‘haunt’ of the night.

Smiling back, Neil grabbed her hands, jumping up and down happily.

“I know, I’m so excited,” he almost shouted, causing the attendant to look over in disapproval. He was just like a little kid when he was enjoying himself and his enthusiasm was infectious. Unfortunately, the attendant seemed immune, scowling at the two of them.

Glancing over apologetically, Gemma tried to tame Neil’s exuberance until they had at least reached the end of the queue. This was supposed to be the scariest ‘haunt’ in the park and no way was she going to miss it.

When Graham had first suggested a trip to the ‘haunted farm’, Gemma had been doubtful. How scary could it be? After all, at the end of the day a bunch of actors dressed as zombies, a tractor ride and a couple of mazes didn’t sound particularly terrifying.

She’d been pleasantly surprised by the first ‘haunt’ though. Whilst it hasn’t been exactly scary, it had been fun, the actors jumping out from behind bushes to attack the trailer, and that chainsaw had looked (and smelt) worrying realistic as the crazed zombie had chased them down the track.

Sometimes the simple things were the best.

This haunt also sounded simple, they’d have to follow a rope guide through a dark maze whilst wearing an executioners hood. Plenty of potential for scares as the screams from within attested to.

Ryan and Graham had decided to visit the haunted cellar instead. Ryan was mildly claustrophobic and Graham, having spent the previous night here on some corporate event, had volunteered to keep him company so it was just her and Neil in the queue. Oh and about a hundred other excited visitors.

The attendant sat perched on a fence, calling people forward in groups of 6 and handing them the heavy black hoods to cover their heads. As they got closer to the head of the queue, the atmosphere seemed to change, even Neil became more subdued as he was handed his hood.

The air felt cooler here as well and Gemma shivered as the attendant looked directly at her as he explained the rules.

“I am the executioner,” he whispered in a husky voice, his voice quiet enough that they had to press closer just to hear his words.

“You have been judged. You have been found guilty. Tonight you will all die.”

He paused for effect as he locked eyes with each and every one of them in turn. When he reached Gemma, she shuddered. His eyes were an unnatural yellow with a red ring around the iris that seemed to glow and flicker like a flame. Although she knew they must be contact lenses, the effect was startlingly realistic.

A chill snaked up her spine as the silence stretched, his eyes searching hers until she felt that he was truly looking into her soul, judging her in a way he hadn’t the others. She felt a sudden urge to wrench her gaze from his and run, but she fought it. After all, it was only a Halloween theme park, what’s the worst that could happen?

After what felt like an eternity he looked away and Gemma took a deep shuddering gasp of air, realising that she’d been holding her breath all the time. Raising her hands, she saw they were shaking. Well Graham did say this was the best ‘haunt’. If the actors inside were anything like this guy then they were in for a good time.

Painting a smile on her face to hide her fear, Gemma forced herself to concentrate on what the creepy eyed executioner had to say as her hands gripped more tightly to the hood crumpled between her stiff fingers.

“This is your last chance for redemption,” the actor continued. The rasp of his voice reminded Gemma of the way burn victims spoke on the news. Like his throat had been scarred by fire to the extent that talking became almost impossible.

She didn’t know where that thought had come from, perhaps those weird contacts had given her the idea. In fact as she looked more closely at the shadowy depths of his face within his cloak she thought she saw twisted melted flesh where his nose should have been, sunken scar tissue instead of cheeks.

Mentally shaking herself, Gemma tore her eyes from the image of a monster hiding inside that concealing cape. She was letting her imagination run away with her. At worst he was wearing good stage makeup. The effect was still rather chilling though.

“Through this door,” the creature whispered, “is the gateway to Hell.

In this world you have been judged for the actions of your bodies and you have been found guilty.

Once you pass these gates, it is not your actions that count. The demons that dwell in the underworld care little for what you did when you were alive. They care only for your souls.

You will journey through the underworld, through the four elements, Earth, Wind, Water and Fire. As you do, you will encounter temptation, evil, your souls will be tested. You must not let go of the rope. If you do then you will be forever lost.

The lucky ones amongst you will pass through unscathed to emerge into the light at the end. The rest of you, well lets just say the rest of you will not be so lucky!”

Gemma felt his eyes burning into her skull as he laughed cruelly but she refused to meet his gaze, instead staring resolutely at the hood she was twisting back and forth between her clenched fingers, her breathing shallow and loud in the sudden silence.

With icy fingers of fear creeping up her spine she followed the others through the rusted iron gates. She could still feel his eyes on her as she walked away and the temptation to turn around was almost unbearable.

Instead she walked on, responding to Neil’s excited chattering in a distracted manner as they were instructed to don their hoods and take a hold of the rope.

A recorded voice went through what she recognised as the standard health and safety blurb, not suitable for people suffering from epilepsy, high blood pressure, heart disease and pregnancy. Make sure you keep hold of the rope. Don’t touch the creatures you encounter and they won’t touch you. And finally, good luck.

The mundanity of the message helped to calm her nerves as she waited for the instruction to move. To her surprise she found she could see faintly through the heavy material off her hood, just able to make out the shape of Neil in front of her as her hands clung tightly to the rope, the rough material scratching her palms as she tentatively began to step forward.

As they left the comfort of the entrance hall behind Gemma could feel a noticeable drop in temperature and the air became damp and cloying, the smell of the mud beneath her feet squelching with each step she took.

Her head darting nervously back and forth, she picked up vague movements in the darkness behind the rope.

It sounded like they were outside, the faint sound of crickets in the background tempered with a strange clicking noise from her left.

In front of her she heard a hissing, followed by a high pitched scream and then nervous giggles as the girl recovered from whatever startled her.

So this must be the ‘earth’ element.

The unexpected sensation of someone blowing across the back of her neck made her tense as she whipped her head around, her hands automatically losing their grip on the rope as she searched in the blackness for the person she knew must be there.

“Don’t let go of the rope!”

The harsh, whispered voice in her ear made her turn again, her hands searching frantically for the guide rope and gripping it tightly between both hands.

Disorientated, she tried to remember which way was forward. She thought the rope had been on her left side at the start but now she couldn’t be sure.

Listening carefully she heard another distant scream from somewhere in front. So she was heading the right way, but she was way behind the main group now.

Hurrying to catch up she moved her hands one over the other, the rope twisting and turning around corners unexpectedly,making her have to stop and feel her way more slowly lest she lose it all together.

More worryingly, she had the horrible sensation that she was being followed, hunted.

Every now and again she felt cold breath against the back of her neck, her cheek. She tried to write it off as a draught, wind perhaps, but the way it touched her skin so specifically made her question her own judgement.

Besides, shouldn’t breath be hot?

Stumbling on, Gemma felt the floor beneath her feet change to something more solid. So she’d survived ‘earth’, what was next? She couldn’t remember. Wind? Water?

“Are you certain you’re going the right way?” A soft voice whispered in her ear and she jumped, letting out a small scream as she quickened her step.

Out of nowhere a blast of cold air hit her, almost knocking her off her feet. It was unnaturally strong, like walking into a wind tunnel, that answered her question of what was next at least.

Fighting against the wind, Gemma found herself using the rope to pull herself along, her legs not strong enough to move her on their own.

“Is your soul pure, little girl,” the voice came from in front of her, just to the right.

Tugging harder on the rope, Gemma tried to increase her speed, to escape from this voice that seemed intent on following her throughout this maze.

Something touched her cheek and she bit down hard on her lip to stop herself from crying out. The caress was almost inhuman, like a claw scraping over her skin through the hood. And cold, colder than ice, it burnt a path down her face and she shrieked when it touched the bare skin of her neck.

Jerking away, she ran, moving as fast as she could away from that, that thing. Even whilst trying to convince herself that it was just a clever special effect Gemma couldn’t shake the feeling of absolute terror, the crawling sensation deep within her skin where it had been touched. Like a hoard of ants crawling through her flesh, burning wherever they touched.

As she ran the air became moist, the wind lessening until it was just the odd gust and she could hear the sound of running water.

As the sound grew louder, Gemma felt the ground change again, becoming tilted until she found herself on what she imagined must be a bridge of some sort.

The planks beneath her feet creaked and swayed as she took one cautious step after another, conscious that one wrong step and she could fall. The water pouring past on her right side seemed to drop a long way before she could hear the splash of impact below her.

Falling had always been her greatest fear and she felt herself begin to freeze, the phobia taking over as the rope dug painfully into her tightly clenched fists.

Moving slowly and very carefully she edged forward, stray gusts of wind rocking the bridge and making her pause until the way was steady once more.

Although she knew she couldn’t really be as high up as she feared, her imagination was getting the better of her. That insidious voice whispering in her ear didn’t help.

“Is your soul pure?” It asked again, thankfully not touching her this time although its breath on her neck was still enough to make her skin crawl.

“Do you want to give up?” It questioned. “All you have to do is let go of the rope and this will be over.”

The idea was tempting. To step away from the fantasy, tug off her hood and see this terrifying creature for what it really must be. Just another actor playing a part. But Neil would never let it go if he found out she’d chickened out.

Pushing the voice to the back of her mind, she continued her slow, steady progress across the rickety bridge, breathing a deep sigh of relief as she felt the planks begin to tilt upwards, signalling that solid ground must be close.

“You’ve already been judged,” the voice murmured as she shakily stepped onto former ground. “I know the answer to the question,” it taunted, “do you?”

“Of course I do,” Gemma muttered under her breath as she began to follow the rope more confidently now. God she must be mad, talking back to the voice as if it were a real question. Only one element to go now, fire. Then she was free.

“What’s the answer then, little girl?” The voice mocked, seeming to move around her as it spoke. Squinting through the hood, she tried to make out some form in the flickering darkness but there was nothing. Nothing moved, even the other people in her group could no longer be heard.

A brilliant flash of light lit up the path in front of her as a wall of flame sprung up out of nowhere, blocking her way.

The heat of the fire so close was comforting at first after the chill of the other three zones but it soon began to feel uncomfortable as sweat started to run down her back. Where was she supposed to go now?

“It’s the end of the road now,” the voice mocked, louder this time. “What is your answer?”

Realising that she’d have to give a reply if she wanted the flames to disappear, she took a deep breath.

“My soul is pure,” she muttered softly, embarrassed at being made to give the statement in public. It felt like a lie, after all, was anyone’s soul truly pure? But if that was what she had to do to escape this awful ride and rejoin her friends then that was what she must do.

Closing her eyes against the brightness she waited for the flames to go but they remained.

“My soul is pure,” she repeated desperately, almost shouting now in her panic. They had to let her through eventually right? The next group would be coming through soon.

“Prove it,” the voice challenged from behind her.

“How? How do I prove it?”

“Let go of the rope and step into the fire. The fire will only burn the impurities in your soul. If you’re pure then you will pass through unscathed.”

Staring at the wall of flame, Gemma paused. It certainly looked real, but from what the voice was saying, it couldn’t be. It had to be a very clever special effect. With the hood over her head it appeared real but without she would easily see it for the fake it was.

The heat felt real though, the insistent nagging voice in the back of her mind reminded her. As if recognising her thoughts, the heat suddenly vanished, replaced by a bone numbingly damp cold. The flames remained however, even more menacing now without the heat.

“Prove it,” the voice demanded from behind her.

Taking a deep breath and closing her eyes Gemma gathered her courage. With one final clenching of her fists she let go of the rope, taking one tentative step towards the fire, then, when she felt no heat coming from it, another.

Feeling more confident now, Gemma plunged into the wall of flame.

The hood caught fire first. The material melting and moulding to her skin as it burnt. The rest of her clothes quickly followed.

The pain was awful and unexpected. The flames burned not hot but freezing cold, making her movements slow and jerky as she fought to keep moving, to break through to the other side.

Stop, drop and roll, stop, drop and roll. That would put out the fire, all she had to do was get to the other side.

She could smell herself now. The acrid smell of burning hair mixed in with another scent, almost like the aroma escaping from the hog roast van they’d passed on their way in.

As her skin began to bubble and blister she struggled forward blind, her eyelids sealed shut by the melted fabric of the hood. All the time her brain kept screaming at her. This is not real, this can’t be real. It’s just a theme park, special effects, illusion.

Stumbling forward on her knees now she felt the breath in her lungs freeze and she fought for air as the cold fire began to paralyse her even as it ate away at her flesh.

Falling to the floor, she curled into a ball, praying for it to be over soon.

As the flames licked away at her, she heard that same demonic voice all around her.

“You lied, little girl. You’re one of us now!”

James/ging

15 Oct

My earliest memories of my brother were of the nightmares. Bad dreams that would make him cry out at night and I’d hold his hand. Not like my sister.

When she arrived at my tender age of two I hated her on site, demanded they take her back, threw her out of the crib. I hated her.

My brother was different.

From an early age he was poorly. His eyes, his sinus’s. he needed looking after. St Ormunds Street was his home until he was two. He was my baby.

When he cried I was there, if he woke in the night, I was the one holding his hand. It’s not that my mother didn’t care, she just had strict rules. Awake after 6pm and you’d get your bottom spanked. My father, he was away a lot, ex forces he did a lot of the operation Raleigh stuff, wells in Africa, climbing Everest. He was the adventurous type, the restless type, the kind of person who’d give someone their last coin even though they needed it themselves. A true ‘Christian’ although I never saw him attend church.

We went to church, to Sunday School. My mum was a stay at home parent, it was her only time ‘off’.

I still remember the hours I spent on the church organ, desperate to learn to play the piano, my sister viewing it, more cynically as a way to avoid my mother.

The day my brother got wedged in the Sunday school toilet and he was too embarrassed to call out for help. We all left an found him hours later with his arse stuck down the pan…

But anyway, my brother was like me, like my father. Would have these odd periods of solitude where you couldn’t contact him by phone, he wouldn’t answer the door, eventually you just accepted there’d be these periods of silence but the person in question would always come back. That’s what made it so hard in the end.

Skipping forward a bit, my father had cancer. He told us, me, my sister and brother (aged 13, 11 and 10 respectively) that the doctors had given him 3 months to live. He eventually died on the eve of my maths gcse, 3 yrs later.

Skip forward a few more years and its my brother breaking this news to us. Aged 23, he has cancer, and the doctors give him three months.

Of course, we figure he’s like our dad, will go on forever, and so we don’t take him seriously.

Within a month he’s in a hospice, a few weeks later, on a Thursday, we get the call. Come down tonight.

Of course we’d been visiting every day. Hospices aren’t much fun, especially if you’re young. They’re just not set up that way.

Before the call I’d sent him a text and he hadn’t replied. I’d figured he was just sleeping. He slept a lot at that time. The drugs and all.

I turned up at the hospice at 6pm. He wasn’t lucid. That was a shock, before he’d been checking lottery results or racing wins with the other residents. I waited.

Around midnight, the nurse said we should say our goodbyes. I didn’t. Instead, I promised I’d be back in the morning.

At 6am the hospice called me. He’d made them promise to wait til morning before telling me.

I got there at 8am and sat with him. But what was in that bed wasn’t ‘him’. In fact, the memory of that ‘thing’ haunted me for a good year after. I don’t know why but it reminded me of some kind of captive bird.

What was there wasn’t my brother, but it was trapped nevertheless.

With my father I never saw his body, was just told he was dead and then attended his funeral.

This was more, and yet still, not enough.

With everyone who dies there is that sense of disbelief. I’ve carried it from three weeks on my first ‘death’ to minutes with my brother and still it doesn’t seem quite real.

Maybe I read too many novels in my youth but I still expect the dead to rise, to claim the official secrets act regarding their death and to be alive again.

I don’t know. Maybe if I see someone take their final breath, maybe then I’ll believe them. But these bodies, these carcasses that are left behind, they’re not the person that I knew.

And shamefully, given my Church of England upbringing. Even given my overwhelming, heartfelt belief in God. I still struggle with the idea that what we’re left with, the inanimate flesh, has any relation to what came before.

I can’t say for certain that I’m a Christian, but I’ve known peace through song and praise that I’ve never known before.

Maybe everyone just needs someone to believe in. Philosophy gets complicated without religions.

Personally I’ve always needed that idea of a father, with the same standards and beliefs as my own father. The same morals and need to hold me to account.

And if I’m honest, this is the reason I will only get married in a church. In the absence of family and father I want to make my promise to someone who will hold me to account in the way my father and brother would.

The problem is that no one believes in God or ‘someone watching over us’ any more….

A lesson learnt

29 Sep

Today I deleted every dating app from my phone.

Why? I hear you ask. Well three reasons…

1. I’m not looking to date. I’m not looking for a relationship, or to make new friends, I’m not even looking for casual sex. In fact I’m not entirely sure ‘what’ I’m looking for. Until I know what I want it seems pointless to be ‘looking’.

2. The majority of the guys I met on these apps did nothing to improve my rather cynical views on men in general. I’ll admit it, I’m a closet romantic. I’d like to believe that somewhere out there is a guy that’s my ‘one’, my soulmate, the person I want to be with for the rest of my life and who feels the same about me.

Not someone who’s looking for a quick fumble in the toilets, or a married guy who wants some fun on the side, I want someone who wants more than that. I want more than that.

And perhaps more importantly…

3. I found myself turning into someone I don’t want to be. A bitch.

I knew I wasn’t on these apps in any serious capacity and so I started viewing the people I talked to as mere entertainment. Something to amuse my friends and twitter followers with. Something less than human. I fell into the trap of thinking I was better than them and therefore I had the right to do this.

And then someone stepped in and sent me a few words that made me think about what I was doing. What I was becoming.

I’m sure to a lot of you that sounds rather melodramatic, after all, it’s only the Internet right? But actually, these guys are still people and I had no right to act how I did. I’m ashamed of myself. Sad but true.

So the fun’s over. Lesson learnt. And thanks to the person who stepped in and stopped me before I took things too far. We all need friends like that sometimes 🙂

Why homeless guys can make great dinner companions

24 Aug

Walking to the shops today I was approached by a young lad, blue t shirt, long brown shorts, tattoos and scars emblazoned up his arms and legs, basically the kind of person you don’t want to meet down a dark alley at night.

I wasn’t in a dark alley but it was night. As he staggered drunkenly towards me I debated crossing the road to avoid him. Not saying I live in a particularly bad area but we get our fair share of rapes and stabbings, especially in the park behind my flat and it was the road running next to this park that I was walking along now.

He’d seen me now though, we’d made eye contact, therefore crossing the road could either be seen as a sign of weakness or rejection. Drunks can be tricky to handle (I learnt this from many years behind the bar of the local nightclub) but they’re infinitely worse when they suspect you harbour negative feelings, fear, disgust, hatred, and so I decided the only thing I could do would be to brazen it out and confidently walk past him as if I hadn’t a care in the world.

So I did.

Just as he drew level with me he stopped and said the one thing that no one wants to hear late at night.

“Excuse me.”

I considered just ignoring him and carrying on walking but decided against it, not wanting to anger him.

So I stopped, and I turned and looked at him, and I waited. It didn’t take long.

“I’m really sorry to have to ask you this,” he said, and he really did sound sorry, unlike some of the kids you get trying their luck, ” it’s so embarrassing, but I wondered if you could spare me 50p so I could buy a pouch of baccy?”

Now I’d just been paid and I had a fair amount of cash on me. Worst case scenario, I say no and it angers him and he robs me, or I say yes, he sees the cash and he robs me. He didn’t seem aggressive though, more like ashamed and unable to meet my eyes as he made his simple request and so I took the risk and pulled out my wallet, handing him a £2 coin and hoping he’d leave.

He seemed almost pathetically grateful as I handed him the money and he thanked me profusely, turning to walk beside me in the direction of the shops as ‘girls like you shouldn’t be walking round here on your own this time of night’.

As we walked, he told me about himself. He was homeless, he told me, didn’t give a reason or make excuses just stated it as a fact, and that was why he was out so late at night, because the shelter he was staying at didn’t open til 11pm.

He asked me if I knew of the shelter and I said I did and he seemed pleased. He told me how happy he’d been to get in there and off the streets, somewhere where you could wash and change your clothes, have a decent meal and a bed for the night without having to worry about being woken up by gangs of drunken youths pissing on you or trying to start a fight. Sleeping in shop doorways is no fun, he said, no one would choose that.

He went into the shop and got his baccy and I picked up the few bits I needed. He was waiting for me when I left, ‘not safe for a girl like you to walk around on your own this time of night’.

Weirdly I didn’t feel threatened by him as he offered to walk me home, but being cautious about who I give my address to I found myself suggesting we go to the pub.

An hour later, over dinner and a pint, I realised I was quite enjoying myself. I was out on a Friday night, having an interesting and intelligent conversation with a man who was not only the perfect gentleman (apart from the money situation obviously), but who also, unusually for someone his age (I’d say around 23/24) had plans and hopes and dreams and aspirations.

Here was someone who, by rights, should have been written off by society as a lost cause and yet he had his life planned out. He was in the top priority list for housing, would hopefully get a bedsit of his own within the next few weeks but he didn’t see that as the easy way out.

He openly admitted he had problems, he self harmed, he drank and smoked too much and he had various other issues. He understood that while getting a place of his own would give him a more settled environment, that in itself wouldn’t be enough, he needed to get a job and be able to support himself, in fact he’d already signed up with the local college to get himself some qualifications to make up for the gcse’s he hadn’t bothered with.

He wanted to get a job in construction, maybe take night classes and move into architecture or engineering once he had the right qualifications. He knew it would be difficult but that was what he wanted to do.

An hour or so passed and our table was clear. He declined another drink, ‘I’d feel like I was taking the piss’ and again declared his intention to walk me home.

This time I let him.

He left me at my front door, again thanking me profusely and apologising for taking so much of my time, then he staggered off into the night.

And as he left I thought how strange it was, that someone who by rights should have given up long ago was still trying his hardest to make something of his life, whilst other men his age were content to sit at home and do nothing.

And how odd that a drunken, homeless ‘bum’ had shown me more care and respect over the course of one evening than many so called ‘respectable’ young men.

It seems crazy to suggest that your average online dater or ‘twitterer’ take lessons from someone who doesn’t even have a phone, let alone an Internet connection, but if there were classes in ‘how to treat a lady’ then I’d recommend him as the teacher, and the guys who send cock shots on twitter or uninvited crude messages on okc. I’d recommend they attend.

Why I hate dating (and conversely why I love romance novels)

18 Aug

Tomorrow I have a date. We’re going to play tennis and then have brunch at one of the numerous cafes on the beach. I’ve never met this guy before but I’m assured by my friends that he’s a nice guy and I’ll love him.

Personally I find him a little creepy – rather too presumptuous and forward for my liking, how does he know ‘we have so much in common’ on the basis of a half hour text conversation? As for being the ‘girl of his dreams’ and ‘out of his league’, seriously? I’m a tad scared he’ll have planned the wedding and named our kids by the end of the first date.

In addition this ‘date’ is going to consume a lot of my ‘me’ time and I kind of resent that each time I speak to him he tries to stretch it out even more. What started as a quick half hour of tennis now looks like its going to take an entire day and I can’t remember the last time I spent more than a couple of hours with anyone (well I can, it was late Feb/early March but that was an exception, even my friends are rationed to a few hours once or twice a year).

I like my alone time, I need it. I crave solitude in the same way others crave company, or chocolate. Most of the time I can go from Friday evening to Sunday evening without having to talk to anyone in person and that’s the way I like it.

After a week spent in the office with people constantly demanding my attention, I need that time away to recharge. Being chief problem fixer is draining, mentally and physically and I need that space where no one is demanding anything or relying on me to fix their problems. Where there are no expectations.

That’s not to say that I don’t speak to anyone in that time, I do, my phone bills text section fills 43 double sided A4 sheets each month and that doesn’t include whatsapp, Facebook, twitter, kik and all the various other apps I use to communicate. I just prefer to talk at a distance, where I can write, or work or walk without the other person getting annoyed that they don’t have my full attention.

It’s not that I dislike people, I just rarely find one who doesn’t want more from me than I’m willing to give. This is why I hate dates. Too many expectations, too many demands and pressures, too many potential headaches.

So why do I like romance novels?

Because they’re simple, there’s no ‘dating’, no wasting of time, no hesitancy. Two people meet, there’s that instant passion that’s so often lacking in real life, and so they jump into bed and fall in love. Can you imagine a Mills and Boon hero taking the girl on numerous interminable dates, sitting in the pub for months talking while they ‘get to know each other’, struggling through yet another chick flick to show his devotion, it just wouldn’t happen.

And this is why I hate dating. Because it reminds me that the fantasy I gained from romance novels is just that, a fantasy.

Oh and in case you were wondering about the title of this blog, seven daffodils is a folk song I first heard performed by Foggy Dew-O on one of my fathers cassettes and I fell in love with the simplicity of the song.

‘I do not have a mansion, I haven’t any land, not e’en a paper dollar, to crinkle in my hand. But I can show you the sunrise, on a thousand hills, and kiss you, and give you, seven daffodils.’

So yes, I am a closet romantic. Don’t judge me!

The ‘single rose’, well that’s me. ‘Nuff said really.