Everyone keeps telling me that in time it will get easier to juggle the job, the boy and the blog, but it has been six weeks and I am still struggling. Last weekend, finding myself behind with my posts because of a busy week at work I tried to catch up. The boy was down for the weekend and my writing dug in to our time together. Though he said at the time that he did not mind, my mother later admitted that she had seen him mock tossing my little laptop from the door. Either he does not like my laptop or he is jealous of all the time we have been spending together.
To try to make him happy and to prevent the blog from coming between us I left log ins to a minimum and only wrote when he was elsewhere. Though this did mean we got a lot more time together, by the time it came to me heading home I was stressed and tearful. I had done no washing, writing or ironing and in spite of my best efforts to catch up on sleep I was still feeling tired.
After saying goodbye I managed to drive till I was just around the corner before having to pull in for a cry. Though I managed to pull it together enough to engage my natural sense of direction after the sat nav ran flat by the time I got home I was a wreck. I do not know why I cannot cope, it seems ridiculous really. I am a grown woman who should be quite capable of living if not acting independently and yet being away from my boyfriend for five nights a week leaves me in a mess. Though I want to stay up to get caught up on the blogs I have left behind over the weekend, tomorrow is deadline day and if I fail to get enough sleep now I’ll be all over the place in the morning. I do hope the girls are right and that sometime soon I will get better at juggling and be able to handle everything more easily with a lot less stress. Spending Sunday evening and Monday morning in tears is never a good start to the week and I am afraid that if this carries on any longer I will have no choice but to drop one of the three. What on earth is wrong with me?
- Today’s dress is on loan from Sinead Kenny. It is originally from Miss Posh. As we are getting a bit bored with the same old background and props we decide to take the pictures outside using a dandelion. It is a nice idea but my heart isn’t really in it as all I can think of during the whole shoot is my car parked behind us which I will soon have to drive away in. The dress is meant to be worn sleeveless but I do not have enough up top to make it stay there by itself so I pull on a Marks & Spencer long sleeved top and use a bobby pin to keep it in place.
Every year Salford puts on a two day festival called Sounds of the Other City. It has a little more grit than most two day inner city dos and plenty of good ales, fancy foreign beers and tasty fresh food more commonly found at a farmers market than a festival. The weekend has not started well but I’m trying to be a more positive person and so I pick out the prettiest dress, comb out my hair and with my glad rags on try to raise my spirits for what has traditionally been a slamming party.
Though it wasn’t meant to be the way the boy and I end up alone and having the kind of time alone together that we rarely have these days. It is one of those days when you find yourself falling in love just a little more than ever before, I hope you’ve had them. You remember why it is that you work through the tears and the tantrums because in truth this is the one in your life with who everything just feels right.
We go skipping through the shops like children, searching for a cardigan to keep me warm because I was too worried about looking good for my boy in the band. The weather is freezing and the boy does his best as usual to usher me into his hooded top but its blue and for boys and the dress is too pretty to be covered by it. We end up settling on a long grey cardigan from Wallis which will now be my new cover it up for work. The problem with the project is that I have lots of very pretty dresses which are borderline suitable for the workplace, some a little short, some a little low, this will make even the shortest shimmery shift suitable for the most conservative court appearance.
After sipping down strawberry beers and munching on chicken tacos and tasty chilli which even my soft-core taste buds can handle we slink back on the walls to watch a wailing guitar guy leads us in a chorus of She’ll be coming round the mountains when she comes. We glimpse an old friend who I haven’t seen for some time, she is looking well and loved up and there is something about seeing somebody so content that cheers me through just as much as my cherry beer; strawberry got sickly quickly.
We head over to the gig where the boy plays an acoustic set. The crowd seem to like it and I wish I could be playing the part of the reviewer once more. The venue has a great feel to it and the two girls who put it on are either extremely excitable or just pissed. Either way their enthusiasm is infectious and the crowd laps it up.
We end up hanging out with the other Onions and our friend Ben, who is just lovely. The last time we were here our gang was a lot bigger and I miss the rest of the crew, especially the girls; Anna, Clara, Ellen and Niki. They are all great company and I wish we had all found work in the same city. Sometimes I find myself a little jealous of London which has landed all these great ladies and I lament not making it down there to see them as I should.
We watch a surf band from Wales. They are playing at one of the city churches where they are selling beer and alcopops. It is surreal and though I fear my mother might not like it I lie beside the boy on a blown up sofa beside the altar. I figure its okay because this is the Church of England and I figure they do things different from us Catholics, we kneel.
Later on we head back to The New Oxford, where the boy had his gig. There’s a band Frazer King, friends of the boys who are playing and based on the last time I saw them they are well worth a watch. Though I do not tell the boy, there is something a little sexy about their lead singer who growls the lyrics. When we get there we find the band outside, setting up on the steps of Salford Magistrates Court, having decided they are too big for the venue. I am amused by their arrogance but their choice of setting is inspirational and the set is sublime. I shiver throughout and see traces of blue on my lips but I don’t want to miss a moment and dance and sway with the boy just to keep warm. They put on a show and its one of those gigs you just know you’ll never forget. I wish the crew were all here but its great and I’m happy and in love and I don’t care if it lasts, its here and we’re happy.
- The dress is from Topshop, a tea dress. I usually hate showing my back, its broad and has a mole which I would love to move but its an eight and when it fits I get a bit carried away and forget all my usual insecurities if only for one day. It is on loan from Kat Ingham, who is in Manchester but who I unfortunately missed out on seeing tonight as she was at the sound of the other city, or Maps.
Release Date 08/03/2010 (Epic)
By Elinor O’Neill
Along with loss and love, unrequited love has long been one of the great themes of literature and music. Unrequited love lacks any of the beauty or purity of real love. It is dark, obsessive and can destroy those who dwell in it. In music, however, many songs about this love are often poignantly beautiful in their raw honesty and expression. Ignoring the dreadful drones of James Blunt’s You’re Beautiful, many of Aretha Franklin’s best ballads were about unrequited love, and even Wheatus had a hit with Teenage Dirt Bag, a tearjerker of a tune which tells the tale of a geek in love with a girl who will never know his name.
Lemar’s new album “The Hits” is jam packed full of ballads about this subject. And although listening to one or two tracks is a pain free possibility, hearing him moan on for fifteen tracks about rejection and heartbreak is akin to the pain of watching as the tabloids pull girl after girl from the kiss and tell closet of Ashley Cole’s past. It might appear to be entertaining at first but ultimately it makes for a rather dull, depressing read, and by the time the 500th girl is named we have all switched over on to something less sad.
In fairness to Lemar he is a rather good singer with a great range, and there are some tracks on the album which are bearable. “It’s Not That Easy” stands out with its boppy beginning. But unfortunately it becomes grating when, towards the end, annoyingly angelic backing vocals are thrown thoughtlessly into the mix. “You Don’t Love Me” has been combined with “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by Vanilla Fudge to create a pretty funky little dance tune, which gets one’s brain buzzing with fantasies about a dance off between Lemar and Run DMC on an 80s disco dance floor.
There are a host of classic Lemar tunes for hardcore fans to get their groove on to, but most will find 50/50 and Dance do not carry well into 2010 seeming somewhat dated. There is a pretty impressive duet with JLS on “What About Love” where Lemar’s voice is undoubtedly the best of the five thanks to its simplicity and strength. Throughout the album, though, this voice is compromised as tune after tune is tainted by show off singing and excessive overdubbing as well as the dreadful subject matter.
As the Mamas and the Papas sang in “Glad To Be Unhappy” unrequited love can be a bore, and in choosing to centre nearly every track upon this subject Lemar ensures the record is a painful production which leaves one depressed and bored in equal measure. Even my mother usually a tolerant woman begs me to, “Turn that awful noise off.”
At last I hear you say, the end of the story is nigh. Today I considered not finishing this little modern-day romantic fairy tale because I have had a bloody awful day. I thought that if I was going to write this blog, I was going to do so by waxing lyrical on how utterly awful I am feeling; how sick I am of taking tablets which leave me nauseous and sleepy; and, how awfully cross I am about finding I have put on weight, another joyful side effect of quetiapine. Instead however I have decided to swallow down the bitterness and rather than dwell on the present pain to immerse myself instead in the ghosts of my past in the hope I can fight off the persistent pull of negativity which has been weighing me down since yesterday.
And so the boy and I after spending a night and day together but had parted ways with no way of contacting one another. Luckily our mischievous matchmaking friend had more up her sleeve having decided we were the perfect match. The next day whilst I was daydreaming about the boy and puzzling over whether or not I should go on a date with the other Chris, the boy was sending a message to our friend along the lines of, “Niki I’m a total idiot, I forgot to ask her for her number. Please can you send it to me.” Niki did not hesitate to strum the strings of fate and shortly after I received a text from the boy asking if I wanted to come and see him play a gig at Glass in Fallowfield. In all honesty I wasn’t terribly impressed, in spite of taking a fancy to him whilst he was on stage, I was certainly not about to behave like some kind of groupie girl and go along to watch adoringly as he drummed away like a toy soldier. Instead I went out with some friends and it was not until he invited me on a proper date, to see Gideon and The Deadbeats, now known as The Ten Bears, that I conceded to come along.
When I went to meet him I arrived early so I could catch up with my friend and after admitting I was rather terrified about the prospect of going alone to a gig with a man I barely know she decided it would be best to come along to assist with the magic, and also because she really fancied seeing the band. As this was the wonderful hazy days before the smoking ban, the Academy looked rather magical and with the hippy smoke floating about it was hard not to relax a little and take in the music. Gideon Conn is a bit of a lyrical genius and when he played the little ditty, Londonderry, which is about a first date between two people who are from Derry gosh darn it not Londonderry, I leaned back into the boys chest and felt rather loved up. We ended up all going back to his place for some drinks after the gig and when my friend and her lover went to bed we shared a little kiss before I went on home. I was mad at myself because i was being so careful to take it slow, because I knew I really liked him and was aware most of the last years affairs had ended as a result of me becoming too quickly involved. Though the kiss was nice it was a little too much down to how much we had drunk to steady our nerves.
After this date I tried to back away a little bit and after talking to some friends decided the best thing to do was to play it cool. I was in the middle of doing a dissertation on dating literature and though I had condemned the Rules as utter rubbish more dangerous to women than sexist males there were a few things I had taken from it. For example if you make it too easy for a man it can take away the fun of the chase and they will soon be looking for another lady who is willing to treats them mean. Though there is no way of knowing whether the boy would have been as keen on me if I had turned over on the night we first shared a bed and given him a good snogging, I am always glad we took things a day at a time. It made everything so much fun and meant we went on a host of date nights including a disastrous cinema outing where I demanded we leave after 10 minutes because it was so dire and a pub crawl which was rather messy but all of them ended in the same civil manner with a bit of a peck and then a goodnight sweetheart.
As our first date was spent in the company of a chaperone, we have come to the conclusion over the years that the night on which we should celebrate our anniversary is the first date we had by ourselves. I was completely nervous about the whole experience as by then I knew I really rather liked him but was still technically dating the other Chris though I knew it was just a matter of time before it fizzled out. After several hundred outfit changes I settled on a knee-length reddy brown leather skirt, a pair of black Red or Dead pointy ankle boots with a silver spike heel and buckles which one of my exes had brought me, a black T-Shirt and a frilly sleeveless black polo neck over the t-shirt to hide the ridiculous print on the t-shirt. Over the whole thing I had to wrap myself in my Burberry Mac which I was cross about because it meant the first thing he saw when I walked in would be the coat and not the carefully chosen outfit.
We were both late for the date, though I had messaged ahead to tell him not to hurry he still got there before me and was sat with a drink and a cigarette looking nervous. I couldn’t spot him when I first came in and the butterflies in my stomach started to dance about. He smiled when he saw me and I myself felt all a flutter when I saw he had made an effort to look nice. I fancied him and we had the nicest evening chatting about music, life, art and even our mutual friends and our own families. The evening took a bit of a turn when he decided, or maybe it was me that it was only fair we brought a second bottle of wine so as not to leave the other person out-of-pocket. I am by my own omission a total light weight and when we got on the bus I was horribly aware that I had drunk too much. He had suggested going for another drink in Withington at Solomon and Grundys which would soon become our local hang out, but when the bus started to move I was suddenly aware of how much I needed to get some fresh air. Turning to him I muttered something vague about having had a lovely evening and how it really was time to go home, then I lurched off the bus. I still could have retained some of my dignity if he had not stepped off with me sensing something was amiss and had the pleasure of watching his date throw up outside a building site in Fallowfield, a friend of mine later moved into the flats and I never had the courage to tell her I had thrown up in the foundations of her flat.
In all credit to him the boy was an utter star. rather than leave me to stagger home poorly and vulnerable he looked after me and took me back to his house. He tucked me into bed fully clothed but got me lots of water and a bowl, just in case. He shared the bed with me but surprisingly enough didn’t try anything funny and when he got up in the morning to go to work he kissed my forehead and brought me a cup of tea and left me some money just in case to get a cab home. I was utterly humiliated and as soon as he had gone I pulled on my jacket and bolted out the door. After a daytime nap I came clean to my flat mates about the dreadful date and was subjected to hours of teasing and even drawings to illustrate the incident as well as cries of, “well at least you’ll know he is not calling you because you slept together.” After it got past three however they seemed to have exhausted their insults and were now acting quite sympathetically as it had become clear he was never going to text back. I started to cry a little and decided to stop obsessing about it and leaving my phone in my room I joined the boys for our Friends and scrubs marathon. When I came upstairs to bed later on it was to find he had sent me a message after all: “Hey sweetie, you looked really pretty this morning. Was horrible leaving you. Hope you are feeling better, thanks for a great date x The rest as they say is history.
- Today’s dress is on loan from my lovely Auntie Bridgeen. It is from Primark and she loves wearing it on holiday. I managed to do something to my hair in spite of being fed up, put it in a bun after washing it then letting it down in the rain, and am wearing it with a vest for the cold and some suede black boots and opaque black tights for the warmth. The giant took the photos today thus why they are as my mother said a lot more demure than usual.
There is a photo from the night the boy and I first got it together. It shows him in the foreground grinning in a grey jumper, which will soon become my favourite, and me in the background of the photo. There is a Marlboro Medium balanced expertly between my middle fingers and I am looking down at the ground whilst talking to another guy. I am completely oblivious of the photo being taken or of the boy who is standing mere meters away.
I near enough remember the moment because I was thinking about leaving to meet a guy I’d been on a few dates with who messaged me to ask him to join him in Fallowfield. Whilst looking for my coat I bumped into two troublesome friends who insisted I join them in putting the world to rights by combining a small bottle of cola with a big bottle of Jack.
It turned out to be one of the best house parties I have ever been to. Held above the One Stop Shop in a ten bedroom flat shared by seven lads who each had a love of the good life, people in Withington and far further afield still remember it fondly to this day. The party featured two live performances from The Schmatte Kid and another band as well as a pretty incredible DJ set which carried us through till sunrise the next morning. There were random rooms all over the house to chill out in, one of which had easy listening music and pretty fairy lights. The toilets were communal, the floor was our ashtray and anyone who came to tell the lads to turn the music down just ended up joining in the fun.
At about 8am I remember turning to my friend who had invited me and begging her for a spot to sleep. By this time we had completely run out of alcohol and though there was talk of trying to tunnel our way downstairs to get more drink the plan seemed a tad far-fetched and it was starting to feel as though it was time for bed. Although my friend is a lot more hardcore than me, as only good friends do she took pity on me and directed me to a place of peace upstairs. There was a couple of people passed out at the very end of the bed but being too tired to care I dived under the duvet and lay my head down. Soon I had drifted off into a sweet disco dream. All of a sudden I jolted awake upon feeling the duvet mov as someone clambered into bed beside me. Feeling more cross than cautious I turned over to find the musical Nazi looking back at me not at all anxious about his ungentlemanly behaviour. ”What the hell do you think you are doing?” I muttered murderously, “I am trying to sleep.” He looked back at me rather bemused and said, “But this is my bed.”
Rather than get into a Goldilocks and the Three Bears style argument or worse still risk admitting I had been mistaken in where I had laid my hat (I hadn’t, this was my fiendish friends idea of matchmaking) I turned to face the wall and fell straight back to sleep. Before I did I remember grumbling incoherently about how he had better not try anything if he didn’t want to find out the full strength of a girl in her third week of self defence classes. We fell asleep far apart but when I woke in the morning it was to find his arm wrapped around me and though I am not quite sure why I didn’t bother to remove it and fell back to sleep in his arms till nightfall that day. When I woke up he was gone, as were the couple from the foot of the bed. Feeling extremely confused, hungry and admittedly in need of some serious plonk plonk fizz action, I skulked down the stairs to find a host of people watching Black Adder. Thankfully both my friend and the boy were still about, he was dressed in jeans, a t-shirt and a dressing gown and looked dishevelled but still rather dashing. He offered me a coffee, his jumper and even let me join him in a mass Dominoes delivery order to the flat advising me on the most tasty of the options. We spent the rest of the evening together, not really talking just sitting close to each other. Though he never even tried to put his arm round me I remember wanting him too the whole time. We watched reruns and rubbish Sunday night TV till it got to midnight and I managed to force myself to get up and leave. Though he saw me to the door and waved me off down the street he didn’t kiss me goodbye nor say anything much about meeting again. I jumped into a taxi cab home, a treat to myself and a rare nod to safety precautions and rode back home where my own boys were waiting to tease me relentlessly about being a dirty stop out. It wasn’t until we both got into our separate beds that night that I realised I couldn’t stop thinking about him and he realised he had forgotten to ask for my number.
- Today’s dress is on loan from my Mummy. She used to wear it in the age of power dressing and the shoulder pads are terrifying but the cut is oddly feminine and the pockets placed in the side give it a tom-boy feel which I play up by pulling my hair back and wearing chunky statement Kurt Geiger heels which aren’t feminine but are the ultimate statement heel and hopefully stop me looking too twee. My hair is terrible, but I am tired today and what with cooking crumbles, going out for Sunday lunch and trying to catch up with reviews and blogs which suffered during last week I just can’t find it in me to make it better.
Every relationship has a beginning. In the traditional American dating system, the home of The Rules, the beginning is usually quite clear to both parties. There is a first date which led on to a second, a third, marriage and children. In Britain, we tend to have a rather different approach to dating which does not involve asking a fellow whether he plans to have children in the near future by the time dessert has been served. Most of my relationships have begun by a night-time snog aided by a few apple sours or back in the day the toxic orange Reef drink. They slowly become something after the first meet, by the aid of a couple of texts and a meet up in a bar where you both sort of remember what the other look like but are still fairly surprised when they turn out to have had purple hair or a tendency to wear tight T-shirts which showcase their nipples. Although liaisons and nights spent sitting up chatting till sunrise are a common feature of the start of our relationship it is far less common to begin an affair with a traditional date. Relationships then in England tend to become official far more organically than they might in other cultures where booze is not the nation’s primary aphrodisiac.
As it turned out today was our actual anniversary I thought I would share the story of our courtship. It is a story most of our friends know and is happily lacking in sonnets and musical midnight serenades. What does feature in the tale of our coupling is a pair of “kinky” black suede boots, one of Manchester’s biggest cattle markets and an argument about Jack Johnson.
The first time myself and the boy made eyes at each other was when he played a performance gig at Jabez Clegg where I was working as a barmaid. The band was called Onions and though his other band The Schmatte Kid went their separate ways without ever really informing each other, Onions itself is still going strong today. Occasionally there are groupies at gigs which cause me a fair amount of annoyance but one can deal with them directly by planting a great big smooch on one’s musical man immediately after the gig, just as they come off stage. Admittedly this does mean one gets covered in performance perspiration but it really is necessary to mark one’s turf when there are predatory indie chicks about.
What was strange about the night myself and the boy met was that as I went amongst the crowd of annoyingly amorous students some of whom would try to “give me a hand there darling”, or put their paws on me, I couldn’t help but notice the drummer was looking over in my direction whilst he happily bippity bip bopped away. Reminding myself I had once managed to convince myself Justin Timberlake had given me the eye at a sell-out concert at the MEN I brushed the thought aside and continued to collect up the dregs and fag ends.
After the gig was over I was downstairs on the bar finishing up. I had grown a tad sick of the place as I had foolishly got involved with a guy who I worked with who was lovely but totally not interested in anything but a fling. This was fair enough but when it came to a rather abrupt ending I was left feeling rather uncomfortable in the work place. As it was he was luckily not there that night so I was feeling happier than I had done in days. A friend who I worked with, the cupid in this tale, Nicola Steele, was sitting with some friends so I went over to have a quick catch up whilst collecting the glasses. When I got over there I noticed the drummer boy sat across from her. He was dressed in a really lovely looking shirt and tie with his hair all nicely spiked up and a lovely big smile on his face. Whilst collecting the glasses from the table I stood behind the drummer and mouthed to my friend, though I do not remember this, “Who is he, he’s well fit.”
According to the boy before I had come over he had been considering whether or not to approach me and offer me a drink. After deciding I was far too much of a lady too be approached in such a way he voiced his thoughts to his friends girlfriend who told him that any girl wearing knee-high boots and fish net tights would not be mortally offended by such an intrusion.
In the end he chickened out. The next time we saw one another we were in a large group at Trof and he was acting like an eejot. After insulting my musical taste, he told me Jack Johnson was a talentless nobody and even yelled at me. As a result I decided he was far too arrogant and set off to meet a guy I’d been seeing at the cinema. I did not leave the bar however before I’d turned to him and called him a musical Nazi.
When he got home that night his friend asked him whether the girl he had spent the night insulting was in-fact the one he was trying to get with. His face fell as he said: “Yeah. I’ve blown it haven’t I? And indeed he had. I went to my date that night resolved to give the guy I was dating more of a chance; after all he might not set me alight but at least he didn’t yell at me.
- Today’s dress is another gift from my fairy god mother. I believe it is from Next and is lovely and silky. It is cute but low cut enough to prevent it looking too girly. As it was our anniversary and unfortunately pouring it down I put on some thick purple tights with hearts stencilled in to them and black knee high leather boots. Really I could have done with some brown as the black took away from the flirtiness of it and made it a little too harsh looking but I wasn’t about to ruin any shoes on the way down to watch the rugby at The Kings Head with the boy and an old friend.
I want to tell you all about the delights of my day. About the interview I had with a small locally based paper who are looking for a senior reporter with multimedia skills and the ability to hunt down a story. After having a little think however I think it is probably best if I don’t; I am scared of getting my hopes up and so hopefully one day soon I will be able to share the experience with you as even if I don’t get the job it was without a doubt the most enjoyable interview I have ever had.
For the first time in weeks the family and I are getting on rather well. There was a great energy in the home which only a near full house can provide. As my mother and brother attempted to unnot a 50 meter climbing rope sausages were sizzling in the Aga which me and my little brother kept trying to pinch even though we were due to head out for dinner. Even the giant and I were getting on quite nicely thanks to him taking my attempts to steal one of the four cars in the drive in good humour. My new tact to get a car back is to just keep asking for lifts everywhere, so far it is having little effect but I shall persevere.
When you come from a large family; the giant, the mother, two sisters and one brother chaos and high decibel chatter is just as soothing as a lullaby. At University I used to put on regular Saturday morning brunch clubs to try to recreate the family unit of my childhood home where we all attempted to have a nice dinner but inevitably tiffs would break out and by the end of the meal our mother would lose her patience and demand we eat in silence. Although the most fierce rows took place around the table they were also, and I think I speak for all of us, the location of our happiest memories and the place we learnt to speak up or get sidelined. When there are four women in a household your ability to communicate becomes so acute you are able to skip quickly between different conversation topics, finish each others sentences and send the males into near meltdown by a sudden succinct tongue lashing about the need to put the toilet seat down gosh darn it.
During the week I managed to book us into Ascoughs, Market Harborough’s greatest restaurant. They do a great set menu for £15, less during the day, where you get two courses, plenty of vegetables, potatoes of the day and the all important baked that morning bread roll. Although I have been on several occasions with friends, family and former lovers never before have myself and the boy been together. As today was our four-year anniversary I was delighted when I managed to get us in for a 9.15 setting, usually you have to book up to a month in advance if you stand any chance of getting a table, even on a week-night.
The boy was too kind to say, but just before I went to meet him at the station I checked the time of our meal in the diary and realised my mistake. It is in-fact not our anniversary till tomorrow. Oh dear. As it was we had the table booked and I had spent too long on my make-up and prettifying myself to cancel the reservation so I thought I’d just not bother mentioning it. The meal was utterly fantastic, apart from one unpleasant moment during my starter when a piece of pancetta lodged itself in my gum and I had to run to the toilet to stem the blood. There is crispy then there is just cutting, the boy for once even let me give them feedback on this culinary assault which was present enough as he never usually lets me.
I love going out to eat with the boy, especially when we have been apart for some time as we have hours to catch up on what we have been up to. He had also had an interview so we chatted late into the night and were the last to leave the place at midnight. I am a terribly slow eater, mainly because I am a chatter box and when I was young I was always put on the slow eaters table which I think is just a recipe for an eating disorder. I hate rushing my food particularly when it has been put together so carefully as it is at Ascoughs and can’t bear rushing a meal, I do not see the point.
Other than the lovely food, what I love about going on “dates” with my love is the little gestures he makes to show he still cares; he pulls my chair out for me; helps me into my coat and once I have decided what I want he will even order for me. In spite of all the feminist bravado there is something terribly romantic about such gestures and it is lovely to relinquish control, though I always am the one to taste the wine. We had a lovely evening but are both terribly tense about the result of our respective interviews and although we wanted to share our experiences we were both trying so hard not to get our hopes up particularly as the jobs we have applied for will place us further apart. The die is rolled for both of us, they are our dream jobs but I do wish they were in the same Zip-code.
Come this Saturday me and the boy will have been going out four years. In spite of me having a fair few up and downs and in all honesty a couple of quite serious breakdowns during this time, I think the reason we have come the distance; aside from the fact that he has the patience of a saint and we still quite fancy one another; is because we have always right from the start applied the basic vows of marriage to our relationship. Now, I’m not one to say that marriage is essential to make a relationship work; I have plenty of friends who have got along quite nicely thank-you very much without ever feeling any urgent need to put a ring on it; but nevertheless I think that relationships work best when you apply principles such as “in sickness and in health”, “for richer for poorer”, and unless you have a really very cool/ liberal lover, “forsaking all others”.
When myself and the boy first met I was flat broke and though I was not looking for anything serious as tends to be the case we accidentally went and fell in love. At the time I was spending all my spare pennies on cigarettes and alcohol and because he was a sweetie and probably because he didn’t want to see me lose my rather curvaceous figure he kept feeding me fry ups and insisting on cooking me dinner. I remember one day when I was about to set off for home he slipped me a tenner to go and buy food. Ten minutes, 20 Marlborough mediums and a bottle of red later I came to the conclusion that yes 12p chicken noodles were a suitable source of nutrition.
Although he was the provider at the start of our relationship by the time I graduated I was making a tidy enough package so that if he was skint we could dip into my privy purse to pay for cinema outings, bottles of wine, nights on the tiles and steak.
The boy graduated two years after me, not because I am seeing a toy boy you understand but because he was rather more keen in being the drummer in every Mancunian band around the way than getting all academic. It was because he was still a student that when our one year anniversary came round, I ended up treating us to a holiday to Rome and when we were too lazy to cook it was me who paid for us to eat out in West Didsbury, Manchester’s one stop haven of heavenly cuisine.
When I lost my job though, both times, it was the boy who helped me pick up the pieces, kept me financially afloat when I was too proud to go to the job centre and who even helped me search through the rubbish to find a new role.
Although most of our relationship has been spent just below the poverty line we have always found ways to entertain ourselves; games of Scrabble where JB, Onions lead singer always wins; games of monopoly where I always win; tea and music; my ever more elaborate attempts at dinner parties for ten even when we have no table; gigs; walks in the woods; running (failed after one attempt when he smoked throughout whilst I had a series of small heart failings) tennis, technically not necessarily legally sound movies and more gigs. Although we loved it when I was making a tidy package money never brings happiness and as Neil Sedaka’s wife says to him in Laughter In The Rain, “Sometimes I miss the cold days.” Struggling together is terribly romantic and there’s nothing quite like playing cards through the night with nothing to fuel you but a pot of decaf tea.
The other issue is of course the sickness and the health. Luckily the boy is fine and dandy other than the occasional sulk and the dreaded man flu, according to the boy he has single handedly fought off swine flu and is a pillar of strength in the face of modern medicine most of which he views as being in some way linked to a conspiracy of making us weak. Maybe because of this, when we first met I waited till June to come clean with him about my crazy. I didn’t want to scare him away and if I’m honest I thought I had completely recovered, love does wonderful things for your brain and your body; eating becomes a chore and your entire mind turns to mush. if you don’t watch out you end up boring all of your friends to sleep by talking about how fabulous your lover is. Luckily however, by the time me and the boy got together I was a cynic about love and when he etched the words “I love you” on my back I told him to, “Get a grip”.
When I told him about my poorly head it was because I had decided to come off the anti-depressants I’d been taking for two years. Buoyed up by love and the wonderful newness of it all I didn’t think I needed them. With his approval and no advice from any medical practitioner I came off the drugs. Within a month I crashed so hard and so fast that some days I couldn’t even look in the mirror because I felt so ugly and frustrated with what I saw. I put on weight and because getting out of bed was so hard I would sleep for hours and rather than looking for work I would watch West Wing episodes convinced there was no point trying because I was useless. In the end I had to move home so I could survive. The boy did try to support me but he was still a student and one part-time job shared between two people equals not a lot left to live on.
With the help of some friends in the know, my family and the boy I managed to pick myself back up but it wasn’t easy. Every time I go down hill it is always the boy who has been there over these last few years who is there straight away to drag me back up again. Every time I get poorly he’s there to wipe away my tears, calm me and convince me that the world is a good place and that things will get better.
On one poorly head occasion when we somehow found ourselves at A and E after a particularly bad reaction to Sertraline, (the name still gives me the shudders), we came face to face with a psychiatrist who had obviously decided he was not a fan of women. After deciding, from looking at me rather than my notes you understand, that I was anorexic with father issues he banned the boy from hugging me, told me there was nothing wrong with me and then finished by telling me I should just go ahead and give up then and live in a mental health ward. Thankfully both the boy and the psychiatrists assistant realised I was just extremely anxious in a very scary place and needed to get some sleep and the boy got me the hell away from him before had a chance to lock me up and throw away the key.
I have never forgotten what he did that day and acknowledge that what ever happens with us in the future, without him being by my side that day I could still to this day be living in a closed ward, misdiagnosed and miserable overseen by the most tyrannical mentally unstable medical professional I have ever come across.
We never signed any contract when we got together but both of us always find a way to work it out, scream it out or just forgive regardless. I like to think that its because he like me knows that whatever our problems with us when its good it’s so very good, though at times we can of course both be wicked.
Today has been one of those days where my mood lifts but only for a short period at a time, much like the periods during which I managed to find a live stream of the United match the highs are short lived and unsatisfyingly fuzzy. I blame the dress; although it is gorgeous; a mac design by Topshop which has to be pinned together at the bottom to stop any Cheryl Cole esq front rump, (yes I know she is having a hard time but really why did this mean we had to see so much of her) but even still I am not a fan. It is partly because I feel I look too healthy to be wearing it, the last time I wore it I was decidedly more slender. The other reason is that wearing it reminds me of a bad decision I once made in it when I had too much to drink and trusted someone to look after me who was a friend, but isn’t any longer.
The details are unnecessary but it is foolish decisions like this and my tendency to feel low for days after if I have had too much that has led me to want to give the booze a rest during lent. I am not giving it up as such, I find that as soon as I give something up it is all I can think about so I am going to treat alcohol in much the same way as I did cigarettes. I’m not giving up, I’m just not having it at the moment. This way I don’t put myself under too much pressure and if I fancy a glass of wine one night or am out for a friend’s birthday I wont feel the need to be a total kill-joy. I just feel I need to get back to the point when I have a limit on what I can drink which I know suits me and which I can stick to. .
The last time I tried to give alcohol up for lent I was in an incredibly intense but simultaneously extremely destructive relationship. I was utterly in love with the guy, not at first but he wore me down and eventually I let myself go to him. Unfortunately when I met him I had just recovered from my first episode of depression and having left my first boyfriend I was vulnerable and although the euphoria of falling in love at first kept the lows at bay, once they returned he couldn’t cope especially when I drank to try to get me back to what everyone expected me to be, fun.
To be fair to him he was younger than me by a year and prior to meeting me was widely known as a man who played the field. It was inevitable that something so intense would end in tears, and it did when he got with someone else whilst I was back at home trying to put myself back together. I had sunk too low and he wanted to be with the girl I was when we had first got together, I tried desperately to get her back but with being away from home and a doctor that was keeping an eye on my moods I couldn’t lift myself and so understandably he went elsewhere.
What was so strange is that when I decided to knock the booze on the head for lent he brought me a shot of vodka and placed it in front of me. I don’t know why, perhaps he too hoped the drink would cheer me up and it did if only for a time. After things fell apart, as all destructive relationships do, I was left a sad little soul and it wasn’t until a year later that I really began to recover from our affair. Eventually I got my drinking back under control, I learned what my limits were and avoided drinks that had a tendency to send me tearful and other times just chose not to drink.
The one person who helped me throughout this period was a boy I lived with in my flat in the halls I was President of at the time. He was a muslim who was enjoying his first taste of freedom, loved getting down to R&B as I did and cooked the nicest curry I have ever had in my life. He also shared my insomnia patterns and so we would stay up watching Godfather together and playing silly computer games and pranks. He kept an eye on me and never let me unravel too far and even put up with my pathetic tears. If it wasn’t for him I think I had the potential at the time to fall into full-blown alcoholism simply to escape the hurt and sadness which had as much to do with my mental health at the time as it did with the humiliation of being publicly betrayed.
What my friend taught me which was extremely important at the time was first and foremost to hang on; that I needed to get my confidence back because I was a good person I just couldn’t see it. The other was why it is that we give stuff up during lent and the importance of sharing ones wealth for one’s happiness. During Ramadan I joined with him in his fast, unfortunately I only lasted two days because of my delicate disposition, my low blood pressure and my tendency to faint if I stand for too long. What the experience and my friend taught me is that we give things up to recognise how much we have available to us. although for me it is essentially a religous tradition it is equally a chance for me to reflect and be grateful on all I have.
He also told me about how it is the done thing in the muslim world (and forgive me seriously if I am getting this wrong I am happy to be corrected but this is what I remember) to give 10% of ones earnings to the poor. I always thought it was such a brilliant idea as if we are lucky enough to have money why not share it. Even when I’ve had jobs that paid I’ve always been struck with how much I have compared to how much I need. The boy told me I was crazy when I suggested this to him as he pointed out that tax means I don’t need to give it away as someone will do it for me but it is a nice idea and I hope i will one day get paid again so I can carry it through.
For the meanwhile though this will essentially be my last day of chocolate and sweets. Also because I want to make sure I can and because I am concerned about what the latest drugs may be doing to my liver this glass herein pictured will be my last glass of wine for 40 days and 40 nights, I’m gutted it isn’t bordeaux.
Four years ago I went on a Valentines date with a boy named Chris, he was sweet, good-looking, tall and had a great body. I had met him just a couple of weeks before when a friend of mine who worked at student direct, Laura Wales had called me up short of someone to take part in the paper’s blind date. At the time I had a little argument with the giant and as a result had been cut off and so the idea of food and more importantly wine was appealing whoever else might be there. I remember thinking it might be nice if my date didn’t show up so I could have more food, but he did and we had a good night. My housemates took the mick as less than a month later the pizzeria where we had eaten had burnt down, according to them it was due to our firey passion for one another. As the original date had gone well and as I was under strict instructions from my wiser slightly older housemate to play it cool I found myself on february 14 at a noodle bar with said Chris. It was a nice date and there was even a kiss but no coffee and I remember wondering if there was enough of a spark.
Today I went on a Valentines date with the boy, or Chris. He has a great body; he still works out after all these years and being a drummer for Onions means in spite of his sweet tooth he keeps on the trimmer side of cuddly. He has the kind of shoulders and arms you want your man to have and is tall enough so I can get away with wearing up to six-inch heels and still have to stand on my tippy-toes to kiss him. He is kind and sweet and this morning, once he stirs he brings me a cup of tea and a dozen red roses.
I have to swallow down my annoyance because I notice they are from Marks and Spencer and I know they cost him far too much. I am annoyed because I would have been happy without roses, happy for us to use the money for a meal or a cinema date but secretly I feel the wonderful smug feeling you only get when a man you love gives you a great big over-the-top gesture that he loves you back. Still sweet after all these years he has also got me a Valentines card with a ticket to see Midlake this Wednesday within. I am surprised even though I knew he was planning to take me to a gig for weeks (his friends have no tact and kept letting slip at which point I had to sing loudly and walk out the room as though nothing had happened) I have managed to convince myself that we were off to see The Wild Beasts, I prefer Midlake.
Unfortunately although I had planned to treat him to a wet shave and massage at the boy beauty parlour; something he would never book himself but which I know he would love; I finally got round to summoning up the courage to check on my overdraft the other day and the results were not good. In spite of me being unemployed HSBC are charging me an unseemly amount for being overdrawn and unless I get paid work soon I have no way of paying it off; because of this although I get him a card and make him cups of tea I offer to sort through his wardrobe as a gift and iron him ten shirts as a way of showing my love, and though it is not terribly romantic I pair his socks up for him because I know he hates doing it.
Our good friends are about and the boys join me to watch the football in the afternoon after the boy has had a practice; he needs to tap or the tension builds in his shoulders and he gets crotchety ; one of them is sulking as although I know his girl got him a very nice present for his birthday the day before she has not had time to get him a valentines present. As I have a dozen roses and need none, I call her quietly from the room and give her a rose to give to him. It’s nice to share the love but in the photos the boy takes later on I have to be careful to conceal the missing bloom. Thankfully the dress is remarkably busty and so his eyes are happily distracted. The dress today is on loan from the very lady, the musical theatre legend that is Anna Clayton. I believe it is from Primark and I must admit that I struggle to button myself into it as she has a much slimmer figure than me, one of the benefits of being a dancer.
After we have taken the photos I don my faux fur hat and we head out to Abode, Micheal Cain’s Michelin star dining experience. I have eaten here twice before, once with a friend on my birthday when me and the boy were having troubles and once with the boy for my birthday when we had patched things up. Both times I have loved the place. We always eat in the upstairs area as the downstairs just feels a little too formal and the tables are too big and so I feel we lose a little bit of the intimacy when we struggle to reach each other over the condiments. We are booked in for six and happily they are out of the chicken so instead they have quail, which is delicious. After Marks and Spencer irritated me the other day I rang around trying to find a reasonable deal and happily came upon Abode who had only added £5 to their usual offer of four courses for two people with one bottle of wine. It is usually £25, the same price as the M & S deal but as we didn’t have to wash up or cook it we did not mind the extra charge.
As we sit snuggled up together in the bar area after finishing our meal, sipping the last of the wine, I am so glad I met the boy before falling into something that wasn’t quite it with the Valentine’s day Chris. A week after the Valentine’s date which lacked the sparkle I bumped into The boy, The Chris, and from then on there was only him, my boy, my Chris, my Valentine.