Update #85

‘I really want to sleep with you. I imagine its a lot like playing a championship final on FIFA…I know I’m going to get beat, but I’ll enjoy myself and probably learn something’.

This was one of many ‘compliments’ paid to me by Handsome on Friday evening, a charm offensive so hilarious that I let him continue for the duration of the long Bank Holiday weekend before I finally rejected him. Slim’s attempt to get into my bed was a little more direct with him simply repeating the phrase, ‘Can we have sex?’ at random intervals. Buzz had to save me from some creepy guy in a club who kept asking to touch my arse by pretending to be my boyfriend and Billy and I had a long and in depth conversation between shots about how we can never, ever have sex because we have such a great friendship and don’t want to ruin it. Now, the sudden barrage of male friends trying to seduce, and I use that term lightly, me over the last few days is not because I woke up looking like Elle ‘The Body’ Macpherson, no, but more because of the vast quantities of alcohol and drugs in their systems. It was Billy’s birthday after all and that meant taking things to extremes.

I kept up with them all, for the most part. I’d spent Friday afternoon catching up with some old teacher buddies, then met the Tattooed One for a quick joint and a chat. I didn’t get home until the evening, shortly before Billy, Jiminy and Handsome turned up laden with crates of lager, bottle of Jack Daniels and an air that proclaimed they were up to no good. Weston and I happily joined in the revelry. I’d been ill for nearly three weeks and needed to socialise, needed to enjoy my time with my friends, and the painkillers I was taking caused my pain to blur just enough so that I could.

Saturday was, more or less, a continuation of the night before. After some sleep and a shower, I met up with Adele to be her plus one at a work’s function in a neighbouring town. We didn’t stay long, particularly as Billy and all our friends were in the same bar having considerably more fun than us. We met up with the lads and managed to down a few drinks before being asked to leave the premises by some numpty bouncer with a beer gut and penchant for high visibility strips. Apparently Billy was too drunk and the rest of us would soon follow suit. After that, we weren’t really allowed in anywhere and so made our way back to our own little shire where the local landlords are considerably more weathered to us lot being out for the night.

Our local was pretty busy and I had drunk enough vodka to subdue any social anxiety I may have felt, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t apprehensive. After getting a drink at the bar I made my way outside for a cigarette. There was Perry, drink in hand and stupid baseball cap with sticker on on his ugly head. Adele looked at me with concern. She knew I was still angry enough to cause him some serious physical damage if he’d attempted to come anywhere near me. When he finally noticed me, it looked like his facial features had been slowed down; his automatic cheesy, fake grin melted slowly with the realisation that it was me he was smiling at, then there was a slight wobble of the lip and contortion of the eyebrows as he scrambled for a single thought that might help him. Finally, when panic set in, his face froze, eyes wide and jaw agape. I’m not saying he was afraid of some gobby, tipsy woman like me giving him slap, absolutely not, but he certainly had other reasons to fear me. Mainly, I don’t believe a single word of any of his bullshit. I know the truth and he knows it. This could explain why less than sixty seconds later, Perry was nowhere to be seen.

I also got to talk to Noel that Saturday evening. Its been several months since there has been anything more than an awkward half smile of acknowledgement between us. I was firmly under the impression that he despised me, because that is what Robyn had told me. With alcohol infused confidence bubbling underneath my skin I confronted Noel, in the friendliest and lightest way possible. He swears he never said anything of the sought and that he was surprised to hear that Robyn had claimed otherwise. I never thought she’d lie to me like that, but I guess the events that have unfolded since have proven otherwise. As much as I don’t want to be taken in by the lies of another man and trust Noel regardless, I think this particular case is a slam dunk. Robyn lied.

As is often the case, a rowdy rabble of drunk 20 and 30somethings made their way back to my house in the early hours of Sunday morning when the bars closed and the music stopped. Slim was nursing a pretty impressive black eye and series of cuts after some balding moron thought he’d show how big his penis was by punching an unprepared, unaware Slim in the pub garden. Slim had laughed in his face. It was priceless, up until the swelling kicked in and now Slim was whinging about the blood in his eye and potential scarring. Weston was waiting for us with his ex girlfriend, Star. She is such a sweet girl who clearly adores him, but I can’t help thinking that if she was a little harder on him and didn’t help him out so much, he’d realise life without her is pretty sucky and would make a commitment to her again. I’ve reassured Star countless times that I believe they are meant to be together and that Weston and I will not be sleeping together ever again. I mean every word because I couldn’t bare to break her soft, gooey heart.

Anyway, so there we were, this crazy, over excitable bunch of idiots. Slim, Handsome, Billy, Weston, Jiminy, Buzz, Star and me. All drinking into the early hours, chatting nonsense and laughing at each other. A wrestling match between Buzz and Weston resulted in several broken glasses but miraculously avoided any serious damage. Slim’s face was held together with Hello Kitty plasters and Handsome had become a one man joint rolling machine. We all merged together amidst a pile of cushions and blankets of the floor, the MDMA and marijuana smoke making the lounging in close proximity all the more comfortable.

I had made arrangements with Mr. Surprise to go to Notting Hill Carnival on the Sunday and was concerned that I hadn’t had nearly enough sleep, or indeed would even be sober enough, to thoroughly enjoy the day. I need not have worried. Mr. Surprise never showed up. He didn’t call, he didn’t text, he didn’t respond to any of my attempts at contact. He just stood me up. As I write this it is Tuesday evening and I still haven’t heard from him. I have given that man the benefit of the doubt far too many times and, quite frankly, I’m now bored. He may have been a decent fuck, but that is nowhere near enough to keep me interested long term. Turns out, he was a bit of a dick.

Billy and the lads headed off to Reading Festival on the Sunday, a sterling effort considering how utterly wasted they all were. All of my Sunday was spent watching movies with Star and Slim while Weston snored on the sofa besides us. Sunday ran into Monday and before we knew it, it was Monday evening and the reality of a fulls day work and adult responsibilities was fast approaching. Billy’s birthday weekend had really tested my resolve, and my kidney function, but after the last few weeks of concern and self pity, it was the very best of medicines.

Alcohol: Yes. And before you say it, I know its bad for me and my kidneys are hardly in a position to cope with a three day bender, but I’m alive and I feel fine and I now promise to be on my bestest behaviour with regards to my health.

Drugs: See above!

Sex: 0. I was trying this whole ‘Faithful to Mr. Suprise’ thing but it didn’t do me any favours, I am currently formulating a new plan where I actually get laid without having to put up with any bullshit. This plan may or may not involve Mr. Monster Cock.

Meat: 0. I’m loving being a vegetarian again. I know that is an obscure statement to make, but I am. Meals have become a lot more interesting and a lot healthier!

Physical Health: I’m still breathing. Recent ultrasound scans have revealed the need for more exploratory work in my uterus. I imagine little tiny coal miners marching into my vagina with headlamps and pick axes, but the medical professionals wishing to poke around in my uterus assure me this is not the case.

Mental Health: I’m not falling apart because I made a mistake with Mr. Surprise. That is definitely a move forward in my mental health. I am not blaming myself or internalising the rejection. I’m also very happy with work, my home life and my friends. Although contentment and success do not guarantee a night’s sleep free from nightmares or a day without the pain of depression, my environment is currently calm and conducive to a happy, healthy Lola.

Reading Fahrenheit 451

Books are my chicken soup for the soul. Relegated to the sofa while recovering from a kidney infection and awaiting appointments for further scans and tests, I have taken solace in my bookshelf and allowed myself to be fully submerged, without distraction, in its collection of delicate, wondrous pages.

I read Fahrenheit 451 in less than 24 hours. I am ashamed I had not read it sooner. First published in the early 1950s, author Ray Bradbury predicted the perilous consequences of ignorance and materialism in the 21st century with frightening accuracy.

Television walls, ‘children killing children’ and the saturation of the free mind under reality shows to distract from real issues like war and poverty, Bradbury’s novel not only creates a very believable dystopia but, despite the backdrop of intellectual oppression or possibly because of it, also offers hope. If he could predict our demise as free thinking beings with such pinpoint accuracy, maybe then his tale of one man, who initially serves as a conditioned mechanism in a mind-numbing system, seeing the light and embracing the societal benefits of philosophy, literature, conversation and humanitarianism can also become true.

Throughout my reading of Fahrenheit 451 the only words I uttered were ‘I love this book’. With each turn of a page or end of a paragraph, with the discovery of a new idea or character, with the realisation of how expertly Bradbury wove personal ideals into easily readable fiction, I fell truly in love with this novel. It did more than resonate with me, it reassured me. I don’t want to spoil it for those who have not read it, but I believe we can all identify with the book’s protagonist, Guy Montag. The man is so socially conditioned to behave in a certain way that he struggles to free his mind from the belief system that has been enforced on him. I wrote some time ago about people who live inside boxes, the socially constructed norm. Montag was one of these people, until one day, with one encounter, he wasn’t. His struggle is one we can all relate to. A struggle for freedom and the right to share our experiences and knowledge. Whether you are oppressed because of your religion, your sexuality, your job or maybe your own upbringing, we all have something that stops us from being wholly us, something that tells us our dreams are unobtainable. Fahrenheit 451 shows that, be it on a personal level or a global one, we can all discover the magic of freedom if we’re prepared to look, and fight, for it.

Sadly, Fahrenheit 451 is still fiction. As I sit here washing down painkillers with luke warm tea I am more aware than ever of the restrictions this life has placed on me and my own dreams. Some of these restrictions are of my own doing, my own choices, my own consequences, but many are not. Many are because I was born in a certain place, to certain people and was pushed towards a certain path. Now I want to be Montag and, like him, I will search for my path in books until I am able to find it with my feet.

Hiding PTSD

I woke up to Weston stroking my hair and kissing my forehead and my son gripping hold of my hand,

‘Mum! Mum! What can I get you? Are you alright?’

‘Let’s get you to the hospital,’ Weston added.

These sweet young men who I am lucky to share a home with, were deeply concerned about me. I’d been ill for the last fortnight but had battled through the cramps and the aches and put on my usual happy face. The housework was done, the bills paid, meals cooked and work assignment deadlines met. I was being a strong, capable female…even if I had to do it in a codeine haze. Unfortunately, my subconscious would give me away.

My son and Weston had heard me screaming and crying and thought I was in such immeasurable pain that a trip to the Accident and Emergency room at our local hospital was the only solution. I went along with their presumption and told them I’d be fine after a cup of tea and some paracetamol, at which point they both scarpered to the kitchen to fetch what I had requested. I was in pain, but it wasn’t the cause of my distress. I’d fallen asleep on the sofa while reading and had awoken an hour later to a horrific nightmare. Not that I can remember it. I never can. I just remember the overwhelming feelings of fear, confusion and betrayal. I remember being hopeless, weak and unimportant. These feelings I relate to my relationship with The Junkie, his violence and abuse the main trigger for my PTSD.

It is easier for me to admit physical pain to those around me, like Weston and my son, because everyone feels that at some point. We all know how crippling a bad migraine can be, how an ear ache can make us feel like our entire head is caving in and how a stomach cramp can force us into the fetal position crying for our mothers. Most people have taken a fall, bashed their head or broken a bone. We can sympathise with physical pain because we have all experienced it. Explaining to someone that memories and emotional baggage are the cause of our discomfort and distress, is a lot more difficult. Not everyone feels betrayal, manipulation and loss in the same way. Some of us are lucky enough to never experience fear, abuse or intimidation. Some have never had to anticipate aggression or deal with it’s aftermath. And some have, but they just deal with it a lot better than others. My subconsicous gives me away every time. I can put on the brave face, speak of survival and not allowing myself to be a victim, but when it comes to closing my eyes, I’m a terrified little girl locked in a dark box with the boogey monster lurking outside.

I sat up on the sofa, my kidneys pulling at my insides like a tangled slinky spring and my head pounding at the temples,

‘I’m fine, I’ll be fine, honestly,’ I reassured the concerned faces staring at me, ‘I’ve got a doctors appointment in a couple of days. This will all get sorted out, I promise’.

I wasn’t lying to them. I had made an appointment with my doctor. I was aware I couldn’t bury my head in the sand anymore when it came to my physical health, but I was reluctant to mention the increase in PTSD symptoms I had been experiencing of late. I thought I had control over my crazy. I thought that once I tackled the physical ailments, all would be right with the world and I could carry on with a life that I am, for the first time in many years, really enjoying.

‘Why can’t my body and my head just agree with each other once in a while?’ I joked with my son as he cuddled up beside me, ‘If its not my body failing me, its my head doing loop the loops!’

He responded with an innate wisdom that should no longer come as a surprise to me, ‘because whenever you feel really well, you run around after everyone else, work too hard and then burn out! Maybe you should take more than just one day off every couple of weeks? Do something for yourself!’

I handed him my empty tea mug and smiled, ‘Why should I do anything for myself when I have you?’ I giggled.

Sex Sensei

‘I need sex advice! Help!’

These were words I never thought I’d hear myself say. I am affectionately referred to as Sensei by the likes of Walt, Isaac and Slim for all the sexual wisdom I have imparted on them over the years. Even Weston now asks for my advice. I do not need help or guidance when it comes to sex. At least, I didn’t until now.

Blue would be the answer to my prayers.

It is a well known fact among those closest to Blue, such as I, that she is a kinky little minx. A fellow fan of the younger man, Blue has had her fair share of youthful and energetic lovers, particularly ones who like to dominate an older woman. When it comes to the D/s lifestyle I am no novice, but Blue has crossed limits that I have yet to be exposed to and so talking to her about anything outside of society’s sexual norms is easy for me. As I dialled her number I remembered all the occasions where she had turned up to the pub wearing an uncustomary scarf to cover the love bites and bruises on her neck and all the times she couldn’t walk up the stairs to her own apartment because of tender and battered joints. Blue was definitely the best person for me to talk to.

Mr. Surprise wants to choke me until I pass out and then wake up with him fucking me,’ I said.

There was a brief silence from the other end of the phone, then a soft and gentle, inquisitive response, ‘OK…’

I explained that I was not afraid of the whole choking thing. I quite like to feel a man’s hand around my throat, in fact I distinctly remember guiding the Tattooed One’s hand during one particular sofa romp, tightening his grip and feeling complete elation. However, I had never had the desire to take it any further than the sensation of control. Mr. Surprise actually wanted me to lose consciousness and I knew this was something Blue had experience in.

‘What does it feel like? What can I expect?’ I asked her.

She was quiet again for a moment. This is typical of Blue. She contemplates all possible responses before answering any questions, not because she wants to impart the very best of wisdoms, but because she’s a secretive little cow and is always worried she’ll spill one of her best kept secrets.

‘I didn’t plan it the first time it happened to me,’ she said, finally, ‘it just kind of happened. I woke up to him welcoming me back!’

I’d heard this story before. This wasn’t what I wanted to know.

‘But how does it feel? Do you know when you’re about to pass out? Do you have to fight it or are you completely unaware?’

‘I’ve always been unaware until afterwards,’ Blue explained, concern rising in her voice, ‘Its really dangerous. It could kill you’.

This was something I had already contemplated. I didn’t want to die during some risky asphyxiation sex game. Despite not getting along with my immediate family, I didn’t want them to face my passing due to sexual misadventure. It would confirm too many of the things I’d spent years trying to hide from them. I had visions of Michael Hutchence from INXS.

‘But does it feel good?’

Sure. Because having my naked, semen covered body carried out of my home by paramedics would be perfectly acceptable as long as I’d gone out on a fantastic orgasm.

‘I don’t know. I’m unconscious at the time!’

During my lengthy conversation with Blue I discovered that this particular act was likely to hold more danger for me than it was pleasure. The initial controlling element was guaranteed to be erotic as it always had been in the past, but putting my life, literally, in the hands of Mr. Surprise so he could get his rocks off didn’t seem like a bet that would pay handsomely. I needed a way to ensure my safety but also please my man.

‘Do you know, before you pass out, that its coming? How long does it take?’

Blue sounded confused. I couldn’t blame her. I was formulating a plan as I spoke,

‘I mean, could I pretend to pass out, then come around again?’

Blue’s response was enthusiastic, ‘Yes! Do that! Fake it!’ she squealed down the phone, ‘then you won’t die!’

My own personal Sex Sensei had spoken true words of wisdom. Fake it. Its not like I haven’t faked the odd orgasm before now, or even a headache. I could fake being asleep quite easily. In fact, it would be a good, guiltless few minutes of not having to ‘perform’ in bed. I’d just have to lie there and Mr. Surprise could cum gallons believing he had complete control over me, or whatever it is that gets him off about watching me nearly die.

So, that is the plan. When Mr. Surprise and I finally get a whole evening to ourselves where we can have loud and uninterrupted, guilt free, filthy, adventurous sex, I’m going to fake the shit out of being asphyxiated. Nobody will find me hanging with a belt around my neck from a hotel door. My son will never have to know his mother is a complete and utter fucktard and Mr. Surprise will owe me, big time, for many, many months to come. How lucky I am to have Blue, the one friend more screwed up about sexually satisfying men than me!

Update #84

For someone who has been working her arse off and has put all social activities on hold recently, I still seem to have quite a bit to tell you in this update. Brace yourselves, its going to be a long one!

The Mountie: After his surprise visit the other weekend, the Mountie has reluctantly taken up his seat on the subs bench. He didn’t go quietly, however. I was bombarded with questions about Mr. Surprise, whether I like him or not and whether we have a future together. He has also apologised profusely for his behaviour and is insistent that he really likes me and wants us to give it a go, when I am ready. I like that I haven’t heard from him in a few days. I feel like I can finally breath.

Weston: I finally listened to Blue after the countless times she told me, ‘he’s jealous’. Poor Weston has been floating around the house with an air of uncertainty. He doesn’t seem to know whether he is allowed to flirt with me anymore and he is constantly teasing me about my ‘boyfriend’. He’s always warning me that he might bring a girl back, but never actually does and the only time he seems really calm is when he’s vegging out on the sofa next to me, binge watching some American TV show. We’re currently working our way through all 8 seasons of House MD. While I’m busy crushing on miserable genius Hugh Laurie, Weston appears to be crushing on me.

Mr. Surprise: Grrrr. I may re-name him Mr. YoYo. In fact, I will. Hold on…


Mr. YoYo: As the name suggests, this one is backwards and forwards like a, well, like a yoyo. He calls, he texts, he visits, hes the sweetest guy in the world. He makes me laugh, I’m intrigued by him and nothing can ever prepare me for what a great fuck he is. But then, he disappears just as quickly as he arrived. He says he is into me and that he wishes he could spend more time with me, but I’m just not getting that impression. He’s finally realised that ignoring me is a huge mistake and he is getting better at letting me know when work has to take priority, but it just doesn’t feel like enough for me. I am aware this is more my problem than his. I need grand romantic gestures and mind blowing effort to convince me he likes me and I know that this is unreasonable. I should look at it as a good thing. Rushing into relationships and being led by lust has never worked out for me, but there is taking things slowly and there is grounding to a halt. We’re finally starting to make the communication thing work, I’d hate to see us throw it away now. Other than that, the man still rocks my world!

The Tattooed One: Of course, when there are no less than three men vying for my affections, who better to turn up and release the cat among the pigeons than The Tattooed One. My son bumped into him the other day which prompted some ‘oh my, hasn’t he grown’ type Whatsapp messages which led to more generalised ‘so how are you?’s which then, as is typical of us, led to ‘here’s a pic of my big beautiful cock, I want to stick it up your bum’ type messages. I miss that man desperately, and not just in a sex way, but I am long past getting all messed up in the head about him. As Blue so rightly pointed out to me the other day, us women are better off letting men ‘into our beds but not into our heads’.

Mental Health: I forgot to tell you that I got kicked out of group therapy. It wasn’t my fault, I promise. They just didn’t think I was emotional enough for a group that is meant to focus on people who over-feel. In fact, they think I have buried my traumas so deeply that they’ve suppressed my ability to be emotional about anything. I am, for want of a better phrase, an emotional cripple. Apparently that requires a whole new kind of therapy for which I have been put on yet another excessively long waiting list. It is a good job I don’t feel mental at the moment, or this could be a real kick in the teeth.

Physical Health: My reproductive organs have been trying to kill me for years. An ectopic pregnancy, cervical cancer and now, possibly endometriosis. Or it could be cancer again. It could always be cancer again. Every time I get ill, every blood test, every scan, it could always be cancer again.

I’ve been curled up on the sofa for the last 24 hours with two hot water bottles, an over sized bottle of codeine and a bottomless mug of green tea. I feel like shit. I want to cry but I’m too exhausted. I need a hug desperately. Although I may alienate my male readers by offering up too much information here, I must confess that what has crippled me these last few days is nothing more period pains, but it is not the usual kind. They’ve been getting worse for the last few months and I, in all my stubbornness, have refused to go to the doctor about it. Now it is at a point where I can no longer ignore them. Taking time off work because it is ‘that time of the month’ is not acceptable.

twinsMother had endometriosis after her brush with cervical cancer and, as it is often thought to be genetic, I’m clinging to this potential diagnosis. Typical. I inherit the mental health issues of my father and the uterine dramas of my mother and my sister got the financial mind and the height. I’m like the Danny Devito to her Arnold Schwarzenegger. Alas, I must work with what I have been given and will be making an appointment with my doctor in the near future.

Sex: Zero. As much as I would love to get down and very, very dirty with Mr Surprise/YoYo, my uterus has had very different ideas. Still, when a guy comes over with weed and chocolate, knowing that you look like shit and sex is most definitely not on the menu, you know hes a keeper!

Drugs: Urgh. No. Partying has been the last thing on my mind.

Meat: Besides the Lamb Hotpot I was too afraid to turn down, I am still very much a vegetarian at heart.

Caffeine: Nope. None. Despite my current ill health, I have to admit that a caffeine free life is definitely a healthier one.

Alcohol: I am contemplating stocking up on booze and using it to perform a home hysterectomy…

The Date With The Pikey

Firstly, I must state just how much I hate the term ‘pikey’. For those of you not familiar with British slang,  ‘pikey’ is a derogatory term for a gypsy or traveller. It implies thief, degenerate, scum. As I have already used the name Traveller in this blog to identify a past, incredibly attractive, conquest, and the particular travellers I am referring to here are not of a gypsy tradition, I am forced to use this alternative, less attractive nickname. That said, there was nothing remotely unattractive about my pikey.

I was heading to the supermarket, regretting my choice of a long black dress as the summer sun beat down on me, when I saw a small, Jack Russell dog running around in between all the parked cars. It was oblivious to the dangers it faced from nearby traffic and I, like any animal lover, was concerned for its safety. An elderly gentleman, most probably a farmer by the way he was attired in a worn Barbour jacket, muddy Wellington boots and flat cap, saw my concern for this wayward mongrel and approached me to express concerns of his own,

‘It will have come from those pikeys up the road,’ he said, his nose and brow crumpled to emphasize his disgust, ‘there are dogs running around everywhere. They just don’t care’.

I pointed out that this particular animal had a collar and a tag, probably placed by a loving owner, but my farmer friend didn’t seem to hear me, ‘They just steal them, breed them and dump them,’ he grumbled, ‘make sure you lock your doors. They got no respect. They don’t care’.

Despite his racism fuelled warning, I managed to corner the little dog and was relieved to discover he was friendly and appeared to be in good health. His red collar and metal tag informed me that his name was Fred and offered a telephone number for his owner. Holding onto Fred, I dialled the number. No answer. I text the number explaining how Fred and I had crossed paths and, within moments, received a phone call from his owner. I’d tell you what he said, but the truth of the matter is that I didn’t understand a single word. Irish Traveller is not a language I am fluent in, but I managed to distinguish several keywords and promptly made my way to their caravan site, Fred obediently following at my heel, his tail wagging enthusiastically.

His owners defied the stereotypes associated with Irish travellers. I knew they would. Friendly, hospitable and incredibly grateful that I had returned their beloved pet, they promptly invited me to dinner as a way of showing their gratitude. I was aware of the son, short, messy ginger hair and approximately 25 years old, gawping at me like I was the cherry on the ice-cream sundae. He was overly hospitable, bordering creepy. If it wasn’t for the controlling glares of the Matriarch I am quite sure his behaviour would have broken every possible rule his family carried about dating etiquette and potential suitors. When it was time to sit down for dinner, I was placed at the opposite end of the table to the son, wedged between Ugly Sister One and Ugly Sister Two.

Dinner was lovely, considering I’m a vegetarian and had to shovel twenty tonnes of lamb hotpot into my face so as not to offend the very proud and hospitable Matriarch. The father never said two words the entire time I was there and the Ugly Sisters had conversational skills limited to hairstyles and shoes; not that I minded too much, being surrounded by men all the time means I probably need to sharpen my female bonding skills and these young women exuded girliness with their excessive diamante accessories and pink scrunchies. Despite this, they were possibly the most hospitable people I have ever had the fortune to meet. Stories were exchanged in a quest to discover all we could about one another, amidst laughter, banter and the odd interruption from a curious fellow traveller neighbour.

When our meal was finished we sat outside in the circle of caravans, music playing softly against a backdrop of tweeting birds and cattle migrating back to their farms. The presence of a police car parked in the distance did nothing to damped the revelry or prevent the exchange of joints. After I’d drank more cider than is acceptable for a midweek afternoon, I made my excuses and bid my generous hosts farewell.

I never got to see that family again. They moved on the next day, much to the relief of the local residents but bringing much disappointment to my own heart. There may have been no eye candy to behold, but there was a sense of community and family that I haven’t felt in a really long time. Strangers united over an animal and a meal, discussing their travels, their associates and their ambitions without prejudice or judgment. I envy their lifestyle, their bond, their values and their freedom. I would happily spend an evening with them over the ignorant old farmer any day.

What Women REALLY Want

I don’t get it…What do they want???

It is a question muttered by every confused member of every gender since the dawn of time. Human beings are complex and so the answer to such a seemingly simple question is subject to context and personal preference. In truth, nobody really knows what anybody wants. This said, I believe that there are a few basic pointers that men should be given in order to sustain a healthy relationship with a woman…

1) If we love our mother, you love our mother. If we hate our mother, you hate our mother. This also applies to any other woman we express an extreme opinion about.

2) To be told we’re beautiful. Not on the days when we’re feeling low, because we know you’re only saying it to make us feel better. Say it when we’ve made an effort with our hair or are wearing a new dress. Say it randomly. Say it when you mean it.

3) As much as we may love doting on you and pandering to your every whim, being dependant on us is a strain we can’t always handle. We are not your mother. Your independence is as important to us as our own.

4) To communicate. Answer the damn text message. Make that promised phone call. Even if the news you’re delivering to us is going to tear our world apart, it will still do less damage than ignoring us.

5 To be proud of you. We enjoy having you by our side and showing you off to our friends and family. Please don’t embarrass us by drinking too much and re-enacting scenes from The Full Monty at our grandfather’s funeral.

6) Nothing is more attractive than laughter. Make us laugh and you will not only be more appreciated, but you will see a truly beautiful side to us.

7) To be confident in our relationship. We may pretend that we don’t care what people think, but we do. Don’t openly flirt with our best friend in a room full of people. Don’t stand us up at office functions or social gatherings. Don’t give us cause for concern.

8) To be kissed. And often. And by someone who knows how…Ok, I stole this line from Rhett Butler in Gone With The Wind, but there’s a reason its a classic.

9) To be recognised. Despite the supposed gender equality of the Western world in the 21st century, a woman still has to work twice as hard as a man to make even half the impression. Fact. Applaud and support our effort. Encourage us. And when we get that job promotion, congratulate us. Make a fuss.

10) To be heard. You don’t need to fix our problems, you just need to listen to them and nod in all the right places. This said, if she asks you to fix the kitchen sink, fix the goddam sink!

11) We can smell bullshit a mile away. We are built with an internal radar that will bleep intermittently until the truth is revealed. Do yourselves a favour and don’t lie to us. Honesty really is the best policy.

12) To dream. So what if we’re never going to win the lottery? Ambition and a life goal is what keeps most people motivated and gives them a reason to get out of bed in the morning. It doesn’t matter if we want to buy our own island, design footwear for Jimmy Choo or landscape the garden. Let us have our dreams.

13) If you’re not introducing us to your friends or family we will feel like your dirty little secret. Our relationship is not real until it is made public. Yes, it’s silly, but we need to know you’re not ashamed of us.

14) Movie moments. Yes, we’ve probably watched one too many chick flicks and our expectations are unreasonable, but this doesn’t stop you making a little effort every now and again to give us a bit of romance. We’re not expecting you to stroll into our place of work and carry us out into the car park Officer And A Gentleman style, but would it really kill you to scatter the odd flower petal, kiss us in the rain or shout ‘I love you’ out of the car window on the way to work?!

15) To be ourselves. We fart. We burp. We piss. We poop. We have bad days and manic days and stressful days and days where we just want to curl up in a ball and cry. We have pasts that haunt us and problems that plague us. But so do you. Do not judge us on our negatives, but revel in our positives. We are smart, funny, a little kooky and off the wall. We are spontaneous, loving, gifted and strong. We are an original and that is something to be cherished.