Sunday, 25 February 2018

Please help me Josh

Dear Josh

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I doubt you're aware of my existence, but I became a fan/ developed a humongous crush on you after my marriage fell apart (proof here) 5 or 6 years ago.

The other night I was taking a bath1 (which isn't, of itself, a sufficiently rare occurrence to warrant a blog post), reflecting on the failed relationships I've had2 and realised I'm officially too old for this shit. I'm mid thirties, I have a cat and my hair is a different colour every couple of months. It's only a matter of time before I become "that woman". What I need is a relationship that saves me from my otherwise inevitable collection of teapots, and I don't see it happening with any guy I randomly stumble across at work3.

Now, I'm not exactly an expert on advanced science - I've never so much as spliced a gene - but I've watched a lot of Star Trek and I'm confident I can combine lessons from The Masterpiece Society4 and Search for Spockto create the perfect man.

I have the necessity which drives invention and if Sheldon Cooper can create glow in the dark goldfish, I'm pretty sure I can rebuild Genesis and use it to accelerate the growth of a life form. It may seem like a lot of work for a date, but the alternative is going back on OK Cupid and I'm so not in the mood.

As a smart man, I'm sure you've realised the missing element: the basis of the life form.

Unfortunately, through no fault of your own, you are now probably the longest lasting romantic interest in my somewhat dubious history6. It occurs to me that it would be a simple matter to create an embryo and replace its DNA with your own. Once that exists, it should only take a few seconds and a couple of earthquakes to bring my little abomination of science to his late thirties, thereby providing me with a relationship without impacting on your personal time.

With regards to your contribution: I don't want to ask for a hair sample, because ripping hair out by your roots seems to be asking too much, and I'd never take joy from your dog by asking for an old shoe. It seems the only reasonable request is for a sweaty t-shirt from you, which will hopefully contain some viable epithelial cells7.

We've already discussed how my success is dependant upon the genesis project and I suspect you're curious as to my current progress with it. I admit, I've not got accelerated terraformation figured out yet, but with international posting I reckon I won 't receive the t-shirt for three to four months. That's plenty of time.

I look forward to your aid in this matter.


1 - I promise this post isn't about my personal hygiene
2 - In my defence, no two of my relationships have ended for the same reason.
3 - I work at a college. It would be illegal with most of them, and with the few remaining it would be a bad idea.
4 - The episode where a planet with a genetically superior human race was saved when Geordie observed that his visor would fix their problems. The "superior" race were surprised that such innovation had come from the outsiders, and Geordie's response was essentially that they'd never had blind people, so never needed to develop this technology.
5 - In which Spock's body grew from 0 to 53 over the course of a couple of earthquakes, while his soul was squatting in Dr McCoy's head.
6 - Admittedly this success may be attributed more to the lack of physical proximity or communication between us than to any actual compatibility.
7 - I also watch basically every forensic detective show known to man except CSI. I don't have anything against it, I just can't find the enthusiasm.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

How it ended

Alternatively titled: Why you shouldn't gamble anything you aren't prepared to lose.

I loved him. He was adamant he didn't love me.

I was pretty sure he did and just wasn't comfortable admitting it.

So I gambled.

I told him it worried me how adamant he was that he didn't love me and that I felt I deserved to be loved. I told him I was happy, but I hoped he would love me one day and if I ever gave up on that hope, we'd have to break up.

I hoped he would reflect on it, and the potential end of our relationship and he would be distressed enough by the concept to re-evaluate the nature of his emotions.

Instead of feeling pain or worry at the prospect of losing us, whatever he felt spurred him on to break up with me sooner rather than waiting for me to do it later.

I accused him of cowardice because, at the time, I still thought he was just denying that he loved me and having control of things (i.e. instigating the break up) is one of his ways of avoiding distress.

But no. I still hurt, but have to acknowledge the more likely truth is that he doesn't love me. Never has and never will.

It's easier to accuse him of cowardice than admit that I'm fundamentally unlovable.

So yeah. Don't gamble, kids.

Monday, 12 February 2018


When I met you, I was scared
Encased in armour
Shielding myself from life
Love, hope, fear, pain, broken promises and betrayal
But my armour was badly speccd
Not fit for purpose
And when we met, the holes in my chainmail became apparent
I broke first
I ran away, too scared to trust
But I came back
And together we anchored
Sharing responsibilities, pressures, those little things
And as I learned more about you I saw
You are a beautiful, sleek yacht
Well designed
I am a makeshift raft
Bobbing in turbulent waters
Comfortable on a journey
Uncertain of the destination
And you let me share your anchor
I knew however high the waves grew
I would never be lost
There are ties between us
Entangled after so long kiting around a shared point
And then you weighed anchor
Cut me loose
Sailed away
I would have followed you
If you'd only thrown me a line
But you are a speedy vessel
Cutting efficiently through surf
As the storm gathers
And my love and I
Lie discarded in your wake

Sunday, 28 January 2018


39 years.

She’d been drawn to the photo album, opening it for the first time in decades, remembering how it had been to place the images so carefully in their correct place.

Her coffee cooled as she reminisced, fingertips stroking gently against the ridges of cherished memories, labelled so coldly and clinically.

May ’96 Belfast.

June ’96 Garden party with Aunt May.

39 years.

The album didn’t cover the whole span – just a few years somewhere in the middle, with one or two highlights from the very early days.

The first photo of them together.

Taken at a theme park by a man with slicked back hair and an ingratiating smile. He had given them the whole nudge, nudge, wink, wink act, false camaraderie and certainty the young couple had an eternal love. He’d talked them into the picture, adamant they needed something to commemorate the start of their relationship. It was the second date. But he’d been right. What they had was special.

The wedding, the children.

All 39 years.

In another book – somewhere in the house - there are more pictures of children and one half-finished photographic family tree, starting with their parents and supposed to lead down to little Ellie, now 4 months old. After an initial burst of enthusiasm, the photographs so carefully selected had been stacked and almost forgotten. One more task to be guilty of ignoring.

’99-’00 The Millennium. Him wearing a ridiculous hat and a tuxedo. She in her prettiest dress; feeling especially good because two of their children were being proposed to that night. One of those marriages was still very happy; but they’d had no concept at the time that the other might turn as sour as it did and so were celebrating with joyful anticipation. They were both wearing those 2000 spectacles.

39 years.

She is fixated on the number as though it somehow makes a difference. And it should. She is sure it should; she just can’t think why it would.

She gazes around the room. For a moment it’s as though she’s looking at another photograph; a snapshot in time of a place she used to live. Then it comes into focus and she stands to walk around it and inspect each part closely for the first time in years. Hunting around the shelves for clues to answer the question roiling in her mind.

She finds mementoes of life: something to represent each member of her family. Little tokens holding memories of events too long ignored to be remembered. Gifts that have no purpose or beauty except as a link to the giver.

This is it then. This is all of her life.

The front door clicks and he enters; still handsome, still energetic. She turns to look at him and in her mind the puzzle falls into place and she knows her answer.

“Hello, love. What’s for tea?” He asks the question innocently but in the face of her decision it seems like aggravation.

She still loves him, so she is gentle.

“John, I think we need to talk.”

At first he’s worried she’s ill, but when she explains her decision he accuses her of joking. Then he is adamant she must be ill.

“I’m not ill, John.”

“Thirty nine years!” His cry is heartwrenching, but she can only nod. She understands.

“I’m so sorry, John. But I can’t do this any more.”

“Thirty-nine years.” His eyes speak of betrayal, and his voice has dropped to a tear choked whisper. “What about the children? Our home? Our lives? Why would you-“

He trails off and she reaches out to clasp his hands with her own. They sit in silence for several minutes as he stares at where they are joined.

Her heart breaks when he straightens her fingers and removes the ring he placed there so many years ago. It breaks further when he raises it to his lips and presses it into the palm of her hand.

“Please think about this.” He begs.

But he removed the ring before he asked.

Sunday, 7 January 2018


Time flows differently in an airport.

Elsewhere, it draws parallel lines as it flows through the world, perhaps bulging and slowing at the start of a school summer holiday, and narrowing to a sprint at the start of September.

But at an airport, these annual blips alter moment by moment, circling and whirling around in a Gallifreyan prayer wheel, sketching spirals and whirls like a child's spinning top with a pen attached.

Pre check in, people gather at coffee shops and chat, time trickling past like honey as they wait for their holiday to really begin. At the arrivals gate, it slows, observing the waiting crowds who anticipate imminent loved ones, drawing out the expectation as long as possible. At the departure gate it practically stops for ten minutes, right until the last call goes out when it speeds up a hundred times, tricking the latecomers who are now sprinting through the airport.

Five minutes it took to write this, because I'm in a slow patch right now and I'll receive a message in 10 minutes, which will become about 20 minutes from now as the anticipation is teased out. Then a frantic ten seconds, which the clock will claim takes 23 minutes, then a two hour wait, which will be half an hour of seconds measured. Then 15 minutes at the gate, by the end of which I will be eligible for my pension.

I love airports.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

You don't have to say

You don't have to say you love me
I'd rather you stayed silent than lied
Denials are less than betrayals
And what you give me
Is infinitely better than words.

Call it by any name you choose
Or nothing at all
If acknowledging means losing
Then let it be unknown

You don't have to say these words
It only hurts a little to hear their absence
While your thoughts, words and deeds
Give so much more than I ask of love


Sunday, 31 December 2017

The beauty of love

From where does it spring, this warmth we call love?

I do not wish it to be born of the heart, however romantic it seems to tie the emotion to life, knowing that with each beat both the excitation and the awareness required to feel it near their end.

Such a feeling as this needs a source of more permanence.

It must not spring from the eyes, despite the beauty observed in the idolatry of our loved ones.

My love, I feel, must surely spring from a deeper root.

Not my stomach, for it will not sustain me, nor my mind, for it is illogical.

My love comes from my feet. These under-appreciated limbs which bear us on our way, step by step, day by day, their structure enduring beyond death, albeit the journey they undertook is long since forsaken.

My feet will guide me towards my destination – a destination chosen by my eyes setting upon you.

My feet will bear me through pain and trauma, blisters and bunions, although my heart may crumple under the strain.

My feet demand much of me, and of my love, but continue in their journey regardless.

My feet are not beautiful, or perfect. They are not out of reach. They are not a prize. And this too is true of my love.

My feet may be dressed in beautiful garments, contorted to appear more elegant than they are, and this I do to my love also. Not out of shame or inadequacy, but for the joy of showing it off in the most elaborate form possible, that it reflects how worthy I think you are of such glory.

This is the source of my love.

It is simple, plain and strong.

It is yours to do with as you wish.