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GUEST BLOG: DATING DIARY ‘SHIPS PASSING’

This is a guest blog the writer of which has asked to remain anonymous.. artist pic by Isaiah Stephens

This story is not strictly about a date. I was out for celebration drinks with my female flatmate, who’d just closed a big deal at work, and our adventures continued from then.

The plan was to meet up in Camberwell with a crowd of political friends I’ve been getting to know. We were two hours late – the party had moved on. My flatmate and I shrugged and had one of those lovely pub chats where you share some of your deepest insecurities and assure each other things will be alright. Pretty therapeutic.

As it goes, I shared my fear that I am too straight-laced and haven’t let my hair down enough. My flatmate shared that she’s considering meeting up with her ex that she was with for three years and thought she was going to marry, before it all went pear-shaped.

The night progressed, we saw a huge queue for a club but decided the crowd wasn’t for us. As luck would have it, we heard some music emanating from a gig, and the funk-rock-rap was exactly the sort of music my flatmate loves. She started dancing away, happy as larry, getting chatted up by guys. I bumped into one good male acquaintance but the lack of other interesting convo meant my tiredness began to set in fast.

Looking after female friends is a strange duty. When a bloke looks at you like you’re the potential cock-block it’s unnervingly like a dog looking through a gate, all hope and sadness at once.

When this venue closed I was about to throw in the towel when we went in one more venue a few doors down with a dance floor and my flatmate bought us samba shots. It was that nice time of night where there are only twenty or so people left but those who were there were really smiley and going for it. Soon I’d found my second wind and was dancing wildly to Michael Jackson with a pretty and curvy girl (let’s call her PCG). “You have all the shapes!” she beamed. I thought she did too.

The venue closed and everyone was herded out but a small group of six of us who got chatting (me, my flatmate, PCG – a doctor, and three of PCG’s friends – a sweet doctor chap) still wanted to party. A sketchy promise of “fire and music” from a disarmingly smiley man hailing from the Dominican Republic led us off. “He’s wearing a fedora” we thought, “he’s nice!”

Where he tempted us to – eventually and with a lot of cajoling and stops to buy supplies – turned out to be a scary-as-fuck empty yard with no lighting. A fight had already broken out around the entrance as soon as we got there then quickly dissipated. Against our better judgment we’d gone in (we’d come this far…), quickly decided against it and split – but not before thinking for a terrifying thirty seconds that we’d been locked in!

What was this fedora guy’s game? Once we’d left he kept following us on his bicycle, all disorientating charm compared to the bleak yard we’d left, and eventually gave up, muttering “stupid facking people”. My Scottish flatmate said that if that party was in Glasgow someone would have been shot. (Apparently stabbing is small-league. I love Glaswegian grit.)

We decided to head back to ours, as we were twenty minutes’ walk away and the rest were planning a crash in Old St, which would be an hour on the bus. The stroll to ours took twice as long as it would have at a business-like pace. At one point the front half of the group lost the back half, so I ran back and found them to check my flatmate hadn’t got murdered. She was relaxed but lost. ‘It’s true’, I consoled her, ‘all these streets do look the same’.

We arrived at ours at around 5am. The six of us got to sharing YouTube-DJ duties at ours. Well, five – one dude sat on the sofa and fell immediately asleep.

Within an hour it became obvious that one of the party – a guy called Sam – was the most irritating man I’ve met for a long, long time. Nearly everything he uttered apparently demanded a high five or Fresh-Price handshake (“don’t leave me hanging… bro… BRO”), he spilled three drinks on the rug, demanded we play a loud rap song about a Bugatti at 6am when we’d just traded our favourite acoustic artists, put crisps in the sleeping dude’s mouth and was joke-but-hard punching him to wake up, and insisted on debating Syria with me. “Ok hear me out right… those chemical weapons… Yeah atrocities are fine but…”

“They’re not fine,” I replied incredulously. “They’re atrocities.” Who says there’s not humour in civil war?

He got the gist at some point “why don’t you like me man?” punched his poor friend awake and left.

All this time me and PCG were snuggling a bit on the sofa. Nearer 8am, we were lounging together on the sofa sensually twirling each other’s index finger.

We retired to my room, had a snuggle, then did more than snuggle.

“You were such a slow mover” she said the next day. That’s because I wasn’t hitting on her! I don’t know, I was relaxed, and the bell-end guy was using all my patience.

Noon we awoke, beautiful day, PCG did an elegant yoga pose in my decked garden. We both said we’d had fun, and she headed off.

My thanks to my flatmate for helping me let my hair down!

“Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing, only a signal shown, and a distant voice in the darkness; So on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another, only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

 

 

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DATING DIARY: FACTORY GIRL

I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to be anybody’s muse. I have seen Factory Girl about the rise and fall of Edie Sedgwick and her relationship with Andy Warhol and I found it.. in one word.. horrendous. Really put me off him .and his work. But when the words “you inspire me Becki!” rang from this guy’s mouth I felt really quite…flattered. Ahhh really do I? Shucks.

I was walking home one evening and one of my neighbours was telling a story to his friends outside his house. I stopped and made a comment and we all got chatting. Everybody needs good neighbours. This is important. They all look super happy in the soap don’t they.

“You live round the corner – give me your number!” he said. He was about fifty.. my new neighbour. He’d been married four times and was still with his current partner. “What happened with your last wife?” I asked inquisitively…

“Oh god.. she got breast cancer.. and I’m afraid I just couldn’t handle it.. also. She’d suffered abuse.. she had issues”.

Oh god. Really? I contemplated my future on planet earth. I left the small party of people and walked to my place situated round the corner.

The next day I received a text. “Becki…. You inspire me!!! Come round for tea daaahllling”

Everybody needs good neighbours. Sing it loud folks. “Ok.” I replied.

So. I went round.

“So this is my wife…” he said introducing me to a tall slender woman standing in the kitchen.

“Hey..nice to meet you…” I smiled. Then he showed me a picture of him with David Cameron. ‘Nice’ I commented. I had a flashback to the letters I had written to Mr Cameron. ‘Bastard!’ I secretly thought.

“Come down here.. lets have a chat in the study.” I followed him down. We sat down. And he talked. A lot. Mainly at me. And the conversation went…  in a strange direction.

“So I’m not really that protective over my wife. I mean I don’t get jealous – I don’t mind watching her sleep with other men – that kinda stuff doesn’t really bother me..” he said.

He was talking super fast. Blink and you might miss that comment. My brain stopped. ‘information you don’t want to know information you don’t want to know.. find an exit point find an exit point’ it was saying. But I have a stupid tendency to rationalise. Which is a really annoying trait I have.

‘He didn’t mean to say that, he was just talking, maybe he’s just a really open person, he seems pretty normal’ I was telling myself looking at him.

‘Is that a normal thing to say… These are things I don’t really want to hear a fifty year old man talk about though.. I mean my Grandad.. well he’s dead now.. but I’m sure he wouldn’t… ‘ I continued with myself.

The subject turned to alcohol. “Oh well I shouldn’t really drink.. I’m not really very good at it…” I said.

“Oh did you sleep with guys without condoms?”. He glanced at me.. and then returned to talking really fast.. “I mean I used to live in soho and I know these girls and they used to do that.. and….” WTF.. WHAT THE FUCK my brain shouted at me.

I was now staring at the computer screen in front of us. I couldn’t believe the intrusiveness of his question. And I had now gone in to escape mode. I felt frozen to my seat. ‘Was it rude to get up and leave? How could I get out of this place.. I’m sure that was a really inappropriate question.. don’t give a fuck what he thinks about leaving… is that a normal question to ask someone? You don’t have to listen to this shit.. GET OUT OF HERE GET OUT OF HERE. Leave Becki MAKE LIKE A TREE AND LEAAAVE...’ My brain was in panic mode.

“Erm.. I need to go actually I have things to do…” I mumbled at the man.

“Oh…” he looked at me.. “Thanks though… thanks for having me, thanks a lot…” I said. “Thank you, thank you…” I kept saying as I climbed the stairs. I was surprised at my inability to tell him that that was an inappropriate thing to question and that not even any of my closest friends would even THINK about saying something so.. so intrusive.

He keeps sending me texts…. ‘But he seemed nice?’ I try to rationalise to my friend.. ‘do you think that’s a weird thing to say to someone?’ I feel..  confused.

DEFINITELY Becki I don’t like the sound of this man” my male friend Gareth retorts. A male perspective. Phew. I need that. I have no idea what goes on in men’s heads. He goes into cussing mode. “Becki. You know what your problem is..” he says.. “benefit of the doubt. You give people the benefit of the doubt before they deserve it.. I however am the other way round. Trust no one. Until they deserve to be trusted”.

I reflect on that. I reflect on the stigma attached to… so many things that keep us closed up. I reflect on whether he might have been just an open person. I reflect on my contempt for Andy Warhol’s art.

“Never be anyone’s muse” I think. “Wanker. Never bloody liked Andy Warhol anyway”.

“Be a good animal, true to your animal instincts…” D.H.Lawrence

 

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DATING DIARY: VULNERABILITY

Artist picture – Maia Flore // Sleep Elevations 

We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. Dead Poets Society

Lying here.. I wonder if it’s meant to be

Or whether its just a dream for me.

These fantasies running around my head

Fill me

As I imagine

You and me…

Running along hand in hand

Along beaches long…

Holding one another tight

You hold me close and tear my tights

With your passion I can feel your breath upon my neck

And I almost choke as my heart.. sticks in my throat

Struggling to break out

As you move your hand down my thigh…

Thoughts of you are lost as I look up to the sky

The clouds form as one and bounce across the horizon

And when I open my eyes… you are gone.

And  you – my dream has left.

And a new fantasy forms… and again… I leave for a new destination…

Just call me Nuwanda.

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DATING DIARY: TRAINS

I am sitting in a café having a chat with a girlfriend. Two men approach us.. “excuse me are you single?” one asks. “Er…” I look at my friend.. “maybe why?” he sits down opposite.

“Well.. there’s a talk tomorrow.. the guy who trained Neil Strauss (The Game) is in town for the weekend for a Love and Seduction workshop and we have more men than women attending. It’s usually seven hundred pounds… but would be free to you if you come? We want the other women who have paid to feel comfortable”. I’d heard of Neil Strauss. Of course I had! My old flat mate used to underline parts of the book! And my ex had also owned a copy which I had amusedly flicked through. “Usually seven hundred pounds eh…” I reply…

“Yeah this guy is the top of the chain when it comes to NLP” he says.

I am interested. And I want to see what it is about. “Ok why not.” I reply taking his card. I call two friends up. “So you wanna come to this dating tip thing tomorrow?” I ask them.

The next day we walk into a conference room and sit at the back. There is nothing unusual about the room. The guy at the front is giving out NLP (neuro linguistic programming) tips and his confidence and strong presentation skills are keeping the room engaged. “This is some people’s last hope…” the words sold to me ring in my ears. I look about the room. It is what you might imagine. And the men are hanging on every word that drip out of this trainer’s mouth. And so after not much happening and a bit of meditation we all head off to lunch. And my friend starts on the white wine glugging it down. When it is time to go back she insists on staying for another whilst we go see “the show”. It’s 2pm now and this conference is meant to last til 7. A girl comes on stage at the front and starts talking to the room. And the man who was previously teaching is now sitting in a corner wearing sunglasses. Sunglasses in a conference room. The girl at the front starts her speech.. she is young, attractive and has the rooms attention. She starts talking about how to relax a woman…’start by touching a woman’s back to make her feel more comfortable and at ease’ she says doing caressing hand movements. Everything is becoming snake like. And I decide I can’t listen to anymore. I pretend to head to the toilet making a sharp exit for the door.

An hour later I get a call from my friend. Pretty drunk…

“Beccccckkkkkiiiii!!!!!” she screams down the phone. Uh oh… I think…what’s happened…  “So…… I went back!!! Beckkiiii what the hell was that! I went back and I was sitting there and I asked the guy a question…” I am intrigued, “I asked him.. a question.. and he wouldn’t answer!!! So in front of the room I told him he was brainwashing people!! And.. they threw me out! They threw me OUT Becki for asking a goddamn question”. I am amused. And a part of me wishes I had seen this. And I suspect that there had been a little more to her angry drunken ramblings… which, whilst I don’t condone are quite understandable in the grand scheme of things. I am having a coffee with the guy who convinced us to go to the talk. He is telling me about the day game – and how men pay a lot of money to be shown around London and given tips on how to pick up… “this is some men’s last hope…” he tries to convince me.

A few weeks later I am on a train heading north. It is meant to be an hours trip but the train has been diverted and I have been stuck on it for three and a half hours. I am sitting in an empty carriage, dehydrated, irritated and feeling traumatized by the state of the trains toilets. It is like Armageddon in there. Why can they not just sort the toilets out? I am a great believer that it is the little comforts in life that carry you through…(not to get off the subject too much but seriously Richard Branson if you’re reading this – if I had kids.. how the heck would I manage to change my babies nappy in those things…how?).

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Ok moving swiftly on… a man gets on the train. I am sitting back in my seat now. I’m not in the toilet. I just want to set that straight. He looks about the empty carriage and decides to sit opposite me. I am reading ‘The End of My Addiction’ by Dr Olivier Ameisen. “Interesting book” he starts.. “must be really hard giving up…”

I decide which side of the fence to sit on with that remark and opt for the less personal… “Yeah must be awful.” I reply.

He starts to push for a conversation. “Where are you going, what do you do, who are you with…where have you trained.. if at all, how much money do you earn, will you go halves providing for our future children…” that kinda thing. Actually he never asked the last one but seriously… how much does he need to know, this was interrogation territory and I was… really thirsty so could only issue one word answers.

“This is really empty carriage..” I say. “And I’m really tired and thirsty” I politely push. I would describe myself as a sociable person, but there was something about his brash assumption of sitting opposite me that I didn’t warm to. A bunch of people get on at the next station. I busy myself with my phone sending a really interesting tweet “I’m on a train” to my twitter followers. I like to keep them engaged an all that.

The guy sitting opposite me is still asking me questions. I am about to go in for the kill and just ask him outright finishing this thing good and proper by just asking him if he is attempting to chat me up so I can get on with my book. I have to know how this man cures himself!

But he is rescued at the last minute… I hear my name being called. “OMG Becki!!!! Is that you? I just saw your tweet!!”.. I look to my left.. “Wow!!! What are the chances!!!” my excitement levels peak. Me ole chum Gina sitting literally in the next seat. The guy opposite me looks annoyed. He’s been blocked. And I’d been rescued. Phew.

FINAL THOUGHTS

But it’s a tough situation isn’t it. The girl doesn’t know if she’s being chatted up, the guy is trying to engage how much attraction there is. A part of me feels like a bit of an asshole (horrible word asshole isn’t it) by being so cruel to this man. But is it cruel? I’m sure this story could be met with “maybe he was a bit lonely, maybe he was just being nice, maybe maybe maybe…maybe a touch of arrogance there Becki?”. Yes maybe. But listen up girls. One day I was talking to a much older lady friend about what she felt she had learnt in her life.. and she turned to me and said “Oh god Becki.. naivety was my middle name”.

And so if you’re a young woman reading this there is one word I want you to learn…and it’s naivety; which means the tendency to believe too readily and therefore to be easily deceived.

And if you’re a guy and you want to meet a nice lady.. well I’m not sure there’s a cut and dry approach… learning to read signals and body language would be my first tip. And cutting to the chase.. faster conversations guys.. faster conversations..

And finally…. “When a woman becomes her own best friend life is easier.” Diane Von Furstenberg

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DATING DIARY: RUCKSACKS

“Always keep your heart locked tight, don’t let your mind retire” Haim

He places his hand confidently on my arm. I’m aware of him moving in.. I’m in a bar. I’m not supposed to be in a bar. I’m meeting a friend. And I have a rucksack on. And whilst I cared about what I put on that morning I hadn’t thought about as it much as I could have done. I mean.. I wasn’t in a “bar” outfit.

“Who you waiting for?” the man asks me in a thick Scottish accent. He’s in town with his mates for the Scotland vs England game.

He then moves his hand from my arm and moves it on to my waist. Not around. Just comfortably on.

I am impressed by his boldness. A little surprised. And very conscious of his seemingly carefree attempt. This guy’s approach was pretty smooth.

Dressed up for a night out with the lads he starts to mock my childish rucksack wearing which I still have on my back. “You can’t wear that.. take that off! It looks awful!” he tells me laughing. Momentarily I feel I am back at high school. Where one was supposed to wear the rucksack over one shoulder out of coolness and not over both like how it was actually designed to be worn. But I had become a girl punk in my later years – and a rucksack worn the right way is now in my eyes a ok! Besides – putting fashion aside…I had a bit of a bad back.

He buys me a drink. Despite the rucksack. And he proceeds to show me his muscles.. he flexes his arms.. “feel that!” he says. I’m impressed or amused. Not sure which. I feel his arm to show him that I recognise he’s been working out. I offer mine out to show him that I’ve also been working out. He ignores the gesture. Perhaps he didn’t hear/see me. Then he grabs my waist again.

“That’s really interesting what you keep doing there…grabbing me like that… that’s a really confident move…where did you learn that?” I ask him. He looks at me a little shocked and grins.. “er..what this.. “ and again he grabs me. “You have to be careful though – might put a girl off – could come across as ‘player’ tactics…” I smile at him. He looks confused. “I’m writing a dating diary thing” I tell him laughing. “Oh right..” he says… “Well…I’m not a player! Me? No way! I’ve just come out of a relationship of seven years!” he insists in his thick accent. We discuss his last relationship. And I just start to feel increasingly sad that they ever broke up and become convinced that they should get back together. And then my friend arrives… I tighten my rucksack straps…and we leave. Because to be honest…  Scotland’s a bit far to travel for me… if you get what I’m trying to say…

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