The Best of Times

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CC Image courtesy of Ibliskov - Flucтuaт Nεc Mεяgiтuя on FlickrI’d been looking forward to the party. Tristan would be there, and Tobias. We’d demolish the canapé supply and drink too much cheap white wine. Tobias would make a passing remark about clothing, sparking a fit of anxiety from Tristan about his branded jumper, and I’d reassure him it was fine. Twice.

 

We’d cross the road to the neighbouring pub. Tristan would order doubles in place of my usual single. We’d bump into someone I went on a couple of dates with once and Tristan would ask, ‘What’s the deal with that guy?’ Twice.

 

I’d say or do something daft.

‘You’re really great,’ he’d say, laughing and clinking glasses.

 

We’d hug and I’d say:

‘I’ll miss you when you go to New York!’

And he’d tell me to come visit.

 

Out on the pavement, we hug again.

‘I always want people to be more like you,’ I say, ‘cos that makes them a better person.’

‘You’re really great,’ he says again.
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Later, in the casino, over champagne, we lose money and laugh about it.

 

Later still, in the crowded bar, he kisses me. Light, tender and unexpected.

‘Tristan…?’

I meet his eye. He looks happy and drunk and takes my hand, tight, beneath the table. We rest our heads together.
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‘Who’s Tristan?’

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I’ve read every credible-looking article I can find online about alcoholic blackouts, You Belong With Me is playing on a loop, and post three of 33 from the Tristan archive of my blog is before my eyes.

My phone flashes up with a message.

‘Hoy….’

Unconventional greeting.

‘… how goes the love search 1 month on?’

 

Recent events had put Tom right out of my mind, which was lucky. His profile hadn’t changed since we’d parted company, and I’d already announced to Beatrice that this meant he’d met someone. She didn’t contradict me.

 

In the last few weeks there’d been… nothing really. Except for Friday. But Friday was different. Friday was about love, yes, but other things too: sadness, disappointment, shock.

‘Whaaaaat?!!’ Perky says, when I tell her what happened. ‘That’s BIG.’

‘A non-event,’ is how my mother describes it.

Rachel only frowns. ‘Who’s Tristan?’

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Paradise Lost

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CC Image courtesy of Glen Bowman on FlickrSeveral years ago, the BBC broadcast a period drama called The Paradise. It was about a department store in the north of England run by charming entrepreneur Moray. The local totty thought he was the best thing since sliced bread and badly wanted to marry him (which would have been to his advantage, since totty’s father had pots of money ready to invest in the store).

Enter Denise: pretty, clever and ambitious. She makes her mark at the store (lots of bright ideas for displays, that kind of thing) and even catches the attention of Moray. Cue URST (UnResolved Sexual Tension).

Just when we think Moray and Denise are about to sail off into the sunset, there’s a twist (SPOILER ALERT). The crucial speech:

Denise: I don’t want to marry Moray. I want to be him.

That’s the line from the series that most stayed with me. And it’s the line I resisted the urge to quote when, earlier this year, I found myself on a date with the man who’d helped script the series.

‘It was great!’ I said. (I probably clapped.) ‘It was better than Mr. Selfridge.’

He grinned. ‘Aww bless you.’

(I should have known then it was doomed.)

 

We saw each other a couple more times, and each time conversation turned to his job.

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I’ve dated people from a range of professions: engineers, a journo, an architect, a theoretical physicist. Infatuation, I find, is usually accompanied by a heavy dose of job envy. And if I don’t fancy doing the actual job – me as a theoretical physicist LOL – I’m seduced by the lifestyle that goes with it. I still have no idea how the physicist managed to go on fortnightly holidays.

But – the journo aside – it’s all been fantasy. Until Moray.

 

I hung on his every word. Date one, I admitted to having tried to get into script development a while back. I’d even spoken to several script editors about the best routes in. He knew the people I’d spoken to. It just gave us more to talk about.

But, unlike Moray, he didn’t come to me on bended knee. So, shortly before the inevitable parting of the ways, I started mourning the relationship. He was fun; I’d miss that. I’d miss the sex too. But what I’d miss most was sharing a passion. We’d watched the trailer for The Crown and agreed about the lack of conflict. We hadn’t agreed about Michael’s character in Mum (I found him a bit annoying), but we did both love the theme tune (‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’) and listened to it together the last morning I spent at his.

I told him the best bit of screenwriting advice I’d ever read. He told me about the alien story his company was in the process of pitching. He loved his job. I loved his job.

I loved his job. I loved his job.

Five-hour meetings to determine characters’ back-stories. Brainstorming plot lines with a writer in their hotel room. Working all Sunday on a scene breakdown.

 

I set about updating my CV, making over my LinkedIn profile, emailing potential contacts – the works.

 

Occasionally I thought of him, pictured his head resting on my pillow.

I like you.’

I smile. ‘I like you too.’

We kiss.

‘What do you want?’ he says.

It’s a script joke – a protagonist should always want something.

The same thing as you,’ I whisper, and pull him closer.

If only that had been true.

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Why You Should Date Around

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CC image courtesy of debsilver on FlickrI met Tom on Bumble, though he thought we’d matched on Tinder. This, combined with the fact he revamped his entire dating profile on the eve of our first date, rang alarm bells. I was also his first date after five years in a relationship.

When his communication slowed and his dating profile changed again in the days leading up to date #2 (supper at his), I ran scared. I was looking for a relationship; he appeared to be looking to get laid. So I did something I’ve never done before: I lied to get out of the date.

‘Could we rearrange?’ I wound up.

It was a test. I was 99% sure he wouldn’t reschedule.

He did.

In the days that followed, his bio underwent several rewrites. My favourite of his tag lines was ‘Not a complete dickhead’. I badly wanted to believe it.

Read the full article at Singles Warehouse.

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Sister Act

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CC Image courtesy of Indigo Skies Photography on FlickrI look up to see Tristan approaching.

‘Are you busy?’ he says.

I think of my post-holiday to-do list: twelve tasks and counting.

‘Err why?’

‘Could you witness the signing of a contract – if you’re not too busy?’

I glance in the direction of my boss.

‘Yes,’ I say, ‘that’s fine.’

I start to rise.

‘I’ll come and get you when my sister’s here,’ he says, ‘in about five minutes.’

‘Your sister? OK.’

 

I turn back to my computer screen. He could have asked any number of people: Tobias, Ryan, Harriet who sits opposite him…. I glance again at my boss, before bending to root around in my bag for a tube of lip gloss. Lucky I put on make-up this morning. It wouldn’t do to look sleep-deprived when meeting my future sis– oh for fuck’s sake. Frowning, I focus on the screen.

The minutes slip by.

I’ll say something really daft probably, offend her. ‘Hi!’ and a smile. That’s safe. I can’t say ‘I’ve heard so much about you’, because I haven’t really. I must remember not to say her name.

It’s definitely been more than five minutes.

I mutter words under my breath, looking for the best phrase for an email. This is good. I should be working when she sees me for the first time.

More like ten.

He rounds the corner. ‘Don’t worry,’ he says, ‘it’s fine. Harriet witnessed it.’

‘Oh, OK.’

He walks away.

I really need to get over this.

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