Four Reasons Not To See Your Ex

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‘Four big things have happened to me. I started working at UCL. I had a long-term relationship.’

A pause.

‘Who was she?’ I say. ‘I mean, how did you meet?’

‘Oh… through friends. It ended – I ended it – before Christmas.’

‘Why… did you end it?’

‘It had been going on for two years and it was at that point where, if it wasn’t going to be forever, then…’

‘You had to end it.’

‘Yeah. It was a nice relationship but… I didn’t feel we were on the same wavelength and I need that.’

‘Mmm.’

‘But it was very hard, ending it.’

‘It is very hard. It’s like a bereavement.’

‘It is.’

A pause.

‘What were the other two things?’

‘I bought a flat.’

‘And sold the other one?’

‘No. I’ve still got that.’

‘So another one.’

‘Yes. And I bought a yacht.’

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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.

CC Image courtesy of Marvin (PA) on Flickr

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.

CC Image courtesy of Oceans of Lilim on Flickr

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CC Image courtesy of DavidMartynHunt on Flickr

My message to Tom goes through several drafts. My mother writes half of it.

‘This, I could send this?’

‘Much better,’ she sends back.

 

Tom is nice about it.

Let’s just go for friends then,’ he writes. ‘Go for a pint sometime.’

I stare at the words for a while. Somewhere in my addled brain, this doesn’t seem like an entirely daft idea.

‘Yeah,’ I reply, ‘I’d like that.’

No I wouldn’t.

CC Image courtesy of Erin E Flynn on Flickr

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CC Image courtesy of JeneaWhat on Flickr

My first boyfriend

And the man I left him for

And the man I left him for

My first love

The first man I slept with

My first…

The man who broke my heart

And the man who helped put it back together again

And the man who helped put it back together again

crush shoes

The man I crush on

The man I love

The man I love

 

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What I Did For Love

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CC Image courtesy of Nicobobinus on Flickr

‘Do you listen to podcasts?’ Beatrice says.

‘No. Why?’

‘I heard one the other day I think you’d really like.’

She goes on to recite the story of a woman who crossed the Atlantic (one-way ticket) to declare her love for the guy who had just dumped her over web chat.

On arrival at the airport a customs agent asks her:

‘How long are you going to be in the country?’

Standard question. Except it’s not – to her this is the million dollar question.

She starts sobbing then pours out the whole story to this complete stranger.

‘Is that crazy?’ she winds up.

The customs agent looks her in the eye and says: ‘You gotta do what you gotta do for love.’

 

I’d already made the decision. Facebook told me he was going so I was going. I had blisters on the soles of my feet from a recent holiday, I was exhausted and I had a first date with someone quite promising – also from Tinder – lined up for later in the day. But I was going.

 

‘There’s a faulty lift at Hampstead station,’ a voice comes over the speakers. ‘Passengers for the Christmas Fair, we recommend leaving the train here.’

There’s a collective groan from inside the carriage. Strained looking parents move to lift prams onto the platform.

Outside I start walking. My blisters have other ideas. I catch a bus. It’s on diversion. We file off, join the crowds moving snail-pace up the hill. I wonder how many other people have no idea what they’re doing here.

 

My Tinder date knows I’m in Hampstead. ‘I have to put in a brief appearance’, is how I phrased it, ‘after which I’m all yours (should you want me).’

‘Straight to the point,’ he sends back.

 

But for the next hour I’m alone, lost in a sea of faces, scanning fruitlessly for a spark of recognition.

 

It comes – a guy I met at a party recently and liked.

 

‘Who here is single?’ I say to the hostess.

She scans the room. ‘No one, sorry.’

 

We speak briefly before going our separate ways.

 

The tube station comes into view. I loiter outside. It’ll be dark in an hour or so and the plan for the date was a wander. I glance again at my phone. Nothing. Eventually I text him. ‘Shall we fix on a time and place?’

‘Are you in Hampstead?’

‘Yes, but escaping as fast as humanly possible. It’s ridiculously crowded.’

‘Cramming two dates into one day huh?’

I feel a twinge of guilt. He couldn’t know why I’m here.

He goes on: ‘Where do you fancy meeting?’ Then: ‘If it ain’t good timing we could rearrange to sometime in the week.’

Guilt gives way to irritation. I keep walking, past the tube station, onto the next one, as we propose various meeting places. When, again, he suggests rescheduling, I go with it.

 

Later that evening, we’re chatting on WhatsApp. He asks how long I’ve been on Tinder. I tell him.

‘Good God,’  he says. ‘Has it brought you any joy?’

A bit.’

‘Lead to anything substantial?’

I hesitate. ‘Not really.’
CC Image courtesy of dhammza on Flickr

Listen to the full podcast here.

 

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