Like Lovers Do

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‘… and I remain not in love.’CC Image courtesy of furibond on Flickr

This is the bad news. But we’re only 15 minutes into a 45-minute conversation. I’m not feeling great, obviously, and he’s sounding increasingly uncertain to the point that he wants to tell me – he does tell me that he’s confused in his own feelings. He really likes me, and tells me so several times. He thinks I’m witty and beautiful. If I can’t do what we’re doing could I find a way to being friends at some point? But no, he says in answer to his own question, you’ve said no to friends.

The idea of being friends with someone I fancy as much as I do VP makes me shudder. I can barely refrain from kissing him when we are together and it’s OK for me to do so; the idea of making polite chit-chat over herbal tea doesn’t bear thinking about. No, this has to be a clean break, for now anyway. Perhaps, I find myself thinking, when I’m happily married to Tristan with three children, and the back catalogue of Country Life in the downstairs loo (joke), I would be able to see VP. But even I know that’s a terrible idea. We were never friends. I love the way he kisses me, the way he invades my personal space, how he says ‘tell me’ when I begin a story, at once fierce and gentle. The things I love about him are what lovers do, not friends.

So I say no to friends. And no when he asks if we could speak again soon.

‘Do you think at some point in the future,’ he says, ‘when you’ve got five kids and you’re incredibly wealthy… and successful… and happy, we might be able to have a peppermint tea together?’

What is it with him and herbal tea?! He doesn’t even like tea! And neither do I.

‘That’s a lot of hypotheticals,’ I say, again thinking of Tristan. ‘I don’t know… maybe….’

This is when I start thinking about how to shut down the conversation without resorting to When Harry Met Sally sound bites. And I’m assuming from his mutterings that he’s doing the same thing. There’s a pause, then he says in a different tone of voice, clear and precise:

‘I’m moving back to London.’

I half-laugh. ‘What?’

‘Early next year.’

He tells me about the new job and his plans for the intervening months. I let him speak, prompting with the occasional question. I don’t know why he’s telling me, or what to feel.


A short while later and again I’m casting about for suitable parting words.

‘We’ll see…’ I begin. The sentence peters out.

‘Yes, see you.’

He must have misheard, must have thought I said ‘I’ll see you’. I want to put him right, I want honesty and truth to carry through right to the end. But I stop myself. Perhaps this way is better, a white lie.

CC Image courtesy of robin_why on Flickr

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If You’re A Bird…

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CC Image courtesy of shaniecegooden on FlickrMatthew is in many ways the perfect crush.

1. He speaks like someone out of a period drama.  Like, the other day at work, we’re looking at guns.

‘Do you shoot?’ I say.

‘Yes.  Do you?’


‘Do you go out with them ever?’

Inwardly I swoon.

‘Errr… a couple of times.’

Which is stretching the truth.  I ‘went out’ with the guns once, whilst staying with my then boyfriend.  My presiding memory is of trying to convince him of my rural credentials whilst caught, literally, straddling a barbed wire fence in the middle of the Devon countryside.  Not my finest hour.


2. We’re soul mates, apparently.

Colleague pauses in her work.  ‘I think you and Matthew should get it on.’

I nearly fall off my stool.  ‘Why?!’

‘I was talking to him in the kitchen the other day and… he reminds me of you.  You’re quite similar, like, you’ve got the same sense of humour.  Kind of… dry.’

I laugh.  ‘OK!  I’ll see what I can do!’

A few minutes later, Matthew walks past.  I turn beetroot, my default colour whenever he’s in the vicinity.

‘Hello!’ I chirrup, my default sound whenever I speak to him.

Colleague smirks.

‘You can tell that you like him,’ she says, once he’s out of earshot.


‘You go bright red!’

And I sound like a bird.  Other than that, I’m stealth incarnate.

CC Image courtesy of Wilfbuck on Flickr

3.  He’s good with children.


Matthew looks up from what he’s doing.

‘… please could you help a client lift a pram up the stairs?’

And then marry me, and we can have a baby and you can lift our pram up the stairs etc etc.

‘Yeah sure,’ he says.

We walk together towards the stairs.

‘How are you?’ I say, turning beetroot.

He looks surprised.  Beetroot is usually mute in his presence. ‘Yeah, good.  I haven’t seen you for a while.’

He’s noticed!  It’s love!  Weeeee!

‘No… I’ve been more at the other office recently.’ I grin. ‘Going up in the world.’

He laughs.


Pram safely delivered onto the pavement, he comes back downstairs.

‘Thanks!’ I say.

Colleague smirks.

CC Image courtesy of Marj Joly on Flickr

Wouldn’t Work

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‘He talks about you all the time!’CC Image courtesy of Sandy Austin on Flickr

I bite my tongue and look down at the menu.  Charlotte’s not to know that I am kind of sick of hearing this!  I decide against ordering a sandwich. 

In such situations, I find it’s helpful to remind yourself why you and the other person would not work. 

Toby, for instance, thinks it’s OK to name children after weather patterns. 

Joe was disappointed to discover I had gone to private school, but not to Pony Club.  Huh?

Freddie.  Now, Freddie is a social animal.  He’ll talk to anyone, about anything, for any length of time.  It’s very annoying when you’re in a hurry.  He’s universally popular, which is just annoying.  He’s dependable, and loyal, the kind of guy you’d turn to in a crisis… moving on.  He says things to me like ‘you don’t enjoy anything!’, and ‘you’re never impressed!’.  For the record, what he means is that I need to lower my expectations and chill out a bit more.  So he knows me too well.  He’s basically like a brother to me – and you shouldn’t bang your brother.

CC Image courtesy of rolands.lakis on Flickr

Diary of a Tall Girl

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CC Image courtesy of AndreaTX on FlickrThe parents are back, earlier than expected.  The daughter is still downstairs, typing up a short story.  Great.  My babysitting charge is a more prolific writer than I am.

The father goes through to chivvy her whilst the mother roots around in her bag, looking for her purse.  She turns to me.

‘How tall are you?’

‘Too tall.’

She looks pained.  It occurs to me that her daughter is taller.

‘Err well, not too tall… How tall is Jess?’

‘Taller than you.  Five foot eleven.’

‘That’s fine! It can be a good thing…’

Holes and digging spring to mind.

We talk clothes (a pain) and shoes (also a pain, sometimes literally) for tall girls.

‘So how tall are you?’ she asks.

‘Five ten… and a half.’CC Image courtesy of steeljam on Flickr

‘I think that’s a perfect height.’

That crucial half inch.

The conversation turns to comparative heights of peers, friends…

‘Yes, I remember when I met my husband,’ she says, ‘and having to reach up to kiss him.’

Do not mention the blog.

‘Ha funny you say that.  I write a dating blog…’

What?!  She works in publishing… and I look after her children.

‘… and I put a post up the other day about a guy finding it weird that we were the same height.’

‘I bet it made a nice change for him!’

‘I don’t know….’

She hands me the cash.  Best end on a cheerful note.

‘My mother once told me I should marry someone shorter than me, or shoe-shopping for the children would be a bitch!’

She looks surprised.  I’d better be going.

CC Image courtesy of mononom on Flickr