One in Three

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CC Image courtesy of papalamour on FlickrClaire calls for a long overdue catch-up.  Well, I call her: free minutes etc.  She asks about the business plan for the blog.

Eventually I stop laughing long enough to say,

‘Well, it’s not going to generate any income in the near future – it’s more of a long-term thing – basically I need a back-up plan.’

‘Hmmm, I see,’ she says.  ‘So it might not take off until you’re, like, 40, and then you might be dead the next day?’

The eternal optimist.

‘Well… to be honest, if I’m still dating at 40, I’ll probably kill myself!’

‘Yeah, well, the blog would be about something else by then, like… married life, or….’

‘Divorce?’ I say.  ‘I could call it ‘One In Three’?’

‘Or ‘Join the Club’?’

I can hear Tom grumbling in the background.  He probably wants his mug back.

CC Image courtesy of The Kozy Shack

La Dolce Vita

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CC Image courtesy of drumminhands on FlickrWe were at university together, the three of us. Tom and I were on the same course. I liked him immediately: his deep-seated realism, his love of taking the mickey – he gave my self-esteem more of a battering in three years than all my tutors put together – and his direct manner. And his belief that anything other than pasta and cheese was pretentious fare.

I ran into him once outside the library.

‘Where you headed to?’ he asked.

‘Food shopping.’

He looked at my bike. ‘That’ll be a long ride.’


The supermarket was just around the corner.

‘Well,’ he said, ‘there isn’t a Fortnums in Oxford. You’ll have to go to – where is it – Pic–?’

‘Fuck off.’

He gave me a lot of stick, and a lot of laughs.


Claire used to drop by my room on the way to see him. She would sing his praises, bemoan the fact that he had a girlfriend back home; or rather we would do these things together, with almost equal enthusiasm. And sometimes Tom would drop by on the way to see Claire and I’d laugh like a schoolgirl at his jokes. But I was never the destination.

In Claire’s eyes, no one came close. But Tom had been with his girlfriend for years. A creature of habit, it seemed unlikely that he would end it. And so, for two years, I listened to Claire wax lyrical about him. She did at one point chat up a refugee on a bus, inspired by one of my bolder romantic gestures, but Tom remained her gold standard.


At the end of second year, it happened. I was cycling along with a friend, and she casually mentioned that Tom and his girlfriend had split up. I stopped in my tracks.

‘Who ended it?’


It didn’t make much difference.

I shrugged. ‘Well, it’s only a matter of time now.’

Over the summer, Tom and Claire hooked up. The first term back it was strange. We spoke occasionally in the dinner queue but otherwise I barely saw them. Then, one night, the microwave on my corridor was broken. I went upstairs to the kitchen opposite Claire’s room. She was there preparing pasta and cheese. We started chatting. Tom came in.

‘What you eating?’

‘Errrr… pasta,’ I said.

‘What you having with it?’

He grabbed the jar. ‘Aubergine pesto. Oooh very fancy.’

We laughed.

CC Image courtesy of Patent and the Pantry on Flickr

Mugging Offence

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Let's hear it for the boys!

DISCLAIMER: Only one of the above is the property of MBE.  It was given to her in a spirit of generosity, and love…

Claire waves the mug in the direction of her boyfriend, who is lying slumped on the sofa.

Tom, do you think we can sell this on Amazon?’

‘Wouldn’t bother.’ 

His eyes barely leave the screen; he’s on good form today.

‘Cos if not… .’

He looks up.

‘… we could give – .’

‘I’ll see what it’s worth.’

He does a quick search, brow furrowed in concentration.

‘Nah, she can have it.’ 

Claire hands me the mug.

‘Ooh thank you!’

It’s a big improvement on my last ‘freebie’, anti-wrinkle cream from a great aunt.

Tom frowns.  I’ll bring it when I next visit.

CC Image courtesy of scoutjacobus on Flickr