Writer’s Block

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Beatrice comes back in. ‘You don’t have to leave.’ CC Image courtesy of kuchingboy on Flickr

‘No, it’s fine,’ I say, reaching for my bag. ‘It’s only… I don’t know what to do!’

‘How did you leave it?’

‘He said he’d be in touch today, to arrange where to meet.’

‘Does he know where you are?’

‘I said I had a thing in Old Street til, like, 8.’

‘And you haven’t heard from him all day?’

‘No.’

‘Hmm.’

 

I should have learnt the first time. Or the second time. Or last night, when he rang…

‘So,’ he says, ‘I’ve ordered food for two, just in case.’

I laugh. We’ve been here before. I say no, he asks why, and I say I’d rather meet for the first time ‘not at one of our flats’.

‘So… bye?’ I say.

‘No!’ He steers the conversation in a different direction.

We leave it that the following evening, after my friend’s birthday party, we’ll meet for a drink. Somewhere public, though he does joke that he’ll book the whole place out.

*

Beatrice, one year older and definitely wiser, tells me what only good friends do. That I’m worth more than this. That he knew I was busy til 8 and he still hasn’t been in touch to make a plan. That I shouldn’t contact him.

 

Wednesday night. I’ve just got into bed. My phone buzzes into life. I recognise the number, partly because of our call history, partly because of the number of times I’ve deleted it from my phone. I let it ring out.

When he calls again, I do a quick Google and install the relevant app.

CC Image courtesy of ant.photos on Flickr

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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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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.

CC image courtesy of clarestoker on Flickr

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In Search of Perfection

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CC Image courtesy of Rev Stan on Flickr

‘I’m giving you a cheque,’ my grandmother says, folding the slip of paper, ‘but if there’s anything else you want…’

‘Like a wedding dress,’ my aunt puts in.

I laugh. I don’t know how long my relations have been suppressing the urge to quiz me about my love life but today, finally, they’d cracked.

‘Has your brother got a girlfriend?’ is how it starts – a complete non sequitur to what we’d previously been talking about.

‘No,’ I say, ‘not as far as I know.’

‘He needs a strong woman,’ my aunt says.

I laugh. ‘I doubt he thinks that!’ I take a sip of my drink. ‘What do you think I need?’

‘I don’t know,’ she says slowly, ‘but I suspect you’re looking for perfection.’

‘Why do you think that?!’

‘Well, you can’t even choose a draining rack!’

The draining rack had gone back, hence the cheque.

I laugh. ‘Mmm yeah. But it was too small! There were things wrong with it!’

My aunt doesn’t say anything. I take another sip.

‘So there’s no one…?’

This from my grandmother.

I think of my Saturday dateTall, charming, successful… looks a bit like Tom Hiddleston: I know better than to mention him after just one drink.

‘Hmm no,’ I say, ‘but I’m trying!’

‘Is there anyone at work?’

‘I have some wonderful colleagues, but they all have spouses or long-term girlfriends.’

My relations look almost as disappointed by this as I am, which is saying something.

CC Image courtesy of m-louis on Flickr

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Taste the Difference

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CC Image courtesy of akintsy_photo on Flickr

(Continued from Feelin’ Good)

‘What’s your thing?’ he says. ‘Dancing?’

Only in times of crisis.

‘I’d say… writing.’

‘Like, creative writing? Short stories?’

‘More like… memoir?’

‘Wow. I’ve never met someone our age who’s writing a memoir.’

‘Sorry, no, not memoir, that’s the wrong word. They’re more like… vignettes, of life, about things that have happened to me.’

With a heavy – make that total – bias towards scenes of a romantic nature.

‘How many words are you at?’

‘Oh it’s – it’s not that kind of format. I….’ I think of Todd’s words, take a deep breath and go for it. ‘So I write an anonymous blog.’

‘Why’s it anonymous?’

Yes why IS it anonymous? And why did I feel the need to mention this fact?

‘So I can write what I want.’

‘And, what kind of thing would you write about?’

‘Erm…’

‘Give me an example, of something you’ve written about.’

I think. A wedding, a ballmy four very attractive colleagues.

He goes on, ‘Might you for instance write about this?’

I barely hesitate. ‘Potentially.’

‘That’s all I wanted,’ he says, with a grin.

I laugh. I have no idea what he means.

He makes as if to unfold his jumper.

‘Are you going?’ I say, looking at it.

It occurs to me I might have just done something very very stupid. The sort of thing that would elicit a sigh and an eye roll and a ‘Well, what did you expect to happen?’ from my mother.

But I like this guy. I really like him. And by some perverse logic that makes me want to tell the truth.

He laughs. ‘No.’

 

Half an hour later, we’re outside Sainsbury’s.

‘I don’t know – if you want to do this again? Or you can tell me on WhatsApp,’ he adds quickly.

‘Yes,’ I say, ‘and you let me know too.’

I go to hug him. And there, in the afternoon light, on a busy South London pavement, we kiss.

CC Image courtesy of Harald Link on Flickr

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