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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Joking Aside

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

A Single Man

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‘Did you hear?’ Hannah says.  ‘They split up!’CC Image courtesy of Owen Benson Visuals on Flickr

‘What?!’  I’m not proud, but I might have clapped.  ‘No!  Really?  When?!’


‘Blimey.’  I sigh.  ‘I used to fancy him.’

‘So did I.’

I laugh.  ‘I think everyone did, at some point!’  A thought occurs to me.  ‘That explains why he was at dancing the other day….’

‘He was in town?!  He’s never in town!’

This single man of large fortune.

‘He must have been practicing for the ball.’  I laugh.  He must be the most eligible bachelor in town – or not in town!’

‘Yes.  I suppose… he must have a title.’

I smile, remembering a somewhat surreal conversation we’d had on the drive up to Scotland in the summer…


Freddie pauses, finger poised over the dialing pad.

‘If the dad picks up, how do I address him?’

‘By his name?’ I say, a touch sarcastically.

Hannah explains the situation to me.  My knowledge of titles is limited to what I’ve learnt from Jane Austen, Downton Abbey, and a brief training session at work, so I keep quiet.  Freddie and Hannah debate the issue at some length from positions of marginally less ignorance.


‘His father’s a ‘Sir’, right?’ I say.  I think that’s what they’d decided in the car park of the service station.

‘He’s a baronet.’

‘Oh, so… is that different?’

She gives his full title.

‘This is all very Jane Austen!’ I say.

We laugh.

‘So,’ I say, thoughtfully, ‘he’ll be a baronet.’

I’ll take that.


Here We Go Again

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‘How was your week?’

‘Yeah, good – busy!’

Monday, I went on a wonderful date.  Tuesday, I thought about it whilst watching a romantic period drama.  Wednesday, I talked about it to a friend over supper.  Thursday, I went dancing in an effort not to think about it.  Friday, I vowed not to think about it all weekend.

Saturday, I wrote about it.

Sunday, being the day of rest, I spent staring at my phone.

Happy Anniversary!

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‘Quite an achievement!’

First Boyfriend had just observed that we’d been going out for exactly two months. My remark was meant as a reflection on my own dating history (this was my first relationship not involving a man from period drama), but he took it personally.

‘It wasn’t that difficult, was it?’


And I meant it.

At this point he produced a box of Lindt chocolates.

This was the man who would later warn me that life isn’t like a Jane Austen novel.  No, because Lindt wasn’t founded until 1845.

On Sunday, Mad Blogs and Englishmen celebrated its two month anniversary. To mark the occasion, I cracked open a bar of Lindt.

CC Image courtesy of miss604 on Flickr