The End of the Road?

Some uncomfortable truths

 

You are dying.

In memoriam

In memoriam

I am dying.

Your nearest and dearest are dying.

We are all dying.

Since the day we were born (some might say ‘since the day we were conceived’) we have all started out on our final journey.

For some of us the mortality end-game comes along a lot sooner than for others.

This year – 2016 – has seen a large number of departures from the field of popular culture.

The fields of TV, film, music, literature, and even pop-academia has seen many notable checkouts from this mortal coil.

Yet it is a sad fact that this unfortunate trend will continue in 2017.

When radio and television popularised itself in the 1960s, and drew in to focus the publicly-driven worlds of social and pop culture, the media was programming us (us being the population of the early 21st Century), for an upward, and steeply increasing, bell-curve of widespread, heart-felt losses.

I predict that 2017 will see far more checkouts from the world of popular culture.

And 2018 many more again.

We don’t know when we’re gong to checkout.

But a brush with the checkout desk changes us.

I have been told that I have become more self-centred.

I offer this without comment.

I acknowledge that I have become more emotional, in a ‘heart on my sleeve’ kind of way.

And I now look at things (people, situations, events) in much greater detail than previously.

This isn’t unusual, apparently.

A significant number of heart attack survivors report heightened, post-event, emotional and critical states.

I have no idea what 2017 is going to bring.

There are plans.

But plans are subject to change.

And I can’t share all of the plans here because secret.

But I can say that I plan on being here all through 2017.

And 2018.

And that I plan on being here far, far in to the future.

I have people to love.

And people to annoy.

And fast motorbikes to ride.

And many, many other plans.

So I’m going to be here.

A little emotional around the edges, maybe.

But I’m still going to be inhabiting this mortal coil.

And loving people.

And annoying others.

So yes, as this post started out saying.

Some uncomfortable truths.

Get used to them.

I’ll see you around.

Shifting. Changing. Moving

This time last year, during a big spell of feeling down, I gave myself a stern talking to.

I knew why I was in a sad place, but I couldn’t figure out how to fix things.

The unexpectedly sudden ending of my marriage had affected everything in my normal world, and I had to deal with it by myself.

So, to give myself something to focus on, I set some goals; things I had considered, over the years, but had dismissed.

And I made some new rules; how I was going to live my life, change the way I conducted relationships.

A year on and some of my goals have been realised. A couple are partially attained, but I’m pleased with the completed targets.

But in the last week I have broken one of my relationship rules. Recklessly and enthusiastically thrown my self-imposed security blanket away.

It’s a little scary, putting so much trust in the hands of another, once more.

But it’s what I want. More than anything.

The people closest, count the most

Human nature is a funny thing. We are, by definition, caring, deeply compassionate creatures.

We have the capacity to feel huge amounts of empathy for those involved in tragedies so far away.

Tsunami victims in the far east.

Mass gun crime victims in the US.

So many losses.

So many wasted lives.

Similarly, the annual Remembrance Day service affects a large number of us.

Every year, on Remembrance Day, I shed a tear for friends/former colleagues who are no longer around. I think of them, occasionally, throughout the year, but the poignancy of the Remembrance service somehow magnifies my emotions, and for a few moments I’ll get a bit teary.

However, no matter how caring, no matter how compassionate any of us are, unfortunate events closer to us have a much stronger impact.

This weekend my thoughts are with my friend and former instructor, William, his wife and their children, and my other, dear friend [name withheld]

William was recently admitted to hospital with minor pain. Investigation discovered massive amounts of cancer. He has had more surgery in the last few weeks than most of us will ever experience. He continues to cling on, but the latest surgery was to relieve spinal pressure. This moves his condition to a very critical level. I fear for him. I hope for the best for the family, but things don’t look hopeful. And I am sad for the inevitable.

My friend [name withheld] is going through a less terminal, but equally painful mental and emotional world of pain. The end of her marriage.

I wrote here a very long time ago that the end of a relationship is like a bereavement.

She has two small children, my friend, and a demanding professional life. Yet she has carried her marriage and her children almost single-handedly for years. She is afraid of the future, but the truth is that the future will bring her more freedom, not less. Though it is difficult for her to see the truth, right now. She can only see uncertainty, and the fear of the unknown. And emotional pain.

I sit here and think about these two people; people I know so well, people I call friends, people I love.

And my heart goes out to them and their families.

I wish I could do things for them.

I wish I could help.

Wistfully yours

Because I’m a teenaged emo girl (obv) I’ve been listening to a lot of Paramore.

Actually, my iPod threw out a Paramore track four days ago, and I kind of got sucked in to a big bubble of Paramoreishness.

I don’t know what it is about Hayley’s voice, but she has a sometimes strident, usually hard-edged yet always tender delivery that somehow portrays an air of vulnerability.

And that’s a big package.

So I checked my music library and was astonished to find I have 43 Paramore tracks.

When I worked in London I had an American colleague who was a dedicated Paramore addict.

She would swing in to the office, pale-cheeked, bright and breezy, with her beaming SoCal smile; scarlet-coated, dark hair flowing behind as she powered her way through the morning air, the hissingly tinny sound of Paramore inevitably leaking from her earbuds.

We pick up things, from good friends, and colleagues that we like.

From this former colleague I acquired a taste for Paramore.

Favourites quickly come to the fore, and on this visit, the two tracks that have made a special effort to burrow their way in to my forebrain are ‘The Only Exception’ and ‘All I Wanted’.

Both are good tunes, but each is different in tempo and construction. But the lyrical messages might be related.

The Only Exception‘ gives us this passage:
And I’ve always lived like this
Keeping a comfortable,
distance, and up until now
I’d sworn to myself that I’m content
With loneliness
Because none of it
was ever worth the risk, but…

You, are, the only exception

 

Whilst ‘All I Wanted‘ gives us:
Think of me when you’re out, when you’re out there
I’ll beg you nice from my knees
When the world treats you way too fairly
It’s a shame I’m a dream

All I wanted was you

 

Quite powerful lyrics, especially when aimed at a teenaged, angst-ridden, loved up/love-fucked-over, hormonal audience. Just my demographic, obv.

I don’t know what it is, but the lyrics just resonate inside me.

Anyway, here are the two songs in context. I’ve you’ve never got in to Paramore, give them a try. And if you have got in to them, give these songs a spin anyway.

The Only Exception:

And…

All I Wanted:

¡ǝɔunp ɐ ʇɐɥM

Today, whilst my mind was totes engaged on Higher Things, I put £65-worth of unleaded fuel in to my car.

My car is a diesel.

So not only am I down £65 on the cost of the unleaded fuel, I’m down a similar amount (being the cost of filling up with diesel), and I’m down £125 (being the cost of the mechanic who drained the tank for me).

This was a fucking brilliant day, obv.

Now the thing is, I know where my mind was, during the ‘misfuelling’ (as I have been informed this type of cockup is now called).

My mind was thinking about someone.

So what I need to do, obv, is to try and train my mind to stop thinking about someone (or in fact something, and/or anything).

I think I have two chances of this happening.

Fat and ‘no’.

Oh.

On being in love, and not. On companionship, and not

In my commuting moments (which are really ‘daily hours’ rather than ‘moments’) I spend a lot of time listening to music, and thinking.

In the last couple of months I have done a lot of thinking about relationships.

In general.

And the kind of relationships that we have.

And why we have relationships.

A friend recently told me about a relationship she began with a guy she met via an internet dating website.

The guy was good-looking, physically fit, lucid, had some cash in hand, and, it later turned out, was a bit of a nutter.

Another friend (and yes, most of my friends are female. That’s the way it is, and maybe we should talk about that one day?) recently told me about a first-meeting with a guy, which turned in to a full-blown fuck-fest in the space of 5 hours. And then she dumped him.

Both single women; both looking for ‘something’ in their own way, on their own terms. Or looking for someone who matches their independent criteria.

But what is that ‘something’ they are looking for? And what role is the ‘someone’ to play in the life of each of my friends, if they find him?

When I was in my teens I read a lot of Dick Francis; in one of his novels – I can’t remember which, and that detail isn’t germane – the narrator describes the 40-something protagonist as living alone, but having a ‘girlfriend’ who he doesn’t live with, but occasionally they do live together. For company. And love. And sex.

I remember thinking how odd that would be, that ‘together and yet not’ kind of lifestyle; how peculiar it seemed, to my teenage (and heavily idealistic) eyes.

 

 

Surely, I remember reasoning with myself, if you loved someone you would want to be with them all the time?

 

Live with them?

 

Wouldn’t you?

 

And yet if you burrow below the surface of our ‘married with kids’ society, you will find a strata where people are happy to be single.

You will also find a level where people are not, strictly speaking, single, but they aren’t ‘together 24/7’ either.

I know we’re all different; we have individual values and we make decisions based on our own likes, dislikes, needs and wants.

But that’s the point.

 

No matter how much you might like your male or female companion, what you need or want might not be what they need or want.

 

Other than companionship.

There is an interesting collection of thoughts and memories in today’s Guardian. It is far too easy to dismiss – or minimise – the thoughts of some of the contributors because they are now in advanced years.

But these people were once younger than you are now.

And that’s a thought in itself, eh?

If you’re interested, you can find the Guardian article here. One or two contributions are particularly poignant.

I’m not sure where I sit on the love/relationship/marriage thing, but it is refreshing to see so many honest views.

As I said some time ago, whatever relationship I end up with, I do know that I don’t want marriage.

And I don’t want to live – full time – with my partner.

I’m sorry, but there it is.

Spring is in the air

The UK is currently going through what some people say is an uncharacteristic bout of weather.

But is it?

I can remember Easters where we have had snow and day-time temperatures of 0c.

I can remember Easters where we have had tropical weather and temperatures of +20c.

These facts put the daytime average temperature somewhere in the 10c zone.

Just saying.

I’m still feeling toey.

I have been wondering if it is the weather, the hotter-than-usual, summer-like conditions that have been making me feel like this.

Or is it something else?

Love?

Lust?

Infatuation?

Do we believe in love at first sight?

Or lust at first sight?

Or even infatuation at first sight?

Do we even believe in sight?

Answers please, on a skimpy pair of knickers, to me.

Or is it something more routine?

Is it because of the changing seasons – the cycle of renewal – that I am so… ‘possessed by a foolish and extravagant passion’?

Or am I in love?

Actually, I think I’m in love.

And who can blame me.

Such form, such exquisite beauty, such grace, such wit, charm, humour and intelligence.

Falling in love with these qualities is easy.

Judge for yourself. The qualities are hypnotic.

Alone

Sophie has gone to her parents. Maybe for the weekend, maybe for longer.

Her words, that she needed to spend time alone to sort out her ‘fucked head’, really didn’t sound ironic when she said them, yesterday evening.

And yet no sooner was she heading towards the family who dote on her and love her and will treat her as if everything is all right and who won’t once ask her to consider what she’s doing to me, because she is the centre of their universe, not me, only when she was on her way did it dawn on me that I’m the one who is alone now.

But I’m not the one who needs to sort out his head.

I thought we’d pulled things together; there is no doubt that over the last year we have worked on our marriage and have drawn ourselves even closer to each other than we were before we hit troubled waters.

I thought we were good, that we were strong, that we were comfortable and comforting and, well, that we were a couple.

But yesterday evening, when she came home from work in tears and out of the blue she hit me with those words, my world tilted upside-down for the second time in a year.

So I’m in the house, alone, while she nestles in the bosom of her loving family.

Sleepless in Oxfordshire, for sleep, like a calm head, successfully evaded me all night long.

This hiatus might be for the weekend but I don’t know.

I don’t know what’s in her head.

I don’t know how, within the space of hours, we can go from a platform of love and laughter, conversation, companionship and easy comfort, to her walking out.

And wiping her feet on me, on the way.

Yes, I do feel like a doormat; I feel used and abused.

None of this is of my making.

But I’ve tried – oh God I’ve tried so hard – to deal with this and repair this, I’ve given so much to this relationship, and tried to restore the old qualities that were so brutally torn away.

But now.

Now I’m not sure how much more I can take.

The only thing that’s keeping me going is the horses, but I feel as if the heart has been ripped out of me.

‘Devastated’ doesn’t come close to describe the feeling of abandonment that surrounds me.

I’ll have a pee please Bob (and other random sayings)

Some very random words are flashing through my sleepy head but I can’t go to bed because its not even 8.45 yet!

A gazillion years ago there used to be a television quiz programme on ITV called Blockbusters – hosted by Bob Holness. Yes, I know the Americans also had the same programme, but that’s not the point.

Where the fuck is my fucking coat? Which character delivered that line and in which film? It’s a brilliant line, I love it.

I didn’t really like Blockbusters that much, the questions weren’t exactly challenging; it was the working against the clock factor that made the programme difficult.

Peter: No surprises?
Mark: No surprises.
Peter: Not like the stag night?
Mark: Unlike the stag night.
Peter: Do you admit the Brazilian prostitutes were a mistake?
Mark: I do.
Peter: And it would have been much better if they’d not turned out to be men?
Mark: That is true.

The thing was, with Blockbusters, was that some of the irritatingly smug school-age children had brains *and* a sense of humour. ‘I’ll have a P please Bob always made me smirk’, as did the slightly more risque ‘I’ll have an E please Bob’.

Mikey, DJ interviewer: Wow. Thanks for that, Bill.
Billy Mack: For what?
Mikey, DJ interviewer: Well, for actually giving a real answer to a question. Doesn’t often happen here at “Radio Watford” I can tell you.
Billy Mack: Ask me anything you like, I’ll tell you the truth.
Mikey, DJ interviewer: Uh, best shag you’ve ever had?
Billy Mack: Britney Spears.
Mikey, DJ interviewer: Wow!
Billy Mack: No, only kidding. She was rubbish.

Anyway, you’re probably wondering why your computer is spewing random words at you right now, right? Well the answer is simple. I think I’m suffering from Cabin Fever. Or perhaps it’s a form of electronic Tourette’s Syndrome.

Karen: So what’s this big news, then?
Daisy: [excited] We’ve been given our parts in the nativity play. And I’m the lobster.
Karen: The lobster?
Daisy: Yeah!
Karen: In the nativity play?
Daisy: [beaming] Yeah, *first* lobster.
Karen: There was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus?
Daisy: Duh.

I’ve been alone in the house all day; snowbound. I’ve been hugely productive. And I’ve watched a little television. And snacked. And walked around the block and helped retrieve a neighbour’s van from where he’d successfully wedged it across the road junction. He’s a twunt who can’t drive. Well, he’s also just a twunt.

[Natalie, a secretary, is greeting the Prime Minister]
Natalie: Hello, David. I mean “sir”. Shit, I can’t believe I’ve just said that. And now I’ve gone and said “shit” – twice. I’m so sorry, sir.
Prime Minister: It’s fine, it’s fine. You could’ve said “fuck,” and then we’d have been in real trouble.
Natalie: Thank you, sir. I did have an awful premonition that I was gonna fuck up on the first day. Oh, piss it!

But due to the twunting behaviour of twunts like my twuntish neighbour I was even twunting unable to get up to the stables to see my boys, because these twunts don’t know how to drive in snow and/or icy conditions. Honestly, last night I followed a guy on the same country lane from the stables and he was barely motoring along at 5 – that’s FIVE – mph. Which as anyone can tell you would be a borderline acceptable speed for flat bits, way too fast for downhill bits and completely and totally fucking in- fucking eff- fucking ective – INEFFECTIVE – at getting yon twuntish driver up the numerous hills en route. Actually, his borderline 5mph failed to get him up even just *one* of the hills.

Jamie: [in English] It’s my favourite time of day, driving you.
Aurelia: [in Portuguese] It’s the saddest part of my day, leaving you.

Anyway, I love you. Have I said that lately? I don’t say it often enough, I know. But it’s true. I love you. But don’t worry, I’m sure this Cabin Fever will pass. Who knows, I might even be back to normal tomorrow. Now that is scary!

Thank you. That will be nice. Yes is being my answer. Easy question.

The quotes come from the film Love Actually. I’m feeling very ‘lovey’. Can you tell?