There are lots of things I really love about living with Jen:
- She brings home surprise booze and chocolate on a Friday night.
- She humours my increasingly obsessive behaviour with feeding and housing the birds in the garden (and hushed exclamations of “LOOK!!!” every couple of minutes when a tit lands on the window feeder).
- Lazy weekend lie-ins ’til mid-day.
- Doing decorating together (basically giant Lego).
- She organised a surprise Rock Band birthday party for me in the garden under a gazebo, like playing to a really tiny festival and plastic instruments.
- Having my Partner in Crime on hand every day for adventures, My Little Pony and serious high-fives.
However, as the tides ebb and flow and the moon waxes and wanes, so there is also a darker side to living with my girlfriend.
This particular darker side is that she is convinced our house is trying to kill her. Girls are mad.
This manifests itself in a number of ways. Initially it was the belief that the house is maliciously costing her money; the electric shower breaking; the leaking boiler; the doorframe falling apart, the mouse in the kitchen.
It then progressed to an insistence that the house is actively trying to kill her off;
- Trying to freeze her during the snowy weather by euthanising the heating
- Poisoning her by setting the drill battery on fire whilst charging.
- Tripping her up on the gate so she skinned her shin AND cut her face.
- Crushing her toes by moving the landing ladder in the night and making her fall over it.
- Gouging a chunk out of her leg with the stationary Workmate that is propped up against the wall.
The last of these happened earlier today and the first I knew was a banshee cry of “I FUCKING HATE THIS , FUCKING HOUSE!” and a teary Jen looking at a bloody hole in her jeans. To be fair it was a nasty gouge and I would be pretty upset too. Once Dr. Biscuit had cleaned and plastered the wound we had to have a little chat about how the house isn’t really trying to make her life hell, it’s just an unfortunate series of unrelated events.
Once she had calmed down we decided to make banana bread.
10 minutes later the garden hose exploded in her hands, all over the kitchen.
After quite a lot of waffle about woe. I thought I’d lighten the mood a bit with three of my most cringe-worthy dating moments. These might be in order of badness, I haven’t decided yet.
A Holiday camp in France, sometime in the 90s
My first holiday with friends. I was about 13, I went with two friends and their parents. It was really exciting.
We stayed in huge tents and spent all day swimming, buying bangers or pumping coins in to dated arcade machines. It was the first time I’d ever heard Stairway to Heaven. It blew my mind.
My two friends quickly got rather pretty ‘holiday girlfriends’ and spent a lot of time snogging them in the café.
I did not. So to cure this they took me on a tour of the holiday camp, presenting me like a socially awkward horse to all the ladies in vaguely the right age-range to see if any of them would go out with me.
They didn’t. I spent a whole afternoon being peered at from caravans followed by a slow shaking of heads. Just thinking about it still makes me shiver.
Secondary school, first week
We had a sort of trial week where we went to the big school. It was very exciting because it was a BIG SCHOOL with thousands of pupils. I was 11. My previous school had 4 people in my year.
It was a culture shock. I spent the entire time worried that someone would trick me into taking LSD and/or flush my head down the loo.
There was a girl there, she wasn’t actually going to the school but had gone along for a week to be with her friends. I fancied her and wrote her name all over my pencil case.
I wrote her a letter too, after the week. The letter was quite cool but for reasons I don’t quite understand still. I used a stamp on the envelope to make it look like it had lip marks all over it. Huge red lip marks.
This turned it from a private message of affection into something her HUGE brothers found. There was quite a lot of mocking. I was at the same sailing club as her brothers, they were instructors. I got wet.
House party somewhere remote, after being at an awful club
I went to a terrible club near where I grew up. It was the only club in a small town. They showed RUDE VIDEOS in the bar. My DJ partner and I arrived late and sober because we’d been at a gig. This sounds cooler than it is, as far as I remember we’d been DJing in the function room at a golf club.
Some friends of my DJ chum were there, which is why we’d gone to this dive. We chatted for a bit and had a couple of drinks. There was a girl there.
She took a shine to me, I knew this because when we were stuffed into a tiny car going back to her place she kept licking my ear and biting my leather jacket (vintage 70s obviously).
Back at the house she invited me to stay in her bed. I did. Then my DJ chum appeared and jumped in too. Things got awkward, because she didn’t seem to want him to go.
I’ll never know if she was trying to arrange a threesome or not because I spent the rest of the evening and most of the morning shivering in in the kitchen in just my underpants (I’d left my clothes in the room when I stormed off) until her parents reappeared…
After she’d revealed that she’d been on dates while I’d been away and it was my fault we entered a weird state of limbo. Well not quite limbo, I wanted to get back together with her but she didn’t want to get back together with me.
I asked her for another chance, actually, let’s be honest here. I begged her.
I even said that what ever she thought, I wasn’t going to give up on us. I got quite a telling off for that.
Anyway we decided to have two weeks no contact and then meet up for a drink, to talk. (My suggestion).
We lasted a week and then met up in a hotel near work. She did want to get back together with me but was so angry she couldn’t do it. I couldn’t really understand the great evil I had committed but it was too late. She cried a little bit. I drank orange juice.
She also told me off for not sending her flowers during our no-contact period. Apparently I should have realised that ‘no contact to clear our heads’ doesn’t mean don’t send flowers.
We kept meeting up and the format would be the same. We’d chat awkwardly, occasionally making private jokes and then she’d almost suddenly decide that it wasn’t going to work and it would be over.
Change of play
It was at around this time my balls must have grown back or something because somewhere between meeting up for coffee. I suddenly realised she was a bit of a nightmare and began to pity her a bit.
A month or so passed and she suggested we meet-up for coffee. It was the festive season and I was feeling pretty planted. By planted I mean that I have completely an utterly moved on and I couldn’t give a damn what happens to her either way.
Given that I thought it was a pretty low risk activity to meet up for a cofee. I was right and wrong.
The coffee ended up being a drink because it was late. It wasn’t awkward, it was okay, or at least it started that way. We caught up in a slightly stilted way, polite as always. There was quite a lot of needless touching going on by her, far too much. Do you really need to sit on someones lap to show them a magazine?
Then she invited herself back for port and cheese. Again more touching, by her, not by me.
I’d picked up the hint that she had intentions on me, but I was having absolutely none of it.
Eventually it was time for her to leave and she was slightly taken aback when she asked if I wanted her to stay. I said it was up to her, and that I would make up the spare bed. She was shocked.
She was amazed that I didn’t want to sleep with her. The shock lasted a while, then after a short Alan Bennett style bit of dialogue she stormed off into the night.
She was genuinely amazed that I didn’t want to do anything naughty with her, or go out with her again. I suppose pretty girls don’t get that very much.
Anyway, I think the whole affair the The Dress Maker was finally over. It had its moments but it was for the best.
1 – Just because a girl is pretty it doesn’t mean she is a good person.
2 – If going out with someone involves loads of stress, something is wrong.
3 – Anyone who gets FURIOUSLY angry at you if you point is a bit mad.
4 – ‘A drink after work’ is never just a drink after work.
5 – It was time to move on, not just from her but down to London.
So we’d been spotted by the work person and the day lost it’s sparkle. This chap was a bit of a gossip, who had previously asked The Dress Maker out on a date and had been turned down. The look on his face at discovering us together was absolute delight.
I was hungover, she had to go and have her hair done and so we parted ways after coming up with a reasonable excuse as to why we had met for coffee. Like proper spies.
We met up more, a lot more, most nights in fact. We’d have a meal, try to come back to mine and I’d send her away because she had a boyfriend and she’d appear at my door at 1am with a bottle of champagne and try to seduce me.
I was at a pretty stressful job at the time and it would take me a while to wind down after a day at the office. This made DM rather stressed because I wouldn’t be always ready to talk about stuff for a bit. In hindsight it should have been a warning sign. The troubles had begun.
There was some good stuff though. We met up in London and had a lovely weekend of shopping and spending far too much on food, or another time we booked into a hotel for a night just because, well because it was going to be our first naughty time.
I’d refused to do anything even slightly risqué while she had a boyfriend. When he was out of the picture we booked a room in a lovely boutique hotel in a nearby town.
The trip to the hotel was only slightly less sexy than it should have been because I had to file some copy urgently (Editors have a six-sense for when you don’t want to be disturbed) so she was striding around the room in just a towel while I was frowning at a laptop and cursing about the Wifi speed.
We went to lots of restaurants, a few so many times that the owners started to recognise us and offer us special deals. That was pretty cool.
Arguments, all the time, any excuse
We had some to-do, about something silly, and so there was a quiet time. You know when both wants the other to break the silence first. That seemed to happen a lot, we see-sawed between off and on again.
She broke it first because she had got some tickets to see Shakespeare and invited me along. I went. It was spectacularly awkward. Afterwards she invited me in and we ended up talking for hours.
Not fun ‘oh my god I love Thundercats too’ but trying to empathise with each other’s position. I’d talk her around after hours of discussion and then something, always something small would fire her off again and I’d be back in the dog house again.
Looking back at it now I’m amazed at how hard I worked at it all but at the time it seemed very important. (See previous entries where I mention I’m a berk).
One Month apart
Things were patched up and we started seeing each other again, so I didn’t get much sleep (But not in a sexy way, she just liked staying up really, really late and talking about Princess Diana).
I had to go to America on an assignment, so I’d be away for a few weeks. She was going away on holiday so we wouldn’t see each other for a month in total.
The night before she left I went home instead of seeing her, saying I was exhausted. I was, it was dangerous for me to be driving I was that tired. She tried to talk me around but I wouldn’t budge. I was so very tired.
At home I fell asleep in minutes and didn’t wake up until the next day mega early. I had some text messages from her, so called her. She didn’t answer.
Then she sent me a text message to say it was too late and she was at the airport. So we had parted on bad terms. A week or so later, when I was at the airport I called her and we spoke for a little while about her holiday and things. It seemed amicable, almost good. It gave me hope.
We sent each other text messages and emails the whole time I was on assignment. I was travelling around a lot for a story but everywhere I stopped I got her a little present, something silly and thoughtful. I couldn’t wait to see her again, so much that at 3am on the penultimate day I tried moving my flights forward a day. Obviously the next day I realised it wouldn’t work and so had to pay to move them back again. It was a very expensive phone call.
I returned from my trip half-mad with jet lag and we met up for coffee. It was weird and awkward, but she liked the gifts. She’d relax for a moment and then be angry with herself and by extension me for thinking things could work out.
We ended up back at my flat, and then yes, you guessed it suddenly she got angry about something and stormed out. While storming she mentioned that she’d been on a few dates while I’d been away and snogged someone but that was my fault.
Little did I know this was only the beginning of the trouble.
To be continued…
Since going out with someone and being quite happy doesn’t make a good story I thought it would be a good time to revisit some relationship woes. This time the Dressmaker.
I’d just started a new job far away from home and broken up with an actually nice girl for reasons that in hindsight seem a bit wonky. So I was in a town I didn’ t know with no friends nearby. It was quite a lonely time really.
I bumped into a girl at work, quite literally bumped. She was tall with glossy dark hair, high cheekbones and rosy cheeks and very big eyes. We’d collided because we both weren’t paying attention to where we were going.
There were apologises and then we went on our way. Some time passed, I’d see her around the building a few times and we’d share a smile and a hello but nothing more than that.
Then we had to work together on a project. It was fun, she was bright and interesting. The project was successful and we’d email each other occasionally afterwards. Our conversation started to get a little firty, because one day she suddenly she mentioned she had a boyfriend and so I backed off.
More time passed. Yes, I’m a fast mover.
I found out via some people at work that she’d been asking about me. There was a big company culture for office dating. I’d say about 90% of the people there were dating someone they’d met through work. So I had my suspicions about what the questions were about.
She mentioned in an email she was having a tough day and I said wine helps (it does), which ended up becoming a drink after work to bitch about the office. Because that’s what friends do, right?
Just a quick glass of wine
We met up and drank a lot of wine. A lot. We were in a hotel bar because that was the closest thing to a bar nearby. The rest of the places to drink would be charitably called ‘fight pubs’.
We both got very drunk while talking about people at work. Then had a very expensive and very bad meal and then some more booze.
The conversation got a bit hazy. We wanted more booze but the bar was closed. We tried to get more, The Dressmaker was a local celebrity, but she couldn’t get us just one more gin and tonic for the road. ‘Don’t you know who I am’ FAIL.
It was at around this point we kissed. I’m not 100% on how this happened. It got a bit tongue-y. Eventually we left the bar and stumbled out into the cool night air. Actually it wasn’t cool, it was freezing.
Almost instantly a cab appeared. I said she should get in it and go home. She said she didn’t want to.
I insisted because she had boyfriend. I said that I liked her, and because I liked her she should go home. This turned into a monologue about doing the right thing if you really like someone, it was as much for my benefit as for hers.
It was appreciated but had almost exactly the opposite affect to the one I was expecting. She walked, through a war zone (I lived in a really rough area) to visit my flat.
We drank Champagne and talked nonsense and then, at about 4am it was time for bed. I explained that nothing naughty was going to happen because of her situation. She borrowed some clothes off me and I left the room so she could change.
She got a bit angry because I refused to look at her breasts. Like really angry.
She kept trying to break my resolve to do something that would require more than a PG certificate. I refused, again and again. Hoping that in years to come I wouldn’t come to regret this. It might have been the right thing to do, but it wasn’t the most fun.
The next morning, after a light breakfast, we made our way into to town. We had a coffee, and as is the way of these things, were spotted by someone from work.
DUN DUN DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
(To be continued)
Relationships are tricky. They are made harder because popular fiction completely miss-sells what makes a relationship work or what romance really is. I suppose it’s probably because reality often doesn’t make a good story, in the same way speech is rarely good dialogue.
I mention this because I was, until very recently, a complete berk about love.
I thought romance was all about longing and repressed passion, the sort of stuff that would help a vampire, a werewolf and lady shift a lot of books. I’d mistake the sort of sick feeling you get sometimes for what love was. I didn’t understand what love really was. Let’s take a moment to listen to a ballad.
I’m not if popular entertainment can be entirely blamed for this mishap.
My first few relationships as a teenager were fraught with misunderstandings and obviously, lots of standing around wearing just a No Fear T-shirt even if it was cold because that was the only cool thing you owned and if she saw it she would totally hold your hand when you went to the cinema.
But maybe that’s just the nature of teenage relationships. You don’t really know what is going on but you do it with gusto. In the few years after that and for most of my twenties I seemed to be attracted to a rather bad sort. Don’t get me wrong, it was often excellent fun but not really productive.
I assumed that this sort of relationship was the normal. Never knowing what was going on, texts or even girls appearing at all times of the day and being quite stressed about the whole thing.
THIS IS NOT NORMAL
If you find yourself ever fretting over an email to or from them, or if you are stressed a lot, something is wrong. Do not accept this.
I can’t believe it took me 30 something years to realise, but then I am a berk.
Tomorrow: Toast realises that gin isn’t a health tonic.
Many months ago a new computer game came out, called Dead Island. It’s a game where you are a person in the middle of a zombie apocalypse on a lovely tropical island.
You control your person as you struggle to survive against zombies using only the weapons you can find lying around. This means you spend a lot of time hitting zombies with planks or golf clubs.
When the game was announced we (Biscuit, TP, Jen and I) noticed it had four player co-op mode so we could all play together as zombie apocalypse survivors It was aces, and we learned a bit about how we’d act if there was a zombie apocalypse.
Biscuit would spend a lot of time fiddling with weapons, TP would find all the best stuff, I’d spend most of the time driving and Jen would keep running off on her own and getting killed.
The real challenge
A few weeks later I found out about 2.8 hours later. A zombie event being run in London where people would pay to have a zombie adventure as if there had been a real zombie apocalypse. This was too much to resist so we immediately signed up and then got over excited by the prospect of having an apocalypse. Biscuit bought an army uniform and The Theatre Producer even wore trousers.
It was a cool evening when we turned up to be chased by zombies. There was a massive queue to check in and then we were released in groups with specific instructions about no using weapons or touching people and don’t run into traffic. The last point was made a few times.
Vibrating with excitement we went to out first meeting point. A lady with long hair told us ‘it was all going bad’ and that she thought she saw some survivors go to grid reference G11.
The race to survive begins!
What followed was a series of bizarre encounters. We’d meet some some strange person they’d do some acting and tell us where to go next. In between these sequences we’d be chased around the streets of London by zombies. The fast running sort.
Most of them were dressed as doctors, I don’t know why, but they were SCARY. The only thing that made it slightly less scary was random Londoners just standing around looking confused.
One of the best bits was when we had to work our way up an empty car park with zombies chasing us. We had to run to the top of the car park to meet a lady. A car park with packs of zombies running around.
Once we were at the top the lady said she’d only help us if we’d get her some sweets, special sweets that were on the other side of the car park. This caused more zombie dodging and two of our group got eaten.
Surviving is tough
The encounters got more and more tense, in one bit we were trapped in a room with a mad person waving a knife while zombies came out of everywhere, another bit involved a very persistent zombie who chased T.P about half a mile before giving up.
We got chased out of pubs, lurched after by zombie brides and even ran away from a priest. He was going to turn into a zombie so it was okay.
Then there was the final challenge. We needed the location for the final safe zone. A professor had it, but he was surrounded by loads of zombies. Not just any zombies, these were the fastest ones we’d encountered so far and they used tactics. We had a couple of goes at trying to rush past them, but they were too cunning.
One man tried to hide under a car from them but they got him anyway. Then when the zombies were sort of distracted Biscuit made a run for it. He got past one, then another, then a third. He was weaving in and our of cars like a blur. He was going to do it!
Then a zombie appeared from no-where and got him.
We watched as they ate his face off until he was a dead.
It was sad.
Much later at the ‘Zombie Disco’ Biscuit reappeared as a zombie, he seemed quite pleased about the whole thing and Jen didn’t mind and gave him a kiss. We all got quite drunk and then went home.
It was a nice day out.
Silly spontaneous presents are brilliant, whoever they come from. Unless the present is a secret scorpion in your pants drawer or a restraining order.
A great thing about relationships is that you have someone to get silly presents for all the time. They don’t have to be deep and meaningful or expensive to be a good present. They just have to make you grin or cry (in a good way, like when you get a new best gun in Borderlands).
The cool thing about them is that the better you get to know someone, the more the presents relate to a personal joy, secret pleasure or just appease the 5 year old inside.
I recently bought Jen a Lego minifigure. It was sealed in a pack so I didn’t know what I was buying and was in pieces so you couldn’t even stand at the display squishing all the packets to guess what it was. I remembered that I had it in my pocket when we were on the tube so gave it to her.
Disproportionate glee isn’t the phrase to use here! It made me think that I should get her a Lego engagement ring, one with one of those little transparent square one-block micro bricks as a diamond. It would be a lot cheaper but I’m not sure if that’s the sort of area where girls appreciate a quirky gift.
It’s fair to say that she got her money’s worth out of it.
After taking about 3 minutes to open the packet, she then spent about 5 minutes assembling the 6 pieces. Some of this seemed to involve throwing bits of the man on the floor. The figure was one of those soldiers with the massive bearskin hat that guards the queen. The kind that tourists try to get to move.
Eventually, after some gentle coaching on how to fix the gun into both his hands simultaneously the piece was finished and later took pride of place on the bedside table.
Because Jen is awesome, I picked her up yesterday and she said “do you want your present now?”. As I didn’t know there was even a present to be had I said “YES!” through the gritted teeth of excitement, closed my eyes and held out my hands.
On opening I discovered in my hand a packet of mother-loving Star Wars lego!!! YES!
I wanted to play with it then but didn’t think that I had time to put the spaceship together. Jen did say that it wouldn’t take long but I pointed out that a single figure had kept her occupied for about 10 minutes.
In conclusion, Lego is amazing. Girls who buy me Lego are amazing. Girlfriends who buy me surprise Lego are the best girlfriends of all.
Do you reckon that anyone has ever had a Lego themed wedding before?
I’m going to meet The Theatre Producer’s parents this weekend, well basically her whole family. It’s her nephews 2nd birthday party and I have been invited.
This raises the tricky subject of what to wear. I’ve already been told not to dress ‘Too Chelsea’ so I’ve been thinking hard about what would be appropriate. It’s a tough gig to style.
Entirely logically, I thought ‘If I was 2 years old what sort of thing would I like my guests to wear?’
Which is why I chose the outfit pictured, it’s exactly what I’d like people to be wearing if it was my 2nd birthday. Fact.
Sadly it has been vetoed by TP on grounds of ‘first impressions’, apparently turning up as a crocodile/dinosaur might give her mum and dad the wrong idea about me.
Girls are rubbish sometimes.
The problem with writing about dating and relationships, is that when it goes well it doesn’t make very good copy.
I’ve been seeing The Theatre Producer for over three months now and it’s been really good. Good in an easy way, no fretting over what a text message means or why I’ve been invited around for a meal and then not talked to.
It’s not really been like any dating I’ve done before, she hasn’t even tried to stop me seeing my friends.
I’m honestly at a loss about what to write about. I could sum up the last few months with ‘we did some things, it was nice, I ate too much’. That is about it really.
We’ve seen a lot of theatre, cooked a lot of recipes together, drunk a lot and spent whole evenings giggling about utter nonsense. It has been good, which is hard to write about.
Maybe I should just draw pictures of dinosaurs instead.