Monday, 22 February 2010

Snake bite and slushes - a love story - part 4

About four months before all of this happened Mr M had bought me a mobile phone – it was one of those Nokia ones that could change its outfits, but I never bought it any new clothes. I thought he was being generous, but in truth I think he bought it to keep tabs on me where ever I was. Unfortunately for him that mobile phone just hastened the demise of our relationship.

Mr Jones and I sent each other text messages constantly. Despite deciding that nothing could happen between us we just couldn’t stand to be apart. We met up to talk in secret at various pubs across Hull. Each time discussing what we should do and getting no where. It was terrifying and exciting all at once. There was always the risk of discovery – and while none of our friends would think it odd to see us chatting – finding us alone in an out-of-the-way watering hole would probably raise a few eye brows.

It was exam time and I tried to concentrate on my revision. My friend Miss Robinson and I spent hours together in the library and the Union café – and in between quizzing each other on the Civil Rights movement we dissected my dilemma over and over again.

We’d been back at uni a week and a half when I realised I could no longer pretend that things with Mr M were working. Sharing a house and a bed with him was absolute torture and I felt so unbelievably guilty. I’d stopped eating, blaming a new year health kick, and was addicted to my Cindy Crawford aerobics dvd – read into that what you will.

On a Wednesday night slap bang in the middle of exams I came downstairs and said to Mr M: “We need to talk”.

I took a deep breath and told him I wasn’t happy. I explained that I didn’t think I loved him anymore, that we wanted different things and that I didn’t think we should be together any longer.

He didn’t understand. I was the girl he was going to marry he said. We were going to be together forever, what was wrong with our relationship? How could I say I didn’t love him anymore?

I tried desperately to explain how I felt, trying so hard not to hurt him anymore than I already had. I ended up just twisting myself into knots. Nothing came out right, he had a reason or an apology for my every excuse and I couldn't make him understand that it wasn't going to work.

In the end I decided that someone else’s words would do a better job of it. So found my copy of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and read him my favourite passage – to me this is what love is and always will be:

Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots are so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion … that’s just being “in love”, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.

In my mind we definitely didn’t have roots, and when I look back now the excitement and the promises of eternal passion were sorely missing too. I didn’t know what else to say. He just sat there and stared at me. Then he stood up, took his keys and left. Slamming the front door in an act to defiance.

I put the book down and called my mum. I filled her in on everything that had gone on hoping for some motherly wisdom. She burst into tears – not helpful - but I don't blame her. She felt guilty for Mr M and worried about that fact that I still had six months left at uni living in the same house as him. She’d told me it was a bad idea for the two of us to live together and now look what had happened.

While she cried I sat there weirdly dry eyes and unmoved. I felt as if I was watching someone else go through this whole thing. I reassured mum that I'd be fine and it would all sort itself out, I hung up and sent a text to Mr Jones.

“I’ve told Mr M that I don’t want to be with him anymore. I had to make a decision regardless of what you end up doing with Miss B. I didn’t say anything about you. Xx”

I think he was a bit shocked that I’d actually done something. But he was lucky – Miss B was at a different university and he didn’t have to see her every single day or sleep in the same bed as her every night. I couldn’t stand it anymore and I knew I didn’t want to be with Mr M.

I wanted desperately to see Mr Jones, but we couldn’t meet without raising suspicion. I felt unsure as to where I stood. Would he end things with Miss B or would I be left single and alone. Part of me was happy that I’d extracted myself from a miserable relationship, part of me felt royally guilty for hurting Mr M, and part of me felt terrified about how I was going to survive living with someone I’d just dumped for the next six months.

If you’re reading this on facebook and have missed the first few “episodes” catch up here

Monday, 15 February 2010

A step too far?

I've become a bit obsessed by what to wear to give birth in lately - if you know me and have had a baby I've probably already asked you what you wore. This is a merely practical consideration you understand and has nothing to do with my being vain. Most people have said that whatever they wore was quickly binned post birth - so when I came across this little gem I felt I had to share it.

I present to you the Little Black Birthing Dress!

Yes you heard right - this has been specifically designed for the fashion conscious woman to give birth in. Can you imagine if I rocked up to Hinchinbrook maternity ward, puffing and panting sporting this little number? I wouldn't be at all surprised if one of the midwives gave me a slap for making a mockery of the whole thing. Plus it costs £59.99 - a lot of money for something you're just going to bin. I'm sure there are footballers wives out there stocking up on them - and in case you want to join them just log onto . I personally will be wearing something from Primark - this seems just the opportunity to lower myself to such depths.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Snake bite and slushes - a love story - part 3

“Did I just see you kiss Mr Jones?”........

“Just a ‘Happy New Year’ peck – nothing to worry about,” the lie slipped off my tongue easily and I was shocked at myself. I gave him a look that dared him to disagree with me and then went back to chatting. Mr M wandered off to get another drink.

Mr Jones joined the group and I managed to whisper. “Mr M saw us kiss – but I told him it was nothing,” he gave me a slightly panicked look as Miss B appeared and whisked him away.

I hardly slept that night and the next day Mr Jones and I acted as if nothing had happened. Mr M and I left at lunchtime and headed back to my parent’s house. Until that night Mr M and I had never shared a room under my parent’s roof. I’d always stayed in my sisters room. But for some reason – known only to themselves – that night Mum and Dad decided that we were responsible enough to cram into my single bed.

I was not amused. Mr M was chuffed. Chuffed that is until I made it quite clear that in my hungover state I had no intention of sharing a single bed and made him up a mattress on my bedroom floor.

I battled my way through the anniversary meal. My head was thumping and my stomach was churning. To him it was just a hangover – but I knew it was guilt, mixed with excitement and a fear of the unknown. As the meal wore on it was slowly dawning on me that the boy sitting opposite me really wasn’t for me. Everything he said irritated me to the very core and it had taken kissing someone else for me to realise that I’d been pretending for a very long time.

The next day I packed him off to get back to his revision and sat alone in my guilt. I had no idea what Mr Jones was thinking. For all I knew he’d just been drunk and thought nothing more of it. And I didn’t know what I wanted either. As much as I found Mr M annoying I certainly didn’t want him to get hurt. And what about Miss B? She was my friend – and I’d kissed her boyfriend.

A week later my Mum dropped me off at Mr Jones' house, he'd offered to drive me back to uni. Miss B was there to wave us off and I felt hideous as I gave her a hug goodbye.

The drive to Hull took about two and a half hours and I talked incessantly the whole way there. I talked about absolutely nothing. I prattled on and on, terrified about what would happen if I shut up for one minute.

Half way through the journey my sister called me. I’d confessed everything to her in minute detail and she wanted to know if I’d brought up the subject yet. “Have you said anything,” she all but bellowed down the phone.

I laughed nervously, glancing at Mr Jones, hoping he hadn't heard her “er no.”

“Well don’t you think you should – you’re running out of time?”

“I’m sure I’ll get round to it” I said – my face turning red. I frantically prayed for a dip in phone signal to cut her off. No such luck. She kept on and I kept making non-descript replies until she finally gave up. Mr Jones gave me a weird look. I resumed prattling.

We reached Hull and I offered to buy Mr Jones a curry to thank him for driving me back. We ordered a korma and settled down in mine and Mr M’s house to eat it.

The phone rang. It was Mr M. “Just checking you got there safely.”

“Yep all good thanks.”

“Is Mr Jones still there?”

“Yeah we’re just having a curry and then we might pop out – it’s the Hair’s birthday” (Note – the Hair is a nickname for our friend Rich).

“Oh right – well have fun.”

“Will do.”

We finished eating and started washing up. “So we got busted on New Year’s then,” said Mr Jones. And the conversation began. We were interrupted twice more by phone calls from Mr M – “just checking I was ok” and “wanting to hear my voice”. But in between calls we talked until late never making it to the Hair’s birthday drinks.

We both agreed that we didn’t want anyone to get hurt, we both admitted that we liked one another, but felt that it was too complicated for anything to happen. We both knew we weren’t happy in our relationships – but we didn’t want to use each other as an excuse to leave.

We sat on my sofa with our arms around each other, my head on Mr Jones’ chest, in silence for a long time. To me it felt right. Then Mr Jones left. And that was to be the end of it....

Monday, 8 February 2010

Snake bite and slushes - a love story - part 2

I spent the summer of the year 2000 doing a women’s writing course at UCLA. I’d been dreaming about it for years and for some reason had imagined eight weeks of classes under trees, protest rallies and poetry recitals in beatnik coffee houses. This is what happens when you watch too many student films set in the 1960s America. The reality was more air conditioned classrooms and Starbucks – the lack of romance was palpable.

Mixed in with my disappointment was a hefty dose of homesickness. I sent lengthy, tearful missives to my Mum and Mr M on a daily basis. Mr M wrote me handwritten letters and in my mind (we’ve already seen how reliable my imagination is) he became my chivalrous, blonde haired saviour. I dreamt of getting home and back into his loving, supportive arms, where I would cruise through my final year of university and skip off into the sunset en route to my surely upcoming wedding to him.

When I landed at Gatwick in early September Mr M was stood there with my parents, a bunch of flowers in hand. He wasn’t at all how I’d remembered him to be. He was all soft around the edges, with that irritating self-deprecating smile and those Labrador like eyes which said “tell me to do something and I’ll do it – right now – just to make you happy.” Hmmm.

I pushed these feelings to the back of my mind and blamed my irritability on jet-lag. Two weeks later and Mr M and I were moving in together – just the two of us – for our final year. I had been warned by my all knowing parents that this was a BIG MISTAKE – but with the self assurance of any 20 year old I knew what was best for me, and living with Mr M – away from the lazy, ungrateful, dirty kitchen floor loving pests that I’d lived with the year before – was the right move.

We played house for three months and the Friday nights in front of Gardener’s World began. I felt guilty for wanting to go out and stayed in weekend, after weekend, telling myself I should be concentrating on my work and that it was my third year and I really should be buckling down.

By Christmas I was starting to get weary of the whole thing. Not that I admitted it – even to myself. I kept telling myself it was a rough patch, that it hadn’t all been a mistake and that my desire to keep as far away from Mr M's family home over the Christmas break was just a yearning for a bit of “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

Three days before Christmas he called me. “Umm about New Year’s Eve,” he said. “I’m not sure I have time to go and stay with Mr Jones and Miss B – I think I should stay in and revise.”

“Are you joking,” I asked – not bothering to hide the incredulity in my voice.

“No I really do think that I need to get on with stuff – I mean we have exams in three weeks and I really want to get good marks.”

“Well I am certainly not staying at home to revise on New Year’s Eve – we’ve got plenty of time. I’m going so it’s up to you if you come or not. I think you’re being ridiculous.”

“Ok then – we’ll go,” he said in a – yes I’ve made the decision and it’s the right one – tone of voice.

So off we went. Mr Jones cooked spaghetti bolognaise, we drank a lot of wine. Mr M and Miss B ate Viennetta due to a mutual hatred of anything lemon flavoured – Mr Jones and I ate Tarte au Citron.

I was so drunk by the end of the meal that by the time we got to the local pub I had to go and be sick. But with the cast iron constitution of a hard living student I washed away the taste of regurgitated spag bol with a vodka lemonade and lime (no slushes were to be had) and we all continued to get steadily drunker.

The pub was rammed and we were all packed around a tiny table. I was sat next to Mr Jones – opposite Miss B and Mr M. We were stuffed in so tightly that there was no light between us and every inch of our sides were touching.

I don’t remember what we talked about and nor do I remember how Mr Jones and I came to be holding hands under the table. What I do remember is the tingly thrill of feeling his fingers intertwined with mine and my brain fuzzily registering that something about it felt so right – despite the fact that is was oh so clearly very wrong.

We sat like that for most of the night – until midnight drew close and we all stuck on our coats and headed out into the chilly town square. The clock struck twelve and we all hugged and kissed, wishing each other Happy New Year. I squeezed Mr Jones tight and gave Mr M a quick peck on the lips.

A big group of us started the long walk back to Miss B’s house where the party was to continue. Down a dark alleyway Mr Jones decided he could deny his urge to pee no longer (oh the romance of this tale) and for some reason I was lagging behind everyone else and walking alone.

Mr Jones jogged to catch up with me and linked his arm through mine. We gazed at each other blurrily and before I knew what was happening we kissed. Not a long and passionate kiss, but a kiss with intention, not the sort of kiss that happens between people who are just friends. It was a kiss that sent shivers down my spine, set my heart racing and left me wanting more. We turned and kept walking – not saying a word.

Back at the house the party was in full swing. I found a spot on the floor and started to chat with people I didn’t know. Mr M sunk down next to me. I smiled as I turned to face him. “Did I just see you kiss Mr Jones?”

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Snake bite and slushes - a love story - part 1

Mr Jones and I have been together for nine years this week and it occurred to me that in all the wedding planning and baby making news I’ve never told you the tale of how we came to be together. Of course some of you know all about it – because you were there – but most of you don’t. And even those of you who think you know it all probably don’t – because it’s a pretty complicated story full of friendship, betrayal and a whole lot of twenty-something angst, washed down with rose, snakebite and lime vodka slush. It might take me some weeks to get through it all – but I think it’s worth it in the end and I’ll have fun reminiscing even if you don’t have fun reading.

Let’s start at the very beginning. It wasn’t love at first sight. In fact I don’t actually remember meeting Mr Jones. Rumour has it that it was in the first few weeks at university in Hull – when you meet so many people it’s a complete surprise that you actually remember any of them.

Our first meeting was, reportedly, in a grungy pub called the Railway just down the road from our antiquated halls of residence. The regulars were a mix of local stalwarts and fresh faced students lured in by quiz nights and a cheap pint. On the night in question someone tried to down a yard of ale and was violently sick – you get the picture. There was a big group of us all together doing the quiz – boys and girls – but I don’t remember Mr Jones.

In fact I have no direct memory of when he entered my consciousness – he must have just filtered in, slowly and gently in his unpretentious way. I was going out with someone else at a time – well I say going out – but it could hardly be called going out – he lived in Hamburg and I was in Hull.

No, Mr Jones was just there – one of a group of boys that my friend Miss McMahon (now Mrs Williams) and I became rather attached to. Mr Jones had a girlfriend – we’ll call her Miss B, who visited from time to time and I said goodbye to the boyfriend in Germany and gave in to the attentions of someone new – we’ll call him Mr M.

At the time all it took to win me over was some champagne and red roses – I was fickle. I thought the fact that he knew my timetable off by heart and would pop up to see me in between lectures was sweet and I enjoyed the attention. With hindsight I start to feel the claustrophobia I felt two years later, when we split up, straight away.

It was never going to work. Mr M was too happy to please me – he agreed with everything I said and did everything I asked. When we went shopping he followed me around carrying my bags. I won every argument. It might sound great but that relationship made me arrogant – I was never put in my place. It made me mean – I used to pick a fight just to try to get a rise out of him. And it made me miserable –what 20 year old wants to spend their Friday night in playing house and watching Gardener’s World when she could be out with her friends?

For those two years Mr Jones and I were just friends. We shared a house together, argued about the heating and the state of the kitchen floor (I say argued – but what I mean is I got cross and everyone else laughed and shrugged and ignored my carefully drawn up cleaning rota). We went on double dates, we flirted (harmlessly) and on rare nights when the two of us were without our partners and tipsy on Snake Bite (Mr Jones) and Lime Vodka Slush (me) we discussed the shortcomings of our relationships.

I always had a good time when I was with Mr Jones. We shared a sarcastic sense of humour and spent our time tearing each other down. Miss B and Mr M hated Chinese and Indian – so they shared chips while we ate curry.

But never in all this did I think about Mr Jones being anything more than a friend – except in my dreams - literally. In the first semester in my first year I had a dream. I can still remember it vividly. I was running down corridor after corridor, the wind catching my hair and my skirt (odd because I never wore anything other than jeans) clinging to my legs as I ran. I was being pursued and was trying desperately to get away from Mr Jones who was trying to stop me with a fateful kiss. I woke up feeling bemused, but with a smile on my face. It wasn’t until New Years Eve 2000 that that kiss became a reality.

Monday, 1 February 2010

More photo opps

On Thursday I picked up a phone message that went something like this:

"Hello Mrs Jones, please could you call [hospital phone number] and ask for Jo or Kay - we need to speak to you urgently about an appointment."

In a panic, (why do they need to speak to me? what appointment? what's wrong with me? what's wrong with the baby? am I having twins after all? am I actually pregnant...) I called them right back and spoke to Jo. "Thanks for calling me back so fast!" says she.

"What pregnant woman (with an over blown case of hypochondria) in her right mind wouldn't call you back instantly given a message like that" thinks I.

"Now stop me if you've heard all this before...." says Jo.

The panic subsided - yes I am still pregnant, no I'm not having twins and there's nothing terribly wrong. However, for a few years I have had an underactive thyroid (which makes you tired and fat if it's not controlled properly). Because of this I am under a consultant throughout my pregnancy and have to have regular blood tests. For a hypochondiac like me this is a heavenly situation. My health fears are being constantly indulged, by specialists no less, and I get to go to regular appointments and have people give me frequent professional health check-ups - bliss.

Anyway - it turns out that my thyroxine levels are rather on the low side and the consultant is concerned that the baby may not be getting all it needs. If it is getting enough then I might be going without. This could raise our risk of pre-eclamsia and other pregnancy nasties. So I now have to go for even more appointments and blood tests and growth scans at 28, 32 and 36 weeks to check that the baby is coming along as it should. It's a bit of a worry, but at least we'll get to see Baby Jones three more time before he/she is born - hopefully next time there'll be a bit more posing for a the camera.
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