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88. Putting the kids to bed

I like dating older people. Back when I dated men, my boyfriends were often older than me by 4, 5, 6, sometimes 7 years.  It’s not that they were better, more that they knew themselves better. They had experience. They knew what they liked and what they didn’t and sometimes they could see things I couldn’t – a mental or intellectual spark hovering between us like a firefly.

They also didn’t mess about. They were frank about their feelings: I like you, I love you, let’s live together. There was rarely any drama or bullshit or games with older men because mostly they had no time for it. Being with an older man was like stepping off a merry-go-round and feeling the world slowly right itself.

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87. Watch out for the stingers!

Two days after our third date I text the Francophile asking when she’s free. I’m planning to take her to the darkest, booziest, filthiest bar I know, where the seats are so tiny she’ll practically have to sit in my lap. It’s always rammed full of couples with hard liquor and hard ons. If we don’t kiss there we’re not kissing anywhere.

Sadly, I never get the chance. After my text I wait an excruciating day and a half for her to reply that she doesn’t “know how [I] feel” but if we meet again it would only be “as friends.” “Again, I don’t know how you’re feeling but I thought I’d be upfront.”

How am I feeling? Angry, frustrated, hurt, fed up, fucked off and furious.

It’s not that she’s not interested. After all, there are lots of reasons why someone might change their mind. Maybe she’s dating someone else and it got serious. Maybe she’s not over her ex. Maybe she doesn’t know how I feel and so she’s mounting a pre-emptive strike. Maybe she just wasn’t that impressed the last time we met.

The problem is she asked me to meet up again after our last date. She gave me the impression she liked me and then changed her mind in 48 hours. Yeah but no but yeah but no mais oui mais non. Then she didn’t have the decency to let me down gently but waited for me to text her first. Then she kept me hanging for nearly 2 days to get back to me. If that’s her being ‘upfront’ I’d love to see her being coy – dumping you at the altar, perhaps?

I meet up with friends a few days later, still fuming, and fill them in on the non-kiss.

“Wait…you didn’t kiss her in the cinema. It’s a cinema! It’s the easiest place in the world to get off with someone!”

“No it bloody isn’t. What am I meant to do? Randomly start touching her up? #metoo exists for a reason, you know.”

“No, you put your arm around her. Or let your arm gently brush up against hers.”

“Firstly, I’m not putting my arm around her because I’m not some creepy lothario from the seventies. Secondly, why do I have to be the one to make a move?

“Maybe if she doesn’t have a lot of experience she’s afraid to.”

“I’m afraid to. I’m deathly afraid. We’re all afraid. Dating is like being repeatedly jabbed in the tits with a cheese knife. But if you want to date women you cannot expect the dynamic to be the same as with a man. You cannot rely on the other person to take the lead. If we all thought like that we’d be waiting forever.”

“True,” she sighs.

I’ll never know what really happened but my instincts tell me if we’d kissed this story could have had a very different ending. Maybe not the happy ending, but a happier one. I wish one of us had found the courage to do something. I wish I’d fought through my insecurities and been upfront about liking her. I wish she hadn’t hurt my feelings by asking to see me and then changing her mind with no explanation. I wish I’d taken her to the filthy bar on day one.

Oh well, if you think like that you’ll wish your life away.

Merci pour rien, Francophile.

I’ll be posting a new blog every 2 weeks from now on. The next blog will be published on Tuesday 9 October.

Photo by James & Carol Lee on Unsplash

86. I’ll see you – and raise you a kiss

It’s funny how much scarier it feels to like someone when you’re older.

When you’re young, liking someone is so easy. It’s a walk in the park or a sigh through the cherry blossoms. It’s not just keeping your heart open, ready and willing but actively thrusting it at people with glee – shoving it through letterboxes or chucking it at heads across a classroom. It’s scribbling someone’s name all over your textbook and dreams, not caring if you’ve accidentally grabbed the permanent marker. You’ve never been hurt, after all – what’s to say this isn’t permanent?

But as you grow up you grow wary. You start scribbling names in washable ink, then pencil, then you stop writing them down all together. You weather so many cuts and bruises the chip on your shoulder gets bigger and bigger until your arm’s dangling from the socket on a couple of shaky tendons. You think twice about falling for someone in case you belly flop and make a fool of yourself.

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85. True like

I like someone.

I met her a few weeks ago on a dating app but I didn’t get excited then because I know how fickle these apps can be: here today, gone tomorrow – or tonight or this afternoon or sometimes even by mid-morning before you’ve had a chance to open the hobnobs. That’s the worst. Please, let me eat my hobnob before you reject me.

But she persevered and I persevered and a few days later I’m having a glass of wine with her in the bar of a five star hotel. It’s her choice and a good one. The room is beautiful, all done up in grandeur like an old royal, but sexy too, like she’s got her stockings on show. There’s also something seductive about being in a hotel, as if at any moment we could finish our drinks and slip into a four-poster upstairs.

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84. Compromisery

When do you know it’s time to go? When do you decide that this job or this partner or this home or this country or this version of life isn’t for you anymore? When do you say – enough? I have a low threshold for misery. I will walk away from a job or a relationship or a friendship that’s making me unhappy. No. Scrap that. I will run away. I won’t just throw in the towel, I’ll throw in the kettle and the 3-piece bathroom suite and the keys to the Ford Escort and the pension and I’ll leg it screaming blue bloody murder.

But I’m not like most people. Most people are patient. Most people are triers. Most people work at things. They don’t give up or give in. They give it time. They give a shit. They cut their life some slack. Is that better? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe sometimes.

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82. Love letter II

The other night I saw two women having a drink. They were sat outside at a picnic table, with fairy lights hanging from the trees above them. One of them – the one I could see – had a smile so broad I thought her cheeks would crack. Later they shared a kiss – one, two, five, a dozen – before slipping out hand in hand.

I saw this and I was so envious. Not about the kiss – kisses are easy. It’s the love. I miss loving someone. I’m so full of love it leaks out of my toes and my ears. What a waste, to see it swilling down the drain like dirty bathwater. Seeing women together makes me ache and yearn and pine so hard I have to look away, like I’ve seen something terrible.

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