Underwhelmed

You never thought that I would write that, eh?

My state of being seems to be constantly overwhelmed although I do an amazing job of ploughing through it 90% of the time.

So why the title? Allow me to explain.

Today is the three year anniversary of my dad’s death. It’s a weird one, because I actually count yesterday too. On the 6th June 2018 we made the decision to end my dad’s suffering and take him off the respirator which was prolonging his life. He was tired, bruised and had suffered for two weeks in attempt to pull through. He was staying alive for us. Fighting, but ultimately losing.

That day we said our goodbyes. And then my sisters and I stayed with him all night, watching him fall unconscious, singing to him, talking to him, loving him the best we could at his bedside. So although he died at 1am on 7th June, we lost him on the 6th.

My eyes are stinging as I write this, but there are no real tears. Maxed out antidepressants will do that to a girl. If you remember, a month ago when all the crap with work started I was reluctant to up my dose – defiantly not wanting work to be the thing that put me on max dose. Honestly, I’m still not sure I should have agreed – I’m not the walking zombie I was four years ago. But I have taken them and today I am coping.

The fact is, for the first few years, every significant date seemed like a massive hurdle, a tsunami of emotion. Today, I realise it doesn’t matter what day it is. I miss him every single day. I wish he was here every single day. So the date is irrelevant.

Except of course it isn’t. And I probably will cry at some point. But, I’m not the mess I was last year, or the year before.

And I’m convinced dad sent me a little gift last night. Late at night I received a message from a friend telling my that Wildcard’s borders are finally opening and that at present, the UK are on the list for entry.

You know I believe in the power of coincidences. And for me, at this time, being told that is a gift, a message….

Life changes. It has its ups and its downs. It ebbs and it flows. And you just have to ride the waves, keep your head above water and keep swimming.

Being honest though, the underwhelmed title is less about me and more about Wildcard.

Last night, whilst morosely but stoically remembering the pain of my dad’s passing, I was also filled with an excitement and happiness about the news. (As someone with anxiety and depression, I am a pro at feeling conflicting emotions at once.) I went on to Ryanair to see the flights and allowed myself to reach in to the now no so distant future to when I can fly to Wildcard.

So this morning, I was even more looking forward to speaking to Wildcard. I sat, drinking coffee and attempted to complete a painting I had started of me and my dad. Up until this week, I haven’t had the strength to finish it (thank you antidepressants).

So when he called and we had got the daily ‘good mornings’ and ‘how are yous’ and ‘did you sleep well?’, I waited for the moment…

‘So, do you have any news?’ At this point he is in the car driving to work. He is a little late, as always, and 19 months in, I know the exact moments of his drive to speak and when to wait whilst he manoeuvres out of a junction etc.

He hasn’t mentioned the borders. Maybe he doesn’t know yet?

So I tell him.

“Ah yes, around the 15th I think.”

So he did know. And that was that. No hasty discussion about when I was coming, not even excitement that it won’t be long until we are together.

I was stunned. There was a few moments of silence.

“What baby?” He glanced at me as he drove.

Maybe this isn’t the time. He’s driving, he is late for work. It is my Dad’s anniversary. His friend died yesterday. We are still on amber.

“Nothing, I’m ok.”

And so, today, that is what I will settle for. An underwhelming ‘ok’.

Scent – 15th April, 2020 (daily prompt)

I’m sure there is nothing quite as evocative as scent. Smells take us to far off places and times – instant time travel.


Take cinnamon and orange. For me, this is the smell of Christmas.

Lemon and olive oil, mint, cumin- my travels to Morocco.

Sweet peas, roses, jasmine and honeysuckle- warm summer evenings in the garden.

Chocolate – Easter morning or birthdays eating slabs of sticky chocolate cake.

And there are scents which remind you of people…


Golden Virginia tobacco and soap – my Dad.

Lavender – my nana.

Johnson and Johnson baby products – my children when they were babies.

Lynx Africa – my first kiss with my first childhood crush.

And then there are the smells which simply make a place….


The smell of the sea.

The freshness and earthiness of a forest.

Candyfloss and doughnuts – a fairground.

The smell of chlorine in a swimming pool.

And then there are smells which are just amazing in their own right….


A wood fire on a summer’s evening.

Freshly cut pine.

Bread, just out the oven.

Sweet hay as you feed your horse.

Garlic and onion frying.

The first hit of citrus when you break the skin of an orange.

Tomato plants in a greenhouse.

Herbs when you brush past them… Sage, rosemary, coriander.

Clean sheets on a newly made bed.

The pages of an old book.

Scent… The most evocative of the senses.

Sitting on the bench

I can’t remember if I’ve told you this, but I’ve recently moved into my Dad’s old bedroom.

This is a big thing for me. That room has almost always belonged to my parents. Not long after he died, in a fit of grief, I emptied drawers, washed bedding.. And then left everything in bags in the room. A few weeks later the bed was taken out, and at my daughter’s insistence, became the holding bay for most of my belongings when we decided she would move into my room and I would move into hers (with its single bed) whilst I decorated Dad’s old room for my use.

It has remained a disorganised storage room for four months with the door firmly closed so I didn’t have to deal with it.

As fate would have it, a friend in need is staying with me for a little while, so two weeks ago I got stuck in and I am now in my new room. It’s not decorated and there is still a large box of Dad’s clothes that I can’t part with yet but I moved furnature and cleared out the clothes that Dad hardly wore.

Perhaps it was the right time, maybe it was because I wanted to help a friend, but after the initial struggle to get started on the room as tears steamed down my face, I feel comfortable in the space now.

What I find most striking about the change (I was in my old room for thirteen years) is actually the view from the window. As a child, long before the extension was built when I bought the house off my parents, I slept in the two back bedrooms at various times. Both looked out at the back yard and the outbuildings of the farm.

As an adult, my new bedroom was in the extension and looked out at the fields at the front of the house: the same fields that helped me process my depression each morning as I sat drinking coffee with my cat on my knee.

In my new room, the window looks out over the front garden as it is the old side of the house.

The garden has so many memories for me. Playing in it as a child. Dad showing us the tadpoles and fish in the pond. Helping Dad garden. Dad pointing out the many birds that would visit his hand built bird table. Building snowmen. Dad ill but sitting in the garden in his pyjamas, his daughters fussing around him like a flock of sparrows.

Last spring we worked hard on the garden to make it a nice space for Dad to look at. It had been a long time since he was fit enough to garden and it had become overgrown.

As I look at it now, it looks a little overgrown again but Dad would have loved it. The periwinkle has reestablished itself in the borders. The snowdrops and daffodils have come and gone but tulips and other flowers are dotted around.

Each morning, I wake up and look out of the window. My eyes are always drawn to the bench in the corner of the garden, looking out at the pond, and I wonder every day whether I should replace it for a new one or continue to enjoy the faded paint but prominent memories of Dad.

Today, when I finished work, my sister visited. She told me that she had been to see a Medium who had told her that Dad was always with her. She mentioned many things she could not have known: gestures Dad always made, things he would say and understanding of personalities she didn’t know. As I have written before, there have been many incidents in the past year where I have felt like Dad has been communicating with me, somehow.

So when my sister said that Dad often sits on the bench, I gave a sigh. The bench is staying.

Shame

I’ve lived in this house for nearly all of my 38 years. The house and its grounds have changed a lot over the years and more recently, a housing development has started to creep down this rural road.

For now though, I’m still surrounded by trees and fields and footpaths which criss cross the lands around.

Today when I got home from work I just needed to get out. I ignored the washing and the dishes, the ironing and the vacuuming, the marking and the planning. I changed into my walking shoes, swapped my blazer for a warm fleece and ignoring the fact that my daughter had already walked him, took my dog out for a walk.

It’s what I needed: sunshine, fresh air and birdsong, the exercise to stimulate my body, heart and mind.

I walked a way down my road and then crossed over to what my dad fondly called the ‘cart-track’. It’s a public footpath, indeed the width of a cart or car, but without tarmac. There are two houses down this bumpy track who are truly unspoilt in their views of the countryside.

I have so much history with this track.The track was a favourite walking place for me and my dog when I was sixteen and me and my pony when I was even younger. One of the houses was abandoned and derelict throughout my childhood and Dad relished taking us on a haunted walk there each Halloween. As I walked past it today it was transformed – new plaster and paint on the walls, a garage and a grassy lawn where once brambles and overgrown bushes grew. I realised how long it had been since I had walked down this track. Years and years. Shame on me.

I walked further a saw the grassy layby where I once stopped with my pony, hearing an approaching dirt bike further up the road. The rider turned out to be a boy who was in an older year than me in primary school and I remember how that conversation in the layby lead to a mutual crush.

We carried on walking down the tree lined track, past the entrance to the wood which I walked in with my Dad when I was a child. Now it’s owned by a business who does not permit my entry, so I continued on past the second of the two houses I mentioned earlier.

This detatched grey farmhouse was as austere as I remembered but not as frightening without its pacing and growling dogs being the fences that are still there. I wondered if the same people still lived there, and remembered a brown haired girl on a palomino pony who used to make their dogs bark all those years ago.

Once past the house the trees disappear and open fields stretch on either side of the overgrown path.

We carried on and I remembered the times I would canter down this path imaging I was on an adventure.

It was glorious in the spring sunshine and I could feel my heart swell with contentment.

We carried on until we reached the row of cottages right at the other end of the track. This is where I would always turn round and head back, sneakily casting a glance at the second house for a glimpse of my childhood crush. Today I carried on walking until I came to a fork in the road.

To the right, the track curved round past the houses to lead to a familiar road which would eventually lead to the road I live on. To the left, promoted by a newly positioned wooden sign post was another public footpath, one I had never gone down. Can you believe that? 38 years and this place was on my doorstep.

I walked past another wood, through farmers’ fields, occasionally mystified at the direction of travel but lost of the time intrigued and shamed by this missed opportunity.

Eventually, we arrived at another known cart-track which I used to go down with my Dad to visit his farmer friend who lived down the way. Soon, we were out on to the main road and it was not long before I was turning back into my own road again.

Isn’t it amazing what is on your doorstep and often what you miss in the complications of a hectic working life? So many memories, so many opportunities missed to enjoy this place which is just a walk away.

It reiterated to me so clearly that we must go through our lives with our eyes wide open and allow ourselves to walk a little in this fast-paced modern world. We miss out on so much of we don’t.

A morning smile.

I don’t believe I’m alone in avoiding going to bed.

Daytime usually means I’m occupied somehow: work, housework, family, friends. Of course grief has, and still does, hit me from time to time and I think about Dad a lot. But during the day – certainly during the week – they are usually fleeting heartfelt thoughts.

That’s how I’m coping. I need to carry on.

Nighttime is different. The minute my head hits the pillow and my eyes close, the grief hits me hard. Memories, thoughts, regrets… they play in orchestral fashion, bittersweet and lilting or tumultuous and powerful.

Mornings are similar. I no longer wake up to the stab in the heart as I realise and remember he is gone. But I always wake up thinking about him, somehow.

I know I look tired. I look at myself in the mirror and I see that grief has aged me. I’m tired and pale and I have bags under my eyes. Ah well.

This morning, however, I woke with a smile. A memory of something my Dad did, from a little girl to adulthood… A joke that he replayed with every daughter and every grandchild. It made me smile as it did when he was alive. A memory of him which was vibrant and beautiful. Unforgettable. Something that was uniquely him.

I was told in bereavement counselling that this day would come. That the positive and beautiful memories of my Dad would shine through. The image I’ve had of my Dad, for so long, has been of a tired, sick man. It was good to think of him as he really was: strong and funny.

Smiles are good.

Biscuits and cake

Dad would have been 79 today. Some of you will be thinking ‘that’s a good age’. Compared to some, it absolutely is. Dad lived long enough to see his six children married and meet his eleven grandchildren.

Of course, it’s not long enough for me. I wish no one ill-will but it has crossed my mind on more than one occasion, when looking at other healthy – and admittedly – elderly people, that it’s just not fair. I’m 38 and I have lost my Dad. My youngest son, who is still trying to understand death, said the other day that he misses his grandad. “He gave me biscuits.” My dad would have laughed at that – he often laughed at things my son said and did, even when he was poorly, but it’s sad that that will be the enduring memory my son will have. He’s only four, I know.

Thoughts of my Dad have been all encompassing this week, probably in anticipation for today. I’ve searched through photo albums for pictures of him. I could only find birthday pictures of him from 2015 which was really upsetting until I realised that it was because I had usually made his birthday cake so I would be the one holding it as he blew out the candles.

Dad looks well in the picture. Four years ago, in 2015, he had been diagnosed with cancer but had already had his operation to remove part of his lung. His COPD was being controlled, he was still relatively active and he hadn’t yet been diagnosed with prostrate cancer.

Looking at those birthday photos and then of the last photos I took of him before he died, I’m glad he didn’t reach 79. My Dad was a very poorly, frail man in the end. He was unhappy and frustrated. Part of him gave up and I don’t blame him for that. He had no choice – his body was giving up on him.

Tonight, just as he would have wanted, my sisters were here. We had food and I bought chocolate cake, just like Dad would always ask for. Then in the dark and snow, by torch light, my sisters and I walked to Dad’s garden. This is what we made after Dad’s death and we feel close to him there, in the place where he has lived for over 50 years; on the land he had ploughed and sowed and loved; in the flower garden we planted in love and grief. By torch light we toasted him with champagne. We said Happy Birthday and told him we love him. We cried and laughed at memories of things he always said on his birthday.

I still can’t believe that my Dad is gone. I can’t accept that I won’t see him again – a part of me still thinks that this will all end.

Cherish the ones you love. Appreciate them when they are well. Take lots of photos. Make memories and traditions. Because when they’re gone, this is what they leave behind.

I’m lucky to have had such an amazing Dad for 38 years. I’m lucky to have so many happy memories and treasured traditions from my life with him. This is why I love, and miss, him so much.

Happy Birthday Dad. Xxx

Self esteem

As regular readers will know, and anyone who is on the plumpscious side will understand, being overweight seriously messes with your self esteem.

This obviously creates a myriad of problems and for me, in a cruel irony, makes it even less likely for me to lose weight: I’m an emotional Over-eater, a ‘might as well eat it because I’m disgusting already’ and a ‘well, you’ll never be thin so enjoy yourself’ type of a gal.

People tell me that I’m pretty. I’m not sure I believe them. I can’t see past my huge stomach and flabby thighs so how can they?

There are times when life has surprised me though…

I met my first proper boyfriend when I was 17 and I couldn’t believe it when he asked me out. He was older than me, more attractive than me, more confident than me… Yet, he chose me. (In the end, he turned out to be an absolute plonker that broke my heart then stalked me when I’d had enough of being messed about and refused to take him back… But that’s another story.)

Or in my 20s when I went on holiday with friends and I ended up with the holiday fling that everyone fancied. He chose me. I still can’t believe it now and was completely surprised by it then. Sure, that’s all it ever was and ever would be but he picked me.

My trip to Spain last year. The girls joked about how many men had come on to me… I was pretty surprised myself! I still say that it was because I was single and perhaps more open to if but it was a welcome pick-me-up after months of depression.

And then, Lost Soul. Oh Lost Soul! Undeniably attractive to many women I know, six years younger than me, and yet he was attracted to little old fat me.

I’m telling you this, not because I have a big head – it’s actually one of the smallest parts about me – but because I need to remind myself of this occasionally to drag myself out of my self hatred and misery.

I suppose I never really believe that men find me attractive until they openly ask me out or make a move. Sometimes I think someone may be interested but quickly my self doubt kicks in and I end up believing myself to be imagining it.

Take last week. I went on a residential course with a colleague. We entered the room and the host came over to greet us. As he left, my colleague and I looked at each other and said “wow”. He was gorgeous. I noticed, on the second day, that he seemed to looking at me a lot when he spoke to the room. Of course, I wanted to believe that he was attracted to me but I didn’t believe it. Wishful thinking, I thought. He’s looking at you no more than anyone else.

On our way home, my colleague mentioned that she’d noticed him looking at me a lot. I hadn’t imagined it then. Doesn’t mean anything – nothing happened – but it was reassuring to my battered ego.

Ah and there’s my crush, whom I have written about twice now. He is someone I have met through work but who works for a different agency to me. Oh he is delicious. He makes all my nerve endings zing and I’m so drawn to him when he speaks. God I hope he doesn’t notice that.

And when we do speak, there’s little things that he says and does that make me think… Well, daydream. The possibility, the explanation of things he’s said and done. Nothing explicit, nothing in the open, but enough to make me wonder. Like, giving me his personal number instead of his work number. Telling me I can call him whenever.

Am I reading too much into this? Maybe. Maybe this is how stalkers are created. ☺ There’s just something when we speak and I can’t believe it’s just me… A magnetism between us, somehow. Have you ever experienced that?

Anyway, in the high likelyhood that this is entirely in my imagination, all I can say is that I am really enjoying awakening those thoughts and feelings again. It’s making me remember how it feels to be interested in someone again. I like that feeling. I want to feel it again, and reciprocated. Maybe it’s not too late for me, maybe my weight doesn’t matter to some people, even if it does to me.

Maybe this is the positive jolt I need to start looking after myself again. To find love again. I need to keep reminding myself that I’m not as grotesque as I think I am.

My friend once told me that if she could have any dad, not having had one herself for most of her life, she would choose my dad.

He has been a perfect dad in so many ways.

Teaching us to catch a ball, sat facing each other in the living room: throwing and catching, throwing and catching. Teaching us to ride a bike. Teaching us to swim. Then there are the things he made us. Wooden stilts, swings, a tree house. Beautiful carved models of the things we love. My garden – just the way I planned it.

The animals we (he) cared for… Rabbits, Guinea pigs, horses, dogs.

Experiences… Walking through the woods with his gundog. Making the same dog pull us on a sledge over the snowy ground. The annual walk to the ‘haunted house’ at Halloween. Caravan Holidays. Vegetable picking. Flower picking. Going with him on ‘the round’: helping him as he delivered his produce to greengrocers.

The endless conversations as we have grown up: Dad was always there to listen, advise.

Our handsome, strong, caring… Perfect… father.

How do you cope with losing someone who has been a huge part of your life for 38 years? How do you manage without that person being in your life every day?

What will my days look like? What will happen in the evening when I no longer go to sit with him, listen to him?

You cannot predict how you will grieve. For me, my grief has been a bubbling stream: constantly moving, changing, present. Then a dam burst and I can’t breathe, think… The pain feels like it will tear me in half. Then, numbness… so ice-cold that I don’t feel alive.

Dad’s only been gone five days. I still haven’t accepted it. I go into his living room and it’s like he has just stepped out for a moment. Every night, I pick up his jacket just to smell him… Pretending in my head that I’m hugging him goodnight. Am I losing it? Is this normal?

I’ve found my journal to be a good companion and a comfort. I started it five years ago when Dad was first diagnosed with lung cancer. I’ve written lots of memories; at night, when I couldn’t sleep; at his hospital bed with tears streaming and his hand in mine.

Dad’s funeral is a week tomorrow.

Secret garden

I had an ever-expanding play area as a child. First there was the back yard, flanked on three sides by buildings and walls and on the final by a rustic fence made by dad (everything my dad makes is rustic). The yard was a patchwork of red brick and I remember a time when my mum asked me to try to get the weeds out, that habitually came through the cracks, with a blunt butter knife. It was good for wheels though: ride-on vehicles propelled by young, strong legs; a black and white metal rocking horses that sat lonely in the yards for years after we stopped playing with it; rollerskates and tricycles.

Then, as we grew, the drive became our playarea. We ventured out through the rustic gate of the yard and on to a gravely drive which stretched alongside the back yard, the house and the front garden, and then back down towards the big shed where dad’s farm machinery was kept. The drive was flanked by a long beech hedge that in the future would have a leafy arch to the caravan we had many a happy holiday in. Ivy grew up the wall of our house, and there was also an old English rose bush whose blooms–a delicate, soft pink – had the most amazing fragrance. Towards the front end of the drive, near the front garden and at the end of the house, was a pair of large wooden gates that shut off the drive but never did, and that were perpetually open – unless we were swinging on them.

The remaining overgrown beech hedge, now a tree

At an unknown age, we ventured further out again. At the other side of the beech hedge was a secondary drive for the tractors and a paddock beyond that one day would have our much loved ponies. This secondary drive continued down past a line of sheds and dog pens on the right, and the greenhouse and fields on the left. Eventually it would lead to the fields where Dad grew vegetables, fruit and flowers. We rarely went as far as the fields in our younger years, unless we were with Dad. But this drive, compacted by the wheels of farm machinery, was great for riding a bike down.

The sheds mainly contained chickens and on the other side of these sheds, away from the drive, there were little doors which Dad would open to let them into the secret garden.

We were not allowed in the secret garden for a long time but we could peer through the knot holes in the tall gate and peer in. Enclosed on three sides by sheds and on one by a tall hedge that marked the boundary of our small holding, it seemed a wondrous place to my imaginative mind not least because we were not allowed in it alone for so long.

There were only practical reasons for this of course – Dad didn’t want us to let out the chickens – but to our young minds, this place became a space of wonder and excitement. Maybe this is why, some time later, Dad gave this space to us; the rest of our farm-playarea forgotten.

Of course, as anyone who has kept chickens will know, ‘garden’ isn’t the correct word to describe this place. The ground was compacted earth. There were few flowers, only wild ones that grew in the hedgerow, or the blossoms on the huge pear tree in the corner. In the centre of the garden was an old plum tree whose boughs would weigh down with its bounty of fruit each year. My memory fails me a little here, perhaps from lack of knowledge, but there was some sort of machinery, or huge metal tubes, I’m not sure what, but I know we used to climb on or through them, making them part of an assault course. Dad made us both a swing, my sister and I, one hanging from the bough of the pear tree, another a stand-alone swing made from telegraph poles. We would spend hours on those swings, twisting them and then releasing them so that the world would spin in dizzying excitement or simply swinging with our faces to the blue, blue sky.

These memories came to me this morning as I walked out through my garden, to the area where the chickens now roam. Over the years this property has changed a lot, not least from a small holding to a large garden, a tall line of evergreen trees blocking off what used to be the fields of my childhood and which now house an industrial estate.

Dad and I designed the garden together, and I realised this morning that its design, a series of brick paths leading to various secret gardens and archways are all steeped in the past. Each part of the design came from my happy childhood, not my imagination.

Over the past years with Dad’s declining health, the majority of the garden has overgrown and gone wild; apart from the area adjacent to my home, the extension built on the old gated drive. More recently, my sisters and I have been working hard to clear and tidy this garden, and again I realised the seat of my reluctance to remove the newly uncovered arches and pathways in preference to a large grassed space… Bland in my eyes. Although vastly different to the land of my childhood, each brick pathway and secret nook leads me back to my childhood. And as I fed the chickens this morning, begrudgingly, cursing them as I looked at the bare earth they have scratched, I understood why my sisters love them so much as I love the now uneven paths and overgrown trees. These things are our link to our happy childhoods, a path to our dad who is in hospital again, on his own path towards the end of his life.

Intimacy: part one

I dragged myself out of bed on Saturday. I’d had a good week: another successful camping trip to a beautiful spot in Morecambe Bay:

Waking up to views of sea, sand and mountains is pretty unbeatable.

We came home Friday and that evening I went to the wedding reception of a good friend. It was good to see him happy.

Saturday morning was hellish though. Added to that, I knew that I needed to go to Marks and Spencers to pick up the uniform I had ordered. I hate going to any shop on a Saturday but needs must.

Whilst there, I picked up two bottles of fizz, cards and bottles bags: one for my sister for her good exam results and one for Lost Soul.

I’ve debated this all week. I’ve not heard from him since the beginning of August and our one way talk. He has just completed his degree (as a ‘mature’ student of 30). He once told me that I was instrumental in encouraging him to go to uni. I am proud of him. I wanted to show that.

But, I am fully aware that this could be perceived in so many other ways. I decided that it is what a friend would do and that is what we said we were.

I decided that I would drop it off on the way home and as I had my youngest in the car I would be able to decline an invitation in the house. Job done.

Problem was, I had no pen. A quick detour home was needed…

Those of a romantic nature would call it fate. Others, coincidence. But, yes, his car was parked on my drive.

He hasn’t been to my house since July and that was to see my sister and brother in law who were there at the time. He hasn’t been to my house to see me for about five years.

I was actually shaking as I walked in to the house and through to my dad’s living room where Lost Soul was.

I made him coffee, we all chatted, he was very surprised and pleased with his bubbles and then I went back into my house to put away my shopping.

He soon followed.

He asked if I fancied sharing the wine with him and suggested that he brought his new Xbox round to play like the old times. We had once had an amazing night on the kinect where I have never laughed and sweated so much in my whole life. He brought this up too as a good memory for him.

I agreed but was conscious that I had friends over that evening.

He went home and came back quickly with his Xbox. He made a big fuss of my ten year old son and they played together for most of the afternoon.

I may have had a poker face but I was a pool of madness underneath. I know this was just friendly but the reference to the past and the memory of a time when we had been very intimate threw me. Before long, I suggested to invite my brother in law and nephew – I couldn’t do this alone with him and I figured there was safety in numbers.

In my head I was wondering what I was going to do later when my friends came over. As I had already invited my sisters too, I decided that it was no real problem to have the men there too.

The evening went off well enough. The wine flowed, the take away was good and I can’t pretend that I wasn’t interested in what my friends would think of Lost Soul. In company, he can be quite brash and loud almost and I could see that he wasn’t to the taste of one of my friends. When he left the room she told me he was ‘beneath me’ and I deserved better. She also said she could see we had things in common but didn’t understand why we hadn’t had sex. My best friend declined to comment. I should have realised that wasn’t a good thing.

When my sister and b.i.l decided to leave, I fully expected him to go too – he lives near them and my sister was driving – but he didn’t. He also didn’t leave when my friends left.

Soon it was just me and him.