We Reminisced

jack.jpegI mentioned in a post the other day something that a certain somebody reminded me of. He had been watching a video of my in my Bollywood glory! Well I told him about my memories of him singing in the flat. He sang in the shower. He sang in the kitchen. He sang in the corridor outside my room! He sang such funny songs. Not the songs you would expect him to be singing. It was like a comedy show. Always the life and soul of the party. Always charismatic, energetic and fun.

dad dancing.gifIt was funny, watching him dancing around and singing “We’re up all night to get lucky.” His dancing is just as distinctive as my Dad’s! I have missed the singing and dancing so much!

I have missed him! Tremendously! At first I wasn’t going to say that. But in the end I did. I couldn’t help myself. And it felt good to admit it.

Sometimes over the past few years, I wasn’t sure what I was suffering from the most, the stress of all the awful things that were said about me? the trauma of being attacked? the distress at being removed from my home, my career, my friends? or just being away from a person who had completely captivated me from our first acquaintance and always made me feel excited?

It was really nice to reminisce. There’s not much else to say right now. We’ll have to see.

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So Close To Giving Up (All I Need Is A Word)

cautiousJust a reminder that my 05:58am GMT scheduled posts are mostly republished posts from this time last year. I think I might be confusing some readers. Last summer Goldfinch was living in England (he was here for work). I thought he was upset with me about something…

This tiredness malarkey is hard to beat.  I have slept a lot over the weekend, but I am still exhausted. I am so worried that Goldfinch is not talking to me. He has not replied to any of my texts or voice mails and when I try to ring him, it goes straight to his answering service.

I am not certain but I think it is the weight of this burden on my heart of all that happened between me and my ex-flatmate.  It’s daft, but it is exhausting to relive all those words and looks and thoughts and feelings.

But, I am glad to have found a medium to express these buried memories and emotions, because talking out loud has not been the way to communicate these for me.  For starters, no one is patient enough to let me work through it.  Everyone butts in and asks questions that I cannot answer.  But writing about it all…at least it is all coming out and I am not on my own with these painful memories and emotions (that frankly are not anyone else’s burden, but my own).

woman cryingFor over three years I have been trying to work out what happened and what went wrong and I have narrowed it down to the week I have been relating to you, the week after that cup of tea with my flatmate.  That was key to what happened afterwards.  The following months were agony.  Neither of us were brave enough to sit down and talk again, so the situation became unbearable because we did not communicate, we just hurt each other it seemed.

Then one summer evening after my birthday, I went to a London park on my own, because I did not want to see my ex-flatmate.  It was around 10pm, but it was light when I arrived and there were lots of people around.  I sat on a bench and let myself weep. After a while, a man sat next to me on the bench, and made a few friendly comments.  I became aware of how dark it was and how there was no one else around.

AmbulanceI stood up and said I had better be getting back home. Seconds later, I was on my knees after huge strength pushed me down by the shoulder and I remember with a shudder the words, “You’re not going anywhere.”  I am never going to write a post about what happened between that moment and waking up the next morning in an ambulance – it is not going to happen.  It is something I do not need to relive or write about.

But as I have said before, I am still tormented by everything that happened between my flatmate and I that caused me to go to the park on my own, feeling I could not bear to see him, and deeply grieved that my ex-flatmate still has found no words to communicate to me after that night.

cloudIt is a big grey cloud that hangs over me and sometimes blocks out the sunshine.  Even worse, it has perhaps led me to sabotage my wonderful relationship with my gorgeous Goldfinch who gave me his frank opinion of my ex-flatmate last weekend.

This is what happens with emotional tiredness…you do stupid things that you later regret.  My sister Milly called last night and we chatted.  That made me feel a lot better. Thank goodness for family.

But still, not communicating only causes pain.  I have tried to communicate with my ex-flatmate a handful of times over the last three years, but have not received a word back from him.  Everyone involved says he wants to talk, but is still in shock about what happened to me and does not know what to say.  But I no longer care what he says – the silence is unbearable.

And now, waiting to hear from Goldfinch is unbearable. I love him. I am so worried that I have hurt him or made him angry.

Look…all I can do right now is carry on cooking and freezing meals, clean my kitchen and go to bed.  I don’t have the emotional energy to jump on a train and go and stand in front of either my ex-flatmate or Goldfinch.  I am way way too tired.  I just want to curl up in a little ball and pretend none of this ever happened.

I want my life back, my career back and I want to be back in my room in my flat with Ella and Dean, and any flatmates who are willing to empty bins and not be hostile on a daily basis.

 

Memories…Letting The Happy Ones Dominate

One year ago…I published this post. I was very pleased with it. So here it is again.

(By the way, I did make it back there at the start of June, I needed to)

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I am about to go on holiday for two weeks.  I will be visiting various family members and friends.  I hope to take lots of photos and share them in posts.  Two weeks of pleasure seeking and seeing loved ones – cannot wait!

But before I go, I want to get something out of my system.  It has been looming over me…so I am going to tackle it aggressively!  Well…I mean face it head on without shutting it out of my mind.

The park I went to that night.  It is a beautiful place.  One of my favourite locations in London.  I had been there hundreds of times in the five years I had lived in London.  I want that park to be beautiful in my mind…not a place I associate with a traumatic event.  Since that night, I have been back three times.

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This is where it happened.  There is nothing outstanding about this spot.  But I do remember sitting on one of the benches that night.  This is a photograph taken from the bench I sat on that night.

When I first arrived at around 10.30pm, it was still fairly light.  There were people walking their dogs, there were joggers, there were teenagers sitting on the grass listening to music and chatting.  There were people sitting on other benches nearby.

Lackford Lakes June 2010

As I sat there, I became engrossed with my own thoughts.  I remember tears rolling down my face because I did not know what to do about my ex-flatmate who seemed to be sucking all of the life and joy out of me.  I did not notice that all of the sunlight had vanished and I was sitting in the dark.  I did not notice that there were no more dog-walkers, no more joggers and no more teenagers listening to music.

I remember a man sitting next to me.  I remember a lot of other things which I am choosing not to write about because I don’t see why those details would be remotely helpful to anyone else.  What he did does not pain me anymore.  It is the situation with my ex-flatmate that pains me still.

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The first time I visited this location after that night, I remembered something else.  The trees in this part of the park – they are brilliantly easy trees to climb.  I had been at this precise location a few weeks earlier with a friend and her sons.  We had been teaching the boys how to climb trees.  So much fun.

It was ever so helpful to remember that.  Such a beautiful park, I want the happy memories to be the ones that dominate.

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When I first moved to London I bumped into a friend from Wiltshire who just happened to be visiting one of my neighbours.  She wanted to go out for a coffee and a chat.  It was a beautiful sunny day.  I still did not know the area very well.  But my neighbour took us to this park.  There is a house, part of which is now a café.  We sat outside in the sunshine, before having a wander around the park.  I fell in love with the park that afternoon.  I would frequently visit over the next five years.

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It is very helpful to remember that.  This beautiful park, full of happy memories I have shared with friends.  I have taken many friends who were visiting me to the park and we have had long walks followed by coffee and cake in the café.  I want those to be the memories that dominate.

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These are the ponds where people can swim.  I had always wanted to go for a swim in these wild ponds, but I was a bit nervous of going alone.  A few days before I was attacked, a group of us came down to this park to do our keep fit class.  One of the regulars was moving abroad to get married and he wanted to have a special class as it was his last week with us.  Everyone used to call the class “fat-camp”.  I was too vain to call it that, so I called it “boot-camp”.  It was lots of running and exercises designed to train the parts of our body we did not even know were there.  Anyone was made welcome, but if you loved pushing yourself you would exult in the class.  We normally met once a week near to where we worked so we could go straight from work.

However, a few days before I was the victim of a crime, we drove up to this park and started running.  We ran together down to the ponds and then went for a swim. Afterwards we ran back up to a grassy area near to where the cars where and followed the instructions of the guy who took the class – stomach crunches, leap-frogging, press-ups etc.  Then we nipped into the pub for a beer before heading home.

© www.wildswimming.co.uk

I remember loving every moment of that night.  It was perfect.  Perfect in every way.  The delightful summery evening, the friends I was with, the exhilaration of running and swimming at a beautiful location, ending the evening with a laugh and a few tears as we said goodbye to our lovely friend before he moved.

It is very helpful to remember that.  This beautiful park, the location for some of my happiest hours doing what I loved with people that I loved.  I want all of those memories to dominate.

So there it is…this has really helped to get this out of my system.  This is the park where it happened.  A tiny blip in an otherwise wonderful treasure chest of happy memories of one of my favourite places in London.

happy memories

 

It Will Be All Over Soon

traumaI mentioned a few weeks ago that this time of year seems to trigger more flashbacks. I have also had some strange dreams about what happened that night. But I have found this year, the biggest effect that these flashbacks etc have had is on my concentration on tasks at work and at home.

People have been telling me things…and their words have gone in through one ear and straight out of the other without registering at all in between. I am forgetting silly little things. I am forgetting how to do things I do regularly and routinely. I am easily confused and sometimes feel lost. I am waking up frequently with the sensation of “where am I?”

memories.jpgThe bruises still hurt. I have felt very unsettled recently, and easily panicked. Lots of things make me shaky, nervous, as if someone is going to attack me either verbally or physically. This coming week is the week. Four years ago this week it all happened. It was as if a monster – and I don’t mean either Jack or the man who attacked me – launched an intense assault at me, and decided to pick up my life and break it into pieces.

enemies.jpgWhat happened to me on the Heath is not Jack’s fault. But for weeks leading up to that night, close friends kept on telling me to try to ride things out and not rock the boat. If I complained about Jack, he would win and I would lose. He had a way of making it look as if this was all my fault, or all in my head. He was so sure of himself, so frustrated with me.

cruel.jpgBut it is not normal to be called a tramp, a slut, and other names by both people you know and strangers. It is not normal to be the subject of false rumours and insults that spread like wildfire, especially because of Jack and all of his fans being obsessed with social media. My being upset about that was entirely normal and natural. Maybe it was no big deal to Jack, but I wanted it to stop. It might not sound a big deal as I am describing it…but it was the intensity – thousands of unsavoury or slanderous comments over that period wore away at my inner core and left me crumbly. I remember being told again and again – Jack is more important than you are. That was not my reason for not complaining about him. My reason was simply that I loved him and I did not want him to suffer any reproach.

angry.pngBut the look of hatred in his eyes whenever he saw me. It made me feel sick. I was keeping quiet for his sake. And the look of hatred in his eyes haunts me. I have said this before…it has been easier for me to overcome the trauma of what happened the night I was attacked, than the intense stress in connection with the situation with Jack. But it’s the memories of what happened that night, the anger and outrage, that make my mind jump to all the repressed emotions during those years of Jack playing games with me.

best boy in the world.jpgLater this week, you may notice that I am re-posting some of the posts I wrote last year, because I couldn’t face churning up my emotions again by writing fresh pieces.  Anyway…I can’t wait for this week to be over really. The last few years it has always been a relief when the intensity of the memories start to fade. I am so glad that this year I am with Goldfinch during the “anniversary” of that night on the Heath. I love Goldfinch to bits…and it is amazing to me how much of a difference it makes to feel safe and secure with someone.

 

Wormholes In My Mind

brain.jpgI mentioned the other day that this time of year I seem to be plagued with powerful memories and flashbacks. The human brain – a mystery and yet hailed as the most remarkable thing yet discovered in the universe. Mine had a bit of a shaking – quite literally – when I received head injuries on the night I was the victim of a crime.

This is the fourth summer I am finding that the weather, the grass, trees, noises of animals, darkness, benches…all sorts of daft things seem to be triggers – thoughts go racing through the wormholes of my mind and take me back to an awful event in my life.

Sigh. It is tiring, very tiring. And I feel unreasonable fears. I can’t specify what I am frightened of…it’s more a recurrence of the dread I felt that night when I realized what was happening.

Most of the time I am fine, everything is fine, and the trauma of what happened does not effect me too much. But these flashbacks make me feel just a tad crazy at times. It really stretches me. I should not have to put this much effort into taming my mind. But my mind is wild and raw right now.

Which reminds me…I was singing a song to myself the other day which I have not heard for ages! But it is definitely worth a spin! I remember one of my friends giving me an Eternal album as a gift. I was not a huge fan of them myself, but I loved that album. Here is the odd thing about memory…I know a school friend gave me that album, but I don’t know who. I remember primary school clearly, high school is a vague recollection.

When I received my head injuries, it did effect my memory. My family and friends have noticed more than I have. But every now and then I have identified that there are missing memories – periods in my life where I just cannot remember people. I can remember some things, but cannot connect them to a bigger picture – I hope that makes sense. Maybe it is all there…somewhere through the wormholes of my mind.

Anyway…this was one of the songs that I liked from that Eternal album…there were some other great tracks – perhaps I will use them in future posts. If my memory does not fail me!

Food For The Brain

Food For The Brain

  • Blueberries
  • Avacadoes
  • Dark chocolate
  • Green tea
  • Apples

Apparently these are the top five foods for the brain… well, this is what Dad keeps telling me over and over again.

I am having all of them…..except I am really not in the mood for apples.

I love fresh, juicy, crisp apples in the summer.  But this time of year the only way I can get my head round apples is in a crumble.  I have to admit, I am super-duper fussy with my apple crumble.  I mean I would always be polite when someone with a proud grin sets before me their prized apple crumble.

But in reality…..I only like it my way!!!!!!!!!

Apples sweet cinnamon perhaps some sultanas thrown in.  And then a huge deep layer of crumble.  Crumble being the main event.  Sometimes oats thrown in or some brown sugar to give a bit of a crunch.

Then thick custard.  Hot or cold I don’t mind which. For extra indulgence a caramel sauce. But I respect apple crumble tastes differ.

When I lived in the countryside I was forever coming home to find a kind friend or neighbour had left a box of apples from their trees on my doorstep.  So I made a lot of crumble each autumn and had a lot of friends round on cold evenings for hot toddies and crumble.  Some had the same preference for crumble over fruit as me and my youngest sister.  But other friends complained vehemently “where is the fruit?”

Actually……I really wished I had perfected a blackberry crumble.  I used to use blackberries in an oatmeal cakey scone recipe.  It was yum but very tricky to make.

But the yummiest has to be cherries…..but in a pie.

This is just fruit.

Don’t get me started on pecan pie, banana bread, bakewell tart, carrot cake, choco cheesecakes, black forest roulades, melting choco puds with butterscotch sauce……I am hungry.

I am remembering all the dinner parties I threw in the past.  I miss that.  Living in a tiny bedsit in London means no huge dinner parties.  Although, I have squeezed up to twelve friends in…most had to sit on the floor…it was rather cosy!  One of the guys knocked a glass of red wine all over my white curtains.  I have been happy here….but now I am thinking of all the things I miss.  Memories are dominating me and devouring my contentment.

Maybe I am eating too many blueberries, my memory seems to be sharper than ever.  Perhaps I have had too much food for the brain.  Need to switch off for a bit.

The GateHouse Pub

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I love Sarah’s prompt for this week, but I don’t think I can give an authoritative answer to this one. I will tell you about one pub where I have some special memories I cling to though.

Where I am living now there are pubs a-plenty, and lots of restaurants. This area is very popular with tourists and visitors. Most of the pubs are owned by Youngs – a pub restaurant company with quite an empire up and down the country. I don’t know which is the best. I have visited most of them with friends, but I have not adopted any of them as my pub of preference.

The thing about a pub is…it’s not just the food, it’s not just the staff, it’s not just about the comfort and seating, it’s not just about the music they play, it’s not just the other people at the pub…it’s all of the above that create an atmosphere that makes you feel relaxed and forget all your troubles.

In the town I grew up, all of the local pubs were a bit too rough and ready for me to go anywhere near them! But I have travelled a lot within the UK, and I discovered country pubs when local volunteers took us for a drink after a long day on a construction site or a large public event. They took us to some beautiful pubs with a relaxed atmosphere and we felt comfortable there.

Of the pubs I have visited up and down the country with friends and workmates, some I have enjoyed, others not so much. I think on the whole, when I didn’t enjoy a pub, it was because of the behaviour of some eeed-yats who had drunk too much and decided to act up. Whenever that has happened, my friends and I would make a hasty departure. That’s the risk of pubs – you never know who else will be there and how much they will drink and the effect it has on them. So we are always ready to move on when the atmosphere changes.

I have lots of memories of fun nights with friends at pubs. We have played cards, we have put the world to rights, we have shared portions of chips or onion rings, we have argued over whose round it was, we have laughed, even danced, and occasionally cried together. In London especially, many of my friends and I have lived in tiny flats, where we had to be considerate of our neighbours. So meeting up for a drink at a local pub where there was more space and we could make a little bit more noise was handy.

I know quite a few of the pubs in Highgate, Hampstead, Muswell Hill, Finchley, Mill Hill, Whetstone, Crouch End, Holloway, Kentish Town….and beyond. I am going to tell you about one pub, it’s not necessarily the best pub, but it is one pub where I have some memories with friends that I like to keep close.

 

My memory is of an evening that ended at The Gatehouse Pub in Highgate Village. But the whole evening is one I remember fondly. It took place on a Thursday evening, at the end of a warm summer’s day.

I met with the group I met every Thursday for a bootcamp. Normally we would run down to a local cricket pitch, where the class would start. We would run sprints, and do squats and leapfrogs and all sorts of different exercises. But this night was different. One of the lads was leaving London to move abroad as he was engaged to be married. So we were going to have the bootcamp at a different location – Hampstead Heath.

We drove to Hampstead Heath. We ran from the Highgate side of the Heath over to the Hampstead side. When we reached the Hampstead Ponds for mixed bathers (there are men only and women only ponds too), we stripped our running clothes off and all of us had our swimming costumes on. We jumped into the water and swam a couple of circuits around the pond. There was a bit of splashing each other too. There was hardly anyone else there at that time so we weren’t annoying anyone.

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Afterwards, we put our running clothes on over our swimming costumes, and then ran back over to the Highgate side of the Heath. There we found a grassy spot and the guy who took the class shouted out some instructions which we followed, press-ups, squats, leap frogs and stretches.

VW camper.pngTwo of our friends (a married couple) had a VW Camper Van. So we all got changed in the back of the van. The girls went first, we had to take our damp clothes off and have a quick dry off and put on our warm dry clothes. Then it was the lad’s turn to change. Once we had all changed, we walked up the hill so we could have a goodbye drink with our friend who was moving abroad for his wedding.

After all that exercise we were hungry. So a few of us ordered some food. I can’t remember the drink I ordered…but I do remember I ordered a veggie burger. I remember that night, sitting with friends whose company I really enjoyed. For almost two years they had been a weekly escape from the challenges in my life. I felt happy with them, relaxed. Some of them knew Jack, my ex-flatmate, but they didn’t mention him. Nobody teased me about him, nobody taunted me. None of them referred to something that had been said about him and I. All of that group just liked me for me. We had the same interests, we loved keeping fit and exercising in a really fun way – outside in the fresh air.

at pub with friends.jpgI loved Thursday evenings because they were a complete escape from Jack, who had been pretty much making my life miserable for around two years by this point. That night we sat in The Gatehouse Pub and I felt happy, I felt really settled and secure. It was a lovely summer’s evening and I had spent it doing what I loved with people I felt very comfortable with. We laughed and we made a fuss of our friend who was moving. It was his last bootcamp with us and we all said our goodbyes. Although it was sad someone was leaving, I remember feeling so very happy that night.

But the very next day, Jack was back to his tricks taunting me, yet another rumour about he and I was doing the rounds on Facebook and Instagram and in Whatsapp groups. I strenuously denied it, as always. I passed Jack several times and he always looked at me with a hateful expression. That was a busy weekend. I was involved in several work projects and had training sessions to conduct. Also I helped a good friend with a huge party she had organized for the Saturday night. I only arrived back home after 3am on the Sunday morning after all the clearing up. Then Sunday was very busy. On Monday I had a television interview. I must have looked awful because I was so tired. Jack was on the same bus as me that day. He kept up his disdainful attitude.

AmbulanceOn the Tuesday I saw him several times and he was horrid. That evening, after I had been out with some friends in Highgate Village, at a pizzeria, I turned down an offer of a lift home by a friend, who lived near me. Instead, I walked to Hampstead Heath and sat on a bench and cried. At least an hour must have passed before a man sat next to me. The next morning, Wednesday morning, I was in an ambulance on my way to hospital.

at the pubIt turned out that was the last time I was ever at the Thursday bootcamp I loved so much. The last time I was with a group of friends who made me feel I could be me. The last time I was in a pub in Highgate with friends. The last evening I remember feeling happy and relaxed despite the challenges Jack was causing in my life. I cannot tell you how much I would love to be back there in the Gatehouse Pub in Highgate Village with people who made me feel comfortable and relaxed and happy.

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Is there a pub near you that you would describe as the best local pub? This is the writing prompt from Sarah Elizabeth MooreSarah Elizabeth Moore. Please link to her original post below:

Writing Prompt #11