Boys will be boys! Always competing, determined to outdo one another. Egging each other on to perform yet another dangerous stunt. Willing to risk life and limb for the sake of bravado. All for love of the blonde bombshell with the curly tail, for whom both harboured a secret passion.
I am continuing to re-publish posts from my archives until things settle down with work – yup – still intense!
I just walked past Niger Havers, well, actually, he walked past me. I had finished work and my tired feet were trudging along and there he was.
Now…I have nothing else to say about Nigel Havers particularly… it’s just that it started me thinking about Jack (that is what we are calling my ex-flatmate, although that is not his real name).
You see…I thought about what it must be like to be a celebrity and for people to recognize you in the street. Maybe some celebrities like that, others I imagine don’t enjoy it quite as much.
But it is funny how “we” – the public – react to a celebrity. I mean I didn’t do anything strange around Nigel Havers. But for some reason my brain clocked him, and I could tell you now exactly what he was wearing and who he was with and what they were wearing and the conversation I overheard taking place. Now I am not going to tell you any of that, because frankly it is none of my business, none of your business and it could be deemed an invasion of privacy (plus you might not be remotely interested).
The reason I am mentioning this is that I cannot tell you what any of the other hundreds of people I passed on the way home from work were wearing, or what they were talking about. My brain did not clock them.
That’s the situation Jack faced. People recognized him…people were interested because they knew who he was, people noticed what he was wearing, who he was with, the conversations he was having. I am sure Nigel Havers may have had bitter experiences with the media where he has found something personal has been shared with the public that he may not have wished for strangers to know.
I can only imagine in the age of social media this can potentially be one hundred times more annoying! The invasion of your personal life, including things that are deeply meaningful to you, could be quite a torment. Nobody asks you if you are willing to authorize the sharing of what someone may have seen or overheard when you were out in public. It’s just out there…and you might only realize 48K views and 32K likes later.
I have a couple more posts that I have prepared about the situation between Jack and me. I am sharing things that are very personal to the two of us really. only, I have no intention of giving you any clues about who he is. It is a story about a situation that caused stress and grief to both of us – it should never have happened. But the last thing I want is for this to torment Jack.
I love Jack – as I have mentioned in other posts. So, please remember that you are reading about a low point in the life of a wonderful man. I know some have expressed a poor opinion of Jack in the past. Just wait until you hear about what I did to Jack.
Now for those of you who are not quite sure who Nigel Havers is…he is a very famous actor…and most of us think of him in his role in the film “Chariots Of Fire”.
I was very excited…as it touched a scientific nerve on my brain!
Have you ever noticed that many plants grow in spiral formations? A pineapple, for example, may have 8 spirals of scales going around one way and 5 or 13 going in the opposite direction.
If you have time, look closely at the seeds in a sunflower, you may be able to see 55 and 89 spirals crossing over each other or perhaps even more. Start looking at your vegetables…you will notice spirals more and more!
Do you have any idea why plants grow in this way? Does the number of spirals have any significance? If you are a mathematician or biologist you probably know all about this already.
Why Do Many Plants Grow In Spirals?
Most plants arrange new growths at a unique angle that produces spirals. What angle is it?
Only what has been termed the “golden angle” of approximately 137.5 degrees results in an ideally compact arrangement of growths. What makes this angle so special?
The golden angle is ideal because it cannot be expressed as a simple fraction of a revolution. The fraction 5/8 is close to it, 8/13 is closer, and 13/21 is closer still, but no fraction exactly expresses the golden proportion of a revolution.
Thus, when a new growth develops at this fixed angle with respect to the preceding growth, no two growths will ever develop in exactly the same direction. Consequently, instead of forming radial arms, spirals form.
Remarkably, a computer simulation of growth from a central point produces recognizable spirals only if the angle between new growths is correct to a high degree of accuracy. Straying from the golden angle by even one tenth of a degree causes the effect to be lost.
How Many Petals on a Flower?
Interestingly, the number of spirals that result from growth based on “the golden angle of growth” is usually a number from a series called the Fibonacci sequence. This series was first described by the 13th-century Italian mathematician known as Leonardo Fibonacci. In this progression, each number after 1 is equal to the sum of the previous two numbers—1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, and so on.
The flowers of many plants that exhibit a spiral growth pattern often have a Fibonacci number of petals. Now…I would like to envision you heading out into local fields and meadows tomorrow morning and putting this to the test – are you ready to go count petals? Fruit and vegetables often have features that correspond to Fibonacci numbers.
There are fundamental mathematical principles and laws in nature that have been there for millennia, long long before any noggin sat down and worked out they were observing sheer genius!
My parents were never really sure quite what happened. They said they felt helpless and they prayed many times that things would turn out well. But they were deeply anxious and doubtful I would recover.
For years I had been a typical child, eager, full of life and laughter. I ate and pooped, ate and pooped. I was immature and completely dependent on my parents. I looked up to them and felt very secure in their love. They fed my mind, my heart and my stomach and watched me as I grew and grew and grew.
But then I went to high school and entered my teens and puberty. Something happened which they knew may come one day, but not in quite such a drastic way.
I shut myself off from them and refused to communicate properly. I grunted, shrugged and sighed my way through my fourteenth and fifteenth year. My parents tried their best to keep reaching my heart, but they had no idea if they were getting through.
They must have found it agonizing. In many ways, I am glad I was clever enough to hide what I did from them until many many months later. I hid so much from them for so long.
They still don’t know the half of it! All sorts was going on inside of me. Boys, music, drinking. I was no longer happy to conform, to obey. I questioned everything inwardly and outwardly.
I skipped school and forged sick notes. Instead of going to school I would catch a train into Manchester which was almost 40 miles away from home. When I was at school, I became disruptive in some classes (the ones I did not really enjoy). My best friend and I spurred each other on. We vandalised the geography teacher’s classroom and even his own belongings. We turned every physics lesson into anarchy. We played netball in the middle of our French lesson with a French dictionary and jumped up on to her desk and danced the Can-Can.
Sometimes I was given a “detention” by a teacher. I forged my mum’s signature and turned up for the detention (except the time I skipped detention because I was going to a concert), I was fortunate in being so bright. My school work never suffered and I maintained my straight A grades.
I started to work for a record company, which my parents knew about. But most of the nights they thought I was staying over at the home of a school friend, I was in Manchester at a music venue or club. I did things I am ashamed to relate.
The teachers wanted me to make decisions about what to do when school ended. I did not know what I wanted to do. I knew what I did not want to do.
I pondered what purpose there is in life, when we seem to be forced down a path that does not in any way appeal to us. I felt hollow and lost at times. Life seemed like a grey expanse stretched out before me. I felt trapped. The music I listened to constantly incited me to be disdainful of boring conformity. There was a spirit of arrogant rebellion breeding in my mind. I was full of resentment and anger towards everyone – I am not even sure why.
But I was not happy. Some of the things I saw at clubs shocked me. Behaviour beyond disgusting. Everything felt filthy. I did not know how to be happy any longer.
A wise old owl – Aunt June, who was almost eighty, and had sparkly blue eyes and a very deep grin – asked me what I was going to do when I left school. I muttered and gave her a wishy-washy answer about going to college. She probed further and soon discovered that I had no real plan in mind. There were no subjects that interested me just then, accept music. But I already knew I hated the places I was going and the people who were there. I was disillusioned with the music industry.
Aunt June could be scary sometimes. She looked at me sternly and said: “Do you want to live?” I was a bit taken aback by that question. Tears came into my eyes as I realized I was not even sure that I did want to be alive. I had been miserable for so long, my enjoyment in life had evaporated.
She asked me if I didn’t know what I wanted for my future, then what did I want for the rest of the world and for the planet? I thought about it, and knew that actually I did have a vision in the back of my mind. A vision that I had first seen in a golden story book my first ever teacher used to read to us from when I was just five years old. I knew the word to describe it: PARADISE.
Aunt June cried out that I should set that goal for my own future and see myself there, not just the rest of the world. She told me to work towards that goal.
At just the right time a project started in the town where we were living. They needed volunteers, skilled or unskilled. I had just broken up for study leave for my GCSEs. I went down there and from the first day I was trained and assigned all sorts of tasks. I ended up on the front page of the local newspaper because of my involvement for the full length of the project.
I remember a couple of my dad’s friends talking to him about me one day. I could hear everything. My face flushed with embarrassment but I was pleased. Then they called out to me: “We were just talking about you Mel! We were asking what has happened to you? You have come to life. You were grumpy and moody a few months ago and wouldn’t talk to anyone, not even make eye contact with anyone. Now look at you. You are glowing.”
I knew I was. I knew that ever since I had started to become involved in volunteer projects I had started to taste happiness.
What I wanted, in my heart of hearts, was to live on a clean planet, where people, animals and all of nature are treated with love and respect. Now I had found many of thousands of people in this country who all felt the same and were giving whatever time they could to work together to make a difference to communities.
My parents always said those couple of years when it was so hard to get me to communicate were very difficult for them. They were so worried about me. They always said it was as if I had cocooned myself within a chrysalis. They had no idea what was going on inside my mind and heart. But it was very much a metamorphosis.
One day something wonderful started to happen. They said a beautiful human being started to emerge from that mentally and emotionally isolated state and started to give colour and happiness to everyone around her.
I always felt it was because I had started to spend time with very beautiful people. People who were freely giving their time, their energy and their skills to build something that would benefit a community. I was learning so much from them.
I wanted to be alive. I wanted to work towards a better world, a world where everyone is happy, full of life, secure in love. I wanted to help make this earth a paradise.
I now had a purpose, a goal and I loved beautifully hearted people who were working towards the same purpose.
JUST A LITTLE REMINDER – I AM STILL RE-PUBLISHING POSTS FROM 2018 BECAUSE WORK IS INTENSELY BUSY. I CAN TELL BY SOME OF THE LOVELY COMMENTS I HAVE HAD THAT I AM CONFUSING SOME OF YOU!
This exquisite picture (the picture prompt for today from The Haunted Wordsmith) instantly gave me an idea for a post. But I am going to be straight with you. I have just returned from doing some work on an assignment I have had these past few months. It is one o’clock in the morning over here in London and all I should be thinking of is having a shower and climbing into bed.
I will give myself fifteen minutes and then close my lap-top!
If you have read even just a handful of my posts I am sure you know that I am happy, safe and busy. But of course for those of you who have been glancing over my posts for a while now, you are aware that almost three and a half years ago…one night I went to a London park and essentially my whole world was turned upside down.
I am not going to dwell on what happened that hot dry night….or the two years of hostility from my ex-flatmate that led to me forgetting my personal safety and putting myself in danger’s way. But the thing is that night, my life drastically changed. The security guard who found me called an ambulance to take me away from that nightmarish night…but somewhere in between the park and the hospital…my whole world turned upside down.
At first all that mattered was recovering from the physical injuries I had received. Then came the emotional ups and downs of what was done to me that night…which took a few months for me to get to grips with, and then the dismay that my ex-flatmate was stony silent after all that had happened and still had not attempted to apologize. It magnified all the hurt of the last two years.
For almost a year I was away from London staying with family members. They were a huge support to me and I am so glad I had their help at such a turbulent time for me. But I was determined to come back to London. I came back and the first six months were full of challenges. I should share more of what happened during my first six months back in London – they were immensely overwhelming and studded with horrid events and horrible people. Then I came here to the little nest. It’s been a relief. It is almost two years that I have been here for and it has helped me to settle and feel I could spread my wings again.
My difficulty is…my world is still upside down. I have just become very proficient at living upside down. I feel as if I am walking on my hands instead of my feet, and although I am doing a great job of that, it’s odd.
I am so determined to get back to the other side of London to my career and home and my world.
That world is precious to me…it is only the ordeal with my ex-flatmate that does taint some of my treasure chest of memories and experiences.
Without a purpose my world will always be upside down. I need my purposeful, active, richly rewarding life back. Until then…I am doing a fantastic job of walking on my hands in my upside down world…but it is not where I belong. However…don’t be sad for me…I am happy, safe and busy. I just have to be patient.
There are other people who have had their world turned upside down in a far more frightening way or grievous way than the way my world went belly up. I am sure they know what I am talking about when I am describing a sudden drastic event that changes everything, turns your world upside down and requires you to learn to become adept at walking on your hands.
Fifteen minutes flew by…in fact it is more like twenty minutes! Shower! Bed! Goodnight!
I wonder if you know who is the fictional character I would like to meet? Do you know which character had this said of her? Which book she was from?
Her finely touched spirit had still its fine issues, though they were not widely visible. Her full nature, like that river of which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.
The answer is of course Dorothea Brooke from “Middlemarch“. There are many characters I adore in the novels I have read, but one of my personal favourites is Dorothea, as she made a deeper impression on me than most. Not just an entertaining or interesting character, she struck a chord with me and still does twenty years after I first became acquainted with her on the pages of “Middlemarch“.
I love the comparison of her nature and it’s effect on others to the multitude of channels the mighty Euphrates river was broken into. I can’t help but think too of the quiet yet immense effect of Cyrus diverting the course of water that surrounded mighty Babylon, before his army waded across and conquered the city, thus causing a world empire to crumble overnight. I also love the statement that the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistorical acts…the noble and unselfish acts of good and mercy and kindness that are mostly unsung and are often forgotten by others. Yet we have so much to thank those quiet and unselfish souls who have a delicate yet profound influence on others.
If you have never read “Middlemarch” and are planning to at some point, beware my post contains a few spoilers!
I was torn between Dorothea and Anne Elliot from “Persuasion“, but I have already published a post about Anne recently and have another one in my drafts folder. But I have admiration, empathy, and affection for both of these characters, so today I am going with Dorothea!
I read a few character studies on line about Dorothea while I was thinking about this post. More than anything I was surprised that not all have the same esteem for her as I. There were some who seemed to think that to be exalted to “superhero” status, she should have been more of an independent female and that her happiness should not have been tied up with the love of a man who would become her second husband.. Not all approve of her decisions especially later on in the book.
But in today’s age where feminism – and I don’t think I fully comprehend feminism in all honesty, it is all rather foggy to me. I should be happy with Dutch treats, standing up on the bus or tube while young men lollop and rest their sneaker-clad feet on the spare seats, and being paid the same as a man I am working twice as hard as???
I don’t really understand the definition of feminism. I do understand “no means no!” But as far as I have seen, equal is not always fair. When I was at school, all I cared about was the boys letting me play football because I was a decent player and I loved running around – that was all that mattered to me!
I like being a woman. I have always loved wearing beautiful dresses. I have equally always loved climbing trees, playing football and working on construction sites. Most of the work I have done has been for charity and I have not received a penny in return.
Perhaps Dorothea’s decisions don’t sit right with the modern world, but I can relate to her a lot! I think especially her character. I think there are descriptions in the novel where others ponder Dorothea’s features and manners – some are fascinated by her. Is she a taciturn, demure character? I love her mind. She may make mistakes in her judgment, but she has a noble mind. She cares, she wants to make a difference. She becomes trapped in a loveless marriage to a man she believed in and was inspired by. Her endurance and calm under even the worst provocation make me think her made of something stronger than diamonds.
I love her decisions later in the book. Well, of course I would never encourage a husband of mine to run for political office. But I mean her decisions regarding love and being a loyal support to the man she truly loves. I love the sacrifices she makes to spend her life with the man she has come to love and admire after her awful first marriage.
Here is another description of Dorothea I adored:
Dorothea herself had no dreams of being praised above other women, feeling that there was always something better which she might have done, if she had only been better and known better.
I think that is one of the things I love about both Dorothea Brooke and Anne Elliot. I can never imagine either of them wanting to be the centre of attention, being showy, gaudy, wearing the most opulent gowns or decorations. I can only imagine them being a delight, an absolute pleasure to have afternoon tea with. Beautiful gentle manners, noble minds, interesting and lively conversationalists, none trying to take the spotlight, but earnest about how to contribute to the occasion and to the enjoyment of others. These two women are both incredibly endearing to me.
I love those words in the passage I quoted at the start of this post, with regards to Dorothea, that…
“…the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive.”
She touched all around her, often in a quiet gentle way. Others were influenced by Dorothea in the same way I was. The qualities she displayed were so precious, they make her value tremendous. She was a tower of inner strength best expressed by remarkable endurance and stamina. She was crushed, yet she persevered. She regained hope and joy, and allowed herself to love and be loved again. She wanted to make a difference to those in need and she seized any opportunity she had to do so.
Dorothea Brooke, even though you are just a fictional character, it would be an absolute delight to have you round for afternoon tea! I would invite Anne Elliot too, I think you would get along with her rather well.
This was my response to one of the writing prompts in the August Write-Away Challenge hosted by Sarah Elizabeth Moore. Even though I am very very late, I just did not want to abandon this post as I found the question so interesting.
I was thinking of re-publishing this post for a while. One of the things I am missing most at the moment is smiles. I am very glad that so many people are wearing facemasks, but I truly look forward to the day when we can enjoy each other’s smiles again!
I have had to endure a bit of a heart-breaking situation at work that dragged on and on for months. In other posts, I have mentioned I was going for interviews and that I start a new job, just a few minutes walk away from where I live, on Monday. But this has all come due to an unresolved situation that drained the life out of me.
Now I promised myself a long time ago I would never allow myself to get into the habit of coming home from work and ranting in my WordPress posts. The closest I ever allowed myself to start ranting about work was in this post:
I am not the type to rant. I am at the other extreme of the spectrum (which is not particularly great either) where I bottle things up until one day…I am gone. Nobody knows where. I had my last twelve hour shift on Thursday without anyone knowing they would not see me again. (Head Office and my manager knew but they very kindly kept it discreet for me.)
I don’t like goodbyes anyway…but also in this case I was leaving because of the lamentable behaviour of other staff over the past four or five months. So the last thing I wanted was to have mushy goodbyes with people I have dreaded seeing each day.
Well, that is enough of what has been getting me down. Now here is how I managed to keep myself going for months although my heart was breaking. It’s a song that mumma and dadda have both sung to me as a lullaby throughout my childhood whenever I was in uncontrollable tears. It has always calmed me down and eased my sadness:
I was sorting and tidying up at work all sorts of materials we have used in various health campaigns and for signposting patients to other NHS service providers, and I came across a journal specifically designed for teenagers all about depression. I remember receiving a package hand-delivered with these beautiful articles we could use for free with our patients. As I flicked through it there was a small article all about SMILING…which as I read through it made me smile down to my toes.
When someone gives you a beaming smile, how do you respond? Most likely you smile back. And you probably feel happier too. Yes, genuine smiles—whether from friends or total strangers—are infectious, and they evoke good feelings.
A sincere smile indicates positive emotions, such as amusement, happiness, and pleasure. Indeed, “smiling . . . seems built into our nature,” noted an article in Observer, an online journal of the Association for Psychological Science. Even newborns, the article said, are able to “interpret facial expressions with great precision.” The article also stated: “Not only do people deduce useful information from smiles, they also use this knowledge to direct their own behaviour.”
Researchers at Harvard University in the United States studied a group of elderly patients and their responses to the facial expressions of health-care providers. When the caregivers’ facial expressions “were perceived as more warm, caring, concerned, and empathetic,” said the researchers, the patients felt more satisfied and their physical and mental well-being improved. The opposite was the case when the caregivers’ nonverbal communications distanced them from patients.
When you smile you may also be doing yourself a favour. The benefits, studies suggest, include increased confidence and happiness and reduced feelings of stress. Frowning, by comparison, may have the opposite effect.
Perhaps you feel that life’s anxieties give you little cause for smiling. Remember, though, that feelings are usually preceded by thoughts. So, hard though it may be, why not try to dwell on positive, pleasant things whenever possible? Who knows? You too may find yourself smiling more often.
Do not wait for others to smile at you. Take the initiative; add a little happiness to someone else’s day.
I have been doing exactly this and I know it has helped. My sunny smile has been given out to patients and my workmates and I know that it has helped me feel better. In most cases the reaction you receive to a smile is wonderfully warm. Several patients have remarked to me that I am always smiling, which is exactly what I want said abouut me.
I may not always have been happy with what was going on at work…but I have been determined not to let it rob me of my smile. Still smiling…from ear to ear.
The first party I was invited to when I started high school was awful…mainly because I was so awkward and shy! It was so weird…I still remember how embarrassed I was throughout every moment. What did not help…is that I didn’t even know I was going to be at a party, it was a surprise to me and to my friend.
Secondary school (aged 11-16 years of age) was so very different from primary school (aged 4-11). Painfully different. I was one of three children from my primary school who moved on to a high school that was in another town because, apparently, it was a “better” school.
I dreaded moving on up to the big school. I did not want to be a teenager. I didn’t understand the change in attitude and behaviour. I didn’t know many people. The two boys from my primary school were assigned to different forms than me, in the other half of the year, which meant we didn’t see much of each other at all. I was all on my own with a class of complete strangers. The level of shyness I felt was almost debilitating.
However, on my second day at school, a girl at the front of the queue on the way into our form room turned around and counted, “one, two, three, four, five, six…we are going to be friends. We are all going to sit together and we will be gang.” There we go….it was as easy as that apparently. From then on I was attached to the other five girls throughout my entire school life.
My first day in Year Seven was a Thursday, early on in the September. I was at school for two days and then…at the weekend, Milly, who must have been six years of age, came from a party with some left-over cupcakes. My Dad and I ate a cupcake and then both of us were unable to keep any food down for a whole week. The worst food poisoning I have ever experienced. Debilitated by a cupcake!
So, I missed the following week at school. When I was back at school, my five new little friends were very sweet and all said they had missed me. Three of them had come from the same primary school as each other, which was in the village I had been born in. They were all talented musicians and could drawer and had the most beautiful hand-writing. The other two came from a primary school that was very close to the high school we now attended. They were very good at sports. All six of us were generally cheery and fun-loving and friendly. For some reason they seemed very fond of me.
I am sure it helped me to have been adopted into a little group of friends so early on. After about three or four weeks, one of the girls came up to me early in the morning just after I had arrived and told me that one of the other girls had a question she wanted to ask me but was a bit nervous. I asked what was the question. Her answer surprised me, “she wants to know if you will be her best friend.” I was amazed really. And that was that…I had a best friend throughout the rest of high school. She was a great best friend…so creative and imaginative and full of ideas. She gave me a confidence I didn’t have before. I would support her and help her carry out all her plans.
It was around November when my best friend invited me over to her family’s home for tea (that’s what we called dinner) after school one night. She said I could sleep-over too but I was so shy that I asked my parents if they could pick me up instead.
My best friend told me to take some clothes to change into when I arrived at her home. I asked her what kind of clothes. I wore green shorts and a scruffy red T-shirt or, denim shorts and a sweater that said “I love California” on the front…but all my play clothes has tears and holes in. I whinged at my parents that I needed new clothes if I was going to go to my friend’s home. I ended up with the most hideous pair of leggings with a rose pattern on them. My friend thought they were so odd she teased me about them for the rest of our school years.
I remember the evening that we finally went to her home after school and her mum told us that she had arranged a surprise and she was actually taking us bowling…American ten-pin bowling. My new best friend was delighted. I was scared. This was a new experience for me and I didn’t like new experiences without one of my family with me. When we arrived, there were a group of her friends, who were all strangers to me, waiting for us to arrive. I lingered in the background shyly whilst these faces I had never seen were giving wrapped up packages to my best friend. I was terrified. I had never been bowling before. It was quite noisy inside and there were lots of people cheering and laughing.
I had no idea that we had to exchange our shoes for bowling shoes…how I wish I had taken some socks. Bear feet into communal shoes – eeeuw!
I was so nervous…I didn’t know what to do…I could not believe how heavy the bowling balls were. My first turn was disastrous and just went straight into the gully…or whatever it is called. I did not know what to say to all these other eleven year old kids I had only just met. I felt so awkward, so embarrassed and so self-conscious in those ridiculous leggings that everyone was teasing me about.
My best friend’s parents had arranged for drinks and snacks for all of us and then from nowhere a cake appeared. It was a pretty fantastic cake. Because I was vegetarian, I had missed out on the beef burgers everyone else was tucking into, so as soon as I noticed the cake had arrived, I wandered over to it and began hacking into it with a plastic knife and helped myself to a large slice.
A moment later my best friend’s mum appeared with a cake knife and stared at the cake in horror. She immediately spotted me munching away, and gave me an angry frown. She showed the other adults and they whispered about it, and I could see them trying to tidy up the mess I had made of the cake. Moments later they picked the cake up and started walking toward my friend and singing “Happy Birthday”. I had no idea it was my best friend’s birthday. I bolted…there I was with cake all over my hands and face…I could not believe what I had done!
Honestly….I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me up. I was so deeply embarrassed. When my parents came to pick me up later I told them I never ever wanted to go to a school friend’s house for tea after school ever again.
Goodness….that first year of high school at eleven years of age was so painfully awkward…I kept on making a fool of myself because I was with a bunch of kids I did not know, who were introducing me to new experiences that I had never known before. Still, for some reason my friends loved me.
There were other bowling nights…I became quite a dab hand at bowling and always remembered to take socks. I never let my parents buy any clothes for me again…the rose leggings were abandoned. I am kind of glad I survived eleven…even though I learnt that my face had the potential to turn every shade of crimson.
Inconveniently, I needed to go into our communal kitchen to bake. I had promised to bake some cinnamon wheels. A young man who we had been working with was leaving London as his father was ill. We were having a farewell breakfast first thing Monday morning before his drive home. I had asked him what he wanted me to bring along. He said he loved Danish pastries. I suggested cinnamon wheels. He was delighted with the idea.
Only I felt trapped. I knew I had hurt Jack. I could only imagine how he would be feeling. It felt so awkward. I presumed that Jack was in his room broody and sulky. I was in my room paralysed by the horror of what I had done in asking for my thank you card back. But I had promised to make the cinnamon wheels. I had to get into our kitchen.
Eventually, I plucked up the courage to tip-toe into the kitchen. I closed the door silently and tried to extract from the cupboards everything I would need and I set about my task of making cinnamon wheels as quietly as I could, which is not easy when you are shaking with emotion.
I had just rolled my puff pastry stuffed with the cinnamon and raisin filling up and was about to cut it into slices when the door of the kitchen flew open. I will never forget Jack’s dramatic entrance.
Jack was furious! I had never seen him angry. His hair seemed to stand on end and his eyes were bulging like some eccentric scientist. I had never heard him yell like that – a ferocious roar of a yell. I felt awful because I had done this to him. I can’t even remember his first few words, just the fury in which he delivered them. I am not sure what calmed Jack down first. Was it seeing my tearful breakdown in response to his outburst? Or was it when he saw the massive carving knife in my hand that I was wielding on the pastry? We will never know!
But Jack did calm down. He started to plead with me. He said I was being completely unfair and what I had done was out of order. I just nodded and wept, “I know Jack”. He saw I was not trying to argue. I acknowledged I had been unfair, but I was so hurt by everything I had heard that week.
I cannot remember every word of that conversation so I am only going to be able to share with you what I can recall I am afraid, but it will give you an idea of the state of the relationship between Jack and I when we last tried to have an honest talk with each other. I have been over and over this conversation in my mind many times. It haunts me still.
I was truly overwhelmed at that point. My emotions were intense and I was terrified that if I opened my mouth I could make it even worse. It made it difficult for me to respond to Jack.
When I could finally string together an emotional sentence that Jack could comprehend, it was about how hard it is when there are so many awful rumours and degrading remarks being made about the two of us. I told him it was unbearable, that it was making life unbearable. I told him that since we had spoken the week before the rumours and gossip were worse than ever before.
He was frustrated with me. He told me I should not listen to gossip. He reminded me that we had already talked about the pressure rumours had made us both feel, and that we had agreed to put them aside and just enjoy our friendship.
I shook my head and told him I was not overreacting to people who just wanted to tease me in a friendly way. Then I gave him a few examples of what I had heard that week. I was too embarrassed to tell him what I had heard people say about what had happened between he and I, but I told him I had been called a slapper, a tramp, a cheap slut, a cheat, (and other names I would prefer not to repeat) even in comments from other people on his own Instagram account. I told him I was sick of being the subject of such horrible remarks. His face looked very stern as he was listening.
He said he was so sorry that I had heard those awful things. He asked me who I had heard these things from. I didn’t answer directly, I said I had heard them from friends and seen things on phones with my own eyes. I told him I had seen the comments on his Instagram account. Jack took my hand into his soft velvet paws.
With real earnestness in his eyes, Jack softly said: “Mel…..
(Now…because of the ridiculous length of the post I had typed out, I have decided to split the exchange between Jack and I into two separate posts. So, if you are wondering what happened next, look out for what Jack next said to me tomorrow!)
I have been publishing posts about events that occurred following the conversation my ex-flatmate (we are calling him Jack) and I had over a cup of tea. Now…I have mentioned once or twice that I have a confession to share, because I did something really stupid. I am working up to sharing with you how I ended up guilty of this completely daft and damaging decision.
Do you remember in the last post I left you on this cliff-hanger? Well, that kiss was not the confession, the stupid thing I have been building up to telling you about. However, it was also a stupid thing to do, and it had consequences!
I am still not sure why I did that. I think I had wanted to do that to Jack for a long time…only I could not possibly while living in a pressure cooker of a situation. When Brian was so kind and empathetic, I felt a cosy warm feeling towards him, and a sense of relief that I was talking to someone who had a fresh perspective on the situation. After the cocktail I had, my head was a bit fuzzy and Brian suddenly became very handsome in my eyes…and with a swell of gratitude in my heart, I planted a smacker right on his mouth to his surprise. In the moment it was exhilarating and delicious. But I immediately knew I was kissing the wrong man. I apologised to Brian who was very polite about it.
Do you also remember Brian’s suggestion that I take a bit more control of the situation I was finding challenging? (The gossip and the false rumours about my flatmate Jack and I.) Brian had recommended that I “fight fire with fire“.
Funny enough, I should have known this was a bad idea. Neither my wonderful parents not any of my wise aunts and uncles or mature friends had ever taught me the life lesson to equip me to survive as a woman in this world: “fight fire with fire“. Oh no! Because it turns out this is a very silly idea indeed.
Brian had posted a selfie with me alongside him, onto his Instagram account. He had taken the photo very shortly after I had unburdened myself to him and then…in my moment of madness…kissed him.
I left had Brian to go and meet my friends with a sense of relief, after being able to get so much off my chest to someone who was not close to Jack. I thought nothing more of that photo.
I had a great time with my friends who lived on the opposite side of London and were not interested in social media. They were brilliant company for me. However, they knew I was living with Jack and they had all worked with him. They had all met him years before on projects and they thought he was a fun character who cared a lot about working with charities. They liked him I am sure. One of their questions for me was, “are you engaged to Jack yet?” Ay ay ay! Very quickly they detected I didn’t not really want to talk about Jack.
I had a wonderful afternoon. I was heading back to my flat when I thought I would check my mobile phone. I am one of those people who have a phone somewhere in the bottom of their handbag and check it three or four times a day when it is polite and appropriate. Jack on the other hand is someone who seems to be constantly on his phone.
My phone showed several text messages waiting for me. Suzie, Marta and Ella and other friends had all sent me messages asking me what was going on. Ella’s message simply said:
“JACK IS IN A FOUL MOOD. HOPE YOU ARE READY FOR THIS.”
I think I had already guessed what had happened. And I knew already I had to be ready to take on board responsibility for agreeing to let Brian post that photo. I used the travelling time to work out what I was going to say to my friends, and more importantly, what I was going to say to Jack.
What on earth was Jack going to say when he saw me? Would he return to his cold hostility? Well he was hardly going to roll out the red carpet and give me a royal welcome! When I arrived back at the flat, I felt sick with dread.
Jack…was not home. Phew!
Ella was not home either, nor Dean. In fact the flat was quite empty. I jumped in the shower and started to get ready. I was going out. I was quite excited actually. I was attending an award show. It would take me an hour to do something satisfactory with my hair. I hate styling my hair. But I love these events. You do have to make the effort! My dress was all picked out…have I ever mentioned how much I love parties? (Always a party to go to after a show.)
Now…I am going to have to fast-forward and skip all the details of my hair styling and all my other preparations for the show. The venue was only about a mile and a half from there we lived. I travelled with a married couple who lived nearby, they had already told me they were going to be heading straight to the airport from the show as he had an assignment abroad.
After arriving, I spent time meeting and greeting. All was going great until I bumped into Damian. He started to laugh immediately asking me how many men I was stringing along. He taunted me that the main reason I was here was to see Jack on stage. Well, Jack had kept that secret from me. He had not mentioned that he would be at the awards show. Although, Jack seemed to be involved with almost everything.
Do you know what it is like to watch someone you live with performing on stage with other popular entertainers? I loved seeing Jack on stage. He is a natural entertainer. I did enjoy seeing him.
I have been on stage myself, normally you can hardly make out anyone in the audience. I doubted Jack would ever have been able to pick me out. But there was a moment, I may have been imagining it, but he seemed to be looking in my direction and he stopped. He was silent for a few seconds. I felt uncomfortable. Then…he carried on again and all was well.
After the awards had been given out and all the entertainment had ended, the party atmosphere kicked off even more. But that is when I saw Jack, and undoubtedly, he had seen me this time. All week he had been absolutely lovely to me, but not now. He was glaring at me. He looked angry.
I felt now was the time for courage, so I took a few steps towards him. But as I approached, he seemed to deliberately turn his back to me. I decided it was not worth making an issue of what he did. I needed to speak with Jack, but not in the middle of hundreds of onlookers. I decided to just carry on with enjoying the company of others at the show.
But Jack seemed to always be near, I could tell out of the corner of my eye, and several times I turned to see scenes a bit like this one (no this is not Jack). Now that was not at all like Jack. He was not at all relaxed with women making a fuss of him. He was concerned about his reputation and he felt a sense of pride at being a role-model for young people to look up to. In addition, he has had a couple of bad experiences with scary female fans he had to take legal action against, so he normally played very safe with women. Not that night. Oh Jack!
I did feel some pain. It dampened my party spirit very much, which was annoying because I put so much effort into styling my hair. After enduring half an hour of this, I felt I wanted to slink off home and avoid anymore of this cruel game with Jack. There were no taxis outside the venue. I could catch the bus. The bus-stop was just across the road. On reaching the bus-stop and finding the next bus was due to arrive in 14 minutes time, I thought to myself “I could walk home in twenty minutes“, which was a gross miscalculation, it would take at least thirty minutes to walk home in stilettos. But I thought I could do with a walk in the crisp night air.
I set off criss-crossing through the side streets towards our flat. Then I started to feel a few drops on my forehead. Within moments the rain was teaming down. I had a brolly. I don’t go anywhere without a brolly (truly English to the bone) and I had a little tiny fold up brolly which did rather a poor job of keeping me dry.
Whose idea was it to walk home?
By the time I arrived back at the flat I was soaked. Dress, shoes, hair dripping wet. I don’t mind rain normally, I am a secret puddle jumper, I adore Gene Kelly’s moment of celebration in “Singin’ In The Rain“…but that was not a happy walk home in the rain. It was a walk during which I felt a bit sorry for myself and had tears milling with rain drops about the possibility of more hostility from Jack.
As I was approaching the security gates outside our flats, they started to open slowly and a car drove in ahead of me. Jack’s car! I held back. I didn’t want him to see me. But that meant I had the perfect view of the passenger side of the car as the door opened and…a young woman climbed out of Jack’s car. Oh my goodness!…how awkward!
Possibilities raced through my mind. If Jack took her up to the flat…I couldn’t walk in right behind them. I was cold, soaked and not even sure how I felt about what was happening in front of my eyes. I had to get into our flat before they did, hopefully before Jack saw me.
I started running through puddles towards the flat…and realized Jack’s eyes were upon me. I ran up the stairs, so I did not have to hang around in the foyer waiting for the lift (elevator). My first thought was to grab some water and snacks to take into my room so that once I was in my room I did not have to leave. It only took me a few seconds…but I was not quick enough. As I left the kitchen with my supplies, the front door opened and after a few strides, Jack was blocking my way to my room.
“Mel…are you alright?“
“Yeah, I just got caught out by the rain.”
I must have looked a wreck. Jack looked at me and before he realized what he had said, out came the words, “Do you need help…?“
What Jack could possibly have thought I needed help with, we will never know. But I could tell there was a tenderness there and I wanted to make sure it lingered. I said I was fine, and I would take my dress to the dry cleaners the next day. I was so tired, I was not sure what to say to Jack although I knew there was a lot I ought to say.
“Jack, you were brilliant tonight. I mean you always are, but I thought you were brilliant. I felt so proud of you.”
If I had not been absolutely dripping wet, I think I would have hugged Jack. But it mattered not, I think Jack knew I was sincere.
I said to Jack that I ought to go and change and get some sleep because it had been such a busy day. Now…I would love this poignant moment to have been enough to fix the damage that had been brewing all day, but it was not enough. For a moment later, Jack’s face seemed to change as he remembered something.
“Yes, you have had a busy day haven’t you!” he delivered this statement with obvious derision.
“Please Jack, I really want to talk to you, but can we do this tomorrow, please?“
Jack agreed. I was soaked and bedraggled, I think he realized I really did need to just be allowed to go and sort myself out.
“We’ll talk tomorrow Mel.“
I was left to sleep and dream that Jack and I had found a way to fix things.
Just in case you want to catch up with any of the posts connected with Jack and I, here they are: