From Bournemouth With Love (Part 1)

Is love real?

A  poll said 74% of people think love exists,

16% gave a weak, Nick Clegg kind of answer of ‘it depends on the person.’

10% say it is just a lustful infatuation usually caused by someone pretending to understand your problems.

Dairy-free Singles, Thematchmaker.com and Uniformed Dating unsurprisingly say it’s 100%. Sign up to find the one you love, who shares your lactose intolerance needs.

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Any excuse to get this sexy fella on here

 

It would be a huge blow to the music industry if love isn’t real.

Westlife* may start having to sing about aquatics and tapestry

*I am aware Westlife stopped producing music years ago, but I am stuck in a late ’90s timewarp due to my lack of affiliation with scary new things such as lit, peng, dank, nightclub squadding, poo emoji’s and Adult Beiber

The following is my first dabble on the whole love thing. My previous attempts hadn’t worked out.

Rewind. It was 2011, Osama Bin Laden had been shot in the face, and David Guetta and his bezza, Flo Rida, were asking “Where them girls at?” (hope he managed to find them)

This was also the years of the riots, where  uppity people were grouping up and destroying things, but there were confused as to why. There were little riots in my area, although I heard a bin was knocked over in a petty rage.

I was actually worried the 2012 Olympics were to be stripped away from us due to the carnage caused. I was worried one of the Olympic torches might have been kidnapped and used as a Molotov Cocktail by a disgruntled rioter, but luckily England had settled down by then and gone back to safe things, like drinking Tea and moaning.

That year I was working as a catering assistant at Bournemouth Beach. Here you see me, proudly standing in my hot uniform amongst a display of coloured Lions, which had appeared across the town for the summer.

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The much loathed Imax Building still blocked the coastline, but due to a 50:50 sun/rain ratio, there was still interest in the beach. I would work hidden away in a blue box (no, not the Tardis), and would watch as everyone partied in the sunshine. I constructed our variant of 99 flakes, of which included such hideous ingredients as 0% Dairy, Vegetable Oil, emulsifier, sweetener, and more Vegetable Oil.

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My little world

One time I offered a man to top up his ice-cream whippy with a flake for 30p.
He kindly responded by saying I should stick said flake where the sun doesn’t shine.
Another customer had no money, but desperately wanted a Twister lolly. He offered to exchange an 1/8th of weed for one. I decided not to go through with it. I could imagine the local newspaper now with illustrious damning headlines.

“Mr Whippy’s Drugs Bust.”

“Cornetto Cannabis Crackdown”

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But anyway- back to the love you clicked here for.

One Summer’s day, a charming group of ladies approached me for ice-creams. One particularly blonde one, who slightly resembled Tanya from Britain’s most miserable soap, EastEnders, wanted an Orange Ribena Lolly.

We got talking and I joined them on the beach during my break. It was quite tough talking to 5 girls from up North that I’d never met, especially when conversation turned into contraceptions and coils. However, I appeared to go down well, and they found me again the next day at the ice-cream booth.  Ribena I found myself drawn to due to her spirit and smile. She looked past my stubble and uninspired blue uniform, which possibly marked with ice refreshment ooze. As we were sat in a group, it was hard to talk to her alone. I really wanted to know why every lame pun I came out with she giggled at.

I hadn’t had much luck with women for a while; my last girlfriend had run away to Lapland to be an elf and never came home.

I’m not even joking.

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“Look elves, there’s my goofy ex-bf back in England!

 

I digress. The girls were due to go back up North, and my shift finished at 3, and they were leaving around about the same time. I pleaded with my supervisor, Jules, who was busy breaking off icy residue off some  Toffee Vanilla crunch, if I could go early.

I said there was a girl I liked, he let me go. The idea of romance cooled his heart.

I threw my apron off, almost forgetting there was a group of hungry Austrians waiting for a collection of hazelnut Magnums. I raced down the beach, bypassing several obese interpretations of the great British body. I almost pushed kids out the way, tripped over a few deckchairs and crushed a few sandcastles.

To be honest it wasn’t this dramatic. It was more of a hurried pace whilst walking with a sense of haste. I managed to find where them girls at.

Pretending I was merely walking there with little bother, I began to slow down and caught my breath when I saw them. I eventually managed to get talking to Ribena, and we had a walk across the sand. We shared a cute moment where I put ice-cream in her face, covering her in whippy. Our liaison should have ended there really. Luckily she had a soft spot for casual immaturity and vegetable oil.

The sun was shining, the weather was warm. It was nice to enjoy England’s annual one day of summer. We had a kiss on the shore, the icy coastal water cheekily lapping at her feet.

Her friends pulled funny faces at us, probably exclaiming a mixture of worry and excitement their mate was kissing a Cornetto salesperson.

As they left to go back up North, we exchanged details and more kisses. She seemed incredibly lovely, but I figured I was a bit of holiday romance.

A month passed, and in that time Ribena spoke about me coming up to visit as her parents were away. It would also consequently give me a break from another full-time week of ice popsicles.

I got the train to meet her at the nearest train station. It was only until I got there, that I felt a tremble down my spine, I had travelled a few hours away, I barely knew her… what if she was evil? Or tried to kidnap me… or worse, sell my organs for profit?

But my brain calmed down.

She was way too lovely for any of that. Though, talking of vital organs, she may later take my heart and –

WAITspoiler-alert

Getting a little ahead of ourselves. Can we go back to talking about ice cream? No 😦

We had a really great few days. I felt a connection with her that I hadn’t felt before, she genuinely seemed to like me for me, as opposed to the accessory/tall escort/male company/broad-and-a-little-boney shoulder to cry on stigma that I feel.

Shame she lived about 150 odd miles away.

Bit of a stretch. I could just about handle that. Her smile was worth it.

She then decided to go to University 200 miles away.

After talking again, with us both confused on what this was and where we stood with each other, I got the feeling there was something more between us than an extended holiday romance. She asked me again to come up and visit her at her University residence – a student village – in Swansea

I met her at the station a month later, and it was like time stopped for a while. I’d not be so excited to see someone before. She made a lot of effort to look pristine and glowy, and it was good to feel wanted.

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Typical Student Decor

I was terrified of going to her student halls. Drinking Games. Freshers debauchery. Smart Price Taglitelli. Chunder charts!

However, I had nothing to worry about. Apart from the a haunting peculiar smell in the stairwell, and fire doors that closed super-loudly, I mixed into the student experience well. Hell, my initiation into Ring of Fire ended up with me taking on the entire glass of shitmix as I think I got the last queen in the pack. Ribena later on had to drink a load of it, and I took one for the team for her on her behalf. There’s nothing like realizing you like someone when deciding to down their benevolent mixture of  Imperial vodka, Red-flavoured Fanta Twist and Apple Sourz.

Luckily I didn’t earn a place on the chunder chart and my liver remained functional.

Our adventures included restaurants, shopping, cinema. She introduced me to Chiquitos and Danepak bacon, what’s not to like? She’d casually missed lectures just to lie next to me and we’d eventually stumble outside in the afternoon sun. We walked hand in hand with almost matching sunglasses. We even cooked together.*

(*well at the stage in my culinary pursuits I was more of a washer and dryer/sous chef)

We had conversations about food, travelling, emotional things, television.. it was so easy to talk to her. There were even tepid discussions about baby names.
(I’m stealing your suggestion of Atlanta, sorry not sorry.)

One time I almost wept into tears after seeing a video of my late grandmother that I’d not seen before, and she held me whilst I recuperated into a more manly composure.

*MUSH ALERT.*wierd-couple-bench

Cynics leave. I’m aware people will destroy me with mockery at the following effeminate confessions. But a charming 1% of people will find the following quite heartfelt, even if they are slightly snorting with the giggles whilst drinking blog friendly pop.

We’re heading back to the original question. (LOVEEE)

I felt so happy with her. A complete cynic of anything remotely romantic, I found myself doing cringey things such as using pet names (it was babe in this case), sentimental cards pack full of sweetness and even once giving her chocolate hearts, slightly mushed after hiding them in my pocket. I never thought I was this type of person, but when you meet someone special, it just happens.

One night after a mixture of shopping, eating, and various coupley moments,  we placed a candle on the table, it’s flame bouncing slightly in the small amount of Welsh wind that streamed through the window. The trees in the cool breeze of the campus outside were gently dancing. The hollering of distant games of ring of fire, beer pong and never have I ever were practically silent on the cool October eve.

I faced her on the bed and held her hands. I felt a little fuzzy. I tried to maintain some cool composure and said:

“I feel something.. I don’t know what it is, like I’ve not felt before.’

I felt slightly disconcerted of what she was going to respond with.

She looked at me, her eyes longingly looking at mine. She shyly replied:

“Rupert…I think I’m falling in love with you.”

Her words melted me, and I could see the conviction behind them.

At that moment, everything stopped except us.

And we kissed, and suddenly everything was amazing.

 

(1) For people who have grown up in a Disney-esque upbringing, and are probably wearing a Cinderella ball gown whilst reading this on the iPhone or Tablet, then –

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(2) For jaded people who realise the harsh realities of long distance relationships etc, there will be a part 2.

 

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My Muddy Valentines (Day)

We were stuck in the wilderness. I looked across to my friend in worry. 

There was no escape.

This was not how I expected my Valentine’s Day to pan out…

Let’s rewind to the  year 2014 – a year of self indulgent fame and vanity.

This was represented by  the talent vacuum that is her majesty Kim Kardashian, who was balancing a champagne glass on her photoshopped and suspiciously engineered behind.

When the most famous picture of the year is an ex-pornstar using her bum as a beer mat, you know our culture is about to flat line.

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This image, not the trailer for the new Star Wars that year, allegedly ‘broke’ the internet.

I did the same once, by accidentally dropping some boiling chicken jalfrezi on my dial-up modem.

Anyway…It was Clinton Card’s Day Valentine’s Day.

I was treated and spoilt rotten…

To people’s Valentines Facebook statuses

I was saturated to a nauseous news feed on full of romantic surprises, teddy bears and chocolate hearts. Couples don’t really care how it makes the singletons feel.

I mean, I can’t help that I’ve alienated the female race because I say what I feel and I am rubbish at giving compliments. I was single. Tonight’s meal would likely be in a box with a plastic film.

I was almost ready to go on Take Me Out.

Instead of spending the night wallowing with a sad bottle of Blossom Hill red from Lidl’s alcohol aisle, whilst tucking into a microwaveable lasagna, my friend invited me to see Frank Turner. Frank was performing live in his home town of Winchester.

Who is this Frank Turner I heard you ask?

Frank Turner is a folk singer with some really punchy songs, with a rugged manly look that makes you question your heterosexuality.  A soulful voice combined with the crescendo of acoustic guitars, violins and banjos,  his music makes you want to jump up and dance and spill you cider everywhere.  He is also the only songwriter to unwittingly write a song about me and my big-kid syndrome:

I won’t sit down,
And I won’t shut up,
And most of all I will not grow up

He also has best goatee since Craig David. How can you not like this guy?


We aimed to travel there via South West Trains, despite having to remortgage the house to afford a rail ticket.

However, this was February 2014. Storm Nigel was battering the South, causing some aggressive flooding. It wasn’t quite Kevin Costner’s Waterworld, but it packed some weatherly carnage that caused animals and humans alike to hibernate.

Various beach huts had been destroyed, but it’s OK, they were mostly owned by the rich. Diners at the Marine Restaurant in the town of Milford-on-sea (aka the Black hole of the South) had to be rescued by the army after the  windows were destroyed. Water waded under the tables and shards of glass fell onto their canapés

I would love to read the reviews on Trip Advisor for that night.

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Meanwhile, my friend Tom and I arrived at the train station. Everything was delayed but there was no indication when or if the trains would be running.  It was packed full of people wandering aimlessly around the platform. They carried sad-looking wilted red roses, waiting in vain for a train that would never arrive, to meet up with partners they would never see.

We could wait with them, but we’d get to the gig around Easter time. I didn’t want to miss our date with Frank and his banjo.

We jumped in Tom’s car, the mood was precarious. There was nothing to worry about right, driving in the wild weather? It was like the humorous prospect of Donald Trump eyeing up politics. It seemed like a sinister thought, but nothing would ever come about with it surely?

However, Hurricane Nigel, had other thoughts, and pulled us from side to side across the motorway. It felt like we were the marble in a pinball machine. I was a little worried Mother Nature might scoop us off the A31.

Luckily, we arrived at Winchester’s Guildhall, still vertical.  We enjoyed the support act, Will Varley, who sung ‘The Self Checkout Shuffle‘ which included the lyric ‘there is an unexpected item in my bagging area,‘ no joke.

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I spotted a cute girl to my right, but I was a little bit too apprehensive to strike up a conversation, without alcohol or a waistcoat. She looked at me with a smile, I assumed it was directed at the person behind me.

A little later, I silenced the negative voice inside my head, plucked up my courage and spoke to her. Turned out she was a Mancunian!

At first I couldn’t understand her accent, so I smiled and nodded for a while. She was actually really lovely, we spoke about her love for pasties and how her favorite insult was calling someone a bungalow.

(As they didn’t have much going on upstairs.)

“Can you two be quiet!”

We both turned around like naughty schoolchildren to come face to face with an annoyed old lady , who had actually told us off. We’d be chattering away so much we were louder than the gig itself.  I’ve never been told off for talking at a live gig before, I was quite amused.

I casually asked if she would be my Valentine. (not the old lady, I don’t do well with the fiesty type)

She said yes. I felt quite elated, then felt preposterous for actually asking someone this the first time I’d met them, in the middle of a Frank Turner gig.

We met up a few times after where I learnt more Manchestery idioms such as their national cuisine of pudding – a savory dish. I also learn their odd twist on the tooth fairy (you get vegetables put under you pillow instead of coins.) Also, if your brother looked very different from you, he was quite likely the milkmans .

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Pudding from up North. Yeah I don’t know either. 

I hadn’t noticed I’d spent one of our dates with chocolate ice cream splashed on my face, luckily she saw the funny side.  Sadly we weren’t meant to be, but it was probably be some of the funniest dates I’ve ever been on and it was a funny education about the world ‘up-north’.

Anyway, back to the gig. Without upsetting any more pensioners, Tom and I left and began the journey home. We were navigating the road labyrinth that is Winchester town centre, a place that has more castles than people.

We should have made it home in under an hour. Sadly, the weather had other ideas.

Broken tree branches streatched across the road, which were casually lazing around after being ripped off trees by the storms. Tyres would screech in terror as cars avoided dislodged bits of the countryside. We were really in the back of beyond on the way home as we passed through places with names like Tidpit, Appleshaw and Frogham. I felt like there were no signs of life.

One particular road looked like it was completely flooded.  With no canoe, my friend Tom used his initiative. He drove up the embankment to the left, of which looked like innocent wet grass.  We were gaining momentum across it, but then the wheels stopped. Tom pushed down on the acceleration, where we moved a a few inches, but then the car completely ground to a halt.

We were stuck in the mud, and alone in the middle of nowhere. We were officially trapped in countryside captivity. I swear I heard an owl hoot into the night and a tumbleweed float past.

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Tom tried to floor it as I pushed the car, but it was no use. I pushed with all my might, my hands pressing against the car with hope, confidence and determination. However, my empty promises to join the gym had bitten me in the ass.  All I got was disillusion and achey forearms.

A car approached us from behind, but then abruptly disappeared away again, choosing not to be road Samaritans today.

We called a taxi to come rescue us, but they didn’t seem very helpful about sending a car out to the middle of nowhere in a stormy season, so they told us to wait. Being the countryside, the Internet did not yet exist and we knew no numbers for the AA or RAC, not that either of us was a member. Instead we sat huddled in the car, hiding from the gusty winds and animal howls in Emmerdale- county.

We hopped out to see any signs of life. We traipsed across the mud and I saw an abandoned barn. It seemed like a nice place to wait diligently for the possible taxi to arrive. My friend proceeded to get his suitcase out the car, worried some nefarious flood bandits might try to break into the car overnight. To me it looked like he was contemplating this barn as a new holiday hotspot!

Two lights suddenly blazed through the country night. We turned around to see a car appear behind us and two lads offer to help us out. With Tom attempting to get some movement in reverse, the three of us pushed the car, though the stubborn automobile wasn’t going anywhere quickly. The lads came up with the idea that putting car mats underneath the tyres would gather some much-needed friction and traction.

We put them underneath, and we gave it another go. We pushed and pushed and pushed some more (this sounds like a pregnancy)  and I suddenly felt cold, wet mud spatter across my face. Flecks of mud were going everywhere, hair,  my clothes, my mouth… but I was so jubilant I couldn’t help but wear a smile on my face. I’d never been so happy to feel mushy car earth decorating my face – as I knew this must mean the car was moving.  We pushed it all the way back to the road.

Thanking the guys, Tom drove through the flood, of which turned out to be barely deep at all. In fact, it may have given the car a nice little wash after it’s muddy excursion.  As we drove home, we saw the Taxi coming the other way. We had completely forgot about them!

We stumbled across another flood, but thankfully we managed to avoid it by Tom doing a crafty 3 point turn. I was slightly apprehensive though as behind us was a massive ditch, so I leapt out the car and directed him away from it to avoid spending the evening in the ground.

We eventually arrived in Bransgore and shared beer and reflected over our misadventures.

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It took me a while to clean off all the mud…

Next Valentine’s Day I will stay indoors and safe, I decided.

If I can wade through all the cards I’ll receive.

:p

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