From Swansea With Love (Part 2)

 

….And we kissed, and suddenly everything was amazing.

And it was.

I was young, unjaded. My biggest worries were contemplating wearing beige chinos or untagging myself in dubious photos of me looking hammered.

Trying to maintain a long distance relationship is not easy. It’s like an orgasm. It’s fantastic when it happens, but it doesn’t come around enough.

You want to hold that person in you arms for a hug or cuddle or, if you’ve been paying them the right compliments and have cheekbones as delectable as mine*, a cheeky fumble. To travel 200 miles to hold someone’s hand, however, just doesn’t feel right. Like Instagram validation and all you can eat buffets, you want lots of it and you want it now.

*This is bullshit btw

We spoke on Skype most nights, sometimes until 4am, saying goodnight as the birds sang good morning. While the milkmen were loading up their floats and various TOWIE stars were stumbling out of nightclubs, we were chatting far into the night about how much we loved each other and the excitement of seeing each other in 26 days.

In order to get a good connection, I had to perch on the landing, often tripping over cables to get some precious Wi-Fi bandwidth to talk to my e-girlfriend. I felt like the third wheel between her and my temperamental Broadband connection.

Once I had a glass of water near the laptop, a great idea for pre-Skype hydration, but I tumbled over a wire and knocked over said water, sending a short splash over  my keyboard. After this unwanted lubrication, I could no longer use the W and O keys.
Imagine trying to tell friends online you have recently found a great woman.

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Pretty much

 

I did some research and followed Google’s advice and used a hairdryer to dry the buttons to prevent further letter corruption.
Sadly the hot air ended up fusing the keys and I raised an angry fist at the Internet’s lack of wisdom. Eventually each letter died until the only impact I could make was via the space bar.
It’s hard to tell someone you love them without vowels and consonants.

Staying up to 4am also meant mornings were unloved. I once awoke to my manager phoning me up asking where I was. I should have been at work half an hour before, but had been fast asleep in bed.

Another stipulation to long distance, particularly with a University First Year,  was seeing your girlfriend get ready to go party at various liver intoxication events during Freshers’ Week. With events called ‘Carnage’ and 18 year old boys who have recently been released from their family nests, it didn’t fill my mind with the greatest joy.

It was difficult to see her make herself look pretty on Skype with me before she went out. I wasn’t much of a party animal at the time, so I’d be left watching Skins Series 5 (a form of self-punishment) back in England whilst she was dancing her socks off at a sticky club floor. I might receive a drunken message or an incoherent picture of a z-list celeb or Hollyoaks guest star who’d turned up for a paid appearance.

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Sadly the quality of celebrity appearances have diminished since then. #gotnofans

One such event I’m glad she didn’t partake in was a sports team drinking event. The social club’s rules were that you would be handcuffed to a Third Year student rugby player whilst dressed as a sheep. Then you would spend the night drinking copious amounts of liquor. You would be penalised if your drink cup was empty, with the added bonus of having to drink a shot with every sip. Even Phil Mitchell would find this to be hardcore.

One time I came back from a late swimming session to find a text message saying from her ‘I kissed someone.’
I almost stumbled back into my locker.
Someone had stolen her phone and sent this, and she had apologised profusely. I didn’t know how to talk to her the next day as it was such a confusing situation. She was terrified at the thought of losing me over this. Regardless of whether this cuckoldry was true or false, it was hard to find the words to say back.

Despite this incident, or non-incident as it could have been, we moved on.

At one point later in our relationship she was coming out of Popworld whilst on the phone to me. She had just seen Jay from The Inbetweeners riding his post-movie fame and posing in photographs interlocked between various female forearms. She was trying to find her friends and was feeling a bit dry in the post-apocalyptic world of a closing 3am Welsh nightclub.

I could hear some guy (not Jay, who was probably too busy being knee deep in clunge) come up to her and offered her some support.

“Hey, you thirsty? You have my drink!” he said, in what I think was an Indian accent. This kind gentleman offered her some of his canned lemonade. Such a Samaritan.

She thanked him and and guzzled it down.

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For those unforgettable nights, try Rohypnol ©

 

She then started to feel a bit off-colour, but presumed it was the copius amount of Jagerbombs she got on the latest 6 for £10 student deal. She began to feel faint and drowsy. She left to go somewhere else to find her friends and luckily bumped into a housemate.There are no words to express how it feels having your girlfriend get her drink spiked 200 miles away, whilst you are helpless on the other end of the phone hearing it happen.
I could barely sleep.
Luckily, her mate had managed to take her back. She spent most of the next morning and midday in a deep slumber, being nursed back to reality by her housemate who gave me a reassuring phone call. I wanted to be there for her instead, but I couldn’t.

The thing is, when you’re head over heels with someone then the above instances don’t matter. You just bury them in the deep recesses of your head, they gnaw away at you but you’re to busy preparing for your loved one’s royal visit. When we saw each other it was electrifying; we had curry nights, deep emotional chats and watched The Human Centipede. Nothing quite beats a romantic night in with Chicken Jalfrezi, poppadoms and people being sewn together ass-to-mouth .
Sure, long distance is mightily unrealistic and deep down, like Communism and my singing career, you know it’s not going to work. You get so drawn into the bubble that you can’t stop. Ironically enough, we talked to each other far more than short-distance (is that the term?) couples do.
At some point, things changed. She hadn’t told her family about me until months in. I fathomed  they didn’t exactly approve of our holiday romance turned cross-country love story.
It was at this point I realised she was an integral part of my life. I had initially been standoffish about a relationship, but she had won me over and we even updated our Facebook relationship status. Now I’d feel incomplete if I didn’t hear from her or look lovingly at her digitised face over Skype.

Little by little, her communication petered away. There were fewer love notes, drunken phone calls and messages. Conversations became picture memes. One time she muted me on Skype as I was embarrassing her.

I felt funny. My heart was numb. I was confused. I couldn’t eat. Fuck, this was bad. I was pretty much checking off a teenage heartbreak checklist, but I was too old for this angst and confusion. I went to see my Dad, whose not the most emotional. I couldn’t tell him how I was feeling, but I found myself asking him loads of questions about himself to try and fill any potential silence, and to take my mind off of her.

We had our first conversation where she told me she wanted to ‘step back’ in regards to our growing relationship. I wasn’t sure what to make of this, but it wasn’t a good sign.
I had booked a week off work to see her in Wales. She was going to teach me how to like Christmas, a nauseous event that comes around way too quickly each year. Sorry everyone, I’m one of those people! We were to go to Winter Wonderland and I was going to spend my time at the ice-rink holding onto the sides.

Things weren’t right. Our last phone call was her in the toilet at Club Destiny. We had barely spoken the day before I was coming up.
I went to my room and loaded up Skype. The opening tune of it no longer had the chirpy and fun connotation I used to enjoy.
The image of the love-lorn lady with a big smile on her face, calling me babe, was now a weeping mess of an angel.
I knew it was the end before she opened her mouth.

 

She expressed how she hadn’t been completely honest to her family about me, and how she was struggling to fit me into her university life when I lived so far away. I understood completely as deep down, I knew this was impossible to maintain long-term.

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I don’t really remember what we spoke about, but for the first time, we were realistic adults, which wasn’t good.

Like a celebrity’s career after Operation Yewtree, it was all over.
I felt numb, confused. She continued to cry. I may had too. We said goodbye.

I went down to the living room and sat down in exhaustion with such force I almost took out the long curtains traipsed along the floor.

The next few days were a nightmare to say the least. The leftover feelings after constant communication had ended. I now had 5 days off work to dwell and ruminate over the situation, and a bundle of Christmas presents for her, now for me. What the hell do I do with a faux Pandora bracelet, and a belly bar for a navel piercing?

The morning after I stumbled down with a friend to the festive outdoor bar, complete with talking moose, and ordered myself a stiff Jagermeister. The automated moose told jokes, possibly realising I was in a bad way and needed some hilarity

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My post break up therapist

What has antlers and sucks blood?” it exclaimed. “A moose-quito!”

Later, we began talking intermittently. (No, not me and the moose)
She had been out  with other suitors, and at one point coldly told me about these. She later apologised for these confessions and admitted her behaviour had been all over place. She admitted she still had strong feelings for me and if I had lived closer, things could be different.

For some reason, we met up a few months later. I booked a train to Cymru for a catchup. I counted sheep along the way, but lost count.

Our reunion was a very strange experience, we had only seen each other through rose-tinted spectacles before. At first she We bantered for hours, and as we shared ice-cream and cheesecake, our lips found each other as they had done so many times before. As we went to bed and I began to drift off, she shyly said ‘I still love you.

Things just weren’t quite the same and I didn’t know how to act or feel with someone I once shared L-Bombs with. There was awkwardness and arguments, but eventually we fell in love all over again, albeit briefly. She spoke about meeting again, and I didn’t want it to be the end.

As we waited for my train, we both looked at each with lumps in our throats and red eyes. She began to cry. The past 9 months had been a roller-coaster, and as Lord Ronan Keating once said about such, ‘You’ve just got to ride it’. 

We said goodbye; I boarded my train and felt rebellious, putting my feet on the seats as I looked back fondly over our relationship

We never saw each other again. She later dated someone with a beard.

 


Have you tried Long Distance? Write down your experiences in the comment box below!


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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.

 

Other topics:
Trump | Jobs | Teenager | Urbexing | Valentines | First Girlfriend | Catfish | The Incident | Paris | Nan | The Bedroom Embarrassment | Living with students

Currently breaking the Internet at Facebook | Instagram | Twitter |

I’m now on Youtube !

I’m raising money for charity and achieving goals at http://rupertsresolutions.tumblr.com

 

 

Nan and Cancer : The Toughest Blog I’ve Ever Written

This is the one of the hardest things I have ever typed. The first draft set me off into tears and each edit since destroys me slightly.

 

Nan lay in the bed.
She was a degenerated vessel of what she used to be. She looked glazed due to being high on morphine, of which eased the pain of the cancer that had ravaged her. Drifting into consciousness, she seemed unaware of me even being there.

I cried – I felt so hopeless. It was the worst moment of my life. Even with the streams of tears oozing down my face, like an overactive water feature, Nan did not realize I was there.  It felt like there was a heavy weight in my chest, whilst my tearful face had become raw and exasperated. I sank back into a miserable hospital chair. Numb to the core, the energy was draining from my body .

I knew she was going to die.

 2 years earlier – June 7th 2010.

“I don’t know how to tell you this… she has cancer,”  Mum said from the bottom of the stairs.

I didn’t know how to act. Or what to do.

It felt like the punch in the gut I had received by a bully in Year 7 in French class. I dared to share the same oxygen as him. Le teacher, Mademoiselle Allinson was oblivious.

I never contemplated Nan getting cancer.  Despite smoking like a chimney, keeping Malboro in business since the 1950s, and eating far too many Cadbury’s Chocolate Fingers, she seemed vaguely healthy.
She barely touched alcohol, and had once taken a few sips of red wine at an outside wedding. She then suddenly fell backwards with a “Woah.” I later had to carry her back to the car as she was too intoxicated to walk.

After the news, I bought cigarettes from a One Stop store. Richard, the long haired, yet gentle cashier, marketed to me that Haribo was half price. I declined, later lighting up a cigarette. I felt lightheaded as the dizzy buzz of nicotine fucked with my body. I didn’t normally smoke. I felt like an overzealous 13 year old attempting to look cool but not.
I should have just got the Starmix.

Nan’s house always smelt of smoke. She lived in Brynmawr, Wales. Her and her son smoked indoors, with no windows open, and the consequence was that the house was hot-boxed in festering disharmony.

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How it probably looked 

My suitcased clothes, despite being zipped up,  would somehow reek of smoke. Mum treated my returns from Nan’s like a contamination risk in case I spread the aroma back home. She forced all my clothes into the washing machine.
This tobacco smoke wafted in the air, even turning Nan’s grey fringe a horrible pale yellow. The confused child in me asked her why she dyed it that colour. Maybe I should have bought Nan a lifetime supply of Airwick with a side dish of actual hair dye.

After my cigarette, I saw some friends. They were a welcome distraction. We took advantage of beer and a microwaved roast deal at Weatherspoons – a place that has been described by The Guardian as the  ‘McDonalds of the pub world’. I was egged on to down some gravy.

It took me ages to work up the courage to call Nan and talk to her about the cancer. All I knew was that it was in her breast and lung.  I didn’t know what to say. Our family never talk about personal things. Either by sheer awkwardness or due to dancing about on the spectrum, no one dares be emotional or open to not ruin the status quo.

I couldn’t say the C word, I just used the term unwell. Before I said goodbye, I ended with a ‘Love you.’ Every single phone call afterwards ended with this affection.

Two years passed, and she didn’t seem any different. She hadn’t planned on telling us in the first place, as she felt it didn’t matter. She was slimmer.
She continued her lifelong duties – feeding the dog, cat and her overgrown son in his mid-50s, with the relentless dedication of a hypnotized housewife. The dog was diabetic as she fed it choc ices.

I’m not proud of my Uncle, whose spent his life on Jobseekers’ allowance and growing suspicious herbs. His airing cupboard once held a giant plant, of which I stumbled into by accident during my adolescence.  Nan’s had an eternal maternal instinct of feeding him, whilst he sat on the sofa and ranted how society was ‘poxy,’ or how the world was an arsehole. This unwanted commentary was non-stop whilst we watched The Weakest Link. No television programme was complete without his stoned monologue. It was like Gogglebox but with a psychotic. Sadly, my lowest ebb was buying some herbs off him whilst her back was turned. We had a sofa-based deal.
He wasn’t always bad. He took me to my first and only illegal rave in 2003, tucked away in the Welsh mountains. People offered me acid to buy or asked if I had any. I was confused at what science had to do with forbidden mountain trance.

My uncle would also leave his false teeth in a mug in the kitchen.  Don’t ask me why.

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One of the many reasons my uncle has been single for years

Despite being a jobless overgrown child,  he was proud to be a vegetarian.  Whilst eating a bacon sandwich, he loudly proclaimed to me it smelt like a tramp’s armpit. It put me off.

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 OI

Anyway, it was now late 2012. I had returned from Camp America in the summer, and my mum let me know Nan had taken a turn for a worse and was hospitalized.
The journey to see her involved spending 8 hours in the car with my mother, the equivalent to a life prison sentence with Louis Walsh and the Crazy Frog as cell mates.
The night prior, I went to an event called Birthday Lashings. Dressed as a Blues Brother (tie and shades was a cost-free costume) people thought I was Mr Bean or The Men in Black. My ex spent the night rolling around on the floor covered in party streamers because I spoke to different women. Most women there were middle aged, wearing Asda sparkly party dresses and making innuendos about cocktail sausages.

We hopped into 2 booked taxis to go to the nightclub nadir that is Walkabout. I was promised a good time but didn’t have one. The dancefloor was a sticky vortex of hopelessness, and despite my best dance moves, I failed to attract a female.

It was 3am. The taxis turned up, some people had gone home prior. The remaining people piled into one and I was left with the other taxi by myself – paying the whole £35 trip home alone. I called the ex, hopefully she had picked herself off the floor, maybe she was in town and we could split a taxi fare back.  No answer. Luckily another person who was hovering around shared the taxi home and gave me some money towards it.

It was now the morning  of the 25th of November 2012, the last time I saw my Nan alive.  I was grouchy, hungover and hating the world.
Mother was brimming with cold and road rage.  I had avoided being in a car with her for years.  It was mobile claustrophobia.

As expected, it was a a horrid experience. Instead of taking the Seven tunnel, she refused to pay the toll fare, so our 4 hour journey was now 7 hours. The nausea from last nights Birthday Lashings was not appealing as Mum swerved through country lanes. The dodgy Satnav, an unloved Christmas present from a man named Derek, was thrown out the car window.

I was ecstatic when we stopped at a Tesco where I stuffed myself full with sweet Chili Sunbites and brownies, whilst guzzling down some Travel Sickness tablets.
We sat in the carpark, miserable and tired, then Mum imploded. She swore about her childhood issues and how no matter what she did, her brother was always preferred by her Mum. He got away with murder practically. Decades of unexploded rage detonated, I did feel sympathetic. I loved her but I think she had been enveloped by stress after what was happening to Nan.

We arrived at YItsbyty Aneurin Bevan by night. No, I haven’t fallen asleep on my keyboard. It was the name of the hospital.

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My mum stayed in the car, not wanting to spread her cold. Little did I know, this would give me the chance to say what I wanted to Nan.  I felt this could be our last goodbye.

I asked for directions to find Nan’s room, it was a labyrinth of white corridors to find her.As I entered her room, my heart sank.

I was usually greeted by an exasperated noise as she’d try and get off the arm chair to greet me. Or she’d be waiting at the station, with a confused look on her face as she had forgotten how tall I was.

This was horribly different. She had withered away. Just 5 months ago, she was alive with life. It had now been drained out of her. Her complexion a ghostly white, the colour in her cheeks had faded away.
Her arms had become twigs.  I couldn’t see her legs under the duvet; I  thought at first that they had been amputated.  I swallowed hard; it was devastating to see her like this.

The nurse awoke her and went to get her a vase for the present of flowers and blueberry juice that Mum had gotten her.
My Nan always had juice and biscuits ready for me at my beck and call, I felt very spoilt, yet I felt loved and that I was a little Lord of her Welsh Manor.
Instead now I was pouring the juice, and ended up accidentally covering the counter in blueberry nectar. Luckily Nan didn’t notice, but she was unintentionally ignoring me anyway.

I mentioned there was an interesting looking TV attached to the ceiling, just to break the silence. Nan asked the nurse to bring it down.

NO NO NO – I screamed in my head. We can’t watch the television, I’ve come all this way to see her!  Now is the opportunity to talk about emotional things – I didn’t want my voice to be an Uncle-like commentary. Maybe I could pour some more blueberry juice over it and start an electrical fire.
The television was unfriendly. It was a ghastly contraption that was probably concocted by a 1970s interpretation of the future, yet built by a baboon. It came down from the ceiling, and you had to tap it to change channels, yet it was almost impossible to reach by hand.

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Children were choir singing on TV, and Nan asked if Camp America kids were anything like this. There were far from angelic I retorted. Nan did not respond.

I felt that I was fighting for her attention, was I just an annoying noise? She was content looking at the television. I felt invisible to someone who always made me feel wanted.
I turned it off.  The atmosphere was silent and bleak, I felt tearful that this was not the loving, smiley Nan I was used to. When I looked across during the EastEnders Sunday Omnibus,  she would always give an affectionate wink with a slight head twist.

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I began to cry, the tears flowing down my cheeks until my eyelids were sore. My throat was dry. I felt my world had caved in slightly. I wanted to communicate how I felt like I was the only person in the room but I was so utterly numb, my emotions raw. I couldn’t say anything or express myself, I just didn’t know how.

She suddenly noticed I was sniffing. I swallowed hard, took a deep breath, and let it out.I told her I was upset, and I loved her so much and that I didn’t like seeing her so unwell.

Suddenly, she held out a boney wrist from the side of the bed and we held each other. I wanted to hold it tight but I didn’t want to hurt her.  It felt like she was using all the strength that she could muster. It was poignant moment, a shred of emotion from a family who didn’t show it. I felt relieved as it felt like she knew who I was now.

We talked about various memories. Gregg’s sausage rolls she’d bring back for me and my hatred for a soul destroying department store called Haven.  I told Nan how she looked after dogs far better than her friend. (Nan hated any conversation of unloved pets being put down, and at one point had a house full of them. Her owner friends would speak of it putting their pets down, and Nan would adopt. There was Monty Dog, Bell, Andy, Arrow and Lady to name a few.  Andy once bit my hand, the bugger. I was traumatized about dogs for years.)

We reminisced how Nan ended up hating Derek, who once planned to stay for a weekend yet stayed for 9 days. He had turned the arm chair into his personal throne and left a line of empty beer bottles by her bin.  Beforehand, she’d sung his praises, but now simply expressed a cruel cold lip when I mentioned the name Derek. We also touched upon that wardrobe incident, where we had collaboratively almost got her crushed by a huge inanimate object.
More truths tumbled out. I told her how I used to throw tantrums in the car rides home back from Wales. I want to stay in Waaaalleeeeessss, I had wailed. I revealed it was her I came to see, her love and smile would make me so happy.

I asked what Nan wanted to do when she was well again, she said we could walk down the beach together. I asked if she wanted to go in the sea, she said she couldn’t swim and that she’d have to stand on my shoulders.

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Nan’s dinner arrived. After she had eaten, the memories ended, and she didn’t notice I was there again.

I took some time out and collapsed against the wall outside her room. I balled my eyes out, I started to slide down in despair. The nurses outside looked confused and perplexed why I was crying, one of them said they could talk to me. I asked how long she had left, they said they didn’t or couldn’t know.

Mum then appeared wearing a face-mask, and my Nan told her that my grandson was here, but then  later referred to me as her nephew.  She never had any nephews. Mum left again and I got to stay with Nan a bit longer

Nan took more medication, and admitted she was even more out of it. She said it was a shame I didn’t stick to a media carer. She wanted to say that’s my nephew’s when the TV credits rolled. She said she thought of me a lot, and what I’m doing.

She kept longingly checking her phone which was on her bed table. She was mystified by things such as text messages, and asked me if I remember me changing the background to a little yellow man, which she thought was brilliant.

Out of it again, awkwardness prevailed. I told her how much I loved her once more, my heart tugged as  I wiped my tear stained face. We both agreed we were people’s people. Uncle never told her he even liked her, let alone loved her. We both agreed we’d love each other… forever. I couldn’t believe we were saying these words to each other, it didn’t seem real.

I took in a sharp intake of breath as the tears fell. We held hands again, despite her having a manky tissue in her hand. She promised she’d get better for me, and that I should ring her. I kissed her forehead twice.

I somehow slipped on the floor on the way out but my feet managed to catch myself.

Her last words to me were be “careful”.

I looked at her on the way out, and she looked at me longingly, and I think she was happy.

I needed to speak to someone rational. I called someone, who I’d recently been in touch with about a prospective meet, I knew she was one of the few people I could have a telephone cry with. Awkwardly, she was with a guy, so I instead stumbled around the hospital until I found the exit, and we drove home.

It was a tense drive home. Things regressed to an unwanted parent-child dynamic. I got told of for munching Sunbites too loudly and that they smell. Then my phone screen was too bright.  I dived out to go to the loo, and possibly some salvation, and she told me to wear a coat, and not to close the car door loudly.

I think she wanted me to snap and have an apocalyptic car showdown along the M4. I bit my tongue for hours, despite being tempted to open the car door and jump out down the dual carriageway.

A few weeks later, Nan died.

Grief was new. It didn’t have the  constant emotional absorption of getting your heart broken. At first I felt nothing.  I kept on thinking I was in a movie, thinking of the stereotypical grieving process of what I should do. This is what happens when the TV has been your third parent.
I was more relieved of her passing and I felt really selfish for feeling that way. It felt like confusing burden had been lifted. I ordered 2 doubles at the pub – bad idea, for a steep £10. I didn’t care if the barperson thought I was a breakfast time alcoholic. A flurry of memories hit me that I then realised I only shared now.

These included Nan putting up with my repertoire of, “what do you get if you cross?” jokes for hours on end whilst I recorded them on one of these below 90s contraptions

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In my head, I was the world’s best DJ in 1995

More memories came to mind. Nan making an Xmas Lunch with mint sauce. Each following meal still involved the same eternal pot of mint sauce.  Fish and Chips and Mint Sauce. Pie and Potatoes and Mint Sauce.  Or Stuffing. She knew I had a soft spot for stuffing, by New Years Day there would be stuffing on the side of each meal simply because she knew I loved it.

I remembered Nan offering me a stack of bread and butter and various cups of cold water in case I couldn’t handle my first Bombay Bad Boy Pot Noodle. I found it hilarious Nan also could not understand the idea of Naan bread. Maybe it was jealousy.

On the way to a shopping trip to Somerfield and Kwiksave, I’d turn to talk to her and she’d always be gone.  I would look behind, only to see her miles away at the top of the hill.  Her tiny legs were no match for my manly strides, yet she would never say anything.

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On the way back, I would be her hench strongman as I’d carry the shopping bags back up again.

We once bumped into a boy who randomly offered us a chocolate dog bone for Nan’s neurotic Labrador, Andy. We were perplexed why it had a bite mark in it. The hungry boy thought he’d gotten a novelty chocolate deal at the Pet Shop and eaten some.

My favourite memory of her is when I used to say goodbye as I’d head into the car/bus/train and head off back to England. She’d wave as long as possible, until she could no longer see me. I would turn around, and her face would always be smiling at me, hoping that I would come and visit again soon.

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On the day of her funeral, there were little bags of tissue next to each seat. We sung All Creatures Great and Small, an ode for her love of animals.

We watched a slideshow that my Mum had prepared of her life, including her on a motorbike. I burst into a fit of giggles when a photo of Nan and me appeared, with my bed-hair affected Lego Man haircut.  My uncle was his normal self, proudly smoking in front of the No-Smoking sign at the crematorium.

I placed a white rose and a note on her coffin, and then she was gone forever.
I couldn’t believe it. We had a post meal at a Harvester, but it felt like there was someone amazing missing

Her birthday is on Halloween. Once I bewildered her with a surprise visit by putting on a  frightful Halloween mask and knocking on her front door.
“You’re a bit early,” she said as I trick or treated her in the late afternoon. I took off the mask and revealed  it was actually me!

Now on her birthday, I’m not cheeky at all. Instead of improving my appearance with a novelty mask,  I buy a helium balloon and attach a little note, then let it go up into the sky.
It hope it doesn’t end up up entangled on a satellite dish, but it’s nice to give her a message every year to remind her she’s still very much missed.

Next Halloween, look up into the clouds, around about sunset.
Cast your eyes wide into the sky.

You might just see it.

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Rupert The Teenager: Surviving Brock College

My hormones stepped up into overdrive. The pale, gingery goddess with crystal blue eyes stared back at me.

My heart pumped in my chest. My body tingled all over with that warm fuzzy feeling. My mind was aghast in a cringey teenage tornado. I even got goosebumps.

⚠️ WARNING ⚠️
The following blog entry is from the perspective of my virginial, awkward teenage self. People who read my blogs often ask ‘why did you do that’ etc, but I am older, wiser, and far more cynical these days.

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This teenage moment happened back in the 2000’s. Our phones weren’t smart and neither was I.

As you have read before, I had decided to become a gothical emo alternative schmuck. A year later from this decision, disappointing facial hair had now grown, and I adamantly refused to shave the fluff. My theory was that if I shaved, it would grow back into a scary full-on man beard I would never be able to get rid of. Hipster was a mere trend-foetus at this stage.

My new life ambition was to become a charismatic and popular rockstar – despite not knowing how to play any instruments and only drinking Watermelon Barcardi Breezers. I was studying at Brockenhurst college – and my goth, I was having a social renaissance.
I could wear what I want!
Well, what I wanted back then was a t-shirt advertising Iron Maiden. Complete with TK Maxx leather jacket and various bandanas. Said jacket was worn so much, I was known as The Fonz around the Hard Brock Cafe. Yep, it was actually called that.
This fashion had replaced the Matalan red fleeces and T-shirts with pressable sound effects (the only clothing I’ve ever worn that came with it’s own battery pack.)
On went the tight drainpipe trousers (with great difficulty), black shag bands and dangling chain then went around my jeans pocket for no reason whatsoever. This infographic pretty much sums me up:

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Each day seemed more amazing than the next. I wouldn’t get told off for not turning up to college! However, GTA: San Andreas ruined my education and I didn’t get the A-Level grades I probably should have got.
Everyone at colleague was friendly. I could even call teachers by their first name!
I had gone from shy wallflower to someone who would just sit next to someone on the college bus and strike up a conversation. I was giddy and no doubts could stop me.  My confidence was growing at a great rate, but my decisions, like my unbeard, were ridiculous.

I aimed to be part of the Goth clique at college. Not by talking to them, but by dressing like them and listening to their music. My logic was that my alternative aura would naturally pull me into their black-cladded, growling ensemble that looked like an economy Lost Boys mixed with the Addams Family. Their leader had nostrils that looked like the arches of a viaduct.

To further my transformation, I decided not to have my hair cut for about 14 months. It grew into an unkept mane with the colour of mocha, of which was wrapped up in a burgundy bandana. My Dad said I looked like Jim Morrison. Looking back I resembled  like a poor man’s Tarzan.

Everyone was banging on about Natasha Bedingfield and Britney, but my dream girl back then was Amy Lee.

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Bring me to life :p

At the time girls were confusing and elusive (this is still true!), yet I yearned for a girlfriend. I would see prancing couples at college, and goopy long haired barons doing handstands on the field, lapping up the attention. I’d think, ‘what is the boyfriend saying that is so magical? What is he doing?’
I lived in a town (New Milton) where the average age was 70 and fun was outlawed. Any women my age were mostly likely pregnant or were aiming towards their first ASBO.

There was Michaela, a girl from Winchester. She was very lovely and talkative, we could have a potential future, but there was one stipulation.
We never actually met.

So in summary, my love life was pretty much dead. Maybe my destiny was a microwaveable Meal for One – or like my once stepfather, order a Thai Bride off the internet.

I went to visit my Nan in Wales, over Easter and we’d just popped to see Auntie Vi. She wasn’t even an Auntie, it was just one of those affectionate terms, like Nan. Vi’s accent was so thick with Welshness her voice sounded like she swallowed a cheese grater.  She always gave me money so I could buy sweets, as would many of my Nan’s friends. I instead saved all these coins enough over the years to buy my own Playstation. My inner businessman started to salivate when any of them got their purses out around me.

On the way back from Vi’s, my pocket now full of well-earned coins, I passed by something that usually escaped me.  I was wearing a grungy black T-shirt with a mud design, the fashionista that I was, with my mocha mullet flowing and my Will-from-Inbetweeners spectacles on.  I saw a ginger girl. She had a slightly pale complexion with ocean blue eyes. She was very pretty, and I think she smiled at me.

Hang on. Oh my god.

I loitered around the town centre, contemplating this rare phenomenon. I later saw her with three African girls perched up near some steps.

“Hi” they said in chorus.

I almost did a double take. Were they speaking to someone behind me? Were they drunk?

Nope.

Girls.

Were.

Actually.

Talking.

To.

Me.