SiL: The Date-Non-Date Perplexity

Feeling vamped-up after my newly single make-over I was feeling pretty confident. Confident enough in fact to test the waters with an old acquaintance from school. Meet Jacob: now a professional actor Jacob was one of my earliest friends at secondary school. We would hang out in a group at café Nero every day, share music recommendations and generally get on quite well – we even had special nicknames for each other at the time. Come years 10 and 11 when people started getting their first serious boyfriends and girlfriends we drifted apart but stayed amicable when seeing each other across the common room. Since school he has crept back into my dreams once or twice a year as a feature of potential romance. There is always some sort of kissing or hand holding involved as whatever story plays out in that particular scenario.

So feeling confident and somewhat sexy I decided now would be the time to maybe let him know. After all, what have I got to lose? So I send a message something along the lines of “Hey Jacob! At the risk of sounding a little weird, you popped up in my dream last night, how random! How are you? I hope things are good x”. Casual I think – not too creepy. And an hour later I get a message back filling me in on his life and asking so: what happened? Of course I’m not going to be honest here, so I brush it off with an “oh I don’t remember too much of it. Only that you were there”

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and ask him if he wants to get a drink sometime. He says yes, but tells me that he is going to be away for a couple of weeks. That’s a shame, but a gentle let down nevertheless. No embarrassment here and we can go our separate ways retaining the hint of a friendship that once was.

To my surprise two weeks later I get a text! “Hi K, its Jacob, how are you? Still fancy grabbing that drink? I’m free Saturday day time?” Amazing, I totally wasn’t expecting that. So we arranged to meet in a trendy coffee house for that weekend, followed by a tour round his favourite gallery (as he remembers we are ‘both arty souls’). Of course, being a girl, I message my friends and explain what has happened and pose the question: Is this a date? It’s in the afternoon, so does that make it a friendly catch-up or are we going on a day-date? My sister reckons that “boys don’t give up their Saturday for any old bitch” (thanks sis). But I’m not convinced.

And then another text. “So had any more dreams about me?” Surely this is a sign. This is flirty right?

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Both of my significant boyfriends have come from friendships at school that have taken years to develop into something more romantic. My first boyfriend, Chris, and I met in Primary school age 6. I knew straight away that I liked him. I just wanted to be around him, wanted him to think I was cool. Played specific games in specific part of the playground where he might notice me. He did. We were part of the same running club and he used to chase me round the field, me giggling insisting he stop (don’t stop). Anyway he went off to a different secondary school and we lost contact. 5 years later Myspace brought us back together and within no time we admitted our childhood crushes, turning them into a real relationship. We were each other’s firsts. We lived out of each other’s pockets, even moved into a flat together. It was the real thing, until two years later when it wasn’t.

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My last relationship, Michael, was a similar story. After Chris I started getting warm feelings around him. Sixth form finished, I took gap years, he went to uni, I joined him 2 years later and within a month of my fresher’s we were together.

So could this be another delayed romance on the horizon? I didn’t know but why not find out. After all we did have a special bond. .

So I get dressed up nice (but not too nice) we meet for coffee, and talk about what has been happening in each other’s lives since we left school. There’s a bit of flirting and a lot of smiling and laughing as we move onto his favourite gallery. It’s mostly modern pieces; some graffiti, some portraits, some nude portraits, some photorealism. He drinks each piece in asking me what I think, which one is my favourite. I style my way through, I’m a painter – not a critique. And then we agree to head off to the tube together. He asks me if I am seeing anyone, I say no and enquire back to which he tells me that he ‘kind-of’ seeing a woman from Tinder although he’s not convinced. And then it’s time to leave, we say our goodbyes and I leave to meet my friend.

Still confused over the nature of my afternoon, was it a date? I talk it through with my friend who praises him on his attentiveness and maturity in planning the afternoon. I would definitely be interested in seeing him again, he’s grown into an attractive insightful man, why the hell not! We agree that the next course of action is to send a message at the end of the night to say thanks, and that it was fun.

K: Hey, thanks for today, it was good to spend time with you. Hope you’re enjoying your party x

J: Good to catch up.

 

Yeah. So that wasn’t a date. Oh well, you live you learn!

2 months later when Jacob came up on my Tinder feed I swiped left and saved us both the embarrassment.

Next!

50 Shades of Misguidedness

This evening I saw one of my best friends for dinner. We got to the usual ‘how are you’, ‘what’s new’ chat when she told me that she saw her cousins over the weekend and watched 50 Shades of Grey for the first time. I asked her if she had read it first, and she said that although she had heard a lot of hype about it this was the first encounter she had had with the story. 50 shades

Like many a woman (and man) out there, I am a fan of the franchise. I read the books straight away, couldn’t put them down. I even pre-ordered Grey on my Kindle so I could bathe in the other side of the story. I laughed at the cheesy lines and enjoyed Jamie Dornan in the movies. But unlike others I am not a fan because of the ‘risqué’ sex scenes; it’s not masturbation material for me. I am a fan for the underlying storyline and character development. And yes, there is some there to be found.

For anyone who doesn’t know the storyline (where have you been?!) here’s a very brief synopsis. Clumsy, boy-shy, virgin female undergraduate, Ana, falls into the office (literally) of rich, narcissistic, sex-driven slightly older man, Christian Grey. He stalks her for a bit, invites her over, they have sex and, because this is actually a romance, the two fall for each other. Throw in a bit of BDSM, a red room of pain – oops I mean pleasure *cough cough* – and a Mrs. Robinson figure and you’ve got a best seller on your hands. Of course, innocent Anna can’t deal with Christian’s Dom-Sub lifestyle and walks away hurt at the end, bruises and all. Dun dun duuuuuuuun – whatever could happen next?

Anyway, back to my friend. This was one of those moments where as the conversation unfolds I am so pleased to be a part of her life and share in her thoughts. She was telling me that as the movie played out she was not only cringing at the awful story scripting of dialect but actually left the room when Christian was finally releasing his dominant urges on Ana’s buttocks with the aid of a leather belt. All the while her younger cousins were sat giggling throughout, sharing excited stories of things they have tried and how they wish their men were more like Christian.

I’ll say this once. What on earth about a mentally unwell, sexually-exploited, aggressive man taking his anger and frustration out on a woman who doesn’t understand, wants to please, and winces with pain is sexy?! Seriously? Please don’t get me wrong there are parts of the story that are incredibly sexy. A gorgeous, intelligent man in the thralls of passion having to have his girlfriend there-and-then in a consensual and fiery manner is great. Isn’t that what we all want, a man who is so into us that he instigates passionate

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spontaneous got-to-have-you-right-now sexy time? Yes please, but not from a man who has serious issues and wants to physically punish me for giving him the wrong type of look.

Young women (and men) are being influenced by this, but are they getting a real sexual education from it? No. Giggly girls swapping stories of cheap handcuffs from Ann Summers is fun. Just please don’t idolise this beaten down man yet. Wait for him to develop as the series progresses. See where the story goes. And don’t believe ‘exciting’ sex has to look like that, because girls, it doesn’t. If you want to experiment that’s fine, just start in the safety of someone you trust and build up on your experiences. Don’t be afraid to say stop. I was with a man recently who thought it was sexy to hold my throat during sex (I checked with my girlfriends – yes choking is a common thing now apparently and no not everyone is keen on it). I put a stop to it, said no and we moved on and had good sex.

50 Shades of Grey is not pure erotica, it is a love story.

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A can’t-live-without-you romance about a woman who wants to ground her man, and a man who is willing to try to be a better person for her. It’s the classic ‘I can change him’ dream almost every girl has at some point in her life. Take that away from it. Don’t take misguided lessons about what exciting sex can or should, be like.

We don’t all have hidden red rooms and there’s a good reason for that. A cheeky draw of goodies is enough for most. Just remember Christian is a mentally unwell 50 shades of fucked up, who wants to follow that example?

Single in London (SiL): 5 Years a Partner

Imagine, one day something just clicks, falls into place. Your whole life is about to change, because that one cog in your brain that hasn’t quite fitted until now has finally slotted itself into your consciousness. Like a lost marble suddenly found. But whoever thought that finding your marbles would be so difficult.

If you haven’t already sussed me out, I am now a single lady. No he didn’t put a ring on it and boy am I glad. Not that I didn’t love my now ex, but there was always an expiration date on us. I don’t want to bore you with the details, that’s now what you’re here for, but I’ll give you enough to understand.

Michael and I met at school but got together later on in life, history repeating itself from my first relationship. He always made me feel special, even before we were friends. I never knew what it was, he isn’t the most conventionally good looking guy. Actually I even went as far as to say he was ‘weird looking’ at school – which I am very sorry for now I am old(er), wise(r) and more mature. But regardless of this, just being in his presence made me feel happy. Genuinely, he didn’t even need to speak to me, just knowing he was in the Simone room as me elicited this warmth inside me that I couldn’t understand for the life of me. Why would this odd looking kid make me feel this way?

It is probably worth mentioning at this point that Michael has quite severe obsessive compulsive disorder, always has done and probably always will. I knew this going in and retained my acceptance of this part of him throughout or 5 years together. Through the intrusive thoughts of rape, HIV, AIDs, abuse and consistent avoidance of physical relations with me I stuck by him, because that is just one part of him. Michael’s OCD is a part of him, like an organ contributing to his daily existence. This I knew, and this I looked past.

We lasted long distance, spoke of marriage, of children, we planned our futures together, made it through bereavements together and eventually tried to live together. Click. Day 2 and that cog falls into place. It became devastatingly clear, to me anyway, that if I was going to continue working in psychology, supporting people all day that I would need to come home to someone who would be able to tolerate my bad moods and support me through acts of compassion. This isn’t one of Michael’s organs. He had been brought up to look after number 1 and number 1 only. A prime example would be that I got on a train once to visit him in the middle of the night to sit with him in A & E whilst he was told he didn’t have an illness he had googled earlier. I on the other hand had a cancer scare and asked for support when getting a biopsy done; his reply was that it was unnecessary for him to board a train to be with me as he didn’t want to miss out on work for something that may or may not be there.

This is not a blame game though, everyone is a problem in their own right. I wasn’t in a position to offer him what he needed: a unwavering beacon of positivity and glee. I couldn’t offer him the empathy he always needed. I’d given it all away to my patients at work. I wouldn’t live life trying to avoid nasties as I was faced with depression and anxiety every day, with little support of my own. Yes I am a pessimist, so bite me.

It was a recipe for disaster, at some point down the line we would discover our incompatibility. So with a heavy heart, and a period of extreme anxiousness and inability to consume more than a biscuit each day, I ended it.

So this brings me to now. What is the one thing girls do make themselves feel better after a break up. Prepare for new love, get a new look, change the wardrobe, hair, style, personality even. Somehow by creating a new me, I’ll be a more attractive me. Is it the right thing to do? Maybe not, but did it work? Well I am a lot happier when I look in the mirror. I have ditched my faded brown locks for a platinum bob, shaken up my 00s wardrobe with a stylish 8 piece essential rotation system (with the help of my fashionista sister), and rediscovered old hobbies I had neglected.

I feel more attractive. I feel good.

Now just the little problem of learning how to date again…..

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Watch this space for updates of Single in London (SiL) and join me on my journey to find happiness, potential love, and of course, sex.

Must-see-Movie: Eddie the Eagle

Eddie the Eagle

 

I just got back from a preview of Dexter Fletcher’s Eddie the Eagle ahead of its UKrelease next week and I’ve got to say: please see this film.

This inspiring film is the retelling the story of Eddie Edwards, Olympic ski jumper, in the 1988 Winter Olympics and his resolve to fulfil his dreams of being a professional athlete. From the very first scene Fletcher has you opening your heart to the little boy with a leg brace and big fantasies. The slightest ember of excitement starts to flourish as Eddie grows and his ambitions start to become more realistic. Who doesn’t love a cute kid with dreams right?

Enter Taron Egerton. Now I have a soft spot for Egerton anyway; since seeing him as ‘Eggsy’ in Kingsman and even ‘Mad Teddy Smith’ in Legend my case of the feels only grew. Taron

Let’s be honest, I was always going to see this film. But it wasn’t his looks or charm that kept me gripped this time, it was his conviction to play Edwards and play him well. From determination, to fear, to pure joy Egerton doesn’t lose character. His traits and facial expressions never falter.

But let us not leave Hugh Jackman’s performance as Bronson Peary, Eddie’s mentor, unrecognised. Hi seamlessly cool demeanour and reluctance to take a personal engagement in Eddie’s passion helps make the story of this unlikely hero so heart-warming. He plays the much needed, albeit somewhat unwilling, father-figure very well. The two have great on-screen chemistry.

As the story unfolds, with a great 80s soundtrack behind it, I found myself on the edge of my chair my chest leaping as he takes off, and body softening as he lands the jump straight into my heart. This is definitely a must-see-movie, so get yourself to the cinema and let me know what you thought!

 

 

#film #movie #review #premier #mustseemovie

Another reason to love Kate Winslet

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Recently I was lucky enough to be able to attend a truly wonderful event in honour of young people and their commitment to making the world a better place; We Day. A whole day filled with inspirational stories from survivors of pain, discrimination and racism straight from the hearts and minds of celebrities and non-celebrities alike. But one particular person stood out for me that day: Kate Winslet.

Now I should probably admit before we go any further with this that I am going to be biased here. I am a Kate fan (although you probably guessed that from the title). Always have been, probably always will be. Not only is she incredibly talented, but she has a humility about her that is humbling and awesome. We love her loyalty to one of her best friends, Leo, and have always watched on with a fondness that sinks deep when they are proud of each other’s achievements on screen. I’m not going to kid myself, yes I wanted to see Leo win his Oscar this year, but most of all I wanted to see Kate flush with happiness as he collected his statue and gave his speech.

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The Oscars 2016

Much like myself, she is an animal lover and vegetarian. She is an ambassador for equality and founder of the Golden Hat Foundation, a non-profit organisation with a mission statement to eliminate barriers for people living with Autism. This woman is amazing.

So when she spoke out at We Day, albeit through a video linked message, about the importance of not becoming a victim to body image I was thrilled. For anyone who doesn’t know Kate Winslet has spoken openly about her appearance throughout her childhood; “I was hubby, always had big feet, the wrong shoes, bad hair”. In her video she spoke about being called “blubber” by other children in her class and the damage that caused to her self-esteem. But what was so inspiring about her lesson to an arena full of young people that day, was that no matter what you look like, no matter what your weight, your shape, your size, your genetic make-up, you are you and that is a beautiful thing. No one is perfect, the images we see in the media every day are just manipulations of what people want to see, not who those people really are and what they look like. As she urged the young boys and girls to embrace themselves and never feel ashamed of their skin she lit a spark in my heart. I can only hope she reached more hearts that day.

Body image and self-esteem is a huge part of forming your identity. I am sad to say that many of my loved ones struggle with this part of life, myself included. What person doesn’t look in the mirror and dislike what they see. I know I have my good days and bad days, my closest friend has too. She suffers with body dysmorphia stemming from a childhood of teasing about her weight. It is a topic that is close to home for me, and that is why I love Kate Winslet for advocating for positive body image on such an important day for youths. She is aiming to positively reinforce diversity as a beautiful aspect of life, something more of us should be aware of, especially when we are going through our vital years as a young adult and teenager.

Next time you look in the mirror and cringe, or your friend, or sister, or brother tells you they aren’t happy with what they see of themselves I want you to remember, we are all imperfect and that’s what makes us all perfect.

I’m going to leave you with some inspiring quotes from Kate to ponder upon.

 

‘I stand in front of the mirror and say to [my daughter] Mia, ‘We are so lucky we have a shape. We’re so lucky we’re curvy. We’re so lucky that we’ve got good bums.’ And she’ll say, ‘Mummy, I know, thank God.’ It’s paying off.’

‘I accept my body. I accept how I am and make the best of what I am given.’

‘I look like people that walk down the street. I don’t have perfect boobs, I don’t have zero cellulite – of course I don’t – and I’m curvy. If that is something that makes women feel empowered in any way, that’s great.’

Lovely.