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Hey Now, Haenow, Don’t Dream it’s Over

You all know the song that goes “Last night a DJ saved my life”?

Well, it may be a little extreme but on 14th December 2014, an X Factor winner saved my life. OK, maybe he just cheered me up a bit in reality, but the events leading up to that night meant that winner:- Ben Haenow, will always, ALWAYS hold a special place in my heart.

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*Ben on X Factor, photograph not my own.

Firstly though, let me address the fact that I do, indeed, watch The X Factor. I’m not ashamed. People criticise it, yeah there are novelty acts that slip through every now and then but we’ve got to remember, this is a ” light entertainment ” show aired at a peak time on a Saturday night. The more people talking about it, good or bad, the better. The reason I like it, essentially, boils down to the fact that I love live music. So many times in my life, I’ve been to local pubs and festivals and thought “how have they not hit the big time yet”, or ” its such a shame more people can’t benefit from hearing their voice”. X Factor has become a platform for those very people. I agree, once they hit the live shows, they get a commercial make over and are almost squeezed into a box to conform to what the show thinks they should be. There’s always the ballad diva, the novelty act, the good looking boy with the weakest voice but the voting public of teenage girls will love him. I get it, its pants. However… Remember this, these acts HAVE to sing live EVERY WEEK. They can’t hide behind auto tune. No, not all of them are good. Some look the part, put on the show, but vocally can’t keep it up. On the very, very rarest of occasions, a real talent will slip through. Although I’ve watched every series, I have only ever voted for three acts in the whole time the show has been running. Matt Cardle, Ben Haenow and Louisa Johnson. They all won. Louisa has recently really taken off, with upbeat dance anthems and a duet with Olly Murs. You’d be forgiven for thinking the other two had disappeared off the face of the earth, but you’d be wrong.

I’ve seen Matt Cardle live and his voice is perfection. This is what ex X Factor contestants are used to. Standing on a stage, giving their all to a crowd of people, live. On X Factor, they had a week to learn new songs, they understand delivering a performance. They haven’t been polished and guided through their career with the proverbial silver spoon in their mouths. Since winning, Matt has struggled with drink and drug problems, something I don’t condone but can fully understand. You go from Joe Bloggs, painter and decorator, scraping pennies together to get by, to having a record contract, a tour and money overnight. The support isn’t there for them. They choose to go on X Factor to get a break. And that break is instant. Matt checked into rehab, sorted himself and came back with an understated, intimate tour and was moved to tears on stage from the support he still had. Still has. Matt’s albums are mainly self-penned. His voice lends itself to soulful, heart breaking ballads but he’s definitely capable of upbeat too. His X Factor performance of “First time ever I saw your face” was spine tingling.

Matt Cardle, X Factor 2010 winner on tour in Birmingham in 2012. Photograph © me

I was fortunate enough to see Louisa Johnson when she toured with Olly Murs this summer. This is a girl who was just 16 when she auditioned for X Factor. She was studying, rehearsing and performing live every week. That is talent.  Pure and undeniable. Her winners single was a flop and she dropped off the radar after that. That didn’t mean she gave up. Just when people had written her off, she came back with the single “Tears”, a collaboration with Clean Bandit, and firmly established herself as an artist away from the show. She’s taken a more edgy, dancey route and it suits her. This girl too, deserves more recognition than she gets. Her voice is beyond her years.

Olly Murs and Louisa Johnson in 2017. Photograph © me

These three favourite acts of mine to come from the show haven’t even had the biggest success since winning. When you look at the likes of One Direction (who were only ever runners up to Matt Cardle), Little Mix and Leona Lewis, who all have international fame now, you could easily say I’m backing the weakest links. But nope, I have my reasons. And Mr Haenow has earnt my loyalty in a way he’ll never know (unless he reads this blog of course).

So onto 2014, Bens year. From his first audition right through to the final, he was my firm favourite. He had a natural gritty, rocky voice which instantly meant any song he covered sounded different enough from the original and distinctively “Ben”. On screen he came across as a cheeky chappy, white van man, down to earth. Each week he got through he looked genuinely shocked and grateful for the support he was getting. In the final he was up against a sassy, ready made artist in Fleur East. She performed as if she was born to entertain. Firm bookies favourite. But Ben, with renditions of Highway to Hell and Cry me a River both perfectly executed, always had my vote. I always remember the judges telling him how brave he was to sing the first part of “Man in the Mirror” completely acapella, just his voice, raw and exposed.

Now, let me explain my opening comment.

My then husband used to watch X Factor with me. When I say “watch”, he did at least used to be in the same room as me. Albeit on his phone, or his laptop. By 2014, he was aware that Ben was my favourite act that series, but more often than not, he’d be down in the cellar “working” when I was having my Saturday night chill out. Our son was no longer interested in watching TV with Mum and Dad. It became my thing. Watching X Factor on my own. 

The final that year fell on the weekend of 13th/14th December. 

In the early hours of Friday 12th December, I kicked my husband out of our bed where he’d fallen asleep after telling me he no longer loved me, and left me crying downstairs. Yes, while I sat crying, wondering what the hell was going on, what this meant, what happened now… he stayed up in bed, where he’d made the statement after I had said I needed a hug as we approached our first Christmas without my sister, and fallen back asleep so deeply he was snoring. If my memory serves me correctly, at about 2.45am, when I could cry and wonder no more, I went upstairs, woke him up and told him to get out. No man could say he couldn’t hug me because he didn’t love me and hadn’t for two years then stay in our bed and fall back asleep. I didn’t care where he went. 

Since then, a lot of people have said that maybe he couldn’t cope with how he thought I was going to be over Christmas. I’ll let you into a secret. The first Christmas and every one since losing my sister, is crap. No two ways about it. The only person that saw me cry was my husband. The one person that I thought it was safe to cry in front of. The person who had taken vows to protect me. Everyone else saw the brave face. I “got on with it”. I didn’t break down often. When I did it was with him. Turns out, he thought he was being strong for me. He wasn’t. I was strong for myself and my family. He was thinking of himself. Trust me, I’m not being nasty saying that. Comments that have been made since have proved this to me. I’m not cold enough to think my sisters death didn’t effect him too. We’d been in each others families for almost 18 years. I’m not saying he’s heartless, completely. But the thing that has stuck with him the most about my sisters death is the fact they were the same age. To this day he still speaks of her death as a life changing moment for him. How he needed to change his life because life’s too short. Cards on the table, the only change he made was leaving me. And even then he said he hadn’t loved me for two years. Since before my sister passed away. 

I had to phone in sick to work on that Friday, and our son had to take a day off school. Not ideal. I hate calling in sick. I hate letting people down. When I’m genuinely ill I go into work to be sent kicking and screaming home again. Lack of sleep, infact no sleep at all meant I had to take the day off, and our son had woken up and heard it all. There was no blazing row. Just that statement and my following order to get out. On Friday I needed to see my husband and have the inevitable “what now” talk. Long story short. It was over, he moved out. Saturday 13th I was back at work. Admittedly, I found paperwork jobs to keep me busy out back for most of the day. But I was there, doing the job I’m paid to do. That night was the first half of Ben’s X Factor final. The press had pretty much declared Fleur the winner, and although I tuned in, I barely watched as Andrea Faustini was voted off, leaving Fleur and Ben going through to Sundays head to head. I was numb. X Factor no longer seemed important. My life had changed overnight and would never be the same again. Nothing else mattered.

However….

So much did change between 2.45am on Friday morning and that Sunday evening. Although I spent a lot of the time wondering what the hell I was meant to do now, and questioning how it had come to this, seemingly out of the blue, I also took the time to think stuff through, find things out, connect the dots and discover untold truths amongst the outward lies. It really is amazing how hindsight and discovering the truth will turn a situation around. When I should’ve still been mourning my marriage, I was actually starting to feel grateful I was out of it. Truth smacking me round the face, waking me up and forcing me to smell the coffee. Struggling only with how it had taken me so long to see what was going on the whole time. They say love is blind. Love had me blinkered and resigned. The blinkers were now off.

I watched the Sunday night final in bed. Still hurt. Still licking my wounds. Still angry as hell. But already starting to see light at the end of a very instant, very dark tunnel. A tunnel which I zoomed through at break-neck speed thanks to the dangling carrot of truth at the end of it. 

Ben Haenow won the X Factor. My phone was ringing and my best friend S was screaming with joy down it. S had been there first thing the morning after it all happened. She was the Watson to my Sherlock. The left to my right. And she was there for me when I needed her. So was Ben. 

We both loved Ben and when he won, I smiled with genuine happiness for the first time in 3 days. The X Factor winner is so trivial. So unimportant when you look at the bigger picture, but Bens win came at a time when I needed a switch to flip. So soon after my marriage breaking up and despite knowing stuff I hadn’t known three days earlier, I was still having conflicting feelings. I’m not cold hearted. I didn’t instantly stop caring about what I’d lost, what I had, what I was to do now. I got stronger as the minutes passed but I wasn’t about to go out celebrating anytime soon. Bens win made me smile. And the smile didn’t feel out of place on my face at a time where most people would probably still be wallowing under the covers in bed and crying themselves to sleep.  New Years eve, which I spent at another friends house, was the real “fuck this shit I’m not crying anymore” moment for me, but Bens win showed me that I would be fine. I knew, deep down that I would be, but after being with the same guy from when I just turned 20, was I sure?

I distinctly remember my ex calling our son the next day and one of his comments was “I bet your Mum was pleased that her favourite won X Factor”.  My son sheepishly answered yeah, still feeling awkward, confused and not understanding what was going on. That moment was the start of a pattern. No matter how little or how much time passes, what I do, where I go, who I see and how I feel will always be asked of our son. Just because I’m no longer loved, the control is still needed, craved, as if some kind of invisible puppet strings are still attached to me. As the time does go on, however, it’s become easier to ignore. Genuinely, his loss. His problem if he can’t let go. All I did was love him, and want him to love me back. Lesson learnt, I’m not sure he ever truly did. 

Anyway, I digress. Ending on a happy note, its only fitting that December, the worst month of the year for me, has this year, become the month I met Ben Haenow. After buying tickets as a birthday present for S, we attended the gig, the first of his tour, looking forward to fun times with our bestie and a sing a long. We didn’t have VIP meet & greet tickets so when we got in and had a browse at the merchandise, imagine our joy to see Ben just stood there,taking time to personally greet everyone. Even when he was notified he had to go ready for the support act, he still had time to pose for a couple of cheeky selfies and indulge us with a hug and kiss. The gig was amazing. Ben sang songs from his album, new releases and very new material. He was entertaining, enigmatic on stage and his voice was as wonderful as I’d remembered. It was a small venue, and it felt like he was aware of every one in the crowd. Putting on a winners performance.

Ben was buzzing, S and I were happy.

If you read this Ben:- Thank You! I kinda love you. 

Photograph courtesy of S

Photograph © me

It’s not you, it’s not even me. Its, erm, Complicated…?

I can see the headline now…“Instant Messaging Apps Fed My Paranoia”



I feel the need to apologise to everyone who currently knows me.

I’ve touched on my paranoid,over thinking mind before,and I even went as far as saying I no longer stress and worry about what people think. However that isn’t entirely true. 

When something “changes”, I assume the worst. My track record proves I’m usually right. That’s a hard feeling to shake.

I still worry. 

I’m still paranoid. 

I’ll still doubt you.  

I’ll still over analyise things. 

Its not your fault. Trust me though, its not really mine either. I wasn’t always this way. I’ve been broken, and although I’m essentially fully healed, there’s still a weak point. Certain situations balance precariously on that weak spot and, yes, it means I “have my moments”. Please, understand them and bear with me.  I am a better, stronger, more confident version of myself than I ever have been before. And, as much as I’m less tolerant of bullshit and being treated like crap, my good nature, and need to try and find the good in people and situations that really do have no good in them, still lingers. Its who I am. I care too much. Because of this, I struggle to remember not everyone is like me.

And here’s a confession for you. A blog exclusive, if you like.

I struggle to let go of things that were once so good but no longer are. My mind doesn’t accept that its often better to draw a line completely than try and salvage some of what once was, in order to cling onto a good memory. Now, this isn’t because I want things to be the same, or want someone back. Far from it. It isn’t every situation either. My marriage was so stale, and the good times were so long ago and so overshadowed by the bad times and revelations, that I successfully let go quicker than even I thought possible. And I have no problem moving on. No, the reason is because I don’t want something that was so meaningful to me to appear to mean nothing to them.

If you’ve read previous blogs of mine, you will be forgiven for jumping to conclusions and expecting me to go ” I’ve been cheated on, I don’t trust anyone “. I’m not going to. Yes. It played a part but it goes deeper than that. It goes deep into the depths of my self doubt and my own head. So, why am I saying its not me? Well, if it was me, paranoia would’ve played a part in my whole life and it hasn’t. If I was to try and pin point when it started, I’d say 2 years and 6 months ago. AFTER my marriage ended. 

When I started dating the person I ended up marrying, neither of us had mobile phones. Contact was made using an old fashioned land line, a couple of evenings a week. We both worked in town so it was easy to pop along and see each other at lunch time if we wanted to.  We got our first mobile phones together, but by that point we were living together. There was no chance to build up a routine of ” contact”.  I had no chance to start wondering “why haven’t I heard from him!”.

18 years later when I become single again, times have changed. I initially started talking to the guy I ended up dating just after my marriage broke up, G, on Facebook. Messenger has this handy little way of bobbing a persons picture down next to a message you’ve sent to show they have indeed read the message. Then it would conveniently show a wobbling “…” to indicate they were replying. Our messenger conversations had a very definate  start and finish. I wasn’t left hanging. We’d say goodnight and that would be it till one of us said “Morning”. We soon awkwardly exchanged numbers in my shop, remember G worked in the shopping centre where my workplace was located, and constant messaging commenced. I’m sure you’re all thinking my god she’s obsessive, but it genuinely was him more than me. He’d walk past my shop and wave, and by the next time I had chance to check my phone, he’d sent about five messages. I loved it. I thrived on it. In the later years of my marriage I wasn’t made to feel attractive. I actually told my then husband that I felt he would rather be anywhere but home with me and although he denied it, I knew how it was wrong that he’d come home later and later and then go straight to his ” office” in the cellar (how right was I in the end!?). I had sensed I was losing him, and despite his insistance it was all in my head, I was right. And he told me he hadn’t loved me for two years. So, he lied too. Now, I had a man texting me with things like “although my eyes are watching my boys play football, my mind is on you”. How is a girl not meant to love that!?!  After a few days of not seeing me, he’d tell me how much he missed me. Heading home after evenings at his, he’d message saying he wished I hadn’t had to go.  His favourite phrase in broken English was ” why you so lovely?”.  I got used to it. I got attached to the contact. No end or beginning to conversations, just a never ending stream of messages that only paused when we were together. I hadn’t had that kind of attention, hadn’t felt so wanted, in a very, very long time. Due to working in maintenance, he had early and late shifts to do work out of hours, but he gave me his time and made effort.

After a while together, his messaging habits changed. I’d not get a morning text if he was on an early shift. He stopped saying he missed me. Messages were ended with a “x” rather than “xxxx”. My work mates said it was normal. It couldn’t possibly keep up the way it was. My rational mind agreed, but my paranoid mind thought, and knew,better. It had changed without warning. I’m very, very intuitive. What was right..? Rational mind or paranoid mind? Two weeks after I felt things had changed, he ended things. The whole its not you, its me, routine. My paranoid mind was right. It had been fuelled with being right, so my inclination to trust my gut feeling rather than be rational dug its heels in and stands firmly by my side to this day. G adamantly promised he wanted to keep a friendship, so I tried and quickly realised it was only me making the effort. For months after, I kept a few special text messages from him locked on my phone. It was clear he didn’t treasure our time together as much as I did. That hurt. That made my paranoia look at it all differently and doubt what we had. When your paranoia is right about a feeling, its hard to ignore when it crops up again. It took me ages to delete those texts, even after I started online dating.

The good thing about texting though, was that you were never really sure if a message had been read. You know, I’ve since realised this ignorance is bliss. 

My next relationship was the alley cat musician. Meeting online meant I had no way of knowing he’d read messages until he replied. Sure, you could pay for membership to allow you to see when messages had been read, but I wasn’t quite at that stage yet! We exchanged numbers on my birthday, a week after we’d started chatting. Texts were consistent till our first date, then completely ramped up after meeting, again, on his part more than mine. When he went to Italy for three weeks he said it’d be hard to keep in touch daily, but I heard from him way more than I expected to. One particular text exchange went as follows:-

D:- I’m so excited xx

Me:- About what? Xx

D:- Us xx

How is a girl meant to respond to that? I was giddy with excitement. Remember my blog about the power of words? They need to be used wisely. You don’t use simple words like that if you have no intention of following through. Maybe I’m gullible….? I know I cling to such words. Words are my thing, remember. Use them on me and be warned, I’ll fall for it every time.

 After Italy, I got a new phone which enabled me to install WhatsApp, something he’d been asking me to do since we got numbers. Word of warning, WhatsApp is not good for a paranoid person. It was the beginning of the end for mine and Ds relationship. 

WhatsApp has 3 indicators for the status of a message.

1 grey tick- message has been received by WhatsApp server. (The recipients phone is likely off, out of signal or service is down if it remains on this for a while)

2 grey ticks- message has been sent to recipients phone but has not yet been read.

2 blue ticks- message has been read by recipient.

Added to this, you can see if someone is online. If they haven’t changed their settings, you can potentially see WHEN they were last on. You can even check what time a message was read. WhatsApp is creating stalkers! 

This is what a paranoid mind sees.

1 grey tick- the person has blocked you.

2 grey ticks- they’ve got it, why haven’t they read it? Are they ignoring me, they’ve been online since I sent it!!

2 blue ticks- they’ve seen it. They’re not typing. They are ignoring me. Its been an hour since they read it.  Oh, they are online now…. Nope, still not replying. I’ll send them another just in case… 

D would often go AWOL for whole evenings , with messages not even reaching his phone. I’d wake the next morning to find he’d read them at some ungodly hour of the morning but still not replied. Even after nights we were due to see each other. I’d send a rant. Which would get ignored.  I’d get paranoid that if I didn’t message him, he’d think I’d stopped caring and then he’d never message and I’d lose him anyway. I’d send another to be told “I’m not getting into an argument, you’re pushing me away”. The original messages long since losing their meaning. It infuriated me. When I tried the same tactics with him, he turned nasty on me! We never really broke up. I just gave up. He never explained nor apologised just kept telling me I was wrong. Maybe I was too much, but come on…. He’s meant to be coming to see me but his phone remains off all night…..?? I think I had every right to rant! I’d go on and on at him, like poking a bear hoping for a reaction. The more he didn’t reply, the more I went on. He told me on numerous occassions that I was pushing him away. Truth be told, I’d long given up on him but he kept telling me to ” give him time” and I so desperately wanted the “I’m so excited” text exchange to be real. 

Also, because I care too much, I worry unreasonably. On one particular night I was meant to be visited by D and he went AWOL, I woke up to the news that a man in his 40s had fled the scene of a car accident in the early hours of the morning, leaving his passenger who was in his 20s stuck in the wreckage. I knew that an ex band mate of Ds  was returning to his native country that day, so my worried paranoid mind convinced me that D had offered to give his mate a lift to the airport and the crash was them. Trust me, a mind like mine can go there. I felt sick as the day went on. Much later in the afternoon, he sees the messages, even ones telling him about the crash and my assumption. I guessed he was at least alive. Or dying in a ditch! He doesn’t reply. I rant. That night he messages to say he got drunk at a mates and stayed there. No acknowledgement of what he’d put me through. 

We remained friends for a while after, with him insisting I was one of his best friends and he trusted me, but when the ignoring continued and it was only ever me putting the effort in, I realised I had to let go. I tried telling him it was a pointless, one sided friendship and I got told I didn’t understand. That he was “sorting his life out”. Because I cared, I felt I couldn’t let him down. So he got chance after chance but nothing changed. How could a man once so ” excited about us” care so little now? I clung onto the hope he’d get sorted and a friendship would remain. It was pointless. I forced myself to let go. He begged to talk to me to explain himself, but I was done. He accused me of being “like all the others”. That hurt, because I care what people think of me. Even though I was cutting him loose, I didn’t want his parting impression of me to be negative. I battled with myself over the need to rant and justify myself to him. Truth is, he didn’t care, so I shouldn’t. Ignoring his plea to explain himself was probably the first time I ever went against my nature. I sometimes wonder what he’s doing now, but I know he’s probably putting some poor person through the same again. 

This paranoia doesn’t just haunt me in relationships, it extends to friendships and other situations too. I’m currently organising a charity fundraising gig so have been messaging venues and bands. I’m shy on the phone, I can get my point across using the written word so much better. Again, social media apps and instant messaging let’s me know if an enquiry has been read. Sure, I don’t expect immediate replies, but to not answer, EVER? Rude! My feeling is this, if you can take 5 seconds to open an app and read a message, you can surely take two more to type ” yes” “no” or “message u later”. As a result of my own paranoia, I try really really hard to not open a message and let it be seen as read until I can grant a reply. Although I realise not everyone is as obsessive about it as me! 

I’ve said before though, I’m paranoid because I care. Because the person or situation is important to me. I’m sorry. I can’t help it! Its not because I dont trust you, its because I’m scared I’ve done something wrong. I know, I know, the more I bother you, the more likely it is that I’ll end up doing exactly what I’ve been worried about doing!

So, If I’ve asked you a question and I know you’ve seen that question but haven’t answered for a few hours… My mind will go through one, some or all of the following:-

They’re ignoring me

I’ve pissed them off

Oh God they’re dead

I shouldn’t of asked that

I’ve upset them

They’re somewhere they shouldn’t be

They don’t know how to answer, it must be bad.

Paranoia is very, very real. It verges on anxiety. There are many levels. I’m not at the delusional stage. I’m not claiming I have a mental illness either, because, believe me, I know people that have and its way more than what I feel and experience. And I’m not paranoid in a negative way, not really. I’m only paranoid in those situations that are important to me. With the people I am, or have been, close to. Perhaps I have pushed people away in the past. Although my gut feeling tells me if my genuine concern and worry could push them away, maybe they don’t deserve my friendship after all and they were infact wanting to walk away from me for other reasons, just used my guilable nature and turned it against me. If I think you’ve stopped talking to me, I’m not angry at you, I’m worried I’ve done something to cause it! 

I jokingly tell the people who come into my life that I get paranoid. Truth is, its no joke.

My current partner and I don’t live together. I’m grateful he’s not a techy geek. Simple texts is all we have. No read receipts. A vague enough routine for me not to endlessly stress that I’ve said the wrong thing. 

Remember how much words mean to me.

Don’t promise me the world, and leave me waiting for the journey of a lifetime.

Don’t say you’ll get back to me, then leave me hanging.

Don’t tell me you’re excited, then show no evidence of it.
I wasn’t always like this. Maybe one day I won’t be again. If I haven’t driven you all crazy by then!

Eight letters. Three words. One meaning.

Who should say I love you first?

You know, I have been struggling to remember the last time someone, other than blood relatives, told me they loved me and meant it. Infact, in my almost 40 years on this planet, I believe I’d only been told twice. Only one of those was genuine. Although I’ve recently started to doubt even that one. As I’ve mentioned before, I met my now ex husband when I just turned 20. I’d had two not serious “boy” friends before that. Love was not a factor. I grew up believing the stereotype that is depicted in romance novels, that men find it harder to show their emotions during romantic encounters, leaving the leading lady rushing in with those three little words. Uttering “I love you”, for the first time is a defining moment in a relationship, for both involved. Saying it first could be like ripping your heart out and showing it to your partner and risk the words escaping into a vortex never to be reciprocated. Being on the receiving end of those words adds weight on your shoulders. Pressure to say it back before you are ready. Guilt if you were feeling it too and realise you should’ve said it all along. Worry that if you say it straight back, even though genuine, your partner will think you’re just saying what they want to hear. Concern that if you never say it, the relationship you were very happy in will change or end completely, even though you felt it was perfect just the way it was without those words being said by either party. Acceptance that, if you don’t feel it too and think you never will, then you’ll break the other persons heart, as you will know they will want to hear it eventually, and face losing them. Oh the power held by such a simple sentence. Eight letters. Three words. One meaning. 

Going back to 1997 when I met my sons father. I genuinely can not remember who said I love you first. Now that doesn’t mean to say it wasn’t some ground breaking, earth shattering, stop the world moment. I’m sure it was. I don’t agree to moving in with someone within a year if those words hadn’t been said and meant. Remember it would’ve been the first time I’d heard them. Maybe its more that unfortunately, the bad blood between us since, has blurred it out. Or maybe that in the final years of our marriage, I was getting the feeling that when I heard the words it was more out of habit and they had lost their sincerity so I did genuinely forget how it felt to hear them and they mean something. Now that statement isn’t me being nasty, its being truthful. Something I now pride myself on being since reading so many untruths about myself posted on social media. Anyway, I digress onto a subject I’m not going to go into. 

Having only had one relationship where those words were said, I went into single life still believing that society accepted the fact that women are way more gushy than men, so saying it first would not be frowned upon or shied away from. Any new, serious, long-term partner would be comfortable with hearing it, wouldn’t they? But I was confused. Its not unfair to say that anyone coming out of an 18 year relationship after hearing the words “I don’t love you anymore”, would probably find it hard saying or hearing those three words again. You’ve heard the saying always the bridesmaid never the bride. Well, I had a slight fear that I may become always the lover never the loved. What if, in my fragile, inexperienced, rather quite naive single state, I would give my heart way too easily and fall hard and fast for men who would never reciprocate my feelings?

So when I had been dating the guy who worked in the shopping centre for just over a month and I knew I’d fallen for him, I thought I felt fine about saying it, because I actually felt he thought the same. Stuff he said, things he’d done. I had keys to his flat! It was a few days after Valentines Day. I’d spent the night at his and had to go to work but he was off so stayed in bed, after getting up and making me coffee. I told him how I felt. Said those simple little words. His response? 

” Be patient, I’m sure the time will come. Trust me” . 

Needless to say, the time never came and two months later it was all over. Now I have pulled that relationship to pieces in my mind.Was it too soon after my marriage split? I don’t think so. Was I really in love or was I just falling quickly because I was scared of being single so close to the age of 40, worried that I wouldn’t find anyone else? It felt like love. Did he really not see himself falling in love with me, despite giving me keys to his flat? He cried when he ended it, a whole other story surrounds his reasons and motives for ending things with me, but I’m not blogging based on suspicion and theories. The fact remains, I said it. It was never said back to me. And it didn’t last much longer after that. It hurt. A lot. Those three little words really really do hold a lot of power. Silently vowed never to be the first to say them again. 

Along came drop dead gorgeous boy. That relationship was a non starter in hindsight. Promised the world, and talked the talk but delivered nothing. I couldn’t fall in love with him. I didn’t see him enough. I could, and did, fall in love with the idea of him. Live gigs, exotic holidays, promises of sexual adventures that made me blush. He just wasn’t “loveable”. Our relationship never really ended so much as just wasn’t a relationship anymore but in a texted argument after it was obvious we were nothing, he told me he loved me, and that he meant it.  He didn’t mean it. I knew that, but it was a mind game very carefully played. He’d always told me he needed time to get himself sorted, was I being too hasty writing him off? Did he, maybe, love me? I never suspected he was cheating on me, but at the same time I never knew where he was and he’d go AWOL. But, what if I was just too broken to notice love when it was right there in my face? Nope, this man didn’t love me, but I’m sure he knew what power those words would hold over a vulnerable woman. Vulnerable yes, broken, no. I so desperately wanted to be loved that for a very brief moment I toyed with the idea of waiting, still, for the man who kept asking me to wait. I called myself Amy Pond, who, as Doctor Who fans will know, was the girl who waited.

 Thankfully, I’m not stupid so that idea didn’t linger long in my mind and although I knew somehow this guy would be a permanent fixture in my life in some capacity, he certainly didn’t and never would deserve my heart.

While doing some research for this blog, I was surprised to find that, although I follow the norm in believing women are more likely to sayvI love you first, studies indicate the opposite is true. The following is taken from an article on counselheal.com. 

According to new research men take on average 88 days for men to say, “I love you” for”very first time to their partners.  As long as that may sound, the study found that women take even longer to profess their love in a relationship. Researchers found that on average women wait 134 days or four months and two weeks before they say the words to their partners.
The study revealed that 39 percent of men say, “I love you” within the first month of seeing someone compared to only 23 percent of women.  Researchers also found that 33 percent of men had met their partner’s family within the first month of dating compared to only 25 percent of women.”

However, if the research is to be believed, how come there are so many  websites and articles dedicated to giving women a list of “Signs that show he loves you even if he doesn’t say it”. If he’s likely to say it before us, surely we won’t be needing to look for signs? Out of curiousity , I googled it the other way round – ” signs that shows she loves you even if she doesn’t say it out loud”. Out of the 11 results that showed up on the first page, only 2 read “she” and not “he”. Surely that’s the proof that we are indeed more forthcoming as men aren’t looking online for lists, they must just know. I’m still confused!

In conclusion, I’m asking myself a different set of questions altogether.

Does it matter who says it first?

If the relationship makes you smile, time is invested in it, you couldn’t imagine life without the other person, its comfortable, you can be yourself, its based on honesty, loyalty is never questioned, would it really matter if those words were never said at all?

My answer to both now is a resounding no.
I have been with my other half for a year and one month now. Those three words have been said by just one of us, long after the research suggests is the average. The words are yet to be returned.
I’m not going to reveal which one of us said it. Suffice to say, neither of us need to google for lists of signs that the other one feels the same. 

Actions really do speak louder than words in this case.


Busy doing nothing…

Date:- 19th July 2016
Location:- On my bed, fan on highest setting
Temperature:- Currently 33°c
Mood:- Blissfully content

contentment

noun: contentment
a state of happiness and satisfaction.
“he found contentment in living a simple life in the country”
synonyms: contentedness, content, satisfaction, fulfilment; More
happiness, pleasure, cheerfulness, gladness, gratification;
ease, comfort, restfulness, well-being, peace, equanimity, serenity, tranquillity, placidity, placidness, repletion, complacency;
archaicself-content
“he found contentment in living a basic life”

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Waking up this morning, I had absolutely no idea where the day would go. A few things were certain..
1) It was my day off.
2) It was my boyfriends day off (I still feel all giddy saying that and its now been 11 months!!).
3) The weather forecast was saying it was due to be the hottest day of the year.
4) I had £2.46 in my wallet.
5) The previous two days had been hard going for several reasons, and added to that last night was so hot, resulting in about three hours of sleep tops. If that.

6)…… I was not letting today go to waste. Life is too short.

I had to get up to send my boy off to school. Three more days left of Year 8, how did that happen? I’m not a stay in bed and let him fend for himself parent. I know, he’s twelve, the boy can make a sandwich, but I’m a mum. It’s kinda my job. The snooze button on the alarm clock got pushed three times, giving me an extra 15 minutes in my bed. To be fair the humidity in my room had kicked in by this point so my bed wasn’t really the best place to be. So up I got, checking the boy was awake and getting ready himself. Got his lunch ready, popped the kettle on, flapped the over excited dogs away (seriously, you’d think they’d not seen us for weeks the way they act in the morning, for the youngest one, it seems it’s Christmas every day) , washed my hair (I had no plans yet for the day, but whatever I was doing, I’d be doing it with clean hair), and with cuppa in hand, wandered back upto bed to wake up properly. The boy went off to school and I started my daily round of texts.
Every single morning since we lost my sister, I text my Mum. Without fail. Just to say “Morning, Love you”. Since losing Jo, it’s become very real that you never know when the last time you’ll see someone will be. It’s important we tell those we love that we do love them, every day. I mean, every single day. It doesn’t matter whether we know it, they know or the world knows it. Just say it. Then I messaged the boyfriend. Whichever one of us is up first, we text the other a good morning message. Have done ever since the first day we met. Reminded him I was off today too and to message if he wanted to do something, nice day and all that. Knowing full well he wouldn’t be awake for a couple more hours (shift work is a bummer, team that with hypothyroidism, and my guy needs his sleep), I lay back on my bed and contemplated, just for a minute or two, going back to sleep. When drama is thrown at you through no fault of your own, it’s hard to paint on that smile and keep going. I really didn’t want to be an adult today. But keep going is what I must do. Keep going is what I want to do.
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So, out of bed I got. Put on my face, dried my hair, got dressed and went downstairs. My bedroom is my sanctuary and I could quite easily waste a day in there with my kindle, my music, myself. When it’s grey and miserable outside, that’s often exactly what I do. Today was not going to be one of those days, despite the crap going round in my head from unnecessarily over dramatic problems of the last two days. The very fact I’m not now letting other people’s opinions about me get to me, means I don’t have to dwell on it or waste time on it. Try it, it’s great. Hear it, digest it, deal with it, move on from it. Occasionally, just occasionally, you may need to add “get angry about it” , in there, but always end with “move on”. Don’t give the attention whores what they want. They want you to waste your life replaying their every word over and over in your head. Don’t.
Anyway, two hours after leaving my bed, ready to take on the world, the little white light on my phone began to glow, gently alerting me to a text. “In hairdressers under bridge. Wanna meet me? X” I’d just sat down to watch the season finale of America’s Next Top Model, but joining the boyfriend was a far more worthy offer. I was ready to go so after ushering the crazy dogs into their beds, I grabbed my bag and headed out. I did wonder if maybe he’d be finished before I got there, and at the top of my street I was proved correct as the beep of a car horn tunefully announced his arrival across the road. Still no plan for the day, but I was with my Mr Amazing, what more could I want? A quick pit stop back at his to sort his washing out, throw some stuff out and grab the newly acquired picnic rug and a bottle opener, off we went again. Shop for drinks, fish and chip shop for lunch, back in the car and out to a field. A secluded field. Fun and games unfolding the picnic rug in the gentle breeze, and we finally settled down to eat chips and drink cider. It was quiet. It was peaceful. It cost very little. (Well it cost me nothing, perfect gentleman as always, but then £2.46 was never going to get me very far). It was the most perfect meal, in the most perfect setting, with the most perfect person that I could of ever wished for. I felt happy. Really happy. I was content. My other half is from London. It’s fair to say he’s created his very own version of cockney rhyming slang. He loves words. He loves using different words to describe mundane things. He’s been known to make up words but make them sound so real you doubt yourself whether it’s a real word or not. Today he used those words to describe the sparkle of my blue eyes. Yes, this is the guy who, several months ago, still was uncomfortable with me holding his hand in his own home. He’s changed. No, I stand corrected. He’s grown comfortable. He’s learnt he can trust. He is certain, beyond reasonable doubt, that I am not going anywhere. And it’s a wonderful feeling. He wasn’t used to having someone care about him. It’s been a while since someone genuinely wanted to see me and spend time with me. Since someone tried as hard as they could to ensure I spent the whole time smiling.

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You know, in 11 months we have not had one cross word. Not one. A couple of misunderstood texts, but never ever a face to face fall out. I simply can not imagine him doing anything to make me angry with him. And even if he did, he’d be so mortified, he’d do what he could to rectify it there and then. To be fair, a few of his well chosen words would probably be enough. He wants to see me happy. He knows he’s capable of doing it. His work and his condition often leave him feeling tired and without any get up and go. He doesn’t ever cancel on me. Never. I would understand if he did. In the early days, I could tell he was worried I wouldn’t put up with going to his to watch a movie if he really had no energy to do anything else. He’d look at me halfway through a film, with a look that said I’m sorry I’m tired. I’d smile and put the cushion on my lap for him to lay down on me. I have a friend who has the same condition, and although she’s told me a bit about how it affects her, she’s not local so I don’t see it for myself. So I admit I had to Google it to really understand, but I’m so glad I did because I really underestimated how much it must affect him. It makes me even more grateful for the time he makes for me, knowing that sometimes all he wants to do is sit. Or sleep. He really is amazing.
So after finishing our food, we lay back on the picnic rug, my iPod quietly on shuffle in the background. We had nowhere to go and nothing to do, and it was perfect. With cider finished, we headed back to the shop to pick up another cold drink (I knew my £2.46 would be useful for something), and just walked. A nice slow amble to nowhere in particular. Talking, laughing, rhyming, kissing. The troubles of the previous two days felt like a distant memory. They hadn’t gone away. They would still need to be addressed at some point, but it’s funny how filling your time and spending your time with people who want to see you happy can make those problems seem so much more manageable. Approach these things with a clear, happy and content mind and you really can take on anything.
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Today was proof that whatever you are going through, does not define you. Sometimes doing nothing, on your own will open up a world of stress, despair and over-thinking. Yet doing nothing, having no plan, with exactly the right person is the best thing you can do.
Heading back to the car, he turned to me and said, ” are you coming to mine to watch a movie tomorrow night?”. Wednesday nights are our usual movie night. It’s usually assumed that that’s when we see each other. Days off together like today are rare.
“Of course, if you want me” I replied.
He answered with a smile.
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I No Longer Care To Care.

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As I start writing this post, I genuinely have no idea what I’m going to call it. The title you see above will be added when I finish, as this time I’m writing with no idea of where this is going.
A few weeks ago, I turned 39. My sister was 39 and almost a couple of months when she left us with no warning. She never got to experience the last year of her thirties. She never found out if the saying “Life begins at 40” is true. I will soon be older than my big sister. A fact I’m struggling with. I can’t talk about it, but somehow it helps to put the words out there. Jo would be 41 now, 42 this year. On my birthday I made a vow to make this year count, the year leading up to my own 40th birthday is in honour of my sister, and I strive to find happy moments in each and every day, even the most mundane, routine days.I have set myself a 100 happy days challenge. Every day I will post a picture or a status on social media highlighting these happy moments. Some days there will just be one post, other days, several. The fact of the matter is I will find good in every day. Even the hardest days. For some reason, hard days are in abundance at the moment. Eighteen days after my birthday, I hit a stumbling block as to what had made my day happy. I didn’t post anything. That’s not because I didn’t smile when my son walked into town and met me halfway home after work. I’m not saying the goodnight text from my own personal Mr Amazing didn’t make my heart flutter in the same way it always does. It was just the one day when everything seemed to get on top of me. I’m angry with myself for it. I should’ve snapped a photo of my boy walking towards me. I could’ve screen shot the text. I just wasn’t feeling it. Work was hard going, we had all the difficult customers out in force that day. Maybe my mood was a magnet for it. There is a reason for my mood. I’m just annoyed at myself for not taking my own advice and choosing to be happy regardless. I guess the point of this garbled blog will be that we all have bad days.
On day 18, I uncovered some truths about a situation that angered me, but, if I’m being honest, didn’t shock me. I also found out that lies had been told about me, to people I hardly, or don’t even, know, but still, those people believe that I have done something I haven’t. Finding that out made me feel sick, even more so than discovering the truth. I’m not revealing details, as, quite frankly, I now am back to a stage where I don’t know who I can trust. Maybe more people than I know about reading this right now already know what I didn’t. The fact remains that I could walk past several people in my home town who think that I am the scum of the earth. It shouldn’t bother me. It really, really shouldn’t bother me. Like I said, I don’t really know them. It does bother me. I am a proud person. We are all guilty. From the moment we wake up every day, to some degree we care about what people will think of what we wear, how we’ll do our hair.
“Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner” – Lao Tzu
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I’m just here, trying to get on with my life quietly, yet without my knowledge a whole other life is being created for me. At first, finding this stuff out made me angry. Then, I was kind of relieved. Relieved because I can now longer be reduced to tears by carefully chosen words intended to break me down, because I know the truth. Yes, it still hurts that there are people out there that believe lies about me. Though it is very true, those that matter to me know the truth. That’s what is keeping me going. Opinions matter to us as all humans want to be liked, accepted. However, no one likes everyone. Just like some dogs don’t like other dogs, yet some dogs are overly friendly with its four legged species, humans don’t get on with every other human. If the people that believe the lies about me haven’t yet made it onto my list of friends, then they probably never will and I shouldn’t give the proverbial rats backside what they think of me.
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So, for one day, and one day only, I confess I was grumpy. I challenge anyone of you reading this to put a smile on your face and choose happy when you’ve just discovered what people have been saying about you. Trust me it’s not easy. I let my sunny persona slip for one day and gave in to the picture that was being painted of me in a “parallel universe”. The person who started the lie doesn’t know that I’ve discovered what has been said, because I’ve not reacted. I’ve not responded. I’ve not defended myself. Why? Because there’s really no point. They have told it so many times they believe it, so they will stand their ground and try their hardest to turn it round on me and make me feel crap all over again. That’s never going to happen again. It has become their truth, presumably because the real truth is the one that shows them to be the one in the wrong. Other people play a role in these lies for so long it becomes second nature. Hey, even I did it for a while. Not as such lies, but overly exaggerated truths. It was just easier, and yes, second nature, to just say “yes, that’s right”, when asked “didn’t it/didn’t I/wasn’t it ?”, after telling an over embellished version of a story. Ultimately though, we can not expect someone who lies to themselves and others to be honest with us, so there’s no point in trying. I just know that, if I ever need to, I can prove what I know and watch to see how they lie their way out of concrete, black and white, hard evidence.
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Worrying about what people I don’t know think of me will be a waste of my time, energy and thoughts. If they don’t know me well enough to see through the lies, then they aren’t important. I wasted a day on it. My life, right now, is wonderful. I don’t regret my past and I feel absolutely no need to smash the happy memories I do have into unrecognisable smithereens. My past, my loves, my losses, my challenges have led me to where I am today. There most definitely is happiness in every single day. I am happy. Yes, I have down days, but if you can’t lean on your nearest and dearest on those days without being called a miserable cow, then they don’t deserve to be near or dear to you. If the only time you let your mood slip is behind closed doors with those who should, in all fairness, be there for you, then, you’re doing alright.
So I stand by my 100 happy days pledge and let day 18 slip away like a hiccup. My son is awesome EVERY DAY. My other half is amazing EVERY DAY. My friends are wonderful EVERY DAY.
I won’t struggle to find those happy moments.
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Moving On

Something happened earlier this week that made me question myself and what I’m doing. In fact, two major things have happened.
My marriage broke down exactly 15 months ago. Since then I have been on several dates and actually had three relationships, including the current one, which, by the way, is into its 7th month (cue happy dance). My ex started a new relationship a month or two after the split and by all accounts is still with her and lives with her. My first relationship after the split started in the January. Not long before my ex started dating again. Everyone, including my ex, made comment that it was too soon. So my question is this. How long is long enough after a long term relationship breaks down, to start dating again? Also, is it different for men and women, and does it depend on who left and who was left? Because, quite frankly, I’m confused.
So here’s the deal. Quick recap if you haven’t read my previous blogs. I met someone in January 2015, a month after my husband of almost 15 years left me saying he no longer loved me. I loved my husband unconditionally. He is the father of my purpose in life, my gorgeous son. I wasn’t good for a while after that but for my son and my parents, I picked myself up and as a result, met someone without even looking for it. It wasn’t a conscious decision to put myself out there and meet someone new. I wasn’t ready then. It happened anyway. I only told close friends at first, as even I thought it would be seen as too soon. Then, out of complete respect for our marriage and history, I told my ex. I thought it was best he heard it from me than from mutual friends who had seen me with another man. At the time, his words indicated he was pleased for me. A couple of weeks down the line it transpired that he too was talking to someone, the woman he now lives with. Friends were concerned I should’ve spent some time on me before embarking on a new relationship, but to me, I thought, why not give it a go? As I said, I didn’t see myself as ready but I liked this guy, he seemed to like me, how would I ever know if I didn’t try. Life is too short, a motto you’ll hear from me over and over again. I’d done my grieving for my marriage but, at the end of the day, I was no longer loved so, I had been emotionally released to move on. I didn’t stop loving my husband straight away, but mentally there was no point in holding onto something that wasn’t going to grow back. He had, unfortunately, made that clear by the time I met my first new boyfriend. It was clear to me that the marriage could not be salvaged, and let’s face it, who, after hearing the words “I don’t love you anymore”, could go back into a relationship with that person and ever feel confident or secure again? I knew it was over. Why should I go through the heartache of trying to fix what couldn’t be fixed?
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For a short while everything was fine, but then, for no reason it seems, accusations started flying my way. Didn’t I think my relationship had started too soon if I really was in love with my husband when the marriage split? What? I’ve said before, no one knows what’s going on beyond what we’re willing to tell them so who is anyone to judge whether it’s too soon? It seemed irrelevant that he too had moved on. Was it acceptable for him because he’d quoted he hadn’t loved me for two years? Was I, as the dumped party, meant to wallow in sadness indefinitely over my loss? A lot of people could not understand how I could move on so quickly from an 18 year relationship, my ex included. My closest friends were great, supportive and happy for me. It was the people I didn’t see often that seemed to pass comment. Seriously though….. what am I meant to do? I didn’t “get over it” immediately. Even in my new relationship, remnants of my life before kept creeping in, affecting how I thought, how I felt. I wasn’t over it, but I also felt the need to carry on. I had to carry on. I didn’t want sympathy. Many people didn’t know until months after that our marriage was over. I most certainly was not, a broken woman. Maybe that’s where I went wrong. People wanted to see me lose it because, placed in the same situation themselves, maybe they would. I didn’t. I couldn’t. My family needed my strength. I didn’t know my own strength. My ex happily moved on and introduced his new partner to our son, yet I was the one getting grief over meeting someone? I wasn’t crying in a corner over what I’d lost everyday, because, quite simply, I couldn’t. My son didn’t need to see that. So when I met someone and it felt right, I went with it. My choice, right? The relationship only lasted three months but in that short space of time I gained self confidence and a deep understanding of what I wanted. I couldn’t stay in the past. I couldn’t dwell on what had been, what could’ve been. I wanted to feel wanted and in order to feel that way again I needed to keep moving on. Hence going online to find someone. So, just to clear things up, not that I need to justify myself, before that first new relationship I hadn’t decided to move on. It came my way and I went with it. After that ended I did make a conscious decision to get on with my life, and that’s exactly what I did. That’s all I’m still trying to do. I’d done nothing wrong yet I was being made to feel guilty. What’s all that about? I fail to see what other choice I had. He wasn’t coming back, that was certain. I was SINGLE.
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When that first relationship broke up, it hurt, of course, but it’s true I’d been through worse. I faced the expected “is it because it was too soon?”, and statements of “I did think it was too soon” from well meaning acquaintances. But for me, and under my circumstances, it wasn’t too soon. It was necessary in my journey towards making the decision to move on. I enjoyed it, and I bloody well had fun. The ex showed concern over my split but I did not want to talk to him about it. It was none of his concern. Quite frankly it wouldn’t be right. Advice left, right and centre that NOW I should focus on me and my son, people saw that relationship as a misjudgement on my part. As you all know if you’ve read my blogs, I didn’t take their advice. Only I could possibly know what was going on in my head and whether I was ready or not. I wasn’t looking for a guy, any guy, just to fill a void. I wanted a partner. The second one came along in May and I told more people about this one. I didn’t tell the ex but I think reference was made to my partner when we spoke. People couldn’t think any worse of me, right? Wrong. I heard a rumour about myself that I had a different man every week. Laughable…. but it led me to think, so what if I had!? What possible business is it of anyone’s? As long as I wasn’t putting myself or my son in danger, would I not of been entitled to do that, if that was what I wanted? Still, no-one passed comment on how quickly my ex found someone and subsequently moved in with her. I myself accepted that very quickly. What was the difference? Why was it ok for him but not for me? Because he was male? Because he left me? All of a sudden my life seemed to be the talk of the town. Yet all I was doing was getting on with life. It really wasn’t that interesting. It was normal, wasn’t it?
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Back when my current relationship started in August, I told no one. Not a single soul until at least three dates in. I didn’t know where it was going but was happy to find out without the input of others. In fact I don’t think I went out of my way to tell many people that I’d split up with the previous one. I just casually dropped it into conversation that no, I wasn’t with that one anymore but it’s ok I’ve been with someone new for a month or so. I can’t seem to win. People still wish to judge. The difference is, after this weeks events, I no longer care. So what happened to make me not care what ANYONE thinks about my time as a single woman since my split? I have let a friend of mine stay at my home recently. One day this week my son came back home to collect his stuff for his subsequent three nights at his Dads. For some reason, he couldn’t get into the house and he made the assumption that my friend was in the house with the keys in the other side. They weren’t. They were out. In actual fact the lock was dodgy, which was worrying. Another incorrect assumption was made by someone else was that it was my boyfriend in the house and that they’d fallen asleep. Jumping to conclusions. Incorrect conclusions. And this annoyed me. My first thought was to get the point across that it wasn’t my boyfriend. I do have one, but this assumption had been based on the wrong person. The reason that riled me so much was because earlier in the week, the first major thing to happen was my boyfriend and I had talked about what we were and where we were going, leaving me feeling confident, happy and secure in my current relationship for the first time since my husband left. I didn’t want silly accusations to ruin that feeling. However, I then got to thinking “why the hell does it matter if it WAS my boyfriend”?. I’m a grown woman. I am actually, contrary to popular belief, ALLOWED to move on. A few months down the line and it could well be my boyfriend in the house.

So, move on is what I will continue to do. Think what you like about me, I hold my head and my morals high. There is no choice but to move on, but you can choose when you do it, and whenever feels right for you is exactly when you should.
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You are what you listen to. PART TWO.

Over the last few years, I’ve made it my mission to seek out affordable live music gigs, and new music to listen to. I will never tire of my favourites mentioned in Part One, but I needed some fresh music in my life. A small music festival held in my local city often brings new unsigned bands to my attention. Walking round town one day my son and I heard a young busker singing in the street. A few months later, the same girl was singing her heart out as part of a music festival outside the shop where I worked and I was able to find out who she was. Demi Marriner has the voice of an angel and makes any song she sings into her own, giving it whole new life and meaning. Her original stuff is beautiful, well written works of art, and I wish this girl all the luck in the world. I avidly follow her journey and she deserves a big break. She truly is awesome. At the most recent Take That concert I went to, I was absolutely over the moon to see Demi performing at the Genting Arena in Birmingham before the show.
On nights out, I seek out the bars with live music, whether I’ve heard of the band or not. Nothing can beat the sound of a guitar and drum kit filling a room with their melodies. Lyrics of songs seem even more personal when you hear them sung live.
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At another local festival, I first saw a band called Done By Sunrise. They are an indie-pop band, a family comprised of Loren, Scott and Jodie Howland. They are now joined on cajon by Ross Nicholls. They are captivating live performers who really enjoy being on stage and their enthusiasm is infectious. Their original tracks are catchy, personal and stick in your mind. I own their debut EP “Home”. Scott’s solo tracks have had me hooked since finding them on SoundCloud. I often see them supporting another favourite local artist of mine, “Blobbie Williams”. The best Robbie Williams tribute act you will ever see, this guy not only has the facial characteristics of the real Robbie down to a “T”, he can sing… and yes, he can entertain you. His shows are pure entertainment, and although banter and tongue in cheek jokes play a huge part, he never fails to convey the songs as they were intended. His rendition of “Angels” has me in tears.
Other bands I’ve discovered along the way include The Secrets, The Fidgets, Abby Inez, Time of the Mouth, Jasper in the company of others and a guy called Damian Matthews. Damian first caught my ears at an open mic night, people turn up to sing, or play along at a venue called The Marrs Bar and when Damian took to the stage, WOW! The songs he chose to sing were my kinda songs and his voice… Well there is no other word than wow. The next time I saw him, he took to the stage as a support act to “Take Fat”, the band that Blobbie was part of at the time, and his version of “A bat out of hell” completely blew me away. Very talented man. He reaches notes I never thought possible. Why this guy isn’t on the radio every day, I’ll never know.

Early last year I won tickets to go and see Maroon 5 in concert. I had always liked their music but winning the tickets spurred me on to go out and buy the albums of theirs I didn’t already have in my collection, including the latest “V”. One song on that album jumped straight into my top ten favourite songs, an ever changing list which depends on a variety of things, whether I’m in a relationship, who I’ve just spoken, who has recently released a new single. I also love too many albums to keep the list to just ten. “Leaving California” is a few beats faster than a break up ballad and the chorus, to me, is almost anthemic. Hearing it for the first time coincided with my break up with the guy I met in January, and the brief time where I wanted him back. Enthused with a new love for Adam Levines silky vocals telling my love stories, I eagerly awaited the concert. I wasn’t disappointed. The show two nights before had been cancelled due to Adams voice going after a throat infection, but despite not being 100%, the sheer determination of him wanting to please the fans was clear. Although he held back on some of the bigger notes, he wasn’t going to let us walk away without a top performance. True professional. True lover of music.

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However, only one band, that was introduced to me in May last year, have reached the same playlist level as Shed Seven and The Bluetones. This band actually formed back in 1994, but only really hit the mainstream music scene in 1999, and although I could probably name a handful of their songs, they had gone under my radar.
MUSE.
The musician I started dating in May was in a Muse tribute band. He lived and breathed Muse, and it was impossible to not be drawn into their music. The first album I introduced into my vast music collection was their most recent, Drones. I first listened to it in the kitchen whilst washing up and cooking tea. For me, and from past experience, if an album doesn’t grab me on the first listen, it gets discarded to a shelf to gather dust. Drones didn’t grab me. However, like I said, you can’t be around someone who speaks with such passion about the lyrics, taps out the drum beats, raves about Matt Bellamys voice and not “listen”. So that’s what I did. Armed with a glass of wine, I headed up to my bedroom on one of those rare nights alone, and put Drones on. I have never, and I mean never, had such a drastic change of opinion when it comes to music before. I either like it, or I don’t. There’s no “it’s ok”, and there’s certainly no “it’ll grow on me”. I love Drones. From the ballad of “Aftermath” to the madness of “Psycho”, every single song dug its claws into me and wouldn’t let go. In the space of two weeks I’d gone from not owning a single Muse CD to having all but one (that’s since been rectified). I’d been converted. Sometimes a song means so much to me that if the situation I’ve related it to changes, I can’t listen to it again for a while. However, when the musician and I separated, I couldn’t say goodbye to Muse, not even for a day. Infact they helped me through it.
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My other half loves 80s music. Since dating him, I’ve been reintroduced to bands that were around in my early childhood, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet etc. Despite growing up in the eighties and barely being old enough to remember some of the songs from back then, the classics of the decade have stood the test of time and even my twelve year old son would be able to sing along to them. Not necessarily noted for their lyrical qualities, the music held the song back then, and songs are instantly recognised before the vocals even begin.

So now if you pick up my iPod and press play, there’s a very high chance you’ll hear Shed Seven, The Bluetones or Muse. I know the lyrics to every single song. I’ve listened to them over and over again and have never gotten bored.
I’ve picked up CDs of unsigned bands at various live events I’ve been to, so there’s a very slight chance you’ll catch a song you’ve never heard by an artist you’ve never heard of.
Nothing ever gets deleted. I don’t “go off” music.
Don’t be surprised though if on the odd occasion, you’re greeted with Take That. A slim chance you’ll happen upon Aha. Or even, possibly, maybe a bit of Britney Spears. Like I say, my taste is vast. Don’t judge me!
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Links
http://www.blobbiewilliams.co.uk
http://www.donebysunrise.co.uk
http://www.scotthowland.co.uk
https://m.facebook.com/demimarrinermusic