Saturday saw me out and about with the ‘nazi rambler’ crew. We were desperately avoiding the pub before the walk, which we did, before we picked a visit to the largest oak tree in Europe, which is in Fredville Park Manor grounds in Nonington village in Kent. The tree, called The Majestic Oak or The King FredVille Oak, is on private land so is not widely publicised because of this. It's over 1000 years old and rightly deserves credit as being the finest oak in the British Isles. Us locals know about it though. Introduced to the crew through another friend JG; a man who knows a thing or two about all things Kent. Upon approaching the estate we had to ring on the gamekeepers cottage, Rottweilers barking in the background, to get permission to walk through their wood to visit the tree. Which we duly did. The tree is 38ft in circumference and hollow inside, doesn’t produce acorns and has been recorded in historic literature as growing healthily in 1540; so it’s bloody old. Carole climbs up it to look inside the hollow and accidentally rips some bark off.
Poor C. I’d got a phone call off her the night before around 1 in the morning. I was already in bed after the debacle of the early finish gig the night before but dressed and went round to see her immediately. She was very distressed. Her boyfriend M had uncermoniously dumped her after the gig on the way home to his and she was in pieces the poor thing. He left her crying in the street. I just sat and drank tea with her; listening, nodding, shaking my head, agreeing. Letting her get it all out. Eventually, a few hours later, she calmed down a bit and after another cup of tea and an agreement to meet the next day for a walk in the countryside I left. It's so hard for long term couples. Their dynamics are entrenched and difficult to analyse.
We continued on the walk with J&E discussing the fact that it was E’s birthday the next day and what we might do to celebrate it, eventually deciding on a walk and a pub lunch on Sunday. I do love my beer guzzling artist friends. They accept me unconditionally and never criticise. As I do them.
That night I had an invite to visit a ‘private view’ art show in the Bubble. Rupert and Gaz and J&E were showing some stuff off in what used to be an old bakery in Norfolk Street, now owned by a guy who runs an antique shop in town. The art, which I'd seen most of it before anyway, was interspersed around the usual antique shop ‘collectables’ such as stags heads, wild boars heads, crappy water colour paintings from the Victorian times and Welsh dressers. We sat on old church pews and sipped cheap wine which was served in plastic cups AND in wine glasses – most unusual for this type of event – and everyone partook with gusto.
I chatted to Alistair about Cagey and how he’s fucked up a bit on booze and fags and how he shouldn’t have just moved out of town but how he was otherwise OK. John Altman, AKA Nick Cotton from EastEnders turned up. Apparently a friend of the owner. He had on a Cromby coat that looked just a teensy bit small for him and everyone was commenting about he’d ‘put on a few pounds’. Cruel. All I wanted to do was stage whisper ‘’allo Ma!’ to him but he probably gets that all the time anyway so I didn’t and left him alone.
Heading out into the chilly evening for the Smack, I had Shaun booked but he pulled out because he was having a ‘roughy’ as Penny called it. I’d arranged to meet my recent ex there for a little night out. She’d been blanking me something terrible for a few weeks and it was getting to the point where I couldn’t even look at her because I thought she was being so hostile towards me. Anyway, a few emails exchanged, and a night out was booked. She turns up at the pub, I buy her a drink and play a few tunes while we wait for Mike SU to come and take over. I was looking forward to talking and clearing the air and just, i suppose receiving a little reassurance that things were still on track for us, which they were. I do worry about her and it was nice to hear her moan about her job, which may be finishing if this restructure in the NHS happens. She's a senior clinical auditor and her job is a boring as it sounds. She's hoping to finish her management course before the axe falls though. I wish her luck and in a way hope she she can find a better job that interests her more.
BenzEgo, a local pub band who we see virtually every week down the Neppy for free, were playing at Dukes. I took Tort down there for a bit to see some of our other chums. Tried to get in on the guest list, as you do, but failed and had to pay a fiver. It was nice down there. Quite full. Everyone was dancing to cheesy old covers from the band. Don’t know why people love that so much but they do. I fucking hate it and see it as soulless, emotionless, talentless dirge but there you go. If you want to hang out with your chums you have to go where they go don’t you? The
band, despite their choice of tunes – even J, who plays trumpet in their band says he has ‘issues’ with their repertoire – was, I must say, as tight as a gnats chuff and quite enjoyable all the same.
Julia was there. Must have been funny for Ben out the band too becasue she's fucked him as well. I easily ignored her and she me but all her friends came up to me one at a time and gave me big hugs and a little chat which I of course fucking loved. The sad J could only hurl looks at me which I fielded by not even having eye contact with her. I'm still so angry with her and her attitude to me that it's going take a few more months of melting before I will even entertain the idea of talking to her again. If I ever will.
Another breakthrough. After weeks and weeks; maybe months of cold shouldering Rosie came up to me and said ‘hello Paul’. ‘Hello Rosie’ I reply back and we have a little hug. Next day I sent her a text; 'really relieved that we connected again last night. Thanks for making the effort.
I do love you loads and have missed you terribly. Please forgive me’. When I saw her the next day on the walk we had a lovely chat and it looks like we might be friends again soon.
T was her usual impassive and unimpressable self. She never gets excited about anything and always seems bored by everything around her. She talks in a really shallow way about most subjects but I don't care. If she makes a fuss of me she can talk about how green the grass is and I won't mind. I'd join in.
I nearly gave up the whole thing there and then but persevered and we ended up having a dance at Dukes and a chat at the after party round Adeys house. Missed out on an invite back to Ben’s after gig thing because I went back to the pub for last orders but watched the film footage of it on the Sunday walk in the pub. Didn’t miss much but it was good to see J who has just split up with her abusive husband.
She was full of her new life and how she is getting a place with her daughter and how things are going to be great again. She looked well and it was nice to see her happy again. Wonder what happened to Conrad though? He was a bit of a junkie and you know how the junkie stereotypealways wins through and destroys relationships?
Took T home after the chill out and stayed with her at her flat for a cup of tea and a smoke whilst listening to her tell me about ‘cuddles’ and how she loves them; her exploits the week before where she was down the Neppy after the Peg free party sandwiched between E and D on the sofa; more of D the sex pest (I hope she doesn't like him 'too' much); her lover from when she went on holiday; how promiscuous I am (I'm not!); she rambled on for ages but I wasn’t listening too intently anyway. But still following along; enjoying her words and the sound of her voice. I was thinking of how much I'm still sexually attracted to her body but not too keen on what she talks about. But, you know she makes an effort which is always appreciated. Then she mentioned Russell: ‘oh you know him. I’ve seen you talking to him at the Smack. He likes me but I’m not sure about him.’ My heart sank. Why? Because I secretly harbour fantasies of us getting back together (or is she, quelle horreur, abandoning me and thus kicking in my difficult to control 'abandonment strategy'?) or is it that old ex thing about not wanting her to fancy / love / have sexual relationship with anyone else but me kinda vibe? Which when I think about is stupid. If I like her I want her to pursue her happiness?
Hey, if she likes this guy she should go for it I said. I was pleased she was talking about him. Means she's recovering. Oh god, she also mentioned how it had been nearly a year since we split up. Maybe it means I'm recovering?
I was just enjoying being with her but resenting a little how much work I had to put into getting these few hours with and how I know that things will just slide back into ex and ex land and how ultimately I’ll just be as unhappy with her as I was before I made all this fuss to meet her. If you know what I mean. I said that I hope she makes the right decision and why not go for it? What you got to lose? You may actually gain something? I was saying how all my sexual encounters since our break up (and before and since?) have been shallow and ultimately unsatisfying and trying to find redemption through sex or even trying to find anything through sex with people who don’t care about you can actually be quite damaging. Maybe.
I only want to see her happy and still love me, even if it is just friends, and if not with me then hopefully someone she likes or loves, and seeing her going around without anyone to cuddle or love her or to care for her feelings breaks my stony little promiscuous heart to pieces.
It really does ;-)