I would rather be a friend, than be a lover [or something quite sincerely in the way of serious apology …]

I wrote this a couple of hours ago over at my Instagram account:

“Shall we make this a film, dear #C?”
“Why not, dear #M?”
“A film with a happy ending, dear #C?”
“A film with a happy ending, dear #M!”
“But a happy ending where you and I end up together!”
“Can you really not leave anything to chance?”
“Pot; kettle; black; and all.”
“True, dear #M. True enough …”
And so bells of joy ring out sweetly afterwards.
And so #M & #C and #C & #M resoundingly sound out each other’s affection and love. ūüôā
And so then, *only* then, let’s finally wend our private way to a future of real contentment, life *and thrive!*
“No, dear #C?”
“Of course, dear #M!!!”
And so of course, dear couple: let it be …
FOOTNOTE: Just to clarify – I know this could only ever be a film, never reality. And I know I am older than the hills. But even old men have a right to dream young dreams. Even old men do, don’t you think? ūüôā

Some of the content took a few versions to appear; and most importantly, the footnote wasn’t there until right at the end of the redrafting process.

I feel it now, however, the feelings expressed I mean, as I have not done before and for such a long time.  This project Рlifeworklab.uk Рis clearly reaching its useful end, but during its procession of strange emotions and pent-up thoughts unbolted (to use the terminology of two particularly poetic friends and Рdare I say? Рgeniuses of the web), I think I was Рas one tutor alluded to me recently Рtesting nihilistic boundaries of some sort or other.  And as anyone does when this is the case, floods of transgressive activities generally issue forth.

It is clear I was hurt by many people during my life, but it is equally clear – without wanting to (and so maybe, neither they) – I did quite a bit of hurting back myself.

And what’s more, I now realise emotionally as well as intellectually, being hurt doesn’t automatically make us qualified – that is to say, give us a burning right – to cause others similar experiences, and to a similar degree.

So when these strange dynamics began, around March or April-time of 2016, and the woman I have called variously C or Claire, on a couple of occasions Claire B, and even by her full name, offered to meet me on my flying visit to Dublin, it was my nihilism unbound (not a reason; not an excuse; but a reality, all the same) that led me to presume that a twenty-something woman could ever be interested in me, myself, mine; as and for me as a man.

The age difference for one marks us out as entirely unsuited; the fact that she is in a firm relationship already is one more jolly good reason not to proceed; that I had already had a brief affair with her mother, an awfully complicating matter; and then, finally, the reality that I – at the time – was confused about the future of my still existent marriage, just one additional and clearly definitive nail in the coffin of this relationship of manifest mortality.

There were, are, always will be many other quite different and valid reasons for the two of us to want to occasionally chatter and natter about the family that ties us, too often unspokenly, too often inevitably, together: an awfully complex, sometimes joyful, but usually (in my mind) tremendously oppressive environment I am now mostly, where not entirely, grateful to be more or less convincingly rid of.

Yes. ¬†To say you can only fly in aeroplanes and drive cars, and then move forwards in a life, by cutting out of that very same entity your father, mother, and two of your four siblings – the brothers in this case; the sisters remain in scope, where they desire and wish to be – is a damn sore thing to effect and act upon. ¬†But it’s true. ¬†In December 2015, I was terrified of doing almost anything: and, coincidentally, I still maintained relationships with all my parental and cousinly family, on practically all sides and to greater or lesser degrees. ¬†By the middle of 2016, only my second cousin who I’ve already mentioned, a dear dear first cousin on the same side who has stuck with me through thick and thin, my children and wife barely it has to be said – but even so, presently – and one of my two sisters more than the other, had been saved from the pretty savage familial cull I have carried out.

And yet you see me now: over that period mentioned I no longer am frightened of flying or driving at all.  Of doing so many things.  Of being able to refuse a paranoia I am clear was never internal to me; but, instead, environmentally sourced by my very peculiar upbringing Рand when I say upbringing, I mean both parental and then that which my adulthood afforded me.

Driving and flying, then.  Two key verbal constructions, psychologically significant, for a writerly person of my metaphorical and figurative bent.

There is, of course, something obviously still missing from my life. ¬†And here, I accept, it will probably be like that for a long time to come. ¬†It’s the sexual side of human relationships; something my wife has never convincingly wished for, and I have never convincingly pursued outwith the matrimonial bonds. ¬†It has caused me great distress: to such an extent that last year I went to couple-counselling by myself for about ten weeks.

I guess it doesn’t often happen.

My wife has no obligation to be sexually active.

But neither do I have an obligation to desire permanent sexual inactivity.

Therein the impasse, and the madness of my infatuation with Claire over the past twelve months.

The silence between us that followed my second meeting with her in Dublin, shortly after the first, has been the most painful thing I have ever endured.  Perhaps, actually, it was a well-designed punishment; perhaps she was defending the memory of her mother who has had her own most difficult trajectory, after the relationship we so briefly maintained.  But her mother is perfectly content these days, as far as I know, with her situation in life.  I, meanwhile, have never accepted my diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia; never, I tell you.  Never at all.

And I never shall.

My battle to understand the whys that put me in that secure facility for a month in the summer of 2003 will never end now (even as – cutting out of it drastically so much of this close family as I have – I am able to conduct a far more pleasurable life than before I ever was able to).

And that, I guess, is what will always separate from any other further contact or mutual outreach this woman I call Claire, her mother, and the family which stand beside the former on the one hand, and on the other, my own current posture and fairly unmovable positions, at least to date.

Claire’s mother believes, or so I have been led to believe anyway (primarily, it must be said, via her very own communications), that you look to the future by leaving the past behind; by ignoring it; by unfocussing.

I, on the other hand, believe the future must be built on solid foundations; and those foundations can only be built on a truth and transparency which come prior to a real and validating reconciliation.

I went to Spain a week or so ago, with my long-suffering wife (for just because one partner suffers awfully at the hands of another’s behaviours doesn’t mean the other’s own suffering must necessarily be non-existent). ¬†It was a congenial time because I ignored the lack of physical chemistry. ¬†I did exactly the same all our married life. ¬†When I stopped doing it, I was accused of having changed. ¬†I guess it is true: I did. ¬†I changed because I started saying exactly what I had wanted all along.

I think our marriage may reach a stasis of some kind, even now, if we are both flexible enough to focus on the good – time spent with three grown-up children, now achieving magnificent goals and occupying wonderful spaces and places – and then choosing simply not to be together when the bad might conceivably arise.

In a modern egalitarian century, a woman has every right to choose her sexuality.  And what one might term zero sexual activity Рie an absence of the same Рis, in truth, one sexuality and one real choice we should clearly accept.  It is not an absence at all.  It is a manifestation of a certain way of being sexual.

And it’s quite possible that the joy and expression of her humanity, which she seriously and undeniably possesses, she prefers to engineer and deliver via the humour and laughter her contact with her children provide.

There is no compulsion for any human being, any woman, to focus on a partner when expressing their inner or sexual self.

That is what all the poetry of the last nineteen months has taught me.

We are nothing if we do not allow others to follow their paths.

And so the marriage, for me, must now reshape itself.  And I am ready, as I have already alluded to on these pages, to lose my children and their respect if I must.  I want to carry out the academic activity I think I am so well suited to, and which I have been unable to deliver in the second semester and this summer so far, more than anything else in my life.  But I realise, now, I will not be able to do this whilst I do not have the physical love, embrace, contact and regular caresses of a woman who does know how to love me as I want.

Neither, of course, in any sensible and proper conceptualisation of the world, of this rock and of the universe more widely, will this ever conceivably be Claire’s role or responsibility (if responsibility is ever the right word, even in the very best of circumstances).

So, in this sense, I find myself – as so many times in my life – starting from painful scratch; starting from zero.

Starting from a zero which, in truth, was never anything but.

No numbers represented Claire in my world.  No kind truths on my part; no generosities I could look back to, and point out, and measure, and use to demonstrate my own value and validity as even her trusted friend.

I am optimistic, nevertheless.  Even as I must Рto a degree Рaccept that beyond this moment the living of my life in a solitude which is really not my being (for honestly, given the opportunity, I am one of the most sociable beings you can ever have the pleasure to stumble across), there surely has, one day, to exist some soul out there somewhere who will want to share a bed with me for more than lonely moments of slumber.

In the meantime, if any of the implicated in today’s post feel aggrieved, and I would entirely agree and understand, were they to feel in this way and react in such a manner, then do get in touch; do make that step.

I have learnt my lesson: I would rather be a friend, than be a lover.  No longer will I write my poetry out of nihilism.

No longer will I write half as much poetry as I’ve done.

I am grounded, happier, and soon to be free.

But free in the best sense: not that liberty of cracked bell, but – rather, far more signficantly – the flight of brave, nestless offspring, spinning suddenly, wildly and quite fabulously grand into each of their very own futures.

And the foundation I demand for such futures to form themselves?  The apology I need to make, unreservedly to everyone affected.

You hurt me unknowingly.

But I suspect in return, I knew rather more about exactly what I was doing when I hurt you all back.

And where you hid from me the truth of my incarceration, you truly thought you were doing it for my own good.

The expediency and collateral damage of so much wartime fudge.

And fudge, I love – especially vanilla, didn’t you know?

So that apology, that set of apologies, lies out there on the terrain of familial disdain.  There are many people, even so, I never want to speak to again.  But an apology does not demand a kowtowing on bending knee.  And whilst forgiveness is forgiveness, it requires and implies no parallel processes of rapprochement either.

Let us all carry on with the lives we just have to lead.  And those of us who wish to meet up, let us do so in sincere kindness and love.  But no more papering over the cracks of misunderstanding.

That we can leave to the past.

[These] mar[r]y Poppins fine, 21st century style / Happy man of see!

I know this person, who loves me for some reason;

and she is stratospherically good at what 

she stratospherically does.

And when I am in her presents

(for her presence

is a gift),

I feel I am 

capable of living life 

so positive and true.

And that’s what I want 

to feel

the rest of my life: to be around

people unafraid of my desire and need 

and want and haunt,

on occasions perhaps really gaunt, 

to live a lonely existence,

to live by myself,

and yet for them to treasure, even so,

at moments I am gold, no longer


my being, when seeing how time it is to be together

in love and soul and heartfelt


not the idiocy of romantic attachments

but the respect of fine and adult admiration.

And so she for me

is mar[r]y Poppins fine, 

21st century style.

She brings as one

the accuracy of perspicacity 

with the humanity of having 

suffered the brutalities of life’s unkindnesses.

And yet she chooses happiness over and over again,

over the 

miseries I sometimes – nay!  Often – decant.

And yet my life has never been so rich 

as then,

and when, and wending 

and tending dutifully, and even lovingly in 

certain things and ways –

yes here, even here, lovingly does happen,

though certain expression 

does press us distantly one –

and so there is something about 

her wonderful certainties 

that, actually,

I have never met before.

And so multiply up this wonderful woman’s qualities 

to the others I have recent met, and begotten of

grand improvements: internal and wonderful

and curious and unmet.

And so to the beauty within 

all these women of my life: no longer a strife to be,

but a simple part of my more, and core,

and lore and rhymes and strident harmonies,

and occasionally my tears, 

as in rip me apart,

and occasionally my tears, 

as in lick me better, do.

And so peace does approach, and the most I can hurt 

is now well behind

the we and you and mine.

Times clearly out, rounded down, and 

no longer the crown 

of roses bethorned

and torn from our hearts and arts.

So thank you, dearest women: 

thank you for all your wisdoms.

Thank you for caring enough to even consider  

releasing me thus

from the hell I was in.

And when they write my epitaph,

let it include your beautiful names: all of yous, please, 

who have chosen to succour –

show your fabulous faces (and maybe laces 

one day, too).

And then allow me to show no trace of 

badness back.

Just allow me to be the 

happy man of always see!

Coda[r]: {or where lifeworklab.uk has ended up …} #family #bullying #passiveaggressive #lookingtothefuture #happyalone

Weather not so summery.  Am lonely, but not unhappy.  Am surprised this is the case.  That lonely does not equal unhappy.

Picked up my hire car today: a neat Vauxhall Mokka; automatic as is my wont. ¬†Two years ago I wouldn’t have gone near such an experience; not even contemplated it as something I would do.

Now am flying to Dublin, from Madrid and Belfast; all sorts of wonderful things which have become par for the course on my golf round that is life.

‘Question is that I have proved they are incompatible with, at the same time, being with huge numbers of my family. ¬†I think I must conclude aloneness is my natural state. ¬†And I can do it, if in exchange I can start visiting places I never visited without a week’s drive before and after; if I can feel freer and not so worn out in the rest of the existence that is my life.

I saw my father driving to Morrisons today, and I remembered how I was when I tolerated his awful, bullying, passive-aggressive behaviours to me.  I never want to go back there.  And I never shall now.

Multiply that up to mother and brothers, and only my sisters and a few cousins are saved from the scything of my past.

It does make it possible for me to now move forwards, too.

I choose research, work and study – and my children, of course – over the vast majority of toxic family, and past and wearisome present.

And that is my final choice.


Coda[r]: {or how women will continue to confuse me}


It’s funny. ¬†I know expressing a peace and tranquillity in being alone may sound a bit weird. ¬†But I think we get trained out of enjoying just … our own company. ¬†My daughter, in Paris these past few weeks, working as an au-pair, has found it oh so difficult to explain to her hosts that she doesn’t need incessantly taking places; what she really needs is to allow her body to wander as much as her super-creative mind.

And I know it may appear that falling in love and being roundly rejected – as happened to me in the last twelve months – makes me then try and make out, falsely one assumes, that all I ever wanted in the first place was to be on my own … but, actually, when you slowly, ever so slowly, relearn the ability to – as I say above – “enjoy your own company”, a whole slew of horrible things stop happening.

Firstly, the sadness of never being sure whether you said the right thing or not. ¬†Secondly, the badness of chasing someone almost pervertedly against their own will. ¬†Thirdly, not being able to do or think of doing anything else with one’s fullest concentration. ¬†Fourthly, just making an ass of yourself. ¬†Fifthly, not being able to see the world as it properly is. ¬†And sixthly, forgetting that each person’s life belongs to each individual; not at all to the people who claim, equally falsely, to love us back.

I’m not recanting. ¬†I’m not excusing. ¬†I’m not saying I no longer love the person I fell in love with. ¬†I can’t not love them. ¬†I will love them forever.



And I’m not even saying I can sincerely move on. ¬†But I can create a parallel universe in which the meantime can begin to take over what I think and breathe every minute of the day.

I shall never fall out of love with any of the women I once became so enamoured of.  I shall never reject their persons, nor their importance in my life Рhowever briefly they were there.  And I shall never even define this importance in terms of how long this was Рor exactly what it was I did with them.

The woman I most love, I have spent barely five hours sharing food with.

The woman who never loved me back as first I needed, and then latterly more significantly as I wanted, has occupied several decades of my life.

But each and every woman I have been confused by – and for me, confusion is the delicious definition of how I go about my falling in love – will always be inside my mind, waiting to confuse me again.

And so I thank the universe that this is so.

And I would never have it any other way.






And the [very very] last post {#yellow (of course!)}

And I guess I couldn’t go without saying a few more words than that.

I’d love to publish the best of this blogsite in a book – a real book; one of those books people treasure and then maybe die for; a book which one day ends up remaindered in some gorgeous secondhand bookshop; and then smelling fine as all good books of rhyme; and then perhaps recovered by someone else who – in the future – also falls in love, just like the me who did here.

If I have managed somehow to square my precious circles, if the people I love can coexist in some kindly way, if messy can be contemplated but cruel can mainly be avoided, then the time and the pain and the joy and the rain will all have been clearly worth it.

I don’t yet know what I will be doing next year, but I have a much better idea where it shall be happening, than exactly thirteen months ago tomorrow.

And I am also far more open to any opportunity: far more open to people and places and kinds of goals, and ways of working – and perhaps even whys.

After a year of struggling, I think this is damn good.  Really good.  Don’t you?

So to finally finish, a coda of four pictures.  Explanation and hopes after the photography.


#green #tea, #yellow #me 

scene this afternoon in #salamanca #spain 

#muchhappiermil #liverpool #dublin #whenever #whatever #however #whyever

“See, #C?”*

“See, #C?  I do still remember you …” #salamanca #spain scene just now … #happiermil 

* I wasn’t sure whether to play this one as per the final scene of “The Graduate”, but decided in the end surely not.  In the deepest place of my heart, I remain an optimistic soul.  No one will permanently rid me of this.  And no event shall, either.

As I concluded in my previous post, most likely I will work the rest of my days out in Liverpool, spend my weekends and retirement in Dublin, and enjoy short breaks with my children and their mother in what I expect to remain their home in Salamanca, Spain.  For that is their wish, and the least I can do for having ripped their lives apart fourteen years ago.

The least their mother and I, both, can do.

Life is messy, but it doesn’t have to be cruel.  Let us ensure it is not, as far as we may.

This blogsite has now fulfilled its function.  Thank you for enjoying and participating and liking and even loving.  And where looking in askance was the only correct response, thank you too.