Showing posts with label The Man in the Pink Shirt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Man in the Pink Shirt. Show all posts

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

It's been a long time coming (but worth the wait...)




When my partner and I moved to Suffolk to start our new life together nearly six years ago, we didn't intend to leave it so long before we tied the knot!  





 Despite setting the date twice before in the last three years, life had other plans for us, but finally we found the perfect time to gather our children, their partners and the little granddaughter around us to say 'I will' in the lovely Norman church just at the bottom of the hill.

And it was a perfectly magical and very special day!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Marry Me?

'Marry Me?' he said, out of a clear blue sky.

My world tilted momentarily on its axis. We had both said categorically that we would never marry again, so why did I find myself saying 'Yes' without even pausing to think? It just seemed to be the right, the only possible answer. If I thought about it I might find reasons not to, but all the important decisions in life come from somewhere beyond conscious thought. The lunchtime busyness of the seaside restaurant had settled and we were alone with our oysters and champagne, both of us now in tears as he took me in his arms and kissed me.



Life has been very unsettled recently as I struggle to let go of the trappings of my old life and move into the new one that is opening up for me, and sometimes I am so scared to let go. After all, it has been a long, hard journey, rebuilding my life after it was torn apart; raising my boys to be confident young men, able to live satisfying, independent lives; finding friends, homes, work, fulfillment for myself on my own terms and while I don't think it will always be easy, to merge my life with someone else's, it is my new challenge and I shall give it all I can.


We plan to move to East Anglia in the summer after my youngest son finishes school. He has a new life opening up to him too, as he hopes to go on to University in the Autumn, all being well, the grades being right. At last he is beginning to take control of his life and to do what has to be done to achieve his goals.


I know this is not the end of my story, but it is the end of this particular chapter and, whatever problems we face in the future, we face them together.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Create

Create it says at the top of the page, and that is what I'm trying to do. Create a new future, a different sort of life for myself, as the old one collapses around me.

One thing is for sure, things cannot go on as they are. I know I can no longer afford to live in this house, now the maintenance payments have slowed to a trickle and could dry up at any time. I know my youngest son will leave school this year, hopefully to start an independent life for himself at University. And I know that my hands are telling me in no uncertain terms that I can no longer earn an income with them, as the joints swell and burn. No ambiguous messages there then, so what next?



We have talked through the worries we both have about moving in together, my lover and I, about making a life together, and it's exciting and scary in equal measure, but somehow we seem to have moved from 'shall we live together' to 'where shall we live together'. We could go almost anywhere, all our children now being young adults, and that's both liberating and frightening. We have a life here, friends, work, things we enjoy doing together. Could we find all the things we need in a strange place? Can we make a fresh start somewhere new?

We have looked at houses and they all have problems - one is a complete wreck and needs renovating, another is perfect, but a little too expensive and in the middle of Suffolk, another snatched from under our noses, and yet another is liable to flooding.

I keep looking for a sign, a way forward. These are tough decisions and there are no easy answers. Where are the angels when you need them?

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Contrasts

Perhaps we shouldn't have gone to the gallery opening. The smart shiny people glanced unseeingly at us as we slipped through the door, so absorbed were they in all the other smart shiny people they had known for years. Strangely, nobody else seemed to be looking at the stunning pictures. More people drfited in and were greeted with shrieks of recognition, air kisses, as we bounced off them like billiard balls, unable to penetrate the invisible shield.


She used to be a neighbour of his, in and out of each other's houses, their children playmates, but they hadn't seen each other for years.
'I can't quite place you ...', she said, puzzled, as he greeted her and congratulated her on her work. 'Oh yes, didn't you used to be married to ... '
'Things change', he replied awkwardly as my smile slipped.

Not the right woman. Not the right place. Not my fault.



The next day, the thin autumn sunshine breaking through the misty morning drew us onto the water. We spent the day sailing up the river, the water like spun silk, dropping anchor in a quiet creek, listening to the silence, soaking up the late sun. Later, as the light drained away, we headed back to port under the bright, almost full moon, shivering in the damp, cold, river air.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Night Crossing

Our crew turned out to be profoundly deaf, a burly 6'2" giant. Somewhere in his sixties and retired, he delighted in telling tall stories of near disasters at sea in a very loud voice, whilst chain smoking, not entirely inspiring confidence. Quite overpowering on a small boat, he felt the need to touch me every time he spoke. I edged further away on the hard bench, trying to maintain some personal space, without falling into the churning sea, fighting nausea.

The night crossing was definitely a test of my courage and commitment and a huge challenge. Sailing in a small boat across the North Sea to Holland, wind over tide for those who know about such things, is a bit like trying to ride a bucking bronco, whilst at the same time trying to make a cup of tea, or go to the loo. A particular low point was trying to adjust my underwear and momentarily letting go of the nearest handhold, just to ram my forehead into the shelf opposite. The damp night sea air crept into every crevice of my being. Even my bones were cold.

Every journey has to end and we arrived in Zeeland on a fine sunny afternoon, all traces of sickness gone, looking forward to a good meal and a hot shower. What I got was a cool shower and wet shoes and clothes - the water went everywhere. The meal was delicious though. Life with TMITPS, I realised, is never going to be dull. Uncomfortable and challenging at times, but never dull.

The rest of the holiday was spent pottering through the inland seas and canals of this charming country, staying in small marinas and quays in pretty Dutch towns, eating wonderful meals and enjoying the hospitality of this gentle country and it's friendly people. Living on a boat was fun and sailing creates a strong bond between strangers. The locks were particularly interesting as everyone jostles in a small space, desperately trying to hook a line onto rings and bollards, whilst trying not to bang into each other or the dank, unforgiving lock walls. I quickly became an expert in fending off and tying clove knots, my new skill.

The journey home was much more straightforward. No crew for this, as I was supposed to have my sea legs, and I did. We managed the trip between us, mostly during daylight, constantly watching for the ferries and container ships that would suddenly loom through the haze, seemingly from nowhere.

It was quite an adventure and lovely to be safely home in my quiet, spacious house. But sometimes I find myself missing the intimacy of living on a small boat and the simplicity it demands.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Stuck in the Mud

The plan this weekend was to take the boat upriver to have it's bottom well scrubbed before we set off for Holland next week. A 26 hour crossing of the unpredictable North Sea which is going to be a serious challenge to my fledgling sailing abilities and probably a real endurance test.

On Friday, however, I started sneezing, had a splitting headache and felt really rough, so TMITPS set off alone to do whatever needed to be done to make us seaworthy, while I curled up in bed to concentrate on fighting the bug.

Perhaps it was just as well in the end as, when he phoned a few hours later, disaster had struck and he was well and truly stuck in the mud, just yards from the pontoon and relative safety, the tide going out rapidly and the boat sinking deeper and deeper into the thick smelly gooey muck, mosquitoes filling the cabin. He had very little food as it was meant to be a quick in and out trip, and an empty water tank, as he had emptied it out in an attempt to lighten the boat and free it. He was completely alone out there, covered in mud, in a very remote spot, waiting for the tide to come in again and lift him out - if he wasn't too deeply rammed in. It was an anxious time for both of us, although I decided that being safe and dry at home was definitely the better option!

Luckily the news in the morning was better. The tide had done it's work and he was afloat again, the boat scrubbed and the prospect of an easy return home. I just hope that the trip to Holland goes more smoothly and the jinx is satisfied for now.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Late Autumn Sunshine

I should have been in London on Saturday, visiting some old friends, but the trip was cancelled at the last moment leaving me with an empty day. I pottered around desultorily, doing a few chores, wondering if I would go to the coast and sit on the pebbly Sussex beach, read my book and watch the children play in the waves.

In the end, having wasted half the day, I decided to join a friend who had mentioned a folk festival in the nearby market town and had invited me to join her in the pub garden overlooking the high street to watch the procession go by, morris dancers, folk singers, witches and warlocks. A pretty, gaudy sight.

I wandered up the high street taking in the spectacle, then back to the pub garden. As I scanned the crowd looking for a familiar face, someone touched my arm and I found myself face to face with the Man in the Pink Shirt. We hadn't seen each other for a couple of weeks. Things had unravelled. He bought me a drink and we stood outside the pub for a while together, watching the crowd, talking, kissing a little sadly, enjoying each other's company and the late autumn sunshine.

Then we kissed a final goodbye. And parted.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Little white, lacy, strappy things

My sons are home! The washing machine and dishwasher rumble incessantly, there is never enough milk, bread, cereal or red wine, casseroles bubble on the stove and the mother in me stirs and purrs contentedly, testosterone drifting through the house as their deep voices mingle and merge.

So why, I wonder, did I take a detour on my way to stock up again at Waitrose, to trawl through the racks of sale price clothes in Fat Face, discarding the sensible sweat shirts and fleecy, warm zippy things and finding my way to the little white, lacy, strappy vest top, to be secreted amongst the carrots and potatoes and meat and cheese? Perhaps my mind had drifted towards the Man in the Pink Shirt, currently battling the wind and tides somewhere off the South Coast, no doubt swathed in utilitarian waterproofs?

I suppose I could always hide it under a sensible fleece if I go sailing again. Only I would know it was there, surely. After all, if he had wanted a sensible woman, what on earth is he doing with me?

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Sailing Lessons

'Down below' was even smaller than I had expected. More intimate. For a six berth yacht, there was surprising little space. Even the two of us had to negotiate the cabin and deck with great care.

We set off down the channel towards the Solent, first under engine then, when the wind got up, the sails went up and things became really interesting as we tipped and rolled in the swell. I kept forgetting that I should push the tiller in the opposite direction to where we were heading, but this didn't really matter until we were approaching Cowes and fell in with the racing yachts during Cowes week. Rather a lot to cope with for a novice but somehow we negotiated the crowded waters and eventually found the river leading to the pub.

We berthed three deep, cut the engine and sat for a while, drinking champagne, eating the olives and goat's cheese and french bread meant for a lunch that never happened, chatting to the friendly men in the next berth as the sun went down, trying to remember who wrote 'Sitting in the Dock of the Bay' and wasn't there a Kink's song about boats and a river? 'Waterloo Sunset' perhaps?

On Sunday morning, we were jarred out of our lazy breakfast too soon by the French couple tied up alongside us and anxious to leave, but with the wind and tides with us and the sun beating down, I was at last able to change into my pink swimsuit and sit peacefully on deck, soak in the hot sun, watch the boats criss-cross the calm sea, rub sun screen into each other's backs and admire his skill as he brought us home again.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

The Man in the Pink Shirt

Even the sun shone for us. It was a perfect summer evening, snatched from a disappointing summer.

He arrived promptly, wearing his trademark pink shirt and carrying a bottle of red wine. We sat in the orchard for a while, drinking white wine Kirs, enjoying the late sunshine under the plum tree as the Chicken Cacciatora bubbled gently on the stove and we took it in turns to give it a stir from time to time. Somehow new potatoes and green beans cooked themselves and supper was ready.

We moved to the conservatory, lit the candles and opened his bottle of red wine. The food was delicious, we talked and laughed, then later kissed and cuddled, watching the bats flitting in and out of their nest in the eaves above the conservatory. It was a truly magical evening and I just want to hold onto that feeling.

Friday, 13 July 2007

Crushed Thyme

It happened so suddenly as accidents do, out of a clear blue sky. One moment I was quietly going about my chores, at peace with myself, enjoying this brief oasis in my life and looking forward to the end of term and the long summer break.

My ankle went over as I stepped down from the kitchen into the garden. I yelped with the sharp agony and froze, completely unable to move, still upright but with my foot bent at an unnatural angle. The pain washed over me and I felt myself beginning to black out. I managed to lie down before I passed out, half lying on the path, half resting on the cushion of thyme that grows by the kitchen door and I hung on to the scent of the crushed herbs, fighting the faintness and nausea that threatened to overwhelm me. Eventually I dragged myself back into the kitchen, trailing crushed thyme, sobbing with the pain and my own helplessness. I felt very alone.

Slowly, with shaking hands, I started to phone friends, to try and find someone who could come and help me but only answering machines responded to my plight as people went busily about their lives. I hadn't seen my serenading friend, the man in the pink shirt, since the night in the churchyard. An arrangement had fallen through, our answering machines had spoken, things had drifted. Could I call him now? Throwing pride to the winds, I did. He came, drove me to A & E, pushed me in a wheelchair as I looked around for the cameras - surely this merited a slot on 'Casualty'? Afterwards he drove me back to his house, fed me tea and smoked salmon sandwiches, put cold compresses on my poor swollen, bruised ankle, before bringing me home again.

As soon as I am mobile again, I shall cook him a thank you supper. I could hardly do less now, could I?

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Scottish Reels

It was quite simply one of the best parties I had ever been to. The Scottish reels were an inspired choice and the perfect antidote for inhibitions as we all made mistakes and fell over our feet or span into someone else. For a while, we all became children again, laughing and giggling and talking to complete strangers.

I took the floor with a friend but we were immediately whisked away from each other by the dance and I found myself stopping with the music in front of a tall, slim man wearing a pink shirt. I have a weakness for a man in a pink shirt. We chatted for a few minutes and discovered we had friends in common before the music started up again and we whirled away from each other, in opposite directions.

It was much later when I was taking time out at the bar, chatting to people I hadn't seen for a while, that I saw him come across the room towards me. He joined the group and someone introduced us properly, then the group gradually dispersed as people rejoined the dance floor or saw other friends and we were left temporarily alone. We talked for a while and I wondered if he would ever ask me to dance. I was itching to get back on the floor. At last he did and we danced the night away, leaving the party in the small hours.

Friday, 22 June 2007

Serenade

'I used to sing,' he said, as we walked along the road from the lovely country pub garden to the car park, 'folk songs, in the 60's and 70's. I used to sing in pubs and clubs in the North of England when I was a student.'

He had phoned me earlier that day and suggested we go and see a film in the small, intimate cinema in a nearby village. He calls from time to time. Afterwards, we didn't want to end the evening just yet, so ambled along to a nearby pub, sat in the almost deserted, lantern-lit garden, chatting and watching the evening fade gently into night.

'Sing to me,' I asked, smiling. 'Sing something for me now!' 
'What, here?' he said, surprised. We were walking back to the car park, past an abandoned, boarded-up church and I took his hand and drew him into the quiet calm of the overgrown, neglected churchyard.

And he did. He sang for me. Five verses of a sea shanty, a tale of love and loss, in a fine baritone voice, under the new, crescent moon.