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Wednesday, 7 April 2004

It's like a catalogue of hare brained idiocy

Topic: Lactose Incompetent

One of the things I did wrong lately, one of the things that was silly in the extreme, silly like going for a toddle around the outside of the Blackpool Tower viewing platform, was to ask Tybalt to cat-sit a few weekends for me.
Everyone said it was a bad idea - I mean absolutely everyone, even my mother, I mean, god, the minute I get a bed she hasn't slept in, a pan she hasn't burnt, a bathroom her wiry hair hasn't infected, I invite her over for more? It so clearly was a bad idea that I just stopped mentioning it to people, so they wouldn't tell me yet again what a bad idea it was.
I kind of had reasons for doing it. I think. My beigeious palace in Pengeitude has been such a blessed retreat from reality, so free from association or character or harm that to a degree, I thought nothing could kill that, I could never walk into this flat and worry that my sins were made flesh in the attic.
Tybalt has been residing rent free with a succession of friends since last July, and having benefitted in some ways from the near perma-isolation that wound licking in Penge implies, I felt it a charity to offer some of the benefits around.

Toulouse has grilled me over sparkling water and pasta about my motives. I did worry about my motives a little at the time, too. The first time it happened, I worried it might be me missing her. Of course I miss her, you can't spend nine years with someone then be alone all the time without at least missing company. Yeah, a little, sorta. But not really. I'm better without that relationship, even if it pains me to go through the things it was stopping me from seeing/being.
Although it panicked me that she might think it was a way of trying to get back together again. Nuh-uh. Not in the slightest. I'm very happy to have her here when I'm not - if I had to be present, here, with her, though, it would be a whole different story, and one I'd find very difficult indeed to cope with or endure.

In fact, since I moved here, I've experienced repeated nightmares about Tybalt. They started off being nightmares that she was here with me. That's it. Just present. That was enough to make me wake with every muscle clenched in horror, daring myself to turn my head and see if the pillow next to me was occupied.
It took me a while to remember where that nightmare came from; in fact it was a physical memory. The feeling of straining everything taut in an attempt to get out of bed without waking someone.

Explaining that to Toulouse, he knew what I meant, the avoidance of intimacy: but it was more than that. The absolute certainty that should you err, should you hit the wire and wake her, you were going to be made to regret it - that something you do, say, wear, look, be will be wrong, will be wicked, will be an affront, and you'll be told, told, told about it. Repeatedly.
Since I've split up with Tybalt, I haven't once had that feeling of being a bit player in a narrative that's no longer your own; where every action you choose is only further evidence of your innate wickedness. I'm free to be my own author, now, to have more motives than one. Returning to that state would be imprisonment in a nightmare.

Then the nightmares morphed into arguments. Not relived ones, because we didn't have arguments - she refused to. She would refuse to reply, then go to sleep.
Myself, I'm more of a drama queen that that - I get so wound up by arguments that I simply cannot, could not sleep; I have to sort it out then, there, deal with it, make a scene, make up - but Tybalt would lie down, feeling like shit, probably, then sleep until it seemed unimportant again.
That was the sort of argument I had in my sleep.

Those days, I'd wake up to the beige nothingness, the blank forgiveness of walls that have never had things hurled against them, by me, at least, and feel incredibly calm inside to be away from it.

I think that was the beginning of the rage.

Still, the house is unsold, and contact has to be made, to deal with agents, with solicitors, with financial negotiations, bills, and after all, can I not be civilised? Meeting to discuss the money arrangements, I was reassured - sure, I wouldn't have said no to a hug, but frankly I'd hug Genghis Khan at the moment, that's what reduced intimacy does to you - but I wasn't attracted. I didn't miss her physically. And, despite the obvious attempts to impress me, she was happy to play along in her part as one of the civilised few who could engineer a 'polite' break up.
Her attitude to the split had been to throw herself into her social life, to go out every night, to forget herself in other people. She usually smelled bad, had grey circles of hangover under her eyes, was tired, unable to summon energy, but stumbling out to another assignation all the same.

So, despite everything, I invited her to stay over, three weekends, while I was away. A chance to escape the mania of partying all the time?
I am a little worried it's partly revenge. I could see Toulouse was too. He bought tea and patisserie, and grilled me further about it.

Thinking honestly, there may have been an element of bragging that I'd landed on my feet. The emphasis being my. I may have been making myself ill in an apartment with no heating, losing my coat, losing my marbles, too, and unable to find enough cash to even feed myself at times, but I hadn't relied on anyone else. I know, also, that this will always be true. I will always, no matter what, source pride in being competent, no matter what it costs, in not asking others for help.
Which is somewhat unfortunate; one of the lightbulb moments I had this year was that people like to help. Duh.
Moreso, though, it was, I believe, an attempt to make her stop using people. She's taking too long to get her life going again. The 'victim' role is wearing thin.
I know full well that the wearisome plaint of 'Vanessa robbed me of my home, my money, my livelihood' is little more than mere drama - she has plenty of sources of money which she keeps fairly quiet to others about - the same amount I had. I wouldn't have been able to pay a deposit on a new flat without it.
She's no longer unemployed and wondering what to do with her life - she's earning a bloody decent wage in central London. Her continued reliance on other's charity shocks me, surprises me, and to a degree, if I'm honest with myself, I possibly wanted to offer use of my flat to her in order to shame her into acting with more honour.
There was an element also of that, in using the bloody animals to do it. She's very strident that I continue to pay for insurance for the cats she's dumped on me. I like having them (mostly because who else is delighted to see me when I get home?) but I've also stopped panicking if they go missing or escape. Could solve a lot of burdens, that...
But she demands that I pay #30 a month to insure them. One was very ill two years ago, and when we totted up the combined cost of her blood being rushed to California for testing, her kidney dialysis, etc (all the luxuries the NHS would probably never fork out for mere humans), it added up to around #1300.
There were huge coupley rows about it. I put my foot down and suggested we allow the cat to die. She put her more effective foot down and demanded it live.
It's probably the price of running a hospital for a month in some godforsaken shanty town. A figure so humiliating that I mostly don't tell it. The horror of having paid, even via insurance, a sum that large to save not a human, but a damn cat, was not lost on me. If they're my cats, then they're mine to die. They will not be insured, or taken to the vets. They will live their term, and if their time comes, they will expire face down in the food bowl, and be taken to the dump in a bin bag, while I go get a new one. Not to sound too callous, but they're not humans, they're replaceable.
This burden of responsibility disturbs Tybalt, and partly I may have wanted to throw guilt over it in her face by inviting her to stay here.

But, having your own front door allows you dangerous levels of control. Having an invisible enemy allows you dangerous levels of bile, too. I would return from a weekend to find at first, a shampoo bottle turned slightly to the side. Embarrassed that I was so anal about my surroundings I could even tell such a thing, I'd turn it back, irritated.
Then she ate my food. Left some other food in the cupboard - overly expensive, unhealthy stuff I'd never eat. Phoned Hamburg for an hour.
Drank everything I'd left in the fridge. Left hairs clogging up the drains. Used my T shirt for pyjamas. Left rubbish kicking about on the kitchen floor. Fed my cats things that make them vomit a day later. Annoyed me.
And I don't even want to think about the bed.

Last weekend, I made it clear to her that I didn't need her to cat sit, that it was an offer for her benefit, not mine. Hell, I have neighbours with cats, friends living nearby, colleagues nearby, and a clockwork cat feeding device.
Without any evidence whatsoever I *knew* she would have been stressing loudly how much of a trial it had become, and making it out to be a favour she was doing to me already. Hell, she's put it about to everybody that I forced her to dump me, so I'm brooking no doubts about whether she'd have painted it as a martyrish favour.
She still wanted to cat sit. I made it clear that I needed the keys back before the next weekend, as Martin needed somewhere to stay after the pub that Thursday, and without spare keys, he'd be locked into the flat, and have ended up travelling 120 miles back to London in order to look at a beige wall in Penge all day. She agreed that Thursday would be a convenient day to return the keys - especially since I was working in central London that day anyway - she could travel one tube stop and drop them off.

Or so you'd think.
Last week became the week that Tybalt wouldn't give me my keys back. The keys to my new flat, not the one we co-own, the keys to the flat that I go hungry trying to pay for because she's too fucking stingy to contribute.
It was too difficult for her to give me the keys back before 10am. It was too difficult to give me the keys back between 10.30 and twelve. What I really needed, she advised, was a spare set of keys.
After twelve? After six? Later? Come to the pub and meet us, with my keys, I suggested? Sigh.
To be honest, she counselled, I'd do better to go get some new keys cut.

I did ring jatb, and check; am I psychotic? Am I unreasonable to feel this fury? No.
Refusing to give me my keys = Wrong Move.

Eventually, by eight o clock in the evening, Tybalt rang, and offered to give me my keys back. If I left the pub now, and the friends I rarely see, travel a half hour to Waterloo and back, then she'd interrupt her busy social life long enough to reach into her bag and hand me some keys.

Fuck that.

So, like everyone ever always did tell me anyway, it was a bad idea.
Like the estimable Ian F says, she's not my friend, stop pretending that you can achieve that.
Like Toulouse says, I shouldn't have done it, I shouldn't have invited her into my house.

But you know what? The stupid ideas keep coming. Duch asked me if it was alright if she invited Tybalt to her party last Saturday. Said that she'd invite someone else if it was going to make me uncomfortable. And I said yes, invite her - why should my moods infect Duch's celebrations? Another stupid idea.
And then I stayed frozen, flanked by Duch and Toulouse, the other side of Tybalt all evening, accepted my damn keys without a word, didn't shout at her or create a scene, didn't drag her across the dinner table by her stupid hair, didn't make a fuss. Just kept my eyes and myself away from her pusillanimous self regard. Another stupid move.
Sat there in my jeans and shirt, hair akimbo, teetotal, rained upon, chatted loudly with anyone I could. Ignored her: her diamante outfit, her drinking, her smoking, her not making conversation with anyone but the people she's known for twenty years. I decided: she's never coming into this house again.

I tried to work out where this rage is coming from, and why it won't let me go. I stopped myself from crying on the way home, and I felt okay the next morning. Then Toulouse took me out to lunch and I cried all day.
Like an idiot. About nothing.
Another stupid move.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 8:05 PM BST
Updated: Thursday, 8 April 2004 2:49 AM BST
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Wednesday, 7 April 2004 - 9:24 PM BST

Name: Nursie
Home Page:

Nope, they aren't our friends, these people who've left. Not even chums, not even acquaintances. They are more like perfect bloody strangers who we just happen to dislike intensely. Don't invite strangers you dislike into your home. Don't give them possessions of yours. Don't ask them for things. Ignore them. Totally. In fact, if they're walking towards you, cross the street to avoid them.

Wednesday, 7 April 2004 - 10:19 PM BST

Name: charlene_vidal
Home Page:

Jeez - no wonder I stopped writing my blog in the face of such serious shit. Seems trite to say that I wish you well.

Cheers from a short lived fellow blogger.

Oh, In a previous life (in the 70s) Penge was the pits, Catford was crap but Sydenham was sex on chips. Move there, buy a big knife and threaten the shit out of your ex. It's a plan that did me good - but then I have had my head under a blanket this past month.



Wednesday, 7 April 2004 - 10:46 PM BST

Name: Toulouse

Don't want to seem overly Lynne Truss, but shouldn't it be "hare-brained idiocy"? Or was it a roundabout reference to the head protein that Melons's mother kept finding wrapped round the insides of her hoover for years after the last time Tybalt lived with them?

BTW, one thing I forgot to tell you on Monday: during the whole of the first year I lived abroad, all I ever dreamt about was home. What made it even weirder was that in whatever location or circumstances the dreams were set, and no matter who was in them, the layout of spaces in relation to each other was always exactly that of my parents' house as I knew it as a small child, before they altered it in the 1980s.

Seven years on, I rarely if ever dream about Blighty, and have completely exorcised the parental home from my nocturnal landscape.

Years of pent-up annoyance and emotion will take a while to work through, but you'll get there. Don't be like Coriander, who only this month finally managed to cry about the brother he lost in a car crash seven years ago.


Thursday, 8 April 2004 - 7:37 AM BST

Name: paul
Home Page:

Wow. Honestly, wow. That took more courage than you could possibly imagine. At first, I thought you were trying to argue with yourself, or convince yourself that it was okay to have her there. Then, as I read over it, I found it was exactly the opposite. You revel in your freedom, and you know that if you allow her a toehold, there could be a heel coming down on you when you least expect it.

I think, perhaps, it would have been better if you had dragged her by her hair. Closure, and goddam good causing of pain to someone who you tried to keep though she kept causing you pain. I'd never counsel violence, but I'll be damned if sometimes the girl I date from work doesn't @#%$! me off and hit me, and I hit her back as well. Not full strength, but enough widen her eyes and make her purse her lips. It is damn satisfying. But if you feel the need to break down and kick her ass, perhaps, the powers that be are telling you that you really need to kick her ass.

Thursday, 8 April 2004 - 9:18 AM BST

Name: Francesca
Home Page:

Hey, nothing wrong in crying. And I'd warrant it's a function of everything that has been happening recently. Good that you have friends you can blub with.

Sometimes you just need to be able to let go. I am one to talk, I find it hard to do. But that's where you get an intense build up, and then you burst in spurts (nice image, eh ?).

Seems that you have been through one hell of a lot. While your mind is processing everything, get angry. Get mad. Being cynical can be a lot of fun, even if it sometimes feels like you are bitter all the time. It passes. Eventually !

Thursday, 8 April 2004 - 9:40 AM BST

Name: Cyn

Jebus, Vanessa that was a H U G E blog entry.

Cheers to you--you're a helluva woman.

Thursday, 8 April 2004 - 1:21 PM BST

Name: lemonpillows
Home Page:

hey... the anger is just as much annoyance at yourself as at Tybalt. It's hard to let go of something/someone you've known so well for so long. There's nothing wrong in crying. It's what stops us from going completely insane. My daydreams have been getting more and more violent recently. Admittedly not about the ex, but someone else. (long story - more suicidal friends involved).

It's strange. Both our relationships broke up in the same week. I know where you're coming from. We've done things in a different order practically, but the emotions seem to be taking the same time to come out - following the same patterns. Maybe it's universal. Trying to still be friends - coz you don't wanna think that you've gotta lose someone you've spent so long loving. That if someone who knows you that well, doesn't want you any more, what hope have we got?

Well, it's hard to make a fresh start, but if you can't cast away the past, a cunning plan is needed. A timetable to rid yourself of all those things making you feel angry/hurt/depressed. I'm good at cunning plans. Honest. If you're good at carrying them out. Maybe we could be the lesbian "What not to do" team....

Thursday, 8 April 2004 - 5:20 PM BST

Name: looby
Home Page:

The party sounds like a battlefield, with two armies flanked on either side.

Instead of arriving at it painfully over a long period, I'd take a short cut and just have nothing to do with her from hereonin. Nothing whatsoever, no phone calls, no visits no nothing. Get a third party to conduct any business.

I like the unusual use of "akimbo" there, for the shape of someone's hair.

Thursday, 8 April 2004 - 9:02 PM BST

Name: lemonpillows
Home Page:

I'm coming here to whinge, because you've kinda written on the topic I wanna whinge about. My latest cunning plan has failed because I'm no good at carrying it through, because I'm too nice, and because I still hope (even though I don't want to)

She still knows how to get to me. And *god* I feel like I've just had my heart ripped out again.

Can I join in the crying?

Friday, 9 April 2004 - 8:01 PM BST

Name: someoneSomewhere

She sounds like a piece of work. I know people like that. You always have the feeling you've done something wrong without knowing what it is. You could never win, ever.

Saturday, 10 April 2004 - 8:53 PM BST

Name: Vanessa

I do actually live in Sydenham. It is most certainly not sex on chips, which in itself would only make a mess of the plate. I just pretend I live in nearby Penge, partly to annoy the celebrated humorist, Seanie O Kilfyle, and partly because to my ears it sounds a smidgeon more glamorous.

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