It began as a blog about completing a thesis, it became a blog about everything but completing a thesis, it ended with a complete thesis.

Monday, February 28, 2005

On silences that speak volumes

It was especially good to receive the comments – wise words most appreciated - to my last post. Ta.

Over the weekend I got into a conversation with a man - Del - who, with his partner Keisha, is attempting to make a go of what appears to be an ill-defined religious business venture. There was mention from him of Spiritualist churches. Listening to some of Del’s ‘patter’, I began to pay attention to some of the minutiae of his pitch – his eye contact, his lack of specifics, his catch-all positive statements, his ‘enthusiasm’. Also listening in were Emma and Catherine – who were getting on like the proverbial blazing house. Del mentioned that the venture was now a full-time pursuit, and that he’d given up his job in order to work with Keisha on fulfilling this, ‘her life’s dream’. I enquired as to what line of employment Del had left. His response: ‘I used to be a car salesman’. ‘Ah yes’ thought I, whilst together, Emma and Catherine commented ‘Oh, that’s different isn’t it?’ Del said nothing, and I knew why.

Later, Emma and I further discussed such things as tarot card reading, mediumship, aura photography, and so on. Such terms do not come naturally to me. Crudely speaking, I would be of the miserable git / cynic / doubting Thomas / rationalist camp. Emma’s default is not towards such a camp. Having a mother who has explored metaphysical whatnot, a grandmother believing herself to be mystically gifted, and stories of a great grandmother also being able to ‘make contact’, Emma is more ‘open’ to such talk. I turned to imagining ‘giving the people what they want’ in terms of this psychic scene – but without the illusory narrative. There are parallels between the narrative form of person-centred therapy and the kind of non-directive talk associated with those who ‘read’. It is often the case that those emerging from person-centred therapy will believe themselves to have received incisive commentary, and revelation, regarding their anxieties. Often, that is not the case – they have been listened to. And thus, what they landed with seems to have been validated. The discussion with Emma remained interesting, and ended without her blurting ‘You are just a negative cynical closed-minded ‘bloke’’. Equally, I did not squeal ‘You are talking the talk of a deluded woman who should be attending to what is real’. Such sensitivity may be necessary if we are to continue (seeing one another / respecting one another / having really good sex)*.

I’m feeling evil today.

* Delete as is felt to be inapplicable.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Doing grown-up... 'oosh dear no'?

Idly chatting with Emma last night, she enquired as to whether I had stayed in touch with my most serious ex-flame Harmony. I said that I hadn't, and that I simply had no strong feelings of any kind towards her - it had been a relationship that went dramatically pear-shaped after we'd lived together for about 2.5 years - a long boring story. The last that I'd seen of the ex was when she landed unannounced at my previous address about 10 months ago (April '04). She was welcomed in by a rather puzzled Shane, and sat and chatted for about 45 minutes - she was close to completing her bachelors degree (as a mature student), but had been unwell - this was to lead to a hernia operation in the near future. At the time I wasn't backwards in sharing how surprised I was that she'd landed; she made some comment along the lines of 'Oh, I was passing, so I thought I'd call in and see how you are'. 'Okayyyyy' thought I - not entirely convinced. I wondered later if she was seeking some calming presence as the hernia was, I was told, stress-related. As it had been she who had ultimately brought down the axe on our relationship (though I may have placed the axe in her hand), perceiving her as having not moved on to a wholly happier, contenting and care-free existence did warm me - I'm not proud about that, but that's how I felt - easily relatable to self-esteem preservation. Anyway, as I said, the chat was profoundly civilised, if a little baffling and superficial. Anyway again, my point: initially, Emma seemed to think this was a little odd, however, she then suggested that had it not been for them having a shared child-interest (Alex), then she and Ed would be less likely to stay in touch. As it is, Emma and Ed are unambiguously connected for life. All of this made me wonder about whether it would be hugely grown-up to make casual 'how are you?' contact with Harmony. I decided that it would - it would be a mirror of her previous casual landing. So, rather than door-knocking - she now lives in CityToTheEast, I sent a short text stating: "Hello, long time no etc etc. Hope last year's hernia op ws ok & all now well wi u & yr's. Let me knw how things r. My new address - ... . Short note? Shane." The only thing that spooks me (having now sent the text) is that - as I had with her landing - will she imagine there to be some ulterior motive for my getting back in touch? The term 'oosh dear no' springs to mind.

I will share with you the outcome of this when there is an outcome to be shared.


Chatting to Grandma Elspeth last night was agreeably pain-free - she was thrilled at the imminent televised football information that I shared. She abruptly ended the chat with "Anyway son, I've got to go - need to go do a whoopsy before the match starts". That's high-culture that is.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Shiny Happy People, and a positive eyeballing


Managed to get to the REM gig last night – Catherine’s mood earlier in the week, the previous two evenings’ gigs being cancelled, and suggestions of foul driving conditions had put the whole thing in doubt. Anyway, it went ahead, and here’s a 14-bullet-point summary review:-

1. Catherine was tired, but on entertaining and upbeat form
2. So was I
3. Birmingham NEC Arena was a better venue than I’d imagined it would be – felt smaller than I thought it would
4. We were standing about 8 or 9 rows of bodies from the front – good view
5. The show was a sell-out
6. The weather had no impact on size of audience
7. The crowd were sensible (i.e. older, and largely sober)
8. Support act ‘Now It’s Overheard’ – also from Athens, Georgia – dirgesome and bland, though at times reminded me of ‘My Bloody Valentine’ and ‘Erasure’ – which, to those who know these groups, will sound inconsistent, but that’s how it was
9. On stage, during REM’s set, there were 6 people:-
9.1. Michael Stipe – agile, wiry, gorgeous, happy, performed for every second that he was on stage, but did have one moment of ‘worthiness’ which had to be endured
9.2. Mike Mills – gladly, recovered from the ‘serious ear infection’ that cancelled the previous evenings’ gigs – looked well, played well – the anchor of REM
9.3. Peter Buck – flat expression, loud shirt, plodsomely did what he was paid to do
9.4. BigHairBigHat guitarist – added an overweight energy and novelty factor that was never going to come from Buck
9.5. DrummerMan – a silver-haired smoothly, tight performance
9.6. KeyboardMan – looked like the film-maker character (‘Ed’) from one of my all-time favourite TV programmes – Northern Exposure (Offbeat Alaskan Comedy-Drama)
10. Other visuals – simple and effective lighting design, good live camera-work (projected onto 10’ screen high above the stage) – multimedia not gone mad
11. Opening REM song: ‘I Took Your Name’ (from Monster)
12. Songs that stood out: ‘Orange Crush’ (noisy), ‘The One I Love’ (sing-a-long-a-REM), ‘Everybody Hurts’ (moving), 'Electrolite' (pop-bliss), ‘Losing My Religion’ (predictable crowd reaction), and ‘Imitation of Life’ (surprising, thought I)
13. Nice touch of the evening – Stipe stepped onstage before the support band began (with venue at approx 40% capacity) - to cheerily say hello, and to introduce the young ‘uns
14. Was a good evening had? Yes. A very good evening was had. By a lot of people.


Emma was on decent form when I saw her on Tuesday evening, however, a tear sprang to my eye when she explained that she’d perceived in Ed a moment of shock of upon his realising how big a deal their formal splitting would be – she’d been discussing the shape (as she saw it) of the forthcoming few months. It has been a near 5-year gig for them. Other than that, the most interesting point of my couple of hours at her house was that young Alex (3) was still up when I landed. Fully pyjamaed and mid-pre-bedtime-story, he quietly listened whilst corner-of-the-eyeing me with suspicion – I made no attempt at any foolishly buoyant ‘Well-hello-there-little-fella,-how-are-y’?-I-wonder-if-I’ll-be-your-new-Daddy,-what-d’-y’-say-eh?’ type introductions. No, none of that. Instead, I sat at a safe distance - quietly listening to the story from a separate sofa, and not eyeballing either he or Emma (indirect is usually a good approach in such situations). Talking with Emma yesterday, she said there’d been an amusing moment upon getting downstairs in the morning - Alex had immediately chirped ‘Oh, where’s Shane? He’s not here.’ A simple explanation of Shane having a different house followed. Ms E suggested that the tone of the boy’s enquiry could be read as his being comfortable with the brief time spent in the presence of Shane - a good sign.


…FI-RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRE!!! (Stipe went on to sing).

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Mothers, children, and REM

This morning, my first outdoor view was of a gorgeous snow-dusted Barton. That snow-dusting has now melted. However, on distant hills to the north west the snow remains – and that is attractive.

The next few days promise to be quite chaotic. Back in October, Catherine and I bought tickets to see REM at the Birmingham NEC Arena. That gig is tomorrow evening. Having spent last weekend with friends in the south west, I suspect Catherine is on the brink of realising that she has been trying to spin too many plates at once. On speaking to her yesterday evening, I sensed in her the potential for moodiness – a combination of work and leisure interests over-crowding her mind and diary being my ‘do-not-feed-the-animals-keep-it-to-yourself-Shane’ diagnosis. However, as we now have the tickets my view is that we should go along and relax – that’s right, 100% self-interested. As I shall be in BigCity later today I will be calling on Ms C and young Gemma (she of 4th birthday party fame) for an evening meal. I will be armed with an agenda of gentle spirit-raising. Shortly after that - at about 8pm – I shall be calling on Emma. I am told that young Alex should be in bed by then. I expect to feel a bit spooked being in the house that she continues to share with Ed – who is working in London until Friday. I won’t be staying at Emma’s.

I received an unsubtle note from Ma Wexford today requesting that I call old Grandma Elspeth. The fact that there was football on TV last weekend - and I’m guessing there will be more tomorrow - will give us something to talk about. Unfortunately, every time I talk to the old bird I end up pondering Ma Wexford’s not-hugely-distant experience of maximum-impact empty nest syndrome - that, and silly Geordies getting all excited about their chances in Europe, only for the inevitable to happen once again.

And again, it is snowing – the whispy fluffy kind. What chance unhindered travel tomorrow?

Monday, February 21, 2005

Consumer Affairs

From the terms and conditions of

4. The owners of reserve the right to publish any site content in any manner or form.

So the people behind could then lift from a blog(s) and publish from it/them as they wish. Whilst this would be immaterial to the vast majority of blogs, there is good writing out there - see blogroll for examples (if you're viewing through Internet Explorer the blogroll may be at the bottom of this page). How long before we read of a related court case?

I'm having a Boomtown Rats kind of a morning.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Seeing and believing

On Friday, I met Emma at the station in BigCity. We took a train to Manchester Piccadilly. With a couple of hours to kill before we pursued our little theatre mission, we trogged around the Canal Street area perusing possible eateries and drinkeries. We ate at a place called Velvet, but before that we had a drink in a place called Queer – a gay bar (lots of homosexual drinks, and straws, and fag-hags – you know the sort of place). Anyway, absolutely fascinating was the ‘gaydar’ concept – there were people making use of free internet facilities, and were publicly using these for… well… er-… ‘people-shopping’. Wonderful idea. Equally spooky. Reminded me of my two pals who’ve dabbled in such social enterprises. Brave.

The theatre thing – not advertised – was good enough. In a nutshell, the performers were playing around with the position of the audience – would have been a bit discomfiting had it not been so predictable. Was kind of as I’d imagined it would be. Emma was a little freaked out, but alas did well to keep her cool – I’m learning that she’s good at that – the façade doesn’t always match the feeling.

On boarding the return train I was carrying a bottle of wine that we’d bought at Velvet. We were both pleasantly pished – the world was our friend, and we were friends with the world. At this point, I made a silly schoolboy error. I acknowledged a stranger – a young man, mid-late 20s, a bit scruffy, and not looking too happy. ‘I will enrich his evening’ thought I. He accepted the offer of a paper cup of wine, and made use of the journey to share a most unFriday-feeling down-on-his-luck story - visiting a sick aunt, jobless, penniless (the ticket inspector just took his name and address – no further hassle – they both knew the routine). My increasingly frowned expression led to more of his story being directed at Emma. I was doubting the genuineness of what we heard. Anyway, we left the train ahead of the young hound’s destination. Having alighted the train I suggested that this may be a standard Friday evening trip for the chap – could be worth his while – pished-up people handing over the honest dollar, euro, or pound as a token of sympathetic guilt-ridden kindliness. Emma’s response to this was ‘Oh no, really? Do you think he wasn’t for real? I gave him a tenner.’ I modified my cynicism at this point, and suggested we forget all about it: ‘The wine was poor – we should consider it £10 of compensation to the dear rogue.’

Back at the Friday night pad, we relaxed into a long, shared bath, and all that went with that. It is imperative that I tell you that candles, bubbles, and finding one’s partner to be quite the ‘sexy M-F’ (as Prince Charles is prone to saying) really does work quite a treat. I could have melted into her. Instead, I took a more standard route - in various positions, and at various sites around the house. Could quite get used to this.

Have since returned to the dirty business of working.

Friday, February 18, 2005

For Julie Andrews...

The streets... are alive... to the sound of school children, irritated young mothers, and scruffy farrrrr-mers. Yes, Barton is a hive of activity today, and, apart from the smoking buck-toothed young mother who was walloping discipline into her child by the chippy, this vibrancy suits the town. The rain is a little unfortunate.


It's been a footballing good week on the Wexford family front: brother, having become disillusioned with the lack of 'intelligent football' (e.g. Nigel Clough, Dennis Bergkamp...) whilst playing the amateur game, began a referees coaching course. He passed his exams yesterday. He'll do well if he pursues that, though I think he'd best suit coaching a kids' team. The previous day, sister turned out for CoastalUniversity's ladies football team, she scored the second in a 5-1 win. She sent me a text reading: "Hiya.just won football 5-1 and I SCORED!well chuffed!". Made me smile.


Off out with Ms E late this afternoon/early evening. Will take a train to Manchester - my what a ReallyBigCity. There, we will dine, drink a little, and see some 'underground' theatre. Then, we will return to the BigCity - on a perversely early 'last' train. We'll stay over at GayFranglaise's house - where I used to live. He is away and hath bestowed keys. The house has a wide bath. Will be back in Barton lunch-time tomorrow for a work-orientated weekend. Will also use the weekend to check out one or two of the town's more interesting buildings that I've not yet explored.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

I, Flusterer?...

Barton is overcast. Some young scoundrels have just passed the chateau. One scoundrel was bouncing a ball – a sure sign of imminent criminal behaviour.


How flattering to read of my last post having the potential to ‘fluster’. Whilst the thought of adopting a new guise and joining the erotic blography (nice word) club had previously occurred to me, I shall be refraining from that – the erotic blog ‘scene’ appears much too dull, and besides, anything that is computer-based has an immediately diluted ‘edge’ – for me at least. The apparent backwardness in my sex-orientated witterings is somewhat disingenuous. If you will forgive this moment of ‘bigging myself up’, I can story well in the triple-x department – when the person and the place is right. There is merely awkwardness about doing ‘open’ here. All that said, private commissions could be doable - a ridiculous one to ponder? Perhaps.


Emmawards, we spoke again yesterday and it seems that she and Ed are maturely talking over the process of their split. Not only do they have young Alex to consider, but there is also a shared house – they continue to live together (a bit spooky), and a share in another property. Anticipating my potential to think about such things far too much, Emma pointed out:

Emma: Although you and I getting together in FarNorthCity hurried along the split between Ed and me, I want you to understand that we’re not splitting because of you – we were bound to split anyway – and we both knew that – so don’t go thinking that you’re some kind of home-wrecker or whatever.
Shane: Yeah, I know. But you have to also understand that as you keep me up to speed on what’s happening, I’m going to be imagining most of this from Ed’s perspective.
Emma: That’s fine, I can imagine that happening – but remember that you and Ed are really very different.
Shane: Mm, ok. (Pause) When will I next see you?
Emma: (laughter) And why would you want to see me?
(Suggestive talk and the arrangement of an actual ‘date’ for this Friday followed. On the home front, her line will be that she’s going out with a friend from work – not inaccurate.)


On the thesis front (what a turn-off!), had a good supervision on Monday afternoon, in which there was talk of external examiners, and some useful feedback re my not being a whore to any one discipline. Presently, I’m constructing an argument that explains why I shall do what I did - and they refer to this as ‘contributing to knowledge’.


The dear people at Blogger Support have come up trumpless in terms of advice re my southerly sidebar. Thus, it appears that I’ll have to turn to quickly learning some basic html – gulp!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

FarNorth trip 2, part II

As I was saying...

...Instead, with a quick hand to the hem of skirt Emma did throw a flick of skirt-tail that produced a flash of full leg-length proportions – not so demure. My reaction: “Game-on!” I know, what a twat. But, for me, that was the moment at which my mindset shifted. We stuck around in the bar until lights went up, and we were shepherded out towards our hotel fold...

So, somewhere around midnight we left the bar for the 3 or 4 minute trot back to the hotel. Immediately upon leaving the bar I opened up my hand for Emma and she took it. This could have been seen as a device for making sure there was no running-off-from, or it could simply have been my saying I’m very comfortable with this intimacy-malarky that seems to have been the order of the evening. We landed back with wind-freshened cheeks, and upon slowing the pace at the hotel entrance our hands naturally separated. A nod to the receptionist, up the curving one flight of stairs, along the corridor and I’m thinking ‘errrr’ – or something like that. Then! The most highly clog-footed chilled-out Dutch uber-courage possessed my ordinarily backward self and thus I did avail my room for late night tea (I know, I know, I’m cringing as I write this):

Shane: Would you care to take tea at room 34? I hear the host has access to some of FarNorthCity’s finest bourbon… biscuits.
Emma: Sounds good.
Shane: Tres bon - please ensure that I don’t scald myself: it’s just possible that I may not be 100% sober right now.
Emma: Worry not, I will eye you with- (pause, laughter)
Shane: Madamoiselle?
Emma: -with my eyes!
Shane: Mm, how very wise.

So, I unlock the door with plastic card, green light flashes (a metaphor?), and we move in. I abandon coat onto chair in the corner, and dashingly grab… the kettle. Emma, without any backwardness, collapsed onto the bed with a great sigh. ‘Indeed’ thought I.

Emma: Help me with these boots will you?
Shane: Of course.
(Zips unzipped, and boots tug-o’-warred off - gracelessly)
Shane: There!
Emma: Thank you.

At this point I’m standing in the room looking down (not a metaphor) on Emma, who is lying on my bed. Her eyes catch mine, she smiles, and then closes her eyes. This is a great device – gives nothing away (because of course she’s been playing it really ‘cool’ – right?). Anyway, she says that she doesn’t want tea - which is fine, I don’t think I do either. I sit on the bed, with my body turning through 90 degrees such that I’m approximately facing her. We are close.

Shane: Can I kiss you?
Emma: Yes.

(How detailed?... Grimace not dear reader – but be prepared for a most mechanical account)

We kissed. A good kiss. Not a peck. By my way of thinking, any invisible line had now been well and truly crossed. As we kissed, we were both fully clothed. My hands found their way around her clothed breasts, through her hair and over her thighs. (There is absolutely no way that Ma Wexford is ever going to hear about this blog). Anyway, where were we? Ah yes, breasts etc… through various shifts of bodies and general inter-twining-ness, I found myself to be lying alongside Emma. The kissing was good, but self being self I couldn’t assume that ‘going further’ was bound to happen.

Shane: Might we go further?
Emma: Yes.

Well, that was that cleared up. More kissing, and some unbuttoning, and some reciprocal disrobing - not to full nakedness though. Fair to say that we were enjoying one another. We were seeing, stroking, touching, kissing, biting, licking and generally goggling at bits of one another that were quite off the scale of regular social interaction – in the FarNorth at least. Dearest reader, I’m not going to put you through any more detail than you’ve already braved, however, let me tell you that what I saw and held in Emma was a turn-on of the most enormous proportions. We later collapsed into one another’s arms - brace yourself – both out of juice. It felt good.

The whole exercise was repeated - without a jot of alcohol - the following evening (Thursday).

As this all forms part of a bigger picture, and so related to that, here is a quick summary:-

- There was no post-coitus or post-drunkenness ‘What have we done?’
- On parting on Friday afternoon, as I headed for family and Emma returned to CityInTheMidlands, Emma said ‘It all felt so natural’. This was good to hear.
- Emma stated that regarding whatever ambiguity there had been in her relationship with Ed, that this had confirmed that they must split. ‘The big conversation’ was had last Friday evening after young Alex had been put to bed.
- Reports state that Ed took the news of Emma wanting to end their relationship very well, though he has also stated that his ‘seeing someone else’ has ended.
- Emma believes that Ed hasn’t taken in the fullest weight of their big discussion - (a bit baffling that one – but that’s what I hear).
- As the situation is hugely sensitive, both Emma and I will not be broadcasting information of our whatever-it-is in the immediate future.
- For the first time since FarNorth trip, I saw Emma for a few hours last night (totally unrelated to it being Valentines Day) – we talked and ruded.
- I received a text message this morning, it read: “Last night you made my heart swell, head pound, legs shake. Feelings linger with me still. E”.
Though I’m no medical man, it sounds like some kind of ‘fit’. I hope that I am forgiven.

I’m not sure what this is the beginning of. I do know that things could not possibly pan-out entirely smoothly, however, we do have potential. These are feelings that I haven’t had for quite some time.
What shape my ill-hidden neurotic ramblings now?

Sunday, February 13, 2005

FarNorth trip 2, part I

Barton is blus-te-ry. Local builders have their answer machines on on on, and I am returned from my trip to the FarNorth.

Seeing the family was good:–
Pa Wexford was protective of his new teapot
Ma Wexford was irritated by pa’s irritation at carefree teapot-handling
Brother Wexford demonstrated spectacular patience with regards to his partner’s time-keeping, gob-shitedness and talking-before-thinking (if only she could think so fast)
Sister Wexford dished out her usual brand of razor-sharp acidity – cruel affection
Grandma Elspeth received good coaching on how to better board her new stair-lift

Got back to Barton a couple of hours ago – a return journey that was reasonably smooth. It had been about 90 minutes after setting off that I realised that I’d forgotten to flick the radio on – so contemplative was I.

Wednesday saw Emma and self land at the High Force waterfall at 4:10pm. En route we covered a lot of subjects, including my fondness for Yes (Prime) Minister, and that Emma was glad to be getting away from home for a couple of days. Conditions at the waterfall were cold and lightly breezy, it felt like dusk for the 25 minutes that we spent there. The noise of the torrent pouring over the hundred-foot ledge was awesome (I use ‘awesome’ in a non-‘yoof’ manner). Emma’s comment upon being introduced to said feature of the West Durham countryside was “This is amazing”. I agreed. We took in the noise, clambered over rocks, and settled on facing rocks to chat idly for 15 minutes. Prevailing darkness and the need to get to FarNorthCity required a sharpish exit. Following a vehicle drop-off and brother Wexford’s dropping us at the train station, we landed in FarNorthCity at 6:35.

A quick shower and change in our respective and adjoining hotel rooms and we were ready to head out for food at 7:15. Emma opened her door to my light tap, unself-consciously (s.o. v.e.r.y. r.a.r.e.!) I immediately blurted “Wow!” She looked amazing. At this, I received a coy “Thank you” - demure. Gladly, my blush went unspotted. We descended stairs and returned to the eatery of our previous visit to FarNorthCity. On this occasion we shared a bottle of wine during the meal. I was in no hurry to hurry back to the hotel, or to shift to pedestrian-paced socialising. In fact, work concerns were negligible - we knew we had a fairly late (1pm) start on Thursday. So, at around 9:15 pm we had a wander around the city centre and its main bar area for somewhere to sit back and gad away. A place was found and we settled ourselves with another bottle of wine. That’s bottle of wine number 2. I am a lightweight drinker. I knew Emma to be far from a heavyweight in the drinking stakes too. What followed bottle of wine number 2? Well cocktails of course. One was green and in a tall glass, the other was red and in a short fat glass. I don’t recall their names. We both liked them both. Yes, cocktails were being shared. By this time we’d shifted our position within the bar – from sturdy fashion sofa near the entrance to much more sink-intoable sofa at the back of the place. It felt intimate – despite not being secluded. We were comfortable to be almost brushing one another shoulder-to-shoulder, or arm-to-arm – whatever, as we sat there. By this time we had each confirmed our lightweight status, were conversing only in amusing terms, and were having a good evening. As far as I am aware, neither of us were thinking any further ahead than ‘here and now’. At one moment in that ‘here and now’, we languished on the soft sofa with our feet on the low table/box that was in front of us – our four bent knees were at our reclined heads’ height. These bodyforms revealed some of the green net tights that Emma wore (yes green tights, and yes they were part of a spectacular appearance – maybe it was a case of ‘you had to be there’). I remarked: “Subtle is really not the word for those tights is it” – no question mark as it wasn’t a question. I was not given a verbal response. Instead, with a quick hand to the hem of skirt Emma did throw a flick of skirt-tail that produced a flash of full leg-length proportions – not so demure. My reaction: “Game-on!” I know, what a twat. But, for me, that was the moment at which my mindset shifted. We stuck around in the bar until lights went up, and we were shepherded out towards our hotel fold...

I will pick-up this story in my next post. Have got a lot to do this evening and tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Cattle, Dracula, and 'seeing'

Barton was lively this morning - briefly dipped into the cattle auctions - fascinating, spooky, charming and saddening all at once. A lot of tartan and wax jackets on show too. Place stunk of piss and shit and the country - was the animals, I think.

Was gifted freebie tickets for the show Dracula's opening in Stoke-on-Trent last night. In Stoke (or rather 'Hanley' - the centre of the 'city', or five towns), they have what is referred to as a 'cultural quarter'. This surprised me. Stoke-on-Trent is not a place that I associate with such terms as 'cultural quarter'. Anyway, Catherine - who has friends in the Potteries, had come by the tickets through a 'friend with contacts' (as in people - rather than lenses). She and I agreed that the show wasn't 'good theatre' - which made us glad we hadn't just shelled out £40 on the experience. Script, design, direction, and incompatible performances made for a far too 'eeksome' experience. Sad that it would probably put a lot of people off theatre per se - especially when you can go to the cinema for 20-25% of the cost.

About to head for the FarNorth. Collecting Emma in 30 minutes from the university. We will then blitz the journey, hopefully getting us to the waterfall before sundown. I should just add, for those of you who are familiar with my neurotic ramblings re self and Emma and Ed, that from what I know of Ed, he has not struck me as a 'bad person' - far from it. Also, from what I understand, he is from a fairly right-wing conservative family - in a fairly olde worlde empire, queen, country and churchery kind of way. Strangely - you may be surprised to read, it would not surprise me to hear that his reference to having been 'seeing someone' did not extend as far as the genitals - that such a detail should seem relevant to me probably says a few things about how I frame workable relationships. Though I'm too tired (or discontent) to unpick that right now. Anyway, I'm looking forward to the trip for both seeing Emma and seeing my family. Although in the case of Emma, I'm not quite sure what I mean by 'seeing'. I suppose we will see.

Will be back Sunday/Monday. Now blog off.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Via a waterfall, and 'Punish'?

Got feedback from a recent chapter submission. Largely positives from the 3 supervisors - the now-departed supervisor remains on board as it's in her CV's interests to be so. Collectively, they seem finally to have sorted out how best to return feedback such that it seems ordered. 'Well done them'.

Haven't seen or spoken with Emma since Sunday's wonderful demonstration of how to ignore a house guest. I decided that as we're doing the FarNorth work trip from afternoon tomorrow that it would be more interesting to wait and get a full account on the journey north. As I'm driving us this time, I've also decided that I will show her the High Force waterfall in Teesdale - we'd be bypassing it anyway, and I can't imagine her not being impressed. As I'll be dropping the car at the Wexford family home en route to FarNorthCity, at least Brother Wexford (and probably Pa Wexford) will meet Emma - to be introduced as "a friend from work" - which in truth is all that she is at the moment. Brother Wexford will drop us at the local train station. How do I feel about the trip? I'm not going to plan anything on the social side of things - I'm guessing that a simple dining out, chatting and early nights formula will be had. In retrospect, my previous suggestion that this trip could mark a grand shift in 'relations' with Emma seems 'distant'. Hard to say what she's thinking at the moment, the Ed fall-out could shift things in 3 directions as I see it - (i) they officially split, (ii) they aim to patch things up and start from a clean slate, or (iii) they opt for a 'trial separation' or some other equally unclear fudging. We shall see.

On an entirely unrelated matter (he wrote), I have been asked to write a brief missive - short story, monologue, poem - anything 'creative', and only about 500 words - based on the word 'punish'. I have one month. My two initial thoughts towards related scenarios:-

- Man languishing in prison cell (bit obvious)
- Something to do with S&M (not to be mistaken for these people)

What to do, what to do?

Lunching. As you were.

(My sidebar has for some unasked for reason disappeared south, this is most perturbing, I'm trying to rectify this. As I said, as you were.)

Monday, February 07, 2005

Induced trauma, value for money

Here in Barton, there was drama earlier. An alien cat entered the house and was dining at Delia’s expense. Fortunately, Delia is going blind and is already quite deaf, thus, she didn’t notice. However, Liz is neither of these things, and she did notice. And she did chase that alien cat with noise and much bravery. It was like a scene from an action movie - only with a slipper instead of a big gun. Anyway…

Friday’s news from Emma of real relationship turmoil it was no surprise that further news dribbled forth across the weekend:-

Saturday early evening: Despite the light ‘I’m getting ready to go out’ tone of the text message, there was a non-specific reference to “heavy talk with Ed this afternoon”. ‘Hmm’ thought I.
Mid Saturday evening: Emma texts to say that she’s stopped drinking as she is on solo looking-after-Alex-duty on Sunday. Siobhan (and family) turn out to be noisy heavy drinkers. The message ends “Wd hv bn good 2 c u. Em.x” That was the first casual ‘x’ that had been added to a message of any kind from her, thus I replied with an equally casual “Glad u r entertained by pro’s. If u & boy fancy look out tmw I’m in Barton 2pm-. Shane. And a ‘x’ 2 u 2”. I think that took the edge off the x.

Received a further message 1:30pm Sunday advising that Emma would land alone at 4pm (no ‘x’ this time). Ed had returned to London, maternal grand-parents had come to the afternoon rescue. Thus, Emma was surprised to land for a very well-organised afternoon tea. As shitty timing would have it, she’d been here for all of five minutes when I got a call from chum Cornish Ian – we’d been missing each other’s calls for about a fortnight (he hates mobiles), didn’t feel I could let him go. I got a nod from Emma to take the call. Thus, for most of the next hour Marie and Pete faced a gentle afternoon grilling from Emma - she asks a lot of questions. They all got on, as I knew they would. I finished my call just in time to say “ta ta” to an amused Emma. My parting gambit was a simple “You must call round again some time - it’s always good to ignore you”. And that was that. Probably good that we didn’t do heavy talk - I suspect a breather from that was what she needed most. Later, I commented to Pete and Marie that she hadn’t struck me as someone who was having an awful time. The response from Pete: “That’s cos she wasn’t”, followed quickly by Marie’s “We’re fucking good value for money thank you very much - and you can tell your blog that too”. And so I have.

Other than that, the main event from the weekend was taking in the football match Aston Villa v Arsenal on Saturday evening. First time I’d been to Villa Park. Arsenal well worth the
3-1 win. My sidekick that evening proved to be the forthcoming work project that I’d hoped he’d be – I am installed as a personal advisor (‘life-coach’ to you and I) for a period of 6 months. We will meet once per month until August. More please!

I hear the cry of a traumatised cat.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Patience, and a twist!

Yesterday evening, in Barton, there were youths. They wore ‘bling’ and sportswear. Thus, I reported them to the police.


I was asked recently for any tips on being patient. This got me thinking - which I didn’t mind. Thus, I now unfold 3 tips (yes, just 3) on being patient. They are:-

1. Respect your own ability to think.
2. Take an interest in views and actions that you find objectionable – to understand, you must observe and listen. This has much in common with remaining patient.
3. Remember relationship mistakes: in my experience, hurting others can be the most powerful way of hurting yourself.

Nb/ I do not believe that patience is always a good thing. And on that supremely upbeat note, let me turn to a point of related interest…


For those who are vaguely familiar with the Shane-Emma-Ed storyline that I’ve shared through this blog over the past few months, you may be interested in the following email that I received at 09:49am today:

Subject: And my news is...


I’m sorry if this message seems frantic/stupid and I hope you don’t mind my sending it to you. Ed told me last night that he’s been ‘seeing someone else’ for the past month. He says he met her through work, but he doesn’t know what he wants. My reaction - “What?!” Alex and me stayed over at my Mum’s last night. Ed and me have some talking to do this weekend. Just wanted you to know what was happening.

Might sound strange but I’m really looking at next week’s [FarNorth] trip as a break.

Oh fuck, just remembered that I agreed to go out with Siobhan and her Mum and brother tomorrow night. Don’t suppose you fancy coming along too?

Hope you have a good weekend anyway.


At 10:14, after a moment of pondering, I responded thus:

Subject: Re: And my news is...


Don’t mind at all that you’ve let me know what was happening, quite honoured if anything. I can’t imagine that any of you are feeling on top of the world right now. Reminds me of when I heard similar news from Harmony – you know the story.

Unfortunately I’ll not be able to join the Siobhan dining experience – got a meeting re some possible work in [bigger city] early Saturday evening. Will be visiting Scottish Dave in [big city] on Sunday afternoon. If you want to meet up then let me know.

I know what you mean about the [FarNorth] trip.

Will talk soon I’m sure.


You will note that I chose not to pick Emma up on her I/me grammar – what tact!

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Dicing with a shepherdess

Here in Barton we do not believe that one good turn equates to a good dance routine.

Had an interesting moment late yesterday as a much-respected blogger proffered a position in relation to my 'prospective activity'. Reminded me of The Dice Man - a book that I happened to tire of, though an old friend enjoyed it. As did some other people I imagine. Anyway, the idea of living life by the decree of comment-posters was quite amusing. Then horrifying. Reminded also of the oddly directive quality of the 'Michele' blog - must seem slightly freaky when the flock of Michele 'activists' are herded upon a blog at her request, to depart having left their 'Michele' calling card. Odd. Strangely admirable too. Still very much odd though.

Anyway, I began working today with a list of 11 things-to-do. I have struck just 2 things from the list. The remaining 9 will take me through the weekend. That is most perturbing.

I have a headache. And a clementine. And a cup of earl grey. The sun is peeping through the clouds.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Aggrieved. Romanced. Closer.

I saw three police officers in Barton earlier. That is unusual.

So, back from the FarNorth, and…

On a long stretch of the journey north, having changed train, Emma and I settled ourselves at facing table seats. Both looking a bit grey, we proceeded to have a thorough going-over-what-we-knew-and-what-we-needed-to-find-out re our imminent ‘assignment’. Indeed, how very MI5/CIA. Anyway, that going-over was proved to be good preparation as we were up-to-speed with our NorthernContacts from the off. The work part of the trip was unambiguously successful: we worked well together, and did what we went to do.

After the formal work-talk en route, we lapsed into lazy talk of personal histories. That included (as accurately recalled as possible)…

Emma: How do you and Siobhan generally get on?
Shane: (thinking ‘oh dear, where is this going?’) We get on well - generally. Though I sometimes take the brunt of her moods. (And after a moment of consideration) I think she gets a bit irritated at how well Catherine and me seem to get on.
Emma: Why?
Shane: Why what?
Emma: Why would that irritate her?
Shane: At the end of our brief whatever-it-was, I’m fairly sure that Siobhan was upset. Although I’m sure she’d disagree, I sometimes get the feeling that she’d still like to think of herself as number one – or something. I don’t know. She’ll be better off when she moves down to London – which should be soon. She’ll forget about me soon enough, I imagine contact will dwindle to nothing – it’s already nothing compared to what it used to be.
Emma: (looking a bit confused) So, have you and Catherine ever- er-
Shane: No. That would be weird. There’s never been that kind of thing. I think we just take turns at being each other’s big sibling. And I’m pretty sure that I’d not be her type anyway.
Emma: What does that mean? She seemed really nice when I met her.
Shane: She is really nice. And she has a nice family too, but, she, er-, well, well she’s a bit shit at choosing men really. I think it’s a product of watching too much MTV when she was younger, and being a bit too ‘style-conscious’. Despite being clever and competent, I think she’d like some unreconstructed brute but with a bit of heart. (And after further consideration) Yeah, I think she’d like someone who’d steam in, and just take control, no questions asked.
Emma: Macho?
Shane: Not the word I'd use, but yeah - something like that.
(Quiet lull, with self feeling not inclined to pursue such talk as it all seemed one-way, then…)
Emma: (leaning forward, deftly not showing any cleavage – but never mind, looking a bit… perturbed, but in a voice of quiet calm) You know, a long time ago now, you upset me. (Self-chastisingly, I think) Oh, I told myself I wasn’t going to have this conversation.
Shane: (thinking ‘it isn’t a conversation yet’) Eh?
Emma: Well, don’t take this the wrong way - I’m not having a go at you –
Shane: (unconvinced, and thinking ‘this is really really bad timing)
Emma: - when we met I thought you treated me especially nicely, I thought that must mean- well, I s’pose I thought that must mean that you liked me a lot.
Shane: Okay-?
Emma: Well then when I saw how you interacted with the others (mutual acquaintances and colleagues) and seemed to be just the same to them, I s’pose that- put things in a different perspective.
Shane: (feeling aggrieved, but glad to have heard this) I did like you a lot - I do like you a lot, but I don’t see why that should be so relevant. In fact, it shouldn’t be relevant.
Emma: What d’ y’ mean?
Shane: You were unusually… vague - about your domestic set-up. How long did it take for you to mention that there was an ‘Ed’ on the scene? Even in everyday chit-chat, I’d have expected to detect something to say who your situation was made-up of.
Emma: (thinking, then suppressing a grin) Fair point. You know how things have been at home. Mm (sigh).
Shane: Anything else I’ve upset you about without realising it?
Emma: (smiling) No. You’re good.

A strangely comfortable period then followed. We later returned to the lazy affable chit-chat of earlier. I was aware that this talk had shifted things. We were now open about (1) the fact that it mattered to her that I “liked” her “a lot”, and (2) the fact that I did like her a lot.

On this trip, for our own benefit, we knew that we had to remain sober for the work assignment. Thus, non-drinkingly, we proceeded to fill our non-working time together with a few touristic things – a bridge, a gallery and some dining out. It felt spectacularly easy. To all others, we probably looked like we were ‘together’. And equally, as we ended Monday evening running from doorway-to-doorway in a bid to avoid brief but heavy snowfall, it did feel romantic. I know we were both happy.

As we rolled into the station mid-evening yesterday, Ms Emma spoke:

Emma: (prodding my forearm) Heh you.
Shane: Yeah?
Emma: It’s been really good.
Shane: Yeah it has.
Emma: And I don’t just mean the work stuff. I’ve really enjoyed spending time with you.
Shane: Thank you. It’s been good.

We parted company at the station entrance. Emma’s father stepped from the shadows, there to collect her. On driving back to Barton I felt that that had been a useful trip on several fronts.

Have just discovered that our return trip to the FarNorth is to be much sooner than originally planned – we depart next Wednesday (9th February) until late Friday (11th February). I’m guessing that we’ll be more relaxed about the work situ on that trip – that should equate to some confident use of the local eateries, and boozeries.

Should be… fun. Could be... really fun. We'll see.