Tag Archives: Love

Certain Dark Things

18 Oct
Arthur Boyd - Lovers in a Boat

Arthur Boyd – Lovers in a Boat

 “I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul.” *

After our first meeting I thought, Shit, I will never see her again. Then she sent me a message shall we have coffee before I go home, and so I rang her. She answered from where she was buying boots, it was her birthday, her present to herself she said, and we arranged a day and time and I thought, she feels it too. It entered her when it entered me. That first moment when I saw her and thought, she’s lovely, so lovely, and permitted myself one gentle touch to her forearm as I told her I’d been worried she might think I was an Internet predator, and she laughed and that was the first time I heard her laugh.

Why do you want this with me?

Because I can make your breasts swell and your cunt wet from a thousand miles away. Because, you.

I don’t think I can do this. I don’t think I am the kind of woman who can do this. It will take me to a very dark place. And then?

 Don’t give up on me. I can’t bear to lose you. If it gets too difficult tell me, and we’ll sort it out. I can’t bear to lose you. I was so afraid you would be too good to be true for me. This is the email in which you tell me it’s over. That’s what I fear every time I see your name in my inbox. She is leaving me.

My husband is dying. I am making myself read his letters, years of letters from exotic places. They all begin, My darling wife. My darling wife…

 If you had met me when your husband was well and with you, you would still have loved me wouldn’t you?

No. I might have been drawn to you. But there was no room in my heart or mind or body for anyone but him. It is too cruel, for someone whose life is already taken up to invade another’s. That isn’t love. To cause that much harm isn’t love. Love is to refuse the opportunity to harm. Isn’t it?

 I know we are both leaving early today and there is no time for our morning sexy chat. I just wanted our thoughts to touch. Our thoughts to touch. Our thoughts to touch.

I don’t know this at the beginning and I won’t know it for a long time to come, but I am vulnerable and half broken before this affair even begins, judgement askew in a mind and body disturbed by loss incremental and unrelenting. He is a good person he tells me, but sometimes people who believe themselves to be good do the most harm, so blinded by belief in their goodness they are unable to see their capacity to injure.

 You have given me a new lease on life. We are like teenagers. You are so beautiful. Do you think, are you game, would you send me photos? To help with my imagining?

You know. Not of your toes.

 I think about you every waking minute. I am in the hardware store, staring at the shelves, wondering what it is I came here to buy. Thinking about you. I am at lunch with family and friends. Trying to have conversations while thinking about you. I am obsessed. Your photos are so beautiful. Your breasts so shapely, so full, so firm. Can I suckle? Will you feed me? It would be heaven, fucking you as we travelled down the Mekong. Heaven.

And how I love your voice. I long to hear your voice. Always. Your voice.

“Woman, I would have been your child, to drink the milk of your breasts as from a well, to see and feel you at my side and have you in your gold laughter and your crystal voice.”

I can feel him in my blood. It’s cellular, he said, what happened when I first kissed you was a cellular exchange. His words have such power. Does he know the power of words? Do any of us really understand the power of words? Do we understand when we say I love you that one day we may be obliged to say I don’t love you anymore, or worse, withdraw into silence because we lack the courage to speak the truth?

           “…we cannot tell the truth. It is forbidden because it hurts everyone. We never say the truth, we must lie, mostly as a result of our two needs: our need for love and cowardice.”

I was too forensic he told me, which to me meant my meticulous attention to the implications of the heart’s acts of love and treachery disturbed him. You take a word, one word and interrogate it, he complained. I want to know details, I told him. I want accuracy. I want the truth at the heart of the matter. You use words to obfuscate, I told him. I use them to light my way. Language is a holy lamp burning in the dark, I told him. It’s the one thing we have that can bring us close to the truthfulness of something. I can’t help it, I said. I have to know what you mean. You say you dislike giving glib answers. But what you think so carefully about is not how to clarify your answer, but how to make a mystery with your words. I said all this and he said you are making me anxious. When we get into this kind of mess, it makes me so anxious I think it will kill me. So I tried to stop my forensic ways but I might as well have tried to stop breathing. There is the truth of a situation. Or there is a certain dark thing. Or there is both.

           “Had to go crazy to love you / had to go down to the pit / had to do time in the tower / begging my crazy to quit / had to go crazy to love you / you who were never the one…

You always say things I’ve never thought of he told me, with some indignation because he usually believed himself to be the smartest person in the room.

I come to watch your exercise class. It is a hot day and I can see that you are sweating. As soon as you finish I hurry you out. You protest that you need a shower, but I say “no time” and rush you back to the bedroom. I pull your clothes off, then my own and push you back on the bed, startling you with my urgency.

Your cunt is already wide open and wet, my cock hard and wet and I thrust straight into to you. You match my thrusts with your pelvic movements. We are both sweating profusely now, feeling the wetness between our bellies as they move together and apart, in rhythm.

The sweat is dripping from my nipples onto your face, and you lift your head up and lick the sweat from them with your tongue. I share the need, and, your arms being crossed behind your head for support, I can lick the sweat from your armpits, savouring the rich salty taste.

This sharing drives us both into a final frenzy and we come. I am spent, all my cum drawn into your cunt by your strong contractions. We collapse back side by side, exhausted but satisfied and well nourished, our tongues licking our lips to enjoy the last taste of each other.

After a little sleep to recover, we head at last for the shower. Warm water cascades between our bodies, splashing from one to the other.

I soap your wonderful breasts, marvelling at their firmness and fullness, tracing their roundness over and over with my soapy hand. But not touching your nipples, although you thrust forward, wanting to feel my hands on them.

Instead my hands move down to soap your smooth belly, as yours do the same to mine. You soap my cock and balls, and I am amazed to discover, having thought them empty, that they seem full again, and my cock is thrusting against your hand.

My hand moves down to soap your cunt, still swollen it seems from the earlier fuck. As I soap you I feel your clitoris become a hard presence against my hand. I turn you around to soap your back. All the way down to your lovely firm round arse. It is too much, and I turn you round and lift you so I can once again enter your cunt.

You gasp with pleasure then tell me I can come and I do, filling you. My cock softens inside you. Then I slip him out and lower you to the floor. We turn off the water and dry each other, our bodies warm and glowing.

We head for our bed, unaccountably needing to sleep in each other’s arms.

No one has ever before written such things to me. My husband’s love letters were chaste, telling me that he longed for me, yearned for his beloved. My beloved, he called me. Don’t turn your face away from me, my beloved, he begged when we were at odds. Desire has never come to me in the form of the written word and I am astounded, breathless, and not a little afraid of the fierceness it arouses in me. We meet, and our tongues. Our tongues. Every bodily sensation distils itself in our tongues and I think, later, that is a new and superior way to use our tongues to tell the truth.

           “We are in the process of descending into the depths of the heart. To where bodies communicate with each other.”

Why do you want this with me? Why are you taking these risks? Why, when you know it has carnage of the heart written all over it?

Because you are good for me. And because these 24 hours, thinking you’d gone has put a lot of strain on me physically (and continues to) as well as mentally. And because I think we are good for each other. Mostly.

This morning

The thought of seeing you wake up, dishevelled, warm and still sleepy, wearing only a tee shirt, your cunt wet, your fingers reaching lazily for your clit, me taking your hand and licking your juices from your fingers

was driving me wild with desire.

I can’t decide whether I am more obsessed by your cunt or your breasts. My lovely. My beautiful. You.

He said, I always tell my wife I am meeting you. I don’t tell lies. I am astounded by this last statement. I think about it for a long time. I realise that he uses his words to tell one small truth that will obfuscate the large lie. He lies like a politician, like the Cardinal Pell. He tells his wife he is meeting me, which is the truth, but he omits the nature and content of the meeting, the forensics, the accuracy, the truth of it. After he’s been caught he tells me the details don’t matter. But I am the details. Everything that has been between us is in the details. It is the details that break everybody’s hearts, one way or another. It is another lie, to say the details don’t matter. The truth is, they matter more than anything else, they hold everyone’s fate in the balance, no wonder you can’t write fiction, I tell him scornfully, when you think the details don’t matter. What kind of intelligent person, I demand, tells himself details don’t matter?

His wife tells me later that she knew all along, he only thought he was deceiving her. She shouts at me. I shout back. Finally, we stop shouting and listen to one another. So, why, I want to know. If you knew, why did you let him go unchallenged for so long? Because you are the only one I’ve ever thought he would leave me for, she says. The only one? There are others? He is a serial adulterer? He told me you are the most intelligent woman he’s ever met, she says. He’s never given me credit for my intelligence, she adds. He doesn’t even know me. I wanted to do medicine but I met him too soon. I typed his PhD. Family is everything. Depends on the nature of the family, I think, but do not say. He is an honourable man, she tells me, I know you don’t think so, but he is. An honourable man? He has deceived you for all this time, I retort. He didn’t deceive me, I knew, she cried, but he thought he was deceiving you, it was his intention to deceive you, I insist. I am so angry, she says, sometimes I shake with rage. He’s gone deaf, she tells me, he’s lost hearing in his one good ear. That’s lucky, I reply, he can’t hear either of us. Then I remember how years ago when I confronted my mother about her complicity in her husband’s abuse of me she ran out of the room and the next day went stone deaf. No cause could be found for her sudden loss of hearing, and eventually it was diagnosed as hysterical deafness. Protecting her from what she couldn’t bear to hear. He just needs another grommet, his wife said. That’s how she introduced herself to me on the phone. This is (his) wife. I stayed up all night reading your blog, she told me. I suppose you’re curious about me, I said. She yelled: He wouldn’t go out with me for any of our anniversaries, or my birthday because he all he wanted was to be communicating with you! And now he is depressed and anxious and deaf! He sleeps all day! He misses you! He cares about you! He is suffering I am making sure he is suffering I can see it in his face. Good, I tell her. I like you. I like you too, she says.

You’ve been through this, she said, I read about it on your blog. How did you manage? It wasn’t quite the same, I told her. It was over when I found out about it. I never feared he would leave me. Sexual infidelity is one thing and it’s awful. But emotional infidelity, like this is?

If I’d thought he loved someone else I would have left him, I told her. I couldn’t bear to live with anyone who loved somebody else. Who was thinking about her all the time. My husband told me this about his lover: she was never in my imagination. You, my wife, are always in my imagination.

 I desire you infinitely. How beautiful you are. How much we manage to talk and communicate without setting out to talk. How anxious I get and how you reassure and comfort me. How well we have come to understand each other now. How good it will be to hear your voice again. How beautiful you are. How I love you. How I adore you. Night night, gorgeous lady with the beautiful breasts.

“How I would love you woman, how I would love you,/ love you as no one ever did! / Die and still /love you more,/And still /love you more, /and more.”

If a man or a woman chooses marriage, there are words he or she should never speak other than to their beloved. And if he or she does speak them they kill with them, perhaps one, perhaps two, perhaps several people. There was one thing and one thing only I knew for certain about him. That he was capable of terrible betrayal. When he took my hand in the café and gazed at me with the particular intensity that means only one thing, I should have said, no. I should have said what I’ve said before: only if your wife says it’s ok. A constellation of extraordinary circumstances determined that I would love him. I am suffering also, I told his wife. Badly. Good, she said. I know, I said. I know.

 “I remembered you with my soul clenched.”


*In order of appearance in the text:

Pablo Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets

Pablo Neruda, The Poetry of Pablo Neruda

Hélène Cixous, The Book of Promethea

Leonard Cohen, Had to go Crazy to Love You

Hélène Cixous, The Book of Promethea

Pablo Neruda, The Poetry of Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda, Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair

Stranded in the shit field

30 Oct

Now and again in a life, one runs into what I like to call a shit field – a series of apparently unconnected events that occur simultaneously, or hard on one another’s heels, all of which share a common theme.

It can be difficult to recognise you’re in the shit field at the time, because its very nature clouds the mind and takes a toll on perceptions.

For the last twelve months, and particularly the last four or five, some of the effects of trudging through the shit field have been an increasing lack of creativity, loss of interest in the world, crippling anxiety, depression, and a sense of having completely lost control of my life and my ability to make good decisions.

I apologise to everyone who has stayed with the blog, for my increasing lack of output, and the deteriorating quality of the posts I have managed.

I wrote here about the experience of being with my beloved husband last year, after he suffered a massive stroke. I underestimated the length of time it would take me to recover from the loss of the man with who I had shared a long, fraught love affair of such intensity that I couldn’t ever imagine loving anyone else. I’m familiar with the Kubler Ross theory of the five stages of grief, though in my experience they are not necessarily consecutive, and I don’t recall ever doing any bargaining, probably because I don’t believe in a higher power so I don’t have a transcendental exteriority in my life with whom to cut a deal.

Apart from that, I’d say the model is fairly accurate, and applies to important loss of any kind, not solely death and dying, if one needs a framework to help explain the chaos inside.

I also underestimated the exhaustion I would feel and for how long I would feel it, after week upon week of sitting at my husband’s bedside, watching him deteriorate, watching in shocked despair as he railed and screamed at me in a language I could no longer understand, and at the end of these rantings, trembling as I watched him break down, as he stroked my face with his one good hand, and begged me for I knew not what. I assumed comfort. Many times I climbed onto his bed and laid my body the length of his frail frame, and held him while he fumbled, sobbing, for my breasts.

I would leave him at the end of these gruelling days, and make my way back to the Bondi Beach apartment a friend’s daughter had loaned me while she was overseas. Sometimes I’d catch a bus. More often I’d walk, as a way to calm myself, and reconnect with the world outside of the nursing home. I was not really a fit companion for anyone, and generally too exhausted for dinners or meetings with old friends. I found it difficult to sleep. These days I hate the city, and found adapting to its racket after the silence of my north coast home, almost impossible. I missed my dog. I missed him something awful.

Our life together, mine and A’s, had been largely conducted in Bondi where we lived at the beach, apart from a brief period when A realised a life-long dream, and bought a converted Pittwater ferry that we moored at the Newport Marina and lived on for a couple of years on and off. Our weekend pleasure was to motor slowly round the waterways, and come back to haul up our crab pots full of blue swimmers that A would then cook in a huge pot and we’d eat for supper with wine or a beer.  I remember once standing beside him at the boat’s wheel, my skirt flying open in the wind, my hair whipping at my face, and A turning to me and saying “If I died now, here with you, I would die a happy man.”

I told him this and other stories of our life as I sat beside him, holding his hand. I think he heard. I think he remembered. I think it gave him some sense of who he was, and had been.

I know now that I had never loved him more than I did those months I sat vigil at his bedside. I don’t know where that love came from. I felt it enter me as I walked through the nursing home doors. I felt its energy fill me as I climbed the stairs to his room. I felt that love sustain me through everything that occurred, every day it occurred. That love overwhelmed me.  Without it, I couldn’t have lasted a week. I’m not a believer in anything much. But I believe in that love.

When my friend’s daughter returned from New York, I moved to the glorious cliff top eyrie owned by my friend, Elisabeth Wynhausen, who recently died, who swore me to secrecy when she discovered her cancer, and whom I miss.

The theme of my shit field is emerging.

Then, to my utter surprise, when I had decided such things were over for me, earlier this year I fell in love.  The circumstances were challenging. Everything indicated this was not going to be easy. And yet again, out of nowhere, that love swept in with such power and took hold of me, even harder than before if that was possible, and I said a yes.

Well, in keeping with the theme of the shit field the challenges were too great, and I find myself once again in the stages of grief, or perhaps I never really got out of them.

What strikes me as remarkable, however, is that something so comparatively short-lived can cause an anguish not dissimilar to the loss of the love affair of decades. Of course there isn’t the history to mourn. But the loss. Oh god, the loss.

Or perhaps it is an accumulation of loss that finally overwhelms. I can’t tell yet. I’m still too much in love. I haven’t caught up with events. I’m still talking to him in my head as if he hasn’t gone. I’m still hurt when there’s no good morning and goodnight. I haven’t got used to the loss of him beginning my days and ending my nights. The absence of his presence.

So, I doubt I’ll be out of the shit field anytime soon. Thank you for staying around.


Love. That is all.

20 Jul

A few months ago I wrote here about spending time with my seriously ill husband, and my experience of coming to terms with the end of a love that had been everything to me.

It took years to accept that love was over, and what I eventually took from that lonely, arid time was painful instruction on the power of human attachment.

When I visited A last year,  desperately ill after a massive stroke, unable to speak coherently and only intermittently recognising me, our life together did indeed parade itself before my eyes, and I laid many things to rest as I sat for weeks beside his bed, holding his hands while he struggled to tell me he loved me and always would.

The miracle was, that after everything that went wrong we did still love each other. I wasn’t altogether surprised to find that in me, because I am very bad at endings. The life may no longer be a shared one, but something in me, deep in my belly, refuses to entirely let go of the love. I don’t know if this is a good or a bad thing, it just is. So I can look at someone I loved years ago and think  oh, yes, I loved you and oh yes, the ending was hard and I hated you for a while, and oh yes, though I don’t want to do anything about it and my life has changed, still there is tenderness, and gratitude for what we knew together.

Grief is an altered state. It can take you by surprise, long after you think you’ve done with it. It becomes less wild, less consuming as time passes. It can take on a sorrowful tenderness that for all its softness, still wrenches the heart. Grief can be triggered unexpectedly, long after you think you’re done with it, and you find yourself needing to hide away while you work out what has suddenly gone wrong with your breathing, and why out of nowhere you badly want to cry.

For example, I walked into a room today where someone was playing Mendelssohn’s Sonata for Cello and Piano, #2 in D Major. I listened to this Sonata, along with the Brahms #1 in F, during a very rough period in my marriage, during the last of many journeys A and I made together, down the Mekong, through Laos. I’ve heard both many times since, of course, but never without some emotion, the power of which has lessened over time. Yet today, for reasons I can’t explain, I heard the familiar first movement as if I was back on that long boat, sitting on my backpack beside A, both of us silenced by the misery of knowing it was too late for this journey or any other journey together, and neither of us able to end it.


I don’t have a list of things I want to do before I die. At times I think, vaguely, of travelling to places I’ve never been because it would be excellent to leave the earth having seen as much of it as possible. At times I think I want to go back to the place where I was born one more time, because every time I return to that North Yorkshire country I feel a primitive and powerful sense of belonging that I have never felt anywhere else.

But lately I’ve been thinking that these things come a poor second to love, in all its frequently unexpected and varied manifestations, and it’s likely love that tops my bucket list.

Today my friend said, there’s no such thing as a perfect relationship is there?  There is, I said, after a while. The perfect relationship is the one where you care enough to bother struggling through the shitty bits and find you still want to stay in it. The perfect relationship is the one where you don’t want to struggle through the shit, and you have the decency and the courage to leave before you cause anymore damage to yourself and the other. Love is required for both. Isn’t it?


Today I re-learned that nothing ends when you think it has. This annoys me, because I don’t live easily with loose ends. Somewhere along the way I’ve got it into my head that one must have “closure,” resolution, well-defined endings in order to move onto anything new. But actually, I’m coming to think that’s crap. My life is a chaos of ongoing love of varying kinds and depths, and I can’t think how to tidy up any of it. Perhaps I don’t have to? Perhaps instead I must learn to live with the disorder of a functioning human heart? Perhaps for years to come I will unexpectedly feel grief for my husband, for my dead mother, for my friend, for everyone I’ve  loved and will love, with various degrees of complexity and difficulty, success and failure.

There is a human being. There is love. That is all.

In praise of modern families, and bickering.

27 Mar

For some years now, Mrs Chook and I have shared a house, The Dog, and a domestic life, for the most part, harmoniously. At first we were the subject of  some salacious speculation in our village, especially when my separated second husband came to visit one Christmas because he was lonely in Sydney, got sick, and thoroughly overstayed his welcome.

At the time I was unaware of the gossip because I didn’t care. It always surprises me that anybody would be interested, but unconventional domestic arrangements still frighten and confuse some people. This is why we can’t have gay marriage. Frightened and confused people are preventing it.

Our main method of dealing with domestic tensions is to bicker them out. We are perfectly comfortable with this, though a friend recently refused to travel in the car with us because she said our bickering reminded her too much of travelling with her parents.

Real bickering contains no malice. Indeed, it demands love and affection as a prerequisite. In their absence, it ceases to be bickering and becomes acrimony. I concede, though, that for some, the demarcation line can be obscure.


We have complaints against one another, mostly small, but they can be the most aggravating. For example. We never eat breakfast together. I eat mine at peculiar times, and usually at my desk or roaming. This morning I ate the last two caper berries before Mrs Chook got round to food. I had no idea they had her name on them, and frankly, it probably wouldn’t have made much difference if I had, because I wanted them. Mrs Chook informed me she had been looking forward to those berries, and there was a brief and futile dispute, because, eaten.

This goes the other way, usually with chocolate. I only feel like chocolate sometimes, while she likes it all the time. So when I finally get around to thinking I’ll have chocolate, I go to the cupboard and it’s all gone. I keep meaning to hide some, but I always forget.

Yesterday she “accidentally” wore my blue Speedos (the same colour as hers, we bought them at the same time in the sale at the Speedo shop) even though there are two sizes difference between her and me. She swears she didn’t take them out of my swim bag and that I left them on the washing line but whatever, I got to the pool later with no cossies, and the pool is 30 minutes drive away.

The week before she got around all day in my bra, same situation, bought together cos sale, again, two sizes difference between her bra and mine, but did that stop her? She didn’t even notice. I had no other clean bras and she’d gone to work.

Some winters ago she put my favourite blue jumper in the washing machine and shrank it beyond all redemption. That still hurts.

A few days ago I completely forgot I was boiling eggs, until I heard something that sounded like gunfire, ran upstairs to see what was happening, and found four eggs exploded all over the kitchen walls and ceiling, and a saucepan that went into the tip pile. Mrs Chook did not remonstrate with me for my carelessness. She even helped me clean up, though this is not the first time I’ve done that.

One day last year, she didn’t turn the gas off properly & when I lit it there was this explosion and all the hairs on my arms were singed. She then put up an enormous notice on the kitchen wall that read “TURN OFF THE GAS.” I added “FUCKING”, twice.

She says I don’t listen. She says I look as if I’m listening but she can tell my head is somewhere else altogether and sometimes, to test me, she asks me half an hour later what she’s said. I usually make something up. She says she has to make an appointment with me to discuss domestic matters because I’m always too engrossed in something. She says I am very difficult to live with at times, and that she gets sick of me never paying attention.

On the occasions when we go shopping together, we almost always get into a fight. I loathe shopping. My idea of shopping is to throw everything I think we might need into the trolley times two, so I don’t have to come back anytime soon. Mrs Chook, on the other hand, likes to read the labels and see where everything is coming from and what’s in it. This shits me to tears.

We have successfully bickered our way through every one of our differences, even big ones, every time they arise. There have been tears, and occasionally someone throws something, but it has always been negotiated down to bickering, if at times with tissues.

The best bickering always ends in Shut up. You shut up. No you shut up. I said it first. You fucking didn’t, I did. Well I’m saying it now. I don’t care. Shut up. You shut up. Don’t tell me to shut up…until The Dog bites somebody. There is much to be said for allowing the inner child out at such times.

Three of my dearest male friends have also successfully shared living arrangements for over two decades. Some years ago the five of us took an apartment together in Barcelona for a few weeks. Three of us were giving papers at the Universitat de Barcelona, & the others came for support and the fun.

We’d never stayed together for longer than a night or two. We had no idea how it would work out, but the apartment was just off Las Ramblas, a ten minute walk from the Universitat, cheap, and we had enough faith in our good natures to feel reasonably certain we could pull it off.

Mrs Chook and I thought we would have to curb our bickering, given we were all in close quarters for several weeks and not everybody understands our method of loving one another. For the first few days we took it outside, and bickered away happily while we gazed at Gaudi’s architectural feats, and ate tapas at various bars. Then we gradually became aware that our friends were tossing good-natured abuse at one another, going much further than we had yet dared, and we were amazed. At dinner one night, we brought the subject up. We admitted we’d been afraid they’d find our manners unseemly. They admitted they’d feared the same. They said most people didn’t understand how they talk to one another, and they had to be careful. They said they felt they’d taken a great risk, shacking up with us for all this time, and worried that at the end of it we might not like them anymore.

On the contrary, we assured them, we were learning so many new ways of bickering, and it was wonderful! By the end of our stay we were just one big happy bickering family, hell, we even learned to bicker in Spanish.

It’s such a cliché, to claim that there are many kinds of love. If one is open to the experience, it seems often to come from the most unexpected quarters, inconvenient, disturbing the settled, demanding acknowledgement and expression, dangerous and confronting, as well as offering  happiness, safety and refuge.

There as many kinds of families as there are kinds of love, in my experience. I love the family my friends have made. I love the family Mrs Chook and I have made. In neither situation has marriage or children played a part in the creation, but in both instances the original units have expanded until they contain many more sentient beings.

Next Wednesday, our family’s latest baby will be born. Mrs Chook and I will be there, as will her or his two other grandmothers. The baby’s grandfather and me, divorced now for more years than I care to consider, will drink champagne together and congratulate one another on the family we made. He will get a little drunk, and as usual hug me too hard for too long when no one is watching. He, his second wife, Mrs Chook and me, will be sharing the care of  our grandchild Archie, while his parents have a few days in peace with the new baby.

Never in my wildest dreams could I have foreseen this kind of life.

Love, actually.

Happy holidays everyone from No Place for Sheep!!!

24 Dec

Be well!! Be safe!! Be kind to one another!! (even if it’s just for a day) 


Lots of ♥ from Jennifer, Mrs Chook & The Dog.

For all the babies

7 Jul

Especially this one: 

Because when the chips are down, what you need is a little bit of love. 

Forever Young

 Bob Dylan

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you

May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you

May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift

May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
May you stay forever young.

And for these big kids too:  

Fools for love

19 Jun

In love, the person is always the fool, emptied of prudence, his (sic) desires evident to the world, his transgressions revealed to all, especially to himself. Thomas Moore

Fools for Love is a collection of stories about love that went wrong.

Practically everyone has a break-up story, or knows someone who has. Break-ups are commonplace, but the individual experience of a break-up is unique. Even though everyone going through it describes similar emotions, one of the characteristics of an ending is that it feels as if this is the first time any human being has suffered in quite this way. Just like it felt when we fell in love.

Here is Bernard’s story in his own words, minimally edited for continuity. Names have been changed.

Well, we were married for thirteen years, fourteen years probably because our daughter Josie was about 13 when we separated.

She’s my oldest, then there’s the boys. It was always hard work but I just assumed that with six kids that we’d always be together.

I expected that to happen. Being Catholic made it a bit more “that’s the way it is.” If you’re unhappy you put up with it and Marianne was Catholic too.

Anyhow, we had some bad times, hard times because my ex wife’s a really, really bad spender. I’d think we owed no money and we owed ten thousand dollars or five thousand dollars and we wouldn’t have it to pay. Credit cards and blah blah blah, so we were always under pressure financially, always looking for something better and more money. There was non-stop pressure.

So we’d hit a brick wall and then she’d say “Well, you go and have a couple of days at your brother’s place,” or something like that. “That will give you time to think,” she’d say. So I’d do that.

One night when she’d said to do that (my brother lived not too far down the road) I was sleeping on his lounge and a client rang and said he needed some information that I kept at home. I said, “OK, well I’ll go and get it.” So I rang home and got my daughter and said along the lines of, I said “Where’s mum?” And she said (she was about 12 or 13), “Oh she’s gone out with a girlfriend.” So I said, “Well, tell your Mum that I’ll come home and pick up John’s file ‘cos he wants something out of the file.” She said all right and then she went to bed. Well, when I got home my wife was in bed with another bloke.

So. I was. I was out of the house to help pay off, help our problems and she just had a boyfriend and that shattered me.

I stayed awake all night.

She told me to go, he was in the bed with her. He was a guy called Martin, and I was just devastated so I went back to my brother’s. I couldn’t sleep. First thing in the morning my sister in law Claire gets up and I started to talk. I said, “I had to go home last night to pick up something and Marianne was in bed with a bloke.” And she said “Well, obviously she’s got a boyfriend.” I hadn’t thought of that, I just thought we were having a bad time so everyone sort of knew bar me that I was a mug.

So I rang Marianne’s mum and dad up and said, “Well, I’m going back home I’m throwing her out of the house. Bugger this.” And then they stepped in and said, “Well these things happen,” blah blah blah and Marianne put on the tears so I moved back home and let her stay.

Anyhow that was the beginning of the end of the marriage and I don’t know how long it had been going on before that. Obviously for some time cos it wouldn’t have been the first time she’d organised me to get out of the house because she’d had this bloke lined up again. Instead of her going to his place he came to my place.

All the kids were there, but they were little so they were in bed. So a few months later she did the same sort of thing again. She said, “I’m going to stay with my girlfriend.”

I always believed her, yeah. I only found it out to be lies later. If she’d catch herself out she’d just tell lies. It was so obvious. She’d forget how many lies she told. It was easy ‘cos I believed her but it wouldn’t have been so easy for her to get away with it if I’d been the third party looking in instead of being the injured party.

So a few months later don’t know how many to tell you the truth, might have been three or four she said, “I’m going to my girlfriend’s to spend some time with her.” They were all people she used to play golf with and I got a phone call and I answered the phone and they said, “Is that Martin?” I said, “Oh, no.”

It was my phone.

It was a travel agent and then the people on the other end sort of twigged and got a bit evasive so they didn’t say much but it just made no sense it was a travel agent on the other side of town and I said to my friend who had access then to information he shouldn’t have, but it happens, and he checked for me.

I thought something’s not right, Marianne’s supposed to be at a girlfriend’s. He checked the aircraft departures and she’d taken off  with some bloke again for a week’s holiday and told me she was at a girlfriend’s.

So that was the sort of thing and then she’d come back and say, “I’m leaving you,” and I still tried to get her not to leave. But that was how she left me, then she moved out and we had no money. I had a small income, a reasonable income, but with six kids we had no money and her spending would make sure anything we had had to pay the debts and so she moved out but she rented a place for three or four hundred dollars a week and she just didn’t have it. I used to help her out and go round there and give her money and try to get her to come back home.

A big house, a lovely house and then she said to her bloke, I don’t know for sure, I’m surmising, “I’m free now.” And she took Kyle with her who was then two and a half or three he’s now nineteen or twenty so that’s seventeen years ago, and the girl she used as the babysitter and as soon as she was available all the time the guy shot through.

I don’t know what happened there. All I know is from the time she walked out on me for this bloke he was hardly around. They broke up almost straight away cos why would you want a woman with six kids? It was all right as a bit on the side but no value when she’s available as a full time partner so that hardly lasted and then there’s this old bloke called Bob that Kyle used to talk about who was on the dole

I asked Kyle “Who’s Bob?” and he said, “Oh, he’s an old bloke that’s helping around the house comes and does a few things around the house.

Bob turned out to be another swimmer she was screwing who she ended up marrying because she got him on the rebound. Bob was somebody else’s. She told another set of stories about here’s Bob doing this and this, helping me out.

Bob had a partner I don’t think he’d broken up with his other girlfriend. Bob was a swimmer but he’d left swimming as well, cranky old bastard. He was a schoolteacher and once Mark left Marianne Bob was on the scene.

So next thing you know she got kicked out cos she didn’t pay the rent for all this time. Next thing you know she had to let go of the house so she did a runner and moved in with Bob.

I didn’t have Kyle he was with his mother. My daughter was staying with my sister in law and I had the other four boys who were like 7, 9, 11, and 12. I was looking after the boys and working.

 Yeah. And when Marianne said she was moving out I said, “Well, take what you need out of the house because you’re moving.” So she took everything. All we had left in the house was an esky with some milk and a broken down toaster and three beds for five people. I just slept with the boys. Nothing else in the house. Oh, and the dryer, no, the dishwasher, not the dishwasher, the dryer and the washing machine. There wasn’t any room on the truck to take them so she come back and I said, “You can’t have them I need them to wash the kids clothes.” So we had a fight about the washing machine and the dryer so I had a washing machine and a dryer and a foam esky to put some milk in and a broken down radio. TV and all the furniture in the whole house was gone. A few broken cups and saucers that’s all we had. Very interesting time.

Oh, I don’t know.

I was distressed and then she moved in with Bob. I found out about Bob because what did she do, she did something, oh yes she embezzled money from a company she was working at. She was writing cheques and taking the money and the police come looking for her and this detective rings me up and says, “Blah blah blah,” and I said she wasn’t with me she left seven months ago to live with her girlfriend and the cop said they were looking for her and I said, “Well she’s living with her girlfriend,” cos she’d told me that in Hampton or Fernleigh or somewhere and he said, “Well she’s not living with her girlfriend she’s living with her boyfriend in Kingston.”

I said, “That can’t be right.”

He said, “Mate, I’m telling you.”

So that’s how I found out where she was living. So I was dropping her off to go to her girlfriend’s and she was just walking round to Bob’s place but I didn’t know that for a month or so. Till the police told me. So she ended up getting arrested for embezzlement. I don’t know how she got out of that. Cried poormouth, her Mum and Dad did something about it, but she was guilty of stealing checks and cashing them.

So then she moves in with Bob. Next thing you know she’s pregnant to Bob and she didn’t tell me she was pregnant my brother in law told me. I’ve got no sense of time here but it was five or six months after she moved out. I’d lost my job I had no money, I’d no work I’d sold the house because the house had such a mortgage on it that we had no money at all. Rented a little dump and I mean a dump, a little timber cottage with the boys and I had no source of income cos I’d lost my job. So I had a few clients, about a hundred clients or so and I was working at the dogs as a bookmaker’s clerk and anything else I could get just to a bit of work. One of my cousins worked at this shipping company and he gave me a few hours work doing this and that so that was my source of income. Nothing consistent.

I’d drop the boys off at school and because I didn’t have a job, oh I had a job for a little while and I put them into day care at first go to work then pick the boys up at five and go home. Then I couldn’t get another job cos everyone wanted me to work stupid hours and I had to get the boys to school and pick them up. So I made sure I had no appointments at two o clock or finish at two o clock make some tea for them and maybe go and see someone else in the evening or whatever so I just worked around what had to be done.  Brendan was the only one in high school the others were in primary school and my brother in law then who’s also divorced from Marianne’s sister now said to me, “Oh Marianne’s pregnant.” I said, “No, she can’t be pregnant.” I said, “Everyone knows except me, she hasn’t told me she’s pregnant.” He said, “Oh sorry I didn’t know maybe I shouldn’t speak.”

So I was talking to her Mum and they all knew and I said something along the lines, “Oh now that Marianne’s pregnant.” So she was, it came up when I saw her mother and she said, “Oh you now these things happen.” Again. It’s always when it’s their kids these things happen, when it’s you you’re the worst one in the world, that was the really funny part about it. When Ed and Tania broke up Ed was the biggest bastard in the world because Tania gave him a bad time and he found a girlfriend and got a second job because he was trying to keep things going and it was impossible and Ed was the biggest bastard they’d ever met because he did that to Tania. When Marianne did that to me “These things just happen”.

So it was good to see how the rules changed for people. Anyhow so I was never going to get divorced, never believed in divorce but then when that happened I rang my lawyer and I said, “Look, Marianne’s pregnant, just file for divorce. This is stupid. I don’t believe in divorce but this is ridiculous. She’s pregnant to somebody else, just file for divorce.” I filed for divorce she didn’t bother to come to the court. We put in an application to the judge to say I’d had the kids all the time, this is what I do.

Marianne never refuted anything cos she was busy getting on with her new life with Bob. She had Kyle, and then when she got pregnant, my daughter  went to live with her for a while. That didn’t last long because of her and Bob and we set it out, there was nothing to refute in the Family Law Court I got the kids and the judge said, “Well, can you do that?” and sort of laughed so I got the kids. Course I only had the kids as long as she’d let me have them the father can’t take the kids if the mother says she should come back and look after the kids you just lose them.

Well, she said she was going to come back but she didn’t. She never wanted the kids anyhow she just said she wanted them. So I got the kids and then every six months I’d make them go and see their mother because she’d never take any time to come and see them. So I’d take them over to her place and go and see mates while I dropped them off for a few hours. If I didn’t do that she virtually never came near us.

In all that time I was working on getting her back all the time. She’d sort of leave the door ajar to make sure she could manipulate me. I still loved her. Yeah, I’d say so. Yeah. Um, I really didn’t but I thought I did because she’s my wife and so on and this took about five or six years.

Well I thought it was love. But I looking back now, if we’d have stayed together she would have destroyed us. The best thing she ever did to me was leave me. It just took me seven years to realise it.

And we had tos and fros and she’d manipulate me any number of times, she needed money, she need this and I’d help her out I’d do that and she’d just manipulate the situation.

After about two or they years they moved. They bought a bakery. Bob couldn’t boil water let alone be a baker so it was a recipe for disaster but they had the bakery. Plus Marianne had no head for business.  Michael, who’s now 22 was about 8 or 9, they’d had him for a couple of years she’d talked him into coming up for a holiday with them then she talked him into staying with her so I lost Michael then, so she had Michael and Kyle and I had the other three boys and my daughter was in Sydney. So I didn’t see much of them, the kids would come down for a holiday now and then I just had the three boys and the others were with her for two years but any time she still manipulated me when she needed something.

The business failed and they came back.

I hadn’t given up hope because I was still trying to get her to come back. I wasn’t seeing anybody else as I had the kids I didn’t have much time for anybody else and I had no money then, renting, kids were at school I cooked and washed and blah blah blah so my life revolved around the kids really but I had to still leave them to earn a living so I’d feed them of a night and then say to Michael who was about 12 or 13, mind the kids I’ll be back in two hours. I’d go out and see a client and come back. Course my boys got a bit wild in that time because they didn’t have dad around and they took advantage of it you know what teenagers are like, 11, 12 year olds are like.

I still had my dream of getting her back and having our family again. Yeah.

Anyhow this went on for about six or seven years. And what happened was, I met Christine she used to do massage at the squash club. Christine and I have been together about well it’ll be eight years in December. I’d known Christine from squash so I knew her fairly well but she was married to Morgan then who she came back from overseas with, but then she separated from Morgan and she had the children. We had a Christmas party at the Ram’s Head hotel and she’d been single twelve months or so and we were just together and we were all at a table talking and I don’t know, we just got together chatting and I asked her out the week before Christmas and Marianne was coming back to live nearby, she said and then she didn’t come back again. Her and Bob were just separating then some domestic violence from what I understand.

At that time Morgan was about to be posted overseas, they were separated so it was a bit awkward cos he’d moved out of the place he was renting and was staying with her before he moved cos they got on fine, he’s a nice bloke. So we went out and then she said, “We can’t go out for a while, Morgan’s here till the end of January.” I used to still get massages from Christine because I was already doing that every fortnight sore from squash and everything else and that was her job. So we started going out and then we only went out two or three times and I was very hesitant. I liked her and she was a good sort and she said to me one night, “Well I’ve got something to say to you.” We were out for dinner and I though ah well, here we go nobody’s going to stay with you that long you’ve got these kids. I thought oh well, it looks like I’m getting the flick here.

That’s all right, I was going out with someone else I knew, I was just dating it wasn’t that serious and we’d been out two or three times. Christine says, “Oh, well what do you want to do with us?” I said, “I don’t know what you mean?” She said, “Well I don’t want to muck around, what do you want to do?” I said, “Well I like you, I want to keep going out with you OK?” So we didn’t muck around and we started going out together and then, barely after that, Marianne rings up and she says to me, “I’m coming back to live you’ll have to give me a hand.”

So I said, “I’ll help you set up and live near the boys.” I thought that’d be good if their mother came back and lived near the boys cos she had two young kids to Bob, so it’d be good for the boys if she lived somewhere near us and they could see their Mum. Which never eventuated. She said, “Well I need you to give me a hand to get started,” and I said, “Well its no good anymore, I can’t do that I’m going out with somebody I’m with someone, I’m sorry its just not right now I can’t do it.” And she blew up. “Go on,” she said, “ignore your children and your family and kids and worry about your girlfriend.” I thought that was a good call, she’d left me for two or three blokes had two more kids, remarried had another boyfriend in the meantime and was coming back and I was the one who did the wrong thing.

So she abused me. So then I didn’t hear from her. I was seeing Christine, I’d go over there we’d go out, but I’d always come home. Christine didn’t like that much. I just wouldn’t move in. I did my own washing, even though we were together I’d been single than for six or seven years and the boys were fairly young then compared to now, teenagers so we just gradually stayed together longer and the boys got older blah blah blah.

That was the first time I said no to Marianne. Yeah. I suppose it was a relief yeah.

I’d never been interested in anybody else before Christine I went out with a few people but I wasn’t interested it was more like friends, and I’d also decided never to get married again. I’d been married, I wasn’t going to get married again. And Christine’s the only other person I would say, that would have had me, I think, decide to get married again. So then we just started as a couple and by the time I was fifty we were a couple. But I wouldn’t leave anything at her place she had the shits about that. I didn’t take the kids to her place either. We had our house where they stayed they were older now so I’d go back everyday and be there in the morning and everything else, watch the boys, do everything.

Marianne never said anything about Christine. Not about our relationship, I don’t know what she said to the kids but we’ve had a couple of words about some of my boys. We’ve sat down and she goes into tears and carries on. My ex wife’s still going on 17 and she’s fifty this year I think.

I don’t think she’s with anyone now. No, not that I know of She’s been re partnered a couple of times but after Bob there was a guy called Jim, she was with him for some time, she’s bad with relationships because she’s such an air head she’s so manipulative that people just walk. You can’t defend Bob, he belted her I’m sure I don’t think there’s any doubt about that, you can’t defend it but I can understand why, she pushes you to the limit all the time. She was of those people that does push you to the limit. She told Kyle he ruined her relationship with Bob and then he was ruining it with this new bloke so Kyle rang up and said can I come home to live with the others, and I said course you can.

But Christine said he’s too young to live with his brothers he has to come and live with us cos we’d finally moved in together. So she was really good. So he did and that strained our relationship for a few years. It took a long time for Kyle and Christine to get on. They get on good now, but it took a long time so she took that on. He was in all sorts of strife at school, smart arse.  Kicked out of school but we got him in another school and that was fantastic for him, turned him around.

So that’s pretty much the story and I’m good now life’s good now with me and Christine and all the kids are grown up doing their own thing and business is good. I never hear anything from Marianne the boys go see her sometimes. It wasn’t easy but I never want to go through any of that again.


The fool and the lover are inseparable, so much so that if a person doesn’t behave at least a little foolishly, perhaps they aren’t really in love.  

In love people rediscover the fool’s childlike innocence. In love, that innocence is expressed as trust. It’s frequently one of the things people take themselves to task for when love goes awry. Then we can feel like the worst of fools. Naïve, stupid, childish and humiliated to have believed we could trust someone who’s betrayed us.

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