The date with the dullest man in the world

I know, I’m sorry. I took a leave of absence without your permission, how very rude. The truth is, I’ve simultaneously had so much on that’s not newsworthy, I haven’t summoned the energy to sit down and blog about it.

But a few of you have been sweet enough (or demanding -take your pick) to say you’ve missed my woe-some tales, dating disasters and self-deprecation. Erm, thanks…I think that’s called Schadenfreude.

Anyway, I haven’t been completely living under a rock these last few months, I’ve been rather busy, flitting around the world and Australia. Learning lots of psychology type stuff, bored/frustrated with my day job and so I’ve managed to squeeze in the odd date for good measure.

The dullest man in the world crossed my path before I went to Thailand. He was rather insistent on a date but I put him off til after Thailand because, well there wasn’t enough hours in my day, plus I was taking a cue from the New Girl at work. New Girl, is the girl I’d like to be when I grow up. A complete lefty and such a brain box I lap up everything she says, it’s actually embarrassing. But she’s just sooooooooo clever and done pretty much everything there is to do in the world like, win a writer’s prize with your unpublished manuscript, work for the UN, complete a PhD and make the world a better place with her job. She’s amazing. But like me she’d not found a suitable man or started a family. She’d introduced me to he concept of interviewing potential dates and because I lap up everything she says, I lapped it up.

She’d nip out for 30 mins for coffees with maybe 2-3 guys a week. Zero effort, no personal investment, treat it like an interview then at the end of the week decide if any are worth a first date. I like it. So I put it into practice with IT dude.

The day after landing back in Australia, he text suggesting a drink after work. I wanted to go to the gym as the pad Thai had taken its toll so I suggested a quick drink between work and my gym class. He graciously accepted my 1 hour time slot and with the interview mindset I went along with no expectations. Which was good because he turned out to be the dullest man in the world. And really quite a bit of an ejit. Here are some of his pearls:

“So tell me what you do in marketing because you don’t produce ads because you get agencies to do that? Marketing has always seemed a bit pointless to me.”

“Why did you go to Thailand? It’s not my kind of place. I don’t like hot places, especially humid places.”

“I’ve been to England, for a couple of days. It’s pretty much how it looks on TV”

“Why would you want to live in an old house? Because of the character? I prefer my square apartment on Southbank with straight walls and temperature control.”

“And why would you want a garden? Is it because you like dogs? I’m allergic to dogs. There’s no need to have a garden. I don’t understand people desire to grow stuff in gardens, it’s just mess and it dies anyway.”

Oh is that the time, sorry I must rush, I’ve a spin class to get to…

…he did not get invited to second round interviews.

Drinking with the Gen Ys

So tonight I find myself skulking home after 1am. Something I’ve not done in a long time but unfortunately or fortunately something I thought I’d moved on from.

The sway of old work colleagues, $30 3 course meal at a hatted restaurant and a good gossip, prised me out of my Friday routine of cider, sofa, takeaway, to the land of the free and single.

The meal was fabulous as was the $250 of alcohol we managed to squeeze in between courses. Conversation swiftly moved from small talk catch ups to the nitty gritty gossip normally reserved for dark corners. Mainly because the man at the adjacent table dining with 2 kids was keenly making conversation with our table. Ignoring his kids, wanting to play with the grown up girls, he chatted with us at whatever intervals seemed appropriate; what main to recommend, what dessert was best etc. It was of particular excitement because the man was cute, not wearing a wedding ring and clearly used to dining in hatted restaurants – even with the kids – and paying Chatterbox lots of attention. Now Chatterbox has recently fallen out of a 12 year relationship, assert her newly single status by buying herself the cutest bachelorette pad I’ve ever seen, falling rebound-esque for her best mate who has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer and is on borrowed time. So it’s fair to say she’s had a fairly shit year and we were firmly on ‘Team Chatterbox’ watching the flirting unfold beside us.

At the end of his meal he lingered a little too long when saying goodbye to us and wished us a good night. As soon as he left, one of the Bright Young Things ordered Chatterbox to run after him and give him her number.

“You can’t do that! That’s so….forceful.” I struggled to find a suitable alternative word for “desperate”. I’d only met this particular Bright Young Thing a couple of times but it was clear she took no prisoners when it came to getting what she wanted. She was also very vocal about what she wanted, type A personality and a central cog in this particular social circle. I’d need my wits about me if I was to disagree with her methods.

“If I fancied him, I’d so be out there right now, telling to come back once he’d out the kids to bed!”

“But that might scare him off.”

“Then he needs to grow a pair and deal with it.”

Oh OK then. I’m not sure this approach would do feminism any favours but it was apparent the Gen Y women were not ones to be repressed.

Chatterbox looked embarrassed that despite 43 years on this planet she didn’t have “the balls” to run after the guy. I whispered that I wouldn’t have the balls either and that if he liked her then he’d find a way to follow up. Or if it was meant to be, then she’d bump into him at the supermarket or walking along the beach.

Overhearing our whispers, Bright Young Thing hailed the waitress and asked her to check if the guy had made a reservation and therefore left a phone number. Clever. Breaking data privacy laws but clever nonetheless. The waitress, clearly bored of the Friday night routine, duly checked and relayed the news that he was a walk in and had no details.

“You should have run after him. You’ve missed your chance.” BYT scorned.

Minutes later we see the guy walked past the door and make a definite look I our direction, spoke to the waiter and then disappear again. As he emerged onto the street, he threw one more look in our direction, which instigated more squeals from our table.

“Run after him!”

“This is your last chance!”

“He might be the one and you’re letting him go”

My heart went out to poor Chatterbox. I was shrinking under the table for her. But then I’m not as sharp as her.

“Well I’m not looking for the one, I’m looking for a shag, for now. And I don’t think I should be hollering that down Fitzroy St.”


“Plus if he liked me, he had the opportunity to give me his number.”

Minutes later the waiter at the door also joined us.

“The man from the table next you, asked me to pass on this on to you.” He tossed a scrap of paper into the middle of the table which had a mobile number scrawled onto it.

Cue more screams: OMG! This NEVER happens. He made the effort and left his number.

“Chatterbox, you have to send him a text!” I was fully on board. The guy had put himself out there in front all us pissed gaggling girls. Bravo! Faith in men restored.

“Who exactly was the number for?” Bright Young Thing taking control again.

“I dunno he just said the girl at the table next to him.”

“But there’s 6 of us!” This is when we needed the waitress to have taken the message, she’d have got it sorted.

“We’ll send him a photo of us all and get him to pick”

Again, smart and something told me this wasn’t the first time it had happened to these girls. And yet here I was at 37 year, on virgin territory. And so, the picture was sent and the text pinged it’s way back to us almost immediately….

Who was he interested in…..Bright Young Thing.

So maybe in pays to be pushy after all or maybe he just had bad taste….

Here’s a tip

When you go away on business for 3 days, get food poisoning on day 1 resulting in, what can only be described as volcanic eruptions from both ends, resulting in only 2 hours sleep before a full day event, only for the nausea to give way to chronic PMS, the likes of which you’ve not experienced since your teenage years, and because you’re a professional, grimace through it, smiling at strangers and making banal small talk when the words running through your head are nowhere near as pleasant.

Don’t forget to pack your anti-depressants.

3 days sans happy pills, exhaustion, hungry but too sick to eat and then watching the last episode of Offspring, had me wailing like a banshee.

And this was the first full episode of the show I’d watched.

(Pearson, 2014)

The Kirstie Allsopp Saga

This post was written for a university assignment.

The correlation between age and women’s fertility and the wider impact for society features regularly as a topic in the mediasphere. This essay aims to analyse two reactionary media texts following an interview with Kirstie Allsopp, UK celebrity and television presenter in the personal finance section of The Telegraph (Gordon, 2014). The interview incited a backlash towards Kirstie Allsopp across the media sphere, particularly on twitter, and resulted in numerous opinion pieces across a number of media channels and started a discussion in the public sphere, notably Ms Allsopp was invited on Newsnight (BBC, 2014) to defend her stance.

(BBC Newsnight ep6, 2014)

This essay analyses two reactionary texts, opinion pieces in two UK national newspapers, in regards to the following concepts; audience positioning, postmodernity, celebrity culture, convergence,  ideological hegemony and pluralism, and looks at the implications of these concepts in the public sphere (Bainbridge, Goc & Tynan, 2011). Both texts were published online in the lifestyle sections of their respective websites, both articles were featured prominently on their homepages on the day following the Newsnight segment and invited comments from their readers (The Guardian, 2014; The Telegraph, 2014) .

Text 1: Kirstie Allsopp’s right. Don’t miss the baby boat (Pearson, 2014)

(Pearson, 2014)

(Pearson, 2014)

Whilst the content of the article reflects the author’s personal experience of juggling a career with children, the choice of headline and image anchor the text and set the tone for the rest of the article, aligning themselves with Ms Allsopp’s opinion. The audience would expect this stand point, as the addresser published the original interview, however the choice of image and words for the headline are examples of audience positioning and hegemony. The image itself positions Ms Allsopp as a privileged middle aged woman, not unlike the majority of the readers to the Woman section of the website (The Telegraph, 2014b). The addresser uses this image to draw parallels and to start building an affinity with the addressee. The signifiers of Ms Allsopp smiling, looking relaxed and content in her kitchen, decode as qualities of a woman happy with her life choices and opinions. The choice of location for the picture is also interesting given the subject matter and denotes the ‘happy in the home’ tone of this closed text.

Many of the critics towards Ms Allsopp’s comments claimed she was “smug” and “privileged” (Twitter, 2014), the connotations of this image could be seen to reinforce these claims. However, anchoring the image is the headline which uses a directive and inflammatory tone, in keeping with the emotional tone of the subject matter. The addresser uses the headline to state the unexpected: “Kirstie Allsopp is right” (Pearson, 2014) combining this with the image of a happy middle aged, successful woman, the addresser is suggesting this postmodern standpoint is worthy of further discussion. The author, herself, a middle-aged successful woman with two children, aims to draw an affinity with her readers, also middle-aged successful women by inviting them to agree with her stance.

The Telegraph present a hegemonic stance by supporting the views of their interviewee, a sound representation of the Telegraph’s demographic, whilst also inviting their readers to adapt a postmodern view on women’s fertility. They do this without alienating their reader and use the author’s viewpoint to draw affinity to the discussion. Research has shown that self-referencing increases readership (Li & Fabrot, 2013) and it appears by reading through the comments that the majority of readers react favourably to the article.

Text 2: Ignore ‘patronising’ Kirstie Allsopp’s advice, teachers tell girls (Ellis-Pearson & Tran, 2014)

(Ellis-Pearson & Tran, 2014)

(Ellis-Pearson & Tran, 2014)

In contrast to text 1, this polysemic text does not use self-referencing in the copy, yet uses the same commanding tone to set out the text’s agenda and distances the addresser from the topic slightly by quoting a third party, in this case teachers. The choice of image to accompany the article of a scowling Ms Allsopp denotes the negative approach the text takes to her opinion. The signifieds in this image are defiance, disagreement and anger, regardless of the comparatively neutral content which follows, the headline and the image present the audience with this article’s stance. The scowl could be interpreted as a metonymy, representing the anger and emotion this topic has stirred in the public sphere. The copy content of the article relays quotes from stakeholders such as a teacher and a women’s group leader. A structured absence in this text, is the opinion of the author, instead using the intertexts of the issue to form the story and inviting the addresser to form their opinion through interpellation.

As with text 1, the reader’s comments follow the tone of the article, with the majority dismissive of Ms Allsopp’s comments and question their validity through further debate of the timing of higher education, women’s fertility, career opportunities – ironically the type of debate Ms Allsopp intended to instigate through her comments. By presenting a negative text, the addressers have taken a more pluralist approach to the topic by presenting facts and allowing opinions to be debated and formed.

The postmodern celebrity?

Kirstie Allsopp, is the perfect ordinary celebrity for The Telegraph, successful in her own right yet born into aristocracy, she represents strong conservative family values (Pearson, 2014; Bainbridge, et al., 2011). Her successful career presenting property shows and producing craft and home wares has created a persona of a 1950’s house wife (Allsopp, 2014).  Yet her outspoken views on women’s fertility may have contradicted the public’s perception of her intertextual construction (Bainbridge, et al., 2011). Or maybe her views, taken out of context as both the selected texts did, fitted her celebrity text too well and the public rejected her on that basis. Celebrities, no matter how ordinary, cannot hope to understand the complexities of a modern woman, especially one who portrays themselves as a 1950’s housewife, can they? The original interview portrays her as a postmodern feminist, in a long-term committed relationship but unmarried, career driven, successful and emotionally reflective following the death of the mother earlier in the year. The content alludes to Ms Allsopps desire to find a better of way of grieving as well as reviewing the order in which women approach adulthood, looking to different cultures and systems for an solution to postmodernity. Ms Allsopp was later quoted on Twitter as saying:

“I am very, very lucky I am given a public voice by my work and failure to discuss issues which impact women’s lives would be cowardice.”

By acknowledging her status as a celebrity, she uses her reach and influence in the mediasphere to instigate a conversation on a topic she feels has been mute, in order to find a better way for future generations.

Context and Convergence

Both texts originate from well-respected newspapers with different political stances. The Telegraph, is often nicknamed the “Torygraph”, is commonly viewed as more conservative with links the political right but does not conform to the media hegemony seen amongst Murdoch’s media (Curtis, 2006). In recent years, it has followed The Guardian with a more pluralistic approach to journalism, with podcasts, comments, and blogs with a view to surviving in a digital economy whilst maintaining its stronghold with the British middle classes. This may go some way to explain the more conservative approach to the reaction to Ms Allsopp’s comments by using a self-reflective case study. This structured approach provides comfortable room for pluralistic comment while conveying ideological hegemony to appease the middle classes.

Of course the original interview was arranged by Ms Allsopp’s PR team to promote her upcoming craft event (Gordon, 2014) and could have been buried in the personal finance pages had this inflammatory comment not been highlighted and misquoted throughout social media. A cynical observer may believe this tenuous financial advice to young women was sensational enough to ensure Ms Allsopp’s media presence was extended 48 hours longer than if it had been omitted and also achieved a global audience. The mediasphere thrives on pluralistic content that engages an audience and spreads through social media spawning intertexts such as the Newsnight interview and the selected opinion pieces.

Thanks to the globalisation of television networks and program licensing, Kirstie Allsopp’s celebrity status is not confined to the UK. Her property programs are exported across the world and so to does her brand recognition. The fertility window is also not just an emotive topic in the UK but affects millions of women across the western world, facing similar issues of trying to establish careers and families in their early, mid and late thirties. The globalisation of social issues as well the convergence of the media industry ensured this story was not only on the homepage of UK news sites, but also syndicated out to news sites across the world interested in engaging a pluralistic viewpoint. In Australia, the article appeared in The Guardian Australia and Mamamia (Lever, 2014) as well as engaging social media followers from around the world (Twitter, 2014).

Source: iStock images

Source: iStock images

Economic pressures on the media industry will continue to force convergence which has been seen recently with News Limited and Fairfax Media consolidating content across mastheads in Australia. Whilst some may argue this will increase ideological hegemony through these titles, digital publishing has enabled international media institutions to be accessible to all, providing a pluralistic view. The high engagement of social media encourages the mediasphere to work intertextually and outlets will continue to find creative ways in which to engage their audience. This may be through celebrity endorsement or multiple formats such as online, radio, video etc or it may be through sensationalism. Either way, the mediasphere remains an important lynchpin of society. The forth estate has merely evolved to incorporate more channels and interpellation.


Allsopp, K., 2014. Kirstie Allsopp. [Online]
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[Accessed 5 June 2014].

Bainbridge, J., Goc, N. & Tynan, L., 2011. Media and journalism: new approaches to theory and practice. 2nd ed. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

BBC Newsnight, 2014. Youtube. [Online]
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[Accessed 4 June 2014].

Curtis, B., 2006. Strange Days at the Daily Telegraph. [Online]
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[Accessed 5 June 2014].

Ellis-Pearson, H. & Tran, M., 2014. The Guardian. [Online]
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[Accessed 5 June 2014].

Gordon, B., 2014. The Telegraph. [Online]
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Lever, K., 2014. Mamamia. [Online]
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[Accessed 5 June 2014].

Li, L. & Fabrot, A., 2013. What makes you click? The effect of question headlines on readership in computer-mediated communication. Social Influence, pp. 1-11.

McDonald, J. W., Rosina, A., Rizzi, E. & Columbo, B., 2011. Age and fertility: can women wait until their early thirties to try for a first birth?. Journal of Biosocial Science, 43(6), pp. 685-700.

Pearson, A., 2014. The Telegraph. [Online]
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[Accessed 2014 June 5].

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[Accessed 1 June 2014].

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Twitter, 2014. Twitter. [Online]
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Someone’s Grandma

This past week I’ve been living in Thailand. A life of somewhat ridiculous luxury that on numerous occasions I’ve been so racked with guilt I’ve overpaid for the privilege. I know that’s not really the idea of Thailand, you’re never to accept the first price, barter like a demon until you come away with an absolute bargain. But that’s where I fall down. Even their inflated first price is
about 10% of the cost of the equivalent in the UK or Australia. So it’s already an absolute bargain and so I pay it. It’s just the rules of fair distribution of wealth. I have it, they don’t. I’m in a position to give and help their economy so why the hell should I barter over 50bhat when that equates to $1.50.

There’s nothing like a week in South East Asia to gain a bit of perspective. Über stressed from my self imposed first world life of constant distraction, I slept for 20 of the first 24 hours of my holiday. And promptly went into a tail spin, chastising myself over wasted relaxation time. Oh the irony. That went on for about another 2 hours while, once gaining access to the all important wifi, I trip advisor-ed and meticulously planned the next 7 days.

Then I went to the beach, read a book, dipped in the pristine warm waters, hid in the ‘shadows’ (what the coconut selling man called the shade & I’ve since adopted it) came back started book #2 and completely forgot about ‘the plan’. Nothing like getting absorbed into a book to force a relaxed state.

This created more guilt as my day became eat/read/swim/sleep repeat. I’ve never been to Phuket so surely I should at least see something of it. Right after I book myself in for this 3.5 hour spa extravaganza. Because such things are only ever justifiable in SE Asia. For the bargain price of $150. But that’s where the problems started. Introduced to my masseur, a gorgeous lady of indeterminable age, she led me through to the herbal steam room where she gave me some disposable pants and left me to it with a pot of jasmine tea. Bliss. If only I had my book….I’m really not very good at doing nothing. After about 10 minutes of examining every crevice of the steam room to work out how it all worked, where the herbs went etc I gave up and climbed into the coconut milk bath (I know ridiculous!!) drank my tea and started to meditate and I think I might if dozed off.

Thankfully I was saved from drowning a rather embarrassing death by my masseur (can you image the headlines ‘death by coconuts in cleopatra copycat!’) who escorted me to a shower room. It wasn’t enough that I’d probably wasted enough water/milk stuff to feed a Thai family for a year, it became apparent I was to be washed.

Under the guise of an exfoliating scrum, this gorgeous lady meticulously slathered all manner of potions and concoctions over my amble body. She was half the size of me and I’m fairly sure SOMEONE’S GRANDMA. After that I couldn’t relax and enjoy the experience as I made up her entire family in my head, named them, gave them personalities and invented conversations they’d have over dinner when grandma finally returned from washing fat, rich, western women and retold hilarious anecdotes. It was all I could do to eliviate my guilt through self deprecation. I’d paid the equivalent of probably a weeks wage for Someone’s Grandma to give me a good scrub.

Don’t worry though, she got her own back with the Thai massage, bending and stretching my limbs into positions I suspect circus entertainers are tested on as part of their interview process. It was a harsh reminder I need to start up regular Pilates again. Man she was strong for such a small person. I took heed in that it would provide more hilarious anecdotes over at Someones Grandma’s place tonight.

The contortion was followed by a facial which was so long and relaxing I may well have dosed off again. Well the massage was kinda hard work! So many different oils, lotions, herbal steams; course after course was applied to my face. I swear I won’t need to use moisturiser til 2018. I played a guessing game to pass the time. Guess the ingredient in this lotion. My guilt had by this stage just morphed into embarrassment at how long this pamper session was going on for. In case you were wondering I guessed coconut (of course) aloe Vera, cucumber, rose, more coconut, then some sort of frozen fruity thing (which actually made me yelp but I’m sure it had tightening/anti ageing qualities so I shouldn’t complain) then more rose type stuff and I think that’s where I drifted off.

3.5 hours later and many profuse Kap Kum Kas, I was offered the most amazing ginger tea I’ve ever tasted. I practically downed it though as Someone’s Grandma and her beautiful delicate receptionist sat in silence, watching me and smiling. It was so awkward so I downed the tea and tipped them 100bhat each. I tipped them to say sorry. Out of silly catholic guilt. I’m sorry I interrupted your day to pay you to wash and stroke me. Here have some more money as I try to buy your affection.

The smile and hug I got from Someone’s Grandma was worth it. I hoped I’d be recalled as a generous silly, inflexible, fat rich westerner in her anecdotes. Ma Northern would have say I had more money than sense but I don’t see 100bhat tip as excessive. It’s $3.30 after all.

Curing Cancer With A Numb Bum

Or at least that’s the idea.

The idea is to cycle 200km from Melbourne, down the mornington peninsula and back again. Current estimation is that going to mean about 10 hours in the saddle, hence the numb bum thing.

But before I can set off I need to earn my place by raising $2,500 in research funds for Peter Mac. Long time readers may remember my personal cancer experience and those who’ve known me longer know the fight is a bit of a longstanding vendetta. Too many people I know and have cared about have had their worlds turned upside down by some abnormal cells.

So in order to help me reach my fundraising target, I’ve set up an online auction with some generously donated prizes. I’m afraid it’s quite Melbourne centric but there’s also an option to donate – even if it’s just what you’d spend on your morning coffee – every $ counts.

Melburnians, get bidding, there’s some yummy meals at some the best foodie restaurants up for grabs.

Please share with friends and through your social networks…and don’t worry about being gazumpted by your bestie, there’s plenty more prizes to come.

Thank you :) x

A gent to the end

Another one bites the dust.

The gut instinct is always right. Mr VP just wasn’t that into me and so he called it off before feelings developed (or didn’t develop in his case) further.

Dear men of the world, there’s a lesson to be learnt here. He picked up the phone, rang me, apologised as he felt his feelings for me weren’t developing in the same way as mine were for him. He knew what is was like to be on the other side as knew it wasn’t fair to string me along anymore. He apologised a lot, once was enough, he can’t help how he feels but I thanked him for being honest and having the balls to tell me.

He was sorry if he’d hurt me and thought I was great fun and I wanted to remain friends, he’d happily spend time with me. Meh, I have enough friends in my life.

And so ended the brief interlude that was Mr VP.

Yes it stung. More because yet again, I’d ignored my gut instinct and yet again tried to force that square peg into the round hole. Why do I keep doing that?

It hurt more because yet again, I’m the friend and never the girlfriend.

I cried because I’m scared their might not ever be a round peg for me. I look at my friends and envy their happy codependent relationships. I wonder if I’ll ever enjoy a man loving me unconditionally, in the centre of his world in the way sis and bro in law live, with the adorable niece.

I’m frustrated because my career, life in Melbourne, friendships, and family should be enough. But it’s not.

One little slip up in a tiny corner of my otherwise enviable life and it feels like I’m starting from scratch again. That pisses me off. That’s what makes me cry. I’m disappointed in myself and I hate seeing the disappointment and pity on friends’ faces. I know all they want is for me to be happy and I hate letting them down.

Scream if you wanna go faster

I’ve never liked roller coasters. I can never enjoy going up because I know there’ll be a stomach hurtling descent only seconds away.

I want it get off as soon as I feel the mal-fitting harness click into place. It never feels safe. I hate not been in control yet compelled to pretend I’m having a ball, while all the time wondering if this is it. Is this the last fall to rule them all.

I haven’t seem him for over a week. Since I jumped on his roller coaster (well that’s one I’ve never called it before!) I hate the waiting, the not being in control, the pretending to be all cruisey. I’ve not heard from him since yesterday, which now I type it out sounds melodramatic but it’s me pushing this roller coaster along.

I’m not sure we’ll even reach the top.