I promise me.

I promise that I’ll never lie to you
I promise I won’t break your heart
I promise to help you move forward
so that you finish whatever you start
I promise to always believe in you
In turn, make you believe you can’t fail
I promise to pick up the pieces
when all of your plans get off railed
I promise to always defend you
even though we both know that sometimes you’re wrong
I promise that I’ll keep you focussed
when the road feels so hard and so long
I promise to tell you I love you
to make sure that you always feel special
I promise I won’t let you give up
Because I believe you have so much potential
I promise to never make promises
that I know that I cannot keep
And that means you know you can trust me
with the secrets you bury so deep
I promise that I’ll always be there
even when you think you’re completely alone
I promise I’ll listen to all of the fears
you thought you had all on your own
I promise to take you to places
to make sure that you always feel free
And this time you can trust every promise
They are promises I made with me.

Things my dog has taught me.

How to pick up poo.
How to carry bags of toys that he will never chew.
Because he is too busy chewing the chair that I am sitting on.
How to play.
How to walk.
How to keep walking beside him when he wants to lay down.
And give up.
How to pick up poo.
How to tell when he needs me.
How to admit that he needs me.
How to see when he is thirsty or tired or hungry or cold.
Or scared.
How to know when he is scared.
How to make him feel safe.
How to make myself feel safe.
How to speak without saying.
Anything at all.
How to speak to all the people who want to speak to him and not to me.
How to let myself think that maybe or possibly they do.
How to think of someone else every minute of every day.
How to see what is important.
Is what is important.
How to give a shit what someone else thinks of me.
And have that someone else matter.
How to want to be better and live better and love better because I owe it to him.
And to me.
How to recognise that I owe it to me.
How to feel loved.
How to pick up poo.

Ben.

Enough.

I am not going to say it again
I said it twice before
I wish I had said it more times
I wish I never had to say it
I wish it was the first
and last
thing I had said
I thought it more than I said it
I said it to everyone but you
I said it and I lied
I said it and I did not
I realised
you cannot just say it
words do not work that way
just saying them
is just words
and you might as well
say potato.

 

The other half of me.


I wrote this for my twin sister on our birthday.

Half of a square has three angles
Half of a Bill is a Ben
Half of forever is always
Half of twenty makes ten
Half of a why is just why not
Half of ‘let’s do it’ is ‘now’
Half of a question that answers itself
Half of ‘I can’t’ turns to ‘how?’
Half of I miss you is you’re here
Half of I’m never alone
Half of I think of you always
Half of away I’m still home
Half all I learned was about you
Half of my love began here
Half of all that I’m scared of
Half of there’s nothing to fear
Half of a mountain that we climb
Half of the faith I can’t fail
Half of all I believe in
Half of the wind in my sail
Half of the knowledge that I will
Half of what pushes me on
Half of the things that inspire me
Half of all that keeps me strong
Half of my memories forever
Half of the beat in my soul
Half of just thank you for being the
Half of me that makes me whole.

walking away.

when you walk
the thoughts
in your head
fall down your body
and into your feet
(that’s science).
First,
they go into your shoulders
then deep in your chest
they’ll seek out your heart
but quickly move on
straight to your stomach
and in to your legs
they’ll try make you fall
(they can’t. they’re just thoughts).
Your thighs.
Your knees.
Your calves.
The tips of your toes
And under your soles.
Then,
before you know it,
they are gone.
Walked all over
and left behind.

Sorry.

Sorry that you had to read this
Sorry for wasting your time
Sorry for making you look here
The fault is entirely mine.
Sorry you don’t understand it
Sorry it’s gone over your head
Sorry I could have been clearer
Or maybe kept quiet instead.
Sorry for when I said nothing
Sorry for when I was loud
Sorry for not being good enough
Sorry for not making you proud.
Sorry that I wasn’t perfect
I can only tell you I tried
Sorry for saying I was happy
It’s quite obvious now that I lied.
Sorry for not being sorry
For the things that I didn’t do
Sorry that I have forgiven myself
Sorry that’s harder for you.

There was no view when I climbed Great Gable. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t still look like this.

Eira Froyd.

Today I met Eira Froyd.  

Froyd, not Freud. But only because her husband (Gerald)’s father’s cousin was Sigmund Freud and Gerald’s father didn’t like that, and so he changed his name. But it could have been Freud, and Eira insists that, really, it still is.

The two hours I spent with Eira Froyd were two of the most special I have spent in a long time. And it is hard not to think of them as hours that were given to me as some sort of gift, which means I need to either do something with them, or reciprocate, with a gift of my own.

To begin with I am going to try and write them down, as they were. They were a lot about Eira, a little about Gerald and, the more I think about them, they were about me.

Eira and I ended up sitting opposite each other on a table seat from Euston to Manchester. I was booked on the seat next to her but we decided, at the same time, to take up both sides of the table and hope that nobody else sat down with us. “Put a big bag on the seat”, said Eira. She was half joking.

Anyway, nobody came and sat with Eira and I.

She told me about her family, her sons and daughters and their wives and husbands and their children: “all so bossy, I just do as I am told” “I can’t believe that, Eira.” “ No, I do, I don’t like to cause trouble”. And then I believed her and it made me feel sad.

Eira is welsh for snow.

When she was born, on 11 December (she didn’t tell me the year) it was snowing so badly her father kept saying “this snow, bloody snow”. So, that was Eira. This ‘bloody snow’. One day, many years later, she met a man who told her she was ‘the most beautiful of all the girls’, and he called her Snowdrop.

Eira trained as a nurse and moved to Kenya. She moved to be with her husband, a soldier from the war. They met at one of the nurse’s dances in Wales when he was back from fighting in Africa. He was the most handsome man at the dance, all the girls had loved him, and so had she.

They moved back to Kenya together, and she worked in a kindergarten. They lived in a beautiful house. As well as being handsome, he was a superbly clever man, a veterinary surgeon. She didn’t tell me his name. She did tell me that, when she found out he was dying, she phoned him. He lived in Australia by then, with his new wife. And when she called, he told her he had always loved her. She didn’t tell him that she knew what love was now. She didn’t tell him because he was dying. But I expect he understood.

So, he had left her. He had left her many times over, I think. But Eira doesn’t like to cause trouble and so it was only when he really left her that he left. He left with his girlfriend, who left her family behind too, to fly to the other side of the world with Eira’s handsome soldier.

Without Australia, there would not have been Gerald.

“Gerald was a wonderful man”. Eira showed me his black and white photo and I could see that he was a wonderful man. He looked clever and kind and all the things she said he was. “Not one for small talk, but a great listener”, which sounded perfect to me, because Eira loved small talk. Small talk about coffee shops, and lipstick colours and the best moisturisers for dry skin and how moving from Wilmslow to Didsbury wasn’t easy, it was traumatic and she doesn’t know why, because Didsbury is lovely, aside from being a pain to park in and just not Wilmslow, where she had lived for so long before.

Small big talk.

Gerald was German. His parents were wealthy Berliners when the War broke out and they fled the country, as so many Jews were forced to. They ended up in Nairobi, living in a mud hut. Gerald was twelve and had left with just his teddy bear under his arm. She told me the story of how they left and why and then she sat in silence and looked at me and I looked at her and we just let it all settle there between us for a minute.

We talked a lot about Gerald. “One day you will meet a man like him”, Eira told me, “keep your heart open”. I will be lucky.

The problem with Eira, according to Eira, is that she feels too much. “I worry too much what other people think’, she said. And I knew exactly what she meant. Sometimes feeling double of everything in this world is just too much for anyone.

I tried to tell Eira about my life too, she wanted to know about my family and what I did and why I lived where I lived and did I know that, if I was to ever marry, I was to make sure my name was on the deeds of the house. I told her I knew.

I told her it didn’t matter if people saw her using her walking support. That she should use it outside of the corridor in her apartment block, that it wasn’t a weakness, that it showed her taking control of the pain she felt in her back. That, with it, she would walk taller, and that was more important. And her eyes lit up and I think we understood each other then, too.

Eira told me that she loved good people. That I was a good person, and she pushed her dusky pink (to match her scarf and nails) notebook toward me to write down my telephone number. “When you come to visit me I will prove to you I am related to Sigmund Freud”, and I couldn’t resist that, so I wrote down my number and promised to see her again.

“I won’t let you go”, she said, as the train pulled into her stop and she reached over the table to grab my hand. And I didn’t disagree, I don’t like to cause trouble.

 

Don’t look back.

There are things that I wish I had told you,
I couldn’t be arsed at the time.
You didn’t deserve to know them.
You had taken enough.
They were mine.
But maybe I couldn’t admit then,
These things were such hell in my head.
And if I had said
just one thing out loud,
That made it true.
And I’d rather be dead.
There are things that you should have told me,
Why you didn’t I guess I’ll never know.
Maybe because you’re a coward.
Or you preferred to keep up with
The Show.
So, now here are things I will tell you,
And Pay Attention
Because here come The Facts
Not really something you’re used to,
So I don’t expect you to react.
1. Life is better without you
2. You wasted my time with your shit
3. I don’t think that you ever loved me
4. That still hurts, just the tiniest bit
5. I don’t know why I couldn’t be me then
6. I’m not sure if I ever knew you
7. I’ll never let anyone hurt me
8. No second chances, or being untrue
9. From now on I live my life my way
10. I won’t let anyone tell me I’m wrong
11. I’ll believe in myself so much more now
12. I guess I learnt that from you all along
13. Now I’m glad for the bad things that happened
14. They proved that I’m stronger than you
15. I’m excited to make my own future
16. I’m happy
17. I hope you are too.

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Overthinking

When I am sad, I think about you.
And when I am happy, I think about you too.
And when I have nothing else to think about
or I should think about other things
I find myself thinking about you.
Then sometimes,
when I don’t think about you,
and I think about me instead,
I will wonder if I’m still thinking about you.
Then there are some times
when I wish I could think about you
but I can’t think of anything to think about,
so I think about something else.
And that’s almost as good.
Almost.

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Helvellyn. Britain’s best walk.

For my Grandad.

If you ever jumped into the back of a cab
and the driver was charming, with the gift of the gab.
If he was the smartest dressed driver that you’ve ever had,
you jumped in a cab with my Grandad.
His Italian was fluent from his time in the war,
we’d listen to his stories, though we’d heard them before.
From travelling the world, to taking dance bands on tour,
now I just wish I could listen some more.
He’d wrap us up warm to go out in the cold,
and make our friends laugh at the jokes that he told.
Chase our bikes through the park, though he was too old,
he’d buy us ice cream, give a hand we could hold.
I know he’ll be there when I walk down the aisle,
Like he’s always been there since I was a child.
Cigars, whisky, snooker and snoozing a while.

But what I’ll remember most is his smile.