Tag Archives: Inverness

I (Broken) Heart London

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Hello, dear reader.  How’s it going?  Anyone taken the plunge and turned their central heating on yet?

Last week my friend Abi and I went for a catch up, which is always a lovely thing to do, because Abi is marvellous.  She and I met on an appalling theatre tour in 2013, and ever since then we’ve been a very good team in a crisis. This was especially important last week because we’d both been through a pretty rough time.  Lowlights included moving house under sad circumstances (Abi), trapping thumbs in train doors (me), and getting our hearts trodden on (both of us).  Don’t worry, I won’t go into details.  Unless you want to know about the thumb-trapping thing, which is so embarrassing that it’s automatically funny.

Anyway, our conversation moved from the specifics of our own failed romances to the general way that dating in London seems to go these days: matching, chatting, meeting, dating and then…nothing.  Technology has made it frighteningly easy for people to disappear just as soon as you think things are going somewhere. Not an encouraging prospect.  Setting aside the fact that love is being left mostly to apps nowadays, the whole new relationship thing does seem to have lost a bit of its charm.

“Where are the flowers?”  Abi demanded.  “Flowers used to be a thing, right?  But when did any of us last get flowers?”
“Er…I got some the other day.”
“What?! From who?”
“Well…my sister.  And she was trying to cheer me up about getting dumped, so…” “Doesn’t count really, does it?”
“Nope.”

Generations gone by had rules and systems: courting, proposals, betrothedness. (“Is that a word?” “Too late, she’s said it now.” “Shall we…?” “No, best let her carry on. You’ll only confuse her if you interrupt.”) Our parents and grandparents knew what they were doing, because love in times gone by was a practised dance: everyone knew the rules and which move came next in the sequence. Love in times present is more like a Harlem Shake video, where there are no rules and no discernible moves at all.

Part of the problem, Abi and I decided, is the euphemistic nature of relationships: “dating”, “seeing each other”, “taking things slowly”, etc. I’m all for people discarding labels that don’t work for them, but there is no allowance for progress. No one wants to admit that, eventually, they’d really like a nice partnership with another human being.

Abi told me about a friend of hers who is originally from Germany, and how the non-committal dating scene of London horrifies her. In Germany, this friend says, people go on five dates, kiss, and then they are in a relationship. No tricks, no games, no messing around. Those are the rules. I admit that these rules might not work for everyone, but I like the idea of a structure, of development. Couples who are working towards something as a pair of people who are interested in each other, rather than two individuals who are competing to see who can be less emotionally invested.

I have a group of friends who live in the Highlands, and they are all in happily married couples.  I’m not suggesting that they don’t have problems, or that their relationships have all been super easy, but they have all invested time and energy into making their relationships work.  During my last visit my friend Robyn joked that the only reason for that is, in that part of Scotland, there is nothing else to do.  She was being silly to make me feel better about being single, which I love her for, but I wonder whether there might actually be something in what she said.  Are the men and women of London so distracted by their jobs, pop-up bars, house-warming parties, Oyster cards and Buzzfeed articles that we can’t focus on each other for more than five minutes?  Is there any way to find a half-way point between being busy and being in love?

“Like, half-way between London and Inverness?” Abi asked when I brought this up.

“Yeah,” I said, and then realised something.  “Actually no, because that means we have to move to Blackpool.”

Have an amazing day, gorgeous reader.  Abi and I are both fine, by the way.  We’re certainly not moving to Blackpool just yet.

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Dear Scotland

The River Ness. If I were that way inclined, I would say
The River Ness. If I were that way inclined, I would say “#nofilter”, but that makes me feel a bit sick

Dear Scotland,

I love you.  You know that, don’t you?  I always have.  Ever since we first met, on a windswept and sulk-filled family holiday in 1999, you have amazed me.

I learned to ride my bike that year, do you remember?  My parents dragged the family up to a self-catered cottage for the Autumn half-term holiday.  It was a ramshackle building in the middle of a country estate, and an outlandish decision that baffled all of us at the time.  It was cold and miserable and the sheep had worryingly intelligent eyes, and I remember all of us desperately trying to find stuff to do.  I was ten years old, and I’d never learned to ride a bike.  You gave me the opportunity.

My hands kept going numb – either because I was cold, or because I thought that having a vice-like grip on the handlebars would help – and I was scared.  Every time I fell off, crashed into a tree or scraped my hands on the stones, I got back up and looked down the track.  I thought that stretch of road would go on forever.  There was always more space for me to practise.  I could learn; I could get better.  And I did.

You bring out that side of me, you see.  The hard-working, screw-you-adversity, I-am-the-master-of-my-fate side.  Remember the first time I did the Edinburgh Fringe?  Wowee.  What a hectic month that was.  You gave me an enormous challenge and I rose to it, because I knew you were worth the effort.  Every year since then, the Fringe has been a welcome whirlwind, and every year I take away something new.  Hey – remember last year when I fell in love with climbing after going up Arthur’s Seat?  Bizarre, wasn’t it?  But that’s why we work so well: you can always surprise me.

Besides, you always seem to know what’s best for me.  For example, the complete lack of phone signal makes me appreciate my surroundings, which is great when I’m visiting my friends in Inverness.  Instead of worrying about emails and bills and responsibilities in London, I get to relax and spend time with some of my favourite people on the planet.  This weekend was great, by the way.  Thanks for being so sunny and gorgeous.

I wish that we could spend more time together, but despite how much fun we always have, I’ve got to stick with London.  At least for now.  But thank you for always being there for me.  Thank you for being such a great home for my little brother and sister.  Thank you for being unapologetic, full of bizarre people, chilly, beautiful and – unlike everywhere within spitting distance of London – reasonably priced.

Love,

Vicki