‘Do you think she knows you’re gonna dump her?’
‘She should know by now. I’ve dumped her the last four times I’ve seen her.’
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
‘And so my sister said ‘no’ . . . And I just said ‘yes’!’
‘Jane . . . It’s over between us.’
‘I don’t accept it.’
‘No, no, no. You can’t not accept it. I’m breaking up with you.’
‘Well, don’t I get a say in it?’
‘Of course you don’t!’
‘Well, if I don’t get a say in it then I don’t accept it! Anyway, my sister just looked at me and said ‘no, no, no!”
Just in case you think I’ve broken into script-writing, I really haven’t. This isn’t my own literary creation – this is courtesy of Coupling, an under-valued (in my opinion) sitcom from around a decade ago. The first series opened with Steve attempting, for the umpteenth time, to sever all ties with the stunning yet eccentric Jane. Swap genders and this was me and the Rastafarian. Only ‘eccentric’ is too generous an adjective for him. This scene was played out time, time and time again. Jeff (Steve’s friend) has a coarse expression for partners who won’t be shown the door, which I can’t write here but if you watch the first episode, you’ll find out.
I still have conversations on my phone to refer to in the unlikely event of needing reminding why I ended our turbulent relationship. He had no control over his temper and it was difficult to argue with him face-to-face, because he had only one tactic, which was to shout continually over everything (apart from when The Current paid us a visit and it would seem that that was her tactic also, so he stood in silence). It was easy to argue with him via What’sApp because the more passionate he became about his cause, which was to carry out a full character assassination of me and therefore the less fluent his English became with more and more expletives with every message, the more lucid and pragmatic I became. It is fascinating to note how many times he accused me of trying to make him seem stupid. I didn’t need to try; he did it all on his own, within the confines of arguments. He was not a stupid man, to be fair, but his worry over appearing so was borne out in every row and his inability to argue properly made him an easy conquest. If anyone remembers Otto from A Fish Called Wanda, whose catchphrase became ‘don’t call me stupid,’ this was the Rastafarian.
Christmas arrived as expected, three days after our move. Not ideal, but as is usually the way with moves, one does not have as much control as one would like over the ultimate decision on the moving date. The person at the end of the chain had died, which, obviously, was not expected, least of all by the person themselves. Inconvenient for us, to have the move put back by a couple of weeks, but a horrible pre-Christmas tragedy for the family at the end of the line.
Christmas went and the three of us felt somewhat underwhelmed. I think it’s fair to say that we’d placed much hope and expectation on the festive season and it had not delivered. The previous Christmas, we were still dazed from (soon-to-be-ex) hubby’s/stepdad’s shocking departure but we were all agreed that that was a better Christmas. Now, a year had passed since that grey period and it had not been an easy year for any of us. The unexpected visit of (soon-to-be-ex) hubby on Christmas Eve possibly had had some impact but for whatever reason, we weren’t sorry when normality resumed.
I went back to work, the children went back to uni and the new house seemed huge without them. Their dedication to gaining a semblance of order in the house had been remarkable. Joseph spirited copious amounts of stuff into the loft and even on the first night there, I nipped out to the local chippy for dinner and on my return, Rhiannon had cleared a whole room full of boxes and moved furniture into all the right places.
On my own once again, I had too much time to think about recent events with the Rastafarian. The relationship had had to end. It was still difficult to recover from it, though. My mind had started to allow pleasant memories more air time than I wanted, like the time he followed me to Cheshire. I’d gone to visit Joseph for a few days and he asked if he could accompany me. I said ‘no’ but on my penultimate day there he’d rung and begged to be allowed to come up just for the last day, because he missed me. I ran it past Joseph who was fine about it and so he took the extremely long train journey up there. He arrived late and we went out for a drink. He wanted to find an Open Mic somewhere but I said there wasn’t one. He’d said that there was, he’d checked and I could drive there. I stood my ground and said no. So he settled for a drink in a pub and around midnight I wanted to go back to the hotel. He didn’t. We argued and eventually, we returned to the hotel and I asked for another key-card from reception and he swaggered out of the hotel, just beginning his night out while I settled down for the night. He’d had sufficient money to see him through a night of drinking, yet the following day, I paid for every morsel of food he ate. Strange how that memory began life as a pleasant one and ended as a typical Rastafarian one. And up until he’d rung me, I’d lost all contact with him for a couple of days. He had some strange story of being robbed, which didn’t make sense. He had a few strange stories which didn’t make sense. Like when I ‘lent’ him £50 and he tucked it inside his bible and his lodger stole it. He’d needed it for a court appearance, so the loss was disastrous. I didn’t understand why it was in cash form anyway, as I’d transferred it straight to his account. I was unyielding for days, refusing to replace it, as it was clear that he’d drunk and smoked the £50 away, but eventually I yielded, when I could bear his ingratiating behaviour no more.
There was the high security Rwandan reunion he took me to, where I lost him. I knew no-one there, apart from a fellow Rastafarian who had been pleasant to me when first introduced, but was strangely unpleasant to me when I asked him if he’d seen the Rastafarian and a lovely lady who’d introduced herself as a friend of his, who found me wandering alone and looking upset. She knew the Rastafarian like I knew him, which meant she knew his faults and her support towards me that day was like manna in the desert. Interestingly, he’d decided that day that he didn’t like her, as she commented on his drinking habits. I’d had to deal with security who tut-tutted at me for secreting around 20 mini bottles of free chilli sauce in my bag. It was my boyfriend who put them there, I half-sobbed, as they spilled out of my bag onto the shiny floor. I’d left the reunion to search for him, but re-entered when my search produced no Rastafarian and because the security was like airport security, I couldn’t take all that liquid back in. And the Rastafarian’s ire that day was as hot as the chilli sauce in the only bottle that had escaped the probing hands of security, when he realised that his unethical efforts in taking the bottles of sauce had been for nothing.
Did he love me? Maybe, to continue the cat metaphor, he had cupboard love for me. Is that love? My cat displays overt affection towards me when she is hungry. However, she shows affection at other times too, just not as much. I would suffer sloppy YouTube videos professing love for me, but this was more prevalent when a favour was needed.
The cynics say that he was using me only. I don’t know, to be honest. The thought that he didn’t love me throughout our relationship is a tough thought. I feel that he did, but I guess I’ll never be sure. I will learn to live with that uncertainty.