Some months have passed now since I gave the Rastafarian his marching orders. During those months, his efforts to win me back have been relentless. My phone has been subjected to messages, texts and calls reflecting a whole spectrum of approaches. I have dealt with protestations of love, verbal abuse, ridiculous accusations and requests for help. I have ignored the first, politely requested an end to the second, shown derision over the third and flatly refused the last. Then the verbal abuse stopped. And shortly afterwards, the ridiculous accusations. Just like that. It was blissful. Almost enough to start being won over again. But not quite . . . I still had to endure protestations of love mixed in with requests for help and just these two approaches, without the other two for support, frankly did not sit well together. It seemed as if the purpose of the one was to achieve the other (if that makes sense) so I was feeling . . . Played. I found out by chance that Joseph was responsible for the end to the verbal abuse. He simply contacted the Rastafarian and politely told him to stop. Class.
Then another approach popped up . . . Invitations.
“Honey, pop by if you’re passing.”
“Morning hun . . . Fancy a coffee?”
“Hey. How about I cook lunch for us?”
For a time, I inwardly shrugged my shoulders and thought ‘why not?’ So I popped in from time-to-time, chatted over coffee, indulged in his cooking. It wasn’t easy, as he would tell me he loved me, how much he missed me and the visits started to feel painful. I needed to move on, but I was standing still.
Then Rhiannon ran into him in town. She said ‘hello’ and he ignored her. She called his name and instinctively, he swung round to face her.
“It’s me, Rhiannon,” she said, as if he needed reminding.
“I do not know you,” he dismissed her, but now she was rattled.
“Of course you know me!” she laughed and reminded him of the connection, ie me.
“I do not know her!” he lied.
Well, this was a bridge too far. All his mistreatment of me clearly loomed large in her mind by this time and she followed him, pushing for recognition. Presumably, his guilt was responsible for his cruel lies and apparent indifference.
He pushed her away. Physically. Not once, not twice, but several times.
She told me the next day and I stormed his flat.
“How dare you even lay a finger on my daughter!” I accused.
His retorts were wanting. They ranged from persistent denial to pathetic excuses. His sister was there and I was pleased that she bore witness to the account of his shameful actions and his story, which was ever-changing, like a chameleon.
And so, the visits ended, because of my incandescence at his shocking treatment of my child.
But the messages, texts and calls continued. Gradually, accusations seeped in again and so I blocked the main line of his communication to me: WhatsApp. We had one line of communication left open between us: texting. As he rarely texted, contact became sporadic. The peace ensuing from my phone was tangible and sweet. It wasn’t like the times I had blocked (soon-to-be-ex) hubby, after minor skirmishes. Those times were tarnished with anxiety, because although I felt contentment that he couldn’t contact me and so I wasn’t being ignored, I also felt frustration at not knowing whether or not he was trying to contact me. Blocking the Rastafarian was like breathing fresh air again . . . Or even just breathing, after a spell underwater or some such thing. I cared not whether he was attempting contact; it would be brutal anyway (I was quite sure of that). I received the occasional text, with a declaration of love. And there were occasions when I bumped into him in town, as although I was, largely, avoiding times and places when and where our paths may cross, there were times when I wanted to attend a musical event that he may attend.
So, just to clarify, last Saturday was the last time that an almost Shakespearean piece of text bounced happily into my phone, courtesy of the Rastafarian. Inured to such romantic eloquence by now, the usual stance was that of indifference, but this time, I queried his expression of devotion.
‘Surely you’ve moved on?’
‘Never. I have remained faithful to you. I want only you. I love you. I miss you. Don’t hurt me.’
This type of text was difficult to read. It would have been easy to melt into his arms and soak up the romance and affection of which he was so capable of providing. But he had mistreated me and also Rhiannon, which was unforgivable, particularly because he failed to acknowledge his wrongdoing. But it was still painful and onerous.
The following night (the timing is important here) to mark the end of my involvement with the Brighton Festival, I took myself off to watch a band. It was a gratifying evening and afterwards, as it seemed that the promise of summer had bestowed upon us an usually light and balmy evening, I strolled along to The Folky Pub to catch the second half of their Open Mic evening. Being Bank Holiday weekend, there was a carefree and summery aura about town and the seafront chip shops were doing a roaring trade while people gave in to their cravings and treated themselves to portions of chips and fat pieces of cod in greasy batter, served in polystyrene trays. I half-promised myself some chips later on, maybe, if I still felt like some, after the Open Mic.
When I arrived at The Folky Pub, so did a chap who played a brass instrument arrive. We had chatted the previous week and got along and so he called out, as he galloped up the stairs to the Gents’,
“See you in a minute!”
I was driving, so I bought myself a half of Guinness and black, intending to make it last for my time in the pub and wandered down to the musical end of the pub. I saw the Rastafarian, in his favourite spot, but there was a table free in the middle, so I secured it, thinking that Mr Brass could join me and we could chat, while Original Blues strummed his way through well, some original Blues. But the Rastafarian went to some effort to pull a stool out from under a table and called me over, enthusiastically. I wasn’t terribly interested in joining him, as there was a lady next to him and as she seemed alone, I guessed that there was some interest from one party at least, or maybe both. I watched his hands rest on her knees and then he took her hand . . . His hands then rested on my knees and he took my hand. Then he joined our hands together and this was his extremely uncomfortable way of introducing us to each other. It was a horrible habit of his, which always made me cringe. I have no doubt that it was a facet of his personality concerned with power and the need to control relationships. A feisty female actually told him to f*** off once, when he tried the same trick in a big, boring pub on the outskirts of town. The expletive was followed by ‘we can sort ourselves out’ and ‘God, I feel sorry for you, if you’re his girlfriend – he’s such a smarmy w*****’. But anyway, I didn’t catch this lady’s name, in The Folky Pub, but I was treated to a saccharin smile, which certainly masked a very contrasting emotion within, I am sure. Her hand was dry and cold and her handshake limp and diluted. I felt sure that I wasn’t going to have any meaningful conversation with her. But then, I noticed where her hand was. Now, I had acknowledged that the Rastafarian was quite possibly in the process of chatting her up. Or she was in the process of making herself available to him. But when I saw her hand, casually and clearly comfortably, resting on his knee and idly stroking it, it was clear that this relationship was far more advanced than just the chatting up stage, the flirting stage, the ‘I’m available’ stage. I felt nauseous. I did not want the Rastafarian. I had ended our relationship months ago. It had been a painful process, because up until the incident with Rhiannon, despite his inability to treat me well, I still cared for him and was in mourning for the relationship. But then the incident with Rhiannon occurred and I was angry. It was still difficult though, because of the continued bombardment of messages, texts and calls from him, professing undying love, even as recently as yesterday, I thought. Everyday, he was toying with my emotions with every call, text or message. I felt I was witnessing raw emotion, his true feelings and although it was too late, I took some comfort from the fact that this was genuine love. Or so I thought. Seeing her hand, so at home on his knee, took all integrity away from every text, message, phone call or face-to-face soliloquy.
I gathered my belongings and headed off. I ignored Mr Brass who had sat at the table I secured and where I had intended sitting. I swept past Original Blues and his young friend, who was very talented and exceptionally polite and kind. Both turned and looked and smiled and I felt bad, for being self-indulgent. I said ‘hi’ to Young and Talented.
“Hey hey hey! Going already?” queried Original Blues.
I took a deep breath and said with my best teacher voice, so people would hear me without my having to shout:
“I can’t be in the same room as him!”
I felt enraged . . . So duped for all those months . . . So played. I’d been strong and kept my head whilst he showered me with ‘love’ and I’d found it so hard to walk away from someone who seemed to really need me. Yet now, it would seem that none of it was genuine. I wanted to storm through the pub but there was a group of men blocking the way. They moved but they were in high spirits and wanted to engage in banter with me. I duly laughed with them and finally managed to extract myself from their group and stood, outraged, in a corner of the pub. I’d wanted to throw my drink over him but hadn’t. I could go back and throw it over him, I mused. I took a sip and spotted the Rastafarian working his way through the crowd, towards me.
Once he was within a few feet of me, with his arms outstretched towards me, I warned him not to touch me. Or even come near me. But he didn’t listen. The drink, that I’d barely touched, then left the glass and because the force behind this exodus had aimed carefully, it mostly landed squarely on the Rastafarian’s front. The excess splashed onto the unsuspecting wooden floor of The Folky Pub. The general hubbub of noise gradually, but swiftly, ceased until complete hush had descended upon the non-musical end of the pub. I looked at him; he stared back at me, motionless. This would be the last time we would gaze for so long into each other’s eyes. I felt like I was in a spaghetti Western and at any moment we would turn around and walk away, only to spin round and draw our guns on each other. I was disappointed that none of it had landed on his face – his beautiful face which was a fine example of the adage ‘beauty is only skin-deep’ – but being exceptionally tall, I’d had to settle for his torso. I inspected the glass to check for remaining drink and there wasn’t enough for his face. The bar was within easy reach, so I took a step to the side and in contrast with my recent aggression, gently, I placed the now empty, half-pint glass on the bar. Only I was moving. Everyone else was under a spell. One of those spells where everyone freezes apart from one. It was my spell, because I possessed the power to break it, which I did by leaving the pub.
My car was parked on the other side of town and I was wearing shoes with a slight heel. Normally, I would have wished I was parked closer and I remembered my half-promise to myself to buy some chips to aid my walk back to the car. But I didn’t feel hungry anymore. I felt sheer red-mist anger. I’d never thrown drink over anyone. I wasn’t the sort to draw attention to myself in a pub. Certainly, I wasn’t given to performing my private arguments to the general public. I needed the long walk back to the car . . . I needed to walk off my wrath in the night air. I reached Steine Gardens and felt the need to message him. I found an empty bench on the outskirts of the gardens, which was synonymous with my emotions. The rest of Brighton was a beautiful reflection of the maxim, ‘hail fellow well met’ while I felt dark, sinister and possibly shrouded in a black smog of fury. The walk through town had not yet assuaged my ire. Almost immediately, a man joined me, asking permission. I granted him permission but wondered if I would be able to stop my fist from meeting his face if he dared to make a move on me. I believe my irascibility was apparent, as he slid, quietly, to the far end of the bench and let me be. My text was simple. I rarely sent him visibly angry texts, as it empowered me to polarise his angry messages which were usually littered with expletives. I pointed out that he brought shame to everything with which he identified, like his family and his country. But most of all himself . . . Whoever that was, as I was starting to feel like I’d never really known him. What was actually real about him?
I continued to march to my car, feeling frustration that I hadn’t decided sooner that he deserved my drink (albeit to wear) more than I did and therefore carried out the controversial deed in front of his musical friends. In time, however, as slight humiliation set in, I would feel content that I didn’t do that. Once I was safely within the confines of my soon-to-be-scrapped Polo, I allowed myself to cry. And then I rang Original Blues, who was not as much use as I had hoped. He sent me some motivational text messages though and I drove home. Once home, I contacted Rhiannon and a few friends whom I knew wouldn’t mind late-night contact, especially over the Rastafarian and drew shameless comfort from their words. My concern was not over the Rastafarian, but my reputation within The Folky Pub and whether or not they would bar me. Rhiannon’s mirth instantly cheered me and I began to feel less heavy-handed with myself over my actions. Having listened to advice from several quarters, my plan is to return there in a day or two, cap in hand, so to speak, and to apologise profusely. No buts. Sorries that are followed by buts are not really apologies, I feel. And despite the Rastafarian’s poor treatment of me, the bar staff should not have to clear up my mess, no matter how much the Rastafarian deserved it.
Everyone to whom I have spoken over this has rewarded me with a smile, laughter, encouragement, comfort and motivation. I do not condone acts of aggression and I wouldn’t recommend throwing drinks over people in pubs, but given the possibilities of what I could have done, and given that I was probably going to do something eventually, I guess it could have been worse. And apparently Guinness is difficult to remove from clothing. Especially with a little blackcurrant mixed in.
I have resurrected my claim for £2,500 from the Rastafarian in the small claims court. And I think it’s time to get this blog published. Someone said ‘one day, he’ll meet someone who won’t put up with his behaviour’. Well, excuse me, but that’s already happened.