A Lover’s Story: Crookes Valley Park, Sheffield, 1988.



“Will you stay in our lover’s story?” Kooks, David Bowie.

Back in 1988 I saw our time in Sheffield as a sad and lonely period yet in retrospect I see it differently. We were young, not yet fully formed, and very much in love.

My job was hard, physically and mentally, and I felt pulled in many directions. At work, I was the ‘newbie’, before that word was invented, who had to make her mark, a graduate among school leavers, viewed with a little suspicion. I wasn’t part of any clique and was frequently homesick for my birth town and my parents. Gray was out-of-work and lonely too. As I had dragged him to this landlocked city I felt I had to make everything alright for him. Exhausted after my day at the office I felt obliged to go out at night, to pubs or to the cinema, when really I would have preferred to stay in and just talk or be.

Sundays became special though.

Mostly we walked in Weston Park, sometimes visiting the art gallery there, and often in Crookes Valley Park, which was often swathed in mist.  He would wear his Joe Orton-style leather jacket and I would be in my blue coat with its real fur collar, which I’d picked up in Oxfam in Broomhill. It looked like something straight out of a Tissot painting. I kept that coat for years.

Crookes Valley Park comprised sloping greens and a flat lake and was peaceful in a melancholic sort of way. Gray was often sad and we were frequently tired. What we talked about I can’t recall but conversation always flowed between us as the leaves came tumbling down around us. There was this utter sense of togetherness, of being with the right one. If I’d have known my Bible back then I would have identified with the verse from Song of Solomon:

“I have found the one whom my soul loves.”

Sometimes we would walk down to Hunter’s Bar and end up in Pizza Hut. Having been on the dole for a few months before I got this job this seemed to us quite decadent! I relished seeing the anticipation in his eyes and we’d laugh as the soft, doughy pizza would melt in our fingers – and then in our mouths. I loved to see him happy like that.

Sundays were doubly precious because I never looked forward to rejoining the world of office politics in a department that was sinking fast in an era of privatisation. Many people in the office were having affairs with each other as if it was the last few  days of pre-war Berlin. This was the very antithesis of my world of “pure love”, monogamous, hopeful and magical.

These memories can pierce my heart, as if they were happening right now. I wonder at this, bemused, that he, in his new life with new wife, doesn’t feel it too, at the very same moment as I do.

The subconscious mind, I read, doesn’t understand past and present, but sees everything as if it IS occurring right now. And it is happening.  I’m walking in Crookes Park, Sheffield, with the man I love.

I am loved, valued, wanted.

Platonic ‘Relationships’ as a Substitute for a ‘Full’ Relationship?

Holding Hands shadow on sand

Holding Hands shadow on sand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was quite interested in the concept of having a platonic relationship with some man or other a while back – in lieu of a full-on relationship. In these relationships the couple IS a couple but they don’t have sex. There are various levels of intimacy to choose from. The reasons people go for this can be varied: physical illness or disability; emotional issues; spiritual issues; a belief that sex should be reserved for marriage. There are dating websites for platonics.

I had thought this would be a good way to get to know someone without being blinded by lust. I reckon it takes about two years to truly get to know someone – I mean to really get beyond the surface. Sex can stop you from truly seeing who a person is because it can distract you from their true character.

My platonic male friend seemed to be hinting that we could have that – a relationship without sex. I thought about it for a couple of days and realised that I don’t want that, at least not with him. I’d have to be somewhat attracted to someone to contemplate a relationship. After all, I’d have to WANT to hold their hand or snuggle up with them even if we had chosen not to have a sexual relationship for either physical or spiritual reasons. Otherwise it really is ‘just friends’ – which is okay by me too. After all, my strong friendships have lasted longer than my marriage!

One of my favourite writers, Barbara De Angelis, writes well about sexual chemistry in Are You the One for Me?

The One Whom My Soul Loves – In Pursuit of Woman

Pursuit of Equality

Pursuit of Equality (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Despite the fact I believe I am unmarriageable I have not been without male interest, even in my ‘celibate by choice’ life. Most of these men are not Christians but they are good men.

There’s SAL, who lives far away and is not safe emotionally but who seems to be fond of me. MAGS, who is the nearest I have to a soulmate, but who is not emotionally available and who does not want a relationship with me – and I probably don’t want one with him. WM seems to adore me but I am unsure about him for various reasons. Even SRP has been attracted to me at points, I believe, but he is unsafe. And TCG seems to like me too. Only WM has actively pursued me over many months.

Despite all this I feel I have not yet met “the one whom my soul loves.” Do you think I will know it when I do meet him or are we blinded by our own hang-ups, fears and prejudices?

My Three Years of Celibacy

see filename

see filename (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Next week I shall celebrate three years of celibacy. It’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It wasn’t a decision as such straightaway. I just found that when men made approaches to me I was becoming less and less interested in engaging until one day I just decided: I’m going to remain celibate until I either get into a very committed relationship or remarry.

The likelihood of me getting married again is slim. Not sure how I feel about that.

Red Flags Busted

English: High Speed - Lights

English: High Speed – Lights (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had a potential man problem recently. The amazing thing is, though, that I managed to work through it super-fast through having done various courses at church and from doing all the reading and self-help. A Christian counsellor, someone I totally respect, also helped me via email.

I thought back over the three years I have known my male friend Red. I noted down all the red flags I’ve sensed over that time which have somehow stopped me falling for him full pelt. I came up with more than ten! These are genuine red flags not excuses.
My discernment must be better than it used to be. I was pleased that I was able to do this and not be that woman who pines after an Emotionally Unavailable Man for years on end. Many do.
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Meet Five a Week

stitching a date with destiny

stitching a date with destiny (Photo credit: jude hill)

I have decided to do something about men after Easter. With all the extra work I am doing (good but tiring) plus the house and my continuing health probs it won’t be a massive onslaught on the male population but I shall do what I can. I am going to very slowly follow a programme set out in the book: How to Get a Date Worth Keeping. It is by far the best dating book I have read. I really like Dr Henry Cloud‘s realistic, unrigid approach to dating as a Christian. I think every Christian womanor man who is not engaging with the opposite sex but wants to should read this.

The main two initial steps to take are:
Meet Five a Week and Change Your Traffic Pattern.
Meeting five a week does not mean having five dates a week. It just means talking to five men a week, even if it is just in the supermarket. They have to be:
1. New to you
2. Have enough of an interaction with you to want to go out with you
3. Have some info about you to get in touch with you if they desire.
The idea is not to get dates but to open yourself up to men and change your energy. As I can’t get out for many hours a day I might have to modify this to Meet Two or Three a Week but it is at least a start.
Change Your Traffic Pattern is self-explanatory. It just means trying a few new routes/activities etc.
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“I Seek Wife in Yonder Valley”


Mountain (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

One of my church guy-friends, who I met through the divorce group, has just started dating.

We have known each other for a few years and we have become closer this year. This man has got it all – looks, a lovely demeanour, godly, witty, quietly confident, part of a great family… I could go on! He is 14 years younger than me; we are in the ‘friendzone’

He has met someone through a Christian dating website. Now, this guy is such a great catch that the minute he was ready to meet another woman I knew he would be snapped up. And she has.

Mmmm… I am a little disappointed that he went online to find a potential partner. This is due, partly, to my own issues and lack of confidence that I will ever meet someone else BUT there’s more to it than that.  Going online seems almost primitive/feudal/fairy-tale-like. Village’s favourite son turns back on the womenfolk of his parish and travels across high mountain to yonder valley to seek wife.

I find it hard to believe that he could not find someone to date from within our large church. But maybe I am talking about dating – i.e., going out  a few times with someone, hanging out, getting used to being with someone of the opposite sex again (but with no sex involved). Maybe he is looking for something more serious.

But here’s the thing: there are many more single women in our church than there are single men. If the few men that remain go online to find a partner that could push us women to have to go online too. I really don’t want to do that. (See my next post for reasons).

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