I found out later that it was quite a historic room, with all its mouldings and recherché cornicing. Back in the 1910s, when equality for women was all the rage, Sylvia Pankhurst held suffragette meetings there. I didn’t know this at the time, though.
W and P looked each other in the eyes, and kissed, and the congregation burst out into a long, long round of applause, so much so that the registrar was almost bowled away with the emotion. So much so, she started playing the Citizenship Ceremony tape instead of the Wedding Ceremony one, and the room was suddenly filled with the National Anthem.
I did write about W and P’s wedding at the time; but looking back ten months later, this is what sticks in my mind.
Time to do some looking back. Some of these memories will be good, some bad, and none are in any particular order.
We walked onto the dark beach together, me leading, me holding your hand. It was around midnight, nobody was about, and the moonlight was bright on your face.
I led you onto the beach, and looked around to make sure we were alone. I held you tight with your arms behind your back, and felt you start to go fuzzy around the edges. I chained your wrists together behind you, looked into your eyes, and watched your moonlit smile.
A very nice man said to me today: “It’s been a good year, I think.” And it has for me, too. It’s been a very good year, and a very bad year; and the strange thing is, the good and bad parts have been together at all times. It’s been an extreme year, I think, a year of travelling and new experiences, of meeting very nice people, very nasty people. Most people aren’t specifically nice, or specifically nasty, but can be either if they want to be. A few, though, are at one extreme or the other; and luckily I know more of the former.
In the news today: the shops are supposed to be busy. They’re not, though. I’ve just got home from a trip to Leeds, which is usually a horrible place to visit on a Saturday; and compared to most weekends, it was positively quiet. York was the same today, I’m told, and the roads everywhere in the region weren’t exactly busy for a Saturday. The predictions of huge floods of shoppers are more down to the wishful thinking of the shops, I think.
Someone else said to me recently: “do you know what an emo is?” And I found it a rather hard question to answer. So if you have any suggestions, tell me.
This is a slightly faded memory, from a few years ago now, from the last time I was in the Outer Hebrides. It’s a late night, two in the morning or so, in August. You can hardly make out a thing in the darkness. There’s a crowd of us sat around in deckchairs, in the front yard of the University farmhouse, heads leaning back. We’ve all just returned from the “local” pub, about six miles away, and we’re sitting outside to watch for the Perseids. Out there on the Atlantic coast, the sky seems, strangely, lighter than elsewhere, because of the number of stars scattered across it. The sky is filled with patterns of light, coming from millions of years ago; and leaning back in a deckchair, the age, complexity and size of it all fills me with a slightly dizzy awe.* Every thirty seconds or so, a meteor flashes across the dark sky, and everybody watching smiles.
* Not to mention that the rocks beneath us, the Lewisian Gneiss Complex, were themselves nearly three billion years old, older than the light from some of the stars.
After I whinged to her about life for a while, my friend (and regular reader) K set me a challenge. Think of six happy memories, and the places they happened. It took me a long time, but here they are:
- The first night I spent with another person (in a flat on South Clerk St, Edinburgh).
- The Shimura Curves gig I went to with regular reader Miranda (at the Notting Hill Arts Club).
- The first time I escorted someone on a kissogram job (in a bar in Castleford)
- Climbing a hill in Dumfriesshire with friends
- Going to an event in London a couple of months back with my friend Wendy (in the catacombs beneath London Bridge station).
- Snuggling up to one of my exes, in their kitchen, which was painted bright blue and yellow (on Mayfield Road, Edinburgh).
There are probably more happy memories, somewhere, that aren’t too tainted by bad things. These were the first six that came to mind, though.
I was supposed to be off up to Scotland again this weekend, incidentally, with K. She was planning a trip up there to visit various places with another friend, who had to drop out, so she invited me along to take up the spare bedroom. Annoyingly, though, I can’t get the time off work. “Oh, no, you can’t have that day off,” said Big Dave, “I booked it months ago.” Grrrr.
Unlike the first half of the year, there is one big stand-out memory from the second half of 2005. The start of my second business trip to London. Getting off the train at Kings Cross and walking down Platform 4 trying not to start crying. I was worried because someone I knew – even though I’d not seen her for a few years – had, like many other people, been missing for three days. She’d last been seen at Kings Cross, changing trains. I held myself together until my taxi was driving away from the station, onto Euston Road. As we passed the ambulance standing at the station entrance, waiting to take another run to the mortuary, I burst into tears. This was on Sunday, July 10th. Half an hour later, a Lancaster bomber flew noisily over my hotel-room window.
There are a few more significant memories from the past six months. I’m not sure if more really has happened compared to the start of the year, or if it’s just more memorable because it’s more recent. In August, I visited London again, to see W and his boyfriend, go to a party at their house, and take lots of pictures. At the party, I met the month-old daughter of my friends John and Jen, at that point just named “Piglet”. She’s since been given a proper name, Jaime, after another old friend who was at the same party.
Coming back home, I started up this website – in fact, I thought up the name whilst changing trains* on the way home. After that, nothing very striking has happened – but I’ve made new friends, and got back in touch with some old ones. Another friend was suddenly lost, but more are always being born. Last year ended with Jen announcing she was pregnant; this year ended with W and his boyfriend announcing their engagement. The cycle of the newspaper announcements column marches on.
* Changing between delayed trains, of course.
I was planning to write two whole posts about all the great things that had happened to me this year; but then, I realised I couldn’t actually remember many.
To be honest, I can’t remember much at all about the first half of the year. I went camping. Um, that was about it. So, the first thing on the list for Things To Do Next Year will be: try and be more memorable! Aside from one camping trip and one trip to London, all I can say about the first half of 2005 is that I went to work every day.*
The defining memory of the first half of the year: sitting in the restaurant of a bargain-price London hotel,** at breakfast, not being entirely sure what to do, because it was the first time I’d stayed in a hotel. That was at Easter, roughly.
* Well, five out of every seven at least.
** at least, I was assured that £85 per night is a bargain price for a London hotel. As it was on expenses, I wasn’t particularly bothered. I did, of course, take every opportunity to use the phrase “don’t worry, I’m on expenses” even though I hardly dared actually put anything onto my bill.