Saturday, June 30, 2007


It has been suggested that a genial wheel has been set in motion.

Time-stamped ‘Saturday 30 June, 17:41’, copied and pasted from an email from Lily:

Subject: Re: Kennish Delight?



And the big news!...

Emailed Ken like you said and we talked earlier for half an hour… what a star!... Is he single?! Actually let’s not go there… not yet anyway. I’ve given him Ellie’s details and he’s gonna call her Monday. I’ve got to tell her he’s a friend of mine (Shane’s been dropped ha ha! :)) and he’s doing research on ‘long-distance relationships’… genius or what eh! She’ll definately go for it but it makes me feel like a dirty spy... oh well shit happens right :)

Thank you thank you!



I shall talk to the interventionist force that is Ken (‘genius or what’), after Monday.

I’m erring on the side of ‘what’.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


The question is ‘Could Kenneth really be the solution to a growing international incident?’

On the phone:

Shane: It’s a bit odd, Kenneth, I was just thinking about you the other day.
Ken: ‘Just’ the other day?
Shane: Mm, in relation to the fall-out with your Belgian acquaintance to be precise.
Ken: Unhappy times.
Shane: Well, yes, but let’s not dwell. Emma and I have another friend – or sister thereof – who’s been having something of a troubling international relationship –
Ken: I don’t recommend them.
Shane: Mm?
Ken: ‘Troubling international relationships’ – I wouldn’t bother.
Shane: Er, yes, thank you for that – duly noted – ‘Kenneth does not recommend… troubling… international… relationships’.
Ken: What were you saying?
Shane: We’ve been hearing of a young woman who’s rather departed reality -
Ken: I didn't depart reality!
Shane: No, no - not that that matters now of course, but this girl - this woman - has become a little wayward vis-à-vis a holiday-romance-shaped boyfriend in Turkey and the not-so-small matter of having a being-a-mother-with-responsibilities-shaped life in England.
Ken: (pause) Tricky.
Shane: Mm.
Ken: (pause) How old is-are the kids?
Shane: There’s only one – and he’s young.
Ken: (sighs) How long’s the romance been going on?
Shane: About six months, inclusive of three briefish child-free trips to Turkey.
Ken: (pause) Is she – the English bird - serious?
Shane: Part of her wants to think she is.
Ken: Which part?
Shane: I don’t know her well enough to say.
Ken: Where does she live?
Shane: Cambridge area, I think.
Ken: Find a way of introducing us.
Shane: Quoi?
Ken: Introduce us.
Shane: Pourquoi?
Ken: I’ll be able to help her.
Shane: I’m sure she doesn’t see herself as needing help right now.
Ken: Get her email address, forward it to me, and let me talk to her – she’ll soon realise that she needs help.
Shane: (silence)
Ken: You still there?
Shane: Oh, sorry – yes. ‘She’ll soon realise that she needs help’ – quite, quite, profound Kenneth, quite profound.
Ken: Thanks.
Shane: You’re welcome.

I have raised this suggestion with Lily (the put-upon sister of the starry-eyed mother). As I await a response, I have a feeling that so long as a plausible ruse can be contrived for Kenneth getting in touch with Ellie (the Turk-lover), that his input – desperate times and all that - will be welcomed.

Let us all hold hands and gulp together.

Monday, June 25, 2007


Occasionally, the merits of the simple life come into sharp focus.

Emma: Lily seemed well.
Shane: Yeah, she did – very relaxed, good with Alex - she was good.
Emma: You seemed more patient with her than you have been in the past.
Shane: You make me sound like an ogre.
Emma: You know what I mean.
Shane: Hmmm. She seemed… less air-headed, bit more earthed than usual, and a bit less ‘look at me’.
Emma: Mm, there’s not much room for ‘dizzy blonde’ at the moment, is there?
Shane: What do you mean?
Emma: (puzzled) (pause) Oh-, you missed that bit.
Shane: What bit?
Emma: Her sister and Turkey –
Shane: Oh, if this is some kind of kinky farmyard –
Emma: Shut up-. Her older sister – what’s her name?
Shane: Ellie?
Emma: Yeah – she’s been doing a lot of holidaying in Turkey.
Shane: Is that bad?
Emma: In itself, no – she’s got a man out there.
Shane: Right.
Emma: But it’s more complicated than that.
Shane: Oh?
Emma: Well, there’s the childcare – Ryan is nearly five - her mum’s been helping her with him.
Shane: Good, I think.
Emma: Mm, but taken-for-granted, it seems.
Shane: Ah, not good.
Emma: That’s not the problem.
Shane: Oh, or should that be ‘Oh?’
Emma: The Turkish bloke – he’s asked her to marry him.
Shane: Bloody hell, eh. No messing!
Emma: But she’s not told her family.
Shane: Other than Lily.
Emma: Yeah. But can you imagine… it’s just not…
Shane: (smelling an unexpected streak of prejudice) What?
Emma: Well… he’s not even met Ryan yet.
Shane: (stunned silence) What! That’s ridiculous.
Emma: It’s a bit worrying – Ellie is away with the fairies, so Lily is having to be the sensible one.
Shane: Jesus, that is worrying.
Emma: She’s agreed to look after Ryan for a few days in a couple of weeks – whilst Ellie lands unannounced in Istanbul.
Shane: But, isn’t that just encouraging it - the flitting-about behaviour?
Emma: Not really – she’s expecting to receive a tearful Ellie-shaped phone call soon after touchdown.
Shane: I don’t get it.
Emma: A reality-check in the form of a cheating Turk?
Shane: Och – not good.
Emma: (pause) Depends how you look at it.

At which point, my mind wandered back to shudder-worthy relationships that I’d contrived in the past, and the point that Emma later made: ‘You’ve got to ask yourself what it’s doing [for her] – apart from the obvious’.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Alex and I had our hair cut.

Perhaps mindful of the evening’s muddy bike ride that I’d promised him (and very muddy it was too), the little man seemed uninterested in fielding questions doled out by his young hairdresser - Ellen. I followed their exchange from across the room, hearing his thoughts loud and clear.

Ellen: So, still in your uniform eh – have y’ been to school today?
Alex: Yeah (‘Oh-, you’re going to talk to me aren’t you’)
Ellen: Was it good?
Alex: (Blinking) Mm (‘Och, don’t get hair in my eyes’)
Ellen: What’s your favourite subject?
Alex: Er, dunno (‘I’m six – we don’t yet speak in terms of ‘subjects’’)
Ellen: D’ y’ like art?
Alex: Yeah (‘I’m six’)
Ellen: Yeah – I used to like art.
Alex: Mm (‘Thank you for sharing’)
Ellen: What sort of things d’ y’ think y’ might do this weekend?
Alex: I’m going to London. I’m going to walk in a cloud in a box.
Ellen: Oh (pause). And how are y’ gonna manage that?
Alex: It’s in an art gallery.
Ellen: (through a mirror, frowns a querisome frown at Shane - checking authenticity)
Shane: (nods)
Ellen: (to Alex) Can I come?
Alex: No.

Truth was, we’d already bought the train tickets. Had we not, well, then I'm sure she'd have been welcome.

Friday, June 08, 2007



Emma: Amy – who you met last Saturday – she said I should get on Facebook, so I did, and I think you should.
Shane: Facebook – remind me?
Emma: Social networking site – good for keeping up with old friends, and making new ones it would appear.
Shane: But I’m already your friend.
Emma: Yes, ha ha very funny. It’s quite bizarre though – cos before I mentioned to anyone that I was on there I got a few people asking to be my friend – a bloke whose surname is also Surname – I think Dad will know his family, and a message from Lily who’s on there already.
Shane: Must be some kind of device or system whereby people get to hear of particular names or places of new members.
Emma: Mm.
Shane: I’d be a bit reluctant as I found that with the blogging, if I get too into that sort of thing, it can become all-consuming.
Emma: Mm, fair point.
Shane: Ta.
Emma: You’re welcome. (pause) Your range of haircuts over the past couple of years have caused some amusement.
Shane: Excuse me?
Emma: I’ve uploaded loads of photos – and people get to comment on them.
Shane: Oh, Lordy. Oh no – does that include the 24-hour shocker following My Most Expensive Haircut Ever?
Emma: Oh yes – that’s one of the more popular ones – amusement-wise.
Shane: Och, my ‘a bit reluctant’ is increasing at a rate of knots.
Emma: Oh, go on.
Shane: We’ll see.

And on an additionally surprising note, when Alex’ Dad called round earlier (Emma was out), he mentioned that he’d been looking over Emma’s Facebook page. From his comments – all friendly – it rather felt as if he might as well have been living with us for the past few months – so informed was he. This calls for me to use a word that I'm not especially fond of...

I feel a bit weird.

Sunday, June 03, 2007


The décor was such that I started to relax as soon as I set foot through the door. To my surprise, my masseuse’ uniform – short-sleeved white shirt and navy blue slacks - suggested a more medical approach to massage than an alternative/spiritual one. Her voice was warm.

Sue: Hello, you must be Shane.
Shane: Mm. And you must be Sue – hello.
Sue: Hi-. Emma tells me that this is all new to you.
Shane: Mm.
Sue: Ok. What will happen is we’ll go in to the consulting room - which is where you’ll have your massage - and I’ll ask you a few questions - just to get an idea of your body and of the kind of massage that might best suit you, then we’ll go from there. Ok?
Shane: Yeah.
Sue: Good. Come on through.

We walked down a short corridor and into a small room that bore a treatment table at its centre, a couple of lazy chairs, and lots of deep reds and soothing accoutrements.

Following an overview of several oil options, I plumped for a bergamot and orange blend. This, I reasoned, would be a safe bet as earl grey tea was my drink of choice and as that is a bergamot blend I’d be on assured ground.

Soon, I had abandoned much of my clothing and Sue got down to massaging. Whilst the situation was unfamiliar to me, I didn’t feel tense or find it at all odd to have my back, shoulders and head being given an intermediate going-over by my very pleasant masseuse.

Sue had been quick to gauge that I wasn’t interested in small talk. Quietly, seamlessly, she moved about the table, her hands flowing over and kneading me, her barefoot steps occasionally audible. Had I been willing to chat, I would have started to ask questions and this would have undone any relaxation. As I lay there, eyes closed throughout, my mind unwound and I found myself wandering in relation to all manner of things – work, rest and play. This was energising, and without an explicit formula, very natural. Occasionally, I wondered what Sue was thinking about – Shopping? What was for tea? Might she be wondering what I was wondering? Really, it mattered not. Only once, during the course of the massage, was I raised from my blissful elsewhereness…

I lay there, on my front, resting my head on a rolled-up towel, another towel draped over me. Sue had been standing at the head-end of the table, working on my neck, shoulders and upper back. From here, her natural flow was such that she would move to my lower back. Instead of taking this on from either side of the table, in a move that took half of a second to perform, she used a stool adjacent to the treatment table to elevate herself. From being stood on the floor ahead of my head, my masseuse shifted to a kneeling position upon the table. With a knee at either side of my head, we now found ourselves in… what, had I been on my back, would be commonly referred to as a soixant-neuf position. Still, as had been the plan, her hands ran down the centre of my back – ever the professional. Though I could not tell what went through her mind at this point, I was clear about my own thoughts and was prone to guess at her’s.

Shane: ‘Holy f*&^ing shit – where did that come from?
Sue: ‘Ha ha – a sudden tensing - that surprised you didn’t it?

All in all, it was a very good experience - one that I imagine returning to.