Story of the Day

The serialisation of one of Christopher’s or Niet’s books. A new chapter, or excerpt, is presented on a regular basis.

Our second book selection has the rather unwieldy title: In Times Which Seem Like Self-Psychotherapy He Says To Himself: Oh, Vienna. Originally a book of four parts it should suit being broken up a bit. As before the latest version will be available on Amazon on our completion. This time the text will flow as in the book, so you may need to make your own bookmarks!

Excerpt 1

Did you always tell me the truth

I am thinking about you now, and whilst some might say that I am living in the past that is not entirely true, for it is a little time ago when I determined that I would think about you.

You could say, that back then, I thought to think about you in the future; and here we are now, in that very same future, which oddly has become the present, a time often called real-time, which nevertheless finds me, in this very moment, thinking about you.

I do not know what you are thinking right now, how could I, after these almost however many years apart; yes, geographically, as well as in so so many other ways, there is so so much distance between us now.

I don’t know what you have been thinking during the time of our separation. I suppose, knowing something about the laws of probability, that you will have thought about me on some occasions during the period, but mostly you won’t have been thinking about me.

I do know that you were particularly keen that I should not write anything to indicate that it is about you, or your family, should I publish a story from any part of my life.

I am now thinking why would that be the case; did we have secrets that you didn’t want known, if so I can’t recall what they might be. Do you have history that you wouldn’t wish to be dug up; did you tell me things you shouldn’t have, didn’t I ought to know, what those confidences were, if indeed there were any.

Did you always tell me the truth, or did you have versions, or layers, of the truth. I do remember you often talked about the value of layers, the beauty of layers.

I don’t know exactly how much time I spend writing about you. I do know that you do take up a large portion of my writing time, which means by association that I spend a large part of my time thinking about you.

This equally means that I am also thinking quite a lot about myself, because mostly when I think about you I do also think about you and me; I think mostly about the times when you and I were together.

I believe this makes a lot of sense since I don’t believe either of us knows too much about each other’s lives since we parted; that is true, isn’t it?

I wasn’t thinking about you, for a moment or two back there, not until I came upon a webpage; in no time at all, even less time than that actually, I had crystallised my own thoughts to be in sync with the message on my computer screen.

Cuddling with you would be amazing right now.

I remembered how we transferred thoughts back in the day before we had the internet; we would sit side by side in your bed and try, through thought transference, to give each other our thoughts; sometimes we would hold hands to increase the energies.

I wrote another book before this book, it is called Red Telephone Box; I now realise, largely thanks to a night of broken sleep, that I was writing to justify myself. I was writing to give me the kind of feedback that I cherished from you; the very words of comfort which I still desire from you, to this very day.

I think I may have created that book then as a positive influx for me, although, however, with perhaps some serious defamation of character for you; I may have debased you significantly or I might have presented a particularly skewed, biased view of you, which most probably lies some good way from the reality.

The broken sleep was suggesting that I should not pursue that particular line of writing, yet I had already committed the text to the printer; nothing could be done but to carry on.

Youreyesblazeout on Tumblr was my next port of call.

How old do you need to be before you know whether you want someone who can fill you with light, or whether what you really want is someone who knows their way in the dark.

In that moment, before the writing begins, in that point of pure focus, when a particular past time is brought to mind, or even a few past moments; perhaps sufficient to make a day or a night.

Those tipping point times; when the days and the nights get caught up with the light, and with the dark, of the mind.

One such time was during an early separation; a day at the beach, a light tea back at my rented cottage, and then you leaving, to go back to your own home.

An evening of postulation; what had gone wrong, what could be repaired; never too close, never too far away; always meeting, always leaving.

Right from the very beginning, we were always arriving, we were always departing; a foundation which gradually, certainly, became built into the DNA of our relationship.

Dusk surrounds me, only the outlines of trees are visible, the Christmas lights, in the summer house, each have their own individual halo or aura.

The flames from the fire flicker with a tangerine glow; the darkness heads towards me, this is a time for nostalgia, this is a mood for melancholy.

The music is slow and soulful; with singer-songwriters pouring out their troubled spirits, as the accompanying saxophonist underlines all of our aching hearts.

Yet there is a lightness on this, the first day of the New Year; all is to look forwards to, there isn’t any weight of the past bearing down, not on this the very first day.

Optimism begs us to set ourselves up for an exciting lifetime; of new achievements, and wonderful discoveries, with sufficient guidance to keep us going.

It is just a photograph, in a month’s time I maybe won’t even remember posting it; it is not of you but there is a likeness, maybe it could be a route into a memory.

Dawn is breaking. Walking home, the day before yesterday, at 3:30 in the morning, we heard the same birdsong which I can hear again now; I think I had better include that photo:

Excerpt 2

I think it is only natural, as I am reading about mountains, that when I came to draw, then I would choose to draw mountains; when I look back, at my old drawings they were of trees, so now in my mountain drawing I also sketch trees, they too were in the story, the story which I was reading.

I had seen a film, a love story actually where the couple parted several times, indeed they ended up apart; is it any wonder that I had empathy with those lovers. A couple much like us, two people who were both very good for each other, yet also, yes absolutely also, so so very very bad for each other.


New Year’s Advice for the Signs

Scorpio: You already know all about self-discovery, about finding the deepest parts of yourself, so maybe it’s time to give yourself a break. Lose yourself in something other than yourself, whether it’s making music or painting or breaking hearts. Detach yourself, and attack all that you love from a new angle. Free yourself from the constant responsibility of proving to yourself who you are.

Aquarius: Say “I love you.” Say it to your crush, or your best friend, or your significant other. Say it as a joke and say it because you mean it and say it when you’re at your happiest and say it when you’re at your lowest point.

There was almost a smile, one-tenth of a turn and you would have made it; I almost missed it, only by going back through the archives did I find it. Only by varying the image manipulation did I see through your thinly protective veil of: why on earth am I here? Only by continually probing was I able to realise your famously, if ever so slightly held back: oh no I think I am starting to enjoy myself here kind of look.

My next plan is to place the two sets of images, (there are ten or so falsifications in each set) into a race-night-style video. The images will be interlaced, then cross-faded, in a fairly amateurish attempt to generate your missing enigmatic smile. A smile, which at the moment only exists in my subconscious, or in my imagination for, as seems to be almost certain, my memory is eventually going to fail me.

I recognise the words; obsession, infatuation, longing, desperation. I admit to being ever so so slightly out of control; owning, or not to own, or at least not to be owned; owing, or not to owe, or at least not to be owed, which is it to be. The morning’s stillness is still with me, the sun is rising directly ahead, life is about chasing waterfalls isn’t it; along with those fine thoughts of your ever-engaging smile.

I am just being; sitting and standing, admiring shadows forged from intense sunlight, later there could be walking, but right now I am thinking. I am here, I am now, I am reminiscing; I have no desire in this work for a plan or a clear direction, instead, I wish simply to wander, mindful, that I am the one, for whom this work is meant to give pleasure.

I have an awful lot of photographs, courtesy of Tumblr; each one is of a woman, or of women, who, in the moment, reminded me of you. There are many styles, and not all of them are erotic, or even too too suggestive, but the one thing which they all have in common is my feeling that they remind me of you.

One day I may go back to the beginning and for each one make a note of what I thought the connection was to you at the time, or what still could be the synergy, whenever I would choose to look them up. February 22nd, 2012 was the beginning of the collection, the words on the site read: Terrified, Mortified, Petrified, Stupefied by You.

No further clues are required then, but here are the links anyway:
hhyperbole sam & annie (by cellsofclaudius)

Excerpt 3

I live my life in little bits, yes there are low points, but then there are the good times, good times when I just sit. Right now I listen to the rain, I watch the droplets, slide so so slowly down the window pane, and I think of you. After all it is Saturday morning; I wonder how gentle you are, how simply sublime you are; I wonder if one day, in some distant time…

I remember the mime artist, a small theatre, on a Monday night; she entered from the audience, I was spellbound, absolutely in wonder at how she revealed the all, the all of the all of all of her insight.

The light came in an instant, the rain pauses; whatever nature brings causes my mood to change. There is no long-range forecast, I take it one day at a time, there will be low points, but then there will be the good times; it will be calm or turbulent and then occasionally a life where I just sit.

Psychologically I have skipped from line to line; I have stood on a great many points, some of them firm, some of them rising, some of them sinking, all of them transitory. I have walked along the warm beaches, I have pushed hard into the cold winds, I have stood smiling, into the light late-night rains of autumn.

I have made snowmen on the tops of remote reservoir walls. I have watched you undress, in the warm dusk of late summer. I have sketched whatever it was which was crossing my mind, I have searched for words to identify my sensual or my sexual arisings. I have read all kinds of books; I have tried to understand the author’s words, by reading each one, of their distinct and indistinct words:

I may bring other women here, to this place, and I may tell them I love them, and make love to them. But they will be impostors. And I will be a ghost.
from The River by Jez Butterworth

I have had many successes thus far in my life; I have had almost as many failures. I am able to count these events numerically, yet I have greater difficulty in ranking them, for either severity or significance.

There was though one failure, a catastrophic failing, which was way more severe than any of the others: After many years of sharing your life, of sharing your bed, I realised that I didn’t want to be your friend, if that meant that I couldn’t carry on being your lover.

I did not want to go, but I did not know how on earth I could stay. You didn’t want me to be with you; maybe you were trying to be kind, by saying that I could not be your lover anymore, but that I could still be your friend!

How many hours
How much uptight
Inconclusive reasoning
How many days
How much selfless
Selfish self-deceiving
How long the line
Since the time
Of our joyful conceiving
How distant the time
From any sort of receiving
How you blew my mind
The corporate climes
The unsteady finances
Raised for clearing
How sure the signs
The obdurate
Scolded searing
How light The Downs
How nervous
The escape for fearing
How dark The Woods
How easy to mistake
The ghosts there re-appearing
How cold The Lake
How early to be nearing
How long The Drive
How quietly to be leaving
How tearful The Call
How tough the response
How to feel The Small
How lost in the recompense
How to make The Move
How to mistake
Movement for sensitivity
How to find The Let
How to work out how to forget
How many The Hours
How much uptight
Inconclusive reasoning
How many The Days
How much selfless
Selfish, self-deceiving

fourteenth: when walking just walk, when sitting just sit, above all, don’t wobble

Excerpt 4

I have been to Vienna, but who knows it

I now intend to go off at a tangent, just to see if it is possible, to write of something entirely without you; to write something where your influence, or your appearance is strictly limited.

Of course, you have had such a significant impact on my life to date, that there is little chance you won’t have some major influence on the work.

Let us though begin in Vienna; I didn’t go there with you, I didn’t write to you when I did go there; I had to go to Vienna for work, it was a fleeting visit, only one overnight stay. I went either alone, or with my boss, I can’t quite remember; of course I would have remembered if you had been with me, yes, I certainly would have remembered you being there, that I do promise.

I learnt about the Ottoman Empire from the taxi driver who took me to my hotel, he drove me past what I understood at the time to be historically significant buildings; I would have walked around the palace and the gardens had I had more time to myself.

Near to the hotel was a bar, which was also a café; the beer was strong, the cakes and the pastries they were supremely extravagant.

I didn’t have a camera at the time, so I have no photographs to reflect on and I do not recognise any of the images on my google search for Ottoman Empire Vienna. I didn’t keep a diary, any notes I might have made, of the days business meetings, well they will have been shredded, or otherwise destroyed by now.

I have been to Vienna, but who knows it; other than the airline who flew me there, or the taxi driver who took me from the airport, or the receptionist who booked me into my hotel.

Or the pretty young women and the moustachioed young men, who served me frothy beer with diabetes-inducing pastries in the decadent café. The café, which as I said, was almost right next door to the hotel.

I didn’t expect to invite everyone back, but that’s exactly what happened. We were stood outside on the pavement, in the light drizzle; everyone was deciding where to go on to next, I said: let’s go to my hotel, decide, over a drink; it was agreed, it is what we did.

I didn’t expect a late night, because of my meetings the following day, but that’s also exactly what happened. Neither did I expect to be making arrangements to see anyone again, but I did that too; I promised I would be back in the summer, to meet up with the beautiful Hildemar.

I had heard the words Austrian Tyrol, I may even have seen some holiday brochures; anyway it transpires that Hildemar’s family have a chalet up in the hills. Somewhere above Innsbruck if I understood correctly; I was invited to go for the first two weeks in September, that is what I do so so believe.

I or we were given the grand tour of the impressive Electrical Engineering factory by our Viennese hosts, before being served up an extravagant, delectable lunch, in the swish top floor executive boardroom; I took the chance to ask about job opportunities, for who knows what the future might hold.

There is quite an age difference between me and Hildemar, I’m not sure what the appeal is for her, other than that we had lots of laughter together; yes, we shared some interesting and expansive conversations, plus a few, fairly intimate and closer moments, before we said au revoir, in the hotel lobby.

Will I be up to the demands of a younger woman; only time can tell, yet will time tell, will we have sufficient time, to tell that is.

There is a chance that I could do a job exchange with the Viennese company, if, as I hope, my present company agrees to distribute their products with a reciprocal agreement.

I will have to work on the languages, particularly German, although I am fortunate that English, my native tongue, is firmly established as the universal language of the technology business.

So what draws me to Vienna, besides the pretty young things in the café societies, what attracts me to a country which is no longer in its ascendency; why should I leave one failed empire, to move to another?

I am impressed by the attention to detail in the factory; they design, they manufacture, they install some very elegant products and projects, I would like to be a part of that success story.

I also have an idea, that with Vienna being the birthplace of psychology, via one Sigmund Freud, the city could be well disposed to those wishing to study psychotherapy, along with its various associated art forms.

Talking of art, I expect there to be a profusion of galleries and expositions, for when I wish, which I surely will, to engage with the visual arts.

At thirty-seven years old is it already too late for me to move to Vienna? I don’t think so; physically I am in very good condition, mentally I feel to be almost at the peak of my powers.

At the moment, other than my necessary work commitments, I am almost entirely unencumbered; why not make the move, why not grasp the nettle.

I work myself into a position as Product Manager for Western Europe (a glorified salesman) which means I travel widely; visiting consultants, clients, contractors, distributors. It also means that I have a team of engineers, technicians, and business managers back at the headquarters to support me, and my fellow salesmen in the field.

It is a challenge, a challenge which suits my skill set admirably, a challenge which I do intend to make the very most of; I take a flat on Herrengasse, near the Café Central, almost in the centre of the city.

At present I am alone, though how long that will last I don’t know, for Hildemar was instrumental in helping me find the stylish, contemporary, two-bedroom apartment; it being owned by one of her father’s investor friends.

So you see already I am feeling as though the commitments, which I seriously fear so so very strongly, are beginning to close in again; so much for escape!

Except 5

These are captivating bedfellows

We had a wonderful vacation, Hildemar and I, the timing was ideal, exactly between the ending of my old job, and my starting in my new position. We did a lot of walking, we had lots of breathing in of the crisp Alpine air, we had endless hours laying out, looking at the magnificent views.

I didn’t expect the whole of Hildemar’s family to be there; certainly I did not expect her younger sister Hildegarde to be there, wow she is so so incredibly exciting.

Most of my feel, for the Vienna of the past, comes from reading Edmund de Waal’s book The Hare With The Amber Eyes. I thought it a most captivating read, by a seriously interesting writer; a writer, and also quite an accomplished artist actually.

Apparently he used to have a studio in Sheffield (my northern heart-centre) in his early days as an independent potter; now of course he is uber famous, he exhibits at the V&A.

I have absolutely no connection whatsoever to the aristocracy, I am a working-class boy from the North of England, I am therefore slightly out of my depth, when ensconced within Hildemar’s rather sophisticated family environment. Only my above average intellect, coupled with a fairly sharp sense of humour, helps me keep my head above water.

Of course I do carry an arrogance, fuelled by the understanding of my own capability, vis a vis the next man that is, in almost any situation; this is quite a protective suit of armour I can tell you.

I am alone in my flat, it is early evening, the city traffic is receding, I am listening to Van Morrison’s Scandinavia when the telephone rings. It is Hildegarde, she is at university nearby, she wonders if I would like to meet up for a coffee; I have nothing else planned (Hildemar is working) so I agree; we arrange to meet, at Café Central, at eight.

Youth and beauty do go hand in hand don’t they; the precociousness of youth, the unspoilt physicality of beauty. These are captivating bedfellows; it is my opinion that the vivacious, the precocious Hildegarde firmly shares their bed.

What does she see in a middle-aged man like me? What has Hildemar told Hildegarde to excite her so, for she offers up a most excited smile, when we do eventually meet.

The sisters are both philosophy students, the younger sister Hildegarde is in the first year of her degree. Her older sister, my girlfriend Hildemar, is in the last year of her PhD, having completed her BA and MA with first class honours.

Am I attracted to the sisters in order to learn, second-hand, of this maybe-mythical world of understanding that is philosophy? Or is it simply the physical beauty of youth which attracts me; am I driven purely by my animal instincts, is everything else simply wallpaper – wallpaper and camouflage.

We talk about happiness, about well-being; Hildegarde tells me that she firmly believes that I hold many assets. Assets which Michael Bishop, in his book The Good Life: Unifying the Philosophy and Psychology of Well-Being uses to describe the individual at the top of their own well-being.

Hildegarde feels that I demonstrate both the joy and the contentment, she considers me to be optimistic and adventurous. She believes that I persevere, with clear discipline, that I often behave in an extrovert way, if it suits the occasion.

She also sees me as having strong relationships, professional success, and almost continuous good health. I don’t contradict her; in fact I amplify her words, with specific examples, where these traits were applied in the past, with some good success.

I also point out how she already owns many of the prerequisite values for successful well-being. I claim that she most certainly has the potential, to surpass me, by some good distance.

It is ten-thirty before we know it; Hildegarde looks into my eyes, I am pretty sure of what she is thinking. It is time for the capriciousness of youth to rise to the fore, for the full weight of sexuality to be given reign.

She takes my tie in her hand, pulls me towards her; she kisses me, with that clear implication which says something else is certain to follow.

Something else does follow, which I’m sure you can work out for yourselves, indeed you might have more fun, by working it out for yourselves.


Excerpt 6

I wanted to look into her eyes

I learn from work that I have to go to Portugal, there is a large pumping station project, associated with the Lake Alqueva Dam. The design and construction enquiries, with tender specifications, are to be issued soon; my visit is an opportunity to try to influence those details in my company’s favour.

I am to meet the Consulting Engineers at the construction site then travel to their offices in Lisbon. Although I will suggest, that we could hold the meeting in the restaurant which overlooks the sparkling waters of Lake Alqueva, the largest man-made dam in Europe.

Either way I will be gone a week, as I intend to fly into and out of Faro. I ring Hildemar to give her the news. She gives me her love, asks that I keep safe; we agree to go out somewhere together on my return, Hildemar suggests Schönbrunn Palace; with the utmost of ease, with the minimum of discomfort, I don’t hesitate but to go along with her suggestion.

Indeed we do hold the meeting with the consultants in the Amieira Marina restaurant, on the shore of Lake Alqueva; it is a success, our capabilities, as a chosen partner, will be included in the documents.

I settle the bill, after all the contract will be worth several million pounds to my company; outside we all shake hands, then wave our satisfied goodbyes. I drive off to visit an old friend in the Algarve, it is just after seven when I determinedly knock on Dinah’s apartment door in Albufeira.

Dinah and I met when we studied at college together, back in the days when a Cranfield MBA had some standing in the business world. Dinah was pretty damned good at whatever she did; mostly what she did was tourism, tourism and making money.

She made a substantial fortune from golf resort developments; also from the very profitable rental of up market villas, in the Algarve, and along the coast of Southern Portugal.

She established a strong management structure, which means that now she has the luxury to be able to take time out to entertain her friends whenever she wishes; we have a couple of days to be alone together.

We go out for dinner to The Ruina Restaurant, Dinah wanted to show me the spectacular sea view, from their rooftop tables. I wanted to look into her eyes; I don’t know why we never became an item, I do know that we did get quite close, on more than one occasion.

I suppose we were both pretty motivated work wise; I because I had something to prove, she, well she just wanted to win, and mostly she did win.

I guess the idea of settling down, of starting a family, didn’t really appeal to either of us at the time; now, well it is probably too late; also one does rather get distracted by the company of beautiful women doesn’t one.

Back in the apartment we have a couple of glasses of wine; I do look into her eyes, we reminisce, I kiss her gently, she says we ought to move on into the bedroom, I don’t disagree.

We are both comfortable in our own skin, we are both comfortable in each others skin. There is no panic, the foreplay is reassuringly captivating, we make love, then we doze, then we make love again, this time more slowly.

The next thing I remember is waking up, waking to the sound of waves gently lapping on the seashore, right outside Dinah’s beachside apartment.

We have breakfast, of fresh fruit, with black coffee, outside on her wave-lapped terrace. This girl sure has done well for herself, she looks tantalising in her short slip, with not much else, we do go back to the bedroom.

The warm feeling
Of being up close
Physically and emotionally
The warm feeling
Of laying under cotton sheets
The warm feeling
Of making coffee for your lover
The warm feeling
Of never-ending lovemaking

Dinah says that she can take me back to the airport on Friday, but today she wants to show me around, for now she wants to be my guide in all things.

We go to the beach, we swim in the Atlantic Ocean, we drive to the waterfront at Portimão (Dinah has a yacht in the marina).

We have pastries, with coffee, in the very English Café in the sunlit square; it is busy with locals, with tourists, all, or most, are wearing their finest attire.

We stroll along the promenade, Dinah takes my photograph, posing beside the statue of the poet Joao Braz.

We do all of those things, which a couple of people who are easy in their love, would do.

Dinah wonders if I would like to drive out to the wild West Coast, apparently we can call in at the old castle at Sagres on the way.

I wonder if we might do that tomorrow instead, I say, let us not be in such a rush.

Excerpt 7

We take a coffee in the minimalist café

Dinah thinks that is a neat idea, she goes on to wonder, could I stay beyond Friday; I, well I don’t know what I think.

Is this a change, is Dinah looking for something else; maybe I might, unwittingly, be looking for something else, is deeper love about to creep up on us?

I change my flight to the Sunday, I telephone Hildemar to tell her that there have been a few complications in Portugal. We rearrange our planned Palace Sojourn for the following weekend; Dinah is delighted with the news, of the short extension to my vacation.

Was it the right thing to do, it seemed so in the moment; but what drove me to the decision, what made me put one person to the side, for the sake of one other. I quietly turn these thoughts over in my mind, as Dinah drives us along the long, straight road, towards the headland at Sagres.

I am not fond of heights, yet still I climb on the ramparts. I have no real knowledge of history, but I still feel good to be immersed in the historical, cultural remains. I have no great feel for, nor real understanding of psychology, though I sense that I am entering a relationship which is rapidly changing.

I do enjoy escape, I often escape; this isn’t escape though, yet neither does it feel like entrapment.

We take a coffee in the minimalist café, we stroll around the artworks; Dinah is busy taking photographs, photographs which I notice, are mostly of me. I happily enjoy being the poseur or the suitable subject, for her many and multifarious, inspired artistic arrangements.

We do drive on to the West coast; it is wild, the waves crash with a never-ending zeal. We take a vantage point, up above the sand dunes, the place is deserted, there is a roaring noise of silence. Dinah looks at me studiously then asks: what are you thinking?

I pause before replying: I have only just moved to Vienna, I haven’t even yet settled there properly, yet here I am in Portugal already; I have followed the wanderlust for so so long; but is that the right thing, is that always the best choice?

We sit quietly, holding hands, looking out on the huge relentless waves. I imagine that we are counting the waves together, I explore the idea that in this moment we are both thinking about a life together. I contemplate on a whimsy that our thoughts are intermingling, without words being spoken.

The wind is strong, is it a wind of change? I pull Dinah to her feet, hold her close, I wrap my arms tightly around her, she responds with huge empathetic physicality.

Is there anything which she would like to tell me? I ask. I see a tear well up in her eye, she speaks ever so hesitantly:

I am beginning to surprise myself just by being with you. I am not in control, not in the sort of control that I have had in the past. I feel free with you; right now I want to be with you, right now I have a longing to be with you. I don’t want you to go away; I just don’t, does that sound soft, am I becoming an old romantic, am I deceiving myself about how you feel about me?

Dinah isn’t deceiving herself; I do have strong feelings, I do want to respond positively, but just how, just how do I do that? My many years of being superficial, my eons of being shallow, my ages of being pretentious, my lifetimes of following my own desires; what has that made of me?

Will I always be insensitive, calculating, devious; a self-serving, incredibly selfish being; is that what I have become? Can I roll back the cloth; could I, could Dinah, could we begin on a fresh canvas, could we build a shared life together; a life lived-fully together; could we do that? I stop my thoughts, I stand up straight, I take Dinah’s hands in mine:

Dinah I think that I might have fallen in love.

There are hugs, there are tears; there are more hugs, there are more tears; at the airport, there is a real reluctance to part. I promise that I will come to see her again soon, very soon; I make that promise, and in that moment I absolutely do intend to keep it.

Excerpt 8

She jumps onto me

The Palace Gardens are divine, Hildemar is divine, Vienna is divine, I haven’t yet spoken to Hildegarde.

Hildemar and I watch the sun go down, sat on the terrace of Café Gloriette, overlooking Schönbrunn Palace.

The sunsets, the suns reflections on the palace’s glass windows are wondrous, mood enhancing; Hildemar’s conversation is equally so.

In this moment then why would anyone want to be anywhere else, or with anyone else, why would anyone countenance such a thing.

How can the human mind have the capability to wish itself to be somewhere else, when in such an incredibly beautiful environment, when in the company of such a kind, caring and beautiful person.

We go back to my flat, then go out to Café Central for supper; all is very civilised, very thoughtful, and most certainly very desirable.

I am congratulated, on my return to work, the directors have seen draft documents from the Alqueva Dam Consultants.

Our company is very well placed to win the contract it would appear; there are no qualms about the level of my expenses, nor any query about the length of the trip.

There is talk of me being offered a strategic position, to assist the board of directors on major projects.

It would mean more travel, but less direct business responsibility; it could even be seen as offering even greater freedom than my current role.

I encourage the development, with little thought for the consequences.

Hildegarde rings me on Monday evening, she wants to know where I have been, she wants to come around, do I have a problem with that?

I suggest that we meet in Café Griensteidl; no she says she would rather come to my flat, I don’t have the courage to disagree, she will be here in half an hour.

I hear her knock on the door, I walk into the lobby cautiously, to unlock and open the door.

Wow is she sexy or what, she looks amazing, she is one real-deal, viral streak of womanhood.

She jumps onto me, wraps her arms around my neck, wraps her thighs over my hips; it is as though I am her tango dancing partner, what can I do but smile, and welcome her in, which I do, with a great big kiss.

Almost immediately it seems we are in my all embracing bed; we are ravenous for sex, we are hideously uninhibited, in our explosive race to tear off each other’s clothes.

Hildegarde is ravishing, with or without her clothes; she wears the most alluring perfume, the most scintillating lingerie.

She is adorned in the finest silk, with the neatest of tailoring; all the best sized slits, stitched into all of the right places.

We are rampant, Hildegarde is vigorous, almost violent, in her fluid flexing motions; she has no understanding of calm, she has no time for the slow slow fun of foreplay, not for the first time at any rate.

We share a cumulative climax, this is certainly peak experience stuff, that is something I absolutely must tell you.

I have a broad silly smile, I shouldn’t say anything but I do: Does that feel better then, my Hildegarde?

I am a little surprised as she replies: So where have you been, why didn’t you tell me you were going; don’t you go leaving again, not without you letting me know first, ok.

We stay in bed, although I take a few moments respite in the bathroom; we talk of how important good sex is to our well-being.

We talk about being prepared to experiment, we talk about being completely open and honest with each other, during and about, our rich and fulfilling sexual adventures.

We kiss, we cuddle, we stroke each others skin, we seduce ourselves; in body, in mind, before engaging ourselves in another riotous ritual of lovemaking.

This time we get dressed after our exploits; I make coffee, then we sit, each side, of the dining table, again I should be quiet, but I’m not: Is this to become a regular occurrence, I ask.

Hildegarde gets up as if to leave, then she says forthrightly: I will be in touch.

Yes, I think Hildegarde wants to be in the driving seat; she is dynamic, she is demanding, she is brassy, she is decisive.

She is also chock full of lust; fortunately, or maybe unfortunately, I do ache uncontrollably for her physicality.

Excerpt 9

In that sense we already are very good for each other

This is the big year, as far as Hildemar’s education is concerned; she is working on the dissertation for her PhD, which sure looks like heavyweight stuff to me.

How does someone with such worldly innocence deliver effectively on: System and History of Ethics, basic questions of Practical Philosophy and Applied Ethics.

Thus far the two of us have not talked too too much about Hildemar’s studies, but now I feel she is in need of some support, for she keeps retreating into quietness when we get together.

I do want to help, after all Hildemar brought me to Vienna, I wouldn’t be here without here, I don’t want for either of us to forget how thankful that I am for that, for that most unique opportunity.

I determine, that whilst I may not have much to contribute on the strictly academic front (nor on the personal ethics front for that matter), but I can question the logic to her arguments.

As an engineer I studied logic, and in my work I apply logic on a regular basis, so I can ask her to demonstrate the logic, the order, and the flow of the argument of her essays.

I can also help her to understand the scale of the task; show her how to break down that task, to make it ever more manageable.

I have been a project manager, I am a product manager, I do know how to set up, and how to start a journey. I do know how to work diligently, in the middle of that journey, and how to complete that journey with all of the stakeholders remaining fully on board.

Using my twin talents, of Logic with Project Management I can help lift, then maintain, Hildemar’s energies; I can give her a sounding board, I can be a solid platform for her to work from.

We can be good together; and, and this is the most important thing, we do enjoy each others company, we do lift each other out of the low points, we do calm each other when we get over excited.

In that sense we already are very good for each other; I ring her on the Tuesday morning, to see if we couldn’t go out for lunch sometime soon.

On Wednesday morning, a letter lands on my mat, from the postmark I can see that the letter is from Portugal, the letter I conclude will, without doubt, be from Dinah.

I can’t remember the last time that I got a letter from Dinah, I don’t know that I did ever get a letter from Dinah; but why has she written so promptly I wonder.

I don’t have time to open the letter there and then, also I don’t care to take it with me into work; I leave it on my bureau, I will look forward to reading it this evening.

A good day at work; there is a project in Bilbao, it is in the very early phases, the directors would like me to visit in order to influence the key decision makers, to ensure that they are fully aware that our company would be very good for their scheme.

It is expected that I may have to go to Bilbao on several occasions, we may even need to set up an outpost office there, that will be my decision.

Excerpt 10

I had never thought Dinah to be lonely

I switch the telephone in my flat to answerphone, I turn off my mobile, I do not want to be disturbed.

I make a light meal of pasta with salad; I eat too often in fancy restaurants, so it is nice to have something simple.

Tonight I drink tea not wine, I have a feeling that I might need my wits about me, when I read Dinah’s letter.

I put the tea things away, then I go to my chair by the bureau; I am setting myself up as though this was a business letter, I have a pen ready, for making notations in the margins.

It is a long letter, four high-quality velum pages, covered on both sides, with Dinah’s petit, precise hand writing.

It is a gentle letter, much of it obviously written around four in the morning; there is much talk of love, there are many, many thanks; also regular proclamations of wanting to be with me as she writes: I have never been so happy, so content, as in those few days we spent together.

It is a very warm caring letter, showing a loving intimate side to Dinah, one which I hadn’t always noticed before.

She also demonstrates her desire to engage with art, with theatre, through detailed references to a couple of events which she hopes to go see.

She invites me to join her, but adds, thoughtfully, that she recognises that organising such events might be difficult.

She says that with her next letter she will include the current book she is reading: As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee. She tells me that she is very much enjoying the descriptions of his travels.

I have already read the book, but I won’t tell her, I don’t want to disappoint her; anyway it was a good while ago, so reading it again will be fun.

In a matter of fact kind of way, she tells me that her father is terminally ill; she will need to return to England in due course, again she offers an open invitation for me to join her.

I don’t yet make notes, but I do begin to read between the lines; it isn’t desperation I sense, but it is heading in that direction.

I had never thought Dinah to be lonely, but I do detect a lonely person in her writing.

She is evidently not close to her family; also perhaps her success in the business world has caused estrangement from her friends.

She is living in a beautiful apartment, but it is not it seems a home; she appears to be searching for something; is she looking for someone, does she need someone to care for her?

I do want to care for this person, I don’t want to give up on this person; I get up, walk around, I gather my thoughts, then I sit down to write my reply.

I can’t say what I want to say, or what I thought I wanted to say when I was reading her letter, when I was completely caught up in Dinah’s situation.

Instead I write of superficial things, about how well things are going at work, about our new work opportunity in Bilbao.

I do say that I too enjoyed our time together; I tell her that I thought our trip to the West coast was a beautiful, joy filled time.

And I go on: did the photographs from Fortaleza de Sagres turn out as you hoped, do you spend time editing them, or are they now on your computer, sunk into cold storage for eternity.

I write a couple of almost automatic pages without saying anything; I ought to write I love you, yet the true thing to write would be: I want to care for you.

But how crass does that sound in a response to what surely from Dinah was a love letter, a love letter, tenderly reaching out for love.

Next day I post my rather brief letter, I do want to keep the communication going; I recognise that they are my own weaknesses which I face, when it is I who struggles to make a commitment.

They are my own ghosts which I have to overwhelm, in order for me to write more sincere, more heartfelt words.

It is my own past, my own present relationship situations, which I have to sort out, before I can say words fit to be cast in stone.

For surely Dinah will cast them in stone; I must not mislead her, I must take care if I am to care for her, and I do want to care for her.

Never give up on something you can’t go a day without thinking about.

Excerpt 11

This is not the place for the rigour of study

Hildemar wants to go on a trip out to Neusiedler See – Seewinkel National Park at the weekend. I think it is a good idea, I will enjoy being together with Hildemar, but also the park is a quiet place, a space good for contemplation.

I will be able to weigh things up in my own mind, as we work through her progress on: Basic Questions of Practical Philosophy and Applied Ethics.

We talk a good bit about values during our journey, especially environmental values; I guess partly influenced by the very natural environment of the place that we are heading for.

I make the point that the lake, with its natural surroundings, would be a far better place, if left entirely free of human habitation.

Hildermar almost agrees, but her family have a boathouse, on the waters edge, at the far side of Lake Neusiedl. She has been coming here since she was a very little girl, so to her it feels very natural indeed for there to be people here.

We have to walk quite a way though the marshland to reach the waters edge, but when we do, my arguments, about humans not being here, disappear completely.

For isn’t this exactly what we Homo-sapiens are supposed to do: to experience joy, exhilaration, to let our senses see, and feel, to be sensationally sensually overcome, by the beauty of the world. To think about a place, then place it in a context, a context which quite rightly may include human habitation.

We go out onto the lake in a small rowing boat, even just a few metres from the shore there is a real feeling of being at ease. Our bodies no longer have to carry us, our minds no longer have to carry us; we can just float, then row, then float, then row to our hearts content.

Although soon we do stop rowing, soon we move closer together; soon we enjoy the immense peace; we look at each other, smiling, soaked by the intense quiet of our togetherness; this is not the place for the rigour of study, we will leave that for later, here we can simply meditate, meditate on the waters gentle ripples.

Here we can just be, just be the two people, who we surely, in this moment, truly are.

The light is beginning to fade, we have been rowing for a little while now, finally we reach Hildemar’s family’s vacation cabin.

We tie the boat up, then climb onto the pontoon, we take the few steps to the boathouse, a triangular two-storey boat house, which I might add, is fitted out with almost all of the creature comforts, of a fine city apartment.

We are entirely sheltered from our neighbours; by the water out front, by the giant reeds, which stand two-men tall, to the back and to the sides of the boathouse.

We are entirely alone, we are totally together; we are comfortable in this place, we decide to stay the night.

We have only the light of candles for illumination, with a camping-gas stove for boiling water and for cooking, yet soon we are sitting down at the table, enjoying bowls of warm soup, enjoying talk of Ethics.

I ask Hildemar if it is ethical, the way that my company uses its political contacts, to enable it to get in early on projects; to then impart influence, which effectively rather disenfranchises our competitors – ergo we get the business without the need to be too too highly competitive.

Hildemar argues that it is a superior skill set, which our organisation has developed, so that is fine, and fair; our competitors could have done the same.

But I ask what if we have we crossed any moral boundaries in that process. What if we have crossed palms with silver, what if we have taken ownership of our political contacts, through financial gratuities.

Then that is different she says, that is not ethical. I suggest her black and white approach needs to take into account the fine lines of persuasion, the detailed levels, the many layers of influence, the comparable context of the individual situations.

I end by saying that nothing is ever less than stratified, several layers of stratification, on each and every step of the way.

I then come at the argument from a slightly different viewpoint: I claim that, by getting our company into a less competitive situation, we are able to ensure we build to a good level of quality.

We do not have to take short cuts to meet a budget; we do not have to put safety at risk by working in unsafe ways; we do not have to risk unemployment for our workers, we do not have to raise conflicts between our workers.

We can all work at doing the best, providing the best, without the Damocles sword of profit, or loss, wavering over us.

Hildemar laughs, she thinks it is I who should be on the course: you know so much from the real world, while all I know is secondhand; all that I know comes from books; from books and from lecturers.

Lecturers who themselves mostly gather their words from books or from their peer’s egotistical, word-heavy, status-fulfilling, pontificating publications.

I want to use some of your real life examples in my dissertation, but you will have to let me question you on the details; we will need to be able to prove, and corroborate, your stories.

Once again my enthusiasm, in the moment, has got me in deeper than I might have wished for; that commitment light, you see, is flickering in the candle as bright as ever.

Excerpt 12

How will turquoise look

I was writing about you, then I broke off, to write the story part. There are three women in the story so far; do any of them remind me of you I ask myself.

I asked that of myself, now I ask that of you; are any of those women, in the story, simply my impressions of you?

I am more concerned with my own thoughts (wasn’t I always). I am exploring what it is that I am looking for, what is it that I am finding out, about myself, in each of the situations which arise.

I am fascinated by just how easily I feel to be placed, in each of the places where I put myself in the story.

I have to tell you that the sap still rises, due to no more than the writing, down to no more than the thinking for the writing.

Is it wish fulfilment, is it fantasy? Isn’t it fantastical, that you gave this fantastic gift to me; I do so so want to work at it, I do so so want to work with it.

I know that you are unable, or unwilling, to join in with me now, but it would be good if you could; you would be fabulous, you would enhance the shape of the story for sure.

I will return to the story all in good time, but for now I am bathed in sunlight, I am warming to writing about you, writing about you wearing your favourite colour turquoise.

How will turquoise look, when printed in black and white?

I had it in my mind, that I would begin to write more from the female perspective; to let the readers know what the women are thinking. Of course, first of all, I would have to work out for myself what the females were thinking. Yes, I am pretty sure that that is definitely one of the areas where you would be able to help me.

What is Hildegarde thinking about when she seems so excited to see me? What is Hildemar worrying about when she goes so quiet? Does Dinah really feel lonely, does she suffer from loneliness? What do I think about when I am writing; am I lonely, am I excited, am I quiet.

Is the writing simply a reflection of my mood swings throughout the day. Did you notice my mood swings, did you recognise changes in my behaviour, did your psychological training help you, to make any sense of me.

What was it that caused our breakdown, how badly had I locked myself up, how long did it take, and just when did you first begin to notice.

I remember a turquoise jacket, in the style of a Levi’s jacket, but a softer cloth, a sort of washed through light-turquoise, with gun metal stud buttons. I have a photograph of you wearing it, in the Gardens of Samarès Manor.

Did I buy it for you as a present? Did I buy you too too many presents, did I buy you too too few presents; you bought me exquisite, thoughtful, wonderful presents, especially in the early years. I particularly remember a John Lennon work, a numbered, limited edition print: The Hug. It was complete with a red stamp of authenticity; as though, from you, I would ever have expected anything less.

Whenever I buy anything turquoise now I think of you; indeed, sometimes, because I think of you, I do go to buy something turquoise. If you wish to call that infatuation then that is fine by me, but if you wish to call it nonsense then I would have to contend with you. I would argue that the deeper feelings in oneself should be celebrated, celebrated entirely as one sees fit.

Of course there are moral questions to be raised here; should I be thinking about you, when I am living with, and loving another woman. Should I even be entertaining these unfaithful thoughts, selfishly feeding my deeper self, with warm thoughts of you, when I am engaged with another. Should I not have cleansed myself, purged myself entirely of one woman’s contaminations, before I moved onto another woman’s, equally powerful infiltrations.

Where do we draw the line between thoughts and actions. Where do we draw the line between friendly conversation and being flirtatious. Where do we draw the line between playmaker and philanderer. Where do we draw the line between temptress and seductress. Where do we draw the line, when it is our own thoughts, which are leading us towards being unfaithful. Where did you draw the line, did you draw the line?

I go in search of you, among an endless stream of images. Didn’t someone once tell me that there were only five faces, or was it you who told me there were only five stories. Either way I must say that I find it hard to believe those pronouncements, especially with regard to the faces one.

I abandoned my recent search for you at image thirty-five thousand, and fifty-three! The five stories concept will, I am sure, have some academic basis. Possibly lines drummed up, after the event, probably by someone with little, or no artistry within them.

Sometimes he tried too hard to make sense of the world, to figure out why people were bad to each other so often.

Is my anger misguided, do I let insignificant issues crawl under my skin, do I bilge uncontrollably onto my targets, without due regard to fact or to sensibility.

Did I pour scorn on your plans, did my sarcasm reach depths beyond the pail, did I hurt you with my words, or was it my silence that did for you.

Was I mute when I should have responded, was I deaf when I should have heard, are those the sour tastes of absence that I left you with.

Did you ever try to tell me.

Excerpt 13

A tirade of one who has been hurt

I used to listen to Lyle Lovett when we first met, I don’t quite remember how I found him, maybe it was listening to country music on the radio.

Anyway, that was back in the day, then last night, thirty or so years later, I heard what I thought was a Lyle Lovett song, while watching the film Still Alice.

It is a film about the early onset of Alzheimer’s. The song If I Had a Boat was sung twice, once by Lyle Lovett early on in the film, then once more, during the closing credits, a version sung by Karen Elson.

I guess, with that double reinforcement, I might be able to remember the song in another thirty years, or will I?

You might remember Lyle Lovett from the song Nobody Knows Me, which I often played in my flat; for you were the My Baby, which he sings so emotionally of.

Did I ever say that I got angry during my creative writing studies; with most of my anger being aimed at those who analysed, or categorised poetry.

One woman in particular, besides my tutor for critical theory, riled me considerably at the time; you can see some of my angst realised on the YouTube video Dear Ruth.

Yet now I choose to do some analysis myself; I have chosen to analyse your poem xxxxxxxxx.

First I will look for cast iron facts, those irrefutable claims with which I cannot, nor neither would wish to disagree with.

Next I will go in search of the dubious, the doubtful, those words on the cusp of truth, on the verge of lies. I will dwell on these words for some time, I will go in many directions, searching for any well-worked, or clumsily hidden meanings.

After the maybe / maybe-not section I will tear into the pure fabrications; I will be harsh, relentless in pointing out the untruths.

I will be absolutely clear where slander is being slanted at, also equally vigilant where character assassination is being pursued more than vigorously.

My closing summary will begin from an even-handed, objective viewpoint, yet very soon it will slide into the wingeing bile.

A tirade of one who has been hurt; one injured individual, who can’t but help himself from seeking, or wreaking, revengeful vengeance.

When I started with the Open University, a good few years before we met at one of their Summer Schools, I studied Mathematics, indeed I fell in love with The Math (how many love stories is the OU responsible for I wonder). I particularly liked the idea of forming, then developing, and then testing a hypothesis. I struggled at first with the concept, often my hypothesis would be no more than a reverse-engineered description of my conclusion.

I did move on though; my tutor, who also introduced me to the word kernel, illustrated for me how one could begin from quite a simple position: The world is a shape. Then adding more detail, which may make the proof ever more demanding: The world is a shape, like a globe. Then going on to the coup de grâce, a postulation, which would really offer a challenge: The world is a shape, like a globe, which is only a minute part of an endless universe.

Ms Hopkinson, now sadly departed, quietly, and gently helped me to enjoy my studies; she encouraged me to arrive early, for additional guidance, for one-on-one tuition. I have much to thank her for, which in itself, I feel, would be a pretty good beginning for a hypothesis.

Besides analysing your poem I have also gone back into the archives, to read some of your letters. This of course is more than purely a tour of happiness, or a nostalgic pastime, this is research. It is one of the ways for methodologies to be selected, to better understand the outpourings of the female mind before I return to my story.

I have read poetry by Sylvia Plath, her poem Wuthering Heights to be precise.

I did search for The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer, a book I bought for my mother on her 65th birthday; unfortunately, I was not successful with that enquiry. I did though come across To The Lighthouse and The Waves by Virginia Woolf; who knows then how my writing might now be affected.

Do you keep a reading list, do you have a Goodreads account?

I am not fastidious with the recording of my reading, but it does give me pleasure to look back on the types of works which I have read in the past. I also find it useful, as a source of inspiration, for finding future books to read.

What is the purpose of my current reading, how and why have I collated my book portfolio, over the last ten years; much is self-help, wasn’t it always; but a lot more now is poetry. I have acquired quite a substantial poetry library since first you showed me Rod McKuen, whose poetry still appeals to me whatever Donald Hall says about it; or since I read Raymond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, whilst studying at university.

Love poetry would come out on top, of any attempt at classification I would guess; what with me having a particular weakness for unrequited love. I also very much enjoy reading artistic, factual works; John Berger is one of my favourite writers. Also, as you well know, I have recently re-read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Your poem had nothing wrong. I said at the time that you had said it all, I had nothing to add; I said I was sorry back then, I am still sorry now. You said it was written to allow the words to go somewhere, I like to think that they did that. I like to think that I have become more sensitive, especially to those close to me, although I have to say that some days I doubt it.

I read the poem a few times; there are many parts that I admire, I particularly care for the fluency, and the turn-back, of these three lines:

Frequently of love
Usually of love
Sadly, of love….

To this day I still write frequently of love, usually of love, sadly of love. I had the love thing then, and I still have the love thing now, I am writing of love in the story, the story which I am just about to return to. I would love to see you again, soon. But before I go I just wanted to say how your poem reflected these three lines from Sylvia Plath’s poem Wuthering Heights:

It is too delicate
For a life in such company
Darkness terrifies it

Both poems seem to echo a life trapped, or an individual trapped; both offer the hurtful, overpowering nature of feeling trapped. I am sorry that I trapped you, and I am forever saddened, by how you decided to break out.


i’m one step closer from being two steps away from you

Excerpt 14

I don’t know why she wants to meet there

One of my old colleagues, at work in the UK, once made the point that if you want to work in Scotland then you need a Scottish presence. That you need Scottish individuals to represent you; it is well known, he said, that Scots prefer to deal with Scots.

Much the same I feel to be the case for the Basque region of Spain. The directors in Vienna agree with me, they confirm that we should set up an office in Bilbao, I am tasked with establishing such a facility.

Hildegarde calls me in the evening, straight away I tell her of my impending trip to Bilbao, I tell her that I may be going there often, adding: There, I have told you, I am going away, you are the first, outside of my work, to know.

I imagine her smiling, laughing as she retorts: That is very promising, you have remembered my instructions, it bodes well for our future. She goes on: I will be able to visit you in Bilbao; I could use the trip for my studies into the philosophy of regional governments in mainland Europe, it would be good experience.

But before that, could you meet up with me tonight, could we meet at Café Griensteidl, in an hours time?

I don’t know why she wants to meet there, nevertheless I don’t object. I shower, I dress, in casual, easily removable clothes; I feel tonight that I need to be prepared.

I pace around my apartment, doing nothing, achieving nothing, other than watching the clock wind on a few minutes.

Even though it is only a short walk to the café from my apartment I still arrive with more than five minutes to spare; this girl gets me on edge, she has got under my skin that’s for sure.

We take a secluded table to the rear, I order a bottle of Barolo wine (I feel in some need of fortification). We talk for a while; Hildegarde thinks it would be nice to walk through the city streets, now that they are becoming quiet, now that the tourists have begun to return to their hotels.

We ask for one of the free street maps from the waitress, we mark out a route, a route which not surprisingly ends back near my apartment.

We are strolling through Volksgarten when Hildegarde stops; she pulls me close to her, she draws me in hard, she kisses me ferociously. Wow, what was that for, what have I said, or what have I done, to deserve that?

Hildegarde speaks firmly: Just be quiet will you. She drags me to the park bench. We wrap our limbs around each other, we explore our outer erogenous zones, I stroke her thighs. Hildegarde slowly unbuttons the studs of my jeans, then she moves her hand down to my cock. She kisses me, even harder than before, as she squeezes me with great joy, with great aplomb.

I move my hand over her Petits Bisous silk lingerie, my fingers enter her fine embroidered knickers, to reach towards her bare skin. I move my hand, in a slow circular motion, over her firm, shaved vulva; she squirms, she squeals, as I reach the sweet spot; we work each other up into such a frenzy, we both know that this should only be foreplay yet we can’t help ourselves carrying it through, to the lust-fulfilling climax.

We walk back through the park, Hildegarde skips, dances, she runs at me to hug me, to cling to me.

When we get near to my apartment Hildegarde says that she won’t come in tonight; she wants to remember this evening as the night of the love of Volksgarten. She always wants to remember that park as the place of our spontaneous lovemaking.

Excerpt 15

I agreed it would be a neat idea

Another day another letter; Dinah appears to be enjoying writing, her words are fluent, her news is newsworthy.

Her love and her longing are still evident, yet her writing seems less fearful than in the earlier correspondence. Her father is slightly improved and therefore her trip to England is delayed. It is good news about Bilbao, she once had an apartment in the city centre.

She offers to meet up, to show me round, when I go there in search of an office. She has a quite a few contacts, in the Basque Country; many who rent out her villas, on the Algarve, through their businesses, either for their own use, or to be used as sweeteners for their clients.

She is returning to study; she is going to begin a joint MA offered by Stanford University, her two preferred subjects being Creative Writing, and Mindfulness. Stanford offer a combined, online, part-attended course which fits the bill.

I could go with her to the USA; she intends to fly in to LAX, then travel cross-country to New York, then back to Stanford. She will do this for each of the four, mandatory residential fortnights, during the two-year programme.

She has already begun studying mindfulness meditation; she feels calmer, more settled during, as well as after each practice. I think to ask her, if her letters to me are the commencement of her creative writing exercises; but I won’t put that in the letter. I do though determine for her to send me a list of her favourite authors and poets. I will also specifically request her to write out her favourite poem, and to include it in her next letter.

I did take Dinah’s letter into my work; I had read it over breakfast in my apartment, I read it again over a sandwich lunch in my office, I then read it again, after tea, back in my apartment. It was a good letter, it was a clear letter, it was a letter which offered many opportunities for the future; it was a warm, caring, loving, uplifting letter. I sat at my bureau to compose my reply.

I agreed it would be a neat idea, to meet up in Bilbao and said that it was good that her fathers health had improved, although my offer to visit England, at anytime, still stood.

I would love to go with her to America, as often as she needed, also I said I would love to become involved with her, in her studies.

With regard to mindfulness meditation I point out that I have long wanted to go to Plum Village in France. I wonder if we might do that together, I tell her a little of my Buddhist studies.

I send her a new poem of mine, one written in a recent writing workshop:

Inspired By Grace Nichols' Like A Beacon
A good suit
A pair of good shoes
A good cotton shirt
A tie
With a good, strong, woven pattern

He needs these
Articles of faith
Articles of possession
Articles of strength
For the articulated businessman

I close my letter saying that I hope to hear from her soon, that I look forwards to seeing her, in the coming weeks, in Bilbao.

Excerpt 16

We are dressed in youthful, vibrant clothes

Hildemar isn’t working in her bar job (where I first met her) anymore; it was just for pin money, also because she enjoyed meeting people, but now her studies require the minimum of distraction.

She is studious, she is good at study, she is diligent, both with her research and with her thesis writing; but she does still enjoy some distraction, I am more than thankful for that.

We have agreed to go to the Belvedere then to the Winter Palace on Saturday, there is an exhibition entitled Flirting with Strangers; it is a title which appeals to me, for a subject area which also intrigues me.

I am similarly interested in another exhibition which is on in one of the other galleries: The Women of Klimt, Schiele and Kokoschka, I read this from the write up: In the early twentieth century, the traditional relationship between the sexes was challenged by a number of social, economic and philosophical changes… Sexual liberation can be seen as a common goal of men and women …The three artists approached the ‘woman question’ from slightly different albeit overlapping perspectives.

I think to ask Hildemar about the philosophical changes referred to, in an environment where we will have some concrete references to fall back upon; both for inspiration, and support.

Hildemar thinks that it would be for the best if she stayed over at my place on Friday, then we can take the train to the Belvedere first thing on Saturday morning. I don’t disagree, I enjoy her company, one more night would be a pleasure.

We go to Café Central for a light supper, before retiring back to my apartment. We rise early, we shower; then, still in our bathrobes, we have fresh fruit salad, and strong black coffee, for breakfast.

We are dressed in youthful, vibrant clothes, as we embrace the cool morning air, on our short walk to the underground station. We get off the light railway at Unteres Belvedere, then walk through the formal gardens, towards the gallery.

Of course we have to see The Kiss, just as if you go to The Louvre you have to see the Mona Lisa. In my opinion The Kiss is a far more realisable, and visiting Belvedere Palace is a far pleasanter experience.

There is more space, there are less people, the work itself is of a greater scale, the richness of colours, the variations of the textures are easier to see, more able to be appreciated.

The abstract nature lends the opportunity for various impressions to evolve; of course it is in Vienna, it is au-naturel, so to speak.

We spend our first half hour, luxuriously bathing, in the extravagant wealth of this one painting.

We then move on, fairly quickly, through The Women of Klimt et al; I would have stayed longer had I been alone, but we press on, on our way for a coffee. Once we are sat down I ask Hildemar if it is ethical for a man, or a woman, to have three lovers at once, over the same period of time.

Is it really possible; for a man, or a woman, to love three people simultaneously? I pose the question circumspectly.

Hildemar asks what is at the root of my question. I tell a lie, and say the question was inspired by the artists. She says that I have got an interestingly enquiring mind, but yes, she will give the question some thought, because it is, she feels, a big question.

After coffee we move on to the Flirting exhibits; I am entirely underwhelmed, I think flirting is much better captured by simply sitting in the coffee houses.

There to watch the peacocks show off their prowess, to witness the mating game evolve in the pared-down, super-fascination, slow-motion coffee bar environment is, to my mind, a far better way to experience serious flirting.

In the coffee-shop-culture flirting is in context, it has a purpose, a meaning, an edge; in the gallery it loses the context, it loses the dynamic.

I fear the exhibition title is provocative simply for provocations sake, to help bulk up the numbers for what is after all, for me, a fairly disappointing exhibition.

I ask Hildemar if she would like to stay over at my place tonight; I say I want to explore Applied Ethics a little deeper, which is not entirely untrue. She says I have some good ideas, she says she enjoys being with me, she says I help her to relax, she says I help her to study, she says she would be happy to stay over tonight.

She goes on to say that she will consider my earlier question, about multiple lovers, on the train journey back to my apartment.

It is late Sunday afternoon before Hildemar leaves; we did talk, in some depth, about the Ethics of Relationships. Hildemar thought I had an alternative, ulterior motive for my question, other than the one I had given her earlier.

Of course she is correct in thinking that, for it is the ethics of my very own situation which trouble my mind at the moment.

My dreaming thoughts go barefoot in the evening.

Excerpt 17

This will be an almost entirely business trip

In my own research I came across the book Polyamory in the 21st Century: Love and Intimacy with Multiple Partners, by Deborah Anapol, who states in the Introduction: So the question is not so much whether to love more than one but rather whether it works better to have multiple partners sequentially or at the same time.

Anapol goes on to talk about different types of love (not lust) of allowing love to lead the direction for the search for love. She also claims that with regard to heterosexual polyamory she has the breadth, the depth of knowledge equal to anyone alive today (2010).

I make a play to myself, by suggesting, through my inner voice, that I too am simply following a selection process. I make a crass leap of faith, to suggest to myself, that at some time in the future, I will be with only one woman; it is just, that at this moment in time, I don’t know who that woman is to be.

I then dwell on Anapol’s idea that love itself will lead the way. I have to say I find it hard to justify to myself that I could equally love Dinah, Hildemar, Hildegarde, in what might be called a true love way; yet in the moments, that is exactly how I do feel.

I do feel to be very much in love (or is it mostly lust in one particular case) with each and every one of them, in those close intimate times, when I am together with them, alone.

Should I open the situation up, to all three women? Is it not madness to think, that I could let them know about all three relationships, without incurring some form of meltdown. In any event is that not simply me being weak, weak and indecisive.

I accept that last postulation a little too quickly for my own liking. But I do reflect, I determine that I have to come up with some clear aims, some firm objectives; almost the opposite I feel, from letting love lead the way.

Monday has arrived very quickly, I have a whistle-stop visit to Holland due this week. I am to meet up with consulting engineers in Amersfoort, they have a major land reclamation scheme on their books, where they have asked for our input.

I decide it would be best to take one of our senior engineers along, because the discussions could become very technical. This will be an almost entirely business trip, although we will have a meal, a few drinks, with people who will hopefully soon become our business partners.

I let Hildegarde know that I am going to be away later in the week, she says in that case she will be at my place tonight, about seven; I feel to have no means of denying her.

It is right on seven, when I open the apartment door. Hildegarde stands there with what I take to be a friend, standing right there beside her; another voluptuous, exterminatingly beautiful, lively young woman.

They link arms, they dance a playful jig, they kiss each other, fully on the lips; they appear to be starting out exactly as they mean to carry on.

We want you to take us to a nightclub, but first we want to go to a bar to get a little bit drunk; it’s your choice, we can either go tonight or go on Saturday, you choose.

I know that I want to keep the weekend clear; I tell them to get themselves ready, while I shower, while I change; I do though show them to the drinks cabinet.

I am taken by surprise as Hildegarde’s friend enters the wet-room. She is absolutely totally naked: Something for your mind, for your body, and for your soul. Her words whispered in my ear, as she hands me a glass of iced martini.

She swirls, she strokes herself provocatively, over her pert firm breasts, over her luscious red lips, over her silky suntanned thighs, all the way up to her crotch. Nothing is left to the imagination, she smiles, then she turns away, she leaves gracefully, firmly closing the door behind her.

What the fuck? What the fuck was that all about? I say those words out loud to myself.

By the time I go back into the dining room the two nubile young women are wearing matching, free flowing, short, silk-cotton frocks, with so so little underneath from what I can make out.

The Bombay Gin and Dry Martini bottles are both half empty on my dining room table, the girls glasses are also empty.

I am wearing a slim fitting, bespoke-tailored, gun-metal blue suit, with a smoke-black Armani shirt. I fetch a thin tie from the bedroom to complete the look. Ties can be so very useful on a man! Hildegarde mouths this to her friend, as she shoots me a mischievous, sideways-smiling, self-indulgent glance.

There is a part of me that wants to press the emergency button; this night could go too far, indeed hasn’t it already gone a bit too far.

Of course I know there is no turning back, I have to go through with it, whatever it is going to turn out to be.

Hildegarde cannot take her eyes off her friend, clearly she is besotted; beside herself with love, overwhelmed by lust. The friends name is Wilda, I imagine we will hear more about her in due course.

It is after nine when we enter the loud, busy East Coast Cocktail Bar, which is awash with American music, and visceral, inebriated, youthful bodies. It is another three hours before the time to go to the Flex Nightclub; I am forty feeling forty, not forty feeling twenty-five anymore.

My two companions are a certain sort of centre-of-attention; the young turks at the bar stare unduly, their eyes wanton with (if only they knew it) pointless imagination.

I am not ignored, in the quiet moments Hildegarde tries to talk about her friend, about how, about where they met, unfortunately it isn’t quiet long enough for a coherent conversation.

With another attempt at engagement I hear snippets about their fast, energetic, risk-filled, beautiful life; I nod, I smile, I don’t say it, but I do feel a little bit of relief.

We dance as a three at the nightclub, in many ways it is a continuation of the bar. Except that the music is a shade more driven, the noise is a decibel or ten higher, the light-show is imaginatively, and super-sensually synchronised.

But, after half an hour or so, I ask Hildegarde if they would mind if I slipped off home, I tell them they can come back to the apartment later, if that is what they wish.

I take a cab back to my apartment; once home I am in bed, and asleep, in no time at all. I wake to the sound of the alarm; the girls, so it appears, did not come back. Is that one down one to go I ask myself cynically.

Of course it was never going to be Hildegarde was it. No, no it wasn’t; for all the right reasons too, whatever those reasons might turn out to be. But she was vivacious wasn’t she; she was, and I will most certainly miss her.

Excerpt 18

In the second letter

It is just after lunchtime on Friday when we get back into the office. Our trip to the Netherlands has been successful; my engineer says he now feels happy to take the project forwards on his own, oh for one hundred such assistants.

I go home early. Hildemar has left me a message, to say that she is going to be away for a few days, on a field trip. In my text reply I say for her to enjoy herself, but advise that there will be questions on her return; I imagine her smiling as she reads that.

There are two letters from Portugal. The half empty bottles of alcohol are still on the table; I must have left my apartment in quite a hurry on Tuesday morning!

I take a long bath in the luxurious ensuite bathroom; I light a couple of scented candles, put on some relaxing autogenic music, so that I might meditate as I soak. This is the life, the quiet life. Afterwards I lay on my big old comfortable bed.

I have not yet become one for making unnecessary telephone calls; I do not wish to disturb, nor do I wish to be disturbed.

I wake early on Saturday morning, I shower, dress then leave my apartment, with Dinah’s unopened letters in my hand. Café breakfasts are just the ticket when your life is in no need of a rush.

I find a quiet seat, order coffee with scrambled eggs, before I settle back, to read my correspondence. I check the postmark to see which letter was sent first, I open it with high expectations, I am not in any way disappointed.

Dinah writes ever so well; she congratulates me on my poem, says that she has also found the poem which I used for inspiration. She suggests both poems clearly show the search for confirmation of identity, both show a need for some certainty to pin ones life on; a desire to show that one knows ones roots, that one understands ones heritage, that one values one’s own strengths.

Yes, all of that is true, I say to myself; flattery will get you everywhere Dinah.

In the second letter she says she has taken the opportunity to look up the retreat programme at Plum Village. There are a couple of good opportunities, she wonders if I would be able to join her there, on either of the dates.

She has had a very positive response to her application for Stanford; they have told her that they have links to Universities in Europe, where she could visit to study; Paris and Vienna are on the list.

I read the letters twice before the eggs arrive, I read the letters for a third time, with my second cup of coffee.

I determine to write my reply tomorrow. I go shopping in the afternoon; bookshops, gift shops, art shops, delicatessens, cake shops, menswear shops, shoe shops, patisseries, cheese shops, wine merchants. Finally I visit the amazing perfumery, near the Steffl department store.

Fortunately most of the shops deliver, so I don’t get overloaded; I do though keep the musk eau-de-cologne, and the bamboo socks with me. I want to feel good this evening; I am meeting up with a woman from work, who I bumped into in the bookshop. Vienna, you see, can be such a small, small place.

We meet outside the La Cantinetta Italian restaurant; it is quietly exclusive, a good place to talk. We go through the pleasantries, place our order, I choose a good wine, but not a Barolo.

I tell Farica a little about myself; I begin my conversation by explaining my predicament with Hildemar, and with Dinah. I throw in a little bit about Hildegarde for good measure, but I don’t mention the wet room incident with Wilda.

Farica laughs, so you’ve brought me here to sort out your love life have you? Did you think, because I was reading about the Brontes, that I would have a good handle on romance.

I apologise: no, no, it’s just that I want to start off clear, I want all my cards on the table, I don’t want to hide anything from you; shall we begin again.

We have a good evening; we talk about our company, about what we each do there. I am new, so I ask her about some of the pitfalls, some of the people to avoid. I am told that I am becoming well known: people are talking about my success in winning work, her colleagues would be impressed if she told them that she had been out to dinner with me.

But she won’t be doing that, she likes to be discreet. She hopes that I would also respect her privacy. I am humbled, but respond unequivocally: that’s fine I say, but no secrets between us if that’s ok. Farica smiles: Yes, yes that is more than ok.

Even though Farica lives a good way from my abode I do offer to walk her home, to Florianigasse 24, where she has an apartment which overlooks Schoenborn Park.

We talk easily about literature as we walk, she knows of all the writers I mentioned earlier, Virginia Woolf et al. She also tells me of some of the more ‘lively’ writers who she admires, such as Anais Nin.

I make a note of the Café Merkur, beside Farica’s apartment for future reference; Farica asks me in for coffee but I politely decline. I don’t think she is offended, anyway we have already agreed to meet again, in the bookshop next Saturday.

I walk home, I feel good, I am relaxed; the streets are becoming quiet, the cool night air revitalises me. Tonight I have no need for bars, or nightclubs; Farica has made my life a little clearer for now, for this moment – although when I get home I do look up Anais Nin.

Excerpt 19

I hope you feel that you can share with me

I feel a mild euphoria as I write this. Can you sense a change in the flow, between the You sections and the Story sections?

Do you think the imaginary characters allow me more freedom (than writing about you, writing for you, writing with you in mind).

Do I have more fluidity, am I less constrained; do I construct a story yet, or are the days too too early for you to say.

The scene with Wilda worried me; am I moving towards soft porn, am I using cliché too too often, is what I say, or the way that I say it, way too obvious.

All I can tell you is that I could visualise those situations, I could feel those emotions.

Of course you know full well where those images spring from, you know how, why, and particularly where, those feelings were first created.

You know, I guess, almost exactly, what went into the veritable store which I am now raiding.

I hope you feel that you can share with me, in the unveiling; I hope you also might be able to enjoy a little, or a lot more of the reliving of those rampant celebrations.

I had a need, or a desire if you wish, to go back, to re-read the correspondence between us, shortly after our final break up.

I had sent you a poem, which began by talking about clean blue jeans, about fresh white shirts, on bright light Saturday mornings; you said you liked the poem a lot.

I mistook that for thinking that you liked me a lot, I thought perhaps we still had a chink of an opening to work things out.

I soon realised that was not the case; and since that time I have tried to clearly separate what people feel about my words, from what people feel about me.

Sometimes it works, sometimes though the plaudits get through to me, sometimes I am opened up by the flattery.

Do you know anything at all about Polyamory Research, is that something you have had to use in your relationship therapy work.

I have read this definition: Polyamory is the non-possessive, honest, responsible and ethical philosophy and practice of loving multiple people simultaneously.

I am still trying to work that out; does it absolutely require all of the parties to be all knowing, all fully-compliant participants?

When we first met I said to myself, that if ever you needed to go to another man I would entirely understand that.

Although that inner-proclamation did not prevent me from being insanely jealous, when I thought the other-man situation had actually arisen.

As the story progresses I am becoming more and more interested in philosophy; more aware of morals, ethics, and psychology.

I turn to you, for real life expositions, to mix with the internet riddled theories, of what I take to be so called academia.

I ask myself just how did you gather your set of ethics, your compendium of morals; what led you to so so actively try to dissuade me, from breaking up my family, to become your lover.

What was the tipping point in my persuasive efforts, was it a cumulative effect, or was there a singular distinct-action, which shifted your perspective.

Were you angry about the position, which you had held so so firmly, being overturned; or were you thankful, that you no longer needed to continue to struggle to uphold all of your values.

Values which seemed to be at odds with your emotions; those impositions which were at a counter, or contra-rotation, to your feelings and actions.

Do you have a clear memory of those times, or were you, like me, all too too caught up in the moments.

My first writing was a dark poem; it was very much a poem about my being trapped, in the same way that you seemed trapped in your poem; also in the way that Sylvia Plath, in her poem Wuthering Heights, seems to be trapped.

I don’t have my dark poem anymore, but I do remember the back bedroom, where I stood, as I composed it. They were very black times, just when they should have been very bright times.

No one I think noticed too too much; I think I kept my darkness under wraps.

I certainly did not go in seek of advice, or counselling, or therapy; instead I turned to writing, I know not why, for I had no background in words. Indeed I had mostly ridiculed the need to study English, whilst at Grammar School.

Excerpt 20

Occasionally of course there are words

You and I had some pretty woeful ups and downs; both during our years together, also during our many partings.

I got very low; crying, banging my fists, as I laid down, in desperation on my office floor.

I don’t want to go there now, except to say that losing your love was a quite different pain, to that of which I wrote in my first poem.

You helped me out of that darkness, though you probably didn’t know it; you took me to a level of elation, an ecstasy, which made it impossible for me to sink quite so so low ever again.

I never have, I never have although my poetry might suggest otherwise; don’t trust my words, trust me, I think is the clear and firm message here.

Occasionally of course there are words which the writer has no power to control; they rise from the deep stirrings, and are on the page, before the writer knows.

I sent some such words to you a few years ago; you wrote back: That’s a sweet little poem, I don’t know why you sent it, and don’t quite know what to say; then you went on to say something quite ordinary.

I retracted my indiscriminate words, I shouldn’t have; I wish I hadn’t asked for you to forget them, I hope you haven’t totally forgotten them.

I do try, very hard, to be honest with my writing, but I do know that the urge for creativity is a most manipulative fellow.

I did try to write clearly to you during our break ups; however, emotion usually got the better of me.

So so easily, so so powerfully, emotion took control of my mind, and my pen.

Subject: Stephane Mallarme

This poem makes me think of you
I don't know why
But it's true
Most days I think of you
I don't know why
But it's true

Excerpt 21

Your poem’s ending unsettles me

I don’t tell Dinah about my meeting Farica, in the letter which I write on the Sunday morning, but I do say that I could make either of the Plum Village dates.

I am smiling as I am writing, I am not sat at the bureau, instead I am at my table, bathed in the early morning sunlight.

I slept really well last night, I woke refreshed, I will walk to the park this afternoon, but first to enjoy writing this letter:

Dearest Dinah

Yes, it would be good to meet up in Paris, or Vienna, when you go to college; Paris would be my preference, but really I don’t mind (although just at the moment I would prefer it not to be Vienna I think to myself).

I congratulate you, on the poem that you have written out; by coincidence I once wrote out The Waiting by Stephen Dunn, from his book The Insistence of Beauty.

If your first two lines are aimed at me, there is much truth held there; patience, calm, desperation, ache, silence are what my poems dwell upon – I carry these things with me most of the time, in football manager speak I have that in my locker.

Your poem’s ending unsettles me, the word stupid is so so very strong, so so very harsh, so so very unlike me to say that unless I was incredibly angry, almost uncontrollably angry, and I try oh so so hard, not to be driven like that anymore.

My first trip to Bilbao is likely to be in two weeks time; if you would be able to be there then it would be really good, especially if you could show me around. I will be there for a week, beginning on the Friday, or the Saturday.

We have had more success with work in the Netherlands; Amsterdam is a place that should go on our list of places to visit, I would like to know more about Rembrandt.

How did such a city as Amsterdam, or Vienna for that matter, evolve? I would like to study sociology, perhaps I too should return to college.

At Cranfield we got so wound up in those abstract business models didn’t we; those fictitious studies, of work, those fantasies of business opportunity.

We never really got near the politics on which most business is founded; it was like for two years we simply played some glorified version of monopoly.

The kids playing games right now, on their home computers, they learn loads more about strategy than we ever did.

But we did get our graduation certificates didn’t we – Cranfield being only second to Harvard; though we never did like coming second, did we.

I am going for a walk in the park this afternoon, also I will soon visit the Klimt and Schiele Exhibition. I find their paintings very sexy, especially Schiele, I would like to take you with me to see them one day.

That’s all for now, see you soon.

Love X

Excerpt 22

I could book the two of you a meeting room

Monday night is odd without contact from Hildegarde.

I half expected her to turn up, tearful, at my door, to tell me that the romance with Wilda was over; just wishful thinking on my behalf, wishing for those mad outlandish moments to resurface.

Instead it is Hildemar on the telephone, which is most unusual; she is back from her field trip, she says she would like to meet up for a coffee, but not to talk about ethics, or philosophy, not tonight.

We meet in the Café Central; I ask for a quiet table.

Hildemar immediately tells me that there is some trouble, with her sister Hildegarde. Apparently she was involved in a fight with a young girl called Wilda, in a nightclub, they both finished up in a police cell for the night.

The family don’t know what to do, Hildemar thinks I may be able to offer advice by saying: it is way outside my fathers territory, you are more of an age to understand her.

I am dumfounded, but realise I have to appear concerned, yet not over involved in my response; well I say, first of all we really need to understand the background.

Just what had gone on beforehand. Fights usually start for a reason. We need to identify what that reason is.

Hildemar hugs me: I knew you were the one to ask. I knew you would be the right person to confide in.

I suggest that I meet up with Hildegarde, alone, and in a quiet place; a respectable place, a calm place.

A space where we can talk at ease, at length, to find out all the details; I suggest we may have to meet a few times, to work through all of the issues.

Hildemar smiles at me: You know you sound just like a psychoanalyst.

I offer a measured reply: Yes, well, I am a good listener; as a salesman I have learnt to listen, to listen, then to remember; to remember what is important for my customers, before telling them what we can do, that is good for them. It should come as no surprise then that I think a good salesman might well make a good psychotherapist.

Hildemar smiles again: I could book the two of you a meeting room in the National Library if you think that would be ok.

I am a little worried as to how close it is to Volksgarten but it does sound ideal for our needs. We decide on Wednesday lunchtimes, for six consecutive weeks, if Hildegarde agrees.

Hildemar is to go ahead to book the room, then to ask Hildegarde to telephone me tomorrow evening.

We then talk a little bit about the field trip, Hildemar says she has a lot of writing up to do, we agree to meet up on the coming Sunday, before going off on our separate ways.

Excerpt 23

The National Library, would be good

The phone rings at seven on Tuesday evening; it is Hildegarde, she tells me that Hildemar has asked her to talk with me, she didn’t say what about, or why, but she doesn’t think that Hildemar knows anything about us.

I wait for her to pause then say: I would like to meet up with you in a quiet place, for a calm conversation; we owe it to ourselves to talk, I do so so want to hear your side of the story of recent events. The National Library, would be good.

We make a date, for one o’clock the very next day; when we meet outside the Heldenplatz entrance to The Modern Library Reading Rooms. I put my arm around her shoulder, I want her to know that I wish to be protective; I kiss her lightly on the cheek, I want her to know that today is about being platonic.

We climb the stairs to the meeting spaces on the first floor, I look for, and find our reservation, we enter the quiet, simple, studious room.

I explain that we are going to have an almost informal question and answer session: Please speak as freely, as openly, as you feel able. Don’t worry about your answers, you have no reason to worry at all; this meeting is totally confidential, please say anything that you want.

Do you like Vienna?

Well, it is all I have ever known; I was born here, I have grown up here, my family are here, my friends are here, I went to school here, I go to university here.

Do you like your university?

Yes, it is a good university; I enjoy my subject, I am good at it, we talk about many things which interest me, we look at how the world is, at how individuals are, at how societies function; we look at the past, we look at the present, we study the archives, we follow the current research.

Do you have any objectives after university?

No, not really; I do want to travel, I do want to go to other world cities, I do want to become less dependant on my family, I do want to be self sufficient.

Do you think that you are overly dependent on your family, do you resent that at all?

Well, our family is in what you would call a good class, we are fairly wealthy, I go short of nothing. Of course that sets the goal very high if I do desire to become self-sufficient at that level. One might even say that such a pressure would be a slow strangulation, for I never could achieve such a level of self-sufficiency.

So you choose to break out of the family mould, is that it?

I don’t know quite what you mean by break out; I have a very loving family, I love my family deeply, but maybe I am different, maybe I feel different in some ways. If that is what you mean by break out then yes, yes I do want to be my own person, I do want to set and to follow my own agenda.

And what is on that agenda?

There is a pause, this is the first time that Hildegarde has not replied immediately.

I am not completely sure; I am learning about so many things new to me, I am being influenced by so many people new to me. I am following the excitement, I feel as though I am being drawn in by the excitement, without necessarily knowing where that will take me. I think it is too soon to be certain of my distant agenda.

I want to ask what happened in the night club, but I dare not; I want to ask about what happened between us, but I dare not. I want to ask about the relationship with Wilda, but I dare not; instead I fall back on to the safety of the childhood questions. Where did you go for your holidays, as a child?

My favourite place was the lake, we had a cabin at the waters edge, it was remote, but it was welcoming, ideal for a family group. We had a lot of fun as a family at the lake, yet somehow I always thought my mother was not quite totally engaged there.

What makes you say that?

Well, you could see that, in the quiet moments, my mother’s mind was elsewhere; she was thinking of someone who wasn’t there, someone who couldn’t be there, or so it seemed. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I found out that she had lost a son in childbirth, maybe that was it; oh and by the way it wasn’t a son by my father, it was before they met.

What was it like to be on vacation with an older sister?

It was fun, Hildemar already knew all the places I would like; she had seen all the things that I would like to see, she had done all the adventurous stuff, stuff which I would go on to do. It was easy to follow Hildegarde; I didn’t have to work much out for myself, I enjoyed that at the time, now I wonder what I would be like today, if those times had been different.

So now you want to be different to Hildemar, is that it, you want to forge a path that your older sister has not already trodden?

No, no; not by choice, not by design, not in conscious rebellion if that is what you mean; Hildemar made lots of very good choices, only a fool would not follow some of them. Aren’t I at the same university, aren’t I studying the same subject, isn’t it Hildemar who asked me to be here today.

I go quiet for a moment: I think we have done enough today, would it be ok to meet up again next week, same place, same time?

Yes, that’s ok, but what about in between, would you like me to come see you at your place?

I don’t think that is a good idea, not for the moment Hildegarde, let’s see what develops. I offer to walk with her back to the university. As we walk I can see her thinking before she asks: Is it ok if I talk with my sister Hildemar about our discussions?

I respond positively, though with a rider: If you want to talk about it then that is fine by me, but remember I will tell no one.

I leave her at the university then go back to my apartment, I can work there for the afternoon.

Excerpt 24

We make our way to the canal

Thursday and Friday are relatively quiet, both at work, and at home. I have prepared for Bilbao, the flight is booked for a week on Friday, I am going to be away for nine nights.

On Saturday morning I meet up with Farica in Shakespeare & Company, a well known bookseller (but no relation to the famous Paris shop of the same name).

This shop is on Sterngasse, in the old part of the city; they stock a very broad range of books, almost all genres, almost every topic.

I point out The Very Short Introduction range by Oxford University Press to Farica. I tell her that I have read some of these with a critical eye, indeed I wrote essays on a couple of them. I even had it in my mind that I could build up my own degree, through this form of study; although that is a project still in the making.

They also have a considerable Collectors Section with Joyce, Conrad, and Oscar Wilde among so so many others. We browse for ages, although in real-time the time passes very quickly indeed.

Farica comes across to me with a book in her hand: I would like to buy this for you. She shows me On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History by Nicholas A. Basbanes. I read the advertising blurb which goes:

A consideration of all things paper – the invention that revolutionised human civilisation; its thousand-fold uses (and misuses); its sweeping influence on society; its makers, shapers, collectors, and pulpers – by the admired cultural historian, and author of the trilogy on all things book related: A Gentle Madness; Patience and Fortitude; A Splendour of Letters.

I am touched by her offer: Farica let me tell you that that is very thoughtful selection, it would be a wonderful gift; I must take you for lunch in return.

We make our way to the canal, then walk towards Wettsteinpark; ultimately I am heading for Café Restaurant Zum Hannes, which I think will fit the mood of the day entirely.

I am not wrong; this is old fashioned Vienna, it is a little bit run down, the air conditioning is a late twentieth century addition, with no attempt whatsoever at cover up. This is a place to be relaxed, and today I feel as though we are both very relaxed indeed.

It should be about half an hours walk back to Farica’s apartment, but as we reach the Sigmund Freud Museum we stop; together we both spontaneously decide that we would like to go in. There is a special exhibition on: SO THIS IS THE STRONG SEX. WOMEN IN PSYCHOANALYSIS. I have to see, I have to enquire, I read this off the reception poster: “So this is the strong sex” – Emma Eckstein is said to have once greeted Sigmund Freud with this ironic allusion. Succinctly, this quotation conveys the possible new interpretations of predominant gender roles. As patients, these women provided Sigmund Freud with the basis for his discovery of the unconscious; the “father of psychoanalysis” himself confirms how he developed his treatment method known as the “talking cure” together with them.

Farica can sense my deep level of interest: I hope you don’t plan to use any of those techniques on me, I don’t feel ready for a Talking Cure just yet.

I take her hand, and tell her sincerely that I know she is well balanced, that she is in good command of her own well-being, I tell her that I admire her for that. She blushes as she says: Move on can we.

I don’t tell her about my work with Hildegarde, but I want to; instead I satisfy myself that I have taken the vow of client confidentiality. It is a rather thin veil, and one which doesn’t quite clear my commitment to Farica, about being totally open, totally honest, from the very start.

It is almost five o’clock in the afternoon when we reach Café Merkur; I take Farica’s hand: would you like to end the day with a cake, and a coffee? That would be very pleasant, she says, and gives me quite a hug.

Excerpt 25

The questions from Hildemar come thick and fast

Hildemar comes around to my place on Sunday morning, she is feeling very pleased with herself; she has caught up on her field trip notes, written what she thinks is a good essay, following our visit to see Klimt et al.

Although not surprisingly the subject very quickly turns to Hildegarde.

How did you get on, what did you find out, can you help her, are you going to meet her again, do you have a plan, what did you ask her, how did she respond.

The questions from Hildemar come thick and fast.

I just sit there until her energetic burst comes to an end, she is quiet for a couple of moments, then quite perceptively she says: You are not going to tell me are you, you are not going to tell me one single thing about your meeting are you.

I smile, she laughs and says: You bastard, you great big beautiful bastard, how the hell can I thank you.

We go to Café Central for brunch; I order coffee, and pancakes with maple syrup, Hildemar chooses tea, and poached egg on toast.

Tell me about your mother are my opening words.

Oh so I’m to be part of the process now am I, my Mr part-time psychoanalyst.

Hildemar’s instant, untainted, without-too-much-thought response hits me: No, no, not at all, I just wanted a bit of background; don’t worry about it; anyway I will ask Hildegarde on Wednesday, when I see her again.

Hildemar looks at me quizzically but forcibly: This isn’t going to come between us is it; my younger sister isn’t going to come between us is she, I couldn’t bear that, that isn’t going to happen is it?

Bloody hell I think to myself, what do they say, If you are in a hole, stop digging; I think it is high time I stopped digging, for sure.

No, no Hildemar, Hildegarde is not going to come between us, neither is my trying to help Hildegarde going to come between us.

Hildemar takes my hand and squeezes it. Brunch arrives; when we have eaten I politely ask if she would like to go to Minoritenkirche.

Yes, I would like that a lot, then could we go back to your apartment?

Why yes, yes of course we can. How easily the response words pour out, without heed, or haste, or hesitation

The full name for the church at Minoritenkirche, according to Hildemar, is: Italian National Church of Mary of the Snows.

I have to let out my feelings, I have to reveal my response: to me it is a monstrous, ugly, but beautiful building; the building is also a reflection of the art within.

I don’t find it engaging, I don’t find it at all uplifting, I don’t have a feel for the whole religion thing, Catholicism does not in any way embrace me.

Hildemar swiftly and smilingly replies: ha ha, the guilt of the non-believer; how much easier life is when you let the love of God enter your mind, enter your body, enter your soul.

How lucky am I, to be able to touch this marble to feel His warmth flow into me.

I hold her, I look into her eyes, I bathe in Hildemar’s sincerity; this is most certainly one good woman.

We walk back to my apartment via the Burgtheater; I want to look at this far more elegant building, to wash out the oddity, the vulgarity of the church.

I also want to see what shows are coming up, in the near future. I see that Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde is on in the next month. I think to myself that Farica would probably appreciate that, I make a mental note of the times and the dates.

Hildemar feels that she must not distract her studies with theatre she tells me: maybe after the summer, maybe then we could come to a show.

I try my best to sound sincere: yes, yes that’s fine Hildemar, I do understand what is important for you.

Hildemar puts music on when we get back to my place, it is still the Van Morrison CD, which I was listening to the night when Hildegarde first telephoned.

My mind does an instant switchback, I feel a chill come over me before Hildemar volunteers, without my asking: I will tell you some things about my mother:

My father was not her first love, not her one true love, if you know what I mean. He is a good man, a very good man, he did look after my mother, when she was at her most vulnerable, but he wasn’t the one true love; whatever we all might think that the one true love is, or represents.

I think my mother never stops searching for that one true love, I think that is where she loses herself, in that never-ending, relentless, hopeless venture.

Hildegarde and I could never really get close to our mother. Our father took us everywhere, father made all the fun, father gave us all the advice, father directed our lives; father made it such that we have followed a very masculine path.

So we had quite an unbalanced upbringing, from a parental viewpoint; there has been a shortage of femininity in our lives, a real lack, of close up, warm, tender, motherly love.

I hope that helps. Now can we make a few plans for us, because you are going to Bilbao soon, aren’t you.

Yes, yes I am, next Friday I leave, but I will still see Hildegarde on Wednesday. I return a week the following Sunday, perhaps you could take me, to and from the airport. You could see me off, you could welcome me home.

So now I am to be your assistant, your lackey am I; and are there any other services I could offer. Hildegarde smiles with a cross between intrigue, and disbelief whilst running her fingers tenderly through my hair.

It is after ten when Hildemar and I decide that it is time for her to go, I open the door for her saying: today was a good day, a really good day, let us kiss each other goodnight.

After that Hildemar skips off down the hall.

Excerpt 26

Wilda’s parents had to go for fertility treatment

What do you know about Wilda’s family?

That is my first question to Hildegarde, in our second therapy session, to which she replies:

They are wonderful, they are very loving; her mother, her father, they really care for her, yes maybe they do over-indulge her a bit. But doesn’t that always happen when there is only one child, especially when they have tried so hard for that child.

What do you mean by tried so hard?

Well, Wilda’s parents had to go for fertility treatment at Wunschbaby-Zentrum, it is the place of the first IVF baby born in Vienna. They had to make a massive commitment to have Wilda; it is not such a surprise is it, that they dote on her; is it any wonder that they are so over-protective.

Does Wilda think they are too protective, is she rebelling in any way?

Well, she is young, she is happy, and she does have an almost insatiable appetite for exploration. I don’t think her family know half of what she gets up to.

Do you try to guide her, is that what the fight was about? No, no, don’t answer that question.
I stop to reload my thoughts: How long have you known Wilda, where did you meet?

I have known her at a distance for a long time, we went to nearby schools, and we saw each other at inter-school functions, but it was only through university that I really got to know her. Wilda is studying Art Related Philosophy; she hooks up with some, how should I say, some interesting people. We met when all the philosophy students were gathered together, in a get to know each other situation. I heard her story, and she heard mine; it felt almost as though instantly we were soulmates, and we became inseparable, at university, after that.

And outside of university?

I don’t know what to say about that, I don’t want to go over what we, what you and I shared, I mean.

Was that the first time you had been to a nightclub together, the night when you came round to my apartment?

Sort of; certainly it was the first time we had got drunk before going clubbing, or at least got drunk in the way in which we went about it that night.

Whose idea was it, to come to my place?

Well, I had told Wilda about you; about your swish apartment, about your fabulous job, about your well-cut suits, about your taste for all the best that life had to offer. I think Wilda wanted to see that, I believe she wanted to see if she could top some of your previous experiences; I think that the challenge excited her.


Real fearlessness is the product of tenderness. It comes from letting the world tickle your heart, your raw and beautiful heart. You are willing to open up, without resistance or shyness, and face the world. You are willing to share your heart with others.

I tell Hildegarde that I won’t be able to see her next week, but I say that I have arranged for someone else to come along, I explain that her name is Farica, and I think that the two of you will get along fine.

That’s okay with me Hildegarde says, do you mind if I tell her about you, is anything off limits?

I would prefer it if you didn’t dwell on Wilda or about you coming round to my flat, but if you feel it is essential then you must.

Please do try to be as open, and as honest as you can; Farica will respect your privacy entirely, that I can assure you, she is very professional, she is extremely discrete.

Excerpt 27

You will be very good at it

I had saved Thursday evening to meet up with Farica; I do go around to Café Merkur, which is almost next door to her apartment. I ask if she would be willing to stand in for me to do a ‘Talking Cure‘ with Hildemar. I can sense hesitancy.

You just have to ask her questions, listen very closely to her answers, then form your next question from her previous answer; you will be very good at it, of that I am most certain.

We move on, we chat for a while about the book Farica bought me, though I sense some distraction, but then she says: would it be ok for us to go to my apartment, to practice some ‘Talking Cure’.

This time it is me who is hesitant, but eventually I say yes, we finish our coffee, leave the café, then go to Farica’s apartment. Immediately Farica begins the Q&A.

What was your first school like?

It was idyll, a small school with railings; maybe thirty or forty pupils, certainly no more, between the ages of five and eleven. I was the only one to pass the eleven plus, to go on to Grammar school.

Can you remember any of your friends from junior school?

I didn’t expect that question, I expected a question about Grammar school.

That would be too obvious, I want to keep her guessing a bit, when I do this for real.

That is wonderful, I just knew you would be good at this. We both laugh.

Which teacher did you most dislike at grammar school?

Mr Humpston, he taught French, he was fat, bulbous and a bully. I thought he was ignorant, he showed a complete lack of sensitivity; he was also Deputy Head, which meant he was responsible for caning pupils, he caned me a few times.

Did you deserve to be caned?

So this time your question does follow straight on.

Why of course, didn’t I say I wanted to keep Hildegarde guessing, when the real time comes. Is there anything I shouldn’t ask you, or more to the point is there anything I shouldn’t ask Hildegarde?

Well, for me you may ask anything you like, both right now, and in fact always; I don’t want there to be any secrets between us, ever. As for Hildegarde all I ask is that you use your discretion, please don’t ask her anything which would make her think that I, or anyone else for that matter, has been talking to you about her.

How do you want me to end our ‘Talking Cure’, with Hildegarde I mean, not with you, not this minute.

I have a plan for that; I would like you to bring the session to an end gradually, about midway through questioning reinforce the message that whatever she tells you goes no further.
Encourage her to talk freely; be prepared for longer stretches of listening, show that you are happy simply to listen.

At the end let her know that if she wants to see you again then all she has to do is ask, but confirm that it will be me who will be seeing her the following week. I want a degree of certainty around the process, for Hildegarde’s sake. I feel we must protect her.

Farica goes to the hi-fi, she takes out David Bowie’s album Nothing Has Changed (The best of David Bowie). Would you mind if we listened to some music?

Let’s Dance comes up second track, Farica pulls me up from my chair, into the middle of the sitting room’s wooden floor and says; well let’s dance why don’t we.

We dance apart, we dance close together, we dance, we laugh, we dance, we chat, we dance, and we dance…

Then, when Absolute Beginner comes on, Farica says to stop the dancing for a while. Let’s just listen to the words. With Farica’s encouragement we sit down on the couch, we hold hands, we listen to the lyrics:

I've nothing much to offer
There's nothing much to take
I'm an absolute beginner
But I'm absolutely sane
As long as we're together
The rest can go to hell
I absolutely love you
But we're absolute beginners
With eyes completely open
But nervous all the same

We don’t bother dancing anymore, we stay on the couch, holding each other, kissing each other, fondling each other, becoming closer to each other, becoming warm with each other.

It is almost midnight when I leave, and when we say our parting words:

Good luck with Hildegarde.

Good luck to you, stay safe in Bilbao.

Excerpt 28

We have three days all to ourselves

My flight arrives in Bilbao twenty-five minutes before Dinah’s flight is due, I go for a coffee while I wait.

Dinah looks resplendent as she enters the arrivals hall, she is wearing an exclusive, sleeveless, slim-fit turquoise dress.

Am I honoured or what? I am honoured, I give her a big hug, then put her smart cases onto my trolley; we sure look swell as a couple.

We take a cab, to the five star Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao, which will be our base for the next nine days. We check in just after twelve, the porter takes our bags while we go for a drink, on the seventh floor terrace deck, which overlooks the Guggenheim Museum.

The sun is warm, there is little, if anything, of a breeze, the cocktails are chilled; I am here with a beautiful woman, does life get any better than this. Dinah opens our conversation: Do you have many meetings to go to?

No, not today I don’t, actually not any at all until Monday; we have three days all to ourselves, no one will disturb us. Today I don’t want to do anything but be with you.

I have missed you, it seems like ages since I’ve seen you. I want to thank you for your letters; I don’t know how I would live without your letters, you do write so beautifully.

I do love your letters Dinah, I do so so love you.

And honestly I did, in that moment I meant every word I said; yet what about Farica, what about Hildemar, and most of all what about Hildegarde.

We have a very spacious suite; we have a good sized sitting area, to enjoy the views of the museum and of the river. We have a super-large bathroom, with two of everything, except only one roll top bath, though we soon found out, that too did have room for two.

We have a work area, with two big desks, we have an emperor-size bed, with lots of room for fun, as well as ample space for sleep.

I have extended the time for this visit partially in my own interests; I wanted to try to make a bit more sense of my own life. Could I be with Dinah for longer than we had been together before, would we be ok, in a domestic, albeit a rather fanciful, artificially privileged, domestic situation.

I don’t say anything about this test to Dinah; I want to be both participant and onlooker, yet I am not so so sure that I could do both things, not simultaneously. Then best to keep quiet about it; but will Dinah notice me, observing the connectivity between us I wonder.

Dinah interjects: If you have no meetings then let’s go to the Guggenheim, let’s go right now, let’s get it over with, then we can talk about it all week.

I think you’ll love Yves Klein’s Large Blue Anthropometry; you can imagine my body is one of the paintbrushes that he used.

Of course I did love the art, but more than that; I was overcome by the feeling of being there, of being nowhere else. I felt a real sense of being with no one else, of just being there; me alone, my body, my mind, my soul, all entirely untroubled, by my just being there.

I could see that Dinah was observing my silences, I felt that she was respecting my silences.

As I came back into the world I thought how kind and caring a thing that was, for Dinah to gift me space, and time; I will have to respond to that.

Dinah told me what she had read about Yves Klein in the catalogue: He is renowned for his almost exclusive use of a strikingly resonant, powdery ultramarine pigment, which he patented under the name “International Klein Blue” claiming that it represented the physical manifestation of cosmic energy that, otherwise invisible, floats freely in the air.

What would you call your cosmic energy colour Dinah added playfully.

We spent a long time inside the museum, and equally as long outside, Dinah loved the Louise Bourgeois Giant Spider, Maman (Ama). Now it was my turn to read from the catalogue: Over a vast oeuvre spanning more than sixty years, Bourgeois plumbed the depths of human emotion further and more passionately than perhaps any other artist of her time. In its evocation of the psyche, her work is both universal and deeply personal, with frequent, explicit reference to painful childhood memories of an unfaithful father and a loving but complicit mother.

Of course, in the reading of this my mind immediately switches to thoughts of Hildemar, of Hildegarde; to their relationships with their mother, also with their father.

Dinah takes me for a coffee back in the Guggenheim, then we make our way to the hotel, ostensibly to freshen up; but we do make love, we do share the roll top bath, we do tease each other, as we are getting ready.

And we do look fucking immaculate, when we go out to the restaurant for dinner.

No more Sunday mornings creeping like a nun (except it is a Saturday); we have breakfast on the terrace, in the early light. We are the first, we speak in broken Spanish with the hotel waitresses; they giggle, they laugh, at the couple who are so so obviously, so so shamelessly, so so certainly, so so very much in love.

Dinah is taking me to Montes Obarenes-San Zadornil Natural Park. Apparently I need to know about Basque Country if I am going to be successful with business in this region, the park will be a good reference point Dinah claims.

We head out of Bilbao, Dinah is at the wheel, she drives way over the speed limit on the dual carriageways. She then puts me in fear of death, driving far too quickly up the narrow single track roads; roads with only stone and railing barriers, to prevent us from falling into the steep wooded valleys below.

After Encio we go up ever narrower tracks, with even more vegetation and forestation, until we reach Cubilla de la Sierra. This is supposed to be the starting point for our walking; I watch four or five people head on out, into the almost impenetrable mist, before offering: this is not for me today Dinah thank you, I’m sorry.

Dinah has an instant response: in that case we shall drive across Basque Country to Parque Natural Valderejo, an altogether more civilised centre.

We pass by Frias, then follow the river Ebro, before climbing on roads that have been hewn from the rock; there is shear mountain face to one side, and hideously deep ravines to the other.

We leave the Castile & León region to enter Basque Country again; these are small roads, there are no houses on these roadsides. This would be baron landscape, if it wasn’t for the dry grass, and the limp trees; it looks like farming country, but I don’t know where the farms are.

We drive on through the village of Bóveda, so that’s where the farms are, I check the map, I see that we have missed a turning. We backtrack, back through Bóveda, then drive on to the visitor centre at Lalastra.

I admire the small statue outside the visitor centre, it has a hare, sculpted into the side, and what I take to be a vulture, perched on top. It also looks like small pieces of enamel pottery are being added to it; ad hoc, by visitors.

It is somewhat like the piles of stones, which gradually build up, on the tops of Tors, back in England.

We stand for a long time taking in the view, I am enchanted; this is a place for a much longer visit; we really must come back, mustn’t we I say, although right now we must leave.

It is just after six when we arrive back at the hotel, we have done an awful lot of driving today, we have seen quite a deal of the Basque Country landscape. Dinah decides to shower, to clean off the dust, to freshen her body, to clear her head. I soak in the bath, for all the same reasons, after she is done.

It has been a good day with little to distract us; we have enjoyed our own company, at least that is my opinion.

We go out for a walk into the old town; I recognise that the locals are mostly strolling, I notice that they are very well dressed. They are in almost continuous conversation; this is a different culture, I do firmly believe that.

We find a small bar, where we drink San Miguel and eat tapas; we sit, listen to the locals talk, which they do incessantly. These people seem to be very much at ease in their own skins, there is not the slightest hint of pretentiousness, all seems entirely genuine.

Excerpt 29

Ager appears keen to hear of our experience

On Sunday we take the Funicular de Artxanda up to Mount Artxanda, we stand beside the Fingerprint sculpture, to look out to the vast views of Bilbao and beyond. We take several photographs, before we sit down together, on a nearby seat.

The locals are still strolling, they are still in conversation; they are smartly dressed; as are Dinah and I, for we are settling into the Bilbao way of life, we are trying to behave as locals. I take out my miniature sound recorder, I lay it on the bench beside us.

For twenty minutes, or so, the microphone gathers up the seriously relaxed mood of both ourselves, as well as the locals who stroll by. All blissfully unaware that they, as we, are audibly marking our visit to the Basque Country.

On Monday morning I have my first business appointment, Dinah decides that she will stay in the hotel, fixing up some offices for us to go view later.

IDOM’s offices are literally on the water at Zarandoa Etorbidea, 23; it is an impressive building, as one would expect of a successful multi-national organisation, now a thriving consultancy business, but with its roots set firmly in Bilbao. Ager, the engineer who meets me, wants to talk about a waste to energy project, or rather a series of waste to energy projects.

IDOM has a desire to develop a template, for their renewable energy sites, to be constructed all around the world. Ager tells me, after our introductions where I learn that he hails from Bóveda, that it is a twelve month design project. After that they want to construct the first unit, in Bilbao in the following year, before taking the concept worldwide.

I say we would very much like to work with them, that I am here to set up our office for the region; we talk for a short while, about the technical requirements of the project, Ager appears keen to hear of our experience.

I demonstrate that we have good practical background; of design, of manufacture, of site construction for his kind of project. He seems suitably impressed by the information that I provide.

We arrange to meet again once our office in Bilbao is in place, although I do suggest that Ager could visit Vienna in the interim. He says he may visit our works, but not just yet, he has other potential partners to meet with first.

As I am leaving I telephone Dinah, we arrange to meet by the Euskalduna Conference Centre and Concert Hall. In the foyer Dinah notices that Ludovico Einaudi is due to play here, in a couple of months time.

Do you think we might be here then, I would really like to witness him playing, in the flesh as it were. I go to the booking office window, I buy two tickets: We must make some commitments must we not?

Dinah smiles then hugs me. We have no more appointments on Monday, but Dinah has fixed up two offices to look at; one tomorrow, one on Thursday.

Could we not also look for a pied-à-terre? I ask. Dinah looks much more interested in this, rather than in establishing an office space. She takes me across town to Engel & Völkers, they show us a few places; we settle on a property at Barrika, which they say we can visit tomorrow.

E&V’s offices are only a few minutes from our hotel so we decide to walk back. I make a mental note of the Art School with Photography as we pass by, perhaps I could study art in Bilbao; for as I often say to myself: who knows where life might lead us. The IDOM project does have the breadth and the depth to consume me, I could quite easily spend a lot of time here.

If that is to be the case I would like to find a place where I could contemplate, where I could meditate. I think I could do this in the house at Barrika, if only it had a sea view. I ask Dinah if we could insist, that the apartment, which we are trying to find for me, could be contemplative, meditative; if it is outside the city then it should be with a sea view.

I also ask Dinah to find a place with silence; deep silence, pure silence; no house noise, no outside noise. The sort of noiselessness one imagines exists in the desert, indeed the sort of silence that is the desert.

Dinah stops me in my tracks: I am afraid that that is not possible; the silence does not truthfully exist; I have searched for it many many times; I concluded that the deep silence can only be found within ones own mind.

I hear what she says, but I insist that the possibility of a room, of certifiable silence, is a prerequisite for any place where I am to become domiciled.

That is true, should that be now, or sometime in the future, either in Bilbao, or anywhere else for that matter; those are my final words on the subject.

Excerpt 30

I know that the you, the me, which goes into the story…

I have a bad day. It didn’t start out like that, I was hanging pictures in a room we use for meditation and also for our writing group. I was asked to do something I didn’t want to do, indeed something I didn’t want to be done.

I realised, in that instant, that often things are done here without thought being given to what I think about them being done. I am a side-player in this situation in which I find myself; actually through most of my life I have found myself to have been a side-player.

I am thinking seriously that this way is not good for my well-being. I contemplate how to move out of this mindset; but just how might thinking of you help me to do that you might well ask.

Well, the Story part of this writing is made up, it is not real life, when I go into story writing mode I know that I am escaping from reality, simply by making up the story.

Of course there may be some of my past within the story, some of our past built into the story. For sure there may be some of my characteristics embedded in the characters in the story, there also may, without any doubt, be some of your characteristics woven into the characters in the story.

I know that the you, the me, which goes into the story is based on both reality, and also based on fantasy.

But it is the real life, as lived, which gives the energy for the research, that is what then goes on to feed the fantasy.

I hope that you can recognise those paths, from reality to fantasy, which I regularly cross; that, for me, that is the vague space, between the dark void of fact, and the bright wellhead of fiction.

So I turn to you, to find some more experiences which we might have shared, to develop in the Story part of this expose.

During our time together I never showed any interest in any other women; I think I told you that, towards the end. My memory is that you came back to that remark with a fairly caustic: I should damned well think so.

Am I right, about that rougher side of you coming through, or are my delusions tainting you unduly. How much on edge were you at the time, how unable were you to believe, that we might have a future together.

How long did it take, for your decline to erupt into decisiveness, how did you plot your course; what would have changed your mind, was there anything that I could have done?

We did have several interruptions through our time together, do you think that was inevitable. Do you ever wonder if we ought to have done things completely different. Particularly at the beginning, do you think we could have tested our compatibility on day one.

Do you believe that relationship counselling ought to be the first step of getting together, not the last step of falling apart.

Did you ask anyone about getting together with me, did you take advice from friends or family. I don’t know as though I asked anyone, other than you, about us getting together; I was besotted, I was in a trance state.

I was not in my more capable, my more structured, my more controlled world of systematic logic aligned with practical project management.

Of course that was very much part of the excitement; you gave me the chance to leave one world, you enabled me to enter into another. Who knows how our lives would have evolved if that opportunity had only arrived twenty years earlier.

You encouraged me to be expansive, you showed me the tools to be creative, you opened me up to literature, also to the theatre.

You were my Queen, of what Steve Job’s called The Liberal Arts. If I had met you as a teenager might I have entered that field of work, would my life story be entirely different, also yours.

Would we have amplified our shared energies, could we have staved off the need to break up, over and over again.

Would’s, could’s, should’s, if’s, and but’s; that’s where the story lets me go to; not to investigate all of those immensely interesting possibilities, which you offered to me.

Now they are my nutrients for progression, my tools for emergence out of the dark times.

For instance, recall the time, when your daughter, and her friend, who we had taken in as foster parents, were squabbling.

My memory is that I said to you that you had to treat them as equals, if you wanted to throw one of them out, you must throw both of them out.

You thought that I was mad, that I was completely barmy, that I was being totally unrealistic. You said it was impossible that you would ever throw out your own daughter.

Blood is thicker than water I thought at the time. And that is exactly what I thought again, earlier today, when things turned bad.

Did we push ourselves too hard, were we already so so damned sure of ourselves, the both of us, that we couldn’t hear each other, that we couldn’t warn each other.

Were we; you, me, the both of us, were we already too far in. Were we too deeply immersed in our individual self-sufficiency such that there was no return. Had we gone past that point of no turning back.

Did you decide that I should no longer pet or penetrate you, had our physical love gone past its point of no return?

Did you cry, did you scream, was all lost in the cacophony of house noise, or did I just not hear.

You have to do what is right for you. Nobody else is walking in your shoes.

Excerpt 31

We walked to the nearby small beach

The office visit on Tuesday was not successful. I didn’t think it portrayed either the style, nor the ethos of our company. The facilities were adequate, but they were tucked away; I wanted somewhere where we would be seen, Dinah thought Thursday’s commercial property visit would be better.

On Wednesday we drove out to Barrika. The building appeared to be completely empty, it looked like it had been that way for some time. The outside needed quite substantial amounts of refurbishment work, to bring it back, to what I visualised it would have been like, when it was new.

Similarly on the inside also; but I thought there was great potential. I almost believed that this place could be both an office, as well as a pied-à-terre, with a number of quiet, even silent, spaces.

Dinah sensed my excitement: Should I open discussions with the estate agent? Yes, yes do that; tell them that we will require a two-year, irrevocable lease.

We walked to the nearby small beach at Playa de Muriola, then back onto the rather wild headland, overlooking Peña de San Valentín. I could feel myself feeling good just walking in these open places; this would definitely be an ideal bolt-hole, but could I also make it function, as a place of work.

We drove back towards Bilbao, going past the airport, which I clocked as just on thirty minutes from Barrika. That’s useful Dinah, that the airport is not too too far away.

Thursday morning we split our tasks; I visited the next potential office, while Dinah went to see the estate agent about the house at Barrika. We agreed to meet up in the Guggenheim around twelve-thirty.

The office is exactly right. It is a serviced facility, on Gran Via, only four stops on the metro from IDOM, yet right in the heart of the city. I think Ager will be happy to meet up with us there.

Dinah tells me the Barrika situation is much more complex, yet perhaps a far greater opportunity. Apparently the place has been for sale for some time, but with no takers, partly because its history was commercial, before being converted into residential.

The authorities would prefer there still to be some commercial activity on the site, but this has put off previous potential buyers. The owners are keen to get rid of the property, they would offer a substantial discount, for a swift, positive purchase.

Dinah then suggests to me that her company could buy it, then lease it back to my firm. A guaranteed two year lease would encourage her to make all of the necessary improvements, and modifications.

So there you have it, choices, choices, choices. But do I really want Dinah as a landlord?

We agreed to end our work week, there and then, or here and now if you prefer. Dinah can sort the office, the house, when she gets back to Portugal. She will send me plans of possible conversations for Barrika.

She will also organise a six month let, for the city centre office in Bilbao, to commence in eight weeks time.

Excerpt 32

I order chilled white wine

On Friday we intend to drive out to Urkiola Natural Park, then continue over the mountains to Santiago.

I want to visit some of the Ermita buildings along the way.

Have you got a leaning towards the hermit’s way of life? The question by Dinah is posed playfully, yet also a wee bit quizzically.

We are out all day, we don’t get back to the hotel until after eight. It was a real neat day; we had time for a walk in the mountains, we felt, we touched, we smelt the fresh cleansing mountain air.

Dinah now understands, appreciates and empathises with my caring for the hermits contemplative, reclusive lifestyle. She doesn’t want me to become a hermit, nor a monk for that matter, but she does agree, that a prolonged period of meditation could be good for the soul.

I say that a good long soak would also be good for the soul, and at that we climb into the roll top bath together. Piping hot water, sweet scented bubbles, a nude nubile woman; life doesn’t get much better than this does it.

I order chilled white wine, with a salmon platter from room service, to be delivered in a half to three-quarters of an hours time.

We are just putting on our bathrobes when there is a knock on the door, it is the maid, with a magnificent spread; two overflowing plates, of all manner of seafood and shellfish, plus two bottles of chilled white wine, I tip the maid most favourably.

Dinah wears a great big gorgeous smile as she says to me: You certainly know how to impress a girl; it has been a wonderful week, I’ve had a great, great time. I think I am consolidating my love for you, my Mr Viennese salesman, if you don’t think that’s too much like MBA speak.

We devour our supper slowly, meticulously, with easy conversation, with warm smiles, with gentle shared laughter. Then we lay on the bed, drinking wine, snuggling up; not surprisingly we become intimate.

I am soon aroused, so is Dinah; we are good out of bed, we are good in bed, we are so so very good together. By all my measures I feel that we are a really impressive fit. We make love, we are both fulfilled; afterwards we sit out on the balcony, watching the moon move slowly across the night sky.

Now it is my turn to covet: I am so glad that you have been here with me this week Dinah, you have made it a very special time, in a very special place. I’m hopeful that we can come back here, hopefully that will be quite soon.

Saturday was a bit of an anti-climax, although we had some fun shopping. Dinah had no idea how much I enjoyed sampling eau de cologne, or how much I enjoyed watching her trying on the skimpiest of dresses, one of which I bought for her as a present.

In the evening we did a tour of the old town’s tapas bars, before finishing up in a lively establishment with music, with dancing. It was a good night, but we both knew that it was our last night; we had grown into enjoying being together this week, we didn’t want it to end, but for now we knew it must shortly end.

The heady fragrances, the alcohol, the music, the dancing, the last-night syndrome; probably all of those contributed to our majestic, almost continuous lovemaking, once we reached our hotel bedroom. Indeed the first time was even before we reached our bed, Dinah pulling me up to her, leaning against our entrance lobby wall.

We stripped fearlessly, ferociously; we wrapped ourselves around ourselves, we stroked all what was able to be stroked, we played intensely with our foreplay. We kissed ourselves inside out, outside in; we were lovers, in the wild abandonment of love, in the maroon madness of lust; this was super-strength sex, we loved it, the both of us, the one of us.

My flight back to Vienna is via Munich. I have two hours to fill. I start thinking about Hildegarde; she is not very well at all, that is my conclusion so far. Her mother was not very well either, both Hildegarde and Hildemar have told me that.

Maybe it is more than circumstantial, could hereditary factors be at work. I wonder if perhaps I shouldn’t be with Hildemar after all.

I have only just met Farica, in lifetime terms we have known each other next to no time at all; yes we have danced, yes we have kissed, but not much more.

Then my job in Vienna; well I don’t spend much time there do I, I am most often to be found travelling, or in other companies offices.

So how easy would it be to switch my life to Bilbao?

Can you see what a two hour stopover in Munich has done for my thinking, but how do I change things…

You can be a good person with a kind heart and still say no

Excerpt 33

During the next eight weeks I will be waiting

There is something I want to tell you. I don’t know how to make sure that you know. This way may already be too late.

Our son may be moving back to Devon, he has asked me to help him move, if that is the case, it will be in about two months time. I may see you during that visit; that thought will be in my mind for the next eight or so weeks, it will be a time of hope, of trepidation, then finally, of release.

Hope, because of my recent writings, because of my recent nostalgic thoughts; those irremovable reminiscences of a past which probably never really happened, certainly not in the same light which I have cast them.

Trepidation because even now I am fearful of the power that you somehow hold over me; also because of the almost deeper fear, fear that I should be persuaded to extinguish that hold, which you have had upon me.

Release, because I was at a loss as to how to start Times 2. I am therefore thankful, that probably quite inadvertently, and most certainly unwittingly, our son has given me the very help that I needed.

During the next eight weeks I will be waiting, I will be waiting to see if he does indeed need me, as the removal man, with the removal van. During the coming weeks I will be longing, I will be longing to know if I will see you, I will be longing to see, if I can find in you, something that I missed.

Times 2 then will be very much about waiting and longing; about old lovers waiting to see their old lovers once again, also about new or renewed lovers incessantly longing to see their, potentially exciting lovers, once more.

Waiting and longing is something which our past was pretty much filled with, at first it was me who was longing, and waiting. But then, if your old letters are anything to go by, you joined me in the waiting, you came together with me in the longing. You were missing me, I was missing you; it began to seem as though we were, intrinsically there in the missing, in the missing of more than simply missing each other.

Yet in the end it was the waiting, the longing, which most probably did for us; you could wait no longer for me to return, from the depths of my escapist’s silence. I longed for nothing more than to write of love; to write mostly of love, to write always about love, to write, sadly of love, I think you said.

I had begun to write about longing to be in love, whilst forgetting that I already was in love, or that at the very least I still should have been in love.

Now I have something else to add about waiting; for several years, before I met up with you, I went to OU Summer Schools.

As a matter of fact, for exactly seven summers before we met, I visited various universities, all new to me; it was not unusual to meet up with someone during the week, if you were lucky that is.

I was lucky most times, yet you were the only one who I contacted afterwards; I had, you see, I had waited for you.

I also have something else to add about longing; I didn’t contact you, not straight away, after the Sussex summer school, instead I longed, I longed longer, and I longed longer still.

Eventually the longing overwhelmed me, I could stand it no more, I walked down Half-mile hill to the Red Telephone Box, where I made the best telephone call of my life.

In many ways that turned out to be the beginning of my writing; I wrote you some pretty awful letters, I didn’t know what on earth to say, neither did I know how the heck to write it all down.

I waited for your replies, I waited, oh how I waited; I longed that you would encourage me, with words of love. Instead you were practical; although you did offer encouragement, such that I was able to feed my own longing for love.

I read this; from the publicity for: Longing for the Other: Levinas and Metaphysical Desire by Drew M. Dalton:

One of the most persistent and poignant human experiences is the sensation of longing—a restlessness perhaps best described as the unspoken conviction that something is missing from our lives.

I have almost always been of the opinion that something was missing from my life; even in my life with you, there were times when I felt, that I was missing something most important.

I think it was probably something that sprang from my own inadequacy; for myself I often thought that I was more than inadequate, inadequate in so so many ways.

To cover up the inadequacy I would be loud, I would make jokes, I would be supremely superficial; I didn’t let anyone get near to me, you got as close as anyone did, but you in no way got close enough.

Even now I have that fault-line of inadequacy going right through me, I have not learnt the gentleness of true compassion. I am thankful though, that at least now I do try; I have, no seriously I have, I have joined in with the search for my compassionate self.

In Human, All Too Human, philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche argued that being able to wait is so hard that the greatest poets did not disdain to make the inability to wait the theme of their poetry. He notes that Passion will not wait.

I had to wait, I did wait; my passion had to wait, my passion did wait; I don’t know how long you knew that you were making me wait, I don’t know what made you decide, that I no longer had to wait.

Recently I read out loud, after a little persuasion, a small section of Times 1, at an open-mic gathering we went to last Friday evening. It went down well, possibly in part because of my ad-lib scene setting, which talked of the four, young, nubile, and most engaging women, in my fictitious life story.

But more certainly it was well received because it was the end of the section with Farica and me dancing to Let’s Dance, then sitting down to listen to the David Bowie Absolute Beginners lyrics, which I also read out.

When faced with any difficulty of life, resolve it by following these four steps: face it, accept it, deal with it and let it go.
Chan Master Sheng Yen

Sheng Yen mentions nothing of waiting, and there I think he may have missed a trick, you see I am following his four steps in regard of my difficulty with letting go of you.

I did though wait, I waited for a considerable time, before and between each step, indeed I am still waiting to take that fourth, that final step.

These books, which I have now committed to becoming a series, are a part of that final step.

The elation which arises during the writing may or may not assist that process; let’s go see, please come with me.

This wait is then almost over, for we are now going to move from the You phase into the Story phase.

We will return, and I for one will be waiting, perhaps even longing, for that time to arrive.

Excerpt 34

Sat in the upstairs lounge at Boogard’s

I did not move to Bilbao. The deal with IDOM fell through; without work what would I have done there, Dinah says she will wait for me, until we have another opportunity. She agrees with me that we are both too young to live without work to occupy us, she says that that is partly why she is returning to study.

We have a little time to wait, but Dinah’s first America trip is less than six months away; I have arranged a sabbatical with work, for the time when we will have six weeks touring together.

The Amersfoort project is going very well, I have been asked to visit their offices to talk about other opportunities. Dinah meets up with with me in Amsterdam after my work meeting, we stay in Boogard’s, a superb city-centre B&B, the best in the city according to our host Peter; we in no way could, or would disagree.

We walk beside the canals, we walk through the antiques quarter, we walk to the art galleries, we walk to the department stores, we walk through the boutique lined shopping streets. We walk to the restaurants, we walk to the bars, we walk to the cheese-on-chips roadside vendors, we walk to the cinema, we walk to the park, we walk back to Boogard’s.

We didn’t walk to Amersfoort, we took the train, half an hour or so from Amsterdam, to what is a relatively small town. Though a place with some interesting, very modern, architectural housing, plus a collection of localised energy projects.

Sat in the upstairs lounge at Boogard’s I read to Dinah an excerpt from Chapter 1 of Mademoiselle de Maupin by Théophile Gautier. The author has already introduced waiting into his story; he writes:

As I wait I quiver with impatience, I jump and twitch nervously like a lover waiting for his mistress. Nothing happens. I fly into a rage or start to weep. I am waiting for heaven to open up and an angel to bring me a revelation, or for a revolution to break out and offer me a throne….But whatever I am waiting for, it is certainly nothing ordinary or commonplace.

I say to Dinah that this is pretty powerful stuff, it would be good to use something like this for her Creative Writing Course’s historical references, for it was written over one hundred and eighty years ago!

Dinah says she is impressed that I am taking her study seriously, that I am in no way being flippant, about a woman of her age taking up writing.

I say that we all have to wait for the right time to find us; we all have creative phases, stages in our life, some may see them as small changes, others may consider the steps to be way more dramatic.

We all have these moments of change, these opportunities to grasp; firstly we have to have our eyes open so that we may see them, secondly we have to have our wits about us, so that we may grasp them.

You have been a very successful businesswoman I say to Dinah, so just you tell me, why shouldn’t you use your positive attributes; of intellect, of determination, to go on to become a successful writer.

But you know, from Cranfield, that the real learning comes from going out, from doing it; all that the academic places give to you, are some coat hooks; a few constructs to hang your own work upon.

So don’t wait, or expect too much from Stanford; make a start on your writing, try to write some creative work, something non-factual, of course you may reflect on your own past realities for guidance.

Why don’t you write something about that wild West Coast of Portugal; try, try really hard, to recreate the relentless crashing waves in a textual exposé, feel free to go wherever the waves take you.

I ask Dinah to include waiting, to include longing, into her piece of creative writing, then I go back to reading my book, which, just for reference, is described on Goodreads as:

A woman uses her incredible beauty to captivate both d’Albert, a young poet, and disguised as a man, his mistress, Rosette… In this shocking tale of sexual deception, Gautier draws readers into the bedrooms and boudoirs of a French château in a compelling exploration of desire and sexual intrigue, and gives voice to a longing which is larger in scope, namely, the wish for completeness in oneself.

Tonight is our last night in Amsterdam; we both fly off tomorrow morning, unfortunately we are going to different destinations, by lunchtime tomorrow I will be back in Vienna, while Dinah will be in Albufeira.

At breakfast Dinah asks if she could borrow my Gautier book, or should she buy a copy; she also tells me that she is enjoying writing about the waves, also that I can expect a letter in the coming days.

I lend Dinah the book; there is no certainty of it being in stock at the airport, or in Portugal, but I will easily get one from Shakespeare and Company in Vienna; my mind, for the moment, switches to Farica.

Dinah and I travel to the airport together, my flight is a little later than hers, but the airport does have a secluded contemplative place where I can sit, as well as lots of duty-free shops, for last minute shopping.

Excerpt 35

The plan is not entirely new

I am in work early on Tuesday morning. I have to create a presentation, to explain to the directors the new opportunities arising from our, developing, Amersfoort connections.

A dozen slides should do it I say to myself; not much text, keep the message in the spoken word, give yourself plenty of freeboard.

The plan is not entirely new, nor is it particularly innovative, or risky, rather it is a combining of two well-proven technologies.

The concept is about harnessing wind power; then connecting it to storage systems, in such a way that the domestic consumer can use it at all times.

It is a bit like being able to work on your laptop all day using the battery, without mains power, then charging the battery up for free at night; I decide to use that analogy in my presentation.

The battery we are planning to use shows the genius of the Dutch to think outside the box. Those fine people, blessed with high initiative, have, living in their flat country, elected to make use of inclines and hydro-power for their battery storage.

You might remember the Dinorwig Power Station project in Wales back in the Nineteen-Eighties.

That was a National-Grid scale implementation of the concept that the Dutch are now proposing to use on a neighbourhood scale.

Of course the devil is in the detail, but the roll out opportunities for our company are vast; that will be my clear message to the directors.

The beauty for me personally in this project is that we have already established a good team in Amersfoort, I won’t need to have a lot of personal involvement, not once the ball is rolling.

The afternoon’s presentation goes well; the directors commit to the project, they instruct me to take the necessary steps, including to go off and set up the local team; I am told to report back in three months time.

I am back in my apartment by five-thirty. I don’t have anything planned. Hildemar is on a field trip, to Iceland of all places, she is interested to understand how the environment there, especially the light and the dark, shapes the islanders philosophies.

Farica is on vacation, in Italy, with an old friend from university; they are going to be based in Florence but they also intend to include a trip to Venice, I deduce all of this from the postcard which was in my post.

Hildegarde is due for her final Talking Cure session with me this Wednesday, I have no reason to call her, neither do I expect her to call me.

But I am wrong, she does call, but only to say that she wishes to postpone this Wednesdays meet up until the following week.

She sounded calm, in control; perhaps just a smidgeon impersonal, but that could be me being hypersensitive. I agree to the switch, then say au revoir.

Excerpt 36

How does distraction fit in with my love of meditation

That’s it then, by six I’ve had tea, what should I wait for now, what am I longing for now.

After all that time in search of time alone, here it is, time alone, in a quiet space, right here, right now.

I could write to Dinah, but what would I say, I’ve only just got back from being together with her; I have little news to report, so few new questions to ask.

Am I longing for Dinah I ask myself; yes, it is perfectly true, that when I am in her company I wouldn’t wish to be anywhere else, or wish to be with anyone else. But when we are apart do I long for her, indeed do I need a quiet night like tonight, to see if the longing for her does build up.

I am pretty certain that if Hildegarde should have asked to come around then I would have agreed, whatever her plans for the evening might have been.

I read these words from Mary C. Lamia Ph.D, in the online magazine Psychology Today: Longing may compel you to idealise someone you desire and create in your imagination an object of perfection who later, when exposed to reality, leaves you sorely disappointed. It has long been considered that the emotional lives of children who have suffered a lack of parental love are vulnerable to a form of “affect hunger” (Levy, 1937), and such hunger becomes enacted in an idealised partner. She goes on: Similarly, the self-psychologist Heinz Kohut (1968) believed that traumatic disappointment in early childhood creates a later dependency on others in what seems to be an intense form of object hunger. Such needs are generally based on the feelings, attitudes, fantasies, adaptations, and defences that are repetitions of reactions originating with significant persons in one’s past.

I, of course, in my mind, am relating all of this to my situation with Hildegarde: If the parental situation was the cause of her illness, if illness it is, then what is the cure; does Freud’s Talking Cure really work, if so how long do we have to talk for.

I wonder about both Farica, and myself, being with Hildegarde next time we meet, how might that affect the dynamic. I like the idea, I like it a lot, but I will have to wait until Farica returns, for the two of us to explore it further.

I then think; after Farica could we also include Hildemar into the Talking Cure equation; I feel myself getting closer, closer to that old meltdown situation.

It is nine-thirty already, I have had no feelings of longing for Dinah, not even a small moment of pining; my mind has been absorbed elsewhere.

So is then distraction a cure for longing, can we busy ourselves forever, in order to prevent falling into that emptiness, that void; where all that is left is the sheer longing, the longing for someone to fill it.

How does distraction fit in with my love of meditation, I adore (is that the wrong word) the beauty of quietly sitting; of contemplating upon nothing, nothing other than that which freely arrives in my mind, then freely moves on from my mind.

Bilbao would have been good for meditation, of that I am sure; Amsterdam, with all its marvellous, never-ending array of distractions, most certainly wouldn’t be for me.

Dinah I think would be a good companion for meditation; I do believe that she has the real sense of the trust which is required, if one is seriously to delve deeper into one’s inner self.

But what about the others; I am sure, just by remembering her apartment, that Farica will have meditated; knowing her temperament, she probably would have out-meditated the rest of the meditators.

Hildemar and Hildegarde will certainly have studied the theory of meditation, they may well also have applied the theories; they will have studied how to prove or disprove its efficacy, but I don’t know that either of them will have bought into it, not as a way to improve their own lives that is.

Is meditation all about waiting I ask myself, is it a form, a construct, which asks that I wait, wait in such a focussed way, that I wouldn’t otherwise be.

Of all the meditation methods which I have tried; and yes, there are a good few, it seems as though waiting and breathing are always pretty much central to the methods. I wait for the quiet, I wait for the stillness, I wait for the calm, I wait for the awareness; if I had waited long enough I would have waited for the enlightenment.

Attachment is a big thing in the Buddhist meditation tradition, but what is the difference between attachment and longing I ask myself. Are they not just different words for the same thing; if I was able to lose my desirous longing, would I not also have lost my dutiful attachment.

I want to ask these questions of Farica is my first thought; but why did I not think to ask them first of Dinah, is my second thought. Dinah and I you see have already spoken about meditation, whilst for Farica and I to discuss the subject, well that would mean we would be breaking new ground.

Ha-ha, so is that where the truth lies, in the new ground; is that where I, is that where we, is that actually where we are all naturally drawn.

Does our innate inquisitiveness naturally draw us always to the new ground; is that why I want to ask the questions of Farica, instead of Dinah.

Excerpt 37

I have also chosen to celebrate

I have determined that I don’t wish to complete Sheng Yen’s fourth step; I have decided that I do not want to let you go. I want to celebrate our having spent time together, I want to wallow in our being apart; I want to fervently remember our highs, then with such splendid sorrows, I want to relive our lows.

I recognise that with this line of thinking I could be seen to be at odds with Thich Nhat Hanh, who says in his book Silence: The power of quiet in a world full of noise: We revisit old memories and experiences, only to suffer again and again the pain we’ve already experienced. It’s easy to get caught in the prison of the past.

My argument is that by choosing, consciously, and with good reason, to keep my memories, to revisit our past, then I am not imprisoned. I have made a choice, a positive choice to keep alive a part of my previous life, it is a choice which my freedom allowed me to make, because I am free. I have also chosen to celebrate, to enjoy again, the suffering, the intense pain which I felt so ingloriously or ignominiously in the past.

I would like to think that my approach in some way also counters Thich Nhat Hanh’s next statement: We may also get pulled away by the future. A person who is anxious and fearful about the future is trapped just as much as one bound by the past. I don’t disagree with this idea; it’s just that I feel by being settled with the past, by being happy about any hang-ups from the past, then one is likely to be less anxious about ones future.

Why do I choose to wait for you; why do I settle my mind, clear my mind if you like, then allow thoughts of you, sometimes visions of you to appear. I have the idea, that by attempting to answer the one big question, ergo why am I here, why are you here, that I can find everything in my life that is valuable, and beautiful; both for me, perhaps also for the world around me.

By keeping these things alive in my memory, I am happy to say, is one of the answers to my question why am I here, why are you here; indeed it may be the most significant answer to the question: why are we all I here?

You might recall that in part one I said that our son may be moving back to Devon; in letting that one single thought permeate my memory, I have been able to go on, to move forward to write all these subsequent words.

Conclusion: Memory precedes action, memory facilitates action, memory stores the inputs, the outputs of action; in summary, memory and mind actions are intrinsically connected with the cause and effect of their linkages.

You answered my first telephone call, you spoke to me, most favourably, for quite some time; I remembered that occasion, I committed it firmly to memory, that memory then helped to create the longing in my mind.

The longing; such an amazing, powerful, deeply felt mind state, which forced me to make a further telephone call; the process seemed to carry on ad-infinitum, a veritable continuum of memory, of mind, of action, of reaction.

I was elated, both during the time of our action followed by the memory of our action. Indeed the positive power, of the memory of the two of us talking, would help to overwrite the day to day darkness which often arose.

The hellishly impossible to understand darkness of parting from my family, which I was going through at around the same time.

I remember, years later, doing a watercolour painting, at your glass topped kitchen table, in Mon Plaisir; I was in the moment, I was in the here and the now; you gave me that ‘just be’, to just be there; why would I then ever wish to destroy anything, about someone who gave me so so much.

To be is to wait, it is not a place; to wait is a time, a time of silence, the time is not important, reaching the silence is important; you gave me the time to reach the silence.

Yet in the end it was a different form of silence that destroyed us; I was indifferently silent, I hardly ever spoke with you towards the end.

Mostly I did not know what to say, so I said nothing, simply retreated into my writing. Silence and silent, I now know, are not the same thing; I am sorry I got confused, I apologise profusely for being silent, silent in entirely the wrong way.

I was an electrical engineer, I had also taught mathematics and engineering; I am a writer, I have also taught creative writing; I am a meditator, I have taught meditation. I was in love, I was your lover, I never did move on to the teaching of love; is that what I am waiting for? Is that what I am longing for?

Is it absurd to talk of teaching of love, is it as absurd as Waiting for Godot. Will my wait be as fruitless, as useless as in the play by Samuel Beckett, in which Vladimir and Estragon wait endlessly, but in vain, for the arrival of Godot.

I rather care for a remark which Beckett apparently made to Lawrence Harvey, saying that: his work does not depend on experience – [it is] not a record of experience. Of course you use it.

So I may talk of love, of the waiting for love, of the longing for love. But not to give a record of my love, rather to use my experience (my memory of my experience) to trigger the Story part of this work, as well as to help to set out the You part of this work.

Do you remember going to see George Melly, at the Arts Centre? It was a Sunday evening, he gave a talk on Pre-Raphaelite paintings; I believe he wore his slippers, I was very happy to be there with you.

I had to wait for my time to be with you, you had many other demands on your time; from your family, from your friends, from your work, from your studies. I did wait, but at the time I have to tell you that I was both jealous, and frustrated, by having to wait my turn.

Was I wrong to be jealous, had I forgot about the natural change which happens to a couple from the beginning of a relationship, through to living together, with a family; in the beginning you don’t see each other very often, but when you do see each other you are able to commit yourself completely to the other, you only have the distractions which the two of you choose.

Then when you are together, in a shared home, with a family, with jobs, with other time-eaters such as study, or sports, or looking after others; then, though you may have more time together, you will have lots of time when you can’t commit to each other.

That’s where my, and maybe our jealousies began, waiting for you rattled me; it is time for me to go back to the Story. I hope you wait for my return, I will be longing for you to do that.

Excerpt 38

Once again I note that my first thought…

Farica is back from her vacation, Hildemar is back from her field trip, Hildegarde is expecting her Wednesday lunchtime Talking Cure. Dinah has sent me a new letter, it arrived in this mornings post, which I haven’t yet opened; to be honest I am at a bit of a loss, as to just where to turn.

This feels a bit like the opposite of longing, of waiting; but I will have to ask for waiting time. I think to meet Farica at lunchtime at work, then to set up something positive with her for the weekend.

Once again I note that my first thought was for Farica, as though some reflex force is being effected, my actions are being taken almost automatically, without my totally conscious consideration.

Farica is very happy, seriously positive, about my suggestion that we go to see Dorian Gray at the Burgtheater on Saturday evening; she says that she is a big big fan of Oscar Wilde, which is something which I am not too too surprised to hear.

I also ask Farica about meeting Hildegarde with me on Wednesday lunchtime; she thinks that’s quite a brave move, though a bit risky, but potentially very powerful, together we agree to go for it.

Monday evening I ring Hildegarde to put our proposition of a group meeting to her, she thinks it is neat, she enjoyed her sessions with Farica.

Would you like me to bring Wilda along at some future session Hildegarde asks; I go silent for a few moments, before saying: could you remind me to discuss that on Wednesday.

After talking with Hildegarde I speak with Hildemar; who is pleased to hear from me, she is very excited about her Iceland trip, but says that now there is a mass of work to catch up with; I will have to work on it over the weekend she adds, but could we do something on Friday night.

Would you like me to take you for some Icelandic food. I laugh, then say I don’t know if we will find that in Vienna, anyway, with all that darkness, how do you know what it is you are eating; Hildemar laughs then says she will be at my place about seven on Friday.

I recognise how easy it is to talk with Hildemar, how we often laugh, how often we bring out the best in each other, how often we complete our conversations without a single glitch. At the end of the telephone conversations I decide to take a bath.

I read Dinah’s letter as I soak; I will wait awhile before I reply, the longing, as yet, is still missing. Dinah says she has hit a bit of a block on her Wave Poem which I asked her to write. I think to tell her to read Forough Farrokhzad’s poem The Wave; if for nothing else I believe Dinah would like both the woman, and her poetry.

She says she is enjoying my book Mademoiselle de Maupin but is still on the very lengthy preface; she says that the author is giving himself a substantial build-up, also he is doing masses of name dropping.

She agreed that this would all be very useful at Stanford, if all she wanted to do was impress and pass the course; but what really interests her, so she says, is the progress of her own writing.

She tells me how much she enjoyed our visit to Amsterdam, especially to see Rembrandt’s work, she fully understands why I would like to know more about him. She says that his determination, to work for such a long time on portraiture, shows his belief in waiting, he was waiting for the right portrait to emerge, which she thinks it did, several times over actually.

I think to tell Dinah of Rembrandt’s body of work on landscapes, which are way less well known, but in no way any less impressive.

I make a mental note to tell her that recently a painter told me he preferred to paint landscapes, simply because the marketplace is way greater than for portraits.

I also think to say that I understood what he said about the universality of landscapes, as opposed to the singularity of portraits, but that I don’t have any proof.

Dinah writes that she thinks she could live in Holland; she very much cared for Amersfoort, especially for its easy access to Amsterdam, she also notes that Stanford has a link to the university in Amsterdam.

I think to say that to be based in the centre of Europe would be very convenient for the both of us, that Albufeira is a bit out on a limb, after all it is a five hour flight from Vienna to Faro.

I read the letter two or three times while I soak; I do recognise a strong undercurrent of love, of longing.

I am also aware though that Dinah could become desperate if she really wanted something (me), and I think she would also be most forceful in negotiation.

If I did want to break off our relationship I would need to be certain of the why, for without that Dinah would easily persuade me otherwise.

I put the letter away saying to myself that I will reply before Friday night.

I am in bed early, I sleep very well, until the morning alarm wakes me. Friday night arrives very quickly, however the letter to Dinah is sent, including a collection of my own poems, based on the artist John Miller.

I also recommend that she reads Voices Of The Old Sea by Norman Lewis, for her wave poem inspiration; he talks movingly, sincerely, about making a living by diving for fish with the locals.

I close my letter by asking Dinah to read again Chapter I of the book that I lent her; it is in fact a letter, a letter of some thirteen pages, a letter of over six-thousand words!

Yet it is a letter devoted to little more than the authors longing, his longing to find a mistress; my hope is that this diversion technique, covers up for my own lack of longing.

Excerpt 39

All of that was a fine diversion for you

All of that was a fine diversion for you too, my readers, wasn’t it; but what you really wanted to know was, how did Wednesday’s session with Farica, Hildegarde and I pan out?

That’s true isn’t it, well here we go; after the general introduction I suggested that we should go round in a circle with the questions; Hildegarde and Farica agreed, so I began.

Me: Do you think your mother’s illness was entirely due to her losing her son, or do you think genetics could have played a part in her health situation?

Hildegarde: Well my mother often talks about her sister’s mood swings, and her son, my cousin, being trapped on anti-depressants, so there is history.

Farica: Do you think jealousy could have been a factor which caused you and Wilda to fight?

Me: Farica are you suggesting that jealousy could have deep seated causes, that the girls jealousies could have turned into their fighting each other?

Hildegarde: I think Farica has a good point; we were both jealous of each other. Wilda was jealous of my family’s wealth, I was jealous of Wilda’s family’s love, we both had other transient jealousies as well, but the family ones were always there.

Farica: Have you ever felt the need for anti-depressants, have you ever spoken to the doctor about depression?

Me: Farica, are you now thinking that depression and jealousy could combine their efforts, to become the cause for the friction, for the violence?

Hildegarde: No I haven’t seen anyone, or taken anything to combat depression, I don’t ever get down for too long, everyone gets down a bit don’t they; but I do know that Wilda has taken all sorts of stuff, and not just for depression.

Farica: Did that make you annoyed, to see someone who you loved destroying themselves with drugs; did you try to get her to change her ways?

Me: Farica, are you saying that anger erupts from love, are you saying that Hildegarde’s lack of motherly love is causing her to try to be more loving?

Hildegarde: Farica you are very perceptive, I did lust for Wilda, but I had also fallen in love with her, I was waiting for her to return that love, I was longing for her to return that love; but it was as though she couldn’t see that, or that my love alone wasn’t enough; she always wanted to try the next new drug, I could see that she was addicted.

Farica: And did Wilda get angry when you tried to stop her taking drugs, or was she annoyed with herself, mad that she couldn’t stop taking drugs?

Me: Has Wilda ever had counselling, or therapy, for her drug dependency, has she ever been on a detox programme, has she tried to stop?

Hildegarde: I’m sure if her family knew then they would try to help her, but she wouldn’t do it on her own, she couldn’t do it on her own, not here, she knows too many of the wrong sort of people.

Farica: Do you think that Wilda has sought that lifestyle to actively rebel from the overpowering love of her family; did you join up with her for similar but opposite reasons, or did you follow her almost benignly, without care for rebellion?

Me: Stop, let’s just hold on to that last question can we. Hildegarde, could you give us both the short and the long answer to that question, I think it is a crucial point.

Hildegarde: I don’t think I am naturally rebellious, you remember the questions about my sister, I was happy to follow in her tracks, I had no innate desire to rebel back then, and I don’t believe I carry that streak of rebellion right now. I do think I admired Wilda for being a rebel, I looked up to her for some of the things which she rebelled against. Her writing broke lots of boundaries, she could easily meet the academic requirements, yet in the same essay she could put the lecturers absolutely on edge, with the depth of her alternative prognosis. She could, and would argue; I always felt that she was talking from a position of strength, with a sound understanding of her position; for someone so young she seemed to know so much. And she was happy to use her femininity in any situation, she had no inhibitions as far as I could see; if her sexuality would help her win the war, then she would use it. I didn’t really understand what her war was, but it sure felt good, for me, to be alongside her has she fought it. You might think I am too young to know what love is, but these are just a few of the things which caused me to love Wilda. I did love her; I also lusted for her, I lusted for her a lot; she is beautiful, she has got a beautiful body, we both knew how to turn each other on, our lovemaking was fabulous, amazing, stupendous; it really was fucking brilliant! That is what Wilda said; now perhaps you can see why I say I love her, I do love her, and I know that that is a problem.

Farica: You are so good to work with Hildegarde, you are very open, very engaging, but is there anything that you haven’t told us, anything which you think might help; do you have any secrets?

Me: I think what Farica wants to make sure of is that we have got a full picture, we have focussed quite a bit on Wilda, but what about your other relationships, with your father for instance?

Hildegarde: My dad is brilliant, he works really hard, yet still finds time to spend with me and Hildemar. He helps us a lot, and not just with money, he is very good with advice, he is very level headed, very diplomatic. Sometimes I wish he had a better life, I think with mother it is more about care than about love; I think he was waiting, and longing, for mother to love him, but I think that now he is resigned to their relationship being just what it is; but he won’t complain, he is not the complaining type.

Farica: So do you see your father as being trapped, and do you desperately not want to be trapped, do you think ultimately that affects your commitment to others, or perhaps rather what commitment you expect from others?

Me: I think Farica is exploring something which you might on the surface think is fine, but maybe there is an underlying force, which you don’t realise is at work?

Hildegarde: That could be true, I always thought things were very good between me and my dad, they certainly feel to be, he is very loving towards us, very caring; but I understand Farica’s question, and I think it’s true that I don’t want to end up in a relationship like my parents. I want equal love on both sides, I want inspiration and response on both sides, I do want total commitment from my life partner, but I don’t really know what that means, or even if it is possible; am I just a hopeless dreamer, searching for that unreachable utopia?

Farica: I think we have got quite a bit to think about for now; perhaps we ought to end, but what would you think about Wilda joining us next time, would that help in anyway?

Me: Well I have to say that I was concerned about opening it up to the three of us, but I feel today went rather well, I would be less hesitant now about including Wilda.

Hildegarde: I have enjoyed today, I think I have learnt quite a bit about myself, and where I want to be in the world. I would like to invite Wilda to one of our gatherings, but not just yet, I think I still have a few issues of my own that I want to resolve first.

Farica: That’s great, let’s we three meet again next week; but Hildegarde, if ever you want to talk with me, outside of this environment, then just call on me, at my home.

Excerpt 40

I waited for you, I longed for you

The narrowboat we hired moved at about four miles an hour top speed. It was a good pace for me, though not so good for you, I think.

I had first seen the canal boat, in dock, being maintained by a man who was staying in the same B&B as myself. It was in the middle of winter. It was freezing cold. I saw potential in the cold, though I think you are more of a warm weather person, am I right or am I not.

He convinced me, over breakfast, to hire it for a week in the summer, he suggested a route from Four Ashes to Chester, and back.

The year was 2003, those were hardly halcyon days for the two of us; did we seek protection from each other, by inviting friends and family to meet up with us, at various places along the canal.

I write about this now because I have been moving photographs around; on and off, of the way too too many computers, where I seem to have had them stored.

Images of the trip are mostly distance shots, so very few close ups; did we really hide from each other, even when we were forced to be so so close together.

Did my working away from home prevent us from forging a more stable relationship, did the weekly comings and goings interrupt an otherwise settled pattern.

Did I arrive, and immediately expect that you would fawn all over me, as if as I was your chosen one; did I not understand when you carried on with all your regular associations and duties.

There were some good moments on the boat; there are pictures, where you appear to be enjoying the physical work, required in the opening and the closing of the lock gates.

Was this sufficient distraction for you to settle out of your lower mood; is distraction such a very positive means of improving our lives; but did we both use distraction to too too negative an effect.

I am thinking that the next part of the story is going to focus on interruptions and distractions, in addition to waiting and longing, as the key elements to affect my characters psychological states.

I enjoyed my research for waiting and longing, which I used in the previous situations; I hope interruption, and distraction, will prove equally fruitful pastures.

I waited for you, I longed for you; I interrupted our relationship, both regularly and irregularly; I distracted myself, I lost sight of you.

You waited for me, you longed for me; you went along with the interruptions, you, or so I thought, were happy with my having distractions.

Now I realise the distractions were the acid that burnt through whatever fabric we still shared; the distractions forced you to turn away, while still you waited.

Yet by this time I suspect that you were happy that our week was interrupted, by my travelling three-hundred miles, to stay at my workplace Monday through Friday.

The interruptions, whilst I was away waiting, provided time for you to develop other interests; what does one do when an interruption frees one, or forces one, to be alone.

I read that in 1903, the German sociologist Georg Simmel argued, in an influential essay called The Metropolis and Mental Life: The psychological foundation, upon which the metropolitan individuality is erected, is the intensification of emotional life due to the swift and continuous shift of external and internal stimuli. Man is a creature whose existence is dependent on differences, i.e., his mind is stimulated by the difference between present impressions and those which have preceded. Lasting impressions, the slightness in their differences, the habituated regularity of their course and contrasts between them, consume, so to speak, less mental energy than the rapid telescoping of changing images, pronounced differences within what is grasped at a single glance, and the unexpectedness of violent stimuli.

Our weekends together, our weekdays apart, would seem to have offered an ideal situation, for the stimulations Simmel talks of, to continuously be encouraged, and enhanced.

Yet I don’t believe the regularity led to less mental energy being consumed, rather I would say we forgot how to share our mental energy, as we had in our early days together. Instead we exponentially increased the consumption of our own mental energy, with powerful negative energies.

How does one break out of that tight hold of negativity, how do two people, who are forcing themselves apart, stop the rot?

Would more time together have been useful, or is it, that once the negativity has found its path, it just builds on itself relentlessly, becoming the core of an all shared or all separated activity.

How do we get back to the waiting and the longing, how do we find such innocence, which once let us make so many mistakes, seemingly without a care.

What is it that first attracts two people together, before urging them, dominating them, consuming them, and then controlling them to lose ownership of that early love.

The Yorkshire poet and philosopher David Whyte, who you might listen to if you get the chance; he has a very calming voice, he speaks many truisms, for instance he says: Longing is the transfiguration of aloneness … like a comet’s passing tail, glimpsed only for a moment but making us willing to give up our perfect house, our paid for home and our accumulated belongings.

I did give up my house, albeit it was not perfect, I did give up my paid for home, I did give up my accumulated belongings. I gave them up once, for the waiting and the longing; I gave them up once again, due to the interruptions and the distractions.

David Whyte goes on: Longing calls for a beautiful, grounded humiliation; the abasement of what we thought we were and strangely, the giving up of central control while being granted a watchful, scintillating, peripheral discrimination. The static wilful central identity is pierced and wounded, violated and orphaned into its own future as if set adrift on a tide.
With discrimination do we overcome distraction, is the giving up of central control what frees us to become easy with being adrift on a tide.

I was often adrift, sometimes, most times, it was in a good way; being adrift was quite different from being apart, or being alone.

Being adrift was a positive place; quite the opposite of the negativity of the interruptions, or the distractions, which were around me at the time.

It is time to move on, swifter than the narrowboat perhaps, yet less certain in the destination for sure, as we return to the Story.

I hope you didn’t mind waiting, or being distracted. I hope you will be waiting, even longing, for my return.

Au revoir.

Excerpt 41

I would very much like for you to cook for me

Hildemar comes to my apartment early on Friday evening, I have literally just got in from work when I hear her knock at my door.

Would you still like to go Icelandic she says; Café U.S.W on Laudongasse has a Thorrablót, which is a traditional Viking festival, with burned sheep heads, rotten shark, and sour lamb testicles. Or would you prefer me to cook something simpler, here in your apartment.

I think to myself that the café is near to Farica’s apartment, and that I wouldn’t like to bump into her by chance tonight, so in my mind I go for the home cooking option and say: do you mind if we do eat in Hildemar, I would very much like for you to cook for me; is it ok if I take a shower, and leave the kitchen space completely free for you.

Hildemar says that that is absolutely fine, she prefers it that way anyway.

In the shower it passes through my mind just how much at ease Hildemar is with me in this time, she is with an air of certainty, or so it seems to me, in my presence.

Tell me about Iceland, I say to Hildemar, as we begin our dinner of poached haddock, boiled potatoes and fresh garden peas.

The conference was inspired from an interest in the interplay of light and darkness, and its effect on communities and culture in the North, Hildemar tells me.

It was arranged because this is the International Year of Light, there are events on worldwide.

Darkness is linked to mental health in many people’s eyes Hildemar tells me; the conference looked at how different communities develop their own distinct coping mechanisms.

I’m not sure though that I gained as much from the conference as I did from simply experiencing the darkness, we simply don’t have that experience in the city you know.

You can easily feel alone in the dark; even in the dark with the moon and the stars clearly visible, you can still feel alone, alone and vulnerable.

Also with the lack of darkness you can become unsettled; how do you imagine you would sleep, if you had almost three months without any real natural darkness.

I say that I would have to work on the coping mechanisms for sure, I am not so sure I would want to go from one extreme to the other every year; do the natives dread winter or summer more?

Ha ha, Hildemar laughs a little; once again you become the questioning man, can you tell me now, how things are with Hildegarde.

I say that much progress is being made, I tell her that I have introduced Farica, a colleague from my workplace into the mix; Hildegarde seems quite relaxed about the process.

Hildemar senses that I don’t want to dwell on this subject, but says she is thankful for the update, which she thinks sounds promising.

We wash the dishes together, talking all the while about nothing in particular. Hildemar says she wants to put in a good weekends work, to get ahead on her thesis; and what will you do, she says to me, for her end remark.

I tell her that I am going to the theatre with Farica to see Dorian Gray; yes she says I noticed you looking at that poster when we went there.

I hope you enjoy the play; what does Farica do exactly, at your workplace, Hildemar asks. I say that Farica works in personnel and human resources, that she is very much involved in assessment and career development, especially of graduates who enter the business.

She must be a pretty confident individual then, to have the wherewithal to assess others, to show them all of the directions possible for their future.

I don’t think that she would claim to show them all of their possibilities, or options, I say, she is simply working within the structures and philosophies of our companies organisation, which as it happens she does have a particularly good knowledge, and understanding of.

I feel a little uneasy talking about Farica; let’s change the subject I say, tell me about your study programme, what do you have left to do.

Hildemar says that her hand in date is in four months time, she wants to keep one month for a final review and editing, which means she that has three months left to complete her work.

In that three months she has one more field trip, of her own choosing to undertake, she asks me what would I suggest that trip might be.

I ask her what she knows of her family, what is the furthest away physical place, that she knows that her family have been involved with, a place which she therefore has some connection to.

Why don’t you trace your family tree back a few generations I say to her, find a significant destination, then we will go there together for the weekend, I will be rigorous with my questions, heritage is important.

You are a thoughtful person, do you know that, Hildemar says to me, you always come up with solutions which seem worthy of exploration.

I say that it is often easier to sort out things for other people than it is to sort out things for oneself; I then say that I often feel more able to be objective, for another person, than I ever can be for myself.

I add that I believe my own emotions are in a way a barrier to clear thinking; they are a distraction, an interruption, a seismic force-field, which inhibits, which impedes my normally rational thought processes.

You sound like the speakers at the conference Hildemar says; you know you really do have so much unexplored potential, you absolutely must break free.

I want to ask her; break free from what, but I don’t. I want to ask her; what sort of unexplored potential, but I don’t. I want to ask her; what should I do, where should I go, but I don’t.

Hildemar stays over, we both have to be up early Saturday morning, she has to put the time in to her study; we have a light breakfast, then say our goodbyes; enjoy the theatre, are Hildemar’s parting words.

Excerpt 42

I dress smartly for my date with Farica

I have lunch in Café Central. I spend a lot of time simply people watching; I spend an awful lot of time daydreaming, about what the people in the café might do day by day.

I have, or so it seems, no capacity to daydream about what I might want to do; everybody thinks that I do many things, but what of that is planned, what of that is truly thought out.

What is determined through clear direction, with constructive objectivity; and what is it that simply occurs, due to those powerful twin forces of habit and happenstance.

I distract myself by watching what others are doing or portraying, I interrupt myself by asking for more coffee; I am waiting, for it to be time to go to the theatre, I am longing, to be at the theatre with Farica.

Two hours after I came into the café I determine that I must leave; how many hours have I sat in this café, how many hours do I procrastinate in cafés, both here, and all around the world.

Back in my apartment I read from The Art of Taking Action by Gregg Krech I see the word Arambhashura which I see is Sanskrit for Hero at the beginning.

I recognise myself in that word, I have massive enthusiasm at the onset of projects, perhaps even more aliveness, just at the very idea of projects.

Yet my enthusiasm wains, I get bogged down when the detail arrives; my lack of concentration, my short attention span, my difficulty in working with others, they all prevent me from naturally keeping going.

Instead I use tricks; diverse tools and techniques which I learnt in school, in university, and on the MBA at Cranfield. I play games, with my own mind, to keep pushing projects forward.

I am good at this with work; I have had success with work by using and demonstrating these methods, yet somehow I seem unable to bring these constructs into my private life.

I convince myself that my private life has to be for real; it is to be free from fraud and trickery, it is to be based on finding the natural me, then letting that natural me have as much free rein as possible.

I shower, I shave, I dress smartly for my date with Farica. I feel good, I feel alive, I am waiting, I am longing, I wear the Kashmir Musk Eau de Parfum.

We have a drink in the bar, Farica is totally elegant in a slimline, crimson-red and indigo-blue item, an interwoven dress, which gently shimmers under the crystal lights.

Her smile radiates happiness, and fun; the night is yet young but already I have reached a state of elation, already I have become over emotional.

We hold hands as we sit at our table, cocktails at the ready; it is true that I do sometimes hanker after the simple life but, boy oh boy, do I also not just love sophistication.

And tonight Farica looks mighty sophisticated indeed I have to say; no, let’s change that phrase into I choose to say that Farica looks mighty sophisticated indeed.

The play is a big success, there are several bows taken, to strong applause; Farica thanks me for bringing her here tonight, then she asks; where next.

I ask would she like to go to a café-bar, or to a club, or back to one of our apartments; she says that she would like to invite me to her apartment, it is only ten minutes walk away.

Farica’s apartment looked almost as though my visit had been planned; the lights were low, candles were already burning, the room had a warm sensual glow.

Can we dance again Farica asks, of course I say, of course we can dance, do you want me to choose some music; I find a Four Tops CD. I put on an all time great for me: It’s The Same Old Song; is this one of your favourites too Farica asks, as we begin to dance.

By the time we get to Since You’ve Been Gone we are sat on the couch; listening to, and talking about the lyrics.

I am feeling good, I feel that Farica is feeling good, I undo the clasp, at the back of her dress, then slowly lower her zip.

We are in no hurry; we are calm, almost, but we are happy with our fondling, we both know that we have the whole night ahead of us.

I am surprised to find that Farica is not wearing a bra, not only was the dress elegant, but it also held her firm body pristinely.

Farica becomes excited as I fondle her breasts, she unfastens my belt, she unbuttons my shirt, then unzips my trousers.

We are kissing, we are smiling, we both look towards the bedroom; would you like to make love, Farica asks.

Yes, oh yes, yes there is nothing I would like more I say; what could you do to stop me.

The bedroom is equally seductive; with lower lights, fewer candles, and stronger perfume.

It has a warmth, a welcome, which I acknowledge to myself, has been made especially for me, this preparation is all for me, I say to myself, and I shiver.

Farica comes out of the bathroom, she has changed into a cranberry and black silk camisole, with fluted french-knickers; she looks absolutely ravishing, she also looks very purposeful.

We climb into the big bed, which is adorned with fresh Egyptian cotton sheets; our first night of lovemaking is going to be remembered, not just for the lovemaking, but also for the care that Farica has put into the preparation.

Our foreplay is more frenetic than earlier, I waste little time in working myself inside, and around Farica’s lingerie.

In response Farica holds my cock with an assured grip, she doesn’t want me getting too excited, yet she does want me to know, that soon we will be lovers.

Farica pulls off her camisole, and her french-knickers; we are both naked,

Farica gently indicates that she wants me to lie beneath her. She ever so smoothly sits on top of me, and eases my cock inside her vagina.

We both go ahhh together, we hold each other, we kiss each other, we move, in unison; we are in the moment, we are living those magical moments, those insatiable times, of making love together for the first time.

I can feel the inevitable climax is on its way, I hold back as best I can, while Farica also reaches fervently towards her own saturation point.

We reach the peak experience simultaneously; fucking hell I say; yes, fucking, fucking hell, Farica responds.

We lay back on the plump pillows, Farica is in my arms, and I don’t ever want to let her go.

We make love again in the morning, then we go to Café Merkur for breakfast; we both have pancakes with maple syrup, Farica also asks for ice cream.

Afterwards we walk into Schoenborn Park; I feel like skipping, Farica holds my arms out, she asks me to swing her round.

We are a middle-aged couple behaving exactly like teenagers; we are joyful, we are totally overwhelmed, totally enraptured by love.

Excerpt 43

I put a timescale to our trip to America

I leave Farica’s apartment mid-afternoon; I don’t want to go but feel I must go; I don’t have a reason for leaving, but leave I do.

I walk back towards my apartment, but within twenty minutes I find myself in Café Central, trying to work out just what has happened in the last twenty-four hours, and what on earth do I do with my life now.

I resolve nothing, I don’t even focus on the current situation; I ought to write things down, but I don’t. I ought to apply some method, but I don’t; I think I know what love is, but how can I know for sure.

I decide that I will write to Dinah, when I get back to my apartment, that will be my plan. I will have a soak in the bath, with a glass of wine, while I work out what I want to say to Dinah.

I listen to Erik Satie’s Piano Dreams as I bathe. I am seriously relaxed this evening, who wouldn’t be with the memory of my immediate past so close at hand, but I do begin to muse on Dinah.

I want to send her a poem, and I will. I want to continue my involvement in her creative writing course, and I will. I want to keep the writing going between us, and I will. But beyond that?

Yes, I will it, that due consideration must be given to the situation between us.

My need is to find a test; a test to see if the waiting, and the longing, can grow, within me, for Dinah.

I have committed to go with Dinah to America, and I have arranged to take a sabbatical from work to accommodate the six week trip, she knows that.

What if I were to now say to Dinah that I would only be able to see her once more, before our trip to the USA.

I bag that idea for the letter; of course, as far as is possible, I will let Dinah choose the time, and the place, for our getting together.

The poem I choose for the letter was written a long while ago, maybe even thirty years ago, I edit it only a little, Against the Rain is still almost a virgin:

Against the Rain

Did I write of a white May moon
I see this on a scrap of paper
Like a smooth boulder
I like a white May moon
Soon another train will rattle
Tittle tattle on the radio home
I miss too too
You you you
I miss you like a white May moon

We, you with me, on the sunrise-seashore
Holding hands, keeping warm
Touching life, right at our fingertips
Emotional-recharges, energy-implosions
Before heading towards home

I walk alone against the rain
The elements to touch
To touch as if together
This is pleasure, pure pleasure
And a new experience
Coming to my place
That for you seemed new
Like your place for me, and also
To long for, to wait for, to wait to
And to long to return

More this though for you
For you to experience
And exploit your unlimited ideas
Your free-flowing monumental ideals
Free of distractions and interruptions

I put a timescale to our trip to America, and to my work commitments, before revealing the one more meeting limitation, which I ask Dinah to place on a calendar, and to confirm it in her return correspondence.

It is not a long letter, and I don’t explain my purpose, for a letter written so so soon after the missive which I sent on Friday.

Dinah’s reply to Friday’s words will cross with this one.

I have interrupted the correspondence flow, with only the merest of distractions.

Excerpt 44

I spoke out loud to you this morning

Two weeks have gone by since the countdown began, two solid weeks of my waiting, and my longing, to see you; yet I note from my calendar that there are still sixty-one days to go to our meeting.

My original workings, which came to eight weeks until our son’s potential move, must have included some error, or miscalculation.

I have miscalculated many things; indeed for a more than competent mathematician, my human, social, and psychological workings-out, have often fallen way short of the mark.

Impatience is possibly a major factor in my reaching fragile, unstable, or unrealisable outcomes.

I do know that rushing leads to mistakes, yet when my blood rushes I don’t seem to be able to steady myself.

You made my blood rush, you know that don’t you. You made my blood rush when we were close together. You made my blood rush when we were far apart. You still make my blood rush, you do know that now, don’t you.

What is it about my writing that stimulates my circulation, what is it in my choice of words that causes my internal excitement. How does my psychological excitement lead to my physiological excitement; is it of you, is it for you, is it all down to my crazy misaligned memories of you.

Did your writing to me similarly excite you; when you wrote that your bed felt empty without me, did that encourage you, to imagine me laying beside you in that bed, did you imagine we made love in that bed, did your words do that to you, did they.

Once again I feel myself becoming overwhelmed by my writing, I feel the writing holding my words back in my non-writing life; I am almost mute without my Story or my You words to lead me.

I know, from our experience, how negative this is, how difficult it is for a loving relationship to be maintained; yet the writing is addictive, I don’t feel able, nor do I have the desire, to let it go.

I have a very loving, and an amazingly supportive partner; how nuts must I be to do anything which could destroy our situation; I can write that, yet I forget to deliver; I always forgot to deliver, didn’t I just.

I spoke out loud to you this morning, I recorded my spoken words as I was driving to work, you helped me to create poetry; you helped me to sink, and you helped me to float.

I thought about, but did not write about, my last will and testament. I thought to share my words between you and my partner; would that be a gift, or would it be yet more trash, for you to eventually discard.

Would shared ownership help the two of you, maybe even to get to know each other, or would you instantly give your share right back to her; is there nothing of me, or my thoughts, that you would wish to read, or to own.

I am reading about a comparison between ambition and vocation; from what I read you were both my ambition, and my vocation.

As Patanjali puts it: your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world.

Thanks to you I did find myself in that place; I guess that I am only writing to you right now because I did travel through that wonderful world; merci très beaucoup.

I do wait for good things to happen to me, I do long for good things to happen to me; I do meditate on good things happening for me, I do also meditate on good things happening for you.

I share our meditation space with a small group of friends; this week we are following the work of Sharon Salzberg, a very popular mindfulness meditation teacher (popular I believe because of her plain speaking, which is a bit unusual in meditation circles).

We will use spoken guided meditations, to meditate on Breathing, we will have an introduction to, and a meditation on Emotions, finally we will meditate on Loving-Kindness.

And during all of these meditations I will spend some mindful time with you; Je souhaite que cela ne vous dérange pas.

Raymond Tallis, in February’s issue of Philosophy Now quotes from Eliot’s poem Sweeney Agnosistes:

Birth, copulation, and death
That's all the facts when you come to brass tacks:
Birth, copulation, and death.

We did not share our birth, how many couples do; we most likely will not share our death, even married couples don’t often manage that do they.

But yes, we did share in copulation; it was joyous, amazing, beautiful, stupendous, wild, entirely natural, and the outcome was immensely life fulfilling.

Tallis quotes the poem in order to dismiss Eliot’s minimalism, he says: that the more he thinks about it the bigger waiting becomes.

It fills so much of our lives… he then goes on with a mountain of minutiae. He ends his piece by quoting from Der Radeechsel, a poem by Bertholt Brecht:

I do not like the place I am coming from.
I do not like the place I am going to.
Why do I watch (the driver) changing the wheel
With impatience?

I could very well have written these same words myself (almost) this very morning, as I waited for the traffic lights to change, on my way from a disruptive home, to a soul-destroying workplace.

Once again I am in a house turned upside down with renovation and decoration; I am out of place, I am out of sorts, I feel to be suffering from not being true to myself.

How it would be, to be in a minimalist white cottage, with an outlook onto the ocean, with a few wooden steps down to a soft sandy shoreline.

How would it be, to write fluently, with the purpose of vocation; words significant enough to attract a discerning, worthwhile, readership.

How would it be to have a love-life filled with fulfilment, embraced with vivacity, inculcated with overflowing sensuality.

How would it be to have one’s financial matters settled; to have acquired then set aside sufficient moneys to enable a life approximating to luxury.

How would it be to have the health and vigour of a teenager; with sufficient strength, and vitality, to try a host of new activities.

How would it be, to be with you in these very same lifestyle situations.

How would it have been, if we had been together from the very beginning, way before copulation, way nearer to birth.

I ask these questions of you, yet I also ask them of myself; I still find it easier to tumble into the silence, more so than to wobble, on the uninterrupted fringes of conversation.

I am soon to return to the Story; if ever we should go to Vienna, would you care to join me in Café Central; it would be my treat, would you please wear something neat, something turquoise.

Love. x

Excerpt 45

Tonight I simply sit

I am in work early, I have a meeting with my colleague, who helped me to set up and is now successfully managing, our first Amersfoort project. I want to know if he could delegate that work and assist me with the new localised energy project. He tells me that there are two promising engineers in Vienna who, if I could persuade the directors to allocate them, would help to give us a very strong team. Other than that he says yes, yes he can work with me.

Do you know, I just love positive people. Who was it who said I don’t mind if the decisions they make are wrong, but please give me people who will make decisions; If no one else claims this quotation then I guess it’s down to me.

I suggest to my now favourite engineer that next week we arrange a joint visit to our client, for an update on progress; I tell him that I will have a response to his staffing request, before we go. At lunchtime I go to the directors dining room, I have asked for an impromptu meeting, to float the idea of relocating staff from Vienna to Amersfoort.

The directors say that if the two engineers who I specifically mentioned are happy to move that’s fine, if not, well then they expect that I will be able to persuade them; job done. I talk with the two engineers, together, after lunch; they are excited by my description of the project, and why wouldn’t we want to be within a train ride of Amsterdam they say to me, in unison. Job really well done; a most productive day at the office, I am back home by five-thirty.

But no mail from Dinah, which is a bit of a surprise; no matter, I confirm by telephone that both Farica and Hildegarde are still ok for Wednesday lunchtime.  Another Monday evening on my own I say to myself, let’s try to minimise the distractions, or at least get me into the right mood first.

I put a ready meal in the oven, it will take about an hour to cook. I set out my meditation space, with cushions and candles. I put a meditation music CD on the stereo. I have meditated for a long time, in apartments, in hotel bedrooms, in chapels and churches, and in other calming public spaces.

My space in Vienna is ideal for meditation; it is not absolutely silent, yet it is quiet; it is not minimalistic, but neither is it gaudy; it is not ceremonial, although I do find it to be spiritual. Tonight I simply sit, I sit and let the thoughts come and go as they wish.

I am using my mantra yet I am not plagued by it. If my mind drifts I allow that, for a short while, before quietly coming back to the mantra. I have an alarm device, on my mobile phone, which tells me when to start, and warns me, via a Tibetan bell sounding, when I am coming close to the end. I always allow a few minutes after the end of my meditation before opening my eyes, before raising from my meditation seat, I always say thanks for my meditation.

The mantra meditation allowed me to think of many things; I thought of my various relationships, I thought about my work, I thought of what the future might hold; I had glimpses of all these thoughts, but I did not dwell on any of them. I came out of meditation feeling good, feeling empowered, feeling enabled to sit down and work out my life; but first for my lasagne.

By seven thirty I have eaten and I have washed the dishes. I take out an A3 plain-paper pad, then begin drawing a mind map. Good as my life is at the moment I feel a need to find order; I suspect I have an innate need to organise, and to categorise, and finally to supposedly simplify my life. I begin by confessing to myself of my indecisiveness, I then suggest to myself that all I do is follow others, both in and out of work.

At this low point it gets worse, when I convince myself that I don’t do anything creative. Unexpectedly I remember reading about William James longing to be a family man, as he considered four life options; though I think he said, that if he only had to consider himself, then his choice would be very simple. 

Ultimately, in his search for happiness I believe James put choice as the first pillar, to have the ability to choose, regardless of our personal circumstances. What do I then choose, and how much in control of that choice am I; let’s say that I wished to choose Farica ahead of Dinah, as my long term partner.

Would my power to choose dwindle, if I was to let them both know, that I was partaking in that particular choosing process. Farica, Dinah, Hildegarde, and Hildemar all have circles on my mind map, as do England, Europe and America; work sits on its own, to the left of the sheet. I now draw a series of small circles within a bigger circle which I label creativity, I put meditation into one of the small circles.

I convince myself that this time, of apparently doing nothing, whilst in meditation, is the most creative, the most fulfilling part of my day. In the next small circle I put reading and writing, and in the third circle I put sketching and drawing, then for the fourth circle it’s photography and movie-making. I am on a roll, but I stop myself; what do I mean by these words, do I mean they are aspirations. Do they mean that I would be prepared to study, to practice, to become competent; do they suggest that I could earn a living from being creative? Indeed I recall James suggesting that: happiness is created as a result of our being active participants in the game of life.

I interpret this thus: if I just write, or if I just draw, simply for my own satisfaction, then I am not fully engaging in the game of life. James it seems is saying that I have to do something with the writing, with the drawing, if I wish to be happy with my life. I wonder should I erase these circles, or perhaps I could have my own definition of happiness, one which requires no exterior justification or acknowledgement of the activities; ergo just write, just draw, just be, and in that just being, you will just be, happy.

I then move onto the four females; what do I wish for, from these relationships I ask myself; all four have shared their physiological love with me, all four have shared their psychological love with me. All four have made me happy; and I do believe, that with all four, that the happiness was shared, shared and fully enjoyed, together.

All four are different, significantly different. I have less in common with Hildegarde, I have more in common with Farica (although I have only just met her in real lifetime terms). I have known Dinah for a long time, and I really enjoy our times together, yet for some unknown reason I do not long for her when we are apart. Also I realise I never did long for Dinah, even when we very first met; we were always cordial, loving even, but longing? No, that wasn’t there, not ever. Hildemar brought me to Vienna, it was a chance meeting, entirely down to happenstance; we met because I went into a bar, we met because she worked in that bar, that is what we have in common.

Going back to James I took some time out to read this from I put it onto the top corner of my mind map, almost where the instruction notes on an engineering drawing go. This is it: Happiness requires Choice: the world in itself is a neutral flux of “booming blooming confusion,” hence it is entirely up to us whether to view it as positive, negative, or as absent of all meaning. Happiness requires Active Risk-taking: happiness is not produced merely by thinking or by resigning oneself to life’s circumstances, but rather by taking bold risks and acting on possibilities that come from the “heart’s centre,” the Real Self within. Happiness involves “As-if” thinking: while we cannot prove rationally that freewill exists or that life is meaningful, acting “as if” we are free or “as if” there is an ultimate meaning in life will through that very activity produce a free and meaningful life. Happiness often comes after a Crisis of Meaning: throughout history, the happiest people often record going through a deep depression caused by a sense of the loss of meaning…these events should not be repudiated but welcomed since only through them is the “Twice-born” sense of renewal possible.

I simplify these to be:


Risk Taking



You might not be surprised to learn, that, as I used these four points of references, for my four relationships, then it was Farica who came out tops (a maximum score is pretty hard to beat isn’t it).

In no time at all it was eleven o’clock; my evening of nothing to do had turned into a night of not enough time to do all that I wanted. But at least the mind map is now begun, and it is stored safely away. Tuesday passes without much ado, Wednesday I meet with Hildegarde and Farica; it is a very positive session. Hildemar asks that Wilda joins us in two weeks time, she thinks she will be ready by then, assuming that the three of us meet again next week.

Judging by how some of the questions, or rather some of the answers went I would guess that Hildegarde and Farica had met up in between our sessions, although neither told me that directly. I say I will have to miss next week, they both say that’s ok, thats fine, we will manage.

Excerpt 46

Yes, I wish for these self-same sensations

I made no plans for the weekend, and no one contacted me to arrange to get together; for the first time in a long time I would be alone, alone on my own, for sixty-six hours. I have no motivation to work on the mind map on Friday night, instead I set up a tick chart, to catalogue my longings, for each of the four women, as I spend this alone time, alone.

I ask myself if I could stay in the apartment all weekend, not resort to watching television, or using my computer; I decide that the music is to be Gregorian Chant, for the entire period. I also think that reading, writing, and drawing should be seriously limited; in the end I determine to eliminate them altogether.

I am becoming the hermit. My food will be plain, my diet is mostly to be soup, cereals, tea, and water. I will disconnect the telephone, switch off my mobile, I will become incommunicado. The prisoner in his cell comes into my mind, should I make a mark for every hour that passes. I think this is pretentious, but nevertheless I go along with the idea, the hourly strikes can be logged on to my longing chart.

I recognise that I am creating the conditions for solitude; what do I expect to gain from this chosen solitary confinement, what do I need to look for in the outcomes. Nietzsche, according to Freud, had a more penetrating knowledge of himself than any other man who ever lived or was ever likely to live. How much of this came from his solitude?

Here we can call upon Nietzsche’s own words: I go into solitude so as not to drink from everybody’s cistern. When I am among the many I live as the many do, and I do not think I really think. After a time it always seems as if they want to banish my self from myself and rob me of my soul.

Is it my soul I want to reach during this self imposed isolation, do I want time to think, but not to think as others would have me think. Nietzsche goes on to say: I need solitude, which is to say, recovery, return to myself, the breath of a free, light, playful air. Yes, I wish for these self same sensations, these highly developed, yet seemingly innocent states of mind; I hope that solitude, even this short spell of solitude, might take me there. Should I soak in the bath before retiring to my bed I ask myself; no I say, I will take a short shower, with plain soap.

It is eight o’clock, how daft am I not to have arranged to see Farica; she gets the first tick on the longing chart; by eight-thirty, with me still lying on my bed, her score is multiplied threefold. I move, to sit upright on a dining chair, in my meditation position. I do a breathing meditation, watching for and feeling for the beginning of my in breath, watching for and feeling for the end of my out breath; I do this to prevent thoughts of distraction entering my mind. By nine-thirty I feel ever more alert, what’s the point going to bed if not to sleep, and what’s the chance of sleep, when I have the attention level of a world class fighter pilot.

Ten o’clock arrives; I could be in a bar, I could be with friends. Who knows that I am here, who cares if I am alone, or if I am lonely. I am not lonely, I do not feel lonely, but I do feel a suffering; I suffer by being alone. I suffer by being estranged. I suffer by being out of contact. By eleven thirty desperation and paranoia are making a play; what if I can’t ever sleep again, what if I can’t ever think again; three more ticks for Farica on the chart of longing, and one for Hildegarde.

It is after midnight, I turn off all the lights, I pull the bed covers up over my head; over my head which is buried under the pillow. I don’t feel the relief, but I do go to sleep, this becomes obvious as I wake, six hours later, to the sounds of the cities dawn chorus. As I wake I instantly think of Hildemar, of our day at the Klimt exhibition; I visualise Schiele’s women, I note that they are his portraits of Hildemar; I give her two ticks on the longing chart.

Two letters arrive from Dinah in the mornings post, I determine not to open them, but pen a short note to explain my solitude experiment. I will post it first thing on Monday morning, I put one tick for Dinah on my longing chart. I have cereal and tea for breakfast, which is eaten quickly; dishes are washed, all is tidied away before eight o’clock; a full day ahead, of nothingness, is neatly set. I determine to meditate at ten o’clock, two o’clock, and six o’clock.

I recognise my need for structure, my need for reliance on habit. I want to enjoy this solitude, I have chosen this, I was free to do it, I know that there are risks involved, but I feel it to be a force of renewal, it ticks all four of James’ conditions for happiness. I don’t feel happy yet, rather I feel somewhat  constrained; I feel trapped, I haven’t yet broken through into the comfort zone of solitude, or into the faraway enlightened zone of peacefulness.

I felt loads better after my walking meditation; I walked around inside my apartment, all the time feeling for different parts of my body. I had some magical visualisations, I saw mountains, I saw streams, I walked on the beach holding hands with my ex-lover, I felt immensely light; yes here I was, just being, just being totally positive.

All four girls got ticks on the longing board; they have given me so so much, we have had such very good times; could I not simply ask them all what they would think, about sharing a long term relationship with me. Wow, I have become light headed haven’t I, already giving away so so much of what I thought was my responsibility, yes, my responsibility, and mine alone. I put an instruction on the mind map to ask the long-term-relationship question of Farica, Hildemar, Dinah, and Hildegarde; but in what order should I ask them.

Lunch is soup, though consommé might be a fairer description; soup and water is a pretty virtuous thing, for mindful sustenance, I suggest to myself. I have a short nap after my afternoon meditation; last nights sleep pattern, or rather the lack of it, is catching up with me. I spend the rest of the afternoon sitting, sitting and thinking; I think how much time I spend not of my own choosing. Then when I do choose to have time for myself I find that I have forgotten how to enjoy being alone. I have become entirely dependant on external influences and triggers, I have become quite used to following anyone but myself.

My evening meditation cannot come along soon enough. I meditate on awareness, I go through the phases of watching, calming, and stilling my mind; after about ten minutes I am aware that my mind is still, that my breathing is steady, that I am calm. I maintain this state for another ten minutes before I lose myself, and my thoughts return. I don’t worry, I go back to the very beginning, start again; twenty minutes later I bring a very peaceful meditation, with ample awareness time, to a gradual close.

Saturday night on my own, Saturday night staying in; this is almost inconceivable, I always do something on Saturday nights. I am always with someone on Saturday nights, but not this night, this Saturday night I am at home, I am home alone. Everyone I have ever known gets a tick in the longing box now.

I also start to think about Farica and Hildegarde meeting up; my mind fills to overflowing, with erroneous thoughts of their being together. I convince myself that a bath is not too big a distraction; I light a few candles, turn the lights down low, then I climb slowly into the warm fragrant water. I lay there, in beautiful contemplation, with my eyes partially closed, with my body submerged; I remember the flotation tank, and massage, back in England.

It was a birthday present; a gift of mind and body sensations, I even think my soul was moved that day, that day alone, that day alone in the sheer darkness. Again I am alone; yet this time the gift is from me to me, this time it is my own chosen personal indulgence. So why does this gift not quite reach my mind, or my body, or my soul, in the same way as it did back in England.

My mind goes into overdrive; how come such similar situations feel so so very different, how does another person influence my feelings, even when they are not present. More important; how do Farica, Hildemar, Dinah, and Hildegarde feel when (or if) they are under my influence. How on earth can I ask them to answer that particularly emotional question; nevertheless it goes onto the mind map.

I sleep really well Saturday night, asleep almost as soon as I get into bed; I sleep right through to eight o’clock; a solid nine hours of recuperation.

I meditated before breakfast, my mantra meditation, for twenty-five minutes, followed by five minutes withdrawal time. Breakfast is again cereal, and tea, but cereal eaten much more slowly than yesterday, also quite a rest before washing up, before tidying away. I set up, in my mind, my next two meditations for twelve o’clock and six o’clock; lunch and tea will follow accordingly, tinned soup does not take too too long to prepare.

The apartment is light, the sunshine finds its way to all corners; I sit watching the shadows come and go, I sit feeling the heat on my thighs. I sit, and I am at ease, I realise that I am thinking about being together with Farica; so another few ticks for her to go on to the longing sheet I say to myself.

Excerpt 47

Why wouldn’t I write, rather than talking

You often spoke of my over enthusiasm, of my impatience to move on; but I could not do nothing, I don’t know if anyone can do nothing. If situations are not good then they need to change; if you do no more than wait for change, well you might find yourself waiting forever. You forced change; I waited for you to change that decision, my waiting was wasteful, useless, pointless, it achieved nothing; doing nothing achieved nothing. Yet even when my choice is to do nothing it is increasingly difficult; I cannot easily do nothing, I believe everyone has to do something, which is why I think I chose to write.

I had no one to talk to, but I could write down what I might have said, had someone been listening; and so so soon I preferred writing to talking. It gave me the chance to slow down, to think a little deeper about the words I chose; then, when I had completed the writing, I could go back to the beginning, to begin the editing. Why wouldn’t I write, rather than talking, with so many technical benefits, with so so little grief, or angst, caused by me choosing the wrong words. Then when I started writing, with more than one character, well, then what did I need people for at all, certainly not to talk to.

But to do nothing, when doing nothing means not writing, well that is torture, an interminable struggle, of going nowhere, for no reason.

Writing didn’t come easily, writing still doesn’t come easy; I never studied English, I never understood the laws, or rules, or theorems of grammar. And my Yorkshire dialect, however smooth it sounds when spoken is a significant detriment, when it comes to producing the written word. Where, or where not, to use the dreaded h; when or when not to apostrophise the words; is it had not, or is it hadn’t; if so when, if so where, if so why.

Then the order of the words; I notice I use many different styles, do I not; without a rule to follow I have no consistency, and without consistency I have no style. Worst of all, worse by far; my indiscriminate use of the semi-colon; for me it’s something between the comma and the full stop; yet I read other writer’s work with awe, as they use the semi-colon way more tellingly, or far more sparingly.

I only tell you this to let you know how deeply my fear of inability is seated; you brought that out of me for the water colours, and the pastel sketches, but you are not here to help with the writing. Actually you never ostracised me about my writing; occasionally you quipped about my pen strokes, my use of capital letters instead of joined up writing.

I think once you joked that you might use my capitals text style, to give your writing more certainty, to achieve greater clarity. I read your garden poem again recently. I think those words benefitted enormously, from your delicate, joined-up, writing; capitals would be quite wrong, in such a gentle piece of work.

Perhaps that is why my poetry is indelicate, rough, turbulent, even racy sometimes. Hard love, lecherous lust, the devil of debauchery; they all seem to benefit from the antique stiffness of my capitalisation writing style. I am the reinforced concrete, you are the soft sand; I am the raging sea, you are the Machair; I am the rope and chain, you are the cotton and yarn. I was caught up in waiting; you wanted me to be released, to be the moving on.

There was a strong frost this morning, I had to wait some few minutes in the car, for the heater to clear the windscreen. When I reached the dual-carriageway I noticed sunlight reflecting from the steel, of three temporary construction-site crane jibs, which were themselves covered in ice. I had in mind to write a pastoral poem; one day I might, but it is more likely that I won’t, instead that moment of my life is captured here, in this writing for you.

And there is the crux; I prefer to write instead of talking, yet the words come more easily when I have someone to write for, when I have something which to write of. The Story allows me to do this; I ask myself how much of my life is in the story, not just from our life, but from my whole life, the whole of my relationships consolidated.

The You bit ties me down a little, but the two become the chiaroscuro; You are my shadow, Story is my light. Balance and counterbalance, love and glory, firm frost on steel, all glistening in winter sunshine.

I have just read a journalists piece on Rammed Earth Construction, I found it on Issuu, an Internet site which I had sent to our son, for a piece for his graphics portfolio. I always wanted to build a house, I always wanted it to be alternative, unique; I so so foolishly thought that it might exhibit or show off my personality. I never did build a house, but in the future I may well write about building a house; indeed, in my story, though some time ahead, one of my characters may well build a house.

Would you have cared for building a house together with me; could you have stood my fixed views, my dogmatic positions, my innate and deeply ingrained stubbornness. Then to live together in that house, after we had built it; would we both be throttled by the compromises that we each had made. To such an extent as to prevent our sharing even the least small breath together, the beautifully shared breath of a potentially wonderful life.

Or instead would the whole of the project be undertaken in the calm excitement of our early love; is it possibly true that we could realise all the feelings, all the hopes and the dreams, of that impossibly amazing time, which we once shared together.

I have just received an email from Bloom-Retreats, inviting me to a creative-writing and dream-exploration, in Pollensa, Majorca, in May. The photographs are most inviting, I am very tempted, I will ask my partner, but, if I do go, it will probably be alone; now there’s your opportunity for our secret rendezvous!

We never did have a vacation alone did we, whether a holiday, or a retreat, we were never quite able to achieve or activate that break from ordinary life. Of course, in the early days, all of my visits to you were retreats; immensely satisfying, sensory-overloaded, mini vacations. Quite a magical part of my life.

I read a lot about broken hearts; I once had a broken heart, I don’t have a broken heart any more. It was you, you and one other, who broke my heart. I don’t remember if, or how, my first broken heart was ever mended.

From Sadhguru: The English expression, “Falling in love,” is significant because no one rises in love or climbs in love. You fall in love, because something of who you are has to go. If not the whole of you, at least a part of you should collapse. Only then there is a love affair. You are willing to destroy a bit of yourself for the sake of the other. It essentially means someone else has become far more important than yourself.

Which bit of myself did I destroy to fall in love with you; did you become more important to me than I was to myself? I suppose only you and I, sitting down together, and being rational, would enable that question to be answered, but that’s not likely to happen now, is it. I do think that both of us did destroy bits of ourselves, but not for the good of the other, rather to spite ourselves; wanton destruction, employed by those who fall out of love.

Does this read as though I love you more than ever; it isn’t that way by design, but my current happiness, my lightness, does make me turn to love, and when I turn to love I most often turn to you. I have that urge, right now, to shout out I love you, I love you, I love you; a shout out to the lady whose name I mustn’t utter, whose life is mute from my new world.

Yes, my body is bouncing, my sap is rising, my thoughts are all over the place, as I think of you, as I smile, for the love of the love which you once gave to me. I now have to find that love in my Story. Thanks for letting me write the You part, thanks for giving me the inspiration for these satisfying words.

Bon Voyage.

Excerpt 48

I don’t know how I achieve that

Only four more hours of solitude until I escape to my bed, until I enter the rich lands, of deep sleep, and fantastic dreams. All in all I haven’t coped too well in solitary confinement; I have found distraction, I have sought out interruption, I have found myself waiting, I have found myself longing.

Yet I will celebrate this time; I will speak of it in spiritual terms, I will be righteous about the depths I have reached within myself. But it will be me mostly being superficial, as I explain the value of my being alone, as I evaluate the purpose of my being silent.

I meet my colleague at the airport on Monday morning, I have four nights booked, Monday and Tuesday in Amersfoort, Wednesday and Thursday in Amsterdam. We spend Monday travelling, reviewing the progress on our current contract, preparing for meeting our clients on Tuesday. I tell my colleague that the directors have released the two engineers, that they are both very excited about joining up with him. He says it is good to work for someone who gets things done; it is good to have a boss who listens, who acts positively. I say thanks.

On Monday night I ring Dinah from the hotel, I don’t know why, I never do that; I ask her if it is ok to talk; yes, yes of course, where are you she says. I explain my situation; oh, then I could meet up with you on Wednesday, if you wanted, she says, then adds, perhaps we could we stay-on, over the weekend, in Amsterdam, couldn’t we?

What could I say, all those hours and days of not longing, then here I am so so longing for someone to share my time by the canals, for someone to be with me. I don’t want to be alone. We agree that Thursday would be the best day for Dinah to arrive, we will have four days together, I wont go back to Vienna until Sunday night. Dinah says she will book flights, and a hotel; her treat, she says.

Tuesday goes very well in Amersfoort, I say to my colleague that I am staying here an extra day, he is pleased that we work well as a team. Sometimes it is not what I physically do, I say to myself, it is just that somehow I seem to oil the wheels of motion. I don’t know how I achieve that, but it is true, I do recognise that I do have that talent.

My colleague says it is good that I show so much commitment to developing our companies business in Holland. He says that our client’s senior management team, and directors, think it is important to have such a competent link, with strong influence, back at the companies head office.

I extend my time in Amersfoort, cancel my room in Amsterdam. I will catch the train to Schiphol Airport on Thursday Morning, that will be the end of my working week; so much for the test of my longing.

Dinah looks amazing at the airport, how can someone look so good after all that travelling; we take a Dutch Business Limousine right to the The Toren Hotel where the Royal Suite awaits us.

Dinah knows how to impress her man; she makes it very clear, immediately, that she does want me to be her man.

We are just so fucking good together, we look the part, we get smiles from everyone, why would I ever dream of wanting to share my life with anyone but Dinah; it isn’t just the sex either, although that is pretty bloody amazing. It is the conversation, it is the inspiration, it is to be with someone with a wide and worldly view; dammit why don’t I just take that leap of faith, why don’t I make a commitment right now.

We are the kind of people which Amsterdam adores; we stroll through the cities streets, making the place look chic, alive, trendy. We buy expensive shoes, from artist-designers, more so than from traditional shoemakers; we purchase bespoke shirts, fashionable blouses, from independent dressmakers and tailors. We sit, looking good, outside coffee bars and drinking establishments; we show off our wares, inspiring other visitors to release their easy money. We book tables in the best of the modern and the traditional restaurants, we spread the word with our joyful conversation.

We are lovers and we are ambassadors; we make the world a better place, by being better people. And just as much as Amsterdam adores us, then so we adore Amsterdam; we are so much at home in the Café-Restaurant Neva, in the Hermitage Museum.

Dinah takes me to the Hermitage gift shop, she wants to buy me a poster, for me to hang, wherever we might find a place to live together. I show a good deal of enthusiasm, but suggest that really we ought to go to the true source, in St Petersburg. I say we ought to go there as a celebration of Dinah completing her Creative Writing course.

Dinah says that is far too long to wait; we shall buy a print now, today, and in the years to come we shall think on this day, as the day we made our plans for visiting St Petersburg. I don’t disagree, I don’t argue, I daydream of being in Russia with Dinah; I think we would sit well with their oligarchy.

We move on to the cinema, we watch a foreign language, spy film, with Dutch subtitles, it is a good job we know the John le Carré house style. Throughout the film we kept looking at each other; smiling, or frowning, dependant on whether or not we understood that part of the storyline. We were in sync almost all the time, it was a fun experience. 

Then on to Wagammama, by the cinema, for noodles with ginger, also a couple of Peroni beers; we are happy, we are good together, we do what lovers do. Back at the hotel we have a liqueur coffee in the bar before retiring to our room; Dinah asks me to undress her, which I do with certain pleasure. Slowly, yet still with only superficial self-assurance, I remove all of her outer clothes, then her exquisite lingerie, until she stands before me, entirely naked.

Now it’s my turn Dinah says, she returns the favour of stripping me to nakedness; we stand together in the middle of the room, we stand close. Dinah pulls my lips to hers, she is passionate with her twisting tongue, we run our hands through each other’s hair. We move even closer, thighs inside each other’s thighs, then Dinah moves me, gradually, to be standing close-in, but behind her. She takes my hand and places it on her vulva.

Dinah encourages me, to massage her most intimate super-sensitive tissues. With my hands now busy, working away for King and country, Dinah takes hold of my quite stiff member; slowly, with deep self-assurance, she massages me close to a climax. I was desperate to make love, Dinah was equally certain that that wasn’t going to happen yet; she moved her muscles around my inserted fingers, flexing them with an indecent level of control.

Don’t you stop now, don’t you go getting over excited Dinah whispers to me; I kiss her ears, she becomes wildly ecstatic. Somehow or other we get a rhythm going, we were gentle, also we were rough, we were relentless in our pursuit of this ‘almost fucking’. Dinah held steady, she had the presence of mind to anticipate my reaction; she held me at bay, in a wondrous suspense, with my sap continuously rising, then falling.

Eventually we moved onto the bed, still I lay behind Dinah, by now she was on all fours, with my arms around her tummy. With the touch of a ghost she pulled me into her, I was inside, I was silently screaming with such overwhelming massive joy.

Again Dinah’s muscles worked their wonder on me, we gyrated, for King, for Queen, for country; if this was our duty, then surely we were doing our Royal duty. Our ecstatic explosion came, in that one moment of blissful copulation, that moment when we both gave way, completely, to our bodies incessant demands.

We lay together, stark naked on top of the silk-satin bedcovers; I looked into her smiling eyes, into her wide, wide-open, mischievously smiling eyes.

We are good together Dinah; you, and me, we are good together; I say that with so so much certainty; yes, yes we are, we are aren’t we, Dinah replies rather impishly.

We shared a shower; more kisses, more stroking, more soft words; a little bit of fun with the soap, then into our exclusive heavy cotton bathrobes.

We woke early the next morning; already we were petting, we made leisurely love, exactly right for lovers on vacation, exactly the thing for lovers, in the city of love, in the city of exploration.

Excerpt 49

How long could I permanently keep up

The Van Gogh Museum has an exhibition called Easy Virtue, how could we not go. Also Ennio Morricone is on at Ziggo Dome on Sunday night. Dinah easily persuades me to change my flight to Monday. I am in my office in Vienna by lunchtime, no one questions me, all is going well, but I am physically tired, which leaves me mentally stagnant. Dinah sure has stamina to match her positive attitude to life, she has worn me out, in those four non-stop days of extreme pleasure. How long could I permanently keep up such a ferocious, flirtatious, lovemaking lifestyle. 

Monday evening I ring Farica; she asks if my trip went well; she says the girls; Hildegarde, Wilda and herself would like to meet up without me for Wednesday’s therapy session if that is ok. She says they want their conversations to be frank and open, they each have said that they fear my presence would impede each and all of them. I say that I understand, I ask if last week went ok; Farica says she thinks they are making lots of progress, also she adds: isn’t Hildegarde an interesting girl. She then asks if she could come round to my place to cook for me on Friday evening. I say yes, yes of course, though I try my best to camouflage my intrigue, as to just how things are evolving between her and Hildegarde.

Next I ring Hildemar; she is working really hard she says, but would like to go out walking on Sunday, to get some fresh air, I say that’s a great idea agreeing wholeheartedly. I tell her briefly about my solitude experience, she shows real interest, but asks that I reveal to her the full story at the weekend. We fix up for me to collect her from her place early on Sunday Morning, then drive out to her chalet at Neusiedler See. Hildemar rings me back fifteen minutes later, she asks if we could set off late Saturday afternoon instead, and stay over at the chalet, I say that’s more than fine by me.

At work on Tuesday I learn that the directors have an opportunity in Berlin that they would like me to explore; they invite me to an introductory meeting with them on Thursday lunchtime. I have never been to Berlin, so I spend the next couple of days on Google, researching the city, looking up its attractions, browsing its surroundings. It is too far to drive, but I could easily fly, then pick up a hire car; I will suggest to the directors that I stay over the weekend.

The directors explain that the people in Berlin have an opportunity in Russia; the Germans want me to go to Berlin for two weeks, to meet up with them, to explore the opportunity, then to be introduced to their Russian client. Pennies from heaven didn’t someone once say; it sure seems like that to me today, I am to fly out to Berlin one week on Thursday; I desperately need to do more research.

Farica is bright as a button when I meet her outside work on Friday, we go shopping together, which feels good, I enjoy holding her hand as we go up and down the supermarket aisles. You look like a child in the sweetshop she says to me, what’s making you so so happy. Without thought or hesitation I say; doing ordinary things with you Farica, that’s what makes me so so happy; Oh dear Farica says, in a gentle sensitive response.

We choose trout and almonds, with smoked salmon and dill for starters. I buy a, good quality, chilled white wine. We have fun cooking, though I sense a slight restraint from Farica, we hold each other but we don’t become passionate. Midway through dinner Farica tells me that Hildegarde has asked her if she can move in with her; she says that they have shared some intimate moments.

I am beside myself; I think to rage about patient-client boundaries but I don’t. I think to say that I thought you and me were getting somewhere, but I don’t. Instead I am silent. Farica says that she understands that it is a very delicate situation. Yes, I think to myself how will I explain this to Hildemar and her family, people who have put all of their trust in me, with regard to their sister and daughter. I stutter out a question; how did it start, how serious has it become, are the feelings mutual, is it requited love, does it have a future, and what about me and you, is this a dear John supper.

No, no, no, no, no, Farica responds emphatically, it is not the end for me and you, anyway we have only just got started, and just what are your plans for the future anyway; for instance, can I trust you, like I feel I can trust Hildemar. Fifteen love I think to myself. Fifteen love but advantage to Farica. Well, I say, I don’t know what my future is, but I can say, most sincerely, that since I have met you I have enjoyed every moment in your company.

I say that my weekend of solitude was aimed at giving me some clarity, but instead it led to more confusion, I found out some things, but if anything it left me more uncertain about most things.

Look Farica said, there were only a couple of intimate moments, and it is only Hildegarde asking if she can move in, it isn’t me saying yes she can, it absolutely isn’t that. So what do we do I say, what do we want to do; well, first I’d like to serve you the dessert from the oven, can you get the clotted cream, is Farica’s swift reply. 

We finish our meal, we wash up together, for now we don’t talk about the other situation, Farica tells me to sit down while she makes coffee. I enjoy this domesticity, I do like Farica a lot, she is, I realise, my first turn-to person, but now she has really gone and surprised me.

She joins me on the sofa, we drink coffee, we talk about nothing much; Farica says that she likes being here with me, she thinks if she could always be with me that would be fine.

I don’t want to, but I do ask if the Hildegarde thing was a mistake; well, she is sexy isn’t she, is Farica’s reply, adding: of course you know that now don’t you. But let’s not get into a fight, Farica goes on, let’s just say that we have both shared her lust, her love. Let’s just say that we have both bagged her, and that now we can move on, that is one person who can’t now come between us.

I ask Farica if that means she is dropping Hildegarde; well, Farica says, that’s why I wanted to see you, I wanted your advice, on how to let her down gently. I go into a bit of a pretend rage; she fucks me, then she fucks you, now you ask me how we could let her down gently. Let her face up to whatever’s coming is what I say. Farica laughs, then hugs me tight, as she says thank you, thank you, thank you.

But we do have to be professional I say, so tell me what you can about Wednesday’s session, how did that go with the three of you.

Well, first of all, Farica says, I think it was Hildegarde who manipulated the situation for you not to be there, I think she then manipulated me, in order to make Wilda jealous. Farica then adds; which now makes me feel that I don’t think she wants me, but if she can’t have Wilda she will make do with me, just as long as it unsettles Wilda. 

What about Wilda I say, what does Wilda want. Oh that’s easy Farica tells me, Wilda is a free spirit, a real free spirit; there aren’t that many about, she wants anything and everything. But she will not be trapped, she will not be changed, she will not settle down; that is not with Hildegarde, and actually, most probably, not with anyone.

So that’s the loud, clear, message that we have to get over I say, then we have to work on the recovery, on the real recovery, not on the substitute recovery. We, all four of us, we need to be true to that cause of repatriation, we need to make totally clear the path which we are to follow.

I knew it was a good idea to come and see you tonight Farica says; do you know I think I love you, you brave, clever man.

We share my bed, we are easy in each other’s arms, the foreplay is resplendent, we move into lovemaking, so smooth that I think we both missed the transition; then onto the after-play, mint ice cream in bed is pretty wonderful, simply sublime, isn’t it.

As we part on Saturday morning I say to Farica that I will ring Hildegarde on Monday, to outline to her what will be our final therapy session.

Excerpt 50

She talks about the scientific approach

I pick Hildemar up at five, we are walking through the marshes to her chalet by seven; all is quiet, I want to tell her what a bitch her little sister has been, but I don’t. I light the wood burner, Hildemar boils the kettle on the small calor-gas hob, we have bread, with cheese, with fruit; we are a proper, simple little couple.

Hildemar tells me that her thesis is nearly there; she thinks philosophy has a good future, that we are in an age when mankind wants to know more about himself. Also we are in a time where we have the wherewithal to understand how to develop the hypotheses; she says that this is unique, never before has this bridge been reached.

She talks about the ancients, where the knowledge was with the limited few, and those few were often deep in argument, or disagreement. She talks about the scientific approach, when those in the know became more certain of their basis, although, partly through their mind-boggling jargon, they almost obliterated their audience. 

Finally Hildemar says that only now, when the professionals understand the need for subtlety, for engagement, only now when the audience has reached a critical mass of understanding, only now can the philosophical stars collide.

Only now can the incredibly beautiful benefits of philosophy be truly reaped. I applaud her speech, not mocking in any way; I agree entirely with all that she says, I wish I had said it myself.

We have our food, we tidy the dishes away, we settle down on the sofa; now tell me about solitude Hildemar says to me, tell me what you discovered about yourself. I go over the weekend, minute by lonely minute, hour by desperate hour; after a while I see that Hildemar is dozing; come on I say, it’s bedtime.

We are up at first light, watching the sun come up, watching the birds over the water, watching the sun burn off the mist. After an hour of watching, of doing nothing but sitting silent, simply watching, I say to Hildemar: this is the peace which I was looking for in the solitude, this is the real peace, right here, right now; thank you, for inviting me to Vienna.

We fry a pan of bacon, we boil a pot of coffee; we sit outside to eat, though now we are busy with conversation, we are chattering faster than the thousands of birds which swarm over the lake.

After eating, drinking and cleaning up we wander about the marshes, Hildemar shows me some of her favourite places from her childhood. I say to her that I think Hildegarde is going to be ok, but that we are going to give her a rude awakening, we are going to point out a few home truths.

Not before time is Hildemar’s instant and powerful response; that girl really needs to know that the world does not owe her one single thing!

Excerpt 51

I misread the absoluteness

This morning my poem begins:

Without you
How I love you
With you so so far away
How I pull you close

I was smiling as I plucked away at these words, slimming them down, drawing them out, expanding them to try for greater clarity, finally returning to the simple, minimal view. Then I heard the Guillemots singing of love; that Fyfe Dangerfield flooding through Made up Lovesong #43, yet he sang that after I had penned my words, I beg of you to remember that.

I read somewhere; only to write when you have something to write; I read somewhere else, always to write, start writing and then the story will come to you. My poetry follows the former, my Story follows the latter, my You words fall somewhere in between.

Last week, during meditation practice, I said how good it feels to pull on a clean white cotton shirt of a Saturday morning. Someone asked me why? My partner was there so I couldn’t say it was because of you, instead I said it was because of memories of good times in the past.

Clothing is important for me. I feel good with good clothing. I felt good when you had good clothing, although you had style whatever you wore. I had a really neat experience buying you lingerie, I wrote a poem, which even today fills me with joy; you might find it somewhere if you search google for: I stare in the window a gleam in my eye.

Such fun when the barriers between buyer and seller are removed, such amusement when the conversation becomes more than just the routine questions and the formulaic answers. 

Unfortunately I don’t believe the gift was quite what you wanted; I hope you didn’t believe that the corset was any reflection on your body shape, it most certainly wasn’t. I rather suppose it was me feeling that I had the freedom to live out a fantasy; perhaps I misread the absoluteness, did I miscalculate the certainty of our relationship.

While I accept that I often fell into silence I don’t recall you telling me that you didn’t care for my present. I just can’t remember you wearing it all that often; was I just too late in the day in the buying of it, or would it never have been your style.

I have a lot of sympathy for you now with regard to the silence; I am very much today of the opinion that humans thrive on human contact. With the ability to think, to talk, gifted to me, you must have thought that I would have made better use of it, but I know that I didn’t, at least not for the most part.

Even now there is a mechanism within which inhibits me; some call it shyness, some call it introversion; I myself place the fault half with nature, and half with nurture. On a bad day I would place more emphasis on the lack of nurture, the lack of opportunity to practice, and thereby to develop my skills, in a split-sex, intellectual, cosmopolitan environment.

You were my first significant transition across the line into sophistication, until I met you I was the most sophisticated person that I knew. I did have confidence once embroiled in a group; I could quickly become their leader, and spokesperson, especially when I knew what it was that I was talking about.

But I didn’t enter a new social gathering with much bravado, especially amongst the theatrical, or the arty, hoity-toity set, where you milled around with such confidence. I was often hurt by your flirtations, or at least what I thought was you flirting; I hated you laughing in other men’s company, I was seriously, severely embarrassed, when I saw you move closer to other men. I don’t suppose I told you. I suppose I just went quiet didn’t I. I don’t wish to claim that I was in the right, I just want you to know that for me silence was a place for me to retreat to (and I so so fear that it still is).

Would it help for couples, or groups, to have regular therapy sessions, specifically aimed at improving interpersonal conversation. I don’t mean Relate style counselling, when positions have already become strained, or entrenched. Rather I am thinking of continuous development of those social well-being skills, which perhaps I ought to have learnt better, maybe even beginning at my junior school. For surely my entire life should not be blighted by a couple of disastrous years, as I became a teenager; I was vulnerable, and for a while the world lost me, as much as I lost myself.

Excerpt 52

But I wasn’t at one, I wasn’t at ease

The society around me couldn’t get through to me; eventually the easiest path was to discard me, to forget about me, which looking back didn’t help me, nor did it help anyone else either, for that matter.

Do schools now take psychology and philosophy more seriously; have we moved on from rote learning to genuine understanding. Are we developing personal tools, a skill set, with conversation, encouraging empathy with others at the very core of the curriculum.

I wanted to be with you
Then I didn't want to be with you
It didn't make any sense to me then

I don't want to be with you
Then I do want to be with you
It doesn't make any sense to me now

I have to tell you that I am writing this in order to fill time in my workplace; I have nothing that I have to do, I have nothing that I want to do, other than to escape, to place these words here for you. I am on the home straight now, just one quarter of an hour to go, to add on to the eight and a quarter hours which have already passed. It seems such a waste, I am thoroughly saddened by the wastefulness. 

I read this from Osho: The capacity to be alone is the capacity to love. It may look paradoxical to you, but it is not. It is an existential truth: only those people who are capable of being alone are capable of love, of sharing, of going into the deepest core of the other person—without possessing the other, without becoming dependent on the other, without reducing the other to a thing, and without becoming addicted to the other. I struggled to find my capacity to be alone, in the sense which I believe Osho means to be alone; yet I often was alone, yet I wasn’t often lonely, in those times of absolute aloneness.

But I wasn’t at one, I wasn’t at ease; when I have sought out solitude I haven’t found the peace, or the calm, or the joy. Most certainly I never found the absolute joy in aloneness, not in the same way in which I found that joy when I was together with you. That joy did extend; to being happy with more than just you, certainly in the early days my happiness was truly there; with you, with your friends, or with you when with your family.

The jealousy of having to share you only came later; I am just beginning to feel that same kind of jealousy once again, with my present partner. Did you notice me becoming jealous, did you feel my angst, did you sense my awkwardness, did you try to change anything to support me. Or did you think: he’s a grown man, he knew what he was letting himself in for, he’ll have to make do.

But I couldn’t make do, could I. I never could be happy with making do. There is a bit of me that sees my coming to terms with solitude as making do, yet another part of me thinks that achieving peace in solitude is a far more noble cause.

Did you ever contemplate searching out solitude and silence for yourself, or did you see that as the hell-of-a-place where I had banished you to. I don’t expect you ever waited for the silence, or longed for the silence; neither do I expect that you were ever too much disturbed by the interruptions, or by the distractions.

I think you were sorted when I met you. I expect you are still sorted now. It’s been good to talk with you, in the past, in the present, in the future. Hasta luego to You, it is time for me to return to the Story. I do so so hope that we meet again, soon.

Excerpt 53

I begin Wednesday’s therapy session by explaining

I am in work early Monday morning, I fly to Berlin on Thursday, I will take time to get to know the city, before my first meeting the following Monday. The schedule is going to be reasonably intense, already we have lined up five or six meetings; we have a lot to do before we meet the Russian delegation.

This time I am going on my own, I have no engineer to fall back on, my directors want me to fully understand the opportunity, before we decide on the calibre, and the quantity of staff which we will need to dedicate to the project.

I meet Farica in the works canteen on Monday lunchtime, I explain my thoughts for our Wednesday meeting with Hildegarde and Wilda; she agrees with my plan, she says she will make sure everyone is there. 

Tuesday goes by in no time at all, I check in with my colleague in Amersfoort to explain that I will be in Berlin for two weeks, he is ok with that, he will hold the fort; he is a good guy, a most reliable man. 

I begin Wednesday’s therapy session by explaining that we are going to make a few significant changes to the process. The first of which I say is that there is to be no contact between Hildegarde and Wilda, or between Hildegarde and Farica for a month.

No contact whatsoever, no telephone calls, no text, no email, no Facebook messaging, no bumping into each other in the street, no meeting up for coffee or a chat, no, no contact in any way at all.

Hildegarde butts in, I don’t know if I can do that, I don’t know if I want to do that, what are you trying to do to me she trembles.

We are trying to break the dependencies Farica says. We are trying to stop you getting everything you want; because at the moment Hildegarde if you don’t get what you want then you throw a hissie-fit.

Farica continues; we want you to change that destructive pattern of behaviour Hildegarde, we want to help you change, we have to be strong together to do that.

I don’t want you to copy my behaviour Wilda says to Hildegarde, the world has enough of a job to look after one person like me, it doesn’t need anymore.

Wilda goes on: You are my friend Hildegarde, you are a good friend, I want to be a good friend in return, I want you to be stronger, I want you to be more independent, I want you to be you.

We will support you I say to Hildegarde; I am going to be away for the next couple of weeks, but I will telephone you, every evening, at seven-thirty, then I will meet up with you, on my return.

What are you checking up on Hildemar asks me, what do you think I will do while you are away, what do you want me to do while you are away.

I explain to her that I want it to be a period of serious self assessment. I say that she is to do all the normal things, such as going to college, being with friends, being with family.

But I say that I also want her to dedicate some time for solitary reflection, I say that I want her to keep a daily journal of her innermost feelings. I ask her to be true to herself, I talk a bit about the difficulties that come with longer periods of isolation and solitude.

Hildegarde brightens up; so you are all doing this just to help me she says; am I lucky or what, to have such good friends; but I do tend to talk a lot, especially when I am on the telephone, she tells me.

Don’t worry I say to her, and if you want to write to me, outside of your journal, then feel free to send me emails, about whatever you want, whenever you want.

We then have a general discussion on keeping journals, of how to observe our feelings, of how to note our responses to different stimuli.

Welcome to the world of practical positive psychology I say to Hildegarde, it will be a great benefit for your philosophy studies.

Our session goes on a little longer than maybe is normal. I suggest that Hildegarde gives everyone a big hug before we part; she is both smiling, and crying, at one and the same time.

Excerpt 54

Will I be strong, will I change

Next morning I am sat in the airport, my flight is delayed by mist, and by fog, which I hear has also snarled up the highways. I am in no hurry. I sit, I gradually allow myself to fall into a contemplative state. What have I done, how on earth am I going to cope with seventeen days of telephone calls from Hildegarde.

Will I be able not to stray onto memories of our past situation. Will I be strong, will I change, what prevents the therapist from changing. How will Farica look upon such concentrated communication, between Hildegarde and myself. Will she be jealous, will she be jealous of me, or will she be jealous of Hildegarde.

What of Wilda; is she now out of my life for good, or on my return will she want to re-engage in our resurrection of Hildegarde, or will she want to pursue her previous bathroom antics with me.

Also what of Hildemar; I have left her a message, suggesting that she take Hildegarde to their chalet for a short break while I am away. I outline the telephone call system I have set up with Hildegarde, I say that she should give her due warning, before asking her to go anywhere, I add that Hildegarde might want to clear the trip with me.

And what of Dinah; no waiting, no longing, so little thought of her since last I saw her; yet here, sat in the airport departure lounge, I do feel the sap slowly rising. I just love her disturbance, I thank her right now in my mind for her interruption, for her distraction; I wonder should I make a telephone call.

But before I can action that my boarding begins. I am on my way to Berlin; I half expect, that soon also, I will be going to St Petersburg.

Excerpt 55

I don’t know what you make of his plans

What if you spoke to me, would it be like being a teenager in school again, wondering if Hazel Walters might go out with me. I knew it wasn’t you, or her, in the photograph; I could tell, by the longer, more wrinkled fingers, otherwise I might have made the mistake.

It seems more or less certain that our son will return to live with you in Devon, I met up with him in London on Saturday. He thinks it will take him at least six months to construct a suitable portfolio, before he goes off in search of work. He is though widening his horizons, I do believe that New Zealand, among many other places, will be considered, he hopes to visit NZ with you at Christmas.

I don’t know what you make of his plans; you don’t tell me, he doesn’t tell me, I don’t ask; instead I choose to simply enjoy his company, which I do. I admire his work. I admire his application to a task; I worry about his, might I say his naivety, in thinking that he can so clearly build a future. I never did, I never have.

There that is sufficient of an update I do believe, suffice to say that I am still thinking about you; you have undoubtably claimed your place in my deep-space memory. How much joy in that place, how much despair lies there, how much crippling inability to do anything with those memories, other than to feed them into the writing.

Does the imagination really do so so good a job as the reality; am I able to fulfil all of my needs of you, without any physical, verbal, or textual contact with you; I can’t quite believe it, yet I fear that I must believe it. I do believe that any analyst worth his salt (which includes you, which includes me) would soon see that my writing is no more than a catalogue, of my wishes, for how my life might have been.

The writing then is my escape; to write for you, to write about you, to write both sincere or insincere words, that I won’t ever be able to, or indeed have to explain away to you. Words that bounce out of almost nowhere, nowhere alone together, for well over a decade. Words that flutter, flutter from nowhere other than a decade of dust.

Our son’s girlfriend has asked that I be her friend on Goodreads, an invitation which I have accepted with good grace, although I don’t know what she will make of my reading list. I ought to tell her, how you should have much of the praise, for the breadth and depth of my reading; you were a beacon, a real true inspiration.

I bought you a book in America, a book which by mistake I asked to be returned, I shouldn’t have done that, it was a present, a gift from me to you, complete with a fairly naff inscription.

What is it, in this human being, who walks into a bookshop in Santa Monica, thinks about his girlfriend, a twelve hour flight away, on a small Island. What thoughts did he carry, what thoughts did you give him, what feelings merged, what transference occurred, in the time when he made that book selection.

Distant, distant thoughts, they will become one of the themes for the Story part, which will follow this minor, also perhaps for some, but certainly not for me, insignificant introductory exploration.

Do we think more when we are at a distance, does absence truly make the heart grow fonder; are there lightheaded occupations, which may be drawn from the ether.

On the basis, that Santa Monica is eight hours behind UK time, you would just have been going to bed as I was choosing your book. Did you dream about me when I was in America, or did you lead your life, with little thought for the whereabouts of your lover.

How do we, as couples, function, when we are geographically separated, that is where the search engines take me to, as I try to work out what was going on between us, when I was in America.

I realise that much of the research is more relevant to those several years of my working away from home, leading up to our final separation. I fall short of taking the survey to find out my suitability for a long distance relationship; I failed once in real life as you know, I have no desire to fail again, or to be reminded as to why I failed.

I was listening to a late night radio programme on my way home from football; apparently, with every succeeding generation the number of people who believe in God is falling. Yet there is still a desire for some form of spirituality; there is a lot of interest in Buddhism, though many followers pick or choose which elements to adopt. This evening’s Buddhist spokesman suggested a minimum framework, which to my mind was close to a mixture of Humanism with Mindfulness

I bring this to mind to highlight how little we explored each other; I don’t know your beliefs, except I believe that you don’t believe in God. I don’t know that you know my beliefs either, yet I am almost certain that I told you that I was a non-believer of the God thing, yet still a searcher for the spirituality.

What I search for comes from my understanding of the collective unconscious; I do believe we tapped into this, you (and Jung) might even have introduced me to the concept. Spirituality for me is something to do with me having a place in that collective unconscious, a place where I wish to somehow be a force for good for creativity.

I think that you contributed to the collective unconscious, in a more natural, more genuine, less superficial way, than I ever did. I am grateful that you introduced me to many of the deeper, more esoteric explanations of life, of its possibilities; some which I picked up to run with, some which still lay dormant.

I hope that you can still find time to engage with your spirituality; I truly do hope that your art plays a significant part in that phase of your spiritual journey.

I do believe, more so everyday actually, that any form of creative output is valuable, both to the individual, as well as to the society where the individual engages. I therefore will add creativity into the themes for the Story part; maybe I will reflect on how your creative work influenced me, in the current moments of our times together.

I forgot to mention, that after the religion programme, on the radio, I listened to a research or study piece about the Bronte sisters, in particular about Charlotte Bronte. They focussed on her trip to France, to study under a new master, who, so they inferred, rebuffed Charlotte’s advances at some stage.

They then went on to explain how Charlotte used her writing to get her own back, or to work through her fantasy, whichever way you choose to see it.

By the time of her writing of Jayne Eyre, the master who snubbed her, along with his entire family, were becoming fully ingrained into Charlotte’s work. Now I am no Bronte, but I would much prefer to be compared to Charlotte, rather than to the modern writers of revenge porn, as I think they are commonly known.

I have to go now, writing to you, or for you, or about you, is like talking with a long lost friend, it certainly feels most therapeutic, for which I thank you, immensely.

I will be back.

Excerpt 56

I worked out a further test of compatibility

I am indebted to Berys Gaut at the University of St Andrews for his work The Philosophy of Creativity.

Distance, and creativity, are going to be two of the underlying themes as our Story moves forwards. Quoting directly from Berys’ abstract, I hope you agree, provides some food for our thoughts, some pillars to rest our souls against:

This paper surveys some of the central issues in the philosophy of creativity and argues that an adequate treatment of them requires attention to the rich psychological literature on creativity. It also shows that the range of interesting philosophical questions to be raised about creativity is much wider than concerns its role in art. Issues covered include the definition of ‘creativity’; the relation of creativity to imagination; whether the creative process is rational; whether it is teleological; the relation of creativity to knowledge; whether creativity can be explained; computational and Darwinian theories of creativity; whether creativity is a virtue; the relation of creativity to tradition; the aesthetic value of creativity; and whether creative activity is different in science and art.

What do I, Farica, Hildemar, Hildegarde, Wilda and Dinah think about our own creative output, just where, just how, just when do we work together on creativity; let’s go on an exploration shall we.

Dinah is to join me for my first ever weekend in Berlin; we are going to stay in the Meliá Berlin, which is near to the river, also close to the museum quarter. I arrive on the Thursday, a day earlier than Dinah; I feel I need to become acquainted with the area a little, before we go on out to discover the city properly together. I have booked a Junior suite on the eighth floor; I will need somewhere to work when Dinah leaves, also we will need somewhere to relax when we are together.

After checking in I go for a walk along the riverbank, I find myself outside the Museum für Islamische Kunst (Museum for Islamic art), I stand outside for a while before going in. In those few moments I worked out a further test of compatibility between Dinah and myself; do you see how unsure I still am over our situation. I love the geometry of the art, my mathematical mind bathes contented with the mosaics, with the balance, with the symmetry, with the, dare I say it, with the simplicity of this art form.

I want to become at one with the works, so that when I bring Dinah tomorrow I can subversively observe her response to the art works, with a certain detachment. I want to know if this art excites her as much as it excites me, I want to know if she feels as much at peace around this art as I do. I want to determine if this artwork energises Dinah; I want to gauge whether this could be a form of art, also by definition a culture, which we could enjoyably explore together. I spend a good long time quietly immersing myself; I have nowhere to go, I have nothing to do, I have all the time in the world.

How lucky am I to be in such a beautiful, quiet, settled, inspirational space. I dwell endlessly, I move slowly, I feel, I breathe, I smile. I have a desire to write poetry, to write love poetry; I begin to feel passionate, I begin to long for Dinah to be with me. I think of Neruda’s poem Tonight I Write The Saddest Verses; it is a poem which I believe carries the right weight for where I find myself right now, the right conversation for the mood I find myself in, right now.

I move on from my melancholic moment, I leave the museum, I back track down the island to the Sculpture Collection and Museum of Byzantine Art. However grand the building, however important the exhibits are, this isn’t quite my cup of tea, Dinah and I will avoid this place, unless she specifically desires to see it.

I make my way back across the river, head for the Chamäleon Theatre, which is off Rosenthaler Straße. There is a show on, of which the publicity says: to keep you on tenterhooks: close up, wild and refreshingly different. I purchase two tickets for Cirk La Putyka’s world premiere of ROOTS family stories, I so so hope Dinah will enjoy this, but it will remain my surprise, that is, for as long as I can keep it.

I walk back to the hotel, I am going to have a long bath; Dinah does not arrive until tomorrow evening, I have all day tomorrow to myself, I want to find somewhere meditative to go to.

I am up good and early Friday morning, I catch a train to Schwante, then walk out to Tharpaland, a Buddhist International Retreat Centre, at Schloss Sommerswalde. This is half a day for peace and reflection, plus half a day for reconnoitre; I am interested in their silent retreats, maybe to come next winter. I will tell Dinah about my visit to Tharpaland of course, but I will ask that we keep our joint focus on Plum Village, we really did ought to set that date.

I am back to my hotel in time to shower, to freshen up for Dinah’s arrival, she is catching a cab from the airport, she is due to be with me by about six-thirty. I see the cab arrive, I go out to meet it; once again Dinah looks impeccable, massively inviting, with her glorious smile; I take her case, wonder to myself how long she might be staying. We ask the concierge to take Dinah’s luggage to my room, then we make our way to the bar; I have left my return ticket open she says, who knows, I might quite like Berlin. This woman is so so relaxed, so so worldly wise, so so comfortable in every situation; can I reach her level, can I ever be on equal ground.

We decide to go to Brecht’s Restaurant, which overlooks the River Spree, it is only a few minutes walk away, I spotted it earlier. They find us a nice secluded table, in the rear of the restaurant, ideal for a couple who wish to talk of life, to talk of love, to talk of adventures. Dinah fits in marvellously, she really is elegance personified; the food is Austrian, a little bit minimalist, I joke with Dinah that this is as close to Vienna as she has ever been.

We talk first about my day at Tharpaland; Dinah says that if she stays longer than the weekend, then she might also go out there. We do set a date for Plum Village, which Dinah agrees to try to organise during our stay in Berlin; inexplicably we are a five-star-hotel couple, seeking the peace of austere silence.

Excerpt 57

Oh, so do we carry on with writing talk I ask

With talk of meditation out of the way we move on to writing; I say to Dinah that her letters show, to me at least, that she seems really comfortable with writing. She has a good vocabulary, a fluency which comes from her easy mastery of grammar, also she uses really neat phrases with references.

But it is not poetry is it Dinah says, it is not storytelling either, I don’t know quite what it is. Dinah then says: I feel quite happy to analyse writing, but it is another thing altogether for me to be creative.

But that is exactly what going to Stamford will help you with I say, the very process of doing your course will give you the impetus, also they will show you some of the tools, to help you to become creative.

The more writers you read, the more works you study, then the more skills, the more techniques you will pick up, the more writing nuances you will learn. Tell me about Laurie Lee, what did you think of his writing, could you write like that, I ask.

But I don’t want to copy someone else, Dinah offers, in swift response.

I’m not talking about copying, I’m talking about deeper reading, to try to hear his voice, then to try to write in that vein but with your voice; to try to write along a similar path, or among a similar landscape, try to create a similar mood, or a mood which you feel is right for your time.

Dinah begins to smile; I didn’t know that I had come to Berlin as part of my writing course, I thought I had come to meet my lover, to meet my life partner, to be with my soulmate.

I order another bottle of chilled Pinot Grigio; Dinah tells me how good it felt to write about the waves, on the West Coast of the Algarve, it was really quite liberating, she says, sincerely.

Oh, so do we carry on with writing talk I ask; what do you think gave you such happiness, in those moments of writing. Dinah laughs, yes let’s carry on, let me absolutely tell you: I was released, I found freedom, the words weren’t for anyone but me, their purpose was to make me happy.

I could envisage the huge and massive energies, those uncontrollable forces of the sea, yet at the same time I could realise the repetition of the waves, the moons control of the oceans. I could throw myself into the ebb, and the flow of the tide, I could be washed down, I could be naked; sprayed, submerged by the salt water.

Time and again I could go back to that short piece of writing to create something new; I had several drafts, each one with something unique for me to keep hold of. But is it poetry, or is it story, is it anything if it is just in my head, or on my rough sheets of paper; do you mind if we look at them sometime.

I am so so happy for Dinah, I tell her so; I am seriously happy that she has begun this journey, I say that we will have so much fun, through developing her writing.

We have an equally minimalist, yet most exquisitely offered dessert; all chocolate infused with strawberry cream, then passion fruit and fig, with double-sauce. We take ages over coffee, at least three cups each, how on earth will we sleep tonight; maybe Dinah doesn’t want us to sleep tonight.

Excerpt 58

We are very pleased with our selections

We walk back to the hotel beside the moonlit river, we stop, quite often, to cuddle, to kiss; this is one more good night, in one really wonderful life. It was after ten on Saturday morning before we surfaced; we did stay awake, we did make love, we did find our sleep, we did lay comfortably, we rested, free of complications, together.

I take a shower, Dinah takes a bath, I stroke her shoulder, she watches me shave; we are as one in our clothes, we are as one out of our clothes. Not a thing then to come between us; we are relaxed, we are happy, we are almost satisfied to be naked. I say to Dinah that I would like to go buy, or hire some clothes for this evening. Why, where are we going, Dinah asks.

It’s a surprise I respond, oh good she says, I like surprises. But before we go I want to show you a piece from the book you lent me. Dinah opens Mademoiselle de Maupin at page one hundred and twenty; let me read to you, she says smiling: I have never asked anything from women except beauty. I can very well make do without intelligence and soul. A woman with beauty is always intelligent as far as I am concerned. She has the intelligence to be beautiful and I do not know any equal to that. You have to be a brilliant conversationalist and scintillatingly witty to equal the flashing of beautiful eyes.

I would like to explore, with you, the few pages from where this excerpt is taken, Dinah says, but not right now, later, after we’ve been shopping, or maybe tomorrow. But for now pray tell; do you think me beautiful, or intelligent, or soulful; what do you expect of me as I get older?

I squeeze her hand, smile into her eyes, and say: yes, yes tomorrow will be fine. I telephone Theaterkunst, and make an appointment to visit their store, to choose some contemporary, inspirational clothing for this evening.

We take the subway to Eisenzahnstraße, walk down a side street, to the graffiti covered warehouse; we are not disappointed with the stock. Dinah chooses a turquoise and rust, shuffled-silk, Dupion dress, with a sparkling silver, green, and copper striped jacket, finished off with flamboyantly flared sleeves. I go for an imitation tiger skin jacket, rather foppish, with umber and ochre trousers; we both choose pointed toe shoes and silk scarves; Dinah picks a matching, emerald necklace.

We are very pleased with our selections, even though Dinah still knows nothing of tonight’s function. I make a payment, Dinah promises that she will return the garments on Monday afternoon; we return to the hotel to bathe, to change; by six o’clock we are in the bar taking our first cocktail, it sure feels good to be going out on the town with Dinah.

The show is an absolute success, I am reminded of Angela Carters A Night at The Circus; I suggest to Dinah that she reads that Magic Realism book. We spill out of the theatre, looking good, feeling good, milling about in the jovial atmosphere of the youthful audience. I pull Dinah towards me, hug her tightly, I look into her eyes, smile then say: we should do this more often shouldn’t we, I thought that was brilliant. I can feel that Dinah is buzzing, I can sense her bodily vibrations, I can imagine her wild, marvellous imaginations; I am seriously, deliriously happy.

We are pretty restrained aren’t we Dinah says, I mean the general public, compared to the artists; I want to become more artistic, I want to explore the all of all of my capabilities. 

How do I find the artist within me, Dinah asks; is choosing writing simply choosing the easy option, is writing just the most convenient fit into my lifestyle. Would I be better in St Ives, sculpting those vast rocks, a la Barbara Hepworth. Or am I really a painter, should I go in search of Cézanne’s world of light. Or am I truly an actor at heart, should I join up with a touring company.

I say that we ought to go for a drink, but that tomorrow we will tour the galleries, try to find out what makes her tingle, what truly does raise the hair on the back of Dinah’s splendid neck. Dinah kisses me, she says that I am so so good for her; it was an inspired idea to come here tonight, she adds, it sure did open my eyes, to a vast emporium, to the magnificent possibilities of life.

We walk through Monbijoupark, towards the river, then we stroll onwards, to the Van Gogh Piano-Bar, not far from our hotel; another good choice, all squeezed up, and joyful. The piano man plays requests old or new, from Scott Joplin, to Elton John, to Waves by Einaudi. Perhaps you could be a musician, I sort of shout to Dinah, as we chink our cocktail glasses, as we say cheers to each other.

A few drinks later we are in the spirit of things; the whole bar begins to singalong to a selection of Beatles songs, ending with Hey Jude. It is almost one o’clock in the morning when we stumble out into the night air, although many of the city’s revellers are still about as we make our way back to our hotel.

Sunday morning we lie in, we miss breakfast; we do though go to look at several galleries, and we do finish up in the Museum of Islamic Art. I am observing Dinah, she really seems to be enjoying the works, but she also recognises that I am absent; are you thinking about your work she asks me.

Yes, yes I say, this is the biggest thing I have ever tackled. The company, who we are working with have been given the responsibility of opening up the entire Russian market-place, for wind power, for energy storage. Our company already builds many products, carries out many installations for them; this project though will take that on to a whole new level, it will be a stratospheric change.

Dinah listens attentively to my words. I will need to be at my best I say to Dinah, I will have to give my all to the project over the coming weeks, I guess I won’t be very good company for you; I am sorry about that. Don’t worry about me, Dinah says, I will be returning to Portugal soon, although I am going to stop over in Paris for a few nights on the way, but I will be leaving you on Wednesday morning.

Would you mind if we shared a guided meditation together later, I ask Dinah, we can do it in our hotel room, or in one of their quiet areas. I have got a Jon Kabat-Zinn guided meditation on my iPhone, which I often listen to when I meditate, I add. I hope you don’t think I will be a distraction, 

Dinah says, oh yes, I would love to meditate with you; and why not be guided, I think it is a good idea to be guided sometimes. We walk back in the late afternoon to the Melia Hotel, it was a good choice to stay here; it is in a good district, though I realise that there is much of Berlin which I have not yet explored.

Work is demanding, so so many people to remember, so so many strategies and tactics to develop; poor little me, fighting my own corner. Dinah is leaving on Wednesday as planned, I wish her well, I joke as I leave her in bed, and add that I might catch up with her in Paris, at the weekend. There’s always room for you in my life she says, then pulls me close for one long, lingering, parting kiss.

Oh boy I will miss this woman I say to myself, as I close the hotel bedroom door behind me. I am absorbed by my work, of course I would love to take the weekend off, to give some time to my personal relationships; but this is the big one, this deal with the Russians could set me up for the long time. Dinah texts on Friday, to find out if I intend to meet up with her; I find it so so very difficult to say no, but I do say no, then I ask myself; would I have said no to Farica, or to Hildemar, or to Hildegarde, or to Wilda.

Excerpt 59

I also need to know a little of the Russian language

We work on Saturday morning, the environment is more relaxed than during the week days, but we still move on at quite a pace. We are designing, pricing, preparing specifications and drawings; all of this to be coordinated, and pulled together into a formal presentation.

I will be leading the presentation team in St Petersburg, I need to know the detail, I also need to know a little of the Russian language, and something of their culture. I spend all day Sunday on the Internet, letting the Google and Wikipedia facts soak into my almost overflowing brain.

Monday to Thursday goes by very quickly, I am back in my office in Vienna by Friday lunchtime, I meet with my directors, to update them on our progress. They are pleased with how the job is panning out, but say that I will have to return to Berlin for two more weeks, also this time I will have to take a colleague with me.

They introduce me to Alexandria, who as it happens, speaks fluent Russian. She is a first class lawyer; we are dispatched from the boardroom to spend the afternoon together. Alexandria is determined to get up to speed quickly, she interrogates me with a relentless urge; I am seriously impressed by how smartly she gathers information.

We leave the office together, go for coffee at Café Central, apparently Alexandria lives not too too far away on Rooseveltplatz, overlooking Sigmund-Freud-Park. Alexandria is on secondment from the law firm Dorda Brugger Jordis, not surprisingly she tells me what a great company they are to work for. To date she has specialised in intellectual property and energy, the two cornerstones of our bid; she will be a valuable asset, although it will be unusual for me to work so so closely with a lawyer.

We have a couple of beers after our coffee, then begin to probe our personal emotional well-being. I feel I am out of my league with this sparkling young woman, I am less sure though that she shares my opinion. We leave Café Central just after seven to go our separate ways. I get back to my apartment to be greeted by messages on my answering machine, also there are letters from Dinah on the lobby floor.

I shower, change into casual clothes; I contact Farica first, who sounds really pleased to hear from me, she asks is it ok for her to come over. I ask if she has eaten, and say that I could rustle up Tagliatelle Carbonara in the time it will take her to walk around from her place. By nine o’clock we are sat down in my dining area with our inviting pasta, also with a bottle of seriously chilled white wine; Farica wants to know all about Berlin.

We finish our meal, then begin a second bottle of wine; we wash the plates, tidy everything away. Farica then says, that now it is time for dancing! She finds some Otis Redding albums in my musical collection. I can’t ever remember dancing in my own place with anyone other than Farica, but everyone ought to try it, it really is truly liberating, it is levelling, yet exciting, at one and the same time.

Our slow dance is Sitting on the Dock of the Bay, we move together, we are so so good together, we sing along with Otis. Farica whispers in my ear, it’s great to have you back, I’ve really missed you. Next up Otis sings with Carla Thomas; Respect is such a powerful, invigorating, shake-a-tail-feather song. We are wild with our wriggling motions, then we collapse together, on the sofa, as the song ends.

Did you go on your own to the theatre in Berlin? Farica asks me this question with an inquisitive smile. Why do you ask is my response, that old, answer a question with a question, delay tactic. Actually I went with an old friend from Cranfield, a fellow student from my younger days, who happened to be in Berlin on business, I quickly add.

Is this old friend female? Farica asks; she is probing now, I can sense that her imaginative, enquiring mind, is having some convivial fun. Yes, yes of course my friend is female, you know that I would feel uncomfortable going to the theatre with another man, even in Berlin. I didn’t know that actually, Farica says, then adds, anyway let’s move on, I’m not trying to catch you out, or trap you, I’m happy to be with you now, I’m happy to live with you, in the moment.

But how long can that last, how can we go on simply being hedonistic, doesn’t our life need to find some purpose, is my not very well thought through reply. Life is a long road Farica says, there are many, many twists, many turns, most of them are neither able to be planned, nor predicted; our time, if our time is to come, will come along in its own time. Now can I make you a coffee, with a nightcap, she says, then adds; it is ok for me to stay the night isn’t it?

I pull her close, I kiss her with some deep passion, I am close to saying I love you, instead I say: Farica you are one absolutely incredible woman. We have liqueur coffee with Drambuie, in fact we have two; our conversation mellows, we talk about what it might be like in to live in the one place, all of the time, that is the two of us, living together. It is almost one o’clock in the morning when we turn into my big old bed.

Farica says she feels good in my bed, she says that she feels secure with me. We cuddle up close, I stroke her silky back, she strokes my hairy tummy, with her soft smooth hands; would you like me to shave you, or wax you sometime, she whispers. Only if we both do it I think to myself, yes, that would really turn me on; but I say nothing, instead I roll onto my back, Farica sits on top of my tummy.

Whatever we do let’s do it slowly I whisper, let’s be in no hurry, we have no need to rush; I kiss her on the ears, I bite her neck, then I pull myself into her. We make love, we are good with the sex, we turn each other on, we rise, we fall in unison, we are as a cruise liner, on the slightly wavy sea.

Don’t ejaculate yet Farica whispers to me, I’m not ready yet; she begins to gently manipulate my cock, oh I plead, how on earth do you expect me to hold on. She slows her movements, now you take the lead she says, you move inside me, you let your penetration reach its limit. Fucking hell Farica I shout, fucking, fucking hell.

Don’t you go come just yet Farica says, I’m nearly there but let us explode together; then you press the button when you are ready I say, holding onto any bit of her skin that I can reach, I am rigid with suspension, I fear that I am in heart attack country without a doubt.

The climax is exceptional, heaven knows where all those love juices where stored, I take my hand to wipe them on to my chest, then on to Farica’s breasts.

This is our equivalent of our being blood brothers I say; let’s not wash ourselves at all tomorrow, let’s let the love bloods soak into our souls. We roll over, we roll together, we roll apart; now I’m going to sleep in your big old bed Farica says, then adds melodically; tonight this bed is ours, tonight this bed is ours.

Excerpt 60

Hildemar is in the last throws of her dissertation

I walk Farica to Shakespeare’s Bookshop, she has taken a Saturday job there to help them out. We have coffee with pancakes as we are walking; this really is the fun-of-love stuff.

Farica asks if it is ok to come back to my place after work; I am so so very happy to say yes, indeed I say I will meet her outside the bookshop at five-thirty.

Back in my apartment I telephone Hildemar. I get her answerphone which says she is out of town for a few days, but should be back by Sunday; I leave a message, asking her to ring me. I tidy the place up a bit, but leave the bed unmade, I want to savour last night’s experience for as long as I can; I just hope I can explain that to Farica, in the cold light of day.

We walk back from the bookshop after it closes; I am anxious not to stop anywhere. As soon as we enter my apartment I take hold of Farica’s arm, walk her straight on into the bedroom and say: look what we did last night, look hard at that unkempt bed, now try to hold onto our night of stupendous, magnificent lovemaking. I just don’t want to forget it , nor do I want to disturb the scene.

Then why don’t you sleep at my place tonight Farica says, by being with me your bed can stay untouched for another whole night, another whole day, in remembrance, if that is how you wish to think of it.

It’s Sunday afternoon when I get back from Farica’s. There is a message from Hildemar, received just after lunch; she apologises for the lateness of her call, asks if we can meet up tomorrow evening, I text back to say that’s fine. I ring Hildemar from work on Monday, we agree to meet up at Café Central straight from work, we will have a light tea then take it from there.

Hildemar is in the last throws of her dissertation, she is quite excited with the work she is doing, she tells me the university have unofficially offered her a teaching position, with time allowed for further research and publications.

She goes on to say that there will be quite a bit of travel involved with the job; she is set to become an ambassador for the university; speaking and presenting, at philosophical conferences, all around the world.

I ask Hildemar if she would care to go to the cinema, I go on to say that The Danish Girl is showing at Artis International. Yes, I would very much like to go see that film Hildemar says, people at the university have been talking about the incredible photography, also highly praising the actors. It is a ten minute walk.

I link my arm with Hildemar, we step along in time with each other; we are both comfortable, familiar, and calm. Hildemar’s real strength is her confidence, that is her unshakeable confidence, which I have come to realise, gives me a great sense of calm.

The film is an intrigue of passion, of identity; a powerful, artistic portrayal, of a young man struggling with his gender. The moody, filmic imagery is immense; also the real beauty of the landscape, the people are captured with great style; beauty in change, beauty in decay, beauty in life’s inevitable growth.

We go back to my place afterwards, I tell Hildemar that on Wednesday I have to go back to Berlin for another two weeks; there’s the grind of the jet set life, I say, with a wry smile; we sit up until midnight talking, she asks how my regular therapy telephone calls with Hildegarde panned out, adding that her sister now seemed quite settled.

I said that Hildegarde showed a great deal of maturity, a good level of understanding, in our conversations; I added that she said, that she thought that each day she was moving forwards. I said that I felt, towards the end, that I had done as much as I was capable of for Hildegarde. I told her that the regular sessions could come to an end, but that if she wanted more help then all she had to do was ask.

Hildemar thanks me for my help; I am so glad that I asked you to intervene, she says. You have been a rock, a most effective sounding board. 

I say let’s hope we don’t have to get involved in any more therapy shall we, let’s call it a day with Hildegarde now. Hildemar agrees forcibly: that’s a damned good idea, a damned good idea indeed.

Excerpt 61

Thank you for such a fine gift

Everyone in life lets you down a little bit; what’s important, I now believe, is how one reacts to that being let down, for it will surely happen. Tonight it was my meditation teacher, who failed to turn up for our meeting in York; I was not filled with anger, instead I returned to my hotel, listened to a guided meditation by Bodhipaksa, and now I write to you, to ask if you remember our wonderful visit to this fine city; every cloud it seems does have a silver lining. In my guided meditation’s words, I am to count to ten, then, count again.

I am choosing the irrationality of this writing over the reality of living a simpler life; a quieter life, a life where my mind leaves behind my obsession with you. My chosen path though is to try to continue with the debilitating presence of you in my cerebral cortex; I use the debilitating word with some due consideration. I do have a weakness for you, I always did have; I was weak in your presence, I was weak even when your presence was physically distant.

Watching a television programme, about still life, I had an oh wow moment when the commentator said that no one paints silence like Cotán. He was talking about the Spanish painter Juan Sánchez Cotán who, paradoxically, has had his silent still life brought into the twenty-first century with a bang.

With a bullet actually, a bullet fired through a three dimensional reconstruction of his painting, a bullet which slices open the pomegranate, which then explodes everywhere, the whole thing captured on slow motion video.

Ori Gersht created this HD film piece where a bullet soars through a pomegranate (used instead of the quince) creating a visually exciting explosion of seeds and juice, celebrating the fruit’s colour and beauty.

Back to you now; I read that you said (when talking to your daughter about your lifetime) that you wouldn’t change a day of it! Should I believe such a thing, or is this no more than a return to the poet Menashe’s love of the common phrase. But perhaps you always did have the guile to count to ten, then count again; I don’t think you often revealed your anger, or did you peel away, to find you own silence, to crush the anger.

Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin, another painter of silence, indeed perhaps the most famous painter of silence, caught my eye during a wonderful tour of the Louvre on TV at the weekend. His pastel self-portrait shows what can be achieved with that wonderful medium. I was a million miles from his unbelievable level of accomplishment; but nevertheless I got huge pleasure from that pastel technique, which you so so lovingly introduced me to.

Thank you for such a fine gift; you and your gifts, always right, always imaginative; you and your moving me forwards, always helpful, always supportive. My pastel works were much about silence, the search for silence; sat in my small quiet flat, I was at peace, I was in love, I was gathering solace from within.

Layering, smoothing, rubbing, merging,  introducing, overlapping, clearing; stepping back, moving close, developing understanding; catching hold, of the deep love in my veins. I am about to frame eighteen of those small pastel sketches this very weekend; they are one of the few things which have remained with me, during my reasonably extensive changes of abode.

My life has not been a silent life; I am not, at my root, or at my core, or at my kernel, I am not the silent person, the quiet one who I sometimes go off in search of. Perhaps, because of my inherent noise, because of my nervous noise, because of my minds racing noise I find the possibility of silence attractive. Yes, maybe because of those all engulfing noises I am drawn to the silence, just as sure as black is drawn to white.

I don’t know how noisy or silent you were, I know our parting was due to my deafening silence, but how noisy were you in the rest of your life; did I ever ask you that, did you ever tell me. If I gave up writing, or gave up writing about you, what would I do with my life, is the writing all a waste of my time? I ask you because for me it gives me pleasure, therefore, as a self-confessed hedonist, I would wish to carry on writing for that reason alone.

If I do see you, when I move our son’s stuff, is it possible that I could be mature, or do you actually prefer the daftness of my screwed up emotions; do you recognise me as being out of control, do you sense my immaturity, do you feel my insecurity.

I make a note here to return Calvino’s book to you; would you mind if I spoke about the loss of your love as a wound, a wound where my surface tissue has partly healed over, it is thus invisible to the naked eye, yet it is a wound where the underlying disturbance still flourishes, a wound still deep with profound anxious energies.

To all outsiders the wound is silent, it is from a different period of time, it is distanced both by the long clock, also by the shivering atlas. Yet, as you know, as I know, the wound is not silent, the wound has never found its silence, it creeks every day as I rise, it groans every night as I take to my bed.

Some noticed the fracture at the time of our break up, some said that in retrospect they had felt a diffidence, a reluctance, a soulless non-presence. I missed all of that, caught up in my transatlantic poetry, listening to the silence of the airwaves, looking out for the silent snowfall in Vermont. Transmitting the energy of the wound, which was already growing, by turning to the transparent beauty of invisible friends, from indivisible places.

I read this about Chardin: A contemplative and careful painter, he created the least ‘Parisian‘ canvases of the century by painting silence: a silence which pervaded both his still lifes, picturing common domestic utensils arranged on rustic tables, and his interiors, in which the domestic servants and the offspring of the French bourgeois are shown thoughtfully going about their daily activities. Ornamental embellishment was banished, the pictures became poems to daily life, sensitively portraying humble people and transforming them into the key figures of their time.

My poems I thought were of daily life; my simple English meant that they had no choice whatsoever but to be free from ornamental embellishment. If you read between the lines, if you walked into those spaces, left especially for the reader to wander through, then you would no doubt have felt the invasive cold winds of silence, for they were all pervading.

You were my key figure of that time, of all time as it turns out, you were my muse, you are my muse, your years of silence do little to diminish your ability to influence.

I have become trapped in my Story, I recognise my weakness, as I continuously defer from points where friction arises, where fractious friction could more easily be brought to the surface. I desperately need some guidance, I need a reader, someone with insight, with sensitivity; someone to help me with the direction. I think I need you.

Excerpt 62

I have an almost opposite desire

I pick Alexandria up in my taxi to the airport, it is mid-morning on Wednesday; we are taking the lunchtime flight to Berlin, our first meeting with the client is scheduled for Thursday morning. We are staying in the Radisson Blu Hotel on Karl-Liebknecht-Str. which is right opposite the Berliner Dom, we will be together for most of today, also for most of the next two weeks.

We talk about nothing much while we are sat in the departure lounge, but once on board the flight Alexandria begins to question me about Berlin, about the people involved on the project. I don’t mention being there with Dinah, I say that I was mostly working, on my first trip, but that I did get a little time to visit the museum quarter; I say nothing about my trip out to Tharpaland.

I have an almost opposite desire, about being entirely open or truthful with Alexandria, as to the one I sincerely tried to follow with Farica; is that such a bad thing, who knows, only time will tell.

I explain that everyone seemed to work well together, that we were almost ready to pull together a final draft of the presentation. I say that I am unsure what my directors are up to; maybe they are just being cautious, maybe they are wanting to get closer to the German and the Russian psyches. Alexandria explains that she has been asked to do a deep sweep of all the work to date, she has also been clearly instructed to include some legal technicalities with regard to intellectual property rights, and to the procedures to be followed, for local production.

The flight seems to take no time at all, we have been in almost continuous conversation, both about work, and about our own, and the teams, philosophies and personalities. I like Alexandria, I don’t trust her but I like her, a knife edge kind of situation you might say; we check in to our hotel, and agree to meet up again, in the lobby, at five.

We walk by the river to the Franhofer-Forum, this is to be our base, for a series of meetings and presentations, over the next couple of weeks. It is an impressive workspace, in a good part of the city, it is only five minutes walk from our hotel; we decide to try the Allegretto Garn Cafe, which is on the doorstep. Their strap line is: a recreational oasis in a historical setting in the heart of Berlin; it looks ok, I think to myself, perhaps we ought to open an account.

We order their light tea, with elderflower water; I say to Alexandria that I want to make good use of the sauna, steam room and swimming pool in the hotel’s leisure facilities during our stay. In fact I think I will begin this evening I add with good intent.

Alexandria asks if it is ok if she joins me, after she has done her stint in the gym of course.

She looks immaculate, as she steps into the tranquil, vibrant waters, wearing her highly fashionable swimsuit; we look just like a couple of well-heeled lovers, as we stand, close together, in easy conversation.

We swim twenty lengths, then go into the sauna; we are alone, in a soft-lit, confined, intimate space. I am reminded of what men and women often do, given such encouraging circumstances; fifteen minutes later we are in the jacuzzi, still in conversation.

We agree to meet in the bar, for one drink, before retiring. I am already sat in a luxurious leather-lined pod, in the atrium, when Alexandria approaches; she sure looks neat after her exercise and swim, we joke about what to drink; I order two large glasses of Peroni.

The Germans it seems have also engaged a Russian speaking lawyer; his name is Franz, he is a little younger than me, but seems quite sharp, and well briefed during the opening exchanges.

I excuse myself from the afternoon meeting, which is dedicated to contract terms and conditions; instead I decide to work alone, on the sales pitch. I have worked with Eastern European clients before, including the military; I know that they are very keen to separate, and agree, all of the technical details, before getting into the commercial aspects of deal making.

I will focus on the deal aspect, though I will shed some light on the background, the supporting technologies; however I will spend most of my time explaining the substantial benefits for the client, of taking up our offer.

I will work on the socio-economic benefits, the environmental benefits, with a large part of the presentation given over to sustainability and legacy. If I have learnt anything in sales, it is that the customers love to be given some beneficial concepts. A few simple explanations, for them to re-use, in order that they too can be shown to be making their investment, for the greater good.

I am already in the hotel pool when Alexandria gets back; I ask her how it went, how was the combat with the younger man, was it an even battle with Franz.

Aren’t we supposed to be on the same side, she replies, I mean our company and the Germans; of course we are I reply, once the deal is done.

Do you trust anyone Alexandra, asks, do you even trust yourself, she adds. I say that at his root man will follow his passions, he is a tribal animal, he is a survivor, he will do whatever is necessary to get over the line, he will happily ditch any deadweight along the way.

So you don’t trust them, or even trust yourself, do you, Alexandra says; is that why you give yourself a little distance, is that why you are sometimes aloof.

Am I being aloof I respond instantly, feigning a sense of deep hurt; I rather thought we were getting on well, I thought everything was progressing fine.

By we, do you mean you and me, or are you talking more about our affairs at work, Alexandra replies, in a questioning tone, adding: we are ok together aren’t we, you and me I mean.

I tell Alexandria about my complicated situation with Farica, Hildemar, and Dinah; I leave Hildegarde, and Wilda, out of the picture for now.

Yes, you are totally correct, work does make relationships complicated, Alexandra interjects, then adds: I thought I would stick with the work until I had achieved something, but I do know now that my clock is ticking.

By work achievement I ask if she means money, or status, or a safe position in her career, or is it to find a new way of working.

Alexandria says that she is from a working class English family, who struggled to send her to Law school, then adds: So I recognise that this is what life is about; it is to enable our children to become better off than we were, nothing more, nothing less.

She goes on: so I work long, I work hard, I save as much as I can; I don’t have expensive tastes, although I do like to dress well, I want to look after myself. I feel that I have to put myself at least on an even footing with the opposition, in this profession.

She closes by saying: I’m not sure you are good for me, I enjoy being with you, both inside and outside of work, but I am not sure that you are good for me; so yes, I think that I, and you, we both need to be careful.

We have dinner together in the hotel restaurant, we share one bottle of house red wine. I am back in my room, alone, by ten-thirty.

I begin a letter to Dinah, I talk quite a bit about meditation, and creative writing, I say very little about work, nothing at all about Alexandria.

I don’t finish the letter, I leave that until tomorrow. I do write a postcard to Farica, a picture of the floodlit Berliner Dom at night-time; all I say is: missing you, wish you were here, I feel safe with you beside me.

I will post it in the morning, first thing.

Excerpt 63

Alexandria takes my arm and links it with hers

I am asked by the Germans why I left yesterday’s meeting so early; I don’t have your sitzfleisch I reply, I need to do some of my work wandering the streets, I can see that this amuses Alexandria.

I have been working on persuasion, on passion, I add; I have been searching for the soul in our offering, I want to put that into words, into pictures; they look slightly bemused.

Alexandria tells them not to worry; he knows what he is doing, he is a consummate winner, he will go all out to get his own way, all you have to do is to convince him that your way is his way, then he will clinch the deal.

Who knows whether or not they are persuaded, it is sometimes difficult to read the technocrats, their silence can quite often not mean anything at all. They are usually silent because they think that they have nothing useful to say, and sometimes that is perfectly true.

Work proceeds well through the week, as does the sauna and the swimming; the team are despatched early on Friday, we are not working this weekend. I explain to Alexandria that I would like to go to the Buddhist Centre at Tharpaland on Saturday, I say that she is welcome to join me, but not to feel obliged.

She does join me, we take the early morning train, and then walk the last stretch; there is a weekend retreat in progress, which we are invited to join. The teachings are on mindfulness, on stilling the mind, working towards having an awareness of the still mind; we have a good teacher, who makes the idea of clarity quite clear.

A few of the meditators are staying over but we apologise, say that we have to return to the city, to our luxury hotel, but nevertheless we are persuaded to stay a little, for a simple vegetarian dinner.

On the train back to town Alexandria can’t say enough about the day, she says that she is surprised to find that I am a meditator of such persuasion, she thanks me for a wonderful day.

We meet up in the pool, we swim our twenty lengths, we take three sessions in the sauna, also the same in the jacuzzi. It is nine-thirty, when we walk out of the hotel lobby, onto the Saturday night streets of Berlin; we are looking good, we are feeling good.

Alexandria takes my arm and links it with hers, we walk along in this way the few hundred yards to Lustgarten where we find a bench, to sit and watch the psychedelic light show, which is being projected onto Berliner Dom.

I put my arm over her shoulder, I think it churlish not to do so, Alexandra smiles; I like you a lot, she says, yet I am ever more certain that I should not trust you. I kiss her, fleetingly but on the lips, and say thank you for that, thank you for your concern, thank you for caring for the two of us.

We walk for a further ten minutes to the Town Bar; we both take the J.F.K Caipirinha cocktail, whose tag line reads: He is freezing cold, sparkling and luxurious. With him you spend the beautiful moments in life.

Alexandria then says she would like a whisky, she orders the Glenmorangie 18 years. I am not normally a whisky drinker, but I do follow her lead. I say that we have to be up early, but Alexandria says that one more is essential, this time she chooses the Glen Grant 5 Decades, she orders two doubles.

We are both a little tipsy as we walk back across the Spree towards our hotel; Alexandria says that she wants to kiss me, and so we stop, on the bridge, and she kisses me, she kisses me big time. Don’t forget, I still don’t trust you, she whispers in my ear, I don’t trust you, but I really enjoy being with you, I would like you to fuck me.

We miss the Sunday meditations, we also miss the hotel breakfast. We shower, we shower as one, we are smooth together in the shower, then Alexandria borrows one of my bathrobes, and goes off to her room to dress.

Work, in the second week, goes very well, we conclude with a run through of my presentation, late on the Thursday afternoon. We are now ready to meet the Russians; we have a team celebration in the Town Bar, Alexandria keeps flashing me wide-eyed smiles.

We fly back into Vienna on Friday morning. We meet up with the directors in the boardroom, they congratulate us, say to begin preparations for St Petersburg; apparently we are going to be there in two weeks time.

I am back in my apartment by five; two letters from Dinah lay on the floor in the lobby, there are no new messages on the answerphone. I shower, I change. I make a telephone call to Farica, who says that yes she would like to eat out with me tonight, she adds that she could be with me by seven, she asks should she be prepared to stay over.

She also asks me how I got on with Alexandria in Berlin; Farica tells me that she was her preferred candidate for the role, she seemed to know her stuff, and her being able to speak Russian fluently was a real bonus.

I decide to leave Dinah’s letters unopened; it is only six weeks until my trip with her to Stamford, I have a few issues, a few details to resolve before then; I hope to have some time, for clear thinking, on Sunday.

Excerpt 64

I ask these questions because

In my search for how a woman thinks, or how a woman feels, I settle on these words spoken by Gautier’s character Rosette, when talking with her gradually abstaining lover Theodore: It is because of you I know what love is, unhappy love, it’s true; but there is a certain sadness, a profound sweetness in loving without being loved in return, and it is a fine thing to remember those who have forgotten us.

I know it would be better to have found words thought, and written, by one of my stories women; but at least these words of a woman are only one step detached from my words of a woman.

How does a woman feel when a man asks her to marry him; is it the biggest single question of her life, how does she couch her response, what influences her decision. If she remains silent for too too long does that indeed tell the whole story, is her loss for words because she is overjoyed, or rather is it that she is somewhat underwhelmed.

How does a woman feel when she rejects the man’s proposal; is she relieved that a line has been drawn in the sand, or does she feel compassion, if, in any way, she feels that she has led her lover along.

I ask these questions of you because in my Story I feel it is time for a significant change; marriage may be part of that significant change. I would also ask for assistance in as to how one might gently let down someone, say a caring person with whom one has shared an intimate relationship. 

Could you give me a methodology to remain calm, yet thoroughly unwavering, in following through with the ending of a relationship. I suppose also what I am asking you is: how might a man carry out a risk assessment, before he engages down the path of asking a lady for her hand, or saying that her time with him is over.

I’m sorry if this all seems a little bit mechanical, abstract almost, but through following my passions; through following love if you like, I have got myself into a quite a bit of a pickle. I don’t want to hurt anyone, yet I know I must hurt someone; I know that I have brought this upon myself, I also know that I must not let the situation drift.

Did you have a tick list to compare me against your other suitors, at the time of our first getting together; which of my characteristics did you think were most important, in your personality analysis.

I would like to set myself a target, maybe the year’s end, to have tidied up my affairs, to see the new year as a time of setting out, on a clear, singular path, towards a more settled destination. To achieve that I have several relationships to unravel.

Pray tell me, when you told me that as a couple we were over, did you truly believe that we would be able to remain as friends?

I absolutely doubted such could be the case, which I blame entirely on my own immaturity; at the time my emotions led me, far and away more than any of my logical, or personally sustainable thought processes might have.

I still run high on emotional thought, although in my writing I do find it possible to stand back, to take time, to think through where my actions might take me, in the long term. Then back in the real world I make unpredictable snap decisions, I follow the desires, I chase after the blood-pumping passions, which tell me to go for it, go for it, whatever it might be, in that particular moment.

It is in the silence that I can see the sense of a simpler life, I can imagine a life with less haste, with less noise, with less complications; yet, through our sustained silence, the noise returned, the haste returned, the simplicity disappeared, the nagging doubts began to take precedence.

So I ask myself; would an extended period of silence break through that barrier, also, with a longer silent retreat would the noises quieten, would the doubts subside, would a new path light up, would the wasteful memories erase themselves.

I read today the thoughts of Charlotte Joko Beck, from her book Nothing Special: “…Memory is imagination. Every memory that we stick to devastates our life.” I instantly thought; wow I stick to loads of memories, then I thought, what does she mean by stick to, does she mean if we can’t choose to keep them, or if we can’t choose to let them go.

I was devastated when we parted, but I don’t feel devastated right now, eighteen years later, with as many memories as possible still intact; of course some might say that I still am, devastated.

I have written a poem, as if I was Dinah, I may use it later in the Story, I could hear the voice of Helen Dunmore reading her poem Wild Strawberries as I was writing Dinah’s poem. 

Tonight, in our writing workshop, which is on the theme of Influence, I will talk about how artists have always used other artist’s work to influence them, indeed sometimes beginning with almost direct copies. Of course I don’t encourage plagiarism, rather I suggest writer’s be encouraged, be informed, by ones fellow writers. I will say, that being influenced is no bad thing at all; you ought to read as widely, and as well as you can, before you put pen to paper.

Excerpt 65

Any substitute would be just that

I was in Buxton yesterday, I had to visit the dentist. As I approached the town, from the High Peak Road I had that vacuous feeling, the nervousness, that inability to cope, which, as an introvert, I often carry with me.

It is the limitations of my social skills which prevents me easily seeking people out; you see how much I prefer to write to you, for fear of picking up the telephone. I could have gone to look up friends from college, I could also have made previous arrangements to meet up, instead I sneaked in, and I sneaked out, hoping not to be seen.

This diffidence is debilitating, it is a curse on my life, it is why I seek retreat; yet in a group, once feeling safe, I swiftly lose the shyness, indeed sometimes I can become quite the extrovert.

Then of course people misunderstand the desire to be reclusive; even worse, they see me positive with engagement, then imagine that I could always be so. That is not the case, my pendulum swings into dark, into light, my mood changes with the moments, with the hours, with the days, with the seasons.

Of course once thinking oneself supposedly settled into a relationship, it is not difficult to begin to withdraw a little into oneself, day by day, night by night; until one finds that there is a breakdown, the empathy is gone, the words are gone, the feelings are gone, the love is gone, the pot is well and truly broken; shattered into so many pieces, such that even if all the pieces could be found, it would be almost impossible to reassemble the pot, there would be many deformations, with far too many opportunities for future seepage.

Best then to throw the old, broken pot away; begin again, with new clay, with new moulds, with new glazes, with new firing, with new patterns.

But do not be disappointed, if the new vessel does not live up to the memories of the original; for the original carried the first love, because of that it was especially blessed. Any substitute would be just that, a substitute, not in the first team, not an original, not even a close facsimile; no, it would never be a full replacement, not quite up to perfection.

Of course any comparisons are based on corrupted data, the new piece is in a new time, the old piece was in an old time. The times have changed, the light has changed, the years, and the begrudging natures have solidified to become non-plastic; too rigid to feel the scents of the fresh breath.

Perhaps better to repair the pot in the Japanese Kintsugi style, to identify and audaciously repair; not try to hide the cracks, but to celebrate the fault-lines with a greater colour than before, to bring pure gold into the silent equation; in effect not to begin again but to move forwards with added lustre, to see new adventurous possibilities, to find the path to celebrate the silences of the past.

I have just begun reading Silence by Robert Sardello, I will give you my impressions after the next part of the Story, which is were I am heading right now.

I sincerely hope to speak with you soon.

Excerpt 66

I put my hand over my eyes

I ask Farica if she would like to settle down with me; to live with me, to have children together; to share vacations with me, to share daily life with me, to love me, to be with me forever.

Maybe I should have waited, or picked a better moment. Maybe to ask this question so soon, even before Farica had got through my lobby, was not such a good thing.

It showed a certain amount of desperation, which I don’t think I have displayed before, I even forgot to hug her, or kiss her, when I answered the door.

Is that what happens, when we are two weeks apart, she says to me, do you become all maudlin, all awash with sentimentality. I want to be with you now, isn’t that enough, I want to be with you all of the time right through until tomorrow, isn’t that a good place to start.

We decide to go to a new restaurant, we will go street-walking, just pick one we fancy; Farica pulls me to her and gives me a most passionate kiss, now go get your coat why don’t you; she is exciting, she is filled with excitement; let’s have a drink first shall we, she says, as she pulls me into the Émile Brasserie & Bar.

It is a Tapas place, so instead of dinner we have snacks with beer, in fact we have three or four rounds of snacks and beer. Farica is bubbling with enthusiasm, she wants to know all about Berlin; was Alexandria good company, she asks. I so so hope she was, but don’t you go getting too too close to her; remember what you just asked of me, in your lobby.

I put my hand over my eyes; I have to sort out my life I say, so so sorrowfully, to Farica. If I don’t do something soon I will burn out, I will break down; can you help me, can you?

Farica puts her arm over my shoulder; don’t worry she says, you are in good health, you have a good job, I am here, by your side; yes, I will help you, if that’s what you really want. But not tonight, she adds, tonight let’s enjoy ourselves, then begin the sorting out over breakfast tomorrow; a fairly late breakfast that is, if that’s ok.

We have two more beers, then saunter back to my apartment, in the moonlight; we stop so so many times along the way; to kiss, to smile, to hug, to laugh, to kiss some more.

We do have breakfast, but late, Farica has a day off from her Saturday job at Shakespeare’s bookshop; we begin to sort my complications, by making a list of what those complications are. I reveal all to Farica, including the shower episode with Hildegard’s friend Wilda, the one night stand with Alexandria in Berlin, also my commitment to go to America with Dinah.

Bloody hell, you have been busy, Farica says; and now you offer your life to me! I must say that there is a good deal of unraveling to be done, before we can even begin to think about my taking up that offer.

Why is it me? Farica asks, why are you asking me to settle down with you, why me instead of one of your other women. I hope you haven’t been looking at me through rose tinted spectacles, let’s try to unravel that one too shall we.

Farica carries on: You do need to go with Dinah, to help her on her course, it’s too too late to change that, then, at the end of that vacation, we can talk again about us.

Hildemar and Hildegarde are different, I think you need to make those breaks before you go off to the USA with Dinah; that also includes closing out Wilda too, just be sure that all of the interlaced complications are over with, with that particular group of family and friends.

As for Alexandria; well, once the deal is sealed with the Russians, we will release her from her work secondment, then you can forget all about her.

Can I trust you to carry through these painful break-ups, Farica asks, do you need any practical help, do you require any guidance on closure, do you.

We wash the dishes together, I put my arm around her waist; you are so so fucking good for me, do you know that, that’s why I chose you Farica, that’s why; now don’t you go leave me, will you.

I am on my own on Sunday as expected, Farica says we need to take things a little bit steady, but she will stand by me, while, and as long as, I sort out my life.

Excerpt 67

Her letters are less circumspect

I open Dinah’s letters, which include a typed up poem:

Wild Peace

I watch you
Pull off your shoes and socks
I watch you
Roll up your cotton trousers
I watch you
Tip-toe on the stepping stones in the stream
I watch you
Before you sit beneath the arched-bridge, in the sun

I watch you as you watch me
Washing the blueberries
I watch you as you watch me
Listening to the water
I watch you as you watch me
While the water flows down the mountain
I watch you as you watch me
Shake at the sound of gunshot

That will be the grouse
Up on the moors
You say calmly
Today is the start of the season
Can't you hear the gun dogs yelping

I think the poem is a celebration, although I don’t know if I can help with the explanation. I am intrigued though, for I feel myself somehow to be in there, roaming amongst the words.

Her letters are less circumspect, she says she enjoyed Paris enormously, although it would have been better, had I been there to share it.

She says that she has had a very promising response to her first creative writing assignment; she wrote a short story; about place, about punishment and her tutor said it was exemplary, a very good start indeed.

She said the punishment part was about not being able to be with the one you love, or having to leave your lover repeatedly, after only brief times together. The place part she said covered lots of Europe; the capital cities, the open countryside, the forgotten ghettoes, the emerging Buddhist monasteries.

She wonders if we might meet, before we go to Stamford, but accepts that it will be unlikely; it’s so hard for me to be apart from you, she says.

I write a short note about the poem, I say to myself that I will follow it up with a longer letter, I tell her that I am going to St Petersburg in the next couple of weeks. I don’t say anything about Farica. 

I ring Hildemar at teatime, she thanks me, for my consideration, during her recent hectic studies, but says that she will soon have more time for us. She asks if we could get together for lunch, one day during the week; we settle on Wednesday, at the Schönbrunn Palace Gardens.

As soon as I put the phone down I have huge pangs of betrayal go through me, I physically shake; I shudder at the thought of telling Hildemar that I want to end our relationship.

I realise that I don’t actually know how to do this, that throughout my love life, throughout my working life, it’s hardly ever been me that’s said: let’s end it then, let’s call it a day! 

And when for once that was the case, it was because in my opinion things had already irretrievably broken down, that the closure was simply inevitable. That’s not the case with Hildemar, all we’ve known have been good times, all we’ve ever done, right from day one, has been to get on real easy; we have truly been good friends, also imaginative, and caring, lovers.

I don’t sleep well Sunday night, I am not at my best at work on Monday either; Alexandria asks if something is bothering me. I brush it off by saying tiredness is the cause, a few good nights sleep will sort me out I say; that’s a pity, she jokingly replies.

By Wednesday lunchtime I am in a mess, Hildegarde is smiling as she skips up to me and gives me a big hug; wow I’ve missed you, she says, it seems like all I’ve done for ages is study.

Can we go to the lake at the weekend she adds, just to be quiet, just you, me, and a bottle of wine. I think that this might well be my opportunity for some straight talking, so I agree.

Now I feel worse than ever, now I’m deceiving both Hildemar and Farica, but the commitment has been made, so I must follow it through, but I will tell Farica before I go. I will, I promise that to myself.

Excerpt 68

I was mute with shock

It was Farica’s idea, to tell Hildemar in the rowing boat, that we were going to have to part, that we couldn’t continue together, as a couple.

In that way, Farica said, Hildemar could choose to carry on to the chalet, where the two of you would have peace, and quiet, to say your goodbyes. Or Hildemar could end the trip, there and then, insist to be taken home, by the scurrilous waste of time, which her supposed boyfriend had become.

Either way the sting would be limited to a few strokes with the oars, as you headed for whichever shore; it seemed to be a sound plan.

But neither I, nor Farica, had thought about Hildemar just saying to stop; stop exactly where we were, stop, in the middle of the lake, until she worked this out, until she worked out what to do.

We sat motionless for an hour, not one word spoken, not one meeting of the eyes, Hildemar looking stunned, lost, as if she was closing down. I didn’t know what to do, or what to say, I simply sat as still as I possibly could, we drifted a little bit down the lake, not towards either shore.

After an hour Hildermar took my hand, she stroked it slowly, then she moved our hands to my heart, then she looked into my eyes through her tearful eyes.

In a broken voice she said: you are my first real love, you are the first person who I made love with, you are the man I trusted to help my family. You have done so many good things for me, so how can I believe that now you want to hurt me so, how can I say to myself, that you want to break my heart.

She then said: I don’t want to know any of the details, I don’t want to hear any of your excuses, I want to go to the chalet, I want to get drunk; maybe then I will hit you, maybe then I will scream, or shout at you, maybe then I will become uncontrollable with rage for you, maybe then.

She put both oars into my hands and said: you’d better get on with it, before I take a turn for the worse, get on with it now; row you bastard, row.

I said not one word, I was mute with shock, this ordeal was only just beginning I thought to myself, and I no longer held any of the aces. I rowed to the chalet, tied the boat to the deck, Hildemar sat in the boat until I was inside; then I heard her throw the oars out into the lake.

That was pretty stupid I said to her as she came inside, what do we do now?

Oh I expect mister clever clogs can fix it, can’t he, she replied with a piercing glare. She got a bottle of whisky out of one of the cupboards, poured herself a tumbler full; don’t you say a word she said, I need to get myself numb.

I lit the wood-burner, then boiled a kettle to make coffee; I found some biscuits, I unpacked the cheese, from the provisions we had brought over. Hildemar was soon onto her second tumbler of the hard stuff. She said no to cheese, she said no to biscuits, she said no to coffee; she also said no to conversation.

She began to cry, she began to sob, she began to shake, she began to wave her arms, then she bashed her fists on the table and shouted: no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no…

She trailed off into a whimper, she accepted my arm around her shoulder, she let me steady her, she looked at me, and said: why; then just as quickly she said, no don’t you dare answer that.

I sat beside her, pulled her into me, I comforted her as best I could; will you sleep with me, one last time, she asked, will you sleep with me tonight: we did sleep together, but we didn’t make love; I put a very tipsy Hildemar into bed, by the time I was wrapped around her she was already fast asleep.

I woke early, brought her coffee and toast in bed; she said thank you, thank you for all you’ve ever done for me, I won’t ever forget you, I hope you will still be my friend.

I said: Hildemar, it’s because of you that I am in Vienna, you will always be my first memory of Vienna, it’s sometimes tricky how things evolve, but yes I will still be your friend, I would like that.

To which Hildemar replied: Then we had better find those bloody oars hadn’t we, and get you back to town, I’m sure you’ve got things to do, people to see.

But will you let me tell Hildegarde she added, I think it would be better coming from me.

I understand that at some time you might want to see Hildegarde, and Wilda; should I tell her that, is that ok.

Oh Hildemar, you are a saint, I say, why did we let ourselves drift off, why didn’t I let you look after me, for forever and a day.

Because I was already going in a different direction, Hildemar replied; I was already too immersed in my studies, my path was to follow those intellectual challenges, you see I never truly wanted to be in the real world. But now at least I have some real world emotional experiences to fall back upon, for specific reference, in my theoretical outpourings.

We were back in the city by lunchtime, Hildemar kissed me lightly on the cheek, said, keep in touch, tell me what changes in your life, come to see me sometime.

With that Hildemar was gone, the girl who had caused me to come to Vienna was no longer in my life, not in that intimate sense, the one in which she surely had been so so very close.

Excerpt 69

My electronic Tibetan meditation bell chimes

I rang Farica as soon as I got back to my apartment, I began to tell her about Hildemar, she stopped me off; is it ok if I come over, I could be there in the hour. We agreed to meet in Café Central at four o’clock.

I got there a little early, not yet quite sure exactly what to say to Farica; eventually I settled on telling her the whole story, from start to finish; tears, screams, cuddles and all.

This was exactly, so Farica endorsed, exactly what she wanted to hear; tell me everything, don’t hold back on anything, see it as a way of casting Hildemar into your deep memory.

I don’t want you to forget her, I want you to cherish your times together, I want you to keep track of your life journey; I want you to remember telling me this story, about the two of you parting.

In just on ten minutes I had wrapped up the toughest twenty-four hours of my life, although I had been lost for words a couple of times, as I tried to explain the depths of Hildemar’s despair.

I was embarrassed by my callous behaviour, I had hurt someone so so dear to me, I had betrayed someone who I didn’t deserve to have the chance to betray.

Farica listened quietly, and I would sincerely like to think sympathetically; when I eventually stopped talking she reached across the table to hold my hand.

She sounds like one strong, grounded woman, Farica said, you were lucky to meet her I should say; hold onto her memory, store away the good times, for your dotage.

We decided not to eat, but to take some pastries with cakes back to my apartment; I think we need some quiet time together Farica said, let’s do a meditation, then indulge ourselves with cake.

I struggle to begin, with the meditation, my mind is still running at a thousand miles an hour, but eventually I do quieten.

I have a continuous stream of thoughts; the good times, the beautiful places shared with Hildemar, I let the thoughts rise then fall, I don’t cling on to anything, I don’t try to work anything out.

My electronic Tibetan meditation bell chimes to announce that half an hour has gone by; we have bathed in the silence; now I suggest we bathe in my bathtub.

Farica says that’s a really neat idea, I run the water, pour in the bath salts; we undress each other slowly, for a while we stand together sensuously naked, each other’s skin warmed by each other’s skin.

I put on some joyful uplifting music, Farica is first to climb into the bath, then she takes my hand, carefully guides me in to join her; we splash, we smile, we laugh, we blow kisses, we nuzzle into our erogenous zones; we are at one, we are in a beautiful, symbiotically shared, life-enriching experience.

Farica leaves me just after nine o’clock, we both want to be good for work in the morning; but before she goes she says that after my trip, to America with Dinah, we should think of looking for a place, where we could live together.

My apartment is peaceful; I sit down to let the peace and the stillness soak into my mind. I realise that I take this presence of the beauty, of the silence, for granted; how will I cope without this private space, how will I manage once I commit to sharing everything, how will we be as one; what will be the dynamic, with Farica and myself living together.

Excerpt 70

That summer, before your belly grew

How do we make commitments; what is the role of emotions, what part is played by practicality, what comes down to no more than the influence of the moment, or to the wavering passions of the particular circumstances.

Do we follow similar patterns, or do our individual make-ups mean that some people take a detached view, whilst others are too caught up in the quick-fire, unable to even find the space to breathe, or to think.

I have myself down as in the latter group, rampantly emotional, especially with regard to anything I had to do for you, or with you in mind. I remember instantly deciding, when you told me that you were pregnant, that I would have to give up my job, I would have to come to live with you.

I don’t know that we spoke very much about our choices; my memories of the moment are that I was overwhelmingly happy with our situation, thinking that all would be well, that all would be for the best.

I didn’t understand the complexity of the event for you, I didn’t realise how your life, how you as a person, had been so so deeply, so so significantly realigned, with that one change of circumstance.

We had both carved out our own life, albeit yours still included your children by your side; yes we were becoming close, but that final step, my moving in with you, that was taken more by happenstance, than by following any detailed plan.

That summer, before your belly grew, was our honeymoon period; winter, as our child grew inside you, brought the reality of the need to provide for each other. Lovemaking became a delicate affair, yet you showed me that you still wanted me to love you; you brought your body to my body, with such tender intense sensitivity, however lustful we felt in the moment.

We coped for a while, I honestly don’t rightly know how you managed, what with three school age children, and now a baby on the way; I’m not sure that I supported you as well as I ought to have. I was ecstatic at the birth, I drove in a midnight stupor, all along the moonlit coastal road, right back to Mon Plaisir.

Coping, and ecstasy, two sides of our coin; not yet failing, yet also ecstatic; but once you have fallen into only coping, then there are only a few short steps, into failure; failure that is, without the ecstasy.

We did fail, we failed, and then we tried again, it became a repetitive process, we failed, and then we tried again; we certainly spent too long simply coping, until eventually you decided, that you simply could not live that way anymore.

I am saying this to try to work out how the couple in my Story can prevent themselves from falling into this chasm of simply coping. I am certain that they cannot rely upon beauty alone; somehow I feel that the practical issues need to be handled, life needs to be undertaken with a sense of shared togetherness.

We had that a bit, possibly I felt it more than you; there was a real joy for me, in carrying out the normal daily tasks, the duties of keeping a house in orbit.

Indeed, thinking on this, there may need to be a determination to avoid beauty; for in my search for beauty I latched onto poetry, which eventually destroyed any sharing, which we might otherwise have shared.

You, meanwhile, perhaps partly due to my making you feel insecure, followed your studies, followed your path to get into the psychology profession, followed your intense desire, to become both independent, and self-supporting.

Here I am now, writing; there you are now, self-supported; in that way we followed our dreams, we got to where we are, irrespective of the fallout. Yet I think we lost each other’s trust, we lost our friendship, we went through some deep hostility, before eventually becoming almost totally non-communicative.

The dream balloon had burst, the scattered remains floundered; our luxurious life in a gossamer enclosure was surreptitiously torn to shreds. You could, I believe fairly, say that time and distance played significant parts. I couldn’t disagree with that, but I do believe we never worked out our plan together; I was autocratic, I acted unilaterally, way too often.

Such behaviour had brought me good success in my business life; and being untutored in the matters of love, or intimate relationships, I had no knowledge of any other way of doing things. You tried to help, though you must have been exasperated by my lack of uptake; how could you balance my being so so gentle with you in love, yet also with my being so so tough on you in life.

I want to explore that idea of gentle, of tough; of being able to prosper together, for love; for life to grow without separation, for couples to evolve, as gentle, yet also tough bedfellows.

We are in spring now, though I am entering the autumn of my own life; in ten months I will leave my daily workplace for the last time. I will not be sorry. This may be the last book in this particular block of writing; however I do feel that now I am reaching out to the so called ‘art of writing’ which is purely of an imaginary world.

Yet I know myself not yet to be a storyteller, I have little care for developing plot or character; all of those creative writing technical skills, which I was taught in college, were left behind, as I chose to simply enjoy my doing of the writing. I may have to go back there, to return to study I mean, to relearn the writing processes; or I may choose to refrain from writing altogether, spend more of my time living my real life.

I won’t ask for your thoughts, not on that last piece of optioneering anyway; some things we just have to work out for ourselves. You may of course attempt to influence me, I would be interested by such an approach, provided that it was entirely positive in its nature.

I am reading a book called Influence by Jenny Nabben, she talks about how much our core, or our base emotions, influence our behaviours greatly; it seems we don’t have the pace, in our mental processes, to keep the immensely swift actions of our emotions in check. Jenny talks about consciousness in such a way that I have been inspired to buy Antonio R. Damasio’s book The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness; I am sure I will make reference to it as the story unfolds.

Instantly I thought of my early morning naked bathing, in the choppy seas of Fueteventura; it was my escape from the squabbles, of what I now half-believe, was just a typical, small-family, holiday.

That’s easy to say from a distance of thirty years, it was much more difficult in the moment, partly due, no doubt, to the high presence of emotion within all concerned.

I try to avoid such confrontations now, although I am not of the opinion that avoidance is the best route; I would much prefer to find a method of inclusion, a way where I could feel most happy, to be empathetically, usefully, involved. 

Sometimes though I am prickly; I still get upset, even when I know, for absolute certain, that there is no desire, no active proclamation, specifically aimed at upsetting me.

It takes a while for me to find the calm after such situations arise,  I have to beware that acting swiftly could not be the best course of action; not by a long shot in most instances, as I’ve long since found out, to my not insubstantial cost.

I am going back to the Story now. I wish we could have swum naked together in the Canary Islands, or anywhere else for that matter.

I will write to you again, though that time may be the last time; until then keep safe; oh and could you please let me believe that your love is still in my locket.

Auf Wiedersehen! xxx

Excerpt 71

We don’t have time to look around the galleries

The St Petersburg flight is on Wednesday, with our first meeting, with our Russian client, on the following Monday. We have a couple of days to socialise as a group, such that we appear to present a united front, during both our presentation, then during the severe questioning, which will certainly follow.

Alexandria calls by on Monday afternoon to check that I am happy with all the legal technicalities, we share a coffee in the communal break out area, our conversation is almost entirely about work.

We agree that I will get a cab on Wednesday morning, first to pick her up from outside her apartment, then to go on to the airport. Neither of us choose to use the opportunity to say that we could stay over, at either her place or mine; perhaps Berlin really is behind us.

I go out with Farica on Monday night, we go to a small cinema to see Once, with Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová. It seems appropriate that we should see a tricky love story unfold, maybe we can recognise some of the mistakes, so as then not to make them ourselves.

We have a beer afterwards, Farica says that she would like to stay over at my place; I wonder if there is to be a final briefing, before my departure. I am so so comfortable in Farica’s company; I feel cared for, I feel loved; in return I sincerely want to care, I desperately wish to love.

I rise early, and leave Farica asleep, sleeping peacefully in my big old warm bed; I had already packed, so after dressing I call a cab, then quietly slip out of the apartment.

I text Alexandria to say that I am on my way; she is waiting outside her apartment, she is one classy traveller I have to say; a fashion magazine front cover for certain.

We have breakfast in the departure lounge, before boarding our relatively short flight, towards the Baltic Sea; we will be in our hotel before one o’clock, all things being equal. We are going to be domiciled in the Four Seasons hotel for the next fourteen days, and nights; our meetings, our presentations, will take place just a relatively short walk away, in the Admiralty Buildings.

After checking in I agree to meet up with Alexandria in the hotel spa, after I have unpacked, after I have settled into my room. We have a table booked for dinner, with our colleagues from Berlin in the hotel at Seven-thirty; we have plenty of time for a walk out by the river, if Alexandria wishes to do that.

This is one big deal nearing completion, the biggest deal of my life, yet more importantly a deal the size of which Alexandria hasn’t ever been remotely near before. I want to support her, I want her to be both relaxed yet also energised, I want her to be well prepared, mentally and physically; I want her to be right beside me, supporting my every move.

I am already in the sauna when Alexandria arrives, we sit for a further ten minutes, before swimming twenty lengths in the pool, we then take a ten minute break in the jacuzzi, before repeating the whole circuit. Alexandria says that she likes the idea of a walk, but wonders if we could call in for a coffee on the way; I suggest we walk, or stroll along the Admiralty Embankment, then call in at the State Hermitage Museum.

We don’t have time to look around the galleries; also I am reminded, by my interior echo, that Dinah said she would buy me a present from the shop here; I don’t tell Alexandria about this flashback of my memory. I do buy a couple of postcards, one for Farica, one for Dinah; Dinah knows that I am here in Russia, she may even be planning a surprise visit, she has that ability at her disposal. 

We have a short briefing, before we sit down in the hotel’s Sintoho Asian Restaurant for the evening meal, during which we are advised how the time with the Russians is expected to be played out.

We must be prepared, ready, for three days of purely technological negotiation, to commence first thing on Monday morning. During this time only the technology issues will be discussed; the culmination of this work will be an agreed technical scope for the project, to be ready by close of play on Wednesday.

The technical discussions are to be followed by three days of purely commercial negotiation, with no technological changes whatsoever allowed. This begins on Thursday morning, concludes on Monday week, which means that we have the weekend off; loud hurrahs follow this particular announcement. The end of the commercial negotiation results in an agreed, fixed price amount for the previously agreed technical scope.

The final work is the contractual negotiation; two days of nitpicking, legalistic deliberation; to be followed on Thursday by a gala-lunch with a signing ceremony, when the directors from Vienna, Berlin and St Petersburg will attend.

We return home, to our relative companies, on the Friday morning; we then begin a 30 day cooling off period, before the contracted work commences. 

The evening get together meal was a cordial affair, we had a selection from the Sushi and Shellfish menu, brought to the table for everyone to share. There were also side counters for individuals to select anything they especially wanted; the  chilled, white, house-wine, was unanimously agreed upon. Conversation gradually built up, around, and across, the table.

By the end of the evening, thanks in some respect to my commendable, imaginative stewardship, the Germans, and we the Austrians, were nearly indistinguishable and inseparable.

On Friday morning we have a dress rehearsal of our presentation, in the Radisson conference facility, a short walk from our hotel. It is organised by an impartial third party, who do a very professional job, especially with the quality of questions, which their interrogators fire at us.

The team responds well, we pass the questions around comfortably, with sensible, well laid out explanations. Alexandria is especially impressive, with her detailed responses to the intensive legalistic cross examination. As we walk back to our hotel I pick her out for special thanks; I say that is good to see her at the top of her game, she smiles, broadly.

I have heard nothing from Dinah, yet I specifically choose not to arrange anything with Alexandria for over the weekend, though I do say that I will be having a sauna later. Back in my room I notice a letter propped against the dressing table mirror; I recognise the handwriting, for once there is no delay in me opening the post.

Dinah says that she is missing me, that she is thinking of me, she says she can’t wait until we go to the USA. She says she would love to be with me in St Petersburg, but thinks it better to leave me alone, during what is quite probably the most important negotiations of my life.

She does though ask if we could share a late night telephone conversation, on the Saturday evening; she amplifies the late part with a small sketch, to be sure that I understand her meaning.

Excerpt 72

I wouldn’t want to be the sole cause

In the sauna I ask Alexandria if she has any plans for our two days off; she says she would like to visit the palaces, the galleries; especially if I would go with her, she adds.

We agree to take an early breakfast, to make our plans together, before setting out; but for tonight, Alexandria says, she wants an early night. I don’t try to change her mind.

We swim a good while before relaxing in the jacuzzi; perfect preparation for a sound nights sleep I say to Alexandria, although I add that I will do a meditation when I get back to my room. Alexandria asks if she could join me for the meditation, though I will have to change on my way she adds; I say that’s fine, what else could I say.

I show her David Lynch’s book Catching The Big Fish before we begin, I tell her that he has not missed a meditation in thirty years, so she ought to know what she is letting herself in for.

I explain a little about Transcendental Meditation, but say, that to begin this form of meditation, she needs a special teacher, someone to introduce her correctly to the practice in a formal ceremony.

Instead we follow a spoken word guided meditation by Bodhipaksa; it is a Metta Bhavana Loving Kindness Meditation. We follow the instructions, Alexandria seems to easily slip into the routine; afterwards she says it was bliss, both beautiful for her imagination yet also wonderfully relaxing.

We talk for a while about the roots of meditation about why I began meditation, Alexandria moves to sit on the floor between my thighs, she puts my arms around her waist. You are very kind to me she says, I can feel you being supportive, I want you to know that I am very thankful for all your help, for your guidance.

She turns around to give me a small kiss, and then with a big grin she says: it would be so easy to fall for you, to fall in love with you. Except, she adds, I know just how complicated your love life is already; Farica has told me how you are trying your very best to try to straighten things out.

I wouldn’t want to be the sole cause of your failure is Alexandria’s closing gambit; in typical legal fashion, her words are both ambiguous yet encouraging, even leading me on, you might say.

I put my hands inside the breasts of Alexandria’s peach-pink, silk pyjamas; we are both silent, no words are needed, not even ‘are you sure’.

By eight am we are walking along the Palace Embankment, breathing in the early morning Baltic air, we are heading for the Field of Mars.

After an hour strolling the former parade grounds, paying our respects to those who died in the revolution, we head across the river to Saint Michaels Castle.

Alexandria said, that she could feel Russia flowing into her, as we paused from time to time in the gardens, she said she was immersing herself in this great country; I put my arm over her shoulder, then hugged her. 

She was going to be invaluable in our negotiations I thought to myself; but not only that, I was truly beginning to care for her as a person, she had empathy, she had depth, she wasn’t promiscuous, yet loved to demonstrate her love for me.

By noon we had already seen a great many major works of art, for by now we were in the Mikhailovsky Palace section of the State Russian Museum, which altogether houses the countries most numerous, and most formidable collections.

I had been unsure of going around the Hermitage, for reasons mentioned earlier, so we had not put this on our route, yet seeing Alexandria’s appreciation of the artwork I felt we ought to visit there.

I brought the subject up at lunch, even telling Alexandria of mine, and Dinah’s, visit to the Hermitage in Amsterdam, as a part of my explanation. Alexandria said perhaps we should leave that for tomorrow, and, as we still had lots of other places to see, that also gives you a night to reflect on your position.

Sure enough, by the time that we had visited the circus exhibition in the Benois Wing, then the third biennial historic photograph exhibition in the Marble Palace we were pretty much filled up with art, with culture, for the day.

Alexandria wisely said that this, this historical perspective will be of great benefit to us in the coming days discussions; she said it was important to understand, and to empathise, with our clients; the very words I wished I could have said myself.

Excerpt 73

The story fitted perfectly with me

As we walked along the Palace Embankment I asked Alexandria: would you like to go to see some opera, or ballet tonight, we could check with the street-seller, about the Mariinsky Theatre, to see what’s on.

There was a performance that evening, a few tickets were still available. Alexandria said that yes she would really like to see L`elisir d`amore; what could I say, I was happy to pay out. The street-seller told us very happily: 

“It means elixir of love, elixir of love, perfect for you two lovers, perfect for you two lovers, so deeply in love.” 

I thought that I sensed more than a little embarrassment rise in Alexandria’s cheek, but maybe I was mistaken, for she hugged me, she kissed me, right there on the embankment, much to the delight of the street-seller.

We walked back to our hotel, I said I would take a quick swim before changing, Alexandria said she would not join me, she wanted time to dress up, to get herself ready, she would meet me in the lobby at six; those were her closing words.

We were two business colleagues, ostensibly doing exactly what business people do, when staying overnight due to the demands of their work.

We had a few nibbles at the theatre, culminating in chocolate, with cognac, before going in to see the performance; pure decadence, in absolutely the right place, for a strip of sheer extravagance.

 The poor and shy Nemorino is hopelessly in love with the rich and beautiful Adina. One day he hears her reading aloud the story of Tristan and Isolde. Believing in the existence of a love potion, he turns to Dulcamara – a quack trading in panaceas for all kinds of illnesses – and the latter sells him wine as an elixir of love. 

The story fitted perfectly with me; I had suffered greatly from shyness, even more so when I was young, when my parents were extremely poor; wealth had brought confidence in most things, yet even now, with love, I still carry many insecurities.

Alexandria thought the work entrancing, even though she occasionally had to translate the Russian sub-titles for me. She said that this was no burden, if anything it helped to reinforce her memory of the story, at least that’s what she said.

It was after ten when we left the theatre, we loitered in the auditorium, trying to take in the architecture; so so little has been changed over the years, the theatre retaining its majesty, its affluent style, even to this day.

We walked through Konnogvardeyskimy Bulvar in the late night air, sitting occasionally on the benches, just to talk, just to prolong the evening.

I said goodnight to Alexandria in the hotel lobby, thanked her for a wonderful evening, I gave her a light kiss then went to my room; tomorrow we shall go to the Hermitage, that much is clear.

Excerpt 74

I did exactly as Dinah said; I washed and dried myself

Was eleven-thirty too too late to ring Dinah? I paused, and then I realised, that due to the time difference, it would mean that it was still relatively early in Albufeira, nevertheless, I made the call.


Hello to you, my Russian spy; how is St Petersburg, have you been to the Hermitage yet, how are you coping with the workload, have you visited the palaces?

Yes, Dinah, it is a beautiful city, we must visit one day, there are so many places to see, the luxury still exists; the hotel is incredible, with an amazing four-level spa.

So you are keeping in good shape, I am pleased to hear that, I want you to be at your best when we go to America. I also want you to be at your best right now, tell me have you undressed yet, if not do so right now, then go into the shower.

I did exactly as Dinah said; I washed and dried myself, then I applied the fragrant moisturising cream all over my body, before laying down on the bed.

Dinah then took up the mantle:

I am undressing now, I am wearing a navy and maroon silk dressing gown, with sheer lace, sky-blue, see-through cami-knicker with a bodice set beneath; imagine you are untying the bows, imagine that you are gently stroking my skin as you do so…

I am naked now, I am pouring oil onto my breasts, remember how you massaged me in Bilbao; begin to stroke yourself, think back to how soft my skin was as I stood erect then, as I stand erect now…

You slowly moved your hands over my tummy, do you remember how I shivered with excitement, it was the first time we had made love that way, wasn’t it…

Tell me is your cock stiff; are you still lying down, would you like to stand up, as I am, also pretend that you are here beside me, I will move slightly to have my back against the wall…

Do you remember how you moved your hands, over my tummy, to my vulva; you journeyed south, to find my sweet spot with your delicate fingers, do you recall how soon I became wet, thanks to your subtle movements….

Stroke your body, stroke your cock; now begin to believe that you are right here, here you are, holding me tightly, you are feeling your skin nestle into my skin.

I can hear Dinah’s breathing becoming deeper, and faster, I can also sense that her pleasure is intensifying, I whisper that I want to fuck her, oh yes please, yes do, oh, yes, please enter into me she says.

I am standing up, I have one hand pushing me from the wall, and I am full of the visualisation that I am about to have my cock enter her body, it’s no use I say, I can’t hold on.

But you must; remember how we learnt how to start, how to stop, how we trusted ourselves not to climax too soon, how we taught ourselves not to suffer from the ills of premature ejaculation.

Go back to lying down on the bed, I will do the same, we can have a few moments of cuddling, a short time of just being with each other.

My mind drifted, I so so wanted to be with Dinah, but why, why was I so so easily led, why did I let my passions arouse me so? After a couple of minutes Dinah asked if I was still there, can you still hear me she whispered, do you still want to fuck me; what could I say.

Of course, I want to love you, of course, I want to be inside your body, of course, I want my love juices to mingle with your warm juices of love.

Then imagine that I am stroking you, imagine that I have both of my hands holding your member; please believe me, I can bring you to a firm erection. I can also at the same time work on myself, I can prepare my body for your entry, I can become moist and soft, and I can welcome you to my sensitive muscle movements; you remember those now, don’t you…

So let me climb on top of you, sit on you so that you can slide into me, then wait awhile, until I find you, until I find you, until gradually I can begin to work with you.

I am going nuts with exasperation, I desperately want my semen to explode out of my body, yet once again Dinah slows things down, she asks me to slowly get off the bed then says to wander around the room, as though you are holding me, but also following me, you are behind me, then I pause…

I stand still, you put your arms around me with your hands inside my thighs; it’s your turn now to work me, make me feel hungry for you, make me want you.

We have several minutes of heavy suggestive petting, I am feeling her thighs, I am engaging with her whole body, and I can imagine her hands exploring me, simultaneously exploring her own sexual interior.

Now it’s time to lay down again she says, I am going to lay down on my bed, I want you to kiss me, down there, I want to feel your tongue inside my body, on my clitoris; I want you to stimulate me, to excite me, to make me go wild.

Just as I feel that she is about to climax she says that now she wants me, she wants me to make her come by fucking her, no more, no less than that; so I do, I do, I scream out loud; screams filled, with joy, and with relief.

Telephone sex has never been quite so good I say to her, that was one virtuoso, masterful performance; is America always going to be like that?

Dinah laughs before she says; If that’s how you want it to be then that’s how it will be.

We talk for a little while; lots of I love you’s, lots of I’m missing you’s, lots of we will soon be together, lots of sweet kisses, before finally we say that it is time to say goodnight.

Excerpt 75

I was working in almost glorious isolation

By the time I get to write this piece, in full, I may well have visited your house, to drop off our sons belongings, as he returns, from his, three year long, London adventure.

I have already put Six Memo’s for the Millennium into my bag, I think it only fair that I should return it to its rightful owner. Whether I will still feel like that, during the visit, only time can tell; meanwhile, or at least fairly soon, I will move on to the next part of the Story.

Our son wants me to call and collect some things in Cambridge on the way; I have shown him a timetable, which shows our arrival, at your house, by 9PM. I have told him we will unload on Saturday morning; I haven’t told him, but I am staying in the Bedford Hotel, I thought it best to book in somewhere.

We occasionally had a drink in the Bedford, do you remember, when we lived at Manor Park; we went there after I got home from work, I think, that by that time of day, you were going a little bit stir crazy.

Not that talking to me, in their usually quiet bar area, improved matters much for you; I wonder did you, during those times, regret moving to be with me, you never said, and I never thought to ask.

I was working in almost glorious isolation on the moors; I was the solitary resident engineer, supervising a woebegone small bunch of contractors, who did not seem at all motivated to ever complete their task.

Indeed I believe they rather enjoyed the nearby nightlife, to such an extent that I recall two or three of them had found girlfriends down there, indeed one of them later got married.

Didn’t I read somewhere that actually he propositioned you on his wedding day; is that true, surely only you could have told me that. Oddly, he now lives up country, not very far from me actually, although we have only met once, quite by chance, in the fifteen years that I have lived here.

I wrote quite a few poems during that time on the moor; it was a beautiful walk beside the River Erme, up the valley to the waterworks intake, then beyond to the open, even wilder, Dartmoor.

I am so lucky to have lived there, to have worked there; odd that in a landscape, which I so much loved, I couldn’t find the energy to maintain a love life; did the wild, moorland-terrain distract me, did I forget to continue to share it with you.


I came to this place
Almost twenty three months ago
Then, as now, the sky was blue
The river tumbled, the clear water splashed

In between the then, and the now
The turbulence has been maintained
Turbulent mind, turbulent body
Turbulent health, turbulent wealth

The sheep graze these windswept moors
Lambs born amongst the driving rain
Alongside the gorse and the reed
Crop cut grass pleads to grow

Bleats break the waterfall 
The waterfall of springtime silence
I am alone, alone amongst ten thousand acres
Chasing mother, chasing mother-nature

I am beginning, once again, to collate my poetry, trying to find the very earliest of my works, indeed, when I visit your house, I might ask if you have any traces of my early work.

I forgot to ask; just like I forgot to say so many other things, I am still so far away from maturity, you still get me so well off-balance; after all those years; it’s almost untrue, surreal even. 

I felt sad for our son, I felt sad for you, I felt sad for me; I felt sad for the smallness of my life, for the smallness of the lives, of those around me.

The sadness forms a hollow void, a fog of continuously missed opportunities, a sickening narrow gauge of misplaced thoughtlessness; the wreckage of following novel pathways, quite the opposite of the Emptiness Dancing.

It is as if deep within the silence of the Vilhelm Hammershoi painting Sunbeams or Sunshine. Dust Motes Dancing in the Sunbeams, there lurks my most unwelcome social disability. Once again I lack any of the skills whatsoever, which are required to be successful, in the intimate, social, subtle, animated conversational environments.

I wanted to turn to tears, or to scream, I wanted to find words to delve into the pain of the hollows, to find the barbed-wire of despair.

I sat for over an hour in the traffic; blood was being delivered, screens were being erected, once again, as on that night at Cadover Bridge, death had come to snap me out of my own personal mental miasma.

So I left you behind, I left the two of you, still not knowing anything more about your life; are you on your own, are you happy, have you found your purpose.

I cared for your painting, I thought on it a good deal; it appeared to be infused with energy, with life, with spirit, with pleasure even, with happiness, if you don’t mind me saying so.

What brought this ecstasy to you, what freed you, who encouraged you; or was it all down to you, did you find time, at long last, to realise your undoubted potential.

It is nine months now until my life will change significantly, for on my 65th birthday I will retire from my day job.

There will be time to focus on different things; how much a part ought writing to play is a question I now often find myself asking. What is the point of writing, what is the purpose of writing, is it fine to write, without bothering to find any readers.

Yet only yesterday I recorded two of my more recent poems; I enjoyed the process, I took pleasure in the moment. But was the finished product worth anything at all, either to anyone else, or even to myself.

I have said in my mind that I might paint, I might draw, I might sculpt, I might take photographs; I have joined the local spa, where I will sauna, steam, swim, and relax in the jacuzzi.

Is it ambition that I’m lacking, is it the lack of goals, or objectives, which I’m certainly not setting myself, or is it the oncoming grey, of the entrance into the abyss.

I am indebted to David Whyte, the Yorkshire poet, for bringing me back to the land of terra-firma, to the life of dreams. Listening to the poem he wrote, whilst looking at the painting Song of the Lark, by Jules-Adolphe Breton, gives me again a belief in poetry, as well as in the power of silence.

He goes on to read, and to discuss WB Yeats poem The Song of Wandering Angus, which allows me to be extravagant; to use your first ever words to me. Use them in the way that David Whyte talks of, in the middle of Chapter 1 of his audiobook, Clear Mind Wild Heart.

I should be working, though who knows what at, for we have no work to do; instead I confirm to myself that I would like to be a poet. So perhaps all I have to do is write my own poetry of the moment, yet somehow introduce something into the observations from my imagination. Although to fire up that imagination perhaps I have to immerse myself in nature, in society, in culture, in art.

Yes, I did ought to engage in all of those expressions which could help me to release, or rejuvenate, or regurgitate myself. I feel to be straddling those many, many streams of consciousness right now; rambling, as if a rambler who has lost his way to some tune; some tune which he can neither hum, nor sing.

I am going to return to the story, these will be my closing words; they are taken from an unfinished poem, begun almost as soon as I left your house, possibly for the last time.


Twenty-nine times

I have counted that first day of May
A fine line in the sand
Drawn by our Sark Island holiday

Of those twenty-nine
There were more than thirteen
When I spent my time away

Too too often
Even right up to this very day
I spent too long astray

Excerpt 76

Farica has moved into my apartment

The Russian deal is concluded, I am back in Vienna; Farica, true to her word, has arranged for Alexandria to be seconded, on a permanent basis, to St Petersburg.

Next week I fly to America with Dinah; we, Farica and I that is, have decided that we will go flat hunting at the weekend.

Farica thinks that there is a possibility of me being offered a new position at work, for me to be based almost entirely in the Vienna office; it also comes with the inducement of a quasi board position.

Farica has moved into my apartment, her things are mostly in storage, for she has given up the lease on her apartment; she says she now wants to find somewhere suitable for a family.

We go to the supermarket after work on Monday, we laugh with each other, as we decide what to buy for this weeks dinners, for this weeks breakfasts.

We buy a newspaper, specifically to see what’s on; and by that I mean both what is on, out on the town, but also what is on, indoors, on the new television.

I meet the directors on Tuesday lunchtime, they outline the Executive Director of Marketing role, which they would like me to consider.

I miss my morning meditation three days in a row, Farica and I have a new routine, as we both have to prepare to go to work. I have second use of the bathroom, so I prepare breakfast, while Farica showers, then dries her hair; we eat together, sat at the table, although I don’t know how much longer that nicety will last.

My Wednesday at work is spent looking at our companies global situation. I have been successful at winning work, but to be honest statistical financial analysis is not my strong suit, I prefer to work in the emotional field. Yet the new position will require me to learn new skills, as well as to make the very best use of, and widely disseminate, my old skills.

I am excited, by the idea of developing our crop of young engineers, and salesmen; motivating them, teaching them to become the very best in the business is I do believe, a most admirable objective. I am less excited by knowing how to balance the books, or to plan, or to deliver an ever increasing workload; I will make that clear to the directors, I promise.

I am interested in following research, looking out for emerging products, for new markets; I feel as though I am capable of spotting opportunities, of picking up on trends. It seems that the board are thinking of succession planning, they want to gradually bring some youthfulness into their surroundings, they see me as a bit of a first step.

I meet up with them to accept the outline offer, though we have a little shadow boxing over the finer details; they do though promise to have a firm offer with me, after my six week sabbatical.

Farica takes me out to the Le Moët Champagne Bar and Shambala Tibetan Restaurant to celebrate on Thursday evening.

She sure knows how to treat her man, for right now it seems that I am swiftly becoming, singularly, her man.

We walk to the restaurant; from my apartment we go via Volksgarten Gardens, I wonder should I tell Farica of my encounter, on the bench there, with Hildegarde. I decide against that, but consider, that on our way back, perhaps after a few glasses of champagne, we might possibly partake, in a not dissimilar sexual engagement.

The champagne pours down, Farica is exquisite; we laugh, we kiss, we are absolutely that couple madly in love; I am feeling surprisingly horny, is that what champagne does to a man? And what does it do for a woman, because I can feel Farica moving hard against my body, I can feel her exploring those parts of me which I had thought were to be kept for later.

The meal was divine, we indulged ourselves with all four courses, plus two bottles, of the finest of Chilean Merlot wines. We moved on into the bar, then onto the intimate dance floor, I was soon sweating, as we danced fairly frenetically, to the intensely vibrating, soul and trance music.

Just as I was about to suggest going home, via Volksgarten of course, Farica told me that we were staying the night, that we were having a champagne breakfast, here, in the morning.

I so so much wanted to make love to Farica, I fully understood that rough phrase: gagging for it, I think the Arctic Monkeys sang of something of the like.

Farica took me to the airport on Sunday; we didn’t find an apartment on Saturday, but we agreed that we had no need to rush. I telephoned Hildegarde from the airport, with Farica listening in, to let her know of my changed circumstances.

She wished me, and Farica, every happiness; you have been so very good for me, she said, by that I mean the both of you. If it’s ok with you I will update Wilda, Hildegarde added, Farica nodded her head and gave me the thumbs up; I said yes, that’s fine, that’s jolly good of you.

Farica hadn’t mentioned any instructions for coping with Dinah, indeed her most forceful effect was with her subdued quietness; she was clearly very sad that I was going, as also was I.

We were both visibly moved when I went though into the departure lounge; it would be six weeks apart. We had never been apart for so long, ever since we very first met.

Neither before, had Farica known that I was going to be spending such a period of time, in the company of someone who loved me so so very much; someone who Farica also knew for certain, had previously shared my body.

Excerpt 77

Dinah has determined to write a poem a day

I have arranged to meet Dinah in Schipol Airport, from there we will fly non-stop to Los Angeles; we will spend a few days in Santa Monica, and then Long Beach, before we commence our cross country adventures. We have hired a 37ft Fleetwood Southwind Motorhome for the duration of our six week stay; we do intend to go off the beaten track a bit, for we have both spent more than enough time in hotels.

The RV, as they call them in the States, has had a seriously luxurious fit out, with home cinema and surround sound audio. We will each have a bedroom to retreat to for quiet times, as well as the master bedroom, which we will share. The kitchen-dining area has all that you could ask for, so once we have stocked the refrigerators, we can be pretty much self-contained.

First though we are having two nights in the hotel Casablanca del Mar, in Santa Monica; we have an ocean-view, penthouse suite, to look forwards to. We also have a Cadillac convertible to drive around in, until we head off on our very own tour-bus (apparently RV’s are the number one choice for rock groups on tour).

It’s just over half an hours drive from LAX Airport to our hotel, with the warm breeze blowing through our hair; after our long flight, it is a real pleasure to stretch out, to relax. At the hotel we jump into our room’s jacuzzi, before going for a swim in the rooftop pool; this is good living, and we like it.

I have decided to take this vacation without any consideration for recent events; I intend, for the next six weeks, to become the world’s greatest hedonist.

Dinah has determined to write a poem a day, before she joins up with her course in Stanford, she wants to hand the collection in to her tutor for review on arrival.

What with my hedonism, together with Dinah’s desire for creativity, we, or so it seems to me, are well set for an interesting, imaginative adventure.

Our first overnight stop in the RV is to be the White Tank Mountain Regional Park. On the way we will drive through Joshua Tree National Park. Day two, or three, depending on our progress will see us in El Malpais National Conservation Area, on our way to Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Not surprisingly Dinah’s first six poems are supercharged with the immense environmental awareness, gathered from our first days in the RV.

She is more than inspired by the vast outlooks, the extensive mountainous terrain, the apparent lack of vegetation (cactus family excepted). That is when outside of the forests, and the near silence, of the almost deserted areas, during our overnight stays.

The First Day

For you must be stone
For you must be dust
For you must be absent
And I
For I must be self
Otherwise I am you

Excerpt 78

Then waking, with a totally clear head

In three days we have travelled almost a thousand miles, which is about one-sixth of our round trip from Santa Monica, to New York, then back to Stanford University.

As Dinah writes her poetry I keep a log of our trip, the abbreviated version is what you are now reading; what should go into such a document, I ask myself.

Thus far I have steered well clear of latrines, or ablutions, neither have I gone in for too much detail on the cooking, or the eating.

Instead I have tried to capture the feelings of awe, of wonder, or the feeling of my incredible minuscule part, in this big bold beautifully incredible world I live in.

Imagine that you were the only two people, in a landscape which extended as far as the eye could see, then imagine that darkness slowly descends upon you.

There in that half-light begin to pick up on the sounds of nature, the wildlife; the sounds of the breeze through the scrub, the whistles, the screams of who knows what sort of critters.

Then imagine the camp fire burning, the liquor flowing, and the marijuana slowly beginning to take effect; then a beautiful woman, taking you to bed, while you listen to U2’s album Joshua Tree.

Then waking, with a totally clear head, in the totally fresh mountain air, taking an outdoor shower, au-naturel, together with your lover.

That’s what I want to put into the log; somehow I want to capture my feelings, the exact details of my emotions, during the very moments where these lifestyle dreamscapes occurred.

The whisky and the marijuana they were an indulgence, a means of settling ourselves in; in future it will be meditation and contemplation which we use to take ourselves to the state of bliss.

That and the exquisite lovemaking of course

EThe Previous Book

We began with Branch Lines to the Silence, which is now available on Amazon.