“Maybe you will be coming back, ‘cos there’s a heart that still beating.”
– Kate Bush ‘I’m Still Waiting
What’s left when it is all over? Memories I guess. And when i say over, I don’t just mean relationships. I mean IT – life. The whole kit and kaboodle. What’s left when you are old and grey and full of sleep (to paraphrase W.B.Yeats) ? Memories. That’s all that’s left you (to not paraphrase Simon & Garfunkel and to directly quote them instead).
Some people might say the outpouring of memories like this is a catharsis.
Catharsis my arse. I am a writer. These are my memories. I don’t know what else to do with them.
After Pami and I kissed I went upstairs to my room, a tumult of emotions cascading tumultuously around my tumulting head. This, I reasoned, is what having an affair must feel like. Hang on, I reasoned again. It’s not what it must feel like – it is actually what it really feels like, as I have kissed a lady who is married. And I’ve kissed her in her own home, while her kids are sleeping upstairs and a repeat of The Equalizer was on television. What would Edward Woodward think? Should Edward Woodward be bored? Could the wood that Edward Woodwood fed, be dud? These thoughts and other more meaningful ones ran screaming around my head until I fell asleep.
The next morning Emily, who was only nine years old at the time, decided she wanted to play with plasticine and Pami and I sat with her in the garden. Emily made a lovely replica of Patrick Star, the starfish from the cartoon Spongebob Squarepants which she was a big fan of at the time. Pami made an aerial view or a Big Mac, which looked suspiciously like a vagina. I made a replica of the Eiffel tower, in Emily’s favourite colour, pink. It looked suspiciously like a penis. I guess if some do-gooder from the social services had been around that day, witnessing two adults making models of genitalia from plasticine in the company of a 9 year old girl, things would be different now. I’d probably be in jail, for one.
Later that day I went back home, which at the time was a small flat in Cwmbran, Gwent. At the train station Pami sat by me on the wooden seat. Paul, Jake and Emily were there too. Each of us caught up in our own little worlds. I boarded the train and waved goodbye to all of them. But my wave to Pami took that little bit longer and was just that little bit more special.
Funny isn’t it how all those romantic sentiments – those fleeting touches, looks, gestures – all matter so much when you are in love? And then, when the love goes, you just end up cynical and drunk and boring someone in some dark cafe…(I love you, Joni Mitchell).
Anyway. On with the story.
I returned to Cwmbran and Pami and I telephoned each other once a day, and sent messages via Facebook three or four times a day. I visited her again in secret, sometime later that year. Paul had taken Emily and Jake up north, to visit his parents in Liverpool. Pami had stayed behind and rang me as soon as they left, asking me to visit. So I did. I boarded the next train from Cwmbran and spent three glorious days with her.
I think, at that point, I was already in love.
I always had a niggling doubt about the level of her commitment. The fact she had been a swinger, sleeping with Peter & Krys, always bothered me. Each to their own, as I’ve said before, but personally I enjoy devoting all of my love and affection and commitment to one person. I never share it. Pami was different. She often used the word ‘bohemian’ to justify her behaviour. “I am a bohemian,” she would say, in rhapsody.
A few months passed and our love intensified. Then one day I was on a night shift in the hospital I worked at back then when I had a text from Pami.
I’ve left him, it read.
I was tempted to reply ‘Who?’ but refrained. Apparently, Pami’s distance had not gone unnoticed by Paul and he confronted her, specifically asking if she was seeing me. She said she was. If I had been there, I would have agreed with her too, just for support. Anyway, that was that. It was out in the open. Pami wanted to come and live with me in Cwmbran and so two days later, I caught the train again, back to Calne.
Pami moved in during the autumn of 2009. I knew she found it very hard to leave her children and promised her that we would return to Calne and live there as a couple. It wouldnt be easy – we needed a bit of money first and I had to find a job in Wiltshire – but it would happen. Pami settled in although she did complain a lot. She didn’t like my home town of Cwmbran. She didn’t like the flat. It was only a bedsit and I agreed with her on that point – but I am a patient person. I know things are just a transition, until better things happen (and I always know that *you* have to make things happen). Pami always seemed to want things to happen yesterday. Also, I loved my home town. I still do – even after leaving it four years ago, I never criticised Pami’s town – Calne – even though it would have been very easy to. I never asked anything of her – just to be patient.
And Pami never worked, which again was a source of frustration. She had had her own gardening business in Calne and had brought enough of her tools to start it up again in Cwmbran. She made the effort once to gain a customer base which resulted in one day’s work. I suggested that maybe she could get a job in a shop in the interim but that suggestion fell on deaf ears. Since 1992 Pami had not worked. Paul had ‘kept’ her. She had use of his credit cards, she didn’t want for anything – she had every day free. And so her complaints about being bored puzzled me even more. Granted, she had Emily & Jake to take to school in the mornings and pick them up in the afternoons when she was in Calne, but that still gave her at least 5 hours free during the day in Calne – and she had never complained of being bored to me then, when we exchanged emails and telephoned each other. More importantly, it wasn’t until the late 1990s that her eldest son, Jake, had been born. So she had around 5 years of being unemployed, without any other commitments, and in that time when I knew her, she never complained about being bored. I was puzzled by this.
“Take up Suduko,” I suggested. “Or pick random numbers from the telephone directory to ring. I can’t cure your boredom. That has to come from within.”
I hadn’t read ‘How to be the Dalai Lama for Dummies’ for nothing.
But these suggestions were ignored and for the first time Pami left me in the most cowardly way imaginable. I went to work one day, leaving at 6am. When I returned at that night at 10pm, she was gone.
To be continued…