The trouble with you is that you only date very nice men.  If Gertie was not my hairdresser she should’ve been a therapist.  It only makes it harder when you break up.  

She had a point but I couldn’t date anyone who was unkind.  Goran thought that was really funny, but when he paused to think about this he realised that he knew of quite a few women who were currently or had been seeing men who weren’t terribly nice to them.  The problem with dating and relationships is that I’m ready for the first but not necessarily the second.   I’d rather have it end than enter into something which might demand too much from me.  I had to go out on an errand and left my phone at home.  When I came back I saw that there had been several messages from various people sending their sympathies.  The kindness of friends made me almost cry again but I took the dog out and busied myself with allotment and bee keeping chores.  Even the dog seemed to sense my rather melancholic mood and when I sat down he came and laid his head on my lap.

Jan asked me round to his for dinner that evening and I went for the welcome diversion.  We spent a happy evening booking our holiday together for this summer, having confirmed the dates by checking with our respective exes.  Later he lit the fire in his living room and we sat on the sofa listening to some soul music and enjoying the heat emanating from the wood burning stove.  He showed me photographs he’d taken of his various trips and after that he held me with my head on his chest and his arms around me.  It was a comforting gesture for he knew that I’d broken up with Max recently.

We’d finished a bottle of red between us and so I stayed the night.  In the morning it felt warm, familiar and right to consummate our relationship but I felt restless after a short nap after that and drove home just after half seven.

Later the same evening I had a date with Goran who lived some fourteen miles away from me south of the river.  I drove through unfamiliar streets glad for the assistance of iMaps navigation and arrived at his in time for tea – he had baked blueberry muffins which were soft and moist as he’d varied the recipe by substituting yoghurt and ground almonds for some of the oil and flour.   We sat in his living room and he told me about his ex-girlfriend who was having trouble staying on in the UK as her visa had expired and her application for an extension had been rejected.   She had been hoping to pursue some course but was now anxious about her status.   He guessed that she would probably stay on illegally if her application to judicially review the rejection failed.   All she had to do was keep her head down and blend in with the local population – not that difficult in cosmopolitan London.

When it was half eight we walked up to his local high street as it was a balmy evening and went into a Sardinian restaurant for some arancini and ravioli for dinner.   The portions were quite generous and after dinner we decided to walk around the neighbourhood and wandered further to the next part of the suburb where Goran assured me Italian ice cream which were made on the premises could be found in a shop that didn’t shut until eleven.  In fact we discovered that on Fridays and Saturdays, the opening hours were extended to midnight.

It was almost midnight when we got back and he had thoughtfully prepared his guest room for us both.  We had planned to breakfast together but at about half five I woke up and felt restless and unable to sleep.  I realised that the morning traffic could be horrendous and we kissed our goodbyes as I left and drove back.  On the way I spotted a fox ambling along the roadside, pausing to glance back at my approach and then darting swiftly across, disappearing down the side of an alleyway, its slight body moving like a reddish whisper in the backdrop of suburban hedgerows.   The familiar strains of Bach’s Air on the G string was playing in the car, complementing my melancholic mood – the romance and passion in the satisfying swell and ebb echoing in my ears after it ended.

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