The 12th of March 

I got off the train yesterday evening in one of the most commuter-y commuter towns I’ve ever been in. My date met me at the station, we hugged chastely and walked to his house. 

He lives with his ex-boyfriend, the one who used to be over 30 stone and then lost all the weight, which kind of led to them breaking up, and now has a new boyfriend who they also live with. In fact, it was the ex-boyfriend’s new boyfriend who cooked us dinner. The whole situation is actually a lot more surreal than that, but there’s nothing else I can say about them without being a totally trashy gossip. The dinner was good and all four of them welcomed me to the house and made it feel like it was all perfectly normal. 

The other two went out to the “local” gay bar. It’s in the next town. My man and I stayed in his room (which is FULL of Star Wars paraphernalia and about sixteen computers) watching a cartoon and then an action movie and cuddling and then a bit more than cuddling. 

I like him. He’s funny and kind and he treated me very, very well. The last few men I’ve been with have treated me exclusively as a fetish object and, while there is a part of me that enjoys that more than I want to admit, it’s lovely to be treated as a person first. And to have someone just be lovely to me. 

We went to sleep at about 1:00 am. He gave me the good pillow. He had to tap me two or three times to stop my snoring, but we both got through the night ok. I wonder will I ever find it “normal” to share a bed with someone for a whole night. I doubt it. 

He made me breakfast in the morning and we lazed around until it was time for me to get the train to London and move to my new flat. I got another chaste, almost heterosexual hug from him as he saw me off at the station. 

I got here at about 4:00. My landlord, a large Turkish man, called Eric (according to his email), or maybe Ian (according to the ad through which I found the flat), or maybe Ahmed (according to one of my flatmates) was friendly and was delighted to welcome me, telling me I was his first ever teacher tenant. I signed a contract and then he told me he didn’t need a copy and he left it with me. He handed me the keys and left. 

My room is great. It’s big. I have a double bed and a big window and enough storage for what few possessions I brought to London with me. 

At 5:00, I set out to buy bedclothes. It was harder than I expected. There are loads of shops in Hackney but it’s Sunday evening and England, even London, just closes down for the evening on a Sunday. I googled shopping centres and Tescos and Primarks and John Lewises and Debenhamses and I couldn’t find a single one that was open. Then I googled “buy bedsheets London” and Google suggested Argos. I’d forgotten about Argos. 

There were a few Argoses open until 7:00. I had an hour. And one of them was only 2.2 miles away. Of course, the local Tube line was closed for works and I walked to the wrong bus stop so getting pillows and sheets turned into a race against time. I went to what I believe is called a “minicab” office. Minicabs are normal-sized cars, but they’re not as big as London Black Cabs. At least I think that’s why they’re called mini. The dispatcher was having a cigarette on the street outside the office, while her toddler son ran around smacking passersby with a sweeping brush. She got me a car eventually, but we were cutting it fine. 

The taxi driver was delighted to hear I was from Cork. Apparently, he’d had a few memorable nights in Sir Henry’s nightclub. Even London’s not that big sometimes. He got me to Argos on time. 

Hallelujah. 

I frantically picked a sheet and pillows and a duvet and covers and left the shop relieved. The shop was on a street with a big mosque and a big Muslim charity building and as I was walking towards the bus stop, a man stopped me and asked if I was interested in hearing more about Islam. About ten yards further down the road, another man stopped me and offered me “weed, ganja, anything else”. I love London. 

My poor, poor mother. If she knew that I woke up this morning, naked in the arms of a former priest and finished the day with someone trying to recruit me for Islam and someone else trying to sell me drugs. 

Speaking of my mother, she phoned to see how I was settling into my new flat. She said it’s a good date for moving, because it was on the 12th March forty-six years ago that she and my dad moved into the house where they still live and it was also the 12th March 1968 that they went on their first date. 

I could be living here for a very long time indeed. 

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