On Not Wearing A Poppy


I haven’t worn, nor bought, a poppy since my early teens.  At first it was probably due to teenage-angst; a rebellion against those who might have wanted me to conform to normality.  Gradually it became twisted in my head until I truly believed that I didn’t want to buy a poppy, nor wear one with pride, because it would somehow be disrespectful to my grandad.  He never (or rarely) spoke about his experiences in WWII.   In my na├»vety I used this as my excuse … how could I even contemplate wearing a poppy, and thus join in with Remembrance Day, if my grandad didn’t even want to remember those terrible years himself?

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This is a picture of my grandad before WWII broke out and turned his life upside down and inside out.  The woman on the left is my nana.  When the war began my grandad was twenty-nine years old and worked for British Rail.  He and a friend went and offered their services signed up immediately, but he didn’t actually go to war until 1942.  By this time he had married my nana (June 1940) and become a father to Mumsy (March 1942).

He was an Eighth Army Royal Engineer and the war took him to the Middle East and North Africa regions.  He was (probably) involved in battles in Egypt, Palestine and possibly Italy.  He came home with a couple of medals and a mention in Despatches, although we’re not sure what for. 

I often wonder what life was like when he returned.  He and my nana had been apart for nigh on four years.  She must have lived in fear of what the next day would bring, and he must have lived in fear of never seeing her again.  He missed Mumsy’s Firsts … her First Real Smile, her First Tooth, her First Word, her First Step … their relationship could have been so fraught and so difficult, but they were so close (despite his moods!)

As it happens my Auntie Susan was born about nine months after his return …

But he never (rarely) spoke about his experiences.  He didn’t broach the subject at all with my nana until fifteen years after the war ended, and even then what he spoke about was brief.  In his later years he was more open, but even then what he spoke of just skimmed the surface.  If I try to think about the whirlwind of emotions that he must have gone through my heart just wants to explode with the pain of it all. 

And of course, these are all the reasons that I should wear a poppy.  I should wear one for all the men who were like him; ordinary men who were prepared to leave their families and fight for the continued freedom of their country.  Ordinary men like The Blokey, and The Baby Brother, and the random men I see on the streets … men like you.  I should wear a poppy for the women like my nana; ordinary women who waved their men-folk off to war and tried to live as normal an existence as possible under the circumstances, never knowing if and when they would see their loved ones again.  Ordinary women like me, and my friends … women like you.

So I promise that next year I will buy a poppy and I’ll wear it with a mixture of both pride and sorrow.

And, if I may, I’d like to dedicate this post to my beloved (and somewhat moody) grandad, Herbert Percy (1910-2001) …


please God bless my nana and grandad, wherever they may be xxx Elsabeth

My Mean Husband

There are very few people in the world who can make me feel like the Biggest Bitch in the History of Bitches.  In fact, there are probably only two people who can make me feel like that.

One is my mother.

The other is The Blokey. 

Months ago I said that if I only see one more band before I die it would have to be The Killers.  It was a very extreme statement, but it was the truth.  Tickets for The Killers went on sale yesterday at 10am. 

I want to go!  I said. 
Well, let’s try getting tickets then, responded The Blokey.
But I have to teach smelly children! I wailed.
I’ll try my best, promised The Blokey.

And he did.  He tried very very hard to get me what I wanted.  But he failed.  By twenty past ten the venue/date we wanted (Cardiff, on a Saturday) had sold out.  So had all (most of) the other dates.  We had a trivial tiff on the phone at lunchtime. 

There are tickets on eBay, I huffed.
I’m not buying tickets off unscrupulous people who make their living out of buying tickets and selling them on at extortionate prices, exclaimed The Blokey.

Later, I met him in a semi-dark silent car park in the middle of maC. 

I know you don’t like me much at the moment, he said.
I think you’re very mean.  You know how much I want to see them live! I sighed.
That’s horrible, he answered.  In fact, that’s one of the most horrible things you’ve said to me.

We made-up, and laughed at Dylan Moran in a crowded Corn Exchange.  My mean husband bought us tickets to see Dylan Moran as a mean surprise ages ago.  Meanie!

And today?

My mean husband went on eBay and secretly bid on some tickets to see The Killers.  My mean husband won the auction.  My mean husband made his wife feel really mean. 

I am a bitch. 

But my husband loves me.  And I feel really sad and really happy, all at the same time. 

please God bless The Blokey for loving me as much as he does xxx Elsabeth

Boudoir of Broken Dreams

Painting my bedroom didn’t just require stepladders, brushes and a steady hand for edges; it also needed an emotional journey into the past.  For I am a hoarder.  I hoard memories.  That cinema ticket you throw in the bin?  That’s a memory.  As are receipts from meals in tacky restaurants in foreign countries, gig tickets, comedy tickets, autographs, photographs, personal notes on post-its, postcards from places that nobody else visits, bookmarks from long-lost friends, Valentine cards from twelve year olds, train tickets, twenty year old letters from pen-pals, apologies from schoolboys who don’t want detentions … I keep everything that anybody ever gives me. 

This week I had to go through carrier bags and boxes full of memories.  And it was nice.  I like being reminded of my past and the little things that happened.  I like to remember. 

And then, suddenly … Whoooosh!  I found a photo.  And my belly did a little dance and my head did a little spin.  It was totally unexpected and, vaguely, horrid.  I love my husband.  I am in love with my husband.  He is everything to me.  But I have a past.  And part of that past, part of who I am today, is the BullyBoy.  One of the bravest things I ever did was to take control of my life and put tBuB on a train back home to his mum in the summer of 2000, following four years of emotional, mental and physical abuse.   

Being in an abusive relationship is difficult to describe.  You survive because you have to, and part of that survival involves taking the abuse and putting it into a box in your head so that you can continue living your day-to-day life.  You live for the good times, not for the bad.  Once I had the control back and was free of tBuB I had to thrash everything out in my head and most of that thrashing included the Bad Stuff, but very little Good Stuff.  I knew that I had loved him, but denied it because how can you love someone who seems to thrive on being mean and cruel? 

And then this week I found this photo of the two of us.  And I didn’t hate him.  I remembered him with fondness.  I remembered the Good Stuff, not the Bad Stuff.  And I’m not afraid to admit that I did love him, and I loved him because of the Good Stuff.  And now I’m wondering what he’s up to now.  And I feel bad for wondering what he’s up to now.  Oh, the confusion!

I looked him up on various social networking sites, but can’t find him.  This is probably a Good Thing.  I did find someone with his name (but no school or age details) on friendsreunited and had to laugh when the description given was, “Fucked up alcoholic, now there’s a surprise.” I hope it’s not him; I like to think that he got his act together and sorted himself out.  But I doubt it.


I took some random photographs of my newly decorated, and very much decluttered, bedroom.  Enjoy …




please God bless the past and the folk who live in it xxx Elsabeth

What has been the biggest challenge in your life so far?

I don’t have an answer to this question.  Or, I have so many answers to this question that there’s no one thing I can pinpoint as being the biggest challenge I’ve faced to-date. 

I walked the streets of Prague alone for a week, unable to speak the language, suffering from depression and feeling unwanted as a future SiL struggled with her own demons.  I travelled three hundred miles to escape my childhood, throwing myself into student life and loving every minute.  I survived a four year abusive relationship, and still struggle to come to terms with the fact that I loved him.  I longed to be loved by a father who deserted me; it took me a long time to realise I could love him without having to actually like him.  I understand now that I am my father’s daughter.  I listened to The Big Brother sobbing and I took his pain as my own, but I had nobody to take mine away from me and ease my burden.  I  was kind and let people take photographs of me on my wedding day.  Sometimes I talk on the phone, to strangers.  As a twelve year old I cried in church (often) and told God he was a bastard; I’m still unsure as to where I stand on that score.  I cuddle my Blokey and pretend to be fine but inside my belly is gurgling with a mixture of fear and hope and hate and worry …

But my Biggest Challenge (so important it deserves capitals) is yet to make an appearance.  My Biggest Challenge is the one that will never be challenged.  It hides in my head and it eats away at me.  Chomp Chomp Chomp.  It bubbles away under the surface, both there and yet not quite there.  I could scream at it, plead with it perhaps, beg it to come to the forefront of my mind.  But I don’t actually want that Challenge.  I like keeping it at arms length because challenging it to become my Biggest Challenge will challenge my family and friends to reconsider their roles in my life, and their memories, and their own existence.

Cryptic?  I can be.  And doesn’t it make it all the more exciting?

please God, challenge me xxx Elsabeth

I just answered this Featured Question, you can answer it too!

Come live in my heart, and pay no rent.

Open letters to some of the boys who have left a little piece of themselves in my head. 

Dear LeatherHand,

I’d just turned seventeen when we met in the big house by the sea.  You got my boobies out on the beach and I fancied your older brother.  I laughed when you introduced me to your leather glove, but hey! whatever rocked your boat.  Does it still?  I haven’t used leather in a kinky sexual way since that summer.  Nor have I ever worn leather gloves again.  That’s not because your little perversion sickened my sweet little mind, it’s simply because I’ve never been with anyone else who shared your love of leather. 

Love, your Little Ewe x  [summer 1991]


Dear Ginger Kinks Boy,

It was nice kissing you in the graveyard.  However, I refuse to apologise for being the Tease Who Wouldn’t.  But what kind of eighteen year old uses the word consummate?!  Anyway, I fancied your friend, and would have been the Tease Who Would with him …

Love, the Tease Who Wouldn’t x  [two months, autumn 1991]


Dear Irish-Eejit,

You were the first boy I fell in love with.  You were also the first boy I could ever really talk to and feel comfortable with, and you were the first to introduce me to The Orgasm – thank you for that.  I don’t think you ever knew how much you meant to me; I even put up with your drunken ramblings which included the words English and hate in the same sentence.  I loved your fingers and you f.ucked with my head by telling me the truth.  The short time we were together, during that first year at university, created memories which are some of my happiest. 

Why did you have to break my heart?

Love, Broken Hearted English Girl x  [six weeks, spring 1993]


Dear Ginger Nuts,

I only agreed to let you walk me home from the union bar because I wanted to make Irish-Eejit jealous, and I only let you take my maidenhood because Irish-Eejit didn’t care that I’d kissed you.  I’m not entirely sure that I was ever actually in love with you, but those two years were fun whilst they lasted.  Cheating on me with that floozy [who cheated on you a year later, ha!] was the best thing you could have done because if we’d stayed together it would have been a very humdrum existence.  But you introduced me to the music of Ludicrous Lollipops and Big Boy Tomato … and because you were treasurer of the student union you made sure I met PWEI and shared beer with S*M*A*S*H.  WooHoo!  You had your uses.  Ta.

Love, The Girl Who Beat You up, Once x  [1993 – 1995]


Dear Quiet Boy,

I’m sorry I was at the pub the night you phoned.  My life would be very different now if I’d been at home.  I hope life is treating you well – you were an absolute gentleman and a real star.

Love, the Girl Who Got Away x  [spring 1996]


Dear BullyBoy,

After we split up it took me a long time to admit to myself that I had been in love with you.  You were a complete and utter b.astard, and I lived in so much fear whilst we were together.  But I still loved you, because there were good times.  I’m sorry I broke your heart [I know I did, don’t pretend otherwise] but I couldn’t spend the rest of my life living in fear, worried about where you would hit me next or whether I’d be dead by morning.  Putting you on that train was the kindest thing I could do to both you and me.  I hope you’re happier now.

Love, Me x  [1996 – 2000]


Dear Blokey,

I know I’m a pain in the arse sometimes but that’s only because I love you … *cheeky grin*

Love, Elsabeth x  [2002 – … ]

Hasta la vista, baby.

He left me.

We’re not compatible, he said.  I can’t stand your taste in music, he said.  Those games you play? They’re shite, he said. 

You’re always trying to change me, he mumbled before switching off and giving me that blank look, which did nothing but make me stamp my foot in frustration.  I wish that sometimes you’d just leave me be, give me space, he pleaded.

We all knew that it wasn’t going to work out.  It began with all the oooh’s and aaah’s of any great love affair … I was unable to keep my hands off him, exploring every nook and cranny of his existence, laughing with delight at all the new gadgets he introduced into my life.  But the laughs of pleasure became sighs of annoyance as all his little trivial quirks became ginormous friction inducing headaches. 

By the end not an hour went by where I wasn’t telling him to feck off

Maybe one day he’ll come back to me.  Perhaps one day he’ll thrill me again with his new-fangled gadgets.  When he does come back to me he might actually start to accept that my music is worthy of his time, and that the games I play [although mind-numbingly boring to others] are important to me, and that some of the places I visit shouldn’t be treated with such disdain [fancy dragging me away from them with no apologies]. 

The “Wow” ends now.

[it usually works well in my favour to have a blokey who does computer things for a living because he knows everything and is like a god when it comes to technology.  but vista had him stumped.  every avenue he turned, every little thing he changed, every swear word he uttered, every kick he aimed … none of it worked.  so now i’m stuck with xp again.  grrr … ]

please God bless my damn computer xxx Elsabeth

My Funny Bloody Valentine.

I never understood Love. 

I knew that Love existed because I Loved my Mumsy, and my siblings, and my grandparents, and other family members, and to some extent my friends, who were always there for me and who Loved me too.  Unconditional Love, where it doesn’t matter what you do, what you say, what you wear …

Other Love was a minefield for my head. 

I had my first crush when I was four.  Brian Cant, Play School Sex God. 

I had my first kiss [sans tongues] when I was twelve. 

I had my first kiss [avec tongues] when I was almost fourteen, with a French boy.

I had my first serious boyfriend [who liked leather, a lot] when I was seventeen.   

I fell in Love for the first time when I was eighteen.  For six weeks I lived in bliss, sharing myself with a full-bloodied, red-haired hunk of an Irishman [who wasn’t keen on the English, wtf?].  He had perfect fingers and he knew what to do with them.  I don’t think of him often, but when I do I quiver a little and hope that some woman, somewhere, is making the most of those Irish fingers.

He broke my heart.  Left me sobbing in my hall of residence bedroom after telling me that he still fancied me but he fancied someone else too.  In my determination to win him back I went out and pulled another chap.  When he remained impervious to my affections I went and pulled another one. 

And I remained with this other one for two years and twelve days.  I didn’t just sleep with this one, I slept with him.  Thus, I lost my virginity at the grand old age of eighteen, to a lad who I’d only just met, whilst still remaining in Love with Irish Fingers.  And I gradually fell out of Love with Irish Fingers and in Love with Ginger Nuts.

Who broke my heart when he cheated on me.  Left me sobbing on the stairs leading up to my flat in the scariest street in Sunnyland. 

Following a bleak few months of chasing every man with a pulse I finally met The BullyBoy, when I was twenty-one.  And despite the verbal, mental and physical abuse I recieved from him, I gradually found myself falling in Love again.  There’s a song there, somewhere. 

He was my last relationship before The Blokey.  He lasted four years and four months and I was in Love with him regardless of his faults and his issues.

I broke his heart after the bruises and the apologies got boring, left him sobbing on a train going back up North. 

There were a few near-misses betwixt him and The Blokey, but The Blokey finally found me in the spring of 2002 and I fell in Love with him before we even met [emails are a godsend for shy folk like me].

It took me a long time to realise that it’s ok to say that I was in Love before I met The Blokey.  I always believed that Love was exclusive, that you could only ever Love one person in your life.  I couldn’t comprehend how I could feel so much Love for someone and then not feel Love for that same person.  Surely that simply meant that I hadn’t Loved them in the first place?  How can feelings change so much?  Why had I invested so much time and energy into them if I didn’t Love them? 

I obviously did Love them, but other things got in the way of Love and our lives stopped following the same path.  I’m comfortable now.  I like comfortable Love.  It’s Love that is almost totally unconditional.  It’s Love that enjoys smudged make-up as much as dressing up; where hugs are just as precious as gymnastic antics; where not flushing the toilet in the middle of the night is fine; where you can be yourself and not have to worry about creating the wrong impression because he knows you inside out and back to front and better than you ever knew yourself. 

And comfortable Love lets you have been in Love before, and it doesn’t detract from the relationship. 

And now I understand Love.  And Love is good, in all its shapes.

Share the Love and send me a Valentine …

My Valentinr - katiefinger
Get your own valentinr

You can be as dirty/witty/sarcastic/miserable [*delete as appropriate] as you so desire. 

please God bless the miserable single people as Valentine’s Day approaches xxx Elsabeth