In The Bleak Midst Of Winter

I’m not quite sure what possesses me to look out of the bedroom window at this ungodly hour, but something does. In the early hours of Saturday morning and amongst all of the hurt and rage that I was feeling inside, I looked up to see the light reflecting off of the street outside. Not bright white, but light enough to make me pull back the curtain for a better look.

Oh, cool! It snowed.

Dear reader, if you’re imagining a heavy snowfall and inches of thick, crisp, powdery snow, then this is not that. This was an attempt, an attempt that had frozen over into the kind of stuff that you don’t scoop up and throw at someone, not unless you’re under ten or unless you really hate them. There’s also utterings of a white Christmas this year, but again nobody is really imagining the sorts of snowy scenes you’d expect to find on the front of a Christmas greetings card. Fog, grey skies and minus figures are still more likely. This is Britain, after all.

In the hour before that, Matt had made a comment about finding the ‘thirst trap’ account of a TikTok creator he follows, that I also watch on Youtube, KallmeKris. Both of us like Kris, as in ‘like like’ Kris; she’s sweet, funny, creative. She’s the kind of girl I’d go for, if, you know, I stood a fighting chance. Still I can appreciate the view from afar, and respectfully.

An opinion thing entirely, but I find thirst traps so… OTT. It’s not that I don’t post them because I think I’m ugly, I don’t post them because I don’t feel the need to post them. I could post them, and I have full confidence that they would work in my favour if I did such a thing, I just don’t feel the need to use my body to sell… me. Why use my body to sell and promote me when my words already work? Let’s give y’all a fighting chance, hey? 😉

Still, as I’m busy piling away the laundry, its a comment that cuts me to the core. Why does he feel the need to look at other women? Am I not enough?

I’ll admit, I could see straight away here that perhaps I do have some body hang-ups, and for as much as I wasn’t comfortable with his actions then I could see that it really was my problem too. Body hang-ups are perhaps an issue for me – school bullies picked on my acne prone face, my Mum picks on my weight, for my ex it was my hair – but I’ve learned each time to see that really is a reflection of them, not so much a reflection of me. I use medicated soaps for my acne, I brush my hair daily and I’m careful about what I eat. Everybody has issues and hang-ups and I work on mine and loving myself in spite of them, they only hold us back if we let them.

Still though I realised that this was more than just my hang-ups, I felt disrespected and devalued. If the shoe was on the other foot and I was looking at buff and hunky men (not my cup of tea by the way, or “I prefer my men with their clothes still on” as I once told my neighbour) then Matt would feel upset and inadequate, too. It’s fine if you’re single, but it can become much trickier if you have a partner, or partners.

We spent the night in separate rooms, though by morning the snow had cooled the atmosphere somewhat.

“I’ll take the dog outside then we’ll have a talk” Matt says.

“Will we?” I reply. Something has clicked in me as of late, nobody commands me anymore.

“Okay, we can have a talk, if you like” he rephrases, I smile.

“Better, thankyou” I reply, “and yes, that’s fine.”

Talking goes fairly smoothly and I’m clear with Matt that, even if I had accepted his apology, I hadn’t forgiven him, not quite yet. That’s something else I’d learned as of late, that you don’t have to forgive someone right away, or even ever. Some transgressions are just unforgiveable, and that’s okay. What’s more important is that we forgive ourselves.

By nightfall though, things had smoothed over and we were laughing and joking again.

“Have you seen this?” Matt asks, his tone is sorrowful. I look at his phone screen and there it is, a photo of a former local and a school friend’s Dad, Paul. A happy-go-lucky, anything-for-anyone kind of guy, killed in a hit and run in the early hours of Sunday morning and by a man and woman his age. Despicable cowards in my eyes, I have nothing good to say of either of them.

“Oh my god” I say, ‘oh my god’ is about all I can imagine in the moment. My stomach sinks and my eyes well up. Oh, Paul, not our Paul. You never deserved this, ever.

There are a number of thoughts that surround the incident, though the first and foremost is of course with the family. Paul’s wife died five years ago and Emma – the eldest of their two daughters – has Downs Syndrome and requires ongoing practical and emotional support in order to live independently. Danielle and her fiancé will now be tasked with the heartbreaking job of making funeral arrangements and sorting theit father’s property, as well as the psychological impact of being involved in a serious criminal prosecution, dealing with the press (who have already published the initial story) and supporting Emma. The family is tough but you’d think they’d deserve a reprieve. Fate is a limitless beast, it seems.

Second thoughts is to Paul, who again didn’t deserve this. I remember a time when somebody put pesticides in our back garden and killed off the two hives of bees that my father had behind the shed, Paul came around and helped investigate and promised to keep an eye on his neighbour, who he knew opposed to the bees being there. He was warm, friendly, chatty – sometimes even slightly too chatty. Once he and Dad got gassing there was just no shutting them up!

But third was to the events surrounding the collision, details of which just don’t make any sense whatsoever. Antona Drive is neither a long nor a wide road, in fact it’s so short that there aren’t even any houses on it, juasts to the side of it instead. How did a vehicle create enough speed to cause a fatal collision there?

I study the area over and over again on Google Maps, trying to make sense of what I know of the area that I grew up in. How? It makes no sense to me!

“If it was West Town Road, that would make more sense” I say to Matt. Paul lived on West Town Road, so his direction of travel one way or another would have checked out there. West Town Road also connects the High Street to the A4 Portway, and it’s long, straight-ish and wide so cars were always speeding down it and heading out onto the Portway.

But how could any car pull out – out of Antona Drive, of all places – and build up so much speed, so fast? They must have pulled out and floored it, maybe? That’s all that I can come up with.

Forgive me, but forensic science was a career choice for me long before I became a blogger. Criminology fascinates me, and I’ve long enjoyed a close and special connection with the police. I adopted a surrogate uncle, my Uncle Gareth, aged eight. Uncle Gareth is a retired police sargeant at my (former) local police station who decided to mentor me when bullying at school became rife. To give me some encouragement not to drop school, Uncle Gareth organised a special tour of the local police headquarters, including a walkthrough of the forensics department. Once our car got broken into (and subsequently fingerprinted in front of my very eyes), I was hooked.

Cue years and years of being fascinated by forensic science for me. I’d spend nights up watching and learning from Forensic Detectives and Medical Detectives and I’d spend ours solving mysteries on the CSI video games. I had my own fingerprinting kit and fingerprinted just about every available surface I could find, you know, just in case my family ever committed a crime.

It was my anthophobia of all things that ruined that career dream for me; the idea of touching or having anything even remotely to do with flowers was far more than I could bear.

It still amuses my Mum, the way that I am around some flowers. Some are okay now, but some others? Hell no, Apparently I’ve always been this way, even as a toddler. According to Mum I used to pull my feet off of the grass if there were daisies on the grass in the same way that some other kids pull their feet out of water because they hate the way it feels. Some people really are just weird.

I do like pretty little flowers, like lavender and star jasmine. Roses too are nice.

I won’t touch them, though. That’s a limit.

Christmas is coming together slowly, though “I’ll be ready for it in July” has become a new saying of mine. There’s a lot that I seem to be taking on right now; meals here, decor there, and do we all want Christmas crackers or nah? I’m trying to make it easy on myself though for as often as I seem to try and make it easier then something else goes and makes itmore difficult instead. When did Christmas ever get so hard?

It’s while I’m fluffing out our little two-foot tabletop Christmas tree on Friday that it happens.


The base has gone.

I try to push the tree back into the base but to no avail, now it sits and hangs to the side like a sad, festive fishing rod. Defeated, I take it out to the bin.

“I just want a stress-free Christmas, please!” I say in a mock-sob, “I promise I’ll behave better next year!”

Well, maybe, anyway.

Fortunately I was able to pick up a four-foot tree from Argos for £35. Tree ordered and arriving the next day, I can relax.

At the time of writing, we now have a tree by the fireplace with LED lights on it, There is still no star, no garlands and definitely no baubles, but can’t a girl catch a break?

I want to replace the lights anyway, because they keep coming off of their static warm white mode and doing some funky multocoloured shit instead. I’m all up for a party on anoy other occasion, but not while I’m trying to read a book.

So I shall love and leave you for now, dear reader, for I have a Christmas to sort out.

Stay warm, and keep smiling – it makes the buggers wonder what you’re up to!

With lots of love,

Helen xx

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