A triptych of love and loss in North London

By Steph Powell


I went on an Internet date with a guy called D

I won’t tell you what his name is because he doesn’t know

I’m writing this.

We went to a pub

Where he argued with the bartender

Over how his pint of Lager was poured.

It’s what sometimes happens when you go on Internet dates

You never quite know what you’re going to get

He told me he’d just gotten out of an 11-year relationship

He told me he’d lied to an ex-girlfriend about quitting drinking for a year

He told me he was unemployed and had recently gone to Ibiza and missed his plane home

‘Who makes a 10am flight anyway?’ He said.

He said a crack head had kicked out the teeth on the right side of his mouth

He added the crack head was his brother

They were all the things you shouldn’t say on a first date

He looked tired and worn and well passed his 30 years

His belly stuck out over his trousers

Edges of white shirt poking out over his belt

A suit jacket frowned down over his shoulders

We ended up getting drunk anyway in Soho on a Tuesday night

We kissed on a street corner in front of a pizza shop

Then I got the night bus home to Stoke Newington.

I suppose he was disappointed I didn’t invite him back

As he had that look in his eye when he told me he had to catch 3 buses back to West London.

I kissed him one final time at the bus stop on Oxford St

‘Are you trying to kill me?’ He said drunkenly

I’m not sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing to say.



I let R take certain sexual liberties with me

That no one else ever had

I think at the time

It was because I thought he was sent to free me

But looking back

He was really a balding guy in his mid thirties

With a house full of books and records

Who drank expensive French wine from glasses

Almost big enough to fit an entire bottle

And said things like,

‘Yes, but what are you doing with your life creatively? You must ALWAYS, ALWAYS be creating’

…and so on

At the heart of it

I think he was actually a bit of a wanker

But I was 25 and thought dating an older guy with his own semi-detached house

In the far, outer suburbs of North London

Was Cool.

But to be honest

I was just a little lonely.




On Sunday I gave away the last of the books S gave me

To the charity shop on the high street

A hard copy, large-print version of ‘The Chrysalids’

And another book about a woman whose uncle was a famous explorer

He froze to death on a desolate island in the middle of the Arctic

I’d mourned over these books for a year

They’d sat high on my bookshelf

As silent and unreachable as S now was to me

Until last Sunday

When I thrust them at the charity shop worker

A North London metal head with a penchant for playing Fleetwood Mac

And I ran from the shop

In my flight I heard him say to the other volunteer

‘This is one of my favourite books’

But I’m not sure which one he meant

As I was back on the pavement, walking down Kingsland Rd

I felt strange, and heavy hearted

But my backpack felt lighter.

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