Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Burning Lies

Once a situation happens and lies begin to be told, it is surprising how easy it is to adapt and to slip into that web of lies as it grows and grows.

Last night, talking to some friends about the Madeleine McCann case we ended up on one of those offshoot conversations and I recalled a snippet from my life. But as the images recalled were so vivid they have been churning over in my head since and then I got to thinking about the circumstances.

It was about twenty years ago as a single woman. I walked into a local cafe wearing my biker leathers. I had a poor self image so on reflection I probably looked quite hot in my slimline top to toe black leathers. Buying my tea and two rounds of toast I went to share a table with a young chap also with some biker gear. We got to chatting, as you do, and begin a brief and torrid relationship. I do have to thank him for one particular memory of something very hot and erotic but that is quite another matter!

At that time I rode a very sturdy and rectangular old motorbike whilst he had a superbike of the day. I discovered I neither liked superbikes nor being a passenger. Being driven at 90mph on tight bends with your knees almost skimming the road is not my idea of fun. However, he had his other compensations. In those times, my life was shared between my hard-earned degree course as a mature student and a part time job for a very respectable organisation.

Unbeknown to me, early one evening, this new found boyfriend of mine decided he needed to find a way to get out of the payments on his very expensive bike and thought to write it off and make an insurance claim. So he experimented with some explosive materials, bizarrely, inside a disused building. Somehow it went wrong and he managed to blow something up, but not his bike, and set himself alight. Incredibly, he managed to douse the flames on himself, pick himself up, put on his helmet and gloves and ride over to my place in a house which I shared with a less than clean landlord. Who I am grateful to for being quite so understanding and helpful on this occasion.

Stood at the door my then boyfriend was not coherent and something was obviously wrong but I couldn't see in the dusk. There was a curious smell about him. He insisted he needed my help but that he could not, under any circumstances, go to the hospital and that I had to help. First I was to take off his helmet. Taking off one's own helmet is hard enough but to take off someone else's is a struggle. Especially when layers of their face come off with it and parts of their nose are apparently missing.

If I didn't faint then, then I could have when he insisted we removed his gloves. I don't know what was worse: seeing the backs of his hand peel off in the gloves or knowing that the less than clean sink of cold water was not the hygienic ideal environment for serious burns. By now, the guy was going into shock but was so paralytic with fear about outside medical treatment and any potential police involvement that I promised I would stay with him. And so began the lies.

In order to stay with him I'd have to be his next of kin. His wife. And we had to have a cover story for the "accident". Having agreed to all this, my flatmate and I somehow managed to walk this guy to the hospital. Now, I can't believe all this carry on and that this guy had the wherewithal to hobble to hospital in that state. But he did just that.

At the hospital I was having to answer medical and family history questions for my "husband" who I had only known weeks and barely knew his date of birth. How little I knew. I was interrogated by hospital staff as to the "accident" and managed to keep the cover going. Not surprisingly the guy was transferred to a specialist burns unit. There again I was interrogated, this time I was entirely on my own, and felt that my story was going to crack to only then get the metaphorical hand on the knee and perhaps the sorry news that my "husband" had maybe tried to commit suicide. I then have to react as the distraught, disbelieving "wife".

It sounds incredibly selfish but the moment that guy landed at my door and dumped on me like that our relationship had ended for me. I carried out the lies in order to get him through the psychological fear of getting the medical help he desperately needed for his injuries, but he soon got the fastest "divorce" in history once he had gotten over the worst of his injuries in the burns unit. Which incidentally was a three hour return train journey daily for me, slotted into studies and work. He didn't damage his bike so didn't need to put in an insurance claim and the police were never involved. I think the creditors got his bike and he went home to live with mummy.

If I saw the guy now I would happily punch him in the face and knee him in the nuts for what he put me through. The telling lies was not easy, especially when one has to start making up "facts" but it is a slippery road which is difficult to get off once started even when you are "protecting" someone else. It is surprising but some lies get easier the more often they are told that in the end I had to question myself what was reality.

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Buying and selling

The whole process of selling one's house is so strenuous and takes as long as a pregnancy, or longer. We started back in January having made the decision to sell and here we are mid-way on the eighth month possibly moving towards solicitors and officialdom. Friends and acquaintances constantly assure me (as I have assured others!) that selling is one of life's most stressful events and each time I am told I hold a straight face, because I have heard it a hundred times already, and think of those last days before child birth when one is constantly asked "Isn't baby due now?".

The estate agents have been next to useless, we're on our second set of agents, and in the end our buyer has come as a result of a local leaflet drop. All my effort, and Mr Doris helping to tweak and design the wording, but no input at all from our estate agent. Someone who hadn't been on the look out for a new home has fallen in love with the place ... but sorting out his finances is taking a little longer than one would hope. In my heart I know everything will work out before too long, but it is scary. The thought of pounding the streets with the remaining leaflets I didn't post; or going back to the estate agents waiting for them to say "ner-ner-na-ner-ner yer back!", which they wouldn't, is just a little draining.

Add to this mix is that since the offer on our house we finally went looking at properties at our new destination. And found something. Small-ish but perfect and a fabulous price that we need. We are being brave and are holding off putting in an offer in case the sale of ours takes even longer. Which means their house is still on the market and available to anyone else. We can move in with family in order to cut the chain but I don't want to put in a offer and then keep them waiting. I've just calculated but our last property took six months to finalise the sale - and that was with a buyer already on board.

Someone close to me has also moved with umpteen things going wrong at the 5th, 7th, 10th, and 11th hours but they finally did it. I have had those traumas to live through as well. And....

...I was asked to follow up an Ebay bid for said person for an item they had been chasing after for a long time. They were going to be out at work at the time of the bids closing so it was in my hands, with their access details and a budget. Came the allotted time my heart is pounding out of my chest wall; my internet connection is playing silly buggers and I can't get the system to accept my one large bid. Boom, boom, boom, my heart rate was deafening. I was feeling sick and knew I was being relied on. If I lost the bidding then fair enough that would be understood but to not get the bid on at all was careless. With about 50 seconds to go the bid was accepted and was the winning bid. I kept clicking the refresh button as the seconds went down and numbers were churning all over the place and last scramble bids were placed but I still had the highest bid. Then seconds to go and bang. A bid that was just some £2 over mine was placed and the bidding ended and I lost.

Never again, I swear. The drama of running someone else's bid for an item on Ebay is just too much for my soul. Next thing will be putting in our offer for the house we want to purchase. Methinks I shall hand it over to Mr Doris and I'll hide under the cushions until it is all over.