Friday, April 28, 2006

The best option

April 2006

I haven't heard anything else from Maggie.

I don't believe she resigned from her job, although it wouldn't be the first time. I hope that when she didn't receive a reply from me she decided to wait.

I wonder how she is. I mustn't call her though. What would I say to her? There is little hope that we will ever meet again.

If I leave things as they are; our conversation a couple of weeks ago will be our 'closure'. And I think as far as I am concerned; that must be the best option.

A ridiculous excuse

April 2006

I wanted to call Sage, and ask to meet me one lunch time for coffee.

I think it is possible that she likes me.

I didn't call her though, telling myself that it was better to wait until after the holiday weekend. A quite ridiculous excuse.

Why do I hold back? What is there to lose?

The worst thing that can happen - she says no. And then I just buy the mobile phone elsewhere.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

'Hi, it's Maggie'

November 2002

There was nothing for it, but to return to the hotel. Time was against me, so I jumped in the first available taxi. I couldn't begin to describe the smell inside a Hong Kong taxi, but I will never forget it.

I got back to the hotel at 2.30pm, just enough time to pack my things, before meeting Henry.

My heart missed a beat when I realised I had a message; but it proved to be a reminder from Henry to meet him in reception at 3pm. Shit! It was so disappointing.

By 2.55pm I had freshened up and packed. The phone rang; thinking it must be Henry, I almost didn't take it.

'Hello' I said

'Hi' came the reply 'it's Maggie'

So close

November 2002

After arriving in Central, it wasn't long before I found myself at the foot of a steep hill. My recollection of the taxi ride the night before, led me to believe that I needed to be heading upwards. And for some reason I just felt this to be the right direction. I decided to trust my instinct.

Before long, I came to what I later learned is the biggest escalator in the world. It seemed to go on forever, and a couple of times I felt the urge to abandon my quest.

What was my quest? I had no idea.

At the end of the escalator, I continued on foot, passing shops and restaurants, into what was obviously a more residential area. Nothing looked familiar. Why did I think it would?

Then as hope was beginning to fail, I came to the steps of a building that just seemed right. After initial hesitation, I rang the bell, and was greeted by two security guards. 'Maggie?' I said. They looked at me blankly.

After repeating the question several times, I realised that I was to be defeated by language.

And yet I was so close. For just five floors above me, Maggie was fast asleep.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The girl in the shop

April 2006

I've been to the shop a few times, asking questions about the same mobile phone. The girl in the shop recognises me now. Her name is Sage.

I quite liked her from the start; she always smiles and is very friendly. And she is pretty too.

What I noticed most though is the provocative way her blouse is buttoned, giving just the slightest glimpse of her ample breasts. I keep her talking as long as I can. She never loses patience.

I want to ask her to have coffee.

Does she like me? Or is she just trying to sell me a phone?

I had to do something

November 2002

I woke up early the next morning, Sunday morning, despite not getting to my bed until around 5am. My immediate thought was Maggie. We had made a rather loose arrangement to meet for lunch, but I'd forgotten to take her telephone number. She knew where I was staying though.

I had some free time until 3pm when I was due to meet Henry and his wife. We were to fly to Shanghai that afternoon. I took myself to Causeway Bay for a little shopping. My enthusiasm didn't last long. My thought were elsewhere.

After a while, I took my first walk in Victoria Park. On a sunny Sunday morning like this, it's an amazing place. Full, literally, of what I later discovered were Filipino's, on their day off, in large groups, eating, talking, laughing and even dancing. Their food providing an incredible array of smell and colour. So many of them looking as I walked by; I liked that feeling.

Periodically, I called back to the hotel to check for messages. There were none. It began to bother me. For some reason I was keen to see Maggie again. I don't know why that was though, for at that time I had no expectation that we could ever meet again.

In the end I had to do something, so remembering that she told me she lived near to Central, I headed for the Metro.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Immediate intimacy

November 2002

It was shortly after this that we left the bar.

To my surprise, after a brief conversation between Maggie and her friend, the friend left to go home. Maggie and I, hand in hand, walked off to find somewhere quiet, where we could become better acquainted.

This time I took her hand, joking that she could protect me from the amorous advances of the girls who sit in wait outside the numerous girlie bars that dominate that area of Hong Kong. She seemed quite impressed. 'You have class' she said.

I decided not to mention that only the night before, the combination of my curiosity, a little drink and a sexy young girl in her underwear was enough to make me venture behind one of those black curtains. Where I then spent an hour talking and drinking with the same young girl, who did all she could to sell me a night of passion. Despite her considerable charms and very 'hands on' approach to selling, I was able to resist. Perhaps it was the HKD 2000 price tag.

Minutes later Maggie and I were sat, with drinks, in an Irish bar. Intimacy was immediate, touching, kissing, holding, it felt so natural. Once we kissed, it was difficult to stop. She just kept offering herself for more, with a look in her eyes, that I later got to know so well. She didn't kiss well though, much too rough, I remember.

Conversation was fairly easy going, just getting to know you stuff. Her mother called to see where she was and what time she would be home. I told her I had just moved to Hong Kong to take up a new job.

When the bar closed, around 4pm, we caught a cab and I saw her home. She called her mother to say she was on her way. At the door to her apartment we kissed again and said goodnight.

I forgot to ask for her number.

'It's Maggie' she said

November 2002

By the time I got back to the hotel it was already around 8.30pm. As he dropped me off, Henry gave me his Metro pass card, advising me to see the town on my last night. We were flying to Shanghai the next day.

It had already been a fantastic day, a completely new experience. I hadn't even known we were racing until the last hour, and we finished in second place.

I was tempted to try to catch up a little sleep. Jet lag was taking its toll. But, it was my last night.

It must have been around 11pm when I entered the bar; I'd got lost trying to find my way from Causeway Bay to Wan Chai. I headed straight for the toilet, noting the admiring glances as I went. My confidence was high.

A few feet from the toilet, my eyes met those of a local girl, she smiled as we passed, and said 'very nice'. For the next couple of hours, every time I saw here, she was looking at me, always smiling. I remember thinking that she was much less pretty than most of the other local girls.

A Spanish girl grabbed my arm, and tried to introduce me to her friend, who was rather drunk and not interested at all. The Spanish girl then decided to dance with me. Then she said 'you're very good looking, but you better go'.

Later, dancing alone, the local girl and her friend were dancing nearby. As the minutes passed though, she was getting closer, until we were dancing side by side, smiling at each other.

We continued like this for a song or two, then her hand reached for mine and so I turned towards her and asked her name.

'It's Maggie' she said.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Awaiting my reply

April 2006

I did get more email from Maggie, one asking me to call her, she doesn't have a number to call me since I left my last job at the end of January. The other was this one:

'hi, honey

i am going to quit my job, even is a good job, but I believe being with you will be much happier.

Love Maggie'

This worried me for a while, I don't want her to quit her job again. I have no idea if she did though, as I have heard nothing since. She sent me this more than a week ago.

I can only imagine she awaits my reply.

Where does the story begin?

April 2006

I keep asking myself; where does this story begin?

Should I perhaps give some details of my childhood? Will that give my readers some clue as to motivation? I could write for hours about my father and you might think that I am obviously his son. Would this help though? I might increase your understanding, it's true. But I don't seek sympathy or empathy. I am not looking to justify my behaviour.

Maybe the best place to start is the evening I met Kate. It could be that this relationship, although brief, never consummated, and more about letters than dates, is the true beginning. Although it predates Maggie by nearly two years.

And in essence, this is a story about my relationship with Maggie. A relationship that started on 2nd November 2002. The night I walked into a bar in Wan Chai, Hong Kong.

Friday, April 21, 2006

One hundred fantasies

April 2006

Today is much like every other day in the office. And as usual I watch the world go by from my office window. I overlook a busy junction and cars pass by as if on one continuous chain.

I have been here two months now and hope to get two months more. I took redundancy from my last employer at the end of January. The work is ok and the pay is very good.

The noise from outside is a constant hum, car engines, motorbikes and buses, interrupted only by the large voice of the man in the next office, as he talks football to everyone who calls.

There is another kind of traffic, people traffic, in particular female traffic. They are quieter and so much more pleasing to the eye.

They pass by in their hundreds, young, slim and beautiful, dressed always to attract attention. Some are with friends, a few with boyfriends but mostly they are alone.

I watch them as they walk into, and then beyond my view. I wonder about their lives, does anyone hold them as they sleep? I wonder what they like, would any of them look at me?

A few have become familiar. One in particular, always wearing a short black skirt, she is tall, slim and very attractive. I see her sometimes when I take coffee in Starbucks or pop into Sainsbury's.

As each girl passes briefly through my life, they leave the same question in my mind.

Rescuing (part two)

April 2006

The text said 'i'm ok, geoff isn't, call me'

My friend, not wishing to seem too anxious to hear what was clearly gossip, waited several days before making the call. So I had to wait too.

Geoff it seems has now discovered that his girlfriend has a male friend living in Spain, who she plans to meet up with in the summer. The three hours she spends online each night is not in support of her study, as suggested before, but talking to him, in Spanish.

We also found out that when Geoff met this girl, she was already in a relationship, with a man described as 'violent'. She had turned to Geoff for help. He flew the girl and her mother, who were both in the UK at the time, to Prague, where he was waiting for them. They stayed in Prague until the situation 'calmed' down in the UK, only returning for the start of the new academic year.

To make matters even more complicated, the girl was pregnant with this man's child. Geoff had this 'sorted out too'.

Geoff is a rescuer of women.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Finding the network

October 2003

Whenever you are using the internet there seems to be a plethora of online dating sites. I often wonder how so many sites can stay in business.

The first site that I ever looked at was introduced to me, unknowingly, by Maggie.

We were living in Shanghai at the time and, periodically, she would check her email account and correspond with her friends back in Hong Kong. One day however, for whatever reason, she managed to block her email account. When she told me over dinner that evening, it was obvious that she was a bit upset, so the following day I decided to see if I could get her account unblocked.

My intentions, initially, were innocent enough. I just thought it would please her, and I would earn a few extra compliments.

Anyway I tried to log in, and sure enough, the account was blocked, so I followed the procedure to reset the password. After a minute or two, I was prompted to answer a security question 'what is your pet's name?' She had more than one dog, so I didn't know the answer, a little later that day I called her. Rather sleepily, she gave me the answer.

It obviously took a little time to register, but eventually, it must have occurred to her what I was trying to do. About an hour or so later she called and said, 'honey, don't try to access my email, don't worry about it, it doesn't matter'

I could tell from her tone that she was less than happy, but I simply said that it was no trouble, upon which, much more angrily, she said 'I'd much rather you did other things to help me' and put down the phone. The first time she ever put the phone down on me.

A few minutes later, I got access to her account with the answer she gave me, and saw straight away what she had been so upset about.

There were a few emails from friends, some junk and a large number of emails from the Relationship Network telling her of people who matched her search criteria. I read a couple then marked them as unread.

I knew immediately what had happened, she had been using the dating agency in Hong Kong before we met, and had continued to receive the standard emails. I did wonder why she hadn't cancelled it though.

I decided I needed to find out more.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Beautiful email

April 2006

And then a day later, I received this, one of the best emails ever, It was short and to the point and said:

'if you don't tell me your phone no. how can i call you and tell you i change my mind'

Oh Maggie.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Rescuing (part one)

April 2006

I have never actually met Geoff, he is just a friend of a friend.

Geoff at 38, is a mature student and is described as 'unlucky in love'. A female friend of his said of him once, 'well you just wouldn't would you?'

Geoff is a rescuer of women. Usually, this is women who find themselves in relationship and / or financial difficulties. I have no idea how he finds these women, but when he does, he tries to position himself such that it is him they turn to when things go wrong.
He is also known to use various online services to find women, and is frequently asked for financial support from some Eastern European admirer.

Early last summer, he announced to his closest friends that he was going to Prague to work for a couple of months, teaching English. A few days after his departure, he called my friend, asking if she could taxi a friend of his (and his friends mother) to the airport in a couple of days time.

Nothing more was heard from Geoff until one day at the start of the academic year when he returned to University and introduced his new girlfriend, a 19 year old beauty from Prague. He told his friends that he intended to devote himself to his new partner. A few of his friends advised him to be careful.

Until recently, almost nothing had been heard from Geoff, since that day. Then one morning, my friend saw him in the University coffee shop, and went to say hello. She was on her way to a lecture, so only had a few minutes to spare. But even in that time it was clear that Geoff was a rather unhappy man.

He was working very long hours, driving a truck, to support his girlfriend's life in the UK. He said that when her exams were finished she would need to return to Prague for around three months to spend time with her mother, who he described as 'sick'. Geoff was saving money to cover her flight and living expenses. On her return, he said, she would have to live with a friend who lives nearer to the university, since she was finding the traveling each day 'very tiring' and left her insufficient time for independent study. This meant he would only see her once or twice a week. He also mentioned that she needed to spend at least three hours every night online, in addition to her other studies. Apparently she is learning Spanish in the hope it will help her pursue a career in the travel industry.

Geoff said that both he and his girlfriend were 'very unhappy' about 'the lack of quality time in their relationship'.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Without her white hat

April 2006

So I finally met her; 'The girl in the white hat'. Only she wasn't wearing her white hat this time.

For clarity, this is not the lady with the two dogs, whose hat is more of a light grey really. I described it as white before for artistic reasons.

It was after work, I had left the office later than normal and was nearly home. About a hundred yards ahead was a woman, as I caught up with, I glanced across and said "good evening".

It was the eyes, I recognized. So I said "aren't you the girl in the white hat?". She smiled, "no-one sees past that white hat", she said.
"That's because it hides everything else" I replied

On closer inspection, I could see that her bottom and legs were larger than I had thought, though certainly not fat. She must be about 35, there were lines around her eyes, her face was nice and she looked fairly intelligent.

Reducing my pace to hers, we continued along the track together and enjoyed pleasant conversation. She was going to the supermarket she said, and then to meet her boyfriend. I assume that when girls mention their boyfriends within two minutes of meeting you, it is meant as some kind of warning?

And yet, a few minutes later, as I turned towards home having already said goodbye, she looked back, smiled and said "I hope I will see you again"

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Relations with Lucia

June 2003

After that night, relations between Lucia and I were much more difficult.
I didn't send her back to Shanghai, a decision that prompted many questions. Questions that were difficult to answer. For although it would have been nice to tell people that she tried to seduce me, I was sensitive enough to protect her dignity. I also had a slight worry, that people may think that we'd had an affair.
I dressed things up as much as possible by saying that Lucia would support Shanghai from the UK for a while, and would probably go back out later in the year.
Then when the questions ceased I moved onto another un-related duty. She was very unhappy, often in tears and seemed close to walking out. I offered her very little support.

Then a few months later, after I had taken up my new post in Shanghai, she sent me a brief note saying that she was leaving. She asked if I might give her a reference. I never did, and didn't expect to hear from her again.

I was wrong..

Talking to Lucia

December 2002

After my encounter outside the lift with Lucia, I went to my room, called Maggie, and then went down to the bar to find Lucia sat waiting for me. I bought drinks and we found a quiet corner to sit.
I started by asking if she felt a little better now, but I could see she didn't. I then went on to say that she had taken me by surprise. I hoped to get her talking.
After a while she started to explain that she had strong feelings for me, which she attributed to my being kind and supportive to her in recent weeks. She had assumed my behaviour toward her demonstrated that I had similar feelings toward her.
I didn't deny this.
She told me that her husband was the most loving of men and completely devoted to her. She spoke of her guilt and a fear that she had 'screwed' everything up. She called herself a 'bad person'.

For a while we tried to speak of other things. The tears came back though, as she asked if I'd ever had the same feelings for her.

I am not proud of my reply. I could try to pass it off as weakness, but in truth I was keeping my options open, already regretting a lost opportunity. I said that I did. Then explained to her that as her colleague, friend and boss, I'd had to keep my feelings under control.

Very early the next morning, I left the hotel, on my way to Hong Kong.

In my excitement about seeing Maggie, I forgot all about Lucia. Lucia and I didn't meet again until the second week in January.

I needn't have worried

April 2006

It took me all day yesterday to find the courage to look at my email.
Only one day after I 'did the right thing' with Maggie, I kept telling myself that I should not expect her to contact me again so soon.
To tell oneself these things though is one thing. To control the disappointment when you are proven right is another. As it was I felt quite strong yesterday, quite happy too, and so I was able to concentrate on other things. Still I knew that if I looked at my inbox and there was nothing from her, I would be disappointed. I didn't know how much, but in the worse case, it might have spoilt my day.
Trying to rationalize the situation I kept reminding myself that in the past she always has made contact again, no matter what has happened between us. But you can't always use past performance to predict the future (as they say). And one day, I know, she is going to stop.

It was 11.30pm when I finally signed into my Yahoo account, and as I waited the few seconds it took for my new mail to appear, I could feel the slightly heavier beating of my heart.

And then............there it was..........I really needn't have worried.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The question today

April 2006

I think what I liked most about Maggie was the way she made me feel. The way she loved me was so obvious for all to see. That is the thing I find so difficult to let go of. That is why, even now, after so long apart, I am still so happy to hear from her. An email or a telephone call saying
that she misses me, loves me and can't live without me, what could be better than that? That is why I have always allowed her to hope that one day we might be together again.

Many times in the last year, I thought I would not hear from her again, only to be surprised once again by a call, note or card.

Why does she keep coming back? When, to anyone else, the situation would seem completely hopeless. After all I have done, after all she has suffered, she still doesn't give up.

And the question on my mind today; will she come back again?

Returning to Shanghai

December 2002

I returned to Shanghai on 2nd December. I planned to stay until Saturday, when I would take an early flight to Hong Kong. There I would see Maggie again. That was the real reason for my trip.

I met Lucia in the office, she was very pleased to see me, she needs my support, I thought. Later we had dinner with a few colleagues, after which, claiming tiredness I went to my room. I was calling Maggie every day. She said it made her feel secure. After this, I went out for a walk and a beer in the hotel bar.

Each day, Lucia and I worked very closely, going through what she had done, making suggestions, trying to encourage her. We attended a seminar one day, and visited our local accountants another. In the evenings, we were always accompanied by various colleagues, including Nicky. Nicky was a very nice guy, although facial disfigurement made him difficult to look at. I could tell that Nicky and Lucia had a difficult relationship.

By the end of the week, I was finding Lucia a bit of a strain. She was obviously unhappy, often her understanding was poor and conversation was very difficult. Even so, I hoped we would be able to find some time one evening for a private conversation.

I was looking forward to seeing Maggie. She was counting the days.

My chance with Lucia came on my final evening; we had dinner with Nicky who left early for another appointment. So Lucia and I went to buy some tea. I asked how she was coping, about her husband, was she lonely, was she having a difficult time. I showed too much concern.

Around 10.30pm we returned to the hotel. As the lift stopped at her floor, I stepped out with her to say goodbye. It was time to call Maggie. Lucia got very emotional, put her arms around me and said she didn't want me to go. At first I put this down to her wanting my support in the office. But as the minutes passed and I looked into her eyes I could see it was something more.

We were stood in front of the lift. I worried about other colleagues seeing us and about calling Maggie.

Still she didn't let go. She was crying. I said I must go. Then I tried to soften this by offering to meet her in the bar in a few minutes.

I knew at that moment that we could have gone to her room. But I didn't.
I still regret my decision.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Doing the right thing

April 2006

I did the right thing today.

I didn't do it in the right way. Or for the right reason. I told a good many lies. I didn't plan it, if anything it started in anger. But I played it well. Calm, confident and decisive. I apologised for the past and spoke with compassion.

Maggie got the job, and starts straight away, with a three month contract. A receptionist at HKD 13k a month.

For the last three months she has been asking to get back together. That has always been impossible from my point of view. I didn't tell her that though, I simply avoided the question, with enough of a hint to give her a small hope.

She has had no income for months, and so has been forced to look for work. She asked me to wait for three months while she made a little money to give to her family.

So I told her today that I couldn't wait any more. I said I really needed someone now. I said I thought she was ready to come over and start again. I said I was very disappointed.
I didn't say breakup, but I did say that I would look for someone else. I said I thought I was a better person now. I said she that what I had learnt from her would help me in my next relationship. I said I should be able to make my next partner very happy.

And she said "I wonder who that lucky lady will be". I hope I will always remember that moment.

Achievement enough

April 2006

What am I trying to achieve with Maggie?
There is really no chance that we will get back together. Yet I still allow her to hope.

I don't chase her. I just wait for her to chase me. And when she does, the feeling is so good.
Perhaps that is achievement enough.

Another lady in a white hat

April 2006

It must be because it is still cold in the mornings and everyone is still wearing a hat. And white is a popular colour, even though it shows the dirt. Anyway, there is a second lady in a white hat.

She has two dogs; I pass here at the same place each day. I have not seen her face properly, but I still have an impression of her. And from behind she is a really nice shape. She is so very slim and a good height. She wears an anorak and a pair of green Barbour's.

I imagine her to be intelligent, energetic and have a good sense of fun. I think she likes to read and cook.

She could be a farmer's wife, or a solicitor who has opted to live outside the city for the clean air and quality of life.

I always want to stop and talk and arrange to have coffee. But each morning it seems that I make the pressure of time my excuse.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Calling Maggie

April 2006

I spoke to Maggie again today. When we spoke yesterday, it was the first time for more than two months. It was a good opportunity, since I have the house to myself for a week.
Maggie has been emailing me since our last conversation, asking if we can get back together. I found this series of email very touching. And I needed to hear her say that she missed me and loved me.
Straight away she said that she wanted to be with me. It was just as I had hoped. After everything that has happened, everything I did, she can still tell me this.

We talked for a long time. Again she expressed her fears and doubts.

She has applied for a job. She hasn't worked since November, waiting for me. She needs the money she said.

I suggested that if she was successful, it would stop us getting together. I want her to get the job.

Sat on her husbands lap

April 2006

Sat in Boston, drinking house coffee. Across the room, a large party, families, wives, husbands and children. They took up a third of the room and a quarter of the seating.
One woman stands out from the rest, one because she is asian, probably (like Maggie) from Hong Kong, second because she is very attractive.
I read my book, stopping to look around the room, my eyes drawn to this woman. Each time I look at her, she is looking at me. Then after a second or two she looks away.
I see her talk, smiling at her friends, but always glancing back at me.
All the time, sat on her husbands lap.

Two girls

April 2006

Two girls.

Well not girls anymore, but girls in my memory, Two girls who made no significant impact on my past. One the girlfriend of an ex-colleague, the other a girl I used to walk home with after a night at the youth club but never had sufficient courage to ask out.
Anyway, for some reason, unknown to me, I found myself thinking of each of them in the last week. There was no reason for this, I had not seen either of them for more years than I care to think about.

On Friday night though, I found myself alone, and walked up to a local bar. I have never been there before, in fact it has a reputation for being a bit rough. Perhaps I hoped a bit of rough would approach me.
What a surprise, as I walked up to the bar to see each of the girls. Not girls anymore, but middle aged women wearing size 16 jeans. One of them I could see immediately was wearing a wedding ring, sat with a man, who was not my ex-colleague.
The other though showed all the signs of being single, out with her girlfriends, getting slowly drunk.

Often, I caught her looking at me. I wondered if she recognised me. I hoped she would, and might try to chat me up a bit, despite her size.

She did nothing though, and niether did I.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Lucia in Shanghai

November 2002

A few days later I returned home. From my office in the UK, I called Lucia everyday, mainly to check progress, but also to see how she was. I actually wanted her to feel that she had my support.

It wasn’t long before I started to get a sense that all was not well. She didn’t seem to understand what was required, and I started getting calls from my Hong Kong colleagues expressing doubts about her ability. To make matters worse, she seemed to be having personal difficulties with Nicky, an accountant on loan to us from Hong Kong.

When I spoke to her, it was clear that she felt very unhappy.

After a couple of weeks, I booked another flight. I would return to Shanghai on 2nd December, and travel on to Hong Kong a week later.

Lucia’s mood lifted as soon as I gave here the news.

And Maggie was delighted, she told me I could call her 'Lo Paw'.

Meeting Maggie

November 2002

It was the night before I traveled to Shanghai that I met Maggie.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Recruiting Lucia

October 2002

I recruited Lucia from a shortlist of two, equally well qualified people. My decision was based on looks, she was much prettier than him.
She was Chinese, married to a Scot and recently qualified. The position meant that she would have to work away from home for the next two months.
I knew this was a risk, since she was also a newly wed. Anyway, she accepted my offer, and started a week later, initially in London.

The itinary for my trip, was a few days in Hong Kong, meeting the team there, and then on to Shanghai. Lucia would join me in Shanghai and remain there when I returned to London. I would then return a month or so later to see what progress she was making.
Whilst in London, we put together a set of objectives, and agreed that Lucia would stay in Shanghai until the Christmas break, a period of around seven weeks.

We got on well, and I was optimistic that everything would work out well. I left for Hong Kong on 28th October. Lucia and I met in Shanghai on the evening of the 5th November.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Corresponding with Sylvia

June 2005

My correspondence with Sylvia was at its best the week I was in Kuwait. We hadn’t met yet, my trip causing the delay. We wrote every night. And what we wrote seemed full of promise.

When you meet someone for the first time, you know within minutes whether a relationship is possible. For me, intimacy is immediate. Something in our communication, our language, spoke of this potential for us.

One night, I wrote:

As I sleep, my spirit is free to roam, it knows no boundaries. It could go anywhere, do anything, but it doesn't. Each night it follows the same course, to a room in London. There, it stands guard, its duty to protect the angel that sleeps there. I know not the address, and I cannot describe a single detail of the room, but I am beginning to know a little of the lady herself. I trust my spirit, I know it chooses well. And I know too, that it is guiding me, showing me the way to paradise.

Another time, she wrote to me:

I have read your letter without taking a breath for a minute or even more, and I wouldn’t believe you are real, if I did not have your picture in front, looking down at me with that mysterious little smile, which brightness my day at work.I would love to walk with you in the park, or even the wildest forest. Maybe, if we start walking, the sun will set. In between the fine food and the wine, between the passions and desires, I will dance for you with the rhythm of your breathing….

The last night with Sylvia

July 2005

Everyone will remember July 7th, especially those of us, who were in London at the time. From the confusion we felt whilst stuck for hours on the tube in the morning, to the continual sound of police sirens, to the serene calm that pervaded the streets that evening.
For everyone working in the same office as me, that day will be remembered also as the day Anthony was killed, although it was several days before the news was confirmed.

For me though, there is another memory, it was the last time I ever saw Sylvia.

I had known Sylvia for about six weeks. We met online, sent email and eventually met for the first time a couple weeks later. It was obvious from the start that she found me very attractive. We were very intimate from the moment we met.

But when we were apart, she was so very different. She said on one occasion that she wanted to ‘run from me’. I didn’t know how to deal with that, I didn’t know what it meant. Together, she couldn’t take her hands off me, apart she was angry, upset and reluctant to talk.

Our meeting on the 7th was difficult. Most of the restaurants in Central London were closed, the bars also. So she got tired through walking, trying to find somewhere to go. Also, her mood was not so good, maybe the days events, maybe the tiredness, I don’t know. Anyway she went home early, and we agreed to meet on Saturday.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The girl in the white hat

April 2006

don’t see her everyday, just once or twice a week. She wears a white hat, and unusual trousers. Her eyes are large, and give the impression of kindness. I imagine her to be a nurse.
When I do see her, it is for but a few seconds only. We smile and say good morning, nothing more. It all started at the end of February, when I started my new job.
I cannot decide what age she is, her style seems quite old, and she always looks as if she feels the cold. Her complexion seems good though.
But what can I really see, in such a short period of time?

I think about her a lot. Who is she? What does she do? Where is going? I think she likes me. I like the way she looks at me.
I wonder if she is single. Gloves hide her hands. How else can you tell? I try to think how I might stop and talk to her, without frightening her away.