Alison Taylor on relationships: 'Exes are a bit like burnt coal...'

 

Share

Sometimes you have to clear the decks. And high summer, with all its giddy weather and hedonism, is the perfect time.

It was something my dad said that brought everything into sharp focus for me. He'd been looking through some old photos and told me about a Fifties ritual from his childhood where, each summer, he and his siblings were tasked with 'fettling' (that's Yorkshire for cleaning) the fireplace out ahead of the hotter months.

"You scraped off all the stubborn black clinker, swept out the coke and ashes and then scrubbed it spotless," he said.

It's how I feel about my current love life and its associated emotional debris. My mind and heart have been occupied by a couple of old flames and it's time for a clean-out.

It's inevitable, especially in the digital age, that people linger. If an old flame isn't stealthily making sure you don't forget about them with a 'casual' retweet or a comment on your Facebook wall, they're telling you they read your book while they were on holiday and quoting your column back to you in a text message.

Something about still wanting to know me, apparently. Wanting to be "friends". The sketchy rhetoric of modern romance: all ifs, ishes and inverted commas. It's confusing. And stifling.

Then there's the ex from before that; the one that really got me. The one that I just can't let go of, because "you never know". There I was, merrily texting him through World Cup games and placing ridiculous bets, or exchanging daft local newspaper stories about the jacket potato that was used as a weapon because – whisper it – our senses of humour are so compatible. He's the 'if only' one who's never going to change, but I just can't seem to leave alone.

Guess what? There comes a time when you have to move on. All those remains of what was just stop you moving forward, and starting new fires.

There's the ambiguous notion of 'friendship', which keeps some people forever welded once the romance has burnt out, but I'm with Harry– who famously met Sally – on that (Nora Ephron's film just turned 25, by the way), men and women can't be friends, not when they've been more, before. I can't anyway. I've realised this.

"It was sad, in a way," continued my dad, about the fire. "Because you knew you wouldn't have that warm, that glowing grate for a while to come. But you wouldn't want to get all dirty again, so you stayed well away."

It might be a metaphor too far that, but, you know: perhaps we ought to think on a little.

@lovefoolforever

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Support Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Support Engineer is required to join a well-...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Services Administrator - Swedish Speaking

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join an awa...

Recruitment Genius: Facilities Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Facilities Manager is required to join the m...

Recruitment Genius: New Business Sales Consultant - Mobile - OTE £35,000

£14000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent telecoms compa...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Police are called to Lindt Chocolat Cafe in Sydney's Martin Place, a busy plaza in the heart of the city  

After the Sydney Siege, would Australia be safer with American-style gun laws? The answer is simple

Neil Brennan
 

My cancer diagnosis cost me my home

Deanne Wilson
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum