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: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour and the Liberal Democrats would both end winter fuel allowances for pensioners with enough income to pay the 40p tax rate  

Politicians court the grey vote because pensioners, unlike the young, vote

Andrew Grice
US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping have a drink after agreeing a deal on carbon emissions  

Beijing must face down the perils of being big and powerful – or boom may turn to bust

Peter Popham
Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable