At any given point, be it buying milk, tending the hedges or drowning kittens, the memories below will tangle my insides and I'm required to adopt the foetal position in a darkened room. Give it a second and the moment passes, but what's left is a sense that next time might be different, after all, Hollywood loves a sequel.
I was 18 and in the misjudged love that breeds amongst the silences of a mix-tape. Lucy was due to fly around the world and I had every intention of stopping her. Arriving at Exeter airport (Luton was seemingly thought too tropical) and with (i assumed) moments to spare, I broke into a jog. Approaching the baggage carousel I (entirely unnecessarily) leapt like an embryonic Sally Gunnel, vaulting clear the conveyor belt and - it may be the mists of time - but on landing I clearly remember a young woman gasped in a manner suggesting a swoon. Arriving at the gate, and at no point did I assume she wouldn't be there, I started to search.
'Chris? What the hell are you doing here?'
'I'm here to tell you something.'
'...You have to be joking'
'No I'm not. Now listen, Lucy Claire Simpson I love you more than any other person in the world. I want you to stay and I want us to be together.'
'I’m not doing that'
'We can make it work' (sharp incline in pitch)
'It's not that - I just don't want to. I've been saving for six months, visas are booked and jobs have been sorted... Sorry'
'No - you don't mean it, you're just scared, Christ I'm scared, but it's OK, it's supposed to happen, we're supposed to happen'
'Chris, you're not listening, I want to go away, I am going away, you're lovely but I'm just about to travel the world'
Eve was the first relationship that called for joint Christmas cards and swapping sambucca for sofas, but passions evaporated and eventually Eve moved to the States. Months later, and seconds after remembering it was her birthday, I was scrawling the lyrics to Stevie Wonders 'Happy Birthday' on scraps of paper and readying the track on iTunes. Call it guilt, regret or daily calls from my mother condemning me to a life of Echo Falls and chat roulette, whatever it was, I was compelled to a transatlantic gesture of repent. FaceTime connected us but it wasn't long before it tumbled into farce.
Firstly I'd banked on privacy - I was wrong. I was faced with a room full of Americans gawping at an Englishman holding up a sign saying 'YPPAH'. That was the second problem. I had got it into my head that I needed to write the words backwards in order for them to be read - this is entirely as idiotic as sounds. An increasingly tiresome situation was made worse by an internet signal experiencing difficulties akin to a fish solving sudoku, all resulting in stuttering arm inflections and a barely comprehendible Stevie parping away in the background.
'Hip...par... b..dy.... ya.’
Undeterred I continued for two more verses before the universe saw sense and ended this misery by severing the connection. As the 'No WiFi' box flashed away I was left with Stevie stuck on loop and the reflection of a man holding up a card which simply read 'YADHTRIB'. She didn't call back.
There is a tendency to fall hardest when sprawled on the fall, post Eve I was riddled with Victoria, which inevitably led to 'Say Anything', It's the last word in high-school heartache and the scene above is everything I wanted to happen when I found myself in the dead of night in the midst of darkest Bow. This not being the 80's, I didn't have a ghetto blasta, and my iPhone was desperately low on battery. After one barely audible spin of Purple Rain, a song that had soundtracked everything from dog walks to the cat fights between us, and one I felt certain would summon forth a carriage full of emotion for her, my phone went and died. Faced with the prospect of taking on the peaks and valleys of the 'Funk-Gnomes' falsettos myself, my brain gave one last swing at sensibility. Switching tacks I reached for the nearest stone and launched it at the window...
A TWITCH! A definite twitch, I waited but nothing happened, after a while I was running out of stones and dangerously close to finding rocks...
A LIGHT! Without doubt there was a light. Better still, there was now movement. I imagined Victoria rushing downstairs to embrace in clinch that would last into Autumn and out past Spring.
'What the fuck are you doing?' Unfortunately this wasn't Victoria, but her rather irate housemate.
'Do you know what time it is?'
I tried to explain about the well-known poor battery life of the iPhone and although 'Say Anything' might not be Cusack's best film, it's certainly better than 'Pushing Tin'.
'Shut up and piss off will you. Vic's in bed and doesn't want to talk to you.'
'That's because she doesn't know I'm here.'
'Course she does, everyone on the sodding street knows you're here, now do one will ya'
Looking up I saw one final twitch of the blind, enough to tell me that an encore wasn't being called. Kicking stones up Bethnal Green Road I vowed never to watch another John Cusack film (I went home and watched Say Anything).