J.P. centre and I.
If you have read some of the other short stories, you may be wondering who is this J.P? Well this is John Palmer, my long suffering life partner of 13 eventful years – eventful for him in particular, because of yours truly! I call this time 13 years of entertainment while his take on it is 13 years of carrying me home. He is my rock, my soulmate.
We met in Sheffield just before Christmas in 2005 but here follows the coincidence and journey behind that fateful day.
I had visited Sheffield in the early 1990’s and recall having a particularly strong feeling of deja vu or as if the city was a spiritual home. It was only a brief overnight stay with my flatmate Suzanne visiting an old college friend. I instinctively knew that one day I would return here. Fast forward to 2004 and I had returned to the U.K. after spending two years on the Costa del Sol in Southern Spain leaving my abusive ex there and once again I was at rock bottom with the difficult past relationship leaving me an emotional wreck. I stayed with family for a while and began rebuilding by getting a job in a local pub not far from Stafford in the Midlands. In early 2005 I then wrote to my former area Sales manager in Leeds explaining I had returned to “Blighty” and would welcome a return to the Company if there were any vacancies. The following day I received a phone call asking me to go to Wolverhampton for an interview for a Sales job in Stourbridge some 40 minutes away from my then base. I had been moderately successful with my previous 4 year stint as a salesman with the Company in various areas of West Yorkshire so I had high hopes of landing the position. The interview went well so when I received a phone call two days later I thought it was confirmation – but not so, in fact it was a lady called Linda from the Sheffield branch asking if I would be interested in going up there to meet the team since their sales specialist, John Blackwell, had retired.
The following day I borrowed a car from my nephew Russ and headed off up the M1 motorway to meet David Taylor and his crew. As soon as I walked into the Branch I felt as if I was at home and duly accepted his job offer there and then.
One week later I took a train to Sheffield to be met by Jane Fox – Borrington who picked me up and took me to my new place of work. She was an absolute star and we are still firm friends (one day I may relate the story of losing my keys after a staff party, ending up on her sofa at 2 a.m. asleep with a rescue pit bull named Ellie!) I picked up my car that day and drove 2 hours back to Stafford doing this for the next couple of weeks until Jane found me a small bedsit near her home in Bramley, Rotherham. Suffice to say I moved my meagre belongings up North and settled into my new role although I could not afford a mattress for the pull down bed in my small abode, so I slept on 3 borrowed duvets stacked on top of one another.
The year flew by and I slowly began to grow the business in Sheffield, so much so that I was the only salesman in the North of England to be building my clientele in a very negative market. By December 2005 I was back on my feet and beginning to believe in myself once again. On the 9th of that month – a Friday – I finished work and went out for a drink to celebrate another successful week of work. The venue was not the most salubrious but it was Friday so why not! Considering I had not really met anyone in the previous ten months apart from a quick fling with a one eyed ice skater and a Sri Lankan doctor – then for someone to show me a modicum of attention meant something. We arranged to meet again on the following Friday whence he would call me to confirm the venue of our date. Sadly I cannot recall his name. He did not call me so I sat in my little bedsit on a Friday evening wondering what I had done wrong, then ashamed of myself in case something had happened, then wrangling with all the angst of my past. Worse still, I could not have a drink as I was supposed to drive to meet him – it was a miserable evening.
I awoke the next morning vowing to never feel again what had transpired the night before – I would never doubt myself again nor would I put myself in a position of being used. He refused to give me his telephone number on the day we met “for personal reasons” but would contact me. He did contact me later that day all apologetic and full of bullshit so I told him exactly what I thought – “you are a shallow piece of life’s shit.” Of course it did not register with him nor does it matter.
I have a mantra in life “If you feel like shit, dress up” So I did – I put on my glad rags and drove to my local pub. After 3 or 4 pints of Carlsberg Export I abandoned my car and hailed a cab into Sheffield ending up in a club named Fuel. I had decided to have an early Christmas Party, on my own and anyone who wanted to join in could. I always stand with my back to the bar as there is only so much interest a barman can give you. I remember going for a dance on my own determined to enjoy my own party then returning to my place at the bar. It was then that J.P. arrived to buy a pint. He had been out with his mates since 4 p.m. and was only convinced to have “one more” by Ian (AKA Maureen) so J.P. should not have been there either. Neither of us can fully remember what transpired but I do recall he guided me back to his home – I say guided, he says carried. It is not important, we are together to this day.