Writing my blog can feel like a kind of feeble revenge. I can write about the men who've wronged me (and who I've often wronged back) and expose their sordid little ways, which is cathartic. It's perhaps unfair that they get no right to reply as maybe they have a lot to say about me too, but nothing is stopping them starting their own blogs. There's no one I'd have once liked to expose more than the man I call Inspector Twat. I feel less bitter now and see the incident as amusing but at the time it smarted. I feel very little now but mild pity.
I found him online. As easily as buying things on Amazon, I found a man on a website. It was summer 2009 and I'd been single for a year, a year of relentless depressing dates and no boyfriend. I wasn't especially lonely and was enjoying my time on my own but still, there seemed to be something missing and at times I felt unloved. When you're used to relationships it's odd being on your own. We spoke briefly online and he asked if he could phone me. He was witty and charming and made me laugh a lot so I decided to meet him the next day.
He wasn't a fast worker, though. He was 4 years older than me and had strange old fashioned rules about how to behave: a kiss on the first date, a grope on the second and gentle sex after one week exactly with full on dirty sex after a fortnight. He was six feet tall, had a cheeky smile and was sort of excitable. He'd jig about from one foot to the other with nervous energy, which was endearing. We did the usual things that gay men approaching middle would do: a day trip to Chatsworth, a few nights out clubbing, afternoon clothes shopping and sedate evening meals. The clothes shopping bored me, as ever.
I had a few reservations about dating a senior policeman. I've always thought that there's something funny about wanting to do a job that's so punitive and authoritative. I get off on being nice and nurturing and I couldn't imagine being in a job where I locked people up and told them what to do or even worse told them off. I have my stern moments but they're few and far between. I did find his job interesting and I must admit to a secret thrill at the power of the man in uniform.
He was also hideously conventional. His clothes were all branded and neutral, designed to fit in. His house was like a bland show home. If you'd broken in there, you wouldn't know who lived there and what kind of personality they had. He didn't own any books or DVDs and his CD collection was a scant assortment of the latest chart successes. He holidayed in the usual resorts and thought Dubai was impressive. I think it sounds like an overheated shopping mall in a grim Middle Eastern hell. His pictures on the walls were from Ikea and his furniture was the same as everyone else would have had.
I didn't mind this. I know I tend to be slightly unconventional and the thought of a wholly conventional man seemed alluring and safe. He seemed very safe, a counterbalance to my occasional wild eccentricity. His main aim in life was to fit in and be viewed as a heterosexual man, which I could kind of understand to a small extent. I didn't have a choice. I'm obviously gay and people started to guess from childhood what I was but maybe had it been more discrete and subtle, I'd have tried to fit in too. It's not tricky being a gay male nurse either; in fact it's almost obligatory in some areas. Maybe being gay and a policeman was pretty difficult and the need to hide it was more paramount. I respected his choices and tried to support him. He'd been married, had two teenage sons and his elderly parents were still alive. One of his chief desires in life was to ensure that his friends, family and colleagues didn't ever find out he was a raving homosexual. I was happy to go along with this. He was fun to be with, the sex was good and he seemed nice. What's a little secrecy? It's not hard.
I travelled to see him on the train and imagine his horror when it turned out I knew the gay couple who lived next door but one to him. I vowed to hide from them for the sake of his "secret" and once we parked up I would scuttle into his house like a sex offender going into court, so they wouldn't see me. I hid from one of the couple on the train a few times too, which amused me as I was quite good at it.
We dated for a few months and he was a skittish, nervous thing, like one of those funny cats you need to be patient with, but he soon relaxed more. We went out a lot, danced and drank and laughed a lot. We went to the cinema and saw a play in London. We went to Brighton for a few days of holiday. I started to find it odd that he didn't have any opinions on anything much, but again, I'm opinionated enough for two, so I ignored this.
He'd had a boyfriend before and it had ended after many years leaving him depressed and desperate. I gradually learnt that he and his ex had lived a life of subterfuge. They'd lived together but pretended to the world they were just friends. They kept a bedroom made up as part of the pretence. If they went on holiday he would get his boyfriend to check in and then he would sneak in half an hour later so no one guessed they were doing any bum stuff. He told me he felt more relaxed about it now and could cope. He wasn't really. We went for a drink once and bumped into a colleague and he was sweating like a paedophile in a playground. I spent many hours listening to his concerns about being discovered as gay and reassuring him that it wasn't the massive issue he thought it was and that people maybe already guessed. Being single and living with another man for ten years is always a clue that you're not heterosexual, I find.
He was funny about sex and would run to the bathroom the minute the sex had finished, to wash. I tried not to be offended. He asked me what Amyl Nitrate was and stated that he found things like poppers disturbing. I was a bit surprised to see a bottle of it rolling about in his bedside cabinet drawer a week later, along with some condoms, a truncheon and some handcuffs. I naturally asked about this and he explained that he'd just dropped the truncheon and cuffs in there after a day at work (of course) and the poppers were a gift along with a free pack of condoms from a safe sex promoter. I naturally laughed at this. I'm amused by pathetic lies but thought, well, if he wants to keep his secrets he's entitled to it. As long as he wasn't planning to cuff me, I didn't care. I do find lying disturbing and a little rude. To my mind, telling lies is like poking someone in the chest and saying "Ha ha. I think you're stupid enough to believe any old crap!" I have a test for liars. Ask someone if they've ever had an episode of accidental faecal incontinence in adult life. The liars always say no. That's because they're liars. We've all been caught short at least once, surely? Naturally, he failed this test.
He had old fashioned values and I liked that. He strongly believed in fidelity and found cheating disturbing. He liked to ring me every day and see how I was and tell me how he missed me. He'd drive over late at night after his shifts ended just so he could sleep beside me. It was a long drive and I thought this was sweet. Sadly, it was also all fakery.
He lied about lots of little things, mostly trivial: the fact that he dyed his hair with Grecian 2000 was fine. The fact that he was still dating other men wasn't. I guessed there was an issue when we were talking on the phone after a few months and he was fiddling on his laptop in the background. The sound of the distinctive "ping" made by the website we'd met on went off, meaning someone had messaged him. Not very pleasing when he'd vowed he'd left the gay dating websites. He explained to me that it wasn't the noise of that website but another one that sounded like it. I chose to believe him, a bit. I had a really polite and considerate boyfriend who had a few issues about his sexuality. He was clearly devoted to me and why would he be seeking other men?
It got to December and four months in, we were going strong. He still rang me every day, he was keen and nurturing and he seemed to care about me, which was lovely. We didn't argue or fight, we enjoyed our time together. There were a few minor issues. The little lies were starting to irritate me and there were times when I felt a little bit like a mistress. I couldn't ring him when he had the kids, when his parents were there, when he was with friends. I was a dirty little secret. He was also, subtly, trying to change me. He suggested I bought better clothes and branded underwear from Calvin Klein (stupidly, I bought the pants). He questioned my views on things as being "weird". He loathed me smoking which is fair enough but he commented every time I had a cigarette. I'd actually cut down and barely smoked when I was with him. It got to be an annoyance to have it mentioned every time I smoked. He'd known that I smoked when we met.
He couldn't accept that I didn't celebrate Christmas. He also couldn't accept that I wouldn't attend my graduation ceremony for my post registration nursing degree. I hate things like that. I find them dull and stuffy and they feel meaningless to me. I backed down and hired the bloody gown and silly hat and went along to my graduation with good grace. I also gave him a list of books and CDs I wanted for Christmas. He declared the list was "weird stuff". It wasn't at all, just a few Tori Amos CDs I didn't have and a couple of new books by authors that I like, not exactly odd. He was attending a function in York the night before my graduation and got up and drove all the way back at 4am. I thought this was a sign of how much he loved me, but apparently not. He left straight after my graduation as he was "tired". He told me that he thought my dead father was probably watching down on me during my graduation. This kind of cheap platitude annoys me and I couldn't stop myself saying "I bloody doubt it, he's dead, isn't he?" I couldn't maintain the pretence of being like other people all of the time.
Christmas loomed and I dreaded it as ever, all that silly false stuff and gaudiness. He stopped ringing every day and started to withdraw which I tried to ignore and hoped it was a phase. I liked him and he was decent. It had taken me so long to meet a decent man. I'd been on the point of giving up looking and of hoping a good man who I could like existed.
He arrived at my house on Christmas Eve at teatime and told me he didn't want to see me anymore. He couldn't be in a relationship because of his issues. I cried a lot as I sat left with my weird presents. I drank my way through Christmas Day at my mum's and managed to eat only a solitary potato. I wept a lot over the next few weeks and felt a bit like a limb had been amputated. It was the usual grim feeling you get when you've been dumped, again and are getting used to it. We spoke a little on the phone and he was shifty and odd.
I did the thing you shouldn't do when you're drinking and recently single. I downed a bottle of wine and looked for him on the dating websites. He had a new profile on there, I found it in minutes. It was a pile of crap about what a decent and open guy he was, calling for non smokers and no weird people. I was slightly cross. This felt aimed as a dig at me. I made the very misguided decision to send a vitriolic message telling him what I thought and being generally quite unpleasant. I pressed send.
The next day I regretted it and waited with dread for a response. Two days passed and I was guilty and sweating and calling myself a psycho under my breath. We all have these stalkerish psycho tendencies; some of us just control them better than others. Three days passed and he hadn't opened the message. I messaged the website admin and begged them to delete it before he read it. I didn't want to hurt him. They couldn't do this but were sympathetic. I suspect I wasn't the first gay man to ask for this to be done. I had a very bad idea. I could try and hack his account. My hacking skills are zero but so was his originality and I knew the password to his laptop so I gave it a go. I was straight in, deleted the nasty message and breathed a sigh of relief. I then spotted that the profile he had, had been active for 3 months, almost the whole time we were dating. The whole time he was devotedly ringing me and driving for 45 minutes at night to see me. I couldn't not look.
There were about 20 messages, dating over the three months, all from men he'd been trying to chat up or was arranging to meet on dates. He'd even met a man for sex the afternoon of my graduation. I was a little bit cross and he felt my vitriol for a few weeks as I sent a volley of drunken texts to vent my spleen. My anger lasted a good while, the text messaging didn't. I left him alone in time. He eventually broke and admitted he couldn't have had a relationship with me in the long term because although he really liked me, if people saw him with me they'd have realised he was gay. I think he was finally telling the truth. It hurt a lot but it made me feel sadder for him than for myself. I think I had a lucky escape, in retrospect.
He was a natural born liar but sadly not very good at it. He did dye his hair, he was looking for other man and I suspect that those handcuffs were not in his sex drawer by accident. Hell, he may even have shat himself once upon a time. Ironically, I later found out that his neighbours knew he was gay, as did most of his colleagues. The time he was caught red handed with a colleague in his office had apparently fuelled a few rumours. I never told him this. Let him believe his own lies. Not knowing can be better for some people but not for me.