[Don’t Settle]

Be with someone who makes you happy. Be with someone who makes you smile, who makes your life better just for being in it. Be with someone you could take a nap with. Someone who you could go on adventures with. Someone who can make even the most monotonous shit seem fun. Long term, you’re going to be doing a lot of laundry, and going on a lot of trips grocery shopping, so be with someone you can do those things with and not want to hit with a chair.

Be with someone who you trust, who’s on your team and wants you to succeed at everything you try. Be with someone you can make laugh, and who can make you laugh. Be with someone who has your undivided attention, who you want to listen to, who you want to help and support, whose hand you never want to stop holding. Be with someone who listens when you talk, who remembers stupid details about you and your life, who makes you feel good about yourself, who wants to kiss you a lot.

Be with someone you can read in the same room as, who you can be comfortably silent with. Be with someone who understands that needing personal space doesn’t mean you don’t love them. Be with someone you can slob out with and watch films in your pyjamas and eat cold take-out from the night before. Be with someone who wants to do everything and nothing, so long as it’s with you.

Be with someone who wants to romance you. Be with someone who wants to get naked with you. Be with someone who you want to touch, who you want to bring off, and who doesn’t treat it like a chore to reciprocate. Be with someone who makes an effort for you, who you want to make an effort for, in all things.

Be with someone who sees your flaws and accepts them, who you know isn’t perfect themselves, but who you cherish all the more for that, because you’re both only human when all is said and done. Be with someone who treats you with respect and care, no matter how much time passes. Someone who is still going to say “please” and “thank you” even when you’ve been together for fifty years.

Be with someone whose company you enjoy, who you’re attracted to, who treats you well. Be with that person, and be good to them.


Taken from “The Longest Drop” by L. Davidson

Available on Amazon

All proceeds from the sale of this book go to Leeway: Domestic Abuse & Violence Services


GNU Sir Terry Pratchett

Perhaps this is a huge cliché, but as with a great many “bookish” people I had a very lonely childhood. I didn’t have many friends, I wasn’t good at school, and I never really seemed to fit in anywhere. I found my solace in books, in the school library, tucked away at home on weekends and reading stories about people doing great things and seeing incredible sights. I would open the pages of a book and be transported away from my very dull existence to somewhere infinitely better. One of my favourite escapes was, of course, the Discworld.

It might not surprise a lot of you to know that the very first Terry Pratchett book I read was Equal Rites. I was thirteen (or thereabouts) and I just randomly picked it up at the library because the cover was interesting. I was already very big into fantasy, so anything that mentioned witches or wizards was a sure-fire way to grab my interest, but once actually into the story it was so much more than that.

Even now I find it difficult to explain how I was pulled into the Discword so completely, and so very, very quickly. It was a fantasy book, of course, there’s no denying it, but at the risk of sounding hard on other authors it was also somehow more. Much more. There was a tone to the writing, a humour that I felt kindred to, as well as a dark prod at the human condition I had never seen before. I never have since, either. I believe it was this unique style that captured my imagination, along with the vibrant characters and spectacular world-building, that made me view writing, particularly the fantasy genre, in a very different light.

Terry Pratchett wrote the things I loved, and still love to this day. He wrote about magic and dragons and dwarves and trolls and far-off kingdoms, but very much as his style of writing was, he also wrote more. He wrote about war and prejudice and murder and that very grey area between what is right and what is wrong. What’s more, he did it all in such a way that you didn’t even realise that what you were reading was a satirical commentary even remotely applicable to our own, very real society.

Terry Pratchett made me realise that where so many people had tried to tell me that the dragons flying about my imagination was somehow a sign of foolishness or juvenile interest that would and should fade over time, I could keep them and still have something worth saying. I wanted so much to make a difference in the world, even then, to make people see the evils around us and perhaps make them question their own responses to it. I still want that, and I strive for it in every little thing I write, and I have Terry Pratchett to thank for teaching me with his own work that you can always be more – your writing can always be more than the labels humanity is quick to slap onto anything that dares show its face.

Like millions of others I was deeply saddened to hear of Terry Pratchett’s passing, and even three years on, I still feel as though I have lost a dear friend. Of course, I’m not half the writer he was, and I suspect I never will be. If Sir Terry was Sam Vimes then I would be Nobby Nobbs by comparison. That said, I learnt a great deal from him, and his books will always line both my shelves and my heart.

Slut-Shaming is Alive and Well. Unfortunately.

People are so weird about sex, aren’t they?

Thing is, I don’t want to be disrespectful to anyone’s personal belief system here, but it seems sometimes like that’s very much a one-way street. Someone –like me- who thinks it’s perfectly fine to have sex with whoever you feel like (so long as both are willing participants, to be clear) will almost always be spoken of with disdain by others on the other end of the ideology.

I was out the other night with a friend, and there was a couple sitting on the couch kind of opposite us. They kissed a bit, then he got up to… I dunno, have a smoke or a piss or something. Seeing she was now sat by herself and looking a little flustered, my friend asked her if she was okay. The young woman told us she was on a date and that she really liked him, which honestly was fairly obvious, but very sweet.

My friend then kind of winked at her and asked if she was going to take him home, and the woman’s face dropped, her tone flattening immediately. “No. I’m not like that.”

“Not like what?” I laughed, kinda drunk, if I’m honest, because her meaning would have been fairly self-explanatory if I’d been sober.

“Yeah,” my friend jostled good-naturedly. “You like him, he likes you… what’s the problem?”

“I’m not a slut.”

The silence that followed was awkward, as the penny finally dropped. I mean, it was less of a penny, at that point, and much more of a grand piano, but there we are.

How are you meant to respond to something like that? Because while maybe this stranger hadn’t meant to call me and my friend sluts, she did. And honestly? I gave her a pass at the time, because we’d kind of butted in, but on reflection she must have known because of how we’d been talking to her.

“Fair,” I said, picking up my drink and raising my glass to her. “I am.”

“Me too!” my friend laughed.

The woman’s date came back, and the four of us were ushered out almost immediately by tired bar staff who were waiting to go home. We wished her and her date good luck, and out we stumbled into the night, thinking no more about it for the rest of the evening.

Now I could sit here and tell you that my vagina is a fairly restricted area. I could say how many men I’ve had sex with, and believe me, it’s a low number for a woman of my age. I could explain how shitty my sex life has actually been, how inexperienced I actually am, and that when a guy says to me “What are you into in the bedroom” I genuinely have no idea because I haven’t tried hardly anything.

But you know what? None of that is actually relevant. I would sleep with someone I just met, if I liked them enough. In fact, I have done, and I don’t feel any regret for that. I’m not ashamed of it, and it angers me that in this day and age there’s still this culture where women who enjoy and want sex are treated as something disgusting.

I lost my virginity when I was twenty-two, and to a man I was then with for seven years. In all that time, we had sex very, very rarely, and he got me off fewer times than I have fingers on one hand. And the worst thing? When I asked older, more experienced women in my life about it, I was assured that was fine and even normal. When I brought it to his attention, he tried once, then told me he “couldn’t be arsed” to keep doing it.

Women have to fake their orgasms, women shouldn’t masturbate, women shouldn’t have sex on the first date. What is this nonsense? No. No, it’s wrong, and it’s terrible to see and hear it still being reinforced.

I refuse to fake my orgasms, I masturbate regularly, and if I go out with a guy who I’m both physically and mentally attracted to, I’m going to sleep with him. Why wouldn’t I? Having come out of that long-term relationship a long while ago now, I’m absolutely not willing to be with someone who doesn’t want to have sex with me. That’s just practical. It’s just as important to me as knowing he can make me laugh, that we have things in common, and that we enjoy each other’s company.

Now I’m not going to say that my way is the one and only right way, because it isn’t. I know sex isn’t crucial or important to everyone, and it isn’t going to make or break a relationship, but to me it matters. I enjoy sex, and I feel a real sense of attachment to a partner afterwards. I want to be with someone I can enjoy sex with, who wants to enjoy sex with me, too.

If that makes me a slut, fine.

People can judge and scorn all they want to, I guess, because the right ones understand, and the best ones don’t pass judgement on others with such little care.

The Best Date of My Life

It happened a few weeks back, just a chance meeting, and then we decided to meet for drinks the next day. I spent the morning in my usual pre-date panic, figuring out what to wear, how to do my hair, my make-up, building myself up into a state of very unattractive anxiety that I can usually hide from people who don’t know me that well. Thankfully, my housemate can spot my panic a mile off. She helped me look presentable, and bolstered my forever-wonky confidence.

By the time I was finished getting ready, I felt nervous, but much better about the whole thing. She wished me good luck, and just as I was about to walk out the door, my phone buzzed. My date had changed his mind.

I’m going to be honest, it was better to know then than to be sat in a bar waiting, or like that last one who just got up and left, but still. It stung.

I made a joke about it to my housemate, who truly looked as disappointed as I felt, and I sat back down in the kitchen with her. She then told me it wasn’t that there was anything wrong with me, that she knew lots of other women it happened to, and that it was probably just that he had bottled it.

“Uh-huh.” I smiled disbelievingly, then shrugged. “Boys smell anyway. He was probably a douchebag.”

“He was a douchebag,” she told me firmly. “That isn’t the behaviour of a decent person.”

I couldn’t argue with her logic. All said and done, someone who cancels ten minutes before a date is probably not someone I’d want to be in a relationship with, anyway. Especially without giving any reason or apology. I looked at the message again.

“Come on,” She said, standing up. “We’re going out for lunch.”

I was already a little more dressed up than I would usually be, but she went upstairs and got ready, and we went out into the city together. She took me to a cute little shop with a café under it, and we ogled all the pretty things we’d love to fill our little cottage with. We talked about interior design, and jellyfish, and painting, and then we went downstairs and had lunch.

We sat in this pretty little space and talked about food. I’ve been trying to get her to do a cooking channel on YouTube with me for a while now, and we discussed that and what we could do to make it as fun and interesting as possible. We chose a name and a theme, and all the different video ideas we had for it. (Watch this space, guys! It’s happening soon!)

As we sat there eating and chatting, she got a message from two of her other friends to say they were in a nearby pub. I know one of them, but only knew of the other, and she asked if I wanted to go join them.

So, then there were four ladies, drinking in a cute little pub around a fireplace. I say four, but I should mention it was technically five, as I also got to meet Pico the Dog, who was gorgeous and snuggly and let me scratch under her chin at regular intervals. We talked about shitty dates, shittier men, and then loads of funny and positive things that reminded me no matter what, I still have so much going for me. I am, and will always be, in a much better place than I was two years ago.

After a few drinks and lots of dry humour we parted ways, and my housemate took me to a huge vintage shop in the city centre. We wandered around for ages, investigating weird little trinkets and curiosities, laughing at ugly jewellery, trying on all the hats, and just generally having a blast. We talked about the possibility of me attempting to salvage my long-dead stand-up act, and how I could get the ball rolling for that again.

We went around a few other shops, and then headed home. I wouldn’t have swapped that afternoon for anything, especially not awkward drinks with some guys who I luckily found out early had no semblance of courtesy.

It reminded me a lot of a night just before New Year, when my housemate had a few friends over for drinks. I was dealing with a guy who I liked way more than he liked me (as is always the way of things with me) and despite all that, I remember having a small half hour with my housemate and one of her friends, where we discussed breasts and all their varying shapes and sizes. That was my favourite part of the whole night, because it was genuine and fun, and I was with people who valued me.

And this? This was the best date I’ve ever been on in my life, because friendship is the best kind of companionship there is.