It must be love

Pip and BrunoThat’s not so much a heading as a command.

With the recent death of tall glamorous designer L’Wren Scott in the news, it’s hard to miss all the pictures of her alongside her boyfriend, the less photogenic Mick Jagger. Mr Jagger is a worldly famous rock musician with a very famous band. They still tour the world after about 50 years of playing when other men their age would be doing the gardening with grandchildren, or have died.

This isn’t about L’Wren or Mick, it’s about what gets people together in the first place, how and why they stay together and the fall out from being in the wrong relationship, with the wrong person, for the wrong reasons.

I’m not going to make any reference to the reasons they were together as I don’t know them. I’m sure they were very much in love and shared a passion for creative things, her frocks and his music. They probably also liked to go out and spend time with other famous creative people. Travelling to fabulous places and doing all the things unimaginable wealth and influence allows one to enjoy. That’s not what I’m going to talk about. I’m going to talk about you and me, or is it you and I? I don’t know which is correct. I didn’t pay enough attention in school.

The title is ‘it must be love’. The reason it must be love is because anything else is a compromise, a compromise for you and for the one you are with. There was another popular song with the lyrics ‘if you can’t be with the one you love, then love the one you’re with’. Sounds good in principle but not so nice for the one you are with because you couldn’t be with the one you loved.

You know what I mean don’t you?

People are in relationships with other people, long term ones, marriages, even though they know, knew from the first, that the person they are with isn’t the love of their life. Maybe they felt they would never meet that great love, maybe they did but didn’t get loved back, that’s even worse. That’s the worst thing I can imagine. People have taken a partner in life because they are a good provider, because despite their many faults they find them attractive, or funny, or kind to animals. Maybe the alternative of being alone made being with someone you were very fond of but didn’t actually love acceptable to you, because the alternative was too hard.

The thing is though, this is ok for some. Make sure you are one of the some it’s ok for or it will destroy you. Maybe it already is and you know it but are doing nothing about it. If you are happy being with your life partner, whatever you choose to call them because you like a pair of comfy slippers rather than great passion, great love. That’s great for you. If you can walk about in the knowledge that you settled for something ok rather than waiting or pursuing something epic and wonderful. I’m sad, but happy for you. I know what that’s like. Just know and accept that’s what you’ve chosen, on purpose.

If that’s not you though, if you aspired to, wished for, dreamed of the great love, the love of your life, the person of your dreams and you look at the person you are with and know they aren’t it, that’s destructive, toxic, certainly to you and also unfair to them. You are with someone wishing you weren’t.

Don’t do that to anyone, certainly don’t do it and pretend otherwise as that is disingenuous. If you’ve also lost your ability to be honest with them and with yourself, you’ve lost a fundamental ability to ever be truly happy. You will be sad, not a good sad either, like when you grieve for a lost friend or family member. A good sad you might feel at a weepy film. A cleansing sad. No, this is a terrible, mind eating, ruinous sad as you are sad for yourself, sad to your soul. Your soul is broken.

Don’t be in that place. I’ve been in that place and getting yourself out of it is hard, harder than probably anything you’ve done unless you’ve had a pretty tough old life.

If this rings any bells with you, if you know in your heart you are in the wrong place but the thought of escaping, undoing what you’ve done, telling the truth to everyone and to yourself and doing something to claim back yourself from your broken soul seems just too hard, it’s not. Well it is heart wrenching at the time, but you’ll sleep like a baby later.

All that stress, those anti depressants you take. The anxiety attacks for a reason you can’t fathom. The sadness you carry about like a lead weight. That stops. It all stops. Your life will change out of all recognition. You might end up with nothing physical to show for the life you had. You may find yourself without assets or your own home; you’ll probably have less ‘stuff’. But you will have reclaimed the most important thing of all. Your self-worth and self-belief. You did what was right for you and for the person you weren’t in love with but with because it was easy, or convenient or acceptable to others.

I’m just reflecting. I always maintained I could live in a mud hut with the love of my life, that nothing else would matter if I was with her.

I now know what that means if I didn’t stay true to it for most of my life so far. I’m poor; I’ve got no ‘stuff’, no assets. But I’m not living a lie. It’s very liberating.

Don’t wear a false smile. Don’t live a false life. If you are happy with the one you are with and you honestly like your life. I’m happy for you. If you are not though, If you are being destroyed daily by being in the wrong place with a broken soul. Only you can fix it. Don’t let it ruin your life.

People die over this stuff. Tormented to their end. Their friends write Rest in Peace on their headstone when they are gone. It’s better to live in peace, not torment. That shouldn’t come as news to anyone.

You’ll have all the time in the world to rest. You only have one life to enjoy in peace. The best peace is in yourself. Inner peace is found through being true to yourself and others. People don’t write many songs about that though. They mostly write about love, because it’s important.

Live life and love right. I just made that up, you can use it.


But wait! You need to see this, please read on. After I wrote the above post, this happened



To the Gallows, a test of Love

His word’s, not mine… Read on

One of the great things about having a blog is the contact you get from people out in the world who might stumble across it. I’m very lucky to have quite a wide distribution now. Believe it or not my little corner of the internet has been viewed in 188 countries. That’s pretty much all of them that have an internet. I love the comments people make on my stuff and thankfully it’s all been pretty positive.

I also get the odd email. The following is the content of one I received last night which actually moved me to tears. I was so touched with what was in it I asked the sender if I could share it if I changed the names and thankfully he has said I could. So I am.

The following is the text of his email. I’m confident you’ll want to share it with other people. Please do as it’s the most wonderful, articulate expression of something we should be more aware of that I’ve ever seen. You’ll see what I mean when you get there.


Hi from the end of the world.

I had many thoughts whilst reading, and then re reading your latest offering. You see we’re not far apart in age (I’m slightly older), and we both grew up in a place that was until fairly recently, a bit like England was 20 years ago.

I agree with some of your views, others I may not, and probably like me, when you look back on the things you have said and done over the years, some will make the more ‘mature’ you cringe.

But that’s the critical thing in love, maturity. Some couples start off as childhood sweethearts, and stay together until old age parts them, their love has matured like the way that a piece of furniture develops a patina through age and use, sure there may be surface scratches, and a sticking drawer, or a creaky hinge over the years, but it has worked and stood the test of time for all to see.

Others come to love as they themselves mature, and their needs and views change. The journeys and adventures they have undertaken through the years may not be visible on the surface but their soul carries the dents, and scrapes from near misses. Evidence of the times when the unstoppable force encountered the immovable object, the fallout littering friends and family in dust, all that remains of a once prized, but fragile love.

With love, we forgive our partners things that we would never tolerate even from our siblings. We compromise and change our points of view, or in the case of Mr Springsteen’s lyrics, our clothes, our hair, our face. We eat things we would never have contemplated touching when we were the old ‘me’, and decline old favourites ‘because we don’t live that lifestyle anymore’ our partners also influence our taste in films, books and music.

On the subject of which, my other half got me listening to Jackson Browne, ‘Ready or not’ still makes me smile, it’s the way a lot of people learn that they actually love their partner, ‘Two of me, Two of you’ I guess is the way a lot of us feel when things go wrong, with a whole heap of songs covering just about every situation in between.

When things go wrong, we seek sanctuary and support with our partners, when even the places you thought were safe, and friends and workmates seem to turn against you, its love we look on to see us through the rough times. We look back fondly on things we have done, share the moment, and plan for the future.

My partner Marie literally sailed into my life about 20 years ago, I had a part time job (one of many) as Harbourmaster at the small harbour 1½ miles from the main village. It suited me I could spend time working on my boat, and get invited onto the visiting yachts for a cup of tea. It was just me, my dog, and my boat (and my music and books, but that makes the punch line a bit long), most of the visiting yachts came over from South Wales, a short journey of 18 miles away from the insanity of civilisation, to ‘paradise’ a tiny harbour tucked under the folds of the Devon hills.

Marie, her Husband Mike and 7year old Daughter Belinda regularly escaped across the water to ‘sanity’, and we became good friends. Over the next couple of years it became obvious that the marriage was starting to deteriorate, I became Marie’s shoulder to cry on (via the phone). She decided that she wanted to move to somewhere that reminded her of the way that England used to be when she was growing up, and so all of a sudden it was me, Marie, a ‘sprog’ and my dog (& boat).

I know that at about this point I should mention another Jackson Browne song (the last one I promise) ‘My problem is you’ but actually the one thing we promised each other was not to forget Rudyard Kiplings poem ‘The Thousandth Man’.

Over the following 18 years, as life has thrown its various spanners into our life, and on occasions we became temporarily distracted, and entrenched by things that seemed important at the time, and which sometimes made us lose sight of our master plan.

Somewhere along the way, probably for a Birthday or Christmas present, I was bought a Bodum glass milk frother, so that (before the influx of the ‘put a cartridge in and press a switch all in one coffee maker’ in just about everyone’s kitchen) we could have a weekend treat of a home made Cappuccino, and a ‘bake at home’ Croissant.

So now I was given a promotion from head veg peeler, to Coffee maker, and then one day as I was sprinkling chocolate onto the Coffee, in order to tell whose was whose (I don’t take sugar, Marie does) I put a heart shape on Marie’s Coffee, because it was a treat and she loved it and I loved her.

It made her laugh, and so at least15 years later I still do it, every time I make her a cup of Coffee, whether its at home, or knowing if I put a lid on a takeaway from a motorway services, that when I get back to the car and she takes the lid off….

This year on Valentines day, I took a Caffetiere and the milk frother with me when I went to visit her in the Hospice, I made her Coffee and as usual put a heart on it, she wasn’t able to drink it, but it made her smile and it made her cry, it did the same to the nurses.

Motor Neurone Disease is a horrible disease, it slowly takes away your body whilst leaving your mind intact. It’s been 2 1/2 years since the disease was diagnosed, and each time a muscle dies, part of our dream and the future we planned dies with it.

She’s back home with me now, in constant pain, unable to move without assistance. If she sleeps at night it’s only for about 45 minutes at a time, then she needs to be moved in order to settle down for the next 45mins.

I made her Coffee yesterday, she tried to drink some, but its not easy drinking Cappuccino through a straw. I’ll do the same again today, and tomorrow, and the next day, if she wants, I’ll probably still do so when she’s gone.

I sold the boat, the ‘sprog’s’ making her own life now, so it looks as before long it will just be me and ‘our’ dog.

I tried my best to stick with the ideal of the ‘Thousandth Man’, I just expected to have longer to get it right.

I wonder if years from now I will smile if I hear someone say that they would ‘Love’ a cup of Coffee.

All the best



Motor Neurone disease is a dreadful cruel thing. As ‘Stuart’ (not his real name) writes, it takes the body while leaving the mind intact. I’m not here fund raising, other organisations do that. Find them and make a contribution if you wish. This is an awareness thing. Awareness of what people suffer, those afflicted and those who love them that are left behind.

Hopefully it will just give you cause to stop for a moment and make you think about what you have and how you live and love. To make the most of what you’ve got while you’ve got it.

Thanks for reading ‘Stuart’s’ beautiful letter and thanks to him for writing it to me.

To save you looking it up, here is the Poem, one of Kipling’s finest

The Thousandth Man
One man in a thousand, Solomon says,
Will stick more close than a brother.
And it’s worth while seeking him half your days
If you find him before the other.
Nine nundred and ninety-nine depend
On what the world sees in you,
But the Thousandth man will stand your friend
With the whole round world agin you.

‘Tis neither promise nor prayer nor show
Will settle the finding for ‘ee.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine of ‘em go
By your looks, or your acts, or your glory.
But if he finds you and you find him.
The rest of the world don’t matter;
For the Thousandth Man will sink or swim
With you in any water.

You can use his purse with no more talk
Than he uses yours for his spendings,
And laugh and meet in your daily walk
As though there had been no lendings.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine of ‘em call
For silver and gold in their dealings;
But the Thousandth Man h’s worth ‘em all,
Because you can show him your feelings.

His wrong’s your wrong, and his right’s your right,
In season or out of season.
Stand up and back it in all men’s sight –
With that for your only reason!
Nine hundred and ninety-nine can’t bide
The shame or mocking or laughter,
But the Thousandth Man will stand by your side
To the gallows-foot — and after!

Rudyard Kipling

22 replies »

  1. This is an awesome post- I was doing this exact same thing for YEARS and feeling sad to the depths of my very being, with no particular reason for it, just that I knew that the chemistry just wasn’t right and I wanted more for myself. I felt so selfish making the decision to leave, without really being able to explain *why*, to the other person…well not without hurting them even more. But yes, afterwards, I could sleep again, and felt a great peace. It took me 4 years after that to find my great love, but now I have, and there is not even a 0.0001% possiblility its not right…! I am so glad I made the decision to do what was right for ME. All those other people- parents, friends, extended family, who have their own expectations of your relationship…well, its not actually about them! I did struggle with that too.

    • So cool to read that, thanks for the reinforcement. I took a lot of flak from family until I was able to sit and explain to them. Yay for you finding the great love x

  2. As always, love your insights, love the lessons, & love those little ‘wisdom phrases’ or are they ‘clauses’ – I didn’t pay any attention at school either. I know I just went to school to eat my … ummm, … other people’s lunch!!! 🙂 I’m adopting the mottos ‘Live in Peace’ & ‘Love Right & Live Life’. I know, I twisted that last one around to suit me. 🙂 Hope you don’t mind. Hope you’re having a good day.

    • I don’t mind Ann. I’m Happy you’ve enjoyed the post and I am having a good day thank you. xx I think a clause rather than a phrase, maybe. A clause is like a condition, which one must adhere to. I like the idea of that

  3. I have some thoughts on this too Sandy:-
    I understand that some relationships deteriorate to an irretrievable degree. Good or bad the pain of winding up is awful – I know this too. But there is a flavour in your blog that seems to me to put the focus on the wrong thing, and it’s that I want to address if I may.
    In a relationship or a marriage, it’s not passion, not sex, not personal fulfillment – but desire to do the good thing, the correct thing, that brings joy and peace. To make another happy by giving them the comfort and assurance that they are valued and appreciated and that you will always put them first, is what love is. Bringing peace and security intentionally to another human being is a beautiful thing – and that’s love.
    Your partner is so easy to love once you determine to do so. An act of the will, independent of feelings or passion, to express love to them. It generates a responsive feeling of affection in yourself when your determined actions show them, and you, that you have made them the pleasure of your life. When I choose to prefer the good for my partner in all my actions, I am loving them. And they naturally respond positively to that. If both partners have this intention to prefer each other’s good above their own you have a virtually unfailable relationship. What can possibly be left out for either party to wish for from each other?
    I saw a billboard that said. “Love without action has no value”. So I choose to show love first, not necessarily ‘feel’ it first. I can assure you, and so can anyone who has lived their loving this way round, that it works – unfailingly. Passion and feeling, as the basis for love, puts it on pretty shaky ground. It may be an exciting starting point, but the alternative of making a longterm decision to express love and preferment to my partner, regardless, cannot and does not fail. Too many get sucked in to the cheap popular notion of only loving if or when you “feel” like it. If I only feel like it, when my libido is up on its hind legs, or when there’s something in it for me, then I have the horse before the cart. It’s part of the modern “If it feels good, do it.” To which the corrollary must be, “If it doesn’t (make you) feel good, don’t do it.”
    But “me first” doesn’t work. “Her (or him) first” always does.
    Sandy, I have had a marriage that fell to pieces and ended in divorce. I knew while the process was underway that it didn’t need to happen, but pride and ego (“me” first) wouldn’t let us stop what we had started. So it ground on painfully to the inevitable conclusion. We were both too young and immature to be able to manage what was happening. Neither were we aware enough of what makes a relationship work. How I felt and how she felt became the detemining factors in everything that happened. No vision, no maturity, no life experience. We let nothing halt the process. Really sad.
    We had both believed the lie, that was constantly reiterated and affirmed by friends and family and society, that if we weren’t happy in our relationship we owed it to ourselves to end it. Just get out. Be happy. It’s your right. Etc etc etc.
    But what about the kids? What if there were alternatives to divorce? No, just get out, get “free”, “you owe it to yourselves.” By then, we had the tiger by the tail and there was no stopping and no encouragement to stop , or re-consider, or to try to communicate properly. So it was over.
    I can happily report that after 18 years of contented, celibate, disinterest in new romantic relationships, I met and married a wonderful soul mate. We spent just 13 years of bliss together (ok the bliss was interspersed with the occasional blistering row and episodes of grumpiness). But there was never any question of not persevering with our marriage and our loving friendship – even during the battles – because we both knew that we were unswervingly committed to each other and to our marriage. There wasn’t an alternative. No situation could arise that would or could jeopardise our loving commitment of preferrment for each other. There just wasn’t anything that could spoil what we had. But it was always our choices that held us together – not our feelings. And forgiveness overcame everything that might have interfered.
    My how I loved her. Oh yes, I loved her in every good way that a man can love a woman. But it was because I chose to and I knew that she too, chose to be utterly committed to me, that our marriage worked.
    I lost her to a silly little accident after just 13 years. Was I distressed? You’d better believe it. I didn’t know how I could go on without her. I once said that when her life left, mine left too. But I’ve found we can be pretty resilient characters when we have to be. And faith sure helps. I shall always miss her. I shall always be sad that we were cut off in the middle of something beautiful. I shall always adore her. But she leaves me with wonderful memories. And a richness I would never have had if we had never found and “won” each other. I have been mightily blessed, and privileged in our friendship and our marriage. And I believe she would say that she was too. And that was not because of me – but because of us.
    I’ve written far longer than I meant, sorry.
    My point is that if I see happiness or fulfillment only when life works the way I want it to for me, and I measure its sucess by such a fickle yardstick, it is both short-sighted and misleading. I believe in our modern culture we’ve lost the ability to look for “good” rather than simply for “pleasure”. We are bombarded by the message that my personal good is the only real good that should concern me. That my joy, my fulfillment, my satisfaction, should be the focus of my life. I don’t and cannot agree.
    To choose to give equal value to those other lives that intesect with mine, may not be popular or even encouraged today. But my impression, gained from a life which has not always been easy or rosy, is that there is a better, old-fashioned(?) path that leads to a more secure happiness, joy, peace and sense of purpose, than the road modernly travelled.
    At the risk of having everything I’ve tried to share immediately disqualified as coming from a religious crank, I’d like to add that somewhere in the Bible it says “We love Him (Jesus) because He first loved us.” And that’s my point. In any important relationship if we know we are loved unreservedly, then loving in return is practically irresistable.
    Thanks for reading – assuming you did.

    • Thanks for your thoughtful and detailed comments Paul. You should write a blog! I can see your point and why you might take issue with mine. I just simplify things here rather than taking a detailed examination. I try to keep things to around 1000 words or so. I can also only talk from my own perspective, what I know to me so from my own experience. People want different things from their life and relationships. Thank you for taking the time to give us the perspective on yours. It’s always good to have another view on life’s rich tapestry, good, bad, painful, fulfilling. The lot. Cheers,

        • I really enjoyed your viewpoint, Paul, and like the sentiments expressed. We have become an egocentric society and I also disagree with the notion that our needs and wants come first.

    • I agree completely with what you say Paul. If you truly put the other persons needs ahead of your own how can you not succeed? The real challenge I suppose is finding someone else to do the same back…

      • I think there’s always someone there for us. But we need to spend less time looking and more time preparing ourselves to be ready to be that person to someone else.
        Thanks for your affirmation Nellie.

  4. That rang a lot of bells.
    I had a first marriage which broke my self respect…and a wonderful second one where I saw what love was.
    Despite all the obstacles, all the problems…amor vincit omnia

    • Hi Helen, you’ve had quite the adventure, lot’s to write about and reflect on. I hope people come and read your awesome blogs. Obstacles and problems? Surely not! 🙂

  5. Hahaha, love the sentiments Sandy, ‘it must be love’! My wife and I or me and the wife, whichever sounds better, were only just talking about our marriage in bed the other night. We’ll be married 33 years this August – F***, 33 years – where did that go. It was one of those deep meaningful conversations you have after sharing a bottle of wine followed by a bit of ‘how’s ya father’, yes, still doing that after 33 years!! It got around to “any regrets”, NO said the wife. Followed up with, “would you do it again, marry me”, of course said the wife. “I wanted to marry you back then, I’d want to marry you now!! You see, me and the wife are mates, lovers and partners in everything we’ve done and will do. It’s not just about love. You can love a puppy, a kitten, a motorbike, a car, a rugby team, a song etc etc etc. Just being in love with a person is not enough, you have to be mates, you have to like being in each others company, you have to like doing things together. Believe me, we’ve not had the perfect marriage (does it even exist). We’ve had our fair share of caged fights, storming out the doors, chucking our wedding rings at each other – it ain’t been plain sailing, but, we’ve learnt to make-up (the make-ups can be great), we’ve learnt to accept when the other needs their space, not to be selfish, to compromise. That great old song “All you need is love” – what a load of bollocks – you need more than just love to be in a long lasting, passionate relationship!! Final note, it’s too easy to give up, it’s too easy to walk away!

  6. Gosh, another thing you have written that really resonates with me.
    I’ve just completed a year of being single after being with my ex husband for over 35 years!
    Whilst you are in the middle of a relationship, it’s difficult to see the wood for the trees.
    I thought we were soul mates, his analytical brain completed with my creative side and visa versa. They say opposites attract, and I must say that being so young and pretty inexperienced in love when we got together, I sort of assumed that was the way that life was supposed to be.
    Since he has gone however (did a Len Brown on me), I realise that what I used to have was not real. It was familiarity & security and above all compromise.
    I am now discovering ( like Shirley Valentine) what it is like to be me, and after years of feeling ( what I now know) I was second best or at least not quite good enough. Never quite slim enough, respectful enough or conservative enough for him.
    I now am discovering to my surprise, that not everyone thinks like he did. Some people actually think I am gorgeous! And I’m beginning to believe it is actually quite nice to be me, and I am deserving of real, true, deep and messy, lust, admiration and everlasting love and I don’t have to accept anything less.
    The first step of course is learning to love myself!
    Like you, I find this a very liberating time indeed. So cheers and here’s to the future


  7. Sandy where did you get your wisdom and insight from, you are an inspiration. Hold on to your values and perspective on life they are truly special. Thank you.

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