Everlasting love?

Having just returned from a child- and dog-free break with my husband, in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, I’ve begun to wonder if after eleven years and two kids, it is necessary to abandon all dependants and splash a thousand euros simply to remind ourselves to take notice of each other.

We’d had date nights regularly and the odd weekend by ourselves at home, but it wasn’t until we were on a plane speeding down the runway at 200 miles an hour that we felt free to be us again.

The sun was fierce, the streets were shady. There was no dog lead to grip, no noses to wipe, no timetable to adhere to. We wandered the cobbled paths of San Sebastián, with no more pressing obligation than to pick a place for lunch.

At first it felt strange – we checked our phones, we talked about the house alarm, the Thames Water refund. Then we stopped for coffee, then tapas. We browsed the shops, and began to look around, and at each other.

We climbed the Urgull. We walked along the beach. We breathed in the hot salty air.  He made me laugh. I made him laugh more (because I’m funnier). We held hands.

We talked about life, our dreams (oh yeah I’d forgotten about those) and when each of us spoke, we actually listened to each other.

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We swam in the sea, dived through the waves and body surfed like teenagers. We ate croquettes, we drank Tempranillo, we had sun downers and night caps. We found a dive bar and danced like loons. The bed was lumpy and the air con rattled but we slept like babies, in each other’s arms.

We remembered who we used to be. I remembered that he wasn’t simply an annoying presence in front of the fridge/sink/or wherever else I needed to be. Or the perma-exhausted workaholic who neglected to fix stuff around the house and put the bins out. We didn’t bicker once. No competition over who’d had the least sleep, who was working the hardest, whose job it was to discipline the kids or deal with the dog’s impacted anal glands.

On the last day, we both felt strange, as though we’d travelled back in time to check in with our old selves, but we knew that wasn’t our life anymore. Of course we’d missed the kids, we’d missed the dog, we wouldn’t want to change any of that, but there was a heavy silence, almost a mourning as we wheeled our cases towards the carpark.

At the airport, his iPhone came out [he had work to catch up on], my eye-rolling resumed [we’re still on holiday you know]. I bought a magazine. He typed emails and checked voicemails. I felt a sulk brewing.

On the plane, I thought about all the research I’d conducted into how to make love last. Few people have the luxury of nannies on tap/family support or a five-star budget. And most couples are so weighed down by the admin of life, it’s hard to differentiate our relationships from our shared responsibilities. Maybe we’ve overcomplicated matters. Maybe we need to stop working so hard to build a future, and instead like the millennials, live for the moment.

I glanced out the window to see the sands of Concha Bay slipping away into the distance, the surfers bobbing up and down in the waves, fading to nothing, and realised that what’s special about romantic love is the very fact that it’s fleeting.

Like catching the perfect wave, we have no control over the ocean, but it helps to be in the water, be present and ready to ride that mother f*cker when it comes.

Or at least just as soon as I’ve called Thames Water…

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Latest release, LOVE IS…Join Ellie Rigby to find out what it takes to make love last.

Ebook available now.

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Twinkle, twinkle little ONE star…

I read my first one-star review at 11.13pm this Tuesday evening.

Like every other ego crushing moment in my life, I can recall exactly where I was and precisely what I was doing. I was propped up in bed, dog on lap, iPhone in hand, stalking my book on Amazon. 

‘Ooh, another three reviews today. Excellent,’ I mumbled, excitedly scrolling down and pondering whether Kate Hudson or Anne Hathaway would be best cast as Ellie when the movie version was commissioned. 

Of course, it would be important that I retain the rights to approve the screenwriting, my mind continued to wander. When suddenly, like a pin advancing on a balloon (a nasty, rusty, tetanus-riddled pin), the words ‘Bored’ and ‘Silly’ came into view, alongside a solitary (and sheepish looking) One Star, whose expression I imagined to read: ‘Don’t blame me, I just work here.’ 

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My eyes narrowed and my heart raced as I read on:

‘To many characters, to many drinks, to much sex talk. Hated it. No real story line..Don’t waste time on this one. Silly and boring’

‘Silly AND Boring?’ I argued, to no-one in particular. My dog raised an eyebrow. ‘How can too much sex and too many drinks be boring?’

NB my use of the word ‘too’ not ‘to’ as per fuckwit reviewer.

I was being defensive, I know. But there’s something quite aggressive about a one-star review. It’s a hate review. In my quest to provide lighthearted entertainment I had somehow inadvertently enraged a reader to such an extent, they deemed it necessary to take time out of their busy life, otherwise undoubtedly filled with the consumption of poetic literary prose, to logon to Amazon and type a warning to other potential readers. How had I done that?

I hadn’t written a pro-Nazi manifesto. It’s a chick-lit novel. 

Once I’d taken a deep breath and reminded myself that it is impossible to be everything to everyone, I began to take a more objective perspective and considered where my defensiveness was coming from. If I was fully confident that my writing was good enough, I wouldn’t look to reviews for validation, would I? And the word ‘silly’ grated on me so much because deep-down, I knew that I would rather have written something, I don’t know, a little more…intelligent. 

None of us like criticism, but unless we hide away and avoid ever having an opinion then it’s inevitable. In fact, without criticism, how could we ever hope to improve?

Besides, I just checked. I’m in good company; Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’ has nine one-star reviews on Amazon…

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If you have time to waste, read more reviews (and add your own) for my ‘silly’ and ‘boring’ novel below:

US reviews

UK reviews