Douglas Bastard's Rants of Rage


This article was written on 31 Mar 2017, and is filled under Uncategorised.

To Anne Pank

This blog is dedicated to Anne Pank, known on Twitter as @diaryofannepank , who is an absolute star and who you should follow. I don’t know what she looks like and have no idea what she sounds like, but in the strange way that people on Twitter find other people curiously compelling, I find Ms Pank fascinating and feel compelled to explain my decision not to move to Prague to her. That I haven’t done so yet is only because I worry that she hates me and finds me disappointing and rubbish. It’s in the form of a letter, which I leaned in the Sixth Form makes is epistolary. And I’ve never had cause to use that word before now.

Dear Ms P

You were the most enthusiastic about me moving to Prague for work and that was really and utterly heartening. The joy when I got the job and your belief in me kept me going and sustained me through some dark and panicky nights and mornings when self-belief was hard to come by and had to be outsourced to other people as it didn’t exist within my pale and disappointing frame. At the end, though, it wasn’t enough and I want to tell you why.

Last April, I moved into a cottage in a tiny village in Sussex with my partner, who is more understanding and lovely than anyone has any business being. It’s been difficult, living together rather than seeing each other every few days and I’ve had to realise that my personal habits really need working on. And it’s also been a very long winter, in which everything around us has died back and been reduced to its underlying essence, inert and quiet and waiting for the spring. Life and hope seemed to have receded, and there was only the waiting for sun and blue sky, reduced to memory by its absence.

The referendum result, winter and domestic friction made it easy to think about living overseas and made it seem more desirable than ever. Yet now, with spring slowly starting to take hold the surrounding fields and hedgerows, leaving here feels like too much of a wrench. When you head down to this village from the neighbouring one a couple of miles away, you head into a green, rural bowl with the distant horizon jagged with trees and fields as far as your eye can see. Having grown up in a small mining town and then living in cities, it’s more beautiful a place than I ever thought I’d live in and a world I never knew existed. As fanciful as this sounds, I feel sorry for the ground under pavements and roads because it’ll never know life in this kind of abundance.

Not only can’t I walk away from this, I can’t be apart from my partner, either. I love her and being apart feels like masochism, the artificial introduction of boundaries after we’d removed them by moving in together. She is closer to her mum than I am to mine, which at first seemed odd, but now seems natural, and wouldn’t leave her, such is her loyalty, so removing myself from the UK would mean removing myself from her, and I can’t do that. Moreover, for the first time in months, there’s the possibility of working either in Brighton or from home for a couple of organisations that I think are more in line with my values and closer to where I see myself in a few years’ time. It’s a gamble, a huge gamble, but then my career is neither regular nor normal.

Where this leaves my European dream, I have zero idea. It hasn’t gone away, it’s just as strong as it was before, and yet I have no idea as to how to realise it. Maybe it means working freelance overseas for a few weeks at a time, or maybe it means something else I don’t yet have the wit to realise. I have no idea. But I want to thank you, and I mean really thank you, for believing in me when that really is quite rare and unusual. It’s been in short supply since I fell horribly to pieces a few years ago and it’s taking me longer than you might think to believe it.

So there we go. Sorry if you’re embarrassed as that really wasn’t my intention, but I wanted you to know that what you said means a lot and that, I hope, I’ll get there in the end.

Thanks again,


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