Two Christmases ago, Sharon gave her Mum a self-help paperback called The Duty Trap. The book is aimed at people who persist in unhappy, one-sided relationships out of a misplaced sense of duty. On New Year’s Eve, says Sharon. her Mum finished the book, went upstairs, packed a suitcase and walked out. She went back to the farmer, now widowed, with whom she’d had the one love affair of her life. They are unbelievably happy, though their happiness is tinged with sadness that they left it so late.
At the time, Sharon herself was in the eighth year of an unhappy, one-sided relationship with Tony, a local hard man. She was reading a self-help paperback called Write It Down, Make It Happen. This book promises that you can get whatever you want from life if only you can articulate it in your mind then write it down. Sharon’s wish-list included a different life and a new man. A week later, she met me and left the hard man. (The hard man took it very badly, which is another story.) But as Sharon is fond of saying, you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you meet your prince, and after six months she realised I was one of the former. The thing that made her make up her mind to move on again was track two on Dido’s best-selling album No Angel. It’s called ‘The Hunter’. ‘The crown’s too heavy,’ sings Dido. ‘This queen you think you own/wants to be a hunter again/wants to see the world alone/wants to take a chance on life again/so let me go-or It had really spoken to her, Sharon said.
I held my hands up. Listening to a pop song is as good a reason as any for changing one’s life.