The lock of love
September 17, 2012

The locks of Love

Recently I visited Paris again – I first went long ago when I was in my twenties, then again in my thirties, once in my forties, and here I am into the fifties so it seemed almost predestined it was time to go again. Going somewhere new makes you learn so much about yourself and what you believe in as well as about the place you visit. This time, love was on my mind – not because I have a partner, but because I’ve spent a lot of time this year thinking about the essence of it – what is it really all about? Writing Chained Melody, and now with the first draft complete, has made me examine love from many angles I hadn’t given great thought to before and one experience from Paris brought the tricky question of love rearing up again.


On a bridge called the Pont de l’Archeveche, near Notre Dame in Paris there are thousands of love locks –padlocks entwined and clasped to the bridge, bearing the names of the beloved and the lover.


The trend derives from Serbia, where a local schoolmistress named Nada, who was from Vrnjačka Banja, fell in love with an army officer named Relja. After they committed to each other Relja went away to war in Greece where he fell in love with a local woman from Corfu. The result was that Relja and Nada broke off their engagement but Nada never recovered and was said to have died of a broken heart. Young girls from Vrnjacka Banja following the story decided to protect their own love by writing down their names, together with the names of their loved ones, on padlocks and attaching them to the railings of the bridge where Nada and Relja used to meet. The two names padlocked together signified their lover was locked to them, and therefore free to no-one else.

The trend was popularised in Rome, with the ritual of affixing love padlocks to the bridge Ponte Milvio attributable to the book I Want You by Italian author  Federico Moccia. Padlocks are firmly in proliferation on the Hohenzollern Bridge in Cologne, the Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet on Vancouver Island, and the Humber Bridge in Toronto. They also abound on the Ponte Vecchio bridge in Venice, and the Ha’penny Bridge in Dublin. In Fengengyuan, Taiwan, love padlocks affixed to an overpass at the city’s train station are often in pairs, and on a fountain in Montevideo in Uruguay, a plaque is affixed to the front of the fountain that provides an explanation in both English and Spanish. The English version reads,

The legend of this young fountain tells us that if a lock with the initials of two people in love is placed in it, they will return together to the fountain and their love will be forever locked.

It seems the world over, lovers wants to trap their lover by their side and keep them forever. Yet isn’t love meant to be quite the reverse of a trap? Is it not meant to set you free? Surely love is all about choice and that is why we find it so incomprehensible at times when we see two people who we objectively regard as quite unmatched, hopelessly, helplessly and happily in love?

The odd thing about love is that there are so many different types. For example, there is the love of a parent for a child, a child for a parent. There is the love between friends. There is even the love of one’s pets. The biblical quote claims to describe perfect love:

1 Corinthians 13:4-13

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

But how do we aspire to such demanding criteria? Perhaps the central element of the quote should warrant more attention than we generally give it because normally we focus on the first part of the quote, ‘love is patient’ etc, and the last, ‘but the greatest of these is love,’ to its detriment.

Loving is all about being adult. To give and yet not expect a return is an adult concept; to face the truth of a situation and still accept, even if that truth is painful for us to bear – as in the case of rejection – is especially difficult, unless you approach it with unquestioning maturity and self-belief. Being rejected does not make you useless, or the rejecter cruel. It is simply a statement of differences. If you love someone, you allow them to choose. Actually, whether you love them or not, it is everyone’s right to choose, and not your right to impose.

Finally where love ‘does not seek its own’, it never seeks to imprison the object of its attention because in doing that, we are not truly being loving. When you love truly, you can only want the best for that person, even if they choose differently from you, otherwise all you are seeking is your own satisfaction.

So are the padlocks of love appropriate, fascinating though they are? As a token offered and accepted at the time – maybe; but only if the key accompanies it. I have a love padlock in Chained Melody, but it is left open. I think that’s the way love should be. Always offered, but never expected.


Future publication dates will be coming up shortly on my website as The Strategy is going onto Kindle as we speak, and Courting the Dark is with a publisher right now. Chained Melody is on track to be completed this month.

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Debbie Martin



Beyond the page – Sandra’s revenge
July 12, 2012

… She’d joined a class, you see. The lure had been too much and once she’d started thinking about it, she couldn’t put the thought aside, no matter how hard she tried. She’d gone during the day when he was at work or on a Saturday morning when he thought she was doing the shopping. She’d practiced hard. She’d mastered the dips and the drops, the shimmering vibrations of the body layered ontostaccatomovements of the hips as they flicked and twitched in a wicked invitation to touch, no don’t touch! The fluid undulations and rotations, mimicking the impression of riding a camel, or some other beast, as her body circled and enticed, come here, join, entwine…Slow and tantalising, wild and whirling, graceful and floating, with a myriad of veils divested, one by one as the various layers of the human psyche are divested from the loftiest and most philosophical thoughts – the cool blue veil – to the earthiness of physical desire and need – the red veil . . .

She dropped the blood red veil to the floor in a swirl. The dance had finished. She breathed heavily. Yes, she would perform well tomorrow evening.

The whole secret gave Sandra such satisfaction. And it had insidiously changed so much for her too. Just the exercise itself had made her slim down, and that weight problem that he thought she had? Well it had simply melted away, replacing her low self-esteem with a sense of admiration, for her now sleek but voluptuous body, but also for having been able to master the subtle arts of the dance. Of course he didn’t even notice the change. He saw nothing but what he expected to see in front of him and she kept up the persona for him, refusing to share even the smallest part of her new self with him. He might share the same bed with her, but his hands never touched even the top layer of the shapeless old nightie she wore so even the most intimate moment they might share didn’t betray her.

The mantra of ‘stupid , fat and useless’ which he’d instilled in her over the years was replaced with ‘lithe, skilled and able.’ So, what else could she do?  Maybe she wasn’t so useless after all. She’d looked in the ‘sits vac’ column, something she hadn’t done in years. She’d ringed the ones she tentatively wondered if she could manage and been amazedly delighted when she’d been offered a job.  She started it next week.

The next evening she had to wait for him to go out before she could leave herself. She’d already carefully packed her costume in a bag and hidden it behind the shabby brown suitcase in the wardrobe. When she arrived at the venue, the other dancers were bustling around in the dressing rooms. Marie, the class teacher fell on her breathlessly,

‘Oh Sandy, thank goodness you’re here now. I was starting to worry…You’re our star… Everything is alright, isn’t it?

Sandra smiled at her. ‘Just a little delayed.’

She slid into her costume and swiftly completed the transformation. Looking in the full length mirror, she barely recognised herself. Not fifty, fat and frumpy as she’d used to joke ruefully to her friends, but a sibilant siren, skirts slipping softly to her ankles, swishing as she slid gracefully onto the dance floor. It was a ‘hafla’, a Turkish dance party, with other troupes and classes joining in the demonstrations and the audience made up of the class members, their friends and partners. Her class was hosting it. The audience sat at tables around the dance floor, cabaret style.

As soon as she was on the dance floor she spotted him. He was sitting on the far side of a table towards one side, trying to be insignificant, yet watching the movements of the dancers with hard, hungry eyes. She felt a moment of panic as she felt his eyes slide over her. Not yet, not now, she silently prayed. The eyes stayed on her, but not out of recognition, out of desire. He shifted his position, straining forward to get a better look from his deliberately slightly obstructed view – probably cursing he’d chosen this half-hidden seat now.

She stood in position, shrouded in the seven veils of her dance, eyes masked with vibrant, sumptuous sequins and feathers so only her full mouth could be seen, curved slightly in a mysterious smile. Cool spiritual blue was the top layer, peeling down through turquoise, green, yellow, orange, cerise to deep pulsating red; the red of blood coursing through a body that was revealed in its transformation from spiritual to sensual as each layer enveloping her unfurled, coloured the room and dropped like shimmering pool to the floor; another layer of herself had been discarded. All restrictions removed. Sandra whirled and  gyrated, entreated and enticed, withdrew – and the metamorphosis happened  in front of their eyes – from a cool blue nymph to a scarlet siren, climaxing by throwing herself in abandon across the floor with a gesture that flung her body open in its’ entirety to any would be possessor – ‘take me . . .’

The room was transfixed, and so was he.


Sandra escaped to the dressing room, exhausted with the effort of portraying the emotions as much as following the right choreography. The class crowded round her, congratulating her, expressing their delight in her, and the class teacher was enraptured, holding onto her hand and grinning like a clown. The bustle swathed her in a sense of having finally arrived. Her exhaustion dissipated as their energy and enthusiasm trickled into her, until all of a sudden, the moment was now. Now was right. She allowed them to lead her back into the dance arena for a general round of applause for the whole class for having put on the show, and then she was being whisked into the crowds to say hello here, have her hand shook there, be introduced to this person or that.

‘I must introduce you to Frank,’ Mandy said, ‘you know my . . .’ Her voice trailed off, as she made a coy gesture indicating ‘my lover’ but not actually saying it. ‘He’s always a bit derogatory about belly dancing, but he won’t be able to be now he’s seen you dance.’

Sandra smiled and turned to look into the ashen face of Frank.

The chapter ended there, and Mary rested the book back into her lap. Frank – father’s name was Frank. Was the book telling her something? Had father treated mother this way? She concentrated hard on reviving the sense of her father in her mind. The way he’d stood – the sag of his shoulders mimicking the droop of his moustache, eyes dulled and defeated. Then by contrast mother sitting in her chair – this chair – ram-rod straight, cold, brushing Mary’s hair so hard she felt sore afterwards; not a soft atom in mother’s body, ever. No, fathers’ whole demeanour told her that he was unlikely to have been the aggressor. Mother on the other hand . . .

More to follow next week …

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where you’ll find lots more to read and information when my books are going to be published.

Debbie Martin

Beyond the page as Sandra sways …
July 5, 2012

Now it starts to get interesting for Sandra…

‘. . . Sandra glowered at him with hatred, but he didn’t see her venom. He was buried in his damn Telegraph as usual. ‘Blah, blah, blah . . .’ she mimicked him, from her hidden position behind the upheld pages, openly making mocking faces at him as she silently mouthed the words. He just continued to drone on about HIS views and HIS opinions and HIS ideas, never, once, ever, asking her about hers. And of course the weight problem came up too – it always did. He called her blubbery like a whale: and the fact that she didn’t work.

‘. . . and that really is the crux of it?’ He suddenly put the pages down flat on his lap and looked directly at her over the top of his wire – rimmed glasses. Questioning, no: he wasn’t questioning her – he never questioned. He told : he told, criticised, belittled, and shamed her. He never questioned, otherwise he might have got a very different answer to the one he got. The question was rhetorical, just saying, ‘I’m right aren’t I?’ It just didn’t have the ‘aren’t I?‘ at the end of it.

Sandra hastily re-composed her belligerent sneer to a face of polite agreement. ‘If you think so, dear’ she said meekly, not even knowing what she was agreeing with because her mind had been totally taken up with the wonderful release of baring the teeth of her frustration at him in the seconds before the question-statement was posed.

‘Hmmm’ he said, narrowing his eyes at her, not quite sure if the response was satisfactory enough, and then obviously deciding it was only Sandra – it would do. He shook the newspaper pages slightly to remove any crumples from them and withdrew behind them again. The voice was slightly muffled as it continued from behind the barrier, ‘I’ll have that tea now, but make sure it’s not too weak, and there’s only one spoon of sugar in it, oh and I don’t want that flowery mug you gave me last time. You may want to act like a char woman but I drink my tea out of a proper cup and saucer like a gentleman would.’ He didn’t even look to see if Sandra acknowledged and obeyed the command: he knew she would.

Once the tea was satisfactorily made and provided in the appropriate format, Sandra escaped to the bedroom. She left the bedroom door just ajar – so she could hear if he moved from his throne and came upstairs to see what she was doing. Not that he was likely to. His interest in her had dwindled to nothing but the odd reprimand and string of orders years ago, once the children were grown. She’d outlived her attraction to him when she no longer provided anything material in his life. He’d already looked elsewhere, anyway. She knew that. She occasionally found the odd hotel or restaurant receipt in his jacket pocket when she took it to the dry cleaners. They were careless oversights on his part which merely told her he didn’t bother to hide anything anymore. Such absolute arrogance. She didn’t know who the current one was, but she suspected it was a woman at the office. She’d noticed his enlivened tone when he’d declaimed the woman as a tart for going to a belly dance class – a belly dance class of all things!

The comment had made Sandra pick up her ears – partly because she could tell that his interest was obviously piqued and whilst Sandra had long since ceased to care about his betrayals, she was canny enough to realise that it was wise to keep track for her own self-preservation. But she had also been curious about belly dancing. It conjured up tantalising images of raven haired beauties, barely covered in diaphanous silks, bejewelled and sequined, trailing seductively over the shoulders and sexual appetites of their male audience.  She almost smelt the heady scent of desire, the mystery of decadence, the pounding beat of the drum as the dancer flicked and shook her hips and breasts to its rhythm – the rhythm of sweat and thrust and sex. She shivered slightly in excitement. That was something she hadn’t experienced in a very long while. She crept to the bedroom door and listened silently for a few minutes. There was no sound at all below. He was either still deeply immersed in the stuffy news print or he’d dozed off. Either way, she could.

She stripped her shapeless woollen top off, dragging it over her head roughly, and hastily let her tracksuit pants drop around her ankles like a puddle. Hidden carefully at the back of her wardrobe, underneath an old dress, was the outfit. It was skimpy and exciting. She slid into it, smoothing the soft transparent drape of the skirt over her hips, running her hands down to her thighs, and then swinging them slightly, luxuriating in the way the fabric fell against her bodies outline, hiding it, but revealing all. She sighed with satisfaction, wriggled her shoulders slightly in a shimmy, making her breasts rub against each other exuberantly, bubbling over the top of the tiny sequined bra. She smiled.


More to follow next week …

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where you’ll find lots more to read and information when my books are going to be published.

Debbie Martin

The first post – meet Mary …
April 19, 2012

Beyond the page, and into another world?

Is this life the only one we lead, or is there another that we can also live in when we go beyond the pages of the book, and into the world of our imagination.

Not an imagined one, but a real one borne out of our imagination …

Chapter 1:  Marys’ Little Secret

Ordinary Mary: plain Mary. Just Mary. No-one noticed her; no-one asked after her; no-one was interested in her. She just plodded on from day to day. Was Mary bothered? No. Why not?  Mary had a secret – and one even she didn’t understand then.

It was the book.

The first time, she was taken by surprise. She opened the book and there she was, in the middle of the forest. It was dark and quiet, with just the occasional snap of a twig as an animal crossed the pine needles carpeting the forest floor. She looked around slowly, and then spun around to take in the whole scene. The Douglas pines towered above her, making her giddy from craning to see their tops. She gasped in amazement, exhilarated, excited, afraid, and the next moment she found herself catapulted back into her chair with a hard jolt. The impact made her shudder and feel sick, like she’d just staggered off a fairground ride.

She drew a deep breath and looked around. Same old threadbare armchair, same dark red velvet curtains, same old leaf pattern carpet. The very familiarity was a comfort but also a strange disappointment. Mary shook her head, trying to clear it, then, rubbed her hands over her face before taking them away to see if the vista had changed again. No, it was the same. She was totally confused. She looked at the book in her lap, which had now fallen shut. It was old and rusty brown, made of tooled leather, with thick gilt edge pages. She’d bought it from the second-hand bookshop today. Nothing remarkable, it had just somehow found her hand on the shelf, and although she’d been looking for some cheap popular fiction to while away the autumn evenings, she’d found herself taking it to the till, paying for it, transporting it home carefully and sitting down with it without even unpacking her shopping or taking off her coat. She re-opened it, trying to find the same chapter. She remembered it – unimaginatively called merely Chapter 5 ‘The Forest’. She flicked through the pages until she reached the end of chapter 4, without reading any of the words.

Here we go, Chapter 5… But Chapter 5 wasn’t entitled ‘The Forest’. It read ‘If on an autumn day…’She flicked through more pages and more chapters, forward and back, still finding no chapter entitled ‘The Forest’. The nearest she came to it was ‘The Little Pine Tree’, but then on trying to revisit it, even that was nowhere to be found.

‘This is ridiculous!’ exclaimed Mary to herself. ‘I know that’s what it was called.’

She slammed the book down on the side table. She was irritated. She’d not wanted to buy the book in the first place. Whatever had got into her? She stood wearily and took off her coat, carefully putting it on its hanger in the wardrobe so it wouldn’t lose its shape. Then she pulled off her sensible, winter boots, and put them in their place on the bottom shelf. It hadn’t really been cold enough for them today as the sun had made a late appearance by midday, making everyone sweat and strip off their layers. Mary couldn’t strip any off. She had nothing else to wear so she’d spent the day sweltering in her boots and now her feet were quite puffy. The cool around her ankles as they were suddenly almost bare was wonderful.

She padded out to the kitchen in her stockinged feet – almost unheard of for Mary. ‘Now’t on yer feet? Catch yer death,’ her old mum would have said, but Mum wasn’t here to tell her what to do now.  A little frisson of rebellion shivered through her. Instead of padding back to put on her slippers, she remained on the icy kitchen floor, clenching and unclenching her toes, feeling, as if for the first time, the delicious cold hard floor under them, and the almost wanton sensation of having virtually nothing on. Momentarily she stayed like, revelling in this curious new experience until the chiming of the grandmother clock made her jump. She started and looked down. ‘Whatever am I doing!’ she exclaimed under her breath.

The rest of the evening followed Mary’s routines. Normally she would read for a while before turning out the light. Habit prevailed. She reached for the book nearest to her on the bedside table and encountered the tooled leather book again. She stopped in surprise. She hadn’t remembered bringing it into her bedroom. The last thing she remembered was leaving it on the side table in the lounge after trying to find ‘The Forest’ chapter. She was about to take hold of it and flip it open to see where the pages fell open now, but something in her said ‘No, put it down. Not tonight; that’s for tomorrow…’ Her arm hovered. The battle between instinct and routine raged within, then for the second time today, routine lost and instead Mary flicked off the light, turned on her side and fell asleep almost immediately…

More to follow next week …

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where you’ll find lots more to read and information when my books are published.

Debbie Martin