Little Christmas Kindnesses

We dropped in to see Lord B, my brother, and his family today to exchange Christmas gifts and catch up for the first time in ages. Given the general perception of antipathy from various relatives of late it was therefore very touching to see gifts addressed to all three of us, but also an active expectation that Lady S would be with us for the visit.

Sadly that wasn’t the case as she had family business of her own to attend to, but we did take photos to send to her.

Such an acceptance means a huge amount, and was genuinely moving. Thanks guys.

Christmas Week

Compared to the high octane shenanigans of last year – where the Maidments descended on Disney in Florida for Christmas and New Year, and realised they weren’t ready for the experience – we’ve been having a quiet Festive week.

My parents stopped in on the Sunday before, so we had a meal and catch-up. Christmas Eve saw Lady M working so I did battle with the crowds to get some last-minute food and drink in. Christmas Day was quiet, and then The Charleesi and her mother came round on Boxing Day.

Lady M retired with sub-migraine-related sickness that evening, so I drove down for a surprise visit to Lady S with a hefty proportion of the various Christmas presents for her household and stayed over before returning to see how the invalid was doing.

Trust me, Lady M does not ‘do’ being ill with grace. She’s the only woman I know who gets ‘man-flu’. She was fine for having some uninterrupted sleep and a work from home day.

Friday we were both back to work – so nothing exciting to report there – and then this weekend brings a catch up with one of my brothers and his family; followed by a gathering of the whole polycule on Sunday for a roast dinner and gift-exchange.

So, both busy and sedate at one and the same time – which is just as well given the various colds and illnesses doing the rounds. There are worse weeks to have had – and I am… content.

Sexual health test part two

So, I wrote a few weeks ago about giving HIV the finger and taking a home test – in part so that as a triad we could be secure in stopping using barrier contraception amongst ourselves. I also said I’d update people when I had a result.

Well, a funny thing about discrete services like this – it was so discrete it took me several weeks to notice the text notification of my results – even though they came through within two days of posting off the samples.

The reason for that was that the results were texted from the same number that the order confirmation came from, so I think my brain assumed it was a junk text. It was only while I was looking through my messages, trying to find an appropriate number to chase up the results, that I noticed the simple text:

ID : xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Thanks for using CNWLs Home Self-Test service. Your results are all clear. No further action required.

We’ve all tested clear, in case anyone is keeping score.

So that was a positive, if slightly bemusing, coda to that experience. Yay us!

Nearly Christmas

I’ve been blogging in another place about my relationship with Lady S recently, and suddenly realised I’ve not put anything down here for a week or so – so it’s time for another quick round-up.

It is of course that time of year when families get together – and that has of course meant that Lady M and I are in one place, while Lady S is in another while our respective families swirl and bumble around. My parents have begun their grand tour among my siblings, so we took advantage of their staying nearby to drop in at their hotel and have a meal together – as well as pass on presents to be delivered to other people and of course the gifts meant for them. During that meal we broached the subject of introducing them to Lady S when we go to visit them up north in a couple of months time – and were met by surprised “Ooooh!”s and nods, which was far better than expected.

Lady S is, in turn, herding cats in her own family home – but at least her father already knows us so when we go over on Sunday for a Christmas meal there’s no similar bemusements on that front.

Would we all rather be together tomorrow? Yes – but there’s plenty of time for that to happen. We’re a year together – give or take a few days – so we’re getting adept at working rapidly round new twists and turns. For now, given the distance between us, we’re keeping as patient as we can be and appreciating the time together as keenly as possible.

All of which means that while we’re separated, we’re still dropping messages and keeping each other in mind. My own relationship with Lady S feels as if it is deepening, especially in the aftermath of a recent falling out and reconciliation that just underlined how much we meant to each other.

Every day with my partners brings new joys and insights, little moments of glee and bewilderment in equal measure – and if I’ve learned one thing this year it has been to trust in my partners’ compersion – their joy in seeing their partners happy in circumstances that people in other relationship models and circumstance may find extremely challenging. I’ve learned to trust that they accept me in all my weirdness, just as I accept them in all their complexities. What better time than Christmas to celebrate that love as we reach out to our families and share that joy with everyone?


I’m still drawing all the time – it’s what I do to focus and distract with equal fervour and I now have staff who use the sight of my many doodles as sketches to recognise that I’m based at a given location at any time. (People who have worked elsewhere with me over many decades will know that one)

I’m doing a lot of them at the moment, which on the creative side is wonderful, as I’m pushing some new techniques and composition styles that I think are really broadening my confidence.

And yet the perfectionist in me still sees every flaw and I throw most of them away. Furthermore that then darkens my mood – which isn’t great on days like today where I’m drawing as a distraction because my head is not in a fantastic place.

Oh well. Two steps forward, one step back and all that. I am at least filling my sketchbooks with good material and studies for bigger projects down the line – and it’ll soon be Christmas and a chance to get the whole polycule back in one place again

Coughs, Splutters and Christmas Preparations

Rather than struggle against the head cold that I’ve picked up from Lady S this weekend, I’ve been kind to myself and taken a couple of days off to rest up. Plenty of fluids, rest in bed and on the sofa, and hot toddies with whisky to sterilise the soreness at the back of my throat – and so far so good, I think I’m ready to go back to work in the morning.

Its now the final run up to Christmas – we’ve done all the shopping we can bear, and half buried our tree under presents for people. Now begins the dance of trying to get them all to the right people. I’ve mailed off a box of things to one couple; and we’ve arranged for the ex-Lady M and the Charleesi to come round on Boxing Day. We’ll be seeing some friends this weekend, and have arranged to visit Lady S and her family shortly before Christmas for a meal and day of silliness. My parents are visiting shortly before Christmas, so we’ll prevail on them to pass things on to siblings on their travels – and anyone else we’ll target after New Year I suspect.

To absolutely cap the day, we had a couple of Christmas cards arrive in the post. One of them was from Lord and Lady P and has the distinction of being the first card addressed to the whole triad. Lady S nearly fell out of her seat apparently when I sent her a photo of it and the message inside. It really is the little things that make all the difference.

It’s our first Christmas as a polycule, and very nearly our first anniversary together – and that’s a wonderful realisation to have – despite ups and downs, and the occasional frazzled nerve over distances, we’ve made a good start; and that’s really helping to keep the black dog at bay.

Heading Home

Back on the train home, with a slightly reduced suitcase (I’ve been able to zipper up the expansion panels now I’ve dropped off presents), and I’m rueing the separation caused by the distance currently between us. I love my partners deeply, and hate leaving either of them, even as I look forward to seeing each again.

I’m travelling by train today on an uncomplicated route, so I’m engaged in some idle people-watching in the quiet carriage. Some are solitary snoozers, others quietly chatty students. There’s an elderly mother with her adult daughter, both weighed down in what can only be Christmas shopping.

There’s been a quietly British professionalism to the guard and ticket inspector as they work down the carriages, handing out advice as needed about connections and alternate routes. It’s been reassuring in its familiarity of language and tone.

All in all, here’s to getting home and putting the kettle on

Decorations and Celebrations

A busy weekend this week. Lady M was at the first of what seems to be a string of office parties last night, and made her own skirt and top to wear to the occasion. As she was still working on final details late Thursday night, I was driven to observe that only she could have a con-crunch for a party.

Nevertheless she had a stunning outfit ready for the event, and I spent a quiet evening wrapping a mountain of Christmas presents, drinking wine, decorating the Christnas tree, and binging episodes of Luther on Netflix.

Today I’m off to see Lady S for a couple of days, so I had time for breakfast and pain au chocolate with Lady M before leaving her to tackle her own small hillock of presents and recover from the party.

I normally travel light, but I’m delivering birthday presents for the cub and a couple of early Christmas presents, so I have a suitcase nearly as big as I am. We may have gone a little overboard this year…

Giving HIV the finger

I know there’s a general stigma about talking about sexual health and testing, but it’s hugely important and affects a huge swathe of the population. Just like (until relatively recently) mental health issues, the prospect of talking about sexual health can prompt intakes of breath and moralistic judgement that threatens to ride roughshod over the very real human cost that comes when it is ignored.

I’m a little late to the party, but the end of November saw an initiative in the UK looking to raise awareness of HIV testing (alongside other tests). It cropped up just as I’ve been talking with my partners about condom use and ceasing to use them in our triad.

Although we’re all pretty sure we don’t have anything lurking in our systems, it seemed a good idea to look at testing – and it has been difficukt to schedule all going at the same time with our busy lives and the distance between us.

I was surprised to find out just how easy it was to get a free home-testing kit arranged, so in the spirit of raising awareness, I’m talking about my experience of using one.

The parcel came through within three days of ordering it, and I’ll admit it sat on the table for a few more days as I summoned up the nerve to do it. I’d answered some questions online about sexual activity and it came down to a simple urine sample, and a blood test. I opted for the blood test for HIV as I’ve never been tested for it before (to my knowledge unless it was done as a general screen while in hospital).

The idea is that you take the samples, package them securely in the materials provided and send them back in a sealed Freepost prepaid plastic envelope.

The urine test was simple enough, but the blood test package specifically included for testing for HIV came with automatic lancets, alcohol wipes, plasters and a long set of instructions that I had to read and re-read several times.

They essentially boiled down to washing your hands in warm water both to clean and encourage good blood circulation. Then dry your hands on a clean towel as blood drops are harder to form on wet skin.

Alcohol wipes are provided, so one last clean with those was needed before I went any further.

The next step is to press the lancet (which looked like a key fob) firmly against the side of your little finger and squeeze it to trigger it. It feels like a rubber band flicking the skin and theres an initial small spot of blood that the instructions said to wipe away.

Then, for lack of a better description, I had to milk my little finger to fill the small tube with blood drops. It didn’t hurt, beyond a little bruising this morning, but it did feel odd to see the drops slowly growing and dropping.

Plasters are provided, and it took moments for the blood drops to stop forming when I’d done enough. The cap for the vial clicked shut when pushed on and then all that remained was to gently shake it a few times and check all the labels were correct before sealing everything away and putting the package by the door to drop into a postbox in the morning.

So, in theory, in a week or so I’ll have the test results back. I’ll keep you posted.

Bugs and ughs

Tis certainly the season, as they say, but if it could manage to not come accompanied by colds, muscle aches, migraines and barking black dogs that would be a huge bonus.

Still, we soldier on, and at least in our household a lot of the gift buying is complete and giving way to thoughts of decorations. I’ve already overseen the assembly and decoration at two of my libraries of the carefully packed away artificial trees and as of last night I even have an undecorated tree up in the flat.

Now begins the perennial fight to summon up enthusiasm and joy while wearing the customer services Christmas cheer mask. With any luck the black dog will mostly stay in his kennel.