From: Then, To: Now

Timeframe: early December, 2014.

Roger Bird, 41, general secretary of the UK Independence Party, enmeshed in a scandal with Natasha Bolter, 39, who was being recruited by UKIP as a potential candidate for parliament. They dated, but intimacy was complicated by their professional relationship. Their courtship soured, and she went public with her claims that Mr.Bird pressured her to sleep with him in exchange for advancing her career. Forced to defend himself, Mr.Bird releases to the press screenshots of the text messages he received from Ms.Bolter:

“But I love u and miss u and think u r sort of perfect.”

“I am really missing u …”

“U r not coming back and accordingly my life will go back to a meaningless void and it was chance that I met u. But I didn’t invent u — u were real.”

It’s as big a scandal as sex scandals can get in the UK right now. But when I picture the tearful, desperate person pressing those words into her cellphone, maybe sitting in the dark backseat of a London taxicab — the rain-soaked, night-time traffic spearing the windows with chaotic, searching points of Christmas-colored lights — finding her short-breathed body trying again to shiver away a cold loneliness from deep inside her chest, I can’t help it: I recognize myself.

I’m right there. I’m never died on stage like she is now, but I’m not a world away from her either. I’m right there, hiding in that cab’s anonymous darkness, staring heartbroken into the lifeless glow of my own all-knowing, all-useless cellphone. I can’t unsend those words, I can’t unfeel what I’ve felt, I can only watch those parts of me drift away backwards into time: ten seconds, one minute, one hour, one lifetime.


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