15. London Bridge is Falling Down


I face my thin, gangly opponent at the other side of the court. It smiles weakly and shrugs it’s shoulders, palms up. Harmless.

I am panting, I have been moving for 18 hours in 38 dg heat without break or food. The dizzier I feel, the harder I push.

We serve for the first set; focused, rhythmically I pull back, drop my racket face, grip, then hit. Each movement represents one syllable of one man’s name. The only man who has ever moulded me to him, not one of the 17 alias’s – but His actual name, the one the Private Investigator gave me. Over and over and over, I breathe out each sound and expel each letter.


We are half way through the 4th game before my challenger scores a point. I win the match 6-0, 6-0, 6-0.

Of course I fucking do.

1 year ago, I would not have had the courage to do this; I would never have shown my strength to a man in such physical and obvious ways. Today, I am not ashamed of my aggression, my desire to win, to destroy a fragile ego, but today has been a new level of hostility, even for me – this is un-lady-like.

The Thin One starts to walk toward the net, I believe he wants to shake my hand, congratulate my overwhelming win. I stand a distance away from it,  heaving to get my breath, blinded by my salted sweat. I stare directly, but hear another’s voice; hissing, angry, wanton.

I open my left palm suddenly; my racket drops to the ground, The Thin One frowns disapprovingly. I slowly turn 180dg, as dozens of sunglasses simultaneously turn towards the scene. I leave everything I came with, and walk off this court to mumbles and suburban gossip. I will never indulge this opponent again; my tolerance for weak men has expired.

When I woke this morning, my blood was not my own. It was at the mercy of another. I get up, go to the gym, I want to run outside but I am waiting for the humidity to rise and the HK sun to burn. I keep walking; I drink a steaming coffee and start a 30km hike in 95% humidity. Every step is heavy, and the heavier it becomes, the more I fight.

I have a plan of course; it’s in percentages. I am belonged right now, at 100pc, I have to sweat that out. Today I will decrease it by 10pc , in another 6 days, it will be down a further 60pc. I can cope with that, I can function at 30% obsession. At 10km when my mouth is dry I refuse myself water, at 15km when my long sleeves are drenched, I will not take them off. At 20km my skin is sandy and my fingers shriveled. At 22km my chest stings with pain, and I decide I will always accept pain over hurt.

I know our time has come, I’m avoiding the conversation.

Love that never becomes rooted in the every-day becomes epic. I have the choice of having Him every day, but I want epic. I am not ready to return to mundanity. To someone’s pocket. I like to be a shiny new thing. He has changed me, He has created something that cannot stay….

“The problem with us Emma, we meet at the wrong time”

I don’t reply, I don’t want to know that this is true, I cannot let him go, so I do something I have never done before. I ask for help

Calmly I whisper into his sleeping ear

Will you help me ? Will you  help me to let you go ? Please?


I keep, going to the river to pray
Cos I need, something that can wash out the pain
And at most Im sleeping all these demons away
But your Ghost
The Ghost of you
It keeps me awake

A New Chapter

10 pieces of advice for dating a Gigolo.

1. You will get bored because they will always be late.

2. Wear Comfortable clothes

3. Don’t think much about your knickers, they’ll be coming off very soon

4. Eat before

5. The hotel is important, pick a nice one

6. If they ask for extra money – say no

7. Whatever name they give you – it’s not the right one

8. Go to their area, don’t make them come to yours (see advice number 1)

9. Ask whatever questions you like – the answers are brilliant

10. Do not do advice number 9 – More action, less talk.

14. Once Upon A Time


He is back. And I have won.

Like I said, I always do.

I am sorry for my mistakes” he says “I will pay you back all the money, just give me some time”

The phone rings and bleeps and lights up at me repeatedly. I don’t answer; I stare remotely at his letters of grief. His own memorial service. Look at what you have lost. Look at what you have done. I was real, and now I’m gone.

So. What now?

For months I have waited, waited for him to come back to me, not because I’m paying him, not because his conscience dictates, but because he wants to. Because I didn’t imagine all that has passed.. I’ve waited for him to come back and prove he wants me. And now it is so.

The article will come out in two Sundays, The editor’s waiting for my final review, and the pictures. The pictures. Kept casually in my closet at home, I haven’t looked at them since they were delivered. I wonder what the impending uproar will look like, I think about the legals, the embarrassed clients. I wonder who will get involved, remind myself to check my indemnity insurance.

I try to forget him. I go to bed with another, but I want to rage at the averageness of it all. Mostly I rage at myself. I am exhausted; I no longer know what is real or imagined, truth or fiction. I have lost my mind and the comfort of self trust.

So yes, I have won. But what exactly is the prize ? I have given up on him. So much has come to pass that my memory now is not of his voice or his skin, it’s of angry phone calls, twisted arguments. But still I have won. There is comfort in that. Self reliance, it’s a skill I’ve honed from birth.

I refuse to see him, refuse to meet. And he leaves Hong Kong. Again.

When he is gone and I am left here, there is a peace .. The race is over, the clouds have cleared, but the problem is, he’s not with me, and I miss him.

Come see me” he says, “Come stay with me. No money

So I do it. I get on a plane and fly to Singapore. I fly to see him for myself, to stand on our level playing field and look across into those slate eyes and find the answers I’ve been looking for.

“I thought you wouldn’t come”

“I always do what I say I will do”

We meet up with some business friends, we have drinks, we go back to the hotel. And still I haven’t said a word.

“What do you want with me ?” He says


“Why don’t you take me for yourself?”

“Because you cannot be taken”

The moment the door opened and I saw him, I knew everything he had told me was true. My judgments were correct. Yes he took my money. And the reasons he took it were good ones.

I start to fall asleep after my shower, the bed, so soft I’m melting, all the rage in the last months, the scheming, the plots, the money, the grief, it’s melting out of my very body and I am resting for the first time in as long as I can remember. He is beside me tonight, different now ,and yet, exactly the same.

His kisses are comforting and familiar, they remind me that we are the same person, my body is sleepy and heavy as he pulls me as close as it’s possible to pull another human being. He whispers into my ear

“Tell me you want me “

“No” I reply, “I’ m sleepy”

“Tell me you want me” he repeats

“I don’t want you to work”

Now there is a hint of urgency in his voice as he says again,

“Tell me you want me. Tell me you like me. Please

I take his face in my hands, its dark, but I feel him staring at me.

I love you. I love you for everything you are today, and everything you could be”

There is no more talking now, the night silences us in a cocoon of warmth that runs through my shoulders and drenches my cells, they have been waiting for him since the very beginning. They have been waiting since I was born.

I wake up at 3:15am and look at his outline in the dark for a long time. I think about these past months, I think about the SCMP article. I run my fingers over his hands as he sleeps next to me. I feel the ridged and fractured thumb nail he has. It happened when he was around the same age as my son. No one told him how is happened, no one cared, no one paid any attention. He had a mother who didn’t even notice that her baby’s nail became so damaged that it would be disfigured for life. I think of my dark haired blue eyed son, I think of his tiny thumb nail, what could happen to cause such trauma? I imagine the pain, see my son crying, and no one noticing, I have to swallow hard to control my tears.

I thought about my Hong Kong. I thought about how lucky I have been, these last few months, the situation this man put me in, it has brought about more sweetness than I have ever been privy to in my life. It has been a blessing. I think of the friends that I will go back to in two days. How they are waiting for news on this weekend. How they rallied around me without a word of judgment this year, when clearly judgments should have been passed. I think of the money they gave me without criticism or humiliation. I am grateful. I have people to look after me now, I have people I want to look after. I have warmth and laughter and solidarity in my life. I wonder who he has to go back to, I wonder how much kindness he has seen in his life, I suspect none at all.

I have so much to come back to here in Hong Kong. I have escaped a childhood I hated and found a tribe to love. And with this front page expose for SCMP ?  – what am I doing to him? Is this my contribution to his world.  Is this the lesson I want to teach my son, betrayal with betrayal. Get or begot? To prove this man right ? That no one can be trusted. ever  ? He is a reflection of my own self; Who is to say that I am good and he is not, that he should be punished because I decide. The man lying in front of me. He’s just a man. Not a devil or a hero, not pure or evil. A man. Flawed. Perfect.

I realize I am his friend.

With that simple fact, the decision is made. The article will be pulled, the photos shredded. It doesn’t matter if he knows it or he doesn’t, I need to know it, I need to wake up and know I’m a decent friend who gives good things to the world, not more hate.


The plane back to Hong Kong is a happy one, Taylor Swift is playing, and I am a different person again, I am light, I am young – how much can change in a year. How much good can come out of something that is so hard.

When I land, my phone is bussing with messages from him
Are you okay ? I was worried, I hadn’t heard from you.
Yes, yes, I really am – thank you for a lovely weekend.
Thank you Emma – for everything.

I walk out into the breezy hot perfect Hong Kong sun, I close my eyes and Smile.

I am home.

The End


I’ll let you set the pace

Because I’m not thinking Straight

Love me like you do

13. Sing a Song of Sixpence


We are the same, He and I….


It means everything when you don’t have it, and not much at all when you finally do. But, for people like us, the ones who were baptized into the Christian waters of scarcity, there is nothing at all complicated about it. For these babies, the certainty soaks the infant soul in our shared Church of shame. There will be no indulgent discussions for us. For people like us, it doesn’t mean access to luxury, it doesn’t represent enough and a bit more, fun or dull. Money isn’t the difference between peace and worry, pretty and ugly. No, for us, in our world, money means one thing, and one thing only.


To hussle? This is to choose life.

The relentless pursuit of cash, of more, it isn’t greed, it is conditioning.  To fight, to take your clothes off, to kiss when you want to vomit, appease and bend to the will of another? This is how you get the hell out of your childhood when your fellow parishioners are drowning like maggots around you.

There will be no journey of quiet desperation for us.  The  decades we endure from  our birth to our death will be filled with a force that is never-ending.  Forever the divide between passion and anger will twist and break, we will pursue everything with the same intensity. When you work from the day you are born for every basic need, when you grow up surrounded by people who have more, when there’s no such thing as safety, everything in life becomes about your human hunger, and all these roads of starvation end up at the same place – Want.

My life is never quiet now. Even in the dark, when the baby is asleep, and the lights of Hong Kong are off, my memories of our conversations come back to me in big jigaw pieces, easy to put together.

All over the world, he builds up his audience, announces his arrival, works & leaves.

“Why do you leave so quickly” I asked once

“It gets boring, I don’t like to stay in one place for too long, the customers become difficult, fall in love, cause trouble”

My minds eye remembers the last time I saw him, so long ago now. On a clingy Hong Kong day, he meets me on the side of a grimy central street, as I give him the final tranche of cash, I meet his gaze and realize he has been staring right at me, outrageously, defiantly, I recognise the self-righthedness of a scheme in progress; Silently I say to him –

Go on – prove me wrong; I know you won’t.

He knows what I’m thinking, and still he takes the money

and still I give it to him.

As the weeks go on, my plan goes as it should, the temperature begins to fall in the city, I start to dress my baby boy in warmer clothes. I have hours at night where echoes of my past intertwine with the sound of his voice and the light of my phone messages. His stories and lies become more fantastical in tandem with my own unbearable self-hatred. A thought ruminates until I can’t ignore it. It wakes me up at night in a pool of cold sweat. This feeling I have, it’s not anger at him, it’s anger at me.

I should have worked harder.

The nightmares that wake me are memories.  I am 11 years old, I have snuck into the local school chapel. I had survived the first decade of my life, I dip my head and hold my palms in a prayer of thanks to the Catholic God that I fear.

He who shall lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

“I will be good” I promise, “I will do good, every day, with everyone I can.  I am sorry” It was an atonement. I was apologising for being evil, I was asking to be foregiven for all the trouble I had caused by being born.

If I’d done my job better this time round,he  would have felt safe enough to tell the truth. Sometimes it’s okay to want money, not for a noble cause, but because you are exhausted from a life-time of never having it.

So yes, there is revenge, but, I too must pay a price.

We fight these days.  Fire on fire. One of us will get burnt. Another message full of rage and spite flashes on the phone. My mind goes numb except for an ongoing white noise. Blankly I walk into my kitchen, I open the side drawer, search out the new box-knife in it’s clean cardboard packaging, I push the blade open and purposely grind short red ridges into my albino wrist, carve out repeated shapes of small perfectly controlled squares. The scarlet droplets burst though my thin white skin, the scream of my nerves silence the shrieking in my lungs. This change in pitch is a welcome, fleeting relief.  For a moment I am distracted. I rub crystal salt into the cuts before covering them with oversized bandages. The pain, a continued reminder of my sins, of my worthlessness.

A few more days pass and I must take the baby for his final vaccination – as I reach for the door handle to leave the room, the doctor will kindly point and ask – “what happened” and without a moments hesitation I reply with an exacerbated smile and roll of the eyes

“Oh – dammit, I burnt it with the iron !”

He nods in sympathy as I begin to walk out of the room

Do you need something for it?

I start to giggle and reply – “Perhaps more hours in the day and a new brain ?!”

The doctor laughs in unison and as I shut the door I remind myself again: –

We are the same, He and I



I had a vision I could turn you right
a stupid mission and a lethal fight
I should have seen it when my hope was new
my heart is black and my body is blue

12. There was a little Girl who had a Little Curl.


I have been underestimated my entire life… what was once my Achilles heel, has become my greatest asset.

Did you really think I wouldn’t have this covered Baby?

Something happens when you grow up in the pit of cold and fear; aware that you are an irritation by your very existence, a jagged thorn in the side of the people who are meant to love you. It takes years, but one day, a day of no particular importance, you make a decision that changes your future. It’s straightforward – there are no tears, no dramatic declarations in a drunken stupor, no witnesses; but that day, sitting on the floor of your bed room, you make an unbreakable promise to yourself. You write it down even – in small, bold, black writing…

I will never be ignored again.

A few weeks of concentrated effort and It’s a surprisingly easy turn-about. You change your name, get a better job, drop 2 stone, grow your hair long, dye it, dress … just… right. It’s incredible how much easier life is like this. And the men? They become predictable, funny little things, they bend and twist to your glee, just how you expected.

He thinks I’m a good girl. He thinks I’m in love with him. And I am, but I will ruin myself to destroy him. I will set fire to everything I have built. Burn at the stake of Hong Kong’s Chinese whispers. And I will win. I always do.

I open the laptop, and I start to write. And this writing, this is my voodoo doll. Each strike of the keyboard, a pin prick and whispered spell. 10,000 words I have written over these months. That’s twenty, 500 word weekly columns. So this is what I will do, I will write, I will write till I have a nice following and then my friends at SCMP & Time Out here in Hong Kong will run the final entry. The expose if you will. They are waiting for me, I am in demand – what fun.

The man on the end of the line? The late night phone call? That’s my Private Investigator. They are cheap here in Hong Kong. Even the Americans.

So. Every time anyone googles for a male escort my story will appear. Our story. First he will be exposed, and then he will lose his business. All of it. His clients – the ones I’ve got photographs of – that really straight looking Chinese banker? The ugly wife? The odd little daughter of the billionaire from Shanghai ? They will make sure of it. I will haunt him, just as he haunts me. He will not do this again, he will not do this in my Hong Kong .

But first ? first I need him here.

So I will work, and I will write, and I will wait. He will come back to me, and then ?

then : –

I. Will.End.Him.

I mean, what’s the point of a love affair without a proper goodbye?

Manners maketh man, after all – right baby ?


I’ve got a long list of ex lovers
They’ll tell you I’m insane
But you’ll come back each time you leave
Because I’m a Nightmare
Dressed as a day dream

11. Mary Mary Quite Contrary


He is gone. And I have… somehow…given him everything I have. Everything.

I look down at the speedometer on my car, I’m travelling 140km down a 70km highway.

What has happened to me? I have woken up, and my world is in chaos.

I knew I wouldn’t get the money back. But it hadn’t occurred to me that he would leave Hong Kong. That he would leave me. But of course, a man like this? A man like this knows how to disappear.

I sit on my certainty for a few days, numb and crazy.

I have a booking with the therapist. Another of Hong Kong’s most expensive professionals; another at the top of his Game. It seems I have surrounded myself with high-priced men. I hear my mother’s voice as I enter his room – “No need to drop standards now Darling”

His filing is still on the floor, and for the first time in 3 years it doesn’t irk me. It doesn’t nibble away at my insides for the entire hour, like a greedy little rat.

I don’t care.

That’s when I know I’m in the shit. I have always cared about the filing before.

His desk is a mess too; It’s hot in this office and smells of the boy before me. He drinks Coke Zero when he should be eating

I simply don’t care.

He’s talking, but all I can hear is the crushing of the can when he finishes it. I’ve never noticed how noisy that crushing is, as loud as a car dump. I remember a Gigolo story, chasing down a husband who owed him money, pinning him against a wall and squeezing that spindly Chinese throat “I came in your wife’s mouth” he spits “and she asked for more”

I come back to the appointment; watch this familiar doctor’s mouth moving.

“Yes, he could be a troubled athlete Emma, he could also be a Sociopath. You must, you absolutely must, disengage”

The words are chiming in my head, repeating themselves to the rhythm of a church bell.

Why doesn’t he throw it away now? The can. There’s none left, turn away from me and throw it in the bin. Why doesn’t he hang his pictures on the wall? Why does the clock face me, and not him, I wonder where the tissues are kept in this tiny, storage challenged office.

My Mother is back – “don’t be rude sweetheart” so I switch back on, pay attention, like a good little girl.

But it’s too late now; the session is over.

As I walk out of the room, he says I can get in touch with him if I need to. That’s the second time I know I’m in the shit. He’s never said that before.

As we shake hands I meet his eye; I almost say it out loud –

“You saved my life. And look how I’ve repaid you”

Over his shoulder, just behind the desk chair, I can see my mother barking at me – “Don’t be dramatic” My thoughts have embarrassed her, she is growling, hurrying me out of the room.

When I get home, I Google what it is to be a Sociopath and my body jerks in shock.

‘They lie, even when they don’t have to. Does not fit stereotypes for gender, race, ethnicity, religion, age, sex or career. Could seem foreign, bisexual, older or younger, pious, wealthy or poor, but may also just seem un-placeable’


Then? Then I start laughing, I’m laughing so loudly that my baby starts laughing just looking at me.


I roll around on my oversized bed


I look at the ceiling and start kicking my legs like a toddler being tickled

I have so little money left, that I cannot buy petrol for my car, I have 5 days to find cash to pay my rent, the fridge has milk and eggs but nothing else.

The laughing hurts – I’m crying with the hysteria

And I’ve just spent HK $3,500 at the therapist’s

That one really gets me, I’m doubled up and can’t breath with the laughing. I can’t answer the phone when it rings.

Who cares.

It’s not him, so what does it matter if I never answer the damn phone again.

What does anything matter.

Later, I rock my baby to sleep, place him peacefully in his crib, whisper my love to him. Then I sit on the side of my bed for hours in the pitch black, straight backed, just like mother demands. Tomorrow I will be perfect. Tomorrow I will wear makeup. Tomorrow I will be thin.

In the darkness with only the sound of the air conditioning to distract me, I remember my second meeting with the Gigolo. I remember the new Hotel, the cold slate floors on my bare feet. I remember asking him what wine he wanted, pouring it for him as I let him talk

“ I don’t trust anyone” he said

I kiss him, I want to distract him, make him happy.

“Really ? Wow ! Well I trust everyone”

I see now.
Well. There we go.
So it was always going to be this way.

Eventually, I stand up, I turn on a light, I find my phone. I dial another number for the first time in my life.

Whilst it’s ringing, I face my floor to ceiling window, I touch it as I say out loud in the darkness – to him, somewhere, out there, across the ocean and the seas –

Well played my love. Very well played indeed. You have won the round – but who will win the match?

“Hello ?”

My late night call has been answered.

Now” I think to myself. “let the games begin


You played me like a symphony
Played me to your fingers bleed
I’m your greatest masterpiece
You ruined me

10. Humpty Dumpty Sat on the Wall


“Baby I have a question, I want to talk business”

I’ve been waiting for this, I smile softly, sigh gently…


They always, always, want something. And they always snatch it, whether we give it to them or not

Hearts, Money, Dignity …

All of it.


He’s been patient; now he wants his own suck at the teat. Now it’s his turn.

“Baby if I show you something. You promise you won’t be angry?” He is a child, sitting upright, alert. He is a hyena, watching, sniffing, ready.

“No. I don’t promise anything”

He ignores me and repeats “You promise?”

No. I don’t”

But it’s coming anyway. It always was.

I close my eyes for a moment. I am on a beach, far, far away from this twilight hotel room. I am sitting on the golden sand, lame, mute. I’m watching that monstrous tide coming to engulf me. There’s no point moving. It’s too late. I’m already drowning. I have been since I arrived.

“Okay I get it for you” He springs in to action.

He has written a letter but I already know what it’s going to say.

The heaviness in my chest, the black oil sitting in my stomach, the self loathing that pumps through my DNA. It was forgotten for a time, with him, over these months, with the laughter and the comfort.

‘Just one more night’ I think, ‘can’t we just pretend? for one more night? ’


Now it is time to remember –

I am just a customer. He is a Gigolo.


I have an question for you.

I want to ask you if can we doing one deal.

I have to buy 3 bikes and equipment, clothes, material for triathlon. I have one test in Thailand in 2 weeks to get the sponsor for Puma.

If i pass the test they will give me 5000USD per month + flight tickets + hotel during competitions for 3 years but my 2 bikes are very old and i need to buy it because Puma dont give it and i don’t any find sponsor to support me with the bikes cause is not easy to achieve it actually the companies they sponsor the champions Puma is the only company to sponsor new talents but first i have to pay for my equipment.

In change when we date we don’t talk about cash anymore independent of the time that you stay with me you no need to give me nothing $$.

After November i cant work as a male escort anymore cause i start all the competitions triathlon and 10km, 15km half marathon and 42km also in December i will get another sponsor from Standard Chartered being that for security reasons i cant work as male escort after i get the sponsor. I hope we date for long time after. i love to touch your skin i love to kiss you.

I will be very glad if you trust me and help me with my request cause i train around 2 years everyday to realize this dream.

Big kiss.


I don’t know why I’m still surprised

Even Angels have their wicked schemes
And you take that to new extremes

Just gonna stand there and hear me cry
But that’s alright because I love the way you lie.