If you don’t know who Corey is then you need to read Fuck off Corey before you read this, but for those of you who do, I better start this blog with an update, because apparently a lot of you on my Instagram page are very curious to know whether he has survived. Well ladies, I honestly do not know. The last I heard from Corey was when he sent me a What’s App message FIFTY TWO HOURS after standing me up. It read:
‘I am so sorry….but something came up that I can’t speak to you about over the phone’
‘Will call you when I get home’
Well oddly enough it’s been almost exactly FIFTY FUCKING TWO HOURS since he sent that, and it seems as though he has not yet reached home. One of my Instagram friends pointed out that there were some significant similarities between the behaviour that Corey is displaying and the way that her Nan behaved when she was suffering from Alzheimer’s. So sadly, I think that Corey may have that, or early onset dementia, it really is the only rational explanation for how he could possibly forget to turn up for a date, forget to let me know that he was going to forget to turn up, then text me 3 days later to tell me that he was going to call on the phone to talk to me about something that cannot be discussed on the phone, and then forget to actually call me.
I’m not angry, I find it highly entertaining if I’m honest. The levels of him not having his shit together are beyond a joke. He and I would really not be the great match that I had decided we were going to be in my daydreams. His nonchalant attitude to social communication norms would annoy the shit out of me. I am a little disappointed though, I did really want to hear his explanation. Having said that, if I know Fuckboys, then he will be in touch again. This is not the last I will hear from Corey. But it is the last time that I will ever consider making a plan with him.
WOAAAH – NEWS FLASH – Corey literally just What’s Apped me as I was writing that. Almost exactly 52 hours since he last text me. He just brazenly messaged saying ‘Hey, what are you doing?’ So I pointed out that I found it odd that he was asking me that so casually after what he had done. He responded by asking me if I wanted to go for a drink. He just completely ignored everything I said and breezily had the cheek to ask if I wanted to go for a drink. I asked him if he had lost his mind, he said ‘A long time ago’ and I told him that I thought he had Alzheimer’s. He ignored that and asked me if I wanted to go for a drink again, I said I didn’t and he asked why, I told him to fuck off and he said:
‘You seem pissed off’
‘I’m going to go for a few drinks, if you change your mind message me’
I don’t even really need to analyse this. He’s actively taking the piss now. Maybe he thought that if he waited 3 days I would completely forget what had happened and we could just carry on as normal without having to discuss him ghosting on me at all. The fact that he doesn’t have the balls, or the respect, to communicate with me about this shows me that he is just an under developed little man-child and once again, I am thankful to the Universe for continually protecting me from this twerp. He’s an absolute fool. A 17 year old trapped in a 31 year old man’s body. I’m not hurt by this. I’m just monumentally baffled.
Anyway, lets get on with today’s theme. From Corey to prostitutes in one foul swoop. Prostitution is a big huge subject and it’s a subject that’s quite dear to my heart (prostitution is a feminist issue) and it’s also a subject that fascinates me. If there’s ever a documentary on TV about prostitution or a story in a magazine, I’m glued. I always want to know the in’s and outs, the sordid details, what the clients are like; I want to know everything. It’s interesting. I think it fascinates me because I could never do it, never. I value sex too highly. I couldn’t fuck men who I didn’t like. The sad thing about prostitution is that a large amount of women who are doing it feel exactly the same as I do, but they have no choice in the matter, either they’ve been forced or they’re doing it for survival. And that is why I hate men that use prostitutes.
I hate that men have managed to convince themselves that these women who they are paying to fuck are actually enjoying it, but I hate the ones who don’t give a fuck whether she’s enjoying it even more. Many years ago I worked for a service that provided sexual health advice, support and outreach services to sex workers. I am a qualified sexual health adviser and I did a brief counselling course before doing my degree, my role was a support worker, and I absolutely loved that job. The majority of clients were drug users, working the streets to support their habits, and quite often their boyfriend’s habits too. Very often it was the boyfriends who had got them on to the hard drugs in the first place. Junkie Fuckboys want to get their woman hooked because she then becomes a cash cow.
I loved many of the women I worked with. They were vulnerable, funny, fucked up, real women who had been damaged over and over by men. 99.9% of them had suffered serious abuse in childhood, often sexual abuse by their Fathers, most had periods in care as children or teenagers where they were also sexually abused, and then they went into adulthood where they ended up in multiple abusive relationships because they didn’t know any different. They needed the drugs to escape into a zone where they could drown out the constant pain of the past that keeps eating away at their souls. But it’s not just the past, because their present is also filled with horrific events that they need to escape from. It’s a vicious cycle. I wanted to save them all but they weren’t ready to be saved.
All I could do was show them kindness and respect and teach them how to stay as safe as possible, not only in terms of STIs, but also in terms of how not to get killed. It’s a dangerous world for working women out there. They are some of the smartest, hard, most street wise women that you will ever meet, but they are also lost and very vulnerable. Their brains are drug addled and it clouds their judgement. The need for crack and heroin is so strong that some of them would sell their kids into sex rings for enough money to buy a few bags. And sadly that really has happened. Hard, filthy drugs are the devil. Users are existing in a living hell.
You know what drug addicts look like. I don’t want to be disrespectful to these women but they do not look sexually appealing. They are often skinny and gaunt, unclean, they tend to have bad skin, teeth and hair, and they smell, because they neglect themselves in favour of the drugs and it outwardly shows. They look like they need a bath, hot food and help. And yet there’s men out there who want to take them off the street and fuck them without condoms.
The majority of the clients were married men, of all races, classes and ages. The women would tell me about good looking young men in Range Rovers and Mercs, old men in Jaguars, white van men, orthodox Jews, Muslim clerics, 17 year old boys, Police officers, Doctors, actors, you name it, they had sucked it. The women got paid more for not using condoms and there were a number of them who just couldn’t resist the temptation of more money regardless of the risks. Think on it a minute, men with wives and girlfriends at home, popping off after work to have unprotected sex with crack and heroin addicts who have just finished having unprotected sex with several other men and then casually coming home and hugging their children. I don’t know what to say.
And this is what makes me think that sex for men is phenomenally greater than it is for women. Their desire to ejaculate is so strong that they are willing to pick up the easiest woman available regardless of whether they even find her attractive or whether she potentially poses great risk to them. They don’t care. They must bust a nut. But then that leads you to the question of why the ones in marriages and relationships do it, because if it’s just about dumping their load then they have available vaginas at home.
The fucked up thing is that it’s not just that. The reason that these men pick up sex workers on the street is because they are turned on by the filth of it all. They are getting off on the fact that the woman is, as far as they see it, a filthy, dirty, grimy whore. They often used to use those words to the girls. They would often be rough, and some were extremely violent. I worked with a woman called Tracey once. She only had one leg and men used to get off on that. She’d had to have her leg amputated because she had kept injecting into an infected vein. Tracey was extra vulnerable because she was on crutches and she was violently raped and beaten on a number of occasions. Many of the women were.
The thing I find strange is trying to figure out what went wrong with male sexuality and why it is often so much more fucked up then ours. Yes, there are a small amount of women who use male escorts, usually from reputable agencies, and usually for the purpose of being wined and dined and then seduced in a hotel room. But there are very, very, very few (if any) women out there driving about picking up male drug addicts off the streets and paying them to have sex. It just wouldn’t happen. The only men that get paid to have sex on the streets are rent boys, and they are being paid by other men. It’s just not something that women would generally do. Women generally don’t want to have sex with vulnerable homeless men (although there was that one ex-wasteman of mine).
I once worked with a girl from a small village in Vietnam, her name was Cam. She was pretty, very small, slight and quiet. Cam had two young children to support as their Father had died. A business man from the city had come to her village with pictures of an apple orchard in England and told the villagers that he was looking for female workers to spend the summer in the UK picking apples for £150 per week, plus accommodation. This was a lot of money for someone like Cam, she could do a lot for her children with that money. So, she filled out the application form and found out that she had got the job a few days later, she was thrilled and so she left her children with her Mother and decided to go for it.
She had a romantic view of the orchard where she would be staying and she was excited about the opportunity, but it wasn’t long before her bubble burst. Once she got to the airport with the business man she saw him talking to Police and airport officials, she said that she could tell that they were all friends. She was handed over to another man who barely spoke to her on the plane to the UK and continued to remain silent until she arrived at Heathrow where she was told to handover her passport. She was then passed on to a Vietnamese man and woman who took her straight to a flat in Kings Cross.
She was told that they had paid for her visa and flights here and that she owed them £1,500. They were also going to be letting her live there so she would also have to pay them £150 per week in rent. Cam tried to stand up for herself, she said that she had not agreed to this and that she wanted to contact her family. The woman laughed and told her that her children would be killed if she didn’t comply with her orders. Cam had been trafficked for the purpose of selling her into the sex trade.
She was a normal Mother, a woman just living a simple life in a small village trying to get by. She’d had sex with one man in her entire life and now she was being forced into sleeping with multiple men who she didn’t know and who she could not communicate with because she could not speak English. Can you imagine for one second how that must feel? It pains me now to think of what she went through. She was allowed to have telephone contact with her children but she was not allowed to tell her family what was going on. And she never would, she was terrified for her children’s safety. They believed she was out here picking apples.
Within an hour of arriving Cam was taken to a room with a bed and introduced to a man. She said that he was a 50 year old Arab man with a receding hairline and dandruff. He smelt strongly of BO and he was very overweight. Cam said that the man barely spoke to her, he just directed her to give him oral sex, and then he raped her. She said that she wept all the way through and he became angry with her for it. He told her bosses after and they reprimanded her by keeping the money that she had earned from him and not putting it towards what she owed them. Cam said that she never forgot the first man but that the rest of them became a blur. She described her clients as being like poisonous snakes crawling over her body. Only a handful of them used condoms.
And so it went on. Cam said that she was raped by around 7 or 8 men a day. It was rape every time. And some of these men must have known it. They were ‘normal’ guys, the same kind of guys as the ones I described before. Some of them were even guys who you or I might get into a relationship with. They know about human trafficking, everybody does. They must have been able to tell that this Vietnamese woman who was literally just lying there, who can’t speak a word of English, and is on the verge of tears the entire time, has been trafficked. They’re not stupid. They’re fucked up.
Because they are well aware of what they are doing, and like the ones who are turned on by ‘filthy junkie whores’, these guys are turned on by vulnerable non-consenting women. Either that or they just do not care. They just want to nut, and so all morals go out the window. Again, this is a male thing. I don’t think it’s very common for women to go around paying to rape trafficked boys, it’s just not something that many of us would do. And again, like rent boys, trafficked males are usually trafficked for use by male punters.
You might think that trafficking is rare but it’s not. There are thousands of women across the UK who, right now, are being held against their will and sold for sex. There is a website where punters can leave reviews about the prostitutes that they have slept with and it is horrific yet fascinating. I’m not putting the link up here because I really don’t want that disgusting site getting more traffic than it deserves. I just looked at the website now and opened a review on the first non-English sounding name I saw and this is legitimately the first review I came across:
‘When I looked at the agency website I thought she looked like a hot piece of action. Unfortunately, she does not really match the scorching photos. When I saw her she looked tired and pissed off. She wasn’t really dressed for sex and I was really let down. She was so unfriendly and moody that I found it really difficult to get in the mood to be honest. It was obvious that she just did not want to be there.
I didn’t even try to kiss her and the blow job was an awful slobbery affair. We got in the missionary position and she was looking away as if she couldn’t wait for it to be over. You don’t come across these girls very often in my experience, but they are out there. Anyway, I finished by shooting all over her arse. At the end I just wanted to head for the door. I felt as though I had just been going through the motions and had wasted a few bob.’
I don’t know whether to vomit or weep. It was obvious that she didn’t want to be there, she was looking away as if she couldn’t wait for this to be over. He’s just clearly raped a trafficked woman and he’s pissed off because she’s wasted his money, so pissed off that he feels the need to write a review so that other disgraceful fiends can find out where she is. This man needs to be castrated. That poor woman, having to clean that disgusting man’s cum from her skin. What she must have been going through is beyond my imagination. And yet he feels like he’s been wronged because she had the audacity to not pretend that she liked it. I hope karma takes hold of this man.
I read a book last year ‘Slave Girl’ by Sarah Forsyth, a true story about a British girl who applied for a job as a Nanny in Amsterdam and was trafficked and forced to work in the red light district. Like Cam, threats had been made to her family and so she could not escape. Police officers were regularly coming in to rape her and so she thought she had no way out. She became addicted to drugs but she managed to escape in the end to tell her story. Prior to reading that book I was all for the red light district. I thought that it empowered women to take control of their own vaginas. To work for themselves in a safe place that was legal and well monitored. But no, that book taught me that the red light district is controlled by pimps and that a large number of women are there against their will.
I went to Dam last year for the 8th time and I felt so incredibly different about the place after reading that book. I love the city, it’s like my Mecca, but this time I felt so sad. I wanted to fight the guys who I saw going into the windows. It’s all so fucked up. They are proudly and openly walking in to potentially rape women because it’s just part of the fun tourist vibe, it’s what you do in Dam. I find it highly concerning.
Anyway, back to beautiful Cam. Cam was here for about a year before she got sick one day, she developed a bad rash and flu like symptoms. She was physically fucked, malnourished from the sparse food she was provided with, and tired from being raped daily. Her pimps allowed her to have 2 days off when she got sick, they said that she was putting off the clients.
She had to return to work while she was still very unwell, and she said that she never really got better, she thought it was because she had no time to recover. A few months went by of Cam having severe lower back pain, reoccurring rashes, night sweats, fevers, and the feeling of a lingering cold. She had no way of accessing medical treatment because she could not speak English and she was not allowed out alone, but she became so bad that the pimps eventually took her to A&E.
Cam was diagnosed with HIV that day. The hospital used the female pimp as her interpreter. Cam had not heard of HIV before and the woman did not really explain much to her. Cam stayed in the hospital for 10 days before being discharged back to her ‘Aunt’s house’ with a very limited understanding of the enormity of what she had been told.
The traffickers put her back to work as soon as she got home, but they didn’t give her access to treatment and she soon became unwell again. Her looks were putting off the clients and eventually her traffickers told her that she was going to die and that she was no use to them anymore. They told her that she no longer owed them any money. They gave Cam £50 and told her that it was for her funeral and then kicked her out into the streets of Kings Cross with her suitcase. They kept her documents and passport.
Cam couldn’t speak a word of English and she didn’t know what to do so she went to the hospital where she had been diagnosed and she told them everything. She was brave as fuck for doing that. Cam had been referred to my service for support and after a while she became physically healthy and well. She responded well to treatment and she understood her infection. She was in the process of having her children brought over to the UK to live as she had claimed asylum here. She started to learn English and she made friends with some women in the hostel where she lived. She was an amazing woman. I always think of her fondly and I hope that life has bought her true happiness now. She had a beautiful soul.
My only foray into the world of sex work was a very brief stint as a sex chat line operator when I was about 21. Ashley had recently gone to prison and I was studying. I needed extra money to enable me to smoke weed and rave on top of paying for normal daily living costs that weren’t covered by my job seekers allowance and the low wages I was receiving working for a producer. I’d seen an advert in the back of a magazine and it looked like easy money. I love a bit of dirty talk anyway and so I thought that I would be pretty good at it.
You had to do a couple of mock calls before the company set you up with your own line and I passed with flying colours. I had a new landline installed in my house and I’d have to call a number and enter a code when I wanted to start work, once I’d entered the code my phone became a sex chat line. The men would call an 0845 number and hear a description of all the girls that were online. I was a young blonde called Tiffany. I had green eyes and huge boobs and I liked to be told what to do. They would press a number to choose which girl they wanted to talk to and that would then put the call through to the girl directly. I was told by my employer that the aim was to keep the men on the line for as long as possible and that I should terminate the call if a man was saying anything worrying or illegal.
I thought I was pretty opened minded and sexually free at the time, but boy, did those freaks open up my mind to the depravity out there. Most calls were quite quick, the men didn’t say much, you could hear them wanking from the start of the call but you didn’t want them to finish too quickly so you’d have to try to drag it out. There was a lot of ‘Tell me what you want to do to me’ at the beginning and then towards the end a lot of ‘Oh yeah, my little tight cunt is dripping wet, waiting for you to stretch me open and cum deep inside me.’ The whole while I’d be sitting there rolling a joint or painting my nails with Maury Povich on silent in the background.
I got turned on once. A guy called who sounded like he was hot. He told me he was mixed race, from London, 23 years old, he had a nice voice and I imagined him to be sexy. He was probably 5 ft 1 and 38 stone but never mind. He got the real deal on that phone call, but he was the only one. Apart from him and one old guy, the rest made me feel sick. The old guy stayed on the phone to me for over 4 hours. He didn’t want to talk about sex at all. He was lonely. His wife had passed away a year ago and his children didn’t visit much. We spoke about all of his experiences in the war, the jobs he’d done, how much he loved his wife. We spoke about everything, like friends. That call cost him £186. I felt terribly guilty and upset after that one.
I once spoke to a really scary sounding guy. He created this whole scene where I was a woman he had taken off the street into his house. He told me that he was masked and that once I was in his house I was too frightened to resist anything that he did. He talked about tying me up with ropes and gagging me to the point where I could not move or breathe. He spoke about opening my legs so wide that he could tie my legs to my hands above my head and keep me in that position so that he could find objects from around the house and insert them into my vagina and anus until both holes were torn open and bleeding. I had to terminate that call because it was so violent and graphic that I felt frightened. I shut off the line for the night after that call and I lay alone crying. Every noise in my house made me jump. He made me realise the type of sick freaks that are among us and I didn’t like it.
Some people might say that it’s better for someone like him to have an outlet, a place to release his harmful desires without having to physically hurt anyone. But I’m not so sure. I think having the ability to think it all out so carefully might have made him feel more inclined to carry out his desires in real life. The following day I took one final call before ripping the landline out of it’s socket and never looking back.
The final guy sounded creepy as fuck, like a Tory MP. He told me that he lived with his Mum and that he used to get home before her during weekdays. His daily ritual was to come home and have a wank whilst thinking about his Mother, he would then spunk into the Walls vanilla ice-cream that they kept in the freezer and give it to his Mum for pudding. He said that he would get aroused when he watched her eat it. I terminated that call too. Although I desperately wanted to find out his address so that I could go and warn his Mum. The poor, poor woman. I wondered what the fuck she had done to him in childhood that had made things go so badly wrong.
I have a close friend who works as an escort. Emma and I have never actually met in real life, but somehow we are still close, we speak often. We became friends on Instagram a few years ago. Emma is 30, she lives in Leeds, she’s sensationally good looking with long dark hair and huge brown eyes. She looks Arabic but she’s mixed race, White and Black Caribbean. She comes across as a sophisticated and happy woman on her Instagram. I started following her after she posted a picture of herself looking absolutely buff in a bikini, she has the most phenomenal body, but she’s had 2 children and her stomach is wrinkled and saggy. She does not give a fuck and the caption on the picture was empowering. It made me want to follow her.
We became Insta friends, commenting on pictures etc, but we didn’t become real friends for a little while. Emma posted a picture saying that she had completed a psychology degree and that she was struggling to find jobs because all of her applications were being rejected. I slid in her DMs and told her that I had done a psychology degree and that I was here to help if she needed me.
Emma asked if I could look at one of her applications and give her feedback. I thought that I would be able to give her a few pointers but when the application arrived I realised that she needed proper guidance. Emma is dyslexic and the application was all over the place. The whole thing needed changing and so we exchanged numbers and sat on the phone for 2 hours with our laptops open going through the whole thing with a fine toothed comb. Every time Emma filled out a new application we went through the same thing until she finally got to the point where she had got it and her applications became brilliant. All that time spent on the phone meant that after a while we started to become real friends.
We’d talk about men, life, love, our families, work, everything. We really liked each other and we started to become close. Emma was always really funny about men though. Every time we talked about sex she’d be like ‘Urgh, yuck’. She wanted to meet a man for companionship and love but she had no desire to be intimate. I would always try to explore that with her a bit and try to figure out where there had come from. One day Emma came right out with it and just said ‘Layla, I’m a prostitute.’
I didn’t quite know what to say, I was just like ‘Wow, cool, thanks for telling me.’ She laughed. It completely explains why she feels the way that she does about sex though. Most men make her feel sick. Being touched makes her feel sick. She’s been doing it for so long that sex has become work and it’s lost all meaning. Emma is interesting because in a sense, she’s choosing to do it, even though she doesn’t want to. Before she got her degree she was broke and she was introduced to it during a crisis point in her life by a friend.
Her friend is an escort who loves what she does, she loves sex and she gets off on having sex with a large majority of her clients. She’s made enough money to buy two properties and she’s having a great time. She’s self-employed, doing something she loves and it’s not effecting her mentally. She is one of the rarest types of escort, they exist, but they are not in the majority. I rate women like this but as I said, she is rare. I read something which said ‘Prostitution happens to you because of your troubles, in reality no woman would choose to do that’ and I believe that to be the truth.
Most are like Emma. She does it ‘by choice’, she’s not forced into it by a pimp, but she is forced into it because of her circumstances. Emma does it to survive. She was raised in Leeds by her Mother who was a crack addict. Her Mother worked in brothels and when Emma was 4 years old she remembers sitting in the reception area whilst her Mum was working upstairs. She’d be looked after by the other working girls and she looked up to them. She thought they looked glamorous in their fishnet stockings and heels. Emma’s views of women and sex were skewed from a very early age and there is no doubt in her mind that her childhood experiences drew her into that line of work.
She started doing it during some really dark times when she thought she was going to lose her house and she couldn’t afford to feed her kids. She’s not in those times anymore but now it’s an income that she’s come to rely on. And she’s desenistised to it. She’s happy and relatively carefree, but she doesn’t enjoy doing her job, she tolerates it. It has ruined her ability to have normal relationships and it has fucked up her perception of men. She’s a strong woman though. Emma has come through a lot and yet she’s still the most open, warm, hilarious and loving woman you could ever meet and I truly love her for not hating the world when the world has been so cruel to her.
Emma has some stories to tell, like the time that a guy paid her to pretend that he was a dentist and spent an hour looking in her mouth, the time that she fisted a guy (you don’t need the details), the time that she had a client one night and then walked into her Uni placement the next morning to find out that he was her new assessor, and the time that she had fancied a guy for ages after regularly seeing him out and about and then she opened up her hotel door to a client only to find that it was him (she enjoyed that one).
Emma once had a pretty woman style affair of her own and ended up having a relationship with one of her clients. He started out as being her Richard Gere, she believed that he was loaded. He would shower her with gifts and holidays. They fell in love and had a proper real romance. Until she found out that he was in a lot of trouble with his parents for maxing out his Mum’s credit card on the gifts he had bought for her. Turns out that pretty much everything he told her had been a lie. But then what do you expect from a man who pays women to have sex.
The last time I was on Tinder Emma joined at the same time, she travels all over for work and so she matches people from different parts of the country. I was speaking to a hot guy, my type, mixed race (Jamaican and Japanese), tall, very good looking, curly hair, lots of swag. We were getting on well and I was excited about where this one might go. Emma messaged me and told me that she had been chatting to a hot guy but she could not get the niggling feeling out of her mind that he looked really familiar. Then suddenly it hit her, he had been a client. She didn’t know whether to block him or to remind him that they had already met.
I asked her to send me his picture, and lo and behold, it was the same hottie that I had been chatting to. I blocked him immediately. It made me feel sick to think that I could have ended up dating a man who pays women to fuck him. It’s hard to say that without feeling like I’m being disrespectful to Emma and all those other escorts who are doing it by ‘choice’. I’m not. It’s not the fact that he’s had sex with an escort, that wouldn’t bother me at all, she’s the cleanest person I know and she would never have unsafe sex. The thing that would put me off is the man’s mentality because in my mind it’s not normal to use prostitutes. I don’t think fucking prostitutes is disgusting because the women are disgusting. The women do not disgust me at all. It’s the men.
But maybe they are not all disgusting perverts who want to harm women, or who hate women and want to take out their sexual aggression on them. Maybe some of them are just normal guys who aren’t even really paying for sex, perhaps it’s more the being able to leave afterwards that they are paying for. They can get sex elsewhere but they can’t be bothered to have to take women out first and they don’t want to have to talk to them after. That’s all well and good I suppose, but when you remember that the vast majority of prostitutes that he encounters are either not there by choice and sometimes not by their own freewill, then I’d say that it’s still a pretty weird thing to do.
I’m having a major dick drought at the moment and it’s effecting my mental health, but even if I remain single for the next 50 years, there will never come a point where I am so desperate that I will pay a man to have sex with me. I suppose I’d have to grow a dick to be able to understand why men really do it and I’m fairly certain that’s not going to happen. I don’t think anything can be done to stop men from using prostitutes, but I do think that they should be educated to recognise when a woman has been trafficked and given information about how to report it. And I also believe that we should stand by our sex working sisters and offer them our support and respect because it’s a hard world for them out there and it really could have ended up becoming a reality for any of us if our circumstances had been different.