Because everyone loves a recap, choose the podcast or full text below.
The story so far….
Hi. My name is Jessica J Garner, but most people call me Jess. I have a podcast called Excuse the Jess. I promise I won’t swear in this. I was told that I should give a recap with the second part of the final season coming up. Now, before we start, this is not an excuse for you to skip all the previous episodes and pretend you’ve listened. If you are planning to listen, STOP THIS RIGHT NOW and go back. Right, for those who need the recap, here we go..
My podcast started in 2021 when I was locked up in my house because the government labelled me extremely vulnerable. I was bored, fed-up, frustrated, getting old, and I thought that would be interesting enough to be a podcast. Not really; I talked about television, fun facts, quotes I found, and then a bit about my life. How my two best friends were Izzy and Ems, and how we’d been mates since our twenties. Actually, more than friends, family because I barely had any. No aunts, uncles, etc. My father and brother are away after a car crash when I was nine, resulting in health problems for me and my mother changing overnight. My parents had this rare love story, one I was never able to have. I had given up now in my forties, but then something happened. Jumping ahead, let's go back. Mum has lived in Australia now for nearly thirty years with my mean stepfather.
At the end of 2021, Covid caught up with me, and I became very ill. My friends were a bit busy then. Luckily, Ben kept an eye on me. Ben was the guy I wasn’t in a relationship with. Not a romantic one, anyway. When I eventually recovered, I went on a writing retreat. Did I mention I wanted to be a writer? That’s why I did the podcast initially. I went on a writing retreat, even though I wasn’t a real writer, and I thought I was out of my mind. In fact, it changed my perspective on things. I met Lauren there, who’s a screenwriter and persuaded me I needed to do this recap. I’d lost confidence. Being locked up alone at home for a long time and working in a place where everyone hated you can do that. Work then, I was an assistant Operations Manager, not to be confused with an assistant to the Operations Manager. I had been transferred to another factory at the beginning of 2022, miles from Cardiff, after the place I worked for shut down. The new site was also in trouble despite being bought out by a big American company. When I became convinced a small number of employees were stealing from the organisation, I took action. Not wanting to go to my direct manager, who I wasn’t sure was part of it, I went above his head and then above that guy’s head because he had an automatic reply. I didn’t know then that my manager’s manager’s manager had his own issues, like a partner who wouldn’t move out, so a trip to Wales was convenient timing for him. Weird, no women above me. Sorry, do that a lot.
So, Niles, not his real name, showed up and completely rocked my world. He immediately sacked all the guilty parties. It wasn’t enough for him; he was planning to close the factory anyway, so I asked him how much it would take to keep it open. He gave me the amount and two weeks to source it. Niles didn’t leave me to it, though. He sat in my office helping, asked me to assist him to move, invited himself out for a meal with my friends, and requested that I take him sightseeing. I thought I was a detraction from boredom, which was a real shame because I had fallen for him on sight.
After failing to raise just enough funds, I gave Niles a way to save the factory. It just wouldn’t save me. It was a case of making my role redundant and not replacing some of the sacked staff, merging those roles through head office. It wasn’t wholly altruistic because I realised it would be good for me never to see Niles again. Then I thought we had a moment, but apparently, I made him realise he should go back to his partner Daphne, also a pseudonym, and he left. He didn’t even email the immediate redundancy email. I finished what I didn’t have with Ben and desperately contemplated my next step. That’s when my friend Ems’s husband Simon came to my house drunk. Except I didn’t realise he was drunk because I was at rock bottom. That’s what I thought, anyway. It was when he left after he accused me of being the worst things and heavily intimated that he would hurt me, I realised that now I was officially at rock bottom. Izzy and Ems were there for me, and a 6-month contract seemingly came from nowhere from the scarily clever and lovely Dawn. It was in Reading. Ems asked if she could rent my house as Simon and her separated because of his alcohol issues. I gave her the lowest rent I could and said Simon couldn’t be there. Less than two weeks later, I was living and working in Reading.
My new place of work was a modern office block with a coffee shop downstairs. I am obsessed with coffee, so thought no good could come of it. That’s partly how Niles knew where to find me when he returned two weeks and one day after he left. He wanted to take me out on a date, but things got intense immediately. I stayed the night in his hotel room, and he moved into my one-bedroom apartment the next day. For the next few months, he divided his time between Reading and his home in New York. He also offered me a contract to help with the American company's factory transition and other bits and pieces. I had casually walked into a 60-hour working week.
Niles invited me to his parent’s house for Christmas 2022. There, I met his sister, Amy, who was super friendly. His parents were so welcoming, too. The fact that Niles wasn’t entirely truthful about the day's plans didn’t spoil it. I did get it into my head that he didn’t want to be seen with me, though, because of the way I look. When Niles found out, it made for a weird Valentine’s Day 2023, for which I also made the journey to New York. He was utterly confused by it, despite him never wanting to go out with me anywhere. Did I mention I had self-esteem issues? Just when I settled down, my life changed again in less than a month.
On a visit to Cardiff, I discovered that Simon, not Ems, had been living in my house for months. I should have guessed when Ems kept going on about me speaking to Simon so he could apologise. It was a step, apparently. Then I found out Izzy knew and didn’t tell me. I was betrayed by them both and devastated, putting my house up for sale. At least I still had Niles and my new friend Amy. Except, no more than a week later, on day 169 into our relationship, Niles mentioned marriage generally in conversation. I pointed out it was an old-fashioned institution that kept the patriarchy in place. He must have had strong feelings about that because he didn’t even pack the last of his things. He just wheeled his suitcase out of my apartment and left my life.
That is where you left me, March 2023. Izzy and Ems betrayed me, two contractor roles - my only source of income was about to go, and Niles had disappeared from my life. What happened next was just as head f…messing? I will tell you…. It’s going to take approximately nine episodes.