In which we decide to be ‘friends’

Finally, a week later, he replies to my question, asking why on earth he would text and ask me if we were indeed on a break before he went out to s*** some poor woman, and was he trying to make me jealous?

I wake on Sunday morning to this: ‘Hello, if indeed this actually gets to you and doesn’t bounce back. You made it pretty obvious that you no longer want me. You didn’t accept my apology and told me I had “no plus points”; what else was I to think? I was checking with you, last Friday, if my fears were true and we had broken up. I thought it was an amusing way to do that. I was not going out on a “date”, just meeting a friend.’

He thinks he can behave appallingly, ie, smoke in my bathroom, and an apology will make it all better? It doesn’t. There have to be repercussions, surely? And ‘amusing’? He really upset me, and on a Friday night as well.

I thought I might just ignore him for a few decades, as he ignored me, from 1983 to 2013. But that might be quite a long gap in these columns. So instead I send this: ‘Shall we just agree to be friends?’

He replies: ‘I’d like that. It would certainly be less painful.’

I am slightly miffed. I thought he might beg for a bit, say, ‘Nooooooo, that is not enough! Pleaasseeee!’

Then I get this: ‘Is that friends with benefits?’

He really does have a one-track mind. I reply: ‘Wouldn’t you like to know?’

He replies, ‘Yes.’

On Sunday night, he writes: ‘So, how are you? Any news on your writing course?’

He is trying. But he should have written, ‘Any news on the MA?’

I reply: ‘I didn’t get in. They said that I’m, and I quote, “Not up to standard”. Am sure I’ve written about that in my column, but I’m not sure if it’s been published yet. I have to go to that private view I told you about in a couple of weeks. It’s in Chichester Cathedral, so you might not want to as it’s a long way. Strictly as friends.’

I stressed the ‘friends’ bit; that way, I won’t have to have a half leg and Hollywood wax.

He replies, swift as you like: ‘I’d love to see the paintings, so yes please.’

Me: ‘I’m staying at the Bailiffscourt Hotel on the coast, as I have to see the exhibition for work. I’ve no idea where you’re going. They don’t allow smoking in the rooms. I’m taking the puppies so they can go to the beach the next day.’

It’s quite nice, having a distraction, because I still wake at 3am every day. I’ve started another novel: writing one, I mean, not reading one. I am hoping this is THE ONE. Everyone only succeeds after years of hard work, and trying, and rejection, and disappointment, don’t they? Isn’t the key to keep going? Everyone thinks I’m successful, but I’m not. Every day, I’m knocked down, passed over or just plain ignored: I suggested an interview with the aforementioned artist to a weekly magazine; I never received a reply, not even an acknowledgement. I sent my screenplay to an agent, a firm who made many hundreds of thousands from me over the years. I never got a reply. I have just pitched a travel piece to a glossy. The word rate they offered me ‘if you can come up with a unique idea we like’ was 25 per cent of what I used to pay my writers when I was a deputy editor on a Sunday newspaper in 1996.

David keeps texting me, trying to be funny. He has just sent me a picture of a room that looks like a building site. ‘Oh, you’ve made some improvements to your flat!’ I type back.

‘I wish. No.’

God, I’ve lost my home, but I still try to make my rented house nice. I’ve planted white geraniums (I could only afford two baby ones). Herbs. I’ve lit the candle I bought in St Tropez three years ago, so you can tell I’m pushing the boat out.

Then Nic said something that struck a chord. She said that not only have I lost my house, my beautiful garden, my car, Sky TV, my TVs, a gardener, life insurance, contents insurance, treatments and hairdresser, new clothes and all my possessions. I have lost my coping mechanism, which had been to treat myself: to a massage, a nail polish, a film at the cinema. She’s right. Without those rewards, there seems no point. Why should I work so hard, and try, and be publicly humiliated, to have precisely 42p in my account? Why?