It was all going so well. We were in an Uber, on the way to a dinner party in Greek Street, Soho. I had driven down from Yorkshire that day: six hours on the motorway. And so I closed my eyes for five minutes. The cab came to a halt.
I peered out of the window. ‘Where on earth are we?’
‘The driver says the road is closed. We can get out here, it’s fine,’ David said. He had the patronising manner of someone who wants to be seen as left wing and down with the people. Therefore, he was patronising me, almost willing me not to make a fuss.
‘But I’m wearing Louboutins! The whole point of a taxi is to drop you at the door! If I wanted to walk I would have got the tube!’
‘It’s not his fault the road is closed,’ David said slowly, as though speaking to a psychiatric patient. ‘Soho Square has been closed for at least five years. It’s his job to know.’
And then he said it: ‘If you wanted a driver who knew the way, you should have ordered a
‘I was made bankrupt, David. I am trying to save money. Why didn’t you keep an eye on where he was going or, better still, why didn’t you order a black cab?’
‘Shush!’ he hissed.
Well, I’m sorry, nobody shushes me. ‘How dare you shush me! Why can’t you be more like a man and take control of where we’re going? Why am I always in charge? I’m sick of it!’
We eventually got to the other end of Greek Street, nearly an hour late. We got out. I started to walk, slowly. He didn’t help me, but muttered something under his breath. This is something he does often: snide little remarks he thinks I can’t hear. ‘What did you just say?’ I asked him.
‘Haven’t you got your ears in?’
‘Don’t abuse the disabled.’
Dinner was OK, as we were surrounded by other people. After, I hailed a black cab in the street and we got back to my flat. He had forgotten his toothbrush*.
The next day, we go for breakfast at the Cowshed café. We sit outside while we wait for our toast and coffee. That morning, I’d read an interesting interview with a woman called Sophie Hannah who has written a book about how it can be good for you to bear a grudge rather than forgive and move on. One sentence struck a chord: ‘I know a person who’s perfectly lovely and I’ve always had a very enjoyable evening with them, but if ever anyone does something bad to me this person always sides with the person who’s been bad… They are not the person to go to if a lorry driver deliberately ran me over because they’d say: “Well, the lorry driver might have been having a bad day and anyway you’re not perfect.”’
‘David,’ I say, interrupting his moan that the café has no marmalade. ‘I read something this morning that describes perfectly what you do to me, often. Don’t get mad, I just want you to know what you do and that I want you to stop.’
I read it to him and he misses the point entirely. For 45 minutes. He keeps unfolding maps and saying that after we’d gone past Dean Street, he knew we were going a mad way. I tell him no matter how unreasonable I was being, he should have been on my side. Which he wasn’t. I add that he will often mutter something about me under his breath. And that he overreacted to my quite reasonable demand to be dropped in the right place: he had bent double, holding his head in his hands.
He had even threatened to storm off down Greek Street, abandoning me. ‘That’s also something you do: storm off at the slightest thing.’
‘I know,’ he says. ‘I don’t like conflict.’ He walks me to my car, where I face another six hour drive. I start to cry. He hugs me. ‘Your job is to look after me,’ I tell him. ‘I don’t understand why everyone is so horrible to me.’
‘I don’t know where we go from here,’ he says, and I wonder whether he’s debating the best way for me to get to the M1, or if in fact he means our relationship. ‘What do you mean?’ I squeak.
*To my shame, we still had sex.