So. I’m In bed with David. It’s a Friday night, and we have just watched Newsnight.
Me: ‘I think Emily Maitlis was a bit harsh when she interviewed Stormy Daniels.’
Him: a puzzled look, as though I have just asked him to name the new designer at Dior. Or explain quantum physics. He looked a bit frightened, too, of saying the wrong thing. Which he then did.
‘Who in God’s name is Emily Maitlis?’
Seriously. How can he not know who Emily Maitlis is? Even if he had no idea before, he’s just been sitting in front of the TV watching her grill President Trump’s sometime companion. I was too tired to say any of this. Instead, I just said, ‘It’s like having a conversation with a potato.’
All of which makes me wonder: is it possible to be in a relationship with a man if you have absolutely nothing in common?
We have no mutual friends. We have no shared interests: I love the cinema, while I think the last film David saw was Jaws. I have thousands of books. I think he owns one – a Dan Brown-ish thriller, which he left, unread, by the pool in the South of France; he thinks Kate Mosse is a supermodel. He failed to recognise Brad Pitt in a line-up. I hike for miles every day; the other night, he insisted on driving to a vegetarian restaurant, even though it’s a five-minute walk. I also don’t think he’s super keen on my collies – he sees them as love rivals.
Ah, you might counter, but do I share any of his interests? No. Because he doesn’t have any, beyond watching Formula 1 and The Big Bang Theory. Oh, and me. He could probably pass an exam in me. Whereas I thought he once worked as a postman up North. Which he didn’t.
But men can’t win really, can they, with us Modern Misses? Show too little interest in what we do – viz when, a couple of years in, he revealed at a dinner party he had no idea I wrote for this newspaper as well as this magazine – and we bar them from the bedroom. But show too much – while trying to sort his iPad, I noticed he was on page 84 of a thread about me on Digital Spy – and we accuse them of being a sad stalker with no life of their own.
It’s strange, isn’t it, how we date people we would never have as friends? Also, it’s odd how our friends feel perfectly at liberty to criticise the man in our life, whereas if you were to say to them, ‘My God, your child’s ugly/stupid/monosyllabic!’ you’d be ostracised for life. My friends are split on David. Nicola hates him. When she found out, via my column as I hadn’t dared tell her, that I am seeing him again, she went ballistic. Another friend told me straight: ‘He’s not clever enough for you.’
But older women are not as strident as younger ones (I include myself in the latter group). I was taking my best friend Sue’s mum, who’s in her 80s, out for the day and she asked me how it’s going with David. I told her I’m not sure. The ball is in my court, which is a novelty for someone who has always repelled men. I told her I fell in love with him at first sight: at a May ball, 1983, when he was bobbing around on his toes in a DJ. That has never happened since. My husband had to grow on me and even then I wasn’t convinced, although he is the only man I’ve ever met (bar my gay ex-best friend) able to make me laugh. After it was on the BBC news that my house had been shot at, and I’d received lots of ‘Poor you, are you OK?’ emails, I met him for dinner at Manna. He sauntered in, cowboy fashion, imaginary pistols blazing from each hip. He wasn’t an enabler, either – his pet name for me, a recovering anorexic, was Chubby.
Nothing about me and David makes sense. His pet name for me is Sweetie, an epithet I found out (by going back on his Facebook for years) is the one he gives all his women. I told him I prefer Darling, or Gorgeous. ‘OK,’ he said. ‘Let me write that down.’ You see? We women are now so controlling we edit the names they call us in bed, but complain when they fail to take control. No wonder he still can’t climax during sex…
You see? I told you I repel men.