Liz Jones: ‘In which I wish I could meet my match’

Remember last week, when the man who had stood me up for a second date, citing distance, FaceTimed me at 5.18am? I broke the habit of a lifetime and rose above. I ignored him. I was the better person.

Then, yesterday, he sent me this message: ‘I guess a date is out of the question?!’

Abbey Lossing at handsomefrank.com

Why the change of heart? I haven’t miraculously moved closer to where he lives near Cambridge (though it’s not for want of trying; I still yearn to be nearer to London with every cell of my tired old body). I have only become slightly better looking, I think, given that I have newly transplanted eyebrows.

The truth? He hasn’t been able to find anyone else in the almost year-long interim. He’s doubtless tried but has drawn a blank. That must tell you something. That a solvent (I’m assuming) 50-something man with all his own teeth, hair and legs hasn’t found anyone better than me.

Anyway, I ponder what to reply to his offer of a date and finally come up with this:

‘Which one are you?’

Ha!

A few days later, no reply, although I know he has read it, given the two blue ticks.

It got me thinking of all the put-downs I have squashed men with over the years, as if they were mere flies (though I would never swat an insect). Belittling one-liners they can never come back from.

When my ex-husband had whined that I never paid him a compliment, I replied, ‘Yes, I did. I said you have feet like paddles, so must be able to swim well.’

With the rock star, who was worried I’d read about his new girlfriend in the papers: ‘I thought Melody Maker had closed down.’

With the ex-fiancé. Oh, the possibilities were legion. When he had looked stymied on being asked if he knew the organic pub in Islington, I told him he reminded me of my last Uber driver. When we would sit in silence over dinner – I’ve never met anyone with less to say – I had commented that, given I was having to plough the claggy, clay earth of his conversation, I really should have a flock of seagulls following me, flapping and squawking. Even that was met with a blank stare.

The put-downs from men? Not in the same league! When I’d ordered £300 of food from Waitrose, the ex had whined after rummaging: ‘Did they not have any white pepper?’ When I’d bought a brand-new Mercedes sports car, his only comment? ‘Shouldn’t have bought diesel.’

The husband, opening my Smeg fridge using the hem of his T-shirt, whining in a high voice, ‘Respect my space!’ Yeah, well, listen, Mr Big Shot. If you had ever, just once, paid the cleaner, you might have earned the right to smudge. He used his working-class credentials to punish me, merely because I’d once played netball.

Relationships shouldn’t be battles, should they? Endless sparring. As if I were Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday. And they were, well, not Cary Grant, that’s for sure.

That sparring of equals would be sport, wouldn’t it, even fun, but how to find a man who is quick and witty, not slow and chippy? Not a toddler in search of a mum for all the admin, a compliant young woman for sex. The minute you are difficult, they limp for the hills.

I need to find my equal. Just someone, I suppose, who is on my side.

Then, despondent on a beautiful spring afternoon, with no one to share it with, I got a WhatsApp out of the blue. ‘We’ve split up. Thought I’d let you know before you read about it in Melody Maker.’

Dear reader. I did not type, ‘Which one are you?’

Read more of Liz’s diaries here