My friend Andrea from Belfast came to stay with me for the weekend. At the airport, she texted: ‘What is your favourite brand of champagne? I know you are really fussy.’
I replied: ‘Andrea. I got engaged to a man who doesn’t own a teaspoon. Any will be fine.’
It was so nice to spend a couple of days with someone normal, ie, not a man. She helped with the horses and took Mini on lots of special walks, although Missy wouldn’t go: ‘It was so funny, she got to the end of the path that turns down to the abbey and just stopped. Then we walked back, and she wanted to go in and see the stables. Then she wanted to go home. She’d done as much walking as she wanted to! She’s a girl who knows her own mind and I admire that.’
Andrea paid for dinner. She is so interesting and well-travelled, we talked for hours. She appreciated the beauty of the place and kept taking photos. She didn’t say, on a dog walk, four seconds in, ‘That looks suspiciously like a slope.’
But it being a Sunday, I logged on to my email and, as is the norm, it was full of people telling me off.
First, the estate agent, charged with selling my rented cottage, said it wasn’t useful for me to write about it online. Online! I’m not a blogger, I am in an actual, you know, physical magazine.
I replied that there is more to being a landlord than taking rent to pay your mortgage, and that heating might have been an idea.
Then I got an email from David, who is blocked, so I have absolutely no idea why I can still see his emails (Nicola?! Siri?!).
He wrote: ‘Hi, I hope you get this. I’m distressed. It’s upsetting to hear that you cannot wear the beautiful dress I bought you. I don’t understand why it wasn’t exchanged for the correct size at the time. Please take it to a dressmaker and have it altered to fit. Let me know the cost and I will be happy to pay for it. Love, David.’
Jesus H Christ. He is obviously still listening to my podcast, in the latest edition of which I was joking about what I should wear to a formal do at Claridge’s. I had mentioned the Dries van Noten dress with the gold inlay, which he did indeed buy for me, and I might have said that it was ‘Size Fat’.
It was just a throwaway comment. A joke. More an indictment of my own body – starved since I was 11, a breast reduction aged 29 – than a criticism that he bought the wrong size.
Problem is, people can’t see beyond themselves. It’s as if the whole world is glimpsed through a teeny porthole that only allows them to see what concerns them, and never the big picture.
He doesn’t think, well, she has a job, it isn’t about me. And, Jesus, Liz bought me an N Peal cardigan with a contrasting collar and I let it get all screwed up and riddled with holes from moths. Oh, and a gold (‘plated’, as he kindly pointed out) Dunhill lighter that I just lost in the Plaza Athénée because I’m careless*. Let’s allow this one to slide.
Maybe he thinks he’s being helpful. Maybe he’s jealous that I’ve moved on. Who knows? But why not just cheer me up with something funny, rather than whine about something ‘I bought you’ years ago?
Anyway! Tomorrow, I’m meeting the Rock Star at the Talbot Inn, which is in the foodie capital of Yorkshire. He’s on his way up to Scotland. I have booked a table in the bar, having warned the proprietor that I’m vegan and will have four collies with me, two of whom are incontinent. I’m hoping he’s booked a room…
*At the time, he blamed me for hurrying him up as I was in a taxi downstairs