The fundamental problem with my life is that I am high end. This doesn’t mean I’m princessy, just that I expect the best. My head was turned when I was made editor of a glossy magazine. I would go into Gucci on New York’s Fifth Avenue, spy a normal white shirt at $600 and say, ‘Oh, that’s reasonable. I’ll have one in black as well!’ I’d be flown to Capri, and invited on board the Tod’s yacht. I’ve been ringside at the Monaco Grand Prix, sat on a yacht next to a young woman of whom I enquired, ‘What do you do?’ Only when I watched the first Hunger Games film did I twig it was Jennifer Lawrence. I was put up at the Mondrian hotel in LA by Donatella Versace herself, driven to the flagship on Rodeo Drive and invited to ‘say hello to a heel’. Which I did.
So I’ve been spoilt, but given I grew up penniless in Essex, I always remembered to be grateful. I went on a (freebie) skiing wellness retreat last year with a small group of ‘journalists’: treatments, delicious food, our own snow-walking guide. On departure, while I was in reception paying for my extra massage and off-piste drinks, a very posh girl was complaining, ‘They are making me cough up for my dry cleaning!’
This is the problem with the world I (used to) teeter through: it makes you ghastly. I remember, too, being in LA for the Oscars at a lunch given by Jimmy Choo. A gift voucher was left on each plate. ‘Do you want mine?’ the blonde on my left said, ‘Cos I only wear Louboutins.’
After I was declared bankrupt two years ago, there was a moment during my interrogations by the Official Receiver when I’d wailed to her, ‘Why didn’t you do this four years ago? It would be over by now.’ And she said, ‘Losing everything all at once would have been too much of a shock. This way, you’ve had a chance to adjust.’
Well, I haven’t adjusted that much. Which is why I had to leave the awful Airbnb with its swirly carpet on my recent break to see friends. But where to now? It’s David’s birthday on Thursday, so I call Lime Wood hotel, which nestles in the New Forest like a shiny beacon to high-endness.
‘Now. Listen to me,’ I said, like Mrs Richards from Fawlty Towers. ‘I don’t want to stay in the annexe, or the cottages by the entrance as you get lots of people driving past. I don’t want the new lake cabin open to the woods as I’m scared of insects. Do you have the room in the main house with the bath at the end of the bed?’
I’d stayed in this room before, as a guest of high-street store Peacocks. A brand new iPod had been left on my pillow, and the wardrobe stuffed full of that summer’s collection, with a note saying I was to ‘take it all home’. I then had dinner in the private salon with various supermodels, musicians and movie stars. I was so spoilt, I left the Peacocks collection where it hung.
Back to Lime Wood reception. ‘Um, no, that room is fully booked. But we do have a generous room overlooking the spa area.’
I told her that would be fine, before telling her David is coeliac and I’m vegan, at which point she probably lost the will to live.
I emailed David, subject header, ‘Right, you old sod.’
‘Be ready at midday on your birthday. Will be at yours. Bring toothbrush and a nice suit and T-shirt. You are driving. Liz x’
Several decades later, I got this: ‘Really! You know, Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same experiment and expecting different results.” I don’t need expensive trips, I would rather be treated with a modicum of care and respect. Besides, what would all your advisors* say? X’
Me: ‘Is that a yes or a no?’
‘Good question. I don’t think I was sure myself. I’ve just ordered new T-shirts, it would be a shame to waste them. So yes, thank you.’
Me: ‘Yay! And swimming trunks!’
Him: ‘They will take some finding.’
Well, that was it. High-end Lizzie lost it.
‘Bit more positive! So far I’ve had: 1. You’re not sure if you’re coming. 2. You want me to treat you with more respect when I’m offering an olive branch and a nice thing. 3. You think you might come as you’ve “ordered some T-shirts” anyway. 4. And now you say you can’t find your swimming trunks.
He replied: ‘You are right. I will be more positive from now.’