After he stayed for the weekend, and left first thing on Monday, he sent me a text. ‘Thank you for a fantastic birthday week!’ I felt mean, so I texted him. ‘Maybe you could come back for another weekend some time.’
‘How about I come this Friday? It will be like we’re a couple.’
Blimey. He is keen. Like most men, though, he tends to require food. Which means I will have to buy some. He’s very 70s in the way he eats, too: he can get through a box of Maldon sea salt and a brick of butter in two days.
He turned up on Saturday, bearing champagne, then went to get us a takeaway curry. I felt deliriously grateful. ‘How was your week?’ I asked him. ‘Oh, I saw my daughter, she’s over from Sweden with her mum. She’s 17 now, can you believe it?’ ‘No!’ ‘Yes! She speaks English now, too, so that helps. As I haven’t seen her for years, I asked if she had any questions, anything she’d like to know about me. And she said, “No, you’re OK. I read about you every Sunday.”’ Oh dear.
On Sunday, I asked him to help me in the garden in return for me buying him a pub lunch. He fiddled with the strimmer for ages, but couldn’t get it to work. ‘But you’re a man,’ I said. ‘You’re supposed to be able to do things like this. Otherwise, what is the point of you? What’s the point of watching all those Brian Coxes? You are never going to be sent into space. But if you want to be in “a couple”, as you call it, you need to know how to use simple garden tools.’
But we didn’t argue for a change: he just took it on the chin. On our way to lunch, I showed him the outside of the lovely townhouse I have put an offer in to rent. ‘It’s very big,’ was the only thing he said. ‘But when we went to your friends’ party, and I said why do they need seven bedrooms, you said, and I quote, “You can never have too much space”! I suppose that doesn’t apply to single women who live on their own. We don’t deserve it. It only applies to your leftwing friends.’
He just laughed. ‘Anyway, it’s not that big,’ I told him. ‘And it’s much cheaper than where I am now.’
He left on Monday, this time to drive to Scotland to visit his mum. He sent me a text to say he’d arrived safely, beginning it with, ‘Hello there, Mrs Scrace…’
‘Why on earth are you calling me that?’
‘It was in reference to your diary entry yesterday. Sort of felt good that you would choose my name as an alias.’
Oh dear God. I’d used his name to view that lovely house, as if I give my own name the phone gets slammed down. I’d been avoiding looking back at what I’d written, as I’d been dreading that particular column being published.
I typed back: ‘It’s not a diary, it’s a column! I hate it when people call it that! I was trying hard to avoid knowing if what I’d written about viewing that lovely townhouse was out yet. You know, the bit about not getting it due to having two dogs and the landlord being an arrogant a***, wanting peace and quiet to be creative, when I’m the artist who needs tranquillity! That means I will never get it now.’
I’d probably been under the cosh to file my copy and had nothing else to write about. I should have written about how to load the dishwasher instead. I visited the home of a painter not long ago, and she has her own work everywhere: in the hall, on the stairs, piled up in the sitting room. I wonder how she can stand it. Do you know that old adage? If you’re not scared when you press ‘send’, you’re just a PR? I hate being reminded about what I’ve written. I can’t bear to glimpse my byline photo in the paper.
‘Sorry,’ David wrote. ‘I didn’t mean to upset you. Later.’
I can’t stand people who type ‘later’. It’s like I’m being dismissed. And anyway, HE texted ME.
And then I got an email. A huge smile…
Illustration: Bee Murphy