I know I should stop writing about my ex. A neighbour, who popped round with a bottle of wine, told me my readers want me to be with an intelligent new man. ‘Never mind that David was attractive in 1983. Looks don’t matter. You need someone super bright!’ OK, but where is that man, as elusive as a snow leopard?
Even David emailed me today, when I was berating him for not congratulating me for being shortlisted in the Press Awards, ‘If your writing was less acerbic, it would be even more popular.’
OK, so, here is me being more positive. He clearly wants me back. I’ve won in this game of horizontal table tennis. When I responded to his very upset email about my internet dating ‘adventure’, saying I was forced to do it as an assignment, he responded: ‘To say “it’s my job” didn’t work in Nuremberg and doesn’t work here. Anything I’ve done that upsets you has been done in ignorance, stupidity or accident. I have always tried to please you. You ask me to take charge and when I do you get upset [he is talking about when he took the side of an insane Uber driver]. I will always love you and want you to be happy. X’
Who is he, Whitney Houston? And to liken my dating piece to being a war criminal is a bit, well, extreme, surely? I told him, ‘Why does my writing a piece about dating have anything to do with you?’
‘You are right. It doesn’t.’
I am currently writing the script for my one-woman show next year, which has entailed digging out photos and memories for the backdrop onstage. Never a good idea.
A photo of Sam, my dead collie, herding my chickens. A photo of my rescue dog Hilda, who has died. Magazine covers I put together. Photos of David as a young man. My family. My wedding. And do you know what the overriding message was, other than that my previous Harley Street dentist didn’t allow a millimetre gap between my veneers, making me a bit too Martine McCutcheon? (I had them replaced. God knows why, as I only ever smile in photos for work, under duress.)
Confidence. Or lack of. That is what has plagued my life. I put Natalie Portman on the cover of my glossy magazine: a stunning black and white portrait of her lovely face for the Christmas issue. It was intended to have the masthead picked out in 3D gold. Stunning. My boss vetoed the cost. So we went with a boring full-length of the Oscar-winner wearing jeans.
‘What eez this!’ the French owner of the magazine shouted at the next board meeting in Paris, a dreadful affair where they served only tiny songbirds drowned in alcohol, and had never heard the word ‘vegan’. I wasn’t confident enough to tell her that cover was not my choice.
I wasn’t confident enough to flirt with David while he was still attractive. I was so unsure of myself that I gave people things – Fridays off, holidays, gifts – in order to get them to like me.
I am not even confident enough to believe I deserve a nice breakfast, or a lovely walk, or a break. When I saw the photos of the ministers arriving for that make-or-break summit at Chequers last month, they were driving open-top sports cars, had their kiddies in the front seat, and were smiling. Why are you smiling? How can you have a LIFE or a WIFE when the country is at stake? Why are you not gripping the steering wheel, rigid with fear?
I recorded a radio show atop Primrose Hill the other day with the BBC DJ Jo Good and my rescue collie Missy in tow. It was one of those ‘walking with my dog’ programmes. They recorded Missy lapping in a puddle. ‘I can’t believe Liz lets her dog drink from a puddle!’ Jo boomed into her microphone. At the end she asked me, having remarked a bit worriedly, ‘Missy is a little obsessed with children in prams, isn’t she? So, Liz. You are back home in a beautiful part of London. You look great. But would you say you are happy?’
‘Only insane people are happy.’ I have no work-life balance. I rarely smile. I no longer have an open-top car. But I am getting more confident, which I think only comes with age. So I behave in a forward fashion for the first time in my life.
I type in an email: ‘So, where do we go from here? If anywhere?’