I’ve been quite brave this week. Instead of just waiting for David to reply to my text asking after my cats, and him (of course), I sent another one a few days later. Women didn’t chain themselves to railings and have feeding tubes put down their throats and camp at Greenham Common and pen The Female Eunuch and stand up to bullies such as Harvey Weinstein for nothing, after all. I can now be the one who not only texts first, but texts again.
‘Hi Dave. I’m in London tonight, so d’you fancy coming round for dinner? I could break the habit of a lifetime and go to Waitrose and buy ingredients. Special non-gluten flour. x’
By mid-afternoon, he had replied. I opened it. Oh dear. ‘Sorry, I can’t make it tonight. A bit of notice would help.’
Blimey. That was a bit sharp and unfriendly. And what’s he doing, and who’s he seeing?
I decided to put his latest missive to my panel of experts.
Nic said, ‘Oh well, maybe he’s had to rush to his mum’s bedside in Scotland. Or the flat has flooded again and he has no clean clothes.’ My friend Helen said, ‘He probably thinks you’ve been ignoring him. He doesn’t want to seem too available for a last minute invite on a Friday night. Anyone can tell he really loves you.’
You see? Completely useless. A litany of all those lies women tell each other to avoid us going into a downward spiral, which never, ever bloody well work anyway:
• ‘A mullet is the perfect shape for a wedding dress.’
• ‘He is going to ring you, please don’t worry, he’s probably just busy, or abroad, or dead.’
• ‘Perhaps he’s saving up to buy you something better and this one is just a token.’
• ‘His mum does like you, she’s probably just old and senile.’
• ‘I’m sure he ends all his work emails with several xxxx’s and a smattering of hearts, accompanied by a virtual explosion of red petals and fireworks.’
• ‘Of course he enjoyed sleeping with you. Maybe he always says to women as he leaves for the office in the morning, “Thank you for your support.” Perhaps he’s shy.’
• ‘He’s definitely thinking of putting a ring on it. Just because he says, “You take care” when he leaves the dinner date at 8.10pm doesn’t mean he’s giving you the brush off, noooo. He could have a really hungry cat. And that’s a great plus point, him being an animal lover. He’s probably desperate to have children with you.’
• ‘He wasn’t ignoring you, he just forgot his glasses and the restaurant was really foggy from people vaping.’ (Take this, opined to me by my friend Dawn, who had gone up to my ex in a jazz club, with me dragged along like a moody toddler, and who had said to him, with extravagant enunciation to make herself heard above what was frankly a racket, ‘Do you remember Liz Jones?’ and pointed at me. He simply pretended we didn’t exist. As we scuttled back to our table, I snapped: ‘So, Dawn, is he deaf as well as blind?’ To which she valiantly and sweetly replied, ‘He could be. You haven’t clapped eyes on him for 17 years. He might have been in a really nasty accident.’)
It is called Giving False Hope. And I’ve just realised why other women force you into these disastrous couplings, like a reluctant thoroughbred being manhandled, with straps and ropes and hoods and slaps, into the starting gate. It’s so they can then enjoy the sport, when you are finally manacled to some inappropriate idiot, of slagging him off. I said to Nic the other day that I can’t recall one single deep, meaningful conversation I’ve ever had with David (he doesn’t even cover the bases: on my moving house day in Yorkshire, he forgot to ask how it went), and she said, ‘Well, it would help if he was attractive.