LIZ JONES’S DIARY: In which an old flame is reignited

Bad news. Bad news. Odd news. Slightly nice news. I finally plucked up the courage to read the text from Australia. It wasn’t from the Hunk, but from my nephew, about my sister, who is in a care home outside Sydney.

Abbey Lossing

The second bit of bad news came while I was scrolling through my Twitter feed, and someone had posted about my email to the Hunk, when I’d asked after him and said I’d love to see him and indeed actually love him: ‘You are deranged. You haven’t seen the man for
ten years. How can you possibly be in love with him? And can you imagine how upset David must be to read that?’

She’s right, I suppose. She added, ‘If he was interested, he would be following your column, listening to your podcast and secretly following you on Twitter.’ Not quite so sure about this as a) he is a busy man and b) he’s not David. And c) he’s not a woman.

I have to pull her up on one point, though. If David is upset, it’s his own fault. He never smartened himself up. He never engaged in meaningful conversation with me. I texted him the other day, to ask if he’s been watching Grayson Perry’s art club on TV (David went to the RCA*, so I am trying to engage in his interests), and he replied with a stilted, formal, ‘It was very interesting and highlighted what a wealth of talent is out there.’ Not even a ‘How are you? How’s Swirly?’ or even an ‘Ouch.’

So that was the ‘odd’ bit, and now here is the slightly nice bit.

An email, out of the blue.

‘Lovely Liz…’

You see? David only ever called me ‘Sweetie’, which is what he called every woman in his life and used in case he forgot the name of the new one.

‘I’m sorry this isn’t the Hunk. We met once at Claridge’s; you wrote about me in your memoir: “He was nice but when he stood up I couldn’t tell if he was still sitting down.” [Ouch.] We got on well enough to meet for a drink at Canary Wharf. After that, life [David?] got in the way. My father owns [huge luxury brand here] and I live in Westcliff in Essex. I don’t know if you remember me.’

I do remember him. He was funny. But I think after our second drink, when I had seen him pull up in a new Porsche, I decided against him as he was shorter than me. (Oh, those were the days when I could turn men down!)

He continued: ‘When it’s possible after lockdown, I have friends in Yorkshire I must visit. It would be lovely if I could buy you lunch while I am up there. I know your one-woman show reaches Westcliff on 1 November. It would be great to see you then if you would like. I hope I hear from you but, above all, I hope you are as well and happy as possible. Kindest regards, P.’

Shall we analyse this missive?

First, he shows interest in my work, having looked up the dates of my tour. He offers to buy lunch. He is polite. Brave. I show his email to Nic, my assistant.

‘He sounds rich,’ she says.

‘But why isn’t he married?’ I ask reasonably. ‘I think he has a holiday home in France.’

‘Maybe he’s too in luuurve with you.’

‘I doubt that. I was horrible to him. I wrote about his height.’

I draft my reply…

‘Hello! How lovely to hear from you, and of course I remember you fondly. You were so kind to me, and I repaid that kindness by writing about your shortcomings [!]. I can’t think why you aren’t married. David and I got engaged, twice, but it didn’t work out. Mainly as I wrote about him, which he found hard. But he also refused to make any effort. Men! It would be lovely to have lunch and catch up. Liz x’

So now I’m waiting for his reply… Why am I always waiting, like a character in a Jane Austen novel? Why?

*Rochdale College of Art