David brought me a pot of coffee in bed on Christmas morning. When I came downstairs, three small parcels were on my desk.
‘Open that one first,’ he said. It was a can opener. Useful! The next gift was a blowtorch for cooking. The last, a canister of gas for said blowtorch. He must have seen the look on my face, as he said, ‘But you said you didn’t have a blowtorch.’
‘I have no need of one. I don’t eat sugar, remember.’
He then unfurled his right hand and in it was a small orange jewellery box. He handed it to me. I opened it. It was a diamond ring. Quite a large stone in a bevelled surround, not claws, which is good. But in yellow gold. All I could think of was that scene in Sex and the City when Carrie Bradshaw informed the girls Aidan had proposed with ‘a pear-shaped diamond in a gold band’. To which Samantha retorted, ‘No wonder you threw up.’
But all I could say was, ‘What sort of ring is it?’
‘An engagement ring!’
‘But you haven’t proposed! Are you serious?’
‘Of course I am.’
‘But you haven’t got down on one knee.’
‘I doubt I’d ever get back up.’
‘Did you buy it online?’ (I’m already thinking of scrolling through his emails, which is how I discovered the last ring he gave me – on a minibreak in Paris, staying in the Carrie Bradshaw suite at the Plaza Athénée – cost £21.99.)
‘No, I went into an actual shop. Took me ages to choose the right one.’
I tried to put it on but it was way too small. He had underestimated my girth. ‘I have very large knuckles,’ I told him.
‘We can have it made a bit bigger on Boxing Day,’ he said.
We. He has already started to use the dreaded We word.
‘So are you sure you want to marry me?’ I asked.
‘Of course I do. But I’m not sure you want to live with me.’
‘No, I don’t think I could stand being in the same house.’
‘But if we do get married, it has to be really small and quiet. Las Vegas. Gretna Green. Neither of us has any money to spend on a wedding.’
‘Speak for yourself. I’m planning on being rich in 2020,’ I told him. ‘But no, I’d never spend a huge amount on one day. I’ve learnt that much.’
That night, my friend came round for vegan nut roast and a game of Scrabble. David roasted vegetables, but forgot to put the sponge in the trifle. ‘My head’s all over the place,’ he said by way of explanation. She gave me a Missoni towel. ‘That’s great!’ I said. ‘David will no longer have to share the dogs’ towel.’ Neither of us mentioned the ring, which is odd, don’t you think? Normally, you’d show it off. Share the news.
It’s now Boxing Day. I still haven’t technically said yes. While he’s in the bath, I’m examining the ring under a lamp with the dogs standing watch. There is a hallmark. The ring is very light, while my grandmother’s platinum and diamond engagement ring (which I gave to my niece when she got married) was heavy. He must know that when I take it to the jeweller to have it made bigger, I will ask if it’s real. He wouldn’t give me a ‘token’ ring twice, would he? He can’t be that stupid.
Then, bingo! I am rifling through his wallet, as you do, and there is a receipt from a pawnbroker in London’s Denmark Hill. For £392.
I’m not quite sure how I feel. Too expensive to disregard, not take him seriously, throw him and his blowtorch out in the snow. That was probably every penny he owned and, remember, I didn’t even get him a gift. But it’s not expensive enough to sway me. I text my assistant Nic for her opinion, with a photo. ‘Hmm,’ she replies. ‘He needed to have spent three grand at least.’
Anyway, today I’m taking it to a jeweller to get it resized. First, though, while I’m there, I might ask them a few questions about it. In the meantime, I am asking myself, do I want to die alone? Or do I want to be with him for the rest of our lives which, given the look of him, won’t be that long? Is it fair to string him along if I’m not 100 per cent sure? Does anyone know for certain how they feel? Unless it’s the love for a dog.
Right, I’m off to the jeweller. And to make my decision…