I’ve moved out of the cottage.
No, I haven’t been made homeless. Again. The flagstone floor is finally, after a seven-month hiatus, being laid. I’m staying at my friend’s house about a mile away. She’s terrified of Covid, so I have to stay in my bedroom, which luckily has a lovely balcony with a view of a castle and rolling hills. My friend leaves food outside my door on a trolley. It’s like being on holiday – or in a care home. My dog Missy is very discombobulated. Every time we get back to the house after a walk she plants, both front paws splayed, and refuses to go in. Gracie is so far holding in the runny poos.
I was reading Finding Freedom, about Meghan and Harry, and came across a paragraph where Kate gives Meghan a gift from the luxury brand owned by new man P and his family. So I texted him the passage. He was thrilled. ‘Excellent! Any celebrity link is priceless!’
He is much more chatty than David. On Sunday morning, he sent a text asking what I’m up to over the weekend. He told me he had been reading the comments under my column, which he said were all critical, and that he had wanted to be supportive so posted a comment in which he outed himself as the mysterious P. This resulted in him being blocked. ‘I’ve never been banned from anything in my life!’ he wrote. ‘Unlike you, of course.’
He also said he’d been watching sport, which is something he always does between relationships* as ‘I know women hate it’. I told him I like showjumping and used to enjoy football with my husband.
‘I was outstanding at sport when I was younger,’ he went on. ‘Football, tennis, golf. I’m stronger and fitter than most men my age and am not coming to terms with this ageing business. I recently played tennis for a lot of money with a 25-year-old!’
I wonder how that works, playing tennis for money. Is it like a sponsored swim? But, anyway, you can see how he’s trying to impress me**. As a teenager, I once reached the semifinal of a tennis tournament at the Wickford Lawn Tennis Club (there was no lawn, just concrete), but there were only three of us taking part.
I then told him I’d just appeared on BBC One. ‘No! What was the programme? I’m going to search on catch-up.’
I wouldn’t normally tell anyone I’d been on TV as I hate how I look, especially as these days it’s filmed via Zoom: Captain Pugwash’s face encased in Michael Jackson’s wig. With previous men, I have always tried to be something I’m not: either rich, as with the last one, or into jazz, as with the Osama bin Laden lookalike, or easygoing, as with the Rock Star, or incredibly well read about the Enlightenment and philosophy, as with my ex-husband, when my bookcase is mainly Jill’s Gymkhana, Jill Enjoys Her Ponies, etc.
My husband not only believed I was five years younger than I actually am for many years, but that my mum was Italian, as I thought that would explain the colour of my skin, dyed every couple of weeks in a dark booth in Harrods. I was grateful, when I finally allowed him to meet my mum, that she had end-stage dementia and couldn’t answer questions, so he was never able to ascertain she was born in Brixton.
But things are different with this new one. He can take me as he finds me. Later, he texted, ‘More attractive and intelligent than the rest of them put together.’ I had been on a TV show with a male ‘comedian’, the sort of smart**** who always butts in and thinks only men can be funny despite him saying the sort of thing that comes out of a cracker. But you see? It’s fine when a new man sees you for who you really are. I am good enough. Just not that great at tennis.
*Ah, so he’s single.
**Unlike someone else we could mention here but, as I promised I’d no longer write about him, I put this as an aside so hopefully it will be in print too small for him to read.