Back at the hotel after dinner with the ex ex (due to waiting ages for a taxi in torrential rain, the receptionist thought I’d been waterboarded), I closed the door of my tiny room, thankful to be alone, with an unwatched episode of Love Island waiting on my iPad. Bliss. It’s so much more relaxing to see other women being mugged off rather than me for a change. Although I think your ex ex leaving Locanda Locatelli after the main course on his birthday would have made the extended highlights were I living in a reality TV show and not my own so-called life.
To be honest, when I’d seen him lurking outside the restaurant, smoking, in awful trainers, I’d felt the urge to do what Cambridge Man did to me, and not turn up. I was wearing a mask, so even if he’d caught a glimpse he couldn’t have been sure it was me.
Removing my heels – oh, the relief – and stepping out of the Gucci skirt, I pulled on the outfit I’d planned to momentarily wear if he came back to the hotel for the compulsory birthday s***: a white T-shirt and grey wool leggings from John Lewis. I settled down with a Coke, salted popcorn as I was starving despite my Michelin meal, along with my new friends on Love Island, Jake, Hugo and Liberty. I was thinking, ‘That’s it for me. Dating is too exhausting.’ No friend leaves you open-mouthed and alone after the main course.
It’s weird, because before our dinner at Locanda Locatelli, he had sent a text saying, ‘I will always love you.’ Funny way of showing it, as my mum would say.
I sometimes wonder if he’s the one with the brain defect, not me. He never thinks about my feelings. There was no, ‘Where are you staying?’ And, ‘Have you seen the consultant?’ Just, ‘I don’t like being shouted at.’ When he had at last opened up – he really is as closed as a clam that has gone off – and said, ‘I think I’ve lost confidence,’ I’d placed a hand over his, but he hadn’t responded. Why did he agree to meet for dinner? I’d given him a get-out the day before, saying that if he wanted to be with his family, that would be fine. I was just enjoying the Love Island fire pit when there was a strange noise. It seemed to be coming from the corner of the room. It was the land line! I picked it up, feeling as though I were in a period drama.
‘Hello Miss Jones, there is someone in reception for you.’
Oh dear god. The police? The credit card people saying I can’t afford to stay here and what am I thinking?
‘Who is it?’
‘He says he just had dinner with you.’
He’s always so ludicrously cagey. Just tell her your name. You’re no longer that famous. She probably wasn’t even born when you were last in the charts.
‘Um, yes, but he didn’t have pudding,’ I said incongruously. Then I hissed, ‘What does he want?’
‘Why don’t I just put him on the line,’ she said sensibly, probably feeling she was inhabiting an L P Hartley novel.
‘Hi,’ he said. Desire washed over me, despite his awful footwear.
‘How did you know I’m here?’
‘You always stay here. D’you want to come down for a nightcap?’
‘I’m ready for bed. I’ve removed my corner lashes and my hearing aids. I’m in John Lewis.’
‘Um, well. I could come up?’
‘I only put “one person” in the box when I booked online.’
‘It’s not Fawlty Towers. I think it’s allowed. I’ve come for my birthday gift.’
‘Selfridges was shut.’
‘No. I mean you.’
Receptionists aren’t allowed to give out room numbers, are they? It’s like the Hippocratic oath. I know he didn’t text first because he wanted to back me into a corner, literally. I could just tell him to b***** off, say that he was badly behaved as well as badly dressed. I really want to watch the recoupling by the Love Island fire pit. I’m in the land of indecision…