You’ve got to hand it to me. Cambridge Man stands me up, despite the fact I spent over £500 on trains, a hotel and spa treatments, and I have a replacement date in less than 30 minutes. A bit like getting a courtesy car. I texted my ex ex to ask, ‘Would you like to meet for a drink in Soho House?’ and he was there in under 30 minutes. His hair was still damp around the collar.
But it didn’t go well.* When you hear what he had to say, please put it in the context of the several days of preparation I had gone through to be date ready, even if it was to be ready for a different date entirely. He said, ‘I preferred your hair when it was in a bob. I don’t like it long. It drags your face down.’
Why make a negative comment? We’re not married. Why not just eat the gnocchi with spinach I’m paying for**. Did I make a comment about his appearance? Say, well, I think you’re a bit too old to go the skinny jeans with cowboy boots route? No. Why do men have no filter? Why do they think it’s OK to make a comment when you are no longer their girlfriend, or indeed anything to do with them?
After he said that, I started to picture my pristine hotel bed, and longed to be in it. Alone. Halfway through the main course, I said I hoped he would be able to find a cab home, as the streets of Soho were so busy. To hasten his exit, I said I could order him an Uber. The only thing that stopped me paying for his cab was that the card on my app has, given it’s not been used for over a year, expired. A bit like my libido.
I showed him a photo of Cambridge Man. ‘Too young for you,’ he said. Why agree to meet up if all you’re going to do is lob insults? He gave me a half-hearted peck goodbye. I got in the tiny lift up to my tiny room. I wondered if there was a Third Man I could call. I do so hate wasting a Hollywood wax.
The next morning, I’d arranged to see two flats with a view to buy. The first was in St John’s Wood, a one-bedroom above a barber’s. It was nice if tiny, but the dead plants on the window boxes in the communal areas put me off. It also had no outside space. The second was on an insanely busy road near King’s Cross. Inside was nice, and the garden huge, though I do wonder why people never tidy up before a viewing. In the end, it was the jumble of wheelie bins by the front door that ruled it out. I’m always amazed, though, at the owners who show me round a place that is, quite frankly, noisy, dirty and small. They seem so proud and happy. They enjoy a perfectly good life, living there, whereas it would drive me insane.
I wonder, not for the first time, why I can’t be happy anywhere. Why nowhere and no one is good enough.
On the train north to York, I got a text from my ex ex. ‘Thanks for dinner. It was lovely to see you.’ But he hadn’t said one meaningful thing all evening! There had been long pauses when I had just stared out of the window, itching to look at my phone in order to have something to do.
Then, the next day, I got a WhatsApp from Sat Nav Man, who had stood me up without so much as a ‘sorry’, citing long distance. My theory is he confided to a brother, or an ex-girlfriend, that he had been on a date with me, and they had told him to run for the hills.
This is what he typed: ‘I still have to read your column every Sunday!’
Oh, b****r off.
*Now, there’s a surprise.
**There was a half-hearted attempt to produce a debit card.