I texted my new admirer, P from Westcliff, to warn him that the column he is probably about to read is all about our planned lunch date in either a pub in Leigh-on-Sea or a country-house hotel in North Yorkshire. I said I hoped he won’t be offended.
‘Just seen it. Nothing alarming, no. Though I will be more conscious about what I say in case you slaughter me in print and online and in your podcast.’
‘I won’t slaughter you, I promise.’
‘No need to promise. I said that when I first got in touch. I understand you have a column to write, and if it really concerned me, I wouldn’t risk meeting you.’
But men all say this, at first.
My future husband was fine with his ‘high-profile naughtiness’, but soon flew into a rage when I wrote about the woman he had an affair with. David knew when he got in touch with me that I would write about our relationship, given I’d already named him in a couple of columns – oh, and a book – for being an early crush. Men are genuinely fine with being written about when you are describing how ‘the love of my life comes for the weekend’ and ‘I am in the place I want to be, with the person I most want to be with’. Or, in the Rock Star’s case, that their penis needs a book not a column.
It’s when you write about their awful habits and hygiene and hankies that it all tends to go south.
Anyway, then P wrote. ‘Please look at the website of [his family’s luxury brand] and choose something. I know it’s a bit odd, and I am not trying to impress you, and you wouldn’t be under pressure to see me again. But I know how stylish you are and how much you’d like it. The way everything is gift-wrapped is beautiful. No rush.’
So I couldn’t help myself. I had a peek. What can I say, I own a womb, even if it’s as unused as my Le Creuset. The prices are eye-watering. I couldn’t possibly accept a two-grand cross-body bag, so I wrote back, ‘How about a lovely bookmark?’
‘You are sweet. Please choose something.’
A package. I open it. A single flashing light for a dog. That’s odd. I have three dogs. What am I supposed to do, cull two of them? What is this, Sophie’s Choice? And it’s summer! Also, who knows my address? David. My friends Dawn, Sue, Helen. I don’t think Andrea in Belfast has my home address. If it was Isobel, she’d just pop round and lob it at me from a safe distance.
So, having consulted MI5, I am pretty sure it’s from David. Flashing light. Cross-body bag. Flashing light. Cross-body bag.
I won’t accept the bag, of course not. I’m not a common prostitute, as Bridget Jones’s mother would say. Even though I was only offered scrap value for the engagement ring David gave me, I still plan to pay him back for it. I should never have accepted it in the first place. My friend Helen says I should keep it. Nic says I should keep it and wear it. That it’s the same as a Christmas present, and I wouldn’t return that. But I think an engagement ring is different. It’s a promise to do something later down the line. So what if you never intended to go through with a marriage, you were vaguely embarrassed to be asked, said yes not wanting to offend, and also got carried away with the gesture? Plus the thought, of course, of choosing a hen weekend destination and dress and flowers and a menu and a guest list and honeymoon destination. Then you should give it back. Or refund his money. Which is what I will do.
You can see now why I was made bankrupt. I keep making bad decisions. I am kind of wondering how I can stop.
To contact Liz tweet @lizjonesgoddess or visit lizjonesgoddess.com