I’ve just realised that I should be loving being single. I am growing a beard. When you are with a man, you have to worry about going out for lunch with him in daylight (unless you live in Norway and it’s winter), and a silver whisker hair glinting. When you don’t have a boyfriend, you can grow your beard. Which has two benefits. No, hang on, three.
1. It gives you more time in the morning as you are no longer tweezing with a magnifying mirror, so you can watch more episodes of Frasier and slow-cook porridge.
2. You can grow the hair, making it easier to tweezer should the need arise (a wedding – not yours, but someone else’s – awards ceremony or similar).
3. If you want to try laser hair removal, you are now a Prime Candidate, as during treatment you can’t pluck, wax or thread the hair. Oh, no (and this is as complicated as growing tomatoes on Gardeners’ World), you have to grow the hair then… cut each one short with scissors. I know! (Monica voice.) If you don’t do this, the laser doesn’t work. If you have a boyfriend, or are married (poor you), the man will stroke your chin, and then go, ‘Ooh. Stubbly. Is this laser thing worth a 5 o’clock shadow?’ When he has no teeth (or money), a potbelly in the shape of a balloon and Denis Healey eyebrows.
You can give your toes a few months off. This is the equivalent of those army or police horses or pit ponies being put out to pasture for a month in summer: yay! Nail polish is really bad for your feet. I was shocked to read in Vogue, having had a monthly pedicure for 40 years (no wonder I am bankrupt), that pedicures are no longer fashionable, as people will wonder what, wait for it, lurks beneath the polish. (This makes me wonder, what people? Do they not have jobs and hobbies?) But this is potentially awful. I want my money back. However, with no man on the horizon, you can eschew pedicures, go without polish and let your nails breathe. It’s liberating. And cheap.
You no longer have to wear a thong. In a thong, I always feel like a piece of Wensleydale cheese (similar colour and texture) on the deli counter in Sainsbury’s, being measured by a piece of hard, strong, thick wire. And I always come up short.
When you are single, bedtime is again a time to be relished: dogs, iPad. Glass of wine. Actually, the only plus I can think of to having a man around is it modifies my alcohol intake. But when you have a boyfriend or (God forbid) husband, bedtime becomes a time of icy dread: I always wonder why, at the end of a long, hard day, men think it’s the ideal time to start wrestling with you, even if you are shouting, while beating him off with a wooden spoon, ‘I’m watching Newsnight!’ In winter, they fling the duvet off you even though you are going, ‘No! It’s cold! Where are my bed socks?’ They lick your expensive cream off your face and neck and eyelids. (My ex must have the youngest tongue in all of Christendom.) They rumple everything and sweat and all you are thinking is, ‘I only changed these sheets yesterday.’ And, ‘I have to get a train at 9.08am.’ And, ‘I really want to see Liar, season two.’ And, ‘Oh God. Did he wash his hands having been to the bathroom? Should I have a quick feel to see if he’s damp?’
And then, bad timing, your friend Dawn in Inverness texts you: ‘Your ex ex is on Front Row on Radio 4, talking about jazz! Really smoky voice, interesting, cerebral. I can’t believe he blanked you in the Jazz Café! I was so mad I had to go outside!’
And you think, God. I remember when he came to my house in Hackney for dinner (my signature – only – dish: spaghetti with tomato sauce), clutching some obscure jazz record (Eric Dolphy), sweating as he was late and had run from the tube, hair like blackcurrant Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles, and you had sex so many times you lost your voice.
Oh God. I need a man!