Some days, I should just never get out of bed. Take last Wednesday. I took delivery of a load of flagstones for the ground floor of my cottage. As they were being lifted off the lorry, the hydraulics broke and half of them smashed. Then my builder told me the flags were not, in fact, stone, but concrete. I was so stressed I then drove my car into a wall before getting a parking ticket. I got home, went to use my Miele vacuum and found it had broken. I sometimes wonder if I’m cursed.
I’ve read many self-help books in my time, and all of them reinforce the idea that living a stress-free life is not about what happens to us, but how we react to adversity. I’ve always found people who don’t react to broken hoovers, shoddy service and cheating husbands
to be the most annoying of all. Automatons. I would ask my ex-husband to call the gas board to complain, and he’d just say, ‘OK. Thanks very much. Bye bye’ with me yelling in the background, ‘No! Rip off their heads!’
This was me, yesterday. Please tell me whether or not the encounter was good for me, or productive. I was in a local hotel and they didn’t have any champagne.
Me: ‘OK. Do you have any cava?’ ‘No. We only have prosecco.’ ‘Prosecco is like washing-up water. You do know it’s not made in bottles, which is why it’s cheap.’
‘Most of our customers seem to like it.’
‘I don’t care WHAT MOST PEOPLE LIKE! I only care about what I LIKE!’
I think I’m now barred. I’m also barred from my local spa after complaining about its treatments – waxing too slow, had not the first clue how to dye my lashes – and also from my local bistro, as I complained about the fact that people without dogs were at the two dog-friendly tables, which is illegal, surely! I’m barred from WH Smith, as they sold me the wrong ink for my Parker pen; they wouldn’t allow me to open the packet to check. I’m barred from Boots; numerous reasons. I’m barred from my local hair salon, as they left me with an inch-wide tidemark of dye; I took selfies, returned to the salon and said I was about to post the photos online and, although I got my money back, I now have to drive an hour to get my roots done.
I think my expectations of, if not perfection, at least competence are why I’m single. I tend to live my life as if I’m in a romcom movie. I look up and think, ‘My God, taking delivery of my new book, placing it on a shelf. That was Sex and the City 2!’ Hiding from my editor when my column is late. Snap! Dragging my suitcase through snow in heels having flown from Bolivia to find Heathrow closed – Cameron Diaz in The Holiday!
Consequently, I expect the man in my life to behave accordingly, and not just show up in sagging tracksuit bottoms, never uttering a word. I sometimes think I should write him some dialogue. I expect him to be Jack Black or James McAvoy.
Anyway, for Christmas David sent me a Le Creuset roasting tin and a trifle dish. He didn’t choose these, obvs; I sent him links. This is the way forward with men. Micromanage them. Tell them exactly what to do in bed, as if you’re Martin Scorsese. David came to help me move furniture to make way for the builders. It all went fine until he staggered upstairs, clutching the contents of my desk drawers; he was dropping things as he shuffled.
‘No! No!’ I screamed. ‘Never, ever do anything I haven’t expressly told you to do! Do not go off-piste! The builders will move it with the things still in the drawers!’
‘Have you any idea how much paper weighs?’ said David.
But all this upset is not good for me. At the start of a new decade, I’m reflecting on all the occasions I flew into a rage, or fainted from stress – learning a newspaper was doing an exposé; being unable to work my Bang & Olufsen phone; sitting in a hotel room in Rome unable to work after finding the cable for my laptop destroyed (I blamed the maid for hoovering over it, but later I realised the culprit might have been Gracie); my visage aired on US news stations for having offended Ashton Kutcher – and when I look back, none of it mattered. Not really. So I’ve decided to float beatifically through 2020. Let’s see how that pans out, shall we?
Please feel free to contact Liz via lizjonesgoddess.com