I was going to write this week about all the awful things I have said and done to men to create what we in the news trade call ‘balance’. Viz, the time I met an ex for his birthday dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant, spied his awful velvet trainers, and asked him in front of the maître d’, in a Joyce Grenfell voice, ‘Where are your proper shoes?’
But then, I remembered a terrible thing the ex ex did once. I’d been to see him in Edinburgh. We were staying at the Missoni hotel, but the stripes started to make me feel dizzy, so I said that on my last morning I would go and visit my nieces. He said, ‘OK, but I’ll come and see you off at the station afterwards.’ He had bought me a first-class ticket, as I’d be travelling home without him. He was going to spend a week on Skye ‘to decompress’, which made me wonder, ‘From a mini break with me?’
I am always on edge and anxious when I’m about to board a moving object, which is why I
always hate getting on top during sex. So I said, ‘No, please don’t see me off. I don’t know how long I’ll be with the nieces.’ To which he replied, with annoying clarity, ‘But I booked your seat. I know what time the train is.’
I set off to see my nieces, thinking I had put him off, but later, as my taxi dropped me outside Waverley station, I spotted his car, illegally parked at a jaunty angle. He had turned
up anyway. I thought, ‘Oh no!’, as I hadn’t been able to get all my clothes back into my case (why does that always happen?), so I was also clutching a Sainsbury’s carrier bag containing my washing. I was about to lob it when he got out of his car (difficult, given it’s a sports, and he’s not small) and came towards me and in that moment I realised THERE WAS A WOMAN IN THE PASSENGER SEAT. To her credit, she had the decency to scrunch down a bit.
Did I tell him off, ask who on earth it was? No! I was merely embarrassed, though in an early version of the #MeToo movement I made quite sure that when he went to give me a peck goodbye all he got was a mouthful of black hair. But I really should have clocked him round the head with my washing. He had booked my train in the knowledge he was about to go round two with someone else. (When I asked, years later, who the woman was, he merely smirked and said, ‘My human sat nav lady.’)
So, hmm, what else have I done that warranted being cheated on, or called the C-word, twice? The first time a man called me that was in Edinburgh, again. I’d booked and paid for a Georgian Airbnb apartment (I know! What a bitch!) with two bedrooms in case we had an argument and, yes, you guessed it. He ended up sleeping in the spare room. But he still managed to TEXT the expletive to my phone.
So, I couldn’t help but wonder, do I deserve this sort of treatment? Why are some women adored, waited on, supported and fawned over, and I’m texted rude words?
The worst my ex-husband could come up with to say about me in the Telegraph was that I am very OCD about cleanliness and my cats*. But surely that’s a good point? Oh, and that I showered him with expensive gifts and long-haul holidays**.
I think the problem is that men come into my orbit, attracted, like moths, by my dazzling wit and nice hands, and then they instantly become chippy about my lifestyle, my work ethic, my awards*** and success so that they want to spoil it by deliberately not using a
coaster or taking several months off (from what, you might well wonder?) to find themselves in another woman’s vagina.
‘Where are your proper shoes?’ doesn’t sound quite so bad now, does it?
*He had a very cavalier attitude towards Squeaky and Snoopy, whom he renamed Sniffy and Scratchy
**Thailand, Puglia, Seville, New York, Lucca, Cardiff, Delhi, Udaipur, the Himalayan foothills, Marrakesh with a member of Blur, Babington House (twice), Claridge’s, a yoga retreat in Ibiza (I sent him on a press trip, without me, which he seemed to prefer)