It’s strange, conducting a new(ish) flirtation entirely over the internet. Preferable, in many ways. If he’s annoying, you can just switch him off, blaming the rural internet. You don’t have to wax anything. Your feet can become pit ponies, let loose in a paddock for the summer, liberated, free. You don’t have to buy any strange Man Food: biscuits, gin, marmalade. It’s all fantastic and exciting, texting and WhatsApping, watching the dots. Until the day he asks you to Zoom.
Dooooom, more like.
Famous Man: ‘I want to see you.’ Me: (replying exactly five weeks before spas and hair salons can open; I’m already booked in, from 9.30am – the facial threader will certainly have her work cut out).
‘You can’t. It’s against the law. You chose a different bubble.’
Him: ‘I know that. I mean we can Zoom.’
This is tantamount to a man wanting you to stand there naked with the overhead light on.
I’ve already sent him a few stills, to keep him at bay. Not of me, don’t be stupid. Of my new kitchen, and my new claw-foot bathtub. Seeing that last photo, he observed not that it had been painted a lovely dark green, or that he loved the antique brass taps, but that, ‘Oh, great. The taps are central, so neither of us gets the tap end.’
Why do men only see things through the prism of How It Affects Me During Sex? Don’t sully my bathroom! It’s my Spa at Home! I’m so in love with my expensive products – Aesop, an Australian brand that makes me feel closer to the photographer hunk Nigel* – that the last time a man came to stay I asked him to bring his own soap.
To divert him from wanting to send a Zoom link, I asked if he has furloughed any of his staff. Him: ‘What staff? I don’t have any.’ Me: ‘Yes you do. Who was that woman cooking when I stayed the last time?’ Him: ‘My sister-in-law.’
Oh dear. I think there was one morning I asked her to make me a vegan sandwich. This is the problem with famous people. You stay in their house, and strangers wander around. Surly teens drift in to sit at the table during breakfast, and you have no idea who they are. I once spent the weekend at a house party, and not one woman said hello, or ‘What do you do?’ When I went over to the wife of perhaps the most famous rock star in the world and said, ‘Hi, we used to work together years ago’, she looked so nervous I worried she would press some sort of alarm.
Anyway, he went on and on about Zoom, so I finally relented, and said I could do 13 April.
Him: ‘That’s the day after spas open.’ Dear god, he’s almost a woman.
Him: ‘Well, that’s ridiculous. I’ve seen you without make-up.’
Me: ‘Yes, but not with really bad lighting and from the wrong angle.’
Him: ‘So you don’t like the reality of you being seen [not sure that is even grammatical].
But you will portray any man in your life as if glimpsed under a microscope.’
Me: ‘Listen, did Pattie Boyd complain to Eric Clapton about being written about?’
Him: ‘No, but the song was called “Wonderful Tonight”. Not “Crap in Bed”.’
Me: ‘I never wrote that about you. And she could have taken offence by saying, “What, you mean I looked dreadful yesterday?”’
Him: ‘Are you saying I’m Pattie Boyd in this relationship!?’
Me: ‘No. But just get over it. There was a profile of me in a newspaper last year and I didn’t even read it! What annoys me is people in the public eye, writers especially, which is what you are minus a neckerchief, who throw a hissy fit if someone writes something about them they object to. Move on!’
Anyway, sod all that. Did you see he typed ‘relationship’? That must mean something, surely…
* Please bring on series seven of Married at First Sight. I’m getting withdrawal symptoms