Liz Jones’s Diary: ‘In which the ex ex drops a bombshell’

I got a call from the ex ex. You know, the one who left after the main course during his Special Birthday Meal. Who said, ‘I don’t think we should see each other again.’ Not a text. Not an email. An actual voice call, like something from the 90s. I immediately knew it was something serious, because I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to him on the phone before. At first I said, ‘Who is this?’ I thought it might be the man from Mini Harrogate about my test drive.

Abbey Lossing at

‘Have you got your hearing aids in?’ he said. How rude. I’ve no idea why men think they can say personal things to me. I didn’t say, though I wanted to, ‘Lost any more teeth? Any more inches from your height? Hair?’

‘I have got my hearing aids in, thank you,’ I said, though my dignity was dented slightly as I had to press the phone a few times to turn it up. Beep! Beep! Beep! I could just picture him, holding the phone at arm’s length, rolling his tiny blue eyes.

‘I’m ringing to tell you I’m seeing someone,’ he said.

Ah. We knew this would happen, didn’t we? My stomach lurched. It was like the moment on the island off the coast of Africa, when my husband said, ‘I never could resist a pretty face,’ and I realised he didn’t mean me.

Why couldn’t the ex ex not have been kept in a lockdown cupboard a bit longer until he aged a bit more and increased in girth? When we went out for dinner I’d enjoyed seeing his car on my Uber app carrying him home; for once I knew where he was. Now he and his enormous penis are at liberty in the world.

He continued, ‘I wanted to let you know before you see anything in the press.’

‘I think Melody Maker has closed down,’ I said meanly. I’d been wondering, actually, if he’d seen the piece my ex-husband wrote about me a few weeks ago; the one that described me as a colonialist old hag who paraded my ‘brown toyboy’ as some sort of trophy. Nic only told me the other day my ex-husband’s piece had ‘gone viral’, apparently, with news items in the tabloids. Turns out I’ve been turned into the female equivalent of Harvey Weinstein. But if the ex ex had seen the piece, he didn’t mention it. He actually has an alert on his phone to tell him if his name comes up online. I’m the opposite. I remember when I interviewed the late Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, she told me she’d wake up every day to a text from a friend, asking if she was OK, and her reaction was always, ‘Oh god, what am I supposed to have done now?’

I tell him that’s kind to forewarn me and ask if it’s anyone I know. ‘No. But I wanted to let you know she’s younger than me.’

Me: ‘How much younger?’

‘She’s 26.’

‘But I have jackets older than that!’ I said. ‘How could you possibly find anyone that age interesting? What antidotes* does she have other than, “Was born. Went to school. Been on phone ever since”? I bet she’s like those young people on The Chase who when asked to name a Beatle say, “Bit before my time, Brad.” You have children older than that!’

‘I don’t know how you know that, seeing as you never bothered to learn the names of my children, or grandchildren…’

‘There are too many! You never learned to put a head collar on my pony Benji!’

I’m not jealous, I swear I’m not. I just have no idea how she will put up with him. With his straggly eyebrows. His peering at menus because he forgot his glasses. His pot belly. The fact he’s rude to waitresses and swears at other drivers. The fact he mansplains everything, even though he can’t start a lawnmower: ‘You will have to pay tax on that.’ ‘The dishwasher uses way more water than if I washed up.’ ‘You should never have bought diesel.’ He thinks the fact he’s grown his hair long during lockdown makes him look like Robert Powell playing Jesus, when in fact from behind people think he’s Mary Beard.

‘Does she know you’re my castoff?’ I asked him.

‘Nah. Young people don’t read newspapers,’ he said.

It’s taking every fibre of my being not to open a bottle of champagne.**

* This is what Nic calls anecdotes

** I was sent a case by my editor for winning Columnist of the Year