After all the sex with the ex*, and the sugary cappuccinos, and the avocado on sourdough, and the mini bar gin and tonic, and the crisp, square hotel pillows, all I got once back home was a text about the new emissions charge in London. Nothing about how lovely it was to touch my smooth, hairless skin. To see me naked. To kiss me.
It brought to mind not just my birthday, viz: nothing, nothing, nothing bar an email from the Kennington Tandoori. But also the missives between a couple in the news for a tempestuous affair and a scandal. You know. She was a CEO. He was her lover.
Her: ‘You are the breeze in the desert for me. My water. And ocean. Meant to be only together tiger.’ Him: ‘OK.’ What is it with these monosyllabic men?
But then, just as I was despairing, I received an email from Russell. The movie star,** the first man I ever slept with.*** My spell – putting two pins in a red candle and focusing on his name – must have worked! He sent a photo of me with my flatmates at a party in 1978. Neil Pearson, who played Bridget Jones’s sleazy boss, is in a corner in a denim waistcoat. I was shocked, not just at what I was wearing – a cheesecloth shirt dress – but at my hair. My hair was young! It was shiny. Not the crispy, black carapace it is now. I was smiling. And because, when I opened Russell’s email, I was so disappointed at the lack of passion or even communication from the person I’d just had sex with, I responded saucily: ‘But where are you in the photo?’
He replied, ‘Lots of ghastly photos of me, but I thought I’d spare you those.’ To which I responded, ‘No! Send them! I can make them into posters!’
He replied with a question mark. Men are so dense. I explained, ‘Because you were such a pinup.’
He came back with: ‘Well, it certainly didn’t seem that way to me.’ Then I’m afraid I lost it. Forget playing it cool. I typed: ‘You were beautiful. I’m sure you still are. X’
Yikes! I texted Nic: ‘I’ve been flirting with Russell! The spell worked! He doesn’t sound married.’
Nic: ‘Nothing on Wikipedia?’
Me: ‘No. I’ve deep searched.’
Nic: ‘Ask him.’
Me: ‘He hasn’t responded to the “beautiful” email yet. Maybe you should doctor another photo. Me in swimsuit, airbrushed?’
I had persuaded Nic to make a photo of me in Bosnia smaller to hide any wrinkles before sending it to him with the caption, ‘Me now’, even though it was taken 11 years ago. Do men know we do this?
Anyway, the movie star was still silent, and I wanted to go away over New Year. I have a cottage waiting at Thyme in the Cotswolds. It’s a high-end retreat that takes dogs. So I emailed my ex, the one I had sex with. ‘Have a look. Massages, lovely food.’
He replied that it looks expensive, and that he can’t contribute. I said not to worry, he is my guest. I added that I’m about to order my Christmas food from Riverford. I love Christmas.
‘I’m going to Hastings for Christmas. As we are not in a relationship, I didn’t think I’d be seeing you.’
I hadn’t invited him for Christmas. ‘That’s nice,’ I replied. ‘Who’s in Hastings?’
‘I can’t say, but it’s innocent. It’s nothing to do with Julie.****’
‘Why can’t you say?’
‘They don’t want to be in the papers.’
Bam! My good intentions all turned to dust. I felt a chill wash over me, a real feeling of upset and doom. So my job pays for three nights at Thyme, with even more square pillows, but his friends, who I wouldn’t have written about anyway, are all secretive, as if I’m the devil and they are, what, interesting? I think not. I’ve now blocked his number. Chippy idiot.
* See last week’s column
** He was in Cry Freedom with Kevin Kline. Have I mentioned that?
*** We didn’t have sex
**** His ex, who called me ‘The She Devil’