Liz Jones’s Diary: In which we arrange a ‘real’ date

The ex ex and I are talking, after*. I still have a little bit of battery left (ha ha!). He says he missed me.

‘What did you miss?’

‘Well, I certainly didn’t miss being written about. Much less stressful. I missed your humour. The dogs.’

Not exactly the answer I was after. But still. I press on.

‘Why didn’t you reply when I texted to ask, “How would you like to proceed? In an ideal world?”’

‘I didn’t know what to say. I’m not sure. We can’t go back to how it was before.’

Abbey Lossing

Really? I thought it was ideal. Meeting in hotel rooms. Mini breaks. Topless sports cars. Not
topless me.

He added. ‘I can’t have anything negative in my life.’

Dear god, next thing I know he’ll be saying he performs headstands and purées kale.

I think he’s referring to the time I was interviewed by Lynn Barber for another newspaper, and I’d told her, when quizzed, ‘He’s not handsome.’ What I meant was (and I think this bit of context was cut in the final edit), that what attracted me to him was that he had made it on his own through sheer hard work. He grew up in a tenement. I grew up in an old rectory with no central heating. So we have lots in common.

He’s slightly younger than me by a few years, which makes us even given I’ve had a facelift and religiously cleansed, toned and moisturised from the age of 11. A boyfriend too young and you get bombarded with comments such as, ‘Don’t break a hip,’ and looks of puzzlement when you quote lines from Abigail’s Party. Too old, he says things like, ‘I’m listening to The Archers on the wireless,’ and takes four weeks to type a single text with his index finger. This one, though, is just about right.

We make a plan to meet for dinner. I suggest somewhere smart where they have erected Bedouin tents outside. When we have logged off there are a few seconds when he doesn’t realise I can still see him; he actually runs his fingers through his hair.

I immediately browse Net-a-Porter and find a gorgeous, chalky midi-dress with spaghetti straps by Bottega Veneta. It’s a little bridey, but we have wasted enough time. He won’t notice. He didn’t notice I’m still wearing my engagement ring and had a photo of my last
boyfriend framed by my bed during our entire Zoom session. Hmm. But what size? Have I expanded during lockdown? The size guide says, ‘Model is 5ft 10in and wearing a size Small.’ What a b****. I wonder if I can still walk in heels, or if I will stagger, legs buckling, Dick Emery fashion?

I’ve just booked a table. Outside. One vegan, one vegetarian. Ooh, it’s asking me to tell them what the occasion is. ‘Birthday, anniversary, date, special occasion, business.’ That’s a bit personal. I suppose given he’s just seen me in my knickers, we could safely choose ‘date’.

I send him a note for his calendar. He replies: ‘We’ve been there before. Shall I book a room?’

Oh, Jesus. I’m not sure they will take three collies. I don’t think housekeeping has recovered from the last time I had lunch there. Gracie did a runny poo and I mopped it up with a linen napkin. I check. Room bookings not open.

‘Nope. Rooms still shut. You will have to stay with me.’

I close my laptop and try to sleep. If I meet up with him physically, then my last relationship will really be over, unless virtual cheating counts. I won’t be able to airbrush tan as my pores will still be open from my waxing appointment: I made that mistake once before and resembled a speckled hen. He’s still smarting from the fact I dyed his loo seat American tan.

*Zoom sex. In case you missed last week’s column. Virtual sex is much better than the real thing. Your hair doesn’t get knelt on. You don’t develop cystitis. If you prop your laptop at the end of the bed, you appear thinner.