LIZ JONES’S DIARY: In which we set the (lunch) date

Yikes! We are now at the stage of sending each other photos and videos! Nothing remotely X-rated, of course. But still, sending photos is definitely one stage up from being a pen pal. I am talking about me and the new one, P*. He texted a suggested date to meet for lunch – 19 August – and also a YouTube video of a man in bed with a labrador.

Abbey Lossing at handsomefrank.com

‘I am thinking of getting a puppy. I want this!’ he wrote.

I was in bed, so I sent him a photo of Gracie, sleeping next to me on her special pillow.

‘I can’t wait to meet Gracie as well!’ Well done for recognising which dog, just from a rump and one ear in the air.

He is leaving me to book lunch, as I know (have been banned from, more like) all the local eateries, I have dogs, heels.

I email my local country house hotel, now taking bookings without rooms, thank the Lord and my unwaxed nether regions. The website warns that ‘temperatures will be taken’ on entry at the gate; I imagine P will be feverish. ‘Can I book a table for two, one vegan, not sure about the other one. And three dogs, so perhaps outside? In the shade if hot…’

Anyway, I’ve been thinking this week about red flags. This isn’t a new Dido single – it’s the warning signs you always get when you meet someone new, and which all too often (in my case) ignore. It’s a gut feeling. Intuition.

With my previous three and a half men, I knew in my heart it wouldn’t work out. There were signs only a woman knows, even within the first few seconds of meeting. Trevor – he of the high-waisted trousers, whom I met when he was the PR on the door of some early 90s pop thing – called me at my office the next day to berate me for leaving early. On our first date, he told me off for being late. My future husband was too laddish and forward when we first met, barging into my office to interview me for the BBC, and brought flowers – awful spiky ones, waxy ones, lillies! – to our dinner date. Never, ever bring flowers to a restaurant (what if the pollen gets on my outfit?!). The Osama bin Laden lookalike correctly guessed my age; what a complete b******. If only I’d listened to my gut, I’d be a lot further ahead, dating wise. But there aren’t any red flags with P**. When we met for a drink, ooh, eight years ago, he said, ‘Wow. You look amazing. Stunning, actually.’

He has a spine, too. When I wrote about our first date in this column, saying he was way too short for me, he went online beneath my column and said I couldn’t walk in my heels, and it looked as though my upper lip had been waxed! Threaded would have been more apt, but he was in the general ballpark. When I rejected him, he texted to say, ‘You know your worth.’ Which is true and proves he’s insightful.

Ooh. Email from the hotel. The booking is approved. They must have forgotten about Gracie Runny Poogate from my last visit. I text P to let him know. At first, I composed something along the lines of what I always do – detailed instructions, advice, where to park, styling tips with appropriate websites, address of the nearest barber, the name of my Harley Street dentist. Then I pressed delete, delete, delete, turned over a new leaf, stopped acting like his mummy, and just sent him the time and postcode. He will either sink or swim.

Shall we place bets? Shall we?

*I must remind myself he did say he just wants to be my friend.

**So far…

Liz Jones’s one-woman show, 81⁄2 Stone – and Still Full of Issues, has been moved to 2021, with extra dates added. Please visit lizjonesgoddess.com for details or stalk her @lizjonesgoddess