Liz Jones’s Diary: My date with Cambridge Man, part 2

I waited. And I waited. I ordered another fizzy water. I watched people arrive, see a friend, smile, wave. I kept rearranging my limbs, face and thong. And then my phone got all excited. I got this, via WhatsApp.

Abbey Lossing

‘Hi Liz. I’ve had some time to think and I don’t think this is for me. The distance won’t be easy. Our busy lives won’t help. I need to be honest and upfront with you.’

Dear god. There wasn’t even an ‘x’. Or a sorry. Maybe he couldn’t find a parking space, got frustrated and drove home? I had booked a tiny room at Soho House. Dinner. I had been renovated in the Rudding Park spa! Train tickets! That’s £500, easy! More! You see how men always mean I haemorrhage money? I should just buy a yacht and have done with it. I had squeezed my kidneys into a Victoria Beckham body-con! Worst of all, I had been recklessly optimistic. I thought this one was normal. HE contacted ME!

How far had he had to come tonight for our date? Fifty miles? I think I’m going to change his epithet from Cambridge Man to Sat Nav Man. Was that the straw that broke the camel’s back? He had texted early on to say he would come up to see me in the Dales, that I wouldn’t have to be the one always doing the travelling, so distance was never an issue. It’s odd, as he had seemed so keen. Said he kept thinking about me. Wanted to kiss me.

I wished I could still drink. I looked up my column published days before. On Sunday, after it came out, he had been quiet, didn’t send even a single text. And just one text this week, prior to meeting up. I re-read my column. The heading stated: ‘In which things get slightly X-rated’.

‘Hmmm. Not quite the rave I was after… So I have resting b**** face… Him: “I want to kiss you, but I want you to get the Covid jab first.” Hang on, this is a bit bossy… He’s the same age as my jacket.’

A waitress came over to see if I wanted to wait or give my order. I said it was fine, I might just eat in my room. She started to gather up the cutlery: clatter, clatter, clatter. Could I BE any more humiliated?

I don’t think a friend or an ex got to him, as I’ve been careful to make sure he’s not identifiable. There must be millions of estate agents who live in Cambridge* and have sons at university. But we know from experience, don’t we, how fragile men’s egos are. Write that they got you a coin purse instead of a handbag and World War Three breaks out. It must be the column that put him off. I don’t think he listens to the podcast, as he’s never mentioned it.

And then I started to think. He’s an estate agent. When on our first lunch I’d been telling him how I’d lost everything, been betrayed by family, he had just said, ‘I get on really well with my brother.’ Thinking back, he hadn’t made me laugh, or told stories. He had ordered duck for his first course. Poor duck.

I know we can all pick holes in retrospect, smarting from the loss of valuable time, the wasted effort. But did he really deserve me, with my lovely cottage, animals, interesting job, rearranged face and hairless body? Did he? And let’s not forget he knew I write a column in a national newspaper. None of this will have come as a surprise. Citing distance doesn’t wash. Dear god, I’d go out with the photographer hunk Nigel in a heartbeat and he lives in Sydney!

But I had thought this was all too easy. Man messages you on Twitter, flirts, asks you out. Is straightforward and upfront that he fancies you. Man suddenly buys map. Realises has ‘busy life’. Misleading b******. Put that in your gazebo in your suburban garden and smoke it.

And then, I made a huge mistake. HUGE.

I texted my ex…

*He doesn’t even really live in Cambridge. He lives a few miles outside. In the suburbs.