On the morning of David’s birthday, I was ready to go on our mini break to Lime Wood in the New Forest. I was travelling in inky Paige flares, a Gucci belt and sheer Valentino blouse. Packed in vintage Vuitton was a black spaghetti-strap dress by Victoria Beckham. All rented, of course, courtesy of My Wardrobe HQ. And all for HIM.
My cab dropped me at his flat. He had kept the big beard, but still. He took my bag and we set off for Hampshire. I asked what preparations he’d made for our stay at the hotel, chosen by me as the chef is Angela Hartnett, his favourite.
‘Um. I went to the dentist. I got the air-con in my car fixed so you’d be comfortable. I polished my shoes.’
We finally nosed into the long drive. It was magical: trees as far as the eye could see, wild ponies grazing, and at the top of the hill a gorgeous white stucco mansion. Shown to our room, he actually said, ‘Wow!’ Which for him is a rare compliment.
Changing to sit by the pool he’d said, ‘What attracts me to a woman is whether or not she can relax – live in the moment.’ OK. So I tried to be that person. We chatted. I didn’t look at my phone. He said he’d missed me. That we’d wasted almost a year being apart. That I’m ‘the love of his life’. Later we dressed for dinner and as I stepped into the VB he said, ‘It’s an amazing dress. But then you do have the body for it.’
After all the hard work, the stress, the disasters, the worry, it was so nice to walk into a posh dining room in a beautiful dress on the arm of a man. Enjoy this, I told myself. Remember it.
He squinted at the menu for a bit, moaning he’d forgotten his glasses (also moaning that when he’d gone for a fag and asked for matches, he was told they cost £15), and then the waiter came over. The first sign of trouble came when David was told the cod wasn’t gluten free. ‘How can salt-baked fish possibly contain flour?’ he’d scowled rudely.
I ordered heritage beet followed by pasta. He ordered salmon, then the john dory. I couldn’t put my finger on it: he just suddenly seemed strange. He was slurring his words. Brought some gluten-free bread, he picked up both slices, sniffed them ostentatiously, then slapped them down, scattering cutlery.
‘It’s not white, is it?’ It was as if he’d gone mad.
He lolled in his chair and then suddenly shouted, ‘You are a d*******. You are a stuck up – what is the name of that rag you worked for? – Marie Claire! I don’t trust you. You and your attitude can f*** off.’
The couple on the next table started to shift in their seats. They had probably saved for a year to be here, and now this. How dare he!
‘Shush!’ I said. ‘Dave. What do you want to do later this evening?’
‘Go up to the room and f***?!’
I was crying, but also thinking, ‘I can’t get the VB wet.’
He threw down his napkin and got to his feet, swaying. ‘You don’t care about me. When I fell down your stone stairs, you didn’t ask how I was.’ (True, but mainly as he’d complained that ‘there wasn’t any carpet’.) I pointed out when I lost my house he didn’t even send me a tin of dog food.
He marched off. I realised he had had two mojitos by the pool, two gin and tonics from the mini bar, even though I’d bought champagne, and at the bar a Pernod followed by a great big glass of absinthe. Undiluted. Which he downed in one.
My starter was taken away. Oh my God. He’s coming back.
‘You hurt me,’ he said.
‘I think you should leave.’ He did.
My pasta arrived but I couldn’t touch it. I waited a few minutes, then crept up to the room. His bag was gone. Relief washed over me. I sat on the bed, shocked. I’d paid £545 for the room alone. I hadn’t eaten all day. Then I noticed he’d left three £20 notes on the bed, and something I can’t bring myself to tell you about. Maybe next week. The wifi was too slow to stream Love Island. Aarrggh!
Then came pounding on the door. I opened it as I didn’t want the people in the next room to record us and tell The Guardian. ‘My charger,’ he said. I handed it to him and locked the door.
I sent him a text, telling him our waitress had turned white with shock. That I’m sick of conflict. He replied he would sleep in the car and drive me back. ‘I’d rather get the train.’
I checked out the next morning and got in a taxi. I’m now back at my flat and I’ve just got this…