Liz Jones’s Diary: The second date with Cambridge Man

And so, the Big Day dawns.

It’s been five weeks since we had lunch, and I’ve forgotten what he looks like. Our second date feels like a first. I’ve just been renovated, of course, but I haven’t gone overboard: no Botox, no filler, no microbladed brows; he’s not Nigel, after all. But I’m nervous as a kitten. I’ve booked a tiny room at Soho House, in Central London, and arranged to meet him in the bar downstairs.

Abbey Lossing

I’m such a media cliché that all the big moments in my life have taken place in Soho House. I might as well be Meghan Markle. My first mini break with my future husband happened at Babington House, the Soho House outpost in Somerset. I’d insisted on the room in the eaves, with its own hot tub on the balcony. But of course, being a man, he didn’t appreciate the effort and wouldn’t venture out on the balcony as ‘it’s too windy’; he went to play football with the kitchen staff instead.

I got married at Babington House, booked the same room for our wedding night, but he didn’t remember we’d stayed there before. I spent my honeymoon checking my phone, worried I’d get a text from NatWest saying the £20,000 cheque to pay for it all had bounced and Kirsty Young’s husband (Soho House’s founder) had issued a warrant for my arrest. I even took my husband to their outpost in New York, but instead of being impressed, he was chippy, ungrateful. Even my membership didn’t stop him sloping off to meet his mistress on the pretext of attending a yoga class.

I check in at 3.30pm, figuring that’s just enough time to trowel on the make-up: primer, tinted moisturiser, foundation, concealer, powder, bronzer, blusher. I’ve brought a choice of two outfits: a simple black shift from Reiss, and my Victoria Beckham body-con. Both will go with my black Louboutin shoe boots, Prada clutch, black Myla thong. I had felt a little disloyal, packing the thong, as it was bought by my ex as a Christmas present, but needs must. I’ve packed inky Paige flares, heels and a white T-shirt to wear the next day in case he stays the night. I know he’s already thinking about sex. He texted, saying he wakes up naked in bed with me every Sunday (he means a copy of YOU magazine, containing my column. He used to read it furtively, with his ex in bed next to him). He has asked what coffee I prefer for when we actually wake up together. But even so, it all feels too soon. The worst thing is, if I do have sex on our second date, my ex will know, and abandon all hope, because of course I will write about it.

I’m finally ready. I teeter downstairs early, so that I can arrange my limbs in good time. I’ve decided on the Victoria Beckham: the great thing about a new man is he hasn’t clapped eyes on your best outfit before.

This will be the first proper date with a man without alcohol. Now that I have been diagnosed with Ménière’s disease – an imbalance of the inner ear – even a sip makes the room spin. I order fizzy water instead, eyeing enviously the tall, golden flutes at other tables. I can’t imagine taking my clothes off sober: the sensation will be like getting on my horse Swirly without a crash helmet, full body protector, boots and gloves: vulnerable, exposed, terrifying. At what point do I whip out my hearing aids? I don’t want him nuzzling, causing them to whistle.

I keep looking up, worried I will wave at the wrong person. I keep checking my phone. My palms are moist. The thong has a mind of its own – keeps migrating. But this isn’t high school, when hockey and swimming were compulsory. I don’t need a letter from my mum. I can just say no. But an awful lot of his texts have been about kissing. How he will be able
to tell if I really fancy him, or if I’m still unsure or, worse, just meeting up for a column?

Oh God. My phone has just got all excited, wriggling. It’s a WhatsApp. He’s in Romilly Street, surely. He must be almost here…