A slight spanner in the works. Well, two, actually, and one a great big wrench – in both meanings of the word. And both just before my mini break at Lime Wood hotel in the New Forest for David’s birthday surprise – complete with dinner courtesy of top chef Angela Hartnett and even a bottle of vegan champagne placed in the room.
First, I got a text message. It was from my landlady in London. ‘Can you give me a quick call?’
I called her. ‘I’m afraid I am asking you to leave the flat with two months’ notice. You can go earlier if you like.’ I was shaking.
How annoying. I have barely been there nine months. It took six months to sort out the council tax. ‘But it will cost me thousands to move again.’
‘You don’t have any furniture,’ she had the cheek to reply.
‘Yes I do.’ And I listed what I have.
But I have no choice and, to be honest, she has been a handful. She refused to deal with my PA Nic (she kept emailing, ‘You do know this is sole occupancy!!!’ as if Nic were my lesbian lover, not my assistant), told me not to drink red wine while sitting on the sofa, and to put a waterproof mat by the kitchen sink. That I was not to light candles. Or allow a dog to place a paw inside. Or the front door to slam.
When I’d asked about wifi, she’d replied, ‘Most people use a BT hotspot.’ When she put back my moving-in date because of an Airbnb booking, and I’d said that was annoying as I needed to be in London for Fashion Week, she’d wondered if I could put a hotel on expenses. A few days before the phone call, she had asked to see inside the flat, and then kept me waiting for two hours, without even a text to say she’d be late.
The second spanner is that I have nothing to wear on my mini break. My pink Accessorize bikini finally died. I have no dress for dinner he hasn’t already seen and unzipped a million times before.
Ooh, an email from David: ‘I plan to shave off my beard next week, unless you would prefer me not to? Also, do I need to be in my suit, or take it with me?’
Oh dear. I don’t think Lime Wood allows big beards. I replied, ‘I don’t mind some stubble, but that beard is a bit too homeless person. You won’t need to wear your suit until dinner.’
And then another email, this time from a PR. And – hurrah! – it wasn’t along the lines of the usual, which always read, ‘Dear __ [they can never be bothered to type a name]. Are you planning any features for Christmas?’
No, this missive was useful. ‘Dear Liz. Would you like to spend a week wearing only rented clothes? It’s the new face of sustainable fashion!’
Well, yes! I tell them as well as the mini break, I have a film premiere with red carpet, and a summer party with a pop star. And so it is that a van with 50 or 60 items – some designer, some vintage – turns up at what is still for the moment my flat, courtesy of My Wardrobe HQ. A dressing-up box of wonderful things in my size.
I had warned them no colour, no patterns, no cheap labels: ‘I like Victoria Beckham, Vuitton, Stella, Wang (Alexander, not Vera), Balenciaga, The Row, Moncler athleisure. And how about a nice crochet bikini by She Made Me?’ Nothing floaty: I’m a bodycon gal. No linen. Nothing remotely resembling Per Una.
I think, like David, they are a little bit nervous…