I never did go to dinner with my ex David to ‘catch up’. We had a stupid virtual argument. He was upset I’d written he lacks intelligence (I hadn’t, not really; I wrote he doesn’t read books and has nothing to say – there’s a difference). ‘Your world’s media and fashion,’ he wrote. ‘Mine’s not. I have/had an IQ of 148.’
Ah. So now he’s implying that I’m the one who’s stupid. This is always the way with men: if you are manicured and Hollywood waxed, you are necessarily a frivolous idiot. At least I’ve covered war, earthquakes in Pakistan, famine in Somalia, dying babies in China, garment workers living in slums in Dhaka, chained elephants in India, abused equines in Ethiopia, not to mention Brexit, Donald Trump and the last general election. He spent his career working in marketing for a luxury male fashion brand. Ironic, no?
He added, ‘Hypnotherapy does not seem to have improved your demeanour [I’ve been having treatment with therapist Malminder Gill to encourage me to let go of past slights]. If you feel like you write, why would you still want a relationship with me?’
He really does know how to woo a woman, doesn’t he? No hearts and flowers, no jaunts to Paris, no poems. Just mewling like a baby. Are all men this inert or is it just him?
I had dinner with my friend D the other night: her last night in London having lived here for 52 years. ‘What makes him think he deserves you?’ she asked me.
So I replied to David: ‘I don’t want a relationship with you. What on earth made you think that?’
‘Me too. My mistake.’
Ah. What he means is, ‘Me neither.’
Anyway, I was beginning to feel a bit stupid, having ordered a relaxed navy boyfriend sweater from Navygrey. Are you allowed to wear a boyfriend sweater if you don’t have a boyfriend? At the checkout, as well as your pin, should they also ask for the date you last had sex?
Then I get a text. This time from my ex ex.
‘Not for publication.’
Hmm. Oh well. I have a page to fill.
‘Are you in town next week?’ I’m not, but I type, ‘Might be. Why?’
‘I’m thinking of holding a press launch for my new venture.’
‘So you’re inviting me to a press call? Is this the equivalent of Prince Harry texting Nicholas Witchell?’
I can tell he has no idea what I’m talking about. He calls me.
‘Um, it would be great if you could come. And we could have dinner after. It will be a group thing. I’m not asking you to stay at my house again, given last time you dyed my loo seat with your fake tan, which I still haven’t been able to remove, by the way. This is strictly a work thing.’
‘I have a very small bottom, so the stain must be likewise. And I will say it twice in one week, which must be something of a record: I don’t want a relationship with you. Anyway, what about Thong Woman [a “girlfriend” he brought with him last time we met]? Will she be a member of the Group Thing?’
He is used, of course, to my habit of calling people by their distinguishing features, not names. This comes from my job for many vegan latte-fuelled years as features editor on a daily newspaper. My tiny team and I didn’t have time to learn names: it was just Weight-loss Lady, Miracle Baby, Runaway Bride and so on.
‘Um, oh, her. No.’
‘OK, so you want to use my fame as a columnist to promote your upcoming vanity project, but I can’t write about anything else.’
I then get a long text from my friend S, cancelling a dinner that we’d pencilled in for tonight. All about how she can’t ever meet at 6.30pm or 7pm as she’s so busy, but that from 8pm is fine in future, and why don’t we meet in Primrose Hill?
‘OK. It’s really not a problem.’
I’m puzzled, as we’ve known each other for over 40 years and if she cancels on me, it’s not a big deal. And then she gets to the crux.
‘Anyway, if we can meet one night at 8pm, I will bring along a lovely friend. He loves your column. He’s a doll!’
Now, that’s more like it.