I often think men are mad.
David came for the weekend. He had, trying to be helpful, picked up a table with a marble top I’d bought for £50 on Ebay to replace the Eero Saarinen I’d sold to pay for my collie Gracie’s spine surgery. I remember last Christmas reading a column by some opinionated woman complaining about all the ads for cheap sofas available on credit at this time of year. ‘Why do people need a new sofa for Christmas every year? How un-eco-friendly is that?’ she pontificated, while probably sitting on something passed down by her great-great-grandparents.
The thing is, when you’ve lost your job or your health or have an injured pet, you sell things. I sold my huge Smeg fridge when I lost my home, as the rental property had a (small, old) fridge. I’m now saving up for another one. I sold my lovely pink chesterfields, so now I’m looking for a sofa on Ebay. You see? This is why people buy sofas on credit at Christmas.
So I was excited to meet my ‘new’ table. But David kept refusing to get it out of his car. I can’t stand people who leave things in cars: coffee cups, sweet wrappers, children.
‘I think you’re keeping my table from me,’ I said.
‘Well, the marble was cracked, the drawers were held together by duct tape, then it snapped in two when I put it in the car. I almost* phoned to ask, “Are you sure you want it?”’
You see, a woman would have taken a photo, called me, then I’d have said, ‘No, don’t pick it up and don’t pay for it.’
The oven in the cottage doesn’t work, so I have to cook using just the hob. David wanted to make vegetarian shepherd’s pie, which needs to be browned on top. ‘Do you have a blow torch?’ he asked.
‘Do I have the body of someone who eats crème brûlée?’ I replied, affronted. Honestly.
Then, making dinner, he set off the smoke alarm. Instead of doing what any woman would do, and flapping at it with a tea towel, he came into my office and said calmly, ‘Do you have a long stick?’
‘To poke the fire alarm.’
‘Do I look like I have a long stick?’
I’ve invited him for Christmas, so told him I’ve booked a Waitrose slot, and did he want to place anything he wants in the virtual basket?
After some considerable huffing and puffing and putting on of spectacles, he managed to order a swede. ‘Oh, this is ridiculous,’ he said. ‘I’d rather go to a supermarket.’
We know that supermarket won’t be Waitrose. And he will leave it until the last minute. And I will end up completing the shopping list online and guessing what he wants. And he will turn up at 8pm on Christmas Eve and say, ‘Didn’t you order any crystallised ginger?’
‘No, I didn’t! Because no one sane has eaten that since 1956!’ Gaaahhh!
We went for a pub lunch on Sunday. Normally, I do this alone**, arriving to find my name written on a card in huge letters, with ‘x 1’ on it, for all to see. Why don’t they write, ‘Liz Jones, pariah’ and have done with it? So it’s nice having a lunch partner, rather than the usual interaction which is for someone to come over to my table and for me to think, ‘Oooh, a new friend’, only for them to say, ‘Excuse me, do you mind if we take your spare chairs?’
But I’m not convinced there is any other aspect to a relationship that is worth embracing. Viz, they always manage to say the wrong thing. A copy of last week’s column popped into my inbox, with my new byline photo at the top. ‘What do you think?’ I asked him.
‘Oh, that’s lovely – much better.’
‘Better than what?’
‘The last one.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘It was horrible.’
You see? Men have no filter. I remember not long after I came out of Celebrity Big Brother I met my friend Dawn for a drink with David, and she said, because she is a) female and b) not a sociopath, ‘You looked really lovely,’ and he had interjected, shaking his toothless head, ‘No, she didn’t. Not all the time.’
You see? Honestly, men are mad.
* Men really do believe they are allotted a finite number of texts and words before they die.
**Because I have no oven, and also no central heating, and it’s nice to get warm sometimes.