So I decided to send David a Christmas present. I bought him a copy of Being John
Lennon by Ray Connolly. I’d read rave reviews and an extract. John had belatedly acknowledged that Yoko Ono was the inspiration behind ‘Imagine’. David had sent me a text, after watching a documentary on Channel 4, that he ‘was pleased to see Yoko get the recognition she deserved’.
I wondered then if that’s how he sees himself: he is the Yoko to my John. But, of course, no one bought her book of poems, and if she had made a solo record, I doubt it would have gone to number one or be loved almost 50 years later. But I know that, like my ex-husband, David feels used. I expect everyone in a ‘relationship’ with a writer probably feels the same. Unless you’re the sort of writer who leaves out all the unpalatable bits. Helen Fielding only recently admitted Bridget had been based on her.
Anyway, I thought he’d like the book, so I posted it, along with a card from all my cats. John is his favourite Beatle. Paul is mine. But even so, the day John was shot I was due to go to Rada to audition to become an actress and, on hearing the news on the radio, I couldn’t leave my flat, I was so distressed. John changed so many lives.
A few days later and still no thank you. I am writing this with one week to go before Christmas, two weeks before I am due to spend New Year at the home of my ex. I don’t really want to go on my own as that will seem a bit desperate. I think he has a new girlfriend, though I don’t know for sure.
I’ve just come back from a frosty walk with the dogs to this:
‘Hi Liz. Are you still coming for NYE? We’re just sorting who goes where. We’re thinking of putting you guys in the annexe. Everyone has been asked to bring booze: whatever your tipple, do please bring it along. And are you still vegan? Is whatshisname still gluten free? I hear you have a third dog, will they be coming with you? Oh, and the stay is strictly off limits, column wise. I’ve already had a few concerned emails from fellow guests. Sorry, but that’s how it is. Take it easy. xxx’
Why do even nice things in my life turn into an assault course, with hurdles and water jumps and boggy bits? First of all, ‘we’re’… who is ‘we’? His giant son? New wife? And second of all, I would have taken champagne anyway, without being asked. Why are people so bossy? When I got married, I wrote on the invitation, ‘No gifts, just bring your lovely selves. Your company is all we need.’
And – what number are we on, third of all? – what does he mean, am I still vegan? I could email back, ask, ‘Are you still fat?’ And fourth, he knows full well David’s name is David. And, fifth – the worst one of all, to be frank – am I bringing my dogs! That’s like me saying, ‘And will the monosyllabic teens be in attendance?’ And writing ‘I hear you have a third’ is a passive- aggressive way of saying, ‘I don’t read your column now I’m no longer in it.’ And why invite me if he doesn’t want me to write about it? That would be like inviting Paul McCartney and saying, ‘Sorry, Macca. Please don’t tinkle on the piano. Go and sit in the annexe.’
I don’t want to be the person in the annexe. I hate annexes. I am always put in the annexe. Take the holiday after I was sacked as editor of Marie Claire. I had gone on the website of the Villa San Michele, just out-side Florence. The photos looked gorgeous: it’s a former monastery, with stone floors and ancient windows and a terrace, decked with bougainvillea, overlooking the red tiles of the Duomo. I spent my (not small) redundancy cheque booking nearly a week there for me and Nirpal.
And where did they put us? In the s***ing annexe that was probably erected in 2002. I am always, always the poor relation.
I still haven’t heard from David: whether or not he got the book, how my cats are, does he still love me, is he alive – that sort of thing. And so I decide to decline. I have to think of an excuse. I write back, blaming David. At least he’s good for something.
And finally – I’m sorry, but I almost missed the sign-off, I’d been so upset – ‘Take it easy’ (!) Has he not met me?