We had ups. Then we had downs.
David arrived on Saturday bearing birthday gifts. He had indeed bought me the black Dries Van Noten gown with the gold embellishment in the MyTheresa sale, and had actually chosen the correct size: a French 38. He also brought with him a bottle of champagne, and a slightly weird gift of a wooden box full of polish and brushes for shoes. I was leaving for Italy early the next day for work, and so on Sunday evening Nic arrived to collect the puppies. She and David exchanged not a word. It’s awkward for girlfriends, isn’t it, that one minute you’re telling them: ‘Well, I just told him he is so f***ing needy! And he told me to p*** off. I didn’t reply until the next day, when I told him: “I p***ed off. And then I came back again.”’
And the next day your girlfriend turns up at your house and there he is, in tracky bottoms, cradling a G&T, and she has to paint on a rictus grin.
Anyway, it was a bit strange, as I had pointedly told David that the puppies were having a sleepover, so we would be ON OUR OWN for the night, without a prone collie with a pointy nose smelling of sheep between us, like a hyperactive hairy toddler. Yet that night, nothing, nothing, nothing.
No sex at all.
When we first started going out, we had sex every time we met up, even if I had just got off a plane, or was between waxes, or was going on a reality TV programme the next day, or had eaten fettucine, or had a fashion show to prepare for (I do have to concentrate).
But now? Nothing.
He gave me a lift to Manchester airport the next morning, and as we drove, he pointed out landmarks from his youth: Rochdale, Mansfield. Most places were punctuated by girlfriends. ‘Is she still pining for you?’ I asked of an ex in Bolton. ‘She got over me instantly.’ Seeing the Pennines, I remarked, ‘This must evoke memories of being a postman!’
‘What?’ he said.
‘You told me you walked for miles over mountains.’
‘Yes, for pleasure. I was never a postman! Sometimes, I really don’t think you love me at all.’
That’s the end of the ups, I’m afraid.
He dropped me off, and I staggered to the EasyJet desk with my huge case. I was only going for one night, but can you believe the travel company had the cheek to ask me, ‘Do you really need a case, which costs extra?’ ‘Well, yes, I do, actually, given I have to have my photo taken while I’m there, and put on make-up and do my hair and wear clothes.’ As Bridget would say, ‘Bugger off!’
A three-hour delay turned into five. I finally got to my hotel – by the side of a motorway in the suburbs of Milan – at midnight to find it did not do room service. ‘But I’ve been travelling for 14 hours!’ I wailed. I was shown to my room, and when I went to have a shower and wash my hair, there was not only no shampoo, but no soap. Just a dispenser nailed to a wall. Gaahhh!
I woke early, tried to explain to the man on the desk I wanted an espresso to no avail (you’d think they’d know that word in Italy), and got a taxi to the centro. There, at last, was the place I remembered. The Valentino shop, the huge Armani store on the corner. Corso Como, with its esoteric mix of pasta, coffee-table books and Alaïa shoes. The shops and restaurants that I used to frequent as a glossy editor seemed to mock me, as far away as the moon. I hadn’t had any food for 36 hours.
After my interview and shoot wrapped up, me nearly fainting from fatigue and malnourishment, I went straight back to the airport. I landed at Manchester, walked what seemed like 400 miles to the station, and shivered on a freezing platform, waiting for the TransPennine Express. My friend had promised to pick me up, but in the end she backed out, preferring a night in with Paul Hollywood. From landing to home took six hours. I used to disembark at Heathrow, get into a lovely car with Muhammad, and be home before I knew it. Back in the lap of Islington and my lovely life.
I texted Nic. ‘I can’t do this any more,’ I told her. ‘With no money, no treats, no food, no lovely shops. It just doesn’t seem worth it. And I’ve got nowhere to wear my Dries dress.’
I texted David the same thing. ‘I can’t do anything right,’ he said. ‘No,’ I replied. ‘Just accept it.’