I’ve gone off, like a carton of sour milk. I was poised, barely three weeks ago, to either rekindle things with David (mad) or attract someone new (unlikely; my feeling is I put off The Hunk by writing about him in this column, even though I changed the continent he lives on, his profession and didn’t name him). But now everything I had done – roots, feet, lashes, brows and all the bits and bobs in between – has reverted to type. I’ve turned into one of those women who, at all times of day and night, worry the whiskers on their chin, studying one extracted between thumb and forefinger against the light in triumph.
My main problem – apart from all the other ones, of course – is that I cannot stand living in the Yorkshire Dales. It’s not just the constant shooting of crows, pigeons, foxes and rabbits; it’s also the delivery drivers.
I always order my coffee beans from Coffee Plant on the Portobello Road. They roast the best coffee in the world; unlike me, it’s not bitter. The beans are my last little bit of luxury, the one remaining tenuous thread connecting me with London, the place I call home. But almost every time, the order is stuffed up. Last month the wrong amount of beans was sent. The time before the driver said my road was closed when it wasn’t. Yesterday, having waited in all day for the driver, I got a text that evening. ‘Roy was unable to find your address. We will update you shortly.’
Today, I received a text to say Roy will deliver my coffee between 10.45am and 11.45am. Hooray! But at midday, having sat by the front door all morning, I checked my phone. Another text, to say Roy could not find my address. Again. Why couldn’t he phone me? Or look it up on a map? What is wrong with him? It sent me over the edge. I have chest pains. It is indicative of everything that is wrong with living in the countryside: no decent shops, no food, no culture, no friends, no decent coffee beans.
You see, this is the problem with complex post-traumatic stress. Seemingly small setbacks can trigger a cataclysmic response. I know it shouldn’t matter that Roy is an idiot, but it’s the final straw. I phone the company’s customer services. I jab the reference number into my phone. An automated voice tells me I can visit the website. I’ve lost the will to live. I finally get through. The woman in customer services says the driver’s phone is switched off.
This is what I don’t understand. My bleeding phone is never switched off! Why are all these useless, not even jobsworth people going on holiday and sitting in their houses and not being sacked, and I have nothing? Anyway, the hapless Roy finally turned up at 4pm. He tried to tell me the last letter in my postcode is wrong, the sort of mansplaining that reminds me of the time my friend came to stay with me in Somerset and her husband had said to me: ‘I think you’ll find you live in Devon.’
I am having to move again. I’ve been told that I have to live somewhere cheaper, in ‘Catterick Garrison, if you can’, and that Sweetie’s medication for her thyroid condition is ‘way too expensive’. I’ve had the cat since January 2004. She was then a tiny scrap of a kitten, rescued by Celia Hammond from her previous owner who had battered the cat so badly her teeth were broken.
Reluctantly, I have just called an estate agent about a cheaper property that has become available to rent (even though the place is a dump with a pine kitchen and sticky carpet, it still says crossly, ‘No DSS and no pets’). The woman at the other end asks my name. ‘It’s Jones.’ ‘Yes, Mrs Jones, when would you like to view?’ I’m afraid I yell at her. ‘I am not married! Why would you assume I’m shackled to a useless male! Do you not know we are living in a post- Weinstein age?!!’ Gaaahh!