Because David sent a text saying he still misses me, which is why he’d sent flowers, I – stupidly – wrote back. ‘I’m in London next week. Why don’t we meet for dinner? Mildreds?’
‘I’ve never been there but that would be great. x’
He has been there, but I let that go. I booked a room at The Hospital Club in Covent Garden: £300. I had my final visit at the dentist that morning. I’d had my hair cut and dyed. I’d had Botox. I’d been growing my lashes and brows. I can now hear so I won’t annoy him by leaning in with a puzzled expression.
He would, in effect, be having dinner with a me who had whizzed back 20 years in time. I got ready. I ironed my hair. I put on my new toothpick jeans and the pea coat from Izzy Lane that my friend gave me.
I got to the restaurant early because I knew there’d be a queue. I ordered him a double G&T and me a virgin cocktail. At 7.25pm a strange man entered. The only bit I recognised was the pale blue collar of an N Peal cardie I’d bought David for Christmas. Oh my God, I realised it was David as he came towards me (no kiss or hug). He had a full beard, down past his collar. ‘Oh, wow, um,’ I said, reeling, smiling. He had a strange demeanour: a mix of angry, cold, sheepish. I think he was slightly taken aback by me – tall, glossy – so perhaps that was it. I told him I’d got him a drink, as I’d been waiting for a table. I started to tell him how my life has changed since being able to hear. He sipped his drink. He then said, ‘I’ve been invited to an event in France near the sanctuary place that took the two sheep.’ ‘Great!’ I said. ‘Why don’t you take my car, which has a trailer, to bring them back?’
‘Who says I’m going to bring them back?’
‘OK, Nic has a two-week holiday booked and she was planning to go anyway. She is very capable.’
‘You don’t understand. They have to go back to my friend’s for their next injections, and in your column two weeks ago you attacked him again, saying he is an “arrogant a***”.’
‘Well he is. You told me that. You took his side.’
‘I’m always defending you to other people.’
Jellyfish alert! Oh, isn’t that reassuring. Like that person who said once, ‘Liz, never mind what all those other journos write in the press. Just ignore them.’
David seemed so angry and aggressive. ‘Why are you spoiling yet another evening?’ I asked, and to the barman, ‘Can I pay for the drinks?’
With that, David threw down £20 and left. We had lasted precisely 11 minutes. I stayed in the queue, baffled, upset, and was summoned to a table. ‘Where’s the other person?’ the waiter asked.
‘He’s having a very long fag.’
I sat down, texted him. ‘Dave. I queued a long time for dinner. Please come back. x’
‘I am on the bus but I will come back.’
He returned, and sat. We ordered. ‘I don’t want a starter,’ he said. ‘Is the curry gluten free?’
The food came. He looked awful: miserable, his tiny eyes pale dots in a sea of fur. I tried to make light of what had just happened. ‘Can we just not argue, maybe settle things by email tomorrow?’
‘Yes, OK… Actually, no. I want to talk about it. You’re vile. Vicious.’
I nearly choked on a cashew nut. ‘I’m vile? You’re the one who swears all the time.’
Interesting how he was all attentive and helpful when I had a Merc, a country pile, a London loft apartment. I told him I will not be shouted at. Tears started to leak from my eyes. I was insane to have met up with him. I could have had dinner with Dawn for a giggle.
‘If we are going to sit here not talking, I’m going,’ he said, shoving his chair back and standing to leave. He hadn’t even taken off his jacket, or started on the kale. He threw another £20 on the table, for all the world as though he were in the Wild West. His parting shot was, ‘I wish you well.’
Whaaaat? Stunned, I was reminded of the words of Michael Hutchence when I left his room at the Dorchester after a strange night of semi-passion. ‘You take care.’ You bloody well take care! Men…they’re all mad.
I ordered an Uber back to my hotel. It was still barely 9pm. I had no worry David would turn up after I’d taken off my make-up as I hadn’t told him where I was staying (nor had he asked). I’d so looked forward to being on a date after six long months. As I removed the black Myla underwear I felt wasted, as though I was on holiday in the Grand Canyon and had no one to turn to and say, ‘Look, isn’t it amazing!’ Life just isn’t as much fun on your own, no matter how we might dress it up.
I had quickly finished my curry and asked the by then puzzled waiter for the bill. I think he assumed I’d been on a speed date. It was £57.37. David had only left £40. Just about sums it up. And I’m alone again, naturally.