I know what it’s like to wake up at 3am in a cold wave of fear
Can you imagine. You have just had a row with your boyfriend, he has flounced out to drive back to London, and suddenly you are told you cannot leave your house? He will return, with his brown holdall stuffed with unironed T-shirts, a washbag covered with toothpaste, drop them by the front door where they will remain for the next 17 years because MEN NEVER UNPACK. Those women leaning out of windows in Italy aren’t singing, they’re wailing, ‘He keeps picking his feet!’ My week so far. In the space of two days… (poor me!)
1 I got an email from my mortgage broker, saying that despite my high salary/track record of never having a day off sick/awards/work ethic, he can’t get me a mortgage. Sorry.
2 Then I get an email saying my book launch might be pushed back. I was devastated, having worked on it for five long years. Then the publisher saw sense, realising what we need at the moment is a book that will make us laugh. Phew!
3 My UK tour in October is in doubt, obviously, though who knows?
4 My assistant Nic came with me to London for work and is now blaming me for the fact she can’t see her mother, just in case she got infected during one day in London and passes it on. ‘I knew it was a bad idea and we should have cancelled,’ she has just told me. ‘Listen,’ I said. ‘You shouldn’t visit your mother anyway. I went to cover an earthquake in Pakistan wearing only flip-flops. I crossed Somalia in an armoured truck. I learned to be a trapeze artist with Cirque du Soleil when I don’t even do stepladders and my horse Lizzie was dying. I had a facelift just so I could write about it! I went to Venice with half an hour’s notice, no one told me which terminal I was to fly from, or how to catch a water bus to my hotel with no money in my account, only for my editor to call me while I was at the boarding gate and say, ‘We will want photos of you in a gondola.’ I told him I was currently dressed as Beyoncé (Ivy Park at Topshop leggings and sweatshirt; not high quality, as once washed it faded, got bobbles and shrunk), and hadn’t had TIME TO PACK MAKE-UP!!
5 I realise I will not be allowed to fly to Australia to meet the Hunk. I am considering writing a letter to someone high up, saying, ‘I haven’t had sex since before Christmas. Surely this is a global emergency?’
I once got into lots of trouble with my boss when I was losing my house, because I wrote that I would rather have cancer than be forced to give up everything I owned. She deleted it. Of course, being ill is terrible. But my experience is that when you are losing your career, house, furniture, car, and are terrified your animals will be seized, there is no sympathy.
6 The Press Awards have been cancelled. I’m up for Columnist of the Year, again, and had written my speech.
7 So for anyone who is currently suffering financial hardship, I know. I’ve been there. I would wake at 3am, and this wave of fear would wash over me, like a great big cold sea full of jellyfish I was about to drown in. I was adrift in a new, hostile world of lawyers, insolvency practitioners, debt specialists, the Official Receiver. Removal men. Putting things in storage before even that luxury is taken away and you are like, well, OK, just sell everything on Ebay.
The only thing that got me through, a white polystyrene float I would doggy paddle behind, was humour. Endless episodes of Fawlty Towers and Friends, who really were my friends. Early Cary Grant movies including Bringing up Baby and My Favorite Wife. Bridesmaids, watched so many times I can now recite huge chunks: ‘Stove. What kinda name is that? Are you an appliance?’ Nancy Mitford. Helen Fielding. Dodie Smith. Stars and Bars by William Boyd.
Isn’t it telling that the man you’ve been sharing a vagina with for the past, what, I’m not good at sums, few years doesn’t text to say, ‘How are you? Are you OK?’ I’ve been feverishly texting friends, a niece, my old cleaner. But from him? Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.
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