I’m in Lemonia in Primrose Hill with my friend Meena. I order a glass of wine. She’s showing me selfies taken with Hollywood stars. She’s one of those women who fly all over the world, ‘staying with friends’ in Hollywood, New York, Mumbai. When I used to travel all over the world, I always had to give my mum three rings to let her know I’d arrived safely, before the hotel pre-authorised payment on my debit card.
We’re talking about men (mainly because I ask if she knows Liam Neeson, as he’s my current celebrity crush), and she says, ‘Do you ever hear from your ex-husband?’
‘No,’ I say. ‘I haven’t thought about him in years! He emailed me when I came out of Celebrity Big Brother to say well done, but that was four years ago. I have no interest.’
Then she says, ‘Ooh, that reminds me, he emailed me.’
I sit bolt upright, and wrestle her phone from her hand. ‘No! Whashesay?! Lemmelook!’
She searches for his name, then holds her phone up to show me. It is a carefully composed email, suggesting they ‘meet up for a coffee’. I’m put out, not because I’m jealous, but because Meena is my friend, not his. I don’t think exes should ever contact your friends without asking you first and even then I don’t think it’s a good idea.
‘Did you meet up for coffee?’
‘No!’ she says, fiercely loyal. ‘I didn’t even reply.’
I take a huge glug of wine as I’m exhausted. Meena has just dragged me along to something she billed as ‘yoga for the over fifties’, which was hardly going to enamour the event to me. But I said okay, given when I was sacked as editor of Marie Claire, Meena, out of the thousands of journalists, photographers and PRs in the world, was the only one to keep in contact. And, Meena being Meena, earlier this evening she hadn’t lead me to a sweaty village hall or sports centre, but instead to a loft apartment opposite the Round House, with a view of the Shard and the Post Office Tower.
Now. I cannot stand yoga. I think women who practise it have yeast infections, unwashed hair and a workshy attitude, and the men… well. Yoga is partly the reason I got divorced: my husband was always in bed by 9pm, wearing ear plugs and a blackout eye mask, as he had to ‘be up early for Iyengar’. I spent my marriage downstairs, alone, watching Sex and the City with the sound off.
But I intend 2019 to be the year I start to look after my health. For the past decade, the state of my body has been the last of my problems, but as I emerge from my difficulties, not exactly like a butterfly from a chrysalis, or a polar bear cub from a snowy den, but instead like that woman in The Ring with the long, black hair, climbing out of a dank well, I’m determined to be more holistic, and to stop eating Kettle crisps for dinner. I’m introduced to our teacher, Maya Fiennes, who is the sister-in-law of Ralph Fiennes: she is dressed all in white, and has the body of a 20 year old. I tell her I cannot stand yoga: all that breathing makes me hyperventilate, and while I used to do Pilates, I gave it up when I moved out of London to push wheelbarrows through mud instead, and am now as stiff as a board.
She smiles beatifically, and tells me what she teaches isn’t yoga at all, but an adaptation of Kundalini yoga, using her own music (she’s a classically trained concert pianist) and dance. She tells me it will energise my organs and my hormones; I tell her my hormones departed to live in sheltered accommodation long ago, but that I’m willing to ‘give it a go’. Maya really is the most positive person I’ve ever met and she soon has me stretching and circling my arms and lunging, much to the amusement of the office workers in the block next door. She teaches all over the world (she’s off to New York the next day to ‘stay with friends’), but if you are more like me, someone for whom the world isn’t your oyster but instead a dead sea creature you’re afraid to poke, you can watch her online, too.
After class, we three walk to the restaurant; it isn’t open, but Meena being Meena, the maitre d’ unlocks the door, and ushers us to a VIP table. ‘I want this life,’ I say, as Maya disappears to catch her plane. ‘The opening of doors, the one-to-ones. The body of a 20 year old.’
‘How about the body of a 40 year old,’ she says, smiling, and ordering me another drink. Happy New Year!
Find details of KundaDance at mayafiennes.com