It’s Sunday morning. Time for my adult lie in. I start to plan my day. A few phone calls to chums to get me revved up and to see if there is any social opportunity in the offing seems like a plan.
Through the window clouds race across the sky like skittish West Highland Terriers. I look out over the front paddock and across fields to a little footpath where a man is walking his two Dalmatians, head bent into the wind. One of the dogs runs up and gives him a double whammy of paw-mud. Even from this distance and through double-glazing I can see that he is both frustrated and amused. A short bout of finger wagging follows which the dog sensibly ignores. I glance back at the bed. St John is lying flat on his back with all four paws in the air. I can hear his gentle snores and a bubble is forming in the ‘V’ where his lips go into that peculiar inverted ‘Y’ which connects up to cats’ noses.
Creeping downstairs I pick up the post, marvel at how I missed stepping into a neatly deposited pile of mouse entrails on the ‘Welcome’ mat last night and make my way to the kitchen.
After scanning the paper and ignoring anything that looks like a bill I am clutching my second cup of coffee in my ‘Damn I’m Gorgeous’ mug and digging in for a great moaning session to my mate Delilah – her of the gorgeous husband and irritatingly beautiful kids.
Phone cupped between shoulder and ear I am bemoaning the state of my bank balance, the outrageously unfair practice of the ‘single supplement’ for holidays and have just worked my way round to my on-shelf status when she cuts me off in mid flow. “Listen you fussy tart, haven’t you learned by now that you have to make compromises? Stop going out with desperate blokes you don’t fancy just because they ask you and stop dumping reasonable and perfectly ordinary men just because they don’t meet one of your eight million long list of top ten criteria!”
I am all adrift at this turn of events. Don’t even get me started on the maths.
“You don’t think it’s all sweetness and light in our relationship do you?”
Sadly, I probably did.
So now this is all new ground for me. I have to learn to say no to remnant-bucket guys who I said yes to on the off chance it is a frog-kissing exercise and to say yes to men who I obviously do fancy but don’t shape up into boyfriend material at absolutely first glance. Not only do I have to say yes, I have to stick with it.
“You know something” – uh oh, she’s still there. I grip the phone anticipating another exasperated blast – “I remember you dumping that one guy just because he slid his index finger right down the tines of the fork when eating.”
“But it was disgusting. He was eating bangers and mash and his finger was in the gravy.” I hadn’t told her about the curry and nose running incident I’d noted the night I first clapped eyes on him.
“Yeah, erm, yeah…you were right about him.”
So where do I go with that then? I tick off my man priorities – this seam of men who fit my priorities has almost played out, goodness knows I’m almost played out – I need to work out the compromises. Don’t I?
I have got it down to three vital criteria. Male, straight, intelligent. No, four. With a job. Oh, and a couple more, tall, with a big nose and floppy hair. And funny as well, I like funny. And nice shoes.
Replacing the receiver I sat dejectedly on the sofa and unwrapped my bit of Hannah’s birthday cake to share with St John. He gets the lion’s share, obviously, being the nearest relative (to lions) and all. He’s just wafted into the room in hover-cat mode and placed himself daintily at my feet, tail curled around his body, front paws cushioned on top. He’s not a fan of slate tiles, more of a tufted Wilton man.
Picking at The Smartie eye of our bit of the cake creature – this year a My Little Pony renaissance in purple and pink – Davinci would have been proud – I started thinking about my chat with Hannah yesterday.
“You are very lucky to have so many friends and be such a popular girl,” I had said.
“I wasn’t always popular,” she whispered, “and my bestest friend is Glum Girl.” Thinking this is a new trendy doll, computer game or kids’ tv series and that the name is more likely Glam Girl, I coaxed her for detail.
“No, it is Glum Girl. She is my no-friends friend. Mum says she’s made up, not happy made up like ‘I’m really made up’ but, not real, you know”. I nod cautiously with little encouraging bird-like angled head-pecks.
“She has been my best friend for ages. Whenever I fall out with someone she’s there. Or when I am just a bit sad. She lives with my shoes.”
This had puzzled me until Hannah carted me up to her room and showed me her shoe emporium – the sort of ‘house of shoes’ any 37 year old girl could be justifiably proud to have in her home. Apart from being just smashing, Jackie’s husband Marcus is also a keen joiner and had made a lovely shoe rack for his daughter in the manner of a Manhattan high-rise. Each pair of shoes has its own apartment; some of them even have balconies.
We had sat on the bed together better to admire Glum Girl’s pad, Hannah telling me all about the benefits of imaginary friends.
This morning what I realise is she didn’t even come close to covering all the benefits of having an imaginary BOY-friend.
By the time the ‘Damn I’m Gorgeous’ mug is empty and cold I am dating the perfect man. Not bad for a woman in mis-matched pyjamas.
Fabio (so sue me) is my boyfriend.
Fabio is ten years younger than me and Italian in a very Italian kind of way. Put it this way, that special Italian way doesn’t rhyme with ‘gelding’ does it. His business interests take him all over the world so I see him rarely but when we are together ….
But, let me tell the story from the beginning. You can’t just make up an imaginary boyfriend on the spur of the moment. It takes time and miles on the clock. You have to earn one, and you have to know how to use one.
I whip out the mental boyfriend criteria list and run my eye down the bullet points. I decide that the main area of compromise is that my boyfriend doesn’t have to be real to re-admit me to the ‘couples’ club, at least on the face of it.
Two slices of granary toast later and the plan seems so, so, sensible. I could do a power point presentation right now on the benefits.
- I will have (allegedly) a fantastic sex life
- And a boyfriend who would die for me
- My girlfriends will envy me (but I think they may be a little puzzled) and will be intrigued to the point of torture
- When having a ‘poor’ month (video and pizza being highlight entertainment, three weeks with no shoe shopping, living out of the nasty – and now frost bitten – mistake buys at the bottom of the freezer and drinking really crap wine – OK not Lambrini or Babycham but we’re talking three quid a bottle tops here) my pretend life will be banging
- While I am conditioning my hair with the remnants of Mane and Tail or Canter equine coat conditioner (35 year old first pony still going strong; contributer to general poverty) wiped clean of mouse droppings before decanting into Pantene bottles – yes, I bloody well am worth it – the other me is in Cap Ferret sipping Poulley Fume and nibbling on Fois Gras.
- Similarly a day spent clipping Twinkle’s nostril and ear hair with blunt ended scissors and shovelling pony pooh flies by while parallel universe girl is at an exclusive girl-only sanctuary for an ultimate pamper. A little surprise gift.
- Every day is an adventure, a journey. Well actually it’s a big fat lie but it’s how to have a ball without having to spend h-a-b money or, frankly, being out of my pyjamas after 9.30pm that yields appeal.
Of course all of this could get a less sophisticated and practiced socialite into a lot of trouble.
I lost my thread as St John emerged through the open French doors with a still wriggling mouse clamped in his jaws. How can he have a mouth full of something furry and still manage that triumph yowl. A brisk session of shouting and pointing is greeted with nil comprehension. It is clear that his thoughts lie nearer “For goodness sake woman, I know you are pleased but just a straight thanks would be sufficient”.
I shoo him out with a sweeping brush before he can spit the rodent onto the hearth rug and firmly shut the doors after him. Hmm, imaginary boyfriends do have their limitations I guess. The clearance of things small and furry or creepy crawlie are the bane of the lone female’s existence.
This relationship is going to require military precision planning. Fortunately I have a good brain for research. Oh and a crap job in PR which don’t let anyone tell you is glamorous. Although I have met Marti Pelloe, David Essex, the queen’s lookalike and that Scottish bloke who used to co present the Lottery show with Anthea Turner. Oh and Anthea Turner, but that doesn’t really count.
Being a journalist was better – I met Michael Hesseltine in his true Tarzan days and Simon Groom. OK yes, he was a Blue Peter presenter and yes I did meet Goldie – gave her a Polo mint actually. At least Goldie didn’t appear to have a murky past despite the porn-star name.
So you can see why I really needed to do something about my life. Living on these past journalistic glories isn’t enough anymore. As I have been completely useless in the dating game of late I needed to try something drastic and I figured having a secret, if a little unsubstantial/unsubstantiated, boyfriend might encourage other boys to find out what all the fuss is about. OK, I’m not God’s gift to men, but I’m not a complete reptile.
But on the plus side (and I am) I do have nice teeth, eyes, lips and hair and a chest that has been described by one boyfriend as ‘serious’. I am clean living – apart from all the booze and sluttish lack of housewifery – and have never had to wear live yoghurt down my pants. I can cook, make intelligent conversation and am as eager in bed as a border collie rounding up a particularly excitable flock of sheep.
All in all, a bit of a catch really. …or am I?