The builder boyfriend has a new girlfriend. I suppose he was bound to move on eventually. I just never thought he would move on this quickly. From the day I told him, in the traditional female way, that it really wasn’t working and never would work because of things that were entirely his fault, to the moment I heard he had a new squeeze, I would say it was three weeks tops.
She’s nearly ten years younger than me. And, by the sound of it, a deal better off. Good for him. If I could have traded him in for a younger, richer model I might have. But we’ll never know, because I don’t have that option.
I’m a woman in her 40s and as such I did what all women in their 40s do: I told him that all this on-off nonsense wasn’t working and walked into the dark unknown of singledom. I took stock, cried a bit, talked to my girlfriends, cried a bit more, watched Bridesmaids twice, tried to work out where it went wrong, what I really wanted, who I really was, where I wanted to go…
While he went down the pub and chatted up a friend of a friend and hey presto, he was all sorted! I was feeling sanguine about it, though, until he suggested we stay friends. What sort of madness is that? I don’t want to stay friends with a former boyfriend who’s got himself a younger woman.
I should have stuck to my instincts but I fell for all that sub-Gwyneth Paltrow/Chris Martin-esque hooey about always being special to each other and remaining in each other’s lives. I’m ashamed to say I allowed a bit of conscious uncoupling to creep in. This was foolish. It was better in the old days, when, in the bitter aftermath of romantic disappointment, one simply threw a few medium to heavy objects at an ex-boyfriend’s head and ordered him never to darken one’s door again.
But I gave the blasted Paltrow method a go. We have a lot of friends in common and it seemed churlish not to stay on amicable terms. ‘You’re like family to me,’ he said. So when I bumped into him post-split and he asked me round to his house for a cuppa I went. We sat by the fire chatting until his phone beeped.
‘Oh dear, that’s um …the new girlfriend,’ he said, reading a text. ‘She’s coming round in half an hour. We’re going out for dinner.’
‘But I thought you said you went out with her last night?’ I was gulping down mounting feelings of panic. ‘Yeah, well, you know what these things are like. I’m really sorry. I need to get changed.’ And he rushed upstairs.
‘Don’t worry about me!’ I called after him. ‘I’ve got to get back to…a hot date with a pre-pack lasagne-for-one from the Sainsbury’s garage and four back-to-back episodes of Law and Order Special Victims Unit.
‘No wonder you love this show,’ I always tell myself as I flick on to Universal channel. ‘You’re a special victim if ever there was one.’ I do wonder if I could negotiate a deal with Sky in which I only pay for channel 113 on the basis that it’s all I ever watch.
In any case, I slunk off to my sad little TV lasagne. But a few days after that encounter, there was another even more shocking development, brought to me by a mutual friend who had run into the ex-BB. He had been in a hurry. He was on his way to Waitrose to do some shopping because he was cooking for the girlfriend that night. This was too much.
‘Cooking?’ I screeched at my friend, aware that I sounded like Lady Bracknell. ‘Cooking! And shopping? In Waitrose? He never shopped for me in Waitrose! He used to go to Budgens! I mean, he went to M&S once, for ready meals, when I’d been in hospital with a burst cyst. But he never cooked dinner for me, with ingredients!’
Or maybe he did. I cast my mind back and then I remembered. It was a few years ago, when he set up a table in the garden one summer evening. There had been a starter, a main course and a pudding. Possibly, he had bought the ingredients from Waitrose. I couldn’t rule it out. But that was in the first flush of our courtship, and he never did it again.
So here he was, I realised, trying to impress the new girlfriend with the full three-courser. Suddenly, I felt sorry for her. She has it all to come. The hope, the promise, the disappointment. Or maybe he won’t disappoint her. Maybe he’ll give her everything she wants. In a way, I hope he does..
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