Liz Jones: ‘In which my hopes are dashed…again’

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Sunday afternoon. It’s been a bad week. Worrying news, which I will tell you about when I have the right and either it has passed or I am plunged into uncertainty.

I have two coping mechanisms. The first is to search for properties on the websites of The Modern House (modern houses) and Inigo (old houses), and imagine how happy I would be if I only lived in one of them.

Abbey Losing on beaufrank.com

We all know home ownership can be a lie. When I had my mini mansion in the Dales I was freezing because I couldn’t afford to heat it: £800 a month for Flogas alone! I would spend six hours weeding the reader. But still, I believe that if only I could have a nice house with an interior garden, I would be happy.

My second coping mechanism is to imagine what my life will be like if Nigel the photographer, who lives in Australia, returns to the UK now that he is divorced and his daughters are grown up.

Of all the men (three and a half) who crossed my path, he was the most perfect. We clicked. We chatted for hours when we first met on a mission in Bali. He was manly but caring: He Googled a vegan restaurant nearby, while The Blocked One, when I arrived after a 250-mile drive, presented a store-bought prepared dish. Whoever got stuck once ordered Indian takeout and put a prawn on my plate. I almost threw up. Every time he did something wrong, or undermined me, or said something to deliberately upset me — “Pastry is so much better with lard” or “You don’t always have been beautiful on celebrity big brother‘ – he would smile, as if it were funny.

Anyway, if Nigel came back to the UK, to Fleet Street, we would get married. He would love my animals, the Yorkshire Dales. He once told me that he thought Sydney was too neglected. Claustrophobic. “I’m trapped, am I not?” he says from the back of a 4×4. But I was too shy, too insecure, too tormented by self-doubt, probably not shaved enough in an extreme bikini to have flirted or read between the lines.

Against my best judgment, bored on a Sunday afternoon (being bored is not the same as not being busy; I just spent six hours tending to the horses, as Nic is still sick), I looked at his ex-wife’s Twitter feed. She had written an article about never allowing her daughters to have a dog.

Then she wrote: “This summer, something miraculous happened. Their daddy [Nigel!] and his partner [!] has a puppy. Better yet, they were leaving for ten days and needed the girls to take care of them.

OK, put aside for a moment his ex-wife calls a dog “it”. And note that Nigel has “a partner”. And not only do they now have a puppy, but they are leaving for ten days. Where are they going? And why do ? Why? What does she look like and how old is she?

I feel like someone punctured my rubber ring and I’m sinking. I know I said I loved being single, but that was only until I had Nigel.

All I have now are real estate websites. I have nothing else to go on. Thinking of 3 a.m. when I’m terrified, unable to sleep. I let it slip through my fingers. Or maybe it’s also a chimera. He was never remotely interested and never thought of me.

I inhaled Extraordinary getaways on Channel 4 with Sandi Toksvig. Incredible homes rented by their owners. And I can’t help but think: how do people find the money to own, transform and furnish these places? I have been at the top of my profession for 40 years and I own: two bath towels and two hand towels. All a little frayed.

And how did this mysterious woman catch Nigel? How? ‘Or’ What? How do they do?

I need a drink.

Read more of Liz’s diaries here

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