One of the problems of living apart is that you start to stop trying. I’m not sure you even notice you’re doing it: one minute the state of your legs, top lip and underarms matters enormously, the next you’re relishing the extra warmth a little undergrowth affords. It isn’t helped by the fact that on the whole I think men get more attractive as they age, and women … well, maybe not so much. Yes, I can instantly name loads of profoundly unappealing men and hordes of gorgeous older women, but on the whole I think I have a point. Anyway …
One day Eeyore announced that he was about to go to a 1:1 meeting with a fairly senior sort of Royal, of the female variety. This was with one of his charity hats on: he was Chairman and she was a Patron and it was all simply splendid, except that he had always rather admired her and this crush he had had become a bit of a family thing. Nonetheless I was secure in his love for me, and felt certain that he realised that my increasing shagginess and my sartorial choices were as a result of living in a barn in a field with children and animals and not enough help and generally being Put Upon and besides, I knew he was far too busy to even think of straying, ever – even if he could find someone to stray with. So it was with a light heart and a small child on my hip that I waved him away that morning, looking forward to hearing all about it asap.
When, two days later, asap arrived, he sounded almost breathless on the phone when I mentioned her name.
‘So’ I said ‘What did she give you for lunch?’ First things first.
‘Oh, er, sandwiches of some sort I think – yes, sarnies.’ Long pause.
‘And, what was the house like?’
‘Um, er, fine – sort of: well, you know.’ I didn’t really, but I was beginning to wonder.
‘And how did it go?’ Pause. ‘Generally?’ This was getting laboured, even for us.
‘Oh, er, fine I think. Yes, fine.’
I had a moment of insight.
‘And what was she wearing?’
Well, if I had wanted animated, I got it. Before the words were even out of my mouth, he was onto it:
‘Black boots over the knee, tight black trousers, cream silk shirt (three buttons undone) double row of pearls.’
There was a silence. I let it last. ‘And what,’ I finally asked ‘Was I wearing when you left this morning?’
‘Er … jeans, fleece, slippers?’
He had the grace to sound abashed but to be fair, a) he was right and b) he would have been right any day of that month – in fact, probably of that year.
I decided something had to be done. I found a hairbrush (No3’s actually, with uselessly soft bristles and a tractor painted on the back) and had a really good go. I chipped the big bits of unidentified stuff off the green fleece I had been wearing for some weeks, and put the others in the wash. I found a sock to match the quite nice one I had on my left foot and chucked the other in the bin – footless socks suddenly seemed provocative, and not in a good way. I booked a weekend for the two of us in a lovely little hotel by the water not too far away and spent days thinking of things we could discuss when we were there. I warned the children that even if they were ill, even if they were REALLY ill, we were going and they were not and that was all there was to it.
Reader: we went, and it was lovely, and we both slept from Friday evening until Sunday afternoon, when we packed and went home and took up exactly where we had left off. He still loves his Royal, but we still (as far as I know) love each other, and he knows I’d have his eyes out if he ever even thought of straying. And a spurned woman with a credit card can do an awful lot of damage in a very short time.