Liz Jones’s diary
In which our mini break is (almost) a success
WE HAD SO MUCH sex on our spa break in Marrakech, I kept telling David it was like being on our honeymoon. He was reading a book for once, so I didn’t have to try to engage him in conversation. I felt like Sisyphus, persuading him to talk. I’ve never met a man with less to say. By the lagoon one afternoon, sipping my detox juice, having just experienced a Massage Bienheureux, which is a four-handed treatment using balloons filled with hot water (David couldn’t have any more hammams as he was sunburnt), I asked him to describe me in one word. ‘Expensive,’ he said. I nearly pushed him in the pool. ‘ Expensive! How many free holidays did all your hundreds of girlfriends take you on?’ ‘Um, none.’ ‘Exactly. How many children have I had and asked you to pay for? I appreciate you paying for dinner in the Medina last night [we had got lost, even though David was under strict instructions to be the man for the day, which meant organising everything, so he’d had to ask a young man for directions; the young man led us to the restaurant and charged David £20] but I have still bought you far more meals than you have bought me. Gifts. Mini-breaks.’ ‘I took you to Milan,’ he said. ‘When?’ ‘For my son’s graduation!’ ‘I didn’t want to go! I’ve been to Milan hundreds of times. It was for one night. I had to get up at 2am for the flight. I bought your ex-wife lunch in Corso Como. I paid for taxis to Gatwick and back. I went for you, not me!’
When he stayed with me in Yorkshire, after the aborted sale of my 40-year collection of Vogues, when I was wailing about being unable to pay my vet bill (the reason I was parting with my magazines), he did offer to settle it for me. ‘It could be a loan,’ he said. I refused but I had tactically left the letter demanding payment on my desk. After he’d returned to London, I called the vet and asked for a balance. Somewhere in the back of my mind was a sesame seed of hope that he had phoned the vet and paid it. But no. It was still just over a thousand pounds. I thought that being in a couple meant more than eating pineapple on a water bed in a marble spa suite with an open fire and a terrace. It meant you helped each other. In good times and bad.
Back at the hotel, I continued my regime of detox juice and relaxation treatments. One afternoon, I had a gut massage: I hold all my anxiety in my stomach, which I imagine is why I’ve always suffered from an eating disorder: I can’t eat, as I am already full, stuffed with self-doubt and fear. The reflexologist told me that I’m brewing a kidney problem. ‘Great,’ I told her. ‘I could do with something finishing me off.’ My complex post-traumatic-stress disorder means I care little what happens to me.
Something must have worked, though, as on our last day, I suggested we go on an expedition to visit Yves Saint Laurent’s gardens: the Jardin Majorelle. The old me would never have left the hotel grounds, not even ventured the few yards in a golf buggy (you are never really on an exotic holiday until you’ve been in a golf buggy) to the original hotel, the one opened in 1966, and where the Rolling Stones booked an entire floor. I wouldn’t even have sat round the pool where Cecil Beaton took those famous photos of Mick, reclining palely. As we wandered in Yves’ footsteps, I entertained David with tales of what model Marie Helvin had told me about the designer, that he had pricked her skin with a pin by mistake, and fainted at the sight of blood. How I had sat front row at his last show. But still David looked miserable (we really should have had his face ironed). ‘What’s wrong?’ I asked him.
‘It’s not what I expected. Not much variety. Just palm trees and cacti.’
Are all heterosexual men like this? Or is it just him?
I thought being a couple meant more than eating pineapple in a spa suite