Ed­in­burgh, part one

Irish Daily Mail - YOU - - LIZ JONES’S DIARY -

DAVIDGOT TO MINE on Thurs­day night, bear­ing my Suzan­nah out­fit of pink lace dress, pink coat and a hat. ‘I have bad news,’ he said. ‘What?’ ‘I have for­got­ten to bring my shirt and a tie. Oh, and dress socks.’

I al­most said, ‘Well, why then do you roll your eyes ev­ery time I ask if you have done this or re­mem­bered that,’ but I kept quiet. The next morn­ing, we set off for Ed­in­burgh. I’d packed a ham­per of food for the Airbnb apart­ment, but he’d drunk the gin and tonic the night be­fore, so we stopped so I could buy some more, plus petrol. When we got to the flat, we found it was res­i­dents’ park­ing only. ‘I’ll move the car later,’ he said, when we both knew he wouldn’t bother. The flat was lovely, with huge Ge­or­gian win­dows. He turned on the TV and looked thrilled that it had Vir­gin ca­ble. ‘It’s just like be­ing at yours,’ I said, and he missed the irony, say­ing, ‘Yes, only with more space.’

I paid for a take­away curry then sat down to file two pieces of copy. We went to bed and he at­tempted to have sex with me. ‘Why don’t you try other parts of my body – you know, do it holis­ti­cally for a change?’ I said. The next morn­ing he looked ex­hausted. ‘I didn’t get to sleep un­til 5am,’ he said.

I spent four hours get­ting ready: Hour­glass primer, false lashes; I even ironed my hair. David, who doesn’t seem to own a comb, was dis­patched to get a hair­cut. I told him short and choppy, and he re­turned with his head shaved on the sides, long on top. Oh, and a pink shirt and pink tie. ‘Your hair looks ter­ri­ble,’ I told him. ‘I think it’s me you don’t like,’ he said sadly. I wrig­gled into the dress: per­fect. I was ac­tu­ally happy with how I looked for a change. I booked a cab to the Botanic Gar­den, and then we walked slowly to the venue, fol­low­ing all the other women in dif­fi­cult shoes. When I saw my niece’s beau­ti­ful face, green eyes shin­ing with hap­pi­ness, her lovely gown, my brother on her arm, I started sob­bing. I wished her mum could have been alive to see her.

After the cer­e­mony, set in wood­land, in glo­ri­ous au­tumn sun­shine, we walked to the re­cep­tion. David was drink­ing pros­ecco, and whisky. I felt happy, briefly. To be do­ing some­thing nor­mal that wasn’t about work. I’d brought the bride a gift and as we sat drink­ing at a ta­ble, I re­moved it from my bag. It was my ma­ter­nal grand­mother’s plat­inum and di­a­mond en­gage­ment ring from the very early 1920s. I wanted my niece to have some­thing from her great-grand­mother. ‘Let me pho­to­graph it first, be­fore you give it to her,’ David said cryp­ti­cally.

We were called in to din­ner. We got through the first course fine, and then David started: ‘I couldn’t sleep be­cause I’m so worried about the sheep.’ (The ones he res­cued from ha­lal slaugh­ter in France.) I had asked him just for one week­end not to men­tion them. ‘Don’t you think the email from your friend Ed, whose field they are in, was s***ty? Telling me that other is­sues such as cli­mate change and refugees are more im­por­tant? I’m en­ti­tled to my views. How many refugees does he have liv­ing in one of his houses? None. Any­way, an­i­mal and hu­man wel­fare are in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked.

‘The res­cue was not ill thought through,’ David con­tin­ued. ‘It was not thought through at all. You should be grate­ful.’

And so it went on. He kept say­ing the f*** word. ‘Don’t swear in front of my dress,’ I told him, sug­gest­ing maybe he should go. He threw his nap­kin on the ta­ble and walked out. A few min­utes later, he re­turned (I later found out he’d phoned one of my friends; ‘He sounded drunk,’ she said). ‘No, I won’t leave.’ And he con­tin­ued to rant, shout­ing some­thing about his high IQ. ‘I’d have thought you’d ap­pre­ci­ate do­ing a good deed for a change,’ I told him, ‘ rather than ly­ing on your bed smok­ing, watch­ing Corrie and play­ing com­puter games.’

I couldn’t touch ei­ther of the next two cour­ses. The party was moved out­side so the room could be read­ied for danc­ing. David started sob­bing, turn­ing his face away, lean­ing over, his head in his hands. My brother, the fa­ther of the bride, looked on, shocked. I de­cided the only re­course was to leave, so I stag­gered to the gate of the park, phon­ing for a taxi on the way. Thank God that in my bag I had a set of keys to the apart­ment.

I had left the wed­ding, an oc­ca­sion I had looked for­ward to for nearly two years, had planned for and bor­rowed the per­fect out­fit for, and given the bride the per­fect gift. As I sped away, I looked at my phone. It was a quar­ter to six in the evening. For me, the wed­ding had lasted just three hours.

‘‘ DAVID STARTED SOB­BING, LEAN­ING OVER, HIS HEAD IN HIS HANDS’’

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