In which I en­joy a nor­mal girls’ night in

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ON SATUR­DAY, I drove to Lon­don to have din­ner with the girls. It was my friend M’s birth­day, and she had in­vited me and a cou­ple of other girl­friends – a psy­chic turned ac­tress and a chef who is de­vel­op­ing a plant-based menu for a ho­tel; I im­me­di­ately started re­fer­ring to her as ‘the plant eater’ – to her house in Not­ting Hill for a girly night in.

That is prob­a­bly the most nor­mal para­graph I’ve writ­ten in nine years. I asked David if I could stay with him, as I hate ho­tels. Also, I wanted to bring the pup­pies with me. ‘Of course.’ As soon as I ar­rived, I took them to the park op­po­site and, apart from scat­ter­ing an open-air yoga class, they be­haved im­pec­ca­bly. It’s such a shame he won’t sort out his flat as the lo­ca­tion is per­fect: two miles from Cen­tral Lon­don, next to a re­ally safe park. We only had one cross word when I asked him how he could sit play­ing com­puter games all day when his kitchen floor needs wash­ing. ‘But I washed it yes­ter­day!’ he said. ‘And I bought four new pil­lows!’

He gave me a lift to Not­ting Hill, and we pulled up out­side M’s per­fect lit­tle mews house off Por­to­bello Road. He of­fered to pick me up later, too, so I said, ‘What, like my dad?’ ‘No!’ he said. ‘Like your hus­band!’ Once in­side, I asked M what she thought of him and she said, ‘I didn’t re­ally no­tice. I was too busy cud­dling Mini and Gra­cie.’

My friend Dawn was al­ready there and she had brought me a car­rier bag of de­signer clothes she had snuf­fled out in char­ity shops: a Hel­mut Lang draped top, a Mis­soni sweater and a pin­striped blazer by MaxMara, which I im­me­di­ately put on. ‘You will bounce back,’ Dawn told me kindly. She added that a friend of hers had in­ter­viewed a fa­mous Bri­tish film di­rec­tor for a news­pa­per and he’d told her how much he ‘loves Liz Jones; I read her col­umn every Sun­day’. So Dawn had man­aged to get my screen­play to him. He’s read­ing it as we speak. I don’t dare get my hopes up, but for a mo­ment a nugget of hope: that news is like an un­opened en­ve­lope in my in­box from The Na­tional Lot­tery with the header, ‘We have news about your ticket.’ I would cher­ish the nugget for a few weeks, un­til I dis­cov­ered I’ve won two pounds.

M re­galed us with sto­ries about all the fa­mous peo­ple she knows, and how one edi­tor at Vogue would turn up at Matches and de­mand free clothes. No one ever dared ask her to write about them or shoot them. Not one of the celebri­ties she told us about was happy, de­spite the suc­cess and the money. One of the most beau­ti­ful Bri­tish movie stars she knows is a tight knot of in­se­cu­rity. A fam­ily man is ter­ri­fied his affair will sur­face. A film star never gets chat­ted up by men. An­other has it in her con­tract she must re­main plus size. That’s no way to live.

I still wake and, in those first few sec­onds, my brain scrab­bles around to latch on to what I should be wor­ried about. I still ex­pect aw­ful things to hap­pen every day. Mostly, they do. Take last Wed­nes­day. I popped into a café and idly reached for a glossy mag­a­zine on my ta­ble. I stared at the cover photo: a gor­geous rus­tic ta­ble, vases of flow­ers, an an­cient flag­stone floor. How lovely. Lucky them. I read the cover line: ‘Dream dis­cov­ery: a cou­ple’s per­fect prop­erty in Low Row, Swaledale.’

And then the penny dropped. It was my kitchen. My house. The one I was forced to sell, at a huge, dev­as­tat­ing loss. The buy­ers dropped their of­fer by £11,000 two weeks after we were due to ex­change. The tax man forced me to ac­cept. And yet, six months later, here is my home in a glossy, hav­ing un­der­gone a com­plete ren­o­va­tion, a house now stuffed with ‘a French vit­rine, a large or­nate mir­ror, a French butcher’s block, Bel­gian cup­board and Hun­gar­ian milk­ing stools as bed­side ta­bles, a Kudu light and ex­quis­ite hand­made lamp­shades, and a view through the floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows of wild flow­ers ris­ing steeply and a wa­ter­fall cas­cad­ing down – it is par­adise’.

The new owner, who still lives in Suf­folk, says, ‘We walked through the door and lit­er­ally cried. We de­cided we would sell our souls to buy the house.’ It feels as though that’s ex­actly what they did. And I’m now the one who is lit­er­ally cry­ing.

M re­galed us with sto­ries about all the fa­mous peo­ple she knows

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