It's not that I simply force myself on complete strangers and say "Excuse me my husband has just left me, I need to soak your lapels and smear snot down your collar for a few moments." No, it's more that huge amounts of compassion and warmth lurk in the most unexpected of places. I mean, I'm a good left-wing liberal and I make hard and prejudiced judgements about people on the basis of dress, accent and vehicle. So it comes as a shock to discover that Land-Rover drivers with Sloane habits and county voices can press you to their bosom with greater sincerity than Levi wearers with glottal stops and old Citroens.
In fact, it has been a month of discoveries. I have discovered how people come to do murder, suicide and anaesthetic free willy-ectomy; I've discovered that violently unsisterly thoughts about Beloved's Bonk are a great comfort at four in the morning; and I've discovered how to change the message on the answerphone. This last nearly led me into seriously unacceptable behaviour, of which Beloved would most definitely not have approved. I changed our old message (Beloved gloomily giving his many alternative numbers) to a new one me saying "Hello" and giving one of Beloved's alternative numbers. As I did it, the options open to me became apparent: "Hello leave a message after the tone. If you wish to contact Beloved you are not my friend anymore", or "If you wish to contact Beloved you need therapy", "If you wish to contact Beloved phone him between 1 and 3am." I finally settled on "and if you wish to contact Beloved you'll need a Ouija board." I left it on the machine for about an hour, twitching nervously right next to the phone, and then I chickened out, because I cling. In the face of all the evidence to the contrary I cling to the hope that Beloved will leave Bonk and come back to me and I feel that "Contact Beloved by Ouija" is not a message that would smooth his safe passage home.
Of course there isn't anything that will do that, so I've found myself looking for signs and portents of the sort I used to predict the outcome of spelling tests or adolescent crushes. "If the next car is a yellow Golf then he still loves me." Well not quite like that, because I don't think they made yellow Golfs so I'd be setting myself up for a lifetime of failed spelling tests and broken marriages wouldn't I? The one I tried last week was "If-he-sees-me-in-this- new-dress-it'll-all-be-OK". I had it planned .... my exit to a solo outing as he arrived to pick up the kids. But for the first time in our entire married life he was early. Instead of a brief swirl of blue silk and black high heels as I slammed the back door in nonchalant defiance, he snuck upstairs and caught me doing my mascara in the landing mirror with my tights on over my knickers and no dress. Then when I finally teetered resplendent into the kitchen, the straps on my shoes were too loose and I had to climb off them and try making an extra hole with the corkscrew. By this time I was shaking with the strain so I missed the strap and nearly speared a major artery.
But maybe it was a good portent, because he made the holes for me with some evening-shoe-strap-holing device on his Swiss army knife. Knives? Puncturing? Yes come in Mr Freud ... I could still have a chance.Reuse content