I'm trying to explain to Steven why our break-up has been so unsuccessful. This is the best I can do. Although we split up, finally, that's it, forever, a good few months back, we still speak nearly every day and I see him about twice a week. A lot of people seem to be parting ways of late, but it's always in a Dynasty-esque "I hate you and I want my diamonds / cat back" style.
The terms of our split are: 1. I don't want to go out with you anymore. 2. Do you want to come round and watch The Simpsons and eat pizza in bed?
I decide the only way this split is going to be in any way effective is if I leave London (this coincides with the first week I've gone without eating chocolate. I chew it and then spit it out of my mouth).
I persuade my sister to run away to Brighton with me. Lisa is taking her GCSEs. I thought she was entirely unfazed until she burst into tears over a disagreement about which male in Friends is going out with Julia Roberts. Matthew Perry. Everyone knows that. In a flash, she realised she was wrong. Water sprang from her eyes and she knocked over a chair. "Pick that up," I yelled. "OK," she reasoned, "but only because I feel like picking it up." The worst rows I ever had with Steve were usually just to do with the central heating being up too high. The London sun had gone to Lisa's pretty GCSE head. The only option is to get on a train and check into the Metropole. But first we have a screaming, scratching, weeping argument at Victoria station over which ticket to buy.
My dear friend Julie is living in Brighton with her son, Jack. When we arrive, they are spraying each other with water pistols. They are too worn out to come and see the film Now and Then with us. A rites-of-passage saga, it is officially the worst film the world has ever known. Our grumpy brunette-child heroine, Christina Ricci, is appalling. Melanie Griffith is a breathy squirmfest. Demi Moore keeps saying: "It was at that point that I realised this would stay with me for the rest of my life." I'll say. When we leave the cinema, Lisa is quiet. "What if, 20 years from now, I turn into Melanie Griffith?" I try to soothe her. "Well, you have to marry Don Johnson but you also get to marry Antonio Banderas."
The next day, Lisa has to rush back to see Paul Weller's Finsbury Park festival. Julie, Jack and I admire the Brighton pier and monopolise the dodgems. They force me to go on a ride that makes me feel so sick I have to bite my arm. I sprawl out on the beach for a few hours. Jack and I have a water-pistol fight and try to hit tourists from the balcony. We're doing well when I spot someone I'm sure I know. The eyebrows, the lope, the stubble. It's Liam Gallagher - it can't be. It's not. It's his doppelganger, the singer from Oasis tribute band No Way Sis. "Hold your fire," I command Jack. "Why," he reasons. "It's not really him." "I don't care. It's still disrespectful."
When I got back to London, Lisa has Steven in tow. "When we got to Weller, we saw Steven swinging from the rafters of the dance tent. Then we watched the Bluetones. Then some old man came on." Lisa, that was Paul Weller. "Oh. Well, we liked watching Stevie. He is burnt to a crisp and totally drunk ("but I haven't had anything to drink!"). His posh new trousers are hopelessly grass-stained. They are the third pair he has bought this week. "Yes," he says proudly. "I am pure trouser-head. I am" - he pauses grandly - "distilled trouser-head." I try to soothe him with ice-cream and cold baths, but he keeps getting nuttier. He wanders into the bedroom and I start flicking through the cable guide. "Oh, my God - Steve. Guess what? Charles Dance and his ape kid are on TV!" I try to wake him up to watch with me. But he's out cold.