I was in the queue at Marks and Spencer’s last week waiting in line to pay for my weekly provisions. There was a woman behind me; She was buying a piece of salmon (singular) 5 potato’s (new), a small fruit tartlet (my guess – a dessert) and 3 bottles of white wine. She was reasonably well dressed, had a good watch on and expensive spectacles. She was also talking non-stop to anyone within her immediate surroundings. Discussing air conditioning with Joyce at the check out for far longer than I would deem necessary, she delved into my choice of potato dauphinoise and how measly the portions had become for a good 5 minutes and left the elderly gentleman in front bewildered and confused after an in-depth one sided debate on whether it was economically viable to buy 2 packets of satsumas for £4, the poor love only wanted a bit of vitamin C.
She had clearly been a looker in her day, and aside from the madness in her eyes was still, from a distance, passable. She was a well turned out bag lady if you like, the type one would find shop lifting eye cream from Selfridges or nicking Champagne truffles from the Harrods food hall. Needless to say there were raised eyebrows as far back as the fish counter and looks of pity as she filled her dirty old Anya Hindmarch with wine and lonely foodstuffs.
The pantomime would have been mildly amusing had it not been for the blinding realization that – Sweet Jesus, one day that could be me. I like to think of myself as pretty comfortable with being single, but in an fearful moment of clarity, as I loaded my broccoli florets into another 5p carrier I’m never going to use again, I suddenly thought, Christ, is this the option – find a boyfriend or become mentally deranged and talk to strangers at the check out because you’ve been indoors for 6 days with nothing but last seasons Marc Jacobs tote and a tin of dog food to keep you company.
There is no doubt that the events of the afternoon left me unsettled, and I began to mull over my own situation in my head. As way of distraction I decided to head to the coast and spend the weekend by the sea, what with the weather being so clement recently it seemed a waste not to take advantage. Well trust me, if you are ever having a moment of uncertainty regarding your marital status or lack there of, take my advice and avoid the coast at all costs. Happy family’s playing ball on the shore, wedding rings glistening in the sun, young lovers skipping in the surf, beach huts full of wet dogs, Plastic cups full of Chardonnay and enough bugaboos to start up a flagship Mothercare store on the end of the pier. To add to which the only reading matter I had to hand was this month’s issue of 25 beautiful homes. Excellent, 6 pages on Theresa and Colin Sharples, Oscar 3, Evie 6 months & Lulu the West highland Terrier’s converted barn in Surrey. I hope that smarmy fucker losses his job soon, opps, did i just say that.
Just when I thought nothing could tempt me more to the nearest Co-Op (at least the chatter was mentally ill in Marks & Spencer’s, all I’ve got is a bloody re vamped Somerfield) and clear the shelves of alcohol I bumped into an ex-boyfriend with his wife and children. What a happy coincidence.
Like a scene from the Matrix I tried to gather my belongings unnoticed and air walk slow-mo back up the promenade as soon as I caught site of him, but alas the maneuver was too ambitious and down I feel, I the heat of the midday sun beating upon my un-shaven legs (Having unseasonably high temperatures I was not prepared to expose my limbs so late on in the year or bump into ex-boyfriends for that matter), lying spread eagle on the gravel, the contents of my Louis Vuitton (don’t judge me, you have a husband I have over priced accessories) strewn out in front of me with nothing but a Mr Whippy sign to protect me from vision.
Sadly despite my attempts to escape the situation, had the bag lady commotion not been enough to attract the attention of smug ex, smugger ex’s wife and the 2 two baby smugingtons attention the gasps of sorrow from the surrounding honeymooners/young lovers/ perfect families with houses featured in 25 beautiful homes would have ensured there was no way they would miss me.
He didn’t miss me, he came over, helped me to my feet whilst I scrambled around to gather together a mobile phone, some keys, a purse, one earring, 57 receipts I don’t need and a light bulb (don’t ask) we chatted briefly and I made my ‘family waiting have a big dinner planned tonight with a gorgeous man, fantastic kids and in-laws that love me’ excuses to leave.
I sat in the pub soon after with a large glass of Pinot Grigio and contemplated the recent events. That afternoon I didn’t have the potential to be a deranged bag lady with a small family of field mice living in her Prada handbag, I was that lady. To the smug ex-boyfriends naked eye I was the one left behind with bed head hair at 3 o’clock in the afternoon and the subtle aromas of Sauvignon Blanc about her person. But to hell with that, I was also the one who could take off for the weekend without getting it ok-ed by someone first, could buy 7 bottles of wine, a salad nicoise and the latest copy of Hello! for my weekly shop and talk to random strangers about random shit in the local Co-Op before I head off back to London to hit the town and flirt my ass off with a bar full of men I will mostly likely never see again.
Being single could be worse and if I’m going to be a mentally unhinged middle-aged lunatic devoid of personal interaction and a grasp of reality I’m going to do it in style. Bugger Marks & Spencer’s, I’ll see you on Bond Street, being dragged out of Christian Dior by the security guards for dancing naked in the accessories department, singing ‘Que Sera Sera’ and trying to get off with Jean Luke on a transfer from the Paris store for the summer. I’m no-one’s wife, but I love my life….and….all…..that……jazz.