Absolutely furious. And something about mowing.

Le brothers.

I’m about half way through the egg-freezing drugs and wrote the below, last weekend’s Sun Tel col, when my head was thick with hormone fog. I’ve perked up since then but there were a couple of days last week when I was so furious with life I had to keep taking myself off for stomps around the park in an effort to improve my mood. Is that why I sound so cross with shopping in my column?!

Luckily this week better, and I got some very lovely news about sales of What Happens Now? in America so if you’re visiting here from there, thank you! Hello from sunny south London. And to any Canadians reading too. Apparently YOU guys are also reading about Lil and Max which is a happy thought. I’ve probably said this before but if it’s making anybody laugh at the moment then I consider that my job done. Thank you so SO much for buying it.

Meanwhile, The Wish List is out in the UK six weeks on Thursday (HOW is it nearly August again?), and I’m getting on with my fourth book, albeit at a fairly glacial pace because, turns out, injecting myself with hormones every day makes me feel like am trying to write using a pen filled with treacle. Verrrrrrrry slow going, in other words, but we’ll get there. Onwards and sideways, as my mum always says.

***

Congratulations, you’ve reached Day 90 of lockdown! Seems an astonishing coincidence because 90 is also the number of kilos I’ve put on since everything stopped in March but, fortunately, today marks the ninetieth day in a row that I’ve worn leggings and an old t-shirt. I put most of my wardrobe into storage in February when I moved into my sister’s house. Mad optimist that I was, I believed I’d find my own place within a couple of months and be able to unpack again. Four months on, I’m still dressing like a Zumba teacher every morning and this was the week I decided something must be done.

What though? I’m a reluctant clothes shopper at the best of times. I hate frocks that look deceptively pretty on the rail but make me look like a camel attending a fancy-dress party. I hate polyester. I hate the wildly varying sizes you find in different shops. I hate hot, badly-lit changing rooms with dust bunnies and other people’s hair underfoot. I hate matching 63 items up with the right hangers again after you’ve tried them on. I hate the apologetic muttering (‘Sorry, they weren’t quite right’), as you hand the mound of clothes back to the assistant, hoping that she doesn’t notice you haven’t done anything up properly. Don’t even get me started on shoes.

I also hate queuing, so although it’s supposedly our patriotic duty to get back out there now that the high street has flung open its doors, I was put off by the photographs last Monday. Nothing against those desperate to buy new trainers for their kids or simply try to perk themselves up after three months of eating biscuits on the sofa, I just couldn’t face it myself. ‘Shop with confidence!’ the prime minister implored, which only goes to show he’s never actually tried on a pair of denim shorts in Zara.

No, the only thing for it was shopping from behind my laptop. ‘This little thing? I found it online,’ my sister replied when I asked where her new dress came from last week, as if online shopping was as easy as breathing. Emboldened, I ordered a few bits from Levi’s, from Arket, from The White Company and a few others. What size was I? Big topper size? Click, let’s give that a whirl and hope I can get the top button done up.

They started arriving day by day, like exciting Christmas parcels, whereupon I carried them to my room. Here was my transformation. Here was my re-entry into society as a functioning member of it. I ripped the packages open like a small child. The first dress looked terrible but there was another. Alright, that made me look like a Von Trapp (in a bad way) but what about the billowy trousers? Nope, nope, nope, nope. Nine items rained down on my carpet, not a single one worked. I’d almost have rather braved the high street in PPE since I could have handed the pile over, as opposed to filling out more forms than a tax specialist to post it all back again.

Ah well, it’s on with the leggings again and I’ve ordered a Sodastream as a little treat instead. I’m not sure it’ll fit but it might help with those kilos.

***

As statues around the country continue to topple, a ripple of nervousness ran through the Money-Coutts family when my brother reminded us that one of our ancestors stumped up for a bronze to be erected in Edinburgh. ‘Oh Christ,’ I panicked, ‘Which one was it? Were they a slave trader? Are we done for?’ My brother shook his head and said we were probably alright since it’s the statue of Greyfriars Bobby, paid for by the Victorian philanthropist Angela Burdett-Coutts in 1884 as a drinking fountain. Phew. So long as the dog didn’t do anything morally dubious, I believe we’re safe.

***

Sick of moving the lawn? Spare a thought for three French aristocrats who own a chateau just south of Paris and spend four days a week mowing 13 hectares since they furloughed their gardeners in March. It just so happens that I visited this baroque chateau, Vaux-le-Vicomte, to interview the trio of brothers when I worked for Tatler. Its gardens inspired Versailles, and Moonraker and The Man in the Iron Mask were filmed there. They were wonderfully French, smoking and drinking impossibly strong coffee throughout our interview, and worried even then about how to keep the roof from falling in. ‘We don’t want to become one of those English places that do pop concerts in front of the castle,’ said one brother. ‘Although we don’t blame them,’ another added quickly, ‘because maybe they had no choice.’ Here’s hoping the gardeners can be reinstated soon and the poor, tired Frenchmen can return to smoking and drinking coffee.

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