George Michael said, ‘Liz you’re the first person to offer to pay for dinner’

George Michael said, ‘Liz you’re the first person to offer to pay for dinner’ 

 I arranged to meet the man just for sex.* I told him to be at my hotel at 9pm, not a moment before. He didn’t prevaricate when I texted, ‘Do you want to come to my room? Not a relationship, no talking, no arguments.’

He replied with a simple, ‘Yes.’ You see, this is the way forward. They will listen to what you have to say.

My first date was with an old friend over dinner. Her name is Alex, and we worked together on Company magazine from 1981 to 1984, when I left to work in Fleet Street (I would type out my copy – a shopping basket about the cheapest apples, etc – and place the paper in a plastic tube, which was whizzed to the basement to be made into hot metal). They lost touch. We lost touch after she got married and had two kids. I was a complete workaholic. She got back in touch after lockdown by sending photographs from our 1983 trip to Portugal.

We meet in Kettner’s, now a Soho House and location for my planned ‘love nest’. Her smile is exactly the same as mine. It was a Pizza Express back then, and we would always come to this place for editorial meetings. She brings up names of people we worked with: Amanda Grieve, later Lady Harlech and Karl Lagerfeld’s muse. Remind her that Mario Testino, a young Mario Testino, would come to my flat and work. My sister used to make vegetable curry at my Brixton flat. ‘I still serve curry with pineapple, banana and coconut,’ she says, ‘as Sue did. My children think I’m mad.’

She vividly recalls the boys who lived next to her, including David, with whom she was infatuated. ‘On that holiday, all you did was pine,’ she says. ‘And perform endless sit-ups by your bed and sunbathe topless on the roof.’

She’s still in touch with a few people from the magazine. All they remember of me is that I’d come to the office straight from a workout at Pineapple Dance Studios in Covent Garden. My desk was barebones, with no computers or Tipp-ex, and I used to look in the mirror every so often. Even though I was in my 20s, on a fashion glossy, I had lied to David and said I worked on Harpers & Queen – on the same floor, but light years away in terms of status. So, when he came to the office to visit me and said my name, they’d never heard of me.

Alex reminded us that Adam and I went to see them. He was my obsession. I arranged for him to interview me and he displayed his entire wardrobe: Vivienne Westwood, BodyMap. However, my writing was so poor that it didn’t make it to print. I think he’s still angry. I ask Alex if she came with me to Wham!’s first concert, but she says no. I’d been invited: the first in a lifetime of freebies. George Michael was a good friend of mine. I took him to a restaurant in Hampstead where he’d said, ‘Liz, since I became famous, you’re the first person to offer to pay for dinner.’

‘Bet that’s happened to you,’ Alex says. I smiled. She says she was nervous coming to meet me, ‘now that you are famous’, but that I, too, am exactly the same. She says the boys next door to me were ‘so glamorous and exciting. David was so handsome. I always hoped you’d end up together’.

She is familiar with the details of our re-union. What chaos must I seem! I don’t get up each day thinking, what huge mistake shall I make today? While I could blame others for my demise, and taking advantage of me, the real problem lies with my self-belief.

The day before, in the clinic with the doctor, as he told me there is nothing sinister in my brain, he asked, ‘Why are you panting?’ I told him I always pant. I’m always afraid. ‘But you have nothing to be afraid of,’ he said. That is why I wrote that sex message on my way back to the hotel. It was a simple text message. It’s not necessary to ask, “What if he said no?”

It’s now 9pm and I’m worried he’ll turn up. He texts to say he’s in the bar, and as Alex leaves, I wonder if she sees him, or feels a ghost from the past brush her elbow, breathe on her neck.

*See last week’s missive.


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