LIZ JONES'S DIARY: In which I have an impossible dilemma...

I was the collateral of a convicted stalker (he harassed my assistant in the cottage I owned next to my house; when I had to sell up, his conviction meant I got far less than I paid for it). I didn’t get a Netflix hit. I doubt most female victims do. I like Jamie Oliver but his new show Jamie Cooks Spring has me enraged. He must repeat, as he picks veg from his garden and greenhouse, ‘Readily available in the supermarket’ a million times. It’s so patronising! We might be poor, but we’re not stupid. Bank Holidays. Pure laziness.

I entered my new novel (it has lots of sex and is very darkly funny, in a Killing Eve sort of manner) into a competition to unearth an unpublished manuscript from a female talent who doesn’t have an agent. I wasn’t even shortlisted as, apparently, I’ve ‘already been published’.

No s**t, Sherlock. To the tune of a million words a year.

But surely if you are a real writer, then who isn’t published these days, what with endless opportunity such as social media, blogs, sites like Substack?

To my mind, if you are not published, you’re not passionate about writing, every single day. My first pieces were featured in my high-school magazine. So was it a schoolgirl poem that ruled me out? Or one of my awards?*

I always wonder, watching programmes like MasterChef, why, if you are passionate about being a chef, you waited until you were 50 or 60, rather than washing up in a kitchen upon leaving school, and working your way up.

I’ve not had a great week. Nic, who looks after my one remaining horse, was targeted by online thieves. They hacked her phone and her bank account numerous times, which meant she spent three days going to the bank, and the EE shop, trying to get it fixed.

I had to look after her horses as well as my ex racehorse, which meant I couldn’t work.

Today, Friday, given her accounts were safe again, you would have thought she would turn up on time. Nope. Late again. I pointed out I’ve been unable to work all week. ‘Oh, I thought you were just feeding them.’

So when I look after the horses it’s bunging them a feed. When she does it, it’s a full-time job. It can’t really be both. I pointed out I need to concentrate to be able to write and was told she feels the same when she reads tarot for people. I’m reminded of my ex best friend, who when I said I was on deadline, filing for a national newspaper, told me, ‘I’m the same! My weekly newsletter for my chiropractic clinic is hell!’

Nic wants me to stay in my rented cottage, not move to my new house, because staying put means I act as a policeman for the horses. Checking gates late one evening, I discovered the lock had been broken, the gate left open as thieves made off with Nic’s quad bike (catnip to rural criminals).

If I hadn’t gone there, the horses could have wandered on to a main road. Checking Benji late one night before Christmas, he was slicked with sweat. If I hadn’t been there, he would have died in agony of a burst tumour. As it was, we were able to give him painkiller and gently put him to sleep.

But do I want to spend my life with never a lie-in, always on high alert, watching them, checking them late? I have a sixth sense when it comes to animals. Leaving to catch a train for work at 5am in deep snow in November, something told me the horses were in trouble.

Nic lives a difficult drive away, doesn’t own a 4x4, and so I asked my neighbour and landlady to check them, or I’d miss my train. She did. Nic’s horse was on the floor, cast, which means they cannot get up. A vet was summoned, and he has been too nervous to lie down ever since.

I’m so tired of living my life for others. I only bought a house in Hackney, not a loft in Clerkenwell, because I had cats who needed a garden. I feel I’m just hiding in the cottage, stuck, until I no longer have Swirly. Work is being done on the new house after it was flooded by a broken mains pipe, but I still love it so much I drive to visit it every other day, stroking things, imagining my new life there.

I feel my only function is to be useful to others. People think I’m strong, but I’m not. I wasn’t allowed to buy the cottage I’m renting and spent a fortune renovating, but now I’m in an impossible dilemma. I can’t move Swirly, as she loves it here. She doesn’t cope well with change; she’s still grieving for Benji. I’m really struggling to find the answer.

*I expect brickbats for being boastful, but I’m tired of women feigning imposter syndrome

 

Jones moans... what Liz loathes this week

  • I was the collateral of a convicted stalker (he harassed my assistant in the cottage I owned next to my house; when I had to sell up, his conviction meant I got far less than I paid for it). I didn’t get a Netflix hit. I doubt most female victims do.
  • I like Jamie Oliver but his new show Jamie Cooks Spring has me enraged. He must repeat, as he picks veg from his garden and greenhouse, ‘Readily available in the supermarket’ a million times. It’s so patronising! We might be poor, but we’re not stupid.
  • Bank Holidays. Pure laziness.

Contact Liz at lizjonesgoddess.com and find her @lizjonesgoddess

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