By the time you read this column, I’ll be gone.
It’s a cliché to say it, of course, but it’s not you, it’s me. In fact, during the two and a half years we have spent together, you have been nothing short of the perfect companion – generous, cultured, intelligent, socially aware, punctual and – rare quality, this – you never, ever interrupt me.
You were patient when I experimented with internet dating, then came home and told you all about it. You held your tongue when I decided an all-in-one Zentai body suit was a perfectly rational solution to a bad hair day. And when I revealed my penchant for Murder, She Wrote, one-minute microwavable rice and the oeuvre of Cheryl Cole, you did not judge me. No, you did not. You merely smiled and assumed it was a phase I was going through. (It wasn’t.)
Ahhh but we had some fun, didn’t we? Remember when we stayed up all night discussing who would triumph come the apocalypse – apes, machines or – your suggestion, this, I’m sure – plants? (I knew I never should have let you watch Day of the Triffids with the lights off.) Or when we slagged off bad gig etiquette after I got soaked in a stranger’s urine at an ill-advised Ian Brown concert? Or when I turned 40 and didn’t stop going on about it for a year and a half? (See, I just did it again!)
But here’s the thing – where do we go from here? If we carry on much longer, we risk losing the spark that makes us special. I’ve seen it happen. At first a reader greets their columnist with enthusiasm, excited to see what’s going to happen next. But after a while, that passion begins to fade. Your columnist’s quirks, so appealing at first, begin to grate on your nerves. You’ve heard all her punchlines several times before. You catch yourself thinking that maybe she’s too slight, or too broad, too profane, too drunk or just a teensy bit too preoccupied with an oncoming apocalypse. And why does she always have her hands on her hips anyway?
Next thing you know your mind is wandering while she’s talking to you. A certain kind of lethargy sets in when you’re around her. You start to wonder, with greater frequency, whether you might be better off with a different kind of columnist altogether. Someone younger and less obsessed with Columbo. Someone older, with a better gasp of Brexit. Someone without so many issues.
This cannot be our fate, dear reader. We must not allow our treasured relationship to descend into anger and recrimination and letters to the editor written exclusively in block capitals. Instead, we must part now, amicably and on a high note, just like Chris and Gwynnie (although if you ever refer to this as a conscious uncoupling I will have to hunt you down and kill you.)
We can still be friends, of course. Come and find me at www.nicolamostyn.com and we can take a trip down memory lane together. But I know you’re going to be just fine without me. In a few weeks, you’ll meet a wonderful new columnist whose fresh perspective will make you see life in a completely different way.
Her name is Ali Schofield, and I know you’re going to be very happy together.