I got dumped just before Christmas.
Actually, dumped is not quite the right word, suggesting that we were an official couple in the first place. I think a more accurate description is PIED.
The deed occurred at about 2am, sat opposite one another at the tiny kitchen table in his flat. We’d just come back from a ‘do’ at the local pub – a civilised gathering, with a few friends, a few drinks and a pianist playing Christmas tunes – and were both a little on the tipsy side.
Actually, again, ‘tipsy’ is not quite the right word here.
Having spent the entire evening downing free shots of tequila with the barman (who at one point attempted to LITERALLY PICK ME UP, before staggering backwards under my colossal weight, like a removal man carrying a grand piano, and falling on top of me) I was completely and utterly pole-axed.
Matters were not helped by the fact that I had, throughout the course of the evening, managed to acquire myself a tambourine and had taken to loudly bashing along with the pianist, to the horror of those around me, and hollering out ‘Jingle Bells’.
‘It’s just not working for me, Gabs,’ said Rob,, staring awkwardly at the floor and shakily trying to light his cigarette.
‘Oh don’t worry, I’ve got another one!’ I beamed merrily back, reaching in my bag and handing him my lighter.
‘No, not that. I mean this. Us. It’s just not working for me anymore.’
There was a moment of silence whilst I digested this information.
‘Is this about the tambourine?’ I whispered, horrified.
‘No it’s not about the tambourine. I don’t know what it is really. Things were great at the start but… the thing is, I kind of miss my ex.’
That was enough for me.
‘WELL IT WAS LOVELY MEETING YOU I’M OFF TO GET MY TAXI NOW CHEERIO BYE!’ I gabbled, knocking over my chair as I made a desperate bid for the door.
Rob caught up with me as I stood shaking and panting on the pavement outside.
‘Gabby… you don’t have any shoes on.’
I looked down at my bottom half. I was wearing a leather skirt and patterned tights, with my big toe poking out through a hole in the left foot. Like a hobo out on the pull.
I still to this day don’t know where those FUCKING SHOES went, but after ransacking the flat from top to bottom, neither of us speaking as I tried desperately not to cry/throw up/punch something, I eventually got into a taxi without them.
The floodgates opened on the journey home (the horrified Uber driver even pulled over, found me a napkin to blow my nose on, and gave me a pep talk about there being ‘plenty more fish in the sea), and continued well into the following morning.
‘What’s wrong with me, Mummy?’ I sobbed down the phone, whilst pouring gin straight down my throat. ‘Why does this keep happening to me? I feel awful.’
Mother offered her usual Enid Blyton style of advice.
‘I know what you need,’ she said. ‘Some fresh air and a banana!’
‘Mum, I don’t really think -‘
‘Tell you what. Why don’t Dad and I find you a nice chap to date down here, whilst you’re home for Christmas?’
‘NOOO!’ I screamed, before recovering my composure ‘I mean, no, no, that’s very kind of you, but -‘
‘Now just hear me out before you POOH POOH the idea. I know you don’t think much of the men here in the Cotswolds, calling them ‘backwards’ and ‘turnip diggers’ and whatnot. But if you opened your eyes a bit I think you’d find some real humdingers!’
‘I don’t want a humdinger.’
‘You need to branch away from these selfish actor/comedian types. Find a man with a CRAFT. Like a vet… or a boiler fitter!’
And so, on 23rd December, at my parent’s new house in the arse end of nowhere, I found myself sitting on the sofa, on Tinder, bottle of red wine in hand.
‘No, no, no,’ I muttered as I swiped left, trying not to shudder at the selection of men carrying pitchforks, posing topless with baby pigs, etcetera.
Having had very trying ten-minute conversation with a young man who, it transpired, knew my parents as he had DRAINED THE SEPTIC TANK IN OUR GARDEN, I eventually admitted defeat and fell into a drunken stupor.
I was awoken by my mother mere hours later.
‘MORNING!’ she cried, blasting into my bedroom and throwing open the curtains. ‘I thought you’d like a bit of a lie-in.’
I looked at my phone. It was 8am.
‘Now then, are you still coming with me to Tesco’s?’
Going to a Tesco superstore is a traumatising experience at the best of times. A Tesco superstore on Christmas Eve is like entering the zombie apocalypse. Parents screaming at children (‘PUT THE BARBIE DOWN, SHAKIRA! PUT IT DOOOWN! LET’S SEE WHAT FUCKIN’ SANTA BRINGS!’), old ladies blindly ploughing into each other with trollies and a depressed shop worker dressed as a giant mince pie (probably one of my fellow drama school graduates).
As soon as we entered, I could feel last night’s red wine repeating itself on me.
‘Mum, I’m feeling a bit ill,’ I ventured, swaying into the nearest stand of bananas. ‘Can I get a lucozade?’
‘What’s a loofah-blade?’ she asked breezily, before sailing past to fight over some brazil nuts.
Eventually we made it to the till.
‘Look Mum, this one’s free!’ I said with relief, pointing to a totally empty conveyer belt, with young male shop assistant sat behind it.
‘No!’ Mum exclaimed in a stage whisper, glancing surreptitiously into her basket. ‘We can’t go up to a man, with SANITARY items. What will he think?’
‘Yes we can,’ I said, forcefully taking the basket and unloading it onto the conveyer. ‘For god’s sake Mum, Tesco sells cock rings.’
‘Why would anyone want to wear one of those?’ asked Mum, attempting to hide her packet of Tena Lady under two pots of olives.
There was a pause whilst I digested this.
‘Mum… do you know what a cock ring is?’
‘Well I can use my imagination, Gabrielle. It’s a decorative item. Like a toe ring!’
Hideously, Mum then brought up the subject of the cock ring at dinner, to my father.
‘Do YOU know what a cock ring is, Stuart?’ she asked.
‘Don’t, Frances, DON’T,’ he replied. ‘I cannot abide the thought of piercings.’
Christmas passed in a boozy, gluttonous blur (my parents unfortunately still believe me to be a vegetarian, so this year we sat down to carve a BEETROOT PARTY FLAN), until it was nearly New Year’s Eve.
I had made plans, this year, to travel back to my hometown of Cardiff and spent the evening with my good friend Daniel.
(Daniel and I formed a firm friendship when we were in a production of Spring Awakening together, seven years ago. It was a jolly little show – his character had to toss himself off on stage, whilst mine begged to be beaten over the arse with a stick. I don’t think my parents have ever quite got over the shock of it all.)
After catching up over a bottle of gin, we headed into town with two of his mates – Steve and Jonathan. Now, I don’t like to blow my own trumpet and I admit that it is a FREAKISH rarity, but I had a sneaking suspicion that Steve had the hots for me.
I would probably have fancied him back, except that he was mind-numbingly dull and looked like a bearded Lego man.
Having cavorted round the usual clubs and downed several hundred cocktails, by about 3am I was in my usual rat-arsed state. We had, unfortunately, also lost Daniel.
‘FUCK IT,’ I hiccupped. ‘I’m meant to be staying at his tonight. Gonna have to sleep on this bench.’
‘STAY AT MINE!’ cried Steve, popping out from behind a bin. ‘My flat is just 10 minutes away.’
Feeling that this was probably not the wisest of ideas but too drunk by this point to care, I found myself agreeing.
‘Now no funny business, Steven, I mean it,’ I slurred, setting off purposefully in the direction of the taxi rank. ‘I may grant you a kiss… but I am a lady of twenty six and not to be trifled with.’
‘No, no,’ he nervously gabbled, running after me with my coat and handbag. ‘I can sleep on the sofa. Or floor. I’m just so glad you’re staying!’
I must have dozed off in the taxi, as when I awoke we were outside a Sainsbury’s Local. And Steve was climbing back into the taxi with a carrier bag.
‘I thought I’d get us some breakfast stuff for the morning,’ he jabbered, pulling items out one by one. ‘Eggs, bacon… CONDOMS!’
We arrived at his flat.
‘Make yourself comfortable,’ Steve said, flustering around, putting plates in the sink, fluffing cushions etcetera, whilst I swayed precariously in the doorframe.
Unfortunately, I had reached the point of drunkenness where I was not only bad company, but had become somewhat demanding, in the manner of Dame Edna.
‘I WOULD LIKE A GLASS OF WINE, STEVEN,’ I declared, sashaying my way into the living room. ‘Actually, forget the wine, I need a cigarette. Actually no, forget the cigarette, I need a shower. Immediately. I’m too sweaty.’
The poor boy ran me a shower, whilst I stripped off and lurched my way in.
‘You may join if you so wish!’ I shouted through the door, thinking to myself, ‘fuck it, when in Rome!’ Or Cardiff.
Now I am all up for a joint shower. I had not previously experienced one myself, but had watched enough dirty films to know that this was going to be a very sexy and alluring experience.
Unfortunately, Steve owned what is known as a POWER SHOWER.
And what ensued was about the unsexiest shower scene known to mankind.
Clearly expecting me to be stood there seductively sudsing myself in a white bikini, like Myleene Klass on ‘I’m A Celebrity’, Steve entered the shower to face me stood, butt naked, under a boiling jet of water, looking like something from The Grudge.
‘This is nice!’ I shouted over the deafening downpour, trying not to choke as the water ran down my face into my mouth, blinding me in the process.
‘It is!’ he cried, attempting to feel his way towards me, through the thick wall of steam.
I lurched out of the direction of the shower head and grabbed hold of a mini shelf, scattering a load of razors, soap and beard cream onto the floor.
‘I’m going to suds myself up now!’ I cried, bending down and grabbing the bar of soap in what I hoped was an alluring manner, until it violently shot out my hand and hit him in the face.
The whole thing ended with me completely overheating, panicking, then karate kicking my way out the shower door, nearly taking the thing off its hinges.
Poor Steve then had to towel dry me, like a dog, whilst I sat comatose on the bathroom floor, before blow-drying my hair and putting me to bed with a hot Ribena.
I think I’ll stick to Tinder.
P.S Stay tuned for the release of my first book- ‘LUSH: A True Story, Soaked In Gin’- due out on the shelves July 2018! Available to pre-order now on Amazon (cover to be revealed soon). I promise you a filthy read.