“T’as pas deux euros à me prêter pour acheter un paquet de clopes?” the Boy enquires as we draw near to a tabac. “Sinon je vais aller retirer en face…”
“I was wondering when you were finally going to admit that you’re only with me because you want to get your hands on my money,” I retort with a sly grin.
We joke about it sometimes, but, in truth, whatever I have in the bank is just numbers on a sheet of paper. Numbers that won’t mean much to me until they add up – net of the eye watering amounts of tax and social security I pay with a year’s time lag – to a place to live that means my room no longer has to serve the purposes of bedroom, dining room and living room rolled into one.
In the meantime, my lifestyle has changed little. I’d rather go for beers at the Café Chéri(e) than buy a bottle of champagne at Le Baron or Le Paris Paris (I’ve yet to set foot in either). Most evenings I can be found cooking up a storm in my kitchen or waiting for the Boy to grab some takeaway on his way home from work, rather than eating out in some über-chic restaurant. I treat myself occasionally – clothes, silk underwear, a handbag, a holiday – but we’re not talking Gucci or Dior or a five star beach cabin in the Seychelles. I’m more of an Et Vous or APC kind of girl, and I doubt I’ll ever kick my Top Shop habit. Admittedly it’s really nice not to have to worry when an unexpectedly large phone bill arrives or to have to think twice about taking Tadpole to Yorkshire when there are no cheap tickets left. But, aside from that, little has changed, and I doubt it ever will.
Regardless of our wildly differing salary levels the Boy and I always go Dutch. That is, when he doesn’t insist on paying. If I try to so much as buy a round of drinks he is likely to tell me – mock sternly – to put my wallet down and step away from the till. As a result, he’s not the easiest person in the world to treat, and as his thirtieth birthday loomed, I found myself in something of a quandary. He’d surprised me with a gorgeous antique ring on my birthday, back in September, and it never leaves my finger. I was determined to do something special for him – after all thirty is an important landmark – but I knew he’d feel uncomfortable if I bought him something wildly extravagant.
In the end I resolved to whisk him away for a long weekend, instead. And slipped a pair of lace-topped hold-up stockings into my weekend bag, for good measure.
I’m happy to report that the weekend was a resounding success.