It is a truth universally acknowledged that a woman dining alone will always be given the worst table in the restaurant. I've had plenty of experience of eating out alone since I came here - partly the novelty of simply being able to walk out for food, after being a 20 minute drive from the nearest takeaway before, partly because I've been so busy sorting the house out that I couldn't lift a saucepan.
It's my own fault for choosing a holiday town. Everywhere there are noisy family groups or hand-holding couples. I can just about cope with it when I walk my mad old dog along the prom. We make an interesting little group of our own and people talk to us. I don't think I'll walk along the seashore on my own very often, though. You get fed up looking either brave or enigmatic. Sometimes you just want to look normal.
Dinner last night though was the first time I was offered the classic worst table in the room. I was proud of myself for saying "hey, what about something a bit more in the body of the kirk?" but it didn't make any difference. "I can't put a single diner at a table for four", he said, and I could sort of see his point. But I had been looking forward all day to going out and being amongst people and instead I found myself perched at a little table next to the proverbial kitchen door, with an unsmiling couple on the other side. Luckily I had brought plenty to read with me and I set about looking interesting and enigmatic. J.K. Rowling has done a great service to lone diners. Get out a notebook and begin writing and you can be sure people will notice. And suddenly you turn from a figure of pity to, at least, a figure of curiosity. You look, suddenly, more interesting than they do. I've even had people ask me if I'm writing a novel.
But still, I am fed up being the odd one out. I WANT TO BE NORMAL! I had a friend staying with me for a few nights last week and it was great to gossip over a coffee and a cake in places where I had days before been the sad lone woman. Of course, I'm back to that now. The question I want to ask is "where are all the single people?" I know there are millions of us out there. I can only assume that they are sitting at home alone in the dark. Come on, guys and girls, get out there. If I see you sitting in a restaurant I'll give you a sisterly smile of encouragement.
Rosehip Or Prune used to be about life after losing a spouse. It came about from my own experience of being widowed at 47, in the same month that my only child left home to go to University. But that was ten years ago. Now it's about dating, and new relationships, getting older and making sense of the world. Welcome! Join in!