So, the weather turns and the days get shorter and the money gets tighter. Still, it's not quite enough. What could be done to make things really miserable? Getting dumped tends to do the trick, so that's what's happened.
I'm getting to be quite a connoisseur of the Dump. There is the Dump Royale, as effected by the first Mrs Lezard three and a bit years ago. That was achieved conventionally, largely by my own shitty behaviour. Then there's the Dump Petite, as perfected by the Finn, which is achieved by the man making it clear that he doesn't want to have any more children, and consists of a goodbye shag followed by complete disappearance from one's life. That's the least painful.
The most painful is the one I'm undergoing now, where you haven't done anything wrong apart from the regrettable incident with the ---------, which is not considered by most authorities as a dumping matter at all, and you still love someone very much but that person decides she doesn't love you. I shall spare you further details. Not for the first time, I muse that if love were indeed a drug, the people who made it and the pushers would be hunted down and exterminated without mercy, with myself leading the lynch mob.
So once again life has turned into what Santayana said a life without happiness was: a mad and lamentable experiment. I go to the British Library to get out of the Hovel. They don't let you write in pen any more in case you write "bum" indelibly in the books, so each time I go there I have to buy a pencil, as I forget to bring the one I bought before. I now have, I can confidently state, the largest collection of black British Library pencils in the world. I sit at the back of Humanities 2, less populated, and face a row of reference books so I don't get distracted by the pretty girls there, whose attractiveness serves only to remind me of what I have lost.
I look around sometimes, though, for the nutters. You used to get them all over the place in the old British Museum Reading Room, which drew them like moths to a flame. Now they seem to have gone. I wonder if it's like being the bunny at a poker table: if you can't see the loony in the reading room, then it's you.
I try not to look like a loony, even if the days are punctuated by enormous involuntary sighs and cries of "Oh, God". I'm trying to keep my shit together in terms of grooming and exercise (my favourite cartoon ever is by Gwyn Vaughan Roberts and appeared in the Idler: a man standing over a vast heap of ordure says, "I got my shit together - but it was still shit"), though eating still feels a bit unnatural until I succumb to ravenous hunger around midnight.
I look up "dump" in the OED, handily placed virtually at arm's reach. One of the definitions reads "to export, throw on the market, in large quantities and at low prices", and that's pretty much what it feels like has happened.
I read Kingsley Amis, in the hope of ramping up my misogyny. (On women: "They used to feel they needed something in the way of provocation, but now they seem to feel they can get on with the job of fucking you up any time they feel like it." Etc.) But it's not quite taking. Most of my friends are women; the kindest words I've had are from women; and it is possible that while women have got me into this mess, women are going to get me out of it again. Not that I am ever going to believe anything a woman says to me, whether it's "I love you" or "It's raining", without checking thoroughly first.
And now it is time to stir. I am all too conscious that, at the time of writing, it is 1.40pm and I have only just got out of bed to find the notebook in which I put down the definition of "dump" quoted above. I have to read more Kingsley Amis - and maybe a bit of du Bellay's The Regrets for extra laughs ("Heureux qui sans soucy peult garder son tresor!") - and replace the bedside lamp that, with impeccable timing, decided to kill itself last night: just what the bedridden, heartbroken man needs.
Meanwhile, if you, dear reader, have someone to love and someone who loves you, who will look after you when you are unwell and cheer you up if you are sad, who will slip their hand in yours when you walk down the street, someone you are prepared to make sacrifices for and who is prepared to make sacrifices for you, someone with whom you can entrust your heart, who in short cares deeply whether you live or die, then give great thanks every single waking minute of every single day, while it lasts. When it stops lasting - well, then you're on your own.