the man from perfect first chapter

Here's the first chapter of my new novel, The Man from Perfect, to whet your appetite. I hope you enjoy it!

Rob the Slob

I pick up the phone.

‘Hi Ella, it’s me.’

It’s Rob. The Slob. ‘Oh hi.’


I can hear noise in the background. He’s watching football. ‘Are you okay?’ I ask him, knowing that his head normally has to be on fire before he gets off the sofa if sport’s on the telly.

‘Yeah,’ he says. ‘I mean, er, no.’

‘Oh?’ I say.

‘I’ve just been thinking. About, you know, us. About why you left.’


‘And I reckon I could . . . you know . . . like, change.’

‘Right,’ I say, as if I’d just been told they’d found a spotless leopard.

‘No, I could . . . I really could. I could start being more considerate. I could buy you flowers and . . . things.’

‘I never wanted you to buy me flowers.’

‘I could maybe start alternating Fridays. You know, only go to the pub every other Friday.’

‘And what about Wednesdays and Saturdays and Sundays?’

Thoughtful pause. ‘Well, I was kind of thinking maybe one step at a time.’

‘Rob, you don’t have to change. You just need to find someone who loves you for who you are. We . . . didn’t fit, that’s all.’

His breath crackles through the receiver. ‘It’s just, sometimes, I miss having you around.’

My heart tugs, for a moment, then I remember who I am talking to and picture him sitting amid his usual daytime apocalypse of lad mags and dirty socks. ‘You mean you’ve got no-one to do your washing,’ I correct him.

‘No. Course not. That’s not it at all . . .’ His voice starts to sound distracted and I can hear the faint roar of the football crowd in the background. Then Rob starts to shout: ‘COME ON ENGLAND! COME ON ENGLAND! YES! YES! GO ON ROONEY! . . . SHOOT! . . . YEEEEEEEEEES!!! GET IN!’

He’s shouting so loud I have to place the phone about a metre away from my ear.

‘Er, I’ll have to call you back,’ he says eventually. ‘It’s going to go to penalties.’

‘Right,’ I say. ‘Of course. Penalties. That’s far more important than trying to sort your life -’

The dial-tone hums its indifference.

* * *

Of course, Rob the Slob hasn’t always been Rob the Slob.

Only two months ago he was Rob Davis, recruitment consultant and potential husband material. Since I broke up with him I just have to keep on calling him Rob the Slob in case I accidentally suffer from relationship amnesia and forget exactly why I left him in the first place.

So why did I leave him?

Well, there are different reasons, official and unofficial.

Official reasons:
1) He forgot my birthday.
2) He wouldn’t cancel one Friday night in the pub for a quiet night in.
3) He made me play Grand Theft Auto on Playstation for three hours on Valentine’s night.
4) He taped Match of the Day over my cherished 15 year old copy of Pretty in Pink.
5) He forgot my birthday. (Have I already said that?)
6) On Saturday March 15th at 1.30 pm he was in the Cart and Horse with his mates having totally forgotten he was supposed to be sitting in Angelo’s Italian restaurant with me and my mum and dad. Even though I’d already met his dad about 100 times.

Unofficial reasons:
1) His secret wanking under the duvet when he thought I was asleep.
2) His sex face. (Like a constipated gorilla, only uglier.)
3) His not-getting-any-sex face. (Like an endangered gorilla about to be shot in the head.)
4) His nose-picking.
5) His crotch scratching.
6) His idea of a holiday. Which normally involves 20 days on a coach because he is too scared to fly in a plane.
7) His log files. (I checked on his computer. All porn.)
8) His hygiene problem. Which turned into my hygiene problem when he would give an optimistic nod towards his groin during foreplay.
9) His hatred of most pop stars, most film stars, most writers and most people in general who make him feel bad for being a lazy drunken slob who spends his life playing computer games and eating Pringles and dreaming of owning his own business but never actually doing anything about it.
10) He. Forgot. My. Birthday.

So yeah, Rob was a real catch. One in a million. The kind of man who makes you feel like the only girl in the room, just so long as you’ve got a bag of Doritos and a four pack of Stella Artois in your hands.

And, as a result of his many crimes against romance, I dumped him.

It was harsh, I admit, but it had become the only option. I was not ready to believe that a lifetime with a sack of potatoes thinly disguised as a human being was the future intended for me. I always hoped he was going to one day turn into his dad (the kindest and warmest former taxi driver you could ever hope to meet). Maybe I’d watched one too many Gillette ads, but I was convinced Rob was not the best a man can get. My perfect partner was still out there, waiting to be found.

And two months on, I still believe the ideal man is out there. I have the same faith in him that I once held in Father Christmas, my first Mr Perfect.

But I don’t know if that faith can last one more night of disappointment. If tonight doesn’t work out, I am worried that I will wake-up tomorrow morning with the sinking feeling you get when you discover the horrible gap between reality and your imagination.

Like when I was seven years old and I pulled Santa’s elastic beard slightly too hard, only to discover it was my sherry-sozzled Uncle Eric in a cheap red suit with a pillow strapped to his belly.

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