At least two insurances are going to have to go, as I grapple with fear of penury, I have decided.
My health insurance is looking increasingly pointless, because I never use it. I just keep it going because I daren’t stop it. And I think the same can be said of my ‘Being A Cool Person’ insurance. If you have never heard of the latter, it is also sometimes referred to as ‘membership of Soho House’.
I have had it for donkey’s years but I never avail myself of it. I used to use it a lot in my heyday, when I could party with the best of them.
Back then, I could drape myself against a bar with a mojito without looking absurd. Or else lounge in a corner booth, champagne bottle on the table, surrounded by disparate budding stars of media and politics, who all seemed perfectly happy to include me in their nights of mild misbehaviour — nothing even remotely involving a pig’s head, I hasten to assure you — on the basis that I looked like I might be someone interesting, although quite who I was exactly was very far from clear to them, which is pretty much how I felt about them, strangely enough.
This lifestyle was not always without mishap, of course. There were escapades I would rather draw a veil over for taste and decency reasons, like the night I thought I had got into a cab with a Hollywood film star only to discover, as the mojitos wore off, that I was sharing a taxi with his somewhat less attractive gopher. I must also draw a veil over any evenings spent with those who went on to become government ministers.
I tell those anecdotes purely in my head, to amuse myself, because I believe in the code of honour, ‘what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’.
Suffice to say that as one all-nighter drew to a close a friend visiting from Manchester turned to me, bleary-eyed as we fell into a cab, and said, ‘Please tell me you don’t do this every Tuesday?’ To which I replied: ‘What are you talking about? This started out as Monday night, remember?’
After a while, however, I could only cope with a few nights a week. And then it was only once a month. And then never. The slippers and slanket and Columbo box set came out. I had, belatedly, grown up. All the bar draping seems a blur now, and by all accounts it was a blur at the time. But the important thing is, I am now boring, health- conscious and responsible.
So boring, in fact, I have to be dragged to a bar kicking and screaming. But I keep up my private members’ club membership because if I let it go, I am convinced something awful will happen. I fear that the moment I call the bank to stop the direct debit, I will be in dire and desperate need of it.
I can’t even begin to imagine what twist of fate would prompt me, after all these years, to embark on a period of sustained liver abuse in an urbane setting. Something involving a sudden diagnosis of a fatal illness not covered by my health insurance, possibly.
Perhaps I worry that unless I retain the option to ingest the latest alcohol fashions in the company of assorted stars of screen and stage, I will become disastrously old in an instant.
Maybe I fear that it works like the portrait of Dorian Gray. If I cancel the virtual self who has been propped against a bar slurping mojitos and chatting to celebs all these years then I will suffer an instant and total collapse of my looks and fortune, whatever is left of them.
And so I pay and I pay and I pay. And I never go there. Because I feel that by paying and never going there I am holding on to some virtual incarnation of my youth that will vanish if I admit out loud what is undoubtedly true — I am no longer cool. I am a boring, middle-aged person who is happiest in a slanket.
I have no business in a trendy private members’ club. This year, however, I did manage to get something for my money as I made it to the rooftop pool of its sister club, Shoreditch House, and sat on a sun lounger for a few hours, and had a brief swim. So it’s not all money down the drain. So maybe I won’t cancel after all. Maybe I’ll try to have two swims next year.
As for my Bupa, I might give it one more year at £110 a month, with a £500 excess, and see if I can’t get a little light bunion operation. But after that, I’m definitely cancelling.