I think it was the twins’ sense of completeness which drew me to them—the way they belonged together, like two walnut halves. Whereas I didn’t know who I truly belonged to, or who I was related to, or even who I looked like. Nor did I know whether my real mum had ever had any other children, and if they looked like me. But Bella and Bea were this perfect little unit—Yin and Yang, Bill and Ben, Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Like Tweeldedum and Tweedledee they argued a lot, but the weird thing was they’d do it holding hands. They’d been coupled from conception, and I’d imagine them kicking and kissing in the womb. And although their mum would dress them in non-identical clothes every day, they’d always change into the same thing. They did absolutely everything together. If one of them wanted to go to the loo, for example, the other would wait outside; and their mum couldn’t even offer them a piece of cake without them going into a little huddle to confer. Sometimes I’d watch them doing a jigsaw puzzle, and it was as if they were almost a single organism, heads touching, four hands moving in perfect synchronicity. And I found it deeply touching that they were so totally self-contained, yet wanted to make space in their lives for me. I was mesmerised by their mutuality and I deeply envied it—the power of two. They’re thirty-seven now, and very attractive, but they’ve never had much luck with men.

‘We can’t find anyone, ‘ Bella sighed as we sat in the kitchen. ‘It always goes wrong. ‘

‘Men don’t see us as individuals, ‘ said Bea.

‘Hardly surprising, ‘ I said. ‘You look alike, sound alike, talk alike, walk alike, you live together and when the phone goes at home you answer ‘”Twins!”‘ ‘We only do that for a joke, ‘ said Bea. ‘In any case there are huge differences. ‘

‘Like what?’

‘Well, Bella’s quieter than I am. ‘

‘That’s true, ‘ said Bella feelingly.

‘And we went to different universities, and until now we’ve had different careers. ‘ Bella was a financial journalist and Bea worked for the V and A. ‘Plus Bella’s hair is short and mine’s shoulder length; her face is a tiny bit narrower than mine, she’s left-handed and I’m right-handed, and we have different views on most things. ‘

‘Too right. ‘

‘We’re not one person in two bodies, ‘ Bella pointed out vehemently, ‘but men treat us as if we were.

And the stupid questions we get! I’m sick of men asking us whether we’re telepathic, or feel each other’s pain or if we ever swapped places at school. ‘

‘Or they meanly flirt with both of us, ‘ said Bella crossly, ‘to try and cause a rift. ‘

And there’s the rub.

The twins may complain about their single status but I have long since known the truth; that although they both say they want a serious relationship, the reality is that they don’t; because they’re very comfortable and compatible and companionable as they are, and they know that a man would break that up…

After a nasty break-up it’s a good idea to put a few postcodes between yourself and your ex. The further the better in fact. There’s nothing quite like it for distracting you from the fact that you’ve just been given the push. Dumped in Devon? Then why not move to Dumfries? Given the big E in Enfield? Then uproot to Edinburgh. You’ll be too busy focusing on the newness of your environment to give a damn about Him . Not that I am thinking about Him. He’s history. My campaign to exorcise Him is going well. It’s already eight weeks since we split and I can barely even remember Ed Wright’s name. I’ve done what I advised that girl Kelly to do—I’ve neatly excised him, like a tumour; I haven’t even sent him my new address. So I think it’s all going to be plain sailing from here.

Having my marital rows re-enacted at top volume by a bird had shaken me to my core, so I did what I always do when I’m feeling upset—I got out the ironing board. And as the iron sped back and forth, snorting a twin plume of steam, my heart rate began to subside. I find there’s nothing more therapeutic than a nice pile of pressing when I’ve had a nasty shock. I iron everything, I really don’t mind—tea-towels, knickers, socks. I even tried to iron my J Cloths once, but they melted. I’ve never really minded ironing—something my friends find decidedly weird. But then my mum was incredibly house-proud—’a tidy home means a tidy mind!’ she’d say—so I guess I get it from her.