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(Previously on The War Bride: female narrator gets out of a country she hates, only to discover she can’t function in a normal environment; opts for a strategic retreat, starts wondering if that’s all there is.)

I’ve seen the Ibiza thing happen in other people’s lives.

Heather, the lead in Irvine Welsh’s “The Undefeated”, chooses the very same spot for her first break from an unhappy home life, but she can barely leave her hotel room: while her friend Marie seems pretty happy “swanning around the bars in San Antonio”, Heather spends a horrifying week as a shut-in, alternatively berating herself for the failure of her marriage and bawling her eyes out. She flies home earlier, determined to ride it out, but she knows a vacation was not the wisest choice as far as The Rest Of Her Life is concerned.

I pored over Welsh’s novels in my early twenties, hoping to feel, uh, chemically in tune with someone who employed the same recreational tools I did. In the end, what really stuck was the loneliness of a single woman. Fancy that.

I started thinking about it as I headed home again. It’s an old question.

Do feel lonely, or are you alone?

I’m not truly alone – I failed in securing a mate, but I was blessed in the friends department. (Granted, most of them didn’t know me when all I hoped was to spontaneously combust, but some people who had known me for 10+ years still took me back – turns out they did want me to get help, but were afraid they’d fare much worse with an intervention. Can’t blame them on this one.)

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