Our extract this week is from the newly published book by Sophie White called The Snag List
‘Ms Reid, can you tell us how you came to be in possession of the video clip featuring your husband and former business partner, Adam Zelner? The contents of which, I should add, were intended to remain private.’ Adrian, the craggy sixty- something acting as Adam’s representative, paced before her. Lindy sensed she needed to rearrange her facial expression if she was going to retain the sympathy of the judge – a neat man in his fifties over to the right, looking at her through tortoiseshell glasses.
Bald disdain was not a great look when trying to convince people you weren’t a treacherous bitch out for revenge. In a way, though, an unanticipated boon of her job was that she was actually perfectly prepped to stand up and be judged. In the last few years, everyone had an opinion. On the fact that she put her kid on the internet. On her family. But most especially on her. It was negligent; it was selling your child’s childhood. It was tantamount to abuse. Luckily, it wasn’t illegal. Yet.
And the wood-panelled room of judgement she was standing in was a commercial court and not a criminal one. Sued by her former business partner and current husband. Ooof. As one internet commenter had put it: ‘Corporate litigation between husband and wife? Now that’s a shitshow.’ ‘Who starts a business with literally NO contingency in place for how to dissolve it? Especially when there’s a child involved?’ another had added. ‘Do you need me to repeat the question, Ms Reid?’ Adrian levelled this in an exasperated tone, as if she was a petulant kid instead of the co-founder and one-time CEO of a million-euro online empire.
She could feel herself glaring again. Stop it, Lindy. She swallowed. ‘Not at all, sir.’ May as well keep it polite. ‘I discovered the video clip during the course of preparing a prospectus for a new business venture of mine called The Snag List.’ She left it at that, heeding the advice of her own solicitor, Elise Enyi-Amadi: ‘Let them do all of the heavy lifting. Only answer the questions they ask. Don’t volunteer anything.’ ‘Riiiight.’ More exaggerated weary patience from her husband’s representative. ‘And what did that prospectus entail? How did it lead to the discovery of the video and all that followed? Explain to us, please, what this venture, The Snag List, is?’ ‘The Snag List,’ Lindy aped the man’s patient tone, ‘is a discreet service that allows people to address their regrets. With the support of my service, my clients can return to the things in their lives that they left undone. The chances they didn’t take, the avenues left unexplored. With my help, they can tick them off the great snag list of their lives.
For the last few months, I have been working with three individuals, trialling the service and gathering insights to present to potential investors. The client in this particular instance had voluntarily relinquished control of dozens of their social media accounts. And it was in one of these accounts that I found the clip. Believe me, I did not seek this frankly disgusting, not to mention hurtful and humiliating, material out.’ Over to Lindy’s right, Elise was looking delighted – no doubt thrilled at the inclusion of ‘hurtful and humiliating’. ‘You have to humanise “Lindy Reid” for the judge,’ she’d commanded that morning in the taxi on the way over as a nervy Lindy smoothed her dark blunt bob and dabbed concealer under her eyes.
Sleep was in short supply the last few weeks, since her life had been laid out for public consumption. ‘I am a human,’ Lindy had said. Can’t be a good sign that I’m having to point that out. People mistake appearing detached with being detached. I wish I could be detached. ‘I am hurt and humiliated, Elise – more as every day passes and the internet continues to have a field day with this.’ ‘Great,’ Elise pointed at her. ‘Be sure to get that in later during your testimony.’ ‘It’s absolutely desperate,’ the taxi driver had thrown over his shoulder. ‘My missus was having a real go this morning, saying you deserve what you got given how you make your money and all. And I said, “No, Bridey! Not even Bezos himself deserves to have all that put out there.”’
Lindy had related this exchange to her Snag List WhatsApp group, the place where all this misery had begun – if they hadn’t gotten together and started comparing notes on their millennial life crises, none of this would’ve happened. At least it’ll give Ailbhe and Roe a bit of entertainment, she’d thought, watching their replies drop in.
ROE: On the plus side, the taxi lads are always a great barometer of public opinion. They’re out there on the front lines of the national gossip. If he’s defending you, that’s a great sign.
AILBHE: Roe’s really scraping the bottom of the Reassurance Barrel there.
Lindy had grinned in spite of the bleak destination. How am I driving to actual fucking court right now? If nothing else, she could count on Ailbhe for honesty and Roe for support. Thank God I still have them. They’d known each other less than six months, but communally decimating your lives really fast-tracks a friendship. Her husband’s solicitor cleared his throat, bringing her back to the present unpleasant moment. He was sweeping his hands wide, as if to dispel any empathy her admission of pain and humiliation may have elicited from the judge. ‘Do you think it’s a good idea to meddle in people’s lives in this way?’ Lindy flashed on Ailbhe, Tom, Roe and Eddie all sitting in devastated silence around an abandoned dinner party.
Across the table from her, Adam had looked livid. Keep it simple, Linds: ‘Yep.’ ‘Why do you think you’re qualified to do this work? To fix people’s lives?’ The question finally put words to the unformed dread that had lurked inside her in the weeks since that cursed dinner party. Why do I think I’m qualified to rid people of their regrets? She tried to breathe deeply but it came shallow and did nothing to quell her anxiety. Her pretence at stoicism was becoming exhausting. She felt the judge looking at her – no doubt taking in her expensive silk shirt and tailored navy trousers. She looked rich, successful. Too aloof to be relatable, probably. He couldn’t know it was her armour. ‘I used to think I was qualified because I’ve gone after what I wanted in life. More or less. But now …’
She looked across the room to where Adam sat and tried to find his eyes, to bridge the fissure between them. He just stared at his hands clasped on the desk in front of him. It’s impossible, we’re both too ruined – there’s no blueprint, no script to follow for coming back from betrayals like these. She placed her next words one after another carefully and deliberately. ‘Now, I think, I’m qualified because I can see that if our regrets remain unresolved, they trap us and define our lives. I’m qualified because I, myself, have so many regrets. So. Many.’ She breathed again and this time her lungs filled without effort. She felt a bit better because it was the truth. Pity the truth had ruined everything.
The Snag List by
Sophie White is published
by Hachette Ireland
in trade paperback, out now