The Banker

Stats: 5’8″, 38, greying/blue, Essex
When: July 2011
Where: Pimlico, SW1
Pre-date rating: 6/10

So we’re on another summer of “yes”, it would seem. My iPhone calendar heaves with dates and I’m looking as ravaged as only one can when one has been necking beers in a variety of pubs with a slew of strangers.

As a result of my packed schedule, which I pore over with all the enthusiasm of a dead cat, it is a few weeks between arranging a date with The Guy and actually going on it. He first contacts me during a busy period at work. He says the usual intro stuff: he likes my profile, I seem interesting, would like to know more – truly the “Do you come here often?” of the internet dating world. I peruse his profile and he seems nice, intelligent, friendly. He doesn’t look anything special on his pictures but my recent experience has shown that pictures are so ridiculously unrepresentative of the men who post them that he may well be an adonis in the flesh. Yeah, I know. I live in hope, at least

Anyway, we exchange a few pleasantries over email and then he goes in with the whammy of asking me out on a date. I think about this. If I’m honest with myself, which is always important but devastatingly rare, I don’t really want to go. He’s a little older than I am looking for, and beyond the niceties we’ve exchanged, I’m struggling to see what we’ll have in common. I do, however, feel that I have led him on slightly by keeping up the dialogue. By now we have taken it to email, as his subscription on the dating site was about to expire. He mails me again and suggests meeting for dinner in Pimlico. Shit. For some reason it is beyond my capability to refuse him outright. So, turning gradually more yellow by the second, I avoid the email for a couple of days. He sends the exact same email again. Continue reading The Banker

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The Latecomer

Stats: 5’9″, 26, mousey/blue, London
Where: Exmouth Market
When: October 2010
Pre-date rating: 6/10

After a frantic August and a much quieter September, October comes into view at full throttle. I line up three dates in the space of a week and the third one, on the Friday, is This Guy. Our communication so far has been fairly one-sided; out of the 3 dates I’ve arranged, he’s the one I’m less interested it. I’m also dreading the thought of polluting my liver once again so am not particularly keen to waste another £30 or so getting pissed in a pub on the off-chance that the stranger chatting awkwardly opposite me might one day be Mr Right.

He is another one of my young ones. I don’t know how or why they are so interested in me. I’m old. I thought younger people didn’t remotely care what their elders had to say. Maybe he wants to re-enact the Werther’s Original advert, with me in the role of kindly grandfather, patting him on the head and offering him sugary toffees in order to stop him pointing out my greying hair.

As a result of my lack of interest, I realise I know absolutely nothing about this man as I arrive at our arranged meeting point. For some reason, I have broken my rule about having a dinner-free first date – probably because he suggested it and I am too polite (ha!) to rebuff him – and we are to meet at a fashionable new tapas place. It’s the kind of place you can’t book so have to hang around the doorway like a depressed security guard until a table is available. As I arrive, he texts and say he’s going to be a little late. I roll my eyes and put my name on the list of people waiting for a table. The waiter says I can go to the pub and they’ll call me when the table is ready. I don’t want to go to the pub – well, not on my own anyway. I can do that any night of the week. However, the risk of looking like I have been stood up and hovering over people eating their calamari is not one I’m prepared to take, and I trudge off in silent fury to the nearest decent pub I know.  Continue reading The Latecomer

Dating 101: How to be a bad date

I do not advocate rudeness on dates. Even if the guy sitting opposite you is a crashing bore, with chronic halitosis and a set of teeth like an overloaded dish rack, I just like to sit it out. Why make someone else feel like shit just because you’re having a bad time? But, if you are determined to make sure that this is a one-off date with no hope of repeats or returns, there are a few things you can do to try to make sure that your date is put off you for ever. How do I know? Most of them happened to me, that’s how. So here are five to start you off:

1. Talk, without pause for breath, about how amazing your life is and how glorious it is to be you. Yes, nobody loves a negative Norman, but there’s a time and a place to give it the big “I am” and the first date isn’t it. Example quotes:

“And so my boss said to me ‘You’re just so talented’ and he was totally right because the reaction – well, it was just breathtaking. I’ve had comments from all over the world saying just how inspiring it was just to hear about even a small part of what I’d done.”

“It’s so hard for me because I get a lot of attention from men, and I mean A LOT.” Continue reading Dating 101: How to be a bad date

The Backpacker

Stats: 26, 6’3″, blond/blue, Home Counties
When: August 2010
Where: South bank, London
Pre-date rating: 8/10

It’s always surprising when someone gets in touch who you may, at one point, have considered to be out of your league. In an utterly pointless act of ‘playing hard to get’, I have resolved not to add any new men as ‘favourites’ and instead see if they come to me. After all, the first law of internet dating appears to be “The ones you like, don’t like you”, so I figure it’s time to see who likes me. It hasn’t yet occurred to me that I could be faced with months and months of silence, the email inbox where I receive the dating site notifications acquiring a fine layer of dust, with a lone spider building a cobweb just above the last message received: a junk email telling me that the O2 is having a line-dancing extravaganza.

Happily, I never get to find out as my first bite on the line is The Guy, an impossibly tall handsome young man who travels a lot. He sends me the usual email and I am baffled as to why on Earth he would be remotely interested in me. Maybe he likes older, shorter men with lines so deep their faces look like a carving of the London Underground map. We each express an interest in meeting up and then the conversation stops dead – he doesn’t reply and I don’t prod or chase. I’m playing hard to get, remember. I am just about to file him away under “Looks like someone better came along” when he gets in touch. He’s been away travelling as he is writing a book. His time has been taken up with that and he hasn’t had a chance to answer emails but now he has, and would I like to meet up this time? I would, so I say so.  The date is set for a Wednesday evening and, thanks to it being a scorching week, he settles on the south bank, at the bar in the British Film Institute. I groan inwardly. The south bank is always too busy on a sunny evening and has been the scene for some truly terrible dates. He’s not to know that of course, so I say how GREAT that will be and that I’ll see him then. I read through his profile once again, to refamiliarise myself with his stats and all that. He seems to be very much an outdoorsy type – a fact I must have glossed over when he first got in touch. But this is OK. I go outside quite a lot: to the shop, to the pub, you know – the great outdoors. Continue reading The Backpacker

Dating 101: The big bang

Dating. A great way to meet people, sure. The chance to get out of the house and do different things with guys who you wouldn’t normally have met, yes. But let’s not forget another reason why we date – to get sex. Uh-huh. Oh yes, yes, avert your gaze and look coyly to the floor but let’s cut the crap here. As nice as your date may be and as much fun as you may be having, if you don’t fancy them it’s pretty pointless. And when you fancy someone, you want to bang them. And if you don’t, well, that’s just plain unfair.

Standard dating etiquette says that you shouldn’t even approach the idea of having sex on a first date. Oh yeah? Well I reckon standard dating etiquette was dreamed up by some dried-up old nobody that no-one wanted to have sex with anyway. As long as you’re not dropping date-rape drugs into their martini to get it, there’s nothing wrong with doing the nasty with a date, so long as they too have the time, mood and the willing.

They key ingredient to ‘getting some’ on a date is that passion petrol known as booze. If you’re a teetotaller, you’re going to have to rely on your charming wit to laugh your date into bed. So, y’know, good luck with that. Getting well-oiled and cracking out the charm is the expressway to getting horizontal, but just because you are feeling amorous, it doesn’t mean your date is, so here are some suggestions on turning the bar chat into a bonkathon – and signs you should look out for in your date which mean it’s a go: Continue reading Dating 101: The big bang

The Wrong Peter

Stats:5’9″, 34, brown/blue, Bristol
When: May 2011
Where: East Dulwich, London
Pre-date rating: 4/10

There are good days and there are bad days in the dating world. What constitutes a good day varies greatly. Sometimes it will be a day where you have myriad emails from suitors to reply to: all of them handsome and witty and wise, with porcelain teeth, bright eyes and shiny hair. Sometimes a good day is a day when you don’t have anyone to respond to, as you have despatched your oh-so-clever, multi-layered communiqués with ease, as if second nature. And sometimes a good day is when you manage to go on a date with the right person. Today, then, might not be a good day.

As well as using the internet dating site which has served up the majority of my ‘guys’, I’m also using an iPhone app which hooks me up with other men looking for dates. I’ll be brutally honest here: a lot of them are just looking to put their John Thomas in you or on you. Many of them, however, are, like me, just looking to meet new people. It’s fairly easy to weed out the ones who just want a bang – they send you a picture of their penis within the first minute and/or have a headless, gym-tortured torso as their profile pic. To counter this, there is a very handy and, in my case, oft-used ‘block’ button, and the decapitated pec monsters are consigned to the slop bucket of the internet. It is through this medium that we arrive at This Guy. Continue reading The Wrong Peter

Dating 101: One night only

Not sure whether they like you or not? Or whether you like them? Really? Do yourself a favour. Ten signs the first date will be the last:

1. They are otherwise perfect but there is one fatal flaw that you can’t stop looking at, thinking about and trying not to mention, even though it is taking over your mind and threatening to launch itself from your tongue and across the table like a bile-covered missile. It could be anything: a crooked tooth, a liney forehead, a third eye. If you were really into them, you’d disregard it.

2. You start more than three sentences with “So…..”

3. They see you finish your drink and don’t offer to get you another. Yes, not even the prospect of getting you drunk and/or seeing you through beer goggles is enough to prolong the date.

4. The date begins discussing options for getting home, making it very clear that you will not be accompanying them on this journey. “I have my moped just outside…”

5. You’re so pissed that you can’t see but the date is sitting there gently sipping a Diet Coke, with a look of contempt in their eyes. Yes, you should have brought that miniature bottle of vodka with you.

6. The bumbling attempt to make physical contact is met with horror, followed by derision. Stop now before he calls the police.

7. Your parting shot is “Nice to meet you”. Come on, if you’re parting with that inane pleasantry you’re not banking on having to make small talk with this dullard ever again. “Nice to meet you” is what one says to vicars at weddings, not someone you’re hoping to brutalise between the sheets.

8. The date points out a spot or other flaw in your complexion. “Is that a cold sore?” Yes, this is the way to get to bone me; well done, you arsehole.

9. When strangers ask you if they can share your table, you welcome them so fervently that you end up making lunch arrangements, planning a holiday together and, if you’re especially lucky, with your hand down their trousers, while your date looks on blankly.

10. They talk about their ex. Incessantly. Until you just want to grab their mobile phone, call up the ex and say “Look, do you want this cunt back? Because I’m done with it. DONE”.

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