Tag Archives: venue horror

11 ways guests will ruin your wedding

Considering its romantic intentions, a wedding can be one of the most stressful experiences of your life.

If you’re a single person, they are a stark reminder of just how single you are. If you’re part of a couple, it’s either another tightening of the vice like pressure of arranging your own matrimony and if you are already spliced, you’re furious at how much nicer this wedding is than your own.

But it’s worst of all if it’s your own wedding day. Why? Because your guests ruin everything, they’re the worst. Around two months into the planning, you’ll wish you’d eloped to Anglesey after all.

1. Seating plan
Where to seat everyone has more political charge and potential for disaster than inviting Vladimir Putin to a summit in the back room at G-A-Y.

Exes don’t want to sit near each other, your family hold grudges over arguments involving people who are now all dead and your single friends will badger you to seat them next to someone hot and eligible.

All you want to do is relocate all tables but the top one to “the sea” and let them battle it out with the waves.

2. Presents
Guaranteed: at least 50% of the people coming to your wedding have bitched about what to get you.

Ask for money and you’re a grasping mercenary who’s out for all they can get.

Have a wedding list and it will be pored over by your so-called pals, all outraged by your choices. “What the hell is a cow-patterned egg whisk?!” they will spit, over the course of hundreds and hundreds of emails dedicated to slating you for your materialism.

If you ask for no presents at all, your friends hate you even more because they think “Well we have to turn up with something!” They will all show up with a Dualit toaster (the cheapest one, not that really cool one).

Fail to specify any present rules or gift lists, of course, and you will be blamed for leaving everybody clueless. And they will all arrive with that bloody Dualit toaster again. Continue reading 11 ways guests will ruin your wedding

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5 reasons you should never go on a running date

Dating used to be very simple: you meet a series of near-strangers for an awkward drink in a pub that’s always too noisy/busy/rough/far away from a Tube station, decide whether you like them or not and if so do it all over again in a nicer venue and perhaps with food. And then you get married.

Now that everybody has the attention span of a gnat and is swiping left and right on their iPhones without so much as a thought for the kingdoms of emotions they’re quashing, dating has decided it needs a donk on it.

“Let’s go potholing/on a cocktail-making class/sketching/knitting/swing dancing/ice skating” trills this person you have NEVER met before, in an effort to look exciting.

Suggest a drink in a pub to a suitor now and they will think you incredibly old-hat and old-fashioned – unless your chosen watering hole used to be a toilet or an astronaut’s helmet or a nuclear bunker. “Let’s go potholing/on a cocktail-making class/sketching/knitting/swing dancing/ice skating” trills this person you have NEVER met before, in an effort to look exciting. And that’s fine.

But one date you shouldn’t go on? Running. Or any fitness. But especially running. And it is a thing. A guy once asked me out for a running date and I read an execrable magazine column where one of the guys on a date wanted to go running. So it’s officially a thing. And here’s why you shouldn’t do it.

1. Breath
I don’t know much about anything, but I do know that a good date has to have good conversation. Topics to talk about can be hard enough to come up with as it is.

Should you veer into political debate or keep the intellectual level at ‘Heat reader coming round after mild head trauma’? Should you talk a lot or spend most of your time nodding and listening enigmatically, like the Mona Lisa dangling from a set of deelyboppers?

Throw into the mix the breathlessness, huffing and puffing and gasping you’re likely to encounter while running and you may as well try to give a thank you speech midway through an asthma attack.

You won’t be able to talk to each other about anything, because you will be concentrating so hard on not seeming too out of breath so you won’t look perilously unfit and unattractive.

2. Sweat
There’s something to be said for the attractiveness of perspiration. In its mildest incarnation, taking centre-stage in a Diet Coke ad or an Eric Prydz video, sweating can be sexy, true. But some people sweat more than others.

What if some of your running date’s sweat gets on you? How hot for them will you feel as you watch them wring out that wristband at a pedestrian crossing for the fourth time?

Save your sweating for between the sheets.

Congratulations: you’re a towel that someone left in the changing room at the public swimming pool.

3. Red
When I run, something happens to me. And I don’t mean the gentle erosion of my pot-belly and firming of my thighs. It’s my face. It goes red. And not just a gentle faint glow of a red, but full-on grilled tomato, “oh my goodness have you just scalded your entire head”, bright huge beacon of ROUGE that can be seen from space.

And then all the muscles in your face kind of fall to the floor and you look like a roasted pepper that someone forgot to stuff. And don’t forget that you’re sweating. Red and wet. Congratulations: you’re a towel that someone left in the changing room at the public swimming pool.

4. Attire
Getting ready for a date can be a trial when it comes to deciding what to wear. I usually opt for a kind of borderline dull or ‘sexy-boring’ – clothes that won’t shout too much but also won’t make me fade away like a cotton-clad chameleon. Fitness gear though, well, that is a whole different area.

Do you dress like a ‘don’t care’ runner, in baggy old T-shirt and ‘whatever’ shorts with rugby socks and battered old trainers? (The ‘don’t care’ look is always the most calculated of all, but don’t tell anybody that you know this because we’re all just pretending to be someone else really, aren’t we?)

Do you buy all the latest gear and step out in sparkling spandex, a taut and fun-free love letter to neon? Maybe you plump for polished retro and relieve American Apparel of everything on their shelves so you look like an extra from Napoleon Dynamite?

Thinking about this for too long will make your head fall off and there is nothing you can do that is right. Whatever you choose to wear running will be wrong. Guaranteed.

5. Fitness
Either:
Your date will have more energy and be fitter than you.
Or:
Your date will resent you for being fitter and having more energy and will embarrass themselves by trying to keep up or outdo you. You are basically reserving yourself quite a few angrily scrawled pages in their diary or furiously typed entries on their dreary dating blog.

So, no, don’t. Say no to running dates. Unless you’re running to a pub.

I have a new column in GT where I very carefully go through all the men you should never date. I also try to help with readers’ dilemmas and dole out relationship advice. Take a look at the Gay Times website to see when the next issue is out.

Image: Andrew Head on Flickr.

The Wow Moment

Everybody should have their Wow Moment – that one moment in time where you look and feel fantastic and are at your absolute pinnacle of excellence, confidence and desirability. Most people aren’t aware of theirs when it’s happening – which can be a blessing or a curse depending on how you look at it – but if I’m ever going to have mine, it’s now, as I walk into the bar precisely 33 seconds late for my date with a man ten years my junior.

The wow is all over my date’s face as I approach him. I don’t see that look too often, sadly. I am nothing if not realistic; I know the only way I’m ever likely to grace the cover of a magazine is if I become a famous serial killer. But whether his expectations were low, or my pictures were bad, or he’s just really desperate, I have no idea – all I know is that his eyes widened when he saw me. And not in horror. It’s delight. I’ve seen it just about enough times to know the difference.

He’s wearing a blue button-down shirt which looks like it was ironed by a depressed cat and chinos the shade of every unlovely hotel room you’ve ever stayed in.

He is 25, “a musician” and has a name that sounds like a countryside railway station – Clark Deeping or Brent Malling or something like that – and he is tall and sturdy and looks just the right side of sexy-boring. He definitely collects things, I can tell; I just hope it’s not scalps of hapless middle-aged midgets he goes on dates with. He tells me he’s glad I gave up my Saturday night to meet him. Yes, a first date on a Saturday! Very unlike me, but there was something in his jolly-masquerading-as-confident texts that told me it wouldn’t be a miserable evening. He’s wearing a blue button-down shirt which looks like it was ironed by a depressed cat and chinos the shade of every unlovely hotel room you’ve ever stayed in. I have always had a soft spot for sartorial awkwardness, so I am not remotely deterred. Clothes come off, after all.

We have been together for precisely two hours. He has touched my hand eight times. We have had four drinks. Not that I’m counting.

For someone so youthful, he seems a serious soul. There is much knitting of brows and thinking before he speaks. I, of course, am in this ridiculous Wow Moment mode, so am doing lots of what I’m assuming are enigmatic smiles peppered with sparkling conversation. To the outsider I probably look like someone having a stroke while they read out a shopping list. Whatever it is, it is working. We have been together for precisely two hours. He has touched my hand eight times. We have had four drinks. Not that I’m counting.

He asks me how many dates I’ve been on, and I pretend to mull this over in my head, staring into middle distance, as one would expect a person thinking about something to do. After a few seconds, my acting master class moves on to a lying one, and I throw out a number that shows I have experience, but doesn’t make me look like a miserable slut who uses dating as an excuse to go the pub and stare at men’s nipples through their shirt. He tells me he is fairly new to dating – I have no idea whether this is true but he trembles a bit as he picks up his pint so it may well be – and then says he often ends up going home with his dates.
“What an odd thing to tell someone you’re actually on a date with,” I say.
“I am a bit odd,” he replies.
“How odd?”
“Odd enough.”

An excellent reply. Barman, drink number five, please.

He suggests moving on somewhere else. Given that he has done everything but write “You are going to see me naked later” on a Post-it note and pass it to me, I pretty much know it’s a sure thing, but am intrigued by how much effort he’s going to put in. I play as dumb as I dare, letting him decide where we go. Which direction will he take?

He suggests a place that I happen to know isn’t too far from where he lives. I’d congratulate him for being so smooth if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve played this game so many times before. And with more subtlety. But for a near-novice, he’s doing pretty well. I reward him by pretending I haven’t caught on to his ruse.

Getting off in the middle of the club like the teenager I’m glad I never was.

We arrive at a club that sounds very loud from the outside. I wince, but we queue behind lots of fashionable people who are talking about haircuts and DJing and chlamydia. To my surprise, the girl on the door smiles widely at us and we are waved into the club. I have no idea why: he’s dressed like a member of the Oxford rowing team having Sunday lunch with his parents and I’m sporting what I call my ‘date-boring’ look – a simple polo and slim fitting cords.

My threads are dull to make my personality – and my eyes – stand out more. It’s a boring old tactic, but a well-tried one. And what do you know, within minutes of our arrival, it becomes apparent it’s doing the trick.

Without so much as a warning, his face is on mine and I stand awkwardly – although enjoying myself immensely – spilling my beer all over the floor while we go to town on each other. Getting off in the middle of the club like the teenager I’m glad I never was. The Wow continues.

We break apart and sit down at a table occupied only by one very drunk girl who is trying to do cocaine off her hand, but spilling it everywhere every time she exaggeratedly hiccups. Ignoring her, my date leans in and whispers: “I just want to rip your clothes off right here.”

I can’t help but laugh. First of all, what he’s just said is totally fucking preposterous; we’re in the middle of a club, music is banging and drinks sloshing left, right and centre. Also, I am not the kind of guy that men want to tear the trousers off. In a way, I’m flattered, but it rings hollow. See? My Wow Moment is happening in front of my very eyes and I don’t want to believe it’s true. Perhaps his confession that he takes a lot of his dates home make me feel less special.

However, if this young buck thinks that clumsy line will work on me, who am I to knock his confidence? I’m going to leave life’s harsh lessons for another time – tonight I’m going to have some fun.

“Probably best not to do it right here,” I smile, idly playing with the open neck of his shirt. “How long will it take to get back to yours?”
“About 15 minutes.”
I break into my last enigmatic smile of the evening. And then: “Let’s try to make it 10.”

Stats: 6’3″, 25, brown/brown, Gloucestershire
Pre-date rating: 6.5/10
Post-date rating: 9/10
If the date were a song: Betcha by golly wow

A truncated version of this post originally appeared in the monthly dating column I used to do in Gay Times magazine. I now answer GT readers’ dilemmas and dole out relationship advice. Take a look at the Gay Times website to see when the next issue is out.

Image: johnwennerberg on Flickr

The House Whisperer

It is always important to answer questions honestly. Well, as honestly as you possibly can.

So when Mark, a civil servant from Kent, asks me “Do you like looking round old houses?” I should’ve at least replied “Not sure, depends” instead of an over-enthusiastic “Yes! I love that kind of thing”. But he’s so hot and charming (over email, at least) I reckon I can skip the usual first meeting in a pub for something cultural.

In a rare show of confidence in this guy, I am sacrificing the holiest time of the week – Saturday afternoon. I usually spend them wondering if I’m already too old for Topman (probably) and queuing up for coffee (which will have my name misspelled on the side of it). We’re meeting at an opulent house that’s been converted into a museum of, well, nothing in particular. It’s a collection of old curiosities. As I approach, I can almost smell the dust, the culture, the history, seeping out from its windows. It doesn’t really look like it has a bar, which makes me nervous.

Alcohol isn’t always a must on a date, but it helps. Not only can inebriation aid attraction and conversation or soothe disappointment, it is also handy to have something to sip during awkward silences. Will I really be able to fall in love without a glass of beer in my hand?

Mark is there already, nice and early – his bright blue eyes shining. He looks freshly laundered and optimistic. He has beautiful hair and one of his shoes is shinier than the other. I break into a grin. We shake hands and exchange hellos. He looks pleased with what he sees. That feeling never gets old. Not ever.

We step into the building, which smells like long-unopened boxes of letters and dusty old cupboards, and approach a desk staffed by Methuselah’s much older brother.
“I’ll pay,” Mark says. “It was my idea to come.”
I’m impressed by his gallantry, but Destiny’s Child taught me well. “No, it’s OK. I’ll pay for myself.”
He touches my hand. “No, please, let me.” Those eyes.
“OK.”

We begin walking around the house. It’s very beautiful and quiet. So quiet. Quiet is good if you’re at a relaxation spa, not a first date. I try to ignore my nagging doubts about how this is going to go, but they’re the loudest thing in the room.

After three or four rooms filled with paintings and dark furniture, I’m flagging. I plough on gamely by his side while he silently peruses the dog-eared information cards next to each artefact. Everything is behind glass or roped off so you can’t touch it – and that includes my date.

After another couple of rooms, we trudge up a huge polished staircase and when I reach the top I forget myself, giving a huge yawn. Mark looks at me worriedly.

“Are you bored?” he whispers. “Isn’t this the kind of thing you enjoy doing?”
“No, I’m not bored, honestly.” A small lie.
“I thought we’d be talking more,” he admits, his face downcast.
“Oh. Erm. I just thought you were busy reading,” I reply awkwardly.
He brushes his fringe out of his eyes. “I suppose I thought it would be a ‘different’ thing to do,” he sighs. “But I think I’d rather be in the pub. Shall we?”
I smile with relief. My hero. “Yes, let’s. It’ll be good to get to know you better.”
He beams. “You’re right. We should be looking at each other, not a load of pictures.”
Boom.

And so my newfound work of art puts his hand round my shoulder and we leave behind the antiques and exhibits to get started on a history all of our own.

Stats: 29, 5’9″, blond/blue, Kent
Pre-date rating: 7/10
Post-date rating: 8.5/10
Date in one sentence: I pretend I can get through a first date without going to the pub – and my date proves I can’t.

A truncated version of this post originally appeared in the monthly column I had in Gay Times magazine. Take a look at the Gay Times website to see when the next issue is out.

Image: Flickr

Awkward! Three situations guaranteed to give you that ‘morning after’ cringe

We’ve all been there. You wake up, slightly disoriented, amid bed linen which feels unfamiliar. Strange sounds emanate from a mass not too far from you. As you open each eye slowly, cursing them for the amount of time they’re taking to adjust to the light, you realise you’ve done it again – you’re back at theirs, for the first time. It’s the morning after the night before.

You may have no regrets at all at the dawn after a night of passion, and the person lying next to you may be the one you’ve been dreaming of, but even if it’s a one-nighter, there’s still plenty of opportunity for mortification. Behold a mere 3 things you’d really want to avoid the morning after.

Messy flat
As if waking up in a strange place wasn’t bad enough, having to contend with your date’s dubious household hygiene standards can take awkwardness to a whole new level. On the nightstand, a flat glass of Diet Coke, empty food wrappers of brands you didn’t think they still made any more, and enough dust bunnies to make a life-sized model of the tornado from the Wizard of Oz.

You creep through to the bathroom only to find there must have been some industrial accident: a shower curtain in shades of green and orange never seen in nature; the remnants of what appears to have been a cat’s Jacuzzi party in the bath plughole and a toilet bowl that, were it sentient, would bring its owners to trial as war criminals.

Tip: If you’re having someone back, have a whizz round with a cloth and a bin bag. If you’re the one confronted by the mess, make sure you’re wearing rubber gloves if you plan on seeing them again.

Lack of a quick exit
If there’s one thing you want after a one-nighter (or the first of many nights), it’s the ability to beat a hasty retreat. Awkwardly dressing while they watch? Getting discovered creeping out? Opening the bedroom door to find a houseful of roommates eating breakfast and staring at you like you just fell from the sky. If you can (and are sober enough or not engrossed in ‘the moment’), pay attention to the way you get into the place, as you’re sure as hell going to want to be exiting as painlessly as possible, at twice the speed.

Tip: If confronted by stunned flatmates or, even worse, a rogue parent or sibling, pretend to be a workman who has been doing essential, erm, overnight repairs. This may mean you to have to dress in overalls for every date you go on, just in case.

Regret
We know that you’re ultra desirable and no end of bright young things would be desperate to wake up with you, but sometimes, well, you can’t guarantee that the guy at the next pillow is going to be glad to find you there.

Yes, coming face to face with someone who last night was all over you but this morning clearly preferred you with a few pints behind you. Or maybe he was caught up in the moment and now that moment has definitely come to an end.

You can usually tell if the night before won’t be turning into a happily ever after. Talking in clipped sentences; no offer of a cuppa; getting up and walking out of the room, only to come back into it showered and dressed; saying how “tired” they are and telling you the best bus routes to take home. Like they care.

Styling it out can be difficult, but just shrug and get on with it. Pull on your socks, locate your shoes and breezily say your goodbyes as you open the bedroom door, no need for whys and wherefores and number-swapping. Oh, you’ve walked into a cupboard. Never mind. Try again. Another cupboard. Crap. What did I tell you about ensuring you had a clear exit? Don’t look at him, just open the next door and walk forward. It has to be this one, right?

Tip: Hang your underwear (a sock will do – you’re not a stripper) on the handle of the door that gets you out of the bedroom so you know where to look. Make sure you hang it on the inside, too – you don’t want the rest of the household knowing your SHAME.

Coming soon: The perils of ‘waking up second’.

The Show-off

Stats: 37, 6′, brown/blue, Wales
When: Tuesday 20 July 2010
Where: Shoreditch, E1
Pre-date rating: 9/10

I’m mixing things up a bit and logging the dates out of date order. This is because I might skip the boring ones and also, I wanted the horror of this one to be fresh in my mind.

On paper, This Guy sounds great. He works in the City, so while he may not have the most interesting job in the world, at least he’ll be solvent. Money’s not important, but it’s good to have some, right? He is new to the dating site and has just two photos. But they are good photos. He is very handsome and looks exceptionally well-preserved for a 37-year-old. Despite his job, he says he has a big interest in all things cultural.

He emails me on Sunday and I respond. He then responds with his phone number. I never make the initial call — just yet another of those stupid rules I set myself — but I dutifully return the email with my number. About ten minutes later, he calls. Keen, then. Continue reading The Show-off