Sexy As Hell

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CC Image courtesy of Roadsidepictures on Flickr

Sexy.  That’s the overriding impression.  And one hell of a dancer, so let’s call him Patrick.

For the first three hours, we don’t have much to do with each other.  Someone tells me I should dance with him, because he’s really good, but it’s for exactly that reason that I don’t.  He’s intimidating, awesome, and he must have women falling over themselves to dance with him – and there are more approachable, more generous partners on the floor.


I’ve swapped my flimsy ballet pumps for boots and am looking around for the host.  It’s getting on for 2am and I have an epic bus journey ahead of me.  Patrick is passing, and stops and makes some remark about the speaker system, which is playing up.  We exchange basic information: name, job, how we know the host.

‘So,’ I say, ‘what’s your dance history?’

I don’t make a habit in social situations of asking questions which belong in a job interview, but then I don’t often find myself talking to the Patricks of this world.  When I do, speech itself is an achievement.

He doesn’t bat an eyelid, but gives an answer which covers both questions: the one I asked, and the one I meant, namely, how come you’ve got such incredible moves?

He winds up, ‘I want to learn salsa.’

‘Yeah, that’d be cool.’

I like to think if he’d said he wanted to learn, say, basket-weaving or book-binding, I’d have responded differently.

I go on, ‘I’m learning tango, but you can probably let your hair down a bit more doing salsa!’

‘What’s tango like?’

‘Err… well… you want me to show you?’

‘Yeah.’  So there, in the hallway, we do tango basic.

Someone’s making merry hell with the music.  Patrick looks over at the perpetrator, puts his hand briefly on my waist, then walks off to see what’s happening.  I follow.  Minutes later, Cuban-style music comes on.  He takes my hand and we start to dance.  For someone who wants to learn salsa, he’s pretty damn good.

‘This music is actually merengue,’ he says, ‘but I don’t really know what the difference is!’

And anyway it’s not long before our salsa has morphed into something less PG, which is fine by me.

This is typically when things go to pot.  I mean, this guy is like, ripped (yes, this is MBE writing, and no, the blog has not been hijacked).  And, confusingly for someone so beautiful, he seems nice, which I really don’t know what to do with.  But going back to the whole ripped thing, I feel like I need to be less blatant about wanting to dance with him, and only him (see above, about women falling over themselves).  This would be easier if there were other people on the floor, but everyone else appears to have done a runner during the dodgy DJ-ing phase.  As a man, he can just grab someone and dance with them, create the impression of not putting all his eggs in one basket, but for me, it’s a bit more difficult.  Also, when I like someone and they’re a good dancer, I become really really bad at playing it cool.  And, well, I’m shit at it anyway!

So, when I see him out of the corner of my eye dancing with another girl, I decide it’s time to call it a night.  Not least because 2am has been and gone, and for all I know Patrick was dancing with me out of mere politeness (I don’t actually believe that), or as one dancer to another (more likely).  I find my jacket, pull it on.  A quick glance in the direction of the floor brings Patrick into view.  He’s coming over.

‘Are you leaving?’

‘Yes.  I’ve got a bit of an epic journey ahead of me.  Night buses…’

‘Oh, right, yeah.’

‘It was nice to see you again.  And, thank you for the dance!

I say that a lot, and it’s never what I mean.

We kiss on the cheeks.

‘Yes, it was nice to see you.’

‘I hope it goes well in China.’

He’s moving there for work shortly.  Another red flag, literally.

‘I’ll hopefully see you before then – I’ll come to the next one of these,’ he nods in the direction of the host, ‘if he has another.’


It feels like now is the moment to kiss or hug or something, but we’ve done that.  He shakes my hand, then we bump fists, ironically I think, though it’s hard to be sure.

I laugh.  ‘That’s way too cool for me!’

What I mean is, you’re way too cool for me.  Which he is.


Seventeen minutes until the bus is due.  I pull out my phone, run the old Facebook search.  He really is beautiful.  The minutes fly by.  The bus arrives; I board, and find a seat at the top.   Out comes the phone again, flashing bright white with a notification.  It’s getting on for 3am so this surprises me.

Not half as much as what’s waiting for me.  It’s like one of those Twitter quotes: ‘how great it feels when the guy you’ve just been looking at on Facebook, adds you‘.  I grin, and hug my coat tighter around me.  Now to see if he bucks the trend.

CC Image courtesy of BWJones on Flickr

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CC Image courtesy of James F Clay on FlickrI’m watching a film on my computer, otherwise known as waiting for a Facebook message from the world’s slowest correspondent.  He’s called FFS for a reason.  I’ve twice given up on him and we’re yet to go on an actual date.

I know – and not just because Flatmate has told me as much – that so long as it’s evident I’m not at the forefront of the guy’s mind, I mustn’t let him anywhere near the forefront of mine.  Which is a lovely idea

So yeah, I’m watching a film, which it turns out is brilliant and wonderful and endorses all those dangerous myths about love and soul mates and relationships founded on a meeting of eyes and absolutely zero verbal communication.  They’re bad news, such films, because they make me nostalgic.

There’s a scene where the man and woman, who only met properly a couple of hours before, slow dance at a silent disco.

He’s walking her to a party when they have a blazing row, and she goes on alone.  He follows, and arrives to find a roomful of guests silently dancing, each lost in their own little world.  There, in the middle of the floor, is the woman, eyes closed, moving in time to music.  He goes over, puts a hand on her shoulder, and she turns.  They don’t speak.  She removes an earphone, offers it to him, makes a selection on her iPod.  A slow, sweet song comes on, and they dance, arms round one another.

I’d dreamt of just such a moment since the days of the dreaded school disco.  I remember one time, Angels came on and I grabbed a partner.  A minute of shuffling on the spot later, I realized it didn’t work with just anyone.  Ten years on, at an office party, I discover someone it does work with.  So, when the couple in the film starts to dance, it’s him I think of.


An hour in, I’m despairing.  Matthew’s not a patch on the male protagonist.  I’ll never have what the characters in the film have.  I bet they’re together in real life.  Hell, this isn’t a film at all, is it?!  It’s just two actors falling in love!  It’s probably not even scripted!  I want to cry!

Then, all of a sudden, the woman in the film is despairing.

Is there someone else – is that it?’

There isn’t someone else.  I won’t tell you what happens in case you watch it, which you should.  It’s beautiful, funny, and heart-breaking.  It’s the kind of film I hope to write one day; about the kind of love I hope to know.

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7007064730_e46bcdc352Sunday, I went to Greenwich, wandered around the market.  In the crowd I felt lonely and reached out for a familiar voice, called an old friend I’d last seen in that exact spot.  She didn’t pick up, or rather the number wasn’t recognised.

It’s one of those cold sunny days.  I wander down to the river, sit on a bench and read.  Chilled by the wind I retreat to a cafe.  The reviews have piqued my curiosity: ‘delicious coffee‘ and ‘charming staff’.

There’s only one seat free – literally a chair, near the till.  The waiter grins in greeting.  ‘Hello!’

He’s wearing linen trousers, a beautiful embroidered jacket in earthy, exotic tones, and on his head a chocolate brown fedora.  I return his smile and take the offered seat, open my book.  A table comes free; I move my things, pull out a notebook.

‘Are you writing?’ the man in the hat says in passing.


‘Ah, I thought you were – I saw you on your phone and wondered if that’s what you were doing!’

I glance at the abandoned notebook and laugh.  ‘Yes, I seem to write more and more on here now!’

‘I wrote two plays on my phone!’ he says, also laughing.

‘Do you have anything online, a blog?’

‘No but…’

He’s needed at the counter.

‘… I’ll give you something, before you leave.’

His tone is conspiratorial.  I grin.  ‘OK!’


I pull on my wrist-warmers, check the contents of my bag, twice.  He looks over.  A queue of customers fills the shop.  I tear a scrap of paper off my notepad, write out the link to the blog.  He pauses en route to a table.

‘You’re leaving?’

‘Yes, but,’ I hold the paper out, ‘this is me!’

MBE to be precise.

He takes it.  ‘Thank you!’

‘Nice to meet you!’

‘You too!’

I step out onto the pavement.  The sun is warm upon my face.  Smiling, I bend my steps in the direction of the station.

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All I catch is his name and ‘asked for your number’.  I do my utmost not to let my emotions show in my face.  She doesn’t know me very well; it wouldn’t do to scare her.

‘Woah woah woah,’ I say, putting a hand on her arm.  ‘What did you say?’

She laughs and looks a bit embarrassed.  ‘The day after the dinner party, he texted me saying how it was really nice to meet everyone, especially Anna…

I’m Anna.

‘… and could he have your number.’

I’m slightly lost for words.  Ten days have elapsed since said dinner party and it’s the first I’ve heard of this.  As for the guy, he must have got fed up of waiting for my number because, just the other day, he’d sent me a Facebook message.

I laugh and do fish out of water for a bit.  ‘I’m…’

Surprised?  Confused?  Baffled?  It obviously hasn’t occurred to her that I might have been hoping to hear from the guy.

She looks perplexed.

‘I’m just….’ I laugh again.  ’It’s just that most of my female friends would have probably let me know, like, straightaway…?!!’

‘Well, I wanted to check that you were OK with me giving him your number first.’

Has she not heard of texting, ringing, or Facebook?  Or letter, or messenger or fucking carrier pigeon?!!!

‘What, tonight?’


‘Ah, OK.’ I strive for casual.  ‘Well, yes, I am.’

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CC Image courtesy of afroboof on FlickrJust the other day, I was thinking about Othello, about what an ass he is to believe the things that Iago tells him. Whilst being aware that I’ve believed things based on much flimsier evidence… make that no evidence.  The power of suggestion: it’s a dangerous thing.

This comes back to me during a discussion a colleague and I are having, about potential suitors.

‘What about…?’ She mouths a name.


She leans forward.  ’What about Tristan?’

‘Oh.’  I grin stupidly, and shake my head.  ‘Yeah, I really like him, but…’

‘Does he have a girlfriend?’

‘I think so.’

I present the evidence.  ‘What made you suggest him?’

‘Oh…. you just seem really similar.’

‘In what way?’

‘Well, you’re both lovely, and you seem to get on and, I dunno, you just seem really alike.’

‘Yeah… and – I do really like him, but yeah, I’m pretty sure there’s a girlfriend.’


The next day, Colleague and I are discussing holidays.

‘You need to book one,’ she says.  ’Do you like beaches?’

‘Ye-ah… yes, but…’

‘You prefer cold weather.’

I think for a moment.  ‘If I went on holiday, I’d probably go walking in Scotland.’

‘Hmm.’  There’s a pause.  ‘That’s what Tristan did.’

I give her a look.  ‘Oh?’

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Otherwise known as, tell me more.

‘Yeah, last year.  I’m pretty sure it was Scotland.’

‘Oh, right. Well…’

I hear a step behind me and turn to see Tristan.

‘Hello!  Wow,’ he says, looking round, ‘you’re all here!’

‘Yes,’ I say, ‘you’re spoilt.’

He laughs.  ‘But it’s you,’ he looks at me, ‘who’s the one…’

‘I feel the same way!’

Joke – I would never say that.  Rather, I turn a fetching shade of fuchsia, and look down at my keyboard, avoiding Colleague’s eye.  There are shades of Matthew about the scene.

He goes on, ‘… the one who has to deal with the American office.’

I look up.  ‘Yes.’

He needs to check something on my computer screen, which is lucky because it means I don’t have to look at him.  It’s also lucky I’m not wearing red or there’d be a grave danger of my face starting to merge with my top.

This is ridiculous.  For three months, I’ve worked with this guy and acted completely normal.  Now, because of a colleague’s passing remark, I’ve lost the ability to speak to him without turning God-knows-what colour.

We joke about the onscreen corrections.  Thankfully what I’m saying makes sense – no small miracle – but he must think I’m having a hot flash.  I think I’m having a hot flash.  I can feel sweat on my upper lip.

Eventually he leaves.  I email Colleague.

‘This is all your fault!  I went beetroot!

I hear a snort from the other side of my monitor.  Her reply comes back,

‘At least it matches your top.’

Which is dark purple in colour.  It’s worse than I thought.

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