Bar Exercises

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CC Image courtesy of viktoriawigenstam on FlickrHe walks away.

‘I used to have a massive crush on him,’ I say to the girl opposite, ‘and then the other day… we matched on Tinder!’

She does fish out of water and points in his direction. ‘Go – go after him!’

I shake my head, smiling, feeling our three-year age gap more than ever. ‘No.’

‘Why not?’

‘Because….’ I shrug. ‘We’ve got nothing in common. It wouldn’t work.’

‘Do you still find him attractive?’


Hell yes.

‘Then… look,’ she says, ‘I’m going out with Sam and we’ve got nothing in common. He’s maths, I’m arts, but it works.’

‘Yeah but – you have got things in common. Friends and… you both reel. Whereas, well, when I spoke to that guy just now – we’d run out of things to say!’

‘Maybe he’s shy.’

‘Yeah… yeah, he probably is.’


Four years ago I quit my job in the arts and took an administrative role in a start-up. Its offices backed onto a wine bar and when important clients visited, it fell to me to reserve a table there. I would walk the 30 yards or so along the pavement, my hopes rising with every step. Sometimes I’d be wearing my red dress, just long enough to be office-appropriate, and if he was there I’d smile and turn the same colour as it. I confided in a colleague who, like me, couldn’t understand what it was about him. All I knew was that he passed the acid test.

One day, after a bit of flirty emailing, I went round to the bar. He was there and we talked our usual nonsense for a bit. Just as I was about to leave I suggested we go for a drink sometime. He looked a bit awkward. ‘Sure,’ he said. Which I interpreted as enthusiasm.

Fast forward a week and I’m back at the bar. I have a plan. The plan is to give him my number, which I’ve scribbled on a scrap of paper. The plan is to give it to him quickly, casual-like, as if I was passing and it had just occurred to me to do it. The plan is not to chat for a bit, repeat the suggestion of going for a drink then practically put the bit of paper into his hand. That was a red dress day.

Shortly after that I found out he had a girlfriend. Which solved the mystery of what it was that I liked about him.


I meet his eye, smile. He smiles back. He’s on his way out – that’s clear from the coat – but we exchange pleasantries and I introduce him to the girl opposite. His friends appear; they’re ready to leave. We kiss on the cheeks.

‘You should come down to the bar more often,’ he says.

Again he kisses me, and walks away.


Two days later…

I bring up his profile. Everything about it is wrong: the clichéd phrases, the dodgy grammar, the selfie. I hit the message tab and start writing.

CC Image courtesy of 27147 on Flickr

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What Do I Know?

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CC Image courtesy of Diamond Hoo Ha Man on FlickrIf an alien landed in London and stole my phone (it’s a big ‘if’ – I’ve got a budget Motorola) it would probably think my surname was Tinder and that I was really good at keeping in touch with my immediate family. It might also wonder why all these conversations reached fever pitch before coming to an abrupt end. It might not know how to operate a mobile phone.

After five Tinder dates in as many weeks I’ve learnt a few things:

  1. Meet. Your chemistry might be electric over text/Whatsapp but if you – or they – fail the acid test in person, that’s that.
  1. Meet on a week night. It’s much easier to curtail a mid-week date if you’re not feeling it…
  1. … which you probably won’t be. Keep your expectations low.
  1. Don’t contact your ex – especially not the one you met on Tinder – immediately after an underwhelming date. Actually don’t contact your ex, period.
  1. Split the tab, unless he absolutely insists. But otherwise, go Dutch. He’ll respect you for it and you won’t feel any guilt when there’s no follow-up. Plus, well, it’s the 21st century – why should the guy pay?
  1. You’ll decide pretty early on if the stranger who just said hello to you outside the tube station is someone you could kiss or get naked with. Whatever the verdict there is no polite way to get out of the ensuing date (see #2).
  1. After a run of average dates you might start to question your ability to know when you really like someone.

The day after date #5 I go dancing and run into an old, newly single acquaintance. He’s wearing turquoise and a broad grin and greets me like an old friend. I spend all of the next day hungover with this big dopey smile on my face.

Trust me, you’ll know.

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(Continued from Fish Out of Water)CC Image courtesy of Jer Kunz on Flickr

I’m back and hovering.

‘If you want to pick my brains about something, now’s the time to do it,’ Flatmate says.  ‘I’ll be cooking for the next forty-five minutes.’

‘Errr OK… so….’

I bring him up to speed on the events of the weekend.  He frowns over the frying pan.

‘Do you actually like

More ‘fish out of water‘ impression.  The standard acid test is obviously redundant.  Eventually I emit a sound.


‘Because from the way you’ve talked about him, I don’t get the impression you’re that interested, and from what you’ve said of his behaviour, well, it doesn’t sound like he thought you were the love of his life.’


That’s so not the point.

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Bright Star

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I’ve asked Toby for advice about the whole ‘Joe’s flatmate‘ situation.  Or lack thereof.Thalia_sarcophagus_Louvre

‘What’s so amazing about this guy?’ he says.

Aside from the fact he’s not you?

‘Do you want to violently undress him?’

This, I ignore.

‘He’s funny…’ I say.

Or rather he thinks I’m funny, which is much more important.

‘… and he seemed to like me.’

You should try it sometime.

‘Not to be sneered at, no?’

Toby’s verdict comes back:

‘Funny and into you: necessary but not sufficient.’

He also looks a bit like Ben Whishaw.  I rest my case.

CC Image courtesy of Rev Stan on Flickr


No Sex and the City

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I enter the kitchen where Flatmate is preparing his supper.2806501895_9c9a18e7e2

‘Question,’ I say.

He rolls his eyes.  ‘Oh God.’

I laugh.

‘Let me guess,’ he says.Does he like me?” or… Why hasn’t he texted?” or…’

‘Not exactly,’ I say, ‘but it’s related!  There’s this guy – I’m pretty sure he’s interested, and, well, I really like him but – I don’t know if it’s in that way –’

What did I say?’

‘I know.  “Do I want to rip his clothes off?”  And – well – yes, I think I do, but it’s not that simple.’

‘What do you mean?’ he says.

‘He doesn’t believe in sex before marriage.’

‘Oh God.’

‘He’s kinda the problem.’

‘Just no.  You need to try before you buy, my dear.’

‘I know,’ I say,but – but – I think we’d be really good together.’

Flatmate sighs.  ‘OK, so sex isn’t the be all and end all in a relationship, but it is pretty important.’

‘What if – it’s not?’

I don’t sound convinced.

‘Oh dear.  You obviously haven’t had good sex.’

‘Thanks,’ I say.  ‘I don’t sleep with just anyone!’

‘I realise that.’ 

He once suggested ‘No Sex and the City’ as a name for the blog.

‘As much as anything else,’ he goes on, ‘it‘s just not very flattering if they don’t want to sleep with you.  Of course, you might find, if you were going out, he would feel differently.’

‘I doubt it.’

‘Oh you’d be surprised.  If you’re in bed, and the girl is willing…’


Flatmate sighs again.  ‘Religion has a lot to answer for.’

Amen to that.

CC Image courtesy of mistercharlie on Flickr