The Chips Are Down

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CC Image courtesy of Riebart on Flickr‘Do you do chips?’

‘I’m afraid not.’ The barmaid shows me a menu. ‘We do pizza, and bruschetta…’

I’m slightly regretting choosing the Islington venue. The walk from the tube – all twenty minutes of it – might have taken me down some of London’s prettiest streets but the pub at the end of it thinks bruschetta is an acceptable substitute for chips. Clutching my gin and tonic I make my way upstairs.

The event is due to start any minute and the participants are all standing around talking to each other, which puzzles me. What I like about the speed dating concept is that you have a finite amount of time with each person. If you don’t click, it’s four minutes of small talk, and if you do, you match via the Original Dating app and… who knows? (Who indeed?) But the point is I don’t want to meet these men beforehand, run out of things to say and then be faced with the prospect of a four-minute ‘date’.

We take our seats, the women that is. (As is traditional in speed dating, if a phenomenon less than twenty years old can be said to have traditions, it is the men who rotate.) Lee sits down opposite me, introduces himself. We’ve already exhausted small talk when the host announces that our first four minutes is about to begin. This, I think to myself, is going to be a long night.

But it isn’t. In the break, I chat to one of the other girls in the loo. She’s also pleasantly surprised. No thunderbolts, we agree, but everyone is really nice. It’s the kind of event that reassures you there are nice people out there; it’s just a question of meeting someone you click with. Which is an argument in favour of going to more than one event. Several of my ‘dates’ have done just that. Rob tells me about his experience of Literary Speed Dating, where you bring a book and have to talk about it. I’d worry that it would attract pretentious types and intellectual snobs but Rob just likes books. And I quite like Rob.

CC Image courtesy of Boston Public Library on Flickr

The girl in the loo makes another good point: that it can be hard to tell after just four minutes. We’ve all been given sheets to complete with peoples’ names, speed dating numbers and a verdict (‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘friend’). Some of the guys aren’t bothering to fill it out and I can kinda see why. You remember the names of people you like without an aide memoire.

Or do you? I dry my hands, pick up my bag. I could leave through the bar or go upstairs and say goodbye, perhaps swap numbers. That might be a bit weird though.

Everyone’s now downstairs, which does away with the need to make a decision.

‘I’m gonna head, but it was really nice to meet you!’ I say, tapping her on the shoulder.

‘Anna! It was! Here, let me give you my number – we should do something sometime!’

I grin and fish for pen and paper. She looks puzzled and pulls out her phone. ‘Or… give me yours.’

I recite the digits.

‘This is terrible,’ I say, ‘but… I’m so sorry, was it… Rachel?’

She laughs. ‘Steph. I’ll text you.’

‘Great.’

I pass Rob on the way out, exchange farewells. I’m still not sure, which the cynic in me says is probably a no.

CC Image courtesy of Family O'Abe on Flickr

Find out more about Original Dating speed dating events in Islington and places that serve chips here.

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Brothers In Arms

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CC Image courtesy of LollyKnit on Flickr‘When’s your thing?’ Ryan says.

‘Yeah… I have to go.’

I start putting stuff into my handbag. Phone (no messages), lip gloss, anti-bacterial hand gel – essential dating kit in case I end up in a situation where I have to eat but haven’t had a chance to wash my hands I don’t know why I do this to myself.

I look round. Ryan is still at his desk.

‘Do you want to come?’

He laughs. ‘Yeah.’

I’m not totally against the idea. At least with Ryan in tow I’d be guaranteed some laughs. Plus the guy I’m meeting is bisexual. He might like Ryan best of the party.

‘Text me,’ Ryan says, as he passes my desk.

‘I will.’

 

Earlier that afternoon….

‘I’m not sure I am looking forward to this evening. Christ, a new low.’

‘You have an early start for hiking tomorrow,’ Ryan sends back. ‘Don’t forget.’

‘Do I look like I hike???’

 

I’m usually averse to sending friends updates while a date is still ongoing. The bisexual (I’m sorry – what else can I call him?) has gone to the loo. I fire off a text.

‘Hiking, right? Arghh.’

‘Hiking. Don’t commit to a second drink for the sake of it.’

I don’t see Ryan’s reply until sometime later. I haven’t committed to a second drink. Instead we’re sitting there, nursing empty glasses. Twice I’ve declined my date’s offer of another G&T. Once I’ve indicated I’ll have to make a move soon. A total of zero times has he taken the hint.

‘So… are you an only child?’ he says.

It’s only later, when I’ve extricated myself from the situation and am heading for the tube, that I remember something Ryan once said.

‘If you’re asking each other if you have any brothers or sisters, that’s when you know it’s doomed.’

CC Image courtesy of chicks57 on Flickr

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CC Image courtesy of Not enough megapixels on Flickr(Continued from Something New)

‘How did you leave it?’ Beatrice says, over cornbread and poached eggs the next day. ‘Was it awkward?’

‘Oh,’ I screw up my face, ‘we hugged and he said ‘see you very shortly’ but with an infinitesimal hesitation between ‘you’ and ‘very’ which makes me think I won’t be seeing him again… ever!’

‘How do you feel about it?’

‘Oh… I mean, in my gut I probably know we’re not the best fit, but he’s really hot!’ I laugh. ‘I dunno, I’d like to go on a date with him just to see but it probably won’t happen.’

 

Partly because he’s really hot, and partly because Sarah assures me he’s not a douche, I drop Olly a line. Tennis had come up in conversation so I offer myself up as an opponent.

*

Ryan shakes his head.

‘I know, I know!’ I say. ‘I’m not sure what I was thinking. I guess… I didn’t think I’d be hearing back from him so it didn’t matter!’

I laugh; Ryan groans.

‘I’m going to have to find my tennis racket, and buy some tracksuit bottoms…’

Of the pairs that I own, one has a hole in the crotch and the others stop just north of my ankles – not a good look.

‘Also,’ I scratch my head, ‘my hearing’s not very good at the moment – I think it’s my cold – so I won’t be able to hear anything he’s saying from the other end of the court!’

Which is when Ryan says it’s like something out of Miranda.

I laugh. ‘I know.’

I turn back to my computer, thinking at least my breasts don’t clap.

CC Image courtesy of jovike on Flickr

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Mr. Chips: Part I

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‘You’ll meet someone when you least expect it.’CC Image courtesy of electricnerve on Flickr

I laugh. ‘I’m always expecting it though!’

I’m half-joking. I might not always be expecting it, but I am always looking for it. Tonight, for instance, it’s Perky’s Christmas party: 50% guys I know and don’t fancy, 25% guys who don’t fancy me back, 20% unknown entities and 5% blood relatives (off-limits, whatever you might have read on here recently). By 2am a really nice couple is trying to help me get with ‘Cream Jumper’ (yes, I’m aware of how desperate that sounds), one of the 25%. Fortunately the cab, taking the three of us south, arrives before I do anything stupid/embarrassing. We chatter all the way, about the psychology of the likes of Cream Jumper (a famous flirt)… to be honest, that’s the only part of the conversation I can remember, but it’s really fun, and when the cab pulls up yards from my flat, I’m feeling happy and relaxed.

‘Thank you,’ I say, hopping out. ‘Good night!’ I close the door and the cab pulls away.

‘Anna!’

I look round to see my next-door neighbour, standing on the pavement, holding one of those horrible yellow takeaway boxes. Here is what I know about him:

1. He works in finance.

2. He’s charming.

3. I fancy him.

(TO BE CONTINUED) 

CC Image courtesy of Jonno Witts on Flickr

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Desperate Measures

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CC Image courtesy of le vent le cri on FlickrYou might have noticed a slight drop in output recently. There are a few reasons for this:

1. I’m working every hour God sends in my new role so I have less time to write.

2. It’s tricky to meet people when you’re chained to your desk.

3. (and this is perhaps the most surprising) My threshold for what is blog-worthy appears to have changed. I have a draft folder full of silly stories about the time Tristan made a heart shape between his fingers at me across the office; or the time Karl suggested accompanying me to an art show only for his enthusiasm to cool when I told him the ticket price; or the time I unexpectedly found myself on a date – my brother‘s.

 

Tuesday night, I’m sitting in a pub somewhere in the West End with Ryan, Gus and Tristan. We’ve escaped ‘official’ work drinks. That is, I thought we all just happened to be leaving at the same time, but once out on the pavement, Tristan claps his hands together.

‘Now the fun can begin!’

Which means a pub, pints and Ryan asking the group at the neighbouring table if they know any single men he can go out with.

‘And,’ he points at me, ‘do you know any single men Anna can go out with?’

I break off laughing just long enough to request that they be straight.

 

‘We should make a bet,’ Ryan says en route to the station, ‘to see who can get a date first.’

‘What are we going to bet?’

Ryan is famously tight and I’m not exactly Mother Theresa.

‘A cappuccino?’

‘You’re on.’

CC Image courtesy of son of a bike on Flickr

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