Anything Goes

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CC Image courtesy of theirhistory on FlickrYou know your love life is in trouble when at 2am on a Monday morning when you have work to get up for in 6 hours you find yourself googling ‘third cousins marry’. You almost didn’t – it would be a hard one to explain away if anyone happened across your search history – but then you think what the hell. Because it’s 2am and at 2am pretty much anything goes.

 

Three hours earlier…

I’m browsing an online dating site, the only one I’ve ever stuck with. I still have the same embarrassing username – a throwback from my student days – and no picture, so we’re fighting on all fronts. I’ve updated the profile text though, just now in fact, and decided it was therefore the right time to see what was out there.

Three seemingly perfect profiles later (they can SPELL and they’re FUNNY, this is amazing!!) I find myself on one which frankly I find a bit weird. Shades of only looking for sex contradicted by the ‘looking for’ section and a weird intro – it’s just weird. I scan the last paragraph and am about to leave when something catches my eye. I stare, then I laugh and clap. ‘No,’ I say. ‘No!’ There’s only one thing to be done. I send him a message. It’s true that he probably won’t remember me. I only remember him because he was male and a bit older than me and so I fancied him a bit. But it’s too good an opportunity for comedy to pass up.

A couple of lines later I sign off ‘Cousin(?) Anna’. Which is probably the second worst way to introduce yourself to a potential love interest.

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Happy Christmas!

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CC Image courtesy of pshab on FlickrI would text

And say,

‘Happy Christmas!’

But in so doing

I’d be showing

That I thought of you,

As the crackers

(And the relatives)

Snapped,

Over the turkey,

Their jokes not a patch on yours.

 

So instead,

I’ll write it here:

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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The IT Crowd

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It’s around this time that the phone-checking starts.  And the telling friends about him.  And the putting ‘Daniel‘ and ‘male’ (in case it didn’t know) and ‘London’ into the Advanced Search on Facebook.

The whole writer thing – prone to overthinking, obsession, depression, you-name-it – doesn’t seem to put him off.  No, instead I get an entertaining response which begins, ‘I’m a programmer’.  That’s not the entertaining bit.  It does however make me think of a funny post I read on a fellow Tinder-er’s blog, about a date she went on with someone who works in IT.  She tells him she writes a ‘fitness blog’, confident that he won’t be able to discover the truth.  Which he does, the next day, and comedy ensues.  It also reminds me of when I met Joe, who also worked in IT, and I had to remind myself that what I considered an anonymous blog was probably nothing of the sort.

So when Daniel asks me if I’ve published anything, I conveniently forget about the two hundred odd blog posts I’ve poured my heart and soul into for the past year and a half, and say no.  Which isn’t a lie, because his question referred to novels specifically, and the day I finish a novel, let alone get one published, is the day I go on a good second date; or get a stable job; or can afford to rent a room whose dimensions don’t contravene the European Convention on Human Rights.

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Four Candles

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CC Image courtesy of rvr on FlickrOne of the perks of writing a dating blog is that I hold the editing power.  I don’t have to include the less-than-brilliant moments, which expose me as human and fallible.  Like the fact that three minutes before I was due to meet James near Oxford Circus on Monday evening, I could be found sitting on a bench, coffee in hand, pondering a friend’s housing dilemma – in Hyde Park.  My phone flashes up with a message.

‘Sorry, got held up at work, going to be a few mins late – but not too many hopefully….x’

That’s odd, I think, looking at my watch.  We’re not due to meet for… oh SHIT.

I grab my bag, do some quick mental calculations, and start running in the direction of what I hope is Marble Arch.  At the subway entrance I hit send on a breathy apology.

The gods are smiling on me: a train pulls up as I arrive on the platform.  Bond Street… Oxford Circus.  At the ticket barriers, I search my pockets.  Nothing.  I put my bags down, and root around in their depths.  Bingo!  Muttering expletives, I dash through the barriers.

On the pavement, I try to dredge up the memory of the street plan I’d googled earlier that day.  I start running northwards, dodging pedestrians.  Ahead is what looks like a concert hall.  It should be the next building.

CC Image courtesy of Sarah.Marshall on Flickr

I scan the courtyard, then check my watch.  Ten past.  Not too bad, but still, I don’t think he’ll like it.  I toss back a mint and rush inside.  No sign of him.

‘Hello,’ I say to the man at reception.  ‘I’m here for the comedy…’

‘I am the comedy’ might be more appropriate, given what follows.

‘Just off to your left, Madam.’

Madam goes left, and that’s when I see him, standing in what must be the side entrance, frowning at his phone.  I smile and go over to him.

‘Hello!  I’m so sorry!  My excuse is a very poor one.  I just found out a friend might be made homeless and I was a bit distracted – and for some reason thought it was 8 we were meeting.’  I pause for breath.  ‘I’m so sorry.  I hope we’re not too late for it.  When does it start?’

‘Hello.  Don’t worry.’  I can’t quite tell if he means it.  ‘Not til 7.30, so we’re OK.’

Security waves us over.  ‘Bags please.’

‘It’s like an airport!’

James concurs.  We deposit our bags in plastic boxes, ready for the scanner.  I hold out my jacket.

‘Is there anything in it, Madam?  A wallet or phone?’

‘No, nothing.’

‘Then you can take it through with you.’

I approach the lady with the handheld scanner.  She looks at the jacket.

‘Has that been through the scanner?’

‘Oh, no.  Your colleague said it didn’t–.’

‘It needs to go through.’

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I double back, giving James a weak smile.

Jacket-free, I get the green light, and go over to where the bags are accumulating.

‘You’ve got a fork, Madam,’ the guard says.

I look down at my bracelet, a remodeled silver fork, and make to take it off.

‘In your bag,’ he says, pointing.

‘Wh–?’

Oh God.  I find the offending article.  The prongs are wrapped in kitchen paper from when I didn’t have time to wash it at lunch.

‘Would you like to collect it after?’

‘No, don’t worry.’ I glance behind me.  James is out of earshot.  ‘Actually…’

He appears at my side.

‘… no, it’s fine, you can chuck it.’

Too late.

‘Would you sign here, Madam?’

James is looking mildly curious.  I don’t say anything, but take the clipboard and sign.  I’m about to turn away.

‘And here please.’

The guard holds out the bagged fork, ready for me to write on the label.  I’ll have to come clean, which is more than can be said for the fork.

‘It’s a fork,’ I say, reddening.  James’ expression is hard to read, somewhere between bafflement and amusement.  I nod in the direction of the theatre.  ‘I don’t think we need to go in there for the comedy!’

We go through to the bar.  I can feel beads of sweat forming on my brow and lip, the legacy of my earlier sprint.  And I need the loo.

‘Shall we get a drink?’ he says.

‘Mmm some water would be good.’

The barman brings two glasses.  I take a sip.  A voice comes over the speakers, calling for holders of tickets 1-50.  I can feel my face glistening.

‘It really is like an airport!’ I say, looking anywhere but at James.  ‘Shall we find a table?’

Once seated, conversation turns to the show.

‘It’s perfect,’ I say, brushing sweat from my lip.  Except that sweat won’t be brushed, not really.  ‘Cos I’m trying to write a radio script at the minute.’

‘I didn’t realize.’

‘Yes.’  More ineffective brushing.  ‘It’s about – no that’s a stage thing – what’s the one for radio I’m doing? – this bodes well!’

James is looking at me the way a doctor might look at a mentally ill patient: a mixture of pity, puzzlement and despair.  Which, by anyone’s dating standards, isn’t great.  

By the time our ticket numbers are called, things are looking up.  The sweating has subsided, and we’re agreeing it takes a lot to make us laugh.

I laugh pretty much non-stop for the next three hours.  Must have been the coffee.

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