Blue Soup

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CC Image courtesy of irucko on Flickr

I see it as a sign of maturity that this year I haven’t invited any romantic prospects to my birthday.

And I see it as a sign of immaturity that I felt the need to share this information with all my close friends.

‘There’s still time,’ Lucy says, in response to my triumphant text.

Perky is more specific. ‘Why don’t you invite that guy?’

I’ve just finished telling her about The Man In Turquoise.

Only Beatrice affirms my decision.

‘Good,’ she says.

‘Yes,’ I say, while wondering how on earth I’m going to find the motivation to make canapés for twenty strictly platonic friends.

Homemade Gorgonzola and Caramelized Onion Canapé

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Sumac (who knew?)

Sumac (who knew?)

You will nearly always fall for the person you didn’t think was your type.

— Dolly Alderton

At dancing the other night I met two guys. One of them you know about; the other was a blast from the past.

The one you know about, The Man In Turquoise, is exactly the kind of guy I can see myself with. A lot of that is probably to do with the fact he likes cooking, cue imagining long evenings spent together getting excited about things like sumac.

The Blast From The Past is a more puzzling kind of crush: the kind of guy you look at and can’t quite explain your interest in. He’s shorter than you and thinner and he has this goofy, toothy smile which is cute, sure, but not really sexy. And he can’t dress and you don’t have the same sense of humour. And when you text to check everything is OK after getting a missed call from him at 1am his reply is barely punctuated. He’s probably not interested and, four cheery chirpy messages later, you still don’t know exactly why you are. And when you tell Beatrice, she says it all sounds just like him because he’s really friendly. And that’s really annoying.

CC Image courtesy of Ed Yourdon on Flickr
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CC Image courtesy of HotGossipItalia on FlickrM&S guy bore an uncanny resemblance to Richard Armitage. Then there was Jonathan CakeBen Whishaw and more recently Tobias Menzies.

This week I’m going on a date with Eddie Redmayne. Yum. It helps that I have a weakness for redheads. Not so good is the fact we seem to have, like, nothing in common. And I mean NOTHING. He’s an ex-pro cyclist working in wealth management who hates cooking and, I quote, is ‘not going to take up ballroom dancing anytime soon’. (For the record, I didn’t suggest that he did.)

I’m an all-cooking, all-dancing copywriter who the one time she cycled in London collided with the wing mirror of a stationary vehicle. Hmm.

CC Image courtesy of Daquella Manera on Flickr

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CC Image courtesy of noodlepie on FlickrEvery time I try to play Mrs. Dalloway and have people round for dinner, it goes wrong. Last time I was mid break-up, though I didn’t know it for sure until the other party knocked on the front door, wine bottle in hand. I opened it, he crossed the threshold and kissed me on the cheek. And that was when I knew. I’d gone for the lips – that was what we did. I pretended not to notice or care and led him through to the sitting room. I couldn’t look at him though, and didn’t really know what I was saying as I introduced him to one of my best friends and her other half. The first chance I got I escaped to the kitchen and remained there for as much of the evening as possible.

So this time I invite couples. Safe, right? Wrong.

‘I don’t want to sound like someone with Asperger’s,’ I say to Gus at the desk opposite, ‘as in, I’m aware that the real tragedy here is that the couple is having issues…’

That’s not the real tragedy.

‘…and not that I don’t know how many crisps to order!’

That’s not the real tragedy either. No, the real tragedy as Neighbour wouldn’t hesitate to point out at great length is that millions of people around the world have no food at all. And I’m fretting about the guest list for a dinner party.

Gus looks sympathetic.


That night I get in late, too late to make the pudding for the following evening as planned. There’s a text on my phone from Neighbour, unanswered, and a draft reply, unsent. I consider the draft a while, move the sentences around, but it’s no good. This isn’t like one of my work marketing emails: it’s not the phrasing that’s wrong, it’s the medium. I delete the whole thing and dash off a question in its place.

Ten minutes later I’m sitting on Neighbour’s sofa, politely listening to his flatmate talking about farming practices in Australia – or pretending to while actually wondering if Neighbour can sense what’s coming. A short while later the flatmate goes up to bed. I turn to my neighbour – in every sense of the word – take a deep breath and begin.

CC Image courtesy of tubb on Flickr

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CC Image courtesy of distopiandreamgirl on Flickr

After two weeks of not having heard from VP I’m finally starting to move on. No more waking up and glancing at my phone expectantly. I go whole days without looking at his profile or re-reading old messages. OK there might be the odd cry on the Northern line, and for ten consecutive evenings I do absolutely nothing with myself, and the irony of baking an elaborate cake on the day which happens to be his birthday isn’t entirely lost on me. But by day fourteen, I’m getting back on track. I even go on a date and resist the urge to compare it to the incomparable. That, I tell myself, was another life. A fantasy. And anyway, he’s gone. I have to get over it.


Monday morning. My flatmate is back from holiday and the creak of the bathroom floor wakes me. I put out my arm, a beam of sunlight catching the dial of my watch. Half an hour before I have to get up.


This was one of the things which, in the course of the past week, had gone back to normal. The Nytol I’d purchased circa Second Date was now gathering dust on the bedside table. In fact, things had gone to the other extreme: bed by ten and multiple snoozed alarms. An extra half hour of sleep would be enjoyed, luxuriated in.


I roll over and that’s when I see it, the small pulsating light. I run through a short mental list of people it might be, and an even shorter list of people it won’t, and swipe the screen.


CC Image courtesy of Anthony!! on Flickr

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