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CC Image courtesy of oddsock on FlickrI discovered the filter function on OkCupid the other day.

I was having brunch with Tristan, Tristan’s girlfriend (don’t ask), Ryan and a couple of others, who were incidentally also a couple. Conversation turned to dating.

‘How did you two meet?’ Tristan says to The Couple.

They laugh. ‘OkCupid,’ they say, at the exact same time.

‘Yeah, when I applied the filters that really mattered to me,’ the girl says, looking fondly at the residue, ‘you were the only one left!’

The residue smiles. I frown. Filters? That’s only available on the paid option, no?

No, so the following evening, remembering this conversation, I start filtering like a SWIMMING POOL, trying not to think about how much time I’ve wasted scrolling through unsuitable profiles.

Single, straight, at least 5’10” (my height), university-educated non-smokers – that’s all I’m asking for. Oh and in the interests box I put the name of my favourite band, believing – perhaps mistakenly – that there’s a much greater chance I’ll hit it off with a fellow fan. I start scrolling through the results. One guy catches my eye.

There should be a name for it, when you’ve seen someone on every online dating platform going, you’ve consistently ‘liked’ them because, y’know, they’ve got great bone structure, are funny and like all the same music and books as you. And they’ve been consistently unresponsive. This time I copy and paste his interests section for when I feel like browsing Spotify for new music, before returning to the search results.

I continue scrolling down, only to be met with the words that there are no more results and that I might want to consider revising my criteria. The band gets the axe and, what the hell, alcoholism and smoking – they have a certain charm, right?

A short while later I find myself back on a familiar profile: a chain-smoking heteroflexible* divorced father of two who lives on the wrong side of the Channel. And who I’m pretty sure I’ve already spoken to.

CC Image courtesy of [Rossco]:[www.rgstrachan.com] on Flickr

*Defined on Urban Dictionary as ‘I’m straight but shit happens’.

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4858397745_fed336e4beBored of hiya, hey! and every other variation in the book, I decide to take matters into my own hands. I did it once before and depending on how you look at it, the outcome was pretty damn good. I went on the best dates of my life, laughed a lot and discovered what is now my favourite band. All of which would never have happened if I hadn’t… listened to Beatrice.

So I do a repeat: I send short messages to attractive prospects on Tinder and OkCupid written in the spirit of the kinds of messages I would like to receive. No heys, hiyas or how are yous (don’t care). And if they don’t reply in kind, I leave it.

Which is how, one Wednesday night, I come to be swapping messages with an attractive, witty lawyer who bears more than a passing resemblance to Karl and Neighboursomeone’s got a type. He also has a similar response time to my arch-nemesis, but like I said he’s attractive, witty and has a job, so what can you expect?

CC Image courtesy of matthew.hickey on Flickr

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Golden Ticket

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CC Image courtesy of Andre Benedix on Flickr

I hear a step and turn in my chair.  It’s Tristan, holding a piece of paper.  He puts it down next to my keyboard.

‘Here you are.’

‘Oh!  But…’

It only means one thing.

‘…are – are you sure?  Because I – I don’t have anyone for it – I mean, I can probably find someone, but I don’t have anyone at the minute, and… don’t you want it?’


‘Oh, OK, well, thanks.’  I look down at the ticket, frowning.  ‘Are – are you sure there’s no one else who wants it?’

‘No.’  He looks puzzled.  ‘I got it from the design guys, so I don’t think any of them need it.’

In the top right-hand corner someone has scribbled his name: TRISTAN.  He won’t be there.

‘OK, well, thank you.  I’m sure I can find someone for it.’


Yesterday, over lunch, Tristan had mentioned that he might not make the gig as he had to pack for the weekend.  I’d then enquired casually of the assembled company if anyone knew of a spare ticket going and Tristan immediately volunteered his.

‘Well, I don’t have anyone at the minute,’ I mumble, ‘but there might be someone…’

The night before, I’d got a message from Viable Prospect.  He’s in London, well, Oxford, but the point is, he’s in the same country as me and has suggested a repeat of herbal tea.  Not knowing this was going to be the case, I’d given my spare gig tickets to my brother.  Now I’m a bit peeved that I can’t ask VP, not least because he’s actually a fan of the band.


I keep glancing at the piece of paper next to my computer, at the name scrawled across the top.  I’d known from Tristan’s tone at lunch that he wouldn’t come, but still, it’s a pity.  I was looking forward to spending some time with him outside of the office, and now he’s gone and dropped into my lap the means to enable me to invite VP.  Tristan had been the one big reason against asking the guy, so there’s a neat irony to this turn of events.  Not that I expect VP to come.  By half 4 I’m certain he’ll say no, it’s too much hassle etc.  That’s the cut-off I’ve given him.

At 16:36 I notice, out of the corner of my eye, my phone blinking.  I’ve been on edge ever since I first texted him the suggestion, three hours before.  What’s new is that now, for the first time, I’m certain: I want him to be there.  I know he’d be brilliant company, that I’d laugh all night with him.  It would be wonderful.

‘You’re on’

Shit.  That’s my first thought.  SHIT!  And that’s my second.  (My third is obviously, full stop???)  I fire off an email to Colleague who is excited in the way only a person who isn’t currently facing a clothing/make-up crisis of gargantuan proportions could be.


Grey eye shadow – or anything darkish?’

‘I’ve got this.’

Zoe holds out what can only be described as pale pink shimmer.


Colleague comes in. ‘You OK?’

‘Er no!  I am not prepared for this!’

She laughs.  ‘Can I help with anything?’

‘Err… make-up?!’

‘What do you need?’

‘Everything!  Eye shadow?  Grey?’

Zoe reoffers pearly pink. ‘It’s kind of shimmery.’

And still pink.

‘How about this?’

I take Colleague’s grey eyeliner pencil and set to work.


I leave through the main entrance, which takes me past Tristan’s desk.  I remember, as a child, always reading the phrase ‘he gave her an appraising glance’ in books, and never quite knowing what it meant.  What Tristan gives me is undoubtedly appraising, but it ain’t a glance, it’s a look.  I flash a smile.

‘Thank you for the ticket, Tristan.’

‘No worries.  Have fun.’

I don’t catch the last words.  ‘Sorry?’ I say, coming to a halt.  The effect is entirely ruined.

Too late I realise what he said.

‘Oh – thanks.’

But he’s already looked away.  Or has he?

Standing on the landing, waiting for the lift to arrive, a scene plays out in my head.  It’s a cross between the moment in The Office when Dawn comes back to the party and kisses Tim, and something altogether more dramatic.  It involves Tristan rushing towards the doors, pushing them open, starting to say something, only to break off and kiss me.

The lift doors open, and close on me.  I hit the button for the ground floor.

CC Image courtesy of Paul Hagon on Flickr

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(Continued from Parents’ Evening)CC Image courtesy of wetw

I put my phone away.  That’s when I see him, standing on the opposite side of the junction.  I smile and cross the road.

‘Hi….’ I confirm his name, give mine.  He doesn’t say anything but looks at me strangely.  I rush on.  ‘I’m so sorry, what I should have said first on the phone just now was, sorry I’m late.’

He doesn’t smile but looks away, down the street.

Shit.  Eight months and ten minutes and I’ve got off to a false start, which might, if his expression is anything to go by, be the end of it.

‘Sorry…’ he says.

What’s coming next?  This isn’t going to work out?  Have a good night?

‘… sorry.’  He puts a hand to his ear.  ‘I can’t hear very much.’

‘Oh – err – as in…?’

‘I can hear some of what you’re saying but not the top register…’

Is this why he never suggested meeting?  He’s deaf?  I adopt my least judgmental face.  ‘Oh…’

Hard to know what to say to this.  Of course, on one level, it doesn’t really matter.

‘What happened is,’ he goes on, frowning, ‘I was at this gig and it was like… offensively loud, so I can hear some of what you’re saying but not all of it.’

‘Oh.  Has – has it permanently affected your hearing?’

‘I was wondering about that.  I’ve been to gigs which were as loud before and it’s had a similar effect, but then it’s been fine, so hopefully it will wear off in an hour or so.’

‘Was – was this just now then?’


‘Oh.’  My relief must be visible.  ‘I – I thought….’  I laugh.  ‘OK.’

‘Yeah.  It was pretty intense.’

Like his expression: still no flicker of a smile.  He tells me a bit about what made it intense.  I barely understand a word.

‘So,’ he concludes, ‘shall we get a herbal tea?’

That’s when I recognize it, the faint aroma about his person.  I’d noticed it at once, but not understood what it meant.  Now, with the words ‘moshing’ and ‘seriously fucked’ hanging in the air, the pieces are starting to fall into place.  The guy is already drunk, has probably consumed more alcohol in the last hour than I’ve had in the past year.


This isn’t going so well.

‘… ermmm….’

But he is horribly attractive.

He laughs, the slightly hysterical laugh of someone who’s nervous or drunk or both.

I meet his eye.  ‘Are – you’re – you’re joking, right?’

He looks down at the ground, smiling.  It’s the expression in his profile picture.  ‘Yes.’

Not for the first time that night, I feel an overwhelming sense of relief.


CC Image courtesy of clifico on Flickr

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(Continued from Bloody Buses: Part I)CC Image courtesy of Duncan Brown (Cradlehall) on Flickr

I can dance rock ‘n’ roll.’

Accountant is full of surprises.

‘You’re on!’

Next thing I know, he’s jumped ship to head home to his girlfriend.  Ben too decides to call it a night.

This leaves the less enthusiastic dancers, and me.  I’d be happy enough dancing alone in the corner, but the music is so bad even I don’t recognise it, and there’s a constant stream of traffic knocking my elbows.  I can see Michael and Eligible Bachelor sitting at one of the tables and go over to them.

‘I think I’m going to head,’ EB says, rising.

We kiss on the cheeks. ‘Good night.’

I flop down next to Michael.

‘Everyone here’s very tall,’ he says, looking around.


And very young too.  I glance at my watch.  It’s past my bedtime.  ‘How are you getting back?  Night bus?’


‘This is us,’ I say, rising.

We find seats at the top.  A space that would normally easily accommodate two adults, suddenly feels very snug.

‘You should go back on Tinder,’ Michael says, giving me a nudge. ‘I might like you!’

‘Hmm. I am on a dating site.’

‘Which one?’

I tell him.  ‘But only because I was paid to do it!’

‘That’s the best reason,’ he says, gravely.

‘Is it?!  Yeah, well, I haven’t been on any dates from it…’


‘I noticed there are no typos in your texts.’

FFS slows his walking pace. ‘Well, I don’t remember any in yours.’

‘No, well, when you spend most of your time editing what you write…’

It’s the blog I’m thinking of, but I might as well be referring to my texts: the drafting process isn’t so different.

‘… and commas are important!’

He’s almost at a standstill.  ‘We had a lecture on punctuation the other day.’

‘Really?!  I’d have liked to have given that!’

He laughs and turns to face me. ‘Really?  We’d have hated you if you had!  It was really boring.’

I swat his shoulder. ‘But you don’t know what I’d have said!’

Which is when he kisses me.

CC Image courtesy of Leo Reynolds on Flickr

This post is part of the 3 Dates, 3 Months! series.  Just Singles challenged its favourite dating bloggers to try three different methods of finding a date, and write about the experience.  

This month: A night out.

Last month: Just Singles.

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