A Play For Voices

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CC Image courtesy of quinn.anya on FlickrLast week I threw caution to the wind and attended an event not as myself but as MBE.

The last time I played a part was in my final year of secondary school. I came on stage wearing a wetsuit, snorkel and flippers – I’m pretty sure I only got the part because no one else was stupid enough to agree to wear the costume – and halfway through the first scene my contact lens fell out.

This time I get to choose my outfit. I’m way too hot, but Bellinis are on tap and Beatrice is at my side, so what can possibly go wrong?

‘I don’t know what to call myself,’ I say, as we approach the venue.

Fortunately the whole guest list thing is beyond casual. We get in as ‘Clare’s friends’. I hope I recognise Clare from her Gmail picture.

Clare is lovely and the event itself is wonderful. After four Bellinis everything is wonderful and Beatrice and I are propping up the canapé station, talking intensely about her first boyfriend and where it all went wrong.

We do mingle, and I meet several members of that elusive breed, the dating blogger. It’s a bit disconcerting, like walking down the street and passing someone who’s the spitting image of yourself.

I’d wondered what the vibe of a dating app launch party would be, what sort of crowd it would attract. Socialites, tech heads, bloggers, men in skirts visiting from East London – they’re all there. As are the founders of the app, VoiceCandy. It’s a similar concept to Tinder but with the addition of recorded voice messages. Because, as one of the founders explains, studies have shown that voice, like non-verbal communication, plays a huge part in attraction.

 

I can remember as if it was yesterday the first time I heard VP’s voice over the phone and, aside from the weird instructions about Nando’s, it was entirely unremarkable. Later I would come to love that voice for its slowness – a sign not of stupidity but of a razor-sharp intellect measuring every word for its worth. But at first it was only a reassuring neutral.

Other voices linger in the mind. Tobias’s antipodean drawl carries across the office and I feel my back straighten instinctively. And the first time I call Tristan in his new role and hear him answer, ‘Hi Anna’, I have to take a moment to compose myself.

 

So it’s ironic when Beatrice asks one of the other dating bloggers present what the best singles event she’s ever reviewed is and she replies, ‘Silent speed dating’. Shhh Dating, she explains, takes voice and speech entirely out of the equation.

At which point a couple of guys join our circle. They’re too young, I think, a suspicion confirmed when they say they’re fresh out of uni. But even before they speak, and despite (or perhaps because of) their jock-esque good looks and sharp suits, something about the way they carry themselves, their unsmiling countenances – it makes me want to turn away.

 

Beatrice and I call time around 9. I’ve successfully not revealed my surname or place of employment to any of the assembled company, learnt that my Twitter handle is completely undiscoverable when you put it into the website’s search bar and affirmed my deep love for Bellinis and courgette tempura. The evening ends with Top Gun on the big screen in Hyde Park and a giggly stumble back to the tube.

‘What are you doing tomorrow?’ Beatrice says.
‘Tinder date.’
‘Oh of course! Let me know how it goes.’
‘I will.’

We hug and I go carefully down the steps, wondering how I’m going to explain the mid-week hangover to my unsuspecting date.

CC Image courtesy of Ciudadano Poeta on Flickr

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Sexy As Hell

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CC Image courtesy of Roadsidepictures on Flickr

Sexy.  That’s the overriding impression.  And one hell of a dancer, so let’s call him Patrick.

For the first three hours, we don’t have much to do with each other.  Someone tells me I should dance with him, because he’s really good, but it’s for exactly that reason that I don’t.  He’s intimidating, awesome, and he must have women falling over themselves to dance with him – and there are more approachable, more generous partners on the floor.

*

I’ve swapped my flimsy ballet pumps for boots and am looking around for the host.  It’s getting on for 2am and I have an epic bus journey ahead of me.  Patrick is passing, and stops and makes some remark about the speaker system, which is playing up.  We exchange basic information: name, job, how we know the host.

‘So,’ I say, ‘what’s your dance history?’

I don’t make a habit in social situations of asking questions which belong in a job interview, but then I don’t often find myself talking to the Patricks of this world.  When I do, speech itself is an achievement.

He doesn’t bat an eyelid, but gives an answer which covers both questions: the one I asked, and the one I meant, namely, how come you’ve got such incredible moves?

He winds up, ‘I want to learn salsa.’

‘Yeah, that’d be cool.’

I like to think if he’d said he wanted to learn, say, basket-weaving or book-binding, I’d have responded differently.

I go on, ‘I’m learning tango, but you can probably let your hair down a bit more doing salsa!’

‘What’s tango like?’

‘Err… well… you want me to show you?’

‘Yeah.’  So there, in the hallway, we do tango basic.

Someone’s making merry hell with the music.  Patrick looks over at the perpetrator, puts his hand briefly on my waist, then walks off to see what’s happening.  I follow.  Minutes later, Cuban-style music comes on.  He takes my hand and we start to dance.  For someone who wants to learn salsa, he’s pretty damn good.

‘This music is actually merengue,’ he says, ‘but I don’t really know what the difference is!’

And anyway it’s not long before our salsa has morphed into something less PG, which is fine by me.

This is typically when things go to pot.  I mean, this guy is like, ripped (yes, this is MBE writing, and no, the blog has not been hijacked).  And, confusingly for someone so beautiful, he seems nice, which I really don’t know what to do with.  But going back to the whole ripped thing, I feel like I need to be less blatant about wanting to dance with him, and only him (see above, about women falling over themselves).  This would be easier if there were other people on the floor, but everyone else appears to have done a runner during the dodgy DJ-ing phase.  As a man, he can just grab someone and dance with them, create the impression of not putting all his eggs in one basket, but for me, it’s a bit more difficult.  Also, when I like someone and they’re a good dancer, I become really really bad at playing it cool.  And, well, I’m shit at it anyway!

So, when I see him out of the corner of my eye dancing with another girl, I decide it’s time to call it a night.  Not least because 2am has been and gone, and for all I know Patrick was dancing with me out of mere politeness (I don’t actually believe that), or as one dancer to another (more likely).  I find my jacket, pull it on.  A quick glance in the direction of the floor brings Patrick into view.  He’s coming over.

‘Are you leaving?’

‘Yes.  I’ve got a bit of an epic journey ahead of me.  Night buses…’

‘Oh, right, yeah.’

‘It was nice to see you again.  And, thank you for the dance!

I say that a lot, and it’s never what I mean.

We kiss on the cheeks.

‘Yes, it was nice to see you.’

‘I hope it goes well in China.’

He’s moving there for work shortly.  Another red flag, literally.

‘I’ll hopefully see you before then – I’ll come to the next one of these,’ he nods in the direction of the host, ‘if he has another.’

‘Yeah.’

It feels like now is the moment to kiss or hug or something, but we’ve done that.  He shakes my hand, then we bump fists, ironically I think, though it’s hard to be sure.

I laugh.  ‘That’s way too cool for me!’

What I mean is, you’re way too cool for me.  Which he is.

*

Seventeen minutes until the bus is due.  I pull out my phone, run the old Facebook search.  He really is beautiful.  The minutes fly by.  The bus arrives; I board, and find a seat at the top.   Out comes the phone again, flashing bright white with a notification.  It’s getting on for 3am so this surprises me.

Not half as much as what’s waiting for me.  It’s like one of those Twitter quotes: ‘how great it feels when the guy you’ve just been looking at on Facebook, adds you‘.  I grin, and hug my coat tighter around me.  Now to see if he bucks the trend.

CC Image courtesy of BWJones on Flickr

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The Sign Of Four

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Something came up on my Twitter feed the other day, and triggered a familiar thought process:

That’s so true… so true… actually that’s something I should use on the blog… *microwave pings*… I’ll find it later…

Later…

Where the hell is it?!… *searching Twitter for ‘someone likes you’*… grrrr… why didn’t I do a print screen earlier? WHY?… grrr… arghh… yes!  Now, PRINT SCREEN.

sign of four1

CC Image courtesy of wellcome images on Flickr

Yeah, hard news.

It’s true though: you can always tell when someone likes someone else.

1. They’re talking when you arrive at the party… and when you leave.

2. They somehow always end up sitting next to each other.

3. Touching (not like that… or like that).

4. He looks at her the way you used to look at him.

Which leads nicely onto…

Untitled

If you have to ask…

Thank you to @SarcasmPage and @LostWords_ .



The Chosen One

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CC Image courtesy of jeffcapeshop on FlickrI’m engaged.  Not like that.  I’m reading, and I’m engaged, hooked even.  It’s a think-tank report on ‘choice architecture’.  This would be out of character in every respect were it not for the fact that… I’ve got a crush on the author. 

To meet, he seems like a really normal guy.  Softly-spoken, polite, gentle: there’s nothing about him which points to the truth. 

But this is a man with actual Google results.  We’re not talking Facebook (he’s not on it, hence the googling), LinkedIn, or… OK so he is on Twitter. But the majority of the top ten results distinguish him from your average Johnny in so much as people are writing about him: people other than me.

I pull up the first link, a profile in a national newspaper, and read a few choice phrases out to Beatrice.  She rolls her eyes.

I scroll down and laugh.

‘What is it?’ she says.

‘Someone’s commented on the article saying, “this guy is a god”.’ 

I shake my head, but not because I disagree.

CC Image courtesy of halilgokdal on Flickr