I meet her at a speed dating event. After a 3 month dating hiatus, I’m finally ready to throw my knickers back into the ring. Well, maybe not throw. Place gently and then linger awkwardly on the sidelines in case I change my mind and need to whip them back out again. Once bitten, twice shy. Or in my case, thrice bitten, I’ve contracted rabies and need to be quarantined. It turns out, I’m a little rusty. Before the event starts she sits down at my table. She’s so pretty I do that thing where I keep having to look away otherwise I know I’ll end up staring.
“Welcome,” the woman says. “We’re delighted you’ve decided to join us. How was your journey?” “Fine,” I say, “a bit tiring.” “I can imagine, London’s a world away from us! Let me show you to your room.” She leads me upstairs and into a loft room that’s a melange of old beams, antiques and tapestries. Sunlight streams through stained glass windows, forming painterly puddles on the bedspread. In the corner is a carved oak desk, simply adorned with a jug of bluebells and a decanter of red wine.
And I’m back to living with my mother. Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it sounds. She’s here for 2 weeks because the lifts in her building are being repaired and her legs shiver like blancmange when she tries to climb the stairs. My stairs are nice and short. You can cover them in one drunken lurch – perfect for wobbly legs (and heads).
The Writer suggests we meet at her local for a drink. I’ve buggered up my train times so arrive 15 minutes late with a damp face and wild hair, gasping apologies. “Oh no problem” she says smiling, “thank you so much for coming to me.”
I’m out with my mates on Friday night buying a round when the barman says I have a beautiful smile. “Thanks…” I say, “that’s very kind.”
Whoever coined the term “Summer of Love” has clearly never tried to date women in London. I’d somehow imagined that all the smart, witty, lovely women who’d been hibernating through the winter months would suddenly burst into my life in a storm of glitter and jazz hands. “Fooled you!” they’d cry, whisking me off to some fabulous muff convention where everyone drinks champagne in swishy skirts and coos over me.
It’s my night out with the Swiss and my mate and I are running late. We trot up the hill with a light, sweaty sheen on our faces, my side boobs jiggling angrily in my sundress. We finally arrive at the pub 15 minutes late and, as per the plan, by friend potters off to a nearby park so that I can spend some time alone with the Swiss. I head out to the beer garden but she’s not there. Shit.
Doubts have begun to creep in, like ants crawling over a summer picnic. It starts with a relatively innocent request: a sexy photo for her to moon over late at night. So one evening I get home from the office, wriggle into a slinky LBD and dim the lights ready to titillate my paramour.
For our third date the artist takes me for a walk on the beach; a little slice of Costa del Kent. I’ve come to her home town, over an hour by train from mine, with a wheelie suitcase packed with champagne, strawberries, perfume and lingerie. We still haven’t slept together and I’m a bubbling mix of lust and nerves.
For our second date I invite the Blond over to mine. She arrives thoughtfully with a bottle of white and a bottle of red, which we sip curled up on my sofa putting the world to rights. After two and a half hours though neither of us has made a move and the evening is in danger of ending with a chaste peck on the cheek and an Uber.