“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.
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.
When you first start dating someone even the simplest things can be fraught with indecision: What to wear, which bar to book, what to cook. We can all be strangely intolerant in those early days.
When you’re dating women there’s a pitifully small pool to choose from. I’m not even sure it can fairly be called a pool. It’s more of a pond or a puddle or a light drizzle or an egg cup full of water. Where’s my girlfriend? I think mournfully, prodding the egg cup.