Here's the deal. I've been single since time immemorial. So, in an attempt to remedy my eternal singledom, and to get over my nauseatingly pathological fear of dates, I've decided to challenge myself. The challenge? To go on one first date a week for a year! So in 52 weeks time, I will have either found my Mr Right, or I'll stay forever Miss Write. This is what happens...

The Rules

Here are the rules to the 52 First Dates challenge...

1. A first date must be had once a week, EVERY week, for a year, that's 52 dates in 52 weeks.

2. Taking someone home after a drunken night on the cider does NOT count.

3. Second and third dates are allowed, I must continue first dates unless there are exceptional mitigating circumstances. For example, God forbid, the start of a relationship.

4. Each date must be blogged.

29 June 2011

Mr #4 - Oh No, It's Frodo...

The preamble:
Mr #4 was pretty straightforward. You like some comedy? I like some comedy. You listen to music? I listen to music. You've got a head, shoulders, knees and toes? I have a combination that is remotely similar. Ace! Let's date!

The man:
Profession: Works in special effects.
Random factoid: Had the ability to insert sneaky burps into conversation like punctuation. And no, lifting your fist to your face doesn't mean you're not doing it, I see you, covert burper.

I did know before meeting #4 that he wasn't the most blessed in the vertical department. I'm only 5'2", and although I appreciate a gentleman of significant stature, I was willing to meet a gentleman notching up a modest 5'7" on the doctor's wall chart. I'm no fool, I knew to wear flat shoes. I also know boys often fib about their height, but when I stood up to greet my date to discover he was only an inch taller than me, I did feel a bit stiffed out of those all important four inches. He'd also been very cunning with his choice of photos on the website, and although he wasn't altogether unattractive, I couldn't help but feel he might have been at home on a quest in search of one ring to rule them all. 

The date:
For the first time since I can remember, Mr #4 actually suggested the venue, which turned out to be one of my favourite night time haunts in Hoxton, and although I was struck with a belated fear my trendiness rating on my personal Top Trump wouldn't be high enough, I thought what the heck, the boy got taste, in gin joints anyroad. 

I arrived early, and got the drinks in - cunning plan on my behalf, because in the nth hour, I'd realised I couldn't remember what on earth he looked like, so I popped myself in the corner, texted my precise location, and waiting to be approached by a complete stranger. Then he arrived. 

Fortunately, he'd left the wizard at home for the night, that would have been awkward, as I hadn't brought a friend. I knew the date was doomed after going for the courtesy one-kiss, and then on thinking he was a meeja two-kisser, going in for the double, seeing him dive away, and then trying to cover it up by attempting some humour out of what was one of those eternally awkward social situations. He didn't find it funny. He looked terrified. 

One thing about this boy I had been very interested in was his job in special effects, working on the last Harry Potter. Definitely good chit chat ammo! So what was it he did? Was he one of those guys that made buildings explode into flames using only the magic of software? Was he one of those guys who created artificial hair on mythical beasts that blew in the direction of the cartoon zephyrs? Or was he one of the guys that could transform actors into mutant superheroes, hellbent on saving a dying dystopian metropolis? No. His job was to sit and watch computers ticking over once all of the special effects had been pain-stakingly created, rendering. Just rendering. Hmm. Not quite the awe-inspiring interest-fest I had hoped for. And thank god for my prior experience in post-production, as at least I was able to talk techie about a few things so at least disguise my disappointment that he didn't personally craft Hogwarts from nothing using just a mouse and his awesome brain. 

I have to say conversation was dry, so dry I had to pull out the Ryan Giggs superinjunction card again as a last ditch attempt at eeking out something interesting. I also found myself slurping my wine at speed, and then staring at his pint just in case I had undiscovered telekinetic powers that would have evaporated his pint faster than he could drink it. 

Memorable Quotes:
'Mr brother bought me a birthday cake last year. It said 'you're gay' on it'. I think I already prefer his brother instead...

Events of note:
That whole greeting kiss palaver overshadowed the entire evening to be honest. And I couldn't help but hope that some funny creepy green guy in a loin cloth would pop up and personally escort Mr #4 to Mount Doom. 

The verdict:
I didn't particularly like him, and I don't think he particularly liked me which is probably an ideal outcome for all concerned? Maybe? Onwards, my precious...!

20 June 2011

Mr #3 - Revolutionary Socks

The preamble:
Once again, Mr #3 was from the wicked world of the interweb. Although unusually, for once, I was Mr #3's first dabbling into the dark arts of online dating, which made me feel oddly better about my whole pre-date nerves...mainly because he told me on no less than 5 separate occasions how scared he was. Scared? Of me? Has he read my blog already? And anyone who ends their dating emails with 'with kind regards' does evoke a certain formality which, quite frankly, I was having none of...

The man:
Age: 28
Profession: Stage crew in the West End
Random factoid: He knew where Bram Stoker got his inspiration for Dracula. A suicidal tramp jumping off a bridge in London apparently. Good skills.

The date:
Thanks to a hectic end-of-work day I pitched up a tad frazzled to a poor drowned rat of a boy who'd neglected to bring a brolly. Fortunately his first date nerves were worse than mine which, as mean as it sounds, made the whole thing a thousand times better.  

Okay, so Mr #3 wasn't the tallest man in the world, nor did he bowl me over with his astonishing good looks. However, he humoured me with my fear of very yellow wines within the first five minutes of meeting, so I thought it was probably well worth a shot. Well come on, who likes a Chardonnay that looks like the byproduct of too much Berocca? Didn't think so...

To my complete surprise, he'd brought me a little first date giftette...three balls of wool in the colours of the Tricolour, to commemorate both my love of knitting, and his job on Les Miserables. Genuinely, an unfeasibly sweet gesture. Within a very short space of time, we'd managed to establish that brown sauce was, in fact, the brownest substance in the entire universe, why the Lion King musical is actually for adults only, the fact that beef jerky tasted like cat food-flavoured shoes and finally, utterly annihilated the abysmal singer/pianist combo making the entire evening considerably hard to hear. 

He also dutifully endured my breakdown of knitting the royal wedding, but blotted his copybook when he controversially offered up the word 'retarded' in conversation not long after disclosing he had a disabled brother. A brave move. And although he did seem to  manage to turn every conversation round to knitting, 'would eating wool be acceptable to vegetarians?', presumably for my benefit, which was oddly endearing. 

I think, however, after I found his first little comedic vignette amusing, he did go on a mild humour-bender, which was all very nice but perhaps a little try hard. I also pretended not to notice the subtle-if-not-virtually translucent way he slipped the phrase 'ex wife' into converstion, knowing full well he'd just got it out there for his own peace of mind rather than mine. 

Nonetheless, it was a surprisingly mirth-filled and partially-educative evening. When it emerged we were walking separate ways, he decided his route would take him along with me, which  I'm  pretty sure he later regretted once he wound up on the Blackfriars Bridge, as my bus soon arrived, and he had to perform a complete 360. I have to say after missing the first bus, the fact he surreptitiously inhaled a Smint did give me some cause for concern - he was a nice boy, but I was neither keen enough nor drunk enough to tolerate a snog, but that said, he was every inch the gentleman, and every iota grateful that his first experience of an internet date didn't chew off his head like some sort of praying mantis.

Memorable Quotes:
'Dirty Dancing is one of my favourite films'
'Have you ever tried knitting vomit?'
'I wouldn't be so bold as to insert an Oxo Cube into the anus of a tramp...'

Events of note:
My date managing to convince me he knew everyone in the bar...until he got to 'Jane, served four years for inappropriate acts on a goat...'

The verdict:
Mr #3 was a total wild card, and after the whole Mr #2 debarcle, I didn't enter into to the evening with my all. But he was fun, surprisingly funny despite being delightfully well spoken, like he was breastfed RP, and I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Perhaps he needs to work on his hard-to-get technique, because after five minutes on the bus he'd suggested we met again, and although at this stage I can't see myself as the future Mrs Oxo-Tramp-Anus, I would definitely see him again. We shall see...

16 June 2011

Mr #2 - Stand Me Up, Buttercup

The preamble:
Mr #2 came about from t'interwebs, natch. But given my past experience in online dating, the email exchange from Mr #2 was brief to say the least. It went as follows:

Mr #2: Yeah you'll do. Now are we gonna mess about on here for weeks and gradually then upgrading to texting one another or are we just gonna meet up and go on a date?
Me: Well I was hoping with a little more small talk than 'you'll do' to be honest. Come on, give it at least half a decent shot to let me know you might be vaguely interested in more than just my picture...(which looks nothing like me, I stole it from someone else's page)
Mr #2: Impulsive. Spontaneous. Where did it go? Listen up, your pictures look hot, your wording is clever, you have a chops that likes to cheek - why deny yourself a date?!
Me: Fine. Be like that then. Just tell me your name, what you do, and where in Central London you'd like to meet next Monday.
Mr #2: Mr #2
Primary school teacher.
Anywhere central from 5pm next Monday.
0770 **** ****

And so texting commenced, including some rather bizarre picture messages involving rice cakes, origami birds and him being, well, topless. At one point I feared for the date after I managed to drop the ultimate clanger via text: 'so, is that why you're single then?' 'no, it was her breast cancer that is why I'm single'. Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit! Fortunately he saw the funny side of it and was pleased we'd got that out of the way before we met. As was I! I am ashamed to admit that despite his brutal honesty, cavalier attitude to picture messaging and bull-in-china-shop flirting technique, my hopes were up a little on this one. He sounded like a lot of fun. And he seemed to rather like the sound of me too. Cue butterflies. Big ones, ones with wings so thick you might've mistaken them for moths if they weren't so colourful.

The man:
Age: 35
Profession: Primary school teacher and full-time Welshman
Random factoid: Last year he took a photo a day of random challenges, one of which was to wear a bra. Any excuse...

The date:
Monday rolled around, a couple of texts of anticipation exchanged, venue planned. Then an hour beforehand, he texts to cancel. Oh. The reason being a bad day at school, which later turned out to be disclosure on a pupil's parent. Fuck. That really IS a bad day at school. After considerable apologies accepted, the date was rescheduled for Thursday. The texting ensued again, the time and venue arranged, a knight in shining armour promised, and I had to dig out my second date dress of the week. An hour and a half before the date he rings to confirm everything, and then texted to tell me how lovely I sounded. Zoiks! He's keen! So I headed off the venue, ordered a drink, and waited. And waited. And waited. An unanswered text and an unanswered phone call later, I shame-facedly left the pub on my own and went home. In my 30 years on this earth I have never been stood up. And I won't lie, it didn't feel very nice. Someone I don't even know went and squashed my butterflies with their size nines.

The verdict:
All in all, this was a bad date. And it does still count as a first date because I turned up. It's just a shame he didn't...

In the last couple of hours my date has got back in contact with almost indecipherable painkiller-induced texts. It turns out I'm not a dreadful judge of character, nor is he a devious manipulating man-bait sort sometimes found lurking about on the internets, as I'd possibly thought. He managed to snap some cruicial cruiciate ligaments in football training and wound up wounded in A&E whilst I sat nursing a warming lime-laden beer. So tomorrow he goes under the knife, and I feel oddly smug that he hadn't spotted my idiocy early and bailed. But give him time, I'm sure if the date does finally go ahead, he'll work that out then. But until then, I'm golden...

08 June 2011

Mr #1 - Don't Speak

The preamble:
I'll be honest, most if not all of these dates will have come about from the glorious t'interweb. I'd rather not think it's because I am totally incapable of snaring a date from being a real life person, but quite frankly, I think the virtual me has a lot more luck. Such was the case with Mr #1. Cue some marginally lengthy, rather friendly, relatively chatty emails and the date was secured. Simples.

The man:
Age: 30
Profession: Speech and language therapist
Random factoid: Went to school with Anthony Costa.

First of all, Mr #1 didn't lie about his height, which apparently in the world of online dating is unusual for a man. He is, however, case and point that when someone doesn't post pictures of smiling with teeth on show, there's usually a reason. I won't lie that I was also more than slightly baffled by the grey hoodie / brown pinstripe trouser combo, but hey, you can always change clothes right? He also had a nice friendly face, with questionable sideburns and a nose that had the rouge bespeckling of someone who may have more than once been well-acquainted with a robust Merlot or two. Odd he was teetotal. Or perhaps that was why. I couldn't help thinking that with an ear of corn and some green cord trousers, he would have looked right at home aboard a tractor.

The date:
It's always a little weird when someone's first word to you is 'wow'. I don't know what he meant by that. Perhaps my virtual-to-real-life transition also wasn't as expected, and that's a good go-to to mask disappointment? As it turned out, despite my protesting against food (who wants to be tied down to a potentially guilt-tripping meal on a first date? Not me!), we ended up in Giraffe. I supped a couple of crispy Coronas. He had stir fry and apple juice. It's always awkward eating in front of total strangers, and all in all, he did very well, better than I would have done, that's for sure! That was, however, until he got bored of chopsticks, and went for the knife and fork option, which he held like a three year old in the first throes of cutlery-use. Who holds a fork so far down they're thumbing the duck? Hmm...

Conversation was for the most part good. We covered harps, War and Peace, Jeremy Kyle, I think I managed to escape with my potty-mouthery on this occasion, but as a note to self I might want to take heed of this in future. Also those frog welllies kids had at school in the eighties, phobias of flying, killer cucumbers (how very topical) and the phenomenon of the superinjunction (naughty Giggsy - Mr #1 disapproves), all of which were punctuated with 'ya' as opposed to my casual 'yeah' or more irreverently, 'fuck yeah'.

Memorable Quote:
'I do love trains...I really love train travel...especially now I'm earning good money I like to travel upper class'

Events of note:
A man in a blue Morphsuit walked past along the South Bank. On his own. Undoubtedly my highlight of the evening if nothing else.

The verdict:
All in all, he was a nice boy, with a good brain and plenty of interesting things to say, albeit with an aversion to alcohol and moderately questionable dress sense. However, a proposition of a second date within 50 minutes of parting was not quite so appealing. There was sadly no chemistry, he found me a little bit too funny (which unnerves me, I'm not a performing monkey folks!)... and seemed way too keen after a first date. So don't buy your hats yet folks, bring on Mr #2...whoever he may be.

06 June 2011

Week One

The challenge has been set - I have to go on 52 first dates in 52 weeks. Date one is booked in for two days time. I don't know what I'm more nervous about, meeting Mr #1, or having to find another unsuspecting 51 single chaps...or maybe that funny feeling is something I had for lunch? Damn you work canteen...