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 August 2011

Mr #12 - I'm Going Brown Brown Brown

The preamble:
There was a fair amount of messaging between Mr #12 and I, and for the most part it was tenuous, obscure, but vaguely interesting enough to make me think he'd be a decent craic over a cheeky vino or two. How wrong I was...

The man:
Age: 29
Profession: Massage therapist plus writer and poet. Apparently.
Random factoid: He's an avid festival goer. 
Well, he goes to the Isle of Wight Festival. 
Well, just the once. 
Back in 2004...

The date:
I was originally upposed to meet Mr #12 on Saturday, and I felt bad about having to rearrange because our family cat put our mother in hospital (true story), so I was keen to rearrange for tonight because Mr #12 had sounded so disappointed when I texted to cancel.

An hour before meeting, he messaged to tell me he was nervous, and I felt rather sorry for him, especially knowing I was the least scary person he could expect to encounter on a date. Anyway, I turned up and met him outside the tube, and instantly I knew it wouldn't be an epic evening, for which I was grateful considering I was still hanging from my date with Captain Coriander. A

Although I have nothing against balding men embracing their hair loss, I do have severe reservations about men who, in a fit of folliclular denial, grow their hair long but for the whacking great Friar Tuck bald patch on top to pretend its not there. And he was short, yet again, so I had an almost bird's eye view of said skin circle. Not my initial cup o' tea, I have to say, but nothing a good personality couldn't improve.

I also couldn't get over the fact he looked like he was dressed to go to the office in faecal-brown shirt and black trousers, even though it turns out he's currently unemployed. Anyway my date decided that we'd go to Cafe Rough (yes that is a typo, but I thought it most apt so I've let it be), mainly because we were stood right outside. Hmm. 

Anyway, the evening didn't improve from there. I had to explain the wine menu, to the point he had to ask 'is that red wine?' 'Is that a glass?' Er what??? I also had to endure some severe misquotations of Alan Partridge ('no, I'm terribly sorry, his name wasn't Mike, it was Dan. You know...Dan! Dan! Dan! Dan! Do I need to repeat it again so you remember? FUCKING DAN!,'  and listening about why he was bullied at school (at risk of sounding unsympathetic, because no-one deserves to be bullied, but perhaps first dates aren't the best place to let such skepetons out of your closet?), some random bullshit about the Waco siege and a very awkward 'I like your dress'. Er thanks, what, do you want to borrow it? Sorry, it's not brown enough for you. Or your boring brown soul. 

I literally had to ask question after question to break the awkward silences during which he just sat there. Just sat.  Comtemplating stuff. Probably boring brown stuff. I felt like I'd had to resort to Paxman mode to try and keep things going. 'Oh you do yoga do you? Tell me about that then' ...'yeah, I like it. It relaxes me. I once did a headstand at 3am when I couldn't sleep'. Never underestimate the power of the anecdote. Someone give me strength!  

With social skills like his, I genuinely was not surprised that he was an out of work massage therapist, because the thought of him being paid to provide such an intimate service genuinely makes me want to do a little sick in my hand.  Harsh maybe, but after such an exhausting squeezing of blood from stone, sadly very fair. 

Once I'd had to watch him chew through his large red wine, most of which he wore on his top lip like a toddler in a Ribena moustache, I had to call an end to it, I could endure no more. I can't believe I've had two 90 minute wonders in one week...and this one was just the one drink! 

I think I've hit a brand new dating low.

Memorable Quotes:
At the tube station 'if you'd like to meet up again, just email me'. Don't make me laugh!

Events of note:
The end of the date. I think I may have done a little relief jig on the escalator down to the tube.

The verdict:
Do I need to even fill this one in? Seriously!

26 August 2011

Mr #11 - Captain Coriander

The preamble:
I've been messaging Mr #11 for a wee while now, and although on the face of it he wasn't the usual kind of guy I'd normally go for, I knew pretty early on that he'd be an evening well spent regardless of whether there was any chemistry or not. He'd been very playful, and we'd already had some very funny banter about coriander, his favourite thing in the entire world, and a substance I have dubbed 'the evil weed'. But putting herbal differences aside, we agreed on a cilantro-free venue and the date was set.

The man:
Profession: Artisan crafstman slash electrician
Random factoid: Once heckled Nick Cave in a Q&A session

The date:
I'd been warned early on that Mr #11's football team's performance had left him a state of emotional distress (oh dear Arsenal, oh very dear, thwarting my dates so, Wenger you big old bastard you), so I was under pressure to make the evening an improvement. 

He was running late thanks to neglecting to check TFL so I sorted myself out with a drink and waited for him to pitch up. Eventually, Captain Coriander blustered in with a faceful of apologies for his tardiness, this awesome shock of black curly hair, a delightfully shambolic manner  and I knew we'd be in for a fun evening. 

I did initially have reservations about age, since he was my oldest date to date (not that it's an age gap of Anna Nicole Smith proportions but you know what I mean) but after he'd acknowledged the fact I was a bit younger that was that and it wasn't mooted again.

Conversation was really varied, from his love of ancient history and Thailand to Polish builders, dads, Wiis and tragically losing his little sister. He also revealed his obsession with origami, not to mention the incredibly vexing petal technique (which I heard about in great great GREAT detail), and when I was at the bar he knocked me up a little flapping bird out of the Racing Post. 

Since it was a bank holiday Sunday and no-one had work to do in the morning, we decided to move on to an awesome rockabilly bar with bras on the ceiling and continued the banter. This was an evening of a few #52firstdates firsts...he was very complimentary and for once, because I need these things spelling out for me, I was aware that he actually fancied me. 

I think maybe there must've been something in the air in that bar though, as every time he popped off to the loo, some random boy would pop up and try and chat me up. Very strange. It got to about half twelve and I had to call time on the night on account of extreme tiredness and an ever-increasing vodka-to-blood ratio. We ambled off to get the night bus, which in true TFL style didn't turn up for 45 bloody minutes. Still, to while away the time we shared a lovely little kiss and a cuddle at the bus stop like some silly teenagers, and went our separate ways.

Memorable Quotes:
Would you like a drink?'
'Can I have a pint please?'
'Sure, what would you like?'
'I'm afraid they're all out'
'Oh. In that case I'll have a Fosters'

Events of note:
I have never seen beer come out of someone's nose before like a sprinkler system. Until tonight. Dear lord!

The verdict:
I have to say Captain Coriander was excellent company, and one of the most down-to-earth guys I've met so far. I think he may be keen to meet again, and if he is I think I would like to see him again, just to see if there may be anything there other than booze-induced snoggings.

24 August 2011

Mr #10 - Toothpaste Tash

The preamble:
Mr #10 was turned around in relatively swift time in my standard internet date terms. There were a couple of generic emails, and then I had an email at 3am saying 'I'm not going to be chatting on this all day so how about we just go for a drink'. Anyway, the next day, he followed it up with a 'sorry about that, I left my laptop on overnight and my "housemate" decided to send that message'. Oh that old chestnut! Whenever I leave my laptop on overnight, the parrots end up looking at porn on it. Honest guv'nor!

The man:
Age: 29
Profession: Runs his own landscaping business slash budding entrepreneur
Random factoid: Once met Michael Eavis

The date:
I won't lie, for whatever reason I wasn't exactly 100% up for tonight's date, and I suppose it was a bit doomed before it started because I had grand plans of having a romantic night in on my sofa with my favourite men, Ben, Jerry, Ernest and Julio. However, determined to honour my word, I popped off to meet Mr #10. I have to say, first impressions were far from favourable: very short, unnervingly sweaty, half-dressed,  super-scruffy, bushy-bearded, and  looked about 10 years older than his claimed age. He was also my first ginger of the project, so for the record I don't want people thinking I'm not an equal opportunities dater. He also appeared to have not looked in the mirror  nor any other reflective surface since brushing his teeth, as he was sporting a rather fetching Colgate-tash. When I clocked him, he nervously offered a hand to shake, but trying to be in keeping with the dating theme I went for a peck on the cheek. A very rough and sweaty cheek. Uh oh. I knew this wouldn't be a long haul effort, but nonetheless, effort I'd put in. It rapidly transpired that Mr #10 had been drinking vodka until 5am, hence the booze-sweats and shabby appearance. Classy. I wished he'd have cancelled at that point. For the most part of the date I felt like I was having to interview him: where do you work, what do you do, where do you live, what are your views on sharks, how gutted were you when Steve Irwin died, if you were to go on the Dragon's Den what product would you pitch...all the usual routes of conversation. He originally hails from Manchester, and as much as I appreciate Northerners have a very dry sense of humour which I'm rather fond of, he genuinely didn't appear to have one at all. I couldn't even raise a titter with my bullshit banter. Tough crowd. And I couldn't help but stare at the way he was constantly fingering his tonic bottle, and I wished that Sigmund Freud was sat on my shoulder taking notes.  I was also willing him to get his finger stuck in the bottle so a trip to A&E would have a. perked up the evening and b. brought it to a rapid conclusion. As he was warming up and making better headway with his gin and tonic, I was rapidly cooling, and  before long made some feeble excuse up about having to go home and make notes on Big Brother for work. Cos I work in telly y'see, that's what we do. Or not. Anyway, at 90 minutes, this stands at my shortest date thus far. And at around 5'4", so was my date. I'm pining for a giant right now...

Memorable Quotes:
'Next year I am going to buy a convertible. A Mercedes SLK and fly first class to the States.' Wanker.

Events of note:
Giving him wrong directions to the tube station. On purpose.

The verdict:
Tonight is a lesson well learned that putting a bit more effort into sussing the buggers out beforehand makes for a better choice of contender. He has just messaged to ask me out again, and I will politely put him out of his misery. I'm tempted to offer him some constructive criticism, but I kinda want a few more unsuspecting ladies out there to have similar anecdotes to tell their mates in the morning.

22 August 2011

Mr #9 - Sloppy Seconds?

The preamble:
Mr #9 was actually one of the first men I started speaking to when the whole #52firstdates malarkey kicked off, but thanks to his infeasibly busy rock ‘n’ roll working schedule of recording, drinking, gigging, sleeping, it’s taken me a good three months to actually pin the bugger down to a date. But unusually for my internet dating shenanigans, this guy I knew actually definitely positively 100% existed before meeting him, which of course is always a good sign. How did I know? Through my lovely friend Jemma and a bizarre series of text messages which went as follows:

Jemma: Hey, how are you? I met your friend M at Download festival, he’s really lovely.
Me: Oh how great, yeah he’s awesome.
Jemma: What is his surname by the way, is it XXXX?
Me: No it’s not, it’s XXXX.
Jemma: Oh, well who is this M XXX then? Oh I know, he’s some award-winning record producer.
Me: Hang on…he doesn’t look a little bit like this does he? *cuts and pastes picture from Mr #9’s profile page, knowing he was also at the same festival*
Jemma: What the fuck? Yes, that’s him! How on earth do you know him?
Me: Because we’ve met online and we’re meant to be going on a date.
Jemma: Oh, well you definitely should, he’s a bit short, but he’s very funny and an excellent kisser.
Me: Er, thanks Jemma. Would you like to test drive all my future dates for me?
Jemma: Yes

So obviously this was a date that had to happen, mainly because Jemma was so determined that I was going to marry this man and that she’ll get a mention in the best man’s speech. And who am I to let a good friend down?

The man:
Age: 32
Profession: award-winning record producer
Random factoid: once recorded with Robbie Williams.

The date:
I finally met Mr #9 in Covent Garden after a ridiculous string of attempts to meet the elusive sonofabitch. True to expectation, he was very short, was no stranger to hair straighteners and looked rather like the prototype for the All Saints junior clothing line. But he was very sweet, and chirpy, and I felt rather relaxed about the whole thing. 

What I did rather like about him from a start, is he knew loads of nice bars in the area, and had a little over-ambitious pub crawl planned. What I didn’t like so much was the slightly relentless music snobbery and name-dropping…’when I was recording with so and so’, ‘when I was looking after this band’, ‘when I went to Sweden to record with whathsisface’, ‘when I was on the guest list for blahdeeblah’ – alright I geddit! Jeez, you are too cool for school, well done you. Or so I thought… 

I have neglected to point out that all of the beverages consumed thus far on his part were all rather fruity, and some of them frighteningly pink, and rankly stereotypically, lady beverages! 

Keen to move on from the barrage of musical badge-bearing, I tried to move onto the subject of films. I love films, films are great, and it’s always brilliant finding some sort of celluloid common ground. However as it turns out, there literally was none. None. I like dark and edgy films, Requiem for a Dream, Fight Club, American Beauty…he liked, wait for it, PS I Love You, She’s All That, Marley and Me and a shockingly high number of Sandra Bullock films. Fucking MARLEY AND ME??? That was a bombshell he was not getting away with. When I questioned this shameful choice of film, he said ‘but it’s just such a lovely happy film’. When I replied that it was the worst film in the entire world and that I would rather gouge my own eyeballs out with John McCruirick’s anal beard trimmer than have to sit through the opening credits again, he IMDBed it to prove that the rating of 7/10 justified its place in his film collection. He also decided that because I hated said film, that I was totally heartless, inhumane and, quite frankly, dead inside. Let me put this out there right now, I’ll happily stay a hollow shell of a human being if it means I never have to watch that fucking abomination of a film ever again. 

Anyway the more fruity drinks that were sunk, the feistier he became, and I was reminded somewhat of Napoleon in his assertive small person posturing. Don’t get me wrong, it was an enjoyable evening for all the banter, but I felt slightly like I had assumed the more masculine role with my hatred of schmaltzy rom coms and my suppings of rum, whilst he professed his love for films starring Sandra Bullock, gulping his strawberry-scented beverages and complaining that the heels on his cowboy boots made his calves hurt. But by the end of the evening, I think his constant protestions had tuckered the little guy out a little too much as he sat yawning at the bus stop, although I was most relieved he was too tired and disinterested in my heart of stone to attempts one of his legendary snogs. He scampered off, and once on the bus he texted me to say thanks for the evening, but to berate me for giving him poor directions. Ah well.

Memorable Quotes:
‘I hate all poor people and chavs’

Events of note:
The unnervingly loud clicks his heels made on the pavement as we trotted from pub to pub.

The verdict:
All things considered I did have a very entertaining evening, some for the right reasons, but mostly for the wrong. As much as I love someone who is passionate about their work, I’m a little resentful of being choked by their job snobbery. But the final nail in the coffin has got to be his love of the worst possible films imaginable. I think now, when selecting potential suitors, I’ll have to run the Marley and Me test beforehand. I’m not sure I could cope with that sort of situation again. Do I want to see him again? Probably not. And I’m pretty sure given that I am dead inside, that he won’t be terribly fussed either. Sorry Jemma, I know you had high hopes on this one, again no pun intended, so you’d better start tracking down Mr #10 for me ASAP if you want a hope in hell of getting a mention at the wedding speeches.

07 August 2011

Mr #8 - Stroke Jokes

The preamble:
#8 was a relatively short-lived internet dating correspondence who, although his photos didn't really appeal, his penchant for quoting Eddie Izzard and a similar taste in music did. After only a couple of emails, he politely and almost tentatively offered his number and a drink, and since I'm now considerably more relaxed and open-minded about the 52 First Dates challenge now (plus I hadn't done my date for this week and needed to squeeze one in on Sunday or face the wrath of the 52 First Dates followers), I gracefully accepted.

The man:
Age: 32
Profession: IT...aren't they all? Apart from the failed writers and speech therapists. Oh, and fictional primary school teachers...
Random factoid: He once stood next to Liv Tyler at a bar and 'exchanged looks'. I can only imagine what those looks were, but let's just say I doubt he got her number...!

The date:
The date was in a quiet, quite nice pub in London Bridge. I won't lie, I'd been wrestling a beast of a hangover all day, and was getting increasingly less enamoured by the prospect of having to scrub up and be on my best behaviour. But, I managed to get out of my pyjamas and booze-induced funk in the nick of time, and pottered off to meet Mr #8. 

When I got the tube, he rang to find our mutual location, and eventually we managed to track each other down. What I didn't seen until we were in the pub was a message he'd sent saying he was the one looking nothing like his photos with a bag full of chainsaws. Funny, but perhaps the wrong audience for someone who has recently experienced the darker side of blind dates. 

He was neither terribly tall, nor terribly attractive, and we won't even mention the couple of teeth missing that were only detectable on a broad grim, but he had a nice relaxed manner about him, and I thought it probably wouldn't be that bad an evening after all. The pub was a good choice, although my choice of drink wasn't...sadly I had to stick to shandy on account of my innate rubbishness, and I give him kudos for not giving me the right royal ribbing I deserved for such a poor poor selection. 

There was plenty to talk about, for sure...we covered favourite crisps, our shared love of grammatical fascism, preferred condiments on bacon butties, novelty tattoos, bad internet dates (yes, I did pull the Catfish one out the bag...turns out it's quite the anecdote when talking to a stranger you've met online...),and why animals with normal names are brilliant. I did, however, manage to freak him the fuck out when I said out of the blue 'I think Jason is quite a good name for a dog', and it turned out his first dog was called Jason. The look on his face was one of  the shock of someone faced with a profoundly accurate psychic, and absolute fear that I'd probably just rumbled all of his internet passwords. 

He did, however, tread a fine line in some of his choice phrases. Mr #8 decided, rather late on, to test my mettle by offering up a swear off, claiming that modern expletives aren't quite good enough, but sadly when I offered up 'poo bum willy' after he dropped the bombshell of 'I once said to someone "the guilty orgasm of a rape victim"', he retreated well behind safe conversational lines with haste. And rightly so, what the holy fuck was he thinking? Rape is not and should not be a puchline in any scenario, let alone on a first date with a virtual stranger. 

It hit 9pm, three hours and three drinks after the offing, I was about to suggest home time, But he leaped in there with suggesting food. Food on a first date. So late? Oh no. I did have to put the kibosh on that immediately, partly because I was too tired to commit to another couple of hours worth of date and partly because I was too embarrassed to tell him I'd eaten not one but two curries today already to fend off the hangover from hell. I polished off the remains of my shandy, he dawdled at length over his. Come the fuck on now Mr #8, it's home time now, no-one needs to nurture foam.

Memorable Quotes:
'My mum had a stroke earlier this year. Best thing that's ever happened to her, even though she's still a bit of a drooling retard who occasionally wets herself.'

Events of note:
The first attempted snog of then 52 First Date the tube station there was a rather uncomfortable grasp of both my shoulders, and I knew from the eye contact and approaching face I'd have to take evasive action and go for the cheek. Bless him for trying.

The verdict:
All in all, he was a nice guy, with a lot of shared interests, and a bit of a dark edge to his humour which for the most part I rather liked, rape and stroke jokes notwithstading. And considering I was dreading giving up my slovenly sofa day to go on dating parade, he was far better than I had expected. But the bottom line is, I just didn't remotely fancy him, which is a shame because I think if there'd been some whiff of attraction there, I would've given him a second pop. But as I type now, I'm trying to work out the politest way to say thanks but no thanks to his offer of meeting again. Very flattered, but no. Oh well.