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.

28 January 2012

Mr #34 - Chavvy Metal

The preamble:
Mr #34 and I had been due to meet at the end of last year, but I had to cancel on account of having the lurg. We then rescheduled for over Christmas, and then he had to cancel for the same reason. So by the time we actually came to meeting, to be brutally honest I just wanted to get it out of the way as it had been lingering along for AGES.

He had also begun to irritate me quite a lot, texting me every day calling me babe this, babe that, and doing things like randomly ringing me drunk from the curry house to plot our meeting.  

As he lived in High Wycombe (having lived there myself, I can confirm this is warning sign number one), we decided to meet in London because he'd come into town to watch his football team play. And, bless him, he was very concerned about what to wear, so called no less than three times to see if he needed to bring a change of clothes, and to see if it would be okay if he wore jeans and trainers. 

By this point I was beyond caring, and was secretly hoping he'd turn up in fancy dress. He didn't.

The man:
Age: 30
Profession: Painter / Decorator
Random factoid: Is one of nine children. NINE!

The date:
We'd arranged to meet at Oxford Circus, nice and public, and close to a few of my favourite haunts. I got there first, and hung around inside the entrance of Nike Town. Mr #34 rang to try and find me, I described my coat, and stood and waited. Five minutes later, I was grabbed from behind and a rather boozy Mr #34 who planted a massive smacker on my mouth to the tune of 'awight Baybe!'Just brilliant. Brilliant, in the freakiest creepiest way imaginable. 

Buoyed on by the success of his team, he was perhaps a little more over-enthusiastic and drunk than most of my previous dates, and have to say I was filled with the fear of further facial burglary from the off. 

He was quite an unusual looking chap - a long greasy bob and a couple of crackers of front teeth, but he'd obviously dressed for the occasion in his finest Kappa tracksuit top the likes of which I'd not seen since the nineties, stone-washed jeans and white trainers. 

Once again I was the tour guide, so I carted him off to one of my favourite pubs which was not too far from the station, just in case another attempted oral assault required rapid escape. Small talk en route was tough, the best I could do was ask about the football game, league standings and match highlights, in constant fear that I was on my prime conversational handicap. 

Once in the pub he got the first round in. I settled for a bottle of beer, and he opted for Bacardi and Coke, his tipple of choice apparently. Novel. We commandeered a table, and I was treated to quite the show as Mr #34 removed the Kappa jacket to reveal extensive tattoos covering the skinniest little arms I have ever seen in my life. They were like little painted Twiglets. He can't have weighed more than 7 stone, which I have to say is not something that I look for in a man - what girl wants to feel like a whale compared to a sprat? 

His tattoos extended onto his hands, on the one hand was his favourite football team, classy, and on the other a girl's  name which, judging from how faded it was, was no longer his favourite. 

Anyway, once he'd sat himself down the date commenced, and I kept thinking that maybe I was on  a date with a fictional character, He was hilarious. He was keen to know about my romantic history, success on the dating site, what I was looking for and about the worst date I'd ever been on. What did become a little unnerving was how he kept bringing up how long I'd been single for. It's not as if I don't already have enough of a complex about it, thanks! 

He also seemed to have a photographic memory for the pictures on my profile, and decided to talk me through them in detail, which was in no way disconcerting at all. We chatted about football even more, the recession, him living with his elderly parents, and finally we moved onto the main common ground of the evening - metal music. From the look on his face, it was like all his Christmases had come at once when I revealed my fondness and knowledge of death metal and hard rock bands from the mid-nineties onwards, and I even had to produce my iPod to prove I had the likes of Soulfly and System of a Down amongst my music collection. 

Four drinks down, we'd done better  than expected, but the evening was starting to drag a little and I was aware that the more he drank, the greater the chance of a salival reprise would be, and I wasn't going to have any of that. Despite him offering another drink, I had to insist it was time to call it a night, and we headed back to the tube. Once at the tube, I tried to preempt off a snog offensive by giving him a peck on the cheek and saying goodbye. He just stood and stared at me and tried again to suggest another drink, and I just couldn't do it. I went in for a final quick peck and ran off before he had a chance to stare at me again.

Memorable Quotes:
'To be honest I worried for you meeting me today babe, you know it's different for girls meeting boys on the internet. I mean, you're safe with me and everything babe, but I did worry for you. Does anyone know you're here babe?' Yes, yes they do...

'I'd drive you around in my Transit babe. I'd take you wherever you wanted to go.' Who says romance is dead?

'I don't like poetry except when you write it for your girlfriend and that...'

'I did some flyers for my painting business the other day, took 'em round all the local posh estates, hit the rich and all that eh babe!'

'I think you're the only one that replied to me on that site babe'. 

'Do you want to go and see Cradle of Filth sometime babe?'

Events of note:
Without doubt the highlight of the evening was when I returned from the loo to find Mr #34 sat at the table of this old boy diagonally behind us. He'd plonked himself there to use the power point to charge his phone, and was in the middle of talking his dad through the process of opening a bank letter to read his pin number out to him. He stayed there for 15 minutes whilst this poor old guy was trying to eat his roast dinner in peace. They looked like the weirdest couple ever.

The Verdict:
Bless him, he was a really funny little chap, but he reminded me more of a character that a comedian would come up with rather than a real life human being. And I just couldn't be doing with anyone who uses the word 'babe' as punctuation, had arms thinner than my 9 month old nephew's neck and who's idea of an introduction is a full on tonsil invasion. He did message me on his train ride back to illustrious High Wycombe asking if I'd see him again, and I did have to gracefully decline.

22 January 2012

Mr #33 - Job Security

The preamble:
Mr #33 and I hadn't really spoken a tremendous amount, but from the few messages we exchanged I thought he sounded polite and sweet, and the fact he wasn't determined to take me out to get wasted was a bit of a bonus.

The man:
Age: 39
Profession: Security guard
Random factoid: Recently had to process 800 security passes at work. Mmm, riveting!

The date:
For once, this was a quiet Sunday afternoon date with coffee in mind, which was rather refreshing given how boozy some of my dates have been of late. 

We met at Waterloo, and my first thoughts were 'is that him, or is that an Italian tourist from the nineties?' He didn't look a lot like his pictures, which were obviously selected from about a decade ago. Let me paint the picture for you: flat top salt 'n' pepper hair. swarthy tan, leather jacket, Burberry scarf, those very contrived over-frayed jeans, gold chain and Timberland boots. Quite a picture. He also had some expensive-looking shades by some designer that I can only assume is entirely fictitious, and he picked them up on the market for a fiver. 

But he looked very nervous bless him, and for the brief walk to the coffee shop he was a little tricky to get chat out of. Once perched with froffee coffees he warmed up a bit after we covered his home town in great detail, as it happened to be where I went to uni which was a bit of a conversational godsend given his skills at making small talk. 

I'll be honest, he wasn't the brightest star in the galaxy, and it wasn't the most stimulating of chats, even though he was nice enough. We talked about Jack Russells, flatpack furniture, people being rude, supermarkets and bomb scares.  Oh, and he lives with his mum. At the age of 39. 

It was all very nice, but after one hot beverage it was definitely time to call it a day. We said our polite goodbyes and went our separate ways.

Memorable Quotes:
'I was talking to my daughter the other day...I mean SISTER!' Hmm...
'I've got a 40" telly in my bedroom'. Hmm again...

Events of note:
Trying to negotiate a cappuccino-tash. New territory. I think I won against the foam's a shame he didn't...

The Verdict:
Nice guy, nothing in common, no attraction whatsoever, and I'm sorry, but STILL LIVES AT HOME? Nup, not for me thanks.

19 January 2012

Mr #32 - First Impression Backtrack

The preamble:
Mr #32 claimed to be very new to the whole online dating malarkey, so was pretty upfront about about asking for my number...
'Hello. You're hot. Would you like to go for a drink with me?'
Well, if you put it like that, alright then. So I whizzed him my number and we arranged a date without knowing an awful lot about him. What then ensued was some rather bizarre texting etiquette. 

I have to say from previous experience, I normally try to limit the amount of texting before a date, as sometimes it turns out they just want some girl to message late at night or when they're bored, and sometimes hopes on either or both sides get built up out of all proportion. Mr #32's technique was somewhat more unconventional. He'd message a lot, and berate me for not wanting to engage in lengthy text banter. He'd also call me 'love' a lot, which is a proper pet peeve of mine, and I did have to pull him up on it as it was getting close to jeopardising the date. His idea of humour, was also incredibly questionable. 

An example:
Mr #32: So are we going to get pissed on Saturday then?
Me: I'm not sure about that, I don't like to get drunk on first dates... (not I didn't say 'I never')
Mr #32: Oh, we're going on a first date are we? Better wash my willy then
Me: *silence*

He'd also told me I would definitely fall in love with him, and would frequently text late at night complaining that he couldn't sleep LOL, another pet peeze of mine. If you need to write LOL at the end of something, it's clearly not funny in the first place. He'd also texted to warn me that his teeth weren't perfect, not goofy, but not perfect. He'd been systematically doing his utmost to give him possibly the worst first impression before I'd met him, but because I'd already committed, I went  ahead with it anyway. But I was not looking forward to it...

The man:
Age: 28
Profession: Works in finance
Random factoid: Once walked past Jimmy Corkhill from Brookside in the street.

The date:
I was absolutely dreading this date. I actually considered bottling it on the day, but since he was already in London for the football and was going to hang around to see me, I just couldn't do it. So I met him.

We met outside Covent Garden tube. I'll be honest, he wasn't very attractive. He was very tall, and was awkwardly bulky, although not fat. His teeth were in a little disarray but nothing major, but his face was covered almost entirely with what looked like shaving rash, even his forehead. His hair was gelled upwards into what I can only describe as a point, like a hairy little drawing pin. He also had tucked his rather baggy jeans into his boots in some sort of All Saints-esque apery, which to be honest he wasn't pulling off. Truth be told I was already thinking about a possible exit strategy in the event this was as bad as I thought it'd be. 

We ambled off to a pub of my choosing, settled in a well-lit corner, and set to with a date. I have to hold my hands up right now and say I think this is probably one of the biggest turnarounds from first impressions I had ever done. Turns out, he's really rather funny. REALLY funny. We covered work, the decline of ginger people, Youtube clips, Latin, Ethiopian cuisine, Mika, Tupperware, his Chinese flatmate and Blue Peter. 

We also had an awful lot in common - same taste in music, film and we both share a love of all things German. He also was pretty outspoken about how he felt about me, and kept talking about how he liked my hair and eyes, and when he found out that I baked asked me to marry him flat out. It was very amusing and rather sweet, if a little embarrassing as I'm not used to that sort of complimenting on dates.

Before we knew it, we were both giggly and tipsy, it was time at the bar and the pub was shutting up shop. So we headed off to the bus stop, said our goodbyes, and scampered off in opposite directions.

Memorable Quotes:
On leaving to go to the loo for the first time: 'there's a Snickers in my jacket pocket. I know it's there. Steal it, and I will hunt you down...'
'I once went to see Christina Aguilera at Wembley.'

Events of note:
Every time I went to the bar, he'd disappear off to the loo without saying a word. He was like the Dungeon Master, only three times the size and without the dubious hairdo. And the little Spanish barman in the background trying to catch my attention with his bar juggling skills.

The Verdict:
This genuinely was a revelatory date. Never before have I had such a poor impression of a guy before meeting him, and never before have they totally turned it around, and then some. Personality-wise, he was spot on - he was funny and irreverent enough for my taste, we liked loads of the same things and I had a really enjoyable evening with him. The only downside is there was just absolutely zero physical attraction there from my side, and I mean not even a glimmer, which is just such a crying shame as he was awesome company. I know they say attraction is about the whole package, but this one I just couldn't get past the wrapping.

13 January 2012

Mr #31 - Smooth Criminal

The preamble:
Mr #31 was sadly another product of my post-Christmas date-lack panic, so once again there wasn't a tremendous amount of communication leading up to the date in question. But he seemed like a cheeky, chatty sort, and we had a few basics in common, taste in comedy included, so I said yay to a date.

The man:
Age: 37
Profession: Runs his own scaffolding firm
Random factoid: He's the first person I've ever met to own a Smart car. For some reason I'd always thought they were pretend...

The date:
I met Mr #31 outside the tube, and the first thing that struck me was that he was a textbook case for male pattern baldness, and that he'd been very careful to select only photos from his more hirsute days. 
That said, he wasn't unattractive by a long chalk, he had icy blue eyes and an excellent arrangement of gnashers. Well done him. 

We pottered off to a pub, he installed himself at the bar on a quest for wine, and twenty minutes later, yes TWENTY, he emerged with a bottle. I had had half an eye on him at the bar, and it was rather entertaining watching him get chatted up by some brassy blonde, and I'm pretty sure he slipped her his number as they were talking for a long time, and there was some mobile phone action.  

Once he'd returned with the booze, I very soon realised quite what an Essex lad he was, which made me feel incredibly posh, and I did try my best to de-plum so I didn't feel quite so self-conscious. The conversation was great. We covered the life and times of the Mighty Boosh, random inventions, the cats versus dogs debate, playing the piano, and had a lengthy argument about the Top Gun soundtrack. I even did the Marley and Me test on him, which he scraped past (he did say he would watch it if it was on, but wouldn't choose to). 

I couldn't help noticing the tattoo of a girl's name on his wrist, but didn't quite have the balls to enquire whether it was an ex, a daughter or a deceased pet. You can never tell these days. Before we knew it, we'd sunk a LOT of Sauvignon Blanc, it was time at the bar, and we had to go our separate ways. Not a bad evening. Or so I thought...

Memorable Quotes:
'Don't worry about needing to go for a wee, it happens to all of us.' Er, yes...yes it does.

Events of note:
So, all in all it was a rather pleasant night, no? Until it was time to say goodbye, when the following conversation occurred:
Mr #31: You getting the bus home then?
Me: Yes, the bus stop's just round the corner. You?
Mr #31: Actually my car's just parked round the corner
Me: Your car?
Mr #31: Yes
Me: But you're drunk
Mr #31: Yeah but I feel fine
Me: But you're over the limit
Mr #31: I'll be alright
Me: You shouldn't be driving. Why don't you hop on the tube?
Mr #31: I'll be fine, honest. I'll text you when I get in.
Er...that's not what I'm worried about! I'll tell you now, if I'd have seen his car, I would have rung up the police straight away and reported the fucker. Selfish, stupid, irresponsible bugger. With the benefit of hindsight I should have followed him, and I hate myself for that. In case you were wondering, he got in okay. Shame. I wish he'd been pulled over by the fuzz and taught a bloody lesson.

The Verdict:
Dare you need ask? Had he been a good boy and hopped on the tube home, I would have considered seeing him again. I'm sorry, but drink driving is a deal-breaker of the highest order. I'm not sure if I'll hear from him again, I suspect he's feeling pretty sheepish now and rightly so. But if he does suggest another date, I shall be gracefully declining, and telling him exactly why.

09 January 2012

Mr #30 - Captain Apathy

The preamble:  
There was pretty much no preamble leading up to my date with Mr #30, the reason being I had a bit of a panic! It was the start of a new year, I had a date lined up for the Saturday, and two hours beforehand the bugger texts to cancel on account of manflu. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't because I had been looking forward to this particular date for ages, but because I didn't have a back up! I couldn't find a back up! And after an desperate afternoon of trying to bag a date for the Sunday afternoon, I failed miserably, and the best I could do was for the Monday night. That would just have to do, and I'll have to find another one for later in the week to make up the quota. Sad, but true...

The man:
Age: 29
Profession: Works in social housing

Random factoid: Is the only person I have ever met whose favourite nut is the walnut. This in itself should have been a warning...

The date:
Mr #30 wasn't terribly forthcoming on the date venue front, so I took the plunge and plumped for a non-committal pub I rather like in Soho. We met outside the tube, and to be honest, I'd spotted him waiting there about five minutes earlier, and my precise thoughts were 'oh god, that's him isn't it! That's bloody him...' And it was. 

His pictures had been very kind. Sadly his actual real life face let him down. He'd turned up in a manky woolly hoodie, grubby jeans and questionable trainers, and seemed pretty quiet and not very forth-coming. This was not going to be easy. 

We ambled over to the pub, actually not the pub I originally had in mind, it was one a lot closer, to make things swifter. At the bar, he announced he was having a January detox, so we procured a couple of pints of OJ and lemonade and found possibly the draughtiest corner of the pub to sit in. 

I have to say, after getting over the fact that the world was going to end during 2012, he warmed up a little. Behind the snuffling into his sleeve and distinct lack of eye contact, the chat was reasonably entertaining: we covered nuts, more nuts in fact, religions, how he loves his job because he can argue with people, Tom Cruise films, Morocco and the fact that he once drank 20 pints of Guinness at a work do when no-one else was on the booze. 

I suppose one of the most telling things about him was that he gave up eating meat for a year. For why, says I? Oh because I could. I see. So for no good reason whatsoever. Well done you. 

Sadly, there were a lot of awkward silences, and I was aware I did have to pull some of my dickish surrealism out of my handbag in order to try and keep things going, which for the most part succeeded. And I spent the entire time trying not to look like I was on a first date as there were two very handsome guys sat nearby giving us the odd look. After a very long pint of something non-alcoholic, I had to make my excuses and head off to the bus.

Memorable Quotes:
'I don't get hangovers. Probably explains why I use and abuse alcohol so much. I'm detoxing now as I was on a bender for the entire of 2011'

'I dropped out of uni. I drop out of things a lot'

Events of note:
Probably the best event of the night actually was at my expense. I'd been curled up on the sofa with one leg tucked under me, and when nature called, I hopped up to answer, but sadly my foot didn't quite wake up in time, so I ended up performing some ridiculous fall slash limp on the lengthy walk to the ladies. By the time I reached the loo, my leg had almost returned to normal. I swear that's why Kaiser Soze's limp goes at the end of the Usual Suspects, it's nothing to do with the fact he'd been faking, he just had a dead leg! And before you get angry at me for spoilering the Usual Suspects, that was nearly 20 years ago. Bruce Willis is also a ghost in Sixth Sense. What of it?

Anyway, that's the last time I sit on my own feet on a date, that's for sure.

The Verdict:
Do you really need to ask? My initial thoughts were dread, they improved marginally, but at the end of the day he was far from the cute East London fop that his photos shows, his conversational skills required far too much coaxing on my behalf, and his general apathy towards life was somewhat sapping. Oh well, I thought things were going a little too well with Mr #29. Who is still away in Mexico, in case you were wondering. Still, no time to dawdle, I have a date to make up, so expect a Mr #31 coming your way shortly.