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.

11 June 2012

Mr #52?

So, I’ve finally done it! 51 first dates down and now it’s time for the last one. I won’t lie, it’s been an awesome experience, for a myriad of weird and wonderful ways. And now I’m faced with the final date, and somehow I’m sad to let it go. 

For the last couple of months, I fear I’ve maybe lost sight of the purpose of this project – to find someone special – because as soon as the big five two hove into view, the competitive part of me wanted to reach the bitter end. But perhaps that’s what it’s become, bitter, and that’s not doing the blog any justice at all. I knew I had to get to number #52 and I knew I had to do something very special for it. 52 First Dates deserves to end on a high, and of course, I’d rather like a happy ending for me too.
My first plan of action involved doing what I have never done in this entire process – putting my pride on the line asking someone nice out on a date, and being the one to make the effort. Over the last four months or so, I’d struck up a rather lovely long distance correspondence with a rather lovely single Danish boy. We’d spoken about the big serious things: religion, love, family values, as well as the trivial things: Will Ferrell, rum, cake, coffee, log cabins and knitwear. As the last few dates approached, I’d decided to swallow my pride and do the unthinkable: to summon up the proverbial balls ask this boy to be Mr 52. Because whatever would have happened, assuming he agreed in the first place, I knew we’d get on as people, and I knew it’d end the blog on a high. I had this silly idea that for the grand finale of 52 First Dates I’d bake a cake, hop on a plane to Copenhagen, deliver said cake and hopefully share a slice over a cheeky espresso, and then hop back on the plane to England again. For me, it’d have been positive closure to what has been a life-changing experiment, and for everyone who’s stuck with me through the blog, their chance to see me do something different and positive. Good plan right? Yes, in principle...

Trouble was, in the interim of my making this decision, the lovely Danish boy had found himself his own rather lovely girlfriend. Balls. Since I’m not the sort of girl to meddle with other people’s happiness, that idea bit the dust pretty sharpish. But DP, if you're reading this, there's still a cappuccino cupcake with your name on it should you ever end up in London town.

Anyway, back at the ranch, I was once again left with the quandary of how to make date #52 as special as I’d hoped. Enter my good friend Maggot*, a PR guru who then suggested in so many words that my choices of dates have been pretty poor at best and fucking diabolical at worst, and to let the long-suffering readers of 52 First Dates choose the final date for me!


So, dearly beloved readers of 52 First Dates, this is where you come in. I put it to you that since you probably all know me better than myself by now, having endured every buttock-clenchingly cringe-worthy moment of the last 51 weeks of my life, that you help to find Mr #52 for me. You may know the perfect person to tick this elusive box, or even fancy yourself for this coveted slash much-afeared position. Well now’s the time to play Cupid and get that little bow and arrow of yours out (but perhaps leave the nappy at home). You’ve been on these dates with me (virtually), you know the sorts of things and people I like and don’t like, I’m obviously making a total balls-up of finding a boyfriend myself so perhaps you can do a better job.


All you need to do is get your proposed Mr #52 (or in fact yourself if you fancy being the boy to break 52 First Dates) to email me with some information about themselves / yourself and a photograph, and hopefully some light-hearted correspondence will ensue (although I must add by means of a casual disclaimer that this isn’t guaranteed, not because I’m rude or anything like that, I’m always happy to email, but I’m just a bit shit at times, especially when I’m in the middle of moving house).

I’ve given myself a month to do this because quite frankly I’ve grown too cynical about this whole dating malarkey, and I figure a month sans dates will give me enough time to get my turbulent domestic situation sorted and more importantly to cleanse my former date-induced scepticism so Mr #52 has the fairest of shots. Therefore, on the 11th of July 2012, I shall short-list 5 possible candidates (or just list them if five or less apply for the date which is more than likely) and I’ll open them up to a poll whereby you vote for the final date of 52 First Dates. I trust you will be kind. I will then go on said date, and write it up so you all know how it went. Simples! And, as an added incentive, if you voted for the right Mr #52 and I end up marrying him, you will of course all be invited to the wedding**.

In the interest of fairness, I should probably also give you some vital information about myself (or lifted from my online dating profile) so budding Mr #52s know a little bit about who or what they’re up against.

Name: CTS (obviously not my real name, but my real initials)
Age: 31
Profession: Edit producer formerly in television, now for a charity.
Random factoid: Used to be a falconer
Likes: knitting, baking, chutney-making, playing the piano, cake, teaching her parrots pointless things, writing in the third person, Tim Minchin, weird films, dark comedy, gigs, blowing raspberries, a wide range of cheeses, cats, Elf, sarcasm, writing, secret London pubs, feathers, loud guitars and louder drums, regional accents, festivals, crispy smoked bacon, Hackney, taxidermy, Eddie Izzard, my nephew, a good book, riding around on the top deck of the bus, cricket, the correct use of grammar, the Overground, lie ins, Charlie Brooker, overripe bananas, being independent, the ukulele, long words, antidisestablishmentarianism.
Dislikes: lateness, bad grammar, stubbing my toe, cucumber, the word ‘moist’, arrogance, spiders, Keane, being disappointed in the human race, the Daily Express, laziness, low-fat spreads, money-lovers, seafood sticks, noisy eaters, unripe bananas, football hooligans, Marley and Me, people who chew gum with their mouths open, the Tube.
Would like to meet: Someone fun, funny, possible funny-looking but ideally not funny-smelling. Own teeth and hair essential (or at least acceptable substitutes toupees notwithstanding). Someone who likes to ponder the pointless as well as the poignant. Someone who can make me laugh. Someone who will hopefully not make me cry (unless it’s through laughter, see previous point). Artists, musicians, creative types especially welcome.

Oh, I have a face too. This is it.

So to sum up, I CTS ask you lovely readers to help me find my happy ending. You can help me out by spreading the word, passing this on, telling your friends and helping me round 52 First Dates off with a wonderfully big bang. So until next time, thank you and goodnight.

08 June 2012

Mr #51 - The Stinky Ginger

The preamble:
Right, Mr #51, the penultimate date of 52 First Dates. Excited? Admittedly I wasn’t, but that’s because the poor timing of my house move has sapped all of my energy and enthusiasm for pretty much everything except removals, mortgages, and the frighteningly amount of money I appear to be haemorrhaging all over the place at the moment. So as has been the case over the last few dates, I had a panic, and accepted the next date that came my way. He looked smart, sounded sane, and was really rather ginger. In my experience of ginger chums, they usually have about 25% more personality and chutzpah than the average person presumably as a self-defense mechanism cultivated at school when kids are mean about things like this, so I thought I’d be in for an entertaining evening. 

The man:
Age: 30
Profession: Freelance computer programmer. Currently unemployed.
Random factoid: He’s currently taking singing lessons.

 The date:
We’d arranged to meet at Oxford Circus at 7pm, on account of the fact that Mr #51 didn’t know anywhere to go in Soho, so once again I had to think of somewhere to go. So, at 7pm on the dot, I stood myself in the entrance of Nike Town, and texted to let him know I was there. He promptly replied and said he hadn’t left yet. Great. So I decided to potter around Top Shop in the warm, waiting for my date to turn up and trying not to spend money. I may have accidently put my face in a cupcake whilst avoiding the allure of the jewellery section, but what can you do! My poor wallet was crying out for some action, and my empty tummy was also shouting out, so it was a compromise I had to make. 

Half an hour later, my phone went, and Mr #51 had arrived. I found him propped up outside Top Shop in all his titian glory, with tatty black jeans, a sort of aubergine velour tracksuit top on and a big stubbly grin. We greeted, and rather embarrassingly I went for the one kiss on the cheek, whereas he went for a full on hug and ended up snogging my neck. Great start. 

Anyway he seemed cheery enough, so I proposed a couple of pubs up Great Portland Street, and we started walking and talking. He had a brilliant Northern Irish accent which I really love, but I really had to fight the urge to join in with the Ulsterness for fear of offending. As we moseyed up the street, we chatted about London, and since he’d only been a resident for just over a year (and only in Clapham), he was forgiven for his geographical ignorance. We happened upon a reasonable looking pub, so we ducked in and grabbed a table. 

First impressions, once the awkwardness of the snog-hug had worn off were that he was quite nice, very dry, but nice. As he warmed up, he also had a pretty decent sense of humour. But he was obviously knackered, and whilst I was trying to ‘give good date’, he did spend the majority of the time rubbing his face like an over-tired toddler. We covered music, playing instruments, festivals, vegetarianism, comedy, camping, pets and cannibals. 

He took great pleasure in telling me how that day he’d been for a test at an employment agency, and he’d sat in a room cheating on his iPhone. He also decided to tell me about the drugs he’d taken, and recommended I didn’t try miaow miaow on account of it turning him into a zombie. Thanks for the tip. 

After a couple of drinks, the face-rubbing got even worse, so we decided to call it a day. And just as we stood up to leave, he dropped a bombshell. Quite literally. From his bottom. I have never smelt anything quite like it in my entire life. And it was definitely him, as it sure as hell wasn’t me and there was no-one else within a 7 metre radius. It was inhumane, I could even taste it. In fact, writing this now, I can still taste it. The look on his face said he hoped I hadn’t noticed, but the look on my face must’ve given it totally away. My immediate reaction was to start talking about public transport and how best he could get home, and we quietly but stealthily headed off to the tube, where I left him, before I ducked into Tesco Express to buy some mints to stick up my nose. Game over Mr #51.

Memorable Quotes:
‘Do you need to take cats for walks?’
‘Stephen Fry is too intelligent for me’
‘In case you hadn’t noticed, I don’t do too well in the sun’

Events of note:
En route to the pub, we both stopped for some money, and there was a homeless guy sat right next to cash point where I was stood. Suddenly, an inopportune gust of wind lifted my dress right in front of this poor guy’s face, as if to say ‘Sorry dude, no cash, but here’s an ass’. Yes, I Monroed a hobo. Classy CTS, very classy.

The Verdict:
There was part of me that thought before going on #51 that the poor bugger didn’t stand a chance being so close to the end, but I did genuinely enter into the date with an open mind. And although for the most part the chat was fine and at times amusing, I felt like I was talking to someone a lot more immature than me, not just in personality stakes but in life stales too. But the final blow (literally) came with that dirty protest of his at the last minute, and after dropping a botty-bomb such as that, no thanks, no chance. 

So there you have it, 51 dates and still going. But there’s only one left. Who will it be? Well, let me tell you know, it’s going to be something a little bit different, and I’m going to need your help. Stay tuned for further instructions...

05 June 2012

Mr #50 - the Nutter

The preamble:
So once again I owe you guys an apology - not for going on my date #50 late, oh no, I did meet him in good time, I've just not got round to writing him up on account of being homeless. So many apologies, and for this very same reason I fear Mr #51 may be a little tardy in the offing too, but since you've stuck with me this far, I hope you'll not object too much. 

Anyroad, Mr #50, would you like to meet him? Good. So Mr #50 had been messaging on and off for a couple of weeks, he looked very nice and safe, he used full sentences when texting which always a ticks a certain box with me. And amid the chaos of my packing and moving and misplacing most of my essential possessions, we arranged to meet near Angel for a drink.

The man:
Age: 37
Profession:  Importer of gourmet foods, namely nuts and dried fruit
Random factoid:  There was nothing random about this man whatsoever. Which was all in all rather disappointing...

The date:
Before we met, Mr #50 had promised to take me out on the Sunday afternoon for tea and cake. But as the date crept ever nearer, he retracted his offer in favour of a quiet Pimms, which under normal circumstances I wouldn't mind, but I'd been sat in all bloody day waiting for some bastard from Freecycle to come and collect my sofa (they never turned up by the way, I know you were wondering...) and I'd had cake on the brain for hours. 

When we confirmed our plans on the day, I was surprised that Mr #50 actually rang me a couple of times, which always catches me off guard a little as most people opt for the text approach rather than risk hearing what the other person sounds like and bottling it. You know what? He sounded lovely. Nice and normal. Great. Cake retraction forgiven. And I was looking forward to meeting him. So that evening I managed to peel myself away from my boxes to scamper over to Angel, where I met Mr #50.

He was tall, dark, handsome with rather lovely blue eyes. Excellent work I thought! Off we pottered to a pub of my choosing, equipped ourselves with a pair of Pimmses and got to know each other. Within a relatively short space of time, I'd established that Mr #50 was rather passive aggressive. He controlled the conversation with almost military precision, and whenever he tired of a subject and wanted to move on, he'd use the same phrase every time: 'oh it's all fun and games isn't it'. Over time, this got a little wearing. 

Conversation was, at his behest, mostly about relationships - infidelity (he'd been with his ex for 9 years before she left him for someone else), kids, home-buying, utilities companies, and his business. We're both in the same position as we're both in the process of buying somewhere to live, and are technically homeless, but he kept putting everything about his move into the perspective that he'd like to buy somewhere that when he gets into a relationship (which he may have mentioned about a million times) that he'll think about where they should both live, and rent his place out. This man was frighteningly keen to settle down. But then to try and counteract this incredibly keen assertion that he wants to move in with someone, he'd then profess who finding dating 'terribly fickle', and that he doesn't have the energy anymore. Not convinced sunshine. Not in the slightest. 

He was also all-too-keen to over analyse me, calling me 'my own person' (what the fuck does that even mean when it's at home? Or homeless), telling me I was very 'London' (again, what do you mean by that, likening me to one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world?) and subtly patronising me for the fact that I live alone, am buying my own place and I have my own independence. 

The final nail in the coffin was when he managed to make me jaw drop by saying that if we were to get together, because both of us are homeless, we'd have to get 'at it' in the back of his Mini, like (and I quote) 'a pair of horny teenagers'. Game over. Game well over! 

Fortunately we were both sucking on dry mint leaves at this point, and seeing it was a school night, I made my excuses to leave. And despite my favourable first impressions, I did not look back.

Memorable Quotes:
'I don't want to have to resort to Thai brides until I'm at least 50'

'There's only so exciting almonds can be'. You're telling me!

Events of note:
Taking subtle notes on the decor in the pub for my new place...taxidermied birds, bowler hat lamp shades and dog print upholstery are now on the 'to buy' list.

The Verdict:
Am I going to see him again? No chance. I'd like to meet someone who appreciates my independence and also is content to have their own. Not someone who suddenly want to leap straight in to co-habitation and instantly becoming joined at the hip (in both senses of the word). I'm sure there's a lady out there in exactly the position to tick his proverbial boxes, but she ain't me. No siree.