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.

09 May 2012

Mr #47 - the Bulgarian Sherlock

The preamble: Mr #47 and I hadn’t emailed for long. He had contacted me after reading my blog and decided to offer himself up for a date. I didn’t hesitate to say because his email was probably the best introduction I’ve ever read, he was polite, courteous, his English was brilliant, and my curiosity was instantly piqued. This is just a snippet taken from his message:

‘I am rather terrified of vacuum cleaners, auto-mobiles, women and traffic wardens. I quite like cats, cake, pipe tobacco, red meat, Glenmorangie, thrash metal, blues, jazz, rockabilly, Wagner, Fridays, tweed and fine suits, hiking, motorcycles (both vintage and racing) and the smell of old books.’
He had also attached a picture of himself, smoking one of his favourite pipes, with a most impressive mutton chop-moustache combo, and he mentioned that often he was greeted with shouts of ‘Oi Sherlock’ in the street. I had to meet this man. Mr #47 suggested that we met in an area of London that neither of us knew, and we’d go for a wander and see what we could find. So that’s exactly what we did. Well, planned to...
The man:
Age: 26
Profession: Freelance IT developer and consultant
Random factoid: He’s Bulgarian. I’d never met a real life Bulgarian before.
The date:
Mr #47 and I arranged to meet outside Westminster station. I knew to follow the smoke signals and to keep my eyes peeled for the vintage looking chap. Sure enough, propped up on the bridge, looking like someone from an Orson Welles novel was Mr #47. I will describe him for you, as he was quite possibly the smartest man I have ever seen in my life. As well as the evidential furry facial adornments, Mr #47 wore a sharp brown fedora, crisp shirt and tie combo, knitted vest with fob watch, tailored trousers and brown brogues. He was very handsome indeed. Sod Sherlock, think more Jude Law as Dr Watson. 

We greeted, he lit up his pipe, and he offered me his arm as we strolled along the Thames in search of somewhere for our date. He admitted early on he was a shy man, and had only been on one other date in the past 4 years as he wasn’t a fan of modern British women with their laddish ways. 

Pretty swiftly our plans of going somewhere neither of us knew were scuppered when he mentioned a wine bar he was fond of, and I mentioned an old pub my parents used to frequent in the sixties, so with a nod to Robert Burns and his best laid plans, we headed to my choice of venue first for a glass of wine.

Once inside, I soon realised it wasn’t quite the nice, cosy vintage haunt I remembered it to be, but Mr #47 was very gracious in saying he liked it, even though they only had house whiskey, and not the Glenmorangie he usually favoured. We briefly covered land law, postmodernism and the sound of regional accents before our drinks had mysteriously evaporated and it was time to move on. 

Mr #47 led me to a quaint old-fashioned wine bar and decided to order some port. Not being a port-connoisseur, I decided to also partake in the red stuff, and let Mr #47 choose our poison. His first suggestion was to share an entire bottle, but since I wasn’t a seasoned port-drinker and had work in the morning, I graciously declined, especially since his weapon of choice was a fine £75 bottle. Instead we opted for a large glass each, and on Mr #47’s recommendation ordered chocolate cake to accompany the beverage. Let me tell you, the port and chocolate fondant cake combination was exquisite. I never saw myself as a fortified wine fan, but I could definitely be persuaded now. 

The conversation continued: a lot more philosophy, the toxic effects of Absinthe or Creme de Menthe, thrash metal, eastern European drinking habits, unidentified drinking injuries, the merits of a finely-tailored suit, male facial grooming (thanks to cut throat razors, a tash comb and Geo F Trumper), the Cro Bar, Dylan Moran, the joys of British meats, Nazism, the laws of robotics, pipe etiquette, prejudice and the Tweed Run. 

Mr #47 brilliantly referred to every man as a ‘chap’, which in a Bulgarian accent was particularly endearing, and his love of philosophy exercised my brain muscles more than I’d done since studying at university. 

Two glasses of port down, it was time to call it a night, and Mr #47 offered to take me for a further stroll so I could get the bus. So off we went again, arm-in-arm past St Pauls. And then I got a glimpse of the sort of reaction that Mr #47 must get on a daily basis. On walking past a very boozy crowd outside a pub, some delightful wanker yelled ‘bloody ‘ell, it’s Sherlock!’. Mr #47 didn’t bat an eyelid, but inside I was fuming. Mr #47 was a chap with his own standards, his own delightful eccentricities, his own style and his own philosophies. It infuriates me that there are so many vile, narrow-minded drunken idiots out there that feel the need to behave in such an awful and hurtful manner. Of course, Mr #47’s appearance is entirely of his own decision. But live and let live. Anyway, pretty swiftly we reached the bus stop, Mr #47 politely enquired about the possibility of a second date, gave me a kiss on the hand, and saw me onto the bus. And that was that, truly a night to remember.

Memorable Quotes:
‘You’ve obviously never tried a Mediterranean cucumber’
‘I like the Nazis, they looked so cool’ I might point out that his liking of the Nazis did stop short of the murder of 3 million innocent individuals, just to be clear.
‘I once woke up wearing the barman’s shirt with a broken ear after a drunken night’
‘You’re the most intelligent person I’ve met since I’ve been in the UK, because when I talk about philosophy, you actually think about it, and not just argue.’
‘In the summer I tend to wear a striped blazer, straw boater and linen fishtail trousers with braces.’
‘I missed lunch the other day so I popped into McDonalds and had what they call a Big Tasty. What I didn’t anticipate was having to spend the next 20 minutes picking the cheese sauce out of my moustache.’

Events of note:
Before entering the first establishment, Mr #47 paused to empty the ash from his pipe. At this point, a man entering the building opposite stopped, and stared, giving us the right old stink-eye. When I enquired if he was alright, the truculent so-and-so went off on one about how that particular part of the pavement was his land, and that what Mr #47 was doing was against the law. What then ensued was a very awkward back and forth, with Mr #47 being as polite as he possibly could, whilst the resident was as belligerent as he could. Finally, Mr #47 conceded gracious defeat and we headed inside. But I know where that man lives now. And I’m willing with all my telekinetic powers that all the dogs in that area of London decide to shit on his doorstep.

The Verdict:
So, Mr #47 would like to take me out again. And you know what? I’d love to spend another evening with him. Yes, he’s a little old-fashioned, yes, he’s a tad eccentric, yes he takes pride in all things tonsorial. But he was quite possibly one of the nicest, brightest, most polite gentleman I have ever met. He was both gracious and intelligent, but still loves to get hammered, head bang and watch British comedy. But his gentlemanly values, polite manner and humble demeanour genuinely made me feel like a proper lady, which is something I found rather enlightening. Men of Britain, take note...