Wednesday, 9 October 2013

All you need is... a Singles Night?


I feel I must start this post with an apology for my absence these past months. The truth is that I somewhat gave up on the dating game and blog posting because nothing (honestly, nothing) of consequence happened in my love life that was worthy of documenting. However – all that has changed. I write today to tell you that I decided to determinedly put myself back Out There by attending a singles night hosted by

Ruby, my best friend from work, received an invite to the event and took me along with her (obviously I haven’t joined myself – have you seen their monthly rates?!). I was really looking forward to going as I’ve long thought that meeting someone on a singles night would have huge benefits which other types of dating (particularly online dating) doesn’t have – such as meeting in a casual setting, knowing instantly whether you click with another person, and having the safe knowledge that everyone you’re talking to is actually single.

 The event was held at a swanky bar in Shoreditch. We arrived late because the night had clashed with our manager’s leaving drinks from which we’d had to drag ourselves away. The bar was absolutely packed. We shot each other a confused glance – were all these people here for the singles night? There was no way of telling. We were basically just walking into a packed bar in the same way that you would on any weekend. We purchased our drinks and, losing our nerve somewhat while staring at all the people chatting around us, wandered to a table in an alcove to plan our strategy for the evening.

Thankfully we didn’t have to wait long to find out how the whole thing worked. A man came over and introduced himself to us and we were soon all chatting away. Unfortunately, another man had also made his way over to our table - but not to talk to us. Man number two proceeded merely to sit on the end of the table and stare at Ruby and I. And I mean really stare – predator-in-undergrowth-about-to-pounce-on-prey-type staring. After ten painful minutes of seeing him in my peripheral vision and trying to politely ignore, I could take it no longer and suggested that we stand up and mingle. Unhelpfully this didn’t lead to any actual mingling, instead our small talk with the first gentleman totally dried up (he didn’t seem to have quite grasped the art, preferring to let us ask the questions and give nothing back). We quickly made a feeble excuse and headed to the bar again.

While standing and waiting for Ruby to buy a drink I don’t think I’ve ever felt more on show in a dating setting. Perhaps it was pure paranoia, but I really felt like I was surrounded by men and women purely judging and sizing each other up, like wild animals at a watering hole. Within seconds I’d been approached by another man.

‘Hi, I’m Danny,’ he grinned manically. His clammy hand grasped mine vigorously; his whole body was shaking with nerves.

‘I’m Minnie.’ I replied smiling, trying to look friendly and put him at ease.

‘Hi,’ he said again, ‘it’d be nice to kiss everyone when you first meet them wouldn’t it? But you couldn’t really do it here, or it’d just be an orgy of kissing, ha ha ha.’ He trailed off into nervous laughter.

I was saved having to respond to this by Ruby appearing with the drinks.

‘This is Danny,’ I said, by way of introduction and diverting his attention.

‘Hello, I’m Ruby,’ she said, offering her hand, which he simultaneously shook while going straight in for a jerky, head-butting kiss on her cheek. I cringed with sympathy for Ruby. All I could think about was how to get away.

‘Can we nip to the loo?’ I said, with a pointed look in her direction.

‘I want to leave,’ were the first words out of my mouth as soon as we’d escaped to the safety of the toilets. The situation was going from bad to worse as far as I was concerned. I felt awkward about the whole thing and completely put off by Danny and the Staring Man. Where were all the handsome, normal, single men I’d envisioned? We agreed that we would finish our drinks and then make a hasty exit. With a sense of impending trepidation we took a deep breath, and went back into the bear pit.

Luckily, things brightened up from there. We met three guys who were young, friendly, and easy to talk to and we spent the rest of the evening chatting to them. They were all very nice, but meeting them highlighted another problem with singles nights – when you realise that someone is nice but not fanciable, how do you negotiate leaving them to go off and find someone else you are attracted to, without having the first person see the whole thing and be mightily offended? (Of course, they may not necessarily have been offended, but it’s an awkward thing to do when you have been chatting to someone and building up a rapport for a good half-hour).

Soon after polishing off our second glasses we left. I’ve no doubt we looked a sorry sight - a despondent twosome moping through London in the rain, lamenting the total failure of the evening. The highlight of the night? The curry we popped in to eat en route home. I’m genuinely gutted that I couldn’t have been more wrong about singles nights. I hope I never have to go to one ever again. 

Sunday, 12 May 2013

All you need is...volume control?


A few weeks ago I went to visit a friend of mine up North (I think Warwickshire is technically the midlands but still, it is north of London). After a wonderful day out which comprised of stuffing our faces with chocolate at Cadbury World, (just as fun for adults as it is for children FYI), we began preparing for our night with the obligatory pre-drinks.

As we sat down to play Ring of Fire (our drinking game of choice for the evening) my friend’s boyfriend and his friend Aiden walked in to join us. Before someone had even picked the last card in the ring I knew that I was going to have a blog entry in the making, because I really fancied Aiden. He was funny, clever, opinionated (without being arrogant), and he possessed the dark hair, white teeth, and olive skin combination which I can’t seem to resist.

At the first bar on our itinerary, after purchasing our drinks, I ensured that I was sitting next to him. We got chatting in more detail than we’d been able to during the drinking games. I found out that he was a designer and had actually designed the interior of the bar we were sitting in (monochrome, minimalist, strange upside down furniture on the ceiling). By the time we left the second bar we were walking arm in arm (how quaint!). We kissed in the club and from then on were inseparable for the entire evening. Two weeks later we arranged to meet for drinks in London, and this is where I am sorry to say that it all goes so very wrong...

As soon as I stepped off the tube and spotted him standing by the exit, I just knew that my image of Aiden had been dramatically enhanced during our time apart by my optimistic mindset. I’d had two weeks to perfect the image I had of him. Two weeks to reminisce about how well we had got on, how good looking he was, how Warwickshire really wasn’t that far from London...

He was still nice looking, but something about him just didn’t match up to what I had remembered. Yet despite my initial misgivings I hadn’t got all dressed up for nothing, and I resolved to keep an open mind. However, it soon became clear to me that there was one outstanding aspect to Aiden that just hadn’t struck me when we first met – the volume of his voice.   

Now, I am not being overly dramatic here. I have some very loud friends (getting told off in a restaurant type loud), and can be very loud myself sometimes (my laugh has been known to make my mum jump in fright before). But this was another level. Walking down the street with him I was sure that everyone within a 100 metre radius could hear our conversation. I found myself glancing at passersby to see if in fact they could, and ‘thank god we are going to a noisy bar,’ was all I could think as we passed quiet pubs and intimate bistros on our journey.   

As we approached our destination to my horror I saw a queue stretching out from the door. I cringed at the prospect of having to stand and make small talk, making it hideously apparent to everyone (and it would be everyone) in the queue that we were on our first date. I dealt with this by taking every opportunity to turn around and glance at the bouncers, feigning extreme interest in how many people they were letting in and by how much the queue was shortening.

Once inside, Aiden turned into the perfect date – treating me to a flaming cocktail, being just as easy to talk too as on our first meeting and even driving me home at the end of the evening, something for which I was immensely grateful. The bar was packed and very noisy and my self-consciousness disappeared as soon as we entered. But I just couldn’t get his blaring, booming, boisterous tones out of my head. I love a good conversation, but not one with an audience. 


Tuesday, 26 March 2013

All you need is... strangers on a train?


I get the same train each day to and from work. I don’t know about you, but I tend to sit in the same carriage and (if I’m lucky) the same seat every day. Commuters are creatures of habit. It seems we all have our favourite spots (mine’s the two-seater at the back where I can read my metro in peace), and consequently I tend to see the same commuters sitting around me each day. Basically - I know the people who get on my train.

Or at least I thought I did.

It was while I was on my lunch hour during one ordinary Monday that this firm notion was swept away from under my feet.

I was walking out of the supermarket by my workplace when a tall and skinny guy approached me and said hello.

Now, I tend to be overly friendly to strangers because I hate the thought of being rude to people (and to be honest, I love a good chat). I’m the person who says hello to neighbours who don’t recognise me (yes David at number 3, I’m talking about you). I chat to people behind the till, people on the bus (who are probably nuts if they are talking to you), people in changing rooms - you get the idea.

So I reply ‘Hiya’, very enthusiastically, as if this person is my latest BFF. He then tells me that he’s been meaning to speak to me for a while because we get on the same train.

At this comment I can only try and hide my disbelief because I am certain that I have never seen this person before in my life. But I don’t want to be rude so we start chatting.

He asks me where I live (a fair conversational question if you're talking about getting on the same train) and I tell him. 
Then he says, ‘So which way do you walk to work?’

There’s really only one way to walk to work from the station, but I tell him anyway to keep up the small talk.

‘Oh right’ he says, pausing for thought ‘because after we get off the train you just seem to disappear.’

I’m not really sure how to respond to this, so I say ‘Oh...really?’

‘Yeah, yeah... did you walk that way this morning?’

I confirm that yes, I did.

‘Oh, I didn’t see you this morning.’

Right now the word STALKER is starting to flash inside my head in red neon light.

‘I actually popped to the shops this morning, but you sound like you’ve been following my movements pretty closely’. I reply with a smile, trying to make light of the fact that he’s basically admitted that he’s been watching my route to work every day for an unspecified amount of time.  

‘Oh, no, no....’ he quickly backtracks, ‘I’m not like... y’know... stalking you or anything,’ he says laughing awkwardly. ‘So... what are you up to tonight, do you fancy going for a drink?’


We all say silly things when we’re nervous – as I imagine approaching a girl that you fancy, out of the blue, might make you feel – and I appreciate that it takes courage to ask out a stranger and open yourself up to the (potentially high) possibility of rejection. But while I appreciated all of those things I couldn’t get rid of the slightly uneasy feeling his line of questioning had given me.

We didn’t go for a drink. And I’ve since discovered that changing your habits in your daily commute isn’t so bad after all. 

Sunday, 3 February 2013

All you need is... a BOy


Recently, I bit the bullet and went for my first date with a man I had met online.
In hindsight, it is crystal clear that I panic-picked a man from the somewhat drab selection that my new home city had to offer. In my defence it had been a particularly lonely week, so a night not alone in my flat sounded heavenly.

Or so I thought.

Elusively, he instigated that we meet on a pretty little bridge spanning the river. It did cross my mind, that if we had decided to see each other again and again and possibly for the rest of our lives, this bridge would invoke remarkably happy memories, and could possibly be the location of a proposal? (Too far, too far.) Truth be told, every time I now cross that bridge, I grimace, as I remember THE SMELL.

Good lord, you would have thought that a man in his mid-twenties would know when he smelt. Or would know how to wash. Or would have at least been told by his undeserving friends that he STUNK. (Or would have no friends, due to said smell.) But no. I am the first to say that I am not a wimp when it comes to smells. I don't have a keen sense of smell, or retch at the slightest pong, therefore I knew instantly that this body odour was not normal as my body wanted to heave and vomit on him there and then. I should have walked right past him, across the bridge, as soon as I realised. But, I am such a lovely person that I did not. And the situation worsened.  A few minutes or so into our conversation, he itched his crotch. This vile, disgusting, eye-catching action, he repeated every twenty seconds or so.

It was awful. The only way that I survived the one drink was by listening to his voice. As, in all fairness to the guy, he was Irish. So as long as I stared straight ahead, not looking at him, not breathing in, and just listening to the accent, the date was perfectly lovely. Ish.

Needless to say, as it neared the forty-five minute mark, I could take no more, and blamed my hastened departure on the lack of  buses at that time of night (it was around 8.30).

I have to say, I was a coward and did not get back on the horse after falling off, by which I mean I was completely scarred by the date and put off online dating.
After only one date I had given up all hope. And I still have. Boohoohoo.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

All you need is... a keen bean?


I was feeling on a dating high after myself and Amie’s night out and decided that saying yes to new opportunities (e.g. man-finding missions) is something that I fully intend to embrace in 2013 even more so than in 2012. Thus when I received a message from the man that I had met on our night out asking to go for a drink (let’s call him Pablo - that wasn’t his name, but it will hopefully conjure up images of a tanned, dark, Mediterranean man), I accepted.  

With the wisdom of hindsight I now appreciate that this may have been an incredibly naive decision. I genuinely thought it would be nice to meet for a friendly drink, have a quick ‘actually-getting-to-know-you’ chat, and leave it there, parting as friends. However, as soon as I laid eyes on Pablo, without my alcohol tinted spectacles, I knew that I didn’t fancy him. He still had the olive skin, pearly white teeth and luscious dark hair that he had when I first met him, but by hiding those good looks behind a pair of wire-rimmed glasses, weighed down with a heavy rucksack and clumsily going in for a kiss on the cheek, he didn’t set butterflies fluttering around in my stomach.

In addition, a friendly drink was clearly not quite what Pablo had in mind. He seemed determined to make this drink something much more meaningful. Within minutes of sitting down he had tried to kiss me (not on the cheek this time), and asked when he could see me again. Without wishing to be rude, I tried my hardest to dodge the question (and the kiss). As the evening went on, I tried to move the conversation away from further dates whenever I could subtly do so. I asked him questions about everything, ranging from his job, to his family, to his academic career (all very impressive I might add). When he persisted still, I reluctantly launched into the explanation that we lived in different cities and that dating each other was not really feasible. It didn’t work. To quote Pablo himself: ‘If you want to make something work, you will find a way’. Well, that was the catch - I didn’t want to make it work. I wanted a quick drink, a nice hello/ how are you/ goodbye, then parting to most likely never speak again (in keeping with the true romantic that I am).  

Eventually, after some extremely painful conversation changes and apparently unable to hold back any more, he blurted out, ‘I’ve never liked someone who doesn’t like me back before!’

Ah, well that’s awkward. Sorry Pablo, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes.

I’ve learned my lesson the hard way – don’t meet up with your one-night man unless you definitely want to see him again...and again...and again.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

All you need is...a clear mission?


Amie and I have been somewhat separated in the last few months due (as previously mentioned) to me travelling the world and Amie’s blooming career. So it was only right that I went to stay with her this weekend for a much needed reunion. As we are partners in crime on the dating scene, this reunion wouldn’t have been complete without a clear mission in mind – namely to meet and (without sounding like a psychopath) ensnare a man.

The night started off well: we’d had some gin and tonics, I was wearing some faux leather trousers which I wasn’t quite sure about but eventually decided I could pull-off, and after a bit of x-factor accompanied pre-drinks we were ready to begin our night on the town.

We began our mission in a busy wine bar where I couldn't help noticing that a very tall, dark and muscular man was working on the door. Being in a city where a) I didn’t know anyone, and b) was showcasing my new lady-in-(fake)-leather look, I was determined to see if the situation could go any further. (Further than him opening the bar door and letting me through that is). I toyed with the idea of asking him outright if he was single, but decided against it for fear of sounding just a bit too keen. Suddenly I had a brainwave of magnanimous proportions: one of the waitresses was bound to know whether or not he was unattached, which would save me the embarrassment of trying to find out from him myself. I grabbed the attention of the girl clearing the table next to us.

‘Hi, sorry to bother you but I was just wondering if you know if the bouncer on the door is seeing anyone?’ I asked, inwardly congratulating myself at having such an excellent idea.

‘Erm, it’s a bit complicated actually,’ she replied. This didn’t put me off – I wasn’t planning on marrying the guy.

‘Because,’ she continued, ‘the two of us have actually been seeing each other for a while.’

My face dropped in horror – of all the waitresses I could have asked, I had to ask the one who was his girlfriend. I began apologising profusely, at which she assured me that ‘things were a bit up in the air’ and that she’d actually ‘been in touch with her ex’ recently. We then bonded a bit by chatting about how gorgeous he was, at which point she urged me to pursue him, but with probably a 99% chance of rejection I thought I’d give it a miss.

So, with that embarrassing and oddly convivial incident behind us we moved on to a different bar. And that’s where we ended up buying more drinks, doing some more dancing, and for the life of us could not remember the next morning how we got chatting to two charming Mediterranean men, and bringing them home with us for pizza, wine and um... a sleepover. 

Apparently the old fashioned approach of meeting in a bar is not so difficult after all. Once you’ve had a couple of glasses of vino that is.


Sunday, 2 December 2012

All you need is...that first date?


Apologies for the lack of posts in recent months. I've been travelling the world and Amie has begun her first proper grown up job: it turns out that these life events can seriously inconvenience the old blog postin'. But don't worry we are well and truly back on the blogging wagon.

So the really big news is that I finally took the plunge and went on my first ever online dating date. I saw this as somewhat of a milestone in the dating scale, as I must admit that I didn’t grow up envisioning that I would be online dating at the ripe old age of early-twenty-something. I had more of the ‘gorgeous, funny, intelligent man sweeps me off my feet’ scenario planned out in my head, but hey ho, as the saying goes if you want something done do it yourself. So I took control and arranged to meet up with Luke. A good looking (in his profile picture anyway) web designer from west London. Our date took place at a pub near my work (already scoring brownie points by trekking to my neck of the woods). Luke was indeed as handsome in the flesh as he was on screen. He was also an expert in wine tasting, and therefore choosing wine – excellent.

Now before I continue, I must confess that this date actually happened quite a while ago (before travelling the world got in the way of my blogging career) however, I came away from it feeling no urge to rush straight to my laptop to write down all the hilarious things that happened. Why? Because to be perfectly honest nothing hilarious, weird, or even particularly interesting did happen. I just had a really nice time (I know, how boring). A date of easy conversation and some very good wine. It led to a second date, which consisted of a night out at a Cuban bar with Amie and Luke's housemate. It was all looking very promising; maybe you're thinking - is this the real deal? Did Minnie find her perfect man? Is that the real reason for the recent dearth of fascinating blog updates regarding her love life? Well, fear not my friends because unfortunately for me - I just didn't FANCY him. He was lovely, and very nice, and funny, and charming. But for some reason there was just no spark there. No metaphorical crashing waves or heart beats racing at top speed. Not even a smattering of butterflies. Nothing. Do you know how I decisively came to this conclusion? Because I went to buy travel insurance the day after our second date, and the Australian guy who served me was so disarmingly attractive that I almost forgot where I was even going on holiday. It became horribly clear that the instant attraction I felt for him was utterly missing with Luke. This realisation led to many protestations from Amie ('But he's so nice, how can you not like him?' Look at his smile! He has such a good smile.) but I know that it is not to be. Although I may have found a new friend, I have not found a new boyfriend. And believe me, I am the most disappointed of all. 

Here's to the next date...


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