Sunshine brings out the joy in most people and there’s something rather sultry about lolling around London parks in a state of undress. But summer can be tough for the loveless. From my recent forays to Hampstead Heath, it seems that although a woman with an appealing dog can attract limitless attention from passing males, a single woman with a winsome three year old is virtually invisible. It’s possible that the application of the children’s blue sunscreen might have acted as some sort of barrier but pity the man who doesn’t view a lone woman daubed in woad as a potential date.
Sunny days are however, the perfect opportunity to surreptitiously assess the capital’s talent. Blatant stares can be hidden behind a pair of shades and I’m able to measure stamina and team playing by observing the odd languorous game of frisbee. Having courted nothing but disaster through online dating, it’s time to start looking around in the real world to check that eligible men still exist. But before I leave the virtual dating world for the realm of actual men, let me share this latest episode.
I receive a message from someone calling himself “Dashing Scot”. I’m uncertain as to what characteristics he feels are dashing but from his picture, “Lashless Rabbit” might have been a more accurate moniker. I click open the message and read the following:
Hope all is well with you. You sound like a warm and engaging woman with a very full and vibrant life.
Ah you listen to Simon Mayo perhaps going by your strapline.
As a special treat after work which of these would you most enjoy;
1. Your gym kit or running gear laid out ready for a session at the gym or a run together,
2. Your naked boyfriend surprises you when you get home and then puts you directly in the shower still fully clothed for a wet and soapy snog,
3. A peaceful home cooked dinner for two served by your boyfriend,
4. A night on the town with your boyfriend going to a theatre, music concert, or jazz club,
5. Finding an array of desserts the first of which your boyfriend squishes over you as the start of a
naughty but nice custard pie fight?
By the third line I am practically crying. Simon Mayo? My ‘strapline’ is actually a quote by Socrates. I’m no bluestocking but I’ve put more effort into my profile than pinching the opening jingle for a Radio 2 drive time show. The idea of someone laying out my gym kit makes me feel all grabby and territorial and if a naked man ‘surprised’ me when I got home from work, I think a rabbit punch to the carotid artery would be the most likely response. If that naked man then tried to dunk me fully clothed into the shower and assault me with suds I would probably call the police, or at least chop him in the windpipe and jam the soap into an available orifice.
A decent home-cooked meal would be welcome but I’m afraid this boyfriend is now on a hiding to nowhere. Ditto the theatre, the music concert and the jazz club. Any dessert that was squished over me would, quite honestly, unleash hell. If I came home to be doused in tiramisu, I’d rub my Nan’s gooseberry crumble into my idiot boyfriend’s eyes. And man, that pudding was sour. So regrettably Dashing Scot, the chord you struck was the jangly one, indicating psycho. I decide not to reply.
All things considered, I’m afraid it’s a resounding no from me to internet dating. Trying to discern a man’s character from the photos they post of themselves or the appalling guff they write is not, I’ve resolved, the route to true love. Of the seven dates I’ve been on so far, four of the men were at least 10 years older than they had posted online, two were at least three inches shorter and the other one was actually much better looking. Sadly they all displayed rather undesirable traits being respectively aggressive, neurotic, boring, thoughtless , arrogant , parsimonious and rude. I’m not exactly Snow White but this line up made for a charmless bunch and I can’t take anymore email conversations, even if they do occasionally provide me with column fodder.
It’s time to change tactics. My mother, an ardent fan of my column, told me the other day that it was “time to meet someone nice”. She seems to think that I’ve been conversing with ass hats entirely for her amusement. And perhaps to some extent I have. I can’t honestly say I’ve been particularly pro-active in my search for love but perhaps at 41, alone with two small children and a rather lack-lustre social life, I need to up the ante. With this in mind I google dating agencies in London. Maybe I need a professional to vet my prospects and pick me a winner.
A highly lauded agency pops up called “Drawing Down The Moon”. According to the website their members are well educated, relationship-minded professionals with limited time to seek a soul-mate. I’m assuming this means their members are time poor rather than approaching the final furlong. They are apparently, the best option if you feel internet dating isn’t for you. I’m rather taken with this approach and see that their team of advisers undertake complete interviews and ID checks with all members and offer date coaching and tips for success. All I have to do is call them for a friendly chat about how I can find my future partner. Oh and fees range from £1950 - £15,000. Gulp. I might just stick to leering at men in parks for now, but maybe lay off the woad.