Friday, 24 December 2010

Is this thing on?

Not sure if any of you still look at this, or if you're sent updates, or what. But thought I'd give it a go.

Since giving up on my quest to find love, I have been on many adventures.

My latest (ad)venture is a podcast! Yes! It's funny (probably) and it's, weirdly, about theatre. Don't worry if you know nothing about theatre, because neither do I. It's a voyage of discovery. Except I don't discover anything. Same old.

I'd LOVE it if you'd give it a listen.

Thankee, thankee


Monday, 1 February 2010

We need to talk

About us. I’m sorry. I mean, you can’t say you didn’t see this coming. I know I haven’t been in touch lately. It’s just. Well. You know. I don’t want to hurt you. I really like you. I do. But. I don’t think we should see each anymore.

That’s right. I’m dumping you. You.

And look, it’s not because I don’t need you. I do. You’re everything to me. And it’s not because I’m not having a good time. No, no. I treasure the time we have together. And don’t think it’s because I don’t like you. Hell, I LOVE you. I always have.

No, there’s no one else.

It’s just.


I guess you’d call it commitment problems. But the plain fact is that I’m good at dumping. Really good at it. Everyone’s got to have a talent. This be mine. I’m good at it. And, if we’re being honest, I like it. Or, at least, I’ve developed a taste for it. WHAT HAVE YOU GOT TO SAY ABOUT THAT, MARIELLA FROSTRUP?

Oh, she’d say something wry and world-weary and a bit aggressive and ostensibly sensible and you would KNOW, oh boy, that she’s seen your type before, that’s right, a hundred times before and, listen to me sonny, listen to me good, cos Mariella’s just prepared a long, cool glass of wake-the-hell-up juice for ya. But then Mariella spent much of the 90s managing the career of perennial bachelor botherer and surgeon‘s favourite, Patsy Kensit. So.

Now, I’m not saying I’ve developed my dumping into a fine art. Far from it. My attempts to end relationships are often as clumsy, ham-fisted and downright distressing as the relationships themselves. It’s just the quantity. It’s my breathtaking and brutal conversion rate. The sheer conversion rate. I'm ruthless. Really. I’m the man who stands on the edge of the quicksand and tells you not to worry as your feet will touch the bottom soon. But they won’t. They really fucking won’t. You can’t outdraw me.

So, 6 months passed.

And I found Love. I did. Just not the kind I was looking for.

But, hey, don’t blame They couldn’t win. Not against me. I just couldn’t face dumping anyone again. To have entered into anything more serious than casual dating would have led to one outcome and one outcome only. Hollow statements. Little, sniffly tears. Fingers tugging cuffs. Accepting nods. The most pathetic attempts at violence. Another day, another dollar. Tra la la. You can call me arrogant. You can call me cynical. You can call me callous. But it won’t do any good. I can’t hear you. Perhaps you could email me. But it won’t do any good. I can’t read.

So, thanks, I met many lovely people, I met many tedious people. At times I had an awful lot of fun. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s an experience everyone should have. I mean that in complete honesty. Since my 6 months have finished, I’ve noticed with interest that there’s been a sharp spike in people using internet dating sites in the UK. It is now, apparently, not only an acceptable way of dating but, in fact, the third most likely way one of us modern types will meet the person we'll reluctantly agree to spend the rest of our life with (nestling uncomfortably between meeting someone at work and £1 sambuca shots at The Venue).

Now I am not saying I am responsible for making internet dating acceptable. I am not claiming, for a moment, that thanks to the witty and insightful way I dissected the world of online romance, many other people are now taking the plunge. I am not saying I am a modern-day cupid, a trailblazer, a genius. I’m not saying that. I’m not.

I am. I am saying that. Actually. That’s exactly what I’m saying.

I tried to keep it going, you know. I joined MySingleFriend. I did some dates. I planned a series of blogs around alternative dating methods including singles weekends and orgies.

I was going to do it all for you, you lovely person reading these words with your lovely eyes. I couldn’t bare the thought of leaving you. The 6 months I spent internet dating were torrid, tedious and trying. But I got through every last minute of it by thinking of you. Yep, while I wined and dined someone else, it was you that was on my mind. No matter who I was with, I couldn’t wait to get home to you. To tell you everything that had happened.

Oh I fell in love alright. With you.

I realise now that it’s always been you. From the start. You’re the one I wanted. It’s your attention I’ve craved. No one else stood a chance.

And, you see, that’s why we have to part. You do understand, don’t you? To continue like we have, behind the backs of all those others, to carry on this deceit. Well. It just won’t do.

You’re better off without me.

I mean, you’re not. Your life will now have a aching chasm at it’s very centre. For those ends, I’ve joined Twitter, where you can stalk me from afar. Upon this Twitterthing I will continue to make pithy and, often, shockingly ill-informed statements. Check out my first one, where I’ve made a pithy and, surprisingly, informed comment about hats. GO ON LOOK AT IT.

That's it. All over. Bye bye.

Thank you, all. You’ve been lovely.

Lots of Love,

C x

Monday, 9 November 2009

Fear and Loathing in Glass Houses

Hello, you.

We are all, said Bukowski, museums of fear.

Fear of commitment, fear of rejection, fear of losing the best thing that’s ever happened to you, fear of missing out on the best thing that could ever happen to you, fear that something better will come along, fear that it won’t, fear that this is the best you’re ever going to do, fear that you could do better but you’re too afraid to do anything about it.

We are all museums of fear.

Perhaps this would have been a better title for this blog. If I only I knew what the hell he was talking about.

Ah, screw Bukowski. That bum never went speed dating.

NO.8’s SECOND DATE - 18/09/09

So. So so so. I ticked three of my mini-datelets. I got one response. And it wasn’t the one I was expecting.

(By the way, my friend ticked six and got a 100% positive match. And then dated none of them. It’s like watching Lenny Henry canter around Ethiopia on a camel, setting fire to food whilst laughing and laughing. As Dawn French looks on, sobbing. And eating.)

And, you know, I’ve got my troubles (oh man I got the troubles, oh I got them bad, oh yeah I got the troubles - like Northern Ireland used to when it was interesting and not utterly pointless as it is now, like Wales). Yeah, I got my fair share. My life hasn’t turned out the way I thought it would do by now. Every year I live is merely another one closer to death and another one further away from my hopes and dreams. I’m losing my hair. My friends greeted my announcement that I was internet dating with the words ‘good for you’. My father is starting to realise that my statement that I would win an Oscar before the age of 30 was, in fact, nothing more than the ravings of a buffoon. PROPER troubles, yeah? Not like this rubbish you see on The Bill or Party of Five or Martina Cole‘s Lady Killers. I mean, as IF anyone really gets so poor that they have to have sex with people for money. Just do an extra shift at Clark’s, or wherever it is you fucking work.

To add to my genuinely heart-rending troubles, I had to date a beautiful woman.

Ah come on. I don’t deal with pressure very well. I feel on edge when I know the man at Tesco’s is going to ask me if I have a clubcard. I don’t! I don’t have a clubcard. And he HATES me for it. I know it. I can see it in his eyes. I mean, I would see it in his eyes, if I was ever brave enough to look into them. I can smell the disdain on his breath.

Perhaps six months of internet dating had knocked my confidence but No.8 (yes, this is how she will be referred to throughout the duration of this blog) was so attractive that I assumed she would have no interest in me whatsoever. Yes, even when she agreed to go for a drink with me. Even then.

I know what you’re thinking. And, yeah, No.8 ticked me after the speed dating, which she wouldn’t have done if she wasn’t a little bit interested. Fair enough. I propped myself with other such platitudes as I tried to think myself attractive on the tube.

Now. When you meet someone for a ‘second’ date, having previously speed dated them, there are several things you don’t really want to hear out of their mouths (or anywhere else). Especially when you’re several degrees less attractive than they are. To hear something negative would be like David heading towards Goliath, only to be told on the way that, contrary to rumour, Goliath isn’t actually a giant at all but a fucking invisible fire-breathing dinosaur. What's that, Davey? Oh, you've got your slingshot, have you? That's, that's great.

So, out of the following list, which you would you LEAST like your date’s first reaction to be?

a) Not recognise you.

b) Say ‘Sorry, I forgot who I was meeting.’

c) Say ‘To be honest, I just ticked the form indiscriminately.’


d) All THREE.

I can only assume she had spent the days prior to the date calculating exactly how to perfectly shank my confidence into touch. Because if she did it off the cuff, that is not only incredibly sharp but beautifully brutal. It was a proper exercise yard shiv job.

What she didn’t know is that I've got a bleedin' NVQ in dating prison rules. If someone jabs a sharpened toothbrush into your ribs, then you have to get them back. And fast. Or, you know, you’ll lose face.

We headed down the streets. I loaded my proverbial pool balls into my metaphorical sock, swung the whole allegorical thing round my head and did my damned best to smash her figurative teeth out of her symbolic head.

I had to fight my ground. If she thought the speed dating was a bit silly, I thought it was pathetic. If she hadn’t enjoyed the evening, I had hated it. If she was bored in my company, I was falling into a catatonic coma as a direct result of her conversation. I affected a state of indifference so pointed you could have bunged a load of lamb on it and called it shish. So, she was disappointed when she met me and decided not to hold back. Ok. Fine. So, as a petty child throws the Ludo board across the room, I was going to let her know I felt exactly the same. And then some.

By the time we had got to the pub, I had successfully whittled her confidence down into a small, ornamental chair. Too fragile to sit on but, hey, it looks pretty.

I’m the daddy now. The daddy of whittling.

We got a drink. We sat down. We started talking. And, finally, now that we were too exhausted and humiliated to fight any longer. Now that we had thoroughly convinced the other that we were definitely NOT interested, yeah? Now we were spent forces, we talked like two normal human beings. And it was lovely.

The whole thing, like it had been with me, had been a façade. A front to protect her. I had assumed, simply because she was beautiful, she was confident. Strong. Tough. But under all that, there was someone who, like the majority of us, had been hurt before. And didn’t want to be hurt again. If someone was going to get in, they were going to have to get past some serious defences. Ah, who knew beautiful people had feelings too?

For the one drink we had, yep just the one, we put down our weapons. We were momentarily defenceless. But the damage had been done. Both our egos had been bruised, both our confidences damaged. She had been too embarrassed to embrace dating someone from a silly speed dating evening. I had been too proud to let her air this embarrassment. We both protected ourselves relentlessly, afraid the other one would inflict humiliation upon us. Afraid that we’d be exposed. Afraid that the other would see we were all too capable of being hurt. Afraid of being afraid.


Come on in. Take a good look at the exhibits. Years and years worth. Don't touch, some of them are valuable. Some of them are still in collection. Some are too precious to be seen by anyone. A lot of them are very boring.

Yes. All of us then, museums of fear.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Love equals loneliness over time

Love in six months?! Six bloody months?!?! That’s 26 weeks! And, er, loads of days! Mate, I’ve not got that sort of time. Couldn’t you, you know, speed it up a bit?

Speed, you say?

Research has suggested that we make our minds up about someone we date within the first three seconds of clapping our permanently bloodshot eyes on them. So, what we may as well do is go to evenings where we simply sit in an armchair, feeling slightly smutty, and view hundreds of scantily-clad members of the opposite sex from behind a two-way mirror as they zip past on a conveyor belt, like that bit at the end of the Generation Game. And, just like that bit at the end of the Generation Game, you can have all the ones you can remember. And afterwards, once you’ve stashed all your winnings in the boot of your car, you can go for a drink in the bar with Jim Davidson, where you’ll spend the evening pretending to be appalled by his jokes whilst secretly champing at the bit to get to work on Monday morning so you can tell Phil in marketing the one about the Taiwanese female rugby league team (an intimate knowledge of the six tackle rule is necessary).

Merrily for me, people do organise evenings like this. I went to one. They call it ‘speed dating’. And they are nothing like what I have described above. Except the bit about feeling slightly smutty.

Ah yeah ah yeah ah yeah. Yeah yeah yeah. Mnhaaaa mnhaaaa. I KNOW it’s not but leave me the hell alone. When I was asked if I wanted to go to this event I was not talking to It was right in my bad books. At this particular moment in time I was fed up with and ready to cheat on it with an alternative dating method. I felt as if was a huge vat of human excrement that I had voluntarily dived head first into, on the promise that at the bottom of the vat lay a tiny key and a tiny box and that inside the tiny box lay the only thing that could save my withering heart from plopping down into my guts and being crapped out. It’s a bit like Saw. That’s it, is a bit like being one of the victims in the Saw franchise. Except it’s real. And the pain never stops. And everyone is uglier. Yep. So, after thrashing about, getting myself covered in shit, and discovering the key doesn’t fit the fucking lock, someone dangled a little ladder made of flowers for me. THAT’S what the offer of speed dating felt like, so screw you and your judging eyes. I’ll jump back in the vat next week. Apparently I just picked up the wrong key. Ah, life (oh life).

So, off I went, climbing my lovely ladder of flowers, to the speed dating, secretly hoping one of the girls would be Zia from Spotify.

FYI, most of the ladies on have stopped claiming the Time Traveller’s Wife is their favourite book and have, en masse, moved onto Shantaram. Richard and Judy have a lot to fucking answer for. And I'm not talking about the Book Club.

TENTH to TWENTY-FOURTH DATE REPORTS (kerchang!)- 30/08/09

There's a lot of dates here. Maybe you could read one a day, with your breakfast, over the next couple of weeks. That'll be nice for you. Think of it like the Little Book of Calm. Only less commercially viable.

So, speed dating, whaddyadoo? Naturally, having only five minutes to represent yourself and get to know the other person, you should be natural, be the real you, be honest to yourself. However, like everyone else there I said big fat bollocks to that and went along as a better-looking, better-dressed, nicer, happier, cleaner version of myself. If they wanted the real me they’d have to have it drip by drip over time, like Chinese water torture, like my ex-girlfriend did (Are you reading this? Remember how nice I was when you first met me? Remember how clean my clothes were? Don‘t beat yourself up, you weren‘t to know). I suppose you could compare dating me to the HBO series Lost. Seems like it’s going to be rubbish but after the first episode you’re pleasantly surprised and you're looking forward to what could happen next. The second episode is mysteriously exactly the same as the first but that’s ok, because it’ll definitely get better. The third episode is boring. The fourth is baffling. And by the fifth it’s just stopped trying and the whole thing seems to be falling apart (and lower budget than you first thought). And then, years later, you catch a trailer for the seventh series and you wonder how exactly it is still going and who the hell watches it.


So. 15 dates. 5 minutes each. Let’s roll.

Oh, before I roll anywhere, I should give you a quick warning. My details of some of these mini-dates will be a little hazy as it's hard to recall the exact details of each date. This isn’t because time has withered memory. In fact, straight after the 15th date I went away and tried to make notes on all 15. It was all I could do to remember their names. To help my future self write this blog (my past self is a proper bastard) I wrote one or two words to jog my memory. I have included these notes. Some of them are just plain baffling.

Note - ‘ginger’

The weird thing about this evening was that we spent about fifteen minutes in the bar, twiddling about before it started. Massive mistake. Before it had even begun everyone had already decided who they were going to fancy (No.8) and who they weren’t (everyone else). And very little, certainly not personality or conversation, was going to change it. So, I sat down in front of No.1, quite pleased that I could warm up on someone I didn’t find attractive. Bonus.

I had determined that I wouldn’t ask the triumvirate of evil questions. 1) So, what made you come to this? 2) Have you ever done it before? 3) What do you do for a living?

However. Within 30 seconds I ran out of conversation and had forced No.1 to answer all three against her will. Hah, take that, Gingernuts. Note to anyone thinking of going speed dating - answer these questions. Hell, ask them straight away. Every time, to everyone. Ask them as quickly as you can. Several of my dates refused to entertain these questions. And these people were the worst kind of people (mainly solicitors). The bottom line is, these are the only pieces of information we really care about. We need to know that you are 1) Not desperate, 2) Not desperate and 3) Not desperate. By clever cross-examination with these three questions, you can sort the wheat from the chaff. Swwwwwwooooooooosssssh, went my scythe. Plimp! went the chaff. Hahoo! went the wheat.

And we were off. No.1 was unremarkable. Oh and ginger.

Note - ‘too bright’

Now. I know how this looks. And whilst I am genuinely intimidated by intelligent women (or, more accurately, women), the ‘bright’ in this sentence referred to her general being. Her personality, aura, clothes. She was like a giant walking pair of jazz hands.

To make matters worse she very quickly asked the three questions. ‘Wah!’ thought I, ‘She’s wheat/chaff-sorting me!’ I panicked. ‘What am I?! Am I wheat? I must be wheat. I’m quite wheaty. Dammit, I’m 100% wholegrain. I’m bloody Shredded Wheat. And you, YOU, young lady are Sugar Puffs. Hah! With full fat milk.

Note - ‘no’

Nothing much to say about this one. Is there a more cutting one-word review of a date?

Note - ‘cunt’

Ah. Yes, there is

Note - ‘Bad Aussie’


Note - ‘clay pigeons’

I was merrily munching my way through the inevitable three questions, thinking it was going rather well, when No.6 stopped me in my tracks and, in the most patronising voice she could muster, politely asked me my age.

Reasoning that we were very similar in age, I was somewhat baffled. I attempted to make light of the situation and stated, ironically, that you should never ask a man his age. Clearly the legal world, dealing as they do in FACTS, has not yet got to grips with irony. ’No’ she said, poor lamb, with her brow furrowed so, ‘it’s women you don't ask’.

‘I know’ I said. Christ. Realising I had a live one I decided to press home the advantage. ‘How old are you, then?’ I peeped. Reminding me, in the tone of an exasperated mother explaining to a toddler why they can’t bury the hamster alive, that we had just ascertained that women should not be asked their age, she changed the subject. FACTS.

She spent the next three minutes telling me about how she sought ‘life experiences’ when other people are wasting their time in the pub or whatnot (and apparently clay pigeon shooting counts as a life experience, rather than, as I had previously thought, the hobby of twats). I spent the next three minutes wondering if she could fuck right off.


Not my reaction to her, but rather the noise I imagine goes through No.7’s head at most turns. She too, god help me, was a solicitor. And, crikey, she really wanted me to know she was very, very successful. As she pressed home to me just how fucking brilliant she was I tried to imagine a day in the life of her poor brain.

‘AAAAHHH! The alarm clock! I’m getting up! AAAAH!!! Must go to the GYM! And make myself STRONG! AAAHHHH!!!!

On the train now. AAAHH!! I will get a seat and then people will know I am not a woman to be trifled with. AAHHH!!!! I CAN BE SUCCESSFUL TOO YOU KNOW. Mustn't think about trifle.

God, the people on this train are intimidated by me. God, I am brilliant. And they don’t even realise I resisted the pain au chocolat in the train station café. AAAAHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAHH!!! Work! Here I am! Watch me purposefully stride to my desk! AAAH!! A man! Must make him realise I am his EQUAL. AAHH!! A woman! I must rub the bitch’s face in the fucking dirt. AAAAAAAAAA………..’

The bell rang at this point. Which was a shame as I was looking forward to imagining her thought process as she took a dump.

Note - ‘fancy’

Hmm. In the fifteen minutes we had in the bar I, and every other man at the event, had decided I fancied a bit of No.8 and no one else really was going to get a look in. Three seconds, remember.

I mean she really was very attractive. So attractive that I assumed she was only here to mock people like me. Which, in hindsight, she may well have been. I won’t lie, I was intimidated and very nervous. I babbled like a moron. I even forgot to ask the three questions. The five minutes seemed last an eternity. I had five minutes to impress one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen in the flesh before, and I spent the whole time wishing it would end. Ah, yes, it’s the hope that kills you. You see, if I saw No.8 in a bar I would never talk to her. And I would never regret it. I would, rather fairly, assume I’d have no chance with someone like her. She’d surely want someone more charming, better looking, more successful. And taller, obviously. But here I was! With a chance! We were, for five achingly long minutes, equals. I couldn’t handle it. I didn’t want it. The pressure was too much. Let me go back to that ginger one, I thought, I could handle her. No.8’s sheer presence made me feel inadequate. Not only that, I was u,p against 14 other men. Chances are she’d prefer at least 14 of them over me.

You can’t aim for the stars on a trampoline.

Note - ‘blonde/drunk’

Ah, now, this was far more my sort of girl. The evening had been going for about an hour and a half in all. No.9 had been hitting the bar pretty hard. But despite her wooziness, she was fun and a lot less uptight then most of the previous eight. We had a bit of nice banter but we never got past the fact that in the first instance I called her by No.8’s name. She didn’t like that. Not one bit. Women, eh?

Note - ‘cock/racism’

Oh, No.10. What a treat. No.10 spent the first two minutes telling me that all the other men at this event were cocks. Total cocks, she called them. She had, she said, even told most of them to their face. I was not a cock, apparently. But then, hey, she didn’t know me. I could be a cock, I said. Who’s to say I’m not a cock?

Realising that I had said the word cock far more times than I am comfortable with in the first two minutes of a date, I decided to try out the three questions on this delightfully spiky character. I had barely got the words out of my mouth when she sighed loudly and slumped onto the table, signalling fairly clearly that she was pretty bored of those questions. Perhaps I was a cock, after all.

And, look, I have no idea how the conversation got round to the subject of race but it did. Oh yeah, I do remember. No.10 was very, very, very keen to bring it up. I imagine she did this with everyone. No.10 was not caucasian (I imagine she still isn‘t) like the rest of the room and it was something that she wanted to highlight. She also wanted me to know how tough her career was due to the fact she wasn’t a white man. But she had NO PROBLEM with this, right? It was FINE. She certainly had no chip on her shoulder. Cool about it, not a thing, why have you brought it up at all? She did, in fact, ask me why I had brought it up and insinuated perhaps I had a problem with her race.

It’s worth mentioning at this point that I hadn’t actually spoken for two minutes. She was merrily arguing away with herself. I could have watched her all night. Box. Office.

Note - ‘sex’

No.11 batted the three questions down right away. There’s only one thing she wanted to know. Had I found anyone I wanted to have sex with yet?

Now, when you’ve known someone for roughly 20 seconds, this is a difficult question to field. The safe bet is to say ‘no’ (which was clearly a lie). So I said no. ‘Wrong answer!’ she shrieked. ‘Oh’ I flapped, ‘Well, erm.’ I was, she explained, meant to say her. Ah. What she hadn’t done here, and let’s give her credit for having such self-confidence, was entertain the possibility that I may not want to have sex with her.

I suppose this was her idea of banter.

This, I soon discovered, was only her second gear. And she soon shifted up. If I hadn’t found anyone yet, then I wasn’t likely to. Fine, that’s probably true. And if I wasn’t having a wonderful evening... Ok, I’d had better. Then. Then? Then, she said, why don’t the two of us toddle off somewhere else?

To be fair, this caught me off guard. Why not, she said? Live a little.

Why not, indeed? I did find No.11 attractive and she was certainly more interesting than most people I meet. So. Why not, why not go? I flumphed and mimbled, doing a passable Hugh Grant impression, if Hugh Grant was himself doing an impression of Rainman. She pressed me. Ah! What to do?! Here was a free spirited, unusual young lady, offering me the chance of a far more exciting evening than the one I was currently having. It would make great reading for this blog thing too.

But I said no. Why did I say no? Let me tell you.

In the half-time break she pushed in front of me at the bar. On purpose. In full knowledge I was waiting. You may think this is petty. But our ability to queue is the only thing that keeps us apart from the French. And if we start rewarding this errant behaviour then the next step is anarchy. She had to learn. There are rules for a reason, you MANIAC.

Note - n/a

No idea. Even fifteen minutes later I couldn’t recall her face or name. Sorry, dude.

Note - ‘blah’

By this point everyone was a) suffering from date fatigue and b) a bit drunk. Social niceties were pretty much out the window (see Date 11). It was very clear that No.13 and I had no interest in each other. And, as such, we had a jolly nice chat.

Note - ‘Gareth’

No.14 was alright but I was pretty fed up with the whole process by this point, as was everyone else. People were taking longer and longer to move from table to table. And no one but no one was making any effort whatsoever. Least of all me.

Anyway, No.14 spent the whole time talking about my friend Gareth who had come with me. The slut.

Note - ‘…….’

No.15 had got so fed up with the whole thing that she had left by the time I got round to her. Gareth tells me she 'alright'.

And that’s that. The speed dating evening turned out to be a microcosm of the last 5-6 months. The initial excitement and enthusiasm soon makes way for the grinding reality that you’re no more likely to find the woman/man of your dreams in this way than you are via an arranged marriage. I could have saved myself months of misery, plus a lot of money, by just going speed dating. In one evening you have everything. All the thrills of dating. You have good dates and bad dates, you have laughs and you have awkward moments. You have lust, indifference, disappointment. You end up jaded, skint and with regrets. And single. Oh and a bit drunk.

Afterwards you tick yes, no or friends. I ticked yes three whole times.

Try and guess who they were.

And try and guess which one I went on a date with.

Report of which to come soon.

In hopefully less than a month. Alright, alright. What are you, my dad? Get off my BACK.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Or. Not.

So you guys must Love the hell out of me by now, right?

Look, I know. It’s been a while. How the devil are you? You look great. Is that a new shirt? Ah come on, don’t look at me like that. I have my excuses. I’ve been on holiday. I washed my hair. And, er, I quit. That’s right, I quit. I quit Love. I gave up on the whole thing. I retired and started drawing my quite generous misery pension.

But then, spurred on to fight the good fight for Love by the presence of the latest Jennifer Aniston vehicle, Love Happens (joining ‘shit’ and ‘stuff’ in the elite list of things that happen) and the forthcoming and genuinely terrifying Valentine’s Day (which appears to have evoked some kind of clause in every working Hollywood actor’s contract - seriously, everyone’s in it, I think I’m in it somewhere), I decided to come back to save you ALL. Whilst we’re on the subject - I have a fantastic plan to make the world a much much better place in a very short space of time. Follow the above link to Valentine’s Day and watch the trailer. If you think that this is the kind of film that you’d like to see, then take these steps. 1) Sell all possessions and property. 2) Give all money raised to charity. 3) Walk into the sea.

I couldn’t sit idle whilst this kind of horror was being perpetrated in the name of Love.

Hollywood better be quaking. This is it. I’m back.

Think Presley in ‘68. Foreman in ‘95. Backstreet Boys in ‘05 (who don’t get the credit they deserve for audaciously releasing a single called ‘Backstreet’s Back’ when they genuinely hadn’t been anywhere and then following years of being out of work with the album ‘Never Gone’ - in America 117 teenage girls died of confusion after merely reading the album‘s title. A forlorn Nick Carter was quoted as saying the Boys were ‘disappointed’ as they had been aiming for ‘something closer to a thousand, to be honest’. It’s rumoured that next year Backstreet will be a releasing a greatest hits entitled ‘Some old shit’, which will contain nothing more than a series of desperate answer phone messages left between March and June 2003 by A.J. McLean to his psychiatrist, as the whole edifice of his life and ego was being swept away like carrier bag full of tiny polystyrene balls in a fucking storm.)

But that’s as maybe.

I’m back. This is the greatest comeback since Christ’s over-hyped power nap (I mean, come on, THREE days? He was only crucified. We’ve all been crucified. I was crucified only this weekend. And did you hear me moaning about it? No. I was in work Monday morning, a waterproof plaster over each palm, ready to do a bloody shift).

Enough parentheses. Let’s get to business.

Ah, I’ve missed you guys.


Think my quest is futile, do you? Think that it’s impossible to meet someone through so spurious a system as internet dating, yeah? Think that you can never replace the physical chemistry of face-to-face encounters with a series of emails and grainy headshots, huh? HAH. Ahaha.

Well, Love may have had me on the ropes but until I’m out for the count it’s not wise to bet against this old slugger. But let‘s be honest, in terms, it’s the twelfth round. I’ve already lost on points, I think we all know that. If this goes to the bell, I’ve lost. It’s total knockout or nothing.

Picking myself off the canvas, knees buckling, arms like lead weight, I staggered forward, praying I still had one last haymaker left in me. A good fighter never knows when he’s beaten. If your heart still beats, anything is possible.

And so I met Louise.

Pick your metaphor - breath of fresh air, ray of light, an oasis in the desert. Feeling I had already wrung the final drops of human decency out the filthy dishrag, I searched through Match’s flesh database hoping against hope that there’d be one more, spurred on somehow by an unrealistic optimism, like a death row prisoner praying for a power cut.

And. There she was. A poppy in Flanders.

Apart from the usual caveats - attraction, things in common, sense of humour - she was a NORMAL person. Woo! She seemed like the kind of person I would love to spend time with, in the actual real world and everything. Louise was interesting, creative and intelligent and I couldn’t for the life of me work out why she was on

And I still can't.

We met. I was really looking forward to meeting Louise. It just felt right. I knew, even having not met her, that Louise would never want to see the gargantuan shitfest Valentine’s Day, a film so flimsy it makes Damien Hirst‘s career look substantial and considered. Louise was not going to let me down. It felt so right that even when she enquired whether we could meet in a location that I can never usually set foot in, so inextricably linked is it with a previous relationship that the mere glimpse of it makes me want to ram my fist through my chest plate in an effort to stop my rapidly sinking heart from getting tangled in my intestines, I agreed without hesitation.

So, standing quite literally in the shadow my previous relationship, I met Louise. And I really wasn’t prepared for what I was to see. I didn’t pick this up from any of her photos. There wasn’t the slightest hint of resemblance. Nothing. Would never have guessed what I was to be faced with.

Yes, poor Louise had the misfortune of looking eerily like my ex-girfriend. Frighteningly similar. No, not that one. I wish. Another one. A bad one. Ah.

Oh, Louise. Where can we go from here? Where could we go? Well, we went to the pub, obviously.

Hmm. So, sipping my pint I considered the fact that somehow the world had contrived to transplant me slap-bang into the middle of what surely must be Matthew McConaughey’s worst offence to date, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. Which would be typical. And, before you ask, it truly is even more charmless, witless and chinless than The Wedding Planner. And, yes, I have just learnt how to do hyperlinks.

No. No, no, I thought. I wasn’t going to let this minor thing (her face) get in the way of falling in Love with my perfect woman. It was fairly dark in the pub anyway and, if I squinted, most traces of my ex were eradicated. Fine. We’re back onboard the Love train. Next stop Loveville. Choo choo! Tickets please!

Despite finding it difficult to make eye contact, the evening went wonderfully, rapidly and boozily (told you she was perfect). There is little to report from the next part of the evening. To the outsider it would have been entirely unremarkable. For me it was a revelation. After a while I began to realise something was wrong. No, not wrong… different. Yes, something was different this time. What could it be? I scritched and scratched inside my tiny mind before stumbling across the answer entirely by accident. Louise said it for me. Fate, innit?

‘This is nice, I feel completely relaxed.’

Aaah, that’s what this sensation is! I’m relaxed! Actually relaxed! Comfortable in the presence of another human being in an awkward social situation. The common denominator for all of the previous dates had been my crippling awkwardness, inner tension and nervousness. But no more. With Louise I hadn’t even thought about the fact we were on a date. It felt natural, normal. Just two people. Who got on well. There was nothing remotely awkward about us. Yes, relaxed. Lovely.

Even when she said some rather alarming and personal things (ah, alcohol) that usually would have made me run a mile, I didn’t mind. In fact, her own problems and issues only made her more attractive to me. She’s a human being, we all have problems. We’ve all had bad moments. We all have issues. Usually I can’t palate this sort of nonsense. But. These were Louise’s problems. This was different. This was texture. I was delighted she comfortable enough to open up to me. I drank up her insecurities in large gulps, slaking a thirst I didn’t even realise I had. Ah, alcohol.

We talked about our lives, our hopes and dreams, our families. Not wanting the evening to end, we moved from bar to bar, reveling in the company of the other. And, yeah, you can cry cliché all you like, but it genuinely felt like we’d known each other a long time.

I walked her to the bus. We didn’t kiss.

We could have done. We should have done. But it was ok. I didn’t regret it as I walked away, elated. Why should I regret? There would be plenty more opportunities for that. I tried to calculate how soon it would be acceptable to call her. I decided I’d throw the rulebook out the window and call her the very next day. To hell with being coy. I walked home with a spring in my step, London looking more beautiful to me than I ever thought possible. I skipped and giggled. I even took a joyful little wee down what I thought was a dark alley but turned out to be, in actual fact, the side of St Paul’s Cathedral (sorry, God).

The best date I’ve ever had and a wee on one of London’s most iconic landmarks. TOP THAT.

Everyone do a nice, happy sigh now. Aaaaahhhhhhhhhh. Lovely.

A couple of weeks later, my colleague asked me if I was going to see that girl again. The one I had spent such a wonderful night with.

‘I don’t know’ I answered.

Since we parted at the bus stop, I hadn’t so much as thought about her once.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

If music be the food of love, then jog on

Hey you! Yeah, you! Ever listened to a pop song?! Yeah! Pop songs! We all love pop songs! Sometimes we turn on the radio and listen to the radio! Don’t we?! We do! Yes! Songs!!!!

Heeeeee! Songs. Something you may have realised during all this radio-listening is that roughly 100% of all songs are about Love. True Love. Lost Love. Unrequited Love. First Love. One Love. Fast Love. Burning Love. Tainted Love. Yeah? Noticed that? YOU HAVE. Shut up.

Think of a song, any song. Got one? No, don’t tell me. It’s about Love isn’t it? YES IT IS, don’t lie. And don’t say something stupid like ‘The Birdie Song’. Because when Mike Rae recorded that touching ballad to his recently deceased wife, so overcome by emotion was he that he couldn’t even pronounce the words properly and was only able to emit little squeaks and honks. It wasn’t even called ‘The Birdie Song’, it was called ‘Oh God, dear God, I loved you so much, I think I may have to literally tear my still beating heart out of my chest using nothing more than the weight of my own grief’. But the record label insisted.

Now listen to me. I have become slightly suspicious that some or all of these songs are spouting dangerous nonsense. If you listen to the pop song then you will reason that it makes Beyonce crazy, Leona Lewis bleed and Bryan Adams a cunt.

Tootle tootle, sing the singers. Bumpity bump, go our hearts.

Only Love can break your heart, Love will tear you apart again, Love is the rhythm and you are the dancer.

This tyranny cannot continue.

‘I wanna know what love is‘, synthed Foreigner. And despite the fact we don’t all contain an internal Casio keyboard, we spootle a clammy and hopelessly sincere agreement to this pathetically facile statement.

Love. Most of us have never felt it, some of us don’t believe in it, but we all want to experience it. You know, just once. To see what it’s like. Like cocaine. Thing is. THING IS. I think it don’t exist. Ah yeah. I said it. It don’t exist. Ahahah! Pcchnnwwrara! (sound of your bubble bursting, BTW - short for ‘by the way’, by the way, Mum).

I refer to Love, not cocaine

But what is Love? If the great philosopher Haddaway didn’t know, then what hope for the rest of us? NONE. J Lo claimed that ‘Love don’t cost a thing’ but she’s a money-grabbing whore, so what are we to think? The Bee Gees enquired as to the depth of your Love, suggesting that it should be measured and monitored with a yardstick, like a river on a floodplain. Personally I’m glad one of them is dead.

And on it goes… These singers waffling sentiments of Love. The Power of Love (in horsepower?), The Caravan of Love (Love is not a gypsy), I’d Do Anything for Love but I Won’t Do That (I assume he means anal). There’s no escape. It’s like death by a thousand Love ballads. I can’t turn on the radio anymore thanks to the knowledge that my horrendous, single, loveless life is about to turned into song.

Ok. So. I’m drifting out towards 30 like an exhausted swimmer in a riptide, so maybe I’m not the best person to judge. After all, most of the music I’ve written would cause the modern under-25 to roll their eyes and say ‘oh my days’ or whatever else it is they do at the moment. So, let’s get modern, y’all. Woooo, whoooosh, we fly into the 21st Century. This is great, this. It’s like the Time Traveller’s Special Nephew.

So. I point you all in the direction of the modern Love song ‘I Wanna Love You’ by the modern rapper man Akon and his modern rapper friend Snoopy Dogg. It’s a touching ballad in which our hero, Akon, sees a young lady on a dance floor and instantly falls in Love with her. It’s like Romeo and Juliet! Only shit! Ok so, Akon really Loves this girl and… hold on, why don‘t I let Akon tell you himself. ‘Baby you got a phatty, the type I’d like to marry’. Aww, shucks, Akon, looks like you’re really smitten. His fascinating friend, Snoop Dogg, can only agree that Akon has found the woman he is going to settle down with - ‘Pussy is pussy and baby you’re pussy for life.’

Quick note to women - you can end men like this. You have the power. STOP HAVING SEX WITH THEM.

Oh, hold on. What’s that, Akon? You’ve got more to say? Ok… ‘I’m lovin’ the way you shake your ass, Bouncin’, got me tippin’ my glass, Normally don’t get caught up too fast.’


Can I die now?


Oh who the fuck cares anymore?

So I met Kimberley. You know, in a bar. And. Er. Even I’m bored now.

It weren’t a good ‘un. We met. She was a perfectly decent human being. We had a drink. And, er, talked and stuff.


No. That’s it.

We met quite late (for a school night) and I was knackered. I’d been preoccupied at work (like a real human person!) and the last thing I wanted to do was go on a date. So. I went into it with a fairly negative frame of mind.

No amount of Taurine based drinks were going to salvage this situation. Kimberley and I forced conversation for the evening but it was clear after about 77 seconds that a second date was as about likely as the Democratic Republic of Congo calling Brussels and laughing off the Belgian occupation. This isn’t likely, by the way. The Belgians committed all kinds of atrocities and…oh fuck off and read a book if you’re that bothered.

Kimberley. This is for you. I’m sorry. I am truly sorry. This was your first date on And it wasn’t great. Was it? No. But I want you to know it won’t always be like this. You’ll meet people you’re compatible with. People who aren’t so exhausted that they fall into deep comas of silence every 4 minutes. People who’ll find you attractive.

I can’t tell you how guilty I felt knowing that this was Kim’s first date and that I was, single-handedly, destroying her belief in internet dating. Don’t worry, I wanted to say, it’s around the fifth date when you realise once and for all that the whole system is a sham. You’ve got ages.

To be a bad first date for someone is a genuinely unpleasant experience. You feel like the thorns on a rose, a trompe d‘oieul, a liar, an empty pop song.

Sorry, Kim. You deserve better. Don’t give up on the Match. It’s not you, it’s me. Me and You. It’s mainly you.

Ah, look, I give up on Love. You should all give up too. Why don’t we all give up? Together. What’s the worst that could happen? Ok, Foreigner (the band, not all people who aren’t British), you wanna know what Love is?

Here we go. It’s the one emotion we all crave despite the fact we’ve never felt it before. Despite the fact that our emotional base is developed between the ages of two and seven, we all believe that in our adult life we can shove another one, Romantic Love, into our greedy gullets.

Hey hey! And when we’ve done that we’ll look under the bed for the Holy Grail and check if Atlantis hasn’t fallen down the back of the sofa! Grow up. Mr Darcy had financial obligations to meet, Jane Eyre was a munter who wanted children and Romeo and Juliet were prepubescent. Financial reality, biological imperative or childish naivety. Take your pick. T’ain’t Love.

Most of us don’t believe in it, less of us have felt it and I personally see more genuine affection in Debbie Does Dallas than your average romcom. So. Let’s go to war against Love. Until we have the evidence, we won’t give in. We’ll be like Richard Dawkins! That’s right, smug and self-satisfied.

In the meantime, lovely singers, please stop writing songs about it. We’ve got enough. Write about something else. Something tangible. Something we can believe in, something we can all experience. Something that, actually, is all around us. Like cancer or gum disease.

So come on. Let’s celebrate our lack of romantic Love. Let’s embrace it.

People! I implore you! Turn the radio off. Be unLoving. Be unLoved. Be unashamed. Go! Now! Run out into the street and tell someone you don’t Love them. Don’t waste time, life‘s too short! Stop reading this ridiculous blog, pick up the phone, call someone you don’t Love, and tell them that you don’t Love them. Call everyone! If you are in a relationship with someone you don’t Love, find them and tell them you don’t Love them! Even if you’ve told them you Love them. No! Especially if you’ve told them you Love them. What have you got to lose?

Regain your honesty. Wipe the slate clean. And forget about it.

And know this - it’s ok. It really is. Most of us aren’t in Love. Most of us have never been in Love. And most of us never will be.

Seriously. It’s ok.

Say it LOUD.

Say it PROUD.

I don’t Love you.

Not yet.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

We have lost the first of the ebb


The husky, mid-shadows of the East End boozer, a place neatly straddling modern excess and faded decency, was as snug as any other place for our group. The landlord was an affable sort, if a little coarse, and we always found the other clientele too busy in their own business to notice ours.

Between us there was, as I have already said somewhere, the bond of sitting about in pubs. It held our hearts together and made us tolerant of each other’s yarns. Each fellow was good enough in his own way, even Romeo, though he had the habit affecting thoughtful poses (you know, like a prick).

‘And this also’ said Romeo suddenly, ‘has been one of the dark places of the earth.’ He was the only one of us who had ever ‘followed his heart’. The worst that could be said of him was that he was a short, whinging Welsh hedge-botherer. His comment, unremarkable to us, was met with silence. Not even a grunt. After all, we hadn’t the foggiest what he was biffling on about.

He continued without need for invitation. He does that.

‘I was thinking of the very old times, when man first went in search of Love. Man’s course to the centre of the heart, from the caveman’s club to it’s pinnacle, Kenneth Williams’ performance in Carry On up the Khyber, has been littered with casualties. But men still went, oh yes, though they fell like flies.’

We knew this would be the beginning of a great yarn, equally as long as it was impossible. How did we know this? It was his round. ‘I’ll get them in then’ sighed someone, sadly but not really as any one of us would have gladly taken a nail-gun to our perineum at that point to avoid hearing the torrent of bullshit that would soon be filling the pub, slowly but horrifyingly surely, until we were all mere sailboats bobbing about in a wild ocean of utter shit.

‘But these men were nothing but brutes, grabbing what they could, regardless of anyone else’s feelings. And we’ve done the same of course, of course! But what sets us apart from these philanderers is our honesty. Taking advantage of the weakness of others does not constitute strength. The conquest of others is not a pretty thing when you look at it. What redeems it is the idea only. Not a sentimental pretence but an idea; and an unselfish belief in the idea - something you can set up, and bow down before, and offer a sacrifice to…’

He broke off. Of course he did. His pint had arrived.

‘As a youth it captivated me. Mills & Boon, Blind Date, even the insufferable Chris Tarrant vehicle Man-O-Man. From those first stirrings of desire as I became irrationally and confusingly obsessed with Jet from Gladiators, to one failed relationship after another, I kept looking. But I never found it. The heart. The one place I longed to go, the one thing I longed to possess. As I mapped my life there was always one blank, one huge uncharted territory. But as I grew others filled in that blank, charted the maps, replaced my ignorance with scraps of knowledge and half-truths. I swore I’d never go, its reputation now sullied to me.’

‘But I found myself one day sitting in front of my computer, staring, yes staring! like a madman! at a website that had captivated me. I tried to fight against it but it all that desire came flooding back - Jet, late night soft porn on Channel 5, Khyber - and, dash it all!, I couldn’t help myself. The snake had charmed me.’

‘Forgive me, gentlemen, I was young, I still had dreams and, damnit, they promised me the earth; meeting new people, new experiences and excitement and, yes that one that I had so long craved yet fought against - Love. In six months. Yes, fellows, in just 6 months. I should have known it was doomed to failure, fated to be one galling blow after another. One particular incident happened just up the road from here.’

He took a pull on his lager and stared down the long expanse of the eastbound road, towards another over-priced fuckshack that calls itself a pub when it is, in actual fact, a meeting hall for cunts.

None of us looked with him. We had completely lost interest.

‘I met my companion for the journey not too far from here, a small young lady, named Nadine. She was somewhat younger than I but I had been assured that she had charted these waters before and would be a befitting attendant for my quest. Plus, she was quite fit. The road was long and straight and relatively tranquil but as we neared our destination I felt uneasy. It was a gradual change. I don’t know when I first noticed the trousers getting skinnier, or the haircuts becoming more and more asymmetric, but I suddenly found myself, with a jolt, an alien. They had warned me to expect this so I felt some comfort in a familiar sense of uncertainty.’

‘We chatted amiably but I couldn’t help thinking about the words of the website, nagging away. After all I was promised Love. We were a good match. I was to believe that I would find Love on this very journey. My companion, of course, did not know this. Whilst we were, in a sense, aiming for the same destination, we were taking very different routes. I had had my orders. Find Love. As soon as I saw the pub my hackles rose. All around it the natives sprawled, some sitting on the floor, yes!, even in the gutter. They seemed possessed by something entirely unearthly, something I did not, no, could not possess. They had a togetherness, a clan identity and mentality. It chilled me to my core. Most of them looked like Agyness Deyn. Even the men. In fact, especially the men. Love, I had been lead to believe, lay inside. I was to find it. I had gone on far enough, I had been promised, and I was to seek out Love here. Some of the natives had taken to worshipping it, coupling off into duos of androgynous terror, all hips and collars, unaware of the fact they were being tricked. You may be here now, I muttered, already embittered by my surroundings, but mark my words in five years time you’ll all be accountants or regional reps for a telecommunications company. Some of them lolled, eyes glazed with aching cool, others were simply twats.’

‘Yet, emboldened by my companion’s ability to fit in with these curiosities and her touching enthusiasm for the edifice, I strode through the door with renewed vigour. The sight I was greeted with will live with me until my dying day, gentlemen, until my very dying day. Once my eyes had adjusted to the repressive gloom, the room lit waveringly by only four Ikea tea lights, I realised the scene outside was nothing more than a precursor for the desolation and inhumanity that lay inside. The chairs were scattered at seemingly random angles (some were not chairs at all but bean bags - BEAN BAGS), carpets hung from the walls in some kind mockery of normal societal rules, things dangled from the ceiling, it was impossible to tell who was staff and who wasn’t. If this is what Love had done, I had to find it, and quick, before it’s terrible influence could be exerted on any more recent graduates.’

‘We sat at what I suppose was meant to be a table and I ventured, stepping over limbs and on fingers (teehee!), to the bar. Gentlemen, in our days together we have seen some torrid things. Things we shall never reveal to our wives and children. But this bar, seriously, took the fucking biscuit. There wasn’t a soul behind it. Three of the impossibly young ghouls hovered nearby, to one side, waiting, I assumed, for service, like souls stuck in purgatory - only in this case purgatory looked like the menu screen of a Mighty Boosh DVD. I inspected what was on offer. Oh these poor souls! Only one decent beer and selection of spirits that I suppose seemed funny at the time. I stood for what seemed like minutes but was only, I later realised, minutes. Eventually one of the small children in a cheque shirt enquired to my health. Extraordinarily, when I told him I was waiting for the bar staff to return he informed that he and the other two from Skins that had been desperately louching (yes, I’m using that as a verb) to one side of the bar, were, in fact, the bar staff. I responded in the only way that I’ve been trained to under these circumstances. Oh, I said, and ordered my drinks.’

‘If I was to find Love here, I understood, Love must be in a very bad way indeed. In fact, I soon became concerned for it’s welfare. Perhaps Love was not responsible for this debacle, perhaps it had been rode roughshod over, trampled into submission by winkle-pickers and limited edition Converse. I made conversation with my companion but I understood that she too was lost. She, like the rest of them, were in thrall to whatever captivated them. Whenever we made contact with one of the natives, she responded naturally and, occasionally, warmly. At one point I thought I may have incited a deadly riot when I asked if the lights could be turned up a little as I wasn’t sure whether I was actually dating anyone at all. Did Love crave this atmosphere? Did it demand the darkness, the half-light into which we were plunged? I decided to accept it, to let it smother me, let it take me away to another place, like a holiday in Geneva.’

‘I did as they do and tried to think as they think. I tried to imagine they were free-spirited, open-minded, unfettered by the usual conventions of society. Perhaps they had, with or without Love, found another way of being, a better way of living. Was it possible that I had been living in the dark all along and that these people, so strange to me, were actually right? As I embraced what their idea of life, of Love, might be, the closer I got to it. The barrier between my companion and I fell and, even though I couldn’t actually see her, a warmth, engendered by mutual understanding, developed. I had been wrong all along to judge her by her choice of surroundings, her possible choice of friends, the cover of her book. And, hey, maybe my jeans could be a little tighter.’

‘Feeling rather grand that I had opened my mind to new, younger, cooler avenues, I bounced off to the toilet, suspecting that Love did indeed live, and wield power, within these gloomy walls. I even began to think that the wearing of ironic NHS specs was not only acceptable but desirable. But as I weaved my merry way through the building I was grasped by a sudden realisation. Love was not in this public house, this once proud East End local. The new settlers, these invaders, had set up their own law. Not Love, no, but Youth. The New. The Future. This was their Idea. This is what they had set up, what they bowed down before and offered a sacrifice to. The belief in this idea was what redeemed them. Inside the toilet, just in my eye line in the mirror as I peed, someone had written two words on the wall, repeating them twice.’

‘The horror, the horror.’

‘No, seriously, they had. Do you think I started this pathetic pastiche for a laugh? The point being, this was not my place, my heart could never be found here. Love was found wanting, it couldn’t survive here. The excess of cool and studied indifference and mass-produced individualism had made any level playing field for Love impossible. It was a status battle which I could never win. This was her place, not mine. It wasn’t Nadine’s fault. It wasn’t mine either. We went on a completely impossible journey together, the surroundings simply serving to further highlight the gulf between us. The pub was, in fact, a handy architectural marker for how badly suited we were. My efforts to cross this chasm had merely allowed me to look down into it; and as I did the chasm seemed to me to lead to an immense heart of darkness.’

And with that Romeo said his goodbyes, taking his weak, overlong and, frankly, unworkable literary allegory with him.

As we made a start for home later that evening I looked back down the road towards the place that Romeo had spoken of. And it struck me that he was right all along. It is a shit pub.