What happens when your friend starts chatting up someone from your distant past

Just before Christmas last year me and my friend Fiona had finished our annual festive trawl around Borough Market and were looking for a table at one of the busy market pubs to rest our legs and drink our pints. We spied a corner table occupied by two pleasant looking guys, and as there appeared to be enough space for us we made a beeline for it. Fiona seemed to take quite a shine to the bloke sitting diagonally opposite me, and as I wandered off to find the loo I wondered if he was in fact familiar. Anyway when I returned the flirting had hit fever pitch as Fi had found part of a false nail in her beer, and after much shrieking, sped off to the bar to get the pint replaced.

But when I sat down a change appeared to have come over the two men. They no longer seemed chatty and were concentrating on their menus. The one who might have been familiar put on a hat, on even though it was mild, and as I listened to him in discussion with his mate over the menu, a nagging suspicion would not leave me be. Hat man had a poorly disguised Nottinghamshire accent, and when I looked at his hands, I knew. He had the most unappealing small, piggy hands I have ever seen, and I realised he had recognised me before I him, somehow signalled to his mate that he didn’t want to know, and as I was quite happy to go along with the charade I feigned ignorance and sipped my pint.

When Fi returned with a new drink I could tell she was somewhat disappointed that neither of the guys wanted to carry on their conversation with her, and even when their meals came and we both remarked how good the food looked, they didn’t want to know. Meanwhile I was trying to suppress visions of sitting on a sagging mattress in a filthy squat surrounded by bin bags, thinking I was having the time of my life with a spotty lad with tiny hands. I must say R’s skin had improved a lot in the intervening years; he had obviously cut down on smoking, started eating vegetables, and also shaved the worst of the nasal edge off his accent.

The four of us had very involved conversations with the friends opposite, about nothing in particular, and I was very relieved when Fi announced she had to leave to get to another rendezvous. On the way out, she said that she had quite liked that guy with the hat, who was initially really friendly, so then I had to explain.

I actually wouldn’t have minded bringing up the past, but I think perhaps R. was not too proud of the squalid Stepney Green squatting arrangements. Or maybe he just couldn’t be bothered. It made me smile anyway, and if I bump into him next Christmas, I’ll be prepared.



Some thoughts about what some men want

And they’re not entirely positive.

I’m getting a bit Carrie Bradshaw now (minus the shoes and Cosmopolitans) but it was bound to happen.

Recently I was corresponding with someone who was quite complimentary about my writing, but had not uploaded a photo onto the dating site, and refused to email me one. He finally admitted that this was because he was already in a relationship but ‘looking for a get-out clause’. When I asked him why he didn’t just leave, to avoid unnecessary pain for his current partner, and also suggested he was selfish and too interested in home comforts, his shirty response was ‘…Have you been in many medium to ltr relationships?….There’s pain involved whichever road you take. Its easy to bang on about moral compass as those are just words. Life is many shades of grey.’. Prior to this indefensible statement he had complained that women only wanted to use him as a plaything between 9pm and 5am – but obviously hadn’t put two and two together.

I emailed him to ask whether he had considered that most women would take the attitude of ‘done it before, could do it again’, then blocked his profile. Annoying in a way because I had given him some helpful advice about feeding back on the shoddy care he had received in a local hospital  – but perhaps that will make him realise some of us are kindhearted, and practice what we preach.

Another recent experience involves someone perhaps a lot less calculating. A hospital worker in Suffolk who claimed to like cycling and hiking got in touch. But when I suggested meeting up on Saturday evening, he kept asking me if I was only available ‘for a few hours’, I asked him what he meant, but got the same question. I have to conclude he would only meet up if he was guaranteed a bit of nookie later on. What a creep! I should have suggested that the only way to guarantee that would be to pay for it, but I didn’t waste my breath.

On a slightly more positive note (or maybe hopeful) i have developed a new strategy to put rejection to good use. One nice seeming guy admitted he had just met someone away from the site (in real life!) and another guy said he had had a very nice first date just last night. So I have been suggesting they keep me in mind for any of their trusted friends who may be looking. After all I have been through the initial vetting process. Oh how clinical and soul-destroying it all is.

However I do have a provisional date with a marathon runner / table tennis champion lined up. His written English may not be perfect but something has to give.

And this weekend I have painting the living room to occupy me – don’t need anyone hanging around, getting in my way for that.


Men vs Women, or Why The SatNav is Not Always Right

Dear Chaps,

OK, this is probably going to to be one of my most personal and longest posts (and probably the last for a while), so if you are more interested in the weather, or Liverpool FC I suggest that you do not read on.

A few years ago, me and an ex of Italian extraction (let’s call him Alberto) set off in a hire car from Lyon to head to the fairly inaccessible ski resort of St Sorlin D’Arves, 1600m up in the Haute Savoie. I must point out that this was in a fairly early stage of our relationship (three months) and I feel that we still did not know each other particularly well.

…Anyway, we were speeding along a beautiful straight stretch of empty autoroute, when a car approaching from the other way, out of the Frejus tunnel, flashed us. A. didn’t appear to notice, but I said to him that driver is trying to tell us something, perhaps there’s been an accident, maybe we’d better slow down – but he seemed not to hear me.

As we exited the tunnel, predictably enough we spotted the gendarmes in their little layby, and yes, they pulled us over, and that’s where the nightmare began. A. seemed pretty carefree, and stayed in the front seat while I pulled down my top a bit, and prepared to ‘charm’ the grizzled old officer and his teenage assistant. But they looked most unimpressed as I struggled to ascertain in my rusty schoolgirl French that we had to pay 90 Euros in cash immediately, and sign something to declare we had committed the crime of driving at 155kph in a 120 zone.

Well, guess who hadn’t bothered getting any currency out in advance, and guess who coughed up 90 of my 100 Euros cash, and was trying to suppress tears of anger and frustration while A. mocked me in his sunny way; ‘Are you crying?..Are you crying?…’ I should have known that this was something of a warning sign.

I somehow managed to put the incident behind me, and we left the motorway and hit the local roads into the mountains. This is where I had to discard my internet directions printout as the instructions were given in road numbers eg E72, but the roads were only ever marked in names, eg Rue de la Fourchette etc.

It was getting towards evening as we arrived at the grimmest ski resort I have ever set eyes on. No trees, no people, no snow – just concrete tower blocks. Welcome to Corbiere. We weren’t supposed to go through here, according to my printout, but by now A. was following theSatNav that kept ominously saying ‘recalculating route’ and was sending us in an ever decreasing spiral that ended up on a steep icy side road, leading to a piste, which the SatNav insisted we drive up.

At this point I cracked.

I managed to ask a guy who said we had to drive back several kilometres, and get back on the E72 or whatever it was called, and I had a feeling he was right. The were no roads out of Corbiere except back, so we must have missed a turning somewhere. Oh yes, and at one point during this disastrous bit of the journey A. was distracted by my shuffling papers and had to slam on the brakes as we nearly plunged over a cliff. I still shudder about that moment even now.

So we turned round and set off to retrace our steps about 20 kilometres, and hopefully never go anywhere near Corbiere again. At this point it was starting to get dark, and there was no way we were going to get to our concierge by 8pm to pick up the keys to our apartment. This is where A. really started to lose the plot. He insisted on stopping the car, opening the laptop, and trying to find an email address to contact the travel company to let them know we would be late. But of course we were high in the Alps where WiFi and Satellite connections are unreliable to say the least. I had to practically shake him out of it, and persude him to just drive…Eventually we did arrive at the pleasant village of St Sorlin, found our block, and I did what anyone with half a brain would do: marched into the nearest cafebar, where a smiling lady sat us down, got us beers, and looked up a number in a battered old notebook. Ten minutes later, another smiling friendly local arrived with a key, and although we were both still shaking, I knew the worst was over, for the moment.


We did have a very enjoyable holiday, though everyone we spoke to laughed heartily when we told them about the journey, and they all said of course SatNav doesnt work in the mountains – everyone is always late getting here! We even returned to that resort on another occasion – not missing the turning this time, but experiencing a whole new set of adventures involving snow chains…We had a few more good months together before things started to go seriously wrong, and well, warning signs are usually accurate, and maybe shouldn’t be taken as a sign of imminent doom, but perhaps should just be borne in mind rather than shut away forcefully under lock and key…but hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Now it’s your turn…