No one, my pals determined, must be alone at Christmas. Particularly no one as desperately, soul-searchingly, what’s-wrong-with-me single as me. Within the late 00s, when web courting was for nerds, assembly individuals wasn’t straightforward – except you bought speaking to somebody at a occasion or one thing, which I by no means did, as a result of I was too busy banging on to my mates about why I was so achingly single.
Thus, a plan was hatched. Three pals would every set me up on a blind date. I’m handsome (with a squint), charming (after a few drinks) and a good catch, they assured me. What may go unsuitable?
My first date on a chilly mid-December Friday night was organised by my buddy Caroline. I could be assembly Thom (Thomasina) for drinks. Issues went uncharacteristically effectively (she was amused and never repelled by me spraying on emergency deodorant as I walked by way of the pub door) and I ended up being sneaked into her home – only for a snog – to keep away from waking her flatmates. The snag was that I had to be up for work at 9am the subsequent morning. As a freelance journalist, I didn’t know which scared me extra: being sneaked into a home within the center of the evening by a horny younger girl, or having to stand up so early on a Saturday.
It was all earlier than everybody had smartphones, and there was no clock within the bed room, so I relied on half-sleeping and half-squinting on the brilliant LCD I may see by way of the bed room doorway. 9 o’clock arrived prior to I imagined, so I grabbed my trousers and blundered into the Christmas tree within the hallway, waking all of the flatmates. Who was this unusual bloke choosing up baubles in his underpants?
“Odd,” I thought as I set my bearings to the closest tube. “Why is it nonetheless darkish at 9am?”
“Additionally,” I thought, shortly afterwards, “why is the tube shut at 9am?”
The clock I’d been taking a look at was the oven timer. It was 4am, and I’d solely slept for 45 minutes. Thus my date and her flatmates had been delighted to listen to me ring the doorbell, get again into mattress and repeat my exit technique at 9am, once more crashing full pelt into the Christmas tree.
My second date, two days earlier than Christmas Eve, was beautiful – till I tried to get again dwelling. I drunkenly overslept my cease in south London and awoke in Staines, in Surrey. Too late for a practice again, it was clearly time for a kebab outdoors a department of Halfords. “Is that this a taxi workplace?” I keep in mind questioning. Then: “What are these flashing lights?” And, most worrying of all: “Why am I being handcuffed, bundled into the again of a police automotive and accused of tried armed burglary?”
It seems that, in line with CCTV cameras excessive above Staines’ excessive avenue, a drunken man consuming a kebab outdoors Halfords appears precisely the identical as a grasp prison about to burgle a store full of automotive tyres armed with a handgun. The police had been legally permitted to lock me up for the 24 hours it took to retrieve the CCTV footage of me consuming a kebab with curry sauce and salad, in pitta bread, and never concealing a weapon. My thoughts wandered throughout my time within the clink. Primarily to: “I wager this wouldn’t have occurred if I had a girlfriend.”
You possibly can wager that the third fortunate girl, to whom I was launched on New Yr’s Eve, was delighted when I by accident broke her key off whereas chivalrously attempting to open her entrance door, forcing her to cancel her plans for New Yr’s Day whereas I queued to purchase a new lock at Homebase. A brand new lock that – it turned out – you wanted a skilled, and never somebody who would fail GCSE DIY, to suit.
These are my courting ghosts of Christmases previous. And, to Thom, Louise and Katie: I am really sorry.