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Words...Don't come easy to me. But numbers do. Or do I mean number two?

Sunday evening.

  • Blog posts written:  None.  Inspiration stuck fast, like Augustus Gloop in the chocolate pipe,* with barely 400 words written about what happened after that first night in London.  Can't even tell if it's a good story or not.  

*This is not a euphemism

  • Cigarettes smoked: 1.  And I gave up last year.  I hate myself just a little bit more, which I've been working hard at not doing.
  • Beers drunk:  2.  Not even enjoyed those.  They're colder than the still memorable message from The One; telling me she'd met somebody else; and every bit as welcome.
  • Steps taken today: 19,004.  Good, but ruined by the beer.  And the cigarette.
  • Pairs of trainer socks discarded after retreating to the arch of my foot within 50 paces: 2
  • Pairs of trainer socks discarded in similar circumstances over the last couple of weeks: 5
  • Pairs of trainer socks remaining in sock drawer: 0
  • Pairs of normal socks rolled down to the ankle in the hope that I wouldn't look like a total Nigel in shorts and trainers: 1
  • Chances of not having looked like a total Nigel: 0
  • Picnic dates today: 1
  • Dates during the last week: 3
So I should clarify.  I'd been on a date over Bank Holiday weekend.  In the sunshine.  A day that necessitated breaking my legs out and showing them to the world, like a pair of Twiglets from which the dog has licked all the Marmite.  A day that used my last pair of trainer socks; now languishing in my laundry bag awaiting the inevitable day that I'd worn enough clothes to justify putting a wash on.
  • Washes put on for writing procrastination purposes: 1
Despite a new-found love for laundry and an inability to make sense by combining alphabet letters on a blog post,  I was clearly back in the dating minefield.  I'd spent a few weeks swiping, matching, and chatting.  Blotting out the past.  I was hurling myself back into the world of possibility like a joyous puppy running into a summer meadow...

Sharon texted on Tinder.  Moved to Whatsapp.  Video-called me, backlit like Debbie Harry with hair stolen from Kate Bush, in the middle of the hottest day of the year, while I was outside on my balcony in the sunshine, up above the ghetto.  Told me all about her life; the big pitch she was doing; the music she loved.  Arranged a date with me, exchanged more messages in the run-up, and then cancelled* with three days to go.  Possibly because the solar reflection from my forehead had dazzled her, like a young scoundrel's stolen laser pen pointed at a police helicopter.  Or because she hated my voice?  Or had it been the relentless sound of the ice cream van in the background, circling the area like an Uber around Shoreditch on a Friday?  Who knows?  I was duly saddened.
* This has happened to me twice now in the last week
  • Dates cancelled this week: 2
But I could do my best to get over it. Because the anticipation of responding to the delicious opening badinage of my other Bumble matches was almost too much to bear:


I was prepared to pass that last test of vocabulary, just for the sake of variation.  I don't actually live in both zones, because that would be silly.  But it was a sunny weekend, and after some checking (by way of Bumble, then Whatsapp, then phone, throwing GDPR caution to the winds at every step), that the mutual level of language, interest and the mental was within acceptable parameters, Coralie and I agreed to meet.  In a park.  A threesome.  Dogging.  Somewhere way outside of Zone 2, just to test her resolve.

Oops.

I may have inadvertently misled you. She was bringing her dog to make up the three.  We were walking.  Together, with said dog.  In public.  In a sunlit park on a Bank Holiday weekend.  Somewhere quite lovely that she suggested, but bloody miles from zones 1 and 2.  And dogging, anyway, WT actual F is that all about?  This isn't that kind of blog.  Shame on you if you've already closed the page.  Double shame if you've bookmarked it.

But it was a good match, and a really enjoyable afternoon in the sunshine, with a woman apparently wearing a unique coat made entirely of canine hair moult.  An afternoon only otherwise marred by the dog's determination to squeeze out a solid reminder of his enjoyment upon almost every corner, and the subsequent addition of yet another small sack of warm faeces to the space in between Coralie and me, as we strolled and talked.  A space the dog constantly wanted to be in; better to lunge at his own predigested minced morsels.

A date further marred by Bumbling Dad's blurted admission that he'd had a lovely afternoon, but...

I'm still struggling with the whole "Am I calling this too early?" thing.  Ghosting is worse, surely?  And while it had been an enjoyable afternoon out, were we ever going to be long-term lovers; us against the world?  I couldn't see it.  Not even after multiple dates, with or without the presence of the shedding hound. She was, well, nice.  Probably still is.  The combination of "fear of letting anyone down" and "probably not ready for this anyway" kicked in. Besides, there was always going to be a dog egg to be retrieved.  Even if back in Zone 1 or 2, where some bastards never pick them up, although they wrap them carefully before leaving them beneath a tree.  Or dangling from a branch.  Coralie didn't do this.  She cradled them all carefully in her hand.  She wasn't the one for me.  Even if I owned an Antibacterial Hand Gel factory.

Dates 2 & 3 begin with a midweek drink with a Bumble match who managed more than "Hey" -  Dietary Specialist, Davina. Who turns out to be short, northern and sarcastic, rather like her messages. My spidey senses are alert, but dulled by fatigue, and a degree of ennui.  It's been a busy week at work.  It always is, but this somehow still comes as a surprise on a weekly basis, and the date is a triumph of hope over enthusiasm.  Gin is drunk cheerfully and encouragingly before a shamefully early bail from me, because I hit a combination of tiredness and "things are going a bit too well".  That's not a great admission, is it?  But I'm trying to be tentative here. Take things slowly.  Just like last time.  And look how that turned out...  It's not until you fall properly head-over-heels that the real bruising happens.  And I'm damned well not going to let it happen this time.  Am I?  So run, Forrest, run!

I scurry home, but we somehow later arrange a Sunday picnic date.
  • Which makes date 3. Pay attention at the back. 
2pm up on Hampstead Heath.  Small list of acceptable foodstuffs.  There's a big focus on plant-based stuff from her. You'll recognise me from my dubious socks, I should have said.  Because that's always a winning strategy.  Waiting for a full washing machine load over looking presentable, or bringing quinoa marinaded in the juice of young kale, every time.   I may write about the picnic later, or not.  Depends if my mojo comes back to me.  Currently I'm predicting "not".

I'm trying not to lose sleep over this, but that defecating dog from the previous weekend brought back memories. I've dallied with a Dietician before.  Long, long ago, but it has left an indelible memory. A memory that may tarnish my perception of all dietary specialists.  A memory to make me wary, if only for my plumbing.  I'm loath to bring it up, but one day my great-grandchildren will transcend the stigma of having descended from the writer of this page.  So tell the story I must...

<Fade to early 90's, with grainy tv pictures and poor quality lighting>

Shannon had been my crush throughout our second year at University.  She was housemate and best friends with my chum Hermione; we'd hung out most nights for many months. Hovering somewhere between friendzone and consolation-prize boyfriend-in-reserve, I'd listened to her heartrending tales of errant lads, and suffered through pumped-up desires for worse ones, often while sharing her bed, as if to act out unrequited love in a bid for pictorial dictionary immortality. I was her reliably well-behaved puppet on a string, always available to hold, but not to have.  Cuddled, sure.  Teased, relentlessly.  Played like a predictably hungry fish by an expert angler. In travelling between her home and mine over this period, I lost my wallet, my leather jacket, and my dignity, though it took me a while to recognise the significance of the latter. Lesson finally learned, I retired as gracefully as I could.  It hurt, but I was finally learning to follow my head occasionally, rather than my unreliable heart..

A couple of years later, living away from London, I get a call from the blue.  Shannon's coming to town for something dull, obligatory and unfunded, and would love to see me.  Obviously I play this cooler than Mr Freeze, and it's almost four nanoseconds before she knows where she's staying.  Which is with me.  Because we're friends.  And the frisson of unrequited love has long dissipated. Definitely. Absolutely.  No danger of anything happening.  At all.

Shannon comes up.  She's still gorgeous.  Flowing auburn hair, a little curvy, NASA level intelligence and engagingly funny.  We're reunited, and over dinner and drinks all those feelings come flooding back.  The tables have turned a little now, though.  I'm older, perhaps a little wiser, certainly less besotted.  And Shannon seems very keen on me.  We've had a fabulous evening, romance is in the air.  She slips into the bathroom while I tidy up and prepare for bed, and when she emerges, ready to slide between my cool cotton sheets, I take her place for a quick sluice and a wash and brush up.

And there it is.  Bobbing about in the bowl, like someone has dipped a baguette in chocolate and jammed it sideways across the pan, is a turd so spectacular it could choke a hippo.  This thing cannot possibly have emerged from any orifice belonging to my beloved, except clearly it has, as it's not mine and she's the only other person in the flat.  I flush, as I'm sure she did, but this has no more effect than spring rain upon Table Mountain.  This behemoth is going nowhere.

I can't leave it there.  She might think it's mine.  She's in my bedroom, naked and pliant beneath my sheets, hungry for the consummation of (my) long-held lust.  And I'm trapped in the bathroom with a malevolent log that seems to have moved in permanently.  What to do?

What to do, of course, is to sneak into the kitchen and select a knife.  The knife I hate most and use least.  The knife of noble sacrifice.  A blade that has to perform the most delicate task of all.  The only way I'm going to be able to rid myself of Shannon's digested meals from the past week, possibly the last month, given the scale of this thing, is to chop it into segments to encourage it around the U-bend, like a crazed Carnicero slicing a particularly well-matured chorizo.  A task that, I can assure you, can dampen the most ardent of ardour.

I've been somewhat suspicious of Dieticians since that day.  I don't know exactly what they eat, but I have seen what they excrete.  And I don't ever want to see it again.  It's not nice.

So you'll understand my wariness about Davina.  We're having dinner in a couple of days.  So perhaps I did get away with looking like a total Nigel.  The question is, can I get away without losing any more knives from my kitchen?  Because I've already thrown away 1 too many.

At least I have another date arranged

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