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The Hookup. And the neighbours.

Tinder.  The allegation I'd read was that it was nothing but a shag-fest.  I hadn't even been familiar with the term hook up as anything other than a term for meeting, but I was reading repeatedly that this relatively new app was the place where millenials were compressing what I had known as "dating" into a one-night time-frame.

For liddle ol' Gen X me, that wasn't proving to be the case.  Apart from my First Ever Tinder Date, but that itself had been an anomaly that had simultaneously boosted my bruised ego and battered my busted heart.  I'd become unexpectedly but inevitably single after a decade of joy and another decade of unspoken "staying together for the sake of the kids."  The kids were all right, which would have pleased Jimmy Pursey.*  But that winter I was swiping, matching, messaging and experiencing the crushing disappointment of a series of chemistry-free first dates.
*Oblique nod to both remaining Sham 69 fans

By the time winter began to melt into spring, insofar as the identification of said season is marked by the fox-ripped bin sacks on the pavement beginning to smell a little more odiferous and the central heating finally starting to penetrate the outer reaches of my new flat, unlike the allegedly top-spec WiFi; which couldn't reach the bathroom, let alone the kitchen; I was starting to get the hang of this single-but-looking-in-middle-age business. By summer, I was dating with wild abandon and utter naivety.  But I hadn't found anybody I really LIKED yet.

Well, actually, I had, but after six increasingly intense, often wonderful, but occasionally testing months, it had exploded into toxic destruction and recrimination, like a current Presidential family breakfast, but without the double egg McMuffins, or avoidance of button mushrooms.  Except Angie and I still had the lingering memory of genuine love and the ensuing enthusiastic, passionate and entirely consensual sex.  I can't speak for Donald, but I have an inkling about Melania's current thoughts.

I'll write about Angie one day. She was the woman who took offence, several weeks past the point that we were clearly an item, at my innocent suggestion that we hook up later, after our various commitments.  That's how I learned.  No doubt she was my rebound, and I was hers, and there was plenty that wasn't right about our relationship. But she married somebody else, less than three months after telling me how much she loved me.  While naked and in my arms. I still haven't yet worked out how best to tell that story, but I've since learned to distrust anything said by a partner during actual intercourse.

For the first time in living memory, I was fit.  Clearly not on a scale including Gerard Butler, or even James Corden, but I'd lost 6 kg and could now run a few kilometres without need for a defibrillator team on standby.  Massive life change had had an impact. After blarting my eyes out all winter, unashamedly, on pretty much every operational TfL escalator, by spring I'd found out that early morning classes with a personal trainer can be incredibly motivating.  This being a fairly affluent part of London, a small but constantly rotating cabal of yummy mummies assisted this process, insofar as, though strictly off dating limits, they seemed to enjoy hearing my hapless Tinder tales as we groaned and sweated through HIIT classes together, and I enjoyed their company, and making them laugh, not least at my efforts at exercise.

I had actually hurt my shoulder doing one-armed rows on a TRX at this point, which is a) impossible to explain to someone unfamiliar with TRX without it sounding like bondage, and b) the most unlikely sentence for me to have said, ever.  But as a result, this particular Sunday morning found me in bed, rather than at my traditional insomniac masochist 07:00 exercise class.  And I was swiping, in desultory fashion, through profiles that demanded height, wealth and dancing ability, ideally in the rain, while offering mainly group pics, horses and headshots in return.

I'd learned, as you will have, if you've followed this shite, that headshots alone do not always tell the full story, but Ranjani's profile was cheeky and included several top to toe pictures indicating that she had legs as well as a winning smile.  She was awake early too, and full of lively, albeit frequently erratically spelled, chatter.
It's pretty unusual for me to overlook such blatant mangling of spelling, grammar and punctuation (though I'm pleased to confirm the resurrection of my egg-poaching Mojo) but there was something about Ranjani.  Over the first couple of hours of that lazy Sunday morning we covered travel, music, food, kids, jobs and established plentiful common ground, and a date for Tuesday.

By the time I was on my second cup of tea we'd moved from Tinder to Whatsapp, at her suggestion, and exchanged a couple of photos to highlight our messaging.  Not those kind of photos.  I may still have been in bed at that point but it wasn't that kind of conversation.  Yet.  It was definitely becoming flirty, if I was reading correctly, which itself could be something of a challenge.

In hindsight I may have missed signposts so large that I might as well hand in my man card right now and become a eunuch, although I'm not that keen on the surgery.  The kisses at the end of segments increased from two to six, as did the expressed desire to try it out.

I was clearly somewhat warmed by Ranjani's approach.  So much so that I wasn't able to spell prerogative, but then, who can?

She went off for lunch with her kids in a flurry of kisses.  I went to watch the football in a pub with a friend.  Drink was taken. We reconvened at teatime, and the flirtation increased.  Right up to the point where she was forced to cancel Tuesday's date.  Something about a baby due to a close family member now being a time-scheduled uterine expulsion.

We were clearly both disappointed at this turn of events.  Despite never having met.  What was to be done?  It was almost 8pm.  "What are you doing now?" I asked, shamelessly.

Obviously, as any sane singleton knows, at that point on a Sunday one is lounging in one's comfies on the comfort of a sofa at home. Ranjani was no different, and despite my chivalry and general English politeness suggesting somewhere central, was extremely eager to slip into something else, and then into an Uber.  She felt safe, she said, which I guess bodes well for any reasonably articulate serial killers on dating apps.  I felt safe too, and excited.  This was what I'd read about Tinder.  I'm not sure if it was what Ranjani had planned, it certainly wan't my intention.  But dates 1-4 appeared to have been squeezed into enough messages to justify a full battery recharge, and there was now more horn in the atmosphere than in a particularly successful Rhino poacher's warehouse.

Low battery curtailed much of the conversation once she was being conveyed across town, no doubt in a Prius with the air conditioning determinedly turned off, so that every window was foggier than a Brexiteer's mind.  That's normally my experience, anyway.  Your mileage may vary.  She asked me to guess what she was wearing, and my suggestions of the Pope's robes and a clown suit were both greeted with a negative.  As were all my others.  I straightened up my flat, showered, cleaned my teeth and attempted a little light genital husbandry.  Not with nail scissors, though.  That's a mistake you don't make twice.

I had to walk down the street to meet Ranjani, as by now her driver thought he was in a Victorian pea-souper and was unable to see anything at all from his vehicle.  Or just a bit lost.  No matter.  She emerged from the steamy atmosphere into the crisp darkness, petite, eyes like a bush baby, short, dark, hair, huge smile.  Thrusting her hand into mine, she chattered away happily as we strolled to the Victorian mansion block I was living in.  Several flights of stairs later we tumbled through my front door and I took her coat.  As I turned back from hanging it up, Ranjani stepped towards me, stunning in her minidress, put her arms around my neck, stood on tiptoe, and pulled me into a kiss.  Minutes later, still smooching, she took one of my hands and moved it to just underneath the curve of her bum.

The answer to "Guess what I'm wearing?" turned out to be "No knickers".

The subject matter of what turned out to have been a trick question proved spectacularly irrelevant in predictably swift fashion.  I'm not going to go into the detail of what happened, the passion, the lust borne of mutual attraction simmered on a bed of WhatsApp with a Tinder (un)dressing.  We were amazingly compatible, she spent the night, and after she left in the morning we exchanged messages for a few days before she ghosted, fairly abruptly.  Leaving me to leave you with two distinct memories of my second ever hook up.

1) The noise.  My God.  I'm all for displays of enthusiastic enjoyment during sex.  If you can't let everything go with wild abandon when spreadeagled across a large bed with someone you fancy, then you're probably still allowed into Ikea.  Ranjani screamed so loudly at times that I honestly expected the door to be kicked in and the room filled with armed police investigating a murder in progress.  Putting a hand across her mouth took her up a couple of gears, and allowed her to build up even more excitement to release.  She came like a woman possessed by every porn scene sex exclamation ever, at top volume, with no off switch.  It's hugely gratifying, obviously, to be the cause of such ecstasy, but there were times during that night when I heard the neighbours banging the walls, ceiling and floor.  Fortunately not the front door.  My flat didn't have a back door, so there goes that opportunity for an obvious gag.

2)  The smell.  My God.  I'm all for food and aroma.  I know that diet is a huge contributor to smell, and that olfactory information can be a massive differentiator between cultures.  I've read that many people in China and South East Asia find the smell of westerners unpleasant, possibly partially because of the dairy in our diet.  And Ranjani didn't smell unpleasant, exactly.  I don't know what I smelled like to her, I didn't ask.  But we got pretty warm while burning off some sweaty calories, and the pungency of the asafoetida leaking from every pore of her lithe and slippery body was increasingly evident.  At one point during the night I awoke and wondered if a Deliveroo had been secretly delivered to my room.  And in many ways, I guess it had.

It's a shame things didn't work out with Ranjani.  I think we both took a huge confidence boost from what happened, and perhaps some things are better distilled into a microcosm. I'm pretty sure my neighbours, in that glorious but thinly walled and floored edifice, would agree.


  1. Ahem, Jimmy Pursey would have been pleased "If The Kids Are United", not "The Kids Are All Right" - that was The Who, and Mr Townsend's little run-in with Operation Ore kinda suggests to suspicious minds like mine that they most certainly wouldn't be all right.


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