Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Demographic Shift - 69

It's something that I've really started to notice. I'm telling this to Susan who seems to think it's hilarious, but really, I'm being serious, I really do think I'm getting worse and I'm wondering if it’s like a progressive wasting disease, you know, like motor neurone disease or something.

"To say you're getting worse kind of implies that you might once be good at it, I think that might be overstating the case."
"Hey, I take offence at that."
"You take offence?"
"Yes, I definitely used to be better."
"Define better?"
"I dated for longer periods. I could date for sustained periods of time before deciding, you know, that said person was really not for me."
"You make it sound like some kind of endurance contest."

This makes me laugh, but really I think that sometimes, and I kind of hate to say this, that's exactly what it is. Dating is a kind of endurance contest, maybe, just not an Olympic event.

"Well, you know, sometimes I think that's what it is."
"Gord, that's like the least romantic thing I ever heard any one say. An endurance test? Oh come on."
"What? You know, how it is, you start to go out with someone and really you're not very sure, but you decide, for various reasons…
"Wait? For various reasons?
"Yeah, various reasons, to see them for a little longer, you know, in a making your mind up kind of way, pushing aside your initial impulse to dump them and run for the hills."
"Initial, Gord, I thought that was your only impulse?"
"I'm trying to diversify, you know, and have several impulses."
"So you're saying that even though you don't like them that much you continued to go with them as you…what sort of felt obliged to be dating someone."
"Yes that's exactly it."
"Hmm, I'm not sure really I would class that as being good at dating."
"Okay, maybe not, but I don't do that anymore. I make really quick decisions after one date and decide that really the best approach is to never see them again."
"You're too fussy."

I huff at this, okay, I might be fussy, but I am positive it's not just me.

"Maybe, I don't think it's just me somehow."
"I think you're right, I think it’s everybody else as well. I think people aren't just looking anymore they're like 'looking looking'."
"Looking looking? And that would mean what exactly?"
"It means that as people get older instead of just looking for someone they can go sleep with and hang out with on public holidays they are actually looking immediately, from the outset, for something that might last, which means they start out with really high standards."
"You mean impossibly high standards and impossibly high standards actually translates to not dating anyone at all because everyone knows that impossibly high standards are hard to satisfy."
"Wow, you're like a genius. That's exactly what I do."
"Gord, I've been telling you that for ages, I am a genius, but sadly unrecognised, I'll be like Emily Dickinson, totally obscure in my own lifetime. Doomed to be discovered and celebrated after my death."
"Yeah, well Dickinson studied the bible, went to church and was nicked named the Nun of Amherst. Do you even know what a church looks like?"
"They're the pointy buildings right? Besides, I'm more the social butterfly non-religious unrecognized type of genius."

Susan's genius aside, I think she definitely hit on something that's at the heart of my whole getting worse at dating. I guess what I really mean when to say is that rather than date a carefree bordering reckless manner where you never really think things through; it's now the complete reverse. It's like a whole screening process takes place where you consider not only what they look like and the kind of things they're interested, but also what they do and whether their life really closely maps yours.

Actually, I'm not sure I really like it all that much, but I'm not sure that I can do anything about it. As it means I make these really snap decisions, usually before I have finished my first drink. Meaning I rush the second one and am out of there before you can say, third what, let alone second date.

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Demographic Shift - 68

I so swear this is the last word. The very last saphic broadcast, so to speak, it's getting out of hand, but as I had an update from my friend David on MJ I thought I should share. MJ is the supercute bi-sexual girl who was until recently with a butch New Zealand lesbian (probably grew up with lots of sheep, you know, or something, no don't examine that remark too closely as I'm not sure it makes a great deal of sense either).

Apparently, out of the blue she called and invited him around and David was keen to test just exactly how wedded to lesbianism she actually was. Needless to say a day later he's still at her flat. Typical, he's an exceptionally lucky bastard, as the saying goes. It's a saying right?

It turns out that the sheep farming butch New Zealand dyke is no more. I would tell a sheepish joke at this point, but I don't know any.

"It turns out that her relationship to lesbianism is pretty elastic. After two bottles of wine she sort of fell out of her clothes."
"Fell? What are you talking about people don't fall out of their clothing."
"MJ fell out of her clothes and I was still there at lunchtime the next day."
"Wow, you do good work, that's another blow for the sisterhood."
"I know, she's sent me three text messages since I left."
"My lesbian stories never turn out like that."
"Gordon mate, you need to pick your lesbians more carefully."

Hmm.

"You know, I'd rather just not pick them at all. Things are quite complicated enough as it is without extra mines, you know, thrown into the dating minefield."
"But you might find just the mine for you?"
"David, my legs will get blown off, I swear, that always happens to me."

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Demographic Shift - 67

I so wasn't going to write about the 'L' word any more, worried as I am about more flak from AAL (angry anonymous lesbian), but it just won't go away, you know, so to speak.

I was out the other night with my friend Mark on some sort of a strange little evening stretching from Soho to Old Street.

Along the way, we swept up more friends of Mark, namely drunken artist and his girlfriend, who is still at the stage where girl's smoking roll-up cigarettes is sort of cute and endearing, and a performance artist John Cash Money who spoke for much for the time in a southern American accent, which made him sound more like Elvis than the man in black, but hey, I'm splitting hairs here.

Anyway, we ended up at a pub in Old Street run by those nice people at Vice magazine.

Later, the guy in the orange Stetson turned up, another artist, but I can never remember his name. You could tell he was an artist as he sat on his armchair upside down.

Just along from where we were camped were five women ranging in degrees of attractiveness. The only thing really needed to be known about these girls were they were really very touchy feely, holding on to each other's arms and legs, and that the they were the only unattached women in the bar.

It was a kind of boisterous evening. There was loud retro punk music being played by two Japanese schoolgirl DJs, no wait, they were Japanese, but dressed as schoolgirls, who were jumping up and down together behind the booth.

I look at the five, they are so clearly, you know, together, in one way or another, although it was difficult to work out who was who, but they did look just like the lesbians in 'Chasing Amy', kind of too good looking to be, well you know, lesbians, which sort of reminded me of the quote from the movie, which I should share.


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Banky Edwards (Jason Lee): "Alright, now see this? This is a four-way road, OK? And dead in the centre is a crisp, new, hundred dollar bill. Now, at the end of each of these streets are four people, OK? Are you following?"

Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck): "Yeah."

Banky: "Good. Over here, we have a male-affectionate, easy to get along with, non-political agenda lesbian. Down here, we have a man-hating, angry as fuck, agenda of rage, bitter dyke. Over here, we got Santa Claus, and up here the Easter Bunny. Which one is going to get to the hundred dollar bill first?"

Holden: "The man-hating dyke."

Banky: "Good. Why?"

Holden: "I don't know."

Banky: "Because the other three are figments of your fucking imagination!"

I digress. "You should go over there," Mark says to me.
"Er, no, you go over there."
"I've got a girlfriend."
"Lucky you, I'm not moving."
"I'm going on over there."
"Please don't do that."

Too late, off Mark went on another foray to talk to random strangers. Was it any wonder that Johnny Cash Money was sitting next to me speaking like he was from Georgia?

I watch Mark who spends a couple of minutes talking to the lipstick lesbians before he slides back over and plonks himself down on the couch.

"They're gay."
"No shit."
"You didn't know that."
"No, but I've been having this vibe lately, that seems to involve lesbians. It's like they are to be the only single women in London."
"Maybe you have a lesbian-friendly vibe."

You know, I don't think this is quite the case, but I did get another online dating lesbian email. Two in a row. We had fired back a couple of emails, nothing too racy, it was all yoga and horses.

"To be honest, the whole balancing thing is not my strong point. I tend to sway a bit, have much better balance when riding. Haven't fallen off for years," I wrote.

"I have lots of tales with broken arm, gashes etc, as when younger I was keen on gymkhanas [barrel racing et cet] and did nothing but draw ponies of all colour and description. I soon got interested in boys instead but was a bit late, and like your yoga I tend to sway... have I revealed too much? Sarah x

Oh give me a break, I mean seriously.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Demographic Shift - 66

I'm suffering blind date blowback. Robert, who set my up recent date with international travelling girl, calls me and wants to know why I haven't been battering down her door and asking her out again.

It's true I haven't, but really I don't expect to take flak for it, that seems unfair. It starts like this. He sends me a text the other day asking to know how this date some weeks ago went. The delay is for the usual reasons. He lives on the side of a hill in Derbyshire.

"So, what was the verdict on the date?" he texts.
"The verdict, no one said there was going to be a verdict, that's like 'Crime Watch'," I reply, because, you know, I'm a total wag.
"No. 'Crime Watch' comes before the verdict, give me a buzz. I heard two people go on the wrong trains home."

That's the thing with people who work in law enforcement. You can't have jokes about law and order.

But the thing about the wrong train home? That is, in fact, true. I was sober as well, but in my haste to cut short the farewell conversation, I ended up walking a semi circle, saw a tube pull in and declared that it was "my train". Off I went, westbound, which is great if I didn't leave at the other end of the eastbound Piccadilly line. Damn me and my nervous walking in circles. I call Robert and immediately I come up against one of my greatest failures when it comes to women: inability to tell the truth.

"So how did the date go then?"
"Errrr, you know, it was good, yeah, good."
"But you haven't called her back?"

Hang on a second, I distinctly got the impression that Robert knew more than I did.

"You already know how it went, why are you asking me."
"All I know is that, two people got on the wrong trains."

He sniggers as he says this. Sniggering seems unfair somehow.

"Yes true, I sort of turned myself around."
"What you mean you were caught up in the romance of the moment?" and he is still sniggering, you know, like a schoolboy.
"Errr no, I was trying to make a quick getaway."
"Never works."
"Apparently not."

Slowly Robert gets around to the reason he called.

"You should call her again?"
"Really?"
"Yes definitely."

Apparently after widely held discussions between his wife and his sister, who said blind date is best friend of, there was definitely a need for a follow-up call.

"I'm not so sure."
"You got on didn't you?"
"Errr yeah."
"And I only heard you were out for a couple of hours, is that really enough time to tell?"

Oh come on, I mean seriously, give me a break, 30 seconds flat is enough to tell. But do I say this? No.

"I, well, I suppose not."
"So you should call her again and go out."
"Go out?"
"Definitely, second dates are always better, you might have missed things first time around."

To be honest, the only things I've ever noticed missing first time around are more reasons why I should never have gone on a second date.

"OK."
"Cool, I'll let everyone know you're going to call again."
"Is that really necessary?"
"You're going to call, aren't you?"
"Well, I thought I might text."
"You should call."

We hang up. I can't believe I said that. I really really do not want to call. So I don't, I text her. Last time we spoke she was going to the States, so I ask her how her trip was. Lame, I know.

"Good. How's your bathroom?" she texts back.

See it's the stuff of true romance, besides I told you I told everyone about my bathroom. Progress still slow.

"I don't have one. It's going to be another week and a half."

After I send that gem, I hear nothing back from her. The suddenly a week later, yesterday in fact, she texts me again to ask how's it going. This time I don't reply.

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Demographic Shift - 65

It's funny the things you get obsessed with the older you get. I used to be obsessed by new Radio Head albums, Douglas Coupland novels or Playstation games.

Things move on. Radio Head now only make albums that make you shrug and kick up a storm of indifference before you add them to the CD stack never to played again. As for Coupland, his LDN (last decent novel), for me at least, was Microserfs in 1995. He must be thinking the same thing as he has gone and written his first sequel. That's right a follow-up to Microserfs called jPod, which is due out next year. Okay, I might still have a thing for shiny boxes from Sony, but what can I say?


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Okay, so I digress. My current and really long running thing has been my bathroom. I know, what's that about? Until recently it was one of those light avocado bathrooms, with a tub like bath suitable for pensioners with mobility issues, such as previously owner who lived here for 50 years (I know count them), and friends who might want to get into them during the middle of the night and not drown. I don't know what that's about either.

Like everything else in my charming Victorian house (last decorated circa 1960s) it needed replacing. I talked about this to anyone who would listen for a long time. Like a year. More maybe. Finally I bought stuff, it was expensive. Don't ask me what, as really I sorted of used the catalogue pointing method of shopping and have quickly forgotten all details.

Two weeks ago my builder started work. Hurrah.

"Don't worry Gordon it's only going to take two weeks."

He immediately destroyed the bath and shower. Fortunately Holmes Place still has one. Two weeks later it looks like this. Yes that sorry looking loo is the last fixture remaining.


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You see the progress? That's right there isn't any. The plasterer is missing or absent or whatever all week. Oh I know it will be finished...errr soon and the £5k it's costing will keep rising kind of like this:

"Did you buy any lights?"
"Lights?"

Off to Homebase. Buy bathroom light.

"Gordon, you know we've having two, right?"

Back to Homebase, this time on mountain bike newly puncture free...after a year.

"Here you go, two lights. £70."
"What about the radiator?"
"I thought you..."

Back to Homebase. One wall hanging chrome radiator £99. In the sale.

"Did you get an element?"
"A what?"
"It needs a separate element."

Who would have guessed? Batteries are not included. One element £33.

I'm going to stop. The builder has turned up with his friend the plasterer. Sweet. The plasterer who was missing. The loo has now left the building.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Demographic Shift - 64

I go home for a few days and go out with my mother and sister to celebrate my sister's birthday. It's very sunny, we're down by the river having lunch in a sleepy'ish Hertfordshire village near home when I notice worrying signs about my mother's state of mental health.

I swear it's nothing to do with me, it's all my sister's fault, but for some reason I take all the flak.

The flak mostly comes in the form of my mother verbally shaking me by the shoulders, well my head was definitely rattling, and telling me I only have three more years.

It's a good job she's not a doctor, as to be honest the whole bedside manner could do with some work.

"For god sake Gordon you have only got three more years left."
"Okay, don't worry I'm on it," I reassure her.
"You're on it? What does that mean?"

Well it actually means I'm sitting on my butt, not doing a lot, but I consider such a reply will do my mother's heart not good at all.

"Well, I mean I am actively pursuing all options."
"Well get moving."

I tell her I will. My first move is to suggest another bottle of wine, I mean it was just so sunny. When I return from the bar, my sister decides to get in on the act.

"Three count them," she says with a smile.
"Stop that, I just gave you money, a card and a gift."
"And?"
"I want a refund that's what."

I love family gatherings, you know, it's just the gathering and the family that are a something of an issue.

I have at this lunch become my mother's focus of attention chiefly because my sister, who is supposed to be getting married in the Spring, recently threw her fiancee out (do people still say fiancee? If so, why? It is a truly horrible word, there must be alternatives, and I don't mean stuff like 'my intended' – I know for sure that went out with Austen).

It was only a temporary throwing out. He has since moved back in although he couldn't be with us that particularly afternoon as he was away playing golf either in Portugal or Kent. I'm not sure, I got confused. The Algarve definitely came into it.

As temporary as it was my sister really doesn't act like someone who is going to get married, you know, from what I've seen.

For instance during lunch my sister takes a long mystery call that causes her to wander away from our table and along the grassy riverbank and close to the edge. Close to the edge in many ways.


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My mother, who spent a large amount of money putting a marquee on the back of the house for a New Year's Eve engagement (number 2) party is perturbed. Will she ever get that wedding, the dress? Answers on a postcard.

Like I said, my mother has once again turned her attention to me. She's been to the psychic and probably tried church, including the ones she is not a member of (they have members right?), and has now taken to haranguing me and telling me that my clock is ticking.

Hey, I know it's ticking, I'm just not in any rush. She asks me if I've seen anyone recently and I tell her about the blind date that my friend set me up on.

To be honest, I didn't even bother mentioning this event, which took place several weeks ago, as it was so…oh what's the word, underwhelming, that I thought it hardly worth it.

She had been away travelling for weeks for work so we had texted each other intermittently and by the time we actually met it was rather ordinary. No sparks. Do sparks exist? I mean other than the ones I get when cooking on gas? Who knows. It turned out that we could talk fine by phone and text, but face-to-face I had absolutely nothing to say. Other than to conclude that I would not let myself be set up on anymore blind dates by friends.

"Oh that's disappointing," my mother says.
"Sure is," I tell her.
"Oh do you remember that girl Sara, I set you up with?" my sister asks me.
"Yeah, why?"
"Well you had a lucky escape, she turned out to be a little psycho."
"Oh cheers, I thought you said she was perfect for me?"
"Oh she was, but it turns out perfect isn't quite the gold standard that it used to be."