For the first time in 21 years, I am double parking. This is a term I invented to mean going out with two different men in one weekend. Back then, it was the Osama Bin Laden lookalike and the man who became my husband. Osama lost the race to the altar by saying the sound system in my classic Beetle sounded ‘tinny’.
This time, though, given any decent restaurant with an outside space is fully booked at the weekend – people really do have more money than sense – I’ve had to expand double parking to include consecutive weekdays. So on Wednesday, I’m having lunch at a country house hotel, with Bedouin tents festooned with lavender bushes and dotted with fire pits, with the ex ex, aka the Rock Star. Then, on Thursday, I’m having lunch with a man who messaged me on Twitter. He sounds really nice, is handsome, with a gap between his two front teeth, and lives near Cambridge. I’ve looked at the photos he’s posted online, and he tends to wear nice brown shoes, has a sitting room that has a fireplace, is tidy and once
dated a very attractive blonde. I’m not sure how old he is but given a lot of his postings are of Take That concerts, am thinking he’s slightly younger than me.
The only slight worry is that the maître d’ at the hotel will think I’m a prostitute, given when I made the bookings online, I had to give their names and the purpose of the meal, which is ‘date’, obviously. I might wear the same outfit twice. I send Cambridge Man the link to a piece in the Daily Mail where I am photographed wearing my re-entry outfit for after lockdown: a pink Hervé Léger bandage dress. ‘Don’t worry,’ I tell him. ‘I won’t be wearing that dress. I will have three collies with me so can’t risk paw prints, as it’s hired.’
‘Good,’ he replies. ‘I wouldn’t want to just stare at you.’
He also shows that he’s a gentleman by adding, ‘One rule. Who books doesn’t pay! And if this was to lead anywhere, I’d come your way, and not expect you to drive all the time.’
I’m slightly annoyed at the RS, because after I’d invited him to spend the night, and had JUST taken my White Company linen to be laundered and pressed, along with the lace tablecloth my Great Aunt Nel made when she lost her fiancé in the Somme, just in case it’s warm enough to have breakfast in the garden, he then said he wouldn’t be able to stay, as he has to head north to meet his new grandson. Typical, isn’t it? Just as they get to the age when they can shake off second wives, and install giant teens at various universities, another tier of commitment hoves on its bottom into view. Something inert, the size of a large meatloaf, has now rendered my extreme bikini wax obsolete!
So this is why we now have Date Number Two. It will be a competition.
- How many compliments does each one give? More importantly, how genuine do they sound?
- Does he squint at the menu and say, ‘I forgot my glasses so let’s get the waiter to read it out’ or does he just say, ‘I’ll have the same, thanks.’
- Is he willing to quiz the chef about the provenance of the stock for the soup? Me: ‘Is it
vegan? Go and find out!’
- How many minutes before he makes me laugh?
- Can he Name That Collie?
- Does he ask about my new wall hanging (hard for Cambridge Man, as he’s not seen it nor knows of its existence).
- When the bill arrives, does he slip a black credit card discreetly into the envelope with a look that doesn’t say, ‘Don’t worry. It’s on me. I’m getting full sex later.’
- Does he say, ‘You won’t write about this, will you?’
- Does he say, at any point, ‘I thought you’d stopped drinking.’
- Has he brought doggy-poo bags? And if not, why not?
I’m feeling exhausted already.