Liz Jones’s Diary: ‘In which I remember my disastrous dates’

I’m catnip! Catnip to men!

The man who had been wooing me on WhatsApp, but disappeared as he was worried what his adult son would think of him dating me, got in touch to wish me Happy New Year. ‘Sorry I let you down by being a little precious about being mentioned. I think you are amazing and would like to wish you, etc…’

Oh, bugger off.

Abbey Lossing at handsomefrank.com

Then the photographer who lives near Liverpool, whom I almost met for a drink but decided not to blight another person’s privacy by writing about them (also I Google Earthed his garden and wheelie bin and was underwhelmed), got back in touch. ‘I’m going to risk irritating you by wishing you a Happy New Year. I’ve given up trying to find a new lady. I’m sick of hearing “there’s someone for everyone” from well-meaning friends… You said you struggle with cinema sound, so would an exhibition and lunch be better for you?’

This is more like it. He didn’t type, ‘Look to yourself and your actions’, as though he’s my dad. He’s being proactive.

I’m not sure about an exhibition with a man. I always wear heels on dates, so would have to stagger from exhibit to exhibit clinging on to passing strangers and statues. There is the inevitable awkward standing in front of a painting, not knowing what to say. As I’m always in a hurry – blame several decades working on Fleet Street – I like to move on to the next thing as swiftly as possible. And lunch? I prefer dinner, as it’s less well lit. There is always that one rogue whisker you failed to tweeze that glints in the sun.

I’m trying to think of my best date ever. Lunch at the River Café, when the man was a) late and b) moaned about the bread? Nope. Dinner at Locanda Locatelli, when he stormed off after the main course and I had to pay for an Uber? Nope. Blind date with man in the Dales? First, the owner of the pub came up to me and said, ‘Wasn’t it you who gave us a bad review on Trip Advisor?’ Um, no. And then my date proceeded to tell me the world is secretly run by lizards.

Or how about my date with the Rock Star, when one of my back teeth fell out on to my plate with a clatter? Or the holiday in Thailand paid for by me, and on a boat chartered by me to visit the locations of a Bond movie, when my date a) did a number two below deck (it was a very small boat) and b) embarrassed me by saying, ‘Your surgery scars are showing over your bikini.’ The RS also did this when I had invited him to stay with me in the Hôtel Du Cap in Antibes. Why do men always point out your flaws, in a voice that can be overheard? Passive-aggressive b******s. When have I ever said, ‘You know I gave you my old iPhone in a selfless act of altruism? Well, I forgot to erase it, so those weird photos you’ve been taking by accident keep popping up in my cloud. All I can say is, Ewwww! Delete!’

Despite writing a dating column for over 20 years, I cannot think of one liaison that has had a positive outcome. Once, I met a man over dinner at a friend’s house in Chelsea. We got on like a house on fire. He regaled me with stories about meeting Marlon Brando. I made him laugh. He ended the evening by telling me he was in love with the new Lancôme model.

No. My dates have always ended in an argument and me footing the bill. Being texted the C-word from the spare room of a Georgian* Airbnb. A pet being catnapped. Having to lock a man out of my five-star room on a birthday mini break. The alternative was me contracting cystitis. I’ve never been whisked anywhere. I want to be whisked.

Anyway, the photographer suggested an exhibition in Manchester. I told him if he can source an acceptable vegan venue for lunch that isn’t down steep stairs in a basement, I’m there! I’m not giving up. Let the renovations begin!

*£900 for two nights, and the fridge was dirty. Give me a hotel any day!

Read more of Liz Jones’s diaries here