Since going out with someone and being quite happy doesn’t make a good story I thought it would be a good time to revisit some relationship woes. This time the Dressmaker.
I’d just started a new job far away from home and broken up with an actually nice girl for reasons that in hindsight seem a bit wonky. So I was in a town I didn’ t know with no friends nearby. It was quite a lonely time really.
I bumped into a girl at work, quite literally bumped. She was tall with glossy dark hair, high cheekbones and rosy cheeks and very big eyes. We’d collided because we both weren’t paying attention to where we were going.
There were apologises and then we went on our way. Some time passed, I’d see her around the building a few times and we’d share a smile and a hello but nothing more than that.
Then we had to work together on a project. It was fun, she was bright and interesting. The project was successful and we’d email each other occasionally afterwards. Our conversation started to get a little firty, because one day she suddenly she mentioned she had a boyfriend and so I backed off.
More time passed. Yes, I’m a fast mover.
I found out via some people at work that she’d been asking about me. There was a big company culture for office dating. I’d say about 90% of the people there were dating someone they’d met through work. So I had my suspicions about what the questions were about.
She mentioned in an email she was having a tough day and I said wine helps (it does), which ended up becoming a drink after work to bitch about the office. Because that’s what friends do, right?
Just a quick glass of wine
We met up and drank a lot of wine. A lot. We were in a hotel bar because that was the closest thing to a bar nearby. The rest of the places to drink would be charitably called ‘fight pubs’.
We both got very drunk while talking about people at work. Then had a very expensive and very bad meal and then some more booze.
The conversation got a bit hazy. We wanted more booze but the bar was closed. We tried to get more, The Dressmaker was a local celebrity, but she couldn’t get us just one more gin and tonic for the road. ‘Don’t you know who I am’ FAIL.
It was at around this point we kissed. I’m not 100% on how this happened. It got a bit tongue-y. Eventually we left the bar and stumbled out into the cool night air. Actually it wasn’t cool, it was freezing.
Almost instantly a cab appeared. I said she should get in it and go home. She said she didn’t want to.
I insisted because she had boyfriend. I said that I liked her, and because I liked her she should go home. This turned into a monologue about doing the right thing if you really like someone, it was as much for my benefit as for hers.
It was appreciated but had almost exactly the opposite affect to the one I was expecting. She walked, through a war zone (I lived in a really rough area) to visit my flat.
We drank Champagne and talked nonsense and then, at about 4am it was time for bed. I explained that nothing naughty was going to happen because of her situation. She borrowed some clothes off me and I left the room so she could change.
She got a bit angry because I refused to look at her breasts. Like really angry.
She kept trying to break my resolve to do something that would require more than a PG certificate. I refused, again and again. Hoping that in years to come I wouldn’t come to regret this. It might have been the right thing to do, but it wasn’t the most fun.
The next morning, after a light breakfast, we made our way into to town. We had a coffee, and as is the way of these things, were spotted by someone from work.
DUN DUN DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
(To be continued)
Jen knows about the blog. The Theatre Producer knows about the blog.
They also know how to win.
We are dating women who know that we are in a race to get married first, so if we had any doubts or second thoughts the time for that has passed. We are now trapped by this blog.
It’s a situation worthy of P.G. Wodehouse, but to quote the classic film, BadBoys II.
This shit just got real.
The day after the wedding we had to all check out. Most people were going home but we’d decided to stay an extra day and to stay in a place with a pool. I’d really wanted to do some swimming while on holiday. The Theatre Producer couldn’t find anywhere with an outdoor pool in Belgrade so we ended up booking a room in the Square Nine Hotel.
After we’d packed up our stuff and checked out the wedding party went to a restaurant in Belgrade for a ‘brunch’. You know a light meal, before disappeared into the sunset.
The restaurant was on a cobbled street in Belgrade that was full of other places to eat and looked very pretty. We ate upstairs, the walls were retractable so it was like eating a tree-house. One with an in-exhaustible supply of food.
We were served the classic Serbian starter of meat and cheese. It was lovely and accompanied with a glass of excellent red wine (holiday wine always tastes the best).
After the starter we were all full and enjoying the wine so of course our hosts appeared with more meats and vegetables. We tried to eat as much as possible but after a weekend of Serbian eating we were struggling. At least there were only three meats, so that was a saving grace.
When the brunch was done we waddled around saying goodbyes before heading off in search of our new hotel which appeared to be only a few streets away.
Luggage in tow we rattled down some very pretty streets. We would have got entirely lost too if The Theatre Producer couldn’t read the Cyrillic alphabet. We had a rough map in English but the street signs were in Cyrillic. I don’t know how to pronounce the little one that looks like triangle on a picnic table or any of that.
After not getting lots at all we found the hotel. It was a new build on the outside, looking a bit smarter and more planned than the rest of the buildings in the square.
Square Nine Hotel
We walked in. It was all hushed and softly lit like an episode of the West Wing. We spoke to a very polite man on reception who whispered in reply to our questions. Well ‘don’t tell anyone this’ type whispers but ‘Very good sir, I don’t want to speak any louder for fear of straining your eardrums unduly’
The room was on the third floor and was amazing. Lots of clean lines and soft furnishings. I have never dived on a more comfortable bed or been more jealous of a writing area ever. There was even one of those leather place setting things for you to write your great American novel on, well not on, you know to put the paper on.
There were also a lot of buttons to control the different lighting levels, the curtains and the James Bond villain-esq black-out blinds. It would be fair to say they got a fairly extensive test while The Theatre Producer was having a shower. It was like a sedate disco.
The Theatre Producer was raving about the shower, which was like turning a monsoon off or on, but sadly our bathroom was being a bit naughty and not draining properly. We called reception and they immediately put us in a new room with a bed that hadn’t been jumped on and gave us each chocolates to eat.
Post chocolates I went down to have a swim in the pool below the hotel. It was the best pool I’ve ever been too for the following reasons.
- The moment I arrived a very polite man gave me a dressing gown to wear.
- And some shoes.
- No-one else was there.
- The pool was underground but there was a skylight. Amazing.
- There were funny devices at the edge of the pool for eating up the waves so it was the least splashy pool I had ever been in.
- There was a gym bit too, I played with the weights and then played the pool again.
- And a jacuzzi, one made out of wood so it was like boiling yourself in a bucket.
- There was also a steam room. I lasted ten minutes before I gave up.
- The super fluffy towels were stored what looked like a pirate treasure chest
The journey home
- Serbians eat a lot of meat
- There isn’t that much to do in Belgrade, but it is nice
- If in doubt, order the Black Forest Gateau
- Going on holiday with a girl isn’t always a disaster
The day of the wedding arrived. I was nervous and tired in equal measure.
This was mostly due to getting drunk the night before the trip instead of packing. I started off carefully picking out my outfits and finding my flip-flops and then I accidentally poured a lot of cider in my mouth.
I don’t know how it happened, I also ended up mysteriously playing computer games with Biscuit. The Theatre Producer arrived and wasn’t as impressed by the progress Biscuit and I had made on Borderlands as we had hoped.
I wasn’t that packed in the morning. I’m not saying I wasn’t packed at all, I just wasn’t as packed as I could have been.
The flight was super early at City Airport, we were early for it because I’m bad at being late. We were like zombies, ones that smelled faintly of cider.
Check in didn’t take long and soon we had nothing to do apart from eat too much breakfast and think about all the items I’d forgotten to pack. Honestly it’s not such a big deal, I mean who really needs shoes anyway?*
We had to connect in Switzerland to another flight. There isn’t much to say about it apart from Swiss Air give you a chocolate before landing and quite a lot of leg room. Two flights, two chocolates. WINNING AT LIFE.
Serbia (Fuck yeah)
Serbia was HOT when we landed. It was proper summer hot, not like ‘oh gosh I could probably get away without wearing a jumper, what what?’ but ‘OH MY GOD I’M ON FIRE’ hot.
Actually it wasn’t that bad, I just suddenly found myself regretting my choice of cardigan even if it did have sexy leather elbow patches. I am sad for Serbia that they didn’t get to see me wearing that as much.
A man with an excellent moustache was waiting for us at the airport and took us to the hotel for free. My opinion of Serbia (already good after their strong Eurovision entries) was rising all the time.
The hotel was nice. It was on the far side of Belgrade, functional and clean.We had a room with a balcony and an en-suit mosquito**.
We dropped our bags off, shouted at each other about how we were on holiday and that was exciting (god knows what the people in the room next to us thought) and then went off in search for food.
The food quest didn’t go well. We found a shop that sold pencils, one that sold academic books and a cafe that didn’t do meals. We thought about trying to survive on pencils (the coloured ones have flavour right?) but instead got some funny shaped crisps (Hurrah for weird Euro-snacks) and walked sadly back to the hotel.
It was when we were about 30% through the crisps that we noticed the rather large and swish restaurant that we had cunningly ignored before.
So we did the sensible thing. We hid around the corner eating crisps until we were finished and then walked in.
The Theatre Producer asked politely if the serving lady spoke English, she replied ‘of course’ and then sat us down in the corner. The restaurant had a big outside bit with sprays that pumped out water to lower the temperature a bit.
We ordered some bubbles and quite a lot of food. Far too much food really. We had a starter which was smoked meats and cheeses and then they brought out more food.
Serbians like meat. They really like meat, a lot of it. We bravely ate through it while Sealed with a Kiss (the Serbian version of course) played on an endless loop.
I’m going to recreate that for you by typing in Sealed with a Kiss every now and then so you get the experience.
After the starter (which we shared) we were full. Not just ‘oh gosh I’m fine, no I won’t eat another biscuit’ but ‘PLEASE KILL ME NOW’. I didn’t want to eat any more.
Sealed with a Kiss
More food arrived.
Sealed with a Kiss
The Theatre Producer had a turkey and cheese thing that had four turkey breasts in it I had a sort of chicken Kiev. One where everything that wasn’t meat had been replaced with pork.
Sealed with a Kiss
It was some meat, wrapped in a sort of purse made out of some other meat, with a meaty sauce and some meat on the side. It was also huge, bigger than my head.
It was meaty.
Sealed with a Kiss
A band turned up and were about to play for us, but more food appeared so they went away again. The band was mostly made of accordion players. Everyone in Serbia can play the accordion, fact***.
Since they didn’t play for us the restaurant helpfully played Sealed with a Kiss again.
We carried on chomping through our food. I felt felt so full that my stomach was tight, but we couldn’t leave any food behind, otherwise our Serbian hosts would have thought less of us. Brits are made of sterner stuff.
We ate on, Sealed with a Kiss.
There was a long period of very slow eating, with a lot of wheezing and sipping of wine. I had a plan, if I got drunk the pain of being so full would be reduced and I could eat more. It didn’t work.
Eventually we gave up, paid about £1.26**** for the meal (Sealed with a Kiss) and wobbled back to the hotel.
We then fell asleep, it was about 7pm. Rock and roll.
To be continued…
*I had packed some shoes.
**Or some other insect that would bite us during the night.
***Not actual fact.
I don’t go on holiday with girls. I’ve tried it a few times and it’s never gone well.
Ladies, for all their lovely properties have a very different view on holiday time, also the ones I know seem to turn into despots once they pass through customs.
Here are some previous examples of holiday disasters
Between the tickets being booked and me going, the girl and I split up (it was more of a fling than a relationship). She begged me to go anyway. I arrived at the airport with no-idea of where I was staying and no way of contacting her.
I managed to get hold of someone else in the group and told her I had arrived. They picked me up, not her, two complete strangers. She didn’t bother going in the car so I had a weird, very long trip to the house with two people I’d never met before.
The car ride was weird but nothing compared to spending time in a remote villa with her sisters and all her friends. I was the odd one out while they were off their tits on drugs. I was only there for a few days but it felt like months, long awkward months of watch my ex-not-quite-girlfriend flirt with a someone else in the pool.
There was a sauna though, which was nice.
I was invited by a flatmate. 10 of us went to a remote farm house in the middle of no-where. (I’m sensing a theme) There was one car, the girl was the only driver registered on it. She spent the whole holiday being either 1) too tired to drive 2) drunk.
Nine People went a bit mad from being stranded until we managed to rent a car from a man in a farm house and we had one lovely day of exploring and doing touristy stuff before we left. When we got back it was my fault that people get pestering her to drive.
It was a trip my a girlfriend of the time. It was fine at first and then I wanted to read a book for an hour on the Sunday, I know the heartless bastard. This caused a furious rage that lasted the rest of the evening, and the journey home all the way to Euston.
She stormed off into the underground, I got involved in a fight (well trying to break one up) but she didn’t notice because she was so angry. I didn’t get home until midnight, because of all the police stuff and she was still angry with me for the next week. The book turned out to be rubbish too.
The reason I mention this is that the Theatre Producer invited me on holiday with her, a mini-break really, to go to the wedding of her friend in Serbia.
I have to say I’m a bit nervous, I hope I don’t get in a fight again.
Today was a big day in relationship terms. I gave the Theatre Producer a drawer, well the use of a drawer in my room.
She now has her own storage device in my home. This is a big step for me, letting a girl (who are rubbish as we all know*) have her own storage place in my room (which is excellent).
The drawer was empty at first, she was slightly taken aback with the offering. Then it had some make-up in it. Now it is filled with strange lady things like moisturiser, well it was last time I saw into it**.
Now I am afeared to look inside. It is a place of womanly things and not for me.
Where will this end? I do not know, maybe if she is really good I’ll let use my bestest crayons to draw pictures of dragons.
*All girls are rubbish, this isn’t a slight on the Theatre Producer it’s just that all ladies smell weird and they don’t like robots enough.
**She opened it when I was in the room. There might have been some frilly things in it.
I’ve got a male chum who has just come out of a long relationship. He was going out with this girl for about five years, they were living together and now it’s over.
He seems fine about the whole thing. They were one of those couples that snipe at each other all the time. He finally broke it off after yet another huge fight. It was coming for a long time.
Anyway. He is back to being single and is determined to stay out of a relationship for a while, which is why he has instigated The Eight Sexings Rule*.
The Eight Sexing Rule
My chum, let’s call him Geoff, is only going to have sex with any girl a maximum of eight times. He has decided this is the point when things start to get a bit like a relationship and so any more could be dangerous.
An evening of nude fun counts as one sexing and if something in the morning happens, well that doesn’t count as a new one either. So it’s probably more eight sex-dates rather than sex eight times. I know this because all his friends have been quizzing him on the rules after he made such a bold statement.
It is working out for him so far. He is dating a few ladies but keeping them at a distance and building up what he calls ‘a rota’. Or as I like to call it ‘a tragedy waiting to happen’.
What do you think? Is this a sensible plan?
*Yes I know it’s grammatically wrong but that’s what he calls it.
Things have been going well with The Theatre Producer. So well that finding something interesting to say is a struggle. ‘We did this and it was lovely’ doesn’t make a good read. So I thought now would be a good time to revisit some dating disasters, namely The Columbian.
Setting the scene
It was around 2007 when we met. I was working at a rather silly magazine and living in North West London, near Hampstead Heath. Only six months previously my father had got in contact with me after years apart to let me know he had cancer and it wasn’t looking good.
Our first date
I was dating girls on MySingleFriend. A slightly grumpy but very pretty looking girl contacted me. She had really long black hair and was from Columbia. She listed that she smoked in her profile so I was a bit casual about the whole thing but she did appear to live only a couple of streets away so we met up for a date.
Our first date was a meal and then a walk on the Heath. It was pleasant.
She did something complicated in the city, she had come over to England when she was very young. So she remembered Columbia but had spent most of her life in London.
Her accent was interesting, sort of softly melodic. She was very pretty, tall and a brunette so well it was basically much all my weaknesses in one. After the walk on the heath we strolled into town stopping in bars on the way. We got quite drunk.
We had a few more dates after that. We went out for a lot of meals. They went well. So well that I sat her down and had a bit of a chat about the situation with my father. I felt it was important to let her know that there was some stuff going on.
On our fifth date I cooked for her. She liked my cooking and she stayed the night in my tiny single bed while my flatmate played loud punk music in the next room. I can remember that her thick black hair fell down to her waist. It made her look amazingly exotic.
We carried on dating. I was made redundant from my job which was a shock but also the right thing. On the day I was made redundant I had typed up my letter of resignation and put it on the desk of my boss. He called me into a meeting before reading it so I had to steal it back and got to leave anyway but with redundancy pay. Win.
I went freelance for a while. Freelance journalism is tough, especially when you are just starting out. Luckily I had a very good friend who gave me some names and helped me get going. She gave me three names to contact and pitch ideas too. Two of them became semi regular work and I was away.
I ended up house-and-dog sitting for a chum. I invited the Columbian to help me house sit for a week. It was fun and a way of testing if we could live together.
We got on great, although the dog got really angry if we touched each other in front of him. My Father took a turn for the worst and so we went to go and see him. It was a long exhausting drive but it was good to see him and after years of not talking we’d even sort of become close. It was also nice that she got meet my father.
The Columbian and I carried on dating, as in a proper relationship. I visited her extended family in South London a lot. This would involve dancing. There was always salsa dancing and the English boys (the women seemed to exclusively date English boys) would be taught how to dance in front of the whole family. It was quite embarrassing trying to clonk your way through dance steps while 30-40 professional dancers watched you and talked about your form but I did it because it was a relationship and that’s what you do.
A few months passed, she was looking for somewhere to live. I was sort of looking and a friend of mine who had a lovely place that he got for a steal was moving to Dubai. We decided to move in together.
The flat was tiny but perfect in a lovely part of town. Moving in was exciting. We had loads of some things (mostly clothes) and almost nothing of others (cooking equipment) for a while it was brilliant, if very expensive.
I would work from home writing and pitching ideas and then I’d cook an evening meal so she had something lovely to eat when she got back. I’d also make her coffee in the mornings while she was in the shower. She was very particular about her coffee so would be surprisingly angry if it wasn’t milky enough.
She started to get angry a lot. I was earning a reasonable wage, enough to cover the rent food and the occasional present for her but not as much as she did. Someone she worked with, a man, was starting to make her feel bad about going out with someone who earned less than she did and she’d sometimes return home so angry that even posh chocolate milk couldn’t cheer her up.
My father passed away. He suddenly got a lot worse and then was gone. It happened in 48 hours. The funeral was rushed and his second wife wrote me and my siblings out of his history. We sat in the front row and listened as the man doing the ceremony talked about our dad but neglected to mention his children. It was a tough time.
The next day I pitched for a book and got my first book deal. I didn’t mope around or anything like that, I threw myself into my work for the next few weeks.
My birthday came around. I got given money by my mum for a lovely coat that I had lusted after for years. I spent it on our gas bill. My birthday came and we went out and she got me a kebab, and I paid for us to go to the cinema. She didn’t give me a card but I didn’t want to make a thing out of it so didn’t say anything.
The next day she returned from work laden down with presents. Huge bags full of gift-wrapped boxes. I was shivering with excitement but waited a few hours before politely enquiring if they were for me. She said no, she’d got them for her aunts to cheer them up. I ask if she’d got me a card, she said she had but that she hadn’t given it to me because I was acting weird and didn’t deserve it.
A few days later she came back from work and said ‘I was talking to my friend at work, he says a parent dying isn’t such a big deal and you should just get over it’.
It was such a horrible thing to say I didn’t even know how to react. I walked out to cool off. Forgetting my wallet, phone or coat. So I just stood by some bins shivering in the rain until I came back. She started sleeping on the sofa some nights but wouldn’t explain why.
What makes a date?
The guy at work who had been pouring poison in her ear asked her out on a date. Well she said it wasn’t a date but they went to Notting Hill for the day to go to the market and then for a meal. Inside I was uncomfortable but didn’t make anything out of it. She was the only girl to ever meet my dad and that meant something to me in a weird sort of way.
We had a pregnancy scare. She didn’t read the instructions for the pill and so we had a very tense evening with those little tests with thankfully turned out to be a false alarm. I tried to remain calm during the whole episode which she would later list as a reason she broke-up with me.
A friend of hers came down to stay, and spent the whole time being deeply unreasonable. She would fly into a furious rage with her boyfriend (also staying) over nothing and then stomp around for the rest of the day. The Columbian was confused by this behaviour and was not amused when I mentioned that she acted a bit like that sometimes.
I had a big weekend of work. I had to review a night club, go on a stand-up course for a feature and then re-write 3000 words on poker. I warned her that I would be chained to my desk so she went out with her friend and her boyfriend.
After the club night I was home for 20 minutes before I had to shower and go to the stand-up course. I did the course, and my first ever stand-up performance, wrote the words and then on the Monday she said ‘we need to talk.’
I knew what was coming and I had decided it was for the best.
If I gave in again I’d spend the rest of my life being mentally badgered by her. So we broke-up. If anything it was quite amicable. I asked if I could have the flat for a week to finish a book and she said yes and stayed with her parents who had a spare flat nearby.
I ate some bad mushrooms and so was violently ill for a few days and then got stuck into the book. We were still Facebook friends so I got to experience her joyous Facebook updates about being back on the dating scene until I did the right thing and un-friended her.
She counter-acted by writing a long email to my mum listing everything that was wrong with me.
A week or so later I moved out to a friends house and resolved to have nothing to do with her any more, apart from getting my half of the deposit on the flat back. That took six months and involved several emails from her saying she wanted to get back together.
We’ve not spoken since.
Bank holiday Monday, Jen suggested that we go to Thorpe Park. We set of from hers early(ish) in the mornin after she had cooked me excellent eggy bread for breakfast. The journey provided an amusing insight into girl logic.
We were angling to get there just as it opened so left fairly early on Jen’s promise that it was only 20 minutes away. She needed to stop off at the start of the journey so she could grab some fags and cash so pulled into a garage before hitting the motorway. She was also low on fuel but decided not to get any. Obviously any man would think ‘need fuel… tank empty… buy now’, but this is a not man logic.
5 minutes down the motorway she decided that we needed fuel so took a 10 minute diversion to find a garage. I was incredulous! Proper open-mouthed amazement! Thankfully it’s charmingly mental so I’ve just filed it under ‘endearing idiosyncrasy’
An hour after setting off, we arrived at Thorpe Park and set about the serious business of riding roller-coasters! If it was a game we would have won a gold medal at it. We made the front of ALL the roller-coasters with impressive efficiency. There was a lot of pulling fierce animal faces for the cameras so I bought her a fridge magnet of our speed face-lifts as a memento.
All the spare moments between making ourselves dizzy in the rides we spent stuffing food into our face holes. Foolishly we left the Tidal Wave until dark clouds had covered the sun and a chilly breeze picked up. As you may guess from its name, the tidal wave makes you wet. Very wet. In retrospect I’m not sure why I thought otherwise.
The force of the water when we splashed down was so strong it took Jen’s sunglasses off her head, which meant I leapt head-first back into the car after everyone had got off and fished around in the footwell until I found them floating.
I may not be able to conquer citadels for her, or name a new species of flower after her, but I can fish around in murky water for her much loved floral sunglasses and that makes her happy.
Being wet on a cold day can put a bit of a dampener on things (literally) so we decided to call it a day and retire to the warmth of the overpriced coffee bar for steaming hot chocolate. Even when she’s half drowned I still fancy her. Even when she banged her head in her car door after calling me a retard, I still fancy her.
Marriage percentage: 70% – She loves riding the front of rollercoasters AND stuffing her face all day long. I can see this being a very fruitful partnership.
Long-time readers will have noticed that the chap who is MyLoveLifeInYourHands has popped up in this blog a few times. Because of his column we went to America and had a jolly good time, we’ve gone out lots of times and it’s because of him Biscuit and I met The Fleet Street Fox. So far so good, right?
However his column has also been the source of some woe due to the pesky voting of the readers of the Guardian.
Before the Theatre Producer and I started dating she met up with MyLifeLifeInYourHands with some other chums. They had a lovely time and what would happen next was put to the dastardly readers of the Guardian.
Out of the three girls that had been at karaoke, they voted that he should go on a date with The Theatre Producer. We weren’t actually dating at the time so I could do little but fume from a distance.
The Theatre Producer, or Laura as she was known in the column then went off to America (I blogged about it a bit), but the evil readers of the Guardian wouldn’t let that get in the way. So a ‘video date‘ was arranged.
At this point I was reading up on the Irish Duelling code, but I thought with the ‘video date’ out of the way I was safe.
No, no I wasn’t the frankly evil readers of the Guardian decided that another date was in order.
Thankfully by then The Theatre Producer and I were officially an item and she was rendered immune to the powers of the nefarious readers. No-one had to get stabbed with an épée so it all worked out in the end.
And that is how the readers of the Guardian nearly ruined my love life.