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Dating in London, by Fenchurch Girl

by Fiona E. 

Posted: 27 September 2006
Word Count: 1185
Summary: Fenchurch Girl discusses the highs and lows of Internet Dating in London...

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I was always highly suspicious of online dating, until I broke up with Harvey, my partner of seven years. That was when I was suddenly plunged into a life of complete isolation, and online dating became a lifeline.

We had the same close knit set of friends, and the split was not amicable. I found out that the man I had been with - someone I trusted and cared about, had been knocking off his French business tutor. She was built like a robust cow, and her ears were so hairy she couldn't wear earrings. Harvey even complained that he had to help shave them each morning, just so that she could hear properly.

All of our friends had known about their squalid, grunting, duvet romps for months, except for me. They had either forgotten to warn me or, more than likely, were on Harvey's side. I ditched my "well meaning friends", and immersed myself in office work.

It was some months before I actually truly felt alone. My ex had moved out of the flat we shared, and armed with his French phrase book and some Immac hair removing cream with softening oils, had moved in with his burly, bushy eye-browed strumpet. It was just about the most dismal feeling of gloom and agony I have ever experienced. The bastard even took my Jarvis Cocker CD's and my entire ABBA collection. They were our songs; songs that we listened to while sipping wine as the rain pelted against the windowpanes; songs that we played at dinner parties or at nude whist drives.

I remember one rainy evening spent walking down the treacherous, slippery, Oxford Street pavements. It was Valentine's Day, and couples were strolling arm in arm towards candlelit dinners or theatre shows. I thought about how lucky they were, and decided that I needed to get out and find new mates and new dates. The idea of being a thirty-something, professional, single lady perched on a bar stool of a trendy London wine bar, did nothing but fill me with horror. I was completely lacking in self-confidence, and, as such, it would have been a recipe for disaster - I didn't want to look like a sad, desperate bird after a tumble.

I decided to try online dating. Initially, the thought of it terrified me. I believed that everyone who posted their stats online was a either a bit loopy, ugly or worse. However, I gave it a go. It wasn't long before I was corresponding with a charming chap from Kent. We started off by e-mailing each other once a day, and gradually exchanged more information and a photograph. I was still very apprehensive about meeting him, even though he sounded like a great guy. He worked in the travel industry and led a fascinating life, so he said.

A couple of months later we decided to meet in a West End hotel bar. There was no instant chemistry at that time. As I recall, it was a chilly, mild, winter evening when we first met. He was wearing a bomber jacket, casual trousers and carried a copy of 'Debrett's Etiquette'. He spoke like a perfect English gentleman and seemed to behave like one. However, there was something about him that just didn't stack up, like carrying a book on perfect manners for example. I was certain that he was not all he was portraying, and his thin moustache gave him away.

Anyway, he refused to take his bomber jacket off in the hotel bar, which I found quite distressing. He looked like he needed a hot bubble bath and a glass of sherry.

I was curious. He was a fascinating conversationalist, and I was beginning to feel swept off my feet.

We met up again a week later, just as friends - we seemed to get on very well, and romance was beginning to blossom. However, once again, he refused to remove his bomber jacket. He arranged to meet me for a third date, this time for lunch, which I agreed to. We snogged heartily, and went home separately to our imaginary penthouse suites overlooking the Thames.

The third meeting was the last one. He chose a lovely restaurant in Chelsea. Once again, he sat down in a packed restaurant wearing his zipped up bomber jacket. I experienced feelings of confusion mixed with big love, and asked him to kindly remove it. People were looking at him in what was a very hot restaurant.

"No! No!" he said. "I can't part with my ski jacket. It's kind of part of me, like Vic's Vapour Rub on an old man's chest." He gazed into my eyes as he pulled his zip down. Holy nuts! What greeted my view was seriously strange. He was wearing a filthy, soiled white t-shirt bearing the inscription 'Porn Star' across the front in bold, pink letters.

During the course of conversation, it turned out that he had just done time at Her Majesty's Pleasure for theft. He was charming, broke and living in squalid, rat-infested lodgings with a nymphomaniac landlady who cooked him chocolate muffins and toad in the hole. Feeling desperate for new friends, he spent his time surfing the Internet in Debenhams, where he signed up to online dating sites. He told me that he was looking for a "good woman" to provide him with a home. Who could blame the guy for trying. He was intelligent and fascinating.

We stayed in contact. He is now very successful and, more appropriately, is living with an estate agent girlfriend. He found an excellent job and they are expecting their first child.

My second date turned out to be a very famous chap indeed. We got on terribly well and had a brief fling. Although it didn't work out between us, he introduced me to Terry Macaroon, a driving instructor who I am marrying next year.

I have corresponded with many dates, and have made a number of fascinating friends for life through websites. You need to keep your wits about you mind, but it can still be much safer than just meeting someone randomly one night in a bar. You can take as long as you like in corresponding with your date; it might be months before you feel confident about meeting up with your correspondent. Most websites allow you to put your profile on hold if you do not want to continue receiving messages from unwanted dates, but more often than not, you will meet singles who, through working long and brutal hours, are in exactly the same position as you.

Work commitments and the path you find yourself on in life can leave you feeling isolated. Dating is always a lottery, but sometimes you do meet Mr. Right. It took just three dates before I met Terry. We have been together for a year now and are planning our wedding at Center Parcs.

My advice to any singletons is to get online and get clicking. There are some fantastic people out there. It's a total online adventure. Get clicking. Get a date.

Fenchurch Girl

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