So, for date eleven, I went on one of the country's online dating powerhouses - Guardian Soulmates.
The site, run through Britain's most hand-wringing, lefty-liberal newspaper, is absolutely massive, and tons of my most loveable right-on, dope-smoking, Quinoa-eating marxist chums have found love on there. Obviously, none have them have got married, but that's presumably because marriage is like, totally a misogynist cage, man.
I'll confess to always having had a weakness for women with multi-coloured hair, piercings, and copy of something by bell hooks in their badge-covered rucksack, so I was looking forward to this one, and had joined it at the same time I joined OK Cupid, back before I was writing the blog.
The tagline of the site - "where like minded people find love online" - gave me pause though. One thing many of my commie-coddling pinko female chums had mentioned as something they find terribly, monstrously unappealing, is if a man is a Tory.
It was pretty clear from my hit rate on messages falling through the floor on this site, that yeah, admitting you're a Tory on the Graun dating site is not the way to go; so it seems lots of men hide it. "It's horrific," one friend said to me. "You go on Soulmates to *avoid* men called Toby who work for Goldman Sachs and think cherry-red trousers are cool. One managed three dates with me before I even realised." (See left.)
Now, while I am the sort of Tory who likes feminism, and multiculturalism, and is excited about my gay friends getting married, I'm still probably right-wing enough to repel the sort of woman who goes on anti-cuts marches. I do write for the Telegraph, after all, and you basically get a set of scarlet chinos with your welcome pack doing that. So, with that in mind, I decided to go looking for a horse in a field of zebras - I decide to try to find another Tory on Guardian Soulmates. I figured this was probably the best way to meet the sort of socially liberal Tory that I am. Anyway, it took quite a bit of searching, which is why this is date eleven rather than date two!
So, after a month or so of looking, a lovely young Tory lady messaged me back, and fancied arranging a date. She seemed lovely; very cultured, she fancied doing a late night gallery viewing at the Tate Modern, where she was a member. The one problem was the word "young". You see, I wasn't just being patronising in the first part of this paragraph, I genuinely hadn't realised until she messaged me back that she was 23 - almost ten years younger than me. Could I go on a date with someone that much younger than me? One of my personal nightmares is being that 56-year-old man with the 18 year old girlfriend people mistake for his daughter. Still, we got on well by email, and a quick bit of arithmetic revealed she fit within the hallowed "half-your-age-plus-seven-years" rule, but I still went on the date with butterflies in my stomach.
We met at the BFI, with the plan of meeting for a quick drink before sauntering down the South Bank to the Tate. One mistake may have been going through two bottles of wine before we even left the bar, but we were getting on brilliantly. She's very politically involved - comes from a working class background, grew up in a very deprived area, and really wants to become the MP for the place she grew up, to make things better for the local community. You know, one of those rare people who want to get into politics for the right reasons, as opposed to "I did PPE at Oxford, and it's my most natural career choice after Law. By the way, do you like these scarlet trousers? That's real velour, you know".
It's a very strange thing when two people who are really nerdy about politics, who really agree, get together, drink and chat. There was lots of excited gesticulating, and "yes, yes, of course!". I'm slightly ashamed to admit we high-fived at one point talking about housing policy. It was the wine, I swear. Anyway, about 9 o'clock, we headed for the Tate. Once inside, she demonstrated an encyclopedic knowledge of modern art, and ticked me off on my habit of reading the cards by the works before looking at them. "Art is supposed to make you feel, not think".
Anyway, that night, there happened to be an installation going on, whereby performers would flood spaces with dry ice, giving the exhibits an odd cast in the smoky light, and changing your perception of the work. It does occur now that aside from the fact we were both self-confessed Tories, this was in many ways the archetypal Guardian reader date.
Anyway, while shrouded in smoke, we ended up kissing, and it was sufficiently enjoyable as a kiss that by the time the cloud cleared, we had a small appreciative audience giving us a polite round of applause. As we were heading out of the Tate, holding hands, she looked me in the eyes and said "I want to do something really fucking shameful. I feel like I've really impressed you with all the art and politics chat...but... I really want you to take me... to Nandos."
Seems you can take the girl out of working class East London, but can't take the working class East London out of the girl :)
Laughing, we ended up eating at 10.30 near Liverpool Street, in Britain's premier greasy, spicy, piri piri chicken place. It occurred to me that we were on what my pretentious 16-year-old self would have considered the best date ever - art, a kiss, and spicy chicken! It doesn't get any better than that, does it?
It turned out, the age thing wasn't really a problem at all. She's a bit more mature than her age suggests; or I'm massively immature. Either way, we got on really well. Completely randomly, in this East End branch of Nandos, we bumped into an old mate of mine - a male model who has changed his name by deed poll to "Jefferson A-Bomb McDeath: Urban Destruction". Yeah, he has a colon in his name. Pretty cool, huh?
Jeff is a beautiful and charming fellow, and I was always his fat funny friend at University - it was odd being in the situation where a girl had eyes only for me, rather than him, I must say. We all got on like a house on fire. I went to the bathroom, and returned to find Tory girl demonstrating to Jeff the fact that she could put both her legs behind her head, much to the amusement/horror of the late shift of Nandinos. Later, when she moved away from the table, Jeff looked me smoulderingly in the eyes (think Magnum from Zoolander) and said "She's perfect for you mate. And she wants you. Badly."
Anyway, after we left Nandos, pretty drunk, and having had a great evening, we bid Jeff farewell, and I walked her to her bus-stop. What happened next? Well, as I've always said, this is a dating blog, not a sex blog:) Use your imagination, you terrible people!