The Mummy's Boy
It was Albert who first 'winked' at me and showed interest. I was not giving this particular dating website my full attention at the time as I hadn't quite worked out how I might flirt successfully without paying over the astronomical subscription fees and had thus lost a bit of interest.
When I saw Albert's photo, I thought he had quite a sweet looking face and his profile denoted an intelligent man - there weren't any typos for me to get irate about, no LOLs, LMAOs or GSOHs - anyone who writes these things to me must think I am a bit of an idiot, I reckon. Yes, I know that words can often be misconstrued without the associated intonation, but do I really need someone to tell me when to find something funny, like the 'Cue Laughter' blokes stood in a live audience? Most of the orders when to laugh from male daters are associated with blatant sexual innuendo, too: "I bet you look great in a slinky black and red basque with stockings and your hair up...LOL!!!!!!" What's funny about that? The chap’s feeling lucky, wants you to know, and then deep down knows you're going to think he's a creep, so attempts to vindicate himself by tagging LOL onto the end. Hit the 'Delete' key...fast...
So, back to Albert. His title caption stated that his Mother thought he was a good catch. It's a long time since I have been out with a Mummy's boy and my memory plays tricks, what with my age and having to sort out my five retarded children, Greebo, Rastus, Flo, Britney and Farquhar, whom you may have read about in previous blogs.
We had very little online chat - just a few mails back and forth, and it transpired that he was into clay pigeon shooting at the weekends. Well, it was the middle of winter, and I quite fancied the idea of becoming a huntin', shootin', fishin' gel, striding around the pages of Cheshire Life with my Harris Tweed flat cap on, hob-nobbing with execs and footballers, providing the latter group knew which end of the gun from the other. I asked Albert if he would take me shooting to his gun club and he readily agreed, but suggested that we met in the pub one night to finalise arrangements.
He was insistent that we met half-way between us. I think he may have even got a piece of string out, measured the distance between our towns and halved it for the exact spot. We arranged to meet in The Smoker, a pub I had heard of, and which had been recommended in the past, but never been to. A chance to get dressed up in my latest crimplene and nylon! That's always fun in my book. I do like to look good when given the opportunity. But the next email asked me to alter my plans and meet him at the Golden Pheasant, as this was slightly closer to him. Hmmm. OK, I thought, maybe he has some strange 'blushing bowel' syndrome, gets taken short, and has to dash home to his own loo as he cannot 'perform' on public lavs. That was an incorrect assumption. I think he just needed to be nearer his Mum (read on).
I worked out my route, and was told the dress code (no dressing up; just jeans and top would suffice...boo, hiss). I made an effort to balance out the informality of casual wear, with some very elegant make-up and my hair shone and hung like a blanket of silk (well, I'd slopped on some hair straightener and it was now so oily you could have fried a pan of chips on it, but we'll stick with the romantic notions instead). Yes, I got lost, as per usual, and ended up down a back lane in the middle of nowhere. There was nobody to ask directions from, either. When in doubt, I always double back on myself, so back towards The Smoker I went, in the hope that there was a Golden Pheasant lurking on the road. It was there: on the left - I'd just been singing along to the Daniel O'Donnell and Cliff with such 'gay' abandon that I'd missed it.
Albert was sat in the car park waiting for me in a gleaming silver BMW. Ooh! I thought. Nice car! I felt a bit cheap in my Morris Minor, which hadn't had a wash for nearly 18 months by this stage. He got out to greet me, and I immediately noticed that the sweet smile on his photograph was hiding a mouthful of tombstone-like teeth, in dire need of orthodonty; a new buzz cut which made his head look like one of those gimcrack hedgehog boot cleaners old ladies such as myself have on their back door step for the gardener to wipe the muck off his soles, and he was not 'tall'.
Why do men insist on calling themselves 'tall' when they are 'average'? Is this the age-old case of men not knowing how to measure six inches? Six inches to me is half a foot. It cannot be applied to anything measuring five, four, or even, on one very memorable night, two inches. So, once again, I was towering over my date - I suffer with giantism, I'm afraid and am currently standing at 7'9".
We made our rather formal hellos and entered the pub. He didn't hold the door open for me, and I recoiled from the back-swing of the fire door as it bounced back onto my arm. To say I was underwhelmed by the pub is to put it mildly. There was little likelihood of me mingling with the Cheshire Set here. Maybe old-time dancing with the Cheshire Vets, though, going by the average age of the punters - that was a possibility. Albert got the drinks in. A beer for him and a port & lemon for me. We sat in the 'snug': some pew-like seats upholstered in mock Black Watch tartan, clashing with the Royal Stewart on the floor, and some Monarch of the Glen-type nasty posters hastily plonked into Ikea clip frames. I started to break the ice, asking him about himself, what he did, what the shooting entailed etc.
He had a lovely, well-modulated voice, and spoke intelligently. The subject matter (IT) wasn't of great interest to me, and nor did he punctuate his conversation with any humour (I didn't require LOLs to be metered out, as there simply weren't any to be had). We talked about his choice of pub, and he explained that The Pheasant was pleasant (unintentional rhyme for you there) but if he really wanted to impress somebody, he took a lady to The Smoker.
Hahaha! So you weren't fussed about impressing me tonight, then, Albert, or you don't think I am a lady! I laughed.
Ermm, well, I wasn't sure what you were like, so I thought we'd dress down...
OK, that's one black mark now, I mentally catalogued.
After a bit, he asked me about my work. I had recently moved jobs and was rather enjoying my role as a world famous psychologist, having been a fish-gutter at Tesco since I was ten and was thus ready to expound at length. As I opened my mouth to speak, he interrupted and offered to get the drinks in. Ah, yes, I seem to be a bit empty, I replied. Another port & lemon for me.
Off he trotted to the bar, and I started to scour the pub for potential single men. I was in luck. There were loads: average age 75, past-times include dominoes, pub darts, nurturing hernias and cleaning their false teeth in public...bit young for me, really...
When he returned with the drinks, I jumped straight in and asked the question I am always dying to know the answer to: How has your experience of internet dating been so far?
Albert took a deep breath and proceeded to tell me about all the strange women frequenting the sites. I have heard this from a number of men. The women are either after a jolly good night between the sheets, or a counsellor. A counsellor who is good in bed is the ultimate prize, obviously. None of the women he told me about seemed to be out of the ordinary - they all came across as normal human beings to me - jolly nice girls, in fact. He complained that on his dates he hadn't been able to get a word in edgeways, that the women were peculiar and that he had 'a theory' on why women in their late 30s, early 40s were single. Now this was exciting! Perhaps I was about to discover the real reason why Internet dating is always so disastrous for nice young gels and mature ladies such as myself...Tell me more, I encouraged.
Albert took a deep breath, leaned in closer to me over the table, and said: They are all mentally ill.
What? I exclaimed. What do you mean, 'mentally ill'?
They are unstable, he replied. They have obviously been dumped by some nice bloke, never forgiven him, gone down the bitter ex route and it festers inside of them. They store it up for the next bloke to come their way and after some time of social niceties, all the weird, psycho-type behaviour comes out.
At this point, my right eyebrow was raised so high (always a bad sign that somebody is getting on my nerves) it was meeting my hairline.
So, from your experience of...ooh, how many dates did you say? Two? You are generalising that all single women have some form of mental health problem, thus why we are single.
Yes, that's what I believe, came the firm response.
And how long is it since you last had a girlfriend?
About ten years.
But your Mum reckons you are a 'good catch', doesn't she?
Hahaha! Yes, dear old Mum. I might be moving back in with her, actually. I'm selling my house and fancy going back to the home comforts. She has this gorgeous farmhouse in the middle of the country and makes all her own breads and jams. She's a whiz with the self-raising. I often go there at night for my tea and drop in my washing on the way. Mum keeps ducks you know. I often go over to help her feed them. They are such adorab.....WAKE UP, READER!
I went to the bar to get myself a coffee, chatted up the barman, and also had the craic with the bar manager who told me about trying to get Most Haunted to come and do a show there as she was convinced they had a resident poltergeist. It was a fascinating conversation and I was loathe to return to Albert, sat by the fire, hunched over a glass of water in his anorak, checked shirt, frayed jeans and enormous trainers. He hadn't even glanced up to see why I was taking so long. Probably planning his next trip to see Mummy.
I'd ended up drinking a coffee as I chatted to the manager, so as I returned to Albert, I asked if he'd like to make tracks. He jumped up out of his seat, asked if I still wanted to shoot on Saturday and explained he would pick me up if I emailed him directions to my house. We duly parted and I kept my head well away in the event of any of that 'air-kissing' nonsense.
I sat in the car on my own for a few minutes after he had left - primarily to get my bearings, but also shaking my head in disbelief that a man who obviously adored his mother and she, too, had a mutual appreciation society on the go for him, could find all single women mentally ill. My bi-polar disorder was under control at the time, so I found his remark quite insulting (if I used it, I would insert LOL here, then you'd know I had cracked a joke if you can't quite read yet and are under the age of eight).
Next day, I told my workmate about the date.
He advertises himself with testimonials from his mother, stating he's a good catch? expostulated Frederick Ibsen. Mhm, I replied: Last Mammy's boy I had got his mother to ring me up and dumped me on his behalf. I was only 15. He was 21. Don't think I want any of that again.
Agnes, said Ibsen. Stay away from that!
Yes, I know, I pondered. I think, just for his safety, I had better blob on the shooting. I am highly likely to turn the gun on him out of indignation, whilst screaming manically, MENTALLY ILL, ARE WE? EAT MY LEAD, YOU GIT!! At least it would make him think twice about making any more sweeping statements if he encountered me on a bad day...If I still suffered with those nasty monthlies, he'd have been even more scared...
I emailed Albert and declined to shoot with him, pleading commitment (not to a lunatic asylum!) to a funeral which I had overlooked. He wrote back and said he would rearrange for another time, but to 'keep in touch'. No thanks, I thought. No more Mammy's boys for me, and proceeded to surf the website for blokes who looked like my Dad.