Sunday, 27 June 2010

Beauty vs Age

How on the ball the universe is at humbling us. I have just read my last blog entry back to myself and I promise never to mock the young again. For Readers, yesterday I met with the man I described so positively and I feel violated at having done so. Call me naive, but it turns out this guy is an out and out liar.

I set off on my date in good spirits; walking boots at the ready, sunroof open, windows down, tunes blasting. I arrive at the meeting point, a car park just off a motorway junction half an hour's drive from my place, with a sense of trepidation laced with excitement. I spot him straight away and am slightly confused. He is in a clapped out old Escort, not a car I would expect someone in senior management at British Aerospace to drive. I pull up next to him, steel myself and get out of the car, as does he. 'Hi, did you find it OK?' he asks. Somehow he doesn't really look much like either of his photos but I can't quite put my finger on why.

'Yeah, no problem,' I say, glad he doesn't come over to peck me on the cheek or anything. Luckily he must already have realised I am well out of his league.

'So, what do you fancy?'he asks. ('Not you,' I think.) 'A small walk and then a pint?' I am one of those people who can't hide what they're really thinking. My face is a truly open book. I couldn't lie if I was being paid to, so I assume it was my pained expression which lead him to then say, 'Or do you just feel like going straight home?'

The honest answer? Tempting but no. I've only just come out. It's a child-free weekend and that's the last thing I'm going to do. Besides, I can't help feeling that to just leave right now is somehow rude and might send him into deep depression. So I sigh and say, 'Well, I'm here now. Let's go for a little walk then.' I roll my eyes theatrically so he doesn't think I'm coming on to him.

'OK,' he says, 'It's beautiful here. God's country.'

'Right,' I say. We're just outside Chorley, for Chrissake.

'Well, hop into my car then, and we'll drive to White Coppice.'

I firmly refuse, pointing out that my walking boots are in my car and therefore I will drive them and follow him. Five minutes later we have parked up a narrow country lane near a cricket field. 'A friend of mine owns this cricket club,' he says as I put my walking boots on, wondering how desperate I really am for a hike in the hills. 'And most of the land around it.'

'Is he happy?' I ask, unimpressed. He's wearing trainers, jeans, and a collared green Airtex shirt, unbuttoned to his chest, which far from rippling boasts only a small tacky gold medallion and pube-like white chest hairs. I'm relieved to notice he's carrying a bag way too small to hold an axe, gun, or any other potentially deadly weapon.

We start walking towards the start of a wooded footpath and I clock he is pouring with sweat. The back of his T-shirt is already soaked. You'd think that being Jamaican-born he'd be better adapted than most to British heatwaves. I am amazed at how insignificant his muscles are given how much he works out. I notice he's limping.

'I went over on my ankle in training this morning,' he explains.

'Are you sure you can manage a walk?' I ask, sifting for excuses.

'I'm fine, I'm fine,' he says. 'It's beautiful here.'

We carry on. The forest entrance is almost upon us and he stumbles. It's all I can take.

'I'm sorry,' I say. 'I don't feel comfortable about this. I'm not going on the walk.'

'Oh, right,' he says. 'Why is that?' He's looking at me lecherously now. I'm just glad his physique wouldn't be capable of carrying out his fantasies, forest or not.

'Well, I'm really in tune and this doesn't feel right,' I tell him firmly.

'In tune with what?' he asks.

'Oh, y'know, energies. I think you're lying about yourself in your profile.'

We're walking back towards the cars now and I couldn't be more relieved.

'That's interesting,' he says. 'What do you think I'm lying about?'

'Your height, for start!' I say. 'No way are you six foot two. You're not even six foot.'

'Um. I was six foot one last time I measured,' he mumbles.

'Well, either your tape measure is faulty or you have shrunk since. It happens in old age,' I point out. 'Because that's other thing you're lying about. You're obviously loads older than 41.'

He struggles to respond, and keep up with me. 'Look, it doesn't matter,' I say, eventually letting him off the hook. 'Isn't there a pub nearby we can just have a pint in and leave it at that?'

One of the brilliant things about being Olenka Diamond is that a party is only ever a phonecall away. We sit by a canal, he buys me a pint and while he's at the bar I text a friend in coastal Lytham, my home town - I am halfway there already and I know it is Club Day, the annual excuse for everyone to lie out on the green and get absolutely hammered. She calls back immediately urging me to come over. The place is rocking. I am saved.

I inform him of my next move, feeling I have been more polite than necessary given the circumstances. I think he is also somewhat relieved, and proceeds to bore me to death with talk of how his other car isn't working, how he designed a new type of Bentley in his last job, and how he converted a bus into a horsebox in the one before that.

I down my pint and break the speed limit by 20 miles an hour to get to the seaside party. Check out the photo. Who needs Glastonbury? Or dating sites, for that matter!

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