My Time Out Blind Date

There’s something about being set up on a blind date that just reeks of desperation. I know I’m the Dating Blogger with a supposedly open mind and ‘try anything once’ attitude, but there’s still a stigma attached to the whole, 'I’m single and my friend had to find me a date', thing.

So how does that stigma look when a Journalist contacts you on the off chance that you’ll say yes to a blind date, which will then appear in a magazine? Will the readers be able to smell the desperation emanating off the page? Or could you pull off being a 'why not?' 'Try anything once', type of girl? The same type of girl happy to have your love life splashed all over page 14?

As I climbed out of my Uber and timidly wandered into The Schoolhouse in Battersea, the venue for the blind date, I hoped I’d be able to pull off the latter.

There had been just the right amount of time to build up optimum nerve levels for the date. Charly Lester, Dating Industry Expert and Journalist at Time Out London had dropped me a casual text a few days before asking if I’d be up for the set up. The catch being my face would appear in one of London’s most heavily devoured magazines. 

So like the million times before I thought, ‘What the hell’, and proceeded to answer Charly’s questions on the type of guy I’d want to be set up with.

I texted:

‘Kind of, just someone with a sense of humour? Generally easy on the eye, with some brains..?’

I didn’t want to go straight in with a ‘tall dark and handsome’ requests, but I knew Charly would get what I meant. I knew she would read into the text just enough and gage my levels of picky, shallow, inner self.

By the time the day of the date rolled round I was breaking out into cold sweats and sporadically talking to myself whilst carrying out everyday tasks.

There was something very different about this blind date. Not just another stranger to meet in another bar, this was a public set up. This was extreme blind dating. A stranger, with expectation, set up by a ‘Dating Guru’ with the hopes of meeting an actual match. And if he didn’t, not only would he know it, Time Out were going to hear about it and London would be reading about it on the next Tuesday morning commute!

So I was feeling the pressure.

Seven different outfits were planned and then scrapped. I contemplated getting a professional blow dry (something I don’t even believe in!) and I even employed an exfoliate, moisturise and toe nail paint routine I would usually save for third or fourth date territory.

‘I’m with Time Out’ I told the waitress, with a slight wobble to my voice, as she greeted me. She smiled at me so wide that I wondered briefly if she’d seen my Date and was silently warning me of something to come. A nasty surprise perhaps?

But as I rounded the corner I saw him.

I saw him, and for some reason, I relaxed. Broad smile and shoulders, sleek and clean looking (in the best possible sense of that adjective). Tall with fair skin and fine creases to the corners of his eyes which turned down as he grinned. This was going to be ok. I felt my own shoulders lower and the breath I was holding finally leave my chest.

Then I turned around and saw the photographer. My stomach did a little flip and my inner introvert groaned. Loudly. God I hate my photo being taken.

20 minutes of smiling for the camera and sitting awkwardly close together and we were finally left alone.

 Trust me every fibre of my being cringes as I attach this photo. 

Trust me every fibre of my being cringes as I attach this photo. 

Somehow we launched straight into conversation. All the usually sentence starters were there, all the typical topics, but I wasn’t bored. Our conversations led off in tangents in the way that conversations only do with old friends who you’ve not seen for too long.  We covered everything and by the time our starters arrived I knew I wanted to see him again.

Every time food was set down in front of me I found I was only capable of eating embarrassingly small amounts. There was just too much to talk about and my appetite seemed to have gone on some kind of sabbatical.

As he told me all about his family I finally caught up with myself. I wondered in bemusement: How was this the most successful date I had been on in… well… a really long time?! A date, which I had not picked, or planned, or made any prior decision on, other than to say ‘Yes’.

Did Charly just really know her stuff or was this luck of the draw? Or could I be totally wrong about the clientele of the ‘Blind Date’?

I’ve always said dating should be about finding people who fit into your world and not a random act of swiping into early arthritis and one-night stands. So how did my Blind Date fit into my world?

Ok, so we’d not met through a mutual love of the same film, show at a theatre, book reading, hobby or just a coffee shop on both of our routes to work. But there was still one important common factor.

We both said ‘Yes’.

We both agreed to the possibility of public humiliation in hopes of adventure and perhaps under the lure of a free meal.

It wasn’t desperation. It was willingness and open minds after all.

So at the end of the night after much wasted food, a few too many cocktails and almost an encyclopaedic knowledge of each other’s upbringings, friends, hopes, favourite books and feelings towards fancy dress, he asked for my number.

Of course I gave him the real digits, but he made me drop call him all the same, to ensure he could get hold of me after that night.

There was a kiss. But, just as I told Time Out, it was the classic goodnight no tongues deal.

Since the Blind Date there has in fact been a second and a third has just been planned. I’ll give you guys the update very soon!

So how’s that? A Dating Blogger, set up by a Journalist, for a seemingly cheesy article, to be printed in a London magazine, routinely consumed on mass by judgmental Londoners everywhere. But it actually works…

Here's that article.