The Date from…..Maidstone

I won’t say the date from hell, not that bad so Maidstone will suffice.

I’d been chatting to a lady on a dating website. We seemd to be on the same wavelength so arranged to meet up. She said she was coming up to London to see an exhibition at Tate Britain and could we get together then.

Starting a first date in an art gallery, especially in times of covid masks, didn’t appeal for me so I suggested that I should meet her outside afterwards and we could take the boat to the City. With this she concurred and a day was agreed.

A couple of days later she messaged to say she had a change of plan, was not going to the Tate but was happy to meet me at Cannon Street around 12:30 – 1 o’clock. We arranged that she’d text me at 11 when she set off. All fine with me, a much better arrangement.

On the day I got myself into the City in good time. I never mind being early as there are always places to explore. 11 o’clock came and went, then 11:30 and no message. At noon my phone pinged with the message:

“Just leaving for Victoria change of plan. I will meet you at Tate Britain, let you know when I’m there”

– with nary a please, thank you, nor even a “sorry-but-would-it-be-ok-if…?”.

This was not going to plan. Also my first ever 21st century date in 2017 had also started at the Tate and that proved to be a dud. Still, eternal optimist that I am….

So, Underground to Victoria. On historic grounds I won’t say ‘tube’ as the District Railway was not tunnelled but dug as an embankment and the roof put back on – but I digress. Emerging from the station I found another message:

“I’m a member so you won’t need to pay”

Hmm! So we were going to some exhibition.

Some 25 minutes walk later I arrived at the Tate and sent a message saying where outside I was. No reply but she appeared in person.

We exchanged greetings and she told me that she had tickets for an artist called Paula Rego – who is no doubt very good, but that was hardly the point.

At the entrance I reached for my mask and she said “Oh, do we have to put masks on? I don’t see the point when I’ve been double jabbed”. Being a little dumbstruck I held my peace on this one, but it was followed by (and I paraphrase) “The only people at risk after two jabs are those with underlying health conditions and they shouldn’t come out anyway”.

By now my tongue had toothmarks, possibly long term ones.

I said I’d nip to the Gents while she picked up the tickets, she said this was fine but when I got back she told me that there had been a mistake: “A friend gave me the ticket because she couldn’t go but I’ve just found that it’s only for one person and they don’t have any spare places”. It was only later, looking back, that I questioned the veracity of this statement – but more on this later*.

She then said that we could go for coffee but then say goodbye so that she could go to the exhibition!

Consider my feelings at this point. I’d planned some things for us to do in the afternoon, somewhere to eat afterwards, been out since 9:30, spent an unnecessary hour in the City then travelled 45 minutes across the Capital to end up on a date lasting probably fifteen minutes having been upstaged by some artist I’d never even heard of.

We got coffee and cake – though she moaned about the quality of the latter – and finally got to chat. In fairness, she did seem a decent enough soul and struck me as somebody who’d be quite good fun in company down the pub but very different from how I’d perceived her from prior online chattings.

As we parted she said “We’re not really right for each other, are we?” to which I placidly replied “Yes, I think you’re probably right” whilst actually thinking “there ain’t no bargepole long enough”.

* Later, on reflection, I reckoned the mistake about the ticket was balderdash and just an excuse to get rid of me.

Definitely worst date this century, actually possibly since my teens. This is not so bad, the next one must surely be better – and if it isn’t I’ll really have something to write about!