I was at a party last night talking to my best male friend, and to a widow who I like and don’t know very well, but with whom I have laughed in the past as we shared dating stories. She was exceedingly merry and wearing gold satin, which glamorously belied the lugubrious look traditionally associated with her status. We fell to talking about the dearth of suitable men and horrified our married friend with anecdotes of our experiences.
The golden widow had been silent speed-dating in Shoreditch, which was a new one on me. Her description meant I could safely tick the option off my list. She had also been to a singles party recently and found it wanting. This I could relate to. I had too, just a couple of weeks before, in central London. I found myself making get-me-out-of-here small talk with three strangers, two women and a man. One was a wistful lady from Wimbledon with pretty eyes, a refined voice and a low-slung stomach contained in a tight dress of a noisy poppy print. The other woman, a Welsh doctor, was as thin as an elderly soul in a Quentin Blake drawing. I suppose it could be said that the three of us were in competition for the man in our little group, but it was not a competition that I was entering willingly. He was a portly, 60-year-old wide boy; a businessman with enough self-importance to power a medium-sized nuclear reactor.
As the Celtic physician spoke with reverence about her cats, so he spoke with reverence about Donald Trump. I had never met anyone before who has anything but contempt for Trump, so fell to questioning the jowly fellow as to what it was he admired. Oh goodness, the eulogy that ensued! If only I’d had a tape recorder there in the middle of the restaurant. Luckily, his booming voice bounced off the floorboards, so no one could have been in any doubt that he was right, because all his ‘friends in high places across the pond’ had told him so.
The quiet doctor was more graceful than I was and quietly suggested that Trump could be mistaken for something of a misogynist.
‘No, he ain’t,’ protested the wide boy.
‘Oh, how so?’ I asked.
‘Well, for a start, he really loves his daughters.’
‘No, he wants to fuck them,’ I told him, ‘which isn’t quite the same thing.’
He looked at me with such horror I thought he might need to lie down. I knew the ‘competition’ was over, all hope for me spent, and left it to the other ‘girls’ to fight over him. (He had introduced himself with a ‘Hello girls, I’m Dale,’ even though we were all the other side of 50.)
The next man I was paired with was an amiable computer programmer from Malaysia via Norwood. He was 36 but looked 22.
The golden widow and I both agreed that these singles’ parties were an inexact science. We were not averse to various arrangements with younger men — we’ve both had our fair share — but they weren’t for the long haul. And nor, we decided, were the parties. Never again. Neither of us goes online. It may be irrational, she said, but she thought there was something unattractive about a man who needed to use a dating site.
What we needed to do — we had both thought about it many times — was to set up our own dating agency for people (I hesitate to say ‘like us’ with its snobbish connotations, even though I am a snob) with whom we have more in common. There are some ‘posh’ dating sites, but they all have Jaguar green-and-gold branding and swirly writing and names like Belgravia World in order to appeal to — dread phrase — ‘high-net-worth individuals’. This makes the widow and I want to put our fingers down our throats: all we are after is just engaging, funny, lovely men like our friends, not ones with Napoleonic egos, hideous yachts, cocained nasal conchas and acorn dicks. The rub is, there are so few of them who are not married or gay. Where on earth would we find any men for women like us?
It is a flawed business model. But perhaps we should together try to seek a solution. It would be a noble cause because, after all the Dales we’ve encountered, we feel might be a gap in the market.