Set-ups. At various points throughout my single life, I've moaned to my friends (in an adorably cute and funny way, of course), 'Don't you know anyone you can set me up with?'
I got a bit excited once when I watched a programme where an over-zealous woman was doing matchmaking Indian stylee - via family connections.
She'd get a hopeless single person's friends and family to write lists of all the people they know (and all the people they know) who have two legs, two arms and their own free will to go out with said sad, single person. Why aren't my mates sitting down and writing lists for me, I cried? 'There's nobody I would want to set you up with' is the stock response. I take this to mean that they don't think anyone is good enough rather than that I'm too loopy for them to risk breeding with their square mates.
There was this one time (at band camp…) when my mate 'Lady Jane' had a guy in mind for me and we got all excited in advance - like you do.
'I really think you'll like him. He's funny, in a quirky way and has cool, preppy style' went the pre-amble. I waited anxiously, excitedly, for him to turn up in the bar in Manchester where we were meeting for a 'casual' drink and…he turns up in full cycling Lycras. What the actual f*ck? Call me shallow, but I couldn't take it any further after that. Totally lost my hard on.
Anyway, the times, it seems, are a-changing and two, count them, two, set-ups are on the horizon. Just last week there was a text from my brother-in-law, a member of our beleaguered police force. 'I think you should meet one of my cop friends - he looks just like the guy from Maroon 5!'
'Wow,' I say, thinking, that guy from Maroon 5 is a bit of a tool but I suppose he is quite good looking, in a Guys Go Wild in Vegas kinda way. 'Perhaps you could set up a dinner party?'
'He's more of a night out in Manchester kind of guy,' says Mr Vice.
'Is he clever? Funny?' I say. A girl's got standards, after all . . .
'He's really smart, and the funniest guy I know. Can I give him your number?'
I must say at this point, in my whole 13-plus years of knowing Mr Vice, he has never once put forward a possible suitor for me, so this is a real novelty. He must be good, surely?
'OK, then. Yeah, give him my number. Tell him to give me a call.' Am now shitting it.
'What do you think of policemen?' I ask my no-nonsense friend Mrs Patz the next day. I'm not sure, you see. 'Sex bags in hats,' she says without hesitation. She actually said that.
Mum and Dad are staying with me in London and, figuratively speaking, bring with them the second possible set-up to my life: the curveball. 'Timothy' is the son of the couple my mum and dad go ballroom dancing with. I call him Timothy because of that TV sitcom Sorry! where Ronnie Corbett plays a henpecked mummy's boy. I'm pouring tea in my living room and Dad's smoking his pipe when the subject of Timothy comes up.
Mum: Can I give him your email address?
Me: Why? [I have literally no clue why she would give him my email address and, crucially, why he'd even want it.] Did he actually ask for my email address?
Mum: Yes, he'd like to get to know you.
Me: Why? [I repeat what I think is a perfectly viable question.]
Mum: Well, why not? How else do people meet people?
Me: Er, by actually meeting them and not just because their parents go dancing together and because they happen to share a decade of birth.
Mum: It's no different to that internet dating, is it?
Me: Are you trying to sell this to me, Mum?
Mum: Well, what have you got to lose? He might be really nice.
Me: Is he good-looking?
Mum: He's very tall.
Fucking hell. That's almost as bad as he's got a great personality. I'm laughing uncontrollably at this point, while shoving a biscuit in my mouth, and my mum's getting annoyed. It's time to push it further.
Me: What kind of clothes does he wear? [You know, to get a sense of whether we might have anything in common . . .]
Mum: Well, in the photo I saw of him he had his holiday clothes on.
!!!!!!!! Now, I don't know if this is a northern thing, but my parents have 'holiday clothes' - a ready-made wardrobe that if, say, you decided on a whim to book a last-minute holiday on Teletext, you could just literally pick up your suitcase and go (they don't have it packed for this reason, because they'd never book a holiday on Teletext, but, you know). They've even got toilet bags packed and ready. When we were kids, we had 'holiday clothes'. But surely no self-respecting 30-year-old men living in 2009 have holiday clothes. Do they?
Me: Who was he on holiday with?
Mum: His mum and dad.
I rest my case.
Photo credit: Darren Hall, Darrenhallphoto.com