Time Out’s award winning columnist Michael Hodges has been at it again. This week’s thing not to do in London – No 680: play stupid cupid.
The date starts well. I walk into the bar with Mary and say, ‘Look, there’s Jonny. Hello Jonny. This is Mary.’ Then I say to Mary, ‘Mary, this is Jonny.’ Jonny then says, ‘Hello, Mary.’ And Mary says, ‘Hello, Jonny.’
To be honest, I’ve set them up. I know Jonny quite well and Mary a bit. Apart from one disastrous holiday romance, Mary has been single for over a year. Jonny has made no attempt to date at all since his last girlfriend left him. He went to Spain for three months to mend his broken heart but came back grumpier than when he went. I just know that they will be perfect for each other.
Jonny, who is short, seldom fails to mention how attracted he is to tall women. When I first met Mary she immediately told me how sexy shorter men are. So, Mary and Jonny would make a great couple, if only fate would bring them together. And since fate can’t be bothered, I have decided to do it. How often do we get the chance to do something good in this city, to make sad people happy? Almost never, yet when I told the woman that lives in our house what I intended to do, she said: ‘No. Do not do it. On no account get involved: you are bound to get it wrong.’
‘Your mistake,’ I replied, ‘is giving in to negative thinking. If that’s our attitude then how will we ever fix anything? What chance have we of achieving world peace or stopping global warming? Here are two perfectly attractive people wandering around London while their time runs out.’
Because, really, how long do we have to find sexual and emotional happiness in life? If we’re lucky, we’ll live for 75 years, but the first 16 and the last 15 of them are free of romantic activity. That only leaves 44 years in which to successfully get it on with at least one other human being in a deep and meaningful way. But much of those 44 years will see you caught up in activities that make romance difficult. Ten years will be spent on the toilet or asleep, and those are effectively chat-up free zones. Then there are the endless minutes spent saying to a TfL official: ‘Yes, I did touch in my Oyster card at the start of my journey. And just because your bloody machine failed to record it I don’t see why I should pay £7.50 for ten minutes of travel!’
When you add on the hours wasted waiting to be served by bearded simpletons in tight trousers and Victorian boots in one of this city’s new wave of craft-beer pubs, you’re down to around three weeks of your entire life when it will be possible to get off with someone. Tonight might be Mary and Jonny’s one chance of happiness.
Things have gone a bit quiet, though. I try to pep them up. ‘Jonny,’ I say, ‘Mary works in
‘Right,’ says Jonny, still strangely muted.
‘Mary,’ I go on, ‘Jonny’s got a great job in the music business.’
‘Really?’ says Mary in what I can only call a terse tone.
This isn’t going to be as easy as I had hoped. It must be nerves. Neither of them has been in a relationship for a while; they are probably not used to chatting to other single people. The silence is now uncomfortable, and the gap in the conversation threatens to go on for the rest of the evening, so I fill it.
‘Mary, I can’t believe you haven’t met Jonny before.’
‘Sorry?’ I say.
‘She said she has,’ says Jonny.
‘Met me before.’
‘Yes, I have,’ says Mary. ‘On holiday. In Spain.’
One hook-up that’s guaranteed to be successful: you and Michael at timeout.com/hodges.