Do you remember Blind Date when they did the older people? And you thought “Oh no it’s the older people.” I’d often fantasized about going on Blind Date, but not as an older person. One of the Beastie Benitses boys (No. 80) went on once, I’d seen the episode before but watching him on the repeat was just as exciting. Ian my therapist still provided most things for me, but no physical intimacy, thankfully (unlike Brian Thorn who was a person-centred psychotherapist we studied in college who gave a client (the vicar’s wife) a naked embrace! (This truly does warrant an explanation mark)).
Since Niall I hadn’t had sex for at least 2 months, possibly the longest time I’d gone without since breaking my virginity with The Rat (No. 5) in 1979.
In the mid/late 90’s blind dating (apart from Cilla Black repeats) was limited. No internet, no mobile phones, it was such a taboo practice I never told anyone that I trawled through the few heterosexual age appropriate men listed each week in the Time Out Lonely Hearts and the Guardian Soulmates (in the back of the Saturday A3 Guardian Guide).
Each day I would pick one and leave a short but expensive message on the 090 number provided, leaving my landline number 071 231 2600, an easy number to remember which I’m sure helped with my call backs.
My first caller was Richard who wasn’t as age appropriate as he’d let on. He was old, bearded and jolly like Rolf Harris before he got caught. Richard made an effort and travelled to Bermondsey from North London and bought me Sunday lunch in one of my local pubs. I was hugely disappointed and the fear of someone I knew possibly seeing us, put me off my food. Richard however troughed though his food and my left over’s. He smelled of fry ups and reminded me of Dame Clod from Cardozo Road. Even though I didn’t want to see or smell him again, I felt rejected that he never called me back after the date. I wasn’t over Niall and I’d blurted out to Richard on the phone that I had MS and wondered whether it had put him off, hence I rehearsed new lines for my next dates.
“I’ve done my knee in at the gym” (they may ask you where you go to the gym”
“The local one but I’m not going at the moment” (they may ask you what is actually wrong e.g.“Have you seen a doctor?”)
“Yes, I’m having physio, it’s a meniscus tear”
“Are you having an op?”
“No, it’s not that type of tear”
I had it all worked out.
The next man to respond was Darren who didn’t lie about his age, he was 35, Scorpio, year of the water tiger. Welsh accent, he sounded good. From our brief phone conversation at 39.5 pence a minute I’d learned he was in the army and had a motorbike, a big one, a really big one, a Kawasaki GTR 1000.
We met at a bar near Tower Bridge and drank non-alcohol drinks. Darren had ginger, tight curly hair, he was tall and his face scarred, but not like Fraser No. 31’s sexy scar from the flying symbol, it was more like he’d picked his acne or chicken pox spots as a child, it was still kind of sexy. He reminded me of Peter Gilmore, star from the 70’s BBC drama The Onedin Line, I fancied him.
Darren had been in the army since leaving school, he now trained cadets somewhere in East London, I saw no reason not to give him a go. At the end of the date I showed Darren my Fiat Panda and he showed me his golden ticket to sex.
“That’s nice,” I said. “Really, really nice. That’s one sexy bike.”
“Thanks” he said, rubbing off a grease mark with his elbow. He retrieved his leathers from somewhere around the body of the beast. He had proper leathers, not the gear I was used to with boyfriends on scooters and Honda 250’s. He got into the fitted leather suit, covering his Levi jeans and gleaming white Adidas T-shirt.
“I’m thinking of going to the Lake District at the weekend, fancy a bit of touring about? Can you get Friday off work?”
I only worked Wednesdays, of course I could, would just mean missing one session with Ian. I felt like a break, we were approaching our ending and the therapy had been ramping up. I’d been having recurring nightmares where I kept seeing a baby strapped onto a machine, screaming.
Ian and I talked more about what life was like when I was born. I knew my sister had been a text-book baby and my birth had been difficult, Mum had gastroenteritis twice whilst pregant and when I came out I just cried and cried. My Dad had told me that they took me to the doctors on a number of occasions but the doctor just said I was “grumpy”. My parents must have persisted because at 6 months old I was diagnosed with having a hole in my heart, and from then on I was closely monitored by Great Ormond Street Hospital GOSH!
“I wonder that it may have been hard for your mother to bond with you.” Ian had questioned. I went back to Rayleigh to specifically ask my mother what I was like as a baby. She clearly had struggled, she couldn’t talk much, it just wasn’t her way, but she got out her copy of the 1960’s Glaxo mother and baby book. Inside were notes in her hand writing of our baby development.
For me there were just two lines ‘Reduced to 3 meals at 3 weeks. Started solids at 3 weeks!’
“And Ian, I promise you the explanation mark was there. No wonder I had an eating disorder. Poor mum. Maybe she had post-natal depression.”
The recurring nightmares stopped when I realised they were flash backs, I was looking at myself, as a baby, being x rayed at Great Ormond Street, in a monstrosity of a machine, held up naked, in a room so stark and frightening, crying my eyes out. My previous early memories of Great Ormond Street had been the three rocking horses of different sizes in the reception area of the hospital. I was never allowed to go on them, initially I thought perhaps it was because I was too small, then as I grew older I realised this was not so. I was discharged from GOSH age 12 when the hole in my heart finally closed, thanks to a lot of swimming, so the doctors said. By then I had grown out of rocking horses.
No wonder I wanted to get on the back of Darren’s bike and ride off into the distance. No wonder I’d done a parachute jump and joined the dangerous sports society to do undercover bunji jumping when it was illegal and had gone underground after the Noel Edmunds Saturday show suicide jump, and so it went on … always craving adventure.
The Lake District on the back of the Kawasaki beast would be an adventure. The following morning I booked 2 nights at the Regent Hotel in Ambleside.