A love life off the rails and on the buses

In a re­fresh­ingly hon­est new col­umn, Paul Lester works out how to nav­i­gate his life as a man whose wife sud­denly left him

The Jewish Chronicle - - Features -

SORRY TO come over all Charles Dick­ens, but this for me is the best of times, the worst of times. No sooner have I achieved su­per­star sta­tus in the Jewish com­mu­nity fol­low­ing my ap­pear­ance as a colum­nist in th­ese pages — with, I’m pre­sum­ing wildly and op­ti­misti­cally, hun­dreds of dates with hot Jewish ladies ea­ger to cheer up this poor, mis­er­able di­vorcee pro­ceed­ing as a re­sult — than I face a pos­si­ble ban from driv­ing. And so won’t be able to go on any of said dates.

What do you mean, use pub­lic trans­port? Have you ever sug­gested to a North Lon­don Jewish woman — the genus, re­mem­ber, that in­vented the no­tion of “bling” some time af­ter the Sec­ond World War — that you take the bus to the cin­ema or the restau­rant? Nei­ther have I and, frankly, I don’t in­tend to, be­cause oddly I have an aver­sion to rit­ual cas­tra­tion.

My ex-wife is in­di­rectly re­spon­si­ble for my im­pend­ing driv­ing ban. I was get­ting a lot of texts from fam­ily and friends con­grat­u­lat­ing me on my first Sud­denly Sin­gle col­umn, all with the same ner­vous en­quiry at the end: “What does Se­lena think of it?”

And so I pan­icked and called her. On the mo­bile. Without a hands-free de­vice. While driv­ing down the M1. Past the Scratch­wood Ser­vices, where the po­lice seem to wait all day on the bridge for ma­raud­ing He­brews bran­dish­ing deadly Nokias. When Her Majesty’s finest sig­nalled for me to pull over on the hard shoul­der, I tried plead­ing and beg­ging, then, em­bold­ened by my new-found celebrity, de­cided to of­fer them my au­to­graph, but they po­litely de­clined, giv­ing me three points for my con­tra­ven­tion of var­i­ous Road Traf­fic Acts, with an ex­tra flea in the ear for be­ing cheeky. Three points, on top of the nine I al­ready had for speed­ing? It’s not looking good for me, ei­ther as a driver or a se­rial dater.

Mind you, there’s al­ways my neigh­bour, a di­vorcee her­self with, like me, three chil­dren, who lives next door but one and so wouldn’t, un­less I was feel­ing par­tic­u­larly lazy, re­quire a ve­hi­cle for any ro­man­tic assig­na­tions. Did I men­tion that she’s drop-dead gor­geous? She’s drop-dead gor­geous. Plus, she’s Jewish. Well, not en­tirely Jewish — her dad’s a Seven­thDay Ad­ven­tist. Not in and of it­self enough to guar­an­tee a seat in shul on Yom Kip­pur, but it’s a start. And there’s al­ways con­ver­sion if things get se­ri­ous.

How­ever, de­spite what might look like the per­fect set-up on pa­per, there’s one tiny thing stand­ing in the way of a tor­rid li­ai­son be­tween my neigh­bour and me — she’s not re­motely in­ter­ested. How do I know? Over a latenight cup of tea, I asked her out. Her re­sponse, amid much em­bar­rassed cough­ing and splut­ter­ing, was some­thing along the lines of: “Not even if it would help res­cue the global money mar­kets.” Which, be­ing prone to low self-es­teem, I took as a neg­a­tive.

Oh, well. JDate here I come. As Dick­ens him­self once said: “It is a far, far bet­ter thing that I do, than I have ever done.” So I’m go­ing to buy a six­month Trav­el­card. Let’s just hope I can find a Jewish girl pre­pared to join me on the 142 from Bushey.

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