I’ve ven­tured out of my so­cial com­fort zone. Big mis­take

has some fairly harsh things to say about his dates in his new col­umn about life af­ter di­vorce

The Jewish Chronicle - - Features -

IT’S GREAT when your life starts shap­ing up like a bad episode of the most clichéd soap opera. This is what hap­pened to me last week when I re­ceived a mes­sage on my mo­bile from a girl I’d pre­vi­ously met at a launch party for an ex­pen­sive new de­signer brand of fizzy wa­ter (Eau Dear, I think it was); a girl who ap­pears to base her texts on the col­lected works of the Hol­lyoaks scriptwrit­ers.

“It would be lovely to go for a drink some time,” came her re­ply to an ear­lier in­vi­ta­tion from yours truly. “But I don’t think I could han­dle any­thing se­ri­ous at the mo­ment or my head will ex­plode. So let’s just be friends.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not in the busi­ness of skull det­o­na­tion. But I do won­der why she felt the need to de­ter me quite so cornily. Did she think I was go­ing to turn up on our date with an en­gage­ment ring and a copy of Bride & Groom? Apart from any­thing else, I don’t need any more friends — I haven’t enough time to see the ones I’ve al­ready got.

Be­sides, when it comes to friends I’m a bit of a snob. The peo­ple I choose to so­cialise with be­long to one of three cat­e­gories: they should have ei­ther at­tended the Hab­er­dash­ers’ Aske’s School in El­stree some time in the ’70s or early ’80s; or they will have grown up like I did in Bore­ham­wood dur­ing the same time­frame; or they must be mu­sic jour­nal­ists, be­cause that’s what I do for a liv­ing and I have no other con­ver­sa­tional ar­eas of in­ter­est, un­less you count com­par­a­tive prices of bud­get su­per­mar­kets (as a di­vorced dad with shared cus­tody of three young chil­dren, eat­ing cheaply has be­come an ob­ses­sion).

Ideally, my en­tire so­cial cir­cle would com­prise rock­writ­ing ex-Hab­er­dash­ers from Bore­ham­wood, but life’s not per­fect.

I’ve learned to my cost what hap­pens when you stray out­side your so­cial Venn di­a­gram — they don’t “get” you. A new fe­male ac­quain­tance got ex­cited re­cently when I asked if she knew any nice sin­gle Jewish women.

Now, she could see what I look like — tall, scruffy, al­ler­gic to for­mal wear — and she knows what I do for a liv­ing, which is hang around mu­si­cians and de­gen­er­ates in dive bars. And she surely heard the words com­ing out of my mouth — some­thing about my pref­er­ence be­ing small, waif-like hip­pie chicks who wear those scarves they sell at Cam­den Mar­ket and reek of patchouli oil — but those words must have be­come scram­bled in her brain. Be­cause the woman she set me up with wasn’t a bo­hemian flow­er­child at all. No, the per­son strid­ing pur­pose­fully to­wards me through the bar­ri­ers at Edg­ware Sta­tion was a large, smartly dressed lady who re­sem­bles the sort of man­i­cured yenta my mother used to play kaluki with in the mid-80s.

And that’s who I had to spend the night chat­ting to (small talk? It was barely vis­i­ble to the naked eye) and buy­ing drinks for, in a se­ries of bistros and wine bars — and I haven’t been to a bistro or wine bar since the height of disco. Why do men have to do all the pay­ing on dates? The credit crunch is an equalop­por­tu­ni­ties cri­sis, you know.

It took a man — a to­tal stranger — to ac­knowl­edge the full ex­tent of my poverty. I’d just said good­bye to my date and was sit­ting, ex­hausted and de­jected, on the pave­ment out­side the Tube, men­tally pre­par­ing the abu­sive email I’d be send­ing to the woman who ar­ranged the evening, when a down-and-out — and I swear this is true — ap­proached me, hand out­stretched, and, in­stead of beg­ging me for change, pro­ceeded to crouch down bear­ing, in his tatty, fin­ger­less glove, a pound coin.

He didn’t look like an exHab­er­dasher, but he did re­mind me of a few rock writ­ers I know. Maybe he can be my new friend.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.