Benedict Ambrose thought I would love the new British TV show called "First Dates" because it is about Single people. However, Channel 4 and I have different concepts of "Single." Channel 4 defines a "Single" as someone who is not "dating" anyone right now, and I define "Single" as anyone who is not married or, at very least, engaged. An unmarried woman with a boyfriend who thinks she's in roughly the same situation as a married woman is fooling herself. Psychologically, there is nothing like marriage, which is why divorcing people go at least little nuts at first, as I know firsthand.
On "First Dates," the Singles chosen for the first episode met in a London restaurant for a meal before leaving together for wherever. Interestingly, they were matched for age and claaaaaass, but not for geography. Northern girl got put with Southern guy. Liverpool girl got put with Southern guy. Nineteen year old girl with sweet round face and polished vowels got put with 25 year old Something in the City with equally polished vowels. Sixty-eight year old widower who collects clocks joined sixty-eight year old widow who asked him if he had read Fifty Shades of Grey. Well, I ask you, what a question for a first date.
The idea of dating at 68 led to some discussion between Mr and Mrs McAmbrose, let me tell you. Frowning, B.A. said that at 68 he could not be bothered. Mrs B.A. said that she did not want to date 68 year old men ever, and if widowed at 68, she will hire rent boys. B.A. was shocked by such ladies' locker room talk and said Mrs B.A. so wouldn't. Mrs B.A. said she so would. But she inwardly reflected that this would be taking a big risk with her soul, even though she is banking on living until 86. Maybe she will run a boarding house for University of Edinburgh medical students instead, just like her great-great-grandmama.
Anyway, the 68 year old on the show was not put off by the question about Fifty Shades of Grey. He said he hadn't read it, but the ladies at his knitting group had told him about it. I bet they did, those cheeky knitters. Dear heavens, is that what the over-60 social scene is like? It's almost enough to make me want to play lady-in-waiting to the Order of Malta instead.
The two beautiful children with polished vowels got along quite well, as did the 68 year olds. It did not hurt my very soul to listen to their first date chatter. The soul-hurters were the middle-aged people, including the middle-aged woman of 24. Attention women of Britain: tanning, even fake tanning, AGES you. B.A. and I watched the middle-aged with rapt attention, saying married-people things like, "He can't possibly be younger than me; look at him."
We were desperately afraid for the Liverpudlian fielding sexy remarks from the 35 ("Is he really only 35?") year old DJ. The DJ said he is afraid he will end up being the old man at the end of whichever bar in Ibiza hitting on the young girls. As he has slept with over 250 women, he may already be that guy: he simply could not turn off the smooth. However, the Liverpudlian looked at him with equanimity, as if, although she cannot remember the capitals of European cities, she knows men like she knows her hair products. (I sometimes meet women like this, especially in salons. They never really saw the point of school, or books, but they look fantastic, they own their own homes and men appear when they whistle. There is a terrible lesson in this, which is probably Enjoy knowledge for its own sake.)
We felt awful for the pretty woman (well, I thought she was pretty) sitting across the table from a foul-mouthed ex-soldier. Heavens. Even Flashman usually knew better than to speak to a lady like that. The woman seemed to laugh it off, and even lied like a trouper (or, let's face it, your typical super-polite Englishwoman) to say she enjoyed her date, but it was quite clear she did not. I would have walked out. And if the ex-soldier were my son, I would have cried myself to sleep last night, that's how ashamed I would be. (NB My oldest brother is an ex-soldier and as far as I know he never, ever talks like that.) Of course, the love of the ex-soldier's life, who broke up with him, was a soldier, too, so maybe he thinks all women put up with that kind of talk now.
There were other pairs, but they are beginning to get confused in my memory. Needless to say, there were no religious people (or religion never came up) or academics or, apart from one Chinese woman whose accent was played for laughs, foreigners, so I didn't feel I had terribly much in common with any of the daters. Most of all, I would never want a first date I was on to end up on telly, unless it involved a good, sparky, philosophical debate that ended in a draw.
My last first date (as it turned out to be) would have made terrible telly, as it consisted of B.A. telling me all about various age-old Cath Soc scandals at the University of Aberdeen and me trying to keep my jet-lagged eyes open. Zzzzz.