Went on my first Plentyoffish.com date this week. An afternoon stroll along the beach with Hannah, a law student seven years my junior. Here's what happened:
Both arrive early. Kiss her cheek. She turns away sharply - thinks I'm trying for the lips.
The beach is deserted. Ask if she wants an ice cream. Says no. A cheap date - I like it.
A jogger whooshes past, iPod blaring out. The song is a classic from my childhood.
Hannah hasn't heard of Feargal Sharkey and doesn't seem amused by my little jig.
The conversation picks up as we wander among the dunes. Her wavy hair bounces elegantly through the sea breeze. I'd definitely shag her.
She looks freezing. Should have worn a big coat, like me. After an hour or so I suggest drinks in town.
Have to run to catch our train. My date seems flustered. She stares into the distance as we speed past a housing estate. A playful kick isn't returned.
Her housemates have told her off for sending short messages, apparently.
"Hadn't noticed," I lie.
"They reckon I come across a bit cold."
"Your messages are fine, don't worry. You might want to brush up on your apostrophes, but apart from that..."
Not sure it's the right thing to say.
Let her pick the bar - that way there's no moaning.
"Aren't you supposed to choose?" Hannah queries.
"I find it's easier to let the girl decide."
With that she leads me to a student haunt where drinks come in plastic glasses. Not what I had in mind.
We talk about family, cats, favourite vegetables, museums in Liverpool (she does most of the talking here), her lack of cooking skills, my leek and potato soup and spiders.
My date knows a nice Chinese place we could eat. Means I'll have to pretend to like Oriental food.
A candle illuminates her sweet face and our legs mingle affectionately as dinner is served.
I like the way she refuses to be rushed even when the waitress brings our bill. Get my phone calculator out for a joke but she's not paying attention.
"Just kidding," I say. "This is on me."
"No, no - we'll split it," she replies.
"Seriously, I've got it covered."
Expected a bigger protest. Never mind - I'll skip the tip. Didn't finish half of mine anyway.
Head for more drinks. Hannah chats about her summer in Romania helping disabled children using 'intense interaction'. Staring in their eyes and shit.
Try to give her a high five en route to the bar but she's not having it – thinks it's naff. All her good work with Romanian children is being undone.
It's getting late. Walk her to the station where I go in for a snog under the shadow of an unlit bus shelter. She doesn't retreat.
Twist strands of her hair round my fingers. Girls like that.
"I've had a nice night," she says. "Have you?"
"Er, yes. It's been ace. I really like you, Hannah."
With that she boards her bus. I wave goodbye as it pulls away but she doesn't see. Busy texting someone.
Spend the entire taxi ride home thinking through our six hours together. Not the best date I've ever been on - but a long way from the worst. Come up with some pros and cons.
Pro: She helps mental kids in Romania. Con: She doesn't like cats. Pro: She's got a lovely smile. Con: She's never seen The Office and doesn't know who Feargal Sharkey is. Pro: She made me laugh - though I'd had three Coronas at the time. Con: She wouldn't give me a high five. Pro: She's young and I can mould her.
Ah, who am I kidding? Leave it 'til morning then text asking if she wants to do something at the weekend.
Approximately two hours and 13 minutes later my phone beeps. Her reply reads:
Look, thanks for a nice night. Thing is, I was kind of seeing someone a few weeks back and I think it might be back on. Sorry for messing you around x
Well that's a blow to my ego. Don't bother responding - might say something I regret.
Can't get the Feargal Sharkey song out of my head. Lyrics seem quite apt now.