Get to the pub dead on time. No sign of my date.
Ask for a Corona. Barmaid corks it with a hefty chunk of shrivelled lime. Force the little bugger down the bottleneck with my thumb.
Marie shuffles through the door as I take my first bitter swig, a little black dress wrapped around her curves like gravy on mashed potato. Looks well tasty.
Order her a vodka and lemo while she commandeers a sofa, smoothing the back of her dress before sinking into its leather upholstery.
"I've never dated a doctor before," I say, handing over her beverage.
"You're not going to ask me to look at something, are you?" she replies.
Planned to quiz her on my athlete's foot. Might leave it til our second date now.
She chats about a recent trip to the Galapagos Islands. Loves travelling, apparently. Tell her I went to Hull last week.
Examine the jukebox while my date gets another round in. Spot Doctor Doctor by The Thompson Twins. She'll think that's well funny.
Marie rolls her eyes when it comes on. Can tell she's laughing inside, though.
She wants to know how long I've been single.
"About a year," I lie. "You?"
"About six months."
"Long-term, was it?"
"What happened? Just grow apart?"
"No, he shagged my best mate."
Marie tucks her thin brown hair behind each ear, then squints like a little girl as she sips her drink through a lime green straw.
"You don't seem too bitter about it?"
"At first I hated his guts."
"Now I've realised that indifference is the opposite of love - not hate."
A cute little mole hovers like the North Star just above her right dimple. She's beautiful, and intelligent, and I'm about as far away from indifference as I've ever been on a first date. Though I have had three Mexican lagers.
Need to change the subject - something less serious.
"So what's your favourite pizza topping?" I quiz.
"Anything - as long as there's no mushrooms. They're evil."
"I'm like that with salmon."
"How can you not like salmon?"
"It reminds me of vagina."
"And you don't like vagina?"
Her hand brushes my arm as our laughter echoes round the bar.
Head to loo. Come back via the bar. Marie's texting.
"Hope you're saying nice things about me," I quip.
"Actually, I am."
She slides the mobile back into her bag and ushers me close with her chocolaty eyes. An unambiguous smile informs me it's time for us to kiss.
Her hand rests on my ribcage as our mouths collide. Bet she can feel my heart racing even without her stethoscope.
Have to break off for a silent burp. Don't think she twigs.
"Look, it's getting late - do you fancy buying me some chips?" she says.
Find a chippy round the corner. Bit of a queue. Marie reprimands a lairy Scouser for trying to push in. Pull an apologetic face behind her back to let him know it's not me complaining. Turns out he's too pissed to argue anyway - just stumbles out the door.
We stroll with our supper towards a taxi rank. She offers me a bit of fishcake; I allow her a small bite of my battered sausage.
Pass the lairy Scouser pissing against a furniture shop window. He's yelling expletives at an unseen friend. Dying for a wee myself. Might see if there's a quiet spot further down the street.
"What a pig, pissing in public like that," complains Marie.
"I know - makes me sick."
"That's why I joined a dating website - because when I'm out I meet knobheads like him."
"Whereas online you meet sophisticated young men like me."
We stop and kiss for the second time, though I have to pull away after a few seconds - her breath smells of haddock.
Don't have to wait long for a cab to pull up.
"You can come back to mine for a nightcap if you want?" says Marie.
Jump on the back seat before she has time to change her mind.
Fare's already £3 and we've barely moved. Gonna be extortionate by the time we get to Birkenhead.
We start necking as our chauffeur heads towards the tunnel. By £4.10 her hand's on my thigh, at £5.60 I'm copping a feel of her boobs. The final fare comes to £15.80 - but it's money well spent.
Marie rummages through her handbag in search of keys while I take a deep breath and contemplate what's ahead.
To be continued...