In my first blog I explained it was initially the physical attraction which drew Guido and me together. On the drawing board we would not work. He loves cars, running, extreme sports, football and Spanish beer. And, probably in that order. He practically sounds straight. With the exception of drinking the occasional San Miguel none of those things interest me in the slightest. I am surprised we have lasted as long as we have. We might each have our own likes and dislikes but I have to tell you it is great dating a chef. With possibly the exception of being a Russian oligarch, I wouldn’t want Guido to do anything else for a living. Honestly, how many guys have you ever met before who fret over the consistency of their churros or come to bed on a wet Sunday afternoon smelling of roast beef?
Before Guido I had only had one other (serious) relationship. Though please note how I’ve put the word, serious, in parentheses. There was no back list of boyfriends to compare notes on so there was no bench marker. This makes me sound alarmingly virginal, which I was not. The half-baked liaison I am referring to was with a guy called Coleman. If I had my interior designer hat on and was forced to describe Coleman as a colour then he would be a pale and unassuming beige. I don’t know what it is about London but my experience of dating here is that you are statistically more likely to get asked out by someone who has the capacity to be a.) a deranged serial killer, or, b.) a crashing bore. Coleman fell into the latter category.
Looking back I suppose it could have been worse. I could have been hacked to death with a machete before now. But, as my mother used to say at great length at the time, “beggars cannot be choosers.”
Coleman was an accountant and looked after money belonging to other people but told me he was utterly useless at looking after his own. Or so he said. I think this was to make me believe that he was penniless despite the fact that on our first date he told me that he had just bought a two bedroom semi with a garage in Kensal Rise. So for starters that particular spreadsheet column did not add up. If any of you have ever been to Kensal Rise you will know that owning a semi there with a garage is the stuff of property dreams.
On our first date Coleman and I went to a Chinese restaurant in Soho and we ordered dim sum. Afterwards I insisted that we split the bill and go Dutch. On a first date I always used to insist on going Dutch. That was so that there was no sense of obligation for either party to have to agree to have sex afterwards just because somebody had the decency to buy you spring rolls. After dinner we walked to a pub by Trafalgar Square and I politely bought him a drink and then he politely bought me a drink and then he took me back to his place and we had sex in his semi. On our second date we went to an Italian restaurant in Soho and I remember we ordered seafood linguine. Afterwards Coleman insisted we split the bill and go Dutch. We dispensed with polite drinks and instead we just went back to his place and got straight down to sex. As you now see this does not make me sound in the slightest virginal; quite the opposite in fact. I am making myself sound like a right slapper. But, as my mother used to say at great length at the time, “do not look a gift horse in the mouth” and this particular one had a semi with a garage in Kensal Rise.
For the entire time Coleman and I were together we only ever went Dutch with money. This will re-enforce the old cliché that all accountants are tight when it comes to opening their wallets and that I was completely desperate when I was single and would date anyone, even if listening to him speak was like wearing headphones switched to a permanent white noise loop. He once booked a table at My Old Dutch in High Holborn. It will not come as any surprise to you to know that this is a Dutch restaurant. Afterwards when we were out on the pavement he actually said “We have just gone Dutch at My Old Dutch.” He thought that was one of the funniest things he had ever said and I have to say as his punch lines used to go it was certainly one of his better ones. You can see why our relationship was doomed from the start.
After sex on a first date I would never ever dream of snooping around the home of the person I had just had sex with but after sex on a second date I think it should be made compulsory. As an interior designer I feel this gives you a more rounded picture of the general tastes of the person you are sleeping with. So whilst Coleman was in the shower I threw open his wardrobe doors and unexpectedly came face to face with a suit of armour. It was man size. It was the last thing I had expected to see. Until I flipped up the visor I was a bit worried I was going to find someone still in it – like one of his old boyfriends – shrivelled up and half starved to death. I shut the door and got back into bed and tried not to think about protective metal clothing and why on earth Coleman had some in his cupboard. On our third date we did not bother with international dining or drinks near Trafalgar Square. Instead we went to his place and, although I now knew he was in possession of armour in his wardrobe, I had sex with him again.
Afterwards, I sat up in bed casually flicking through the most recent edition of Chartered Accountancy Monthly .
“So, Coleman, what is with the suit of armour in your wardrobe?”
“Oh it is a hobby of mine,” he said casually as if it was like licking postage stamps into an album, “Anything to do with the Tudor period ideally. I go to re-enactments and, although I have not done it yet, I quite like the idea of having a joust.” You know what? I really had not seen that one coming. “Now I have a garage, I have someplace to securely store a pole,” he added.
“I see,” I said, not seeing the harm in it but not thinking for a moment that we would be dating long enough for me to actually attend a Tudor re-enactment nor realising that if we did that Coleman would be expecting me to wear the suit of armour myself.
He said he could not wear it on account of the fact that it was too tight a fit as he played rugby scrum half position on a weekly basis and therefore had considerably more muscular thighs than your average Tudor man ever did.
Unfortunately I did appear to be Tudor man sized and the armour looked to be a perfect all round fit for me.
Of course, a couple of weeks later, the inevitable happened and Coleman brought up the subject of Henry VIII.
“There is a Tudor re-enactment in Essex at the weekend. There are going to be some re-enacted beheadings – do you fancy coming along?
It was a great offer but I utterly refused to wear that armour. On our fourth date Coleman had tested out the helmet on my head and I instantly knew how the man in the iron mask must have felt. Nor could I think of anything more crippling than wearing the whole contraption whilst sitting erect and motionless in Coleman’s Fiat Panda all the way to Billericay. However, I said I was willing to compromise and sort out some fancy dress myself. The guy at the hire shop said I should take the easy option and suggested going down the religious or clergy route. So I turned up as Cardinal Wolsey. In the end there was not that much to a Tudor re-enactment other than walking up and down a muddy playing field with lots of men with beards wearing capes. I got to say things like “Good morning sire,” and when I went into the refreshment tent I shouted to the barmaid “Bring me a goblet of your finest burdock wine, wench,” without getting slapped across the face or accused of blatant sexual harassment. Other than that I would say the re-enacted beheadings were probably the highlight of that particular day. At least in Tudor times it would have been quick. Which is more than I can say for the dying days of my relationship with Coleman. In the final analysis I would say our relationship boiled down to a lot of sex and tedious debates about the benefits of double entry book keeping.
I do sometimes think about Coleman and wonder whether any of his later sexual conquests were ever enticed into that armour and if they were how Coleman managed to do that and if it involved wearing it whilst they had sex in his semi. It is one of those mysteries in my life I will never know the answer to so unfortunately I cannot elaborate here any further for you.