Heatwaves, Bomb Shelters & More Exasperdating

London Riviera

London Riviera

Monsieur P can’t quite believe it. As shock factors go, this is up there alongside Pippa Middleton wearing no knickers to Will and Kate’s wedding. Seriously, he just can’t get over how hot and sunny it is in England.

You only had to see how he turned up at St Pancras a couple of weeks ago to get an insight into his perception of Blighty. Honestly, he stepped off the Eurostar looking like Scott of the Antarctic. The only thing missing was a pair of tennis racket snow shoes strapped to his feet.

He was convinced that it rains/sleets/snows here every day. And to be fair, if he’d arrived this time last year, he’d have had a point. I had tried to explain that now and again we get heatwaves but he dismissed the very idea of the Great British Summer as just another piece of ‘cray-zee rosbif’ whimsy to be filed alongside right hand-drive cars and well-done steaks.

Actually, I’m quite impressed how quickly he’s turned into a bona fide summertime Brit – he’s already lobster-coloured, has developed a liver-threatening taste for Pimm’s and is complaining about the weather being ‘too ‘ot’.

He doesn’t understand parks though. Green space is something Paris is rather short on and so he doesn’t really get Londoners’ obsession with decamping to scorched patches of lawn to show off their milky-white flesh the minute the sun comes out to play.

The look on his face as we wandered through St James Park was a picture – somewhere between bewilderment and disdain as only the French can do. The ice-cream van foxed him a little, too. As did a 99 flake. ‘Zis is not ice-crème, I can assure yooo’.

Anyhow, what with the weather being sub-tropical at the mo, we did a fair bit of walking over the weekend. Highlights included St Paul’s and that manky stretch of beach on the Southbank – AKA the London Riviera – which Monsieur P observed is ‘no Paris Plages’. He’s got a point.

We also stumbled upon a lovely little corner of town down Pimlico way called Smith Square. If you’ve never been there, check it out. It’s home to a wonderful Baroque church called St John’s and a clutch of Georgian townhouses.

Now, one of these houses caught my eye as it had a faded sign painted on the wall. It read ‘public shelters in vaults under pavements in this street’ with an arrow pointing down the steps to what would’ve been the tradesman’s entrance once upon a time. Clearly, during the Blitz, the basements of these homes were used as shelters against Luftwaffe bombs.

Air-raid Shelter

Air-raid Shelter

Take Cover!

Take Cover!

The sign got me thinking… Wouldn’t it be good if London’s WWII air-raid shelters were resurrected as dating shelters? I mean, how brilliant would that be? Instead of having to smile sweetly and feign interest at some deathly-boring story, you could just run for cover when a date wasn’t going very well. I know I could’ve done with a get-out-of-jail-free card like that back when I was serial dating.

Unlike one of my friends who developed the ability to extricate himself from crap dates in one fell swoop (after just one drink he used to say ‘well, it was lovely meeting you but I’m going to go home now’ while shaking them by the hand and disappearing out the door of the bar) I’d always find myself saying ‘oh yes, I’d love another drink’ when really I was wondering whether I’d be able to squeeze enough of my face into my wine glass to drown myself.

Suffice to say a dating shelter would have got me out of a fair few scrapes. I certainly could’ve done with one the day I met the Man-Child

Exasperdating Logo

Exasperdating | Man-Child

 Age: 29 (apparently)
Height: 5’8”
Build: 12-year-old’s
Hair: Black
Eyes: Brown
Job: Teacher

School Shorts

School Shorts

This guy was cute in a boy-ish sort of way. No doubt it was down to his gene cocktail – he was British-Mauritian, blessed with baby-smooth skin and floppy dark hair.

So what was the problem? Well, truth be told, I felt like I was babysitting – borderline grooming. For most of the date I was zoning in and out of conversation, more intent on trying to determine if he was shaving yet. In fact, I began to wonder whether he was even over the age of consent. So much so, I thought about asking to see some ID or trying that old trick bouncers do when they ask your date of birth – if you don’t rattle it off quickly enough, there’s no getting past the velvet rope. But no, he assured me he was 29.

Now, it turned out Peter Pan here was a teacher at a primary school (reception class, which was just as well because the thought of this guy trying to control rowdy 16-year-olds was a Grange Hill plotline waiting to happen). And it was at this moment, as he was waxing lyrical about his job, that the penny dropped. This guy had gone into teaching tots because he fundamentally was one. And not just to look at. He struggled to maintain an adult conversation. The minute we stopped talking about wet playtimes and safety scissors he was all at sea.

Basically, I was on a date with a child. And for fear of being branded a paedo, I made my excuses and left. Well, it was a school night, after all.


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