Exasperdating | Metro Boy

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Exasperdating | Metro Boy

Age: 28
Height: 5’7
Build: Slim
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Sandy-brown
Job: Town planner

I remember being gutted when I had to add this guy to my list of dating disasters. Reason being, I really, really liked him. It all took place when I was living in Paris. We met due to some fast – okay, sneaky – thinking on my part.  I first clocked him having a cigarette outside a metro station. I wondered how I could instigate a conversation so I made out that I needed some help navigating the metro. In a BAFTA-worthy performance, I pulled out some choice lines in broken French à la Officer Crabtree in Allo Allo.


Sure enough, my little ruse worked and it wasn’t long before we were sharing a bottle of vin blanc in a nearby café. A string of dates followed, although from the off it wasn’t plain sailing. The first time we were due to meet up he cancelled on the day – apparently he had to go and give his friend some moral support post a break-up. He made good though and engineered a spontaneous date later in the week.
Another ‘moral support’ episode followed – this time half an hour before our rendezvous. After that I asked him outright, ‘are you interested or not, because I’m getting some very mixed messages here’. To which he replied, ‘oh yes, but I know you won’t be here for that much longer so am spacing out our time together’. Which I kind of understood.
A third and final date took place at his pad. I’d forgotten that the majority of Parisians live in matchboxes. There’s nothing wrong with that in itself – except if you’re a hoarder. You couldn’t see the floor of his room for books, clothes, magazines and… pots of Nutella. Honest to God, pots of Nutella. Apparently he ate a jar a week. But my OCDs melted away into this sea of mess the moment he flashed me his cheeky smile.
After that encounter, I decided I’d treat him to a surprise date that would include a bottle of bubbly and three mystery envelopes – the idea being each envelope would contain a romantic Parisian spot where we’d glug the fizz. But my grand gesture was wasted. He texted me to say that he was too busy and tired to meet up and would call me ‘soon’. And, much as I didn’t like to admit it, I knew that ‘soon’ was dating code for ‘never’. C’est la vie.

Exasperdating | Victoriana Fella

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Exasperdating | Victoriana Fella

Height: 6’1″
Build: Broad
Hair: Brown
Eyes: Blue
Job: Architect/Interior Designer

So there I am, waiting anxiously for my name to be called. I’m doing everything I can to ignore the mosquito-like high-pitched buzz emanating from the consulting room (read as torture chamber). In a desperate bid to try and take my mind off things, I reach out and grab one of the well-thumbed glossies on the coffee table. Result! It’s OK! Magazine. And, as we all know, lightweight celebrity fluff is the perfect antidote to the terror that is the dentist’s chair. 

Open wide...

Open wide…

What’s that got to do with a date? Well, as I was flicking through said mag, my eyes suddenly shot to a picture of a bloke I thought I knew. But just who was he? And what the hell was he doing in a celeb rag? So with one eyebrow arched quizzically à la Inspector Clouseau, I went on the hunt for clues.

First off, the caption. No bells ringing there. While his name wasn’t beige, it certainly wasn’t standout. So I carried on, scanning the article proper. An architect slash interior designer. Hmm, doesn’t narrow things down as I’ve known a few of those in my time. But hold up! Currently working for a very high-profile member of the royal family. Now, you’d have thought a nugget of info like that would have sparked some kind of memory but, alas, nothing.

“Monsieur Torres?” It was my turn for the chair. Clearly my brain was still running a Ctrl+F search because the penny dropped just as I was invited to open wide.

I’d gone on a date with this chap about five years ago. He was fairly well spoken (not to mention well off) and was, to my mind, just a stumble from plummeting headfirst into the ravine of posh. I remember he invited me over for dinner at his place one night. His gaff was decorated in what I call ‘try-hard Victoriana’ – a deer-stalker nonchalantly placed here, a pile of dusty old books stacked casually-on-purpose there.

Suffice to say, we didn’t go beyond dinner as it was clear the class gap between us was just too great. I mean, the idea of him dancing manically to Morrisey at Duckie was just as at odds as the notion of me genuflecting to some Duke and Duchess on a pheasant shoot – which seems to be exactly what he’s doing right now. Damnation. If only I’d played my cards right – I could be hanging with Wills and Harry right now. More so Harry, I think…

Exasperdating | Cockney Signor

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Exasperdating | Cockney Signor

Height: 5’8”
Build: Toned 
Hair: Blond
Eyes: Blue
Job: Cabin Crew

Doing the Lambeth walk - oi!

Doing the Lambeth walk – oi!

A friend of mine once told me that there are 3 sorts of boy you should never date:
  • a club DJ
  • a barman
  • cabin crew

According to my mate, these sorts of gays don’t make good boyfriend material. The hours they work mean they tend to be creatures of the night. So, while most of us are tucked up in our beds, they’re usually out on the town getting jiggy with some nightclub groupie, a flirty bar-hopper or a fellow trolley dolly on a stopover.

Well, I made the mistake of hooking up with an air steward. Normally, I wouldn’t touch one with a bargepole for the reasons mentioned. However, this particular fella was the spit of David Beckham. Plus he was half Italian – and I’m a sucker for a guy that can speak another language.

The really funny thing was that when he spoke Italian, it was with the most beautiful, eloquent Florentine lilt. Bizarrely though, when he spoke English, he sounded like an extra from EastEnders – he had the most pronounced cockney accent I’ve ever heard. Seriously, Peggy Mitchell had nothing on him.

While he ticked two boxes – looks and linguistics – let’s just say he wasn’t the sharpest tool in the box. But give him his due, he was pretty – very pretty. But that couldn’t outweigh the fact that he was fundamentally thick as pigsh*t. Plus, I got the distinct impression this guy had Mile High Club platinum status. He may work for Virgin, but the similarity ended there.
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Bouquets, Boys & Barbershop Quartets

Flowers for a fella?

Flowers for a fella?

Nothing says I’m sorry like flowers. Or at least that’s what I thought. As it turns out, a little floral something can make things a whole lot worse.


Last week I was bang out of order with Monsieur P. A big fat apology was in order. I’d already said I was sorry. I’d followed that up with a proper tail-between-my-legs text message too. What was needed now was a grand gesture courtesy of Interflora.

Boy’s Bouquet

It started with me scouring the internet for an arrangement that fitted the crime. I was on the hunt for something that said I’m genuinely sorry without being OTT – granted I’d been a bit of a prat but I hadn’t invaded Poland or anything. I had to find a masculine-looking bouquet. And I was fairly pleased with what I managed to unearth. The flowers were subtle not showy, in neutral shades, not My Little Pony pink.

Reactive Reaction

Three hours later I got a text message from Monsieur P. The eagle had most definitely landed…

“Are you stupid?! Don’t send me flowers to my office. It’s so embarrassing. I had to walk through the office past all my colleagues with a bouquet. Do boys even send flowers to boys?”

Not exactly the reaction I’d been hoping for.

Guilty As Charged?

For the rest of the day I was dreading coming home. I was convinced I was about to go up against a firing squad. As it turns out though, Monsieur P was very cheery as he walked in the door. It was as if nothing had happened. So I decided to broach the white elephant in room.

“I’m sorry about yesterday – and the flowers.”

“Oh don’t worry it’s all forgotten.”

“Erm, maybe you should think about the sentiment, though.”

“The sentiment was that you felt guilty.”

“No. Well yes. No. But…”

“What’s for dinner, anyway?”

Flipping The Bird Barbershop Style

And right there I learned something new about our relationship. Monsieur P is very of the moment. He likes to sort issues out there and then and then move on. Me, on the other hand, I like to think about things and process them. I guess I can chalk up the whole thing as a relationship learning curve. But one thing’s for sure, I’m glad I am a processor and didn’t act upon the advice one of my colleagues gave me…

“Oh, send him another bunch of flowers. But a really big pink bouquet this time. With a card that reads ‘F*ck You’. Or better still, send a barbershop quartet.”

Okay so help me here people. Is it okay for fellas to send fellas flowers – especially when said fella is your fella? Answers on a postcard, please…

Curly Kale, Objets d’Art & Loo Brushes

I say! A farmers' market!

I say! A farmers’ market!

Jesus Christ on a bike. I’m turning into one of those smug-married, middle-class tw*ts that I used to despise so much. Hmm, maybe I shouldn’t be that surprised. After all, I am the boy that’s so Home Counties I thought the word ‘turd’ was spelled ‘terde’. I kid you not.

Yummy Mummy Territory

Anyhow, last weekend I sank to new middle-class lows. I found myself mooching around the Saturday morning farmers’ market in leafy West Hampstead. So there I was, a still-dusted-with-flour baguette stuffed under one arm, a copy of the Guardian under the other, chatting to a Starbucks-swilling yummy mummy about the virtues of sun-blushed baby plum tomatoes as I waited in line for some venison and leek sausages. I even bought some curly kale. I wouldn’t mind but I haven’t got the foggiest what curly kale is yet alone how to cook it.

Kale and other posh stuff

Kale and other posh stuff

Middle-class Mecca

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the next day I could be seen swanning around that Mecca of middle-classness, Habitat. Reason being, I was on a mission for ‘objets d’art’. Since moving in to my new pad with Monsieur P, I’ve felt like we’ve not really put our stamp on the place. For weeks now, our home has felt a bit cold and unloved.

Bargain Hunter

While I’m still in denial about my trip to Habitat, it did unearth an interesting dynamic between me and Monsieur P. When we first arrived in the store, he instructed me to only buy items in the front section of the shop. I couldn’t work out why browsing frontiers had been set but then the penny dropped. Dangling above our heads was a sign emblazoned with the message ‘25% Off’. I should have realised – Monsieur P is a bargain hunter extraordinaire. If there’s a deal to be had, he’ll sniff it out with that French hooter of his, trust me.

The Habitat evidence

The Habitat evidence

More de Gaulle Than Gaultier

Suffice to say I ignored his directive and proceeded to pirouette around the shop, sweeping up as many over-priced vases as I could. It wasn’t long before I had a shop assistant in tow, ferrying my selections back to the cash register. At this point, Monsieur P realised he was fighting a losing battle and so retired to the comfort of a showroom sofa to play Candy Crush. Now, despite being a Frenchman, my fella isn’t the most artistic or creative of souls – he’s more de Gaulle than Gaultier – and so was happy to defer the interior design choices to me.

Two Fingers a la Loo Brush

After I’d gone around the ground floor like a carp gulping in, well, just about everything, I figured it was time to ascend the grand staircase up to Bathrooms & Bedrooms. I suggested to Monsieur P that he may wish to decamp to one of the cushion-plumped beds on the first floor while I devoured the next wave of goods. He graciously declined and instead suggested that I send him a photo of anything ‘expensive’ to his phone for verification purposes. This irked me greatly so I proceeded to send him a picture of a loo brush.

My Habitat-Matalan Objets d'Art

My Habitat-Matalan Objets d’Art

Matalan Wake-up Call

Fast forward to Monday back in the office. I recalled my middle-class weekend to one of my colleagues who was aghast at just how middle England I’d become. “I know exactly what you need”, she said, and proceeded to frog-march me to her car. Before I knew it we had pulled up in front of a shop I never even knew existed – Matalan. In case you’ve never been to one, it’s the homeware equivalent of Primark. To say I went wild in the aisles is an understatement. For the same price as two Habitat vases, I had kitted out my flat with more objets d’art than I knew what to do with.

Old Habitats Die Hard

Me being me, though, I transferred said objets from my cheap and nasty Matalan carriers into, yes, you’ve guessed it, Habitat bags. I mean, what would the yummy mummies of West Hampstead say? As the old adage goes, you can take the boy out of the Home Counties, but you can’t take the Home Counties out of the boy.

Exasperdating | Mr Wet Lettuce

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Exasperdating | Mr Wet Lettuce

Age: 39
Height: 5’10″
Build: Toned
Hair: Grey
Eyes: Brown
Job: Teacher



I’ve always had a bit of thing for fellas with salt and pepper hair. Granted, this guy’s barnet was more on the salty side, but it just made him look all the more distinguished. And the fact he was a piano-playing music teacher was a big plus point, too. I’ve always been in awe of people who can tinkle the ivories (learning to play the clarinet at school was a major-league error on my part – it’s really hard to sing along at the same time).

Now, I should mention something quite important at this point. When I spotted this guy’s online profile, I couldn’t help but think ‘I know you from somewhere’. I actually asked him outright if we’d met before, but the closest we could get to crossing paths was that we used to go to the same nightclub years ago. Anyhow, the date had the potential to be good – a riverside walk with takeaway coffees on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

However, it wasn’t long before I realised this guy was a bit beige – he really didn’t have much to say for himself. Our rendezvous finished rather bizarrely with him taking me to a Marks & Spencer food hall. I had to follow him around while he loaded up his shopping basket for his dinner. Hardly the stuff of a romantic encounter.

Just before we parted company – somewhere near the cucumbers – I had another I’m-sure-I-know-you moment. “So you used to go to Ghetto nightclub?”, I quizzed. “Well, once or twice. And not really through choice. A guy I dated used to drag me down there.” All of a sudden the supermarket shelves melted around me, my insides churned in exam-style panic, and an invisible film camera whizzed down the aisle towards me for that penny-dropping close-up. OH. MY. GOD. This guy used to go out with my best friend! How could I have forgotten? Fair-dos, it was really going back some, but it was me that had branded him Mr Wet Lettuce.

Exasperdating | Giraffe Man

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Exasperdating | Giraffe Man

Age: 35
Height: 6’5”

Build: Giraffe-like
Hair: Brown
Eyes: Blue
Job: Something to do with IT


There are all sorts of taboos in the dating world. Go out with someone too young and you’re branded a dirty old man. Someone too old, and all of a sudden you’re a twink. And then there are those labels like gold digger, sugar daddy and chubby chaser to contend with.

Interestingly, there’s not a phrase for people who are at odds in terms of height. But I really think there ought to be. In fact, I think we should actively encourage the stigmatisation of such unions. Let’s be honest, there’s nothing odder-looking than someone who’s vertically challenged going out with someone at the opposite end of the stature spectrum. I mean, you wouldn’t build a skyscraper right next to a bungalow now, would you?

Maybe it’s just a hang up of mine but I really don’t enjoy having to squint up at someone the whole time. But that’s precisely what happened on this encounter. My date was a cute, deep-voiced Aussie guy who happened to be 6’5”. I’m 5’8” (the national average for a man, I’ll have you know) and so spent most of my time gazing towards the heavens. It got to the point where I made the poor bloke walk in the gutter so I could benefit from the elevation that the kerb provided me.

Shame really, he was a nice-ish guy. But honestly, if I had gone out with him, people would’ve thought we were a freakshow at a circus. And in case you’re feeling sorry for this chap, I forgot to mention that he called me ‘dude’ throughout the evening.

Zone 2, Frogs & ‘Exasperdating’

New Home

New Home

I’m not quite sure how this happened to me. Last weekend I moved into a new flat. Nothing particularly odd in that per se until you learn that said flat was in – shock horror! – Zone 2.

Anyone who knows me well will agree that this is really out of character. Reason being, for years I’ve been a Southbank-loving, Zone 1-only London boy. And that’s not the end of it. The catalyst for this move to the sticks? A fella. Yep, for the first time in my life I’m – gulp – co-habiting. Part of the co-habiting arrangement was saying au revoir to central London.

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

For ages I thought it’d never happen to me – you know, finding someone and having a proper grown-up relationship (I say grown-up – we bonded over Mysterious Cities of Gold and Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers). Suffice to say I was convinced I was going to be one of life’s perma-singletons. And that wasn’t for want of trying…

Back in 2012 I embarked on a dating mission. I figured it’s a numbers game and so went into override, signing up with all the big online dating sites and apps. Let’s just say it wasn’t my most successful endeavour and I kept a log of, well, my dating disasters.

French Frog

French Frog

Now that I’m (almost) in the smug married camp, I think the time has come to share my nightmarish tales and hopefully give some hope to any single people out there who are looking for ‘the one’. Trust me when I say, you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince. Who, in my case actually happened to be a frog. I had to move to France to find him.

So, here’s the first instalment of ‘Exasperdating’. Enjoy.

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Exasperdating | Micro Boy

Age: 26
Height: 5’7” (allegedly)
Build: Bit porky
Hair: Black
Eyes: Blue
Job: Something to do with government policy

I don’t do Sunday-night dates as a rule. The prospect of work the next day is bad enough, without a potential date from hell to contend with. Plus, there’s the Antiques Roadshow to consider. Don’t judge – it’s my thing. Anyhow, Micro Boy was really eager to meet up. I’d already had to cancel a couple of times, so I thought I’d break with convention and grant the poor guy a Sunday audience.

Chatting online he seemed right up my street – cute, intelligent and with a good job in White Hall. He loved the fact I was up-to-speed on current affairs and watched Question Time (apparently, finding a gay who knows the name of the Chancellor of the Exchequer as opposed to Kylie’s third album is quite a mean feat). So, everything was looking good. Until I met him…

The little liar – and do I mean little. Five foot seven? In what country? The People’s Republic of Lilliput? Seriously, I half expected him to totter over singing ‘we represent the lollipop guild’ a la the Munchkins in the Wizard of Oz. Now, I’m hardly what you’d describe as tall but I felt like the Jolly Green Giant next to him.

His deceit didn’t do him any favours. When he asked what I’d like to drink, I asked for an orange juice – the dating equivalent of poking someone in the eye. As for how I extricated myself from my hook up with Micro Boy, I told him, ‘I’m really sorry. I’ve got to go home now. To iron a shirt.’ Ouch.