Saturday 12 April 2008

Can opposites attract?

13st 11lb, surprisingly, despite 9.0 units of alcohol yesterday; 1,392; The Wirral.

I could not sleep last night, lying awake till around three then waking again at six, when my brain regrettably turned itself on. So I began thinking about the letter I need to write to the perhaps ever so slightly eccentric young lady who kindly applied over a week ago for the vacant position of wife/girlfriend/carer which has been advertised on my other website for some four years, and which should really be in line for some sort of industry award for advertising ineffectiveness.

As I lay there, I felt an unusually powerful urge to have the soft, warm body of a woman beside me. Now, as it happened, I already had a soft, warm body in that position, but it was the hairy one of a Border terrier overdue to have its coat stripped. The urge continued to make itself felt, and then to my surprise something quite remarkable happened. Like an ancient steam engine, finally coaxed back to life after years of loving restoration by the late Fred Dibnah, the old Patent Lady Pleasurer suddenly lurched back into action, to the accompaniment of much grinding of rusted cogs and the hiss of steam escaping through worn-out joints. I half expected a whistle to go off, but luckily it did not happen.

The dog gave me a funny look and moved with unusual speed to the furthest corner of the bed, where it lay looking at me uneasily. As for me, I was so amazed that I leapt up and ran downstairs to find my camera, so that I could capture a digital image of the phenomenon in case it never happened again. I now know how the man must feel who took the last picture of a Yangtse dolphin: proud, yet sad at the same time.

It’s a shame that they did not invent digital photography a decade or two earlier, or I’d have a whole library of interesting pictures to console me in the old age I don’t expect to have, or at least to make the old ladies in the day room squeal when I passed them around. I did occasionally persuade the odd young lady to indulge me in my feigned interest in photography, but the quality of Polaroids is poor and they are inclined to fade. I could never face taking unconventional photographs on conventional film into Boots to be developed, particularly as they always used to open the envelope at the counter and show you the pictures to make sure that you were getting the right film back.

Though of course that small sorrow is nothing to my intense regret that I am no longer in a more of less permanent state of sexual arousal, of the sort which prevailed between the ages of about 14 to 24 (a period, ironically, when I was of about as much interest to females as a Vintage Diesel Day on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway). Even ten years after that, I could only risk taking secretaries out to pubs or wine bars with good, old, solid, cast iron Victorian tables, as there was every chance that I would knock over a more flimsy one in my excitement if they showed the slightest chance of responding positively to my flirtation. Now it’s a recordable special event that almost merits a commentary from Sir David Attenborough.

I got up soon after this, even though it was still early and I was completely exhausted, and settled down to write to my alleged admirer. First I drew up a comprehensive table analyzing our compatibility, and bending over backwards to be positive. Even so, I could not get to a score of more than 34%, given that she claims to be 35 (absolutely perfect on that old Victorian formula of half my age plus eight, but in practice perhaps a little on the young side); 5’ 10” (so we’d look like Nicolas and Carla, unless she too binned all her high heels); “curvaceous” (which is one of those words that always sets off alarm bells in my head when spotted in the small ads, rather like “bubbly”); a vegetarian (oh dear); and a party-lover (I’ve always been with Mr Woodhouse on that one). Oh, and she lives 200-odd miles away in Cheshire, and it takes me the best part of a week of mental preparation to work up the energy to drive the 40 miles to Newcastle. In fact, all we appear to have in common is that we both like a drink, on which basis I might as well go and pick up one of those bag ladies you occasionally see wandering around, swigging from a two litre bottle of White Lightning cider. On the other hand, by the time I’ve finished the covering letter I’m definitely on the brink of falling in love with her, and planning our wedding and the names of our first-born. I do hope I haven’t put her off, I think shortly after I have pressed the “send” button.

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