“Don’t you think there’s something a bit psychotic animal about the eyes?”
Friend and I are looking at the profile photographs for my next date, and I can’t disagree. I also can’t disagree when she says we appear to have absolutely nothing in common.
Prove to me that if we both like chess and Thai cooking we’ll live happily ever after, and I’ll sign up to date only those men who like eating salty popcorn in bed with a bottle of Merlot.
We lean in closer.
“And look at the shoulders – a bit Twickenham fly half for you, no?”
What she’s saying, of course, is that Dave is unlikely to be in touch with his feminine side, but right now that suits me just fine. Lately I’ve had my fill of sensitive and thoughtful men in their 50s who say they’re easy-going and like to keep trim. Trim? I never want to meet a man who would describe himself as ‘trim’: it’s about as sexually enticing as those beige walking trousers which you detach at the knee to create shorts.
“Well, it’s a done deal now. We’re meeting at 8pm.”
Waiting for me at the bar, there he is: tall, tanned and broad. And as we kiss cheeks, there’s the graze of a man having lived the day. He follows me outside with a bottle of Viognier and I’m smiling: he’s taking me in and he’s not disappointed. He’s by no means ‘trim’, and not my preferred physical type, but I’ve already imagined his thick fingers pulling down my jeans and his beastly frame crushing me.
“Have you always lived in North London?”
“I had a great flat in Hampstead but I sold it.”
“Why do you think?”
“Erm…I really don’t know.”
“Oh, come on!”
“The Jews?” Oh dear God. “Seriously?”
Our cosy corner table is ready.
The waiter is an overly familiar Asian man with New Romantic burgundy hair and it’s clear Dave doesn’t appreciate the demeanour.
“I bet he walks down the road holding hands with his boyfriend.”
“Can’t stand it…flaunting it.”
“Well, we could walk down the road holding hands – what’s the big deal?”
“We wouldn’t be an aberration.”
Okay, so the starters haven’t even arrived and we’ve done for Jews and Homosexuals. I’ve made it clear I don’t feel the way he does and ask him why he’s on a left-of-centre date site.
“I like talking with people of all political persuasions.”
And it’s obvious he does… without fear or inhibition.
“But surely talking with someone in the lift or on a train is not the same as dating and hoping for an intimate relationship.”
It’s only then I wake up to the discordancy of the tweed jacket and tightly cropped hair. A compulsion both to leave and stay cancel each other out, and I sit there as if little else could be done.
Over duck breasts, Dave goes on to have it in for Blacks and Arabs. He’s an unstoppable force. Why am I even still here, both compelled and repelled? The more he says, the more I despise him, and yet I flash to him arching over me in an anonymous hotel bed, feeling the graze of him where he could make me sore.
“You vote UKIP then, I suppose.”
Dave glances from his glass to my face and exhales like it could almost be a laugh. “No way. I’m BNP.”
A swell of shame climbs my neck. I’m on a date with the BNP. I’m all but in bed with him.
Fuck – I’m Unity Mitford! My bien pensant liberal friends will tar and feather me in their landscaped gardens!
He raises a hand to order more wine, says it’s good wine and finishes his glass. (I’ll tell them I didn’t flounce out because I wanted the story – which would be true – but I won’t tell them I wanted to make sense of how it’s possible to want sex with a man who espouses an abhorrent view of the human race.)
Finally I can’t contain it: “You’re a scary man, Dave.”
He’s taken aback, dumbstruck even. “Why do you say that? No one’s ever said that to me.”
Of course they haven’t – they’d have been too bloody scared.
“Well, you’re 6’ 4”, built like that proverbial building, and embrace the most right wing views I’ve ever encountered.”
The evening ends because the wine runs out.
On the bus home I text and thank him for dinner. His reply surprises me:
“I really fancied you till you said I was scary.”
“Well, you couldn’t have fancied me that much, then.”
“It’ll be better next time.”
Climbing into bed, I dig deep: could I? Could I fuck a man with those beliefs? If he hadn’t told me, I’d likely have fancied a bit of heavy duty fly half. Sometimes a psychotic animal is just what a woman wants in bed – whether she’ll admit it to herself, or not.
“There won’t be a next time, I’m afraid. You’re way too right wing for me.”
Next morning there’s an email – subject heading Closing thoughts:
“We will never give in – never give up – and never surrender the world’s finest country. X”
And beneath, he has cut and pasted a table of the percentage of British white population in all the counties of the UK.
“You’d meet better blokes in Pentonville, for Christ’s sake.”
Friend’s husband often walks past my flat on the way home from work. He helps squash my rubbish into the dustbin. He laughs as I tell him the story. I like his laugh and the way he leans on my railings.
“Perhaps you should come off the date site.”
He gives me a smiling, sympathy hug and heads off home.
No way. Never surrender.