She’s just a little bit odd….

Happy Mother’s Day everyone. Today I am going to repay my own Mother’s unconditional love by plastering details of my disastrous love life all over the internet – i’m sure she will be very proud.

Well, before I discuss The American, I think its only fair to give you a bit of context. You see, i’m a little bit odd (not 50 shades odd, more having all your colouring pencils in height order depending on how much they have been used, odd)

When I was seven I became fixated on the idea that I was going to be kidnapped (talk about self aggrandisement) Being something of a control freak, I had even packed a bag and had a coat on a hanger all ready to go. I still remember the coat, it was a lovely red aran jacket with silver buttons which my mother had knit, I was particularly fond of it. It was this domesticity that completely terrified my poor parents (i’m something of a stranger to being tidy).

A GP appointment was hastily made and I was soon explaining to a rather bewildered medic that, ‘no strange men had offered me any confectionary – I just had a ‘feeling’ that I was going to be kidnapped’. At this point, he should have said:

a) Mummy, have you ever heard of ASD?

b) Don’t worry about the whole kidnapping thing – she’s feeling a bit insecure because her beloved auntie has just died.

However, instead he ran with, ‘Don’t worry Mummy, she’s just a little bit odd’ – and that was that. To be fair, it was Larne circa 1980 and medicine has moved on a bit. Over the years I have embraced the oddness, even celebrated it, but the accompanying social awkwardness does make dating something of a challenge.

Returning to 2018, one evening in late summer a ‘smile’ pinged into my inbox and the American adventure began. The American in question was a Boston / Belfast based doctor and soon we were chatting away and I was able to subtract six from any number (time difference between Belfast and Boston) at lightening speed.

To be fair, a lot of the conversation was rather pompous intellectual one-upmanship – I loved it!!! His favourite book was ‘The Mismeasure of Man’ an argument against the theories put forward in ‘The Bell Curve’ (not The Bell Jar, that’s a whole other shitstorm) – not a lot of laughs and chapter four on factor theory is rather dry, but it gave us plenty to talk about.

Our first meeting was delayed by the whole ‘hot water bottle’ incident. I’m not naturally a vain person, but even I could see that trying to be alluring while bits of your face are actually falling off into your dinner is probably not a goer.

Things took a slightly racy turn when I sent him a picture of my chest! Actually, not racy in the slightest, I was querying if the cross I was wearing was a ‘bit too Borgia’ for a school Mass – The American responded with a suitably arsey comment about Borgia being preferable to Opus Dei – I was in heaven.

We eventually met up in a nice restaurant in town, I was terrified, the last ‘date’ I had been on was when I was 20 and I hadn’t a clue about what you were supposed to do. After the first five minutes where we both settled ourselves by straightening the cutlery things relaxed a bit and we had a lovely time. There was one slightly ‘odd’ moment half way through when he rubbed my arm and told me I was doing very well, in the style of a benevolent uncle or ageing clergyman (this was in response to my earlier declaration of nervousness).

Anyway – time passed, more chatting, and a decision was reached – we would spend the night together. Let’s face it, neither of us were ever going to be the ‘tumble spontaneously into bed type’. I think Tim Collins had probably made less elaborate preparations for his invasion Northern Iraq that I had for that evening.

There were endless consultations with The Bolter regarding clothing and grooming. We went with JAANB (jeans and a nice blouse), to continue the ‘keen but not desperate’ narrative set by my knickers. Mr Bolter (a gifted administrator and mathematician) thoughtfully sent a post coital self evaluation pro forma – no pressure then! To say I was nervous was an understatement ( it had been exactly six years to the day since I last got up to anything like this).

At this point, if you were watching a movie of my life (I would be played by Janette Krankie, Sandi Toksvig or possibly Susan Calman), the camera would discretely cut away you would be treated to suitably unsubtle images of rockets and fountains while Souza’s Liberty Bell plays loudly. So lets just imagine that, shall we. Suffice it to say, fun was had.

Unfortunately, there was soon to be trouble in paradise. Now, i’d always known that his politics were conservative, and that some of his views were a bit tricky (but it had been SIX YEARS). However, what happened next, I was not expecting……

Late one evening, I observed breathlessly, ‘Gosh, wasn’t that lovely!’ (told you, odd) and then in a jokey fashion, ‘Thank God you’re not a Trump voter.’

What followed was THE WORLD’S MOST AWKWARD SILENCE. Dear Reader, what was a girl to do?

There was no other option, I put my knickers on and went home !

My excursion into Irish / American co-operation had reached an abrupt end.

Next week – how I nearly met up with a Scottish psychiatrist on Boxing Day.

ps: Still waiting to hear from the Lovely Levison – if some of you could get on to that, i’d really appreciate it.

And then there were sausage rolls…..

It’s been a lovely week – spring has definitely sprung! During the week MC passed an interview which takes her a big step closer to his chosen career and I was away on a fieldtrip. It was great, I got to spend two days fannying about in the Mournes measuring ‘stuff’ in rivers and the sea. It was made even better by the fact that the students we had with us were fabulous.

My romantic history was summarised very succinctly a few years ago by EC, ‘ Face it Mummy, first there was Conall (first boyfriend age 17 -20), then there was Daddy (age 20 -39) and then there were sausage rolls (age 39 to present)’

I had thought by now that I would have been married to Dick Strawbridge or Levison Wood ( I definitely have a type). However, in the interim Dick got married putting him out of contention. The last I heard (i.e. Googled) the Lovely Lev is still on the market – so if anyone has his number, do pass on my details. I think we would be perfect for each other.

Given that my social life revolves around knitting, Mass and solitary walks with Judgmental Yorkie chances for romance are thin on the ground.

JY looking wistful on the Holywood coastal path yesterday.

In addition my limited efforts in flirting in person were not hugely successful either. I did meet a lovely author one night at an event with Mother (see, out with my Mother – the glamour!) who I fancied the knickers off. However too much gin nervous gin drinking led me to discussing ‘times past’ and that put paid to that. I did order his books off Amazon and mooned over his tiny picture like I used to with ‘The Edge’ in the Jackie in the 1980’s – but eventually I wised up.

Having bored all my friends with my lamenting and keening I accepted their pleading to ‘get online’. Several had them had tried this and had a great combination of horror stories and happy endings. The one common thread was that within seconds of logging on I would be ‘inundated’ with smiles / winks and offers.

I did my research, checked my bank balance (true love doesn’t come cheap) and elected to definitely NOT pick anything which would involve a swipe!

The next stage of this epic was filling in the questionnaire. Holy God, getting my degree was less stressful.

I decided honesty was the best policy. As a result I launched myself into cyberspace as:

a) ‘Malcom Tucker meets Jean Brodie’

b) Radio 4 fan

c) Witty & Intelligent

d) Requires well read man who understands nuance and looks good in Gortex.

Now how hard should that have been? I also added hillwalking – everybody says hillwalking but in my case it is actually true. Mind you, given the number of people who write it, the hills should be littered with eligible men. The two days I spent in the Mournes this week should have been like shooting desirable, attractive fish in a barrel. Alas this was not the case and there was a definite scarcity of opportunities.


I added my picture and sat back and waited for the offers to roll in, and waited and waited and waited…..

Cue stock pictures of tumbleweed, calendar pages ripping off and swirling newspapers with appropriate seasonal references.

It seems that Radio 4 listeners who enjoy hillwalking, fibre arts and intellectual snobbery are not as readily available as the saucy tales of my friends would have suggested.

However, one day in late summer a ‘smile’ landed in my in box and my American adventure began……