I was working at the time for a magazine and was sent, at the last minute, to Hastings. Lay aside for a second your questions about why the magazine sent me to Hastings, still more why I left a job which displaced me to East Sussex on a whim. For the purposes of this post, all you need to know is that I hadn’t found anyone to come with me.
Now, I’ve never been scared of my own company. Stick me in a room by myself with only a roll of string and a shoebox for company, and I’m quite sure I could keep myself entertained. What Hastings taught me, however, is that there’s a fine line between ‘essential “me time”‘ and ‘soul-crushing cosmic loneliness terminating only when you die alone and are found mauled by Alsatians in the style of Bridget Jones’. And nothing tips you into category B faster than a romantic mini-break by yourself.
I spent two days and two nights following what was, in effect, a couples’ itinerary. I wandered down the beach. I ate at restaurants. I pottered, I perused, I pubbed. I slept in two different plush and cosy double-bedded B&Bs. Were I a couple, these activities would have been unexceptionable at worst, and a torrid sexual opportunity at best. For a single person, they were unspeakably cruel; gleeful forms of torture enacted by a gloating god.
The restaurants might as well have been motorway service stations. The plush beds might as well have been made from nails. The absence of a Significant Other had rarely, in the past, struck me as all that significant, but right now the significance of an Other was such that fresh air slipped into second place.
It was from this position of casual non-desperation that I signed up to OkCupid, and seven months later, here I am to tell the tale.
Many tales in fact. All identities will be protected. By which I mean, twisted and corroded beyond belief. Caveat – anything you read from here on in may or may not be true.