An Ode to Oxford

Apparently an ode is supposed to be a poem but I am afraid this will be no such thing. Sorry to disappoint but I wanted a somewhat catchy title.

This weeks dating bender has gone infinitely better than the last one. I haven’t cried once, I haven’t actually had any sort of negative feelings really. Perhaps it was well timed with me reading Ruby Wax’s incredible books about mindfulness and controlling our emotions?

Sunday started with a bit of an almost public transport disaster. I saw almost because in hindsight nothing was really that bad. I got the bus to Paddington but it was taking to long so I hopped onto the tube and we got stuck at red signals but I did still make it to the station on time! Perhaps now is a good time to say I was travelling to Paddington because my third and final date for the week was in Oxford!

I arrive at the station and Oh Horror, the train is cancelled. No worried there’s another one in ten minutes that goes straight to Oxford. *heads to train* Oh dear they’ve changed the service and it doesn’t go Oxford anymore. *heads to McDonalds* I do eventually find a route to get their and I only arrive 15 minutes late.

My date is really nice! Very handsome but kinda cute at the same time and we got on well I think. Easy to talk to and all that jazz. We started with a few drinks then as I’d never been to Oxford before he showed me around a few places. We visited some colleges where I felt more stupid than I have ever felt in my life (owing to all the posh boys around) and I got to see some places where they filmed Harry Potter which I loved! That was the highlight for me.

Then he lured me back to his place for another drink…you can see where this is going. But we didn’t have sex I am pleased to say. Just a little light fondling…

Again I am almost disappointed that I didn’t have a heart attack on the tube because i don’t have much to write about. We haven’t spoken much since so clearly the sparkler is sat in a bucket of water in the garden.

I’m still talking to date number two and there’s a few complications with two other guys that I may get round to writing about sometime. For now I am a single Pringle and ready to min…ready to eat Pringles. *goes to shop*

Bachelor Number Two: Take Two

So the first date went well but wasn’t meant to be. I listened to a few soppy songs on the way to the bus then thought ‘fuck it’ and started singing Hamilton whilst wandering through the City. One down, two to go!

My next date lived in Brighton but would be in London for work a few days so we decided to grab a drink one evening before he took the train home. He was better looking in person I thought and surprisingly the balding didn’t put me off! Great teeth.

Every now and then the conversation hit a lull but I will take responsibility for that as I am not the most confident when it comes to striking up conversation with new folks, especially dates. But throughout the night we found some really good common interests to talk about!

We could be a bit nerdy about Warhammer and talk about new tech and it was really nice that we had things in common to talk about instead of all the usual first date…how many siblings do you have? Where are you from? Although we did do that too. Turns out he went to Eton as well, a posh boy if ever there was one! But he absolutely didn’t come across as a nob so that’s always good!

I’m finding that dates that go well are harder to write about. Tragedy it seems makes for good reading not a few lines of oh it went well. Date number three is tonight so I’ll shortly be heading out to Oxford. Wish me luck!

Glastonbury

Last week I had the absolutely amazing pleasure of being at Glastonbury Festival. For one week you can forget about bills and flat hunting and just enjoy being out in the country doing whatever you want. Where else in the world can you enjoy a conversation about shoving tampons up your nose with a stranger in the queue for the most disgusting toilets ever created?

I’m going to sound like a typical whiny millennial for a while here but the freedom that comes with being at a festival for a week is the best thing. The daily grind of work and university back in London is some days unbearable and although I love being in the big city and I love my job it is so nice to get away and be free.

And it isn’t just about being in a place where there are A-list acts around every corner. My favourite days in the festival where the ones spent watching speakers talk about nuclear power or evolution or how climate change can affect human health. I was learning so much last week that I started talking notes!

So now when my lecturer complains about me missing one lesson that was a repeat of something I’ve already done anyway I can tell her I was at a very important lecture about sustainability within the NHS…followed by a Clean Bandit concert of course.

It isn’t even just about the freedom and the immense number of activities to do. Whilst I was there I met someone who was asking if there were any gay places to hang out. They only exist in reality because they were a safe haven for people but at Glastonbury there was no such need for a safe haven because equality permeated the site. Gays and straights drank tea in harmony and the lay people rubbed shoulders with the stars and we all managed to not get muddy together! (Thank you weather god for blessing us with sunshine)

I long for the day when my life and life around me feels just a little bit more like a festival. I want to wake up every day being excited and not quite knowing what I’ll learn or what to expect. I want to be able to talk to anyone, anywhere and not be met with a look of horror because talking on the tube isn’t the done thing. I want to walk down the street and find The Jacksons playing on a stage in the park….okay the last one I can do without.

But is it so bad that people want these freedoms? Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t but that may be a post for another day. For now it’s back to the daily grind. (But not the daily grindr, 27 days without!)

Until next time Glastonbury, Adios!

One Week Later

So it has officially been one week since I deleted Grindr and I haven’t yet felt any desire to cave. I started thinking more about that book I’d read about dating. I agreed with 99% of what was written but there was one thing, one huge statement that I have fought against ever since he first said it to me months ago.

He suggested that if someone wanted a boyfriend that much that they would have one. But that statement, whilst it may technically be true, doesn’t account for the people in the relationship actually wanting to be in it. I don’t deny it if I wanted a boyfriend enough, which I do, I could settle for someone who I don’t find attractive and who I have no connection to at all but that’s no way to live.

Yeah I would love to have a boyfriend but I want someone to love me and I want someone who I can love in return. That’s not too much to ask from a relationship I don’t think. The problem with trying to find someone who will stick around is that there is too much choice available. Sex as a Service has started to ruin our chances to find ‘true love’. Sure that might not exist and I’m glad to say I’m starting to realise Prince Charming isn’t going to fireman lift me to our wedding five minutes after we meet. But even getting the chance to date people is getting harder.

The last time I dated someone I wrote a post about it but I left out a crucial bit of information that I gleamed from our final conversation together. I’ll be honest he didn’t put it in so many worse but very heavily implied that if I’d have slept with him on the first date there probably wouldn’t have been a second. Is that all it was, a game to get laid?

People want to have sex, men and women, and as gay men have Grindr to find a man a couple of metres away who is waiting with his pants down, they don’t need to go through the effort of dating. I’ll take ‘Flynn’s’ word for it that maybe he was starting to have feelings for me but that’s only because I forced his hand and for some reason he stuck around once I’d refused sex. But he was still sleeping with other people, which is fine we weren’t any where near exclusive, it just shows how easy it is to come by.

I’m quite proud I’ve made it a week without re-downloading Grindr, which is crazy I know…one whole week. But if I stick to it, it’s the start of something good for me. It just means I need to find a new way to meet a man. I do want a boyfriend and I want one who is at least half decent! But where the hell am I supposed to look?

SaaS

In computing Software as a Service is a delivery model that is sometimes referred to as ‘on demand software’. Being a man who likes to indulge his nerdy side and being a raging homosexual I thought I’d borrow this acronym and apply it to life in the city looking for love. Keep with me and this will come up later I promise. 

A few months ago a friend of mine (the first man from my dating bender) asked if I would proofread a book he was writing and give him some feedback on it. I can’t say my feedback was very good but that’s because I honestly loved (nearly) every word of it. It was a book about finding happiness amongst the modern day hookup culture and it was aptly named Grindr Survivr. The book was enlightening and so educational that I deleted Grindr immediately! For a short while… 

I’ll admit to being a dick to my fair share of people online and I’ve been on the receiving end of idiots on apps like Grindr. Even after dating guys who leave me in tears I go back to it ready to try again and I never learn. It feels silly silly saying that an app like Grindr is addictive but anyone who had or has it will know that it really is. Because it offers sex…as a service. See what I did there?

Call me crazy and tell me I’m not doing it right but I honestly don’t even believe sex is that great. Sure it feels good and you get to orgasm but is it really worth it? Clearly it is because I rarely go more than a few weeks at a time without satisfying my desires with someone who isn’t my hand. But every time, afterwards I’m left thinking….meh. 

Sex is so much better when intimacy is involved, when feelings are involved. Sex with someone you love, now that is worth it. But the fact that services like Grindr make sex so easy to come by have ruined the chance to connect with people without caving in to our base instincts. 

For a while now I’ve been talking to guy whom I met on Grindr, we swapped numbers and chatted but it took weeks to finally arrange a meeting, then we saw each other 4 times within a week. It took till the fourth visit for anything romantic to happen between us. It had gotten to the point where I was thinking okay this guy obviously just wants to be friends. Which I was completely okay with, in fact I thought it was great! This meant Grindr wasn’t just for hookups, actual relationships and friendships could spring from it. 

Then of course we spent a day binging Will & Grace, as you do, and he stayed the night. We didn’t have sex, neither of us even ‘finished’ but there was plenty of making out so our intentions couldn’t be mistaken. He was a good kisser too, such a shame. 

This past week we’ve barely spoken. Before, we text every day and replies were swift and conversation meaningful. No such luck this week. I’m not upset, I’m not angry. Actually I’m just shocked that after a month of effort and going to concerts and talking, that one night in bed where we didn’t even sleep together is enough to end the relationship. I’ve not just lost a potential love interest but I’ve lost a friend. 

Fuck you SaaS. You’re being deleted again. For good this time. (That’s a lie). 

Let’s see how long I can keep it up for, I reckon a week tops.

Pray for me. 

#GrindrSurvivr

A Powerful Magic

I found myself crying on a train again the other day. Not uncommon for me but it had been quite a few weeks since I had shed a tear and I was starting to become rather proud of myself. What made me cry I have known for a long time I just needed to apply it to a situation with a friend and hope I can move the F on!

I wrote a short while ago about a guy I knew whom I called ‘York’. After the whole debacle at Christmas I was sure that my feelings for him had been thoroughly shed…through my eyes of course. But the first time we aw each other after Christmas I knew that wasn’t quite the case. We had gone to see a show, a regular occurrence for the two of us, and there was a slight air of awkwardness between us. If we accidentally touched he’d be quick to apologise and I couldn’t look at him without wanting to dive into his arms.

Alas time moved on and slowly my feelings and the awkwardness subsided. London can be a pretty lonely place so I was more than grateful to have him as a friend, I couldn’t screw that up. Anyway a few weeks ago we went to an open mic night at the Phoenix, which was amazing, and as it was late and the trains had stopped running he offered to let me stop at his.

I, of course, accepted so I didn’t have to pay for an extortionate taxi home and I coincidentally happened to have everything I needed on me to get up and head straight to work in the morning. He’d had a good serving of wine but I knew it wasn’t quite enough for any funny business. Which was a good thing! I didn’t even like his adorable little face anymore. Dammit.

Naturally we had a bit of a cuddle but it really was minor spooning and I was very responsible and pushed him away..after a while. Okay so maybe I did still have a few feelings but I could deal with it! And actually that’s not when I cried so I did handle it pretty well for once.

The following Thursday rolled around and he text me telling me where to meet. I think he was joking but I was like a night out and potential drunk cuddling with a guy whose seeing someone else, what could be better?! (I’m an idiot I know) So I threw on some half decent clothes and spent the night out with him again. We ended up in Heaven, pretty intoxicated and dancing together. Not full on sex dancing but i made sure to get a few touches in where I could.

And we met these guys in the club and one of them read me like an open book and so I went off to have a little heart to heart about my one true love and our tragic story. That’s when I started to realise…I was in love with the story.

After we got back to his flat we spooned and slept most of the night in each others arms, I even managed to steal a few kisses. And in the morning like clockwork we did the whole oh no we had ‘a hug’ in the night oops. Let’s not do that again. It wasn’t even there that I cried! Crazy I know.

Having those little kisses sealed the deal for me. How could I ever like someone who’d hurt me so much. It wasn’t intentional hurt, I’m not resentful to him at all but I still cried…a lot. I was heartbroken and hearts aren’t so easily put back together.

But the romance of it all, our heavenly first date and then our distance for a while. Then my move to London where he worked, we could reconnect and fall back in love and I would get everything I ever wanted and a happily ever after. But I didn’t…I got 40% on my first assignment and a man who was taken.
No worries, I could get rid of the other guy and our story would just have one more twist. But love is the most powerful magic of all and our love could prevail! He was my Prince Charming. We were meant to be together.

Writing it down has made be realise even more how deluded I sound. Someone send help?

I don’t think I cried on the train home that night because I still loved him. I cried because for a brief moment I knew that life wasn’t fairy tales and happily ever after. Perhaps since December I’ve been working through the five stages of grief at losing my Mr Right. Perhaps those tears where the acceptance that it was over and I had to finally move on.

I might not have moved on just yet, if we have a few too many glasses and start talking about how we met and our kids names maybe I’ll want to start looking for a ring. But I know that I won’t, I’ll leave him and his partner to that and I’ll find someone else who deserves my hand.

Right Place. Wrong Time. 

What feels like a lifetime ago, I met a man in ‘York’ (I’ve changed the names and places for anonymity). One of my closest friends was studying in the city and so me and another friend (yes I have several) would take the motorway down to spend a few days in the city of…nope I got nothing. Since our last trip I had become proficient at Grindr and had no hesitation whipping it out and chatting to some southern beaus. One particular chest caught my eye more than the others and we started chatting, the chest had a face! And it was a nice one to, a lovely chap who, upon hearing of my approaching departure date, was as keen to meet as I was.

So I explained all to my friends and said that, for the morning, I would be ditching them but they were thrilled at how fast I’d managed to arrange a date. So I headed off to meet my new man and we had a little chat over a hot chocolate and proceeded to take a little tour around a few parks and the waterfront. We’ve already established my heart is way out on my sleeve so naturally I began planning my future with this fine gentleman as we meandered through the city. But the morning flew by and before I knew it, it was time to say goodbye and return to my friends.

But after a few texts we both agreed to make the most of our time together and after lunch with my girls, I headed back out to a new park, date number two on the same day! In hindsight, when I got home, it was a bit of a stupid idea to go on a date. Especially because it had turned out so well! I really felt like I could like this guy and yet I had to head home to waste away in the heart of Lancashire whilst he galavanted around London and …York (London was his work home).

So we carried on texting for a while but of course, given the distance, things just fizzled out. There was one occasion when he text me asking “why did we stop talking?” I was quick to remind him that he had never replied to one of my texts. So I ‘moved on’, fell for a few other men from the North and never got anywhere with any of them. And then I received an offer for university in London! My dreams were coming true, I could be a young runagay heading to the bright lights of the city. Living near the bright lights turned out to be a flat in Lewisham but it could’ve been worse.

This is relevant I promise, remember York (I’ll just call him that from now on) was in London Monday to Friday for work. This was it, I was going to go to uni, see every show on the west end and I was going to reconnect with Prince Charming. My Disney tale was finally happening. So over the summer I got back in touch, just casually, to bring up that I’d be moving down and at the end of the summer, after an open day, we decided to meet up in the park. Having not seen each other for the best part of a year and having ended our last meeting with a make out session outside my friends house, this had the potential to be somewhat awkward. But we shared a hug and spent the evening on primrose hill catching up. There was definitely something there between us I knew it.

So me and my flatmate made the move and I made sure to keep up the effort in getting to know York, we’d go for lunch or to dinner and he always paid. That was a sign right? Then there was a drunk call. Having never made one myself I had to read into this only what I had seen from my friends. If they ever drunk dialled, it was to a potential date or an ex. This was just what I needed, this was almost confirmation of our feelings for each other. So, close to my birthday I took the plunge and asked York out on a date.

“Awww Rob” – I hated it when he did that, he was so cute. But he’d started seeing someone else in ‘York’, how sweet. I was happy for him. No honestly I was! I’d given it a shot and he wasn’t available, I handled the situation very well. No tears, no drama and it meant I still had a great friend in London, which were in short supply.

Then birthday week came and he took me out to the theatre and for dinner and a few little drinks afterwards and I was thinking the whole night ‘god I just want to kiss you.’ He was too nice and that was making it very hard to move on! Then came my ‘three dates in three days’ fiasco and he was being so protective and I had a hard time believing that this was just coming from a place of friendship, we barely knew each other after all.

Then the following week he suggested we go out ‘dancing’ which in this case meant getting drunk and slut dropping in G-A-Y. Not what I would call dancing but there you go. Being fully aware of my feelings I decided to take it slow with the alcohol, as soon as I start sobering up I can get pretty emotional and I didn’t need that tonight. So we danced and had a great night and that’s the end of that.

I wish. It was a busy night at the club and as we moved around we’d hold hands so as to not lose each other, perfectly innocent stuff, I’d do that with any of my friends. Then when we decided to leave, holding hands so we made it out together, and we started to head down oxford street praying for a 24 hour McDonald’s. York was hungry. Oh but wait, why am I beaming like an idiot…oh right we’re still holding hands and McDonald’s is closed and we’re heading back to his. God help me.

I’ll spare all the gory details, mostly because there aren’t any, I’m very proud of myself that I rejected his advances that night. Of course I couldn’t turn down a cuddle and we had some really great conversation as we lay together. But dawn arrived too quickly and my perfect night had come to an end. Going out the night before a day in university is never a great idea, getting half an hours sleep and being an hour away from home is even worse. So I dragged myself out of bed as he muttered his apologies and why this could never happen again.

The first train of the day, back home, went rather smoothly. I didn’t have time to be upset, I needed to get home, get dressed and get back on the train. So I did the speediest change of my life, grabbed my uniform and headed back out. I’m not going to lie, I’m not entirely sure what I learnt that day, I was so incredibly tired I was just concentrating on keeping my eyes open. At last the day rolled to a close and I found myself on the train back home. With the pressure of university gone and a free weekend ahead of me, my brain turned to the events of the previous night. And I cried. On a train. That’s right, I was in floods of tears from London Bridge all the way to Hither Green. What a fool.

Unfortunately I spent the next week crying and feeling like a 12 year old again. But a few months down the line I am happy to say we are still great friends and I wouldn’t change anything about that night. The first few times I saw York after that brought back the tears but we’ve reached a happy place. And I am so happy he is enjoying his time with his fella whilst I sit inside writing…