My life has been a series of poor decisions.
Most recently was my decision to become a weekend van driver. And not just any van driver. Oh no. A van driver entrusted with the task of transporting FIFTEEN DOGS TO AND FROM A DAYCARE CENTRE.
My trial day was a nightmare.
Sensing my nerves, the dogs were horrendously behaved from start to finish.
Having spent the entire journey barking and humping on the back seat, they then proceeded to CLIMB INTO THE FRONT WITH ME at the traffic lights; panting in my face, chewing the gearstick and putting their feet up on the dashboard. The only well behaved member of the party was a sweet, old Westie, who curled up quietly on my lap before proceeding to lay a steaming shit down my leg.
Needless to say, I did not return.
HOWEVER, by far my most catastrophic decision of the year was applying to go on a daytime dating/cookery programme.
For those that do not know, this resulted in me face planting into a raw chicken on national television, before being put to bed by the film crew with a cold flannel.
I WAS RATHER BAFFLED, THEREFORE, to receive a call from from the production company last month inviting me back on the show.
Having provided them with such comedy gold in the last episode, they were now offering me the coveted role of the ‘picker’. This involved simply going on three blind dates, having three dinners cooked for me and picking the winner at the end.
Restless, jobless and mentally unstable, I found myself agreeing.
‘This will be easy!’ I thought. ‘All I have to do is go on the dates, eat the food and have a nice time. I can’t possibly fuck this one up’.
OH, HOW WRONG I WAS.
Date Number One- Pete*
Most girls would be prepared for this day. They would spend WEEKS preparing themselves.
I had envisioned myself undergoing a complete transformation: hair freshly highlighted, nails manicured, sexy outfits chosen and half a stone lost through a rigorous cabbage soup diet.
Unfortunately, things did not quite go to plan.
I have resurrected this morning looking like a hungover gargoyle.
This includes grown-out hair ( even managing to form a DREAD-LOCK at the back, which I have resorted to cutting out with a pair of kitchen scissors, leaving a small, chilly bald patch), a black fingernail which I drunkenly trapped in a toilet door last weekend, 10 pounds of extra weight gained (morphing into 3 extra chins, like Desperate Dan) and not a single outfit to wear.
‘HELP ME!’ I sobbed down the phone to my friend Rowena. ‘I have nothing to wear. NOTHING. I am morbidly obese. Every dress I try on makes me look like Dame Edna’.
‘What you need’ advised Rowena ‘is those sucky-in pant things. You know, the big, granny elasticated ones. They knock inches off’.
Transfixed by the vision of my 4 chinned head balancing on the svelte body of Kate Moss , I bought myself a very skimpy, tight playsuit from Topshop before heading to M&S.
Ignoring the gangs of young, pretty girls pondering over lacy pants with their boyfriends, I doggedly followed the stream of elderly women to the ‘corrective underwear’ section.
I surveyed the garments in horror. God, they were TERRIFYING. Like some medieval method of torture.
Also what size does one go for? The size one actually is (12) or the size one would ideally like to become after putting them on?! (4-6).
Eventually, I settle on a sturdy looking lycra number, complete with little elasticated legs that extend over the thighs. A bit like an adult babygro, without the arms.
Excitedly, I dash home to get ready.
Problem. Hideous, HIDEOUS problem.
The legs of the giant pants… extend BEYOND THE LEGS OF THE PLAYSUIT.
Letting out a strangled scream, I fish out a pair of scissors and begin manically hacking away at them.
This, it transpires, is a grave error.
Once cut, both knicker legs lose elasticity and ROLL UPWARDS, like a pair of unruly condoms, forming two small sausage rings at the top of my thighs.
In the taxi.
Dolled up to the nines, I have abandoned the pants and decided to embrace my fat rolls, like a cross-dressing Michelin Man.
Time to meet the love of my life! HA HA HA.
We’ve nearly reached the destination when I receive a call from the director.
‘Gabrielle, I’m so sorry but there’s been a bit of an emergency at your date’s house’ she explains ‘Could you get the taxi to drop you off in a bar and we’ll come and collect you?’
Oh no. Oh sweet Jesus no.
‘Just the one wine, Gabrielle’ I tell myself sternly, as I climb out of the taxi. ‘There will be plenty of time to drink tonight. Just one little glass of red to see you on your way’.
PHWOOAR the blurry red wine is blurry fantastic, innit?!! WHEEY. Hot diggity damn. Top notch beverage.
I don’t know where the arsing film crew have got to but I am beyond caring.
I have befriended a lovely, LOVELY bartender called Greg, who finds my situation hilarious and has been plying me with free tequila shots all night. He’s rather tall with a long, bushy beard; an irresistible cross between Gandalf and Mr Twit. Mmmm.
I am just on the verge of inviting Greg back to my flat for a game of twister and some ‘hot tea’, when my director pulls up.
‘I’m so so sorry about the delay. It’s inexcusable’ she pants. ‘The thing is, one of our cameras broke and then- Christ, are you alright?’
She stares at me in horror, as I sway precariously on the pavement.
‘Hmm? Oh yes. Absolutely dandy’ I slur, trying desperately to focus on one of her six revolving heads.
I flash what I hope is a sober smile, looking more like a stoned Cheshire Cat, before climbing into the car.
Nearly 3 hours behind schedule, absolutely trollied and reeking of tequila, I finally knock on the door or my date’s house.
The cameras start rolling.
‘HELLO!!’ I beam, clutching the doorframe for support.
Well. He does not look pleased to see me. Quite the opposite in fact. For a second I wonder whether I have been brought to the right house
I’m met by a tall, thin man, dressed in tight black trousers, a black polo neck sweater and a black bowler hat. I feel like he’s going to spontaneously burst into a mime routine.
Introducing himself as Pete, he eyes me suspiciously before hastily ushering me inside, as if worried that I’m about to take a shit on his doorstep and carve my name in it.
‘This is lovely!’ I enthuse, as we walk through to the dining room- two plastic garden chairs and a garden table with a curtain thrown over it. Hideous.
We sit in silence on the sofa.
Pete does not offer to take my coat or offer me anything to drink. Luckily, I have an emergency bottle of white wine in my handbag, which I pour us two glasses of.
‘Cheers! Here’s to us’ I beam at him. He stares stonily back.
Thankfully, we are then separated to film our ‘first impressions’ for the camera.
‘Well, he’s not my usual type but I’m really looking forward to getting to know him’ I enthuse, deciding to give him the benefit of the doubt ‘I can’t wait to see what the night has in store’.
Poor Pete, I muse as I’m sent upstairs to wait. Perhaps he’s just shy and not used to having female company. The poor man is clearly so dazzled by my sparkling wit and good looks that he can barely speak!
Clutching my glass, I creep out to listen at the top of the stairs.
‘WELL, IT’S SAFE TO SAY THAT I’M NOT ATTRACTED TO HER IN THE SLIGHTEST’ I hear him loudly declare.
I splutter quietly into my wine.
‘She seems very… ‘jolly’ but frankly there’s no spark there. Quite the opposite in fact’.
No spark? No spark?!!!! YOU’RE TELLING ME, LOVE! Christ, getting conversation out of you was like getting blood out of a fucking turnip!
‘And I didn’t like to say anything…’ Pete continues. ‘But she’s clearly been drinking before she arrived. She’s absolutely plastered’
That did it then.
‘RIGHT! I’M READY FOR MY STARTER!’ I cry, stamping crossly down the stairs and planting myself heavily on the garden chair, nearly falling through it.
The evening steadily went from bad to worse.
Pete sullenly brought out each course, whilst I necked back more and more wine in retaliation. Plastered? I’LL SHOW YOU PLASTERED.
Now, this show is supposed to be a laid back, warm bubble bath of a programme. It’s aired before the watershed. The height of drama is usually someone not taking their quiche’s out the oven in time.
The camera team were astounded, therefore, by what followed next.
‘So, now that the meal is over I would like to say a few things’ announced Pete, placing his knife and fork together.
I smiled encouragingly, thinking he was going to apologise for his bad temper and perhaps whip out a bottle of tequila.
‘I feel that you’ve been fake laughing the entire evening. And fake smiling. You’ve been mocking me all night’
I stared, flabbergasted.
‘You’ve been drunk and disorderly from start to finish’ he continued ‘You’ve barely touched my food, just knocked back the wine AND I heard you tell the camera that my raspberry coulis looked like a plate of Ribena. I think it’s time that you left’.
Completely speechless with shock, I was ushered outside to film my final comments.
Now I am not a crier. I never have been. But the combination of fresh air, tiredness and 4 litres of wine suddenly got to me.
‘THAT WAS THE WORST DATE IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD!!’ I cry, bursting into noisy sobs.
‘He was r-really mean a-and his food was h-horrible, I’m t-t-tired, my chins are weighing me down and I- I— I JUST WANT TO ORDER A DOMINOS AND GO HOME!’
Date 2- Daniel*
Oh God no. I cannot face going on a another date tonight. No no no.
It’s the morning after and I am sat on the bathroom floor, hugging the toilet bowl.
Last night keeps coming back in a series of hideous flashbacks. The argument. The tears. The drunken review I wrote of my Uber driver, detailing how he was ‘a wise, witty and beautiful man, with an excellent command of the steering wheel’.
Having had a very boozy lunch with my friend Henry, who convinced me that last nights date was an utter pillock, I set off for my second date in much higher spirits.
The cameras start rolling as I knock on the door. It opens.
’SHIT A BRICK! I cry out, involuntarily.
This guy is hot. Actually hot. A real fitty.
I am quickly taken off to film my first impressions for the camera, before my loins catch fire.
I don’t know whether it is the stress, the hangover or the sexual frustration but I inexplicably turn into an aroused grandmother.
‘Well… Ding dong!’ I whistle, heavily winking for the camera. ‘Sizzle my sausage! He’s a bit of a humdinger, isn’t he? Twit twoo. MOTHER MAY I!’
The beauty of my evening with Daniel is that he got equally as slaughtered as I did.
‘Time for the third bottle!!’ he cried, stumbling through to the kitchen, followed by the sound of crashing pans and gushing water.
It was at that point that I realised I had absolutely no idea what his name was.
’Shit, what was it?’ I whisper to the camera, snorting with laughter. ‘Draco? Derek?… Domino? Oh god knows. COME ON DESMOND, BRING THAT WINE THROUGH!’
Clearly thrilled that we had hit it off, the director then asked if I was going to give him a goodnight kiss.
‘A kiss? I’ll be doing more than that, love!’ I cackle ‘PANTS DOWN, DONALD!’
Date 3- Raymond*
Hungover, bloated and tired, I wearily set off to meet my final man.
If I have taken anything away from this experience it is that I never want to date again in my life.
I don’t want to truss myself up like some prize Christmas turkey and think up interesting conversation all evening.
I want to be sat in my pyjamas, watching The Apprentice and steadily working my way through a bottle of gin.
‘Now just to let you know, Raymond is very nervous’ the director warned me at the door. ‘So just be your usual bubbly, witty self’
‘Oh brilliant’ I thought, darkly. This is just what I need. I feel about as witty as a pile of sick.
Raymond did indeed look like he was about to shit his pants as he answered the door.
‘Right. This is going to need two large doses of wine, swiftly followed by several shots’ I thought sagely to myself, diagnosing the situation like some alcoholic doctor.
I reach into my bag for my emergency wine bottle.
Amazingly, the emergency bottle was not needed. Raymond had laid on enough alcohol to fill an Olympic sized swimming pool.
He wasn’t even repulsed when I’d lapped him by three glasses of prosecco, instead handing me the bottle to finish.
‘This is smashing’ I beamed at the camera, merrily filling up my glass, ‘I’m not sure I fancy him but he’s made such an effort. There are flowers on all the tables. And candles in the loo. And he’s promised me that I can take the remaining wine home for the taxi ride!’.
The evening got steadily better and better from this point.
Raymond was indeed the perfect gentleman- filling up my glass as soon as it was empty (no easy task) and not seeming to mind when I barely ate any of his food.
He wasn’t even offended when I got the giggles at his mother’s prized portrait on the wall (it was HILARIOUS- a painting of Raymond as a baby, lying coquettishly on a velvet cushion and wearing nothing but a golden dock leaf), laughing so hard that I shot wine out my nose.
By the end of the night I was in such raring spirits that I even agreed to Skype his mother with him.
‘HELLO MRS RAYMOND!’ I beamed drunkenly down the lens, swinging my bottle of prosecco.
‘I would just to congratulate you on raising such a lovely, LOVELY young man. So kind and considerate, with such excellent taste in wine and a delicate hand at flower arranging’
‘That portrait hanging on the wall is beautiful. BEAUTIFUL. What a strapping young baby you bore. I myself would be honoured to have a copy one day to hang on my own wall-‘
Realising that I was starting to talk completely out my arse, I hastily said my goodbyes and got in the taxi home.
In tearing spirits, myself and the taxi driver sang raucously to Magic FM, whilst I dished the dirt on my three dates.
’THE FIRST ONE HAD SUCH A STICK UP HIS ARSE, I’M SURPRISED IT DIDN’T POKE OUT THE TOP OF HIS HEAD LIKE A TELLY TUBBIE AERIAL’ I cackled.
It was only when I got home that I discovered 5 missed calls on my mobile and a hysterical voicemail from the director saying that I had spent the entire journey with my microphone still attached.
I will not spoil the surprise by admitting who I chose, but quite obviously it was between dates 2 and 3.
I quite fancied turning up on date 1’s doorstep, just to annoy him- ‘Congratulations… you’ve won ANOTHER EVENING WITH ME!!!’ but decided against it.
Either way you are in for a corker of an episode. Whilst I shall be forced to emigrate abroad.