I get the feeling that he's typing one-handed, so decide now's as good a time as any to go into silent mode. He gives it one final go. "I shaved today," he says. I see the email has an attachment: a photo, which I open. Yes, he's shaved all right. Everywhere. Instead of a smooth chin or chest, I see gleaming genitalia - Spam-pink with sensitivity and not a hair to be seen...
I heard murmurings of a new dating app called Tinder. Someone had dressed it as "Grindr, but for straight people". Now, for all of you who don't know, Grindr is - in my limited knowledge - an app that uses your location to search for potential mates that are in your area. You make contact. You agree to meet. You agree to meat.
Hugo produced his phone from under the table and displayed his previous conversation with the apparent Ollie Locke... I couldn't believe it. I had been cloned. Somewhere out there is a man pretending to be me to get laid or to meet his soul mate. Little did he know, obviously not having read my book, that being me does not often grant access to getting sex regularly.
Being literate and enjoying full sentences can be something of a barrier on Grindr. While all those little avatars of six-packs claim to be erudite grammarians, it seems nobody is safe from that dreary "hows u??" or "heyyy mister". So when I hear that magic ping and see a headless torso wishing me "a very good afternoon, handsome" I am intrigued, interested.
Everywhere I turn there is a clock reminding me how late my date is. Late, late, late. I can't look at my wrist any more, above the bar is off limits, and outside, a clock tower looms in my eyeline. And just to serve as one more reminder, even the barman's wonky eyes are positioned at ten to two. I roll my own baby-blues and go back to studying my rapidly draining pint glass.
We're living in a funny old age. Much like every generation of teens and twenty-somethings before us, we're pretty convinced that we've invented sex. Despite our natural reverence for the past, we look back on our parents era, and their parents, and so on, as quaint... what they definitely did do, however, was fuck. Lots of extra-marrital fucking.
One of the many things they forget to tell you when you try online dating is that you have to pick a 'name' for yourself - a handle for your profile. Yes, not only do you have to fret about whether your pictures make you look pretty or the quality of your babbling blurb, you also have the added trauma of coming up with a profile name.
It's been two weeks since my exhausting 24-show run at Edinburgh Fringe Festival ended and I have thrown myself right back into my day job. My days at the moment seem to be spent working and sleeping, though I am able to fit in the occasional meal or two. My body still feels weighted down by the heavy jetlag and inevitable performance come down
Cinema, that modern mirror of human life, has been somewhat hopeless when it comes to portraying love between members of the same sex. Our Eric Rohmer is yet to be visible. Worse still, most films, the predominant theme of which be, faute de mieux, gay love, easily fall into one of the following four categories: (a) coming out amidst great adversity and dying, (b) coming out amidst great adversity and surviving, (c) the 'bi now, gay later,' straight-to-gay wish-fulfilment fantasies, and (d) the AIDS film, which is seldom dealt with the sensitivity and poignancy it deserves.
When your lake becomes devoid of fish - or you're sick of catching the same old ones - you must cast your net farther. To the sea, even. And so I find myself in a seaside town, firing up a dating app (allow me the indulgence of fooling myself that the men on this app are only looking for dates and nothing more intimate) and seeing who's available.