Being a Yorkshireman, and knowing what a pain in the arse they (i.e. I) can be, I tend to stay away from them as potential dates. The familiar accent and anecdotes about growing up in the north don't particularly interest me.
Why go all the way to China and have a cup of Tetley tea when there are so many other varieties available? Nevertheless, when I'm contacted by a fellow Yorkshireman, I'm sufficiently interested to meet him for a drink. What harm can it do to slip on a pair of comfy slippers after a series of dates wearing tight, pinched brogues?
His patter is fairly low-key. He seems keen but he doesn't overplay it - a very typical Yorkshire trait. In his photographs, he looks clean-cut, sensible and handsome, the kind of man I always tell myself I fancy and would be good for me. He seems solid, reliable, honest. A bit boring, I suppose. But bad boys are over-rated and everything looks to be in the right place so I agree to give it a go.
We meet in a non-descript pub in Soho. His choice. I arrive first and prop up the bar, wiling away the minutes on my iPhone. Every now and again, I survey the clientele. We're just on the cusp of gay in here, the odd tight T-shirt and, yes, that's a handlebar moustache, but other than that the crowd is mixed. I can't imagine why he's chosen to meet in such a dreary bar, but I'm sure he has his reasons. As I'm considering this, he is before me. He is taller than me, wearing a rugby-style shirt, jeans and shoes that only a mother could love - or would buy. He's handsome, smells clean and has dark hair. We shake hands, he tells me his monosyllabic name, and we order a drink. Let battle commence.
He is from a large city not far from my hometown and his accent carries that recognisable twang. His job is something I don't quite understand in the government. He's quite funny, if a little gauche, and has a nice smile and, crucially, acceptable teeth. The evening is pleasant enough but I can't help but feel it needs a kick up the arse. So I order some shots of tequila. My date is unsure; he has to be up "quite early" in the morning and says he's a bit of a lightweight when it comes to alcohol. Excellent. I assure him that I too have an early start - a downright lie - and that we'll only have a couple, to keep the cold out.
Three drinks later and my date has relaxed somewhat. He is subtly fiddling with my leg under the table and suggesting we move on somewhere "more gay". I smile to myself as I know exactly what that means, but play dumb and with as much innocence as I can muster, allow myself to be taken to a gay bar round the corner.
Over the next drink, he slurringly tells me about his sister's wedding and how he managed to do something relatively indecent with the best man behind the marquee. Just as I am getting up to go to the bathroom, he makes an ill-timed attempt to lunge in and kiss me, sending our pints flying across the table. I go to get more. When I return he struggles for a moment to focus, before fixing me with what I imagine he thinks is a seductive stare and tells me my trousers are very tight.
"Are they?" I reply, looking down at them.
"Yes. I was watching you at the bar." He takes a swig of his drink. "Couldn't take my eyes off your bottom, in fact." He says the word bottom like a naughty schoolboy, covering his mouth with his hand to suppress a juvenile guffaw.
"Unintentional, I assure you," I answer.
He laughs. "Yeah, I bet."
The drinks are drained.
"What now?" he asks, his leg brushing up against mine.
"How long does it take to get to your house?"
We sit opposite each other on the train, going back to his in absolute silence. We get off at a station in south-east London that I've never heard of, and walk for at least 15 minutes through a series of housing estates carved up by grim dual carriageways.
Finally, along a busy main road, we arrive at his house, a Victorian conversion flat. It is raining. And cold.
Inside, he gives me a brief tour of his bachelor pad. It's poky and has too much furniture in, but doesn't look like the lair of a mass murderer. It was recently his birthday - there are still cards on his mantelpiece. He's popular. He has a huge collection of DVDs, all films I never want to see. His bedroom backs onto the garden and is the quietest room in the house.
"So..." he says.
In the morning, his alarm goes off and he spends a good half hour pawing me in an attempt to wake me. I'm hungover, tired and God knows where and the dread of finding my way back home is not exactly conducive to morning glory of any kind. It seems impolite to tell him so, but actions shout when words cannot.
Later, watching me dress, he says: "You run don't you?"
"You have a very typical runner's body, don't you?"
"I don't know," I answer. "Do I?"
"Yes. Lithe. Wiry, even." And then, brightly: "Would you like some tea? Breakfast?"
"No, thank you."
He leaves the room to shower. I hear him sing Queen songs as he soaps himself. I look around the room and cringe a little. I shouldn't be here. But he's nice, right? It could work.
When he's back in the bedroom, he dresses quickly in a cheap suit that's never been to the dry cleaner's and a shirt with a rip in the shoulder.
"I hate shopping," he tells me. "Anyway, nobody will notice." I don't reply.
"Can I ask you something?"
"Yes," I say. "What?"
"Well, you're a runner, right?"
"Yeah, well I used to run too."
I nod, encouragingly.
"And I...well. I don't know if it's just me."
"Yes?" I ask.
"I just wanted to know. Have you ever wanked off into your running shorts?"
Where: Soho, W1
When: October 2010
Stats: 36, 5'11", black/green, Leeds
Pre-date rating: 7/10
Post-date rating: 6/10
Date in one sentence: The date that turned into a pumpkin - and a sportswear fetishist one at that - after midnight.
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