Question one: who was St Valentine?

Yes, I know. It’s THAT time of year again. And I bet you’re expecting me to say something about it. (And, as you can see, I’ve taken the bait.) But really – I mean REALLY… it’s getting a bit embarrassing, this singleton lark. For how many years must I bemoan my single status on Valentine’s Day? For how many years have I bemoaned my single status on Valentine’s Day?!

It must be five. Maybe six.

[Checks diary.]


Oh, OK … its longer than that. It seems the last time I shared Valentine’s Day with a partner was back in 2010. Two thousand and flippin’ ten!

Back then I was with The One I Almost Married, who’s since had twins with one partner, broken up, married, and had a child with a new partner. In short, he’s moved on – big time – while I remain mired in the single mud.

(And yes, I know I have a beautiful, smart, funny little five-year-old guy. But while I love and cherish him with all my heart and he is officially The Very Best Thing in My Life, he could not be described as the fruit of a tender and caring relationship. No, not at all.)

So, eight years a single, then. I’ve already beaten my longest relationship into a cocked hat, but soon I’ll have spent more years single than I’ve spent dating … and that way lies an old age surrounded by cats. So if I’m to cheat destiny and shake off those fusty felines before they settle in my lap, it must be time for the latest eccentric attempt at finding my mythical other half.

Now, while you’ve surely realised that I’m a veteran of failed dating – the title of the blog will have given you a hefty clue – you may not be fully conversant with the many and varied ways I’ve attempted to find a mate. Yep, over the years I’ve been pursued by the elderly, the toothless and … er… Freddie Mercury’s biggest fan. I’ve been on dates with Cucumber Man, and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde … not to mention the Skype striptease from the Peruvian Puma. I’ve tried several shades of speed dating, thrown myself into the brave new world of eye gazing, and applied – unsuccessfully – for a live-in dating experience.

But I’ve never tried a quiz.

So, when a friend who has Mates That Work in TV posts an ad for a dating quiz show, it seems only logical that I should apply … doesn’t it?

Now, I should point out that the show in question is not Blind Date. No siree, Bob. It’s a thoroughly intellectual take on TV dating. At least, I hope it is. And since it’s produced by the team behind one of the more highbrow TV quizzes, I’m expecting a high class of contestant. (Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?)

And so it is that one dreary Wednesday lunchtime I fire up my laptop and apply myself to the extensive application form…

Q1. Are you single?
Is the pope Catholic?

Q2. Describe your dating history
Recently? I think “deep and extensive doldrums” just about covers it.

Q3. Can you tell us about any dates that turned out to be disastrous?
Blimey, how long have you got? I could write a book on the topic. Or maybe a blog…

Q4. Why do you think a dating quiz would suit you?
Well, I’ve tried almost every sane method I can think of, so a little craziness can’t hurt, now can it?

Q5. What are your three specialist subjects and how do they reflect your personality?

Ooh, this one’s a bit tougher. I’m an inveterate word nerd, but what does that mean for my specialist subjects? Exactly how highbrow is this programme? Will I look like a pompous nerd if I say etymology? Or should I go for something less cerebral? Am I setting myself up for a date with a weedy intellectual milksop?

In the end I risk the nerd tag and settle for etymology; music of the 80s and 90s, since I have a near-encyclopaedic knowledge of song titles and lyrics from this era (to the detriment of other, more useful information my brain could be storing); and geography, since that sounds a bit less esoteric than ‘playgrounds of Eastern Europe’, which is actually my specialist subject since the arrival of the little guy.

Q6. Mark yourself out of ten in the following subjects. Explain your rating.
Eesh. This one’s HARD. I mean, the fact that I remain undaunted by any colour on the Trivial Pursuit cheese except the dreaded sport-and-leisure orange doesn’t mean that I’d claim prowess in any of the other areas.

Politics and Government

Maybe two out of ten? And prone to violence if anyone tries to tell me Brexit’s a good idea …

Umm … I’m interested in social history and how people lived way back when, but if you ask me the date of the Battle of Agincourt, I have to be honest: it’s gonna be nul points.

Ugh. Marked preference for doing it, rather than watching it. Or, indeed, knowing anything about it, apart from the fact that the centre of the target-thing in curling is called ‘the button’. Bet you didn’t know that.

Art and Literature
These are two completely separate beasts, aren’t they? And despite having a keen interest in both, I can’t really claim to possess a wealth of knowledge in either.

Film and Theatre
Again, two wildly different topics and I’m expert in neither. Although I can claim a certain mastery of children’s animated films (2014 – present) and stage adaptations of The Gruffalo.

Science and Nature
I’m quite good on Latin names of things. (The language bit again.)

See the aforementioned Playgrounds of Eastern Europe.

Barely have I sent to the form to its destination when I get a call from a bubbly young researcher, telling me that my application is ‘perfect’ … “but don’t worry if you don’t hear anything back – it’ll just be because we can’t find a suitable match”.

All I can do is laugh, for this is truly a first: I’m being let down gently … by a quiz show.

And maybe that’s just how it is. Maybe singledom is written in my stars. But never mind. For now, I still have the undivided affection of a rather delicious five-year-old – who, when I collect him from school, is elaborately hiding a hand-crayoned Valentine missive while exhorting me repeatedly to, “Look over there, Mummy! OVER THERE!”

And this morning, when I opened that card and read, “Happy Valentine’s Day, mummy. I will be your valentine” my heart was so full of that grubby little nose-picking, hug-giving little boy I’m not sure there’ll ever be room for anyone else.

So hold fire with that arrow Cupid; your services are not required. Not this year, anyway.


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