It’s 1pm and I’m sitting in my pyjamas eating Nutella from the jar. I’m 23, in between jobs and I haven’t had a serious relationship since 2009. For the past year I’ve hit the London gay dating scene in a big way: speed dating, Grindr, OK Cupid, and – of course - good old fashioned gay clubs. I’m doing it all in the hope that I find something more than ending the night searching for meaning at the bottom of a bag of chips. And I’d like to share the story of my search with you – if you’d care to hear.
Freddie popped up on OkCupid a few months ago. His profile pics had a distinguished but youthful look (imagine Clive Owen meets boy-next-door), while his blurb showed he was both witty and capable of using words with more than one syllable.
I decided to meet him when he said he didn’t go on dates often, and handed me the “You sound more interesting than the others” line. Plus he didn’t send me a dick pic. Good sign.
We picked a midweek night in London. It was August - still light and warm enough to flaunt my favourite tight black t-shirt. Freddie turned up 15 minutes late, and after the initial awkwardness of leaning in for a handshake or a kiss (I settled on a hearty hug) we discussed drinking locations.
“So, I was thinking we could hit one of the bars in Westminster if you fancied it?” he said, in his Northern Irish lilt.
“Err, sure... any bar in particular?” I replied, trying not to melt (I’m a sucker for accents).
“Well… Parliament. That’s where I work.”
Laughing off the confusion, we headed over, with Freddie explaining that it was “heavily subsidised” to cover that he knew he was about to win date venue of the year.
Realistically, I really don’t mind where I drink on a first date, as long as a G&T isn’t the price of a Michelin-starred meal, and the clientele isn’t comprised of neo-Ku-Klux Klan members. As we walked along Whitehall, I stole glances at him. Sure, he was a little rougher around the edges than I expected, and a few inches shorter than his stipulated 5’10, but he was still handsome, and anyway I’m more of a ‘personality’ guy. Or so I tell myself.
As dark set in, Freddie ushered me through Parliament security (complete with frisking and X-raying) and took me on a private whistle-stop tour of Westminster Abbey, Big Ben (complete with the obvious phallic innuendos), and the House of Commons. While the setting was truly spectacular, I was more distracted by how popular he was: everywhere we went colleagues popped up to smile and say hello – always stealing a quick glance at me: the piece of exotic ass on his arm.
Despite seeming like a celebrity, I couldn’t help but feel Freddie was seriously nervous, and simply going through the motions. Soon enough the conversation was floundering – at one point we found ourselves discussing Henry V’s passion for racquetball for fuck’s sake (I blame the building).
Before we could get onto talking about the weather – I found myself in a cozy-looking pub beneath the House of Lords, with Freddie whispering in my ear “One of the unofficial gay bars in Parliament.”
The moment he mentioned this, I noticed the bartender, a large, Boris-esque man wearing a pink apron, and in the corner, two suited and bearded guys, leaning into each other and playing footsie. Deciding to go with the flow, I ordered two double G&T’s, then headed back to Freddie, getting accusatory looks from the parliamentary gays as I passed. I suspect they weren’t fans of my bright pink Nike high-tops.
I don’t like talking about politics on a first date, but it soon transpired that was all Freddie wanted to discuss.
For the next hour, he steadily became more nervous and intense, spouting political discourse like a lecturer and often looking over his shoulder to check who was watching us. I could barely get a word in edgeways, and the last half hour felt like a job interview – the prospect of sex at the end became increasingly distant.
“I haven’t been on a date in months” he finally confessed after chucking back a second G&T.
I scrutinised him, wondering whether he was trying to open up to me or put me off because he didn’t want to fuck me. In either case, there was no spark, and I was just about to make my excuses and leave when he said something that changed my mind.
“MPs sleep with their researchers all the time, you know. One New Year’s party, two researchers were caught in the bushes in Parliamentary square, giving each other head. They were sent to their MP to be reprimanded. He simply turned round and said: “You must have been cold out there.” Turns out, he was buggering one of them regularly in the toilets.” Finally, some filth.
“How naughty,” I said, leaning in, giving him a sly smile.
Freddie looked back at me, blinked like a rabbit in the headlights and leaned back in his chair. “Keep that under your hat, though, yeah?”
So much for political dirty talk.
We walked back to the station and swapped a look, knowing our “let’s keep in touch!” remarks meant nothing. He said my jumper looked nice, and I said I had a great evening. He leaned in to kiss me on my cheek, and I lingered a moment to feel his stubble against my skin. I didn’t even get a semi.
As I wandered down the escalators to the Jubilee line, the chorus of “Another One Bites The Dust” looped in my ears. The world of politics is full of sex, lies, dangerous liaisons and power-play: so where was the chemistry?
Dating world: 1. Me: 0.