New Year, New Romance? by Alex Weston

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Despite being a member of the Write Romantics I found the romance bits of Beltane the hardest to write. Magic, action and even the occasional bits of comedy were all much easier for me. Maybe that’s because, for various reasons, I’ve got a bit out of practice when it comes to romance. So encouraged by my fellow Write Romantics one of my New Year’s resolutions is to try to change that.
At my age internet dating seems to be the main way in which people meet. I have to admit it fills me with a certain amount of trepidation. I’ve heard a lot more horror stories than happy ever afters. A couple of weeks ago I started reading Here’s Looking at You by Mhairi McFarlane. In the first chapter the heroine goes on a disastrous first date with a man she’s met through an internet dating site. Before they’ve finished their starters he’s told her about the many and various ‘unusual’ sexual practices he likes to indulge in. After reading that I shuddered, put the book down and thought there’s got to be another way.
So I turned to the books I’ve read recently to see if they could give me some good ideas on how to meet members of the opposite sex.
Charlotte Street by Danny Wallace
We’ve got a male hero here and the books starts with him holding a girl’s bags while she gets into a taxi. She smiles and in that moment he feels an amazing connection between them, a feeling of recognising his soul mate. She accidentally leaves a disposable camera behind and he gets the photos developed and uses them as clues to try to track her down.
I get the moment of connection thing, I really do. But what he does next seems a little too much like stalking. And then when he finally sees her again it turns out that she’s newly single. How lucky is that! Though I guess it wouldn’t have made anywhere near such a good story if he’d gone to all that trouble and then, when they meet at the end of the book, she’d said, ‘Sorry but I’ve got a boyfriend.’
When I fall in Love by Miranda Dickinson
Elsie meets the hero when she’s caught accidentally shoplifting from a certain well known high street chemist. He’s a lawyer and manages to make sure she doesn’t get arrested. As one of the items that she’s taken is haemorrhoid cream (apparently for her father) I can only hope that nothing this embarrassing ever happens to me.
The Ghost House by our very own Helen Phifer
Annie meets Will (who is lovely. I do like a man who wears a lot of Berghaus) because there’s a serial murderer in town. She’s a PCSO and he’s the detective investigating the murders. I can think of any number of books where a romance starts during a murder investigation but, to be honest, I’d rather not discover a body or meet a serial killer.
And the classics are no help. Elizabeth and Darcy meet at a ball. I’ve not been to a ball since university and they were absolutely nothing like the ones in Pride & Prejudice. Jane Eyre meets Mr Rochester when he falls from his horse and then (would you believe it!) he turns out to be her employer. Well, let’s be honest that was pretty improbable in the 1840’s and it’s never going to happen in twenty first century York. And seeing as he’s got a mad wife in the attic Mr Rochester is really not the kind of guy I’m looking to meet! Then there’s Cathy and Heathcliffe who meet as children but let’s not go there because that doesn’t end well for anyone.
So I’m back to square one. Any ideas? I’d love to hear how you met the special person in your life.

Photo by Maynard Case http://www.maynardcase.co.uk

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16 thoughts on “New Year, New Romance? by Alex Weston

  1. This could be very interesting for you when you get replies 😉 I met my husband when we were travelling on the same ‘plane as members of a choir going to Rome just before Christmas to perform in some concerts there. My best friend introduced us and this year, we celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary!

  2. I was single for about 12 yrs when my children were little, and I was really keen to be with someone. I sure had to kiss a few frogs in that time and I think I had the knack of ditching the good ones and sticking with the baddies. I think the social worker in me wanted to ‘help’ at these problematic men whilst the frightened little girl in me ditched the good guys, the risk of getting involved with one and actually hitching up together was just too scary.

    And then I met Andy speed dating 7 years ago. Andy doesn’t like drinking or going out that much and nor do I, as it happens. I’d seen him on the internet the one and only time I looked for someone younger than me, (he’s 18 months younger). I thought ‘he’s nice’ but I knew I was going speed dating following week and something told me I’d meet someone there, so I didn’t contact him.

    If either of us hadn’t done anything about our wish to meet someone else, we could now be lonely old folk, watching TV every night and babysitting the grandchilden. Nice, but even nicer with company. Our spheres of social life are just so narrow its rare to meet anyone new, let along single, available and fanciable.

    There are some bad guys out there I know. A woman near here was fleeced for £10k she ‘loaned’ her ‘partner’ only to never see him again once she signed the cheque. There’s plenty more ‘nice but not right’ guys you meet and share a coffee with, but not your life.

    But to put all your trust in fate and not to give it a helping hand is to miss all the good guys. There are plenty of chaps out there just the same as us, don’t want to go clubbing or heavy socialising, but would love to meet Miss Right. Just think of all the nice ones you know that are already hitched, all you need to do is find one like that who is single at the moment.

    Ooopps, I’ve gone on more than I should now, its just a subject I’m passionate about, I’d like to see singles groups in every town, they are a great meeting place and so is the internet, if you’re careful how you do it.
    Best of luck!!

  3. Hi Alex, I didn’t know what you were posting about this week and, not only did I love the surprise, but I loved the content of your post. I’m one of these people who was pretty unlucky in love myself until I met then married Mark through internet dating so I do definitely recommend that route. I’m quite lucky in that he was the first person I met. I got contacted by several others and a couple of them were definitely strange but there were a couple of others I really got on well with via email and would probably have met if Mark hadn’t come along. My older brother met his wife on a dating website, inspired by my success, and I know several others who’ve gone down that route.

    Before that, I found it hard to meet people. I never had a boyfriend at school and I didn’t fare much better at College. I had one very brief relationship with someone who chased me down the street and asked me out (which I’ve described somewhere on this site although I can’t remember if it was a Wednesday Wondering or elsewhere) but it transpired he was only attracted to me as I looked like his ex with whom he was still besotted. Great! I thought I’d meet the man of my dreams at university and, although I did have a couple of relationships, nothing lasted long-term. After that I joined a huge company and thought I’d surely meet someone through work with so many young people and such a great social scene. And I did. But nobody resembling “the one”. If I’m honest, work relationships were more problem than they were worth because everyone knew and it was ridiculously awkward when things ended.

    Holidays are rubbish and I know people say “get a hobby and meet someone that way” but I’ve never had success there either. Mind you, I’ve seen others who have. I agree that books and films aren’t the real world although I wish they were! It has to be contrived for the main characters to meet and sometimes this can be under the most unbelievably coincidences but I quite like that. Maybe because I wish it were true!

    I don’t think I’m being very helpful. I hate blind dates (I wrote about another of those on this site) so it’s either wait and hope (who has time for that?) or online dating in my book. Although you never know … perhaps your forray into the writers group you’ve just joined may unearth your matching heart????

    Either way, good luck and I’m with you all the way.

    Julie xxx

  4. Hi Alex,

    Thank you for the recommendations of titles to read…I’ve read Helen P’s but the others are now on my list of “to be read”.

    Our lives certainly give us plenty of ideas for our writing don’t they? If you hadn’t had to “kiss a few frogs” you might think that love was easy and then where would our writing be? I’m glad you found your partner in the end too…I do like a happy ending.

    Helen R x

  5. Huge thank you to Julie and Lynne for sharing their stories. You’re definitely giving me lots to think about and maybe I’ll have to be brave and go for it with internet dating or speed dating. Helen, you’re certainly right about material for writing. I could have done with kissing slightly fewer frogs but fingers crossed that there’ll be a happy ending in the end.
    Alex

  6. This is a fun post, Alex. I’ve been married for over 30 years so I’m out of touch with today’s meeting-up scenarios. However, I do have a number of friends and acquaintances who sought out their other half on the internet or through a ‘respectable’ singles agency. They include folk now married and, in at least one case, parenting. You could argue these things replace the tennis party and hostess circuit of yesteryear. One thing is clear: you won’t meet anyone while moping at home. Anne Stenhouse

  7. Fab post as always, Alex 🙂 I sometimes think that enjoying romance novels and rom com movies as much as I do, does little good for me and the expectations that the man in my life has to live up to! Sadly I’d need to fall in love with the World’s Strongest Man, or perhaps a forklift truck, to be scooped up and carried off into the distance like the closing scene from an Officer and a Gentleman… However, I do believe that there are lots of people that each of us could make a good life with and internet dating is certainly a way to increase your chances of finding your Mr Darcy. It’s worked for lots of us, after all 🙂 One thing I do know is that, whether you bump into Mr Right in the supermarket or in cyber space, he’ll be one lucky guy xx

  8. What a wonderful post Alex and some good suggestions to read, although I’ve read Helen’s. I really hope you meet Mr Right, however you go about it and as Jo said, he’ll be one lucky guy! Good luck! xx

  9. Terrific post, Alex. It seems to me it’s harder than it was years ago to meet that special someone. People seem to spend so many hours either at work or travelling to and from work they pass one another like the proverbial ships in the night and never actually get around to getting it together. The internet is a godsend I think. My son met his girlfriend that way, and it must have been meant as it turned out she lived just round the corner from him. It all happened very fast from then on and the way she tells it, she invited him round for a meal and he never went home!

  10. I met EngineerBoy in a dinner queue on the first day of freshers week. It was such an utterly life changing romantic moment that I started going out with someone else about a fortnight later (who I met in the same dinner queue the following day – seriously it was an excellent dinner queue!) Fortunately by the time I split up with dinner queue boy 2, EngineerBoy was single and available for the rebound fling that is still going nearly 18 years later 😉

    On a completely unrelated point, your photo was taken by Maynard Case – he was in my year at sixth form (it’s an unusual name, so guessing it’s the same guy). My ‘real’ surname is Maynard, so I remember it being v weird that there was a boy with my surname as a first name.

    • Ahh the heady delights of fresher’s week! I’ve got this lovely image of you now flirting in the dinner queue. And nice work pulling two guys in your first week 😉 Very pleased to hear that things are still going strong with EngineerBoy after 18 years. That’s some rebound!
      As I’m pretty sure you’re originally from Scarborough I’m fairly sure it’s the same Maynard. He’s now my brother in law! Small world, heh?
      Alex

      • Very small world. Yes – I’m from Scarborough, so it must be the same Maynard. Wow – now there’s a somewhat freakish little coincidence. Say ‘Hi’ to him from me. I guess he’ll probably remember me because of the name-thing if nothing else xx

  11. Freshers week…gosh that brings back some memories, none of which I will reveal on here! Hard to believe it was 20 years ago. How lovely Alison that you are still with the engineer 🙂

    Helen R x

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