How I wish there had been such a – or any – dating site when I was young. Telephones were securely tied to land lines – and how I used to pray that someone would ring my number – Knightsbridge 2009 – and whisk me off to a sublime evening of dinner and dancing!
Ha! Chance would be a fine thing. I had left school before anyone of the opposite sex dared to use that number. One, a brave young man, Hermann, whom I’d met at a party a week before, had the temerity to ring when I happened to be in the bath. Zbyszek, my mother’s husband, answered the phone and because Hermann hadn’t introduced himself immediately he was told I was not at home. And that, for the time being at least, was that. Not at home! I was at home. I was very much at home. I tried to prevaricate with my protector.
“No,” he said, “Not at home is a euphemism for not available – you were not available. And certainly not to someone who couldn’t give his name!”
My disappointment and frustration can be imagined. I did not have his phone number – having previously been forbidden ever to ask a boy for his number – so what was I to do? Wait.
Sitting alone by the telephone. Compose bad poetry. And wait.
He did ring again, eventually, and we went on a date. To Parsons, a trendy new restaurant in the Kings Road. I was very excited but too shy to eat. He was too hungry not to. So I watched him, getting hungrier and hungrier myself, and made polite conversation. End of romance.
The reason I remember him, though, is that somehow he introduced me to Melanie and “Ruby Tuesday” which still sends shivers down my spine whenever I hear it.
But that was later. At school things were different. We all read magazines – suitable and unsuitable, according to the nuns, and by the time I was about 13 computer dating had arrived in its very earliest form. You had to pay of course, but before you sent off your forms you had to fill in questionnaires about yourself and prospective partners. We would spend hours doing this with no hope of ever sending them off.
The nearest we got to actually meeting boys was the school debating society – so many meetings with St Benedict’s boys In order to ‘discuss’ the next debate. Some of these ‘discussions’ took place on Friday nights in some of the boys’ houses. The curtains were drawn and the music was loud. Think 1968 – 1969. The Bachelors. The Bee Gees. Flowers in the Rain. San Francisco. The Rolling Stones. The Who. There was always the same subject in case anybody asked – something to do with Outer Mongolia, but what, I have no idea!
We also had school dances organised by 6th formers and class parties. I remember organising one in the Polish Parish Centre to say goodbye to one of our class mates, Joan Davenport, who was going back to America. I don’t think many boys turned up to that one! Who remembers that?
So – back to Tinder – the box that sparks romance – or not? I wonder.