get Yourse/F a mate

Desperately seeking . . .

No time for chat-ups? Try SPEED DATING and do 30 a night. Words: Anna Millar

make the emergency call to my sister. 'lt's over.' I

mumble pathetically. “i am offiCially a 23-year old

Spinster.' The Angel of Doom has decreed it: 'Due to a gas leak outside Darlington we regret to inform passengers that the southbound service will be delayed.‘

So this is divine intervention. i am cold and wet. standing in a station just north of Newcastle. l have a date in Soho in two hours with 28 men. courtesy of Speed Daters. l am going to be very late. Master Cupid is either taking serious liberties Or serioust taking the piss.

l tentatively re-read the brief. Up to 30 men and women meet in a bar. Everyone is given a number or a letter of the alphabet with a scorecard. Then each applicant, victim desperado (delete where applicable) has three minutes to make an impreSSion on the relevant number or letter placed in front of them. If you enjoy yOur enCOunter. you tick yes: signifying your desire to see said person again.

Forty-eight hours later. you get an email. If you have ticked someone who has ticked yOu back. you are a match. Call me a Cynic. but it love were food. speed dating is a pre-packed. micro\.vavable roast dinner: a quick-fix alternative to the ultimate Culinary feast.

Three hours later I arrive. bedraggled and slightly terrified. Women are numbers this evening and men letters. They're all out Of numbers so I am to be known as I'm red to the Sin Bin. a table put aSide for the overflow of women at the event. I am depressmgly sober. Fellow sinners. Ms 1.1. 15 and 16. are blatantly not. Ms 16 studies me a while. ‘DO you fake Orgasm? she asks. So far. so painfully Cosmo. Salvation comes in the form of Ms 14. ‘Don't alr?’ she laughs.

I pray for the gin fairy to leave me a triple. The bell rings. Man A is ready for me. l prepare to drown in a sea of liquor and alphabetised desperation.

‘You're AA. Why aren't you a number like the other girls?” Mr A eyes me suspiCiously. 'l'm just out of rehab they want me to feel at home.‘ I say. grinning inanely. He's




Greek and doesn't get the joke. 'You know AA. iike Alcoholics Anonymous . . .7' Nope. it's a goner. l COunt the seconds. The bell rings. I move on.

Mr B is a tits and ass man. ‘Are they real?” he asks pointedly at my chest. ‘Sure.' I say. 'Are yOurs?' He laughs. The ice is broken. ‘Guys are always gOing to tick more boxes than girls.“ he tells me. 'For blokes it's about the looks. y'know. You women try to make it about perSOnality. What can you really find Out an three minutes? My breast fetishist has a pOint.

l oroer another healthy double and move round to Mr C. CriSis central. Something is badly wrong. This One is one. Like. really cute. Apologies gentlemen. we ladies are as fickle as you. I am utterly lOSt fOr wOrds. Fortunately. Mr C :s not. He :s 28 and works for a charity. He seems dare l say it? normal. Surely he can': belong here’? The bell rudely interrupts us. I Shuffle 0n despondent. And I tick the ‘yes' box.

Then. the unexpected happens: l star“. to enjoy rt. The gin has kicked in and I'm beginning to see method in the madness. Somewhere between Mr D and Mr T. l surmise that you can't guaii’ny the experience or categorise the people. The play grOuhd mentality s mpy got Older. The babe. the sponsman. the shy one. the geek. the brain. the Odd one they're aii stll here. And the bonus for them and me is that .n 180 seconds. can be anything to anyone. A'TO if you're happy to pray the game that's gtiite ‘un . . . if somewhat sordid n reality.

Forty-eight hours later. I cautiously ciick me my inbox. l have. much to my genuine surprise. two matches. Mr O I remember immediately. The other match. l have no recollection of ticking. I blame the gin fairy. SO. three- minute lovin'? l'm strangely ambivalent. But. l can boast I've had 19 men in 90 minutes. Not a bad chat-tip line.

I Speed Dater costs 8 7 7 and takes place at Tiger Tiger. Glasgow. Wed 79 Feb and Wed 5 Mar; Three Sisters. Edinburgh. Wed 25 Feb arid Tue 4 il/lar. then week/y. Ca// 08702 430935 or Wit/w.speeo'o'

How to have a web romance



1 Pick a site There are hundreds to choose from and most allow yOu a free trial Or sneak preview so you can see what you're letting yourself in for. Popular Sites include lovepeppercom. udatecom. datetheukcom and love@

2 Choose a username One that will make you stand out from. the crowd: jamesbond3 Or sexxxygirl just don't Cut it. 3 Create your profile Don't try to copyince people how 'kerazee' you are yOu'll just sound like a tit and everyone will ignore you.

4 Start searching Depending on the site yOu've chosen. yOu can either hunt arOund yOurself or let the site match you up.

5 Get personal Most sites have cnat rooms and instant messaging as well as email. so there are plenty of ways to get to know your potential partners. Chat to as many people as possible and enjoy yOur Virtual popularity.

6 Meet up Talk to yOur virtual date on the phOne first and if you feel even slightly uneasy about them. don't go any further. if everything seems cool. then arrange to meet in a public place.

7 Decision time if you get on as well in real life as you did oniine. go to stage 8. if it's an unmitigated disaster. repeat stages 41 to 6 until you get it right.

8 Congratulations! Psychologists recently repOrted that relationships that start online are more likely to last than those that start in a pub or club. Delete yOur profile. and live happily ever after. iKirsty Knaggsl

, Lin J; t it, :w'r'szHE LIST ‘7