I’m just not into the swing


By Paul Lester
February 18, 2009
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I keep saying I’m going to do some online dating but, to be honest, there’s been no point, what with the avalanche of mail arriving for me at JC HQ from single women responding to this column and asking for a, well, Jewish Date.

I say avalanche. There have been two letters so far, so I haven’t exactly needed to hire a lorry for a trip to the local landfill. Still, two letters mean two potential dates, and two potential dates mean one potential future ex-wife. How exciting.

And so it was with some trepidation — I remember feeling a similar queasy sense of dread as I made my way towards the bimah on the day of my barmitzvah — that I rang the ladies in question.

“Ladies” is about right — not girls, not babes, certainly not chicks. I knew the first one was a lady because as soon as I called she started telling me about her daughter. Her 23-year-old daughter. Her married 23-year-old-daughter. Whom she desperately wants to conceive so she, her mum, can be a grandma.

Now I may not be a teenage tearaway myself, and my idea of youthful impetuosity is a late-night Pot Noodle, but I’m not quite ready to be a step granddad. Papa Paul? It sounds positively Catholic. No, I was thinking more in terms of someone in their thirties, someone who doesn’t think “acid house” is a two-up/two-down full of chemical compounds, someone old enough so that people don’t stare at me suspiciously in the street when I’m with them but young enough that they won’t want to argue strenuously that civilisation as we know it began and ended with Andy Pandy and Herman’s Hermits.

So I emailed the second woman, both enticed and alarmed by the last line of her letter, which read, “Oh, and I’ve got a good figure” — enticed because who isn’t partial to an aesthetic appreciation of the female form? And alarmed because I haven’t been in great shape myself since Spandau Ballet were last in the Top 10.

We decided to meet somewhere neutral but romantic and tinged with the promise of the exotic and dangerous — yup, Edgware McDonald’s. I was glamorously late for our brief encounter (I actually looked more like Trevor Brooking than Trevor Howard in my tracksuit bottoms and sweatshirt) but I knew who she was the second I saw her. She was sitting in a corner with her head in a book — not The SCUM Manifesto (Society For Cutting Up Men) by Valerie Solanas, thankfully. She looked far younger than my first JC correspondent and had the sexily dishevelled look of Diane Keaton in Annie Hall. So far, so good. No need to dart for the door. Yet.

It turns out that Rebecca — we’ll call her Rebecca, although her real name was Sandra — also had children. Three, in fact. I’ll admit, maths was never my strong point, but that would make, what, roughly six children in total, and I can barely afford my own three, so that was a minus right there.

And then the rains came. Turns out that Rebecca/Sandra was into swinging, and knew a place in Radlett where they held regular parties for couples that way inclined. Was I interested? Don’t worry, she said, a lot of them would be Jewish. That’s a relief, I replied, I’m sure my rabbi would be impressed. Is there a prayer for consensual licentiousness? Like those News Of The World reporters, I made my excuses and left.

I got a text from her that night, in the form of a question, an inquiry so personal it made my phone blush. I ignored it, then made a mental note to get back in touch with my wannabe grandma friend.

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