Forget the DVDs. To pull, go to Tesco

By Paul Lester, July 8, 2009

There is an advantage to being a single dad with a six-month driving ban who spends most of his free time trudging home from Tesco with bags of Coco Pops and Cheese Strings (and you should see what I buy the kids). No, honestly, there is. It’s not a huge advantage, granted, and I’d probably struggle to get a bank loan to brand it and market it, but it does represent an upside to all that schlepping and straining: you sometimes get to strike up conversations with new people on your gruelling journey home, some of them girls.

I used the wildly exaggerating plural there when really I meant to say “girl”. Still, it’s true. Last weekend I met a girl on the way home from my local supermarket and she ended up coming back to my house. During the day. Done up like a particularly unkempt tramp — me, not her, although she was hardly dressed in designer couture, as you’ll soon find out. Apart from the death of Michael Jackson and the birth of my ex-wife’s son, it was without doubt the most momentous event of the month, if not year. I should probably get out more.

Impressive stuff, though, I’m sure you’ll agree. Do you remember that brief fad for supermarket parties for swinging singles, where you’d turn up after-hours at your local Asda or Sainsbury’s in the vain hope of finding true love in the stationery aisle or maybe just a quick frolic by the cold meats? Well, I don’t need any of that because I get approached by random strangers even as I slog home, shopping in hands, perspiring like a Jew in ancient times.

What made this event even more incredible was that it was an unprompted, impromptu approach, and this after months of me poring over DVDs of Ways To Meet Women. Forget all that. You just need to stand there schvitzing on Chalk Hill in Bushey and complete strangers will virtually knock each other unconscious in the stampede to make your acquaintance.

Mind you, it wasn’t all good. Give or take the final consonant, “stranger” is about right when it comes to describing the lady in question, who crossed the road ostensibly to ask me directions to some dim and distant hamlet north of Watford. That set alarm bells ringing immediately: it was a boiling hot June afternoon and she wanted to trek from Oxhey Village to Abbots Langley, which for those of you unfamiliar with the area would take about, ooh, a week. By rail. On foot? Considerably longer.

Even odder was that she was dressed from head to toe in a billowy black top with matching black balloon trousers, which is fine if you’re MC Hammer or an old Spanish widow in mourning but not if you’re intending to hike across the fields and dales of South Herts. Weirdest of all was that, when I complimented her on said outfit, my tongue not a million miles from my cheek, she explained that they were her pyjamas. I made a mental note to alert the authorities.

But not yet, because before I knew it, she had invited herself back to my house for tea. Now, I don’t make a habit of this, and any young, impressionable readers out there would be advised not to try this at home, but she was after all attractive, clearly not of pensionable age (unlike most of the women I’ve been sent on blind dates with recently by my sadistic friends) and attractive in a mad-woman-wearing-pyjamas-on-a-blisteringly-sunny-day kind of way.

Plus, in a final twist of fate, it turned out that she was not just Portuguese but also half-Jewish (her mother’s side, the right side), which meant that a) I could practise my Spanish with her because, let’s face it, one southern Mediterranean language is much like another; and b) she couldn’t really be a psycho, because she was almost family, in the sense that we’re all descendents of Abraham and Sarah (even if she’s never met my aunty Hetty).

Anyway, to cut a neo-biblical epic short, I made tea, we chatted in my kitchen for several hours, she turned out not to be a crazed Portuguese version of Kathy Bates in Misery but a nice, interesting girl, albeit one with a penchant for night-wear in the daytime, and I’ve made plans to see her again. Guess what? We’re having a pyjama party. Outside Tesco in Bushey. And you’re all invited.

Last updated: 4:40pm, July 8 2009