No, there isn't a connection between any of the above, just three separate topics I want to sound off about. First - geriatric dating.
I'm a widow. I have been on my own for some years now, during which time I have joined and rejoined every internet dating site there is. Always saying - I shan't bother again - then reading somewhere about someone's success (this time it was novelist Lesley Pearce, with whom I share not only a first name, but a taste for white wine in wine bars in Bath) and giving it a go once more.
Originally, I thought anyone who used this sort of service was bound to be a saddo. Hang on a minute - I'm using it. Oh, yes. There must be people like me out there, then. Well, I can safely say now - no, there aren't. I have seen photographs (won't even consider anyone without) of pleasant looking gents of around my age and written them jokey little notes. Most haven't replied, those that have, in the main, have fobbed me off. Oh, I've met a few, obeying all the rules - public places, not giving out my address, all that sort of thing - but without exception they have all been disasters. Nice men in their way, I'm sure, but not for me.
The only people who have written to me first have been, well, let's just say not suitable. Or the right age. Or anything. So why am I still registered on these sites? Not as a paying customer any more, admittedly, but my details are still there. Well, firstly because I have this sneaky feeling that if I remove my details, the very person I've been looking for will register and I'll miss him. Secondly, I still want to meet a nice bloke with whom to share some aspects of my life. Thirdly, how else does a female rapidly hurtling towards decrepitude meet someone? When you've lived in the same area for a long time and socialised a fair bit, you tend to know most people, and single men of my age don't tend to move about.
One of the problems, of course, is the unrealistic expectations of subscribers to these sites, and, I've heard, gents in general. A 60 year old, boasting that he looks years younger, mixes with younger people, windsurfs, snowboards and likes Flaming Lips, asks to be contacted by slim women under 40. Oh, yeah?
Standard advice from agony aunts and uncles is to join something. OK, I already belong to the supposed hot bed of sex and lies, the world of amateur theatre. And no, mostly, it isn't like that. There have been the occasional affairs and marriage breakups, but not regularly. One permanent relationship has been formed in my twenty-odd years with the same company, and what does that tell you?
Before anyone else says it, I shall admit to a certain amount of unrealistic expectations myself and I shall also admit to being not everybody's cup of tea. Fat, mad old bat are descriptions that come to mind. And no, I'm not saying that in the expectation (that word again) of being contradicted. Of course, I could go to a proper dating agency, but have you seen how much they cost? And I just know it would be wasted, even if I could afford it in the first place.
I once tried to start a fairly local group to meet socially. Fashionably Late, it was called. I had very little money, but managed to pay for a few ads in the paper and got a little bit of editorial in a couple of suitable magazines. The only responses I had were from women in my own position. Had I been able to afford advertising in more magazines, maybe it would have worked, but having recently joined a dining club locally, also mainly women, have to admit it probably wouldn't.
Drinking - they, the ubiquitous "they", have stopped us smoking in pubs, now they're going to stop us drinking, too. I will end up making bath-tub gin and drinking it alone in the garage soon. Or perhaps with my children and a few selected friends. Except that then I'd be prosecuted for running an illegal drinking den. I am sick, sick, sick of the nanny state. I do not want to be told what to do, think, eat or drink. I buy and eat responsibly and ethically as far as I can without breaking the bank. I don't frighten the horses. Let me be!
Women's magazines - very nice people. Two of them have interviewed me because of my connection with amateur theatre on which they are doing features. This comes from my recent book having an amateur theatrical background, and is terrific publicity. When the features come out, I'll post details.
Oh, and thank you to my three readers!