Pete’s Week

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    What would most put me off in a partner?
    Standards.I’m applying for a blind date, because where love’s concerned, I can’t get into any club that would have me as a member. It’s for charity – so if they gouge my heart from its hinges, I can throw my hands up and claim it as ‘a laugh’, a jape, a rollicking great joke. But this is a lie; they’re all lies. I’m desperate, and so are you: we’re emotional lemmings, shunted by love’s blind faith into an abyss of pain. When we hurt lab rats, we expect them to adapt, but humans never learn; at best, we’ll put our pain to paper and call it ‘poetry.’ We’re nature’s stupidest animals.A lot of people asked why I didn’t bother with a Valentine’s Day column. Here’s why: romantic misery lasts all year round, choking up the whole calendar. To blame just one day is like pretending that on every day that isn’t Mother’s Day, you don’t have a mum. It’s like saying that when that one day is over, all romance implodes, love slinks back to its hole, and we take the rest of the year off. This is wrong. But wrong as it is, it’s a wonderful idea: banning love, perhaps restricting it to one day a year, in what we’ll call the Dimmed-Light Districts. The rest of us drink gin, alone, and play ‘Let It Be’ on repeat until the ambulance arrives. Sounds miserable? It kicks the living smush out of pitiful old now. And if we can’t ban it? When I’m king, I’ll tax it into an awkward oblivion: charge quadruple at restaurants for tables of two, so every dating couple drags along an irritating third wheel – one like me, who’ll break every romantic silence by rating the urinals, or trying to smoke the napkins. We’ll break it with bureaucracy: a £10 ‘relationship licence’ for every couple, required to make even the slightest eye contact, or talk about more than careers. You’ll get one by completing a form, once a month, until all romantic spontaneity withers. On it, you list the names of each of your future children, which will send every known male running, screaming. Of course, to make this work I’ll have to enforce it, by marching up to blissful couples, demanding to know who the hell gave them the right to happiness. I’d carry a gun.Until then, I’m stuck. I don’t know what I want, and I won’t be happy until I get it. I used to think I’d like someone exactly like me – but a romance based on being me would be one based on being mildly irritating and mildly unattractive, and that’s putting it mildly. My blind date application asks, ‘What would most put me off in a partner?’ For that bit, I’ll be writing the word ‘standards.’ For her answer, one of the girls is probably going to cut out this column and staple it to the form. Given my luck, I’ll be with her.

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