The London Diaries: A Latte And A Half Later

I spent most of my spare time continuing my observations. Looks, I thought as I kept watching the men surrounding me, were decidedly deceptive and not at all helpful when trying to spot successful-relationship-material.

Guys, whom I thought attractive had so far not proved to be of the long-term sort and guys whom I found nice had not whet my appetite enough to look closer – yet.

Watching men from a distance, as I had so diligently done last week, was interesting enough for a while and surely yielded intriguing (albeit slightly vague and speculative) insights into the male physiognomy and its correlation with your object’s nature. If I was to learn more about London’s men and get closer to knowing and finding what I liked, I thought,

Maybe, I thought one decidedly cold Tuesday morning in mid-October, maybe, I ought to start getting to know guys that sported attributes I generally value, regardless of whether I feel attracted to them or not.

After all, many good marriages have been set up based on criteria such as social status, suitability and family advancement. And even though husbands and wives did choose each other for the best part of European history, parents have made good choices for their children.

I have been – and will always be – a true romantic. I love the idea of falling in love, head over heels and regardless of everything else. I live for the moment, when I hope and long for a man to kiss me the first time, need the buzzing butterflies, the anticipation and the bittersweet disappointment when the kiss doesn’t come – yet.

How often have I woken up with an image stuck in my head – a face, a smile, the memory of a touch, a kiss or a passionate night. Days and even weeks have been governed by the romantic notion that something exciting is going to happen, someone intriguing going to step into my life. And, despite the fact that this frame of mind has so far failed to yield something more permanent, it has made many days very special and – I am absolutely sure – tempted fate to send some guy or another my way.

However, as hopeless romanticism has proven to be sadly unrealistic, I must now take a more practical approach. My observations last week have already heightened my awareness for signs of good character and kind disposition. Now, I feel, I need more substance. Just, how am I going to get it.

Blind dates? Speed-dating? Love on the internet? No, I do not feel quite this desperate yet. How about spending my mornings in cafes, a few evenings in bars or wherever. Striking up a conversation with someone, who looks as though he could be nice cannot be all that difficult… after all, I have plenty of experience talking to the wrong guys.

With this resolution for the week, I set out on Thursday morning to tempt fate and try my luck. In spite of my usual routine, I did not settle for Chelsea (terribly cliche, I know, but I felt I ought to neutralise the social impact in my studies a tad) and took a train to Angel.

I had gotten up rather late and decided not to attract any attention. I had therefore – carefully – dressed down in a pair of skinny jeans, solid boots and a hand-knitted wool jumper. I set of this rather studenty and casual outfit with a purple scarf and matching hat. Wearing very little make-up (indeed quite the bare minimum for a thirty plus :)), I felt very inconspicuous when I took the train North.

I got off at Angel and made my way up Upper Street in search for a suitable cafe to continue my observations. I love antique shops and vintage jewellery, so I could not resist to swerve into the little Camden Passage that hosts a small antique market and a variety of tempting shops. And I was lucky. I remembered a long ago date with a handsome blonde German that had ended with breakfast at a charming place called The Elk in the Woods. It was open and I went in.

A latte and a half later (during which absolutely nothing exciting had happened – maybe I had got the timing wrong, after all it was a weekday and brunch time…), a man walked in. He sat down in the far corner and opened a magazine, which – thankfully – only half hid his face.

I watched him sip his tea and dunk delicious looking toast dippers into duck egg. He looked fairly normal, with mousy brown hair, light stubble around the chin and frameless glasses. Appraising what I could see under his T-Shirt he was probably not very into sport as he looked rather weak chested and seemed to be sporting a small beer belly. All in all, I saw nothing that would have qualified to call him attractive.

Ordinarily, I would not have noticed the guy. But then, ordinary hadn’t worked for me and I had decided to go new and unusual ways in order to learn about myself and the men. Consequently,  I thought, he was as good as any to speak with and collect experience.

Summoning my courage and probably looking much bolder than I felt, I took my latte and got up. He looked up at me when I stopped in front of his table, a slight frown creasing his brow. “Yes?” he enquired, not at all friendly.

Oh dear, this was not the best start into a conversation and the split second before I had to explain why I had come over I seriously debated with myself if I should scarper and try another time, another cafe, another guy.

I decided to sit (or rather stand) the situation out. “I noticed you are reading a food magazine,” I said, noticing too late that the magazine was in a language that I did not understand. “I love cooking and am always keen on tips from other foodies!” There, it was done. I had gone over and spoken to a perfect stranger, who did not attract me in the slightest and – by the look of his magazine and on his face – probably did not even understand me.

The seconds seemed to creep slowly by. Then his frown cleared and he nodded to the chair opposite his. “ Have you tried the duck egg?” He asked? “It’s delicious.”

I gave him a (hopefully not too relieved) smile and sat. The ice seemed to have been broken and we started to chatter away about food, our favourite London haunts and culinary trips into the countryside. He turned out to be vastly knowledgeable on all sorts of things and I soon started to suspect that what I had taken to be a beer belly was actually a food belly – a fact, which didn’t make the belly itself more attractive but helped to overlook his ordinary appearance.

When he finally left, we had talked for a solid two hours and shared a really enjoyable morning. I sat for a while and thought. If I was to describe him to Kate later I would tell her I had met a funny and entertaining guy with a witty tongue and a contagious laugh. Did it matter that I didn’t find him attractive? I suppose it did. Would I meet him again? I think so!

xx, Sophie


Having skidded headlong into my thirties, completely unprepared for what was expecting me, has probably been the best that has ever happened to me. Dating has never been more intriguing - life has never been more amazing! Laugh and cry with me on my way through the often fantastic and sometimes abysmal London dating scene…

1 Comment

Comments are closed