I HATE small talk and meeting new people. So naturally the only place where I could have found myself last Friday was an evening of speed dating. 

Picture the scene.

A posh restaurant in Manchester. Sixteen men and women between ages 23 and 38. Three minutes to determine whether you are romantically compatible, which must be plenty. Then a whistle blow, and moving on to the next target like an adult version of musical chairs. 

Following months of pestering from my colleague Sara here at the Gazette, I finally settled into my booth with a glass of free Prosecco.

I couldn’t possibly tell you about all the gentlemen I met that night. For one, because there’s not enough room. Secondly, because I can’t remember most of them. They sort of merged into a constant stream of accountants and salespeople who enjoyed cycling. Here are some of the highlights though. 

I’ll start with a gentleman we’ll refer to as Crimewatch. Because either he has been featured in it, or will be very soon. The only word I can use to describe him is intense.
Crimewatch started off by complimenting my nail polish.
“Why thank you, usually men don’t notice,” I said.

“Not men. Boys,” came a stony-faced reply.

Before I could determine whether I was in a comedy sketch, Crimewatch launched a tirade about himself that he must’ve practised because once he finally drew breath and asked ‘how about you?’, the whistle went.

Another highlight was Sweaty, a bald man with a neck like a Cumberland sausage.
Once we had exchanged the basic info, Sweaty decided to turn on the charm.
“So you speak English, then?” he asked after about a minute-long conversation conducted in English.
I admit it was my mistake to try make a joke. I made a Blackadder reference.
“I can ask the way to the beach in a really loud voice.” 
“So do you need to have your stories translated then?”
Surprisingly he wasn’t on the list of men who wanted to get in touch with me afterwards. 

Sara and I agreed on one thing: people will be interested to hear that we’re journalists. 
And we were right. Luckily I was in booth number nine and she was in booth number ten, so I got to reap the glory first. 
“You’re not going to write a story about this, are you?” the men queried.

Oh, I’d never.