Bold claim huh? And of course, some people will  be like ‘no, it’s War and Peace, you cretin’, while others are going ‘duh, Take Me Out‘ (I love them both, btw).

But to my mind First Dates is simply fabulous. It’s reality TV, but without the cruelty of The X Factor, the madness of Big Brother or the general ‘why are we all doing this?’ of The Voice.

Of course, reality TV is popular because we’re all inherently nosy, and there is nothing more interesting than watching people as they go through the exciting,  excruciating and, for all they know, life-changing experience of a first date.

After all,  it’s hard to relate to the person belting out Whitney tunes to impress some arsey talent show judges, or the bloke fannying about inside The Cube, but nearly all of us have experienced a first date and that super nervous,  slightly thrilled, oh-my-god-I-think-I’m-actually-hysterical feeling that it brings.

You can see it on the faces of the First Dates singles as they’re sitting waiting at the bar – terror mixed with glee, because this might actually be the moment they meet the love of their life. It reminds you how exhilarating and full of potential dating can be – a helpful reminder for those who feel that Tinder and Happn have turned romance into, well, the most unromantic thing ever.

And what I really love is that the Channel 4 producers truly want to make good matches. Imagine if ITV did First Dates – we’d have horrifically awkward pairings just to have viewers peeking out from behind their sofa cushions and screeching, as if they were watching an I’m A Celebrity Bushtucker Trial.

But Ch4 take the time to match couples who might really get along – and they often do. When the series returned on Friday, we saw one pair matched up for their love of pugs (ok, turned out they had nothing else in common, but the producers had tried) and a lovely older couple, David and Margaret, who got on like a house on fire ( ‘I couldn’t have written a personal description better than the one you found me’ David told the cameras afterwards. D’aww).

gareth first dates

Given the excellent match-making, it’s no surprise that the previous series led to a good number of loved up couples – gay, straight, old and young – and even a proposal (desperate to know how those two are getting on, btw).

Another brilliant thing about this show is that it serves to remind us that a) everyone is so, SO different and b) there really is someone for everyone. When the male pug lover, Gareth, relayed tales of being asked at weddings why he was single and wanting to reply ‘I don’t know… because I’m a knob’ I bet there were thousands of people who could relate. But what First Dates demonstrates is that actually, there are loads of wonderful people who’ve taken years to find a partner – and it certainly isn’t because there’s anything wrong with them.

It also demonstrates that just because you like a person, and they don’t like you back (pug lovers, I’m looking at you) doesn’t mean they are more fun, or better, or more interesting than you – just different. A good lesson for all those people who’ve received the dreaded ‘It’s not you it’s me’ text after a few dates they really thought were going somewhere.

Perhaps my favourite couple from last night were Arunima and Simon. Arunima was gorgeous, funny, clever and completely unashamed of the fact that her fave hobby was to hang out at the bingo with her ‘Grandma’ squad (people who have a weird hobby and don’t give a sh*t about telling everyone are my favourite, by the way). Anyway, Arunima also happened to be in a wheelchair, which she evidently felt was a huge burden to put on her date, and bound to put men off.

Luckily Simon was unfazed and, more importantly, forgot about the wheelchair as soon as he realised what a gem she was. When Arunima welled up at the end of the show, telling the camera that his reaction had made her ‘re-evaluate’ herself (‘I think I need to give myself more credit’) we were all air-punching along with her. Again, the point the shows makes is that you should never deem yourself ‘unlovable’, and that, if you meet the right person, they see past your supposed ‘imperfections’.

I know First Dates is not world class drama, nor is it some kind of intellectual documentary teaching me more about, say, the Chinese economy. It’s just  a bunch of ordinary folk, doing what nearly everyone tries to do in life – find love. But that’s why I find it so fascinating. And why I’m encouraging all my single mates to sign up to appear on it ASAP.

(Pics: Channel 4)

It’s always exciting to read an article which really speaks to you, and I had one of those OMG I’VE BEEN PREACHING THIS FOR YEARS moments in the hairdressers recently reading Glamour magazine.

The feature was all about how women are labelled ‘crazy’ when they get angry. I think the example they used was a girl whose boyfriend disappeared during a night out and reappeared about three weeks later, for no particular reason. Obviously she was mightily pissed off at this, and made that clear to him. As a result was labelled CRAY CRAY by all his mates, while he, poor lamb, was just some innocent guy with a mental girlfriend. FFS.

Anyway, most of womankind will be unsurprised by this story because we are pretty used to be told how ‘mental’, ‘crazy’ and occasionally ‘insane’ we are, or hearing guys talk about girls in this way.  I mean, a girl can hardly get out of bed without receiving some suggestion that maybe she should spend the day investigating room availability at the local mental hospital instead of getting dressed and going to work.

I’m sorry to admit I’ve sometimes joined in with this ridiculous chat without really thinking about it. You know those ‘God, so-and-so’s girlfriend is completely mental’ or ‘I can’t believe whatsherface shouted in a meeting, she is crazy’ type conversations. But when I stop and think about it, the double standards at play here are so annoying they make me want to, y’know, get really angry.

And it’s not just female fury this relates to. The dating world is another area in which the ‘men are normal, women are totes insane’ scenario plays out over and over again. I may have been out of the dating game for a few years now,  but I still have friends on the Tinder frontline, and everything they say confirms that this double standard still exists. So here are just a few of the scenarios I can think of where, if a man does them, everyone coos about how ‘adorable’ he is, but if a woman dare try them, she is officially on the cray-list.

  1. Asking someone on a date This is simply lovely and gallant if done by a man. Woman tries it? Must be mental. And probably desperate too.
  2. Asking someone on a second date Oh come now ladies, did you really think that just because you’ve been on one date with a guy and got on well you’re allowed to initiate the second? You be cray.
  3. Start a conversation on Whatsapp Are you trying to scare him off with your lunatic obsessive ways? Jeez gurl, give it a rest. Obviously such chat is brave and wonderful if done by a guy.
  4. Buying someone an ad hoc present Personal note – I bought a gift on a press trip for my current boyfriend after we’d been dating for SIX MONTHS and he has since admitted that he found it ‘a little mental’. And yet if a man buys a girl a surprise gift after like, one week? Everyone wets themselves over how ‘sweet’ he is.
  5. Talking about the future ‘Today he mentioned going on holiday together next year – so exciting!’ /’Today she mentioned going on holiday in THE FUTURE so she’s blatantly trying to trap me in her crazy lady web and I’m going to break up with her. BLOODY WOMEN’.
  6. Asking someone to move in with you Guys asks girl: everyone screams with joy. Girl asks guy: Oh god no. We’ve only been together for 18 months and you want to talk about moving in together even though we’re only 32 and only paying £850 a month each for our separate South London houseshares? YOU ARE INSANE LADY.
  7. Talking about feelings When a man opens up about his feelings, it’s all ‘aww that’s so courageous and he’s letting-his-guard down and you go Glen Coco’. If girls want to talk about her relationship feels then clearly she needs to redirected to the nearest therapist, stat.
  8. Proposing We might think we’re living in a progressive world, but why are like SO MANY women I know just hanging around making passive aggressive comments about engagement rings to their boyfriends because OHMYGOD if they did the proposing themselves everyone would think they were a bit odd. And let’s not even get started on the fact that women always want to get married, which is clearly not because they want stability or commitment, but actually because they are completely mad *bangs head on desk*

 

1. You’re a female in your twenties and work in either PR or media in London.

2. You frequently find yourself in the uncomfortable situation of standing next to a complete stranger, gently fondling avocados in the supermarket.

avocado cut in half

3. Even worse (and extremely likely if you live in Clapham), you often queue behind other shoppers for the chance to fondle avocados.

4. You always have at least six of them in the kitchen, because HEAVEN FORBID you should run out.

5. You’re constantly p*ssing off waiters by going off piste with your breakfast demands (i.e. adding avocado to errrrything on the menu).

6. You’ve seen all that advice from personal trainers saying you should only eat half an avocado a day and you’re just like ‘No, no thank you, this doesn’t apply to me’.

7. Avocados turn up in random places in your life, such as your gym kit (FYI, this has actually happened).

8. You go out for brunch with your mate and they’re like ‘Why can’t we go in any of these places we’ve walked past?’ and you’re too embarrassed to tell them it’s because NOWHERE SERVES GODDAMN AVOCADO.

9. You’ve experienced the dramz of trying to find a suitable ‘avocado knife’ in the work kitchen.

avocado cut in half

10. You find Lidl more thrilling than Topshop purely because they sell cheap avocados.

11. You’re fairly convinced that you could single-handedly turn around the fortunes of Morrison’s supermarkets if only your local store started stocking these delicious fruits.

12. You’ve occasionally become so desperate for avocado on toast that you’ve tried mashing a really unripe one and ended up with wrist injuries.

13. You’ve Instagram-ed an avocado.

14. You’ve read about the cereal café and the porridge café, and have subsequently considered opening your own avocado restaurant in East London.

15. Slicing open your last avocado and discovering it’s all grey and mushy inside is equivalent to slicing open YOUR HEART.

avocado mashed

 

  1. I’m bored.
  2. Think it’s time for my daily check of ‘New In’ at ASOS.
  3. It’s just a check though – I’m obviously not going to buy anything.
  4. Because I have no money.
  5. And no room for any more sequinned clutch bags.
  6. Funny how I start typing ‘a’ into my browser and it immediately knows what I’m looking for…
  7. …almost like I visit this website too much really.
  8. OH MY GOD this stuff is all so nice.
  9. Like really, really amazing. My life would be brilliant if I owned all these clothes.
  10. Oooh except all that mesh lingerie. What is it with all the mesh lingerie?
  11. I’ll just…click…on this coat. Just to look.
  12. Hmm imagine how many compliments I’d get in this buff coat.
  13. I’d be like one of those cool girls off Instagram.
  14. Life would change. Forever
  15. I’ll just add it to my basket for a laugh. Not to buy though, obvs..
  16. And what about this pretty dress?
  17. Colour choices: navy or latte. WHO WOULD EVER CHOOSE LATTE?
  18. It is cheap though.
  19. I’d probably get A LOT of boyfriends if I wore that dress out.
  20. I’m basically damaging my future relationship prospects if I don’t add it to my basket. In navy, obvs.
  21. Hang on a minute…
  22. I REALLY like the shoes they’ve styled it with. Handy little ‘Shop the look’ option they’ve got here.
  23. OH MY GOD the shoes are only left in my size. It’s a sign.
  24. I better add them to my basket before that one pair goes.
  25. CAN’T BELIEVE FATE IS ON MY SIDE FOR ONCE.
  26. Better check the ‘New In Accessories’, now I know the shoe gods are watching out for me today.
  27. Yes obviously I want to ‘View 204 per page’, duh.
  28. Oh man SHOES. SCARVES. CROSS-BODY BAGS.
  29. I actually don’t have a green snakeskin cross-body bag yet.
  30. Every girl needs one, right?
  31. That cool girl on Instagram has one.
  32. And snakeskin is SO in. I want to be in.
  33. It’s only £25.
  34. That’s like, one dinner out.
  35. Okay, here’s what I’ll do – instead of going out for dinner this week, I’ll put the sexy snakeskin in my basket.
  36. NOT that I’m actually going to buy any of this! Obviously!
  37. It’s just an imaginary basket.
  38. If anything, it’s a great way to satisfy my shopping urge without spending any more.
  39. But my life would change if I had that coat.
  40. And I would get a boyfriend if I wore that dress.
  41. Which basically cannot be worn without the shoes.
  42. And the bag is only £25!
  43. Ok here’s what – I’ll buy this lot, but then I’ll never buy anything again.
  44. I mean, if I buy these things, I will have enough stuff. At least until I get old and fat.
  45. Then I can buy new stuff.
  46. Ok here goes – about to make my last purchase EVER (until I get old and fat).
  47. I’m actually quite looking forward to my new shopping-free life.
  48. I’ll have so much time and money! I might take up a language class.
  49. I think I’m being slightly unrealistic. Potentially.
  50. I suppose could just save these items and come back to them later though…
  51. No, no, because the shoes will be gone then.
  52. And I’ll inevitably regret that for the rest of my life.
  53. When this stuff arrives, I’ll have a BIG wardrobe clear-out to make room. Yes siree.
  54. Ok I’M DOING IT.
  55. Oh hang on, can I find a promo code?
  56. Let’s Google it.
  57. How about this one?
  58. Nope.
  59. This one?
  60. Nope.
  61. Goddammit, this one?
  62. NOPE.
  63. F**k the promo code.
  64. I’M CLICKING TO BUY. God they make this too easy.
  65. Purchased! I feel wonderful! And so, so guilty…
  66. Probably time to check Topshop now.