Writer, photographer, "rapper" and general technophobe takes on the internet in what could be a very, very messy fight. But it's alright: she's harder than she looks, and she's wearing every single ring she could get her hands on.


Friday, 10 April 2009


A few days ago, I decided to take the romantic bull by the horns, and became a fully paid up member of Guardian Soulmates; otherwise known as GSM, which sounds like something you don't want to put in your food. (When I say 'fully paid up' I should probably clarify that I didn't actually pay: I persuaded a friend to buy me a 3 day subscription, and I have yet to pay him back. Somebody paid, though, and I think that's all you need to know.) 

It's been an extremely interesting process, actually. A couple of years ago it would have been distinctly taboo for a normal, sane, relatively attractive person to online date, but in the days of Facebook and Twitter and so forth it seems totally natural to take the meat-market of a Friday night down the pub and put it a computer. 

And, strangely - however modern it is - the same rules still apply. You can see who has checked you out, you can see who keeps checking you out without actually approaching you, you can see who isn't interested (they don't 'star' you into their favourites box) and who is (they do). Just like in real life, there are men who don't have a clue about how to approach a girl: too confident ('I thought I'd save us both time and message you first'), too anxious ('I know I'm not hot enough for you, but I thought I'd try anyway'), too damn weird ('here's a poem I wrote based on your profile information and pictures'). There are men who know exactly how to approach a girl (my favourite: 'Good God, Marry Me?') but - sadly - shallowness kicks in and you just don't want to kiss them. And then there are a very, very few men who you do quite like, but who don't even read your goddamn email.

It's a fascinating site, though. It says a lot about the dating scene. The top female entry tends to be a very, very sultry looking girl who has one line of profile, while the top male profile is very very long and has one photo of a scruffy looking guy with facial hair. I'm currently at number ten, which is pretty good going (although I'm not going to give myself any airs and graces: I'm there in spite of my photos, rather than because of them. You wouldn't believe the amount of emails I've had telling me 'I'm not their normal type but I made them laugh so they thought I was worth contacting'. It says a lot about men that there is a distinct note of surprise in these emails that a girl could possibly say anything remotely funny). 

Further, if GSM is an accurate representation of the single population out there, then apparently we all like visiting art galleries on Sunday mornings, enjoying a good glass of wine, discussing music and politics and travelling in our spare time. (Which is a bit of a shock, actually, because when I go to an art gallery on a Sunday morning I see very, very few GSM types there. Perhaps they all get there before me: I do also like a good lie-in.) We're all quirky, intelligent, interesting and attractive, and we all have a soft spot for opera and stilton. We are all very, very funny - of course - with sharp minds, great bodies and absolutely no emotional baggage. I have yet to find the profile that says I'm on here because when my ex left me I lost faith in the world and myself and the opposite sex, and now I'm just a ball of insecurities, so please, please, please sleep with me and verify me again? Please? Just once. I'll buy dinner.

Ironically, that would probably be the profile I would email straight away: I've always liked a broken man. I'm a big fan of saving people.

Now that my 3 day subscription has run out, it looks like I may have gotten a couple of dates out of it, potentially, but will I meet my soulmate? Unlikely. Very, very unlikely. My soulmate is currently in Tibet somewhere, recording an album made purely from the sound of cutlery, writing a novel and teaching orphans: all while also being very, very naughty and defiantly beautiful, even though he has no hair (it's a Tibet thing. I'm not sure why: nobody in Tibet has hair in my head). He's not online on GSM, perving on women during his lunch break (with a cheese and tomato sandwich in one hand and his building pass in the other). 

But hey: I'm not in Tibet right now either. So I'm not going to count out the possibility of accidentally finding someone who wants to go with me. 

I'll just have to make sure they know how to play a knife and spoon properly first. It's a soulmate requisite.