shimmering Sheffield-nights & dating on speed – do you take down all my particulars?

Well, the good news is that Wood, Talc and Mr. J is finally out. And the even more good news – you were expecting bad, admit it – is that I still have lots to talk about with relation to it, the book – come back, I haven’t finished yet!

If ever I do think of the novel in a nostalgic way – I try never to be nostalgic, it’s not good for my health – it tends to be a case of me losing myself in a daydream. Music is an evident catalyst. And smell, of course. As Phillip enthuses:

* * * * *

   But this station scent. Not just the diesel, more its blend with the evening air; the post-ale panting, smouldering tobacco, Charlie – the Soul girls and the smell of them!

* * * * *

It must have been one such daydream of mine to inspire Phillip’s above description. A rare winter evening outdoors, perhaps: the scents; the distant echoes, a joyful cry from afar. Yes, I really could lose myself in the above line; perfumes returning, those indefinable sensations – this is why it’s unhealthy. But then it’s not like I necessarily find myself in an old train station. More a million places, seemingly all fusing together, into one carefree smile.

You probably think I harp on a little too much about life before social media – read tweeters or twits, or social media zombies when we lived more according to our senses, senses to nicely compartmentalize our experiences into the infinitely drawn filing cabinets of our minds… Or have those drawers since become finite? But one of the things to bring me back to this subject was my loving partner, a teacher of Modern Languages.

Only a few days ago, she came home from work with a story recounted to her by one of her colleagues, about the latter’s daughter, and… – wait for it – a not-so-successful speed-date evening. Apparently, the colleague’s daughter wasn’t at all impressed by the 12 would-be-young-and-not-so young gentlemen, in that they were said to be lacking in every conceivable social grace… But then, well, you know what I’m going to say so I’ll wait.

My partner’s colleague concluded with a line to inspire this, my latest blog post: “It must be awful to be single these days; I mean, how do you meet people!”

As coincidence would have it, I watched an episode of Frasier Crane only yesterday evening in which Frasier himself, seemingly never up on his luck with the opposite sex, all to our great amusement, tries his reluctant-if-desperate hand at speed-dating. Evidently, the whole experience is an hilarious disaster, even if it’s not the first time I’ve seen the episode. Except that yesterday evening I viewed it in a different light.

The episode is quite in touch. And I’m most definitely not.

It wasn’t just some fad, then, either, speed-dating, not if the episode was filmed in the early 00s and the colleague’s daughter had her rough night of it only two or three prior to me writing this post. So, has what would once have been considered a desperate measure, a furtive, final plea, quite simply become the norm?

It’s a rhetorical question.

But then I should know this. For instance, I use – need to use – social media as much as the next man. And sometimes even struggle to get an email out on my mini-Samsung for hotmail’s ‘Would you like to date a woman like this?’ invading my mini-screen, especially with the size of my thumbs… Come to think of it, all my email addresses do that. And I’ve often loaded my facebook page to initially deem it some pre-Google Chrome dodgy pop-up, and so looked to check my little girl isn’t in the vicinity. I could go on but you get my drift.

Thus, out of our ability to have the world at our fingertips, a verging-on-desperate society has grown, one in which we’re able to ‘communicate’ with just about whomever we please as long as it’s both from a afar while within the confines of our bedrooms – or wherever you like to do it. And a world in which sex, with any fetish to please you, is ubiquitous, further fuelling people’s desperations – as well as the porn gangsters’ bank accounts; they must be thinking they’ve done something to deserve this – while ever such sex remains cyber. Sex. Cyber. Sex. Cy… Has a ring to it. Or rather a bling, ka ching…

Seriously, though, a consequence of all this – the ȕber-hypocrisy aside; I remember the days when women hated porn – is that women are being exploited more than ever, while young men are expecting everything from them according to what they see on their iphones. What a world. It almost has me concluding speed-dating isn’t so bad, now I’ve gotten that of my chest…

But before my conclusion, come and sit beside Nathalie and Phillip – don’t worry, they won’t know your there:

* * * * *

… I sat beside her and covered us with my coat, where, beneath a full moon, above the houses at the foot of the banking, we viewed a Sheffield-by-night shimmering in the distance…

   She broke the calm-instilling silence, with ‘So what’s your name?’

* * * * *

Nothing paid for. Porn-site Parasites exploiting our self-induced desperations, a no-no. A meeting on equal terms, naturally, for the very act of sharing a life outdoors… How does Phillip put it?

* * * * *

   There was something in the air, I could smell it, taste it. And the estate I was carving aside seemed like a different place…

* * * * *

You see, this is why nostalgia’s unhealthy.


Chris Rose

Your literary, soulful friend

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