There are many ways in which a gentleman may court a lady, such as singing under her window or having her name iced on to a giant cookie, but if these smooth moves fail, you can always harass her.
Yes, Kinky Doctor was back.
There had been silence between us for months. I usually stay friends with my former beaux but the good Doctor was just too sly and shifty, so I had thrown out his stuff and gradually cleared my kitchen of all the luxury food he'd bought me by taking it into work each morning. I'd unload a carrier bag of Ferrero Rochers and caramel shortcakes and macaroons on my desk and send an e-mail out to my colleagues saying come and get it.
So, all trace of him was gone - and gone gladly - but now the odd little man had re-surfaced.
He texted me constantly and I, just as constantly, was ignoring him. He sent very blunt messages, asking if I had any 'household labour' for him to do. May he please come round to clean the tiles in my bathroom? He could bring his rubber gloves to scrub the oven? Will I let him wash the windows?
With a person so disconnected from reality, there's nothing to do but ignore it.
But the texts kept coming through and cluttering my phone. I'd delete his latest string of housewifely nonsense, then come back to my phone later to find another 12 waiting.
I assumed that a man of his flimsy honour would be texting several women at once. I was confident one of them would eventually invite him round to don the apron, so all I had to do was stay silent and he'd soon crawl away.
On my lunch break I ate my noodles, read my book and cleansed my mobile of another five of his texts.
Back at my desk, I set my online status to 'do not disturb' as I had to read five NHS contracts so I could advise my doctor clients whether to sign them or not. After an hour of reading relentless NHS legal jargon my eyes were blurry and I was tetchy.
I kept having to remind myself that I had a date later with the Worzel Gummidge chap, so must try to dodge any raging black moods. I took my glasses off and tried to relax, so when Robert appeared at my desk to say he had a doctor on the phone for me it was hard to keep my temper.
I jabbed my finger at my screen. 'I'm on Do Not Disturb time. I need to get these contracts done by five. Say I'll phone him back tomorrow.'
'But he says it's urgent.'
'Oh, they all say that!'
'But it's not a work thing.' Robert ducked his head and whispered, 'He says he's your friend.'
'Friend?' I spat. 'I'm not friends with doctors.' Then it dawned on me. 'What's he called?'
Robert told me the name of the worthy member of the medical establishment who wished to speak with me. Yes, it was Kinky Doctor.
I sighed. 'Did he say what he wants?'
Robert leaned down further and whispered. 'He says he wants to offer you his wallet, his love and his labour.'
We looked at one another for a moment.
'Tell him I'm in a meeting.'
That evening, I met Worzel Gummidge for our first date, although my friend Fiona pointed out that, with his thick glasses, he looked more like one of the Proclaimers.
So, I met The Proclaimer in the foyer of Oran Mor. He was there first, polishing his glasses on his jacket. I walked over to him, giving him my best smile, but he just gawped at me. We stood looking at one another till I broke the silence and said hello. He shoved his glasses on to his nose and realisation set in.
Not a good start with the Somerset Proclaimer…
At the bar, he ordered cider in his West Country accent, making it sound like soyyy-derrr. The barman looked at him and went off to get the drinks.
Whilst we waited, I told my date he looked like The Proclaimers.
'Which one?' he asked.
'Both of them.'
The barman presented our drinks and The Proclaimer stared down at his. He'd been presented with a glass of fizzy water, bobbing with limes. He stood there, the image of a bewildered English gentleman.
'Crikey,' he said. 'What did I order?'
'Soda,' said the barman.
'No, no, cider.'
'I know,' said the barman. 'Soda.'
I stepped in. 'No, he means cider.'
'Oh, cider,' said the barman, removing the soda.
We took our drinks to the table and I wondered how to put the awkward English Proclaimer at his ease, but I needn't have worried. After one soy-derr he was fine, spouting out funny stories, pulling out his driving licence to show me what he looked like his hair had been bleached, and telling me how he cried when a fire engine went past him on Great Western Road.
'But why were you crying?' I asked.
He tucked his licence back in his pocket and explained how he gets all emotional when he sees a fire crew speeding off to rescue people, how it's a symbol of society working at its best, and that we're all pulling together to save someone. Yes, fire engines always make him cry.
I just couldn't let this pass. A grown man greetin' at a fire engine? No way. So I threw back my gin and questioned him.
'Would you cry if it was going to put out a fire in an empty building? It's empty, so they're not actually rescuing anyone.'
'Oh yes, that would still get me going because we have brave people risking themselves for the greater good.'
'Well, what if it was a fire in an empty building full of murderers?'
'Well, it's not empty then,' he said.
'Shoosh. Full of murderers, right? Murderers who also kick puppies. Would you cry then?'
'Yes, because they'd rescue the murderers who'd then perhaps reform and become better people.'
'Right, but you'd cry more if it was going to save, say, burning orphans?'
He sipped his cider. 'There aren't any orphanages near me, though, so that wouldn't happen.'
'How do you know? Have you checked?'
'No, I'd be too scared to google 'where are nearby orphans' in case they put me on some sort of list.'
Just then my phone chirped. It was Kinky Doctor again. Harassing me at work and now still texting me. I must have grimaced as The Proclaimer asked what was wrong. I was ready to skip over his question but then, if you've discussed burning orphans on a first date is there anything you can't discuss?
So I told him a weirdo ex was pursuing me and there was no way to put him off. Silence wasn't working but if I insult him or shout at him he'll just get a thrill out of it as he loves humiliation.
'So choose a new tactic,' The Proclaimer said. 'Just be totally surreal. Don't be rude and give him something so odd he can't possibly reply. Text him saying Henry Kissinger has really let himself go or maybe something like that seagull was so cheeky last night. It'll soon shut him up.'
I sipped my drink and considered the Somerset Proclaimer. He's very posh and specky and has a boring job in computers and seems decent and polite and normal so, really, he shouldn't be my cup of tea, yet here we are discussing burning orphans and how to outwit kinky doctors.
Maybe under his English veneer there is hope?
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