So sometimes you have good ones and sometimes you have bad ones. 2012 for me had been a pretty crummy year. Not exactly an annus horribilus certainly not a vintage year.
My grandfather had died after a long illness; my Mum had been suffering from serious illness as had one of my Uncles to whom I’ve always been very close. I wouldn’t say I’d been exactly unhappy in work, but I had certainly been listless, directionless and not really knowing where my life was going. And to a certain extent this was true of my life outside of work. I think I was pretty unhappy about my perma-singleton status, didn’t really have a hobby I was keen on….
So I had been looking forward to a fresh new year in 2013 hoping that it would be good. And to be honest it really didn’t disappoint. Whilst optimistic about the coming year, I shall be sad to see 2013 go!
I’d had two resolutions for this year, and I had a 50% success rate. My first one was to maintain a healthy body weight. Through some disciplined dieting I had lost a load of erm…. Dough in later 2011 and through 2012 and I was determined not to slip back into bad habits. As it turned out I was more than successful in this regard. Bit more on that later.
My second one was a disastrous failure. Truth is I am terrible for getting into fads, in fact a cursory glance through blog history would show my “chuntey” phase (Insert own Chutney Ferret gag here), “food blogger” phase, my “wannabe Comment is Free contributor” phase etc.
So I had decided, basically from having been hooked on The Great British Bake Off, that I wanted to become an accomplished baker. I’d always had a wee bit of a blind spot about baking. I’m a nifty cook (If I may say so myself) but I have always had a pretty good appreciation of flavour, so my cooking style has always been a bit , fly by the seat of my pants and make it up as I go. I see recipes in an impressionistic way rather than a photorealistic one.
Tends to work for the kind of food I cook, but let’s be honest baking is a bit more of a science. Now I was determined to crack it. I was really disciplined (well for about a month) but I have come to the conclusion that I have some sort of genetic defect that makes baking impossible. I think I exude an “anti-baking” field or something. I really ought to get onto the Randi foundation and claim my million bucks. An ESP superpower of preventing yeast from ever rising! Put that in your pipe and smoke it Superman!
Well one out of two isn’t bad eh?
First really good thing that happened to me in 2013 was getting a new job in the Union. I wasn’t exactly unhappy in my role as a Safety rep, and despite what the stupid Tory press will tell you Safety at work is an important thing, but in truth I was probably bored with it. It didn’t challenge me, or excite me, in the way the “coal face” of Trade Union activism does.
So whilst I was disappointed our previous Branch Secretary had stepped down I was absolutely thrilled to be elected into the post (un-opposed, my favourite way). Technically speaking my role makes me the “head honcho” in the Branch, though in practise it actually means that I am the “chief tea maker”. We have not had an entirely successful year, Royal Mail has been outrageously privatised (and sold on the cheap ripping off every single one of us) but I’m proud of the work my Union has done nationally and locally!
Next up was how I fell into doing a Triathlon. Whilst I had been pretty successful in shedding my Michelin Man look, and keeping the tub off, I was increasingly realising that puritanical dieting just wasn’t a long term solution. The truth was I firstly liked food too much, and secondly was bound to go through at some point a time when I just couldn’t keep the effort up. I was either going to have to accept I’d get big again, or….. do some exercise.
At work they do the excellent Cycle To Work scheme which allows you to purchase a pushbike and pay from your earning at work and save a load of wedge on tax and NI. It is a properly brilliant idea and I’d urge anyone to look into it. I took up this offer and got myself a nifty hybrid bike. And I started tootling around on it.
A few weeks later I was at my friend Mary’s birthday BBQ. I still can’t remember how it came about but the next day I awoke to a woolly head, and the knowledge that I had made a folding money bet with my mate Chris about who would win in a Triathlon.
Now I’d imagine anyone who has read this on the back on #GetRalphADate might be wondering if I am some sort of weird hard drinking idiot who regularly makes Dave Gorman-esque life changing bets whilst under the influence. Honestly readers I don’t do this more than a couple of times a year!
Of course when I started to think about this I realised the plan had a slight flaw. I basically couldn’t swim. Sure I could doggy paddle and bit, and had a sort of breast stroke-ish type thing. But I certainly couldn’t do freestyle, nor swim for any great length. I’d got into a bit of trouble in a rip tide in Portugal earlier in the year and nearly drowned.
Decided I would go up to the pool at the Plymouth Life centre and try and teach myself to swim. When I got there I noticed the clear demarcation in swimming speed and athleticism. There was a “fast lane” with super fit athletes swimming faster than I could run, medium lane looked pretty daunting too. I didn’t really want to go in the super slow lane which seemed to be for the extremely elderly and those undergoing physical therapy so I jumped in the slow lane than was mostly filled will older people swimming along at a steady pace.
As I struggled the old dears made, at first at least, jokey questions to if I was alright as they sailed past me, questions that become increasingly worried as I splashed along. Eventually the guard came along and told me to get into the physical therapy lane. Oh the shame….
So I decided I needed some help. I joined the Plymouth Triathlon Club, got in contact with one of their coaches Alan Ward, and arranged some 1-1 lessons. I can’t thank Alan enough because without his help I’d never have completed a Tri. I doubt I’ll ever be a strong swimmer but in a short spell of time I became competent. If you live in Plymouth and need to learn how to swim you could do a lot worse than give him a shout. He is a bloody hard task master mind.
Despite getting injured the week before my first sprint Tri at Wadebridge in the autumn I was able to finish in a respectable (if a little disappointing 1:35, I got hammered in the bet mind. My pal was over 11 minutes quicker than I) and I cannot wait till the new Triathlon season in the new year! It really is true that getting fit makes you happier and healthier and I really have the bug for it now.
The next great thing that happened in 2013 was the wedding of my best mates Matthew and Jenna Travis. Myself and my entire extended circle of friends had been haranguing them to tie the knot for years. I was immensely proud, alongside my great mates Moz and John, to be asked to be Matt’s best man. Went to Estonia for a quality stag do, though “what happens on tour….” And all that means I have to respect the Omerta and not blog about it.
When the day came it ended up being one of those magical weddings that everyone agreed was one of the best they can remember attending as a guest. Getting to be a part of their day was also one of the proudest days in my life. And I’m certain they will have a long and happy life together.
So did I say there was an Omerta about Talinn? Hmmm…. well actually myself and Matt’s other besties were actually unable to stick to this. Truth was whilst in Estonia Matt (kinda forerunning my later International Media Celebrity) became something of a star in Estonia. I’d explain here but it is probably easier, like we did at the wedding, to show you dear reader. Even with you not knowing the people involved I’m sure many of you will have a chuckle at this video!
So the year ended for me with a really weird situation. After another life changing drunken bet my friend, the excellent Telegraph endorsed funny tweeter, Donna launched on Twitter the #GetRalphADate campaign to try and end my perma-singleton status. Which inexplicably became in international news event.
It was daunting, terrifying, exciting and probably life changing I’d say. I seriously hadn’t planned on being featured by Time Magazine USA for quite some years! And I actually went on a date, for the first time since Raquel Welch was knocking about with Dinosaurs. Not going to go on about this seeing as this blog post has already gone on far too long, and GRAD has been done to death in last four blog posts. But it topped off a great 2013 that I actually enter the new year hopefull that I might meet “Miss Right”! And Time Magazine USA (I might have mentioned that once or twice! They called me a “handsome dude” but wisely didn’t include a picture!)
So I have had a great year, and I enter 2014 full of optimism. I’ll do a resolution post tomorrow I think, if not too hung over. So to everyone who had a good 2013 I wish you more of the same, and those who are not sad to see it go I wish you a much better year!
Happy new year!
“When I was a young boy
My mama said to me
There’s only one girl in the world for you
And she probably lives in Tahiti”
There comes a point where any joke gets a bit old. It’s time passes. And clearly both #GetRalphADate and my self-described “International Media
Celebrity” are way passed. I’m not even yesterday’s fish and chip wrappers anymore! The glitz and glamour of Radio Humberside a distant memory….
Whilst I genuinely was wilting under the spotlight for a bit when it was going crazy, it has mostly been really fun. I made a whole metric shedload of new twitter friends; some really funny and interesting people who have immeasurably improved the fun of twitter for me. I rediscovered the fact that I like to write, and I’m maybe not too awful at it.
I had an honest to gods, real life, 15 minutes of fame. Something that I will no doubt boorishly dine out on for years to come! I think in years to come I will have real struggles to believe the last two weeks actually happened. I might have one or twice mentioned Time magazine USA in passing
And crickey I even went out on a date. With a girl. Who was cool. It obviously didn’t work out “like that” but it was a pretty epochal event for me for sure.
That I was in a situation where Donna was going to be prepared to launch such an internet stunt on my behalf was because I clearly had “Sort out love life” on my to do list (become “Rockstar Astronaut” is still gathering dust unfortunately, I wonder if I can do a twitter campaign about that!). And for all I was terrified and overwhelmed I have tried to get down with the campaign to the best of my ability.
Trouble is I really had not given any thought, whatsoever, to how sorting “love life” out would work in practice. Let alone how I would deal with effectively getting propositioned (with I’m sure varying degrees of seriousness) by a load of girls in my mentions column. There was no real plan in place, this was a drunken bet challenge thingy, it isn’t like we storyboarded things! I’d forgotten all about it when it started going mental on Monday morning.
Even now when I have got over the whole shock of the situation I still don’t really know what to do about things. Let’s be honest unless you want to do some sort of “Take Me Out” situation, (I don’t, and Donna really objects to the Paddy McGuiness comparison) then I’m not sure how something like #GetRalphADate would work in practicality.
Three dates a night and me saying caddishly “Ere Sorry Dahhhlin you’ll need to eat up cause my seven thirty will be here in a minute”. And Twitter bios can be ace, but it often isn’t a lot to go on. And if you… you know…. Wanna meet a nice girl you like and you can chat to…. Well 140 characters is a bit limiting.
If only, someone would write a book about this shit. Most of my modern dating knowledge basically comes from fast forwarding through the trailers to RomCom films on DVDs. As far as I can see I basically need to turn into Matthew McConaughey, get in some awkward situations and then the insanely hot girl I thought I hated will turn out to be my soul mate. Not sure how that is going to translate to twitter and #GetRalphADate…. Maybe I need to ask someone I blocked…..
So anyway whatever happens it is now Christmas and I’m away “oop north” to see my Mam. I have obviously met a whole load of new people some of whom have expressed a misguided interest in maybe going on a date with me at some point. I kinda think the sensible thing is to you know talk to some of these people, get to know them, and let them get to know me and then if we like one another go out on a date. You know like they probably do on dating websites, or even in “Real Life”!
It has also crossed my mind, that it is just within the realms of possibility that just maybe potential future dates might not be entirely enamoured by the possibility of my blogging and tweeting humorous, highly fictionalised accounts of our dating process. Even if it is done pysuedonomously (Is that a real word?!?!?!?) Miss X was great sport about that but you know I can imagine it might just be a little bit off putting for some people. I suppose I’ll have to play that by ear.
So I think the overt twitter campaign, at least insofar of me asking out a random person has to end. I just can’t really do that. But you know I’m still hoping to find love. Anyone who wants to maybe chat and see if I am right for them feel free to drop me a line (DM me or leave a comments and I can get your email from that). Donna’s challenge was for me to go on three dates in six months. I’m one down after two weeks so hopefully I won’t let her, and those following down.
Now I have to get on with the important task of preparing from Christmas. Just got wrapping to do. I normally, after about three hours end up covered in selotape, carpet, bits of wrapping paper and bleeding profusely from gaping scissor wounds. With no presents successfully wrapped! I hate it and really struggle. I understand the key skill in wrapping is ensuring the last word of every sentence rhymes, then crossing your arms moodily! Never gets my presents neat though
So assuming I don’t die of over eating or wrapping related injuries I’ll get on the case of not totally wasting #GetRalphADate in the new year. I realise that unless my next date is with Kim Kardashion, or this whole story gets made into a Sandra Bullock type Hollywood blockbuster then this is totally old news now as a media event.
I hope some of you have enjoyed following the events on twitter and here. And I’m conceited enough to believe that a few of my new followers and friends might be interested in what I say from now on. So have a merry Christmas and I’ll try to write something funny again in the new year.
A Former International Media Celebrity indeed!
Well, well, well, what an interesting, crazy, mental week. I think it is fair to say I’m unlikely to experience such a roller-coaster any time soon! So after my whiny blog of Friday, Saturday was the important work of actually getting ready, for an actual honest to gods date…. Eek!
But boy was it a bit weird, it started with me getting “recognised” at the Life Centre in the morning as I was off to do a spinning class… Some people looking in my direction and chatting, I put it down to paranoia but then they came up and asked me about the story in the paper.
Later I went in town to do some shopping was asked at the till by the girl serving me if I was buying said item “For my big date?” It took me a minute to realise she had read the paper and wasn’t just a vague acquaintance. The lads from my barber shop had a jokey greeting for me when I went for pre date haircut and I had some top “bantz” as they say, for the entire duration of my day.
Despite the slightly surreal nature of getting recognised in town I’d managed to probably my most successful trip ever. I didn’t perform an un-anaesthetised self disembowelment but instead diligently shopped with only minor anger and frustration. I kinda felt like I had been through a crucible and “grown”, man this was feeling even more like a made up story. I keep worrying I’m going to have a Bobby Ewing shower moment, and none of this will really have happened
The end result was I even felt that I hadn’t scrubbed up too badly after all. I probably never going to need to devote a great deal of my working week to turning down modelling work, but as I posed in front of the mirror in my new threads I was relatively impressed! I now worry of course that I might end up like Marge Simpson and her one Chanel outfit constantly trying to make a small amount of gear go a long way…. But I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.
So I was glad I had scrubbed up. Had chatted to Miss X a fair bit in date prep and, frankly, I really like her and I was reasonably sure the feeling was mutual. Of course “chemistry” is a complicated and subtle thing and you will never know till you meet in the pink. But I really wanted to impress. Heck I’m just going to say it, I wanted to impress her even more than I had wanted a “Crossbows and Catapults” game for my 8th Birthday. Now I don’t know if Miss X has a “Realistic firing action, accurate to 9 feet” or not, but suddenly she seemed even better than my “white whale” of a childhood birthday present!
And then suddenly it was time to go. I was a little concerned my “cool” had started to slip, I’d accidentally admitted on twitter to being a Gardner’s Question Time listener, been “outed” as a tech nerd on live Radio by Peter Levy on North Humberside Digital (45:30 in if you want a listen!) divulged to the world I couldn’t park my car. I was determined not to make any mistakes….
So I started well by getting the directions totally wrong in the car and causing us to go on a massive detour… Oh my I’d hoped to start out like seeming like Frank Sinatra and instead I was starting out like Frank Spencer! Later chatting about things like how the whole #GetRalphADate thing had seemed like the crazy plot of a Hollywood rom com Miss X asked who would play me in a film version…
Alan Partridge I replied… “D’Oh! I’m out of here” my brain said, Homer Simpson style, I mean firstly Partridge isn’t even an actual person he is a character, and secondly why on a first date would I want to compare myself to him?!?!?!? I must have had Peter Levy from North Humberside Digital on the mind or something…. Anyhow in case anyone (including Miss X) is wondering my actual answer is Tom Hiddleston, yeah I know he is not nearly as attractive as me but he is very good….
Despite my slipping cool, poor directions and conversational faux pas things seemed to be going well. My concerns about mucky Chaperone Puppy, and new threads, were entirely justified. There was a mucky puppy, a mucky Ralph and a mucky Miss X, but I didn’t care because frankly he was adorable! And if I had felt like I had “star power” on Saturday in town it was nothing compared to him… He was Hollywood! Great as an icebreaker for a fellow as nervous as I was, his fierce ways definitely ensured I behaved myself too!
Afterwards we went for lunch, had a nice chat and, it was good. I’m beginning to wonder if all my fears and anxiety about dating have been a little misplaced. I found Miss X great company, she is clever and made me laugh (the qualities I most value) , easy to talk to and really nice, and very pretty, frankly I’d be punching above my weight, I was a distant third on date as Miss X the prettiest and Chaperone puppy the most handsome!
But, despite all that I think it was obvious to us both that there wasn’t the “pizazz” there. For all Miss X was great, by the end of lunch if felt more like I was sitting down chatting to an old friend rather than potentially “The One”. And I’m pretty sure Miss X thought the same. Because we had chatted and had got on well before the date I was pretty sure that my worst case scenario was that I would have made a friend. And I think that is what has happened.
So not the Disney princess ending I was hoping for. I didn’t even get to do a big song and dance routine with anthropomorphic animals (though I did try unsuccessfully to coax Chaperone dog into a little jig).
So then, now what? I have definitely changed, I feel a bit more comfortable and have been on my first date since <REDACTED FOR PURPOSES OF TRYING TO SEEM COOL> and even though it hasn’t worked out I feel much better equipped to try and do something in future.
I’m not sure where this goes now in respect of #GetRalphADate, I worry my “Silver medal” gag in the Lonesome Ralph blog might come back to haunt me. But I think I might have got over my crippling shyness. And I guess a polite enquire as to whether or not someone might actually be interested in a date who posted to me on twitter isn’t actually a a-hole move in of itself. So my Elevenses Date didn’t work out, but maybe Donna’s quest did if I really have changed.
So then ladies you know where to find me!