There have been periods in my life in which men have been sadly lacking. Or just lacking. Or, frankly, sad. But enough of them...what I'm trying to say is that we must embrace modern ways in modern times (in the absence of anything else to embrace), and if online dating services are there, like the proverbial mountain, we have no choice other than to, erm, climb up them. [Anyone know of a good editor???]
I'm quite au fait with these sorts of sites, having been introduced to them years ago by a friend on the demise of my 2nd marriage to the then husband. (You remember him - he's the one between the then then husband and the future then husb...oh, never mind. Let's just get on with it, shall we?) Actually, this friend (let's call her Cheeky
Women are (justifiably) prized in the world of virtual flirting, with occasional offers of free or vastly-reduced subscriptions to lure them to the sites. And very few of the men know how to sell themselves. Most of them put things like 'I'm not used to talking about myself...' (yeah, right); 'I'm just an ordinary guy...' (Zzzzzzz); or even 'my friend suggested I do this because she wants to write about it...' (Tsk).
And so it was that I used to open my Inbox to discover 157 messages from men seeking to introduce themselves to me.
I didn't meet them all, of course, but a selection. You soon get to develop an instinct about what someone's like from their style of writing. And I didn't have a single bad experience, either. (Unless you count the marriage that subsequently ensued from one of these encounters. Hmm).
Anyway, earlier this year, when it became apparent that men were getting married purely so they could come on to me, I decided once again to try out the sites. Two of them welcomed me immediately, but another - a large, very well-known American-based site similar to, say, Match.com, if I were to just pluck a name out of the air - took 72 hours not to publish my details. So I wrote to them to find out what the problem was.
They sent back an aggressive email telling me they could delete any profile for whatever reason, any time they wanted. Well, that's nice to know, but my profile hadn't yet made the leted stage, so how they could delete something that was never there in the first place is beyond me. (This the world of the virtual, I suppose). Anyway, I wrote back asking what exactly the problem was. They answered:-
It's the algorithm, stupid!'
Well, up yours, Match.com. Or whichever large American-based dating organization exactly like Match.com it was.
I haven't been on any online sites for a while, but the other day, despairing yet once more of finding a Real Man to have something against, decided to have another go at posting my profile on a very well-known UK site. You will have read that I don't have a bank account at the moment, and so I can't actually subscribe and reply to any men should they write to me, or indeed initiate contact with other members, but I was bored and thought I'd put myself out there to see who swam into the net. [Honestly, someone must know a SWEARWORD editor!]
The site invited me to post a picture. So I uploaded a favourite recent pic of mine, very arty, only you can't see all my fairy lights. This photograph was deemed 'acceptable, but not suitable for use as a primary picture'. So I then uploaded the photograph I had used when I last subscribed to the site, a full head and shoulders shot, which apparently is the requirement for your main image. However, I was startled to find that this, too, was subsequently judged to be 'acceptable, but not suitable for use as a primary picture'. What the...?
The reply by Lisa to my quizzical email stated that it had been refused 'probably because it was a bit grainy', but that she was happy to override this ruling, and she wished me a lot of fun on the site.
I wrote back asking what kind of algorithm it was that accepted people's profiles with no picture of them whatsoever, but that didn't allow a photo of a member 'probably because it was a bit grainy'. Am still awaiting a response.
However, three male subscribers to the site have already marked me as a 'favourite', including a 73 year-old from Poitou-Charentes ('I can be useful around the house...' just don't send him on a long walk down the garden, for God's sake), and a 27 year-old from north London, who is looking for 'an angel-headed hipster'. Well, angel-headed is a start...
Oh my. Whatever happened to the days when men emerged from lakes wearing clinging wet white cotton frilly shirts over their hairy chests? What would it have been like to have had the internet then? Would the men have written 'I'm just an ordinary Mr Darcy, wet cotton shirt, hairy chest...not used to talking about myself...' While the women looked at each other, raising their eyebrows in sync and sighing 'whatever', before clicking over to the next page featuring Brian:
'I have a large collection of moustache wax, vintage Brylcreme tubs and gaudy cravats'.
CUE COLLECTIVE SWOONING.
I SWEARWORD give up.
P.S. There will, I'm sure, be some of you who are wondering how the book is coming on. Well piss off with you. Can't you think of something more constructive to do with your time?