I’m taking you back to 2016…

I was lashed on my faux leather sofa, knocking back a much-needed glass of Savvy B. I can’t remember why it was much needed. It probably wasn’t. But when it comes to Savvy B, who needs a reason?

I looked down at my phone to see a notification ping up. A Grindr notification. Looking at the half-drunk bottle of New Zealand plonk, I decided whoever it was had better be prepared to travel. I was over the limit. 

“Hi. Has anyone ever told you that you’ve got really pretty eyes?”

Flattery. Will. Get. You. Everywhere. 

And thank fuck it wasn’t the usual opening line of, “can u accom?”

It soon became apparent that Rick, that was his name, by the way, wasn’t looking for your typical Grindr one-night-stand. He was making decent conversation. It was the first time in my gay life that I could have let my Nan cast her eyes on one of my Grindr chats.

Before we said goodnight on that first evening of conversing, he asked me if I wanted to go for a date the next day. Of course, I said YES. We agreed to meet in Windsor at 12:30 for lunch. An afternoon date. How sophisticated. 

I made the decision to drive. I came to the conclusion that if I had my car, it would stop me from getting too pissed. As this is a constant error I seem to have made on dates over the years. No one likes a lush.

Well… little did I know that Rick was, in fact, a lush himself. And the date would end up with me leaving my car in Windsor, resulting in a hefty parking charge when I went to retrieve my car the next day. But I won’t dwell on that and ruin the romance of this tale.

We started off in Browns, having the most delicious lunch. And my word, what an absolutely charming chap Rick was. I’ve just read that line back. It sounds like I’m writing an 18th century novel. But I’m not even joking, he was a thoroughly decent chap.

As for looks, he certainly wasn’t the most handsome grape in the bunch. But there was just something about him that I was immediately drawn to. He certainly wasn’t the usual type of guy I would go for, but for once, I decided I should opt for personality. Besides, going for looks hadn’t done me any favours in the past. 

We laughed. The conversation flowed. And so did the Savvy B. Well, for me anyway. He was knocking back a well-known brand White Zinfandel. How anyone drinks that godforsaken wine, I will never know. I swear it could give you diabetes. 

After a very boozy lunch, we decided to walk along to a pub opposite Windsor Castle. I say walk, it was more of a stumble. And then he performed the most romantic gesture.

A Browns, A Church, A Parking Ticket .. and a lot of wine.

Before I reveal this grand gesture, I must tell you all of a very geeky hobby of mine, of which I indulged in telling Rick over lunch. I absolutely adore visiting churches and cathedrals. 

And as we stumbled to the watering hole, Rick spotted an open church and grabbed my hand, insisting we go in and have a look, knowing how fond I am of them. I could have cried at that moment. I don’t think I’d ever met a man who had performed such a thoughtful act.

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After our impromptu visit to one of God’s houses, we continued on our quest to find our next glass of plonk. Once inside, we found a quaint corner table on their upstairs, outdoors balcony, overlooking Windsor Castle. We moved in closer to each other, clearly apparent we found each other insatiably attractive. 

I found myself holding his hand. An act I’ve never been fond of in public, but it just felt right with Rick. And we couldn’t take our eyes off of each other’s gaze. Straight into the old pork pies, we both looked intently.

Time went nowhere and before we knew it, it was 6:30. We’d been together six hours. Realising how intoxicated we were, we decided it was sensible to get the train home. Going opposite directions, we left each other on our respective platforms and blew a kiss across the tracks.

No physical, on the lips kiss. And no talk of a quick bunk up. Unheard of for me. I knew it must be serious. 

As my train pulled away from the platform, my phone bleeped. I looked at a text message. Rick.

“That was the best date. EVER.”

As my friends will proclaim, I’m not one for being soppy. But my eyes actually pricked with tears. Tears of happiness. 

Within three days, we were on our second date. This time we opted for a Sunday lunch at a pub in Virginia Water. A place I childishly refer to as VAGINA waters. For those of you not local, this is a beautiful lake, on the outskirts of London, that you can walk around. 

After a beautiful roast beef dinner with all the trimmings, filled with laugher, sparks and endless conversation, we went for a romantic walk around the lake. Holding hands. STOP PRESS. What had Rick done to me?

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I looked out at the lake, took a deep breath and stared Rick straight in the eyes.

“I think I might marry this man.”

Obviously, I said that in my head. And not out loud.

About the author: Mark Woollard

Mark David Woollard graduated from Brunel University, West London in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing and Journalism. Since then, he has written for many publications as a freelance writer. He has been ‘The Undateable Gay’ for The Gay UK magazine since 2015 where he documents his unsuccessful dating life. He wrote an opinion column for the national Student Times, discussing LGBT issues.

He also writes educational pieces for ‘Massage World’ magazine, giving advice to Reflexologists about treating certain ailments. He authored a novella in 2013 entitled ‘The Fun and Frolics of FIFI a L’Orange’, the crazy adventures of a drag queen.

And is currently working on a series of LGBT books for children and a collection of flash fiction.

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