Telephone Number

June 19, 2012 § 107 Comments

From yesterday’s Times:-

Frankly, it doesn’t make a jot of difference if one is proactive about finding someone, or entirely inactive.  I have been like a hamster on a wheel, all spin and hope, and that has got me nowhere.  So I have given up, defeated and fed up.  I have “let go”, but not with any ulterior motive, even though everyone has been telling me to “let go” for years in the bullshit belief that only then will “it” happen.  I tell them they are full of nonsense.  And I am right.  Active or dormant, a plankton remains … a plankton…remains a plankton.

Some years ago, a wonderful man I met asked me for my telephone number then never rang.  The timing was wrong, according to kindly friends.  I saw him again the other day.  He was every bit as lovely as I remembered: warm, funny, clever, emotionally intelligent.  He was the complete opposite to emotionally constipated Long Shot and uptight, rather humourless (if beautiful) Surprise Twinkle.  LS did most of the talking when he took me on a “date” and asked not one question.  ST sat back and allowed me to make him laugh for three hours during our “date”, but didn’t bother to return the compliment.  I wasn’t on a date with Telephone Number – we were among friends – but there was a two-way, properly engaging conversation, characterised by generosity of spirit and genuine interest on his part (and I hope mine).

I knew he was going to be at the occasion, but I had disciplined myself beforehand.  I had told myself to look my best but to expect nothing more than an enjoyable few hours.  I suppressed any thoughts along the lines of, “If there is any justice in the world, my superb patience should pay off and the ‘timing’ should be right this time and he should ask for my number again and actually ring it this time and…?”  More than suppressed: deleted.

And I did indeed have a fantastic time.  Lots of amiable folk, great craic.  The wonderful man was still wonderful, and apparently still single (though I can’t swear to that).

He didn’t ask for my telephone number and nor did he refer to the fact he had ever done so long ago.

And so that is that.  No spinning or ringing on my part.  Nothing to be done.  End of a shorter-than-short story.

So it is I am sitting here with a total absence of even the remotest twinkle. There doesn’t seem to be one in a gazillion galaxies.  And I have therefore had to pull my Don’t Care hat so firmly on my head that only a goddamn hurricane could dislodge it now.



§ 107 Responses to Telephone Number

  • Emgee says:

    This post gives me a sad. But I know things will be brighter for you Ms P, on another day.

  • Fletch 73 says:

    I would love to genuinely find one of those I dont care hats. I try and wear one but feel I am convincing no one least of all myself. Of course I would rather be alone and terrified of the future than the alternative of being in a nurturing and healthy relationship, who wants that? when the other is so easily attainable. I wonder when the day will come when I genuinely dont care? please God make it soon. I am not sure what events would have to occur to truly make me feel this, maybe when I have completely lost my looks (still grimly hanging on) or when I am beginning to lose my marbles in a nursing home. Oh… but wait, helpful friends say, thats when you will finally meet someone, mmm. Bless you Mrs P, I really feel your pain.

  • Gladys Thong says:

    Dear Plankton,
    Hello, I’ve only just stumbled across your blog (reading the free copy of The Times while sitting among babyccinos, elderly gentlemen and fellow plankton in my favourite Italian deli) so I hope you don’t mind me diving straight in with a comment.
    As sad as your story is, and I do sympathise, there is something missing. This man is perfectly aware that he took your number and didn’t call you and, on your second encounter, he offered you neither apology nor explanation. Doesn’t sound like Mr Wonderful to me. I’m not saying you should have emptied the contents of the nearest ashtray over him, but neither should you be beating yourself up over this rude individual who’s quite happy to ignore your feelings and waste your time.
    I failed O Level Biology but I recall that plankton are creatures who are unable to move independently and get blown along by the current, until they’re eaten by predators. From what you say about yourself, you are most definitely not this type of plankton. In this instance, this man deserved nothing more than a polite but frosty hello, then ‘excuse me, but I’ve seen someone I have to talk to’, and then step away, even if you have nothing better to do than pick at a bowl of olives. Let him feel snubbed. Believe me, you have nothing to lose by treating some people the way they treat you. You might even be surprised by how much better it makes you feel at the end of the evening.

    • The Plankton says:

      Thanks for commenting, though I am not sure that I would have gained anything much by treating him like that. It’s not really me, and I think it’s probably best, in the end, always to be oneself. Maybe? pxx

    • Margaux says:

      Methinks I detect the hand of T Lover 🙂

    • mike wilcox says:

      Quite comical when the shoe is on the other foot Gladys, we men take rejection all the time from you girls during our 20’s to 30’s and take all the risk of it. Things change for single men in their 30’s- 50’s , the ones with any social skills and looks become the ones in demand and can pick from a much wider range of women than they could in their 20’s. Some will take phone numbers from several women a month.

      This is the nature of Single or divorced middle aged men who are not ready to or don’t want to commit again. The general protocol for such men is if there does not appear to be an opportunity or there is not that “Attraction” women are so fond of mentioning for men they will not go on a second date with… they move on to the next one…In regards to her number, it’s likely she took his as well. If he’s like most men her number went through the wash within the week and when she did not call him back he figured he’d missed his shot and moved on.

      • EmGee says:

        This tired old chestnut has been dragged out so often from other trolls from the Man O’ Sphere, that I can’t think of anything new snark-wise to say about it. Drat.

  • Sarah says:

    If you had such a fantastic time with him why couldn’t you suggest something along the lines of ‘we must do this again soon’? Why should he be the one to have to make the effort. Come on P, this is 2012, you can take some of the responsibility for your future.

    • The Plankton says:

      Nope. I won’t be contacting him. If he was interested, he’d contact me and he hasn’t, so forget it. I am not longer in the tedious and humiliating business of trying to convince someone. It may be 2012 but some things never change and men like to do the chasing and whenever I have done it, however subtly, it hasn’t worked. The woman I know who never does has men crawling all over her, desperate for her. She is my age, a single mother and about as far removed from anyone’s notion of a plankton as it’s possible to be. Though she is also a bitch and a whore, so maybe she isn’t the greatest model to try and emulate after all. Pxx

      • Elle says:

        Plankton, dig deeper and you will see that the woman who has men crawling all over her might make more effort to contact men than she admits.

        When I was in my 20s I had a friend like that, men flocked all around her and she was never without a date. She said to the rest of us that she never did the chasing but we found out later that she was lying. She was always calling up men and asking them to meet, or slyly finding out when they would be in a certain location and she would make sure to be there.

        I know convention decrees that men do all the chasing but in reality I think that grown-up men like women to be a little pro-active.

      • The Plankton says:

        You’re probably absolutely right but, still, I have no intention of ringing Telephone Number. I met a man last night who emailed me mid-morning this morning asking to meet up. A famous philanderer, so no big deal, and no great compliment, and I am not interested but it proves that if they want you, they do something about it. Pxx

      • Elle says:

        Why not meet Famous Philanderer for a platonic date if he’s single. It doesn’t have to go anywhere but philanderers are often charismatic. His company might be uplifting and amusing.

        I have a theory that spending enjoyable and mildly flirtation time in the company of men makes us more attractive to men in general. The same principle works for men.

        Philanderering men can give unwitting insights into how the male mind works.

        I think that living under a thick blanket of cloud makes us more inhibited. Italians and French flirt like mad but it often goes nowhere, it’s just a form of banter. Here our fear of being seen as desperate stops us from interacting with the opposite gender and just having fun, platonic or not.

      • The Plankton says:

        I agree. Thank you. Pxx

  • Elle says:

    I agree with Sarah, you should have asked him if he wanted to catch up for a coffee or have another chat again sometime. Without any expectations.

    Sod convention and worn out expectations, throw the book out the window and forget about what people might think. If you’re genuinely wearing a “don’t care” hat you won’t care and you’ll feel more free to do what you want.

    I have been wearing the “don’t care” hat for a while now. For me this means that I don’t believe in the traditional concept of exclusive relationships any more but I’m willing to enjoy life in the meantime even if that means being somewhat less conventional than I have been in the past.

  • Nat says:

    A bitch and a whore.Strong words.You jayloss???

  • MissBates says:

    Your post encapsulates nearly every social event I’ve attended in more years than I care to admit. To continue your metaphor, I now have “Don’t Care” hats suitable for every occasion, from broad-brimmed straw numbers to cocktail hats to wooly ski caps to fascinators — that last one never at Ascot, of course. ; )

    And I completely agree that if a man has ANY interest, he will do the pursuing. If YOU are the pursuer, yes, he might be flattered and “go along with it” (he might even genuinely like you, and be more than happy enough to sleep with you), but only until some other woman comes along whom HE wishes to pursue. Then you’re toast.

    • Elle says:

      True, if a man has any interest he will pursue a woman. We are probably all well worth pursuing here, but the problem is that there are too few men available to pursue too many women. This is the reason that “The Rules” don’t work.

      I have started to look at alternatives to the traditional monogamous relationship, time-share being one. This may or may not be an interim alternative to being alone before I win the dating lottery and meet a man who wants to date me exclusively.

      As I get older the likelihood of this diminishes. I have been pretty much single since 2005. I’m not unattractive, just one of a glut of ageing single women competing for fewer and fewer men. So I either live like a nun indefinitely or think outside the box, live a little and grab every chance of happiness. Carpe diem!

      • MissBates says:

        Hi Elle — The “Rules” (circa the mid-1990s book of the same name) were a ridiculous extrapolation of the “old” rule that a woman should let a man do the pursuing. As I recall, according to teh dictates of its authors, a woman never, ever, ever, called a man, and essentially played “hard to get” throughout their relationship. I would agree that such an approach is outmoded. However, I stick to the notion that the initial “pursuing” must be done by the man, otherwise crushing disappointment is right around the corner. And the older I get, the less such disappointment I am able or willing to weather. Cheers to you — and I mean that sincerely — if you are able to withstand it; you are stronger than I am.

      • Elle says:

        I don’t know if I’m stronger, but the male:female ratio from the last Irish census got me thinking. Before that I hoped that I would meet someone despite evidence to the contrary on the dating scene. My lovely single female friends are in the same boat.

        Anyway, the census figures show that all over Ireland single females outnumber single males from about 25 up, the female ratio increasing with age. For every 2 women who emigrate 3 men emigrate. A foreign male friend said to me recently that Ireland is a paradise of beautiful single women of all ages.

        So what’s a woman to do if she’s single, late 30s or older? Men of all ages who want a relationship will pick a younger fertile woman. A woman who isn’t in her first flush of youth will be sidelined and we have to make the most of things if we don’t want to be alone, for now.

    • fi0na says:

      Miss Bates I completely agree with that second paragraph on recent experience. I have described it as serving myself up to them on a plate. Not (necessarily) in a tarty way or a needy way… It just makes it too easy to “go along with it” and seems to take the thrill of the chase away for them. Ah, male psychology. So to be pursued is the preference but if this is to mean staying home unsought most of the time I’m. It sure I have the patience. You need to at least light the touch paper

      • MissBates says:

        Hi fi0na — Oh never fear, I’m not “staying home.” Dinner out three times this week; season finale of the NY Philharmonic this Saturday; brunch & off-Broadway matinee on Sunday. All of the foregoing with lovely friends, male and female. But I’m still very much “unsought” romantically, I can assure you. Insert here the usual addendum: “….despite being slim, pretty [yes, really], and financially successful.” There are thousands — as in tens & tens of thousands — of middle-aged women fitting that very description in NYC. The market is flooded, and the brutal laws of supply-and-demand dictate that most of us will remain un-coupled the rest of our lives. Best to afix the Don’t Care Hat with a sturdy hatpin, and just get on with attempting to enjoy one’s life.

    • Fletch 73 says:

      I completely agree with that MissBates!

  • Sophs says:

    I can totally understand where you are coming from but I think it will be very hard to not care. Despite her less than endearing features I guess the experience of your acquaintance at least suggests that age is not as much of an issue that people imply? Personally I feel that I attract men and they seem very keen until the realise that I’m not as confident as I seem and then they back away. I don’t feel that I say anything repellant or behave any differently but it seems to be some small inperceptible shift which occurs that changes the dynamic. Instead of becoming despairing I’m trying to become a bit more self aware although not entirely sure what I should change. Perhaps women can suffer from being “too nice” in the same way that men can?x

  • Paul Yeadon says:

    Dear Plankton

    A virgin blogger, but I’m with Sarah – pick up the sodding phone and talk to ‘Mr W’. Come up with some spurious invitation – John Lewis Foodhall perhaps – if he responds, yippee – if not, his loss . We’ve all had to deal with rejection – a little bit more will soon be forgotten.

    But, you are overlooking one thing, men (and I include myself) are usually inept at reading the messages being transmitted by women who are either interested or, indeed, not interested in them. Forget subtle hints, just be forthright. Have just renewed an online subscription following the persistence of one party and the curiosity that engendered . Otherwise that opportunity would have passed us both by.

    As for I.T. , has it ever occurred to you that it may well be the biggest bar to communication devised by man ? Yes, we can instantly get in contact with complete strangers but it isn’t the same as meeting a person in the flesh. Working within a male orientated business, in a small business, increasingly glued to a screen all day leaves very little opportunity for social ineteraction. Even the working lunch is abandoned in favour of the deskbound sandwich.

    Where are the opportunities for bumping into suitable new partners and mutual gratuitous flirting there ? The boom in home working is a similar hinderence. Why have groups such as ‘Meetup’ exploded on the scene in the past decade ? The IT permits it but is it a response to the isolation that IT dependency delivers ?

    As for attraction, it is too hard to define and it is so personal but please don’t stereotype all men believing that we all fall for tall, skinny, large breasted blondes . That just isn’t the case, particularly if said man is mature, confident and comfortable in himself with nothing much left to prove. Give me an enquiring mind and attractive, up-front personality over pure arm candy any day. And the same comments apply to ageism -I don’t need to make a fool of myself trying to keep with a flawless young beauty.

    Believe it or not, it has proved equally difficult to meet a new partner. Ten years and still trying. Throw into the mix finishing the job I started i.e. seeing offspring through the exam and education process, is as much as a bar to fathers as it is to mothers – if fathers are taking their responsibilities seriously . Difficulties have arisen during relationships in the inetervening years through intolerence -either because female partners have not had children and are on a different wave length from those who have bred or they have seen their’s out of the roost and see no reason to watse more time on somebody else’s.

    I’ll leave you with those thoughts . But the loneliness of singledom post a supposedly permanent relationship gnaws at the the soul of man as much as woman – even if few are prepared to admit it.

    • The Plankton says:

      Dear Paul, Thank you for commenting, and so thoughtfully too. Welcome to the blog. Pxx

    • Elle says:

      That’s true and what’s even sadder is that men aren’t as likely to risk their hearts again as women are. Maybe women force themselves out there because traditionally a single woman is subject to more scorn than a single man. Men can wait longer because there’s not as much pressure and they are likely to get single women flung at them from all directions. So for men, the loneliness is less likely to be indefinite if they choose to date again. Finite loneliness gnaws less at the soul than indefinite

    • Jill says:

      I found your post very honest and moving, Paul, speaking as a woman who was married for 30-odd (some of them VERY odd!) years to a man with the emotional intelligence of an earthworm. And I especially noted and admired what you said about fathers taking their responsibilities vis-a-vis their offspring seriously. Actually, it strikes me that you must have been extremely unlucky in terms of the women you have encountered if they have all been so self-centred. I’m glad you have pointed out that it is by no means only women who find singledom lonely after the end of a long relationship; I think that it is all too easy to assume that men find it easier to “move on” – how I hate that expression – if indeed they have not already moved on within (without?) their earlier relationship.

      But I do take issue with your exhortation to P to throw caution to the wind and contact Mr. W. In my very limited post-marital experience, the majority of men still like to make the initial approach, and seem to take fright if a woman is pro-active, however gentle and subtle her manoeuvre might be. My wise internet bride friend says that if the man is not going to take the initiative at the beginning of a relationship, he is definitely not going to become more keen, only less so. Bleak prospect indeed……

      And now my light-hearted recommendation? A visit to the John Lewis Food Hall – or acceptable alternative venue – for one and all!

    • Fletch 73 says:

      Bless you, for your honesty, its true it does always help to remember that conscientious single fathers are in the same position as us girls. We shouldn’t tar you all with the same brush, but there are some first class wazacks out there and unfortunately a couple of bad experiences cloud our thinking sometimes. Self preservation, it’s all it is. And when you are a single mother, its your children you are protecting too.

  • Ali says:

    Now HE seems lovely.

  • Dawn says:

    Doesn’t he just. And they all POUNCED!


    But on the topic of men having women flung at them, I have watched people go far out of their way to matchmaker for single men, but only one person has ever bothered to introduce me to someone in the last 17 years. And whilst I am now a 55-year old hag, I certainly wasn’t when this singledom began.

    BUT! I have firmly donned the I Don’t Care Hat and it is a comfort. I indulge myself by spending my time as I like and that is quite nice of itself.

    I agree with Plankton. Waste no time thinking about someone who doesn’t feel sufficiently attracted to even bother to pick up the phone or email. Do not contact them. As a previous commenter said, they might go along with you for a while, but a real attraction is not there and they will walk away from you in a blink.

  • rosie says:

    I don’t think there’s anything to be gained – apart from further disappointment – by contacting a man who takes your number in the first place and then doesn’t call.

  • kathypan says:

    totally understand how you feel

  • june says:

    Ah dear P, know the feeling, people are always saying that to me, someone will just come along,when not looking, they have been saying this for some considerable time, and no-one has, and i have no confidence that it will happen anytime soon, probably never. Where exactly i am supposed to meet this man i have yet to discover, as my social life consists of going out with friends who already have partners,or sunday lunches with a few more like minded females i have met through the social group i belonged to, the main bit of which is very clichy and with the few eligible men who have ever belonged, snapped up by younger women.Supermarkets have been suggested,has anyone ever met a man on his own, remotely eligible doing his weekly shop! . Friends know noone and POF yields noone, except the odd one or two miles away. Also can anyone tell me why men of my age seem obsessed with motor homes, one who lived some distance away recently wanted me to go to France for a month in his motor home with him. Motor homes and me def not a good idea, im far too high maintenance and my one roomed apartment sometimes seems too small just for me. The last one my similar aged plankton friend did meet on POF, started trying to run her life and tell her who she should be friendly with, she said no thanks,and he was history. Older men do seem much more set in their ways and behind the times than older women P,so cannot tell you it will get better sadly.

    I have a significant birthday next week, this i think is def the age when women cease being attractive beings, to men, except perhaps 90 year olds, as i have yet to see any man on any website want a woman over that age, whatever state of decay they are in themselves,presumably we are supposed to be sans teeth, sans hair, sans everything, i still have my teeth,hair and am slim and fit, for all the good it will do me. Have social events planned with said attached friends,so guess could be worse.

    I wish i could tell you P when you stop bothering or at least seem as though you do,it gets better but it doesent, you often still get this omg, ill be alone for rest of my life feeling and it is scarey, even if sometimes you look at some friends relationships amd think well i wouldnt want that, but as my plankton neighbour says,they have someone, we havent and when your get those down feelings, especially on dark winter days, the summer does make it a bit easier i think, you think why me,im a nice kind socialble person, not unattractive, look good for my age, but there are no answers are there.

    • Fletch 73 says:

      A supermarket, I have heard this one too. mmm… so this will be when my 4 year old has just pulled a load of tins off a shelf and the teenage one is flumping around with a face like a smacked arse because I have confiscated her eye liner, yeah, very attractive. I will probably be wearing tracksuit bottoms and a coat, looking tired, pissed off and wondering what the hell to cook for tea given meagre finances and 2 grumpy children who are not hungry. Nobody in their right mind would conceivably think wow she is hot, I will start talking to her?! aint gonna happen I am afraid. Much as I love my two darling children, they are a form of man repellant and they are with me all the time. It’s just the way it is…

      • june says:

        Ha ha fletch well i dont have any kids, but i have been to most supermarkets in the small provincial city i live in and i have yet to see any eligible males, sometime ago i was offered a lift home by a male who lives near me but he was wrong side of 80 and i fear not quite what i, a fit,slim and youthful 60 plus woman was looking forlol.

        People do make the most amazing statements to us planktons dont they, not only the supermarket thing and he will come along when you least expect it, but hes just around the corner, which bloody corner, theres someone for everyone, well mine is possibly in australia then, do voluntary work, not quite sure how many men one would meet doing that,and of course join something, the single persons group i joined, is so big now i dont know hardly any members, its full of middle aged and older women, all single, the few males that do belong are either very unfanciable or if attractive snapped up by any younger females. Others say well if you choosey what can you expect, well im sorry if women are so desperate they will have anyone good luck to them, you need someone compatible and who you find attractive, is that being choosey, not in my book.

      • Lydia says:

        I wa sibn one today (in high heels as ever) and everyone looked over 80. In fact there were even zimmer frames (this was Waitrose during working hours). It was like a care home. One man was very unkempt and had his food in some kind of surgical appliance. Sadly reminded me of my father in his latter years.

        On the other hand the widower I briefly went out with last year from a bit of N London was enthusiastically one evening going to some kind of local wine thing at a local Waitrose with lots of suitable other people so don’t rule it out.

  • skrundles says:

    What does James B have to say on this, would love to hear his slant on the matter?

  • PY says:

    Dear Plankton

    Having jumped into the lioness’s cage, I think I should shoulder my fair share of blame. I have not been unlucky, just stubborn. My desire to protect and influence the parenting of my offspring and an unwillingness to compromise on that stance led directly to the failure of recent relationships.

    I suspect that few on this site can claim to be either saints or angels, but a primary factor seems to be a fundamental lack of communication and the availability of suitable opportunities or venues to meet. It’s a sad day if the blogging population need to resort to a flash mob in John Lewis. In the early days of singledom, dinner invites were common. These have tailed off as people have given up hope for me or have had to concentrate on patching up their own marital discord. City living has a transient population and without an established and cohesive social heirarchy or the influence of the school-gate mafia, opportunities for interaction quickly wither.

    A beer time discussion with fellow ditched male led to a discussion on mathematical probability of re-meeting ‘The One’ . The various parameters can be amended by the opposite sex as they see fit (eg deduct % of folically/vertically challenged) but I suspect the answer is the same. No way am I a mathematician, but if you ever wanted to know what men talk about on their own in a pub, roll with it.

    Global population 7 bn of which 52% female = 3.64 bn. Realistically my personal search/travel area criteria are likely to be restricted to Europe, North America, and the Antipodes ie 25% = 928m. The Inuit and Sami will have to remain in their icy bunks. Deduct 25% for religious differences = 696m. Age range of 45-55 = 14% gives 97.44m. Take off 40% for the overly burdened and overtly tatooed = 58.46m . Being tall, average height of say 5ft 6ins minimum takes out 65% of the female population (and all of Asia and the Far East, according to Wiki), leaving 20m. A similar education is likely ie 30% with some form of degree, giving 6m of which 50% are already married or in a permanent relationship. Take off the 20% still smoking and apply esoteric factors such as ominvore v. vegan ; Times v. Guardian; the percentage who ski/sail (1.5%) etc. A person is rapidly down to a Global Pool of c 30,000 over a combined search area of c 14,000,000 square miles . That gives c 2 in London – if one includes the outer zones on the Travelcard. Then comes the big one – the intangible, the master and destroyer of all – Chemistry …………!?

    I fear the net result, dear Plankton, is pick up the phone.

    • joules says:

      Dear PY – think the odds could be slightly higher for London. I would put a background population density map in the calculation. Still think P should not call him. If he was interested he would contact her.

      • Jill says:

        I couldn’t agree more, joules. You have said exactly what I was thinking when I read PY’s very amusing analysis of his potential dating opportunities just now. What i would like to know is – what is so “esoteric” about skiing and sailing? Should I fail to mention these enjoyable pastimes of mine when trying to attract (ensnare?!) members of the opoosite sex in case that proves to be the ultimate deal-breaker?! Advice please……

      • The Plankton says:

        Although PY’s argument is statistically watertight I am sure, there are visceral reasons not to call him that would defy all stats. Persuasive though Py’s argument may be, I fear I remain untempted. Pxx

    • The Plankton says:

      This has made me laugh, PY. Thank you. Pxx

  • py says:

    You are of course both right but I did say that I was not a mathematician (nor statistician for that matter). With c 75% of the population of Europe, the Americas and Australasia living in urbanised areas you would believe that hope can spring eternally. But it still doesn’t solve the conundrum of P and Mr W failing to communicate.
    As for ‘esoteric’, there are an awful lot of people who regard chucking themselves down a snowy slope with planks strapped to their feet or bouncing up and down with buckets of Blighty’s briney being thrown over them as futile and masochistic activities. But, each to their own. Me, I’m heading for the coast.

    • Jill says:

      Well, dang me (have always wanted to use that expression), two women “are both right”? – is the end of the world nigh?! Sorry, v childish of me, PY, and how gracious of you.

      If you read back a little, you will appreciate P’s well-reasoned and very reasonable argument for deciding not to contact poor old (commitment-shy?) W. Perhaps like so many of his brethren, he finds it easier to do/say nothing than to be brave and put his cards on the table. It is surely more honourable and deserving of respect if a man who changes his mind about making contact or decides to look elsewhere, SAYS what he is about, rather than just disappearing/going silent. Stick to your guns, P, ‘cos Mr. Not-so-W just ain’t worth another thought.

      And as for your obvious distaste for skiing and sailing, why on earth are you heading for the coast where – I believe – a great deal of Blight’s briny is still to be found,and on a day like today, you are likely to have it chucked at you even if you are technically on dry land……

      • joules says:

        Jill – I think he prefers sailing to sking but not sure. I need to push off for belly dancing class – fairly sure there will be no males in attendance.

      • The Plankton says:

        Thank you Jill. Don’t worry: not ringing and not even tempted or talking myself into it. Pxx

  • James B says:

    Firstly I would like to say that I hope Ms P feels a little more hopeful than when the blog was written. Otherwise, I am sure all your fans on here would like to offer you a group hug if that’s not too corny. Which it probably is, but hey.

    Is the philanderer married? I presume so, otherwise he should be met (for a bit of flirting practice) and because highly outgoing men tend to keep the company of other more interesting men in my experience. So that might lead somewhere indirectly.

    One of the issues I have noticed in the thread has been an explicit reference not only to the book, but to the concept of “Rules” in general. It seems to me that many of us have a natural tendency towards group-think. But rules have exceptions. Progress involves pain and mistakes. There are no rules here in the relationship game, I think, just stereotypes and generalities. We cannot know what the other person thinks, we just make guesses based on our social knowledge and experience. How do you know if Telephone Number does not like you but:

    (1) Has lost your number (and maybe too embarrassed to ask for it)
    (2) Is intimidated by you – Ms P you are clearly very bright and witty and needs you to make the next step
    (3) Was drunk (a little) and has forgotten he ever had your number in the first place.

    Not all men are the same. Not all good men are alphas and are confident. Many decent men are completely incompetent in their initial dealings with men.

    What I am trying to say is – I am a man (last time I looked) and we are all confused ourselves. And every occasion is different.

    Finally, my grandmother (who was hideously ugly but had fine spirit) found her last very passionate 4 year relationship when she met a chap – when she was 89. So there.

    I know it’s hard out there and that the world needs different social solutions to a more vigorous middle aged population. But in the meantime, all our lives need a good arc. Is it possible that putting the I don’t care hat on regarding whether one has a relationship or not is the wrong strategy? Ms P like most normal people, WANTS a good relationship. Why not put the “I have no social fear, no fear of rejection, no fear of embarrassment hat” on instead and see if that fits. At least the hat would be pointing in the right direction.

    A good friend of mine always says that doing the same thing again and again when it isn’t working is the definition of madness. So what to try? I haven’t the faintest idea but why don’t we all try and come up with a solution?

    • The Plankton says:

      Thank you, James B, much food for thought in your comment. Pxx Ps. Philanderer not married. If he were, he would be off my radar, however persistent. I am not ever going to be the kind of predatory woman described in a long piece on the front of the Weekend section of today’s Telegraph! That I can promise you all.

  • PY says:

    Apologies,Jill, but my comments appear to have mislead, as you have grabbed the wrong end of the ski stick. My boxes definitely ticked for both the white and the wet stuff.
    But still only a small minority does despite what Geneva airport in Feb suggests.
    New crescent moon over the sea this evening.

    • Jill says:

      Oh good, I’m glad I had upended my baton in error – you have redeemed yourself, PY, and are restored to my good books! (No one who skis AND sails can be all bad!) Is it really still a minority who ski though? – sometimes it feels as if the whole of Britain has decamped to the Alps.

      Now, while you are lucky enough to be gazing at the crescent moon (absent tonight in Hampshire owing to an excess of cloud), will you give further consideration to the proposition that that P should not even contemplate making contact with the indecisive W? Your argument in favour of doing so is based solely upon the issue of scarcity, but the rest of us value quality over quantity, I surmise…..

  • PY says:

    There is clearly a split in the thought camp . The comments of the Elle’s , Sarah’s and James B’s who believe that doing nothing is not an option if Mr W is indeed so W and those that do not think he is worth the trouble trying to establish that fact.
    James B’s comment that he might be a tad intimidated could be valid , he could equally have retreated behind self protective barriers and is waiting for the likes of P to peer over. The lack of venue/opportunity has been discussed – if a gang of ladies are out having supper at a local venue, what chance that a singleton male will have the confidence to dive in ?
    Similarly, Elle’s comment that P might be out of practise and in need of polishing her allure with a comely lustre by some harmless flirting may also be valid.
    My maths analysis was, of course, spurious but there is a grain of truth. You see, P has already highlighted the potential ‘quality’ of W and there is a clear concensus amongst correspondents , bemoaning a lack of ‘quantity’ rather than there being schools of other fishes in the sea.
    Having provided the encouragement, the decision rests with P

    • Elle says:

      I’m sure that Plankton has plenty of allure, but one can tend to forget this when getting daily bashing from all sides about being single at a certain age. Throw in demographics and no matter how much allure a woman may have she still feels like crap.

      This is why having a laugh is so important, particularly with a member of the opposite gender. Philanderer would come in very useful for this as he might be good fun. It doesn’t have to go anywhere. If other men see a woman having fun in the company of a man they are more likely to find her approachable.

  • Jill says:

    I think that the salient point is that P DID give this man not one but two opportunities to show his mettle. Firstly, when she gave him her telephone number at their first encounter – “some years ago” and he failed to make use of it…”the timing was wrong”. Fine, that’s fair enough. Then the fortunate man was going to have a second chance on this more recent occasion. P knew that she was going to see him, so it is possible that he also knew in advance that she was going to be there. P will have made a great effort to look her very best – I know that from personal experience – and although she had disciplined herself to have no expectations, I am certain that she will secretly have entertained hopes that a second encounter might prove more propitious than the first. I don’t think it is unreasonable for P to have hoped for at least an attempt at an explanation for W’s earlier lack of communication. I do take James B’s argument on board about the possible rationale/s for W’s backwardness in coming forward, but for goodness sake.. we are all together in this tiny, unstable boat, are we not, bobbing up and down and having Blighty’s best briny chucked at us? If the poor chap is not up to having a conversation of that ilk with our revered P, he is emphatically not the man for her, if only in terms of their respective levels of emotional intelligence. I agree with Dawn, that if a “real attraction is not there”, there is no basis for a relationship. I am sure that W is indeed “a wonderful man” as P says and that he and she did indeed have a “2-way, properly engaging conversation”, but I fear he may just be a man who enjoys the company of/chatting to women and is most probably already immersed in a long-term relationship. Some men just like to keep their flirting skills well honed. (Cynical, moi?) I am just convinced that you can drag even the most thoroughbred of equine creatures to the water’s edge, but sometimes he just isn’t thirsty……

    BTW Miss Bates, I just love the idea of an entire wardrobe of “Don’t Care” hats, suitable for every occasion; I wonder, have you heard of the Red Hat girls? Google to find out.

    • The Plankton says:

      Thank you, Jill, for saying a lot of what I should have said myself. I am not sure whether or not him being in a long-term relationship accounts for his reticence, but reticence it was (he is a confident character and asking for my number again, or at least referring to the last time he asked, was entirely within his capabilities, I think. So it is I can only conclude he is officially Not Interested. The Philanderer’s communications, incidentally, are coming thick and fast… Pxx

      • Jill says:

        Well, goodness, gracious me, P – if The Philanderer is definitely not married, what on earth are you waiting for? I think a hot date with him would be an excellent morale booster (obviously, as long as you are even remotely attracted to him, otherwise please ignore this unsought after advice). If you are both aware that nothing serious is going to come of it, I think you might have a surprisingly good time – he would probably be far more keen to impress you than you him, so it would be much more fun and relaxing and dare I say it, therapeutic, than a “proper” serious date. hoW knows what might come of it? You might be the one to reform him! (I am an incurable romantic, I fear….)

      • The Plankton says:

        I fear you probably are (an incurable romantic, I mean), Jill, but hey, why not, and thank you.Pxx

      • Jill says:

        Have just read your latest column in today’s Times, P, and am thrilled that you are giving consideration to a little gentle flirtation with the irrepressible Philanderer (P + P = ?!) Due Diligence, yes of course, but hey – I think you owe this to yourself, if only to reinvigorate your mojo and boost your self-esteem. Who knows what that will lead to?. Anyway, you have my vote – you go, girl! (Just let us know, please – even a tiny morsel? – what happens…..)

      • The Plankton says:

        Ps. Am seeing him but not for a little while yet as my diary is fit to bursting so I am making him wait. Will keep you posted when I do. Pxx

      • EmGee says:

        @ Jill –
        ❗ spoiler alert?

  • rosie says:

    “The various parameters can be amended by the opposite sex as they see fit (eg deduct % of folically/vertically challenged)”

    Oh c’mon! What about Yul Brynner, Telly Savalas, Bruce Willis, Andre Agassi, Seal, Phil Mitchell (just kidding)….

    Even vertically challenged men are never short of dates if they’ve got the right attributes. Look at Bernie Ecclestone. Then again, probably best not to.

    • Jill says:

      Yes, well, Rosie, with reference to Bernie Ecclestone, I am reminded of the famous question asked by Mrs. Merton (aka Caroline Aherne) in her spoof chat show, of Debbie McGee (wife of magician Paul Daniels) – So, Debbie, what was it that attracted you to your millionaire husband, Paul Daniels?”.

  • rosie says:

    Haha, yes, was kind of being tongue in cheek there, but I do think a lack of height is no barrier to men getting a date if they’ve got other stuff going on. I’m 5ft 9 and went out with a man who was 5ft 6 and had plenty of women after him.

  • rosie says:

    … as long as they’re not *too* short obviously.

    • Joules says:

      At 6 ft tall, I really cannot draw the line at height as a criteria regarding dates. I have in the past dated much shorter men – maybe not even 5 ft 6. It all depends on their attitude when I put on my three inch heels. Remember one of them telling me everyone is the same height lying down – and to keep the heels on. Think Bernie Ecclestone falls over on my disagreement in how he has managed Formula One.

  • Yes, yes, yes! Go for the Philanderer for goodness sake. As long as it is just for fun, that you don’t get involved, and thus hurt, why the hell not?

    • The Plankton says:

      Quite so! Date in the diary, so we shall see…!!! xxx

      • Fletch 73 says:

        you know what Mrs P, there is no harm in going for dinner or a few drinks, you know he is probably not relationship material, its not something you are going to discover after getting horribly hurt. you are in control here, it’s always nice chatting to people, he may have something interesting and funny to say and its good practice, flirt a bit, enjoy being a woman, be brave, just do it! good luck! xx

      • The Plankton says:

        Thank you. Yes, am certainly going to do it. The date is booked. See how it goes. Completely in control. xx

  • kathypan says:

    which Times do you publish in? Is it New York Times? i am an australian

  • Chris says:

    Wow, still going !! Look, the problem on here is simple. Too many people in the west suffer from the ‘because I’m worth it’ syndrome. Well, you’re probably not worth it and the people you reject are probably your level in the relationship stakes. Up to you, keep rejecting, be aspirational, refuse to ‘settle’, but don’t moan about it !!

    • Elle says:

      Who got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning? Yeah right, too many people in the West suffer from “because I’m worth it” unlike those lovely people in the East who are grateful for the opportunity to date somebody 60 years their senior and are happy to take off their slippers every night and give them a foot massage. Right.

      • T Lover says:

        You seen my feet?

      • Chris says:

        Elle, sweety, I think you may be a tad behind the curve. The way this worlds economy is going you may be damn glad, in 10 years time, to remove some Chinaman’s slippers and give him a foot massage in return for a square meal !!

      • Elle says:

        Chris, I will be 50 in 10 years time. If my success with Western men is anything to go by, I doubt that Chinese men will be queuing up offering me a square meal in return for a foot massage unless they’re gerontophiliacs. Highly unlikely because like Western men, most Chinese men prefer younger women.

        Also, I would probably have to start training now to be able to give a proper Chinese masssage, it’s an ancient art and has to be learned.

    • The Plankton says:

      I am not moaning about it. Well, I may be, but at least I do it with humour and anyone who doesn’t care for it needn’t stick around, no? Px

      • T Lover says:

        If you had my feet you’d moan. And you wouldn’t find them funny.

        Even Sarah Ferguson turned up her nose (and nearly her toes) when I took my socks off.

        And you leave “Chris” alone. My way of looking at his point is that we set parameters, age, marital history, geographical and so on, refuse to look beyond them and then miss the person who might make you happy.

  • rosie says:

    Chris, who does P keep rejecting?

    • The Plankton says:

      THANK YOU, Rosie! Who indeed? xx

    • Chris says:

      Rosie……I dunno, to busy livin me life. Must have rejected someone, know loads of birds ‘er age on the social, they ain’t got no trouble pulling blokes. Then again they ain’t quality blokes.

      • Elle says:

        “…know loads of birds ‘er age on the social, they ain’t got no trouble pullin blokes…” Do you meet these women at the dole office Chris?

  • rosie says:

    From the same Telegraph article: “Single women, according to a recent survey, are four times more likely to find a married man attractive than someone who is unattached. The fact that he already has a partner simply increases his appeal.”

    I’d love to know who conducts these ‘surveys’ and who these single women are because it ain’t me!

  • py says:

    I do think consideration should be given to the sad passing of ‘Lonesome George’ .

    Male , last member of a sub-species with distinctly singular attributes who , despite the best endeavours of his pals and minders, failed to find a suitable female partner.

    They did try to entice him out of his shell with top tortoise totty from other islands but to no avail . He died at 100, in his sexual prime. I think I’ll be adopting a lettuce diet.

    • Jill says:

      I too, felt a tug at my heart strings on hearing of the sad demise of Lonesome George, and his unfulfilled quest (or rather the quest carrried out on his behalf) for a suitable and fecund mate. However, having had sight of good old George, I have to confess that even if I were a terminally frustrated female tortoise, I might just prefer to head for the tortoise convent than submit to the “minstrations” of someone so wrinkly and dribblesome……By the way, how on earth could you assess if he were indeed in his “sexual prime”, PY, if he had not had the opportunity to demonstrate his pulling prowess for some considerable time, if ever….

      N.B. A diet of lettuce is no good at all for red-blooded men, PY….

  • ianw says:

    An occasional contributor. Happily married for 26 years to a Mrs Standard Bearer, but enjoy very much the insights and opinions voiced on these pages. So I might make two of my own here.
    My wife had a bit of a health scare a few years ago – total false alarm in the event – but it did make my thoughts turn rather unworthily towards the possibility that I might find myself on my own in my early fifties. And I am afraid that at best, I would probably have turned into another Philanderer, with no desire to settle down long term again, with plenty of friends to keep me company and the comfort of my children. I enjoy female company very much, and if such company led to mutually enjoyable recreational sex without commitment then so much the better. Not the really the kind of chap P is looking for, but I hope that at least I would be as up front as her Philanderer.
    Secondly the point about whether this man is married or not is well made. I have a friend, divorced a few years ago who has been conducting a pleasant cinq a sept with a married man for the past two years. Not ideal from her point of view as she has developed a strong emotional attachment to him, but needs must. And then the wife found out, thanks to a carelessly left Blackberry and all hell has broken loose. Really really unpleasant and a situation in which there will be no winners. So P I can only commend you for your “no married men” rule.

    • The Plankton says:

      Thank you, and just to make sure everyone is in no doubt: no, the Philanderer is not married. Otherwise we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. pxx

    • Jill says:

      Sorry, ianw, I totally and emphatically condemn your friend for her affair with a married man – why “needs must” for gooodness sake? If the arrangement is “not ideal from her point of view”, then she has a choice, and the honourable choice is to steer completely clear of married men. I am not at all surprised that when “the wife” found out all hell broke loose. What did your friend expect? Perhaps it was her choice to be divorced from her own husband, and she did not have to bear the sorow and hurt of being betrayed, but to precipitate a schism between another woman and her husband is unforgiveable on any level. As “the wife” in just such a scenario, I wholeheartedly agree that it is really, really unpleasant and a situation in which there can be no winners.

  • PY says:

    Re Lonesome George – with the entire future of the sub species upon his already weighed down shoulders and the eyes of the World’s naturalists upon him , do you think the old fella might have encountered performance anxiety issues ? Could have put him off his stride .
    As it was he was introduced to lots of potential female suitors but all to no avail , despite the valiant efforts of his minders. It’s all in the genes, you see – as ever.
    Regarding his centennial prime , it was reported he could have gone on to 250 – so not even middle aged. Being a committed omnivore, the diet has lapsed already – I’ll leave my salad days for later.

    • Jill says:

      Nope, I disagree PY, poor old gruesome George was never even going to get to the starting gate with a physiognomy like his. I think the anxiety would all have been on the part of the girls. And if he was only two fifths of the way through his potential lifespan, what did he die of? Frustration?! (Sorry, George, but I think this is a cautionary tale of evolution; I gather that female tortoises are notoriously shallow…….)

  • rosie says:

    Chris, I always find it helps to read the information presented to me before passing judgement.

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