I had some, I think understandable, reservations about meeting The Athlete: being set up on a date by Old Friend is, as I've found, fraught with danger. However, OF finally seems to have grasped the concept that I’m more than capable of finding my own thoroughly unsuitable men, and it’s the non-gittish ones I have trouble tracking down.
And so, one Friday evening, I made my way to the Café Boheme in Soho to see whether The Athlete was as nice in person as he is on paper.
Which, pleasantly surprisingly, he is.
On my way now, my text said, as I made my way from the pub where I’d had a quick post-work drink with Hot Flyer Boy. To avoid any awkward I-have-no-idea-what-you-look-like incidents, am in full-length coat, pink scarf and embarrassingly scruffy blonde hair. Sorry about that.
“You don’t look scruffy at all,” a 6’2”, attractive blonde guy said to me, smiling (and fibbing), as I blustered in through the door. “Come on, I’ve got us a table.”
And there followed a really rather good evening. It wasn’t the great first date that I had with the Sports Nut, but it definitely wasn’t the night of deep and depressing mediocrity that I had with Lawyer (?) from Bar, either. There was no immediate, “must have you now” chemistry but, given the people I’ve had that with in recent years, and has been considered, that's not necessarily a deal-breaker.
With a background in civil engineering, The Athlete is, unsurprisingly, far less 'meeja' than SN (he gave me a totally blank look when I mentioned Twitter in passing; possibly No Bad Thing), but then he is also just a bit more (if you’ll forgive the Mitfordism) PLU.
He’s single, straight and as far as I can tell, doesn’t have a fetish for the coke (yes, kids - I’ve now added that to the things I’d like in a partner, given previous experiences. Not too much to ask, one might think). He’s well-mannered, and funny. He’s not yet thirty, owns his own home, and passes the “eaten alive by friends” test.
He’s bright, and ambitious: currently doing an MBA, he has two scholarships to one of the country’s most prestigious programmes, and an internship lined up for the summer. He’s looking to go into managament consultancy which shows, admittedly, a lack of imagination, but very good future earning potential.
And, something that I’ve not come across in anyone for rather a long time, The Athlete is also agreeably modest.
Discussing weekend plans, he talked about hitting the gym: “I, er, I do a bit of sport competitively, so I’m training at the moment.”
Having been told by Old Friend that The Athlete was an ex-GB triathlete, I pushed for a little more information.
“Yeah, well, I’ve got into triathlons recently, they’re a lot of fun. I was on the GB decathlon team a while ago, but I've decided triathlons are more my thing.”
Wow. Overachiever extraordinaire.
And so, when he gets back from his trip to Japan in three weeks’ time, I think I’ll probably catch up with him again. Not that I’ll admit that to Old Friend: there’s a supper at Le Gavroche at stake.