As anyone who’s ever taken riding lessons will know, if you part company with your steed, the most important thing you can do is get straight back on again.
It was a piece of advice that, when I was younger, I followed to the letter. Which was just as well, as I had a penchant for riding recklessly, at speed, and occasions where the ground hurtled towards me as hoofbeats disappeared into the distance were many.
I distinctly remember one incident in which I was charging through the Home County countryside under the pretence that I'd lost control - a situation that happened with massive frequency once I’d learnt that parents and instructors were more likely to respond sympathetically to “he bolted” than “I wanted to break our personal best”.
Pony and I were having great time careering all over the shop when I, having misjudged the situation, pointed him at a small ditch. Strides were misplaced, and suddenly I was flying straight between the ears before landing, spread-eagled, in middle of a vast outcrop of nettles. Despite being stung inside and out (nettle rash on one’s tongue is not advised), I clambered back aboard, and away we went.
‘Straight back in the saddle’ isn’t a bad approach, by and large. So long as your injuries aren’t too much more than a case of badly bruised pride, it’s a good way of ensuring you don't lose your nerve and find it impossible to ride ever again.
I feel that much the same could be said for one’s approach to dating. Whatever the outcome of a previous date, one should get back on the metaphorical horse before the last experience mutates in the mind and suddenly is remember as some terrifying hydra and you refuse to go on any future dates for fear of having another experience so terrifying it’s something straight out of Greek mythology.
Which is what seems to have happened to me.
There has been a dearth of dates recently due solely to the fact that the last one was so ghastly I was toying with the idea of joining a convent just to ensure I never have another experience like it. It makes me cringe to think of the evening, and is definitely still too vividly unpleasant to commit to paper, virtual or otherwise (I’ll share it with you at some point, just not right now). Thus the love life has got itself into something of a rut.
And I’m well aware that best thing to do would be to brush myself down, dust myself off, look past any scrapes and grazes and just get on with it. I can hear the voice of Martina, my old instructor, in my head telling me I am fine, stop being silly, and make sure you've got him on the right bloody leg this time.
And yet, the thought of another evening spent in quite so much discomfort, fighting the overwhelming urge to flee, wondering what the hell I’d done to deserve being put through such torture somehow doesn’t appeal.
Because you might bounce when you fall as a child, when you’re older, everything’s a little more painful.
4 hours ago