It’s been long enough. He’ll have forgotten by now.

I’m in my early thirties. I’ve been married (albeit now divorced) and I’ve had a couple of long term relationships. Although I wouldn’t exactly claim to be an expert, I was, until last weekend, confident that I could handle myself on a first date. Put simply – I was wrong.

We didn’t even have particularly firm plans. He lives far away, he was staying down near me, and we vaguely agreed that we would meet for a drink and assuming all went well he would join me for dinner with friends. So far, so easy. I suppose the first thing that went wrong was his name. He has an unfortunate name. It’s Floyde. Floyde Donald. And if that wasn’t bad enough, his full name is Floyde Donald Mudge (my spellcheck is flagging up ‘Floyde’ and ‘Mudge’ as wrong – I know, spellcheck my sweet, I know). The first time he told me I wanted to laugh out loud incredulously and say “You do realise that you’ll NEVER have a wife?” Happily I forbore and instead settled for re-naming him Hugo in my head. But I didn’t stop there. On the spur of the moment when I texted my friend about dinner I said “And he’s called Hugo.” It made paroxysms of giggles rise up inside me. I was fair though, I did tell him what I’d done and he didn’t seem to register the insult, simply remarking “That’s OK, but it does mean I get to choose a name when you come to visit me.”

When? *First inklings of something disturbing.*

I planned my day rather carefully and the last thing I had to do before I went home, showered, changed and made myself beautiful was catch the horse and put her away for the night. That’s all. A simple stroll to the field, slip on a headcollar and put her safely in her stable, which incidentally was one that I’d prepared earlier. Off I went, in through the gate I went – and off down the field at a rapid rate the horse went. She had absolutely no desire to be caught. I am not joking when I say that I was so desperate to bring her in that after trying the usual sidling-up-to-her-pretending-I –had-food-trick, I literally tried to chase after her and catch her. Unfortunately for me she was more evasive than Oscar Pistorious on the murder stand and though I tried everything, there was no way that horse was going to be caught. My watch told me that I only had one option – dash home, get changed, meet him, then try and catch the horse again. There was no other way around it. Hence me turning up to this essentially blind date in a nice pair of shorts, nice top, fully made up and perfumed – in a pair of muddy Dubarry boots, headcollar in hand and my opening gambit being “Hi, lovely to meet you, er – we just have to go and catch the horse.” He looked very much like he thought he was humouring me but he followed me and off we went round the field. Yes seriously. I one way, he the other, between us we tried everything bar lassoing the wretched creature, but to no avail. She was simply not going to play ball. Eventually I made an executive decision to leave her out. Why I hadn’t done this several hours before I have no idea. By this time I was hot, sweaty and my make-up had run. “Sod it,” I said. “Wine?”

He drove and we arrived at a rather nice riverside pub (I’d remembered to change my boots for heels) and I hastily took the opportunity to escape to the ladies to repair my make-up. However, when I got there I remembered that I’d left my make-up in my car. At the stables. I tried my best to scrub sparkly eye shadow from my nose and mascara from my cheeks but wet paper towels weren’t really cutting it. So I put my sunglasses back on and marched outside. I could remove them when I was drunk, I reasoned. On the table, rather pleasingly, was a bottle of wine. With one glass. “Where’s yours?” I asked. “I don’t drink.”

“YOU DON’T DRINK?” (said my brain).“Oh. Right.” (said my mouth). *second inkling of something disturbing*.

There was then an hour where I learned the following about Floyde: he works in a top secret job – that he can’t discuss. He went to a school from which he was expelled – he can’t discuss. He’s had an interesting work life – that he can’t discuss. He lives in a nice town, which I know, but the exact part where his house is – he can’t discuss. He doesn’t seem to have any interests or hobbies (bar cycling, which I loathe) and finally, he’s only had one long-term relationship, that, guess what? Yep, he can’t discuss…..

We turned up at my friends’ house (to my huge relief) and in we went. I was handed a glass of Prosecco and Floyde accepted a glass of water. Pleasantries were exchanged and then our hostess said “So, Hugo, what do you – ” and by mistake as I snorted with laughter, I inhaled my wine. As anyone who’s ever done it will know, bubbles make your eyes water. I sort of choked and spluttered as wine came out of my nose and, I think, my eyes. Floyde just looked at me mildly, like a cow, while my friends looked concerned and confused, as well they might. I know I explained about the name thing but I honestly can’t remember which name they used for the rest of the evening. In fact, I can’t actually remember much about the evening, except our hostess saying several times “Oh Sarah, you do make me giggle.” Which is all well and good – but I didn’t mean to.

Eventually, the time came for us to leave. And of course, the ubiquitous question raised its head, was I going to go back to his hotel for a coffee (or a vat of wine), or was I going to go straight home? For reasons that I won’t bother to go into I’d seen fit to bring my dog along with me so I suggested that we drop him at my house and then go for coffee. Floyde duly trundled about the countryside, doing my bidding and after a while we arrived at his hotel. Happily by now I was too drunk to remember anything at all, except after a time demanding that I be taken home again (by now it’s about 1am). So off we trundled back through those country lanes to my house – except once we got there I realised I’d left my handbag – and keys – at the hotel. Even this didn’t faze Floyde, he just drove back. I located my handbag and somehow fell asleep. When I woke up (fully clothed) it was 4am and Floyde was snoring. I poked him and said “I want to go home.”

“Righty-ho,” he said. “We’d better take you.” Righty-ho? *third inkling of something disturbing*

By now, any semblances of manners that I’d once had were long gone. I climbed back into his Range Rover and allowed him to abandon his bed at 4am to drive me back to my house for a third time. *fourth inkling of something disturbing*.

The following day he was decent enough to come to my house for a fourth time and give me a lift to my car. He was comparatively chatty this time and through my hangover I heard him mention his desire for marriage, his desire to get married soon, his desire for children, his desire for marriage, his desire for a big family home, his desire for marriage (had he mentioned that?) and finally, the fact that his family have a pew in Winchester Cathedral which entitles him to guess what? Yup, get married there. *fifth inkling of something disturbing*.

Reader, I married him.

Did I bollocks. I ran, screaming. Very fast. I may be several things, but a Mudge will never be one of them.

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