Mash Blind Date: A 35-year-old woman and the dickhead she sadly knows she will settle for

DESPERATE Joanna Kramer, aged 35, has set her self-esteem aside to go on a date with useless prick Tom Booker, aged 38. Will it be a love for the ages?

Joanna on Tom

First impression?

Adequate. He’d barely ironed his shirt and didn’t bother running a comb through his hair or, from his breath, brushing his teeth. But I’m not getting any younger.

How was conversation?

Terrible. The only breaks between awkward silences were to find out that we had literally nothing in common. Telly, hobbies, sense of humour, none of it. But he didn’t talk about himself 100 per cent of the time so he technically gets a pass.

Memorable moments?

There was one point where I thought a gnat landed in my soup, but it was actually just an eye floater that caught me off guard. Compared to the rest of the evening that was a real Dear Diary moment.

Favourite thing about Tom?

The name Tom’s pretty good, not too posh, not too common. Please don’t ask me to be more specific because I was too busy imagining how just-about-tolerable our evenings together will be, once we move in. I imagine I’ll go to bed early and watch Netflix on my laptop a lot.

A capsule description?

Human biped capable of breathing. And hopefully reproducing, because that’s all I’m really looking for at this point.

Was there a spark?

I could hear the last smouldering embers of my self-esteem cry out ‘what the fuck are you doing?’ as I playfully suggested we go back to mine. Luckily they’re completely dead now and I’ll never hear from them again.

What happened afterwards?

We stopped off at a nearby pub so I could take the edge off, then went back to mine for a predictably disappointing shag. He seemed to have a good time though.

What would you change about the evening?

That it wouldn’t have had to come to this? That I would have found Mr Right in the prime of my youth so I wouldn’t have to resort to scraping the dating barrel? Is that allowed as an answer or is it a bit too real?

Will you see each other again?

I’m a single woman looking down the barrel of infertility. He’d have to do a lot worse than that to deter me. I’m already planning our wedding in my head.

Tom on Joanna

First impression?

Bit keen. She kept tossing her hair and laughing even when I wasn’t saying anything funny. I can’t blame her though, my raw animal charisma and liberal application of Joop Homme often has this effect.

How was conversation?

Halting. She’d ask me something and before I finished answering would wince, as if it was so predictable it was painful. Then you’d see her summon the strength to carry on. All I’d said was that my favourite movie was Goodfellas. 

Memorable moments?

We made eye contact at one point and I gazed into the cavernous void where her self-respect used to be. It was terrifying. I felt like she was forcing my soul to commit itself to a relationship it had no power to resist.

Favourite thing about Joanna?

She’s low maintenance. It’s as if her standards have gradually lowered over the years and now she’s hit rock bottom.

A capsule description?

Clearly desperate, but in a Desperate Housewives sort-of-sexy kind of way, not a tragic, terrifying way. For the most part.

Was there a spark?

Absolutely. The friction generated by Joanna’s desire not to die alone, rubbing up against the last vestiges of her dignity, practically lit up the whole restaurant.

What happened afterwards?

We staggered back to hers once she was drunk enough and I treated her to some of my best sex moves. Which admittedly aren’t that special, but she put up with it and obligingly faked an orgasm.

What would you change about the evening?

I would rather I hadn’t been able to see her phone screen when she was texting her friend ‘4/10 but he’ll have to do, I’m all out of options.’

Will you see each other again?

I think so. She made it very clear that if she goes on another first date with another fucking loser she might snap, and though she said it in a light, humorous manner, it was very clear she wasn’t joking. So we’re spending the rest of our lives together by default.

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Let's move to a soulless Midlands new town so f**ked up it has a 2023 calendar of Jack Grealish's legs! This week: Redditch

What’s it about? 

Sprawling lazily across the Worcestershire countryside like a stain on Britain’s trousers, Redditch is where to put down roots if you don’t mind living with the low-life overspill even Birmingham couldn’t tolerate.

It’s girded by a ring road of such monotonous uniformity it’s misery to navigate, stretching a ten-minute journey into hours of wrong turns, missed exits and signs you swear you passed already. The hard shoulder is littered with cars containing the skeletons of motorists who decided it would be easier to die.

And the locals celebrate this. For years the town’s best-selling calendar was dedicated entirely to its traffic roundabouts. Now it’s nothing but shots of Manchester City and England footballer Jack Grealish’s calves. He’s not even fucking from here.

Any good points?

For a characterless shithole, Redditch boasts a surprising, if modest, musical history. Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham was born here, and Mercian Square in the town centre is home to a statue of the legendary tub-thumper in full flow. Though there’s no footage of him thrashing out Immigrant Song with a traffic cone on his head.

It was also the birthplace of stoner indie Britpoppers Dodgy, whose departure after they had a hit caused weed sales to fall so dramatically a generation of dealers had to get jobs in McDonald’s. And Harry Styles was born here but soon fucked off to Cheshire. It’s hard to blame him.

Wonderful landscape? 

In a word, no. Though on a sunny day Arrow Valley Country Park doesn’t look too bad. It’s where dads dodge dogshit while playing with their kids, locals hazily watch the world go by while smoking skunk and drinking Red Stripe, and anglers pit their wits against the leviathans lurking in the lake. Last year’s record catch was a 42lb Asda trolley.

Hang out at… 

None of the pubs, unless you fancy a kicking for accidentally looking at someone the wrong way. The Rising Sun was put up for sale this year, making Redditch a town even Wetherspoons gave up on. Look on that sentence and despair.

The town’s premier tourist attraction, the Forge Mill Needle Museum, is a better bet. Here you’ll find exhibits from when Redditch was world-renowned for its needle industry. The sewing variety, as opposed to the discarded hypodermic syringes which carpet the bandstand in Church Green East.

For those of a macabre persuasion, the Kingfisher Shopping Centre’s Car Park 4 is reputedly haunted which, given it was built on an ancient unconsecrated burial ground, is certainly plausible.

In 1990 the local paper sent a reporter and photographer to spend a night in there with a medium. They saw fuck all, obviously, but one of the pictures appeared printed upside down, prompting readers to swear they could see an eerie figure which turned out to be nothing more supernatural than a ceiling light fitting.

Where to buy? 

If you’ve got cash, out of town. The nearby hamlet of Henley is famous for its quintessentially beautiful olde English architecture and locally-made ice cream. Actor Michael Elphick, aka TV’s Boon, once bought the The White Swan pub and immediately banned bikers. Irony hasn’t really caught on round here.

Or there’s Alcester, a peculiar middle class settling which has no idea if it’s in Worcestershire, Warwickshire or the fucking Cotswolds. Broke? The estates of Woodrow, Church Hill and Batchley are cheap and rough.

From the streets: 

Wayne Hayes, aged 32: “It’s shit here, but what can you do? Any direction you go it’s still the fucking Midlands.”