1: Into the Minefield…

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that men will never fully understand women, and that women will never fully understand men.

‘Why don’t you start dating, Dad?’

This was from my daughter, Jessica, 14 years old.

‘I don’t really know.’ I said. ‘I’ve never really thought about it all that much.’

‘It’s been three years since Mam went. I think it’s been long enough.’

‘Okay, but what with running the shop, and looking after you two, I don’t really have the time.’

‘Dad. Me and Jack are teenagers now. You don’t need to ‘look after’ us any more.’ She did that quotes-with-fingers thing when she said ‘look after’. I don’t know if she meant I don’t need to look after them anymore, or that I never did. ‘Anyway,’ she went on, ‘don’t use us as an excuse for being too scared to get back out there.’

Wise words, I thought.

Fascinating things, kids are. They seem to have a lot more wisdom than I did when I was their age, and I still can’t decide if kids are adults that haven’t grown up yet, or if adults are kids that never grew up. This kind of wisdom makes me wonder.

It was this conversation that got me thinking about it.


But before I go on, you need to know who I am…

My name is Walter Wiggenstein.

Don’t laugh: I’ve had enough of that.

I was born in 1966, and named Walter after one of my uncles. My parents could never have foreseen this, but the word ‘wally’ in the 1970s and 80s was a derogatory term, used for someone who was a dork, or a bit stupid, or did a stupid thing.

It caused a fair amount of grief for me, that did. At least it’s better for me now. The world’s name for stupid people has changed (I think it’s ‘doofus’ now, or something), though when I introduce myself to people of the same age as me, you can see that smirk spread across their face.

As an aside, there was a kid in our school whose surname was Horn, and was therefore imaginatively called ‘Horny’. It didn’t mean, in those days, what it means now, so at least I know that what happened to me with Wally has been reversed for him. I haven’t seen him since school – God knows what kind of life he’s had since then, being called ‘Horny’ (although I don’t know…if I heard a woman being called that, I’d probably get a bit curious more than anything).

Wiggenstein, I have decided, is a corruption of Wittgenstein. I found out there was a philosopher with that name years ago, and like to think our family came from that line. I don’t want to research this, for fear I might find out it’s not true, and that we descended from a long line of village idiots or something, like they couldn’t even spell Wittgenstein, and I ended up with the name I have now.

My middle name is Oliver, which has given me the initials WOW (I’m sure my parents were well aware of this). This had served no purpose to me until I left my job as a surveyor and became a book shop owner; the name for the shop, WOW Books!, just seemed ready-made.



My daughter was right. I am scared. In fact, I’m absolutely stonewall petrified, and I know that’s the only reason I haven’t being doing any of it. I use the ‘too busy’ line as a cover for my fear, and now I’ve been rumbled, and not just rumbled, I’ve been rumbled by a 14-year-old girl.

So, after some thought (actually, what the hell, I may as well just call it what it is). So, after some procrastination, I started to do some research, which, as most or all of you will know, ‘research’ as a verb has been replaced by the word ‘Google’, and did a search using the word ‘dating’ which came back with 532 million results.

‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’ I thought. Actually, I’ve just written that down out of politeness – what I really thought was: ‘Shit!’

532 million results.

Where on Earth do you start?

Sorry, I have drifted off again…

I am not that interested in dating.

Well, at least, I wasn’t, until I had that conversation, and then I did start to think about it. It’s been three years, and I haven’t been in any kind of relationship with anyone in that time, mainly because I don’t have time for one, or at least that’s what I told myself, and others. What I knew, deep down, was that I was scared to go out there and get one. I didn’t want to go and start dating again – it all seemed to me like one big hassle with nothing at the end but a load of drama.

But these are my thoughts on this:

There are people that need to have a partner to complete their life, and there are people that don’t. I’m a ‘don’t’.

The more lonely you feel, the more willing you are to attach yourself to someone else. This is ‘settling’ for less than you deserve. I don’t feel I deserve that.

I have a decent full-time job, a decent job on the side, go to the gym four times a week, look after my kids all week, and have a night out with mates at the weekend. I only have one night a week to myself, and look forward to and thoroughly enjoy that night.

And how many women would want to only see their man only once a week? Not many, I’m guessing, unless all they wanted was a FB (that’s F@#% Buddy, not Facebook – if all women wanted was a Facebook, it seems to be readily available – it’s not for me, though. I don’t even care what I’m having for my own dinner, never mind what other people are having for theirs).

From writing that list of how busy I am, I thought, you know, I have a lot to offer, but no real time to offer it, and also looking at that list, I thought, that’s a lot to give up to be in a relationship with someone – it would have to be some woman.

And then, I thought about it some more.

As time passed, the seed grew, and I started to think, I need to put a bit more effort in. All those times in the last three years when I could have asked a woman out, and didn’t, even in the face of (in my head) explicit interest. That was going to have to change. I’m fairly decent-looking, am very tall, am in okay shape (getting better as my training progresses), my finances are sound, and on top of the earlier list, I really do have most of, if not, it all, and I’m not going to give it to the first woman that comes along.

It’s okay, I already know: I should just stick a big ‘S’ on my T-shirt and walk around spouting about ‘truth, justice, and the American way’, which would be fine, I guess, apart from three things:

  1. Truth is subjective
  2. Justice is fleeting
  3. I am not an American, I’m English.

The point I am trying to make is that presenting yourself is like a sales pitch. I’m no salesman, but the last time I noticed, if you wanted to get a good response from what you’re selling, you promote the positive things you can provide, not the negatives – it’s best for them to find the negatives out later on, when they’re either committed, or you’re moving on.

I am also starting to get flecks of white hair on top, and have had these on my sideburns for about twenty years. It is a saving grace that at least it’s only white, and not gone. The other good thing is, my eyes are starting to go as well, so it won’t be long before I can’t see the white hairs when I look in the  mirror.

It’s not such a bad thing, the eyes starting to go. It makes everything look better, which includes women. You don’t see the small blemishes they’ve tried to cover up, and there’s a kind of ‘fuzziness’ around the edges of everything, like a ‘low definition’ sight. This is no good for televisions, but definitely makes the world look a bit better.

The ears going would be better, though.

Not listening…yeah, that’s something I am often accused of. What I try to tell people, though, is that I listen all the time, and what people are getting upset with me about is that I just don’t agree with what they’re saying to me. When I do agree…yeah, I seem to be listening fine.

My personality, I think, is okay, too. It’s a kind of mix between John Craven and Darth Vader. John Craven is on the telly. He’s on Countryfile or Songs of Praise or something – I’ve definitely seen his face on the telly on a Sunday afternoon. I am making the assumption that you know who Darth Vader is. If you don’t, he’s the bad guy from Star Wars, until they tried to humanise him (Note to George Lucas: Darth Vader is the bad guy, and doesn’t show emotions, and he shouldn’t be screaming ‘Noooooo…!’ at the end of Episode Three. Thanks to JJ Abrams – he’s put a lot of things right again, which he had to, otherwise JJ would have labelled as Jar Jar (If you’re not too squirmish, check out this link to a cross between the movies Snatch and Star Wars) – it’s got nothing to do with dating…it’s just funny.).

I don’t quite know how I managed it, but I seem to have gone from potential dating to Darth Vader’s emotions, but back to reality again (boooo…!). That conversation with my daughter was eight weeks ago, and since then, I’ve been doing that thing that the robot does in The Terminator, where he’s looking at someone, and their details appear in his vision to decide whether they’re a target or not (that analogy was blatantly stolen from The Simpsons episode, Principal Charming, where Homer actually does that very same thing).

So, yeah, I have to get back into this.


…where to start…?


Link to my books


Author: Andrew Culyer

For good or bad, am just trying to get through this...

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