OK. All set to write online profile.
Will just get little bowl of granola as deskside snack.
And a cup of coffee.
Will just review my profile so far. Hmmm. I don’t feel those multiple choice lists have quite captured my true self, particularly since most of the options I ticked I don’t even do or like. Must make the effort to present the true Eliza Gray.
This must be how Lily feels when asked to write a composition. I know, I’ll sign in as a man looking for a woman and see what other women say about themselves.
Oh God! This is depressing. All these desperate women out there, trying to sound perky and not desperate. They don’t fool me for one minute. And yet I’m taken in by the men, who are all busy skydiving across Australia and skiing down Everest and running their own successful businesses. Not that I want an action man. Honestly, the outfits! It’s practically obligatory to include a photo in ski kit on a mountain, accompanied by at least one of a) trapezing in full sailing gear, b) paragliding over a smoking volcano or c) sitting astride a motorbike in leathers. What is wrong with reclining on a sofa in a pair of old jeans with, say, a margarita in your hand? Why are they pathologically unable to drink anything other than ‘a glass of red’? And why does it always have to be by a log fire? And why are they all 47, looking for a female aged 28-38. What is wrong with them? More to the point, what is wrong with a female aged 50? Or 43?
A shrill warble. Lily grabs the phone before I can.
‘Yes! No! Yes!’ She responds chirpily, with lots of chummy laughter, pointing all the while at the phone and shaking her head to indicate that she has not a clue who she’s talking to. I take over.
‘Liza, sweetheart! It’s me! It’s me! I’m back!’
‘Cousin Claude!’ I cry. Honestly, Lily. It’s Cousin Claude! Back from her Late-Onset Gap Year in my old stomping ground, South-East Asia. Claude is short for Claudette, which isn’t actually her name at all. She used to be called Jane, but at drama school restyled herself after Claudette Colbert. (Her best friends are Marlene and Clark.) ‘How are you?’ I gush. ‘How was it?’
‘I loved it to pieces! Didn’t you get any of my emails, because I sent hundreds and loads and you told me to take my laptop and of course I didn’t, so I spent my whole time going in and out of internet cafes and it’s so pigging hot, especially in Cambodia, not so bad in Hanoi…’
I squeeze the phone between my shoulder and ear while I attempt to make myself another coffee. The phone promptly jumps out and does a double-flip onto the floor.
‘…and you’d write these long enormous emails and you’d go ping and you’d lose them,’ it’s saying as I pick it up. ‘...So you’d just think well, I’ll have to go and have a swim. Now I want to hear all about you. How is Lilybell enjoying school?’
‘She’s loving it, to the extent that she never wants to come.’
‘Well, sweetheart, that’s sort of fabulous, it means you’re free and you can get on with your own thing.’
‘Yes, well, speaking of which, I’m trying to write my profile for this horrible online dating thing.’
‘Thank God I’m back! The time is right!’
‘But I cannot work out what to say.’
‘May I say, all these multiple choice things are sort of hopeless. It’s like we all put on our CVs for Spotlight, I can skydive, I can fence, I can ride, when we’ve all got vertigo and never been near a horse in our lives.’
‘Exactly – I’ve ticked motor-racing and all sorts of interests I’m not interested in. But it wants me to write an essay about myself for my profile…’
‘Which website are you using? Because the best one I found was Meetmymate.com. A very nice class of man on that site, if I may say. And what’s sort of fabulous about it is, you don’t have to do your own write-up – your mate does it. I’ll do yours, sweetheart! Then I can tell everybody how fabulous you are. So much better having somebody else blowing your trumpet, I always feel.’
While Claude is talking, I email her my shortlisted profile photos for her approval.
‘You can add your own bit at the bottom,’ she’s saying. ‘Marlene did mine, and then I’d look to see who I liked and I’d rewrite my bit at the bottom to suit them. I was changing it all the time. Oh and I said I like people who are spur of the moment. Ritz one day, fish and chips the next. Fun, entertainment. Otherwise I get too bored. And that’s the same for you too.’
Yes it is! No wonder I’m drifting around. I’m bored. No travel. No fun. No entertainment. Straitened on the cocktail front. ‘OK, Ritz, fish and chips,’ I’m scribbling furiously with a pencil stub on the back of a Saga envelope. ‘What about Lily? Should I confess to having her?’
‘Of course, and say you’re absolutely devoted to her.’
‘I thought men wanted you to be absolutely devoted to them.’
‘Well that’s true, but you can say she’s happily ensconsed at school. The cardinal rule is don’t be needy. Read your bit with a fine toothcomb for any shred of neediness. Right, sweetheart, I’m off to write you a fabulous recommendation. Thank God I’m back!’
She calls back within minutes. ‘No, no, no, no! The first photo, you look like a hippy, far too ethnic. And the second! Rich bitch. Everyone can see that’s The Peak in the background. No, Liza, you want to have one done specially with a nice blank background. Get Lily to take it.’