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Authors share their worst Valentine’s dates, Part 1

Terrible dates happen to the best of us. Even on Valentine’s Day. Even to authors. So we invited our authors to share their Valentine’s Day horror stories…


Cate Woods, author of Just Haven’t Met You

My worst Valentines date was the one I spent with a D-List celebrity (female) famous for her passion for footballers and low-cut tops.

At the time I was a writer on a weekly magazine, and my editor thought it would make a funny feature for me to spend Valentine’s evening with this woman – let’s call her Abi – so she could show pathetic, boyfriend-less me her best pulling tips. So off we went, accompanied by a photographer and his assistant, on a bar crawl around London.

Of course, as it was Valentine’s night, everywhere was packed with loved-up couples, so the problem was trying to find any single men for Abi to teach me to seduce. We trooped from bar to bar, a trail of furious wives and girlfriends in our wake. And when we did finally locate some single blokes they didn’t give me a second look; why would they, with Abi wearing a top that barely covered her, um, ‘pulling tips’?

We ended up having to stage the pictures, with me pretending to chat up the photographer’s assistant. I think Abi actually went home with him in the end. I can’t be sure, as I was busy paying the bill for all the champagne she’d ordered.


Alex Potter, author of Love From Paris

I was living in Los Angeles and dating a guy who, for the reasons of anonymity, I’m going to call Ethan. For a Valentine’s Day treat he’d arranged massages for us at a fancy spa, with dinner afterwards. I was thrilled. Well, who doesn’t love a massage? What I didn’t know, until I walked into the dimly-lit massage room and spotted two tables and a butt-naked Ethan, was that he’d booked a couples massage. Romantic? Er, I think not. I’m no prude but we’d only been on two dates. I’ve never been so embarrassed; I tried to maneuver myself onto the massage table without flashing him my wobbly bits. Worse was he promptly fell asleep and his loud snores drowned out the pan-pipe music. Suffice to say, there was never a fourth date.


Harriet Evans, author of A Place For Us

I could write an entire book about terrible dates I have had. I never understand why people are squeamish about internet dating or try to pretend they’ve never done it. I loved it, and I loved the idea that it’s a rainy boring Tuesday in November and you’re in a pair of high-heeled boots off to meet a stranger for a glass of wine and who knows where it might lead (in my case almost always to too much wine and a snog). I wasn’t single in the Tinder era so I think maybe it was a more innocent age, but I loved my internet dates.

But my worst date was a bloke I met in a club on a hen night. I was doing internet dating and wasn’t really expecting to pull anyone in real life that night. He was a barman at Browns on St Martin’s Lane and I snogged him and then we went out for a drink the following week. I a) drank way too much b) was impressed when he took me to the (now vanished) All Bar One in Covent Garden and got us a free bottle of wine because he knew the barman there. ‘It’s the code of barpeople, we look after each other’. HE ACTUALLY SAID THIS. I then snogged him for absolutely ages in an alleyway – what else are you going to do on a date with someone who talks rubbish? In a pause for breath he then told me he had hired a helicopter to take his ex girlfriend – with whom he was madly in love and trying to win back, he informed me with puppyish excitement – to the Eden Project in Cornwall the following week followed by dinner at Rick Stein’s afterwards.

The worst bit was that I didn’t really like him that much either (‘the code of barpeople’) but the idea that he was either playing me for a complete fool or found me so totally repulsive he had to lie about a helicopter trip and an ex girlfirend was very, very depressing and brought on a massive existential crisis such as the single amongst you will recognise which lasted into the next morning. Until I went into work and told my friends about it and they all fell about laughing and I realised the whole thing was actually, pretty hilarious. So the worst date ever can always make for a good story.


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… Joanna Bolouri on the three stages of being single