A box of dates

Last week we asked for your memories of first dates - joyful, passionate or farcical. Here then is the winner, a tale of foodies in love, and two notable runners-up
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Indy Lifestyle Online
I should have guessed, of course, but love is blind. A man who would prefer all meals to be in pill form is hardly going to take you to Le Manoir. But you love him, all is rose-tinted and romantic and reason goes straight out of the door, hot on the heels of common sense.

Years ago, when we could still cope with late nights, early mornings and a lot of alcohol being taken in between without the slightest hint of a hangover, I lost my head to this gastronomically challenged man. He shared a flat with three friends and a floating crowd of what seemed like seven hundred, all of whom also appeared to live there most of the time. Any opportunity for a moment or several a deux was rare in the extreme; a situation I believe this man found most reassuring, as any possible threat of commitment was thus avoided.

However, one night, fuelled by several pubs and a trucker's fry, he said he'd take me out the following evening for something to eat. Alone together at last! I was ecstatic! Fade out the black and white and flood the moon with pink light! God - this was practically proof that we were "an item", which was a clever deduction on my part as the phrase had not by then been coined.

This euphoria was immediately followed by the normal girl's lament - what to wear? I spent ages planning how to look utterly irresistible (I drew the line at stockings. They would have got me his undying love - for that night, at least - but I figured it was a bit early in the relationship to hit him with full-on tart mode. I now realise, of course, that you can never go overboard in that direction often enough for most men. But I digress ...)

We went off the following evening to a little pub in the country, for a pre-dinner drink. It was warm and we sat outside. All was amorous and anticipatory. He told me there was a place up the road where we could eat. When we pulled into the car park I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe it when we walked through the door and I couldn't believe it when we were shown to our table. It was only when he ordered the 24-hour breakfast that I knew it was no joke. He'd taken me to a Little Chef. I married him, of course.

Angela Hanna, Sulgrave, Oxon (whose husband, David, wins the champagne and chocolates from Harrods)

I was a sexually precocious child, but invisible to girls, so when I got to university I thought I had died and gone to heaven - all these beautiful, intelligent women, who wanted to be my friend! However, I soon discovered that that was it. After a multitude of painful and humiliating episodes, I realised that friend I might be, but lover never - nor even boyfriend.

In self-defence, I developed a pose of happy detachment, which I visualised to myself as an impenetrable crystal sphere in which I walked, from the surface of which all attractions glanced. It worked a treat. By the time I was in my second year I had acquired a reputation for cynicism, which was well-deserved, and also for being a man of the world - which was not.

One night, I had to organise a party. "Oh," said a colleague, "I've got a friend coming who's just joined the university. I'll introduce her to you." I had more important things to think about.

The party occurred. I showed willing, dancing with a few women. I kept an eye on the booze and the entertainment and checked that everyone was happy. It was all very smooth.

Suddenly, I heard my friend's voice behind me, and turned round - and experienced the most peculiar sensation. Standing next to him was a girl of about 18, smiling at me. "Hello," she said.

Then I realised why I felt so strange. My impermeable crystal shell was shattered, dissolved and I stood, stripped naked, under the sun. The girl blazed at me out of the blackness, while I blinked at the fierce light on my face and body.

We made introductions. We danced. To my great surprise I heard myself saying, "Let's get out of this" - and to my even greater surprise, I heard her say "Yes".

We went to a pub across the road. We played darts. We drank a little. I was as happy as a sand-boy - with my shell lying in pieces round my feet. She sat opposite me, very close, so that our knees touched. She had a voice like sour honey, slanting eyes of a wonderfully elusive colour set in an elfin face, generous lips over seductively irregular teeth, and an abrupt, chuckling laugh which popped out at the most unexpected moments.

At closing time we stood outside under the lights. The fog was coming down. Suddenly she turned to me and put her mouth firmly and completely on to mine. I dissolved. I was shaking like the Temple before it fell. She stepped back, smiling with her wonderful eyes. "Thank you," she said.

Then she turned her bicycle and disappeared into the mist. And that was that.


My first time was with Leonora Pritchard on the back seat of the charabanc coming back from our Sunday school trip to Rhyl. First of all we held hands for 10 whole minutes, then we shared a kiss. I think it was called a smoochie lingerer.

As you can tell, I learnt an awful lot from Leonora. Prior to her becoming my mentor and guide, I hadn't realised that to successfully kiss a girl you had to avoid colliding your nose with hers. As it grew dark in the back of the coach, Leonora, firmly and resolutely, shoved my chin into the correct position and landed a warm, slightly moist, voluptuous smacker right on target. All the romantic images I'd ever gawped at on the screens of the Odeon and the Princess picture houses came suddenly to life - in glorious Technicolor.

After that, our kisses came in assorted flavours - due to sweets still being on ration after the war. We kids made do using what they called in the posh chemist shops "medicated confectionery". So while we were kissing, Leonora and I were able to enjoy - share - first of all kisses flavoured with extra-strong peppermints followed by one or two ravishing eucalyptus kisses, and finally a long, passionate embrace liberally permeated with Victory Vs.

Now Leonora was also seriously into cosmetics, snaffled from her mother's dressing-table drawer. She'd brought along supplies of Ponds face powder, peach-tinted cream make-up and Tangee lipstick. All these things formed an important part of my initiation, especially the part where Leonora replenished the scarlet paint on her mouth, when we both came up for air. Afterwards I was able to reveal impressive red stains on my handkerchief and wave it about like a flag.

After this I didn't have enough money to take Leonora to the pictures, so my place was taken by another willing pupil, Leslie Merfyn Williams, who had the two bob in his pocket. So I had to wait another year before I eventually kissed a girl in the cinema under the gaze of the Hollywood stars.

Her name was Bronwen Phillips. She was only small, but curvaceous, and with hair the colour of chestnuts. But when my hot and desperate lips descended upon her, they crashed into her front teeth.

I must have loosened them. Nearly 50 years later, this little white-haired lady came up to me in Woolworths and said: "They've dropped out and I blame you. You started the damage that time you took liberties with me in the Odeon."

Gwilym Pennant Roberts