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Saturday 5th June 2004

CNPS numbers spotted 1 (790)
41 now holds the record for the most expensive date yet, as I took her to a wedding in Scotland – not our own I should add, that would be presumptuous and is entirely dependent on the lottery results as you know. Although the wedding itself would be free (in theory, I’d still have to provide a present), the train fare and hotel rooms (it would be presumptuous to just book one room, I felt, even if it was inevitable that we were going to spend the night together).
This meant meeting up at King’s Cross Station at 6.45am, which given I didn’t get to bed til about 2 after date number 40 made me quite tired from the word go. I had not met 41 before and was conscious that I might get into trouble wandering around the King’s Cross area looking for a woman (if only that bloke from Brother Beyond had thought up this excuse), but on the plus side it should be easy to find another date if 41 overslept or stood me up. It would probably add to the costs a little, but in this case I think it would have been OK to assume I could cancel one of the rooms I’d booked. Unless I got the one prostitute in North London who insists that you need to date her twice if you want to go all the way.
As it turned out I was not going to have to proposition anyone as 41 turned up in time. In many senses this was a more epic and incredible journey for her, as she was going to travel for six hours to go to a wedding where she knew no-one, not even the person she was going with. I had to admire her bravery. I think if it I had been in her place I might have just turned off the alarm at 5.30 and rolled over and gone back to sleep.
If you want to get to know a stranger then why not suggest going on a four and a half hour train journey with them in the early hours of a Saturday morning. We chatted and played games . 41 had foolishly brought Scrabble along, unaware that I was autistic and play it at least twice a day against a computer. I wiped the floor with her. “Vegitate” was my favourite play, although because I am writing this on Word, I now find out that I spelt this wrong. It’s “vegetate”. 41 could have challenged. I was using my laptop computer dictionary to check spellings of disputed words. Never mind. Even without that 86 point play I would still have won.
It was probably a mistake for me to play Scrabble with someone so soon in a relationship, as like CNPS it is a skill that is best kept secret until someone is either too in love with you to care, or alternatively is already bound by the strict laws of Holy Matrimony.
After checking into our hotel in Edinburgh we had a coach journey to the wedding that was going to take us nearly two hours. Worst of all we realised that we were going to have to repeat this coach journey at 1.30 the next morning to get back to Edinburgh. The date would end at 3am, more than 20 hours after it had begun. I tried to snooze on the way, but didn’t really manage to. 41 found out about my CNPS hobby and gamely tried to help me look for a 791. I suppose that she was thinking “Well I’m trapped in a bus in a foreign country with a man who knows all the two letter words in Scrabble (but can’t spell vegetate) and has a number-plate based hobby – I guess I’d better make the best of it.”
By the time we arrived at the beautiful country house that was the location of the wedding we were tired and frazzled and the date was already some eight hours old.
Alcohol revived me in the short term and the wedding was fun for me (but then I knew the people participating in it). There was great food and fun music and moving speeches and thankfully no religious aspect. People found out why 41 was here and looked at her with a strange mixture of disbelief, pity and respect. “What on earth possessed you to agree to this?” asked at least one fellow guest. But 41 remained dignified and confident in herself and was the perfect companion.
We wandered the extensive gardens of the home together and came to a steep grassy bank. When I was six it would have been the most exciting thing in the world to roll down this. But now I was 36 and had an expensive phone and camera in my pockets.
So I put the electronic equipment on the grass and threw myself down. It was very exhilarating and more fun than any drug I have ever tried. It made me giddy and opened up the window of my soul. 41 declined the invitation to give it a go. Like me in Richmond Park she no doubt felt uncomfortable at the unfettered display of joy. Also she hadn’t been drinking alcohol like I had. Which is a sure way to loose my inhibitions.
But after all this excitement and even some fevered dance-floor action I became tired and had to lie down for a bit. I felt guilty for leaving 41 alone in a party of strangers, but she coped well enough. I roused myself for the fireworks, but soon I was collapsing with tiredness again. Had I not had 40 dates before I am sure my energy wouldn’t have left me so soon, but I am now just a withered husk and have aged beyond my years.
It was a relief when the bus arrived and I managed to sleep for most of the way back. The streets of Edinburgh were packed with gangs of shouting men and flimsily-clad shrieking women. The men may have been strange and threatening and too boisterous, but at least they were managing to stay awake. Did I catch 41 looking at these thugs with a look of longing in her eye? I don’t know.
As it turned out we did need two rooms after all. Which was lucky for me, because at this point I would have turned down a ménage-a quatre with the Corrs (the Man Corr would not be invited along) in favour of a proper night’s sleep.
My narcolepsy and the travelling aside, today was a lovely date and would recommend 41 as a great companion to anyone – except now she is mine, along with all the others, so keep your grubby mitts off her. All right?

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