Welcome to GhostOfClayton’s Twice Fortnightly blog. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin.
An investigative report into dating websites
Before I give you my in-depth expose on dating websites, let me tell you how my interest was initially sparked. In order to do that, I will have to transport you way, way back in time to meet the young OfClayton just as he took his first fresh-faced steps into that biggest of all Mug’s Games, working for a living. The boy you are to meet had found that a regular pay packet had delivered a previously unaccustomed degree of wealth. That boy also lived in a village where there were few places to spend it, other than the pub.
At about this time another young chap moved in next door but one, who soon joined a little circle of Young OfClayton’s drinking buddies. This man’s name was not ‘Jimmy’, but we all called him Jimmy, because he called everyone else Jimmy. That logic seemed to make perfect sense at the time, so we’ll move on. Jimmy was a whizz with anything mechanical, and scratched a living by fixing tractors and other agricultural machinery. He rented a couple of bays of a workshop from another, though quite elderly, tractor-fixer call Th’od Norm. For those unfamiliar with the dialect, this translates as ‘The Old Norm’.
One day, The-Yet-To-Be-Mrs-Jimmy phoned Th’od Norm in her capacity as someone who worked for his insurance broker. Once the business had been transacted, Th’od Norm asked The-Yet-To-Be-Mrs-Jimmy if she had a boyfriend. She answered in the negative, and Th’od Norm said something like “Hang on a minute, I’ll get you one”, handed the phone to Jimmy, and to cut a long story short, within a few short years The-Yet-To-Be-Mrs-Jimmy became The-Is-Now-Actually-Mrs-Jimmy. That’s pretty much how dating worked in those days. No need for websites like yourmatesgotagirlfriendsoyoushouldhaveone.com, when there were people like Th’od Norm in the world.
Anyway, it so happened that The-Is-Now-Actually-Mrs-Jimmy had a friend who was single at the time, a relationship status shared by the boy that was OfClayton, so they invited us both along to that most romantic of venues, the Birmingham Motor Show, and to cut a long story short, the young lady in question became Mrs OfClayton a few short years later.
Let’s now wind the clock forward to a mere couple of years ago. Jimmy and The-Is-Now-Actually-Mrs-Jimmy had enjoyed many years of happy marriage, when out of the blue something very unexpected happened. Jimmy walked out. Left for good. Why? I really don’t want to air his dirty washing in public, but suffice it to say there was no third party involved, I had a small degree of sympathy for his reasons (but only a small one), and Mrs OfClayton thought he was being a selfish bastard (her language can get fruity when roused).
Obviously, The-Can-No-Longer-Realistically-Be-Called-Mrs-Jimmy was distraught at first, but (as most people do) she did eventually get used to her new single life. To a reasonable degree, she got over what must have been a very traumatic episode, and started to move on. The problem was, times had changed in the intervening 30 years. You see, when people from Th’od Norm’s generation played Cupid, it was all very direct. When people from The-Is-Now-Actually-Mrs-Jimmy’s generation played Cupid, it was a little more subtle. Nowadays, Cupid has moved so far away from the direct approach, that people need to take matters in to their own hands much more than in the past. It wasn’t too long ago that people needing to find a partner might place a little ad in a dedicated column in the local newspaper, but society tended to judge those people as being just a little desperate. Technology moved on, and the same system moved to the internet, but still there was just a hint of desperation about it. Now, however, internet dating is not only widely accepted, it has become a fairly standard way to hook-up with a mate. The-Can-No-Longer-Realistically-Be-Called-Mrs-Jimmy took to it like a duck to water. She lost a few pounds, smartened herself up, bought some clothes that showed off her new figure to alluring effect, and now pretty much uses Match.com like a lending library. Good luck to her.
So there’s been an interesting social change going on over the last 30 years, which deserves some thorough investigation. Here’s what I know (in actual fact, this is my current perception, not based on any actual facts or research):
Match.com was one of the first dating websites. It seems to be the most popular, with a pretty much all-encompassing demographic.
There’s also eHarmony, which seems to be for a slightly ‘better-class’ of love-seeker. I put that in quotes so as not to seem a bit like a snob – I’m aware it didn’t work.
Recently advertised on late-ish night TV has been a website known as UniformDating.com, which is for “people who work in uniform, or fancy those that do”. The first bit of that sentence, I’m fine with. Firefighters, Police, etc. work unsociable hours, and so maybe need a bit of help to find the right ‘one’. The second part of that sentence seems to lend it a slightly seedy undertone that I can’t quite put my finger on. And yes, this is a little hypocritical when my views on the nurses who work for the Blood Transfusion Service are already a matter of record.
If you’re ‘same-sex’, then there’s a well-known app called Grindr (pronounced 'Grinder') you can bung on your smartphone.
The equivalent for none-same-sex people (I think) is called Tinder (or is it Tindr?). I once saw a newspaper article about it where the headline contained the words “. . . gets you more ass than . . ”, so my assumption is that this is for those seeking a more casual hookup.
There was another one whose name I can’t remember, but it was advertised on late night TV for a while. It unashamedly positioned itself as the website for people who pretty much wanted to cut straight to the nooky, without all that tedious mucking about with single red roses and meeting the parents/kids.
That concludes my in-depth analysis of dating websites. OK, it wasn’t all that ‘in-depth’. You see, I really daren’t do any further research in case Mrs OfClayton looks at my browser history and jumps to the wrong conclusion. Especially given her reaction to Jimmy’s departure from the marital home.