Thursday, March 27, 2008

Perverse Pleasures of the Single Girl: #1

Visiting your ex-boyfriend's wedding registry online to see what people haven't bought him and his new wife.

Problem: when someone buys him that fucking $500 KitchenAid mixer that you basically HAVE to get married to get, the one that you just can't justify for your little galley kitchen in your studio apartment. You know. The Couples Mixer.

Dirty Bruises

So I have a friend who tells me she enjoys a little nip now and then. Not like, a-little-swig-from-a-bottle-of-Smirnoff nip, but an "ooh, you bit me, how saucy!" type nip. Actually, more like, a "please bite me, I really like it" nip. After enjoying a little weekend romp in which some lust-more-than-love-biting may or may not have taken place, our friend had a visit to the doctor for her regular checkup and her annual EKG, which required her to get semi-naked, which she did, without thinking about some of the more interesting, purply-blue bruises she might have, with and without teethmarks, as a souvenir of the weekend's festivities. Here's how it went down. Try not to laugh as much as I did:

The nurse is somewhat quiet as she attaches electrodes to my friend's chest, except there is some heavy sighing and worried lip biting. My friend thought maybe the nurse was just having a hard time connecting all the electrical wires. Then, the nurse says abruptly, "Will you excuse me for a minute?!" My friend doesn't think anything of it and lies there lazily staring at the fluorescent light tube in the ceiling and the various birth control posters on the wall, waiting for the nurse to come back, trying to pretend she isn't in the least bit uncomfortable to be wearing a paper dress.

The nurse arrives back with the doctor in tow, and in a low voice, starts pointing out some of the naughty bruises. The doctor takes my friend's hand, and she stares down intently and determinedly into her face.

"Now, I'm concerned about some of these bruises," the doctor said. "Are you...are you...self-harming?"

My friend was mortified. She hadn't even thought about what her little habit might look like to an outsider. And she was also kind of appalled that she seemed like the type of person that both the nurse and the doctor thought MIGHT self-harm. But what was she supposed to say?! "No, no, I just like it when my lovers bite me?" Probably that's what she should have said, but somehow, she couldn't bring herself to disclose this to her doctor. I mean, the doctor has already seen her vagina on a pretty regular basis, so you'd think she'd be okay with discussing a little bruising, but no. She just couldn't do it.

", no, no self-harming," my friend said lamely, staring at the doctor with eyes that were simply begging the doctor not to ask the next natural question. Please, please, just let it go.

"So...someone else did this to you?" the doctor asked, even more concerned.

My friend was now beet red AND black and blue. "Yes," she mumbled.

She and the doctor stared at each other for another minute or so. No words passed, but woman-to-woman, the doctor got the idea.

"And," she said, trying to think of what to say next, " them to?"

"Yes," said my friend, feeling a wild desire to laugh and cover her face with her paper dress at the same time.

"OKAAAAAY, then!" said the doctor cheerfully. "I guess we should think about getting you some iron if you're bruising that easily! Carry on, nurse!"

A little lesson for all of us out there. If you're into any kind of nastiness that could be disfiguring, best be taking your supplements.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Return of High Bids

Very relieved to report that I just had coffee date #2 with Sound Guy.  I had literally wrote off Sound Guy THIS MORNING; last Sunday (read: 3 days post our first coffee date and attempted Inukshuk ascent) I had talked to him on the phone, he appeared to have put up his wall of reserve again, and shot me down when I kind of hinted that perhaps we should hang out that night...maybe my hints were too oblique, but I'm not good at the direct asking-guys-out thing yet. Following the Sunday Night Shootdown, I had talked to him a couple times on MSN, always at my instigation, to lacklustre response.  This morning he came online and I wished him a happy Bunny Day (it's Easter Sunday), and after a brief chat which involved me asking him questions and him providing terse replies, he signed off.  

"Oh, that is IT," I grumbled to myself.  "If HE wants to talk to me, he can CALL me."  I resolved at that point not to initiate any further contact with Sound Guy.  I admit I was feeling a little bruised about it, because I had thought we had hit it off so well the last time we met, and I was more than a little freaked out that my date-perception was so off that here I was thinking I'd hear from him the next day and he really wasn't interested in talking to me again.  

Anyways, went out and about and got home around 3:30, when, wouldn't you know it, Sound Guy signs in to MSN and immediately sends me a link to a You Tube video he thought I would find funny.  I casually asked him what time he was going to an Easter dinner he had mentioned earlier, and then, boom! He was asking me if I wanted to do coffee and was at my house in 20 minutes.  Yay.  Vindication.  My date-radar isn't as wonky as I had come to accept it might be. 

Anyways, coffee again, good chat again.  I said I was happy he had gotten back in touch and revealed that I had felt a little bit rejected the last few times we talked so he got the message that he needed to make a little bit more of an effort if he was interested (and I think it made it clear that I was interested?)   When Sound Guy dropped me off at home, we were still talking a mile a minute, and he made a point of saying he had a funny story that he would tell me "the next time I call you, or see you in person" which totally commits him to seeing me again now.   Wizard. 

When is Lunch More than a Lunch?

Here's one from my Lunch Buddy:

So L.B. was at a conference a few weeks ago and sat next to a delightful woman who he hit it off with right away.  He thought she was fun and smart but tells me she was immediately written off in a romantic sense because: a) L.B.'s girlfriend was moving in that week, and b) she was too tall.  Being 5 foot nothing myself, I took great delight in that last reason.  "But was she cute?" I persisted.  "Totally irrelevant," said L.B. "I couldn't even TELL you if she was.  She was just tall."   Hee.   Because she totally didn't register on the dating radar, L.B. kind of, sort of neglected to mention that he had a girlfriend.  

At the end of the conference L.B. and Tall Girl exchanged business cards, and L.B. suggested they do lunch sometime.  Tall Girl agreed, and sure enough, the next week, she called L.B. and they made lunch plans.  

Now, Lunch went fine.  Tall Girl and L.B. still had lots to talk about, it was a good lunch, they split the bill, and they left.  As far as Lunches go, it was a good one.  I resisted from being a jealous lunch buddy at this point and asking if she Lunched better than I did.  

However, L.B. was now panicking.  When he got back to the office, there was a "thanks for lunch, I had a really good time" email from Tall Girl.    "We SPLIT the bill," he said to me worriedly.  "I didn't even pay.  Do you think she wants to date me?"

Sadly, L.B. has indeed gotten himself into quite a predicament.  You don't sit next to, laugh-and-joke-for-hours, then lunch with, a girl, and not mention that, oh yeah, you have a girlfriend.  It may be that Tall Girl isn't interested in him all in this sense, but he hasn't been fully forthcoming, so the issue hasn't even been, uh, tabled.  Now we had to decide how to bring it up at this late juncture without L.B. seeming like he thought he was the shit and of course she wanted to date him, or that the initial lunch invitation had been a date at all.   He still wanted to Lunch with Tall Girl, just not date her. 

"I'm just going to phone her and tell her," he said.   "Noooo," I countered.  "That makes you seem arrogant, and her answer, no matter what, will be 'How dare you, who said I was interested in dating you?'"   And it DOES seem arrogant.  She may really only be interested in Lunch.  L.B. wasn't so sure.   He suggested perhaps making another lunch date and gratuitously "we"-ing her with girlfriend comments until she got the picture.  I also felt this was out of line, as while this sends the immediate message to Tall Girl that she is being shot down on the dating front, it could again provoke the overly defensive "fuck you, who said I wanted to date you?" reaction.  She needed to be able to recover from the rejection, whether necessary or not, in private.  No, I decided.  It had to be the offhand mention of the girlfriend in a friendly, "we should do lunch again" email, so that Tall Girl could lick any rejection wounds in private, and have time to muster her "of course, we're just Lunch Buddies, that's totally what I was after anyway" face before the next Lunch.  

But I'm feeling L.B. on the "when is lunch just lunch" front?  It's so easy to know when there's an immediate disclosure of, oh, I don't know, a marriage, for example.  So lesson learned: please casually (it has to be casual) reveal your status way before Lunch, but don't make too too big a deal about it, okay? Sometimes Lunch is just lunch.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Adventures in Blind Dating: Ginger and George

Here is a story recounted from friend and comrade-at-arms in the dating game, Ginger:

George seemed like a nice guy, on the phone. He said he was educated; he was talkative and engaging, a little odd at times, but nothing that sent up red flags, and Ginger and George agreed to meet for a semi-blind date.

George came to Ginger's house to 'pick' her up. When he arrived he was covered from head to toe, was absolutely dripping, in sweat. He explained that he didn't have a car, so he had walked from Richmond to downtown Vancouver. George was afraid he was going to be late, so he ran the last few kilometers. Interesting, Ginger mused; she thought there were buses from Richmond... but she was willing to overlook George's obvious lack of public transport savvy.

George and Ginger walked to Cactus Club. On the way, George informed Ginger that he was currently between jobs. He was an actor but hadn't had a job for 3 years - no problem though, because he was going to school. Higher education. That is why he lives at home. With his parents.

George also let Ginger know that he never graduated from high school, and that the "higher education" he is currently engaged in is to obtain his high school equivalency. Any red flags yet, Ginger?!

George and Ginger arrived at at Cactus Club and George decided he didn't like the table they were at, so he asked to be moved. Then George wanted to talk about previous relationships. Ginger gave him the short version of hers, at which time she asked for his. Interesting - he has none - in fact he has never dated a girl for more than 2 weeks.

George wanted some food. He wanted it now. In fact, George beckoned for the waitress (by snapping his fingers), ordered for Ginger as well....then told the waitress he would be timing her and each minute it took represented a dollar off her tip. He then slapped her on the ass... yes slapped her on the ass, and told her to go.

So George pissed off the Cactus Club manager. The manager came over to the table to deal with George and George wasn't going to stand down. In fact, George thought this was an opportune moment to take a swing at the Cactus Club manager. Within seconds, all male staff members at Cactus were swarming George. George was thrown out (literally) from Cactus Club....

So Ginger grabbed his jacket and went outside to tell him to &*%# off. When Ginger passed him his jacket he said, "I am sorry that happened.... they really are ^&%$s here. But I think we have a real connection and it would be awful to let these &*%^$ ruin it". At that point, George saw a side of Ginger that she didn't even know existed...

Thursday, March 13, 2008


A few weeks ago I was contacted by Foreign Film Director, in town shooting a feature, which is currently in pre-production, leaving FFD with a little too much time on his hands and I guess bored and looking for trouble with some local girls. Didn't really have any magnetism in his first messages, but I played the classic "this is what I'm into" game with FFD to get him warmed up. As Rob Gordon says in "High Fidelity," who you are isn't nearly as important and who and what you're into. I sufficiently impressed FFD with my name-dropping of movies and directors (thank you arty ex-boyfriends!) that he suggested we meet up for a pre-date...if we liked each other on pre-date, well, we'd go see a film or something. FFD doesn't see films with just anybody, you see.

FFD was almost half an hour late and I was left reading the Georgia Straight at the coffeehouse waiting for him...but he is to be forgiven, being, of course, an FFD. To meet FFD I decided to play it sufficiently arty, in skinny jeans and a vintage-ish rocker tee that says "Love Sucks." Oooh. Indie. It turned out that FFD was really just lost. He called looking for directions and I ended up having to go out onto the street to wave him in.

I learned pretty quickly that FFD doesn't really care to talk about much but: a) his movie, b) his last movie, and c) his career. But you know what? That's kind of OK when talking about that stuff means talking about the celebrities he knows, (because we all know I love to talk celebrity trash) and when he is totally admiring of my savant-like knowledge of celebrities, movie trivia, and the like. We managed to make it through a good hour just playing the "Have you seen?"/"You should see"/"I just saw" game. I told him I'd almost brought him this DVD of a great Argentine heist flick that I love, but assumed he would have seen it. He hadn't and I was choked that I hadn't brought it and made his head explode with my cool quirkiness.

During a lull in the conversation, I suggested FFD and I visit Independent Flixx, a great local vid shop, and that he "educate me." Pick three films I just HAVE to see, I said. So we perused the aisles of Independent Flixx for a good half hour, picking up titles to show each other. FFD found it a little hard to stump me (what can I say? I HAVE seen alot of films), but we settled on three: "Chopper," "Mean Creek," and "Junebug." Then I commanded that FFD walk me home, and we strolled in that direction, laughing and chattering (well, ME chattering, him making sarcastic quips when necessary) the whole way.

I mentioned that I was dying to go to Vegas and get married to someone, ANYone, just for the story. He agreed to do it pretty quickly, and was totally sold when I promised him a free divorce (when your best buddy is a divorce lawyer, this is a perk). I was debating whether I was going to ask him up, and informed him when we got to my place that I was going to give him a couple of the DVDs we'd been talking about. He played it cool, and agreed.

FFD loved my apartment, asking jokingly for the tour: "Cool kitchen." Couple of steps. "Cool living room." A few more. "Cool bathroom." He beelined for my bookshelves, agreed with my assessment that I have some shit DVDs in my collection, but deferred to my pretty great collection of books. "Cool books." "Thanks." "Cool T-shirt." "Thanks."

"You're really cool," he said admiringly (yes, he really said "cool" this many times), straightening up from the shelf and walking towards me. "Thanks," I said. "We could be friends," he pronounced. "We COULD," I agreed. "We should have a secret handshake," he suggested.

"Cool," I said, with a sense of irony which was totally lost on FFD. He immediately began devising one, like those Schoolhouse Rock handshakes that involve 10-15 complicated steps. I was laughing as he tried to teach me each step: high five, the slide, the palm slap, etc. It became more and more convoluted and impossible to remember. As we neared the end, he threw in some new aspects.

"Now we hug," he commanded. We hugged.

"We kiss like the French do," he said, and kissed me on each cheek.

Well, you can see where this is going, I think.

Pretty soon our handshake had turned into alot more than a handshake. On the couch.

"I hadn't really planned on this, " I confessed to FFD at one point as we came up for air. "Really." And I hadn't. I figured we'd trade DVDs and leave the, uh, handshakes to another date. "I'm not usually this easy," I said. Clearly I was lying, but whatever.

"Neither am I," he said, laughing. "But it feels right, somehow."

And it did. And it was.

FFD wasn't big on sticking around, post-handshake, though, which surprised me. He seemed like a much more cuddly, let-me-stay-the-night type guy. Pillow talk consisted of (surprise!) talk about his movie, which I patiently accepted, and then he was out. I fully expected to see him again.

It's been a week now, though, and no sign of the FFD, other than a response to my morning-after email when I said I'd enjoyed meeting him...and the other stuff. He responded with "Ditto-don't work too hard..." I've sent him an email since, to update him on something in MY life that we had talked about, but I didn't get a response-probably because it wasn't related to his casting problems, or location scouting, or script re-writes. Do I sound bitter? I'm not, just shaking my head at how FFD totally played to the stereotype of the self-involved film industry insider.

So-an intriguing mis-read of FFD on my part. I didn't pass the pre-date audition to attend a film, I guess. I had thought he was into me for more than a handshake-he DID say he thought we could be friends. Further, I didn't think that he'd be the type to feel sheepish about things maybe going a little too far for a first date, (although we're adults, so who cares about these things really) but that might be what's going on, too? Oh well. I'm hardly devastated. His work would always come first. But the handshake was smooth.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

High Bids

Met Sound Guy for coffee tonight. Sound Guy works on various movies and TV shows in...surprise, sound! I have an image of him in my head with microphones in holsters, like a cowboy. After some promising email chats on LL (Sound Guy knows good grammar), we connected by phone last week and had some good talks after a terrible warm-up call where we were both to shy to really think of things to say. Our conversations have run the gamut from high school friends, to views on marriage, to weird work stories. Sound Guy is definitely a good listener-after a really bad day at work two days ago, the only person I wanted to tell was him, and found myself picking up the phone to call him...maybe because he sounds kind. However, he is a little more shy and reserved than me, which can make for some awkward silences when I finally run out of things to say. I was a little worried that it would be the same in person.

Hadn't planned on going out tonight at fact, I cancelled a date with Main Street Hipster (Sorry MSH-I still want to meet you and your Helmut Lang jeans) because I just wasn't feeling it. However, got home and logged on to MSN and Sound Guy was online and into meeting up. I agreed on the condition that I could have a nap first (it was a long day) and we arranged for him to come downtown and meet me. No dress-up as per Funny Boy this time: jeans, t-shirt and Cons were the order of the day. This was going to be ultra casual.

We met on the corner of my street, and walked down to a coffee house on Denman. I bought; he had been nice enough to drive in from East Van so I wouldn't have to take a bus to meet him somewhere. Sound Guy played it real cool when I offered to buy, which girls always appreciate. He was ready to pay, but didn't fight me when I insisted. That's always the sign of a self-assured guy.

Right away, we were able to make easy conversation; Sound Guy is much more gregarious and articulate in person, and told me a surreal story about working on a movie set with a chimp named Bernie who took a shine to him and his feet. His slang runs along the same lines as mine, which made us laugh: both of us pepper our conversation with alot of "rad," "totally," and "good times." We probably called each other "dude" more than we addressed each other by name. Sound Guy said his new favorite is "wizard," which is curiously used in a derogatory manner (ie, "stop being so wizardly, dude"), and "high bids." I needed an in-depth lesson in high bids, which Sound Guy gave me post-coffee, when we went for a walk down to English Bay to pay our regards to the Inukshuk. Apparently, high bids can be used in the context of "that's cool." For instance:

Friend: Hey, RCC, what are you up to tonight?

Me: Oh, you know. Going out with Johnny Depp and Colin Farrell. They're in town, saw them at Villa de Lupo last night, we're hitting the scene.

Friend: High bids!

Or, alternatively, Friend could say approvingly, "That's a high bid."

I'm still not sure how this one really works in practice, but I'll report back.

We walked in the dark and talked, about music, favorite live shows we'd both been to (Radiohead and Coldplay numbering among our favorites), music we've been listening to (Sia!), random tidbits about work and life, and Spiderman Underoos (don't ask). Sound Guy has a great sense of humour and seems game for anything. I jokingly offered him two bucks to have a shower at 10:00 at night at one of those outdoor showers in English Bay, and he seriously considered it, as long as he could wear his jacket and put the hood up. I also offered him two bucks to try and climb the Inukshuk...which seemed like an easier sell until we realized it was covered with all sorts of slimy anti-graffiti stuff to stop people like us from climbing it.

After a stroll, lots of laughter, and easy chat, found myself back at my door with Sound Guy, at which Sound Guy told me I was "pretty rad." I blushed and said, "Awww, thanks-you're not so bad yourself!" I hope he knows I meant "You're rad, too."

Sound Guy happens to love cats (bonus) and I tried unsuccessfully to get my Raincoast Kitty to come to the window to say hello, but she wouldn't, which gave me the excuse to ask him up...however, this guy was quality and I wasn't going to let him get away too easily by asking him in too fast (he seemed like a guy who would be put off by that) so it was a quick hello and Raincoast Kitty and I walked him to the door, where we had a big hug and I told him how much I enjoyed hanging out. He said he'd had fun too, and we called it a night. Hope to see him again soon. That'd be a high bid.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Magnetism Will Get You Everywhere

Last weekend I met Funny Boy for a drink.  He approached me via IM on LavaLife saying, "Sweet Jesus, it's true! I heard your kind existed-the quirky, arty, smart girl-but have never encountered one in person!"


It was a good opening.  After a few minutes of flirty online banter, he had asked for my phone number (rather quickly by LavaLife standards, I thought, but I wasn't put-off enough to refuse him), and informed me that he would be calling me in 15 minutes.  Very precise.  I was hopeless to resist.  Within a few minutes he had reduced me to Submissive Girl, strangely unfamiliar territory.  Sure enough, within 15 minutes he was on the phone, calling from his car.  

"I'm thinking Thursday after work," F.B. announced.  No "I'm-just-calling-to-get-to-know-you" facade, this man meant business.  "What time can you get off work? 6? Will you need to go home and shower first?"  Now, this may seem all to be the over-eagerness of a desperate man, happy to have reached a real woman.  But no.  The whole overtone of the conversation was this odd mix of two overly witty people trying to outshine each other...him giving the distinct impression that I should be so lucky that he would want to meet, and me trying desperately to regain my strong, independent woman foothold after being knocked out of my high heels by his ultra-confident, alpha-male attitude.  Grasping at straws, I said I'd have to check my office calendar and get back to him on Monday. "Fine, fine," he said.  "I'll talk to you then."  Click.  So not interested in chatter.

About two hours later, he phoned back.  "I wouldn't normally call again," he said.  "But my night tonight has just cleared up-do you want to do a drink tonight? Let's do a drink tonight."  I agreed (as much as I could agree as much as just accept), and we decided on a place in our neighbourhood, a somewhat trendy eurobar with sassy staff, and a comfortably cool vibe.   I put on my slinky-yet-indie American Apparel pencil skirt, flatironed the hell out of my bangs, and put on a cool pair of grey leather open-toe heels with a distinctly retro vibe.  F.B. had requested "No Uggs or Crocs, please."  As if.

I arrived earlier than F.B. and sat at that bar, ordering a bottle of Pellegrino.  "You look hot," said the bartender (a woman) admiringly.  "You're on a date, aren't you?"  I nodded.  "How did you know?"  "It's easy," she said.  "You look hot, and you ordered Pellegrino.  Dead giveaway."  I laughed.  At that point, F.B. came in and I got a chance to size him up in person.

I'm all for using whatever means possible to meet people in this stand-offish city, but the challenge of the online dating is that, much like buying a Jimmy Choo bag off Ebay, you don't know what you're buying until it shows up.  F.B. was slightly older, balder and slightly shorter than I had expected, but well put-together, which, being a fashion whore, I always appreciate.  Good pants, well fitting blazer, a pocket square, no less.  A little quirky, a little trendy.  Wire-rim glasses.  It was all good.  The bar was definitely his local, as the staff greeted him by name when he walked in the door.  We moved to a table and had a few drinks, and a rather one-track conversation.

You see, F.B. has a consulting business that revolves around telling women why they don't succeed in dating men...a single-man to single-woman interpreter or translator if you will.   And it was clear that dating, sex, men, and women are his passion (pardon the pun).  There have been lecture tours, talk of a reality show.  It became clear I was on a date with the Dating Doctor.  And he saw right through me.

He caught on pretty quickly that I was the independent, strong woman who was dying to be put in her place-tired of being the dominant, bossy decision-maker in my professional life and needing someone else to take control every once in a while.  And he was more than willing to play the gorilla, as he put it.  He drew some of my previous dating war stories out of me, and quickly deconstructed all of them, poking holes in my logic when I dismissed miserable experiences under the guise of "the guy was obviously crazy," and basically pulling the rug out from underneath me, in all respects.

After a couple of drinks and a good but unsettling chat that bordered on suggestive but never seemed flirty, there was a pause in the conversation.  F.B. reached for the bill, clearly drawing this portion of the evening to a close.  "We'll split it," I said.  "Good," said F.B., clearly in Gorilla mode.  "I get tired of paying."  Before I had time to digest this, he was looking at me intently.  

"I think you should come home with me now,"  he said simply.  Firmly.  Silence.  I didn't even really have time to think before I heard myself saying, "Okay."  Up until that point, I hadn't even decided whether I found F.B. attractive.  He certainly wasn't what I would normally be attracted to, but the Gorilla attitude was irresistible.  

Needless to say, F.B. got the girl.  And was definitely alpha-male all the way.   There was no battle of the sexes going on here-he was clearly the boss and I was to obey (kinky!).  But here's the lesson, guys:  alpha-male doesn't mean rude, and it doesn't mean horndog.  It means being assertive, being blunt, saying what you want, but being courteous, and being totally focused on your partner as much as on yourself.  F.B. was totally respectful, considerate, and made the classy day-after "I had a wonderful time" call.   Sure, he hasn't called again, and I don't expect him to-that's not what the night was about.  But the man had game, and you need to have the game if you expect to play.

Let the Blogging Begin.

It's a couples' city, Vancouver.  More than any city I've lived in, Vancouverites of un certain age seem to have a laser-like focus on settling down: couple up, buy a condo, buy a dog, buy a barbecue (necessarily in that order), make couple-y friends, have some kids, retire.


So what does the single girl do?  Wait for her girlfriends to benevolently bestow their presence upon her when their boyfriend's out of town for the weekend or hitting the golf course for the afternoon?  Hope the cute boy from the office elevator will finally speak to her today?  Nope. Elevator Boy suffers from Vancouver Syndrome: don't approach, don't be approachable, look down and mind your own business.  If you make eye contact, look away immediately, and never, ever, smile.

So, I'm embarking on a one-girl revolution.  I'm in my late twenties and refuse to submit to the pressure to couple up (yet).  I also refuse to accept the cool haughtiness of Vancouver singles.  I'm determined to date the hell out of this city.  I'm going to talk to Elevator Boy, whether he talks back or not.   Stay tuned to see how I get on...