When you think ‘tour of London’ you think of the normal sights – Big Ben, the London Eye and the Tower of London – so when I was invited on a flirting tour of London I realised the sights we’d be seeing would probably be a little different.
Turning up to meet flirtologist Jean Smith at the National Portrait gallery I was a touch nervous – it’s not every day you’re made to initiate conversation with strangers in the street. Thankfully her guidance and confidence, as well as 15 other attendees put my nerves at ease.
With tasks ranging from smiling at people in the National Portrait gallery to asking strangers in Soho for directions me and my new flirting friends were slowly building up our confidence. ‘This is easy,’ we were thinking – until we turned up outside a Tesco’s metro and found out what our next task would be.
“I want you to pick up a basket and go and initiate a 1 to 3 minute conversation with someone inside Tescos,” Jean casually said. ‘You want me to do what???’ Fear gripped me – could I really do this? Would people think I was one of those weirdos that just strikes up conversations randomly?
As I picked up my basket and slowly parted company from my new found friends I wondered where I should try first – could I share a conversation about mouldy tomatoes? The softness of Kleenex compared to Tesco’s own brand? Or would a comment about not crying over spilt milk be sufficient to bag me a date?
And after a few false starts I realised in a super market you have to move and think quickly – by the time you’ve thought up a great one liner about those two-for-one pizzas no doubt your subject is probably at home enjoying them already.
But once I got started I couldn’t stop – I shared conversations about the ripeness of avocadoes, the choices of pasta and the selection of magazines on offer. The only slight hiccup was when someone laughed at my suggestion that there were too many wines to choose from – he was clearly some sort of alcoholic. And one girl did so well chatting up a guy, unbeknown to us, we left her in Tescos. Fifteen minutes later when she eventually found us we didn’t know whether to be happy that she’d been successful or upset that we’d abandoned her.
So eventually we were at our final destination – Covent Garden, and our last task was looming. Not only did we have to put all our skills learnt into practice but we also had to initiate conversation and hopefully come back with a good story to tell. So armed with my limited knowledge about Covent Garden’s social scene I attempted to play the damsel in distress hoping a prince would sweep me off to the nearest bar – or at least give me a phone number.
So when I came back with a failure tattooed on my forehead Jean sent me out again – with a ‘don’t come back until you’ve spoken to someone’ attitude. And the hard ball approach worked because before I knew it I had tracked down a cutie and was discussing what’s hot and what’s not in Covent Garden. Okay I didn’t secure a date or even a phone number – but it was a start!
And so we ended the alternative tour of London in a pub – all with stories of success and rejection – but all happy that we knew a little bit more about how the human mind works when it comes to flirting and hopefully getting a date in London.