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Home Blog Adam Merton gets more than he bargained for Speed Dating Manchester style

Adam Merton gets more than he bargained for Speed Dating Manchester style

Wednesday August 1, 2012

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The plan was fairly simple. I was on a six-week secondment to our Manchester office and friends had invited me to tag along on a Speed Dating evening which they had attended on a couple of occasions. Despite their protestations to the contrary, I had always doubted their motives for going to these events. As far as I was concerned, the seedy underworld of the singleton was to be avoided at all costs, especially by the young, gifted and frankly rather good looking strain of British males of which I considered my peers and I to be part of.

Nevertheless, I contemplated, this would be a wonderful opportunity to make an immediate impact on the female population of the city. I'd sidle up from work, have a quick couple of beers and flash that capital charm. Those poor, sad northern ladies wouldn't know what hit them! What is it they say about the best-laid plans of mice and er, Mancunians?

Problem number one was that my "few beers" after work quickly mutated into a full-on afternoon session. Arriving at the venue - which I noted was surprisingly plush - I realised that I was somewhere between mid-evening merry and outright drunk. Yet this was surely a minor stumbling block. I changed my strategy for the night to include my new character of witty, cheeky mockney rather than sophisticated city gentleman.

I soon realised that this was the least of my difficulties. I was quickly struck by how good everybody looked. Not that they were all movie star, model types, but they had clearly all made a real effort for the evening, not least my friends, who I swore were more than a little smug to find me looking dishevelled, scruffy and generally worse for wear. I retreated to the bathroom for urgent running repairs.

It's safe to say I didn't make the best of starts. My attempts at gentle ribbing came across as open hostility ("so what is it about Manchester that you like?"), my compliments made me sound like a leering drunk ("You know, that's a lovely dress you've got on. Where did you get it?"), and everybody else seemed to be having a far better time. It was also noticeable that many of the participants had prepared some questions prior to the event or at least given some thought to what their responses might be. Of course, I hadn't. Half time and I had been thoroughly outclassed. Smart, intelligent and mostly beautiful women ran rings around me.

Suitably chastened, not to say humbled, I resolved to raise my game after the break. While most mingled and sipped cocktails at the bar, I popped outside with a strong black coffee.

Things did pick up. I conversed with a magnificent creature about the future of space travel (granted, my biggest contribution was to nod during a brief pause), I started to improve my flirting and if nothing else I endeavoured to listen. I was relieved to have made a much better impression and was confident that I'd secure some matches, hopefully with the lovely spacelady. Equally importantly I didn't want to be completely thrashed by my friends, who spent the rest of the evening goading me with tales of thrilling liaisons.

Receiving my emailed matches was mostly a huge relief. I had done far better than anticipated. A very healthy 6 matches put me in a respectable position amongst my peers. Although the space lady didn't want to see me again I met up with a couple of the others and had good times with both. I vowed to return in the near future and promised myself that next time the true me would shine through…

Adam Merton is currently compiling his second book on Dating rules and rituals in England (keep visiting the site for details).



The beauty of Speed Dating London lies in its no-nonsense approach. You take an equal number of single girls and guys, put them in a room and give them a few minutes to chat with every other member of the opposite sex.

When you get there

Original speed dating events in London normally begin at 7.30pm. You will need to register with our hosts and to begin with they will issue you with a score sheet. This will help you to keep track of the singles that you would like to meet again and perhaps go on a date with. After a short period of mingling, your host for the evening who will run through detailed instructions and give you your starting position if you are a guy or table for the event if you are a girl.

Meet & Mingle

A London speed dating event is split into two halves, each lasting around an hour, there will be an interval at half time of about 15 minutes for speed dating London. You will have between 4 and 5 minutes with each person, after which you need to tick a box on your score sheet - "yes, I would like to meet this person again" or "no. Thanks but no thanks". Or "friend" if you'd like to get to know them platonically. Make sure that you do this after each date to keep track. Afterwards there is an opportunity for everyone to meet and mingle informally - this is often where the real action begins, so make sure you don't disappear too quickly!

Complete your score sheet

After the event you simply tick who you liked on the Original Dating website and the site works about your matches automatically. If the dates you have ticked as a "yes" have reciprocated you have a match. You will be able to view the first names and message them via our site online without revealing your email address until you are ready to. You'll be having proper first dates in no time.