A few months after finding myself single again I met Captain Climbaboard, who lived at an attractive address in Surrey, was separated in the established sense and had a nice big boat moored at Gosport (let’s not cloud the important facts with peripheral detail). Captain C worked in the city helping to finance large European business parks; he was charming, tall and fantastically good on paper. He invited me out on his boat after a couple of dates and although I was concerned that I knew nothing of seafaring ways save for how to shop on a cross-channel ferry, there was palpable excitement at the prospect of “letting slip” how I had spent the weekend to my cirque des amis.
Having completed a lightening-quick sortie to Marks and Spencer to acquire the right style and colour bikini, a couple of casual sarongs and some food we could cook in the galley (this was one serious boat ..) I headed off for Gosport marina … or one of them, to be fair.
Now, Captain C had made a great job of selling himself and his availability in terms of “dropping his relationship anchor” again sometime soon. He had spoken of the qualities he was attracted to in women and had even gone so far as to lean over the dinner table on the our first date and whisper “I think you could keep me occupied for a number of years …” The ocean looked settled and the forecast was fair to good.
We consequently spent a rather blissful weekend in an inlet on the Isle of Wight. The sun blazed down, the water lapped up the side of the boat and all that you could hear was the laughter of fellow sailors moored a few hundred yards away. So when he recounted in the middle of the Solent on our way back to Gosport the tale of how his affair with his wife’s best friend had led to the breakdown of his marriage and his subsequent questioning by police over allegations that he had attacked said best friend on his boat (yes, this very boat …) you can imagine my concern. To be fair, all charges were dropped in his case, but my jury was firmly out and out it stayed.
When I found myself footloose and fancy-free a few years ago I was in a rather mixed state of mind. I should have whooped for joy at the prospect of the oncoming adventure that was “dating” given that I was older, wiser and now able to stay out after the eleven o’clock curfew. In practice I felt a sense of unease; I had anticipated pitfalls (the most obvious being that my son had to take priority in any future romantic pairing) but also there was a nagging concern that the years that had possibly not been kind to us newly appointed singletons in terms of “life lessons learnt”. Boy, was I right on that.
Captain C proceeded during drinks back at Gosport marina to talk of how ice-cold his wife had been and how even his soon-to be-ex father-in-law had spoken of how he understood Captain C’s motives as his daughter was as emotionally stunted as her mother. Cheers, Dad.
At the end of the weekend I wondered who he had confused me for exactly. Admittedly the boat was a great hook, but the accompanying storyline would have needed more than Johnny Depp in the starring role to curry anything that even resembled sympathy. The truth was that he was nowhere near ready to date; you saw that from how quickly the memory of his last tempest bubbled to the surface.
Now, let’s be frank here. People go “a little bit crazy” when they come out of long-term relationships. I’m not sure whether it’s an exuberance brought on by what they deem as “freedom” or a desperate attempt to prove to themselves and their entire peer group that they can still attract the opposite sex without trying “too hard”. More often than not it’s both.
Captain C is sadly just one of a number of men who has displayed a common thread of behaviour when it comes to dating; they like the idea of relationships, they even say they want “someone special” in their lives but when they spot land ahoy the truth is a relationship is the last thing they want or need. So they generally head back for the deep blue sea. The sea that has plenty more fish in it.
Inevitably there is something still hovering from their past coupling that means they cannot commit to another voyage with you or anybody else.
I’ve espied this behaviour in men so many times now in the course of three years that not only do I account for it, I have erected a harbour wall so high around me that I doubt the most tidal of male waves wouldn’t penetrate.
Enough of this maritime talk; it’s left me contemplating Johnny Depp scaling my impenetrable wall.
Who says women can’t be shallow?