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Thursday 3rd June 2004

CNPS numbers spotted 0 (785).

Date 39 was with the oldest female friend I have who I have never had any kind of amorosity with, Emma Kennedy. Would spending some time alone in a romantic setting allow us to accept the truth and admit to the true and everlasting love for each other that has been burning in our hearts and loins for all these years and finally consumate our relationship?
No. It wouldn't.
The sparks were steadfastly not flying anywhere. The sparks weren't even taking the train. The sparks were staying at home, with their feet up (and setting fire to the coffee table in the process), enjoying a well earned rest after 38 consecutive nights of Red Arrow style acrobatic displays. Well, my run had to end somewhere and though I am pretty sure that I have left the previous 38 dates impregnated with my heroic sperm, 39's sacred citadel remained a mystery to me. She wouldn't even let me bum her. I think that's just rude.
But my lack of success may have been down to the fact that practically the entire date cost me nothing. Had I burned 200 quid in front of 39's astonished face then presumably her knickers would have been around her ankles before you could say "Didn't you used to be on Planet Mirth?" But my strained wallet was taking a well deserved rest.
Firstly 39 had taken me to see a film. Because Planet Mirth is not the only string to her bow. As well as having been in Planet Mirth, 39 also reviews films for the radio. So we were off to a critc's screening of disappointing casino based movie, "The Cooler". It started well and I was quite gripped, but then it turned all stupid and rubbish. There was a good bit where the projector broke down, but I think that was a special treat for us and won't be the case on the general release.
Still it was free, which is the main thing.
Then we got a free taxi for a free meal at the free restaurant of TV's "Hell's Kitchen". This as you may know if you haven't spent the last five weeks going out with a succession of different women, is the latest reality show where mental show-off Gordon Ramsay tries to find out if he can teach a load of minor TV celebrities to run their own posh kitchen in just two weeks. And discovers that he can't.
Amongst the chefs is my old mate, Al Murray from off of the Trebor Mints advert. He has finally got the carvery that he so craves, as well as his own set of knives - he's very keen.
We had been warned that some punters have spent the whole evening at the restaurant only to receive no food at all, and so I decided to take a sandwich with me just in case. In a rash fit of arrogance I gave this to my driver. I would live to regret this decision.
The restaurant is housed in a bit warehouse in East London and we had to go through various security checks before we were allowed in. As we went in we were interviewed by Jordan (ITV's main political interviewer as is my understanding) and asked ridiculous questions about which celebrity we would most like to cook for us. I said I would like to have Sweeney Todd cook me a pie, because it would be good to get to eat human flesh without knowing that's what you were doing, thus freeing you up from the moral responsibility for your actions. Jordan looked a bit confused. I guessed they wouldn't use my comments on the air.
We were sitting at the same table as explorer and adventurer Benedict Allen and his friend Nathalie. This was quite a lucky break for us as they were both very interesting and entertaining people and had our luck been slightly different we might have been with Lee from Steps or John Inman (well it was either John Inman or H from Steps has really let himself go recently).
This might have been entertaining in the short term, but I don't think the conversation would have been as good. And we were going to be doing a lot of talking and not very much eating.
We could see the chefs through a glass wall and they were working hard and sweating and were covered in bandages and plasters. I tried to wave at Al, but he was too busy making food for other people.
There was plenty of wine to drink, but I really wanted a night off from my developing alcohol problem and didn't want to drink on an empty stomach. We got some bread rolls which we were sensible enough to ration a little and after quite a long wait we were allowed to see the menu.
We ordered our food and waited. All the time we could see other people's left-overs going back to the kitchen. My stomach rumbled. I wasn't proud. I would happily have eaten Jon Tickle from Big Brother's left-over veal if only someone had offered it to us. I talked to him briefly. He seemed like a very nice man and had his "fame" in healthy perspective. He was always one of my favourites.
At the next table to us a group of food critics had a table full of half-eaten dishes which they were reviewing. There was more than half a fish pie left. I would love to have had a taste, but it was snapped away by a waiter and no doubt headed for a bin.
We finally got our starters. I had spaghetti lobster, which had been prepared by Al Murray and so did 39. Alas, half the spaghetti was cooked and half the spaghetti was not. But I wasn't going to send it back for love nor money. I also ate one of Benedict's frog's legs which was a bit heavy on the cumin for my liking - unless that's what frog's legs taste of.
There was another long wait for food. We got some more bread and some more wine, but it looked increasingly unlikely that there would be anything else to eat. I thought about shouting at Angus Deayton as he did a live link very close to our table. At the British Comedy Awards i the early nineties, Stew had drunkenly shouted "John Cleese" at him as he went up to accept an award. I thought of doing the same, but I needed food and unlikely as it was that I was going to get any I couldn't give up the possibility altogether.
Alexander Armstrong on the next table gave up and went for a curry. We kept holding out. The people who got in just before us had been served. We would be next.
Then we could see all the chefs tidying stuff away and we realised that it wasn't going to be. We were told we could still have pudding. At this stage this was better than nothing and the panecotta I had wasn't too bad at all. Benedict gave me a mouthful of his peach which was the worst thing I have ever tasted. I think the peach must have been off or something. It was disgusting. All in all I can probably say that this was the worst restaurant I have ever eaten in. But pound for pound it was by far the best value.
I managed to wave a bit at Al and converse a little with him. He wanted to know what number I was up to and seemed impressed with how far through I was. He looked like he was ready to come home. We didn't complain to him too much about his spaghetti or our lack of food. It's not his fault.
Benedict Allen then told us a story about his first adventure when he was nearly murdered in the jungle and then had to trek to civilisation and got into such trouble that he was forced to eat his dog. It was very tragic and sad, but I think when it comes down to it, if you are going to die then you would have to do the same as him. Survival is the main thing, although he said he had got a lot of flak for what he'd done.
I thanked God that at least the puddings had got to us, or maybe the homicidal maniac might have tried to tuck into us as well. I made sure he got the last bread roll just in case and edged 39's seat closer to him, so that she'd be the one to go first.
Despite everything I decided that I should part with some cash this evening and tipped our waiters £20. Perhaps if I had done this at the beginning of the evening we might have gone home feeling stuffed, rather than empty. But I've been piling the pounds back on in the last month, so it might all have worked out for the best.
It was a lovely date and as Emma dropped me off at home in her new sports car, I wondered if I should invite her in for coffee. But I feared that once she was through the door she would never leave. For once I'll play hard to get and maybe give her another crack in another 17 years.

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