#45 – Rina A.

Number 45 greeted me with a big smile at Tower Hill tube station on Wednesday night. We were meeting there for a takeaway burrito before joining the Jack the Ripper walking tour of the east end. It was a cold evening, and we considered postponing, but she was told it was more atmospheric in the cold! Right from the start, the energy that came from her made me forget about the cold.

We ate the burritos by the sun dial looking out at the Tower of London. I didn’t recognise it as a sundial, something Rina found hilarious. Her name is Rina, but I had been calling her Eevil Midget up until now. You see, that’s her nick name from her Uni days. ‘Evil’ because she was always playing mischievous tricks with her friends. ‘Midget’ because she is 4ft 11ins & ¾ – technically a midget. That, and her email address and twitter handle include her pseudo name. So, of course we had to do something evil on our date.

The burrito eating went well and we were ready to join the 2hour walking tour. It was the perfect activity for a date with Eevil. She loves discovering the city, and takes part in a hunting-style water pistol game called Street Wars. She also loves photography, telling me about the 6 or 7 cameras she has, her extensive Flickr account and that she takes part in a photography treasure hunt around the City. On the Jack the Ripper walking tour, she was able to see parts of London she had never seen before and take some photos too.

Our tour guide, Steve, added to the atmosphere, he had one of those Sideshow Bob hair cuts, and was great at the East End accents required to tell the stories. We started by seeing a hidden and preserved part of the old City wall. Steve set the scene, London circa 1880, the East End was a slum area full of bars and brothels. He said that around that time there were 80,000 prostitutes in London around then, the same number in the whole of England today. We walked and talked, listening to the stories of the terror that gripped the country during the 3 months in 1888 when 5 women were brutally murdered by a killer that was never caught, and has since been known asJack the Ripper. Eevil is the 45th girl I have written about, give or take, but at times the chat and banter between her and me made this feel like the 45th time I was on a date with her. I bet we looked like we had been hanging out for ages to other couples on the guided tour. I bet we looked the part.

The setting, and the people described immediately reminded me of the amazing artist William Hogarth (who painted these people around this time), and I was delighted and impressed to hear the Eevil knew all about him. She had studied art history in Warrick Uni. I regret not taking Art History when I had the chance. Not only do we both share an interest in Art, but we both have similar jobs in Advertising. Eevil didn’t think that was so unusual when so many in this City have simliar media related jobs. But then, we both have 5 siblings, 1 older, and 4 younger. And we both have moved to London from other counties. Eevil comes from the Philippines and I from Ireland. While you might not think a Filipino girl and Irish guy don’t have much heritage in common, you’d be wrong. Both countries are colonised and Catholic, and known to be warm and friendly nations!

After the tour we went to the Jack the Ripper pub in Shoreditch, The Ten Bells. Over a few warming whiskeys, I teased Eevil about all the people that were going to read this review, and that she should be on her best behaviour. She found my boasting funny, and then told me that she has been blogging since 2005 (that’s a long time to be blogging!). Getting late, I walked Eevil to Liverpool St. tube stating and said good night, thinking to myself I would like to see her again. And the sooner the better.

Vote for Eevil!

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#44 – Tiffany M.

Convent Garden was different in the 1940’s than the thoroughfare tourist attraction it is now. There were a lot of empty buildings and rent was cheap. The dance studios must have been there, as was a theatre. The movie, the Ballet of the Red Shoes was set there. This film was the chosen movie for the current Secret Cinema.

Secret Cinema is a show each month that runs for 3 weeks, played out by actors in a thematic setting. The Wharehouse we were led to from Wapping Tube station was transformed into Convent Garden in the 40’s. All the build up to the main feature film was interactive performance acting based on the movie, it was all very atmospheric. The actors were very convincing, and very good, including a young Irish actor named Peter Campion.

I had booked tickets to go see this for another date that it was perfect for, but she pulled out at the last minute, so I turned to Twitter to find a replacement. Twitter didn’t let me down.

Tiffany @tiffjmo is from a small town in Arizona, down near Mexico. And having studdied in the states, ended up working in London via a PHD in Cambridge. We ate the burritos under a bridge down by the Tobacco wharehouse in Wapping. Tiffany work sounded very scientific all about genes in cancer, and she explained it in a way that I learned a thing or two.

Such as the short notice, Tiffany didn’t have time to dress up, but her hair is naturally curly and so she blended in. I had enough 40’s like gear on to fit in. There were about 500 others there, all dressed accordingly. I’ve been watching Broadwalk Empire on TV, a new US mobster series set in prohibition Atlantic City. To make it, Martin Scorsese and crew rebuilt the Broadwalk in Brooklin, New York. This wharehouse where Secret Cinema was felt like being on a set for a show set in the 1940’s, and the scene was set to be on a date with a sexy English girl.

Have you ever been on a date with a girl, and looked around at all the other amazing girls, and wishing that you were on a date with one of them instead? I don’t say this to be cruel, just to honest say something that I think every guy has experienced at least once.

There was so much to participate in before the show, but we only took part in one dance rehearsal. Maybe Tiffany was a bit shy, but I just felt that she wasn’t really enjoying herself. It was too pleasant, and not enough fun. It was like she was holding back, where as the event called out for us to let go.

That said, the movie was amazing. I heard of it before, Scorsese had said the cinematography was game changing, particularly in the techniques used to show movement. The camera man was Jack Cardiff, who you may recalled, was the subject for a documentary on one of these burrito dates, way back at number 5. There is a good story to the Ballet of The Red Shoes too, and a few great one liners, as was obligatory for movies made back then before they were over done to death, one that stuck out: ‘Put on the Red Shoes Vicky, and dance for us again’.

I’m grateful to Tiffany to have come along, but I think Secret Cinema would have been better as a second date. A first date over a messy burrito at Chilango would have been ideal to gage the potential of a second date. And it would have indicated that there wasn’t.

Vote for Tiffany!

#43 – Stacy S.

All the ingredients were in place: Valentine’s day,  a second date with Stacy, burritos and wine on the terrace of the Young Vic, tickets to see Vernon God Little (a funny and contemporary American play, Stacy is an American actor!)

The last date we really didn’t have enough time. I was tired, and we had nothing planned for afterwards. When friends told me that I should have made more of an effort, I decided to ask Stacy on a second date. I haven’t brought girls on second burrito dates, instead keeping any follow up off the blog for the most part. This seemed like an occasion to break the mould. I got to know her better. She has 5 jobs, the most interesting of which is in a dog modeling agency. Our chat was definitely more ‘second date chat’ and we had more of a laugh. The theatre was filled with couples, and there was a real buzz about the place. We ate the burritos on the terrace before taking our seats.

The play is about a kid called Vernon God Little, his friend has just massacred 17 of his school mates in a school in Texas. I had read the book a few years ago, it’s a bit like Catcher in the Rye, but very satirical. The play was less dark. I was interested in Stacy’s take on how the people were portrayed. ‘I’m from the West (Utah)’ she said, ‘We laugh at the Southerners too, we laugh at George Bush the same way you guys do’.

So everything went according to plan. It really did, I wouldn’t have changed anything about how the evening panned out. But there was something missing. I’m not sure why. I did try. I was quiet disappointed actually. What’s a guy gotta do?

After two dates I figured that you would like to get Stacy’s side of the story, and since that see doesn’t have her own blog I asked her to write a few words for this post (thanks Stacy), here’s goes:

“First of all, props to Richard for asking me to write my own review of our second date (especially after Tweeting to one of his friends: “Valentine’s Date went well…ish…”). Brave move, Richard. Very brave.
To be honest, I wasn’t surprised when I read blog #42 about how tired Richard had grown of the Burrito Dates. Judging from his excessive yawning during our first date, followed by a hasty post-burrito exit, I had already gathered that this might be the case. What DID surprise me was his invitation to be his Valentine’s Day date. But never one to turn down a random adventure, I agreed. Luckily for me, Date #2 (or, in Richard’s case, Date #43) was much better than our first. Richard was a perfect gentleman the entire night. He arrived early with burritos in hand, insisted on paying for everything (though of course I offered), and had had the foresight to purchase our theatre tickets in advance. He was also sweet enough to buy me a box of Valentine’s Day chocolates, which he very nervously thrust into my hands right before the show began. All in all, it was a very enjoyable night (and this time he only yawned a little bit).

In the end, I think Richard’s initial judgment was correct and that we don’t really have much romantic chemistry between us. However, I really admired that he was willing to give it another go, and was very flattered that he chose me as his Valentine’s Day date.
Richard: I wish you all the best with your remaining dates. Even if this doesn’t all add up to beautiful burrito bliss, I think you’re a great guy and that you’ve created something really unique here. Keep your chin up and, hey, get some sleep, will ya?”

Thanks Stacy, will do.

Vote for Stacy (vote date 40)

#42 – Sarah E.

I’ve hit the wall. There is a stage marathon runners go through that this phrase makes reference to. It can happen around mile 21 of 26 (or date 41 of 52) and has some scientific explanation. But really it’s when you’re body doesn’t want to be there anymore. You are going through the motions. And those repetitive motions are painful. It becomes a mental battle. Mind over matter. Stay going. The end is in sight. There will be better miles than this.

Right at the start of the date, just as we about to tuck into our burritos, upstairs in a busy Chilango, Sarah stopped me in the middle of my first question and said: “We don’t have to treat this as a date”. She didn’t want me to write much about her, and so I won’t. I do have nice things to say about her, but because I am being negative in general, I don’t want to drag her into it.

Later we were in Dragon Bar in Shoreditch. It’s Social Media week in London and there was a Tweepup called Shoreditch Twit taking place in Dragon bar. Chatting over a pint, Sarah hit on another point related to the blog, that first dates don’t really work. Any halfwit can appear pleasant for a couple of hours, it’s only after a few more dates do you get to know each other, and find out whether you like each other.

During an actual marathon, the mile when I have hit the wall is about 10 minutes and it feels like the longest 10 minutes I have every run. This date was only two hours long and finished up about 9 o ‘clock, but it seemed a hell of a lot longer. We left after one drink, my body didn’t want to be there, but determination got me through it.

The marathon analogy doesn’t actually work beyond this date because miles add up to a feeling of euphoria in the end. Racking up a number of female conquests would be a similar feeling for some guys, but it’s not the point of the exercise. I thought about what Sarah said, and invite one of the previous 40 dates for a Valentines Day Burrito Date this coming Monday. You’ll remember Stacy, or number 40. She will become number 43 and give me the jolt of energy that I need!

Vote for Sarah.

#41 – Lucy M.

Before I tell you about date 41, I want to share a video that was made last week by two talented TV MA students at City University, Caroline James and Jonross Swaby. They heard about the story when one of their classmates came on a date, and they decided to make a local news clip about it.

City News: 52 Burrito Dates from Jonross Swaby on Vimeo.

And now to another burrito date, number 41. It’s not warm at the moment in London, yet things transpired so that both the burrito and the drinks after were had outside. It made for a nice setting, but in the end it got a bit cold for us, and had me longing for warmer weather, and thinking of last summer’s dates in the sun.

Lucy writes for the reviews and listings website, Spoonfed, which I have often used for things to do on dates. Unfortunately it didn’t throw up anything interesting for us to do after the date. Burritos and drinks it was.

Lucy is from the outskirts of London, where she lives with her Gran. She studied English Lit in Norwich, and the first thing they told her when she started at Spoonfed was to forget everything she learned about English literature. That seems to be a common thing that English grads experience, as many end of in some sort of editorial capacity for mainly web-based publishers, writing in a style that isn’t particularly related to what they learned in Uni. Lucy’s dream job would be as a music journalist, she likes all sorts of music especially indie music, and that’s why she loves her job at the moment.

All the books Lucy read in Uni put her off traditional English classics as well; she has instead resorted to reading the likes of Jay Z’s and Keith Richards’s autobiographies. We spoke about books for a bit. Lucy used to be mad into Harry Potter books, which she started reading when she was about 10. She was so into them that in the summer she was to make her mind up about which secondary school to go to she delayed her decision for months waiting hopefully for a letter from Hogwarts. At the end of the summer a letter arrived, it wasn’t from Hogwarts.

Lucy’s lively and bubbly personality made for a fun date despite the cold. As Chilango was so full, we sat on the seats outside. Then when we went to the Camden Head, it was full also. The date didn’t really progress from there, we were both making an effort, but I don’t think there was much real interest from either of us. Lucy told me about how she had recently signed up for the web dating site, Cupid, and that some of the requests she was receiving were a bit strange. She has a date lined up for next week.

It dawned on me that I’m not the only one who goes on regular dates. While the search is fun, it gets a bit repetitive. Week after week, showing up, same trivial format, hoping something different will happen. It’s like learning a new skill, sure you are into it, dedicated, and through preservance you get there eventually. Making the same mistakes, before you achieve perfection. The banailty of showing up each time, doing the same thing, can be a bit of a drag. It’s being weighing on me for a while. And on this date, I realised that it’s not just me, guys and girls who don’t have a year’s worth of burrito dates to write about, often go through the same process.

I hope that Lucy has luck finding someone more compatible that I was for her.

Vote for Lucy.

#40 Stacy S.

Date 40

A few of days before date number 40, Stacy emailed me with a couple of questions:

1. How tall are you?
2. If you could have one of these two superpowers, which would you choose and why: The power or invisibility, or the power of the flight?

Wondering what she was getting at, I thought long and hard about the second one, and gave her an answer with practical things such as the scientific development of an invisibility cloak, to the sensation felt by hang gliding. And before I pressed send I added that I am 5ft 10ins.

Stacy wrote back to say she just wanted to know what shoes to wear on our date, as she was 5ft 8ins, and she disguised the weirdness of the question with the super power question. It worked, and made me laugh. I was drawing the impression that she had a sense of humour, her original email included a photo of her with a clown nose on.

We met in Chilango, it was packed but we got a seat upstairs at the back.  The height issue didn’t come up at all, because of the correct choice of shoes. Thinking about it now though, height is quite an important part of dating in general. I think I prefer small girls, but Stacy’s height didn’t put me off. We talked about her being ‘funny’, or ‘crazy’, and she wouldn’t claim to be either. We both agreed that such self proclamations would be weird. I did find her to have a sense of humour that, added with a inquisitive shyness, made for an enjoyable date.

Stacy is from Salt Lake City in Utah; having studied acting in Birmingham she is now living in London. Her mum posted a Facebook status update to day, ‘Good luck to date number 40!’. Stacy’s Mom’s has got it going on!

We talked a lot about acting, theatre, movies. I told her the story of Catfish, a movie I saw recently. It features some pseudo-people on the Internet , and we considered the possibility that Stacy wasn’t who she said she was. Then about how she could use her acting skills to create a alternative personality online. Maybe even to help her acting career. She went for a role recently that required her to be a goth, and despite dressing up as one, her true personality was transparent. I think that says a lot about her, she is a genuine, honest person.

So when we parted at the end of the date, I was left wondering was she a nice friendly, shy, but not that adventurous girl? Thinking about it, and looking at the first questions I asked her in an email, I found something that shows and fun and spontaneous side of her, her answer to my question. So, the burrito is our first date, what would you like to do for our one year?

Well, I think it only right that we first return to the scene of the crime and celebrate the now-legendary burrito date that brought us together in the first place. And after that, I would suggest booking a last-minute flight to somewhere that neither of us have ever been, and just going. No pre-planning excursions or anything like that: just get off the plane and go wherever impulse leads us. Who knows, maybe it would give rise to a new tradition.

That’s a pretty great answer, unfortunately I think a one year anniversary is unlikely, although I would like to go to the theatre with Stacy at some point.

Vote for Stacy!

#39 Angela N.

burrito date 37

A guy I met at the London Blog Club, Marco, suggested that I go on a date with his colleague Angela. He described her as Swedish, recently single, and an event organiser for the World Poker tour. Guys, she sounds like the kind of girl you’d like to take for a burrito, right!?

Angela works for Party Gaming, and I get the impression that she is a valued member of the team. Despite me arriving 15 minutes late to Chilango on Fleet St, Angela was still there and we enjoyed our burritos. Angela was a much tidier and eater than I, I think she was being conservative and left a bit at the end. While I just made a big mess of this one, I must have used like 30 napkins!

Angela left Sweden 13 years ago when she was 19, and has travelled around the world. She lived in Spain, Italy and France and finally settled here in London. I say settled, but this isn’t exactly true. She is always travelling with work, most recently she held an event in Madagascar, and she has lots of events coming up in Europe and well as trips to the World Poker Tour HQ in the US.

She isn’t settled in her London accommodation either. At one point she listed the places she lived in London, and there were so so many, about 7 I think in 6 years (give or take). She is currently in the process of moving apartment, because there is a mouse in her room. It was funny listening to Angela describe the mouse, but she was genuinely frightened – she’s been sleeping with the light on! The mouse have been there for 2months! And even worse, she recently found a dead mouse in her room. No wonder she is moving. With all the travelling she does, all the countries she lives in, you get the impression that she is never going to settle down.

The show we went to see was definitely the right choice for her. It was called Teatro Corsario: La Maldición de Poe, part of the South Bank mime festival. I have to say it was fantastic! It was based on Edgar’s Curse by Edgar Allan Poe. It was really dark, lots of death; the puppets both looked and preformed amazingly, and the story was told so well with classical music and Spanish utterances.

Afterwards, while drinking a bottle of Merlot, we both agreed that words were often unnecessary in visual performances. The Purcell Room bar area was crowed as people gathered for the Night Shift (The above photo is of Angela showing her Night Shift wrist tatoo/sticker). We took a table and listened to the atmospheric live music; a Marilyn Monroe doppleganger and a pianist who looked like he was wearing a wig. Some food, an entertaining show, and late night wine over looking the Thames with live music, not bad for just another burrito date. We both laughed, joked, enjoyed the surroundings, and when it was time to go, we even kissed good night!

I know lots of people, have some great friends, they are the people I am supposed to enjoy the company of, right? So isn’t it unusual that I can have so much fun with a stranger? On dates like this, I feel very lucky. I think there is a bit of magic about 52 burrito dates at the moment, and I’m going to role with it. Like last week, Ruth, who was 21, we had a super date and this week Angela, who is 33, another amazing date. Looking forward to date number 40 with Stacey next week!