Did you watch First Dates Hotel last night? That excellent broad with the Helen Daniels bob is our very own Lou Conran, who spills the beans on very public romance.
Eighteen months, two rounds of phone calls and an audition later, I was on the show. The added bonus being this one was in a hotel in France. Bon fucking jour.
Ordinarily I wouldn’t do something like this, but after I’d had a shit 2016, I figured, ‘what’s the worst thing that could happen?’ And what better way to distract myself than to get some sunshine, have a giggle and potentially meet some excellent people.
I don’t go on dates really. Not out of choice – I just can’t get any. In the past, I have fallen on penises (one at a time, I’m not a porn star), which have either led to something or, mostly, nothing, so my experience of actually going on them is very limited.
The last date I had was with a man who sold ‘exotic meats’ (I mean, there’s the reason right there to go on that date) who actually turned out to be a drug dealer (I mean, there’s the reason right there to not go on any other dates).
Going on this one, I was worried. I was super nervous, talked absolute shite from start to finish and for some reason my accent went from my usual sort of ‘southern/estuary’ to ‘docker/Frankie Howerd’ and my language went with it. I think I swore about 300 times and within that was ‘motherfucker’ and a ‘see you en tee’ at some point and Christ knows why or what for, but it just kept coming.
— Channel 4 (@Channel4) January 16, 2017
The location was stunning, as was the hotel. Perfect for romance. Fred Sirieix was there doing what he does. Now I get it. I can see he’s handsome but I can’t do a man that has a beard that looks like Pepé Le Pew; it’s not for me.
BUT he’s a total gentleman and a consummate professional. As far as I’m aware he didn’t slip anyone the finger. I can imagine in that position when you see all the opportunists looking for love, the chance to have a crack on some hot piece of ass that’s been rejected is rife, RIFE I tell thee, but no. Total gent. (More’s the pity.)
The bloke that turned up for our date didn’t stand a chance. I apparently called him a twat within the first few minutes of meeting him, poor bastard. On reflection, I figure it’s quite a good barometer of whether you’re going to get on with someone, you know, bung in a twat, see what happens. (Nothing actually.)
I think I’m quite good at talking to most people, but I really struggled with this guy. All I’d managed to glean from our very strained conversation was that he liked poker and his mum did his washing.
The worst thing was that our date was clearly so awful, the crew had to pretend his mic was rustling, so they could take him away and tell him what to say to me. They did that a few times, and once to me. I mean, imagine if I’d have had that on all my dates. Someone pulling me out of the situation and telling me where I was going wrong and what to talk about? The humiliation. The quite handy humiliation.
The thing is, as soon as you tell someone you do standup comedy they instantly have a certain expectation and look at you differently. This guy did the cardinal sin of asking me to tell him a joke, which really annoyed me, and I didn’t handle it that well, but after what seemed like hours in his company desperate for things to talk about I ended up telling him one because I had nothing else to talk about.
In the end a waiter came over and told us we had to leave because they needed the table. Date done.
It was exhausting to try to edit myself: anyone who knows me, knows that that in itself is a massive challenge. It’s weird because you’re surrounded by little pod-like cameras making it a bit like being in The Truman Show, or Big Brother. I was fucking knackered by the end of it. I couldn’t really relax in my hotel room either as there were cameras there, too.
“I think I’m quite good at talking to most people, but I really struggled with this guy. All I’d managed to glean from our very strained conversation was that he liked poker and his mum did his washing.”
Thank god I didn’t forget like one of the other girls who came out of the bathroom with no pants on and her biff out. She only realised when she heard the slow electrical whirring of the camera just discreetly turning to face the other way to give her some privacy. Minge cringe.
Anyway, what should have been a two-day stay ended up being a five-day stay, with food poisoning bunged in for good measure. Needless to say I was lucky enough to have another date with someone else that was so much better than the first one.
I got absolutely shitted with the relief, and spent the next morning vomiting out of every hole in my body and he got food poisoning, after eating the same thing that got me – on my recommendation. Whoops.
The second guy was lovely. However, we’ve not seen each other since. And judging by the WhatsApp group I’m on with some of the other girls, none of us have.
I’m guessing that the gentlemen in question just weren’t ready for the delights of the wonderful women with whom they’d been fixed up. Either that or the pressure of being on a programme makes you behave in ways you wouldn’t ordinarily do, and with the romantic location and the situation it’s easy to get carried away but the reality of life in the real world is a completely different thing.
One woman basically didn’t hear from her ‘yes’ date from the minute they parted at the airport and then he had the nerve to get in touch with her two months later asking her to lend him money. I know.
But what an experience. I loved every minute of it, I’ll probably never get the chance to do something like that again, and so I embrace it. I did it for me. To help me get over a rubbish time and it helped. It really did. Did I meet anyone? No. Did I get some confidence back? Yes. Merci, Fred.
Lou is doing her work in progress show at the Leicester Comedy Festival on Saturday 18 February at the Brew Dog, at 8pm, £5, if you fancy watching a grown woman unravel on stage.
First Dates Hotel is on Channel 4, Mondays, 10pm.
Read more A Brew With Lou columns here.
Lou is a comedian, writer, actor, lover of curry and cheese, and is also a giant simple child.