I may be ginger, but I’m also an airline captain
Location: Fitton, UK
Looking for: A relationship
If you’re not put off by ginger hair, freckles, and an astounding lack of social skills, then I might be just the chap for you. Once you get past the awkward babbling and incoherence, I’m fairly decent.
I’m the captain of a tiny charter airdot, so I spend a lot of time trapped in a tin cupboard with my very witty first officer. I’ve been all over the world, although after a while one airport looks much like another.
There are some that would claim I have no hobbies. This isn’t strictly true. I love to read, especially Agatha Christie novels. I watch old movies, particularly Chaplin and the Marx Brothers. I’ve even been known to take an interest in cricket and tennis. My first officer claims that I’m not as hopeless as I initially seem.
I’m looking for a decent, kind and - crucially - patient man who will put up with me and help me not make a fool of myself so frequently.)
Looking for someone to laugh with
Location: Dartmoor, UK
Looking for: A relationship
Hello! My name is Henry and I’m an architect. I like the outdoors, nature, travelling, watching movies, reading and cooking. I’m looking for someone understanding and honest, with a sense of humour.)
Thursday 15th March
You seem to be under the illusion that ginger hair and freckles are a bad thing, so I thought I should write to tell you that they really, really aren’t. At least not in my book, and definitely not on smiling airline captains. (Or airdot captains, though I’m afraid I’m not sure what exactly an airdot is.)
I’m wondering why anyone would think you have no hobbies, when clearly you have several. Do you spend a lot of time working? I could understand if you did - I remember wanting to be a pilot as a kid. My father was a great plane enthusiast, so I was probably inspired by that. Unfortunately it’s not really a job that goes well with a fear of heights, but I still have Dad’s plane model collection.
Liking Agatha Christie is obviously a sign of great taste. I was basically brought up on the books, and they’re still my comfort reading. So I really have to ask the crucial question: Poirot or Miss Marple?
This was meant to be a witty first email – in the very likely case that it wasn’t, at least now you know that any amount of social awkwardness can’t possibly astound me, so you really don’t need to worry about that.
PS: Do I dare to ask why there is a lemon among your pictures?
To: Douglas Richardson (07875676532)
I will kill you in your sleep.
From: Douglas Richardson (07875676532)
I don’t have the slightest idea what you are talking about. Good luck, Supreme Commander.
I’ve spent about half an hour sitting here trying to work out how to reply to this. For a while I wasn’t going to reply at all, but that would be rude. So here goes.
The thing is, I didn’t set up that profile - my “very witty” first officer did, presumably in a bid to humiliate me in some fashion. Judging by the picture he chose, that was almost certainly his intention. I feel as though I should apologise for it - I think red wine had been involved at some point before that photo was taken. The lemon is something of an in-joke on our plane. It’s basically hide-and-seek with a lemon. I don’t really know why we play it.
Anyway, I had no idea that this was floating out there on the internet, so I’m afraid you’ve been a bit... misled. Slightly. Well, no. The information on the profile is accurate, for the most part. I just didn’t put it there. I am an airline captain. We call it an airdot though because the company only has one jet, and as my boss says, “you can’t put one jet in a line”.
I think you might be one of the only people in the world who doesn’t mind ginger hair and freckles. You’re a rare breed, at least. David Attenborough should do some sort of documentary on you. (Is that a weird thing to say? I don’t know. I shouldn’t try to be funny.) I’m sorry that you’re scared of heights. I never have been (not too fond of falling from them, but I think that’s a fairly natural fear). I’ve always wanted to fly, ever since I was very young. I have a lot of model planes too: I think I built my first Airfix Spitfire when I was about four. What is it that you do now? Something that involves staying at ground level?
The very first Agatha Christie book I read was “Murder on the Orient Express”, but my favourite is “Death in the Clouds” (can you sense a running theme?) so I think Poirot has to win. I do like Miss Marple though. I was compared to her once, which was a bit odd.
Oh God, I seem to have gone from “not wanting to reply” to writing you a bit of an essay. I’m sorry about that, and I’m sorry that you were... misled. I’m not really looking for anything at the moment, despite what Douglas seems to think. I work a lot and I don’t have very much free time, so any kind of relationship is a bit unfeasible. Not that that was definitely going to happen, of course. Just... thought I should mention it.
Sorry again, and all the best.
When I wrote to you, I thought I had envisaged all the possible ways in which it could go wrong, but it really didn’t occur to me I could be writing to someone whose profile was there without his knowledge. It is exactly the kind of embarrassing thing that would happen to me, so I’m not even as surprised as I probably should be. I sort of expected the whole online dating thing to be a disaster anyway. Sorry for the unwanted attention.
Playing hide and seek with a lemon and setting up dating profiles for colleagues is not exactly how I imagined the airline business to go, to be honest. Are things like that a common occurrence in your airdot? Your first officer seems…interesting. I don’t know what his intentions were, of course, but I don’t think the picture is humiliating. It’s genuine, which is not what you usually see on people’s profiles. And you have a very lovely smile.
I’m an architect, though I’m out of a job at the moment. My life has been in a bit of a mess for a while but I’m trying to put it back together now, which is why I thought I’d give online dating a try – I am told that a new job and/or a new relationship are the things you need to make a fresh start. Clearly the job will be the safer bet. (Did that sound bitter? Sorry if it did.)
In what way are you like Miss Marple? Did you solve a mystery, or is it because you like knitting? :) Murder on the Orient Express was my grandmother’s favourite, so it was probably the first I read too, though I don’t remember. I think my favourite is Death on the Nile.
You don’t have to feel obligated to reply, I understand that you never asked for this. I’d be glad to hear from you, of course, if you wanted a… pen pal or whatever. Just don’t worry about it if you don’t.
All the best,
I once told my first officer that I’d looked at online dating and then chickened out, so I know what you mean about imagining it to be an unmitigated disaster. The attention isn’t unwanted it’s just... unexpected. And surprising.
Playing hide-and-seek with a lemon and setting up secret dating profiles isn’t how I imagined the airline business to go, either. To be honest, I’m fairly certain it isn’t typical - I think I just work for a very unusual company. Those things are actually quite harmless and dull compared to some situations we end up in. At least these don’t result in being held captive by an airfield manager, or chasing polar bears.
It’s impossible to tell what Douglas’ intentions are. He usually has about seven schemes running at once. I did wonder why he was taking pictures of me, but I suppose I have my answer now. I always think my smile makes me look ridiculous - it’s like my whole face collapses. Thank you for the compliment, though. I looked on your profile after I got your e-mail, and you look lovely, which is why I’m replying. Not that I’m replying just because of the way you look - you seem lovely in your e-mails too. I’m not shallow or anything. I like your ears (and I really hope you don’t mind me saying that - sorry!)
Being an architect sounds interesting, though I admit that I don’t really know what you do. Design buildings, I suppose? Good luck in getting more work. I know it can be difficult if you’re freelance when you’re not getting clients and things. I’m really sorry to hear that things have been tough for you lately, and I hope you can work things out. I’d say you can talk to me if you ever need to, but you don’t know me and I don’t know how useful I’d be. I hope you have people around to help you, anyway.
I think “Murder on the Orient Express” is the first Christie most people read. Did you hear that the BBC are doing a modernised version of the Poirot stories? It should be interesting, if nothing else. Our steward, Arthur, compared me to Miss Marple when we were trying to find out who stole a bottle of expensive whiskey on a flight to Paris. Arthur is very excitable, and he decided that my trying to figure it out made me the same as Miss Marple. He was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t the “person we’d least expect”, because it was Douglas who had stolen it. I don’t knit, no. I’d probably end up stabbing myself in the eye with the needles or something. Probably safest not to try.
I think I’d really like to e-mail you a bit more if that’s okay. I don’t want to... lead you on or anything, but it would be nice to be friends, at least. If that’s all right, of course.
Have a good day,
Friday 16th March
Chasing polar bears? Being held captive by airfield managers? Stealing whiskey? This is getting more and more unlike anything I had imagined. Sounds like you lead an exciting life with interesting colleagues. Who else is there apart from Douglas and Arthur? If you aren’t fed up with talking about work, of course.
I refurbish old buildings – conversions and extensions and thing like that. Initially I wanted to do restorations of historic monuments, but I ended up with residential houses, for the most part. It’s not something I thought I’d enjoy at first, but it’s very satisfying in its own way – helping people to get the kind of home they dream of (yeah, I’m secretly a softie), and coming up with ways to combine the old and the new. I had to turn down clients for some time because I was a bit… distracted, and I didn’t want to accidentally design something that would fall down on their heads at the first gust of wind, which wasn’t exactly the best promotional strategy, but I’m getting back on track now and hopefully something will crop up soon.
I don’t know what to think about the modernised Poirot. Anyone with that kind of moustache would just look silly nowadays, but you can’t have Poirot without it, can you? It’s so iconic. But who knows. Maybe they’ll surprise me.
I think protruding ears are right up there with ginger hair and freckles in terms of how many people like them, so thanks for the compliment. I’m trying to forget that my profile exists – I think I spent about two hours trying to come up with something original and interesting, and then I kind of gave up. I certainly wouldn’t mind if someone wanted to write these things for me, but admittedly I’d rather if they asked me first. Has Douglas explained why he did that?
I think it would be great to be friends. I might be better at that, at least.
Where are you flying to next?
There's nothing wrong with being a softie. Your work sounds really interesting! I admit that sometimes I see an old building that someone has modernised and it makes me feel a bit upset. I remember being in Stratford-upon-Avon a few months ago, and amongst all these gorgeous Tudor cottages someone had put on a really ugly modern extension, and it totally ruined it. Not that I imagine you ruin houses like that, of course! Do clients ever ask you to design totally ridiculous things? I may have watched slightly too many episodes of Grand Designs in my time, so that's what I have in my head.
I don't mind talking about work – I'll complain, but I really do love flying. It's more a case of having to shut me up about it, to be honest. Those are the more dramatic examples of our... escapades. I keep the details of them for when I run out of things to say to people (which tends to happen very quickly). They're my go-to stories. A lot of the time it really isn't that interesting. We once spent eighteen hours flying from Hong Kong making up limericks and playing twenty questions. We play a lot of word games.
Don't tell anyone, but we technically don't have enough people in our airdot to really function as a company as we only have one crew. So neither Douglas or I are ever allowed to be sick, and if we were our boss would hunt us down with a harpoon or something. There's just us two pilots, Arthur the steward, and his mum Carolyn who owns the company and also does cabin crew duties (which usually consists of terrorising the passengers). I sometimes feel like the straight man in a comedy group (figuratively speaking, of course), and the joke's on me. It's a weird company, but I do like working for it. It's like an exceptionally dysfunctional family that exists at 30, 000 feet.
Douglas' explanation consisted of, “Good luck”, which wasn't really an explanation at all. I've not actually told him that you replied, because he'll just be smug and self-righteous over it, and he's like that enough as it is. I'll find some way to get back at him, eventually. So far I've just settled for sending him a slightly abusive text. Which he laughed at.
Between us we're a childhood bully's dream, aren't we? I remember realising I was gay and thinking, “Oh, I couldn't just be ginger, freckly and shy, could I?” But your ears are lovely, I like them. And your profile was fine, I think! I don't know what I would have said if I'd had the choice to write mine.
Maybe Poirot moustaches are still popular in Belgium? I hope not. No one can really pull off a moustache any more. The last person to manage it was Freddie Mercury.
We’re flying to Cardiff tomorrow for the Six Nations Rugby Final - we call it “Birling Day” because this old guy Mr Birling hires us every year to take him to the final. He’s the one with the expensive whiskey, so I’ll be spending most of my time trying to stop Douglas stealing it. Do you have any exciting/interesting/boring plans coming up?
I’ve never been asked to design anything really crazy. There was this one rather eccentric couple who’d decided that what their house lacked was a tower on each corner – that’s probably the most extravagant thing I’ve done. I did what I could to make it look the least silly possible, which was still very silly, but they were so excited about it that it was really worth it. They still send me Christmas cards every year. But usually people want fairly normal things, sometimes they just have unrealistic expectations and want me to magic up space they don’t have or find a way to do whatever they want done for next to no money. It’s the lack of money that’s often behind the ugly extensions that you’ve seen – or lack of taste, of course, but generally if people have the means for it they can be convinced to go for something more tasteful.
My ears were unsurprisingly a frequent object of ridicule at school – “Dumbo” was one of the nicer nicknames I had. It’s sweet of you to say you like them, but you should really stop with the compliments, it’s making me blush! My neighbour’s cat has come to visit and is eyeing me suspiciously – I suspect the shade of my face is getting alarming. (I have a neighbour who’s the epitome of the stereotypical old lady who has more cats than she can keep track of, and occasionally one of them wanders into my garden and keeps me company for a while, which is quite nice.)
Usually my plans would include nothing more exciting than planting tomato seeds, but this weekend my cousin Jenny is coming to stay over. She wants to introduce her boyfriend to me, and given her excited but secretive phone call about “big news”, I strongly suspect he’s now her fiancé. I suppose that since I’m the closest thing to an older brother she’s got, I’m duty-bound to dislike him, take him aside and threaten to make him regret the day he was born if he ever hurts her. Perhaps I should practice some menacing grimaces in front of the mirror, but I’m afraid the ears would make them look rather ridiculous, so it’ll probably be no use.
Your flight stories are definitely more original than talking about the weather, which is usually what I go for before awkward silence inevitably falls. It’s great that you get along so well with your co-workers, though I must say your boss sounds rather scary – but I suppose trying to ensure that your employees never get sick must be quite stressful, so perhaps that’s understandable. What do you do when you do get sick? Are you ever allowed to take a holiday, or is that off limits too?
So the attempted whiskey theft is a yearly occurrence, then? Is Douglas some sort of whiskey connoisseur? In any case, I hope Miss Marple saves the day this time!
Have a safe flight!
Sunday 18th March
Well, the trip was successful thanks to Wales winning. Mr Birling is Welsh, so he was very pleased- as well as very drunk. There were a lot of Welsh songs sung, and a lot of abuse of the French and the English. And the Scots, when he realised that I have a Scottish surname. Douglas did manage to steal the whiskey through a scheme involving silly straws, empty shampoo bottles and 'accidentally' locking Arthur in the loo. Luckily we figured it out before Mr Birling could kill us with his tie pin.
Congratulations to your cousin if she is engaged, and I hope you managed to strike fear into the boyfriend's heart. I never tried that on my sister Caitlin's fiance, because I'm seven years younger than her and Tom is a MASSIVE rugby player. It didn't seem like a good plan. I'm sure you managed to be a bit more intimidating.
If the crazy neighbour has that many cats, can't you steal one permanently? Surely she won't notice. I would love a pet, but I'm away too much really. I wanted a dog when I was younger, but Caitlin is allergic.
You're the one who started the compliments by going on about my smile, but I'll stop if you like. And trust me, you haven't seen blushing until you've seen my "volcanic" blushing.
I've never dared call in sick, so I flew to the States with flu not long ago. It was unpleasant. We don't get holidays as such, but since it's a charter business there can be a lot of time between trips.
I've just seen that you live in Dartmoor. What's that like? I bet it's incredible. I've never been, but it looks beautiful. Certainly nicer than Fitton!
I hope you had a lovely weekend :)
I’m glad to hear the whiskey was recovered and there were no casualties :)
Jenny is indeed engaged. Her fiancé isn’t a rugby player, but I’m afraid my attempts at intimidation still didn’t proceed very far. Or at all, really. He seems nice and clearly adores her, though, so I think perhaps it wasn’t even necessary. Plus he looks a bit like Jude Law – I think she has done very well for herself.
I used to have my own cat, but he died about a year and a half ago. I had him for years, and so far I haven’t been able to even consider getting a new one. But maybe it’s time – I have been trying to make all these changes, and it would be nice to have a feline companion again – even if no one can ever replace Sir Jingles. Certainly not one of Mrs Baker’s cats, though. They are used to running free wherever they want, which my cat certainly couldn’t – I’d be constantly worried about it getting run over or attacked by a dog or something. Maybe you could get something undemanding, like a fish? I remember reading about a goldfish that survived without food for four months after the earthquake in New Zealand – they certainly seem like hardy creatures.
Is Caitlin your only sibling? Do you have any nieces or nephews? Sorry, this sounds like a questionnaire. I’m just curious – I’m an only child and Jenny’s family live in Canada, and I’ve always thought it must be great to have a big family – even though many people who do have big families tried to convince me otherwise.
I had to compliment your smile. You can’t hold that against me – you obviously had a far too low opinion of it, I couldn’t let that continue. Nobody should ever feel self-conscious about the way they smile, and especially not people whose smiles are as lovely to look at as yours.
Dartmoor is a beautiful place. It can be a bit too bleak for some people, I suppose, but I really like it, even though I have some not very good memories associated with it. There are some amazing landscapes, and there’s nothing like an early morning walk on the moors. I’d lived here until my father died when I was nine and then I never really wanted to come back, but now I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. You should definitely visit sometime.
Monday 19th March
You're still doing that compliments thing – stop it, or I won't. Your ears are adorable and you have a lovely smile too. Hah, take that!
Jude Law, hey? Definite congratulations are in order, then! I'm glad he seems nice, despite your lack of intimidation skills.
I have a brother as well, called Simon. He's two years older than Caitlin. I think I was a somewhat unexpected child, considering the age gap – I imagine I annoyed them both to no end when I was growing up. Though I have been reliably informed that that is the job of younger siblings. I don't really talk to Simon now though – we've never got on, and he was not impressed when I came out.
Caitlin and I get on quite well now, though we don't see each other that often. Simon's got two boys, Jamie and Sam, and I wish I could see them more, but there's not much I can do about it. Caitlin and Tom had a little girl last year, and she's beautiful. Her name's Elsie, after our mum. She's just started walking, which is very exciting! My mum died when I was fifteen, and my dad passed away a few years ago, so we're quite a small family, really. I can't imagine being an only child.
I'm really sorry to hear about your dad – it's difficult losing a parent so young. I can understand why you would want to be somewhere else. Where did you live before you went back to Dartmoor? I'd love to see Dartmoor someday. I like walking, and there are a few places round here but they're mostly fields filled with sheep. They're not exactly appealing to the eye.
I had considered getting a goldfish, but I think they're more work than people think, even if they can survive earthquakes. Apparently you can't just stick them in a bowl of water and leave them there. They need big tanks and filters and all sorts of things. Long gone are the days when you could win one at the fair! Though I did always feel a bit sorry for those fish, so maybe it's for the best. I'll just carry on giving bread to the ducks in the park, I think.
I thought all cats tended to run around everywhere and get into trouble, but I suppose I must have been mistaken. Definitely don't get one that will make you worry about it, that sounds far too stressful! I have to ask: why on earth was your cat called Sir Jingles?
Okay, okay, all compliments stopping now. I’d thought of one about your hair, but I promise to keep it to myself.
I’m sorry you don’t get on with your brother. I was lucky that no one had a bad reaction when I came out, but I suppose the fact that I didn’t so much come out as wake up one morning and realise everyone had known for ages might have helped. It’s great that you get to watch your niece growing up, that must be wonderful. Are you a spoiling uncle?
I went to live with my grandparents in Surrey after Dad died (my mum died even before that), and then I lived in London for several years. I hope to stay in Dartmoor permanently now – I have done a lot of work on the house – but who knows. Have you always lived in Fitton, or are you originally from a less sheep-filled region?
The people I got Sir Jingles from had a little girl who told me his name was Mr Jingles. She was so sad that they had to give the kittens away, it seemed like the least I could was to keep the name. After a few days he made it clear to me that he felt cats were the superior species and should be treated as such. He would give me such scathing looks sometimes – “What are you doing with that stuffed mouse, you silly human? Can’t you tell it’s not the real thing?” I felt that “Sir” was more appropriate. I’d forgotten what a silly name it was, I’d grown so used to it. I lived in a flat in London for most of the time I had him, so I really couldn’t let him wander outside. But I still found lots of things to worry about, especially in the early days. In the first few weeks I couldn’t go out for more than an hour without thinking, “What if he’s getting lonely? What if he’s knocked something over? What if I didn’t give him enough water and he’s dying of thirst?” And when I came home he was usually sleeping and not caring one bit whether I was there or not. (Nostalgic reminiscences of an obsessive cat owner. Sorry about that.)
Do you get a day off today when you had a working weekend? What do you get up to?
God, you really had it rough when you were a kid. I'm so sorry. I don't really know what to say, but I hope you're all right.
I'm not sure why everyone was surprised when I came out. I'm hardly the epitome of straightness! I stayed in the closet for quite a while because I knew what sort of reaction I'd get from Dad and Simon. Dad did come round to it eventually – or he stopped calling people “poofters”, which was much the same thing from him.
The concept of weekends doesn't really exist for me. I lose track of days (and what time zone I'm in) quite frequently. I often try to go food shopping only to find everything closed because it's a Sunday, when I was convinced it was Wednesday. I didn't do much today: some cleaning, some reading – nothing interesting. We're flying to Cairo in a couple of days, so I'll have to stock up on sun-cream. I burn ludicrously easily, as you might expect.
I feel that Elsie is the only person in the world who may ever consider me “cool”, so I do try to be a bit of a spoiling uncle. Of course, at her age being “cool” just means that I give her piggy back rides and play with her stuffed toys with her. But I'll take what I can get! In a few years I will no doubt be “embarrassing Uncle Martin” instead.
I grew up in Wokingham, which is a lovely town but quite dull, although there are less sheep. Caitlin still lives there, so I go back fairly often. I moved to Fitton about ten years ago now, and will be here for the foreseeable future.
It sounds as though Sir Jingles had you well and truly wrapped around his little finger. Well, paw. I always think that cats see people as filthy interlopers in their perfect cat world. If they ever have an uprising, we'll be the first against the wall. Although perhaps they'll spare you, since you were clearly a good pet for Sir Jingles. Do you always worry so much? I'm a constant worrier, I can't do anything without panicking about how it's going to go horribly wrong. I'm getting better at not worrying when the plane makes bizarre noises though, since she tends to give us warnings for no reason whatsoever. The ground proximity warning tends to go off at odd moments, like when we're flying at 35,000 feet, or when we're actually parked and on the ground. Sorry, it seems that I talk about the bloody plane the same way people talk about their pets. I'm not actually crazy, I promise. Maybe you should get another cat though, you seem to really like them! Get a kitten – kittens are cute.
Have you had any luck with finding work? I hope so!
P.S. I think I'm going to delete this stupid profile. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org :)