I had an interesting exchange in China – where I’m on a work trip – when I was chatted up. It’s been a long time since that last happened, 1994 to be exact.
I never really chatted anyone up myself when I was younger. I think it was due to lack of confidence because of my face and how it looks.
Anyhow, for the first time in years it happened the other day, someone actually made a move on me.
We went to visit the Canton Tower, which is the world’s second highest freestanding structure. You can get a lift to the top of this tower and the others in our party rushed to purchase theirs.
I, meanwhile, a man with a lifelong fear of heights, took one look at it and refused point blank to go within 20 feet of the entrance.
In fairness I may have been brave enough had the elevator not been made of glass. No way am I going almost a mile into the sky separated from the ground only by a couple of sheets of double-glazing.
Worse still, there is a ride on top of the tower that plummets off the edge. Again the people I was with seemed incredibly keen to try this, as if it were exciting and a treat. Nutters.
I had two hours to kill while they went up to the top, so to pass the time I went to a local park where I lay down on the grass.
Two things happened. First of all a man walking past with his wife came and sat beside me and asked his wife to take a picture of us together.
He spoke no English, I think he was a local, and didn’t ask if it was okay. He put his arm around me and sat smiling while his wife took the photo. I didn’t quite know what to say so I tamely allowed it to happen, my only form of protest to make sure I scowled surlily at the camera in a bid to make my displeasure known.
Less than two minutes after, a young man in a white shirt came and sat right next to me.
There were about three other people in the entire park and the park was the size of four football pitches. Worse still he tried to make conversation, at which point I told him I was English and didn’t understand what he was talking about.
Rather than deter him, he began using some sort of translator thing on his mobile phone to begin a conversation with me. He muttered something in Chinese then held the phone up and a voice said ‘hey how a,re you?’
I looked at him like he was insane but didn’t want to damage Anglo – Chinese relations (I mean, imagine if word got around, and the last thing Theresa May needs right now is an export war with the Chinese) so I sort of muttered, ‘I’m okay, thanks’.
He pondered this for a moment and then said something else into his mobile. ‘Good-looking’, the voice from his mobile said.
Now I was slightly taken aback but assumed, maybe a tad naively, that because I was sitting with a view of the Canton Tower, he was talking about the structure. So I said ‘yes, it is’.
He then edged himself closer and said something else into the phone. Moments later it announced ‘I like you very much’.
I looked across at him and saw he was now pouting slightly in my direction and the full horror of the situation suddenly took hold.
Rarely have I jumped to my feet more quickly, but being English and polite still felt the need to say ‘sorry I must be off now’ before part-walking, part-sprinting away from the scene.
I must admit this exchange came as something of a surprise.
On reflection I guess I should be flattered – at the age of 43 it means I’ve still got it – and perhaps I should’ve accepted his offer and begun a courtship. However, the language barrier would’ve been hard and the commute even more tiresome.
I probably did the right thing in turning him down and will instead stay with Mrs C, probably much to her disappointment.