ELLIE: In my mind, she spent the whole date watching the news, over my shoulder.
LUCY: I think we were both exhausted with dating and Tinder.
ELLIE: The start of a great love affair [laughs]. Passionate, passionate kisses were lacking.
MARIA: Welcome to equal parts, a series of true love stories told by the companies themselves. This week, keeping up appearances, the struggle and tedium of presenting your best self time and time again, in case this one turns out to be the one. Just a note, there's a few lights swears in this story.
ELLIE: I am Ellie. I'm from Preston… I suppose, or Blackburn, the Northwest. I'm a Sports Consultant, which sounds more glamorous than it really is, I suppose I help people to build 3G pitches, generally.
LUCY: My name is Lucy, and I'm from London and I work in a restaurant.
ELLIE: So we've been together probably just under a year and a half. We probably moved quite quickly. So we yeah, I say we've been together for 16 months, but we first met 16 months ago, from our Tinder date. Er and we, we've kind of grown together, I suppose. We now live together, which is a big change. And that happened quite early on. It's always been very easy.. we just became, yeah very close and easy and comfortable together.
We met a time when I was, erm I think I was a bit anxious and struggling a bit with London, erm and stuff that was going on with my family and my life, and she kind of, I think she came in at
the right time and called me down, maybe realise that everything's okay. And then helped me to become an awful lot more open, I… as you are when you're not in a relationship, or as I was, you do become very self reliant and erm insular, and she just makes me talk about my feelings all the time.
So [laughs] that's a thing now, we do talking about our feelings.
LUCY: We talked the other day about erm, she said [laughs], she said “it’s good we’re both women” [laughs]. But like, it just sounded so funny because it's like, it's such an obvious thing. I, of course we’re both women. It’s like ‘ah it’s a good thing’... Now we say all the time, because it's like a different level of communicating... It's like, which I don’t, I couldn't, I can't speak for heterosexual couples, but erm, it feels really, erm you don't have to consider anything. You can say anything. And you kind of know, erm because she’s a woman, and because I’m a woman, it’s, there’s a different level of understanding. I think.
ELLIE: So, we met on Tinder, and I don't- I think I must have been, just in my flat and I think it was probably like a Sunday evening.
LUCY: So I was in my best friend’s bed. And we were... watching a film I think? Orrr… yeah, I think we were watching film and I was on Tinder, just like, not concentrating film... And then yeah, I remember seeing her then and I remember talking to her then.
I remember her photos were quite outdoorsy. And, and I always, like when you're on Tinder, you do try and put across obviously, you choose four photos to put across… And she'd obviously thought, well, maybe she wouldn’t... actually probably hadn't thought about that [laughs] knowing her now [laughs]. Erm, but yeah, there was sort of one of her walking and one of her in San Francisco, in her, now I know it as her go-to pose in photographs, which is to just put your arms out as wide as you can with the background [laughs] so many photos [laughs].
Yeah. And I think I remember seeing that she was from Lancashire.
ELLIE: She spoke to me first, which I was like, ‘oh that’s’- weirdly for you know, female relationships... It's still like a bit of a game of chicken of like, the girl doesn't talk first, well that doesn't work does it if you're lesbians [laughs], then nobody’s talking [laughs].
All of her photos are completely different and also they look nothing like her. Well I remember looking at the photos and thinking well I don't know, I don't know who she is because... you know you're really blonde in one of them and then you're really not and then you just… something about the camera and Lucy means that she doesn't look like her.
She made some kind of lefty comments in her bio about 30 Rock and Clement Attlee, because she's intelligent, and you know, people need to know it [laughs]. Also she appreciates Tina Fey.
Erm, yeah, and I think we just talked kind of standard Tinder chat: “Hi, how are you?” And then I remember her saying that she was cooking dinner… And she was listening to the Bend It Like Beckham playlist. And I thought, ‘oh my god’. That's… well first of all: classic film.
LUCY: We talked about favourite films. And I remember she said... she definitely mentioned Bend It Like Beckham, and Billy Elliot, as being like top films ever. And I remember telling my friend this and she was like, “woah, that's cool”. I remember that really vividly.
ELLIE: And yeah, I just, I had this moment of ‘ooh, ok, well, that's a thing’. For you to say that completely unprompted. Erm, yeah, and then we just, I think spoke probably a couple of days and then I disappeared.
LUCY: Radio silence. Erm, and then she came back and she was like “sorry I just got really disillusioned with the whole online dating thing”.
ELLIE: I was like, ‘nah, not doing this anymore. Just meeting people that you have nothing in common with, wasting your evenings, going to rubbish bars and having rubbish wine.
LUCY: It's relentless, that’s the thing about it it's like...urgh. Urgh, gotta do the same… it's like, yeah it's like interviewing but trying to put your best self across, in a way that's sounds original.. Jeez, no thanks [laughs].
ELLIE: So I went away and then that promptly lasted two weeks, and then I came back again. I sent this really blunt message... that just said errr “I’m so sorry”, erm, I think I probably just answered the question that I had ignored… erm and said “sorry it's been a while, I can’t deal with this Tinder anymore, [laughs] it go depressing”. And she's like “ok, ok, yep, erm that’s… good to be honest.”
LUCY: I remember I was [laughs], I was in the loo of The Dove on Broadway market, actually on the loo texting her [laughs] about meeting the following day.
ELLIE: She was like, “ah, should we go for a date? Do you wanna come for a drink?”
LUCY: For our first date, we had arranged to go to a bar in Soho.
ELLIE: We'd been talking about drinks, or drinks that we liked. Erm, and we said we like a negroni. So she picked the, like this, really fancy bar. I think she must have maybe Googled ‘negroni Soho’, I don't know. She was there first which is unusual. I think she was early because she says I was late on our first date, but ah, I'm never late [laughs]. And she looked in the window and they were just these like middle aged men in suits.
LUCY: It just seemed really formal, and a bit spenny and a bit naff.
ELLIE: It looked really intimidating your first, first date.
LUCY: And I was like, ‘nah, I'm not gonna be able to relax in here.’
ELLIE: So she then text me and she was like “ah, I’ve seen it and we're not going there anymore.” I said, “ok, fine. I'm on my way, where are we going?”. We went to this grimy, grimy pub called The Crown and drank shit warm red wine.
LUCY: So, I was at the table with the drinks, already sat down.
ELLIE: I think I was still in work mode a little bit. I remember walking in there and being like “oh god,I don't know where she is”. Can you remember what she looks like given that all of her photos are completely different? Who is she?
LUCY: She walked in and she kind of did this thing I remember where she doesn't really - she didn't really look at me [laughs]. She just kind of, she went “hi, yeah, y’alright?” and then like, just kind of looked above eye level... she was still standing up and I was sitting down. And she was looking around the room above everyone's eye level... kind of at the ceiling [laughs].
Just like... you could feel the erm, awkwardness like it was palpable, so awkward. Erm, because it is, the initial is like ‘ah God’. When you’ve done it before as well, you're just like [sighs].
ELLIE: Yeah so I remember being like, peering at the table and thinking, ‘I'm pretty sure that's her.’ But... you don’t want to make a tit of yourself.
LUCY: I definitely recognised her instantly. And she was quite smiley, but you you could, you know, like a dog can smell fear….I think we were both... we've talked about this, but I think we were both exhausted with dating and Tinder. And so you don't, you like hedge your bets you don't... And I think because she'd been at work, it kind of felt like another... When she walked in I got the impression that it felt like another task, or maybe that's what I was projecting. Because that's maybe what I was feeling because you just think… ‘Don't’… yeah, ‘don't let yourself go... they'll probably be crazy’ [laughs].
ELLIE: I think I'd been somewhere maybe, ‘cause I work out of London quite a lot. I can't really remember… but I was wearing, like business clothes. I was wearing this like, yeah long black coat... I think I was probably dressed all in black. And had my like work backpack on.
LUCY: She had a… er Osprey Rucksack, like mine, but bigger. And, yeah, I think I probably said “ooh nice rucksack” [laughs] like a loser [laughs].
And then we drank seriously bad red wine... and just chatted. A lot. Just a lot of talk.
I can remember bits of what we talked about. It's tricky because I know what she thinks we talked about and I can't remember that…
ELLIE: This is where I can't really remember, and I know Lucy can and I'm feeling guilty now.
LUCY: Erm, I can remember… er we talked about work a lot. And then we talked about sport a lot.
ELLIE: Hockey and tennis, and her having a shit tennis partner. And I was like, “oh, I’ll, I'll play tennis with you”. But I'm really bad at tennis, she now knows that. Erm I was like ‘I’ll’... you know, ‘I’ll edge my way into your life’ [laughs].
LUCY: There was one anecdote she was telling me whereby she was working on a project at work. And she'd been in a meeting where there’d been a PowerPoint presentation, about... it was something to do with football, women, it was something to do with women's football, and one of the slides on the PowerPoint was just a picture of Clare Balding’s face. As if to say like, “and also Clare Balding would be a great selling point.” [laughs]. Which I thought was the funniest thing ever. So that was good. That was really funny.
Erm, and then, like, I know now that she was really hungry. So, so I didn't realise she was starving, but she likes to have three square meals a day. So she bought crisps and inhaled two packets of crisps. Both of them.
ELLIE: I think as, as a kind of attempt to… share them with my date, I opened them all the way out, but then just immediately inhaled the whole packet [laughs].
It’s like “yeah Lucy, um interesting about your life, yes. I just just need to finish my salt and vinegar first” [laughs].
LUCY: She opened them up like she was going to share them but... I did not have many [laughs]. And then, I remember I tripped on the way to the loo. That was cool. Didn't properly trip. I was like trying to get out of the table. She didn’t even notice. So it’s fine. I think I then said, “oh I just tripped”, she was like “huh?”.
ELLIE: I think, in my mind, she spent the whole date watching the news over my shoulder. She says no, but I think I was quite conscious that there was a telly over my shoulder. And [laughs] it just kept flashing. Lucy’s quite easily distracted, so...maybe she can't remember anything. She just knows exactly what happened in, in the world that day.
LUCY: So then we didn't go on somewhere. We just walked to the tube, and I think we just hugged... just a hug.
ELLIE: The most awkward hug goodbye.
LUCY: We definitely didn’t kiss.
ELLIE: I think she just suddenly got really nervous. She’d seemed so cool and relaxed and like taking everything in her stride the whole evening, and then she got to the tube and she was “oh god”. There should be some sort of public display of affection, but I don’t like public displays of affection.... So what I'm going to do is just kind of really awkwardly hug you then push you down the stairs [laughs]. “Off you go, bye.” Erm, yes, so then I was like ‘oh, ok. Is that? Did that go well? I was having a nice time but I’m now beginning to question [laughs] erm that we were on the same page.
LUCY: And then I texted her really quickly with like no game, and was like “I've got no game that was really good fun.”
ELLIE: The start of a great love affair [laughs]. Passionate, passionate kisses were lacking.
So second date, I think I was like well, she organised the first one, let’s be equal and fair about this, I’ll organise the second one. And because Lucy works shifts, erm at the pub, so she had the Sunday off. So I said, “let's go for Sunday lunch”, which I now realise... it's quite a lot [laughs]. I thought ‘ah great, I love a roast’.
Erm, she's got Sunday off... Sunday evening that's a bit weird, because in my life that's, you know, Mondays you go back to work... I've now realised that's not the same in Lucy’s life but erm, I didn't really think about it.
I asked my cousin, who lives in Islington “like do you know any good places to eat?” and she said “you should go to The Pig and Butcher...but you can't book”. So, I was like, ‘ok fine... I'll get down there a bit early’.
LUCY: We met about midday I think and then they didn't take bookings, so we got our name on the list and then we did like a small erm, bar crawl. There’s loads of pubs round there, so we just went for a little walk and found some pubs. Erm, and I remember her ability to navigate was
Staggering… um ly awful [laughs]. Just to like, literally, we were at Pub A and Pub B was round the block and it was like, a Herculean task. I remember that really vividly.
ELLIE: I didn't know London at all, and I really didn't know Islington, and I have a terrible sense of direction. So I got my Google maps out. And she called me out on it so early. She's like, “Ellie, that's, first of all, that's really lame, that you’re looking at your Google Maps. And second of all, it's literally around the corner.”
LUCY: We went to two, we first went... I think it was a pub called The Albion we went to for a drink. And then we went to another one around the corner called… The Draper's arms. And then… and then we went back to, I think it's called The Pig and Butcher… for lunch. It was a very nice meal. Proper roast.
ELLIE: Yeah, it was lovely. I think we just talked about our lives and ‘cause you don’t - when you meet somebody on a dating app, you don't know anything about them. You have to learn from
day one, so you're kind of like invested romantically… you know, where you both want it to go. But also you’re starting from you know square one. CLIP TO ROUND THIS OFF
LUCY: And then we went in search of I think coffee, but it was a Sunday night. So it was like everything was shut.
ELLIE: I think ‘cause we just didn't wanna go home, we wanted to stay out and be together... carry on the date. So we went to this bar and we had, I think we had like a coffee or something.
LUCY: It was disgusting. Erm [laughs] but it was fine, it was funny, we laughed about it.
ELLIE: And then Lucy had parked her bike not far away.
LUCY: And then we got to my bike. And was like, “right, well this is me”.. and then -
ELLIE: and then we had our first kiss
LUCY: We kissed.
ELLIE: Which was, which was great. But then Lucy was unlocking her bike and I didn't know what to do… I was like ‘do I just… do you just go? That's weird. But now I'm just like, hanging around watching her unlock her bike… pressurising her and being creepy and weird.
LUCY: I think during that meal, I realised I liked her.
ELLIE: And then I was like, almost kind of skipping home, that was so...like you just didn’t think about where the time went. And it was so nice. Easy, very easy. Our third date was less easy.
LUCY: And then we had the worst date ever! [laughs].
So the third date was the worst date ever. Um, for reasons that are pretty serious, um but that weren't disclosed to me, until very near the end of the date.
ELLIE: So first of all we went for dinner, at this… just [laughs] not great place in Soho with zero atmosphere and no lighting, so I couldn’t read the menu because I've got rubbish eyesight.
LUCY: There was something awkward about the seating... Down to everything, it just felt really like we've gone back a step.
ELLIE: I was in a really weird mood. But I was like, really trying to be like, ‘ok get it together, get it together, you like this girl, and be with it and fun’.
LUCY: And then we went to a comedy show at Soho Theatre which was actually brilliant…
ELLIE: We went to... a comedy show. So weird. Like, it was funny and Lucy thinks it's the funniest thing that's ever happened. I thought it was funny, but also surreal and really strange.
LUCY: And actually thinking about it, the reason I kind of, like I knew she was very, very cool and I knew we were going to get on was that this show that was like, nine times out of 10 a person would have been like what the ___ is this? Like, this is bizarre.
ELLIE: So the comedy show was… [sighs] I can't remember what it was called. But it was basically a woman dressed as an egg… she, she was a chicken but she was dressed as an egg, so that makes no sense [laughs] and she was laying children... laying eggs.
LUCY: It was a real egg. It was in her, she was wearing like a unitard, she so she must have had eight or nine eggs in her unitard.
ELLIE: And every time she had to decide whether she was going to keep this child-egg to become another chicken-egg, erm and like try and help it grow... or eat it, so, so that she could be... stay alive?
LUCY: It has been in Edinburgh… and I just... and I wanted to go see Hannah Gatsby before Hannah Gatsby was Hannah Gatsby. And I was like ‘ah that would be so good’ but obviously sold out.
ELLIE: And anyway, Lucy was laughing louder than anybody else in the whole place. When Lucy laughs you can hear it... her laugh is quite distinctive. So, if you go to a comedy gig where the room’s a bit tense, but she's having the time of her life, it’s just laughing so loud.
LUCY: We saw Alison Steadman she was there... but anyway that's a different story, we were both like “oh my god it’s Alison Steadman” [laughs].
Anyway, so weirdest comedy show I’ve ever been to... but also one of the best, one of the funniest. And then afterwards we had a drink and she was just like in another realm, and wasn't… we were back to kind of like, I felt like I was working. She was like not communicating.
And I was like “what’s going on?”.
ELLIE: I couldn't hold in what was going on in the rest of my life… it's another weird one where you meet somebody you don't know them, but you’re kind of trying to share yourself with them, but also you don't want to share too much of yourself because that’s a whole lot... and it's not very organic at all.
But I'd had, erm, a hard day. So my mum had just had surgery that day. She was quite ill and, that's why I was all over the place.
LUCY: I was like “well, what are we doing?” Like, “what are you doing?”, just like, you know? And this is the, like, urgh. Urgh. It was so much! [laughs]. So I was really shocked that she’d even entertained the idea of coming out that night, I was like, “what, why” you know, “babe, like, uh-uh, look after yourself”.
ELLIE: I was like, “look, I'm really sorry. Erm, I’ve had a really hard day, I know I'm not really being super fun.” And she was like “ok, that’s oof, ok”. But she really took it in her stride and that's a kind of, a quality that she’s shown time and time again. I'll be getting het up about things... or things which are quite dramatic happening in your life, and she puts them into perspective. Or says, you know, “it’s really rubbish, but you’re gonna be fine and, we'll, we'll get through it”. It's always 'we’, “we’re a team, we’ll get through it”... and, and that did kind of put me at ease, it was like ok, so she hasn't run away. I've told her this big thing about what's been going on in my life for the past year.
LUCY: Yeah. That was a big like, I was so… because I knew something was up like as I said, I sensed it in the restaurant that she was, something else was on her mind… but we don't, you know, we'd met each other twice I wasn't going to pry and be like “what's going on? What's going on with you?”. You just have to, deal with it. But we still had a lovely time and I think the bizarre, like the crazy crazy crazy egg show was a... was a good distraction. I remember telling people at work and they were like, “you went on date to see that?” [laughs] I was like “yeah! went really well!” [laughs] “she loved it” [laughs]
ELLIE: I must have just trusted her, to kind of be like, ‘here you go, here's my… here's all my shit….[laughs] you can have that on date three. So obviously for next date I just made her meet all my friends [laughs] erm, went to a house party… and from then on she was initiated and we couldn’t go back. So there we go, plan worked.
MARIA: Equal Parts is produced by me, Maria Passingham. Thanks to Audio Network for the music, and of course thanks to Lucy and Ellie too.
Original artwork this week comes from Chelsea Waites, visit equalpartspodcast.co.uk to see her interpretation and click through to her Instagram which is full of gorgeous, playful illustrations.
Next week is the final episode of this season. If you like what you’ve heard please rate and review on Apple Podcasts, and recommend Equal Parts to a friend.
The final tale is one of copy-machines, cats and cooking.
SARAH: He was quite senior to me and I was a bit nervous. He had the door slightly open and I knocked on it, and asked him if he knew about the photocopier… and he didn’t, but of course, being ‘a man’ he wanted to come and show me and work it out anyway.
DENNIS: I think she came into my office with an agenda.