Late, Late Bind Date
document transcript of digital audio tape (dat) and only surviving record of unsuccessful tv offshoot ‘late, late blind date', pilot episode, presenter unknown, circa june 1996
host: Okay, Laura. Your first question.
laura: Now, boys, I'm an old-fashioned girl. I like to be taken out, to dress up. I like good wine and conversation, and long dinners that include good wine and conversation. I do not think that romance is a joke. That's why my first question is, simply: How will you treat me like a lady? Let's start with Contestant 1.
contestant 1: By providing you with long dinners, good wine and conversation—is the obvious answer. [Audience laughter.] But perhaps you were looking for something more imaginative. So let us say we are together; let us say it is a weekday in summer and we are together and both of us are off work. It is the city. We put on summer clothes and flip-flops and head for one of those long steep promenades where there are restaurants and cafés and bright, bright shop fronts. We wander around. We talk. We browse the expensive shoe shops. Eat shrimp. Sit at the cafés and watch the hurried feet of passers-by returning to work. Because this is how you treat a lady right: by making time for her. Simply that. I would make time for you, spend the day with you, conducting you eventually home, where, after so much walking, I would end the evening with a sensual foot-rub.
laura: Thanks for your time, Number 1. Now the same question to Contestant 2.
laura: I can't hear him. Is there a problem?
[Silence. Shuffling noises.]
host: I'd move on to Three for now, dear.
laura: All right. Maybe we can go back to you, 2. Contestant 3, then, how do you treat me like a lady?
contestant 3: I have heard this phrase often: "to treat a woman like a lady". I don't know the difference. Between a woman and a lady. I don't know what that means. I will treat you as I treat them all. I will accept both sides of you. Enjoying the good, accepting also the shit. I will take what you give.
laura: Thank you, Three. That was, uh, raw. And confusing.
host: And that's the end of the first round. [Audience applause.] But before we move onto the second, I have to ask: Laura, at this early stage, do you have a favourite?
laura: I think I'm going to have to wait a little before deciding.
host: You've got just two questions left.
laura: I know. It's tough.
host: Let's hear your second question then.
laura: Right. With this next one I want to turn the tables and find out a little about the contestants' own tastes. I'm going to be asking: What do you look for in a woman? That question to Number 3.
contestant 3: Desperation.
laura: Well, I've heard that one before. Contestant 1?
contestant 1: Excellent taste.
laura: Terse. Contestant 2?
laura: Contestant 2?
[Clinking and squeaking sounds.]
laura: Um, is his mic broken?
host: No. Think of him as a control.
host: Third and final question, Laura.
laura: O-k-ay. Let's get this with over with. Contestant 2 – if you're there – imagine we are stranded in a small wooden fishing boat in the middle of a vast ocean on a calm day. Help is on the way, but won't be here for a while yet. How do you keep me entertained?
laura: Contestant 2?
contestant 2: Hnnnmm.
laura: Look. Is Number 2 OK?
host: One second.
[Long pause. Sound of footsteps.]
host: He's the silent type. [Audience laughter.]
laura: I'm getting kind of an ominous feeling about Number 2, here.
host: The good kind?
laura: I don't think so. Contestant 1, the, uh, the same question. In a boat.
contestant 1: I say we enjoy this uninterrupted time together. I say it is a gift. Here, in this boat – a fine vessel! – we have the chance to connect on the deepest level. So we ask questions about each other, taking it in turns, guessing the answers with gradually greater and greater accuracy. We act out dramas from memory. We make up games. We talk. Then as the sun sets we sit on the hull's edge, dangling our bare feet into the limpid waters, allowing our cares and anxieties to slip away as the red star falls, into the ocean, unnoticed, into nothingness, forgotten.
laura: Wow. That sounded—
contestant 1: Though at the same time not forgetting to remove our feet at intervals so the salt water does not unduly wrinkle nor weather nor overly pinken the fragrant arches, the swathes of sunless white, the morsel-sized toes.
contestant 1: Toes so like pearls when cast in this marine environment; smooth, precious, and, with the onset of night and still no rescue, having clearly, irresistibly erotic—
host: Are you all right, dear?
contestant 1: I hadn't finished.
laura: Contestant. Contestant…
laura: Contestant 3?
contestant 3: There's nothing for it, Laura. The situation demands it. Our lives are in danger. We're going to have to drink each other's urine.
host: And that concludes the final round. [Audience applause.] I hope you've heard enough to make a decision.
laura: Do I really have to pick one?
host: I'm afraid so, dear. But here's someone to help you choose. Take it away, Gary!
gary: Number 1 just wants to talk; until he can get you alone for shrimping, that is. Number 2's motives are unknown; is their a greater mystery than his identity? Number 3 promises to take what you can give—from both sides. So who will it be? Are you desperate for Number 3? Is Number 1 The One for you? Or will it be strong and silent Number 2? The choice… is yours!
laura: I don't want it.
host: Now, Laura.
laura: I don't.
host: Members of the audience, this brave lass is embarrassed by the riches on offer. Maybe we can help her decide.
host: What was that, dear? Did I hear you say "Number 2"?
laura: I feel faint.
host: We have a winner! And as we bid farewell to our unlucky contestants, Numbers 1 and 3 [scattered applause], we arrive at last at the moment of truth.
host: Come on out, Number 2!
[Horrific shuffling noise. Laura screams.]
laura: God! Oh my God. What are you?
[After a few seconds of uproar – words drowned out by sudden, rising crowd noise – the DAT ends. No further tapes have been found.]
About the author:
John Ellingsworth has recently been doing a great deal of harrowing yet fascinating yet strangely polluting research into some little known aspects of human relations. He lives in London.