Can you hear the bells? Smell the mulled wine? Are you cold and alone and a little bloated but still regularly quite horny? Yes! Christmas is here.
Relationship-wise, here's how this goes. You're most likely either a) in a long term relationship and are searching Groupon frantically for a moderately priced mini-break, or b) have made the most of cuffing season, and now have to choose a gift that says, "I am wholeheartedly committed to touching your genitals, but only until March." Congrats!
The third option is this: you could be like me, single and moderately happy, but with no one to wear nice knickers for. I would be content with this were it not for my quite strong desire to open a present that isn’t my office secret Santa this year (the gift from my parents was a costly bed bug de-fumigation – probably the most expensive and least enjoyable present they have ever given me). So what I need is a Christmas Prince – preferably one who wishes to spend the royal fortune of his small European principality on me.
Enter "selective" dating app The Inner Circle, which invited me to one of their singles mixers last week. The Inner Circle claims to have a strong vetting process that looks at job title, LinkedIn connections and photos (shagging potential), so I would need to up my game to fit in. In the words of Ja'mie from Summer Heights High: "In a rich area, hot people breed with other hot people," so I took them up on their offer and went in search of a new, elite posho identity.
Over the phone, the app’s founder, David Vermeulen, suggested I should be myself at the event (apparently VICE writers with mental health issues are in high demand right now??) But that wouldn’t make a good article, so I ignored his advice. There was only one more question to ask to fully get into the mindset of being a true Inner Circle singleton: who should pay at the end of a date? "100 percent a guy should obviously pay," he said. "The minute that doesn’t happen you should be careful. I’m not a conservative or a Tory, but I definitely believe in a guy paying when it comes to picking up the bill."
He did not need to tell me twice.
I needed to go shopping if I was going to achieve the perfect Sloanie look. Helping the needy is something Princess Diana (#poshgoals) would approve of, so I headed to FARA charity shop for some garms. Of course, Diana’s most iconic look is her wedding dress, so in that spirit, I tried on this saucy number:
But then it dawned on me that showing up to a singles mixer ready to walk down the aisle could be too keen for cuffing season. I only wanted someone to consistently go down on me until the days start getting longer, not a long-term lover. Then I spotted a riding helmet. Everyone knows that horse girl energy is strong with posh girls, so I of course tried it on for size:
Finally, with an unsettling piece of animal tail over my shoulder, I settled on something slutty and lacy for the party, paired with a huge shoulder pad jacket in keeping with the 80s royal style inspo. Finally, I looked like (I had) a million bucks (in my bank account).
Before I left the house I checked out the wiki-how page on "How to be Posh". "Brush your teeth at least twice a day, and take a shower on a daily basis," it said. I agreed oral hygiene would be key if I were to pull someone with an annual income over £60k.
The party was to be held at Mrs Fogg's Maritime Club and Distillery in the City (shocker), which on its website claims to pay homage to boats, and also India. It had lots of sea-inspired touches, like an actual stationary vessel, and the female waitressing staff all wore saris. But say what you want about bars with neo-colonialist decor: they make great nibbles!
After some Dutch courage, it was finally time to go in search of my bougie Christmas prince. "Hey there," I said to someone who smelled like he might not be wearing Lynx. "You seem nice. I’m on a mission to become a Sloane ranger and find myself a rich boyfriend before cuffing season is over. What do you think?"
"I don’t think I can help you," he replied. "I’m wearing a £20 watch."
Then I spoke to Kevin, 27, and Bobby, 28, though only the latter was an actual user of the app.
"What do you think of my outfit, Bobby?" I asked.
“Um, it’s… fine? You look… normal?” he replied.
“Do you think I look like Princess Diana?”
“Er… I wouldn’t have known that’s what you were going for but now that you mention it – maybe.”
“Are you my Christmas Prince?”
“I don’t know.”
"Okay, I know when I’ve been rejected," I said, at which point the PR contact for the app asked me to maybe stop approaching attendees for interviews as it might make them feel “uncomfortable”.
If I was going to meet the posh boi of my dreams, I would need to go nuclear to attract attention and get them chatting to me. And just like that, a lady with pink hair and sequin gloves swept through the room seeking "rockaoke" participants. I was the first person to sign up, and I was going to sing Mariah Carey.
As I opened my mouth to brutally murder the first few bars of "All I Want for Christmas Is You", I realised it would be the first time in my life I’d sing the track with any degree of sincerity, having only ever warbled it at my drunk friends or at Christmas parties, and never before at an entire room of horny singletons I might one day lick.
Sadly, once the karaoke started, it was very difficult to speak to anyone because the music was so loud, so there was little to do but drink – which was fine, but I left having exchanged not a single number with a rich and eligible bachelor.
There is, however, a happy ending to this sloppy tale. All dressed up and full of free wine, at 1AM I hopped on a bus to a house party in Brixton that I had been invited to earlier in the week. Around 45 minutes after my arrival I met a boy called Rupert (Rupert!), who I snogged and went home with. So even if it wasn't The Inner Circle that brought us together, I still summoned enough bougie attitude to pull a guy who, regardless of annual income, had a very middle class name. And we lived happily ever after for the next few hours. Fin.