Martin is speed-dating.
Well, if he's entirely truthful, he's not actually speed-dating: he's spending the evening being speed-ignored because every woman he tries to impress – and hell, there's not much time, even for the Captain of an airline (correction, Martin: airdot) who has to have lightning fast reflexes - clearly thinks that he's just not – not – not very interesting, and they just giggle (well, some do – others just laugh rudely and walk away, let's be honest here) and it's all the fault of that bloody Douglas.
And it's even worse than Douglas's last bloody idea, which was singles night in the supermarket, because at least then when women looked pityingly at his shopping basket (contents: loaf of own brand tasteless bread, packet of own brand tasteless pasta, one potato ('Suitable For Baking!)) then at least he could pretend to himself that they might have thought that he just happened to pop into the supermarket to do his shopping and didn't realise it was singles night (oh come on, Martin, stop kidding yourself).
And it's just not bloody fair. Douglas has a beautiful, if unfaithful, wife (and really, deep down inside, Martin thinks it would be worth having a beautiful, if unfaithful, wife because she would be (a) beautiful and (b) married to Martin) and Carolyn has a relationship with Herc even though she spends all her time insulting him (and Martin wouldn't mind having a relationship with a woman who insulted him because at least he'd be in a relationship with a woman ) and Arthur has short-lived but plentiful romances with beautiful and interesting girls (and Martin sometimes wonders whether he ought to ask Arthur to set him up on a blind date with a friend of one of these beautiful and interesting girls and he wouldn't mind, not really, if the friend wasn't beautiful or interesting in the least) .
Oh bloody hell, the woman lumbering towards him now is (a) not beautiful and (b) covered in tattoos and (c) is shouting 'It's a Tiny Ginger!' and suddenly Martin can't stand the humiliation any more and he stands up and he runs towards the door and into the street and he can hear them laughing at him and he really doesn't care because he's out of there and suddenly he realises that he's bumped into someone and knocked a bag out of their hands and there's books and papers and a notebook and pens all over the pavement and it's a girl and she's just standing there laughing but not at him and she says 'Easy, Tiger!' and they both laugh and he apologises and they both pick everything up and then – and then – he asks her if she'd like to go for a drink as an apology and she looks up at the hotel with the big banner that says 'Speed Dating Tonight!' and she says yes, but not here, it doesn't look our sort of thing and she doesn't notice he's blushing (well, she must notice, but she doesn't say anything) and they find a quiet pub.
And now she's asking him where he works. And Martin is just so pissed off with trying to impress women that he just says 'I'm a Man with a Van' and she doesn't laugh and she says she works in a shop and he realises that she sounds – just a bit – embarrassed. And then she asks him what his interests are and because he hasn't told her that he's a Captain of an airline he can be honest. Really, really honest. So he tells her that his hobby is flying planes and she says isn't that an expensive hobby and suddenly he's explaining about MJN and telling her all about Douglas and Carolyn and Arthur and she's laughing but she's not laughing at him, she's laughing like he's just told her a really funny joke and then she buys him a drink and she says that she thinks it's great that he has such an interesting life and nobody has ever, ever told Martin that before and she's really quite pretty and she seems to like him and then she tells him that she works in a shop part-time because she's studying at university as a mature student and that really that's a bit like him flying Gertie, isn't it, they both have to do jobs they hate so that they can afford to do the things they want to.
And then he walks her home and he kisses her very gently on the cheek and she pulls away (oh God no, please let her like me, just a bit) and then she blushes and says could we meet again, not if you don't want to, but I really like you and Martin kisses her properly this time and she's kissing him back and at the back of his mind he thinks 'Must remember to thank Douglas for his brilliant idea'.
And then he forgets all about Douglas.