What happened when the Editors of The Tab and Epigram went on a date for Valentine’s Day
History in the making
They say never meet your heroes. But when I was offered the chance to take THE editor in chief of Epigram out for Valentine's drinks, I couldn't resist.
Romeo and Juliet. Jane Eyre and Mr Rochester. Alien vs Predator. The great romances of human history have all twinned comedy with tragedy, larger than life characters with themes of fate and destiny. Yet nothing could surely compare to the spectacle of two journalistic hacks supping prosecco against a spectre of bitter enmity and petty student rivalry.
The location: Amoeba, Clifton. The time: 8pm, Friday night. The scene: fresh from hearing a lengthy speech from Jacob Rees-Mogg (but disappointed to discover no UWE-esque clashes had ensued) our heroes intrepidly entered the bar to clash in a battle of wits.
It was said of George Orwell that he refused to dine with his subjects before he wrote of them, for fear he might discover that he actually rather liked them. The same principle is surely true of evening drinks as well. Despite her late arrival, I couldn't help but warm to my journalistic rival over the course of the next four hours.
In the words of her Best Bachelorette nomination, Alex is "A ravishing brunette with eyes as sparkling as her wit" whose "presence has the same effect on a man as alcohol does on the human mind- it intoxicates, stimulates, invigorates and overpowers." Unlike the paper which she edits, she is not merely of prepossessing appearance but also some substance and interest as well.
Following some opening barbs about how The Tab is the spawn of the devil and Epigram a waste of good paper, gradually the atmosphere warmed over a mutual distaste for certain university apparatchiks and my unfulfilled desire to be the Epigram Puzzles Editor.
As one bottle became two, conversation meandered past the familiar landmarks of adolescence: school, dogs, family, passions, aspirations, with the awful mutual realisation that despite the supposed chasm that exists in differences between us, we are actually depressingly similar (albeit I apparently relapse far too easily into the clotted cream cliche of 'rich, white, thick').
As the third bottle arrives and glasses are topped up, intimate secrets emerge: she's a Lib Dem voter (quelle surprise) and tells me her tip for Epigram successor whilst I recount my time as a Sainsbury's baker and my two forgotten articles for her paper in foolish fresher days. Her favourite club is "Lolas or Bargs" whilst mine is, unsurprisingly, Lounge.
We're getting a bit raucous now. Loved up couples are beginning to stare as my voice booms across the bar like the blasts of a B52 bomber whilst Alex's arms have begun to swing wildly around like an amphetamine fuelled heavyweight champion. Her worrying confession that "Normally two G&Ts finishes me off!" means that what had previously appeared to be rosy cheeked lust has morphed into green faced nausea as she runs outside and promptly spews up the contents of one and a half bottles of prosecco.
Concerned but uncertain of how best to be of service, I gamely follow in her fleeing footsteps, commenting "I normally induce that sensation in a woman!". A filthy look from her glazed eyes tells me not to continue with this 'hilarious' patter so I walk her safely home as she burbles about how sorry she is. Yet another Valentine's date had ended with a woman feeling disgusted and remorseful and I inebriated but alone.
But despite my cynicism, borne of reading a thousand Epigram articles such as 'A day in the life of a university hamster', I found myself intrinsically and ineluctably liking this talented, passionate and attractive writer. Yes, we are rivals. Yes, I think The Tab is better. Yes, I will go to the grave defending institutions such as 'Bristol's Best Bums'.
But in the spirit of Valentine's I cannot help but confess that I did admire, like, respect and dare I say even fancy her for her warmth, wit, integrity and ingenuity. Maybe there's hope for Israel and Palestine yet.