Now, even I have come to realise that numerous TV channels offer their formats of flirting shows. Take me out. Dine with me. Sex pod. Love Island. And I read on the bus that even Big Brother has gotten quite raunchy recently. These are all TV programmes in which young people - candidates, I'd like to call them - put themselves through mortifying tests in front of the nation; they ask and answer questions, expose their bodies and their past, bat their lashes, cook fancy meals, dance, kiss and touch total strangers and generally pretend to be someone cooler than, alas, they are. Someone worthy of affection or worthy, at least, of a mini-break in the tropical sun.
I won't go into motives or consequences, nor the cringe-fest that is de rigueur. But here is the snippet I catch on TV, while in my kitchen a handful of lentils are unsure about the miracle of soup.
This is a show where a young man is presented to 30 (yes, thirty) young women and, a few minutes later, we have a couple going on a dream date. The man, you may think, has all the choice... Not so. He can be rejected by the girls at any stage in the game: they don't like how he looks? Beep: red light, they withdraw from this round (i.e. this man). He doesn't say what they like to hear? Beep, he is struck off. His talents not impressive enough? You get the idea.
Now, as my lentils labour in the pot, the candidate is introduced: a tall, good-looking man, with dreadlocks, lovely eyes, bright smile. He's wearing a vest and large Thai fisherman's trousers. At least ten girls dismiss him on account of that. He talks a bit about his dreadlocks. Beep-beep-beep.
Then he says - and here I abandon my lentils completely - that he works for Greenpeace and environmental causes. This triggers a red-light carnival - only two women, out of thirty, are left in the game, then only one. Why, the presenter asks the twenty-nine who opted out, why did you reject him? I turn the sound up and the soup down.
Because I'm really curious now: why would environmental activism be such a turn off for modern humans? 'You are one of those people I avoid like the plague on my way to work...' says one girl and that, despite not answering my question, turns out to be the most coherent answer on the show. Not hard, when the others are: 'Because I use hair spray' and 'because I work with lots of paper...'
The one girl that is left in the running declares - with a giggle - that she wasn't attracted by the guy or his environmental causes, but felt that they had a connection: she had also done some 'fundraising' in the past. In effect, he had not been chosen because he tied himself to coal trains or hung from the roof of the parliament with this dreadlocks and green flag flapping in hurricane-sized gusts of wind. No. He had been chosen because she had mistakenly pictured him shaking a can in the main street, to cover Greenpeace's admin costs.
Note to self (and to my 27 readers): television feeds fears (and probably melts ice caps too). There is a special, unseen kind of narrowness, a paralysis spreading through our veins, and wider still, across the land. Its one symptom: instead of fighting, fighting it, we sit and watch. The more we watch the less we see. The less we look around. So really, when it comes to watching, faced with a choice, it's better, ultimately, to watch your lentils boil than any kind of reality on TV.
As for our love candidates, and the title of this blog: forget 'destination Love' and start looking instead for destination Louispharailda (minor planet no. 3211) because Earth will be no better than my soup by the time we're done with it.