Brig’s editor in chief, Harry McArthur, greets me in shorts and a basketball jersey, clearly unaffected by the icy winter winds. I get a tour of his flat, from the living room with a view of Dusk, to his bedroom complete with football paraphernalia. I can tell he’s nervous. I am here to interview Harry about the three blind dates I’m sending him on. I kick the interview off with the obvious question ‘how are you feeling about it?’
“It’s weird to find an emotion for it, because with dates obviously most of the time you ask someone on a date. As I joke I said I’ll do it, and next thing you know you’ve organised three dates. I’m shocked at the process to be honest.”
When I ask if nerves have crept in, he shrugs his shoulders: “I don’t tend to feel nervous about things until they happen. I am really hoping that I’ll stick to myself when I meet the girls, that I’ll just be able to chat away. I’m “hopeful,” that’s the right word”.
The dates will be happening throughout the week, ranging from coffee and cake at Darnley Coffee house to a late-night dinner and lastly, a night of trivia at Settle Inn.
Mid-interview Harry drops a bomb, he has never been on a date before. “It has not happened yet. I’ve never gone out and looked for dates. So that’s another reason why it’s an interesting experience. I don’t think many people for their first date, get set up for 3 blind dates.”
After my initial surprise and guilt fades away, I ask why he would ever allow me to drag him into this dating extravaganza. He smiles and simply replies with the answer that it has “always sounded like fun”.
It is not long until a dreaded question arises ‘what are you going to wear’? Harry immediately jumps up and pull out a pile of jumpers from the closet. After having settled for a black jumper and a nice pair of shoes one element of the outfit remains unclear. Harry is notorious for wearing shorts, but for the sake of his dates, he’s decided to wear the dreaded long constricting version. “They could see it as taking the mick, so I will be rocking trousers”.
There is just one question left, who does Harry hope to see on either of the dates? Blond or brunette, tall or small? “I don’t really have a type for me in terms of aesthetic; they can’t have minging teeth. In terms of the ideal woman it’s just someone who doesn’t just pretend the laugh at my jokes and will embrace the dad patter of harry. My whole being is incredibly dad.”
He takes a deep breath and concludes with: “I like a nice smile – its cliché.”
While being set up for a string of blind dates is nerve-racking enough, Harry is doing it in the public eye. Has he worried about his love endeavour being written down and published online? For a second, I see the reality of the situation sink in. He pauses and smiles nervously “I think there are people that subconsciously want me to fail at certain parts. I think for the readers they love to see me screw it.”
I quickly assure him that my preferred final article talks all about him and his new-found love. The idea that at least one person is one his side brings the smile back on his face. I joke and tell him that he just needs to make sure to smell good. He jumps up and pulls out a green bottle of perfume, “would this do?”. A quick sniff results in my approval; the boy is ready.
As I am about to head out his nerves have seemed to die down. This does not apply to his questions. “When introducing yourself do you say hi, do you give them a handshake or a hug? Do I have to be five minutes early? Do I have to wait outside or inside?
“There’s another thing I’m worried about. What if I ask questions as she gives 2- or 3-word answers and I’m just rambling on for 3 hours and she thinks I’m really into myself.”
I’ll tell him it’s best to always be five minutes early, that hugs tend to be the least awkward introduction and that waiting outside is more fail-proof.
I can’t help but smile and think, that this must be the bravest, most wonderful Scottish man I’ve met in a while.