How to go up in the world

How to go up in the world

There’s an online game I like to play so that my mind can freewheel. It’s not very challenging, and it really just amounts to matching up little coloured squares to collect stars and, therefore, points. Most of the time I play it pretty much on automatic, and still manage to whizz through twenty levels in the space of about fifteen minutes. If, by way of an analogy, we were to think of a game of chess to be the intellectual equivalent of Crime and Punishment, this game is Green Eggs and Ham. No disrespect to Dr Seuss, but there you are.

Like so many online games, it’s financed by advertising, and it’s sometimes rather entertaining — often more entertaining than the game itself — to see what’s being advertised just to the right of the board. And one advert that frequently pops up is for a very special kind of dating agency.

Unlike most dating agencies, which simply promise me the chance to meet sexually attractive people, this one promises me the chance to meet sexually attractive people from the upper middle classes — exactly the kind of people, in short, who would not be playing this game and probably wouldn’t want to meet people who do.

They are managers, doctors, architects and graphic designers. And surreally stereotypical. I can’t say that I am an expert on the upper middle classes, but I have met quite a few members of that particular group, and there are certain things I cannot imagine any of them doing or saying. Yet these really very attractive women and distinguished-looking men with hobbies like sailing smile at me from their little pictures accompanied by texts that say things like: “Good evening. I have two tickets for the theatre, and I was wondering if you would care to accompany me.” My favourite is the young lady offering me the chance to attend the opening of an art exhibition with her.

Each to his own, I suppose; but for my money, and as far as I know for everybody else’s money, anyone who thinks that standing around with glasses of cheap champagne looking at pictures and trying to chat with experts is the ideal way to a man’s heart is either a crashing bore, or mentally unstable. I can’t help but wonder what kind of people they really do have on their books. Probably not so much the kind of people they advertise, but the kind of people who would like to meet the kind of people they advertise but don’t move in the right circles. It’s a depressing thought.