Ad for Guardian newspaper

M,53,retired/10,000 a year,Internet,poetry(six books),music,drink, minor health problems,Bath,WLTM F.

This advert, of up to 100 characters, is allocated a code number applicable when making use of the Guardian/Observer `Soul Mates' telephone answering service. What follows is a four-minute script I have written to be listened to on the telephone at the exorbitant charge of 39p/minute. Who will ever get to the end of my message and learm my name? I am told the message is far too long containing far too much material. But I am most reluctant to edit my `beautiful' words. These activities of mine should be viewed with a guffawing sense of humour. All it costs is a few phone calls as the service is free.

Telephone Ad for Guardian/Observer `Soul Mates'

Hi. I'm Douglas. I came back to my house and cat in Bath at Whitsun for the Festival to find myself distinctly lonely after spending three weeks surrounded by relatives. So before I sink back into my usual routine I thought I would try and see if I could make any new friends. A wife would not be practical. So here is the script I wrote. It lasts about four minutes so hang up if you get bored.

I was born in Darlington in 1942 of Scottish parents. Went to a local grammar school then took an Honours degree in Mathematics at Glasgow University. I studied actuarial in Edinburgh for three years then returned to Glasgow for a postgraduate year then to England to work. Seven years in Glasgow as a student. I worked in Computing and Statistics for twenty years at Bath University before being made redundant. Couldnt find another job round Bath so settled for retirement on my low income. Got fed up with signing on.

I have been writing poetry for thirty years and am a published poet in the little magazines and have been anthologised. I self-publish my own books using my PC and University facilities and an expensive printer friend. I have few sales and fewer reviews but I enjoy it. Ask me for last year's `Selected Poems'. Free to friends. I review for `Outposts'. I am intellectual reading LRB, NYRB and the TLS but havent the long-term memory necessary to be an academic. I maintain my own Webspace on the Internet with about 15 readers a day, 12 reading my own poetry. All my books are on the Internet. I dont bother about copyright. I sit in my front window and talk to the world through my modem.

I have very broad musical tastes --- everything but jazz. This year's Bath Festival was mainly Renaissance music for me. But I am an old folkie who loves Shostakovich from the 60s and Dylan and the Eagles. Irish music is my favourite. Although I have a religious devotion to `Top of the Pops'. I watch sport on TV and damn Sky, which I only see in the pub. European football and the Olympics coming up. And my American friend Mary visiting. Hope the dates dont clash. And Darlington missed promotion. Tears. But they would have come straight back down. The cinema complex one afternoon a week if there is something worth seeing.

I love to gossip in pubs. I am a real-ale drinker. My Lanarkshire farmer grandfather was an alcoholic on whisky so I am careful about it. I can talk to anybody having an Irish grandfather and Irish grandmother and a regional accent. I live with my third cat in my little modern terraced house in Bath, as I have done for twenty years. I urgently need someone to supervise me in my garden which is a mass of weeds cos I am very lazy. There is really only room for me in the house, such is my accumulation of junk, books and CDs, over the years. My Citroën AX car is six years old and I intend driving it into the ground. It is using water at the moment.

I was in the hands of the psychiatrists for twentyfive years but with the new drugs have had no trouble since 1983, when I was diagnosed with the incurable blood disease of old age, polycythaemia. I have had no trouble from it for 6 years thanks again to new drugs. Last year I was diagnosed with a hiatus hernia which means even more drugs. My health is closely monitored by the hospital but basically I am fine. Although betablockers and old age seem to reduce my virility nowadays. I am wearing well for my age, they tell me, looking ten years younger than I am. I am 5 foot 10, slim with brown hair. Although for the first time in my life I am having to watch my weight which has shot up by a stone in the last six months. I cannot afford an expensive new suit or new shirts so I must starve myself.

I like attractive women because I feel attractive myself, although old age condemns me to wearing spectacles. But it is a pity I have no money. I just need someone to talk to who is intelligent enough to understand what is going on. Divorced with mature children would be sensible. I get these lonely spells now and again particularly when I have been away visiting friends and relatives. My cat Ludovic talks to me but I cannot understand a word he says. I start writing poems again in the Autumn. About the Georgian mansion I grew up in. And the Empire. I hope. Read my books. I have been so lucky in life. Douglas Clark.

Douglas Clark/ Lonely hearts ads/ Benjamin Press, 69 Hillcrest Drive, Bath BA2 1HD, UK/