But then my partner came along. We first saw each other at XXL over 5 years ago, and I can remember quite specifically the moment. My best friend noticed it too. "See that young guy over there. He really likes you!" But I was being Mr Sensible that night. I was tired and I decided to go home.
After that he cropped up on various dating sites at fairly spaced out intervals (I later found out this was because he was working abroad and was only occasionally in London), but the time was never right, and each time he asked to meet me, I wasn't available. However he was not one to give up easily, and, just over two years ago now, having relocated back to the UK, he got in touch again. Serendipitously I just happened to have two VIP tickets to a friend's birthday celebration, and I asked him if he would like to come with me. We've hardly spent more than a few days apart since.
I don't believe in love at first sight, but I do remember that shining, smiling face in the crowd at XXL, and that sense of regret when I got home. Little did I know that that night sealed my destiny.
There is nothing idealistic about the love I feel now, by the way. We have not been living in a state of continuous bliss. There has been rough as well as smooth. How could it be otherwise? My partner is funny, amazingly creative (probably the most creative person I've ever met), and sometimes just bat shit crazy. He is massively intelligent (genius IQ), and delights in solving the unsolvable. He excels at just about everything he sets his mind to, whether it's sport or inventing things or training dogs. Living with him is not always easy, but living with a genius was never going to be easy.
Before I met him, my flat was, if I'm honest, a terrible living space, and no reflection of the person I am. Over the years, I had completely neglected it. I hated it, felt embarrassed to invite people into it, knew it needed a major makeover, but didn't know where to start. My partner has completely changed it, but not just into a perfect designer image. His genius was to make it a space that reflected my personality and my own creativity. We had no budget, so almost everything in the place has been upcycled. He has created bookshelves out of cheese boxes and made CD storage into a work of art. The desk I am writing this on is made from half a wooden table and motorbike exhaust pipes, the table top covered with pages from the programmes of some of the shows we've seen together. Everywhere you look there are little quirks, like a hand bursting through the wall holding a large clock in the shape of a padlock, a tower of CDs being held up by a tiny strong man, crannies for plants among the book boxes.
Nor are we finished yet. The bathroom is next on the agenda. The light fitting is an inverted rainbow umbrella, the shower curtain displays a rainforest on the inside and a beautiful beach scene on the other. The walls are to be covered in colourful maps of the world. The kitchen is to have an apothecary theme. He is not really one for words, but, in all this, he has shown me how much he loves me.
Best of all, my Christmas present last year was a magnificent large painting of my father, which he created in a flash of inspiration in 48 hours. My father died, at the age of 47, when I was 18, but he has been a huge influence on my life, and not a day goes by when I don't regret his early death. This painting of him is the best Christmas present I've ever had. In an ingenious twist, it hides the TV, sliding up to reveal it on the rare occasions we sit down and watch it.
But here is the thing, and something some of my friends have not understood. Though our relationship can veer with startling suddenness from the harmonious to the tempestuous, though there have been times when I have wondered momentarily if I was better off single, I actually feel alive again. I am feeling again. Sometimes the feelings are painful, but most of the time they're the opposite; and surely feeling something is better than feeling nothing at all. It can certainly be said that he has turned my life upside down, but that's not a bad thing. A life that was becoming rather grey is now full of vibrant colour.
He has reawakened my dreams, and given me the permission to dream again. I've gone back to dancing, re-discovered many of my friends from my theatre days, and realised how much I missed that life.
We share an antipathy for this new world that we live in, a world in which liberal has become a dirty word, intellectuals are derided and experts ignored, where anything that departs from the norm is suspect, and creativity, in so many walks of life, at an all time low.
Truth be told, he is a little bit weird, but then so am I, so is anyone who is creative. He has reminded me that I like weird people, and that I feel most comfortable around them. He has reminded me that it is the weird people who give us hope, that it is the weird people who will change the world. Furthermore, he has made me realise I am so much more than Greg Mitchell, the character I invented when I started doubting myself. As I start to believe in myself again, then Greg can start to fade away.
I still provide a tantric massage service, and I will continue to practice under the name of Greg Mitchell, for that is the name most of my clients know me by, but the other Greg Mitchell is ready to retire and let the real me take centre stage again.