Imagine this; you are old. You are firmly transitioning from the autumn to the winter of your life. Your joints are stiff, your limbs weary from the accumulated wear of decades. You are seated at a dinner table and you allow yourself a moment's pause, to gaze around you, at the chatting people gathered round the table. They are all younger than you. They are your family, generations of your family. You feel a tug on your left sleeve and look down to see a grand-daughter, Cynthia - or maybe it's Claudia? You can never remember exactly, there are too many of them to count. She stares up at you, her eyes large and curious. "Grandma," - no matter how often you hear it, its potency remains undiminished, it is a bitter-sweet word to hear describe yourself - she continues, "How did you and Grandad meet?" You look across at Ian, your partner of more than 40 years. His hair is silvered and thin, his hands are frail, with thick purple veins snaking just under the skin. You feel the love that once roared within you bubble to the surface - changed, altered, but undiminished by time, and you begin to tell your story.
Imagine this is you; imagine you are this fictitious old woman. At this juncture would you like to be able to look down at your grand-daughter and tell her about how you and your partner met; perhaps in a club, perhaps you were introduced by friends, perhaps you met online etc. However it may end up being, I'm sure it will contain its own sense of romance and magic, because it is your story.
Except that is if you have to look your progeny's progeny in the eye and tell them that you met your life-partner on an as yet unaired television show called 'Puppy Playdate'. "What's that?" We can imagine they'd ask, and you'd have to describe to your own grandchild the mechanics of the show. You'd have to tell them that, before being allowed to date your future partner what you had to do was - in contest with two other would-be daters - take your future partner's dog out for some kind of dog-date. Once all three of you had taken their dog on separate dates, the dog would then have to decide who it liked best and, consequently, who its owner would go on a date with. The dog's say in the matter would be ascertained by having you and the other contestants stand in a line before seeing which one of you the dog walked towards.
"And the dog chose me, so that's how we ended up together," you conclude, seeing the confusion wash through your grand-daughter's eyes.
For that is the format of Puppy Playdate, what seems to simultaneously be the greatest and most harrowing dating show ever devised. It first came to my attention in a Guardian article by Joel Golby - a writer who's well worth investigating further. In the article, which looks at the increasingly bizarre array of modern dating shows, there is a paragraph containing an interview with a contestant from the, as yet, unaired show - a state of affairs which we can only hope will be rectified soon. Here is the paragraph detailing the contestant's experiences on the show:
"They paid £150 a day,” George, a 24-year-old bar manager from London, says, slightly more straightforwardly. George was one of the prospective daters on Puppy Playdate, an as-yet unaired show where … well, you get it. “My hairdresser cuts the head of casting’s hair at this production company and gave him my number. The premise is that a girl has a dog and three guys have to take that dog out on a date. I did ‘doga’ on my date, which is dog yoga. After all the dates the dog has to choose which bloke it likes best and then he goes on a date with the girl. The dog had a wag-o-meter. It was genuinely mental, mate."
A wag-o-meter. A human being had to, for the purposes of this show, create a device to ascertain how enthusiastically a dog was wagging its tail to indicate who it considered to be the person most suitable to possibly have sex with its owner. This is the raison d'etre of the wag-o-meter, for this it was made. "But I don't really want to go on a date with them, they aren't my usual type," you can imagine you may reasonably plead. "But, ma'am, the wag-o-meter is never wrong, your dog has chosen for you."
Surely, it is now only a matter of time before we are deferring other monumentally important life decisions to animals. Who are we to say what pension plan would be best for us? Why not simply choose your top three, place some promotional literature detailing each of them in separate bowls of offal, and then release a large pig; whichever one it starts eating from first will be your chosen pension. Looking to relocate? Why not just place a small, time-controlled detonation device in the abdomen of a migrating swallow and, after a week or so, see which city is nearest to where it bursts and choose that as your destination.
Puppy Playdate, as a concept, is close to being unfathomably insane. It deserves to be on our screens.