In the end, the only thing that got me through the door was the need to prove a totally meaningless point – and the prospect of a large vodka inside.
Upstairs I went, fighting mild pukiness, to meet Rob the organiser.
So this isn’t one of those #bodypositivity Instagram larks done by a part-time teenage model with an airbrush filter.
(A word to the wise, though, for whoever compiled the playlist: if you want to put women at their ease, lay off the James Blunt.
The only thing that “Goodbye, My Lover” was psyching me up for was a funeral.) I heard later the boys all undressed in the bar in total silence, avoiding eye contact. In we shuffled, in our matching Matalan robes, to a reassuringly dark bar filled with small tables.
But I screwed my courage to the sticky place and decided to brave it alone, without a friend along for moral support. (Also, they all refused to come.) So there I was, alone outside a pub in Balham, having broken the habit of a lifetime and arrived early, puffing frantically on a fag and trying to psyche myself up to go inside.
I’ve never been less excited to see a roomful of naked men before...
Boys on one side of the room, girls on the other, with barely repressed giggles and fear sweat in the air – the temperature was turned up to the max, presumably to make sure the women had something to look at when the men stood up.
It was then that Rob informed us that, as predicted by my friends and family but strenuously denied by myself, the clothes would not be coming back on anytime soon. After all, in for a penny, in for a few extra Christmas pounds.I saw an opportunity to do things better and make the events more quirky and fun.“Fast forward seven years, and here we are.” Here he is, indeed.The robes come off, you check each other out for a sphincter-crushingly awkward ten minutes, then you get dressed and proceed to speed date as normal. After an awkward mingle in the bar, which rather like a school disco involved palling up with the nearest member of the same sex and huddling in the corner, the girls were taken into a sweet and quirky cinema room to change.The atmosphere fizzed like prosecco: we giggled, hugged, compared choice of hairstyle (top and bottom), admired each other’s underwear...“I just thought the lining up wasn’t going to work, I thought it was going to kill the atmosphere, with getting changed.