Marc West had Great Expectations of meeting the love of his life when he attended a new literary-based singles night

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin. Once upon a time, there was a handsome young prince in a land known as Cowleyfornia.

Try as he might, the eligible bachelor simply couldn’t find his princess. Okay, I admit, I’m fantasising here. But, many people believe that storytelling is what makes humans unique, and we use stories to share our experiences, learn from our past and imagine our future.

I’m a hopeless romantic and dream one day of walking arm-in-arm up the aisle in church, but so far I’m still looking for love in the aisles at my local supermarket while shopping for one. I’m fast heading towards my mid-30s and am still yet to meet “the one”.

And it’s certainly not just me – many of us Millennials are finding it increasingly hard to settle down, and not for want of trying. Speed-dating, online matchmaking, smartphone apps…I’ve tried (and failed) at them all. But, it seems despite all the odds, there is still hope for me yet.

Fed up with the modern rules of attraction, my only expectation at the moment is to be disappointed on a night out. So, last Friday night, I strode straight past my usual haunts and on to The Story Museum for a night with a difference. For a city with such a prestigious literary pedigree, what better way to come together with like-minded people than through a shared love of the written word – and in such an inspiring venue dedicated to the art of storytelling.

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I’ve never been one for wisecracks, and I find chat-up lines far too cheesy, so luckily the night’s conversation starter was talking about one’s favourite book – which I’m sure all of us can do with ease. Clutching a well-thumbed copy of Dickens’s classic coming-of-age novel Great Expectations – in addition to sporting my (un)lucky pants – I pinned on my name badge and made some tentative initial introductions.

Those all-too-familiar gut-wrenching nerves were to be swiftly dispelled with ice-breaking dressing-up activities that only your wildest imagination could conjure – all helped by a few glasses of ‘Drink Me’ grog for sheer Dutch courage!

All those negative thoughts of being jilted on dates like Miss Havisham, girls like Estella playing with my heart and unrequited love similar to Pip, gave way to hopes that my top-hatted dandy warrior would match-make with a fur-coated frog princess.

Beginning at Table 13 (lucky for some), I then had just three minutes to tell my story to 20 of Oxford’s loveliest young ladies – with the hope of making that all important killer first impression.

Largely, the conversation flowed so freely we often didn’t even get chance to discuss our chosen tomes.

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So, as you might have guessed, it all went rather well. But did boy meet girl? And, will I/we live happily ever after? Like all the best stories, I’m leaving it with a cliffhanger. Sorry! But, what I will say is this: I’ve learned never to judge a book by its cover and have hopefully started a new chapter in my life.

* Are you in your 20s or 30s and want to meet people in Oxford too? If you’re still waiting for your Prince Charming or Lady Guinevere, be sure to book for the next Page Turners singles evening on February 6 from 6.30pm
* Tickets cost £12 and are available now and include a glass of wine, snacks and guaranteed fun
* There’s also the chance for a sneak peak at the Story Museum’s current 26 Characters exhibition – where some of the country’s best-known authors reveal their favourite children’s books with the help of celebrity photographer Cambridge Jones.
* For all details visit

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