Rita de Brún meets Nicci Taylor, a sooner-to-be 50 Liverpudlian who sold up everything and bought a camper van before embarking on a quest to find her soulmate.
I’m talking with Nicci Taylor, a former air stewardess from Merseyside in England: “I’ve been out with lovely-buggers and ugly-buggers. But I think I will know Mr Right when I see him. It’s something in the eyes. I’ll know it when I see it.
“He’ll be slightly eccentric like me as I can’t see myself pairing for life with a normal, run-of-the-mill type. My man will be odd; but good odd if you know what I mean.”
In Cork right now, she’s on a mission to find herself a life partner. Smart, pretty and soon to be 50, she’s also single and hating it. So intent on becoming half of a loved-up couple is she, that last summer, having raised a son Phil and cared for a sister who needed years of support after suffering a brain haemorrhage in 1994, she sold everything, bought a camper van and took to the roads, with the intent of finding herself a man with whom to share her life.
That wasn’t the wackiest thing this lady has ever done. As she once tried to sell herself on eBay.
“I thought Prince Charming would come and put in a bid for me and whisk me off to a wonderful life,” she says. “Instead this guy from Nottingham offered me £2.50.” Undeterred, she left the advert on eBay for ‘a few weeks’ before withdrawing the sale. “I’m a crazy lady, you see,” she laughs.
She has firm views on what sort of man she does not want. “He can’t be smaller than me,” she laughs. “I’m 5’5,” but I like to wear high heels. Someone over 5’9 would be lovely.”
Does the big five-o looming on the horizon have anything to do with this frantic search for love? “It does a bit,” she says. “I’m not worried about being that age. I just thought by the time I reached that stage in my life, I’d be married and quieting down.
“Instead, here I am with a camper van, going back-packing, looking for the love of my life.” She has had a long-term love. “I was engaged,” she says. “We were together for about 7 years. That ended about 12 years ago. Since then I’ve had lots of relationships, the longest of which lasted a couple of months. That was with James — this guy I met in Scotland.”
Confiding that her Labrador Milo is her best friend and protector, she adds: “He barks fiercely whenever anyone comes near the van. He makes me feel safe. More than that, he is my soulmate. If I could turn Milo into a man he’d be perfect for me.”
Would the Liverpudlian consider going to Lisdoonvarna for the Bachelor Festival in September? “If I haven’t met someone by then, I will go.” If she goes she may well have some luck as she is off to a good start already: “One of the organisers contacted me on Facebook. I think she has a few dates organised for me,” she says.
What has she heard about Irishmen? “I’ve heard they can be charming and funny,” she replies, but not before taking a sharp intake of breath.
When I ask about that she says: “A man is a man wherever he’s from. They’re all the same I suspect.”
Response from family and friends to her camper-van search for love adventure was mixed.
“Most ask why I couldn’t be content being single. But they’re people who have had partners for 20 or 30 years, so they don’t understand.”
Her son Phil raised his eyebrows when he heard about the camper-van idea. He gave her a ‘here she goes again’ look. Her mother was worried. She once told Nicci that she shouldn’t go to Cyprus with an Englishman with whom she’d had just a few dates. “We met on the internet and I thought it’d be okay to spend a week with him.” Mum said he might murder me in Cyprus. I replied that if he wanted to murder me he could have done so in a restaurant in Liverpool.”
Ebay endeavour aside, is she careful about the company she keeps? “I’m a good judge of character. My instinct is good. I think I know who is safe and who is not.”
She has to be a romantic to be on this man-seeking mission. “I am. I live in a daft, romantic world of my own making,” she says.
She has also been to psychics in the past, seeking hopeful words about her love-life.
“None of them ever said they saw the happy-ever-after I want. But it would have been handy if they could have told me my Mr Right exists and where I could find him.”
She has been single for almost half a century and she agrees that sharing her life and her space might take a little adjusting.
“I have been alone so long that there would be a lot for me to share. Whoever takes me on board would have to do so on the basis that I am a bit crazy. Because I am and with that, I don’t know how to sit still.”
For all her overt craziness, Nicci comes across as a kind and sensitive lady; one who has known loneliness too long.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved