09/14/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Hot Water and Warm Drinks

The world occasionally gets interested in the Great British Sex Life, and now is one of those times: the classified ads site Craigslist has surveyed that hackneyed old chestnut about whether the British prefer a cup of tea to sex on the first date.

Fact number one here is that everyone always lies when asked a question about their sex life. The survey cites as an authority Boy George, the extremely tall Irish cross-dresser who had a moment of sweet voiced fame in the 1980s. But even he confessed years later to lying about preferring tea - and he was Irish (famous consumers of tea). He also lied about a substantially more potent habit on which he was extremely keen.

I think the main problem with this story is the way the survey was worded. "If I like someone on a first date, I would rather end the date with a nice cup of tea, coffee or other warm drink than by spending the night with them."

For another thing, no one in this country would ever dream of referring to tea as a "warm drink" - in the North they talk about hot drinks, but never warm. The joke is that we like to drink warm beer here, not tea. Tea needs to be scalding hot.

Thirdly, asking someone "up for coffee" after a night out is a well known invitation to something quite different. There seems to be some confusion here about what is meant by these questions to your average Brit.

On the whole, if you believe the tabloids, the young in Britain today become incapable with alcoholic drink on a first or any other date, and therefore can't remember what temperature any drink might have been, or indeed exactly what they did or didn't do during the small hours of the night.

Personally, I have not had a first date for some years, but I do know that the habit of drinking tea in the middle of the night is a feature of Jane Austen novels (it has long died out) - along with the eating of "muffin" before going to bed. A world of innuendo of course lies therein...