Richard and Patrick

Blind-date-Richard-and-Pa-007

Today’s Guardian Blind Date, which you can read in full here, is like being at school – a really horrible one – and waiting for the first day of the summer holidays. When the magical day, that you’ve dreamed of for aeons, finally arrives, it’s raining, and a car crashes into your house, kills everyone you love and you have to go and live with your least favourite teacher.

TL;DR: this week it’s gays, and it’s a disappointment.

One question I never remark upon is the very first one. “What were you hoping for?” It’s one of those questions that, I imagine, nobody actually answers honestly. If I had asked myself, as I was setting out on all those dates, exactly what I’d been hoping for, I probably would’ve said “To be mildly drunk and wrapped in Egyptian cotton sheets getting enthusiastically sexed by whoever I’m meeting tonight”. If I were asked it in a magazine, however, I would have been more likely to say one of these:

richard_hoping for

patrick_hoping for

I’m onto you, boys.

Anyway, I have met a lot of gay men and I know a lot of gay men and it took me just thirteen milliseconds of looking at that very picture at the top of this post to work out how this one was going to go but we may as well persevere. Richard:

richard_talk about

“The changing nature of gay culture.” “There wasn’t a dull moment.” You suuuuuuuure? Patrick:

patrick_talk about

*hollow laugh*

Most gay men out there who have ever been on dates have met these gay men. They’re “non-scene” (such a pity there’s not a great big badge or medal for this), think Grindr is the cause of all the gay community’s ills and congratulate themselves regularly on this totally unique viewpoint.

Having an opinion on Cucumber is quite difficult, because other gay men immediately judge you on it. If you liked it, you’re stupid and if you didn’t you’re bitter that it wasn’t all about you and if you were indifferent you’re just showing off or in denial. Or so Twitter tells me. In short: I would not bring it up on a first date, but these two supercool worldly gay men know much better than I would, I’m sure.

Onward.

richard_awkward moments

I am a resolute pudding avoider, so would not have stood for this. I’ve eaten at the restaurant these two were sent, and if the food were any more boring, it would be the tumble dryer in the Barratt house of a middle manager whose wife has just left him. So you really wouldn’t want “afters”.

“Good table manners?” answers are a “yes” and a “perfect” but I shan’t be trolled so let’s press on.

patrick 3 words

“He never shut up.”

best thing richard

“Sweet.” Remember that time you got a massive boner when somebody said you were sweet? No, me neither.

“Good views on life” = we agreed Cucumber didn’t represent us in any way whatsoever.

go on somewhere 1

“Patrick realised he wasn’t going to get his hole with me as he didn’t fancy me, so couldn’t wait to scurry off and find it somewhere else. Not on the gay scene, though. Oh no.”

Or maybe I’m wrong. Patrick?

change one thing

I’m not wrong.

Last word from Richard:

richard meet again

Oh, Richard. You could’ve spared yourself this. Patrick, any glimmer from you?

patrick meet again

Of course not. Thing is, I have been Patrick and I have been Richard on a date and neither is a pleasant place to be. The best you can hope for is that you don’t come away from it looking like a thundering arsehole or, of you most certainly do, make sure the other person looks like an even bigger one.

They scored each other an obviously pre-agreed 7, although I feel Richard would have liked to have marked Patrick an 8. Patrick, I imagine, wanted to say 4 but even he didn’t want to look like a total cow in a national magazine.

How nice of Richard to help him out there.

Photograph: James Drew Turner for the Guardian

Freddie and Sophia

Watch Me Date

It looks like Watch Me Date is here to stay! The Guardian are asking for applications. If you have no shame and think love can be found at the other end of Google Glass – rather than the end of a martini glass where it belongs – you should go for it. watch.me.date@theguardian.com

Anyway, we have Freddie, 25, who works in advertising and Sophia, 22, a trainee teacher. Children! Why would you need to do this at such a young age? I have a feeling we are about to find out.

Watch along while I throw a few words down for you

The Guyliner: Freddie

Freddie wants somebody “normal” – something we all think we want until we get it.

Sophia, on the other hand, is after someone who is “outgoing, likes to try new things, open-minded”, which also means “normal”. I don’t think anybody has ever actively sought someone who fears change and has the worldview of the last rotten satsuma left over from Christmas. Or have they?

The Guyliner: Sophia

“Someone like me,” ventures Freddie again. “Stable. But obviously not me.” People who claim they are totally normal or stable and down-to-earth tend to be secret egotists and a ticking timebomb for a meltdown sometime in their late twenties. They are the polar opposite of the “I’m mad, me!” bunch, who invariably turn out to be as adventurous and interesting as a bag of cardigans. All mauve.

First impressions

Sophia: “I think he did look a bit geeky.” Well, I think that’s what she said – it sounded like “kiki”, but Freddie definitely doesn’t look capable of a kiki of any kind.

Freddie: “It wasn’t, like, an Earth-shattering moment, it was very much sort of a ‘girl you’d see on the Tube’ sort of thing. You’d look at her, turn away, carry on doing what you’re doing.”

I’m 100% sure Freddie didn’t mean to sound like a massive cunt here, right? Right?

There then follows a bit of footage of them deciding what wine to have.
“I like all three,” says Freddie.
They go for a Pinot Grigio Blush, one of my favourites too. What a pair of queens they are.

Then their food is brought to them. Mushroom tagliatelle for Sophia; sea bass for Freddie. Why am I listing this in mind-numbing detail? Because there was ZERO other conversation. No chat. Just ‘events’ happening to them. Two minutes to go.

Table manners

Sophia: “Good. He offered me wine first. I think that’s a good thing.” Hahaha wow. Mr Darcy, stand down – you’ve got some serious competition.

Freddie: “If I could give it out of ten, I’d say about a six.” I see.

Over footage of Sophia eating tagliatelle – a rookie mistake on a first date, but she is 22 – Freddie continues: “There was bit of food, like, sort of, you know, messiness.” He then drones on about looking at someone’s face and mouth when talking and seeing them eat.

I wonder what he thought going to a restaurant on a date with another person would be like. Maybe he thought Sophia would just sit there and sip water while he ate, and then quietly scuttle off to the loo to take bites out of a sandwich.

I suppose if you don’t want to be glued to someone gnawing their way through a main course, you don’t go on a date like this.

Finally, they have a conversation. Freddie is talking about unions, I think. And then: “Home Secretary is an impossible job to do”. Is Freddie the Home Secretary? He could be; I tuned out of politics voluntarily sometime around May 2010.

Then comes a killer question from Sophia: “Are you a Conservative?” Freddie’s answer is a bit muddled, but he does helpfully say he’s not a fascist.

“That’s good to know,” deadpans Sophia.

Awkward moments

Sophia: “You don’t want to find out after you’ve fallen in love that they’re, like, a Nazi or something.” OK.

Freddie: “I’m a Conservative on certain things, but I wouldn’t say I’m overly political.” He goes on a bit about “two sides to every story” and “valid points” and how it’s OK for someone else to have points. Basically, he dances round the actual answer like it’s a handbag on the floor of the local Ritzy. God, he is the Home Secretary

Sophia makes the very “valid point” that politics is not great first date material. She’s right; unless you’re both really into it, it shall not end well. Have you ever watched two people on a date debate politics? It is disgusting.

Would you introduce them to your friends?

Sophia: “Probably not.” Concise.

Freddie: An extended babble about how she’s like a work colleague and he’d only “share carpet” with her. He seriously cannot just give a simple answer. We get it, Busby, you like to talk.

Sophia marks Freddie a 5/10 which I think is the most brutal it has got on Watch Me Date. Until…

Freddie, as always, cannot just get the hell on with it. “Six. You know what? It probably is a five. Six is being generous. It probably is bang on a five.” Nearly over.

As the goodbye comes, Freddie says “I’ll see you when I see you”, which is… oh I don’t know, what is it? A desperate attempt to claw back some face for behaving like a moron the entire date? Dunno.

Sophia manages to squeeze out a barefaced lie: “It was nice seeing you.” The pair then awkwardly start to walk in the same direction. Sophia clocks this and, I think, hastily beats a different path.

The ending is so bleak they couldn’t even be bothered putting the end card in the right typeface.

The Guyliner: Freddie and Sophia

Next week: Kimberley and Javier. “She definitely talked more.”

Sandra and Eddy

Sandra and Eddy

They don’t often place the daters like this, looking at each other, do they? Perhaps it’s a sign that the two have fallen madly in love. Well, I’ve read ahead and here’s a spoiler: no.

As I have said before, I have a confusing relationship with this column as I don’t really understand why anyone would willingly take part in it. I mean, if you really want to get noticed, just apply for Big Brother or kill someone or something. I once appeared in a magazine in the hope my dream man – a nonexistent one, as it turned out – would notice me and get in touch. Instead I got a lot of unsolicited messages on Facebook from men at least 15 years older than me telling me I was “stunning” (*eye roll*) and offering to suck me off. Anyway.

Read what happened on the date before I get up close and personal.

I suppose the least you can do if you are going to appear in the Blind Date column is be entertaining. Sadly, for the most part, it appears this week’s duo didn’t get the memo. Here’s Eddy:

eddy first impressions

“A lot of layers.” Is he trying to say he couldn’t get a decent view of her boobs? Or maybe she made a big performance of taking all these layers off when she arrived. People who take ages to sit down are a particular, inexplicable bugbear of mine. Just sit down. Now. Anyway, Sandra arrived wearing ten coats and seven jumpers and had a spare blouse handy in case she got cold. Awesome. Next up, the lady herself:

sandra first impressions

What do you consider to be a first impression? That moment you see them for the first time – as Eddy clearly does – or the general feeling you get when you spend time with them, like Sandra? Which elicits the best response? I’d say the former. Anyway “easy to get on with” is the most milquetoast compliment this side of “nice” so pardon me for not frothing at the mouth with excitement. Let’s paint another coat on that wall and see how long it takes to dry.

eddy talk about

“Cycling stories.” I bet the hours flew by. Not even going to get started on the guinea pigs. Where would I begin?

sandra talk about

I wish that on the date there could be some way that a person from the Guardian could, if the chat got a little stale, just pop in – or perhaps make an announcement over a PA system – and remind the couple that they are going to be in a magazine that people will actually read. You’d hope it would kind of buck them up a bit.

I know the ideal outcome of this is that the two participants find love, or their very own dull version of it, but really this is a column in a magazine and if you can’t bring the zing then what on Earth is the point? They talked about BLANKETS. Great, thanks. No, no need to elaborate – that’s the juice right there. All I need. Am mesmerised. Christ.

Awkward moments bit is, finally, interesting.

eddy awkward

Right. Thanks. Sandra?

sandra awkward

Eh? What? Which TV show? What TV show could Eddy, an actuarial analyst (no idea) who claims to be 29, possibly want to be on? Could he have been tempted to take part in the upcoming revival of Love Island? Does Eddy perhaps dream of escaping his humdrum world of,  erm, analysing things, and being a reality TV star? Or maybe he was supposed to be on Gogglebox. Either Eddy is deadly serious or has made an attempt at a terrible joke and Sandra has not got it at all.

If you come into this column thinking it will be a brush with fame, well, enjoy those Facebook messages from weird randoms, that’s all I’ll say.

Table manners!

eddy table manners

You can’t really share a rib of beef with someone you haven’t had sex with anyway, Eddy. It wouldn’t be right. Sharing dishes are a horrible,  prehistoric fad that I do not understand and will not take part in. I shared chateaubriand once and it was nice but I’d just rather have my own portion, thanks. Nothing makes my heart sink faster than a “for 2” after something on a menu.

sandra table manners

Terse is as terse does. Thanks for dropping by Sandra. I mean, you know, you’re in a magazine but don’t worry about it – we’ll all just sit at home and join the dots ourselves.

eddy think of

“I hope she thought I was nice enough.” Aim high, baby. And, no, she didn’t fancy you.

sandra think of

Sandra’s staccato responses to most of the questions doesn’t really scream “chatty” to me. Maybe she’s like those people who have no real self-awareness – like the ones who think they’re really easygoing but are in fact Colonel Gaddafi in slingbacks. Perhaps this is an elaborate joke.

I’m over this. Let’s wrap up.

Their scoring, like their patter, is lukewarm. Eddy awards Sandra “a strong 7”, which means 4, while Sandra spits out a 6, which as we all know, is a kind way of saying zero.

Thankfully, both of them catch on that it’s a dud, so do their best to make the inevitable “yes, as friends” point as strongly as possible. Here’s Eddy’s attempt:

eddy as friends

I’m not so sure. Anyway, well done, we get it. Friendzone o’clock. Can Sandra do better? You bet she can.

sandra as friends

Haha, despite scoring him a six and giving the impression that she would rather be talking about BLANKETS than go on a date with this guy, Sandra is peeved Eddy didn’t ask for her number. I can totally get behind this attitude.

“No, I didn’t fancy you at all and your chat was only a few degrees short of being instruction-manual-boring, but you could have at least asked for my number. How DARE you not fancy me?”

A very late victory for Sandra on this one, then. Sorry Eddy. You should have gone on the TV show instead.

Photograph: Frantzesco Kangaris; James Drew Turner, both for the Guardian

Linda and Angela

Watch Me Date

I thought last week’s Watch Me Date was the concluding one, but it wasn’t! And this week, it’s lesbians, which makes a nice change.

Linda is a private chef – as opposed to being a public one and cooking in the middle of the high street, I suppose – and seems very serious. She kicks off her VT by saying she prefers “feminine women”.

Linda

Of course, if she were a gay man, we’d all be picking up our pitchforks and heading over to his house screaming “Death to Masc4Masc haterz”, but sometimes you just like what you like, so good for Linda.

Angela, a vet, says she likes dating “open books” and “optimists”. This then cuts back to Linda saying she’s “quite fussy” and that she’s “prepared to be on her own rather than with someone who’s not right for me”. Oh dear.

Angela

There is an amazing bit where Linda describes how she was set up on a blind date by a guy at work where “She has big tits” was used as a selling point. “She told me later on,” says Linda, “that he said to her ‘she’s got small tits’”. Men: please stop acting like dicks.

Angela says Linda was pretty but a little reserved, which seems like a massive understatement. Linda seems to be playing her card so close to her chest they are practically inside her shirt. She blatantly fancied Angela, though.

When they share coming-out stories, the reason for Linda’s steely demeanour perhaps becomes a bit clearer. Her parents didn’t take it well and even tried to get her “cured”. If you had an easy coming-out, thank your lucky stars, young gays.

Angela talks about her family having a hard time when she dated non-white women. Just goes to show, it’s not 2015 for everybody.

Linda wants to have a baby – and is obviously getting crap from her family about that too – and wants to do it soon. Angela seems open to having a child “depending on the person I’m with” and while they’re getting on, I sense we will be needing a one-way ticket to the friend-zone for our Linda.

The pair finally break the serious talk with some bonding over Linda’s dog – Angela’s a vet remember – and Linda confesses her pug sleeps in bed with her. “I’ve got parts of her on me, I’m sure, right now.” Oh, Linda, I love you a bit, you know.

Chef Linda actually brought her date some chocolates that she made herself, a lovely gesture which now automatically shames us all who don’t bring something to a date. “Chocolate is my weakness,” says Angela. “I love women who can cook for me,” she explains, and it all looks a bit hopeful. And then: “I’m sure she’s a catch for quite a few women.” Ouch. If chocolate can’t get someone to fancy you, we’re all screwed.

Linda marks Angela an eight, but she really means nine, I can tell – I know about this kind of stuff. Angela gives Linda a seven, and she means seven.

This is all very nice, but there’s been barely a hint of excitement, a spark. It’s like the feeling you get when you open a new bottle of mouthwash and discover you bought peppermint instead of spearmint. Mildly diverting, a little annoying, temporary. Then forgotten.

“I would’ve met up with her again had we exchanged numbers,” says Linda, as I sadly pack away my best wedding hat.

“I wouldn’t mind meeting her for a coffee at some point,” says Angela. She brought you chocolate. CHOCOLATE.

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 11.10.10

CHO-CO-LATE.

I give up.

Grace and Richard

Blind date: Grace and Richard

It has been a fraught few weeks for this blog. Week after week, an array of thundering arseholes, or people who should know better, or those who should have been meaner, or kinder, or less stupid or whatever. And now, as if, thinking of the blood pressure of anyone who reads the Guardian’s various dating columns, we have a couple who, on first glance, don’t seem like two people aiming to be The World’s Worst. Read the date before I go in for the thrill.

Ages and professions are back this week – Grace is 29 and an actor, while Richard is 30 and a TV development producer. Job titles, eh? Sound OK in the office, on business cards, as they trip off your tongue at awful networking events as you cradle a plastic flute of flat fizz. Written down, in a magazine, they sound made up or plain wanky. I’d have just gone for “works in TV” and be done with it, but this is Richard’s life, not mine.

Here’s Grace:

grace_lovely looking

“Lovely looking.” I like this. Even though I am a fully paid-up member of the gay community – whatever that may be – there is no greater compliment than being told you are “lovely looking” by a woman. Gay men will just say it to me because they want something – it used to be get into my knickers, but now it’s usually freelance work  – whereas women are just saying because, hopefully, they think it’s true.

Anyway, Grace’s “lovely looking” (note the “lovely” and not just bog-standard old “good”, thus a much bigger compliment) sets the tone for the rest of the date, so if you’re seeking venom, you may be in for disappointment.

Richard now:

richard_first impressions

This is a bit of a safe, tame response, but I suppose it’s better than saying: “Cracking tits. Passable teeth.”

The pair talked about travel (one of my least exciting date conversation topics ever, I have to admit) among other things and Grace says “we had loads in common”. Milliners, stand by. Further evidence of hearts a-flutter from Grace here:

grace_awkward

Gosh. Let’s see if their table manners’ answers can wrench them from their dreamlike state. Come on, Grace, help a brother out; my claws need a workout.

grace_table manners

I was a bit startled by this, so had a glance at where the pair were sent by the Guardian. They went to Busaba Eathai, possibly one of the most overrated places to eat on Earth. It’s Wagamama if it were run by Hyacinth Bucket.

How come all the horrors they have in this column get to go to nice places, while two very pleasant people like Grace and Richard have to settle for death by rubbery thai calamari and joss sticks? I briefly dated a man who would take me there like he were showing Mowgli a knife and fork for the first time.

Richard, go:

richard_table manners

Hmmm. I don’t suppose you can be anything else at Busaba. I mean, they automatically bring you a fork with your noodles, as well as chopsticks – you don’t even get to look like a pleb for asking. I never used chopsticks on a date; ain’t nobody going to want to bonk you once they’ve seen you grapple with a giant prawn and some glass noodles.

grace_thought of you

I wonder what this means. That he agreed with everything she said? I suppose it’s a compliment because… well, I don’t know. Is it?

richard_thought of you

You can’t really “bumble” until you’re pushing 70, although many of the men I met on Guardian Soulmates gave a good go of it. The Englishman bit suggests Grace might not be English? No idea. Basically, Richard’s got his ‘1994 Hugh Grant’ groove on and it appears to be working a treat.

And, Richard, don’t ever think that mixing champagne and cocktails is a negative – it’s way cooler and manlier than building an entire row of houses with your bare hands before breakfast.

Richard uses his three words to describe Grace as a “warm, thoughtful pixie” (short?) and Grace plumps for “gentlemanly, fun, interesting”. See? Hugh Grant 1994 – works like a charm.

Scoring is “sex imminent” high – nines both – and the next meeting is already planned. They kissed (yay!) and Richard asserts their next date will be a “sober coffee”. £10 says that turns into an espresso martini and the kisses get longer and the first of this particular Hugh Grant’s weddings won’t be far away.

Photograph: James Drew Turner for the Guardian

Duncan and Rebecca

Watch Me Date

And so the Guardian’s Watch Me Date, which sees two hapless souls forgo dignity in the name of romance, reaches its conclusion. The series has brought to life the paper’s popular dating column Blind Date, by giving the willing victims each a pair of Google glass, the internet’s very own Global Hypercolor T-shirt.

While Watch Me Date has offered an interesting window on to the world of dating, none of the dates have rung true to me so far. Sure, they’ve been full of disagreeable people and horrified singletons desperate to escape them, but nothing has really hit home. This week, however, we have someone who is resigned to living in a perpetual state of slight awkwardness paired up with someone who orders far too many drinks and knocks a plate on the floor. Readers, I am home.

Watch the date as you read along, if you like.

Duncan and Rebecca – who styles herself as ‘Bec’, which is her right as a human – go on a date in what looks like a post-apocalyptic shelter, with walls of corrugated iron and seating carved out of whatever the nuclear missiles didn’t annihilate.

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 11.12.48

When asked what they were looking for, Bec has a very specific type of man in mind, namely one who probably hasn’t been seen on British streets for about ten years. One of the stipulations, hilariously, is that he wear a band T-shirt. 12-year-old girls buy band T-shirts from Forever 21 – they are no longer a thing. So, she’s after someone ‘rocky looking’, with long hair, Doc Martens etc. So far, so sixth-form cliché, but how does Duncan measure up?

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 11.25.26

Ah.

Duncan is less a rocker, more a mild-mannered, thoughtful type who may well rip off his specs in the evening and rock out to, say, a Heart power ballad. The jumper he’s wearing in the post-mortem clips reminds me of Dennis the Menace’s jersey if it had been adapted for a hilarious #TheDress-based meme. Anyway. Duncan is looking for “someone who’s attracted to me, really”, which is as honest as it is heartbreaking. Sometimes, that is all we need.

“I’d say from giving you a brief, you didn’t quite get it right,” zings Bec, like she’s here for anything other than the 200 beer cocktails she’s about to devastate, all for free.

Bec, who talks like a children’s TV presenter reading out birthday messages with a hangover, says she was worried when she arrived on the date, as Duncan announced he hadn’t been drinking. Hmm. I once went on a date and tried not to get absolutely mortally drunk while my date sat opposite me sipping coffee and probably wishing I would fall down a well.

In an awkward situation like this, muses Bec, you’re going to need a drink to relax you. Duncan, however, is so used to everything being awkward, that for him “it’s just a low hum”. I hear you, Dunc.

Whether Duncan’s off the booze or not, Bec isn’t letting it stop her. The moment anyone vaguely resembling waiting staff comes within 10 miles of her, she’s ordering another round of beer cocktails – what the hell are they anyway? – while Duncan can only play along, hoping, I assume, that she isn’t a nasty drunk.

There’s a ridiculous part where Bec pretends she has totally accidentally said “blow job” instead of “blow dry” which sent my eyes spinning to the back of my skull, and then Bec knocks a plate on the floor, and you can sense the date slowly start to slide off a cliff. I feel I’m watching a camper van teeter on the edge of Beachy Head. And we have over a minute to go.

When, Duncan, for whatever reason, brings up Kristen Stewart, of Twilight and generally-being-in-the-media-a-lot fame. Bec’s never heard of her. OK.  I understand there are people out there who pay no mind to the celebrity world and don’t watch TV or don’t like films etc – they’re usually pretty vocal about it, thrillingly, but come on.

“I don’t know who many people are,” she claims, in a way that immediately tells me she has, or knows someone who owns, a fixie bike.

She then goes on to say that she thought Bruce Willis was black until two weeks ago. I’m just going to shove this blatant attempt at more airtime to the side where it belongs. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The Worst.

Bec’s doing most of the talking, with Duncan’s bemused, world-weary responses akin to those of a middle-aged dad taking his dickhead teenage son out for a TGI Friday’s. She goes on to say that she owns only one movie, and it is Rocky II. “People who are into films are really into their films,” says Bec in the post-date VT. “So I imagine he was quite tormented by that.” Not just by that, I’d wager, Bec.

I’m not into films. I see about one a year, maybe two. And yet I’m not so cut off from the world that I don’t know Bruce Willis’s racial heritage, or the identity of Kristen Stewart. Nor do I own only one film. And a sequel at that. Bec is a plant, a ringer. I’m sure of it. Nobody can be this much of a try-hard. Onward, the scores are in.

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 11.38.21

Both score each other a six, which in Blind Date terms is actually a polite zero. Would they meet again? There doesn’t seem to be any need to ask, but I’m glad they did, as their responses are chocolate fondant-perfect.

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 11.38.26

Duncan: “No, you’re all right. I’ve got quite a lot on.” B+
Bec: “There just wouldn’t be any point.” B

And after 4 minutes 13 seconds of watching the TV equivalent of biting into a slice of lime in front of a crowd of people and insisting “no really it’s fine” , we are done.

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 11.39.34

Rena and Chris

The Guyliner: Rena and Chris

Another Saturday, another couple willingly, inexplicably, subjecting themselves to the glare of the nation.

My relationship with this column is a confusing one as, while enjoy it, I do not understand why anyone would want to be in it. No more than I ever understood any of the men who would email me asking me – begging, sometimes – to take them on a date so I could write about them. I think even Narcissus might look up from the lake in horror at that idea.

They don’t give their ages this week, which is unsettling as Rena and Chris look like the kind of people who could either be 19 or 37. Chris has a beard; Rena has an undercut. Let’s pretend they are both 28 – I liked being 28.

No occupations given online either, so I assume whoever was whacking today’s edition on the CMS in the early hours of this morning had a cab and a bottle of Pinot Grigio waiting. Anyway, read it and see what you think before I wade in. Warning: there are distressing scenes of a table manners nature.

Rena kicks us off:

rena_talk about

These conversation topics are like a time capsule – things you could *only* talk about if it were late 2014 and you only looked at Twitter twice a week. Nobody has been talking about the cereal cafe for *months*. It is the conversational equivalent of Adrian Mole turning up to the youth club in flares in 1983.

rena_awkward

” Yes, I have a kind of bushy beard and could’ve been born any time between 1973 and 1992.” I’d have found him straightaway, wouldn’t you, viewers?

It’s table manners next. Hold on to your hats. Spoiler: I’m wearing black and am adjusting my mantilla.

rena_table

Rena. RENA. If, by some remote chance, you’re a regular reader, I’ll let you off. If not, how could you? If Chris says it as well, there will be blood. Actual blood.

chris_table

Crisis averted. I can call off the nuclear weapons. Although, what does this even mean? Who really goes on a date to a Fitzrovia restaurant (I looked it up) and displays table manners anything other than exemplary? Would you even notice table manners unless the other person ate with their hands and/or had sex with a waiter on the table while you ate pudding? No, of course not. Also, the restaurant they chose has a very ugly, annoying  website – even worse than Sketch’s – so I wouldn’t eat there.

You may think we have peaked there with that “Impeccable”, readers, but guess what? Rena is the gift that keeps on giving – get a load of this:

rena_made of you

Oh, that loud whirring sound? It’s just me turbo-rolling my eyes. Giving stuff up for Lent isn’t “a thing”. We have Dry January now, if you really want to be worthy and have everyone congratulate you for not lifting a glass of wine  to your lips, that most arduous of toils. Come on.

Seriously, You’re on a date. It’s all free. Fuck Lent. Pour me a gin and tonic. Double. No, no lemon or lime – there’s no room in the glass.

It may seem like I’m shortchanging Chris here, but when you have an all-gold, A1 Blind Dater like Rena – an “Impeccable”, no less – you don’t waste any time. Anyway, here’s Chris again:

chris_made of you

Chris, who cares what she thinks of you? She gives stuff up for Lent and says your table manners are impeccable; you will always come out the winner here. Or possibly not. Rena’s back:

rena_change

TOLD YOU.

Rena scores Chris a half-enthusiastic 8, while Chris gives her a non-committal 7, which is very ungentlemanly and proves you really need to pre-agree scores for this thing.

And then we get to the final line, which has me kind of feeling like an overprotective mother at the school gate, because I have inexplicably warmed to Rena, my cross-shaped child I have to bear:

meet again chris rena

Rena’s “never say never…” is polite, dignified, but Chris had to make it clear that beard and undercut do not a couple make with his “as friends”.

What put you off, Chris?  The gin and tonic avoidance? The cereal cafe chat? That in-depth and totally original bantz about the BuzzFeedification of journalism and thus modern life itself?

You messed up Chris. Anyone willing to say your table manners are “impeccable”, which is simply impossible to say of anyone with a beard in my view, is a keeper. Big mistake. Huge.

Rena, you win.