Gemma and Dean

The Guardian Blind Date column has felt recently like a parade of Tobys and Jessicas jostling for elbow room on the 07:59 from Putney into Waterloo – all “I was hoping for a pleasant evening” this and “oh he knew nothing about wine” that but no substance.

It’s been fun ripping into them but even Alexis Carrington had a day off from sinking her ex’s oil tankers so today’s is a welcome relief.

Today we have Gemma, 29, a healthcare manager (no idea) and Dean, 28, a public affairs manager (again, not a clue). Yes, they sound like an unmarked trapdoor in LinkedIn but don’t worry – these two know they’re going in a magazine and they’re not afraid to show it.

Read what happened on the date before I start sprinkling petrol everywhere and arranging flimsy alibis.

This is a brilliant answer. This is what it feels like to go on a date. You imagine champagne, hot confessions and a Hollywood ending but really in your heart you know that the evening is going to end with you snapping the round bit off the end of your cocktail stirrer in sheer boredom.

 Let’s be real. Straight, gay, bi, curious, not really sure, frigid, rampant, virginal – it doesn’t matter. We are all secretly hoping Beyoncé is going to turn up on a date and tell us she wants a fresh start.

  “We printed out 100 pages from Comment Is Free and pretended we were having a rap battle in the reader comments underneath.” Just kidding – I love these guys.

I’m not really into in-depth family chat on a first date.
Like the films they show in arthouse cinemas at 10.30 in the morning, families are weird and boring and hard to understand.

But if you’ve got a good story, you’ve got a good story. Dean again:

Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 09.59.22

The art of not falling over on a date is underrated. On one of the first dates I ever went on, my date tripped up and dropped a bike on me. The scar outlasted our relationship – a whirlwind tour through everything you can possibly hate about a human in a tornado-filled two months.

Table manners! Is this where my golden couple lose my approval?!

This is a good answer, but I do hate being called a “gent”. Ugh. “Evening, gents” is what borderline homophobic but desperate to be right-on waiters say to me and my boyfriend when we walk into gastropubs. Gents are toilets, not people.  I know an “impeccable” when I see one Dean; don’t think your iPhone’s thesaurus can catch me out.

Although you should do it in a more covert way than our wannabe Dimbleby, you should, if possible, try to find out your date’s favoured breakfast. There’s a whole code and you can pretty much map your entire future based on whether your suitor likes bagels or bran flakes.

I’ll go into more detail one day but basically anyone who makes poached eggs on a weekday will probably be a show off at parties and may beat you in secret.


You can tell these answers are typed in an email because nobody says the word “erudite” out loud, apart from Brian Sewell and that guy at work who was off sick the other day and saw it on Countdown. And don’t be afraid to say someone is good-looking, Dean – it doesn’t make you a monster.

Look this is cheesy but at least he’s not face-saving and trying to look cool because man.

They went clubbing! So…

Get out. I don’t need the Enigma code machine to crack this one. That’s a yes. Dean?

Haha. Yay! Finally two normal people who go to a club, get drunk and snog. Readers, we are home.

The “change one thing” answers are boring so let’s not kill the buzz and order another martini and slink to the scores. 

Pre-agreed scores that admit to being pre-agreed scores but then pretend they are NOT pre-agreed scores are my new jam and I don’t care how hugely set-up this is.

Cautious. Hopeful. Optimistic. Exactly the way I feel before I read this column. Today was a good day.  

This is exactly what I’d say.

They were funny, they weren’t too try-hard and they bagged off with each other in a club.

It feels like the end of days in a way, but the burning fires of hell make such pretty colours.

I enjoyed the respite, but next week I want the two usual arseholes in bad clothes, who’ve never met hair conditioner and have the social skills of a broken toilet in a Parisian snack bar.

Don’t let me down.

Note: All the comments I make are based on the answers the participants give, which they know will appear in the public arena. I am sure, in real life, they are cool people. 

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


Lucy and Tom

tom and lucy

I swear to God the Guardian must have only two different men they keep in a cupboard and wheel out for these dates. Tom feels like the 109th “gingery man with a beard turned to the side and laughing into the void” we’ve seen. And this is the second Tom in a row. We are overrun with Toms.

Anyway, today’s is nice enough mainly because a) they have similar jobs, b) give quite interesting answers and c) get on.

That’s not to say there aren’t still a few clichés I can take my scythe to, of course. But if you’re looking for the usual bloodbath, you may want to turn away now.

Read how Tom, 33, a radiologist – it says “senior radiologist” in the column but this is a magazine not LinkedIn, for crying out loud – and Lucy, 30, a medical student, got on during the date before I get going.

Have you noticed how today’s contestants have admitted to being in their thirties unlike every other couple recently who simply MUST be over 30 yet insist they are “27”? Either the photographers are having a good day or the hospital these two work at doles out a magic elixir in the canteen, but this pair seem fresher than Rebel MC’s trainers (’80s reference).

Their “What were you hoping for?” answers are predictably drab – “a fun evening”, “minimal awkward silences” but that’s an issue with the question rather than the daters. Let’s press on.

lucy forst impressions

I love appropriating what my grandma – or my nana for that matter – might have said because they were both wise old ladies with an array of sharp putdowns that they wielded like nunchucks.

“Nice Face” is perfect gran-speak because a grandma would never call anyone handsome or goodlooking unless he was her very own grandson or a famous person on TV.  Those are the rules of being a grandmother – the men in your family are the most gorgeous studs in the world and all other males look like Plug from the Bash Street Kids and that’s just the way it is. “Nice Face”, though, you can do. It’s allowed.

lucy talk about

You see this is where talking shop is actually interesting. I imagine “things you’ve seen in X Rays” is their version of “worst person you’ve interviewed” for me.

If you’re wondering which innocent, throwaway remark I am going to latch onto like a bulldog ripping a copy of the People’s Friend to shreds this week, it’s coming up now.

tom talk about

Running. Oh God. Running bores. The curse of getting into your thirties and realising you *can* be arsed doing some exercise after all so maybe you’ll try running because that’s easy. You then talk about it nonstop.

I used to run and I was terrible for this. I would even mention, on dates, actual routes I ran. If my date looked too bored, I would try to pull it back by getting up from the table and walking over to the bar, and thus away from them, so they could check out the benefits of running on my behind. It worked pretty much every time.

Tom, here’s a tip: “nodding politely” isn’t a good thing. You don’t want your date to be nodding at you like Prince Harry meeting a renal ward in Leicestershire. You want your date to be throwing her head back in laughter and imagining you pressing them up against the doorbell as you kiss goodnight. Nobody ever got banged because they were good at making people nod.

lucy awkward

Lucy gets this. She knows she’s going to be in a magazine and she doesn’t want to be stitched up, so is on full damage-control alert. I’d be like this. “So that part where I droned on about my running route round Clapham Common – probably best not to mention how dull that was when the journalist asks, right?”

But what did she do?! I must know.

lucy table manners

Ooh. Tom, explain.

tom awkward mo

If there is one pet hate I have about restaurants – I mean, I have over 700 but we can’t be here all day – it is the amount of crap they put on tables, no matter how much table space there is.

A vase with a miserable looking gerbera in it, huge salt and pepper mills, ten-feet tall menus or promotional cards or invitations to join their “artisan olive oil club” so you can’t see your dining partner, wine and water glasses that they whip away as soon as you ask for a beer, HUGE cutlery, napkins you could cover a dead whale with. No.

So I fully sympathise with Lucy’s plight, much as I do Tom’s – it’s nice to be a gentleman, but if your date smashes a vase, it’s got to go in the magazine.

Hang on…

tom table manners s

Notice how Tom doesn’t say whether Lucy’s table manners were bad or good, just that they shared plates.

I have a feeling Tom is like me – a vehement anti-sharer when it comes to food. He wants the world to know that although Lucy managed to keep her mouth shut while she chewed and didn’t snort like a pig as she ate, she made him share food. Fingers in the dishes. Waggling forks about trying to get the last dough ball. Pretending you’re okay with them having that extra king prawn.

You can never be honest during a round of food sharing and it leads to resentment of volcanic levels. Don’t do it.

lucy three words

I don’t like it when they get the “three words” wrong. If someone described me in three words as “He’s from Lancashire”, I’d take it to mean they’d found me utterly dull, like a day without weather or a Wednesday episode of Coronation Street. Really nothing else to say but where I come from?! Really?

Also, I’m from Yorkshire so it would also tell me they obviously hadn’t been listening.

tom three words

If I had long hair I’d probably twirl it round my finger now and giggle.

lucy made of you

Yay! He did, you know.

tom made of you s

Tom, the easy way to solve this one is just shut the fuck up about running. She doesn’t think you’re a running nerd, she just wants you never to mention it again. It is catastrophically boring. Honestly. No more. Blog it, or something.

lucy on somewhere

I will let Lucy off as she is a student and so technically she still has school nights. But if you are not a student and still saying this about weeknights you need to head to the mirror and have a long hard chat about how things are going.

lucy change one thing

Haha nobody has said this for ages – you can tell we’re back with the over-30 crew. This happens overnight doesn’t it? This transformation from not giving a fuck about hangovers into harbouring an almost prissy guilt for having one tiny glass of Pinot after 9pm. I miss shrugging my shoulders at life more.

tom change on ethng

See? Tom’s feeling me here.


tom scoress luxy scores

I don’t know about you but these eights feel like nines to me. I’m not going to argue with people who work in a hospital though – I expect they’re used to trying to cut numbers to meet unrealistic NHS targets (lol politics etc).

Meeting again?

lucy meet again

tom meet again s

Hmm these seem a little cold, despite the general feel of the date. Maybe they just need to keep things under observation, run a few tests and [other hospital analogies] and see how things go. I suppose medical staff are used to playing their cards close to their chest –  radiologists in particular would need expert poker faces.

Although I now realise she may have actually done this to shut Tom up about running (sorry Tom, it’s nearly over), Lucy wins this for smashing a vase.

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

Tom and Oona

oona tom

You know that feeling when you have been at a dinner party – some might call it a soirée – all night and had to cope with somebody’s absolutely bullshit behaviour and even-more-bullshit opinions? Maybe they “can see Ukip’s point” or think “Sam Cam has really nice taste in handbags”. Something like that. Well, today’s Guardian Blind Date is that dinner party. And there is no exit. No handle on the door. And a rottweiler guarding it. You’re here for life.

Today we have Tim, 23 (no, really) and Oona, 26 (seriously). He works in HR (walks from room to room with a sheet of paper in his hand, looking busy) and she’s a deli manager. OK.

Read what happened on the date – hide all sharp objects before doing so – and then I’m going in. I am praying that venom doesn’t poison you from the inside. I may not make it to the end.

tom hping for

Effervescent is a good word. I once wrote it in a Christmas card. Imagine that. Imagine receiving this card with “effervescent” in it. You’d worry the sender had a brain tumour, wouldn’t you? The recipient texted me the next day. “Were you drunk when you wrote that card?” they said. “Or were you just being pretentious?” I fessed up. Pretentious. Tom? Which are you?

oona hoping for

Maybe try sitting on a chihuahua.

tom first impressions

Why doesn’t “confident” feel like a compliment here? How would that be your first impression? What did she do – clamber over shark-infested waters to get to the table? Perhaps Tom is trying to say that she didn’t laugh into her hand or twirl her hair upon first introduction. Anyway, here’s Oona with a humdinger of a reply.

oona first imp

What? Why? “I’m glad he looked older than 23.” What does this even mean? I’m glad he lied about his age? I’m stoked that he must have had a paper round that covered the north face of the Eiger?

tom talk about

Line up all of the “eyeroll.gif” files in the world. Every single one. And then watch them all. And you still won’t have enough eyerolls. I rolled my peepers so hard they span out of my skull, went to the shop for milk, and came back with the wrong change.

“Boat-building lineage” – this entire column is the reason we can’t have nice things. “Syllabub.” Welcome to the try-hard Olympics. Bad news, you’re up against Geri Halliwell and she’s just had a vitamin shot. Here’s Tom again.

tom awkward

Were you PRAYING for measles to take you out of this dire date and into the great unknown? I know I am. Imagine two people in their twenties talking about this on a date. Like an editorial meeting in the sixth form common room. “The vaccination debate” – it isn’t a thing. Go back to lobbying the teachers to add Topic to the vending machine by the science labs.

oona awkward

Bread is awesome. I’m not really into a man deciding for me that I’ve had enough bread so I fully back Oona here. Except for the “awesome” – that makes me wish everything was on fire and I was made of pyjama. Bread isn’t awesome. It’s bread. (Bread.)

tom taBLE

Tom feels to me like he’s auditioning for that BBC radio comedy we will all eventually get around to writing.

oona table

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a revolutionary. Even though I agree with Oona that table manners are not really a thing you think about unless someone is eating like a wild boar let loose at a christening, there is something about this answer that is so try-hard, I can’t get behind it.

tom best thing

Wine has been coming up a lot on these dates, especially among the twentysomethings. Here’s a hot take from someone old enough to be your older brother who wishes you’d never been born: nobody cares whether you know about wine. Leave it to a sommelier.

Fuck your wine list musings. Do what we all do: pick the second or third cheapest and pretend it doesn’t taste like vinegar.

oona introduce

Oona, there’s a telegram for you. It says “You are not actually in a Richard Curtis movie”.  Any thoughts?

tom 3 words

“High-powered.” “Hippy.” Reader, I can’t feel my legs.

oona three woerds

How can you be morally upstanding at 23? What about? Maybe he had some totally amazing opinions on GamerGate. Dunno.

tom made of you

This answer reminds me of a very funny post I read on BuzzFeed this week. Tom’s answer, however, isn’t funny. I know you’re in a magazine and trying to impress or whatever but this is rubbish. Congratulations, you’re Mrs Brown’s Boys in an H&M shirt. From three seasons ago.

oona made of you

You sure? But how could he resist that “boat-building lineage”?

tom go on

“Shotgunned.”  Weddings, car seats I understand. A shotgunned pint? No idea. Tom, you’ve got the part. It’s fine.

tom kiss

You threw patatas bravas into her mouth?! This guy.

tom change

This face-saving is so pungent, I can almost taste it. “Top company.” I can’t believe someone who was born in 1992 actually talks this way. SCORES:

tom score

7.5? Careful Tom, she might build a boat and row it right through your empty head.

oona score

9. You did fancy him. 9 is a shy 10. “Lovely.” I’ve seen pensioners sitting on Brighton Pier with more verve.

tom meet again

We will, won’t we? That pong you can smell, readers? It’s a pre-agreed answer.

oona meet again

*polite laughter* What a perfect ending. Bless them. A glacé cherry atop a gleaming dog turd.

Tom, Oona – it’s been emotional. Let’s never speak of this again.

Photograph: Frantzesco Kangaris for the Guardian


Sarah and Aled

Sarah and Aled

Do you remember being bored as a child? It’s a different kind of boredom, isn’t it? It’s an angry boredom, in turns hopelessly lethargic and frustratingly energetic. TV channels are your enemies, your favourite books just dull old bricks, and there is always, always an older relative on hand – usually mum or grandma, but occasionally that auntie who’s got an answer for everything – to tell you that “only boring people get bored”.

Well, wrap that feeling up into two people, send them on a date to some restaurant in Chelsea, have one of them work in PR, and you have today’s Blind Date.

Read what happened on the date with Sarah, a paediatric nurse, and Aled, a PR account manager, both 26, before I look more closely and pour vinegar over everything.

sarah hoping for

I would say Sarah is already 50% of the way here. You don’t often turn to the Blind Date page and think “Oh hello!” but Aled is quite good-looking in a “would arrive late for Sunday lunch because he’d been watching a sport of some kind” way. But will he charm her? I don’t know about you, but I am on the edge of my seat.

aled hoping for

Revolutionary stuff from Aled, there.

sarah talk about

Rugby! Knew it. He has one of those faces, and two of those shoulders. He would definitely arrive late for lunch. I bet his mum was forever picking up his rugby socks off his bedroom floor. We all know an Aled.

I am always suspicious of “secret geeks” because it seems to be saying that half the time they are pretending to be cooler than they actually are, which is ridiculous once you hit 18 – 21 at a push – and there’s nothing wrong with being a geek anyway. They don’t say what they are secretly geeky about but I am guessing it is something, like, totally ironic and actually cool anyway, amirite? Maybe cereal, or something.

aled talk about

Yes, Aled, she was soooooo interested in it, she didn’t even mention it as one of the conversation topics on your date. Aled, she was pretending. Nobody has ever cared about anybody’s dissertation. Not ever. Nope. I’m serious. No. BTW, mine was about the Labour Party. No, wait, come back. Guys? See? Nobody cares.

Let’s get awkward and hope something interesting happens,

sarah awkward

*stares into space* Any minute now, that wisecracking auntie of your youth is going to be along, and you know what she’ll be saying, children.

aled awkward

I wonder how he made her miss her bus? Prattling on about chapter 4 of that dissertation, no doubt.

Table manners! Let’s pray there’s not an “impeccable” in sight, although I wouldn’t put it past them.

sarah table manners

Ooh. How long is it since we have had some decent table manners shade? Aaaaages. How do you think he ate the mussels? Slurped them out? Cracked open the shell with his big man hands and threw the pieces up in the air? We’ll never know unless Sarah would care to get in touch.

aled table manners

A true gentleman. Not exactly great #content, though, but never mind.

sarah best thing

Oh, congratulations, you’re on a date with Stephen Fry.

aled best thing

Is this a compliment? It reads to me like a spectacular diss of all the women Aled has met before. Maybe it’s because of that bloody dissertation.

As Aled says, usually, nobody is interested. Here, though, Sarah gamely sat through the chat, her eyes perhaps wide and warm. Inside, however, she was composing her shopping list for tomorrow, trying to remember whether she put a wash on before she left the house and wondering if she would have found this any more interesting had Aled unbuttoned his shirt to the waist.

sarah friends

Aled does not look like a dancer to me, but I could be wrong. I imagine he’d love at least to be swinging his T-shirt over his head on a dance floor surrounded by paediatric nurses, though.

aled friends

Hash. Tag. Lad.

Let’s look at the three words.

sarah three words

aled three words

“Clever.” “Intelligent.” Like two massive school swots trying to prove to each other they’ve read every book in the library.

Obviously, you don’t want people to think you are dumb or boring or witless or drab, but I would not at all be surprised to find that these two had brought their GCSE certificates with them on the date.

sarah change one thing

Ooh. Sarah was after a snog! She missed that first bus on purpose, didn’t she?

Sarah, we have all done it. “Oh well, he’s kind of dull or whatever, and the dissertation thing is a bit… yeah, anyway, he’s quite fit though so I may as well, y’know.” Totally, Sarah. Totally.

aled change one thing

A nice bit of self-awareness from the boy here – I bet Aled is the kind of guy whose girlfriends call him “the boy” in their tweets – and you can almost warm to him. What is this dissertation about, anyway?


sarah score

A strong 7? There’s no such thing! A strong 7 is an 8! Seven. 7/10. You wouldn’t be happy with that, would you? It’s a 1. Or a 2 if you laughed more than twice.

aled score

All the sevens! Do you think when they tapped out their sevens on the email back to the journalist, they said it in their head like Len Goodman says it on Strictly? Maybe that’s the joke. It is lost on me.

So, with all these super-passionate sevens being bandied about, will they see each other again?

sarah meet again

A bit of last-minute shade from Sarah – Aled’s sommelier skills need work, clearly. Though he is only 26. Who cares about wine at 26? But… there seems to be a glimmer of something. Boys, it’s time to dust off your dissertations!

And Aled?

aled meet again


For the second week in a row, the male dater has breezed through the date with supposed charm and confidence, only to bottle it at the eleventh hour and deliver a “thanks, but no thanks”. Face-saving, funnily enough, always seems much more undignified. But if he’s being honest, fair enough.

And you know what that means, ladies. Watch out, there’s a dissertation-wielding Aled coming soon to a dating app near you.

Swipe carefully.

Photograph: James Drew Turner for the Guardian

Janelle and Joe

janelle and joe

Sometimes I really get what Katy Perry meant in her hit song Firework when she trilled “Do you ever feel like a plastic bag? Drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?” It’s usually when I turn to the Blind Date page.

Today we have Janelle, 28, who is a charity PR and 28-year-old Joe, who is a civil engineer. After all my billion years on Earth, I still don’t know what that job title means. If I were on a date with Joe, once I’d acclimatised to that beard, I’d probably ask. Anyway, read what happened on the date before I get my claws out.

Here’s Janelle kicking us off. janelle hoping forI have a theory that nobody answers this question honestly. I suppose you can’t say that you were hoping for “love at first sight” or “somebody to rip my clothes off by pudding”, but let’s face it, we don’t go on dates just so we have somebody to mow the lawn.

I wonder how many Ukip voters Janelle would expect to apply to go on the Guardian Blind Date column. Mind you, I suppose if she’d read the online comments underneath any story promoting feminism, the NHS or social inclusion before heading out to her date, you could forgive her for thinking a frothing bigot might turn up.

I’ll ignore the “yummy” coming from someone in their 20s because we’re pushed for time and Joe is waiting with a couple of zingers for us, I’m sure.joe hoping for

Well, I have read ahead, readers, and guess what? Joe may leave empty-handed when it comes to those two particular wants.

janelle first impressions

Does it? A suit? Does this excite people? I suppose if they were coming straight from work, you could forgive a suit. Perhaps I’m just not the kind of guy who dates men who wear suits.

The thing about men who wear suits is that they usually only have two of them and certainly don’t get them dry cleaned enough, so when you lean in for that after-dinner smooch, your ardour is somewhat dampened by… well, that smell you get from a suit when it really needs to go to the cleaners. Still, Joe’s whistle has got Janelle holding her thumbs aloft like Sir Paul McCartney, so well done Joe.

joe first impressions

AKA what men say when they can’t say things like “cracking knockers” or “nice legs”. Poor besuited Joe, trapped in a prison of trying to look like a nice guy.

janelle talk aboutI used to dread being asked about travel. Not because I haven’t been anywhere or don’t like travelling, but because it usually meant I was about to hear a long speech about someone else’s travels and, honestly, I don’t care about that amazing private beach you found or how you patronised a load of Cambodian schoolchildren for your Instagram.

Janelle, I know you’re dying to know, so if I were on Dinner Date I would ring out for a Nando’s. Quirky, eccentric, or “doesn’t care about the format” always gets more screen time.

“There wasn’t a pause” is very telling. Somebody can’t shut up. Wonder who?

joe talk about copy

This is one of those rare moments in Blind Date when the daters’ conversation topics almost completely match. “Chivalry” is an interesting one, though. Or not.

janelle awkward

Newsflash for Janelle: you are called Janelle. Janelle. Only Janelle Monae gets away with that one, really.

Hold on to your hats, it’s table manners time.

janell table mannersIf you are scratching your head at this one – I’m not sure how gentlemanly you can be when eating opposite someone, unless you wait for them to take a forkful before you eat yours – the online version reveals Joe, or “Barry” as I’d like to call him from now on, was dishing out the tapas in a gentlemanly manner.

Tapas. One of the worst things you can get on a date. Why? Well, they usually come in sets of three. Three albondigas. Three great big prawns. Three arincini. This means you either have to cut the third one in half (cue “ooh, excuse fingers” hilarity etc) or allow the other person to have it to themselves.

I’m assuming the “gentlemanly” here comes from Joe offering Janelle the chance to have the extra one. I wonder how many times she said yes.

joe table manners

Ah, he offered, then sliced “pretty much” everything. This pass-agg “pretty much” tells me that he really wanted that extra meatball all to himself. Shy boys get nowt, Joe.

janelle 3 words

Joe: “Excuse me, could you tell me if this train goes all the way to the friend zone?”
Universe: “Why, yes, it does. It’s an express service. And you have a one-way ticket.”

joe 3 words copyI’m sure Janelle is all of these things, but if this answer were any more basic it would be you.

There’s a really boring bit about dessert that I can’t believe either of them thought would sound interesting, so let’s press on.

Joe seems to realise halfway through his answers that he’s going to have to pull back his unbridled ‘enthusiasm’  somehow, so when we move on to the scores, it gets interesting. Janelle first, though.

janelle scores

I don’t usually get the “point five” angle. Just say 7. However, in Guardian Blind Date lore, if you score somebody an 8, you are suggesting you are open to seeing them again. Janelle wants there to be no misunderstanding. You were a nice guy, I had fun, you’re not just some 7 loser who I’m being polite to because we’re in a magazine. However, the window of opportunity is closed and the curtains are pulled. Seven. Point. Five.

Okay, Janelle, I hear you. Joe, then, would probably score similar, right? He seems to know he’s not her type, but she made him laugh a lot, apparently. So:

Screen Shot 2015-05-02 at 10.06.37

I had to go to the online version to get the full details – in the mag it just says “6”, which as regular readers know, is in fact a zero.

So even though Joe had a good time, laughed a lot etc, by the time we get to the end, Janelle has been downgraded to “slightly above-average”. I can’t really imagine what stellar heights of scintillating you’d have to reach to score an “very much above-average” from Joe, but I’m sure there are lots of women out there dying to find out.

In short: this was the very worst example of face-saving I have ever seen – about on a par with his face-shaving. Needs work.

Let’s lumber to the end with all the enthusiasm of Marie Antoinette on her way to the guillotine.

janelle end

This is nice. Janelle’s a good egg. I take back what I said about your name – although I’m leaving it in. You don’t have to be nice about it, as you probably won’t see him again, but you were. Hats off.


joe end


Janelle, you’re far too good for Barry anyway.

Photograph: Frantzesco Kangaria, James Drew Turner, both for the Guardian