Guy and Sagarika


For reasons that probably seemed pretty valid in whichever content meeting this was dreamed up in, the Observer has done an extra Blind Date column today. In Glastonbury. It’s Glastonbury at the moment. You may be unaware.

I look forward to future editions of Blind Date taking place at other all-pervading cultural events. At The X Factor final, perhaps, or during the next austerity march.

Read what happened on the ‘date’ – they basically stood next to each other watching Hot Chip for a couple of hours – between 40-year-old Guy, an IT project manager, and Sagarika, 29, a textile designer.   They’ve got to be the two most Glastonbury-ready job titles I have ever heard in my life.

guy hoping for

“I wanted to appear in a magazine.”

sagarika hoping for

“Instead I did this.”

guy first impressions

Guy obviously didn’t get the memo that Glastonbury uniform is no longer a kaftan but a carefully curated wardrobe of outfits including feather boas, denim cut-offs slashed to the cervix/scrotum and a light dash of cultural appropriation via a head-dress or a bindi. Kaftan? Get with the PG, daddio.

sagarika first

“What’s this old man doing at Glasto?” – you know she says Glasto, right? – “I thought it was going to be young cool people like me vibing off each other and pretending that queasy feeling was coming up on a pill and not food poisoning.”

guy talk about

If you’re out of Nytol ever, and don’t have a piano handy to drop on your head to knock you out, ask someone about their first time at Glastonbury and how muddy it was. I have a friend whose first time at Glastonbury was so disgusting and horrible, she should go into schools giving talks about it – that is the kind of Glasto tale I like to hear.

sagarika talk about

“Yeah so this fossil droned on about his first time at Glastonbury and then we danced a bit and  BTW did I mention I was young?”

guy awkward

This isn’t so much a date as just, kind of, like, being vaguely in the same location as someone for a specified amount of time. Text messages from my bank have more warmth and intimacy.

sagarika awkward

“I tried to ditch him for ages but he kept popping back up like a body in the river – still doing all that dancing.”

There is no table manners question obviously because they didn’t eat anything, except maybe “disco biscuits” as I bet Guy would describe them.

Instead, there is a question about music taste which never fails to make any date go off a cliff.

guy music

I like Hot Chip but I have never ever met anyone who would describe them as being their favourite. Thankfully, Sagarika inexplicably thinks this lends Guy an air of cool. It doesn’t last.

sagarika music

What a time to be alive.

Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 17.09.51

Some. Mean. Shapes.

I am dying at Guy’s “totally with-it estate agent kicking back at next door’s barbecue and trying not to make any jokes about race or gender” awkward-speak.

We have all been Guy. Or, one day, we will.

sagarika dance moves

“A good energy.” Like ruffling the hair of a child that’s just daubed its own faeces on the desk during a spelling test and giving them a gold star. 7 out of 10. That burns. In short: Guy can’t dance.

sagarika best thing

“Roll with”? I didn’t realise Sagarika was Wu-Tang.

guy food stall

“One of my favourites.” Hot Chip, Goan fish curry – this bloke liked everything you like five years ago.

sagarika food stall

I am from Yorkshire. Are there any, errrr, Yorkshire pudding stalls at Glastonbury? What would I do to introduce someone clumsily to my culture?

guy share tent

Not to mention your breath honking of fish curry – a passion assassin if ever I heard one.

sagarita tent

I’m glad they got really fun people to do this. Imagine if they’d tried it out with a less scintillating duo; where would be now?

We would be here. Right here.

guy made of you

What is the spirit of the festival, exactly? I assume he means taking all the drugs on the first night and telling everyone what the mud was like in Glastonbury 1997, spending the second trying to find more and then the third swaying to Hot Chip croaking your way through forced pleasantries with someone 11 years your junior who thinks you’re a shit dancer.

I Lost My Voice From Partying – the never-released potential hit single from Mini Viva.

sagrika made of you

Hot Chippy.

guy go anywhere

Y’all smoke a doobie up there, Guy? Did you say something was “epic” and then wax lyrical about how you dream of jacking it all in and launching an app for fish curry recipes, all from a shack in a beach in Goa.

sagarika anywhere ekse

“He wouldn’t leave. It got really mortifying. We had to pretend there’d been an emergency back at my tent so we could sneak off and get a pulled pork ciabatta.”

sagarita change

Probably because you kept urgently searching over his shoulder for your spaced-out pals every time he opened his mouth to speak to you.

OK. Guy, you want to pin a rosette to this turd of a date? Give us your score?

guy score

Fine. Sagarika?

sagarita score

What a load of old pony.

“His dancing, however, I was fine to rate – and that was 7/10 just in case you’ve forgotten.”

guy meet again

He DJs. Of course.

sagarita meet

Maybe he’ll leave a Goan fish curry or a Hot Chip ‘CD’ under your pillow.

Now that’s over, thank God, to the pyramid stage! I have a really big flag with “IMPECCABLE” printed on it and a million trustafrians’ views to ruin.

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: Antonio Olmos for the Observer


Emma and Kenny

emma and kenny

We all have that friend who is a little bland. That pal whose opinions are always pretty much on the fence, doesn’t play favourites and whose outlook is a little safe. Beige. Flavoured Volvic.

Sometimes, on dark nights when the vodka in the bottle is at perilously low levels, we stare deep into our soul and realise that we ourselves are actually that friend and we resolve to be more exciting, more daring, a renegade. Maybe we even decide to apply to be on the Guardian Blind Date column. Because this week…

Anyway, read what happened on the date between 24-year-old Emma, an advertising executive and Kenny, 25, an assistant editor and then I’ll throw red wine on a white carpet to get things moving.

emma hoping for

You know I get up kind of early on a Saturday to read this, right, Emma? And this is the best you’ve got? You have basically turned up to my wedding in a grey cardigan. Thanks.

kenny hoping for

Yay for Kenny. A good start. However, I met an optimist once and he’s dead now, so think on.

emma first impressions

“Hey, guys, ever since I waded into this swimming pool that was absolutely full of water, I’m all wet. Weird. Anyone know why?”

I like the suggestion here that participating in the Guardian Blind Date is not actually voluntary. “It’s so bizarre; what am I doing here?” Maybe it’s like that Michael Douglas film The Game, where he is suddenly, unwillingly propelled into a living nightmare as part of some extreme virtual reality hell. Reading it certainly feels that way sometimes.

Kenny. Honey. What you got?

kenny first imp

Is “intelligent” a valid first impression? How long does it take to make a first impression? Is it about how they seem as soon as you lay eyes on them? I have no idea.

Anyway, Kenny’s first thought was that Emma was intelligent so maybe she was wearing glasses or carrying some heavy textbooks about science or had a lab coat on the back of her chair.

emma talk about

The. Complexities. Of. Editing. Film. Footage.

I can semi-relate to this as I used to edit video for a job and wow you have to be really into it and love it because it’s kind of soul-destroying but I would rather talk about my favourite way to be disembowelled than editing video but hey ho.

TL;DR: “He bored me about his job.”

kenny talk about

“The blind date.” They talked about what was happening to them right that minute, like Sky News desperately filling while waiting for an update on something that’s just happened. I miss my bed.

emma embarrassing

A 25-year-old who is so out of options he’s appearing in a magazine column that sends you out on date with strangers has no place belittling you for going to a McBusted gig, Emma. Unless, it’s you who are embarrassed, of course. In which case, stop doing things ironically if you don’t want to blush every time you have to tell a normal person about your day.

kenny awkward

Five minutes? What was she doing the rest of the time? If she were really as intelligent as you say, Kenny, she’d have edited that down to about five seconds.

I don’t know. Is ordering wine quickly something to feel awkward about? I don’t think so.


emma table

I need some wine. I don’t care that it’s 9 in the morning.

kenny table

King Kenny. This is the first time I have seen anyone answer this question like a normal person. As long as you don’t put one foot on the table to give yourself some purchase when you’re tearing a leg off a chicken, or have sex with a waiter between courses, nobody cares about your table manners.

emma friends

Believe me, in ten years’ time, you will not give the slightest bronze fart what anyone thinks of your music taste. Take it from someone who’s endured years of eye-rolling from friends over my “pop” sensibilities.

Never trust anyone who doesn’t like a band with at least one member you’d bang until their brains melted. McBusted has Harry, so there. you. go.

kenny friends

Kenny, they’re people, not the ingredients for an atomic bomb. What do you think is going to happen? This guy has all the derring-do of a cookery teacher weighing out flour. And wholemeal flour at that.

emma three

My three words: Are. You. Sure?

kenny three

Watch out, everyone, Kenny has lit a cigarette on a packed dancefloor and nylon is gonna get burned!

kenny go on

Kenny is 25.

emma change

Emma is 24.

Imagine being so burned out by your mid-twenties that “an early start” would put the fear of God into you.

It doesn’t last for ever, you know. And when you’re in your 70s and carefully negotiating your way out of the shower and hoping this isn’t the day the bath mat gives way, landing you in A&E and at the mercy of a sad-eyed social worker, you’ll wish you hadn’t been so uptight about Mondays and early starts.

Just a tip from halfway down the abyss, here.

kenny change

Oh hashtag-fucking-lad, you boring old pair of rolled-up socks that cries about having to get up early the next day. Shut up.

Scores. Emma:

emma score


kenny score

“Lovely girl.” I bet if you reached inside Kenny’s pocket, you wouldn’t find the remotest hint of an erection, but there would be a packet of Werther’s Original or some balsam-infused tissues in there.

emma meet again

Emma, you win this. But only because I know what’s coming next. You seem like a good egg. I’d trust you with a chihuahua.

kenny meet again

Hahaha. This is like being called boring by John Major or camp by Louie Spence.

Edge? Kenny, you’re in an uber middle-class newspaper, going on a date for a magazine column, in a dull, frigid, snoot restaurant in the Saatchi Gallery.

You’re so far from the edge, you’d need a compass, industrial-strength satnav and an enthusiastic Scout troop who really want to hear about editing film footage just to find it.

Get out.

If it’s long drinks of water in their twenties again next week I am taking it off.

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: James Drew Turner; David Levene, both for the Guardian

Rob and Dan

main photo

Last week, we had two embryos planning their retirement, and now we zoom over to the other end of the spectrum with Rob and Dan, both 38 (it says here) – two Samantha Joneses with perma-arched eyebrows and hips that no doubt wiggle in time to the distant sound of a cocktail stirrer being tapped against the side of a martini glass. (Anybody who thinks they actually are a Samantha is a) wrong and b) ridiculous, as it’s not a thing.)

Read what happened on the date between this talent manager and film producer before I launch into my very own director’s cut.

rob hoping for

If you like reading the word “dating” a lot, then stick around. It is pretty much all Rob can talk about.

dan hoping for

Really? Nothing? Not even the faint hope that you will not be matched up with a horse-frightener or mental racist or serial killer?

It must be great to be so zen about everything – I used to travel to dates imagining all sorts of horrible fates were awaiting me. Would this be the date where I would be strangled with a pair of tights in a bedroom with peeling wallpaper?

rob first impression

I cannot even imagine what kind of person would not only take a laptop on a date, but also sit there on it (emailing!) while they waited for their date to turn up.

A quick scroll on your phone through Grindr to sort out a backup plan, sure, but acting like Mr Important And Busy Oh Wow I Am Just So Busy on a first date? I am so impressed!

Rob again:

rob talk about

The thing I used to hate most on a date would be talking about dating. My first ever date was with a man who did this and it was so boring and lazy. “Ooh tell me all your wild dating stories” – it’s just so depressing. It made me realise he was only interested in the date as an experience – and a mindnumbingly dull one at that – rather than the first step to something exciting.

I don’t know what a “post-pro dater” is but I certainly wouldn’t want to read that I was showing symptoms of being one in my doctor’s notes.

Here’s Rob again because Dan is keeping his answers strictly vanilla so far.

rob awkward


dan awkward


rob table manners

Look, at least they’re not parroting “impeccable”, right?

dan table manners

Oh, I don’t know. It’s like bumping into one of my old teachers. I don’t hate them, but I don’t like them either.

I don’t really know why you’d wear a cap to a date, but then again I am not bald. I suppose once you have this cap on your head, it becomes awkward knowing when to take it off. I mean, it’s not like at a wedding, when you have to wait for the bride’s mother to take her titfer off before you relieve yourself of your own.

Maybe Rob sat there convulsing in awkwardness, sweating like a pig, dying to take this cap off but couldn’t, in case it became a thing. Too late, too late.

rob thing

Dating. Daaaaaating. DATING.

What does an “encyclopaedic knowledge of dating” entail, exactly? Anyone can arrange to meet for a drink and chuck a blowjob someone’s way if they pay for dinner. Where’s the expertise?

And as for Tinder – don’t get me started. The only thing worse than a gay guy who bangs on about Tinder all the time is a straight person banging on about it like they just discovered uranium. Swipe THIS, you congenital bore.

dan best thing

Is it just me or does every answer Dan gives sound like it is through gritted teeth, or at gunpoint, or just chucked out on an email, no doubt while he waits for another date to turn up? This is about as compelling as mittens.

rob three words

DATING. This is like that guy in Big Brother who screams “SHOWBIZ” at the top of his voice every three seconds.

Also: post-pro dater is not a thing. Neither is bearlebrities, while we’re here. Rob again:

rob made of you


dan made of you

Well, I am stitching my sides back up as we speak, so chances are high.

rob change

Look, at least he hasn’t mentioned dating again.

dan change

The easy way to avoid this is not appearing in a magazine column dedicated to doing just that FYI happy to help no worries not a problem I can jot this down in an email for you if you like OK safe mate laterz.

rob score

“I’d probably fuck him.”

dan score

“I wouldn’t let you.”

rob meet agaon

You certainly are.


dan meet again

“I would just like to make it as clear as possible that there is no romantic future here, and I would like to convey that message with all the effervescence of a bank manager unwrapping a Tesco sandwich.”

Thank God that is over.

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: James Drew Turner for the Guardian

Benjamin and Mark

benjamin and mark

I have a friend who, at Christmastime, bought a huge box of Monster Munch for her boyfriend. She wrapped it up and left it under the tree and, when he opened it, found not a zillion packets of tasty, synthetic crisps, but a surprise Playstation. He was, of course, elated.

Today’s date is exactly like that. Except there’s no Playstation. And it’s not Monster Munch; it’s a supermarket’s own copycat brand. Beastie Crunch, perhaps.

TL;DR: It’s gays, Jim, but not as we know them.

Today we have Benjamin, 27, a composer and 21-year-old (!) Mark, an editorial assistant. It doesn’t say where he is an editorial assistant but I don’t think you’ll need two hands and a wheelbarrow to guess.

Read what happened on the date before I delve further into this quagmire of disappointment and regret. And remember, I don’t get paid for doing this.

Here’s Mark first.

mark hoping for

And, reader, I was disappointed.

benj first impressions

Benjamin wants the D. You can’t look at a 21-year-old and think “not too shabby”. What this really means is “holy hell they have sent me something young and malleable and I want to make every shape possible with this guy like he was dough or doll’s hair or clay”.

Mark? Is he going to get the D?

mark first imp

dame edna grimace


Don’t worry readers, this isn’t going down the toilet without a fight. Here’s Benj again:

benj talk about


Did you go back to the top of the page, as I did, and check their ages again? Your turn up on a date to find some smooth-skinned honey in their twenties sitting there and all you can talk about is wanting a house?

When I was about 21 I dressed like I was in my early 40s and owned one of these houses these two manchildren are lusting after. I had a long corduroy coat and wore grey flannel trousers and sensible, well-fitting woolly jumpers. My hair was atrocious, and fell into an unfortunate centre-parting that never really worked because I have two crowns.

I was fooling myself into thinking that if I dressed like an investment banker taking the weekend off to go see his flaxen-haired braindead daughter at university that I’d be taken seriously, that nobody would spot I was an imposter – a young northerner from a council estate who had nothing but popcorn for brains. So I know a try-hard bore when I see one.

Apart from Björk, I don’t know about the music stuff so I will have to let that pass and assume they have a shared interest in music by dead people, but the house thing made me want to travel back in time, stride into the restaurant where these two were boring each other into infinity, shake them by the shoulders and say “Look, this ‘being in your twenties’ thing isn’t going to last long and rather than dreaming of some house which you’ll only be able to afford to buy when you’re ancient, fat and unfuckable, you should be concentrating on the here and now and getting busy with Aftershock and making plans to destroy a duvet”.

Do we even need to go on? Should we go on? OK. Mark:

mark talk about

Oh I’m utterly desensitised now. I am untrollable. Next.

benj awkward

Here you go:

This is all well and good and thanks for the early morning cultural lesson ‘guys’, but what are you actually like as people?

mark awkward

Oh no! Hungover! Stop all the clocks etc.

Turning up to a date drunk is unforgivable; showing up hungover is… well it’s just being alive isn’t it? You don’t have to “own up”.

Table manners next. I wonder if this is the week that is finally going to kill me.

benj table manners

These boys are 48 years old. I know I moan every week that the answers are really boring and if you’re going to be in a magazine you need to step it up but Benjamin’s feel like an audition for something. A panel show. On Sky Arts 2. At 2am.

And don’t even get me started on sharing dishes because you can only really do that if you intend to share something else and the sexual chemistry here certainly does not require a hazmat suit.

“Allergic to carbs.” Get in the bin.

mark table

Look, some guys just happen to think vanilla is the best ice cream flavour, OK?

benj best thing

Ah, Benjamin. I know. I know. You see, if you’d spent less time communicating your real estate-related hopes and dreams and more time turning on the charm, you may well have been waking up to that face this morning.

mark best thing

Mark, you are the queen of shade. And here he is again:

mark friends

Can anyone smell roasting flesh? Because, baby, that burns.

benj 3 words

I am trying to imagine these two ‘doing it’, but all I can picture is two John Lewis gift cards sliding around on top of each other.

mark 3 words

“Punctual.” Phwoar. I actually like a man to be on time. In my book, if you arrive bang on time, you’re actually late. But would it be a top 3 quality I was looking for in a potential partner?

Well, yes, actually. But I am 100 and have ‘a knee’ I moan about and such things matter now that my hair is greying and my looks are fading behind a mille-feuille of Instagram filters.

benj change

Carbs make you sleepy, Benj. It was perhaps a wise move to steer clear of them because I am getting some serious Nytol vibes from this pairing.

mark change

Not “I wish I had fancied him” or the standard “I would have ordered that second bottle of wine”, but “I would have eaten more”. It is free, after all. Carb avoidance is for when it’s coming out of your own pocket, Mark.

Scores, then, because time is fleeting and this date is like glugging an endless drink of water while a cat watches you.

benj score

“I realised quite early on that even though I fancied Mark, it was not reciprocated, so in an example of face-saving even more brazen than Delboy falling through the open bar in Only Fools And Horses (I saw it on cable TV at 3am once) I decided to score Mark a 7, but it’s a 9. Nine.”

mark score

“Zero.” Mark again:

mark meet

Veins. Of. Ice.


benj meet again

*hollow laugh*

Or maybe next time you’ve both got your faces pressed up against the window at Foxtons, eh? Good luck on the road to buying your dream home.

But first, go out and experience a bit of failure; it sounds like you need it. This date, it seems, has been a good start.

Note: All the comments I make are based on the answers the Guardian chooses to publish, which may have been changed by a journalist to make for better copy. The participants in the date are aware this may happen, I assume, and know these answers will appear in the public arena. I am sure, in real life, they are cool people. I am critiquing the answers, not the people themselves. If you are the couple in this or any other date and want to give your side of the story, get in touch and I will happily publish any rebuttal. 

Photograph: Frantzesco Kangaris and James Drew Turner