Martin and Samantha

martin and samantha

Have you ever been an intern or done work experience anywhere? No matter when you start or where you’re working, there is always another intern there too; one who started the week before you.

You are, of course, enthusiastic and want to impress in the short time you have in the role, but this other intern, who has the jaded weariness of someone who’s been in Coronation Street for 36 years, knocks you back at every turn, dampens your spirits, shoots down every idea. Despite having only seven days on you, they know how things work better than you, thanks, and reckon you should stay in lane. They’re the ruler of the interns, OK? And no upstart like you – just a week behind, but it may as well be a century – is going to step up and change things on their patch. They are the wet blanket you have been waiting to meet all your life.

Which brings us to today’s Blind Date. Read what happened when 27-year-old Martin, an IT training manager met Samantha, 25, a teacher, before I sweep that in-tray right off the desk and get someone else to pick it up. martin hope

sam hope

Well this isn’t a bad start. Both answers as thunderingly average as it’s possible to get. A nice allusion to a potential alcohol addiction by Martin there, which I can totally get on board with.

I remember being on a second date with a man I really liked and I was super nervous and the service was sloooooow so I was desperate to get my hands on a glass of wine. The date, a teacher funnily enough, just like Samantha here, took this to mean that I was only three storyline meetings away from being Sue Ellen Ewing on full vodka meltdown. The evening never recovered and I had to sip my wine like a child at holy communion just to prove I didn’t need to drink.

martin first

sam first

I actually read these before I get out of bed, you know. And I always wonder whether this week will be the week I can finally take off. I will confess to you that on reading these straight-up, dull as dishwater, “maybe I should take up an evening class” answers, this was nearly the week I did it.

martin talk

Full Angkor Wat details here for anyone like me whose knowledge of Cambodia is restricted to atrocities and that amazing song by Kim Wilde.

Martin has travelled. Uh-oh. There are two types of people in the world:
1. Those who simply can’t get enough of your travelling tales and want to hear all about it.
2. People who actually exist.

If they talked about not seeing those things, does this mean they wanted to see them but couldn’t, or “refused” to see them, like Will Young refused to see Kanye West at Glastonbury. Either way, globetrotting tales are my Mogadon and today’s date is a duvet.

sam talk

So Martin has got his travelling to bore us rigid with – and if you look closely here, you’ll see Samantha wasn’t exactly thrilled either. Him working abroad. His recent holiday. Samantha’s arms are folded so tightly you could press olives between them.

But what’s Samantha’s dinner-party soporific? Looks like it’s “pointless trivia knowledge”. I bet people always say to Samantha they’d want her on their pub quiz team. That’s one for the CV.

Table manners! Let’s go!

sam table martin table

Thanks for coming. Samantha:

sam awkward

How did you recover from the shame? The indignity of not realising an olive wasn’t pitted? I think even Margo Leadbetter would barely have flinched at that one, but if you’re happy that’s as awkward as your life is going to get then who I am to make you switch from vanilla to neapolitan?

martin best thing

“Best thing?” Watched telly a lot in the ’90s? Hang on, she’s 25. Born in 1990. So, in fact, she will have watched most of these ’90s sitcoms on Comedy Central or Gold or any channel on cable. This is the best thing? Nothing else? Her smile, her wit, her boundless enthusiasm for trivia, her legs, her hair, her generosity, the way she crunches through an olive? None of those the best thing? Not a one? Knowing about Friends and Dream On and Men Behaving Badly and Spaced? That’s what you liked best?

sam best thing

I think this is the second or third week in a row that the female half of the date has referenced the guy being talkative or chatty. Here, it is presented as the best thing about him. Traditionally, being labelled as talkative isn’t a compliment, and one day I will drill down to the psychology of what people are really saying when they answer this, but I don’t have time now so instead I’ll assume that Samantha has dated a lot of strong, silent types and was glad of the respite.

samanatha friends martin introduce

I have never, ever understood why someone would point-blank say that they’d never introduce someone to their friends. Why wouldn’t you? What’s so special about your group of acolytes that puts them a cut above?

I’m sure even your cabal of deep-thinkers and trivia experts wouldn’t mind having a pint with Martin. If you have the kind of friends who wouldn’t welcome someone new, whatever their story, maybe you need to rethink your social circle.

This is not the Algonquin Round Table. You’re nobody. We’re all nobody. Until others treat us like a somebody, at least.

samantha three martin three

Chatty this, chatty that. We get it. You fucking talked.

martin made of you

Martin. If this is a reference to that old rumour about how the first version of Sugababes split up then you get FULL POINTS and are this week’s winner. Even if you kill someone before the end of the column. If not:

tumblr_mgizpvsWWR1qkx3eio1_500

samantha made of youIf you were planning on using the dark moon emoji today, you’re out of luck – Samantha has been through all available world stocks. “A good listener.” Looks like Martin talked and talked and talked until he finally talked his way to the gallows.

Oh, and “random trivia knowledge”. Again. Was she just blurting out #facts at every turn? Each forkful of food interrupted by “Did you know?” like a Christmas cracker anecdote that has just been brought to life by a benevolent wizard. Never mind the trivia, tell me about you.

martin go anywhere

Normally I would shred Martin for this dull old trope, but Samantha is actually a teacher so it’s at least appropriate.

And I’m sure, in between telling Martin things like “Actually did you know Patsy Kensit was originally lined up to play the Helen Baxendale role in Friends?” she also mentioned it was a school night a couple of hundred times. I have dated teachers.

Samantha:

sam go on

Winter is coming.

martin change

A light dash of chivalry and self-preservation here from Martin. He expertly avoids slating his date and also drawing attention to any of his bad points by referencing the Tube strike. Unless, of course, what he means here is that he wishes the Tubes had been running so he could have got away from Samantha sooner. We’ll never know.

I wonder what Samantha, 25, would change?

samantha change

WHUT.

A suit? On a first date? He works in IT. They wear suits to funerals and speeding-fine court appearances and that’s it. I looked up the restaurant they went to on the date and it looks fairly modern, youthful. Nothing special. I can see why they sent a couple in their mid-twenties here. Martin would’ve looked like a dickhead in a suit.

Maybe Martin was super cazh and arrived in a onesie – I don’t know. But to wish somebody had turned up on a date in a suit, on a weeknight, and be an actual 25-year-old, not the Queen Mum inspecting the troops… I don’t get it.

You have the rest of your life to stare lustfully at Foxtons basics in suits, Samantha. Your twenties should be spent being pressed up against the doorbell of your flat kissing away whisky fumes with someone you shouldn’t be in inappropriate, unlaundered denim.

Scores!

martin score

I always cringe when I see a point-five. Is that half a mark on or half a mark off? Anyway, Martin, I have a feeling you are about to get gubbed.

sam score

Zero. Tip: if you want to score highly, turn up in a tuxedo to your date at Pizza Express!

martin meet

She set him a brain-teaser. Oh Martin. The whole world is Samantha’s classroom and we are merely under-dressed pupils. Anyone who would a) set someone a brain-teaser and b) not reveal the answer before the end of the date, especially knowing the answer they are about to give for this question, is a meanie of the highest order. Samantha is that intern; she’s crushing dreams left right and centre.

The answer to the brain-teaser, Martin? Why I have it here. It’s: “Who gives a fuck? Go back to sleep. It’s 5am.”

Final word from funsponge corner:

samantha meet

Suit yourself.

Photograph: Fiona Shaw and David Levene for the Guardian

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 date and want to give your side of the story, get in touch and I will happily publish any rebuttal. 

 

Leon and Sue

leon and sue

Do you remember when Ronan Keating, former lead squawker in Irish quintet of greige Boyzone, launched his career by sitting on a park bench, pretending to be a pensioner and croaking, “You say it best… when you say nothing at all”?

It’s possibly the most faux-romantic way ever of telling the one you love to shut the hell up, and if we all took Ronan’s advice, we’d all glide about in silent fury, and Jeremy Vine’s radio show would be three hours of white noise punctuated by travel updates.

Sometimes, however, there really is nothing to say and today’s Guardian Blind Date, between Leon, a 38-year-old recruitment agency boss and Sue, 32, a PA, is a pretty good example.

Nevertheless, I like a challenge. Pour yourself a very strong, super long coffee and read what happened on today’s date before I try to make something out of nothing.

Here’s Leon:

leon hoping for

Is Leon good-looking or not? I think he might be.

Imagine visiting his recruitment agency, surrounded by shrieking graduates trying to sell you in to a three-month long contract out at Sky. (“No, it’s Osterley, not Oswestry. And it’s not that far really.”) For the hundredth time, you catch sight of dandruff tumbling from the consultant’s head onto your CV.

Suddenly, you look up and there’s Leon, a vision in brilliantly laundered Oxford shirt cotton and dad jeans, with effortless stubble and a kind of “I used to be a geek but inexplicably turned into a hot dad at about 35, so I still wear glasses to remind myself of how far I’ve come” air about him. And he owns the place.

I’m 39, remember.

Sorry, my mind is wandering a bit because that answer was pretty boring. “A cheeky kiss.” The Nando’sification of romance continues apace.

sue hoping for

I’d quite like to be paired with an axe murderer, actually. I’d love to know their motivation, what it’s really like cleaning up the blood – if they even do – why they went for an axe rather than a sword/dagger/rake. I’d then pitch it as a series to Vice.

leon first

I would say this is an overall impression gleaned from two hours of awkward conversation in Quo Vadis, Leon, but I won’t split hairs because anyone with a shirt that white can’t be all wrong.

sue first

WHOA. Sue has swept all the crockery off the table here. “Not the type I usually go for” is polite-speak for “fuck no”.

We’ve all walked into dates and thought “well here goes a wasted evening” but sometimes, with enough Sambuca and goodwill, you can grow to like these anti-types. But a first impression is a first impression and this is Sue’s world and we’re just living in it.

leon talk aboiut

“Her work summer party” – I could feel my eyes glazing over there, even from the safe distance of my sofa a full week after the date has actually happened. PAs work incredibly hard, I know, but nobody wants to hear about that big do you’ve organised for your overweight, adulterous bosses.

“Zorb football” – I’m not even Googling. I don’t care.

sue talk about

“Dating in London” – I think one day I will present my Top 10 very worst things to talk about, not just on a date, but EVER. And riding high with a brand new entry near the very top of the hit parade would be the totally interesting and “oh my God your observational humour is on point” boreathon that is two disillusioned pre-millennial miseries waxing lyrical about the “London dating scene”.

I hate how boring this is. I got out of bed. It’s Saturday.

leon awks

There is something deeply, deeply unsexy about eating cheese on a date, isn’t there? You can’t eat Stilton seductively. Brie doesn’t lend itself particularly well to post-dinner snogging.

All of a sudden I have noticed that the collar of Leon’s brilliant-white blouse is a little grubby and I don’t know what’s up and what’s down any more.

sue awks

If a friend said this to me in person, I’d probably say something trite like: “We’ve all been there”,  just so we could move the conversation on.

I’d then go home and write pages and pages of diary – in green pen – about them.

leon table manners

“…”

sue table

“I was too busy recounting, in mind-numbing detail, how hard it is to acquire an ice sculpture of our company logo (two arrows whooshing beneath the word ‘SYNERGY’) at such short notice for my work summer party.”

This is the point of the column at which Sue decides she would rather walk on her hands across the M25 than pay any attention to our hapless Leon. Her answers get super-frosty from here.

leon best

“She just kind of sat there, really.”

sue best

“I just kind of sat there and he kept talking and talking. Even my yawning didn’t put him off. Quite remarkable.”

sue leon three words

“Nice.” I would rather Google myself and find an entire Reddit subthread comparing me to dog turds that have been expelled from the efficient sphincters of canines owned by famous dictators than be called “nice”.

“Chatty” is also a diss here. Nobody ever gushed about someone not being able to stop talking.

Hats off to Leon for at least trying to keep things going.

leon think of you

DATING IN LONDON LOL AMIRITE YOU KNOW IT ROFL. Just kidding, Leon – your talents are wasted here.

leon kiss

Leon: that guy at the barbecue who makes the joke about “meat” and grabs his crotch through his Blue Harbour chinos while his embarrassed, priggish brother-in-law covers the children’s eyes.

But you’d still laugh. I would.

Sue:

sue change

Shots, Sue. Shots.

If the date is going badly, do shots. All the shots.

When the waiter says, “Are you sure?” – shots.

When your date shifts uncomfortably in his seat – shots.

As the sirens wail and you are dragged to the police van with a nearby diner’s head in your jacket pocket – shots.

Still: #TeamLeon

leon change

A “tad”. A TAD?! I have seen suicide pacts with more of a romantic frisson than this grisly summit.

Scores. Let’s stay with Leon.

leon score

I don’t think Leon knows how this works. 9 means it went well. That you were both DTF. Maybe you even hooked your thumbs around the waistband of each other’s underwear.

A 9 is not for what reads on paper like it has all the sexual tension of a queue in the dole office.

sue score

Fucking hell, Sue. 4. A FOUR?! That is a minus score. Something went down here and Sue isn’t saying. Bad breath? “Interesting” views on single mothers? 4.

leon meet

This might have been one of the beigest finishes for a while, but at least Leon isn’t doing the usual trick that men can’t resist when they realise it’s not going well – a total about-turn with shameless face-saving.

Leon: you’re a good guy. Also, what detergent do you use? I could really do with some advice on getting my whites whiter.

Come on, Sue, have a final swing of your hammer – I think the corpse is still twitching.

sue meet

“Nice.”

Ice.

Photograph: Fiona Shaw; James Drew Turner, both for the Guardian

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. Aside from a general musing that maybe Leon is kind of hot, I am critiquing the answers, not the people. If you are the couple in this date and want to give your side of the story, get in touch and I will happily publish any rebuttal. 

 

Kirsty and Alex bite back

IMG_9603 copy

Some people don’t take their appearance in this blog very well – which I totally understand – and some do. When I get an email from a name I recognise as a Blind Date participant, I do wonder which way it’s going to go.

This week, Alex – as in Alex from Alex and Kirsty in the most recent blog that you can read by clicking within this green hyperlink oh yes – got in touch to have his say:

“Just wanted to say I enjoyed your take on it a lot. Having been there myself, then reading the Guardian’s (hugely edited down version of) my write-up, I had a good chuckle at your version. And… since you posed the question: no we didn’t.

“Oh, and sadly I don’t live above a Tesco Metro, but if I had I’m sure that would have sealed the deal. One day, my friend.”

And, of course, I had to ask – was he pissed off to be in the blog?

“Don’t worry. I totally get it. You can’t put yourself forward for this sort of thing without expecting a bit of (in your case good-natured) ridicule. I loved it actually.

“There was just one comment by one of your followers that p***ed me off a bit (something about ‘a couple of basics’ – bit harsh when your write-up has been chopped down to 100-odd words by a trigger-happy subeditor) but c’est la vie.”

This is a good point. Do we forget the Guardian Blind Date duos are real people, with feelings? I do bear this in mind, believe it or not.

My view is that the Blind Date column is an interview or a “performance” , if you like, albeit one that’s been severely edited. As such, I feel it’s OK to critique it. Harsher things are said by people smarter than me about people much nicer than me. And usually for money. I am only going on what the Guardian chooses to publish – and they have signed up for that.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t remember that these aren’t hardened celebrities, but ordinary people like you and me who, inexplicably, want to appear in this column.

Turns out Alex and I have more in common than you might think. He continues: “I actually used to write my own dating blog but I deleted it because I was worried that it would lead me to changing my views on women, in that I’d be thinking about finding ‘great blog material’ rather than a soulmate.”

He’s got a point there. I should know.

And if you’re wondering what kind of “businessman” he is, he runs a price comparison site for getting your car fixed called www.whocanfixmycar.com. The least I can do after ripping into him is give it a plug.

“This is what double-denim-ed marketing directors do for a living,” he reveals. There was double denim? My cup runneth over.

And that’s not all. We have a double-impeccable this week as Kirsty also got in touch over Twitter to have her say! Fuck! I am going to be killed!

My first question had to be: Alex said you didn’t do it? Is this true?

“Haha! As true as my answers were bitter/snidey/ impenetrable. Yes, true.

“We kissed like a couple of idiot savants if that gives you the bite you were looking for. Enjoyed the read!”

And so should we be investing in some wedding millinery for a Kirsty and Alex reunion?

“Think Nate Silver would recommend spending your money on something more useful,” says Kirsty, “but a good time was definitely had by two clean-shirts.”

Gulp. What a cow I am. Them’s the breaks, though.

And after saying she “thoroughly enjoyed” her write-up and the blog, she was on her way, leaving us all with a bit of  a lump in our throats and, I’m sure, a little guilt for being such meanies.

Anyway.

Can’t wait for next week’s. There will be blood.

Note: Kirsty and Alex both gave permission for their replies to appear in the blog. It’s a credit to them that they took it so well, but that doesn’t mean everybody will, nor would I expect them to.  I’d like to say I have learned from this, but let’s face it I probably haven’t.

 

Kirsty and Alex

IMG_9603 copy

There are, believe it or not, some people out there who are nice. Just nice. They’re usually enthusiastic about spelling tests, have never stubbed out a cigarette in a coffee cup and, after sex, prod you to make sure you go to the toilet so that you don’t get cystitis.

When you’re not nice – at least not on the surface of it – these people can be a trial and all you want to do is put chewing gum in their hair and give them something to worry about. But you mustn’t. Being nice has struggles of its own, and you can never know them.

Anyway. Read what happened on today’s Blind Date between 33-year-old Kirsty, a production assistant (dunno) and Alex, also 33 apparently, a marketing director. A director. Ooh. I bet LinkedIn is very proud.

kirsty hoping for

Yes, the Guardian Blind Date column is definitely the first place I’d look for one of those.

alex hoping for

Interesting how you could also apply this to a final day out at Beachy Head, isn’t it?

kirsty first

Golly gosh a super grown-up grown up and everything! I didn’t realise Kirsty had made the long trip from Malory Towers to go on this date.

alex first

#StopStraightPeople2015

kirsty talk

“Meaningful work,” say two people who work in TV and marketing. I would laugh my head off if I didn’t need it later.

Imagine being at the next table to these two clean-shirts while they polished off What’s Up by 4 Non Blondes and caterwauled their way through When I’m Good And Ready by the seminal Sybil.

kiraty awk

META.

alex awk

Right. This is all very “sweet” and would make an excellent Richard Curtis movie if he is still interested in making those, but…

It’s like being hit over the head with a mallet made up of sweepings from the floor of a Disney Store, 1 million receipts for a toaster from John Lewis and Winnie the Pooh’s chuckle.

kirsty table

THANKS FOR COMING.

alex table

anigif_enhanced-31353-1408661004-17

kirsty thing

A businessman in a denim jacket? “Yo babe that’s cool I’m down with that uh huh yeah, fancy a few drinks on the balcony of my luxury flat above a Tesco Express?”

If he was wearing a denim jacket, why was her first impression of him “A real businessman!” Was he wearing it over a suit? Collar up? Was his business card sticking out of each unnecessary pocket?

alex thing

If you go to a self-checkout machine, perhaps the one in the Tesco Express below Alex’s flat, and ask it what it likes the most about you, this is what it will say.

kirsty intro

I actually like that Kirsty has managed to get a “shout out to the girls” into her column, like someone who phones up the radio to play the “Noise of the Week” competition to win tickets to see Halo James at Milton Keynes Bowl.

alex 3 words

The absolute state of heterosexuality in 2015, though.

alex kiss

A gentlemen usually tells by pretending he would never tell.

I am wrapping this up because although they are good people, my will to live is packing the big Samsonite and has unplugged the kettle. I need bite.

kirsty score

I was wondering as I read the answers whether they fucked, but if they did it can’t have been incred because a 7 is a 1 in Guardian Blind Date terms, let’s face it. But I think they must’ve done. Alex?

alex score

When you pre-agree scores, you usually go for an 8 or an 8.5 or a “cautious 9”. I can’t tell whether they even like each other. It’s like a Crimewatch reconstruction of a date.

kirsty meet

This is not Kirsty’s first time at the rodeo, boys. She’s met many a dickhead just trying to get into her BHS plain whites by promising the moon on a stick so she’s not about to lose her head over some guy who’ll downplay any sweet or romantic moves he made as soon as the cab pulls away.

alex meet

Good job, really.

What happened next?

Yes, there is more.

Click away for part 2 – Alex and Kirsty BITE BACK!

Photograph: James Drew Turner for the Guardian

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. If you are the couple in this date and want to give your side of the story, get in touch and I will happily publish any rebuttal. 

Philip and Elaine

philip and elaine

When you’re a child, you don’t notice your family’s quirks – those things that are perfectly normal to you but might seem odd to outsiders. Thankfully, school comes along and there will always be other children to helpfully point this out to you, usually in front of hundreds of other spiteful brats.

My parents divorced when I was about 8 and my dad moved away. It was a real treat for me to have him come pick me up from school. Dad was a snappy dresser – still is, really, a shameless attention-seeker when it comes to clothes – and one day he came into the school in his green checked trousers.

Nobody would bat an eye now, but this was 1986, and the teasing the next day was merciless. “Rupert the Bear trousers.” “Your dad is gay.” The usual. Plus, divorce was rarer then so that would become a focus of the name-calling.

And it’s the worst feeling. Because you have to laugh along or not show that you care. And yet you think: “You can’t say that. That’s my dad.”

You’ll probably get what I’m on about the more you read this one, but take a look at what happened on the date between 61-year-old chef Philip and Elaine, 65, a writing mentor, before I try to work out where the torch is on my iPhone so I can shine a brighter light on it.

philip hoping for

Being single in your mid-thirties is bad enough if you’ve had a tough paper round and don’t spend four hours a day locked in the gym working on muscles you can’t pronounce. If you’re in your sixties, which makes you immediately invisible to most people, according to the rampant ageists I know, it must be terrifying.

“Oh but as you get older, you care less what others think of you,” say 22-year-olds whose metabolisms are yet to be converted to zero-hour contracts.

Elaine:

elaine hoping for

Elaine has the world-weary air of a singer in a late-night cocktail bar in 1982, lamenting lost loves and shattered dreams through half-closed eyes to an audience of drunk, ugly businessmen who are all going to try to come on to her as soon as she finishes the last bars of The Man I Love.

She has been on boring dates, she has listened to in-depth assessments of the best way to put up an Ikea wardrobe and she has pretended to like Led Zeppelin just so she doesn’t have to ask a man about his day. She. Is. Done.

elain first impression

Now that really is a first impression. If I arrived second on a date, my eyes would immediately flick from their face to their arse to their groin to the space in front of them to see what they were drinking.

Some people get nervous if they’re the only one drinking on a date. Nothing worse than sinking your fifth red wine as your date sips his first coffee – coffee, in a pub! – and asks you about your job. Onward. Philip:

philip talk about

I never want to have children because it always seems like a lazy fallback topic when conversation dries up at dinner parties and I don’t have any space for that alongside my go-to icebreakers concerning Cher, Madonna and Kylie. Sorry, kids.

elaine talk about

Oh. It seems that we have two radios tuned to different stations. One’s playing Leonard Cohen, the other Girls Aloud.

philip awkward

Dogs (mine) strangely didn’t get a mention in Elaine’s précis. That’s the thing with saying someone talked about themselves the whole time – sometimes they’re just filling air because you’re not saying anything.

elaine awkward

Brrrr. Suddenly it feels cold in here. I need a cardigan. There are probably more subtle ways to ask for a toothpick but I would rather a date did that then sit with half a brontosaurus leg poking out between the gap in their molars.

phil table

No, then.

elaine table

Preach.

philip made of you

Well, Philip:

elaine introduce

doctor who cry

Oh, Philip.

philip go on

Philip didn’t want to go home, did he?

elaine change

Elaine did, though.

philip change

Am I the only person reading this who wants to travel back in time, walk up to the table just as Elaine is leaving it and say “Hey, Philip, I’ll have another glass of wine. I’m in no hurry. Tell me about your cats”?

Phil, what’s your score?

philip scores

Elaine? *bites nails down to quick*

elaine scores

Sympathy scoring doesn’t float my boat generally, but even though she’s not interested, she’s not prepared to chuck Philip under the bus – well, not entirely, anyway – just so she can look good in a magazine. Some of the younger or more attention-seeking participants could learn a lot from this date. It’s not a real 10, but it’s a 10. We all deserve to be a 10 at least once in our lives.

Readers of an overly sentimental disposition should look away now before reading Philip’s last answer. Seriously, shut down the laptop, swipe away.

philip meet again

Phil.

However, there’s no point raising hopes where they have no business being raised, so Elaine’s got to be clear…

elaine meet again

“But you can’t say that. That’s my dad.”

Pass us a sausage roll, Philip. There’ll be other Elaines, but you’ll always have us.

Photograph: James Drew Turner; Fiona Shaw, both for the Guardian