Ricci and Roger

roger and ricci

There are lots of misconceptions about gay men out there. That we’re promiscuous, spending alternate weekends at chillouts, spangled out of our nappers on meth. That we all love Kylie. That we’re freakishly tidy.

But the biggest one of all? That we’re all interesting.

Oh how I’ve enjoyed, over decades of existence as one of the most boring people on Earth, watching people’s faces fall after talking to me for longer than five minutes.

Not only do I have nothing to say, I won’t even bother filling the dead air between us with small talk. I’ll just leave you there, dangling, praying for an anvil or a piano to fall from the sky and end this hell for us both.

Gay men, interesting? Throw 100 javelins down Old Compton or Canal Street of a Saturday night and every man you hit will be more boring than David Cameron’s underwear drawer. (Please don’t actually do the javelins thing.)

Anyway, in recognition of this fact, today’s Guardian Blind Date finds us glaring into the cold, dead eyes of two scoops of vanilla on the driest of wafers.

Read what happened on the date between Ricci, 32, a PR manager and 27-year-old Roger, who is a PR executive before I click “Add as contact” on LinkedIn, with tears of blood falling from my eyes.

Ricci’s first:

ricci hoping

This is quite an honest, straightforward, acceptable, logical answer to the question, isn’t it? “I was hoping to go on a first date and then go on a second one.” A brilliantly media-trained answer. I can imagine this sentence being tied to the gates of Buckingham Palace, tourists wiping the spittle from the corners of their mouths as they gaze at it in wonder.

roger hoping

A nice surprise. Not a bad surprise, like accidentally going on a date with a rent boy whose meter is ticking, or arriving on a blind date to find your dad sitting there. No. A nice surprise. A double-yolk, perhaps. A Kit-Kat with no wafer within, just more chocolate. Nice.

ricci impress

Spoiler: the “well dressed” will be significant later on. “Chatty” comes up again and again in this column, each time simmering with subtext and intrigue that I can’t even be bothered decoding.

roger impress

Well, a double-handsome so that’s us off to a good start. As a fellow gay man, I suppose I can break protocol and comment on the subjects’ looks. Yes, they are both handsome.

There is no greater compliment to a gay man than to tell him he’s handsome. And that’s not a misconception – I challenge any gay man, even the horse-frighteners left over at the end of the night, to deny they enjoy being called handsome.

So my theory here is even if they didn’t fancy each other, the “handsome” isn’t so much pre-agreed as understood. It is solidarity. You are handsome. I am handsome. We are handsome.  Seriously, say “hello handsome” to a gay man today. You’ll own that queen for ever.

ricci talk about

“Absolutely everything.” Stephenson’s Rocket, world suffrage, hotels in the Gambia, the fact people still can’t pronounce “quinoa”? Everything?

Do you know what this actually means, viewers? Ricci didn’t listen to – and therefore has zero recollection of, thanks to cocktails – a single word Roger said. Nope. Not a one. Because:

roger talk

Björk always gets a quick mention when it’s a gay one doesn’t she? I like to think she gets a few royalties chucked her way.

They talked about PR. Two people who work in PR, on a date, talking about PR. My tongue has gone numb.

roger awkward

icci awkward

Only two gay darlings could get embarrassed about bumping into someone while on the date and not about the fact they’re going to be in a magazine read by hundreds of thousands of people – on an orange background, no less. Go figure.

Table manners:

ricci table


roger table

BUT he poured himself some wine before pouring mine. I know things like this are probably very important to, say, Princess Michael of Kent or that great-uncle of yours who “never married” but should a 27-year-old give a toss about this? I don’t know. It’s dog-eat-dog and gay-drink-wine in the dating arena, babycakes – I sense an eternity of disappointment ahead of you unless you chillaxez-vous or whatever. In the meantime:


ricci best thing

I think I’d rather take my chances with none, maybe, but OK.

riger best thing

“This isn’t a smile. It’s a lid on a scream.” – Coronation Street’s Bet Lynch.

ricci 3 wroger 3 w

Handsome makes a surprise return thanks to Ricci. Sadly, we don’t get a quadruple handsome as Roger instead chooses to wheel out some good old end-of-term report, “bored teacher with loads of marking to do and a bottle of vodka in the freezer” standards.

It is quite fitting that Roger’s hair is a bit like Zayn Malik’s because this is where, inexplicably, the date goes in two very different directions.

ricci made of

I have a 100% Scotland hit rate when it comes to relationships. Through no fault of my own, both of my serious boyfriends have been Scottish. I like Scottish men. They are funny and self-deprecating and things like “who poured the wine first” don’t matter.

I wouldn’t hand out a gold star just because some dude could understand what I was saying, but that’s Scottish boys for you – generous to a fault.

roger made of

You know exactly what Ricci thought of you, Roger; that’s why your friend-zoning him to within an inch of his life LIVE in front of our very eyes, on an orange background, in a magazine.

ricci go on somehwre

I tell you what, I can’t be bothered checking as I’ve a lot to do but I am willing to bet every last olive or twist of lemon in every martini I am ever likely to drink (quite a few FYI) that one of these boys does the PR for this venue. Only a PR with a vested interest, surely, would throw in such a shameless, specific namecheck. The Vault, in case you’re interested, is in the basement of Milroy’s – they’re actually the same place.

This is like when Cilla unmasked that Cosmo journalist on ITV’s Blind Date, isn’t it? I’ll see you in Milroy’s tonight for that free martini, then, Ricci.

The P in PR truly does stand for pterodactyl sometimes, so let’s see who Roger’s going to plug!

roger somehwre

It’s almost like he really wants us to go to this bar, isn’t it? I’m sure he’s just being helpful, right? You have to admire his pluck, really.



ricci kissroger kisdd

Kiss and tell or go to hell.

“A quick goodbye kiss.” Oh, I’ve often been reeled in by the promise/threat of a “quick goodbye kiss” only to be manhandled and pressed against the wall while my date’s tongue goes full “octopus on its first day in a pole-dancing job” around my unsuspecting mouth.

If straight people did “a quick goodbye kiss” like gay men did, you’d all be pregnant 24-7-365.

ricci change

Aw, Ricci. Not that I dislike Roger, but I like Ricci. That’s the thing about being the older person on the date, you are more willing to look on the bright side, really. Usually because the farther you wade into your thirties,  the harder and icier the cold, unforgiving hand of singledom grips your lonely old balls.

Roger, however. Well.

roger change

Shirts come off, Rog. Even nice, clean white ones like yours get ripped off and crumpled in a heap on the bedroom floor. If you’re lucky. Maybe you’re too lucky at the moment and that’s the problem. We’ve all been there. Some friendly advice from someone who can remember George Clooney with a mullet: Father Time will be along in a moment – sooner than you think – to fuck all that up for you.

That aside, it is poor form to slate another gay man’s dress sense to his face and I would say this column counts as face-to-face.

There is a group of guys I once met who have a system where, if they feel one of their friends has worn something that perhaps doesn’t look very good on them or isn’t particularly ‘suitable’, rather than show them up and make them feel self-conscious while they are out on the town, they will, the next day, send an anonymous postcard to their house. Upon the postcard will be just one word: MUTTON.

Chilling, maybe, but effective, I am assured.


ricci marksroger scores

PR people, eh? Can never resist glittering a turd. Each giving an ordinary number a .5. Adding a point-anything to a score is the equivalent of proclaiming a song is a “buzz single” (is flopping) or that a show is on a limited run (isn’t selling).

How interesting that Ricci, who seemed the keener of our two beans, scored Roger lower. A last-minute face-saving exercise? Is he PRing himself?

And on to the “and finally”, where we congratulate ourselves for making it this far and wonder whether it was worthy of our attention.


rici meet

roger meet




Photograph: James Drew Turner for the Guardian.

Note: I have lots of friends who work in PR and this is a gentle ribbing, so don’t panic. 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. 


Max and Grace

max and grace

Since the untimely passing of Blind Date icon and “flying  long-forgtten relatives over from Australia for no apparent reason” enthusiast Cilla Black, I have wondered how long it would take for the Guardian Blind Date couple to mention her.

No Saturday night was complete in my nana’s house without sitting through an hour of gawky provincials stooping under the weight of Elnett and Studio Line hair products wooing each other from opposite ends of a bit of plywood. “Cilla’s on!” Nana would trill as she sliced a Mars bar into tiny pieces lest I got too excited and ate the whole lot in one go and choked. Reader, I was 13.

I don’t know whether Cilla read the Blind Date column in the Weekend magazine, but I do know Liverpool’s favourite ex-pat was fond of saying, “Isn’t it lovely when they get on?” after two of her romantic hopefuls managed to make it back from a drizzly day at Flamingo Land without killing each other.

Well, happily for archangel Cilla, but perhaps less so for us cynical lemon-suckers she left behind, this week that’s exactly what happened.

Read what ‘went down’ on the date between 28-year-old Max, a design consultant and Grace, 32, an events manager before I “come back and tell you all about it”.

Max kicks us off with some eye-popping honesty:

max hoping for

This is a fairly legit concern to be honest. Every time I arrived at a date to meet the latest ne’er-do-well, I would wonder if I could ever take them home to my mum. Would this guy flinch as Mum piled an eighteenth roast potato on his plate on a Sunday? Could he handle our raft of in-jokes, carefully crafted over decades of practically being the same person but with different tastes in denim? The answer, usually, was no. And they’d have to go.

I wonder how often Max’s mum tells him to take his hands out of his pockets. I reckon she has a recording she plays down the phone to him every half an hour.

grace hoping for

You would be amazed how many people go on this Blind Date thing for a free meal. In the limited feedback I have had from participants, loads of them mention this. If you’re that desperate for a dinner, maybe get yourself down to the nearest food bank – unless, you know, you also want to be in a magazine but are too proud to say.




If you’ve been in the Guardian Blind Date column before, and the room suddenly went dark, it’s because Max just shaded you all to hell.


Strapping and smart – what you grandma would say about, ooh I don’t know, Dale Winton, before going back to knitting her Shredded Wheat.

Good glasses. A man once leant over to me on a date – putting his face really close to mine – and I thought well hello here we go, but then he put his hand up to my face and said: “I really like your glasses; can I try them on?” I hear they lived happily ever after.

max talk about

Do you think he means “indifferent toward cheesecake”? I know a lot of people who use ambivalent when they mean indifferent. It’s like confusing “sat” and “sitting”, but with a champagne twist and an extra car in the garage. If you really do have actual conflicting feelings about a dessert, then please accept my apologies.

Nothing quite makes me want to pick up every piece of furniture I own and throw it through all available windows like #FirstWorldProblems but, hey, this one’s for Cilla so I’ll just sit tight and bite down extra hard on my bridle.

grace talk

I have some friends who went to university in Hull and look back on it very fondly. I can’t find the right GIF for this part so just imagine one. Any GIF at all, doesn’t matter. It’ll work.

“Max’s love of shopping” – you will notice the more this date goes on, the more Max sounds like that fabulous gay BFF you’ve been waiting for all your life.

💯 for the Cilla reference. Well done, chuck. I hope it was proper champagne. None of your cheap plonky fizz for the terror in 1A.

Table manners! Gird your loins.

max table

I am now imagining everything Max says in the voice of Cupid Stunt.


grace table

I know an “impeccable” when I see one – I didn’t just fall out of a bloody tree, you know.

You know when you’ve been on a night out with friends and it is perfectly pleasant and the food is “fine” and everybody gets on and you come home, after only waiting for a taxi for three minutes, and you get through the door, wipe your feet on your John Lewis mat that says “Welcome to our home!”  and your spouse or your partner or your lover or your mother or your cleaner or your miniature schnauzer asks you, “How was it? Any scandal?” and you sigh and go, “No, not really”?

Well this is where we are. They’re getting on. Their answers are complimentary. We’re staring down a double-barrelled interview with S Club 7 in 1999. Let’s skip a few.

max three words

“Engaging.” Like a really good slide in a Powerpoint presentation.

grace three words

This is how Piers Morgan would describe himself in a lonely hearts ad.

max made of you

See what I mean? Max could be the toast of Soho, with swarms of acolytes, hyper-manicured fag hags and pornstar martinis stacked as far as the eye could see. He is, however, heterosexual, so we’re stuck with the guys who wear tiny vests and have “hey mr” programmed into their predictive text.

grace of you

This is quite an impressive way of swerving the question without giving away any of your own perceptions of your character traits.

What would our Cilla have made of this answer as she grilled the daters on that peach Draylon interrogation nightmare of a sofa of hers? She’d have gone to a break, I assume, before threatening Grace with a shiv and telling her to be “be more telly”.

max go on

grace go on

Multiple vs a couple. I am guessing Grace phoned in sick the next day and has stupidly told her boss she was going to be in this.

“No, I only had a couple of drinks – it must have been something I ate.” Or someone.


max change

grace change

They always regret the grog, don’t they? I suppose they are wandering gently into the age range where hangovers really start to bite, but come on, power through.

Also, is it me, or is Max the first straight male participant in this column in quite a while to actually give decent answers you want to read? Imagine if they hadn’t got on! He’d have been taking names, snatching weaves and welcoming bona fide sass to the stage without even pausing for breath!


grace marks max marks


Grace finishes off with her 8 and a very coy, and kinda boring, “yes, probably” when it comes to meeting again, so let’s leave it to Max to give us the content-packed happy finish we know Cilla would’ve loved.

max meet again

I don’t think that’s the only thing that will be aligning pretty soon, readers, if you catch my drift, know what I mean? (I am talking about sex. I imagine they are going to be getting on with that eventually.)

Somewhere up there, in the fluffy marshmallow clouds of the hereafter, Cilla has excitedly put down her glass of champagne and her harp, made her excuses to her hostess Princess Diana, and is tottering over to Heaven’s very finest milliner because “Isn’t it lovely when they get on?”

Yes. Yes, it is. Yes.


I want cage-fighting next week.

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. 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. 

Hannah and Scott

hannah and scott

Do you have one of those annoying friends who says things like, “Dance like nobody’s watching!”?

They will sidle up to you at a party, while you studiously avoid having any fun because you have a cold or everybody’s awful or you’ve just had a row with your other half, and tell you to “loosen up”, quoting a million Marilyn Monroe fridge magnets at you about why you should feel glad to be alive.

The thing is,  you can’t “dance like nobody’s watching” when people actually are. And why would you dance like you didn’t have an audience, anyway? You’d no doubt pull a muscle, or break a nicknack or frighten the dog.

Writing like nobody’s reading, however – well, I have years of practice of that. But I do know that today I will have at least two readers. Oh yes.

Read what happened on today’s date between 32-year-old events fundraiser Hannah, and statistician Scott, 34, before I throw myself across the dinner table, laptop in hand and screech, “Well, actually…” I knew this day would come.

We begin with Hannah:

hannah hoping for

I’m sure I am not the only person who read that in the voice of Princess Aurora skipping through the forest on her way to meet the prince, or Eliza Doolittle twirling her way through “I Could Have Danced All Night” ( Martine McCutcheon version).

The trouble with optimism, and hope, on this scale is that there is always so far to fall. On a side note: this week’s pair are on a date in the Sky Garden, atop London’s most attractive old wellington boot, the Walkie Talkie. That’s quite high up.

scott hope

Divorced men tend to elicit just two reactions from women. To some, they are catnip.

Ah, yes. The irresistible thrill of dating a man who has only half his photograph/book/music collection left and is still waiting to sell his marital new-build  luxury flat – usually above an M&S Simply Food on a miserable B-road – so he can pay off the ex.

The other reaction, and the most common, is anaphylactic. Will Scott’s marital status be the rogue peanut in the bag of Revels?

hannah hope

You have to be super-careful about clothes when you go on a date. It’s an old cliché, but less really is more and there’s nothing worse than turning up swathed in Primark’s Spring-Summer edit only to find your date sitting there in head-to-toe Vivienne Westwood.

Although, if I can get in a quick bout of mansplaining here: it is a “pocket square”, not a “handkerchief”. You blow your nose on handkerchieves and I can only hope that after going to all that trouble, Scott didn’t whip it out and let fly with the hay fever.

scott first imp

She walked in to find you dressed like a Victorian mill-owner, Scott – it’s bound to unnerve her slightly.

hannh talk about

“The NHS.” I’m kind of glad I wasn’t sitting round the table for this one, guys. I have quite a few opinions on the NHS, but I have absolutely never thought any of them as being particularly romantic.

The sax, it appears, has replaced the ukulele in the hotly contested category of “favourite instrument for men to learn while staring long and hard into the abyss of a midlife crisis”.

And running too. What a treat. I have been this man. I have bored dates about running. You want them to be impressed, maybe to feel your thighs and go, “Ooh”. Perhaps even ask you where you run, or to show you a few strides!They never do. Full marks to Hannah, then, for coming out with it and saying, “I hate this”.


scott talk about


So this is how it feels on the other side of the looking-glass.

What did you say? Did you wonder whether I was pretty? Did the C-word come up?

Anyway, sixth in a list of topics below university and baking (something about how amazing Mary Berry was, no doubt) and one above James Bond. I’ll take that. Excuse me while I go call my mother.

hannah awkward

She hates running, she can’t stand Clapham – she’ll be telling us next she’s not mad about Whole Foods and that Orla Kiely is “kind of samey”.

I like to think we are post-Clapham and that it’s OK to like Clapham again. It’s even OK to live there, if you’re on a graduate scheme at an evil bank or something and had a horse when you were a child. I’m not sure it’s OK to “think about moving” there, though. Not yet.

scott awks

Scott, bae, you knew I’d be writing this and yet you have nothing for me?


Table manners time. You ready?

hannah table manners


scott table manners

POLITE. SHADY.  I am going to go for “light slurping of spaghetti”.

hannah best thing

The best thing about him was his three-piece suit. Not his chat, or his smile or his charm. The suit. “Clothes do not make the man,” as George Michael famously trilled in Freedom ’90 – and perhaps cribbed it from some other, older source, not sure, whatever.

If what you’re wearing is the best thing about you, you’re in more trouble than Shampoo.

scott best thing

It appears that just out of sight, Hannah was hand-rearing some lambs under the table and pausing every 10 minutes during the meal to donate to charity.

Don’t know if I’d want someone to describe me as “warm and caring” on a date, like I worked in a old people’s home or something. Anyway, I doubt they ever would, for I am neither.

hannah friends

scot friends

YAAAAAAS. SLAY. Two regular readers here, ladies and gentlemen. Nobody’s friends are too cool to meet anybody. Any friend you can’t introduce to a man in a three-piece suit or a woman who has an allergic reaction to Clapham and running isn’t worth having in your Rolodex.

hannah three words

*phone rings*

“Hello, Grandma, it’s me. Hannah. No, Hannah. Anyway, I know it’s late, but the thing is I have to describe in three words a guy I went on a date with and I’m struggling. It’s for a newspaper. No, the Post is online only now; it’s the Guardian. Yes, they’ll have it in the Spar. You might have to ask though. In hushed tones. What was he like? Well, he was wearing a three-piece suit and was from Scotland. Any ideas? OK, Gran, thanks. I’ll use those. Bye, love you.”

(Hannah, if your grandparents are dead, please disregard the above. Sorry.)

scott three words

“Funky.” “Roller.” “Chick.”

Hey, daddio, it seems that Scott is not human after all – he’s actually made from old radios. While he has been tuned to Radio 4 all night, all of sudden he has malfunctioned and inexplicably retuned to Radio 1 in 1974.

Is this a misprint? Old socks and damp attics are funky. Chicks come out of eggs. Roller? I don’t know. This is rather late in the column to be revealing that Hannah arrived to the date wheeling on inline skates.

scaott made of you

Scott. Scotty. You could’ve used these three words for the answer above. You’re probably right though, man – she seems to be more interested in what you’re wearing than what lies beneath. Less is more, remember. Distractions should come from actions, not pocket squares.

hannah change

I would have been so bitter about this, I would have simmered with rage over it all night. However, the image of Scott sitting dressed up to the nines sipping champagne  while Hannah skates in arms and legs akimbo like the mum from Freaky Friday and gets zero fizz does make me double up. I really, really need to know how underdressed she was. Pyjamas? Curlers?

scott change

Hannah’s grandma is reading this and absolutely furious she’ll never get to meet this true gentleman. Milliners the whole country over are bowing their head in mourning.

So a good time was had by all, I think. Not sure. Let’s move on to the scores.

hannah scorescott score

Like trudging all the way to the Tesco Express – that really horrible one that smells of soup and has just one self-checkout that always goes wrong and sounds like the Borg – to buy ice cream only to find  there’s nothing left but vanilla. And not a nice vanilla with pods in or whatever, just the yellow stuff from your summer school dinner nightmares.

7 and 6.5 are non-scores, but they work here. Talk of warmth, pocket squares and the like do not usually give way to unbridled passion and a future together. Hannah will never have to sneer at Scott’s ex-wife in Sainsbury’s. Scott will not be picking out a special pocket square for wedding numéro deux.

We know where we’re going with this one, don’t we? We are sloping all the way to the guillotine alongside Marie Antoinette. But let’s do it anyway.

It’s the crushing inevitability of a fly in your mojito within seconds of arriving at that popup bar on top of that car park: the meet again question.

hannh meet again

scott meet again

And that, as they say, is that.

Photograph: James Drew Turner; Frantzesco Kangaris, 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. 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. 

Vikki and James

jamie and vikki
This week’s Guardian Blind Date was a tough call because I was contacted beforehand by a few people telling me who would be in it. This presents a problem. I don’t mind that participants might read it, of course, but to know they’re expecting it – and to know who they are and to see their faces before I write it – might influence my review. Mightn’t it?


There are always going to be forks in the road. And it’s a decision you can never delegate. You have to take them. So you can choose to plough the fields and spare the cottages, or torch the village and let the cows roam free. Reader, like Evita, I chose freedom. I torched the lot and present my ashes to you now.

Read what happened on the date between Vikki, 26, a communications manager and 28-year-old social media manager James (incoming LinkedIn connection email alert!) before I free the vinegar from its prison.

Oh, and there’s a twist: I won’t comment on what James has said because I now know who he is, so all he gets are GIFs or pics that sum up my feelings. I’m like those dullards who say “I can’t eat fings that have got a face”, aren’t I? Oh well.

Only Vikki gets full commentary. Lucky Vikki.

I write the songs.

vikki hoping for

Seems reasonable. I wonder what the Guardian is “hoping for” when they ask this question. If it’s “a reply that’s as scintillating as a day without weather or finding Gary Barlow’s stepdad built your conservatory” then I reckon we have hit pay dirt here.

james hoping for


vikki first

“Extremely polite.” Why doesn’t this sound like a good thing? The only time I am ever polite to a level you might call extreme is when I am on the receiving end of some stratospheric rudeness from a waiter or a checkout operator and want to make them feel ten inches tall.

Does this mean Vikki was rude and Jamie was over compensating? I don’t know.

jamie impress


vikki talk about

HIS time in Sydney. HIS work achievements. HE likes to tweet. What do you think Vikki, winner of Miss Subtlety during 1998 summer season at Butlin’s in Minehead, is trying to say here? If she can get a word in.

And talking about worst date scenarios on a date is simply not done. It’s like wearing white to a wedding if you’re not the bride. And then fucking the groom in front of her.

james talk about


vikki awkward

I am kind of insane when it comes to lateness. I believe that if you arrive at exactly the agreed time, you are in fact late. Five minutes early is “on time”. You can send donations to my boyfriend’s ever-increasing stress fund soon.

Bizarrely, more often than not, when a date has arrived late to meet me, I have ended up in bed with them. Maybe I just “can’t resist a bad boy” and other clichés that might fill this space that you’re reading right here.

james awkward

Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 10.03.35

bitch please anne hathaway

vikki table

“He was all about the knife and fork.”
“He was all about the knife and fork.”
And again: “He was all about the knife and fork.”

james table


vikki best thing

If the best thing you can say about someone is that they told you to make the sure the fat in the Yorkshire pudding tin is really hot before you pour the batter into it, would you even bother staying for dessert?

(That’s a top tip for you there, by the way. And you didn’t even have to sit bored senseless in front of me in one of the most beige restaurants in London to get it.)

james bet thing


vikki friends

Let. Me. Guess. Your friends are all so hedonistic, outré and liberated that a mere mortal like James – whose USP is that he can cook a joint of beef – simply wouldn’t fit in.

Here’s the rub with people who say this kind of thing: their circle of friends only looks fabulous from within. To a casual observer, they’re just those annoying people in the bar being too loud and trotting off to the cubicles to chow down on their second-rate coke.

Like the Bloomsbury Set, but with Aftershock and the constant threat of gonorrhoea.

james three words


vikki made of yopu

“I’m mad, me.”

You ain’t.

james made of you


vikki score

5. Wow. That’s a minus score in real life. “A couple of yawns.” You’ve both had more than a couple from me, I can tell you. You’re lucky I stuck with it.

I haven’t looked for so many distractions while writing since that French A-level exam where I drew a picture of a hover car (I can’t draw) in the space where my 1,500-word essay on Marseilles was supposed to be.

I don’t truly believe James was a 5; nobody who imparts roast-dinner wisdom and doesn’t haul you over the coals for being late is a 5. But Vikki was there and we were not, so we will have to take her increasingly dull word for it.

Come on then, James. Just two more GIFs to go. What have you got?

james score


vikki meet again

Well, before we go, I would just like to thank everyone for coming. I am glad we could spend this time together perusing the dating equivalent of getting a chair to reach the biscuit tin at the very top of the highest cupboard – you know there are Jaffa Cakes in there – and risking life and limb to get it, only to find once you open it that it contains naught but plain Digestives. And they’re all soft.

James, last word goes to you. Come on, baby. Light. My. Fire.

james meet again

doctor who cry

Until next week, then.

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. 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. 




Sam and Milly

sam and milly

Socks again for Christmas. Liver and onions for tea. That guy asking you out on another date and knowing you’ll say yes. The dog needing to go out just as you put your pyjamas on. A new series of Masterchef. Bumping into your least favourite colleague in the pub and them saying “Would you care to join us?”

It’s that sinking feeling. The lurch in the stomach. The tingling of the fingertips. The overwhelming tiredness. However, let’s face this together and read what happened on the date between 26-year-old trainee surveyor Sam (that’s the guy) and Milly, 23, a communications officer, before I gulp, murmur, “Of course, I’d love to join you” and take my seat.

Sam kicks us off.

sam hoping

Amélie came out bloody ages ago, when Sam was about 12. Either he’s been dreaming about this for a long time or he Googled “films that Guardian readers will have heard of and liked” and picked one he’s seen.

milly hoping

“You know, one quality I simply cannot abide in people? Rudeness. I can’t stand it,” said every outrageously rude person ever ever ever. I hope Milly doesn’t disappoint.

sam first 1

I didn’t realise people still said this about things other than prosecco or bars of Aero. I thought “bubbly” had died out when perms and neon leotards and portable TVs were all big the first time round. “Bubbly” is old personal column code for fat, but interesting, no?

Anyway, either Sam is one of those retro dudes who still says thing like “skill” and “ace” and is throwing some expert shade – even though Milly isn’t fat – or he’s just plucked the first word that came into his head.

“Amélie.” Yeah, he’s just plucked the first word.

milly first

How much are you willing to bet one of the first things Milly said to Sam was: “Ooh, aren’t you tall?” or similar? Tall people live for that shit. We don’t say it to short people, have you noticed?

At least she didn’t say “He looked like the Shard in a T-shirt”, I guess.

sam talk about

“Hummus addictions.” Looks like I have finally found a food-related conversation topic even worse than my own (totally genuine) statement on a date once, when asked what my vices were.
My answer? “Ryvita.”
Ryvita. My vice.
Not cocaine, or cherry vodka or being tied up, but crispbread. He took me home but I suspect it was out of sympathy.
I deserved to be alone.

“Traumatic childhoods.””Mindfulness.”
I’d have switched tables. With anyone. A couple on their 40th wedding anniversary.
“Yes, I know you are celebrating or whatever, but the chat over here has moved on to daddy issues and I could really do with five minutes off. Can you take over?”

kmilly talk

Note the “surveying” out there all on its lonesome at the end. Not included in the breathless list of first-date topics, but by itself in a barely concealed staccato cry of boredom. Milly didn’t talk about surveying, but Sam did, and Milly wants us to know just how dull that was, without being rude. She doesn’t like rude.

sam awakward

It seems one of them swears a lot and the other doesn’t, and while this doesn’t shed any light on who’s doing all the effing and blinding, the fact that Milly got Sam to hold her glass while she drained the life out of a Marlboro light – or perhaps a rollie, I hear that’s big again now – I’d definitely put a few quid on it being her. I hope so.

Smokers. What are they like, eh? I used to smoke; I was insufferable. Now I don’t smoke, I’m just as insufferable, in different ways.

My last boyfriend smoked – we gave up together, him lasting three days – and I would never go outside with him when he went for a fag, and he never asked me to. Aside from some general moaning about how much he spent on them and that he was always nipping out for a smoke, I never really said that much. Although once, when he had been outside a pub for ages fag-ashing his bonce off, while I sat inside with an empty glass and a reluctance to give up my seat in a busy bar, I texted him: “I’M THIRSTY, YOU SMOKING COW”. He kept it for years.

ANYway, Sam should perhaps have got over his fear of expletives and used one the first time Milly asked him to hold her glass. There’s chivalry and there’s a smoker using you for a side table. I reckon she’d have admired his pluck, of nothing else.

milly awkward


Sam. FFS. How he got away without a fork in his eye, I have no idea. I would scorch the earth if someone said this to me.

Table manners!

sam table manners

milly table

“We hated each other but we’re going to Polyfilla over that by being overly gracious on the question we think matters the least of all.”

Tapas are really easy to eat politely – you order something else.

sam best thing

It’s a bit like saying “you do you” or “you have to be true to yourself” this, isn’t it? It’s not a compliment; it’s actually saying “you won’t be who I want you to be and that’s kind of annoying, but I’m out”.

“She was perfectly comfortable being a “see you next Tuesday” (giggle) and I applaud that.”

milly best thing

“He’s such a well-mannered boy.” – My grandmothers, their friends, people they’d talk to in Asda doing the shopping, the cashiers in M&S, and a whole host of other old ladies. Good manners are important, but I’ve never met a 23-year-old with them – well, none that weren’t virgins, anyway – but if this is a big deal for you, cool.

And, you know, the age thing – not exactly the height of good manners.

“Interesting tan lines.” I’m guessing Milly is reaching here because she believes “it’s nice to be nice”.

sam three

milly three

Sam with his confidence shtick, Milly with her politeness. This has the bristling efficiency of Mussolini’s favourite train line but the romantic spark of a post office queue full of people shaking off wet umbrellas. These are the most Bake Off contestant adjectives ever.

Give me GRIT. I know it is there.

sam made iof you

Hahaha Chrrrrrrist. I can feel Sam’s bottom lip wobbling over the pudding from here. Milly: amazing, but you’re supposed to save stuff like this for the column.

milly made

This is quite sweet, really. Kind of what you’d say if you thought maybe your humour had gone over someone’s head or you’d behaved kind of OTT and wanted to clarify that you are actually a normal person. sam after

milly after

This answer perfectly sums up  the differences between the two. Sam “watched the lightning”, Milly “had a few jars”.

Milly sounds great, really. Convivial. I bet she doesn’t take off her makeup before she goes to bed, booms at people to move down the Tube in rush hour and stubs fags out in coffee cups. Has a bad date? She shrugs. Gets chips on the way home. Laughs with her mouth wide open. She will always have chewing gum and she will always offer it to you in times of crisis.

Sam… well. Sam watched the lightning.

sam kiss

milly kiss

“Could the instore cleaner please make their way to aisle 5. We have a large spillage of ‘no fucking kidding’.”


sam change

Haha ooh I bet Sam was on the receiving end of a relentless truth-bomb ravaging once those “few jars” were safely down Milly’s neck.


sam scoresss

milly scores

Not even from the lightning, Sam? LOLLO. I bet his original answer to the journo had a lightning reference, how could he not?

Milly’s keeping things friendly with her disclaimer, there, but a 7 is, as we all know in Guardian Blind Date land, a 1.

sam meet again

“We lead very different lives.” This is a touch dramatic. If you don’t really like someone, just say. Don’t pretend you’re a Hitchcock blonde walking into the mist at the end of the movie while the leading man bumps his gums with his hand outstretched, begging you to stay.

milly meet again

This seems like a sweet sign-off from our Milly, but it’s a scorching hot BURN and if you can’t recognise this,  you need to get schooled.

Got an enemy you’d rather see drown in custard than succeed but you’re just too classy to call them out? No problem – just say you “wish them well”. It’s “fuck you” in furs.

“My date was a dreary manchild who bored me to cardboard about his job, tutted his way through all my smoking, whinged about holding my glass, moaned about my swearing, pointed at the lightning with his mouth open, and said I looked OLD – but I wish him well.

Course you do.


Photograph: Linda Nylind; 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. 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.